These are a few of my favorite things: #38(Queen of Versailles); Quitting the Rat Race #19

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Queen of Versailles is a peek into the (sad & pathetic) lives of (filthy) Rich n Famous. We always try to speculate whether money buys happiness or not. We philosophize & wonder about it. We reason n we argue. There is no definitive answer to this quest. Everyone has their own hypothesis n conclusions. Now this Award winning Documentary  by Lauren Greenfield  gives us an excellent lens to see things with our own eyes. n then decide!! It’s a commentary on the emptiness of consumerism driven life & failure of the American Dream.

The Queen of Versailles” began as a documentary about a time-share billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America. It ended as perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession.”

The Siegels have a plan to build a 90,000 square feet home, bigger than the White house n modeled on the Palace of Versailles, ‘cos their life can no longer fit into the 26,000 square feet home!! Now just look at what all it will have when finished:

When completed it will have:

  • 15 bedrooms

  • 30 bathrooms, each with a full-sized jacuzzi tub

  • 10 kitchens and a sushi bar

  • Bowling alley

  • Baseball field

  • 2-3 Theater sized Entertainment Centres

  • Roller-skating rink

  • Arcade

  • 3 swimming pools

  • Fitness center

  • Spa

  • 20 car garage

  • Staff Quarters

10 Kitchens!! Are you fucking kidding me? I mean what do you need 10 kitchens for?? Reminds me of one of my favorite stories, ‘The Billionaires‘ by Maxim Gorky in which he wonders what do billionaires do with all the wealth..Do have stomachs twice/thrice the size of normal people? or do they have more mouths?? or maybe more teeth!

Now about the Siegels:

David Siegel is the founder n owner of Westgate, the pioneer n biggest player in Timeshare holiday industry. He is 74 something. He married Jackie, a beauty pageant winner n 30 years his junior when he was 60. Together they have 8 children!!!. Jackie has a fondness for shopping n she shops things by truckloads (or rather limousine loads) when the stuff is already overflowing in their huge mansion. There are too many children, too many (neglected) pets,too many nannies n housekeeping help n too much clutter, n too little appreciation for anything, n no Savings. Obviously they fly in their Private jets n when the recession hit their fortunes, the ‘poor’ folks had to fly commercial…one of the son asks, ‘What are all these people doing in our plane?’ !!

David says everyone wants to be rich,if they are not rich, they want to feel rich n if they don’t want to feel rich, they are dead!!! 

But is he himself happy with all this wealth and opulence?? The Answer comes from the horses mouth. David  openly admits to the camera that nothing makes him happy any more. Asked if he draws strength from his marriage, he flatly replies, “No.” Finally , some sense starts to prevail when it becomes clear to him that recession has actually hit them too. Then he is like a normal middle class person getting worried about electricity bills, Housing staff is cut down drastically, but regardless the X’mas shopping n party are celebrated with fanfare.

As a person who actually enjoys frugality n living beneath the mean,I really don’t understand a lifestyle filled with so much extravagance n wastage. Period. Even if I had billions n trillions I would really want to stay the way we live now. The big mansions don’t even excite me. I dream of shifting into smaller n smaller homes n finally ending up in tiny house (1100 square feet). Tiny houses n simple lifestyle with low footprint is what excites me. I am not even interested in how their life fell apart during recession…I don’t like that extravagant n wasteful lifestyle even if had continued being so without hiccups. That kind of lifestyle is empty n hideous. I’m simply not interested in too much money, ‘cos all it gets you is a super ugly gold throne. I’m happy lounging in my easy chair, reading books n daydreaming.

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September 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . English Movies, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Movies, Must Watch Movies, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #32(Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield)

Miss Brill is a story about an old woman who lacks companionship and self-awareness. Each Sunday, Miss Brill ventures down to the park to watch and listen to the band play. She finds herself listening not only to the band, but also to strangers. She enjoys living vicariously by eavesdropping into the lives of others. Miss Brill spends her Sunday afternoon seated on a park bench, this is the highpoint of her life. She watches others around her and pretends that all of them including her-self are actors in a play; She weaves an elaborate fantasy around this thought n it gives her huge satisfaction to be involved in the grand scheme of things. On this particular Sunday she has chosen to wear her favorite coat which she believes to be fashionable. She is generally enjoying herself, listening to the band, lost in reverie n at the prospect of her favorite past time: Eavesdropping. But things take an unexpected turn, a young pair of lovers walks in n makes some rude comments about her. Why does she drag her old mug out of her home? Says the guy n the girl laughs at Miss Brill’s coat. This disheartens Miss Brill n she hurries home, forgetting even to stop at the bakery to pick up her Sunday indulgence of honey cake. Miss Brill is a story about the loneliness of an old, solitary Lady. But for me it worked differently. It spoke to me of two things.

 1) Why do people take so much interest in the lives of others? Granted one may be living alone, but there are enough things in the world to engage oneself constructively without taking interest in lives of others. One can enjoy one’s glorious solitude with variety of things like music, gardening, reading which are richly rewarding n not pathetic.

 2) Why do we let the opinions of others effect us so deeply n badly.By doing this we make ourselves a puppet into other people’s hands. Just one remark from the young woman about her coat n suddenly it ain’t her favorite coat anymore!! She goes home n packs it away. N by the way who is the young man to decide whether Miss Brill is wanted in the park or not? Instead of getting so wounded by careless remark by stupid young people, Miss Brill should have continued to enjoy what her special Sunday outing in the park n her treat of honey cake.

~The unhappiest people in this world, are those who care the most about what other people think. ~ C. JoyBell C.

~I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

~No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

~ He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.” ~ Brigham Young

I find Buddha’s way of dealing with insults the best way. Once Buddha was passing through a village n some people in the village very angry with him for spreading radical ideas n inspiring youth to lead an ascetic life. So they gathered around him & started abusing him. Buddha listened to their abuses patiently n even compassionately!!! In the end he just said that he’d be passing through the village in the evening again n if someone had some more accusations they could abuse him then, People were surprised. They expected Buddha to retaliate n abuse in return, to get angry/upset/sad. But Buddha did none of these. He then explained that if someone gives you a gift n you don’t accept it, the gift is returned to the sender, in the same way he had not accepted the insult/abuse. Now I know Miss Brill is no Buddha n neither am I. But still we can remind ourselves of Buddha’s way n act a little more intelligently n not be wounded by harmful words of others.

Oh yeah, now the story!!! :

Miss Brill

Although it was so brilliantly fine – the blue sky powdered with gold and great spots of light like white wine splashed over the Jardins Publiques – Miss Brill was glad that she had decided on her fur. The air was motionless, but when you opened your mouth there was just a faint chill, like a chill from a glass of iced water before you sip, and now and again a leaf came drifting – from nowhere, from the sky. Miss Brill put up her hand and touched her fur. Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again. She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes. “What has been happening to me?” said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap at her again from the red eiderdown! … But the nose, which was of some black composition, wasn’t at all firm. It must have had a knock, somehow. Never mind – a little dab of black sealing-wax when the time came – when it was absolutely necessary … Little rogue! Yes, she really felt like that about it. Little rogue biting its tail just by her left ear. She could have taken it off and laid it on her lap and stroked it. She felt a tingling in her hands and arms, but that came from walking, she supposed. And when she breathed, something light and sad – no, not sad, exactly – something gentle seemed to move in her bosom.

