31 January 2007

pictures of iran

this is neilu, writing from sequim, where i am working on nash's organic farm. a coworker, stella says to post this footage of iran.


(sorry, i don't know how to make this a link)

18 January 2007

and also relating to the Self

[ a poem by a friend ]

why do we couple? (hmm. good question. why Do we couple.)

because when we are old, we need someone to bring us soup when we can
no longer get out of bed on our own. we don't even care if the person
resents it.

because it is more difficult to love another person in all of their
perfections and idiosyncracies and pain. and we are built to seek
challenge and growth.

because the world is terrifying and there is something comforting in
coming home at night to the skin and teeth of a known person. there is
something comfoting in smell. in taste.

because it sounds beautiful and wise to kiss the same person in their
youth and in their old age.

because being in love is like your first acid trip. and committing to
someone is like doing yoga everyday. and some of us don't realize that
when we commit. and are in a program where we're supposed to be doing
yoga everyday and are actually just watching TV.

because we are terrified of being by ourselves.

because we need external validation that we are not worthless,
loveless creatures.

because our parents told us to.

because it keeps us from looking at ourselves.

because it allows us to have more space to look at ourselves.

because you can no longer live in most parts of the first world on a
single salary.

because we live in a society of couples and if you dont' have one you
spend lots of time alone. and maybe you don't like yourself.

wednesday night at ramana

today is tonight already and tonight i'd like to be proud of myself.
i'd like to be proud of myself for being happy and going to check
email and even receving email and being happy about the email i
received. i'd like to be proud of myself because strangely even enough
even here on sacred mountain (which i climb twice daily to meditate in
a sacred cave and drink sacred water) people think i am some sort of
saint, even here where everyone is dressed like a weird saint. proud
because i played the flute and a child stopped to thank me and later i
played the flute and a frenchman said i had good control of the
half-tones. proud because wilson from memphis had to catch his bus so
gave me 30 points to give a guru meditating on the mountaintop (for
the last 17 years, without moving) and today i met one of his
disciplines. proud because, though close, i haven't fallen into
despair at the shallowness of my will or meditations, or my lack of
progress on the new book, or the fact im 27 years old and still in the
very beginnings of my studies and feel like a totally useless parasite
on the golden green planet.

and proud because on the bus here a child vomited on me and i laughed
and didn't care except for the child and he vomited on me again (this
time in my hair and jacket) and it was till good. proud because a
child pulled my hair and kissed my nose when i was "meditating" under
a mango tree and i only could but smile. proud because the old women
still smile at me and proud because i dont give a though to the "sri
ramana power laundry" because my clothes are already hanging to dry,
every day. proud because i'm a shoeless johnson in this town of
shoeless shivas and at night i'm taking the time to wash (with dr.
bronners) and massage my feet, which carry their load lightly and
without complaint.

it's a very strange thing but the miracles continue to happen.
steadily. that i had very little notion of how to get here and after
twelve hours of buses i was deciding between spending the night in
salem (no joke, salem, they're everywhere) or taking the bus to
tiruvannamalia and arriving in the middle of notime (which i did once
before at an ashram and was wrong-side-of-speared in the chest, a year
ago...) and i got on the bus to see and a holy man in holy orange and
holy dreadlocks looked at me and


why yes

"ramana ashram?"

why yes

"yes. we go together"

and moved his seatmate politely Elsewhere, dusted the seat and bade me
come near. he proceeded to talk in moderate english about his life and
travels until the worst road in tamil nadu rocked us to silence. a
typical instance of the unshakeable Is the man never requested that i
speak or say anything about myself, content to share his wisdom and
energy and holy baby powder from some holy shiva temple in andra

so we got here in the middle of the night and a shop is closing down
the street and he takes one of his cloths and power dusts the concrete
(whipping sounds with the cloth, but the cloth never touches the
ground, and the dust flies) and thats some brown magic in (and of)
itself. he has a spare blanket for me and we sleep cocooned against
the mosquitos in front of the rumbling buses and trucks all night
until its 4 in the morning and i wake up magically to walk around this
mountain neilu has told me is more than sacred, that it is, in many
points of the single fact: god.

