Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Washington quiet, the Punjab politicians and the radiance of the heavens: Thoughts overlooking river Potomac
"Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would be he of soul who could pass by
Asight so touching in its majesty;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering inthe smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock or hill;
Never saw I, never never felt a calm so deep!
The river glideth at its won sweet will:
Dear God ! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still."
A few hours from, this moment of sublime quiet and oenness with the universe would be lost yet again in the din of 'towns and cities'. A few hours away also lies the moment where th agenda of hatred would be sought to be camouflaged by 'concern for Punjab and the need for a new revolution' ( Read change of face of those in control of civil scretratiat.)
What an irony that just at that hour, when someone from Punjab, who spends hours coining slogans that would announce him as the new messiah of political revolution, would be balring away about the number of jeeps that line up the carvan of his political rival, I would be lost in an era
Monday, July 25, 2011
ਕੂੜ ਰਾਜਾ ਕੂੜ ਪਰਜਾ ਕੂੜ ਸਭ ਸੰਸਾਰ / False and Unreal is the king, false the people, false and unreal is play of the juggler seen all this universe
ਕੂੜ ਮੰਡਪ ਕੂੜ ਮਾੜੀ ਕੂੜ ਬੈਸਣਹਾਰ/ Unreal and illusory the palaces,unreal its inhabitant,
ਕੂੜ ਸੋਇਨਾ ਕੂੜ ਰੂਪਾ ਕੂੜ ਪਹਨਨਹਾਰ / Misleading is the reality of gold, ornamanet, and unreal its wearer
ਕੂੜ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੂੜ ਕਪੜ ਕੂੜ ਰੂਪ ਅਪਾਰ / Uneal the seemingly solid world of of matter, unreal its appearance of garment, and the enchantinng beauty of the seemingly real;
ਕੂੜ ਮੀਆਂ ਕੂੜ ਬੀਬੀ ਖਪ ਹੋਇ ਖਾਰ / False and illusory are the husband and wife and their relationship in which they both fritter away life;
ਕੂੜ ਕੂੜੇ ਨੇਹੋ ਲਗਾ ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰ / Irony of relationships: falsehood and unreal in love with falsehood and unreal
ਕਿਸ ਨਾਲ ਕੀਚੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸਭ ਜਗ ਚਲਣਹਾਰ / Whom shall one befriend when all that one sees is ever slipping and passing away
ਕੂੜ ਮਿਠਾ ਕੂੜ ਮਾਖਿਓ ਕੂੜ ਡੋਬੇ ਪੂਰ / The sweeetness and the honeyed - unreal and sinking
ਨਾਨਕ ਵਖਾਣੇ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਤੁਧ ਬਾਝ ਕੂੜੋ ਕੂੜ : Nanak humbly observes and prays: all except the abidiing truth of this cosmos ( some call it God and others call it the cosmic physical and metaphysical reality) - false, O, false!!
The vision of Nanak is not merely ritualistic submission to the idea of a physically real God; the vision is more in tune with the findings of modenrn science including the uncertainty principle and the findings of the quantum theory in which the location and the velocity of objects are impossible to determine. The use fhte word "false and unreal" by Guru Nanak does not mean that the world is a myth and reality lies somewhere else standing out in the shape of a figurehead God. God himself is another name for enerrgy and laws. Nanak was too subtle to fall into the fallacy of God as an idol. Time and again, he subtly refers to God as the " truth as it exists in the form of shifting patterns in a kaliedscope in which no one pattern is permanenent" ; so how can one fall in love with any one pattern or form when one knows its soon going to shift? Nanak's definition of religion is the recognition of the reality of these shiftng patttern as the "will of the universe" -- and not just recognitin but acceptance of this reality of impermanence of patterns and forms. . Elsewhere, Gurbani urges us to accept the shifting nature of seemingly permamennt images in life as "the sweet law" (Tera bhaana meetha laage) Ancient Hindu wisdom as also the crux of Chiinese philosophy, with both of which Nanak was familiar, had underlinesd the same thouht: "The multiplicity of things is a mirage produced by the distrubance of Mind; when the Mind is quieted -- or settles into peace -- the multiplicity of things disappears." Says physicist Frtjof Capra:" Our tendency to divide the perceieved world into individual and separate things and to experience ourselves as sepaparated egos comes from our categorising mentality."