     There were a number of people out this afternoon, far more than last Sunday. And the band sounded louder and gayer. That was because the Season had begun. For although the band played all the year round on Sundays, out of season it was never the same. It was like some one playing with only the family to listen; it didn’t care how it played if there weren’t any strangers present. Wasn’t the conductor wearing a new coat, too? She was sure it was new. He scraped with his foot and flapped his arms like a rooster about to crow, and the bandsmen sitting in the green rotunda blew out their cheeks and glared at the music. Now there came a little “flutey” bit – very pretty! – a little chain of bright drops. She was sure it would be repeated. It was; she lifted her head and smiled.


     Only two people shared her “special” seat: a fine old man in a velvet coat, his hands clasped over a huge carved walking-stick, and a big old woman, sitting upright, with a roll of knitting on her embroidered apron. They did not speak. This was disappointing, for Miss Brill always looked forward to the conversation. She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn’t listen, at sitting in other people’s lives just for a minute while they talked round her.

     She glanced, sideways, at the old couple. Perhaps they would go soon. Last Sunday, too, hadn’t been as interesting as usual. An Englishman and his wife, he wearing a dreadful Panama hat and she button boots. And she’d gone on the whole time about how she ought to wear spectacles; she knew she needed them; but that it was no good getting any; they’d be sure to break and they’d never keep on. And he’d been so patient. He’d suggested everything – gold rims, the kind that curved round your ears, little pads inside the bridge. No, nothing would please her. “They’ll always be sliding down my nose!” Miss Brill had wanted to shake her.

     The old people sat on the bench, still as statues. Never mind, there was always the crowd to watch. To and fro, in front of the flower-beds and the band rotunda, the couples and groups paraded, stopped to talk, to greet, to buy a handful of flowers from the old beggar who had his tray fixed to the railings. Little children ran among them, swooping and laughing; little boys with big white silk bows under their chins, little girls, little French dolls, dressed up in velvet and lace. And sometimes a tiny staggerer came suddenly rocking into the open from under the trees, stopped, stared, as suddenly sat down “flop,” until its small high-stepping mother, like a young hen, rushed scolding to its rescue. Other people sat on the benches and green chairs, but they were nearly always the same, Sunday after Sunday, and – Miss Brill had often noticed – there was something funny about nearly all of them. They were odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just come from dark little rooms or even – even cupboards!


     Behind the rotunda the slender trees with yellow leaves down drooping, and through them just a line of sea, and beyond the blue sky with gold-veined clouds.

     Tum-tum-tum tiddle-um! tiddle-um! tum tiddley-um tum ta! blew the band.

     Two young girls in red came by and two young soldiers in blue met them, and they laughed and paired and went off arm-in-arm. Two peasant women with funny straw hats passed, gravely, leading beautiful smoke-coloured donkeys. A cold, pale nun hurried by. A beautiful woman came along and dropped her bunch of violets, and a little boy ran after to hand them to her, and she took them and threw them away as if they’d been poisoned. Dear me! Miss Brill didn’t know whether to admire that or not! And now an ermine toque and a gentleman in grey met just in front of her. He was tall, stiff, dignified, and she was wearing the ermine toque she’d bought when her hair was yellow. Now everything, her hair, her face, even her eyes, was the same colour as the shabby ermine, and her hand, in its cleaned glove, lifted to dab her lips, was a tiny yellowish paw. Oh, she was so pleased to see him – delighted! She rather thought they were going to meet that afternoon. She described where she’d been – everywhere, here, there, along by the sea. The day was so charming – didn’t he agree? And wouldn’t he, perhaps? … But he shook his head, lighted a cigarette, slowly breathed a great deep puff into her face, and even while she was still talking and laughing, flicked the match away and walked on. The ermine toque was alone; she smiled more brightly than ever. But even the band seemed to know what she was feeling and played more softly, played tenderly, and the drum beat, “The Brute! The Brute!” over and over. What would she do? What was going to happen now? But as Miss Brill wondered, the ermine toque turned, raised her hand as though she’d seen some one else, much nicer, just over there, and pattered away. And the band changed again and played more quickly, more gayly than ever, and the old couple on Miss Brill’s seat got up and marched away, and such a funny old man with long whiskers hobbled along in time to the music and was nearly knocked over by four girls walking abreast.


     Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was like a play. It was exactly like a play. Who could believe the sky at the back wasn’t painted? But it wasn’t till a little brown dog trotted on solemn and then slowly trotted off, like a little “theatre” dog, a little dog that had been drugged, that Miss Brill discovered what it was that made it so exciting. They were all on the stage. They weren’t only the audience, not only looking on; they were acting. Even she had a part and came every Sunday. No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn’t been there; she was part of the performance after all. How strange she’d never thought of it like that before! And yet it explained why she made such a point of starting from home at just the same time each week – so as not to be late for the performance – and it also explained why she had quite a queer, shy feeling at telling her English pupils how she spent her Sunday afternoons. No wonder! Miss Brill nearly laughed out loud. She was on the stage. She thought of the old invalid gentleman to whom she read the newspaper four afternoons a week while he slept in the garden. She had got quite used to the frail head on the cotton pillow, the hollowed eyes, the open mouth and the high pinched nose. If he’d been dead she mightn’t have noticed for weeks; she wouldn’t have minded. But suddenly he knew he was having the paper read to him by an actress! “An actress!” The old head lifted; two points of light quivered in the old eyes. “An actress – are ye?” And Miss Brill smoothed the newspaper as though it were the manuscript of her part and said gently; “Yes, I have been an actress for a long time.”

     The band had been having a rest. Now they started again. And what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill – a something, what was it? – not sadness – no, not sadness – a something that made you want to sing. The tune lifted, lifted, the light shone; and it seemed to Miss Brill that in another moment all of them, all the whole company, would begin singing. The young ones, the laughing ones who were moving together, they would begin, and the men’s voices, very resolute and brave, would join them. And then she too, she too, and the others on the benches – they would come in with a kind of accompaniment – something low, that scarcely rose or fell, something so beautiful – moving … And Miss Brill’s eyes filled with tears and she looked smiling at all the other members of the company. Yes, we understand, we understand, she thought – though what they understood she didn’t know.


     Just at that moment a boy and girl came and sat down where the old couple had been. They were beautifully dressed; they were in love. The hero and heroine, of course, just arrived from his father’s yacht. And still soundlessly singing, still with that trembling smile, Miss Brill prepared to listen.

     “No, not now,” said the girl. “Not here, I can’t.”

     “But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?” asked the boy. “Why does she come here at all – who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”

     “It’s her fu-ur which is so funny,” giggled the girl. “It’s exactly like a fried whiting.”

     “Ah, be off with you!” said the boy in an angry whisper. Then: “Tell me, ma petite chere–“

     “No, not here,” said the girl. “Not yet.”