the same name neilu, who, in my imaginary email to her today i asked
how _the life divine_ was progress because i knew she would be reading
it and just half an hour she tells me unbidden that she has in fact
been reading. the same miracle

that i walked down the hill behind two spanish speakers (this place is
full of lovely whitey, but not so many americans) and so desperately
wanted to share words with them and when they stopped so that i may
pass the one asked me for my picture (as the offical american saddhu)
and when we parted two conversations later it was the same story i
heard in a barcelona bar once upon a time "but imagine! an indian who
lives in america and talks at you with an argentina spanish. this is
not usual!"

that after my five days at the palacial ramana ashram (hot water in
the mornings and i am loving it) im going to find some other place to
stay and a child my age who spends his days taking care of the 17 year
mountain man at the top and nights driving a rickshaw invited me
unbidden to stay with him.

so yes. india remains what it is, which is the incredible Isness. this
is my first experience of spiritual tourist indian, full of westerners
looking for enlightenment. and finding it, it seems. everybody here is
so peaceful, so reverent. if you can get over the clash of colors with
the white skin and indian dress its actually quite a beautiful thing
-- there's no bullshit, pettiness, excessive conversation, or idle
tourist luxury (that ive seen). its a lot of people getting up very
early in the morning to pay respect to a great master, meditate, walk
up and down a mountain, meditate, meditatate, pray, meditate, and so
on. and apparently the town is full of strange ashrams and gurus and
weird organic restaurants to make gita mehta happy but i dont imagine
ill venture very far into that.

except for the japanese man who makes and teaches bansuri. my lesson
is 14h00 tomorrow.

so the point is, come here. when you go to india come to
tiruvannamalai. its touristy but i feel theyve come to the right place
and doing the right thing for themselvs. happy tourists. and trees and
a mountain that is shiva (after two days here, i no longer have any
doubt). emai the ramana ashram ahead if you want to stay here (the
crowd is noticeably older; those who had it together to email a month
ahead of time) and you should definitely stay here. the food is
amazing. five types of rice dishes for lunch, idli at breakfast,
sambar all the time and even a banana with your dinner.

which i skipped today. the more you meditate the less you eat and
after a monday fast it was 3 meals + coconut yesterday and 2 meals +
coconut today. the only sure thing besides the One Love is the coconut
tomorrow. the rest i'll leave to the mountain.


valeria [3]

[a few journals from valeria about her trip to india last summer,
which i asked for a few months ago. we all know how slow the indian
post is...]

25/07/06 (?)

Casa de Ankur y Neilu.
Llegamos ayer en la noche. De lo poco que hemos visto, el sur nos
gusta más que el norte. La gente parece más educada, más dulce; el
clima es perfecto, las calles más limpias y menos apestosas, y la
vegetación nos recuerda a México. Me siento aliviada aquí, como si
hubiera llegado a casa.
Ankur es un amor; parece que está enamorado de todas las personas. Nos
recibieron de noche en la parada de autobús (después de viajar varias
horas con TODOS los pasajeros del autobús torciendo el cuello para
mirarnos fijamente) y nos guiaron por un camino completamente oscuro y
accidentado hasta su casa. Fue bastante divertido, no veías
absolutamente nada, no teníamos ni idea de dónde estábamos ni qué
estábamos pisando. Teníamos que hacer uso de todos nuestros sentidos
menos la vista. Sólo sentía la tierra bajo mis pies, las voces de
Ankur y Neilu que nos guiaban y la humedad en el aire. Ankur dijo "si
pisan cualquier cosa, no se preocupen, se puede enjuagar facilmente";
me hizo reir su uso ambiguo de "cualquier cosa".
Viven en una mini-casa en medio de la vegetación y no tienen nada!!!
Ni camas ni mesa, ni ropa ni toallas. Sólo un cuarto con un hoyo
(baño), agua corriente, una estufita de gasolina, y unos tapetes como
de yute donde duermen. Antes de comer cierran los ojos y agradecen la
comida. Están estudiando música aquí desde hace algunos meses y
apracen auténticamente felices. Me encanta su vida y la posibilidad de
poder vivirla por una semana.
Hoy no hice nada, sólo darme cuenta de lo cansada que estoy. Lavamos
ropa toda la mañana, comimos mangos y plátanos rojos con las manos,
disfrutando el néctar dulce embarrado en toda la cara y dedos,
lanzando las cáscaras por detrás de nuestra espalda. Subí al techo y
me eché al sol (había esperado eso por semanas!) y cuando me desperté
algunas horas después, tenía toda la cara y pecho quemados. Jesica y
Ankur habian ido al pueblo. Me puse a platicar con Neilu, ella tocó la
tabla y cocinamos frijoles con calabaza y luego dormí más toda la
Estoy contenta aquí.

from valeria [2]

[a few journals from valeria about her trip to india last summer,
which i asked for a few months ago. we all know how slow the indian
post is...]

domingo 16 Julio 2006 (?)

