I Am a Peacock Today

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A gorgeous splashy watercolor painting by artist Dean Crouser

I refuse to be a puppet today
Nor a victim of the bad-mannered
I choose to open my heart
Although it is broken
Notwithstanding the fact
That I am hurting

I am a lotus today
Growing from the mud
Welcoming the sun
To shine on me
So I can bloom
And make the mud proud

I refuse to become bitter today
No matter what
I choose to see the beauty
Although sullenness is all I have
Guarding myself
From being swallowed alive

I am a peacock today
Having a solitary day
Basking from on top of the roof
Watching life goes by
Dreaming of one day to fly far away
But I am a peacock today

I refuse to become smaller today
While all around me is forcing me to
I choose to keep on expanding
Where space is illusion
And periphery is unseen
Center is disappearing

I am the moon tonight
Never fail to show up
Sometimes the clouds envelope me
With their ever soft shadow
But I am here every night
Paying my homage

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WENT UNDER

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A reflection of darkness in down under, an almost evening sky in Jakarta

How does a part of the world leave the world? How can wetness leave water?  RUMI

 

I went under
Deeper than I’ve been
Made a deal with darkness
To see what the shadows would cast

The darkness asked
If I was sure
If I really wanted to see
And I said yes

As I faced my fear and felt my pain
That was when I met the dark side of me
As I shook hands with it
The bitterness lingered

Not knowing how to end it
I did what I thought was best
I indulged it, welcomed it
I owned it

Almost at the end, down under
At the brink of despair
I felt something very familiar
It was pain that belongs to all of us

Breaking down
I wept for me
I wept for you
I wept for us

Remembrance

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Pantai Air Manis, Padang. 2012

Have you ever felt that you are seeking something?

That something is missing in your life, and you can’t really put your finger to it, or define what is it that is missing? You just know that there’s got to be something more than this.

You try to fill that gap with many things.

First you try to fill it with material things. Stuffs. Cars. Bags. Branded clothes. Gadgets. Etc. But material things doesn’t make that gap go away.

And then you try to fill it with non-material things. Relationships. Achievements. Career. Holidays. Power. Status. But non-material things doesn’t make that gap go away.

And then you try to fill it with even more subtle things. You seek knowledge. Read  books. Study ancient and current wisdoms. Perhaps devote yourself to a religion. Or maybe practice spirituality. Yet these subtle things doesn’t make that gap go away.

Because…

THERE IS NO GAP AT THE FIRST PLACE

You are complete. You are whole. You are already perfect.

You just forgotten that you are whole. You are suffering from delusion. Delusion that you are separated. That there is a gap.

You are already whole. You don’t need anything from outside. You just forgotten.

And all those wisdom, books, teachers, rituals… are reminders. To help you remember.

To help you remember that you are whole.

In Alan Watts’ words:

“You’re it.”

Body Mind Soul

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In yogic theory, human is made up from five layers, or dimensions, called the koshas. I’ve written about the koshas in my personal blog a while ago. Just a short recap here, the five koshas are:

  1. Annamaya kosha / the food body – the physical dimension (bone, muscle, blood, fluids, organs, glands, nervous system)
  2. Pranamaya kosha / the energy body – the energetic dimension. What’s called prana, chi, qi, ki, lifeforce energy
  3. Manomaya kosha / the lower mind – the individual mind dimension. The executive day-to-day operating system
  4. Vijnanamaya kosha / the higher mind – the wisdom, intuition dimension. Connects with the universal, less individual
  5. Anandamaya kosha – the bliss body – the essence, the awareness.

In modern times we use the term ‘mind, body, & soul’ to describe human as a whole. It is pretty similar with the koshas framework, body is the physical part (annamaya), mind is the manomaya & vijnanamaya. Soul, this is my limited understanding of it, soul or spirit is partly vijnanamaya and partly anandamaya.

What’s bringing these three dimension together into one human? It’s the prana, the lifeforce energy. Prana began when there is conception, and as long as there is prana, the three dimension are bound together. Prana is like the glue, the binding. When there is no more prana, the binding disintegrate, mind loses it’s individuality, soul goes back to it’s source, and body starts to decompose and return back to earth.

To live as a human in the best way possible, all the dimensions ideally are in their maximum functioning capacity. All the dimensions are ideally aligned, in tune, in harmony with each other. When the layers within are in harmony, then one can start to be in harmony with the things outside (the environment, other beings, etc).

How? Work on each individual dimension, and also work on the glue that bring them all together. Work on the body, mind, soul, and work on the prana.

 

What Love Could Really Means

 

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Saturday Afternoon at Arcadia Arboretum

Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth,”You owe me.”  Look what happens
with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.”  Hafiz

 

I am beginning to understand
I think, maybe
What love could mean

It is that warm fuzzy feeling in me
When I let my mind wanders
And thinks about million things at once

It is when I see a star at the dawn of day
Thinking and wondering if it is real 
Or it is just a trick my eyes decide to play on me

Sometimes, when what I want most
Is to spend time with the sun
Basking in its glory and majesty

Or it is when I am humming a love song
Thinking that it's so cheesy
But do it anyway

I am beginning to understand
Whatever meaning we give to love
Could it really be?

Nature of Mind

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The Knower & The Known by Fabrizio Cassetta

 

This is my notes from a talk by Tenzin Palmo.

Everything is perceived through the sense organs, caught by consciousness, and interpreted by the mind. In other words, everything we experience is in the mind.

There are two aspects of the mind. First, the known. The known covers memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions. The second is the knower, the part of the mind that knows, but not involved. A.k.a the observer, witness, or awareness.

The known is like movie. Light projects through individual thought frames to the screen continuously, moment to moment. The problem starts when we identify ourself with the movie at the screen, we believe that is us. This fundamental delusion and misidentification causes suffering.