 

On her way home she usually bought a slice of honey-cake at the baker’s. It was her Sunday treat. Sometimes there was an almond in her slice, sometimes not. It made a great difference. If there was an almond it was like carrying home a tiny present – a surprise – something that might very well not have been there. She hurried on the almond Sundays and struck the match for the kettle in quite a dashing way.

     But to-day she passed the baker’s by, climbed the stairs, went into the little dark room – her room like a cupboard – and sat down on the red eiderdown. She sat there for a long time. The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.

May 14, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . My Favorite Things, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Short-Story, Solitude, Wisdom. 3 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #31 (The Billionaire by Maxim Gorky)

Money cash

Money cash (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I once read an amusing anecdote by Osho which goes like this:

One day Mulla Nasruddin told me, “I wish I had more land”.

 I asked him, “But why? As it is you already have enough”.

 He said, “I could raise lot more cows”.

 I asked him, “And what would you do with them?”

 He said, “Sell them & make more money.”

 “And then? What are you going to do with that money?”

 “Buy more land.”

 “For what?”

 “To raise more cows.”

This is the way it goes, you never come out of it.

Similar sentiment runs through this humorous & Brilliant short story by the Russian author Maxim Gorky

The Billionaire

by Maxim Gorkiy


The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always in a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these people who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.

Each of them (so I said to myself) must call his own, at least, three stomachs and a hundred and fifty teeth. I did not doubt that the millionaire ate without intermission, from six o’clock in the morning till midnight. It goes without saying, the most exquisite and sumptuous viands! Toward evening, then, he must be tired of the hard chewing, to such a degree that (so I pictured to myself) he gave orders to his servants to digest the meals that he had swallowed with satisfaction during the day. Completely limp, covered with sweat and almost suffocated, he had to be put to bed by his servants, in order that on the next morning at six o’clock he might be able to begin again his work of eating.

Nevertheless, it must be impossible for such a man — whatever pains he might take — to consume merely the half of the interest of his wealth.

To be sure, such a life is awful, but what is one to do? For what is one a millionaire — what am I saying? — a billionaire, if one cannot eat more than every other common mortal! I pictured to myself that this privileged being wore cloth-of-gold underclothing, shoes with gold nails, and instead of a hat a diadem of diamonds on his head. His clothes, made of the most expensive velvet, must be at least fifty feet long and fastened with three hundred gold buttons; and on holidays he must be compelled by dire necessity to put on over each other six pairs of costly trousers. Such a costume is certainly very uncomfortable. But, if one is rich like that, one can’t after all dress like all the world.

The pocket of a billionaire, I pictured to myself so big that therein easily a church or the whole senate could find room. The paunch of such a gentleman I conceived to myself like the hull of an ocean steamer, the length and breadth of which I was not able to think out. Of the bulk, too, of a billionaire I could never give myself a clear idea; but I supposed that the coverlet under which he sleeps measures a dozen hundred square yards. If he chews tobacco, it was unquestionably only the best kind, of which he always sticks two pounds at a time into his mouth. And on taking snuff (I thought to myself) he must use up a pound at a pinch. Indeed, money will be spent!

His fingers must possess the magic power of lengthening at will. In spirit, I saw a New York billionaire as he stretched out his hand across Bering Strait and brought back a dollar that had rolled somewhere toward Siberia, without especially exerting himself thereby.

Curiously, I could form to myself no clear conception of the headof this monster. In this organism consisting of gigantic muscles and bones that is made for squeezing money out of all things, a head seemed to me really quite superfluous.

Who, now, can conceive my astonishment when, standing facing one of these fabulous beings, I arrived at the conviction that a billionaire is a human being like all the rest!

I saw there comfortably reclining in an armchair a long, wizened old man, who held his brown, sinewy hands folded across a body of quite ordinary dimensions. The flabby skin of his face was carefully shaved. The underlip, which hung loosely down, covered solidly built jaws, in which gilded teeth were stuck. The upper lip, smooth, narrow and pallid, scarcely moved when the old man spoke. Colorless eyes without brows, a perfectly bald skull. It might be thought that a little skin was wanting to this reddish face, to this countenance that was expressionless and puckered like that of one new-born. Was this being just beginning its life, or was it already nearing its end?

Nothing in his dress distinguished him from the ordinary mortal. A ring, a watch, and his teeth were all the gold he carried with him. Scarcely half a pound, all told! Taken altogether, the appearance of the man recalled that of an old servant of an aristocratic family in Europe.

The furnishing of the room in which he received me had nothing unusually luxurious about it. The furniture was solid; that is all that can be said. Oftentimes elephants probably come into this house, I involuntarily thought at the sight of the heavy, substantial pieces of furniture.

‘Are you the billionaire?’ I asked, since I could not trust my eyes.

‘Yes, indeed,’ he answered, nodding convincingly with his head.

‘How much meat can you consume for breakfast?’

‘I eat no meat in the morning,’ he avowed. ‘A quarter of an orange, an egg, a small cup of tea, that’s all . . .’

His innocent child’s-eyes blinked with a feeble luster, like two drops of muddy water.

‘Good,’ I began again, half disconcerted. ‘But be honest with me; tell me the truth. How often in the day do you eat?’

‘Twice,’ he answered, peacefully. ‘Breakfast and dinner suffice me. At noon I take soup, a little white meat, vegetables, fruit, a cup of coffee, a cigar . . .’

My surprise grew apace. I drew breath, and went on:

‘But, if that’s true, what do you do with your money?’

‘Make more money!’

‘What for?’

‘To make more money out of that!’

‘What for?’ I repeated.

He leaned toward me, his hands supported by the arms of his chair, and with some curiosity in his expression he said:

‘You are probably cracked?’

‘And you?’ I said . . .

The old man inclined his head, and, whistling softly through the gold of his teeth, he said:

‘Droll wag! . . . You are the first human being of your species that I ever became acquainted with.’

Then he bent his head back and looked at me some time, silently and scrutinizingly.

‘What do you do?’ I began again.

‘Make money,’ he answered, shortly.

‘Oh, you’re a counterfeiter!’ I exclaimed, joyfully, for I thought I had finally got to the bottom of the mystery. But the billionaire flew into a passion. His whole body shook, his eyes rolled actively.

‘That is unheard of!’ he said, when he had calmed down. Then he inflated his cheeks, I don’t know why.

I considered, and put further the following question to him:

‘How do you make money?’

‘Oh, that’s very simple. I possess railroads; the farmers produce useful commodities, which I transport to the markets. I calculate exactly to myself how much money I must leave the farmer, in order that he may not starve and be able to produce further. The rest I keep myself as transportation charges. That’s surely very simple!’

‘And are the farmers satisfied with it?’

‘Not all, I believe,’ he answered, with a naïve childishness. ‘But they say that the people are never satisfied. There are always odd characters who want still more . . .’

Some people get fixated on acquiring more and more money without even pausing to think what do they want it for? Is it worth slogging for money after we have enough to get all our necessities? Where will all that huffing n puffing for more and more money lead us? Isn’t contentment a smarter choice?