Rishikesh. India está resultando ser una prueba muy difícil. Todos los
días hay un momento durante el cual pienso que quisiera irme de aquí.
Después de Delhi tomamos un tren de 2a clase a Amritsar. En el tren
conocimos a un chavo sikh del cual nos enamoramos perdidamente; era
hermoso. Yo quise dibujarlo y más me enamoraba de él al analizarle los
labios, el turbante, los ojos castaños....Mi fantasía era sólo
interrumpida por la multitud de personas que se juntó detrás de mi
espalda para espiar lo que estaba dibujando. Needless to say, el
dibujo resultó ser sólo una caricatura mediocre de la realidad; estaba
demasiado distraída por sus facciones. Ese sikh y la imagen de él
soltándose el largo pelo nos acompañó durante mucho tiempo.
En Amritsar nos hospedamos gratuitamente en el templo, ya que es un
lugar de peregrinaje. Para los turistas tienen reservados cuartos
"especiales" que lo único que tienen de especial es que tienes tu
propia cama, y eso ya es mucho. Fuimos a ver el Golden Temple, un
templo que me hizo llorar de lo bello y surreal que me parecía la
situación. Es un templo de oro en medio de una laguna artificial.
Dentro están los gurús y la gente rezando, miles de ellos, pero en
perfecto orden y armonía. Fue hermoso.
En Amritsar nos dimos cuenta que en la India no hay tiempo. Cuando nos
parecían las nueve de la noche, era en realidad la una de la mañana.
Un día nos levantamos frescas en la mañana y salimos a la calle, y
tiempo después nos percatamos de habernos levantado como a las seis de
la mañana, pensando que eran las diez. Yo lo llamo el No Time Place.
Una vez, cuando le pregunté la hora a Jesica, ella resumió esta
sensación contestando "como que por un momento no supe si tenía que
haber una hora o no".

from valeria [1]

[a few journals from valeria about her trip to india last summer,
which i asked for a few months ago. we all know how slow the indian
post is...]


