Thursday, December 27, 2007

first there is a mountain..

then there is no mountain..
then there is!

there is a teaching in the buddhist tradition
about gift giving and offerings..
that offering an inappropriate gift
may lead to impure consequences.
(ie: alcohol to one who is addicted to the substance!)

so it seems....
although freeing the caged birds was indeed
an act of kindness and compassion..
offered with pure intention..
had i thought it out a bit more clearly,
i would have seen the consequences of my actions
as not quite as auspicious..
the results not quite as compassionate..

you see, now that the word was out..
that the forengi was giving big bucks for caged birds..
there was a rush on cages..
... and birds of every shape and size and colour!

this morning as i had my morning milk tea
gazing at the 80 foot buddha..
there was a conference of birds upon his holy head.
i imagine the conversation...

may human beings wake up and stay awake!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

like a bird....

on a wire,
like a drunk
in a midnight choir..
i have tried,
in my way
to be free....

leonard cohen

there is a practice
in the buddhist tradition
to free animals..
those that will go to the slaughterhouse for food,
fish that will be caught..
birds in a cage...

along the road to the mahabodhi temple
there are boys who have caged birds...
golden finches of every hue..
green, long tailed parrots..

i had decided to empty a cage full
and my dharma pal, lorraine joined me in the release..
we offered the young busker 1000 rupees..
which is about 25$+ u.s. ..
alot of money for the bird boy..

we took the cage to the nearby park;
as lorraine offered up the four immeasurables..

may all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness,
may all beings be free of suffering and the cause of suffering,
may all beings never be parted
from the happiness that knows no suffering,
may all being abide in equanimity
without attachment or aversion to near or far.

we were witnessed and recorded by passer-bys..
on their cell cameras..
a group of young boys recited the prayers with us..
and around 30 yellow finches found their way
to the skies once more...

when asked why..?
we replied: wildlife conservation!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

heart pounding

the daijokyo temple is the last temple on temple road!
directly across the path..right outside my window,
is an 80 foot buddha statue made from sandstone...
around it are 10-12 smaller statues..buddha's disciples.

when i reached the guest house yesterday,
i was greeted by kiran lama-la who offered me
an entire cake in the shape of a heart!
it tasted alot like sallie's pound cake..
this one with cherries soaked in brandy for added flair!

i saved a few choice slices then gave the rest away to
all those who i see along my path each day..

sunjai is my water and cough drop stop..
his smile really is as brilliant as the sun..
last night in the gloaming under a smoky moon,
i heard his voice wave me a happy christmas..

the mother and daughter team who live on the street..
the daughter dutifully yet o so lovingly
oiling and combing mataji's hair..

the guard at the ATM stand..

the young boy and his friend
who sold me a map of india..
i was his very first customer..or so he said!

the men who sweep the buddha statue grounds
with such grace you imagine they are tai-chi masters..

...and all the rest..
beggars on the streets, a nun or a monk..
a rickshaw driver..

the very rickshaw driver that i changed places with..
here the rickshaws are cycles;
the drivers are men who seem ancient!
they have legs as big around as my wrists
but are as strong as the water buffaloes on the roadside..

i always walk to the temple but this particular morning,
i decided to climb on the cycle myself and give the driver a ride..
of course, i would pay him the 10 rupees.
his 'shaw was a mish-mash of chains and pedals and spokes.
i had to keep using the brakes
just to keep the tires going in a straight line..
it got to be too i turned it over to him..
10 rupees too!

we had a good heart laugh and a pound of cake!
christmas cake..butter, sugar and the bright light of spring!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

solstice full moon buddhafields

gaya is only a few kilometres from bodhgaya,
the most holy of holies for those who enjoy
the middle way of the buddha..
a cutting from the very bodhi tree is strongly rooted
and grows quite large in the courtyard
of the mahabodhi a world heritage site.
the grounds are full of pilgrims
from every buddhist tradition..
there are dozens of prostrating boards
for those who are doing 100,000 bows
to the awakened pristine awareness!
offerings of butter lamps and small bowls of marigolds
decorate the walls and stupas..
with strands of marigolds draped everywhere!
as the sun heats up, the fragrance blossoms..
we are all blessed with the saffron medicine.

the 17th karmarpa is from the kagyu tradition
of tibetan buddhism; the sangha is holding the 25th kagyu monlam..
prayers from 6 am to eventide..
teachings on milarepa's 100,000 songs..
~mahamudra transmission~
akshobya pujas and prayers..
tea and rolls are served every day to thousands of pilgrims..
lotus flowers adorn the greenery..

i am staying at the daijokyo guest house
away from the maddening crowd..
praise be!
the guest master is the kind, generous
kiran lama..
he reminds me of sallie ..
(tho' he is younger than i )
her gracious way when she ran the nantucket inn..

he is making christmas cakes..
~i get a piece on christmas day~
and every full moon he makes rice pudding
in honor of the buddha's enlightenment..
a young girl offered the buddha rice and milk,
2550 years ago, to give him the strength to wake up!
kiran lama-la's recipe is known throughout bodhgaya
because of the subtle flavors..raisons..cashews..
guess what i had for breakfast?