~It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor. ~ Seneca

 ~Greed will always leave you dissatisfied because you’ll never be able to get everything you desire. Greed never allows you to think you have enough; it always destroys you by making you strive ever harder for more. ~ Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Taking Stock: A Spiritual Guide to Rising Above Life’s Ups and Downs

~Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.~Socrates

~Money is just a tool, don’t let it make you a fool.

May 13, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Humor, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Osho, Quitting the Rat Race, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Short-Story, Wisdom. 3 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #26 (The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco)

English: Author Eugene Ionesco onboard a ship.

The Bald Soprano is an Absurd play by Eugene Ionesco.  At the beginning of the play we see an English couple, the Smiths who are sitting and discussing the day’s events or at any rate Mrs. Smith is discussing n her husband is reading the newspaper n clicking his tongue n responding sporadically (As seems to be the tradition of husbands n wives all over the world. What is so great about the sadistic boring newspaper that husband’s prefer it over the wives juicy talks?). Anyways, the conversation takes place in non-sequiturs which makes it totally inane and totally hilarious. Examples

MRS. SMITH: Mary did the potatoes very well, this evening. The last time she did not do them well. I do not like them when they are well done.

MR. SMITH: A conscientious doctor must die with his patient if they can’t get well together. The captain of a ship goes down with his ship into the briny deep, he does not survive alone.

MR. SMITH: All doctors are quacks. And all patients too. Only the Royal Navy is honest in England.

MR. SMITH: Here’s a thing I don’t understand. In the newspaper they always give the age of deceased persons but never the age of the newly born. That doesn’t make sense.

MARY: But it was you who gave me permission. MR. SMITH: We didn’t do it on purpose.

 Then they go on to discuss a family where everyone is named Bobby Watson. So Bobby Watson has died n yet Bobby Watson is supposed to be married in a few days. Bobby Watson is unemployed n Bobby Watson faces a tough competition in business. their illogical conversation continues till their maid comes n announces that they have some guests, The Martins, who are invited for dinner n who are standing outside ‘cos they were too shy to come in. (At this point Mrs. Smith who had only minutes earlier said ‘There, it’s nine o’clock. We’ve drunk the soup, and eaten the fish and chips, and the English salad. The children have drunk English water. We’ve eaten well this evening. That’s because we live in the suburbs of London and because our name is Smith.’ now says, ‘Oh, yes. We were expecting them. And we were hungry. Since they didn’t put in an appearance, we were going to start dinner without them. We’ve had nothing to eat all day. ‘) Then they rush to change…now it is the turn of Martins to carry on the absurd conversation, they forget that they are married n come to the conclusion that they must indeed be married by elimination n deductive reasoning. & so the absurdities continue…

To me the play spoke about the futility of our conversations. We human-beings flap our mouths a bit too much n insist on chattering despite not really having anything to say. Why are we so uncomfortable with golden silence n fill our time n space with trashy, meaningless gossip? Though we don’t talk in non-sequiturs but if we really think about it, our conversations are mostly unnecessary n as meaningless as that of The Smiths n Martins.

I get really terrified by the amount of small talk that happens at the parties. People go n on n on about the topics of no interest or relevance. They keep repeating what they have read in the newspapers forgetting that others get the newspapers too!! & I live in constant terror of phone calls for gossiping. I very much prefer the written communication which is so non intrusive n non abrasive.Though I don’t really yap all that much but the verbosity in play inspired me to introspect n find more opportunities to stay quiet. (“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” ~Will Rogers)

The Bald Soprano is a parody of our conversations, of the so-called dramatic situations of our lives, and of our inability to remain silent…. By a deliberate, stark use of the banal and a repetition of the worn-out clichés of language, Ionesco generates an unusual, fresh atmosphere.The Reader’s Encyclopedia of World Drama

 

This reminds me of one amusing story recounted by Osho tells of how each day Lao Tzu went for a morning walk.  Often a friendly neighbour would follow him, but knowing that Lao Tzu did not like idle chitchat, the neighbour would keep silent.  One day the neighbour had a visitor who also wanted to come; they took a long walk of several hours but the visitor was not comfortable in the silence and felt suffocated by it, so much so that when the sun was rising he said: “What a beautiful sun … look!”Later Lao Tzu said to the neighbour: “Please don’t bring this chatterbox with you again, he talks too much. ‘Cos I know the sun rise is beautiful, you know it is beautiful, he knows it is beautiful, what’s the need to blabber?’

“Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.” ~ William Faulkner

Silence is the means,
silence is the end, in silence only silence permeates.

If you would understand,
if you want to understand,
then only one thing is worth understanding – silence.

Osho : Early Talks – Bhuribai

See the Other Absurd Play reviews on my blog:

Come and Go 

and

Happy Days

 

March 12, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Eugene Ionesco, My Favorite Things, Plays, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #25 (Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow)

Soak up the sun by Sheryl Crow

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can’t afford his gas
So I’m stuck here watching TV

I don’t have digital
I don’t have diddly squat
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up
I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna soak up the sun

I’ve got a crummy job
It don’t pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do

I’m gonna soak up the sun
I’m gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I’m gonna tell ’em that)
I’ve got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I’m looking up

I’m gonna soak up the sun
While it’s still free

I’m gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me

Don’t have no master suite
But I’m still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I’m the one who has the key
Every time I turn around
I’m looking up, you’re looking down
Maybe something’s wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too

Who needs stupid expensive materialistic stuff when we have a rocking attitude to enjoy an uncomplicated simple life? The beauty of simple pleasures (n listening to such songs is among them) is really something else n is really kinda lost on people who are stuck in the rat race n living the false dream.Maybe something is really wrong with them to be lost in false glittery branded fake things n looking down on folks who are having the real fun!! Instead of racing for the new car, or gizmos or exotic vactions n villas, I’d just soak up the sun n chill. !!

Also check out my another favorite: Society

March 7, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Happiness, Music, My Favorite Things, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Simplicity, Wisdom. 1 comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #15 (I’m a Nobody by Emily Dickinson)

I’m a Nobody by Emily Dickinson

Emily dickinson

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us
Don’t tell—they’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public—like a frog—
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

 This poem literally speaks to me, ‘cos in a world full of people who worship the rich & famous & who want their 15 minutes of fame, I (and few  kindred souls) am (are)  happy being a nobody .

People will go to any lengths to gain fame, even become buffoons in front of the world in the so called reality TV shows. I simply don’t understand the charms of fame. Celebrities say that they enjoy being recognized everywhere, & I’m like what? What’s the benefit whatsoever to be never left alone peacefully to do your own things as you please rather than pleasing an audience all the times?  The poem satirizes glory seekers as well as their admiring fans. Much as I don’t understand the desire for fame, I understand celebrity worshiping still lesser. I’ve incredulously witnessed masses standing out in sun for hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity. I couldn’t care less about a movie-star or a sport celebrity. What I value is my own being n people who are near n dear to me in my own little world.

Perhaps I’m of  tradition of people like Chuang Tzu who revel in their own glory & being rather than being worshiped by masses. If you want to be famous you are really a puppet to what people want from you.

 Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P’u river, the king of Ch’u sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”

Chuang Tzu held onto the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch’u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”

“It would rather be alive dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials.

Chuang Tzu said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”

February 8, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Poetry, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. Leave a comment.