We know today that of hundreds of particles are being created artificially in collision processes and living only for an extremely short time, far less than a millionth of a second ( Sabh jag chalan haar) In Budhism also, things do not have any meaning except as intercoonection of their mutual relations :" Things derive their being and nature as a set of relations; they are nothing in themselves."
Says the Gita: " At the end of the Night of Time, all things return to my nature; and when the new day of time begins, I bring them into light and shape again." ( Shades of multiples big bangs or the theory of the universe as expanding -contracting of the palpitating heart) It is quite another thing that that the ritualists and fanatics among the Hindus have reduced even Krishan to a mere idol whereas in the Gita, the voice of Krishan is like Cosmos speaking about itself to itelf by splitting itself into two illusory patterns: Krishan and Arjun.
Nanak's thought rhymes with the findings of science, especially the quantum theory in which " particles ( or say human beings or other forms of life) are no more than 'probabibility pattterns, interconnections in an inseparable cosmic web
. .. a continuous dance of energy in which no one posture can be treated as a permanent or frozen image.
In sub-atomic physics, various forms of matter are nothing but unstable and inconcrete processes which keep changing. Any one form in its definite and frozen state is thus not real but illusory. The only reality is the permanence of Law -- which various religions describe as "His Will" , Raza, Hukam (Order in the sense of a system of Laws -- Hukami hovan akaaar -- all that comes into being does so under the force of an Order or Supreme Law." That Law itself pronounces the supremacy of constant change, impermanence of any given stage, dynamism and shifting of patterns, life-and-death interplay also being only a reflection of this dynamism of reality.Gurbani says: "Na koi mare, na aave jaave." (No one dies, neither is there any comin and going from life.") It is in this context that Gurbani and other scriptures urge us to calmly and wisely accept death as something as natural as life itself, one no more a cause for grief than the other is a cause for exultation.)
I think the problem here is one of language and its misunderstanding at some places and deliberate minsinteretation by fanatical ritualists at others. And matter is nothing but energy taking different shapes; the same energy permeates every particle. Says Gurbani: Ghat ghat main har jeo basse, Santan kahio pukaar" The saints have been crying aloud that only one and the same energy inhabits each and every particle."
To my mother, the word 'saint' meant a mind that can comprehend reality and therefore be at peace with it. (The note is based on the discussions I used to have with my mother on religion; she did not know anything about science or its principles but her interpretations were always in tune with them. To her, Gurbani and eligions in general were an attempt of the human mind to make sense of this universe and its laws in order to be able to accept them with mental calm and poise. ( THIS NOTE IS WRITTEN IN A HURRY UNDER PRESSURE OF TIME, ME HAVING TO RUSH TO MEET AN APPOINTMENT. ERRORS, WHICH MUST BE MANY, MAY PLEASE BE FORGIVEN. I WILL COME BACK AND TRY TO CORRECT THEM)
(The views expressed here naturally represent only one way of looking at the universe and I make no claims that this is correct or the only way )
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Stunning Doctor
By Harcharan Bains
Sometimes, Nature achieves for you what you so desperately want but are unable to because of some weakness or the other in you. Where Facebook is concerned, I had told myself several times: "Just shut yourself up" and keep listening to the great words of wisdom that keep pouring in out here. "Shut up and wisdom will flow into you from these sparkling streams," was the self call, but I was unable to obey it.
And I also found that I was beginning to be waylaid and robbed of precious treasures my mother had handed me the day she died: patience , poise and cool.
Just when I was completely lost in my inability to obey a call I gave myself, up came support from unexpected quarters. First, my son walked up to me one day and said with the confidence that only modern young folks have with their parents: "Papa, this Facebook ( I could sense the trouble marching in on me !)….its juvenile, a youth pass time, not for seniors like you. It works for you partly – only partly – where your artistic or literary interests are concerned. So carry on with your songs and comments and literature but politically, there are more people out there free to ask you the most inane questions than you can have the energy to answer, especially now that you are already in sick bed. "
In hospital, where I was, with nothing except those horrendous monitors meant to tell you how much worse you have gotten than you think you have, I was in any case minus a computer, cell phone et al. But my fingers would itch, and worse, my mind would mock my idleness. But trust a Punjabi to think of "jugaad."
And Nature seldom fails to give us charming enough compensation.
So, as I was absorbed in thinking my way out of this loneliness, in walked a young and stunningly beautiful doctor.