The knower is vast, spacious, peaceful, clear, infinite. Like the blue sky. It is always there, but often hidden by the clouds. And because the clouds are so thick and never cleared up, we forgot that above the cloud there’s blue sky.

To cease suffering, start identifying with the knower and stop identifying with the known.

How? By taking a step back, and just watch the known passes through, without judging, without like or dislike, just simply watching. Have space in our life to just be, sit, and use the mind to look at the mind.

This is a form of meditation. Where we just become still and observe the fluctuations of the mind.

The knower watching the known.

 

 

Pillars of a Good Life

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There are four pillars of life. When they are all well developed and well balanced, life is good. When they are underdeveloped, life is probably not so good. Whey they are not balanced, if one aspect is much more highly developed than each other, maybe life is pretty good, but not as good as it potentially can be.

The pillars are:

  1. Health
  2. Ethical life
  3. A method to quieten the mind (eg meditation)
  4. Framework, knowledge, purpose

We’ll look a bit deeper into each one.

It’s pretty obvious that life is better when we’re healthy. We can enjoy life. We can interact with life. We are at ease with ourself, without dis-ease. So staying healthy is one of the most valuable investment for ourself. How do we stay healthy? Basically feed the body with good nutrition, enough movements to stimulate the body & organs, and enough rest.

Ethical life means leading life according to ethics and moral values. Most of the religion’s moral values are similar in some way. Yoga have the yamas & niyamas. Siddharta Gautama taught the eight noble path. Christian have the ten commandments. And so on. The moral values boil down to ‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.’ When one lead a life ethically, it will contribute to the next pillar – a quiet mind.

A quiet mind means a mind that is aware of it’s own fluctuations, and not getting carried away by the fluctuations. One of the method is through meditation. In meditation we train the mind to stay with one anchor for a period of time. Through practice we develop the endurance to sustain this focus for longer and longer. And the longer we can stay there, the quieter the mind become.

When the mind is sufficiently quietened down, there’s a sense of direction that comes from within. Perhaps at the beginning we can’t pinpoint or detail which direction does it want to go – but usually we can tell if the direction is wrong. If we are receptive and open we’ll find many teachers and lessons in our lives that provide you with knowledge. With this knowledge we develop framework, like a map. With a framework we know where we are, why we are here, and where we are going. And slowly find the answer to the perennial question “Who am I?”

*

Based on a talk by my yoga philosophy teacher Swami Pujan

Image: Rio-Antirio bridge by Spiros Vathis

 

I Guess It Doesn’t Matter

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The Sky of Turki, a photograph by Ayda Sulianti

 

Waking up with that same old feeling

As presumptuous as the sound of my heart beating

Only it isn’t that, it is my past knocking

Peeping to steal my peace

The harder I try to ignore them

The louder the sound becomes

Echoing deep into my whole being

As the dark lingering smoke started to enfold my common sense

As if bundling me up for a sacrifice

Panic crept in, inches by inches

I could feel the pricking

Stung me frozen

Is it a dream? But why am I still here?

Floating nonsense, tormented with no pain

Broken hearted with no grief

Is it real? Is it me lugging this body?

Why everything moves in slow motion?

As if trying to photograph every details

Every move, every emotion

Million pieces of puzzle appearing out of nowhere

Takes me a while to see

They are pieces of my memories

Or are they scenes of never ending drama?

Are they mine?

This mosaic we called love

Or should we call it illusion?

Drawing me closer

So close, I am blinded

To the edge of self deception

Luring me to give in

Enticing me to surrender

I am sinking deep into the earth

I am flying, soaring into the sky

Which one is real?

Is it a dream?

I guess it doesn’t matter

Image/photograph is by Ayda Sulianti.  For more of her works, follow her Instagram @aydasulianti

Stillness & Clarity

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Sandy Bay Golden Hour by Eugen Naiman

If there is no stillness, there is no silence.
If there is no silence, there is no insight.
If there is no insight, there is no clarity.

~ Tenzin Priyadarshi

Previous post: Mind Like Still Water

Stillness is when there are the feeling of calm, peace, grounded-ness, the sense of firmness, earthed, stable, unshakeable. At the beginning this stillness is achieved by becoming physically still (eg seated meditation). As one get more used to it we can have stillness in motion (eg walking meditation, focused movement like taichi, yoga etc, or even during running/swimming/knitting/cooking).

Clarity is the result of stillness. Imagine a glass full of muddy water. Without stillness, the mud will not settle down and the water will never become clear. When the glass is placed down and left to be still for a while, the mud will settle down to the bottom and water will clear up and we can see through the water. Another analogy that is more high-tech: imagine trying to take a picture while we’re in a moving car on a bumpy road. Unless the camera has very fast shutter speed, the resulting picture will be blurred. We have to be holding the camera still enough to be able to capture the image clearly.

Why is clarity important?

When there’s clarity, we can see things as they are, without any filter or coloring. Free of perception. Free from conditioning, judgement, assumption, beliefs, hypothesis, expectation, etc.

When we see things as they are, without any filter or coloring, we can better navigate ourself in relation to things. ‘Things’ here cover everything: ourself and everything that is outside ourself (family & friends, other people, relationships, objects, job, career, everything).

Clarity helps us to make the most appropriate decision at any given time. Appropriate decision usually effects the elements in such a way that they become more in harmony with everything else. When there’s harmony, there are less disturbances, less waves. Like a boat in the sea – when there are less waves, the boat will move more smoothly.

Staying with the boat in the sea analogy, there will be waves (or even storm) from time to time, outside of our scope of control. So situation can be rocky and disturbed from time to time – but the more harmony there are, the sooner the waves calm down, the sooner the journey become smooth again.

Image credit: Eugen Naiman

 

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