These are a few of my favorite things: #14 (The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov)

Do you feel your life will be all milk n honey if you win a lottery ticket?? Do you believe money is the solution to all your problems?? Well read this story & think again ^-^

CHEKHOV, Anton Pavlovich (1860-1904)

The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekhov

IVAN DMITRITCH, a middle-class man who lived with his family on an income of twelve hundred a year and was very well satisfied with his lot, sat down on the sofa after supper and began reading the newspaper. 

“I forgot to look at the newspaper today,” his wife said to him as she cleared the table. “Look and see whether the list of drawings is there.” 

“Yes, it is,” said Ivan Dmitritch; “but hasn’t your ticket lapsed?” 

“No; I took the interest on Tuesday.” 

“What is the number?” 

“Series 9,499, number 26.” 

“All right . . . we will look . . . 9,499 and 26.” 

Ivan Dmitritch had no faith in lottery luck, and would not, as a rule, have consented to look at the lists of winning numbers, but now, as he had nothing else to do and as the newspaper was before his eyes, he passed his finger downwards along the column of numbers. And immediately, as though in mockery of his scepticism, no further than the second line from the top, his eye was caught by the figure 9,499! Unable to believe his eyes, he hurriedly dropped the paper on his knees without looking to see the number of the ticket, and, just as though some one had given him a douche of cold water, he felt an agreeable chill in the pit of the stomach; tingling and terrible and sweet! 

“Masha, 9,499 is there!” he said in a hollow voice. 

His wife looked at his astonished and panic-stricken face, and realized that he was not joking. 

“9,499?” she asked, turning pale and dropping the folded tablecloth on the table. 

“Yes, yes . . . it really is there!” 

“And the number of the ticket?” 

“Oh, yes! There’s the number of the ticket too. But stay . . . wait! No, I say! Anyway, the number of our series is there! Anyway, you understand. . . .” 

Looking at his wife, Ivan Dmitritch gave a broad, senseless smile, like a baby when a bright object is shown it. His wife smiled too; it was as pleasant to her as to him that he only mentioned the series, and did not try to find out the number of the winning ticket. To torment and tantalize oneself with hopes of possible fortune is so sweet, so thrilling! 

“It is our series,” said Ivan Dmitritch, after a long silence. “So there is a probability that we have won. It’s only a probability, but there it is!” 

“Well, now look!” 

“Wait a little. We have plenty of time to be disappointed. It’s on the second line from the top, so the prize is seventy-five thousand. That’s not money, but power, capital! And in a minute I shall look at the list, and there — 26! Eh? I say, what if we really have won?” 

The husband and wife began laughing and staring at one another in silence. The possibility of winning bewildered them; they could not have said, could not have dreamed, what they both needed that seventy-five thousand for, what they would buy, where they would go. They thought only of the figures 9,499 and 75,000 and pictured them in their imagination, while somehow they could not think of the happiness itself which was so possible. 

Ivan Dmitritch, holding the paper in his hand, walked several times from corner to corner, and only when he had recovered from the first impression began dreaming a little. 

“And if we have won,” he said — “why, it will be a new life, it will be a transformation! The ticket is yours, but if it were mine I should, first of all, of course, spend twenty-five thousand on real property in the shape of an estate; ten thousand on immediate expenses, new furnishing . . . travelling . . . paying debts, and so on. . . . The other forty thousand I would put in the bank and get interest on it.” 

“Yes, an estate, that would be nice,” said his wife, sitting down and dropping her hands in her lap. 

“Somewhere in the Tula or Oryol provinces. . . . In the first place we shouldn’t need a summer villa, and besides, it would always bring in an income.” 

And pictures came crowding on his imagination, each more gracious and poetical than the last. And in all these pictures he saw himself well-fed, serene, healthy, felt warm, even hot! Here, after eating a summer soup, cold as ice, he lay on his back on the burning sand close to a stream or in the garden under a lime-tree. . . . It is hot. . . . His little boy and girl are crawling about near him, digging in the sand or catching ladybirds in the grass. He dozes sweetly, thinking of nothing, and feeling all over that he need not go to the office today, tomorrow, or the day after. Or, tired of lying still, he goes to the hayfield, or to the forest for mushrooms, or watches the peasants catching fish with a net. When the sun sets he takes a towel and soap and saunters to the bathing-shed, where he undresses at his leisure, slowly rubs his bare chest with his hands, and goes into the water. And in the water, near the opaque soapy circles, little fish flit to and fro and green water-weeds nod their heads. After bathing there is tea with cream and milk rolls. . . . In the evening a walk or vint with the neighbours. 

“Yes, it would be nice to buy an estate,” said his wife, also dreaming, and from her face it was evident that she was enchanted by her thoughts. 

Ivan Dmitritch pictured to himself autumn with its rains, its cold evenings, and its St. Martin’s summer. At that season he would have to take longer walks about the garden and beside the river, so as to get thoroughly chilled, and then drink a big glass of vodka and eat a salted mushroom or a soused cucumber, and then — drink another. . . . The children would come running from the kitchen-garden, bringing a carrot and a radish smelling of fresh earth. . . . And then, he would lie stretched full length on the sofa, and in leisurely fashion turn over the pages of some illustrated magazine, or, covering his face with it and unbuttoning his waistcoat, give himself up to slumber. 

The St. Martin’s summer is followed by cloudy, gloomy weather. It rains day and night, the bare trees weep, the wind is damp and cold. The dogs, the horses, the fowls — all are wet, depressed, downcast. There is nowhere to walk; one can’t go out for days together; one has to pace up and down the room, looking despondently at the grey window. It is dreary! 

Ivan Dmitritch stopped and looked at his wife. 

“I should go abroad, you know, Masha,” he said. 

And he began thinking how nice it would be in late autumn to go abroad somewhere to the South of France . . . to Italy . . . . to India! 

“I should certainly go abroad too,” his wife said. “But look at the number of the ticket!” 

“Wait, wait! . . .” 

He walked about the room and went on thinking. It occurred to him: what if his wife really did go abroad? It is pleasant to travel alone, or in the society of light, careless women who live in the present, and not such as think and talk all the journey about nothing but their children, sigh, and tremble with dismay over every farthing. Ivan Dmitritch imagined his wife in the train with a multitude of parcels, baskets, and bags; she would be sighing over something, complaining that the train made her head ache, that she had spent so much money. . . . At the stations he would continually be having to run for boiling water, bread and butter. . . . She wouldn’t have dinner because of its being too dear. . . . 

“She would begrudge me every farthing,” he thought, with a glance at his wife. “The lottery ticket is hers, not mine! Besides, what is the use of her going abroad? What does she want there? She would shut herself up in the hotel, and not let me out of her sight. . . . I know!” 

And for the first time in his life his mind dwelt on the fact that his wife had grown elderly and plain, and that she was saturated through and through with the smell of cooking, while he was still young, fresh, and healthy, and might well have got married again. 

