all that is born


img_3877POSTCARD #244: New Delhi: Early morning light, people wrapped in shawls, long scarves bound around the head and tied under the chin. Dark faces, eyes looking out and they see me for an instant in a diamond eye-lock as I struggle to look away. They look with curiosity; I think they see me as one of those lost in maya, not in the real world for them, I’m living in a dream. They might laugh to themselves, but not in a hurtful way – I’m pretty sure they see me as a naïve person, like a grown up child, dependent on support mechanisms I pay for with an impossible wealth, as far as they’re concerned, removed from everyday values. They’re right, from where they stand. It’s true, and I’m in awe of them, their existence is unreachable. The actuality of their lives, I know nothing about. My ongoing practice of ‘self’/’no-self’ investigation, and awareness of awareness reflecting upon itself, is maybe something they know about so completely and utterly that if I were to ask the right question, I’d be swept away in the tidal wave of their wisdom. A received knowledge from generations past, centuries and thousands of years for them is the same as today, an ordinary reality.

Inside the dark interior of their houses, I see shadows moving in the dim light of an old-style incandescent 25-watt bulb, flickering in unsteady current, candles, oil lamps and small cooking fires. Pots and plates, carefully placed on the stones outside to dry in the open air, and I feel these things should be inside the house, in a plate rack in a drawer inside a cupboard, which closes with a magnetic door-fastener click.

A pregnant woman gazes at me for a moment as I go by; deep eyes, there’s something supernatural about this woman. I look away. Everything in this neighborhood is alien to me. The houses all look like they’re only partly built. Bare brick walls and there’s one incomplete upper floor, or some part of the house seemingly under construction. I heard it’s because they don’t have to pay tax if the house is still ‘being built.’ These half-built houses are everywhere; a family living on the ground floor and upstairs there are bare brick walls reaching up like pillars with just the sky where the roof should be. There’s an underlying uneasiness about it all, it seems to me, inadequate shelter, no protection, and a fierce tenacity of holding on to life.

There are others in more hazardous circumstances, street people and those with no dwellings at all, the dispossessed. Beyond that the sadhus, bearded men with matted hair in yellow robes, colored pigment smeared across the forehead, incense and candle-wax – hovering in a kind of other dimension – a living statement that all that is born, ceases. We die because we were born, there’s birth and death in every moment. So obvious, but almost all of the time I can’t see it.

Death is drawn to sound
like a slipper without a foot,
a suit without its wearer,
comes to knock with a ring,
stoneless and fingerless,
comes to shout without a mouth,
a tongue, without a throat.
Nevertheless its footsteps sound
and its clothes echo,
hushed like a tree.
[Death Alone by Pablo Neruda]


Photo by Melinda Ruck
~ G R A T I T U D E ~

19 thoughts on “all that is born

  1. Thank you for this glimpse into that other world you encounter there in India. I saw an art film as a child of street life in India, the poverty and the death. A child died and a flock of birds flew up in symbolism. I asked my mother what death was like, and did It hurt? She said, you rise above it. And I was about 9 years old.

    • That other world, yes I imagine as a 9 year old you’d have been awestruck how the flock of birds flew up in symbolism. I can picture it – India does have this quality… hard to find words that can describe things because words themselves are acrobats that never quite seem to say it as it really is.

  2. LOVED this post! I have a love affair with India though never been there except through hundred or so films, books and a best girl friend who is Indian. And as an on again,off again follower of Yogananda and Mooji. I can’t get enough of Indian culture, and would travel there if I were stronger physically and emotionally. It just feels so right.

    ” I think they see me as one of those lost in maya, not in the real world for them, I’m living in a dream. They might laugh to themselves, but not in a hurtful way – I’m pretty sure they see me as a naïve person, like a grown up child, dependent on support mechanisms I pay for with an impossible wealth, as far as they’re concerned, removed from everyday values. They’re right, from where they stand. It’s true, and I’m in awe of them, their existence is unreachable. The actuality of their lives, I know nothing about. My ongoing practice of ‘self’/’no-self’ investigation, and awareness of awareness reflecting upon itself, is maybe something they know about so completely and utterly that if I were to ask the right question, I’d be swept away in the tidal wave of their wisdom. A received knowledge from generations past, centuries and thousands of years for them is the same as today, an ordinary reality.”

    That expresses EXACTLY what I feel. And it is not some idealized view. When I follow Mooji’s Satsangs in India, they are so much better than the ones from the West. The questions Indians ask are so in sync with Mooji’s teachings, so vastly superior to the ego driven inquiries of Westerners. If YOU feel this, how much more lost in Maya and ego am I than you in your advanced progress from the monks and years of Buddhist studies.. I can’t wait for Mooji to broadcast from India in February and intend to watch the Satsangs there.

    The Sadhu, the poor have so much more developed spirituality than anything in the West, and most especially than the US. It apparent throughout the culture. I know there are also some very bad things about India, sanitation, treatment of women and corruption,poverty and despair but still what you write about is so spot on. Thank you for expressing it!

    • Thank you Ellen, Indian culture in a nutshell. A whole range of sensations are here in India, from the most gentle to the most harsh. There are no barriers preventing exposure to hazards, one has to use intelligence and common sense; there is no reason why you shouldn’t fall into blissful states, to be born, as we are, is bliss itself. You can find everything from the most extreme to the most benign in one single day walking through the city areas where people gather. This is why so many spiritual paths have had their beginning here, from thousands of years in the ancient past up to the present day…

  3. Reading your post reminded me of the old saying ‘As soon as we’re born we start to die’. Just like a leaf or a flower, some people in parts of the world are born into hard lives, a struggle, with poor food and shelter. And so it is I suppose in nature when seeds fall on barren ground, instead of rich soil. I think the human world is so like nature. A wonderful post Tiramit, followed by that lovely poem by Pablo Neruda.

    • Thanks Jude and you’re right. The human world is so like nature and it is nature of course but in the West we’ve forgotten that. Almost everything is happening in the head, a lot of it is not real, the mind is the cause of practically all problems. And thanks again Jude, reading your comment reminded me we need to think with the heart, not the head…

  4. Pingback: all that is born – from dhamma footsteps | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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