Estamos en el tren Delhi-Amritsar. Han pasado tantas cosas que no sé
cómo empezar a describirlas.
El primer día en Delhi, Jesica y yo nos dimos cuenta de lo
acostumbradas que estamos al primer mundo. El hotel nos pareció
rascuache, pero estábamos agradecidas por tener una cama y un baño,
aunque tuviéramos que saltar varios cuerpos en el piso y en la
oscuridad para llegar a él. El cuarto olía a orines, pero después de
un rato nos acostumbramos. Cuando salimos a dar una vuelta descubrimos
la parte difícil de la India. Lo que nos asombró no fue la pobreza,
como habíamos creído, sino el caos. Quizá por el hecho de que venimos
de un país pobre no nos sorprendimos ante las escenas decadentes y
tristes de un tercer mundo. Nos agobiamos muchísimo. Era difícil -casi
imposible- cruzar las calles, ya que parece que no hay dos carriles
para los autos, sino que todos manejan por donde pueden; cada auto
advirtiendo su presencia con el claxon. El ruido de la calle, las
multitudes, el calor, toda la gente viéndonos y llamándonos: "hallo?
excuse me, maram". Las calles no tienen nombre y por más que nos
esforzamos, nos perdimos y dimos muchas vueltas bajo el calor humedo,
que ya nos empapaba la ropa de sudor. Sacar el mapa a media calle
tampoco resultó util, ya que la gente simplemente se detenía a
jalarnos la ropa, a hablarnos en un inglés que no entendíamos, a
intentar vendernos cosas. Desesperadas, admitimos nuestra derrota y
nos refugiamos en un café muy estilo occidental con A/C donde
intentamos recuperar energías y estudiar bien el mapa, pero de nada
sirvió. Después volvimos a salir, pero obtuvimos los mismos
resultados, así que nos regresamos al hotel, sintiéndonos vencidas y
avergonzadas. Después de una siesta regeneradora, salimos y fuimos a
un mercado, donde aprendimos a decir "NO!" con decisión a todos los
Por la noche salimos a la terraza del hotel y vimos la semifinal del
mundial Italia-Alemania y ganó Italia.
Estaba feliz. Jesica argumentó que los italianos juegan muy sucio y
que no merecían la victoria. Yo la llamé ardida.
También descubrimos muchas siluetas de personas acuclilladas sobre los
techos de alrededor, mirándonos. Jesica dijo "Erik tenía razón: en
India nunca estás solo".
Al día siguiente llegó Fer. Estuvimos toda la mañana en el aeropuerto
Luego nos fuimos en metro al Red Fort.
El metro es lo más alucinante. Parece que estás entrando al primer
mundo. Pero no al primer mundo estilo Italia, sino estilo Hong Kong.
Super tecnológico, limpio, eficaz.
En el Red Fort sufrimos el acosamiento de un grupo de chavos liderados
por un niño. El niño habrá tenido doce años y era el más joven de
todos, pero nos miraba con ojos desafiantes y era el más atrevido. Nos
siguieron durante mucho tiempo, intentando ligarnos. Jesica dijo que
le recordaba al líder de los Mambo Kings, que era sólo un niño
también. Me dio mucha risa. Apenas Jesica y yo nos alejamos un poco,
Fer se vio rodeada por decenas! de personas. No estoy exagerando; de
verdad eran unas veinte personas. Mujeres que le daban a cargar el
niño y hombres silenciosos sentados alrededor de ella a mirarla
fijamente. Fer reaccionó bastante bien, hablaba con todos, se sentía
el centro de la atención y eso le gusta a Fer.
De ahí nos fuimos a la Grand Mosque, donde nos dejaron entrar
descalzas y fue lindo sentir la serenidad de la gente ahí dentro.
Vimos por primera vez a dos hombres agarrados de la mano, y yo me hice
"amiga" de una viejita musulmana que cada vez que pasaba me señalaba y
les decía algo a sus amigas. Nosotros lo interpretamos como que decía
"miren, ven a esa muchacha blanca? Es mi amiga".
Decidimos regresar caminando, ingenuas, hasta el hotel. Primera regla
de oro: en Delhi no sales a pasear. Necesitas tener una meta fija y
una ruta bien definida. Atravesamos un barrio que nos pareció Deep
India; lleno de gente, rickshaws, vacas, mierda, suciedad, cables de
luz que tapaban la luz del sol y monos que comían basura.......éramos
por supuesto las únicas turistas. Caminamos en silencio, completamente
perdidas excepto por la buena orientación de Jesica, cada una
absorbiendo todas las escenas, los ruidos, los olores y las
sensaciones que nos despertaba todo este caos alrededor. Sentí un poco
de miedo, pero al mismo tiempo esta gente me da confianza.
Después de bañarnos en el hotel, fuimos a cenar. No habíamos comido
nada en todo el día y estábamos agotadas. Fuimos a un restaurante
fresón de comida del sur. Estuvo delicioso! Pedimos los menús y
señalamos con el dedo un platillo al azar, pues no entendíamos nada.
Yo pedí algo así como Coconut Masala (aunque no me acuerdo bien si eso
fue lo que pedí yo y no las demás) y resultó ser como una crepa
enorme, llena de papa, coco, curry y con varias salsitas.
En la noche no dormí nada. Me di cuenta que me había enamorado de la
gente de India. Es increíble cómo todos te ven con los ojos bien
abiertos, se te acercan en silencio y ahí se quedan, viéndote. Como
decía en la guía: "in India staring is not rude". Los niños se acercan
timidamente, desafiados por sus amigos, y te sonríen. Las mujeres
quieren que cargues a sus niños y rien timidamente con sus amigas.
Es raro porque por un lado me sorprende todo esto nuevo, me fascina y
me llena de miedo y emoción. Pero por otro lado siento que ya lo he
visto, como si hubiera vivido acá y todo esto no fuera nuevo pa mí.
Ahora en el tren Fer y Jes se pusieron a hablar de nuestros futuros y
de cuando se casarán. Yo me puse de malas y me cambié de asiento.

17 January 2007

from a book about the maharshi

why does a tiny voice tell us that there is something more to life
than the routine daily grind? why do we keep catching hints of our
infinite nature? why do we look unfailingly for the unceasing fount of
joy, for the unending expanse of peace, for the boundless ocean of
love? when all expectation drops away, when memory too is quiet, the
silence of the heart swells up. it has been calling to us, this soft
sweet melody, always, always. but we have had no time to listen. we
have been too busy with our cares which we carry heavily on our puny
shoulders. so many things that we have to acheive occupy our attention
and the call of the heart goes unheard. it keeps calling though,
unceasingly, it never stops because we haven't bothered to listen.