“Of course, all that is silly nonsense,” he thought; “but . . . why should she go abroad? What would she make of it? And yet she would go, of course. . . . I can fancy . . . In reality it is all one to her, whether it is Naples or Klin. She would only be in my way. I should be dependent upon her. I can fancy how, like a regular woman, she will lock the money up as soon as she gets it. . . . She will hide it from me. . . . She will look after her relations and grudge me every farthing.” 

Ivan Dmitritch thought of her relations. All those wretched brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles would come crawling about as soon as they heard of the winning ticket, would begin whining like beggars, and fawning upon them with oily, hypocritical smiles. Wretched, detestable people! If they were given anything, they would ask for more; while if they were refused, they would swear at them, slander them, and wish them every kind of misfortune. 

Ivan Dmitritch remembered his own relations, and their faces, at which he had looked impartially in the past, struck him now as repulsive and hateful. 

“They are such reptiles!” he thought. 

And his wife’s face, too, struck him as repulsive and hateful. Anger surged up in his heart against her, and he thought malignantly: 

“She knows nothing about money, and so she is stingy. If she won it she would give me a hundred roubles, and put the rest away under lock and key.” 

And he looked at his wife, not with a smile now, but with hatred. She glanced at him too, and also with hatred and anger. She had her own daydreams, her own plans, her own reflections; she understood perfectly well what her husband’s dreams were. She knew who would be the first to try and grab her winnings. 

“It’s very nice making daydreams at other people’s expense!” is what her eyes expressed. “No, don’t you dare!” 

Her husband understood her look; hatred began stirring again in his breast, and in order to annoy his wife he glanced quickly, to spite her at the fourth page on the newspaper and read out triumphantly: 

“Series 9,499, number 46! Not 26!” 

Hatred and hope both disappeared at once, and it began immediately to seem to Ivan Dmitritch and his wife that their rooms were dark and small and low-pitched, that the supper they had been eating was not doing them good, but lying heavy on their stomachs, that the evenings were long and wearisome. . . . 

“What the devil’s the meaning of it?” said Ivan Dmitritch, beginning to be ill-humoured. “Wherever one steps there are bits of paper under one’s feet, crumbs, husks. The rooms are never swept! One is simply forced to go out. Damnation take my soul entirely! I shall go and hang myself on the first aspen-tree!”

So there..winning the money might not be such a good idea after all. All the feeling of relaxation, love n contentment were evaporated at the mere speculation of a chance to win big money. This story very well illustrates, ‘Money doesn’t change people, it merely unmasks them’.  This story is a very insightful commentary on human nature. Reminds me of a joke , ‘A man comes home one day and says, “Guess what honey? Pack your bags, I won the lottery!” The wife squeals with delight and says, “That’s great! Should I pack for the mountains or the beach?” He says, “I don’t care, just pack n get out of here!”

February 7, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Consumerism, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. 3 comments.

These are a few of my favorite things: #13 (The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant)

English: Guy de Maupassant. Français : Guy de ...

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant is a tragedy that highlights the downside of discontent, ingratitude & showoffism (living to impress others & be admired by others). Matilde is a very beautiful woman born to a poor family & married to an equally poor clerk in the Department of Education. Her husband is very loving but Matilde is very unhappy. She feels she is born to lead a life of luxury & to be rubbing shoulders with the rich & famous.  She has lot of things going for her…she is beautiful, she has a loving husband & a good domestic help so she doesn’t have to slog it n do the domestic chores. But instead of enjoying the good things she does have she’s always pining for things she doesn’t have. One day Liosel brings her an invitation to a ball dance held by some high official in his ministry. Liosel also gives her money that he’d been saving, to buy a new dress for the ball but then she also wants jewellery to go with her new dress.  When Liosel suggests she could wear flowers she scoffs at the suggestion. Then it is decided that she will borrow some jewellery from her rich friend Mme. Foresteir. Thus Matilde attends the party dressed upto nines complete with the borrowed necklace. She is the center of attention that evening. That is perhaps the best evening in her life, reveling in all the attention lavished on her. But alas! Before the Ball ends she loses her friend’s necklace. So they buy a ditto new necklace on instalments & return it to Mme. Forestier. Then spend the next ten years slogging to earn the money to pay for it. Matilde has to do away with her domestic help & do all the chores. Soon she loses her beauty & starts ageing prematurely due to toil & worry. The final tragic moment occurs when she meets Mme. Foresteir in the market one day & learns the the necklace she borrowed was a fake!!! The story wouldn’t have been half as tragic if the lost necklace was indeed real n expensive. Through the fake necklace we are given the message that at times we may be lured by the glitter of glamorous life but it is nothing but hollow n empty from inside. The real joy comes from contentment & gratitude for the things we have in life n not for running after mirages.

Here’s a beautiful animated adoption of the story (subtitles in English)

February 5, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Happiness, Quitting the Rat Race, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom, You tube. Leave a comment.

The Cake is Delicious (Living in the Present Moment): Zen Moments #8

English: Cake

English: Cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Greatest appeal of Zen for me is it’s focus on Present Moment, Zen does not concern itself with concepts like past lives, future lives, God, etc…it’s premise is pure & simple: Now is the only reality we can experience, we should be happy in the present moment, rejoice in simple things that surround us rather than worrying unnecessarily about things which may or may not come to pass.

There was an old Zen monk. He was on his deathbed. The last day had come, and he declared that that evening he would be no more. So followers, disciples, friends started coming. From far and wide people gathered. One of his old disciples, when he heard that the master was going to die, ran to the market.

Somebody asked: The master is dying in his hut, why are you going to the market?The old disciple said: I know that my master loves a particular type of cake, so I am going to purchase the cake.

It was difficult to find the cake, because now it had gone out of fashion, but by the evening somehow he managed. He came running with the cake. And everybody was worried — it was as if the master was waiting for someone. He would open his eyes and look, and close his eyes again.

 And when this disciple came, he said: Okay, so you have come. Where is the cake? The disciple produced the cake — and he was very happy that the master asked about the cake. Dying, the master took the cake in his hand, but his hand was not trembling. He was very old, but his hand was not trembling. So somebody asked: You are so old and just on the verge of dying. The last breath is soon to leave you, but your hand is not trembling.

The master said: I never tremble, because there is no fear. My body has become old, but I am still young, and I will remain young even when the body is gone. Then he took a bite, started munching the cake. And then somebody asked: What is your last message, Master? You will be leaving us soon. What do you want us to remember?

 The master smiled and said: Ah, this cake is delicious.

This is a man who lives in the here and now: This cake is delicious. Even death is irrelevant. The next moment is meaningless. THIS moment this cake is delicious. If you can be in this moment, this present moment, this presentness, the plenitude, then only you can love.

June 28, 2012. Tags: , , , . Death, Happiness, Inspiration, Parables, Wisdom, Zen. 1 comment.

The Great Fool of Zen – Rokyan: Zen Moments #7

Rokyan was a Zen Master but preferred to call himself a Taigu (which means a fool). He lived in a solitary hut called ‘Gogo-An’ in Mount Kugami. He was a hermit but loved to play with children in the nearby village, he himself had a child like simplicity. He never got angry or perturbed by criticism. He didn’t give any sermons but composed simple yet profound & beautiful poetry. Ryokan (1758–1831) is one of the most beloved figures of Zen, renowned for his beautiful verse, exquisite calligraphy, and eccentric character. Deceptively simple, Ryokan’s poems transcend artifice, presenting spontaneous expressions of pure Zen spirit. Like his contemporary Thoreau, Ryokan celebrates nature and the natural life, but his poems touch the whole range of human experience: joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, enlightenment and illusion, love and loneliness.The most famous incident associated with Rokyan is when one evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “He left behind this beautiful moon.”