She wore an exquisite Sari with sublime grace. The rise and fall of her dress and the crisp music it produced plus the sheer elegance of her presence had already made her it impossible for God to remain either Supreme, all powerful or even all-resisting. Why would anyone want to be immortal or rule the world if one could have just one day with such beauty as this doctor's? In her trail, tip-toed a secret shower of fragrance of the finest feminine variety. Doctors, especially young and especially the beautiful of the species, like to chat their patients up. I knew I had found my luck. I used the opportunity to request her to secure me a pen and a wad of papers, "Please".
"Why do you need these , Sir"
"No, I am not writing a report against the hospital people. "
"What do you , Sir?" As I said "I am a government employee," a look of disappointment spread right across her face. "Okay now, what do you need these papers for? The "sir" salutation had already fallen a casualty to the 'government employee.'
I said, "I am a painter. It keeps me relaxed. I paint with words, which have a far greater range of hues than colours have." Now, I have always believed that there are two things which the young and beautiful women as doctors have: a compassionate heart and a face that is itching to be painted. I needed both and she did not disappointment me in either.
"Would you paint me, Sir? So the King Opportunist, "sir" had made a sneaky re-entry. Although she did not care about words or colours, she clearly knew two things: she was beautiful and she wanted a picture of herself painted. "I am no MF Hussein ," I cautioned her, jokingly. "And thank God for that" was her reply. "I want my painting to resemble me." "
As appointed, she arrived in the very early hours of the day , just past , and sat for me. Nature herself could not have replicated an image so flawless, a poise so ascetically perfect, limbs oozing with so much of Nature's honey. I knew I had taken on a task I could not perform.
As if sensing my thoughts, Nature came up invisibly to me and gave me an impish smile and whispered in my ears: "If this girl could be mirrored through words or colours, I could have created another one like her. I knew I was powerless. But you think- or thought – you were powerful enough. I have been overseeing what you have been writing about her. Its not bad. But who do you think you are—God? – to recreate beauty such as this?
I never felt pettier in life.
"But cool it, son. There is more beauty in the heart of that girl sitting there, and she knows it. Good that she didn't dare you to paint that. You would n't have recognized that because only beauty can recognize beauty. To recognize- much less paint - the beauty in her heart, you would have to have the same abundance in your heart. Do you know who she is?
"A mother of two, one of whom is named Kaaynaat—which of course means the 'whole universe'. Her son's name Kabir –a saint with a bolder vision would be hard to find. This girl has struggled all her life so that she could save the lives of her own and those of all the poor in her locality. She may dress like a queen when she steps out, but she lives in a hutment, one of the stinkiest in town. Her husband is a …well, with so much in her, does it really matter?
"And she is an oncologist – a cancer expert. And do you know why she is here with tonight with you?
"For a painting of herself.," I said.
Men are such idiotic species sometimes I feel I should created more swine than men; at least they don't claim to know what they don't know. But men ! They think they see beauty while they are totally blind to it. Or they are blinded by it. Want to know why she is here at this late hour in such shimmering dress, alone in a room, with a complete stranger, while she has children of the poor to tend to?"
"If you insist, tell me, " I mumbled.
"I told you she is a cancer expert. And you don't know that you have exactly one week left to live. She does. She wanted you to go from this world happily. And she thought the kid in you will feel proud that you had her in your room at such an odd time for two hours, though she knew the glitter on her face could have snuffed out several galaxies in this universe. Her daughter's name is Kaaynaat, as I told you. "
"And you have as much beauty within you as she has, though you are too preoccupied to see that. Many have. But because beauty is ethereal, it can't be seen. You belittle beauty when you try to describe or paint her. If you are lucky, you may just feebly brush your cheek accidentally against hers and feel the music of love and goodness ringing through the cosmos . Forget about describing beauty. Dance or break into a song about her, as Guru Nanak did. The only thing you can do with beauty is: be it.
And as Nature walked away, she bade me "Go, pick that little dirty child up and clean her nose. She is your child. And who knows , she is her child: she has so many in this world. Own that little girl. And there are million such children waiting to be loved. The moment you own them, you will outshine this most beautiful woman on the planet.
Nature left. And as I turned to look at the doctor sitting at the desk, waiting for me to complete the painting, all I could see was the desk.
But the room was full of a new fragrance and my heart, full of a new hope, a new love and new lure for beauty. There was also a new music in the universe.
And every child, every old suffering poor man or woman have suddenly assumed the stunning beauty of that doctor.