Love Affair Between A Bird And A Lotus

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Jakarta, a photograph by Andi Imamayanti

Oblivious to the existence of each other
Yet the attraction is so alluring
Two entirely different things
Yet seems to fill each other in

Million others bustling around 
As if trying to distract them
From what is
From what it isn't

The smoke-filled air
As grey as it can get
As if trying to camouflage itself
To hide the charm it once had

When the ray of sun glowing
Sending warmth and as if reminding
Of its never broken promise
Undying love like no other

One afternoon
One love affair
As transient as it is honest
Between a bird and a lotus



Through a glass, darkly


Standing near the window; covered with dark glass.
Glimpses and blurred images of what’s inside.
Meanwhile; the world outside is beckoning.
Enticing the senses with colors, fragrance, sunny days, breeze.
I want to see what’s inside, but I also want run to the world outside.

Standing near the window; covered with dark glass.
Glimpses and blurred images of what’s inside.
Icy winter days and it’s storming outside.
The world is grey, freezing, numbing, cold.
I want to see what’s inside, there’s nothing to see outside.

Standing near the window; covered with dark glass.
Rubbed clean the glass from the outside, clearer glimpse of what’s inside.
Inside feels like home, cozy fireplace and a warm cup of tea.
It’s spring and the world is again full of colors, sunlight, fragrance.
I want to come in to the unchanging inside, the outside changes all the time.

Standing near the window; covered with dark glass.
Been looking inside for so long my sight adjusted to the dark.
Now I notice there’s someone inside, looking back at me.
Calling out to me, showing me the way in, there’s a door I didn’t see all this while.
I opened the door and come inside;

I’m home.

Note: I knew the phrase “Through a glass, darkly” from Jostein Gaarder’s book title. Only much later I found out that it is a biblical phrase from 1 Corinthians 13:12. (KJV: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.)

This is one of my first attempt writing something that resembles poetry, originally posted on my blog 

Image credit: Shelby U

Cloudless Sky


Samawa Beach, Indonesia, a photograph by Ayda Sulianti

What gives form to the world, has no form of its own. – Rumi-


It’s been few hours

Since I watched the sun rising

But the sky remains cloudless


Wonder how it feels like

Up there, looking down

So close yet never be


Has the sky plotting against us

In the game of hide and seek

With nothing to look for


It reminds me of that day

When the weight of hopelessness

Trembled me to the bone


The only way was to sink

Like a cruise liner

Sent down to the heart of the ocean


Oblivious to the commotion

In the absence of judgment

The sky was cloudless

Mind Like Still Water


Garabaldi Lake, near Whister, BC. Photo by Tim Shield’s son, 2010

In the previous post Inviting Stillness we discussed about the importance of stillness in order to have clarity and overcome the filter of perception. We discussed about the challenges of becoming still, and the supporting practices. This post will again discuss about these.

Three possible reaction when we are trying to become still and meditate:

  1. Mind becomes dull & sleepy – and then turns off – zzZZzz time
  2. Mind becomes agitated, running all over the place
  3. Mind rest in the stillness, alert and clear

The ideal outcome is number three – yet as anyone trying to meditate know, it is not easy to get there.

Lets look deeper into the two challenges.

Dullness & sleepiness

Without stimulation, mind is bored. We modern humans are generally tired – due to many things: lack of quality sleep, too much distraction, poor nutrition, etc. The mind, when sensing there’s no stimulation, knowing it’s in a safe space (no predator or dangerous situation), decided to go to sleep because it knows the body is tired and needs sleep. How to tackle this problem? First thing we can do is make sure we get enough rest & sleep, and fed properly. When the body is well rested, at least there’s no actual demand for sleep.

But even when body is well rested, when we are trying to become still and meditate, sometimes the mind still switches off. This is dullness, losing the clarity. Some of the things we can do to overcome this challenge:

  • Arrange the meditation time so that it’s not after a big meal. After a meal more blood circulation goes to the digestive system, and less blood in the brain area, resulting in sleepiness
  • Do some yoga asana or stretches before sitting down to improve energy circulation. In my personal experience some inversion & backbends helps.
  • Do some energizing pranayama like kapalbhati or bhastrika
  • During the meditation itself, when we catch ourself becoming sleepy & dull, use the inhalation to refresh. Deepen the inhalation a few times and return to the object of focus (breath/sound/guide etc)


If the mind is not dull & sleepy, there’s a possibility that it will go to the other extreme – becoming agitated, jumping around, running all over the place. When the mind is not focused or holding attention to something, there’s this function of the brain called Default Mode Network that usually becomes active.

What is this Default Mode Network? I’m no expert in neuroscience, this is my simple understanding of it. Default Mode Network is a function of thinking about self, thinking about others, and thinking about past or future. It becomes active when the mind is not focused or holding attention, and it seems like it serves like a background process of assimilating, comprehending & understanding of all the inputs from the outside.

So when this DMN is active, then the mind ruminates about something (usually related to self, others, past, future, or sometimes even random) – and this thing triggers another thought, and another, and another. Any meditator knows this – suddenly we catch ourself thinking about something else and totally forgot we are meditating.

How to overcome this? By holding that focus and attention at the object of meditation in a ‘just enough’ way. Not gripping, but also not too lose. Balanced. When we’re gripping, there is tension. During meditation this can be felt in the physical body – the body or the face is tensed. Release the tension with the exhalation, and relax. When too lose, the mind tend to start to wander & ride along the DMN, generating many new thoughts. As we notice we are sidetracked, first be happy that we noticed we were sidetracked, and then relax, release the thought, and return to the object of meditation.

One of my meditation teacher use this analogy – imagine the thought like a butterfly that settled down on your arm. Just notice “Oh there’s a butterfly on my arm / Oh there are thoughts on my mind”, and without needing any force or violence, gently blow it away.

Like still water

With consistent practice, gradually the mind will be trained to rest in stillness. Alert, aware, and focused. In this stillness, clarity comes. With clarity, comes the realization that it’s all perception (judgement, assumption, expectation, belief, hypothesis, conditioning, etc). When we realize that it’s all perception, we have the opportunity to take that perception filter off, and see things as they really are. Like still water, reflecting the surrounding as it is.


Read more about Default Mode Network here:

Image from Tim Shield’s flickr