Rokyan’s Poetry:

#1 People in the world

I watch people in the world 
Throw away their lives lusting after things, 
Never able to satisfy their desires, 
Falling into deeper despair 
And torturing themselves. 
Even if they get what they want 
How long will they be able to enjoy it? 
For one heavenly pleasure 
They suffer ten torments of hell, 
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone. 
Such people are like monkeys 
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water 
And then falling into a whirlpool. 
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer. 
Despite myself, I fret over them all night 
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

#2 My Cracked Wooden Bowl

This treasure was discovered in a bamboo thicket — 
I washed the bowl in a spring and then mended it. 
After morning meditation, I take my gruel in it; 
At night, it serves me soup or rice. 
Cracked, worn, weather-beaten, and misshapen 
But still of noble stock!

#3 Too Lazy to be Ambitious

Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days’ worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.

#4 Truly a Dunce

Yes, I’m truly a dunce 
Living among trees and plants. 
Please don’t question me about illusion and enlightenment — 
This old fellow just likes to smile to himself. 
I wade across streams with bony legs, 
And carry a bag about in fine spring weather. 
That’s my life, 
And the world owes me nothing.

#5 Dreams

In this dream world
we doze
and talk of dreams —
dream, dream on,
as much as you wish

#6 Thus I live

In stubborn stupidity, I live on alone
befriended by trees and herbs.
Too lazy to learn right from wrong,
I laugh at myself, ignoring others.
Lifting my bony shanks, I cross the stream,
a sack in my hand, blessed by spring weather.
Living thus, I want for nothing,
at peace with all the world.

#7 You do not need too many things

My house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest
Every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
Undisturbed by the affairs of the world I live at ease,
Woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
While the sun stays in the sky, I mend my torn clothes
And facing the moon, I read holy texts aloud to myself.
Let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
To enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

February 17, 2012. Tags: , , . Wisdom, Zen. 3 comments.

Be a Light unto yourself: Zen Moments #6

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana

Image via Wikipedia

Every day Zuigan used to call out to himself, “Master!” and then he answered himself, “Yes, Sir!” And he added, “Awake, Awake!” and then answered, “Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir!”
“Do not be deceived by others!” “No, Sir! I will not, Sir!”

Buddha also said ‘Be a lamp unto yourself’

As his death approached, the Buddha said to those gathered around him:
Be a light unto yourself; betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth. Look not for refuge to anyone besides yourselves.


But it’s very common for people to fall into the trap of external voices & confirming to what ‘society’ wants people to do…many people fall into this trap and become sheeple (Sheeple (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a term of disparagement in which people are likened to sheep, a herd animal. The term is used to describe those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research. By doing so, they undermine their own individuality and may willingly give up their rights.)..people do not listen to their own inner voice but do what everyone else is doing without as much as questioning their choices. In today’s world it’s very easy to fall into the traps of advertising, peer pressure, American Dream, Indian Dream & what not…so like Zuigan we must keep reminding ourselves everyday to be our own master & march to our own tune.

February 16, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Buddha, Buddhism, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom, Zen. 3 comments.

Zen & the Art of Enjoying Everyday Life : Zen Moments #2

A small zen garden in the Japanese Tea Garden,...

Image via Wikipedia

A very famous saying/quote in Zen goes thus:

Before Enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water

After Enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water

Zen does not have any God or prayers. It just encourages us to discover our true selves & then be a lamp unto ourselves. When we practice Zen every moment becomes a Happy moment, a Zen moment.

The above quote is very significant. Though after enlightenment we continue to do the things we did before, the quality of these tasks changes dramatically. Before enlightenment chopping wood & carrying water (or cooking & doing dishes) is a chore, a burden, something that is done reluctantly, we’d rather be enjoying ourselves, having a high life, going to expensive restaurants in our big glitzy cars & such. There is an anger that we have to do these boring tasks. Our mind is pre-occupied with thoughts of past n future while we hate every second of our present moment. When we practice Zen though we continue to do the same things our feelings about these tasks is hugely transformed. We actually enjoy doing these tasks, we do these chores with devotion & dedication, with mindfulness & realize that there is tremendous beauty in doing them.  We realize there is nowhere else to go. We start to enjoy simple pleasures as a clean room & good food rather than exotic holidays & expensive clothes!! When we do things mindfully & with a happy heart, the quality of that thing changes.

Consider this Koan from ‘The Gateless Gate’:

A monk told Joshu, “I have entered your monastery, now please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?”

The monk replied: “Yes I’ve eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened!!

After reading Zen books & learning about the basic concepts of Zen for last few days, I’ve been finally motivated to actually practice the practical aspects of Zen. Zen is more of doing rather than empty philosophizing. Zen is very experiential. Zen encourages simplicity. I’ve been spending my last few days in a Zen state. Finally I was motivated to clean my perpetually scattered closet, which was in nothing short of a nightmarish chaos. I always took the excuse that the closet was very small & did not have adequate space for my clothes & things. But when I finally decided to take the bulls by horns, it was surprising how discarding a few useless items can create space for the rest of our stuff. Earlier I was planning to buy an expensive wardrobe to accommodate my ever increasing collection of dresses, foot wear, accessories, Bags, Knick-nacks & what not. But then I applied Zen thinking to my problem, I came up with innovative & inexpensive solutions. I could do with a few inexpensive racks for my books & collapsible foldable shelves for my clothes & shoes. Now I’ve achieved a somewhat uncluttered & better room which I’m sure will turn into a beautiful sanctuary in next few days. I want to make many changes to the way we are used to doing things. I want to enjoy simple beauty & as I’m very fond of my cups of tea, I guess I’ll start with a beautiful tea set & tray to go with it & enjoy a beautiful Tea ceremony every day.

Thich Nhat Hanh says this about drinking tea mindfully (yup with Zen even tea drinking can become our meditation)

“When you drink tea in mindfulness, your body and your mind are perfectly united. You are real, and the tea you drink also becomes real. When you sit in a café, with a lot of music in the background and a lot of projects in your head, you’re not really drinking your coffee or your tea. You’re drinking your projects, you’re drinking your worries. You are not real, and the coffee is not real either. Your tea or your coffee can only reveal itself to you as a reality when you go back to yourself, and produce your true presence, freeing yourself from the past, the future, and from your worries. When you are real, the tea also becomes real and the encounter between you and the tea is real. This is genuine tea drinking. You can organize a tea meditation to provide an opportunity for your friends to practice being truly present in order to enjoy a cup of tea and each other’s presence. Tea meditation is a practice. It is a practice to help us be free. If you are still bound and haunted by the past, if you are still afraid of the future, if you are carried away by your projects, your fear, your anxiety, and your anger, you are not a free person. You are not fully present in the here and the now, so life is not really available to you. The tea, the other person, the blue sky, the flower, is not available to you. In order to be really alive, in order to touch life deeply, you have to become a free person. Cultivating mindfulness can help you to be free.”