- dr. sarada

so obviously im not making any claims about the writing or my
transcription but im meditating all day in a cave up here and the guy
is right on.

shes leaving home

ah, infamous "as if" striking once again. its a sunday afternoon and
im postponing the inevitable early afternoon pee to write a little
email. my last day in kuppadi once again and perhaps not the last
time. its been just over five weeks of intense flute playing,
occassional flute gorging, and daily intimacy with lower-middle class
keralan life. i feel i have some understanding of these people; which
is to say, some compassion, some heartache, and some question over
what it is a little i can do to help...

which always seems to be the question. and there it sits shaken and
dusted on the shelf as i head tomorrow across state lines and into
tamil nadu, the famed mexico of india, full of even more dosa and
mangos than this, the chilean counterpart. ramana maharshi's
knowledgeable spirit has me invited (please bring a print out the
email, says the ashram) to stay five days and find our krishna's
eternal lodging place in the heart. jan 17-22nd. i have a train ticket
from chennai to nagpur, two places i've never been on the 25th.

i think i can play the flute. or, as my teacher says, "now, i think
you can play something. before it was just shoo, shoo, shoo. and now
you have some tone."

i've never felt this way before, i'm having the time of my life, and
i'm really enjoying it. we're not quite at accomplishment yet but
there is some pride of having stuck with this music -- easily the
hardest non-human challenge i've ever attmepted -- for long enough to
enjoy hearing myself play. if that makes any sense.

on the 27th there is a natural farming conference in maharastra which
i'll be attending, enshallah. urban gardening and permacultism and
fukuoaka style agriculture and the whole bit. i have some ideas id
like to share and people to meet. after that ill be back in gujarat
with access to email and phones on a regular basis and ill be missing
Everything and ready to settle down and do some work for a good long

here i'll be leaving young perennial bean plants which were sprouted
with the full moon and will be transplated with the new one. tomatoes,
amaranth, holy basil, and young chiles. a happy little garden that
will hopefully provide meaning and maybe even sustenance for my
friends here.

working on getting a column off the ground, "Ankurbhai" cooking for
the 22nd century, blah blah, you know the drill. and hopefully write
this book on gandhi in the interstices of my travels.



a quote pooja sent me in the mail with some little coconut dolls, etc:

rilke says:

"haven't you gotten it yet? fling the emptiness inside into the spaces
we breathe:
perhaps thebirds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying."

black panthers head back to the motherland:

07 January 2007


jan 6th 2007

I thought I was only me and they teach that you are nothing,
but Mother --
Mother says we are water, just like her.

Now, how could it be other...
Are you a slab to temptation?
A volcano, unmoved to mourn its dead?

Or are you divided and poured together
again and again
mingling with forgotten wholes in joy
meeting yourself with joined palms
all over these rugged and comely lands?

Like mother, like mother.
As the legs spread so must the hips.
Like mother, like children.
As the earth is wet so must the body be.

Love mother, love children.

You jealous prize of generals,
You will not be bucketed, for long.

You thought it too hard and they teach you too little,
but Mother --
Mother has too many poems for water,
each of them a word:

oxum menininha

05 January 2007

december 28, feasts and the innocents

december 28th. traditionally celebrated as the feast of the slaughtered innocents. so a little honor and respect towards everyone out there, and everyone else out there who is working, and everyone else out there who is working for the slaughtered, and a little special honor and respect and love and gratitude and appreciation, on this day, for those who are working for the slaughtered innocents.

and i mean all the babies herod killed and the babies we killed in hiroshima and all the cancers we let fly courtesy of agents orange and god surely knows what other shades of pain. and i mean all the childs fed school lunch where ketchup is The Vegetable and all the children fed hard labour from the age of walk and those dying and otherwise disenfranchised in palestine and louisiana and thereever. thereevery, even.

i was first introduced to this holyday by john giuliano and john cortina, both of whom survive and one of whom on this earth, walking and running even. they are an inexhaustible fountain of inspiration for me, each and every day, and i recommend that everyone

a) support them in any way you can

b) have a genuine transcendental mystical experience when your schedule allows.

it's all pretty worth it.