Friday, December 21, 2007

netaji subhash bose

the route from kolkutta to gaya is an international flight..
it caused a bit of confusion for the guards..
some of the most handsome men in india..
or else some of the most ornery!
as i was walking through the door at the domestic airport,
an ornery guard sent me packing to the international sector..
silly me, it was still dark and i took a taxi..
or rather, the taxi took me for 50 rupees..
i could have walked..
which i did at least three times
back and forth from the domestic to international;
forth and back until... emaho!
someone took pity on me..and we found that..
it IS an international flight
to yangoon with a stop in gaya..
who knew?

my new flight name is:
dunja lingwooms!

the airport in kolkutta is:
netaji subhash bose
international airport

while i was waiting
for my international flight to yangoon
with a stop in gaya..
i met a young spanish woman..angela..
she had noticed the peace is healthy patch
on my pack..
yes! my walking pack..
we spoke about the small steps each of us can take
to have peace in our lives..
moment by moment..
day by day..
every hour on the hour..

i am sending her father ..
who teaches english..
the peace stickers in all three languages..

i left the u.s.a. without a single peace cling..

Sunday, December 16, 2007

why don't we do it in the road? part 2

under the streetlight on the corner,
one can get ones ironing done..
even at midnight..
here in bodhgaya, you can get
a head massage, shave and a haircut
(with the mirror hanging from a tree!)
how about your grave stone carved and cut?
bullock carts,
small horses pulling colourful carts..
prayer shawls and monk's robes..

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

why don't we do it in the road?

the road..
where there is every kind of every thing happening..
welding..without safety glasses and sparks a flyin'..
skinning goats, sheep and chickens..
typewriters waiting to compose lettres and legal docs..
men hanging out to whiz along the high walls..
women carrying vessels of water.. laundry..

every kind of everything for sale!
from bras and panties to sliced papaya dusted with road grime..
calendars, santa claus hats, badminton rackets,
recharge your phone, hot chips..

no wonder it is difficult
to put two and two together..
walking highway one south to san francisco
had a one-pointed intent..
thoughts are as wilde as the road itself..

heading to calcutta..
then to gaya/bodhgaya
for the kagyumonlam with HH, the 17th karmapa..
where teachings on the medicine buddha and
the stories of milerapa will be the skyway..

Friday, December 7, 2007

rock a bye babe

searching for a new home for my dear friend, sudha
has been illuminating, exhausting..rewarding..
converting lakhs into dollars has been challenging also..
what IS the rate of the falling dollar?

traveling by rickshaw in a city of 7 million,
the pollution rises
along with the screeching of brakes, honking of horns,
right into the central channel of the spine
via tender nostrils!

the sites we viewed for a new home were varied;
the sights seen from the moving "took~took"
were even more eye-widening..

three young children..
so small and brown and barely dressed
were playing in an empty plot of land..
one small girl was gently caressing a brick baby..
holding it with such love..cooing, stroking, rocking..
the young boy had a piece of styrofoam..
he had made some design and was steering it into...?
outer space, per chance..
the third small girl was watching the child mother
with eyes of admiration..

on our way out of the village,
all three were in a box boat..
roiling on the high seas
heading to tahiti, i imagine...
where winds are cool,
fruit is sweet..
doll babies are made of cloth.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

sharma executive sleeper

there is an overnight bus that
travels to pondicherry
on the coast of the bay of bengal..
it is a sleeper,
which means,
you actually book a bunk
where you can stretch out
and... if you are lucky...

i had been up late the night before..
at the movies
aaja nachel

sleep came easy..
the rains had come to bangalore
and followed us~
swade and victor and me..
so pondi and auroville's red mud
(hello, north carolina!)
caked up happily on the bottom of our shoes..

we are waiting for our pass to
the matri mandhir..
the centre of auroville..
the huge ..biggest in the world, i'm told..
(well, the biggest in southeast asia)
crystal that juices up this coastal region.

we are staying in the middle of the forest
with an indian family;
duray, the papa of two,
has been in auroville since he was seven.
he actually helped build the meditation hall..

lunch at the solar kitchen..o my o

it is muggy, moist and mosquito-y..
perfect indian weather, acha?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


this is a great drink for the tender care
of scratchy throats and coughs due to colds..

clear, cool water
cumin seeds (1/2 tsp.)
garlic (2-3 small cloves crushed)
ginger (about 3/4 inch)
turmeric powder (1/2 tsp.)
peppercorns (5-7)
jaggery - an indian sugar..
if you cannot get it,
add honey AFTER you boil..

boil for about 3-5 minutes.
add sweetness..
drink and heal!

it is a soothing drink if you've been
in rickshaws all day attempting to
gather funds from a finicky ATM card!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

rusty pipes

how does one begin to share the stories
that arrive moment by moment as the days
go by in mother india..?

starting with the bucket showers,
the bucket laundry,
the bucket toilets..

the rickshaws..
the traffic jams in bangalore,
the earth caked on the inside of one's throat..
the chalk kollams drawn in front of houses,
the dogs..the tea..
the dosas!

i am rusty on the keyboard;
my thoughts can't seem to find
focus to tell the tales..

slow and small to this vast hindustan..
it has changed since i began traveling here in 1976..
the world has grown beyond itself..
the world rests on the head of a pin..