We can enjoy such beautifully simple pleasures everyday in life. We don’t have to wait for any special occasion to celebrate life, with Zen every moment is beautiful, every moment is a celebration, yes even when we are chopping wood & carrying water, when we are doing dishes, sweeping the floor, dusting the furniture, with Zen all these things are labors of our love, our love for life itself.

January 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom, Zen. 4 comments.

That was Then, This is Now: Zen Moments #1

That was then, this is now: It is very simple, yet a very profound statement (like all things Zen, this is the beauty of Zen). Rejoice in the way things are today without missing the good old times. Often people have a hangover of the past, they paint quite a rosy picture of the life they had (even though they might have cribbed n complained about that very life when it was happening). But we should realize that everything has it’s time n place. There’s a time for birth, a time to grow & time to die. Everything happens in its own perfect timing. A few years back I had a full-fledged career, a busy routine, good income & lots of money at my disposal. Now I am a home-maker & though those things are no longer there, their absence has created room for new type of experiences: more simple, more serene. Now money might be less but time to reflect on my thoughts n mysteries of life is more. Right now I’m enjoying this placid life. I can’t dream of having it otherwise. Though I’ve to do some mundane chores like cooking n cleaning, something that couldn’t have been even thinkable when I was a studious student & a busy professional. Often people ask me which is better, the professional life or the life of a home-maker & don’t I miss that so-called high life??I always say ‘That was then & this is now’

January 23, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Happiness, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom. 5 comments.

Quitting the Rat Race #10: Finding Joy in Chopping Wood & Carrying Water!

There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” What’s the difference? The tasks are the same & yet different, ‘cos of a change in how we view them!!

Before enlightenment (in our context while we are still running the Rat Race; Quitting the Rat Race is nothing short of Enlightenment!!!) chopping wood & carrying water seem boring & mundane. We resent doing that…we do it grudgingly while our mind craves for excitement. We’d rather be living a high life, seeking thrills & excitement, planning our next purchase, next promotion, & impressing people with our shiny possessions. There is a huge Gap between reality & expectation & our mind is under constant stress.

After Enlightenment we start appreciating the beauty of mundane stuff. We perform the task of chopping wood & carrying water with Zen like ease & peace, basking in the sun & appreciating the miracle of existence & nature. Every breath is filled with peace & Joy. Profound Spiritual Joy can be found in everyday activities. The Chop Wood Carry Water attitude can be applied in the context of our everyday chores & help us realize that there is joy  in doing the laundry, cleaning, paying bills, bathing, cooking, and doing what many people sadly think is boring everyday needs. 

In this day and age where people rush here and there and express a sense of loss, because they feel they need to always be doing something noticable, I think this attitude would be a great healing tool, in teaching people that doing the “chores” of life, can in fact be a relaxing and growth enhancing activity.

This also reflects the attitude of rejoicing the way things are rather than always wanting for something else to happen. Usually our attitude is something like “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”~Abraham Lincoln. We just crave for the things that we don’t have instead of enjoying what has indeed been given to us. 

”The Master sees things as they are,Without trying to control them.He lets them go their own way, And resides at the center of the circle. He/She understands that the Universe is forever out of control, And that trying to dominate eventsGoes against the current of the Tao. Be content with what you have; Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, The whole world belongs to you.” ~Tao Te Ching.

This is the only meditation I know. 
While I eat, I eat. 
While I walk, I walk. 
And while I feel sleepy, I sleep. 
Whatsoever happens, happens. 
I never interfere.

Bokuju

October 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 4 comments.

Don’t Stay Hungry, Don’t Stay Foolish: Quitting The Rat Race #8

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

These are the last words of the last issue of the Whole Earth Catalogue published by Stewart Brand and his team. Steve Jobs used it in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

Stay Hungry: means don’t be too easily satisfied or grow too comfortable; do not feel content with what you have already achieved but always feel hungry to do more and more.

It’s a widespread & widely accepted myth that staying dissatisfied with the status quo is a way to make progress & improve your-self. It is assumed that only hungry, dissatisfied people can move forward in life. I disagree with this point of view. Staying Hungry is just another method to stay stuck in the rat race, that cycle of consumerism & over-work!! Wisdom lies in Accepting the present moment in totality, being absolutely satisfied with the way things are, no struggling, only peace.  Being grateful for the bounties of the present means being satiated & not perpetually hungry. Staying hungry is a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction. Always wanting more, we become like a hungry ghost, a creature with a big mouth, a narrow neck, and a big belly, who is always hungry and can never get enough.

If we want serenity we should focus on the present moment & not scatter our attention on imaginary future.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future but to live in the present moment

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. 
Buddha

Nothing ever gets anywhere.  The earth keeps turning round and gets nowhere.  The moment is the only thing that counts.  ~Jean Cocteau

Forever is composed of nows.  ~Emily Dickinson

A small child has no ambitions, he has no desires. He is so absorbed in the moment — a bird on the wing catches his eye so totally; just a butterfly, its beautiful colors, and he is enchanted; the rainbow in the sky… and he cannot conceive that there can be anything more significant, richer than this rainbow. And the night full of stars, stars beyond stars….

Innocence is rich, it is full, it is pure. Ignorance is poor, it is a beggar — it wants this, it wants that, it wants to be knowledgeable, it wants to be respectable, it wants to be wealthy, it wants to be powerful. Ignorance moves on the path of desire. Innocence is a state of desirelessness. ~Osho

…acceptance, total acceptance, means no desire. Desire arises out of nonacceptance. You cannot accept a certain situation, so desire arises. You live in a hut and you cannot accept it; this is too much for the ego, you want a palace – then you are a poor man, but not because you live in a hut, no. In huts, emperors have lived. Buddha has lived under a tree, and he was not a poor man. You cannot find a richer man anywhere. No, your hut doesn’t make you poor. The moment you desire the palace you are a poor man. And you are not poor because others are living in palaces, you are poor because the desire to live in the palace creates a comparison with the hut. You become envious. You are poor.~Osho

Whenever there is discontent, there is poverty; whenever there is no discontent, you are rich. And you have such riches that no thief can steal them; you have such riches, no government can take them by taxation; you have riches which cannot be taken away from you in any way. You have a fort for your being, unbreakable, impenetrable.

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.  ~Margaret Bonnano

Enlightenment is the realization that we have only the present moment to live. The next moment is not certain — it may come, it may not come. In fact, the tomorrow never comes. It is always arriving and arriving, but never arrives. And the mind lives in the tomorrows… and life is possible only in the present.~Osho

I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.  ~Alan Watts

Today is you own. Tomorrow perchance may never come by Swami Sivananda

When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future.  When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past.  ~Author Unknown

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.  ~Dale Carnegie

Pile up too many tomorrows and you’ll find that you’ve collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.  ~The Music Man

October 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Current Events, Happiness, Hmm..., Inspiration, My lifestyle, My Values, Osho, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Wisdom. 3 comments.

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