Not too long after the pandemic began and we were told to stay home, I started writing one of the 108 Names of Amma ten times in Devanagari (the script used to write Sanskrit words) each day. Many of the “names” are events in Amma‘s early life or one of her characteristics. The list was written by a devotee decades ago and is frequently used as a chant before meditation or singing.
I have been having health problems, not related to covid, so it has been a week or more since I last wrote any Sanskrit. I finished line 78 last night. In this post, I will share lines 71 and 78.
I frequently make errors when I write. Usually by the 10th time I write the line, it is correct but not always, I still slip up. I also have discovered there are occasionally discrepancies between the transliteration and the Devanagari versions. Since I don’t know which is right, I just write it the way it is in the various books I am using. I also do not differentiate between the different kinds of “a”s, “i”s, “u”s, “n’s, “sh”s (and a few others) when I write the transliteration in blog posts. And last, there are occasionally times when letter combinations I use when I write the Devanagari script are different than the keyboard I am using for the post.
Line 71 सुप्रसन्न मुख़ाम्भोज वराभयद पाणये नम: suprasanna mukhambhoja varabhayada panaye namah … who has a bright, beaming face, as beautiful as a lotus flower, and who holds her hand in the posture of blessing
Line 78 प्रेमभक्ति सूधा सिक्त साधू चित्त गूहजूषे नम: premabhakti sudha siktasadhu citta guhajushe namah … who resides in the cave of the heart of the pious that are drenched with the nectar of devotion
It has been 58 days since I started writing one of the 108 Names of Amma in ten times in Devanagari (the script used to write Sanskrit words) each day. Many of the “names” are events in Amma‘s early life. The list was compiled decades ago and is frequently used as a chant before meditation or singing.
In my last Sanskrit post, the lines related to Amma having had a vision of Lord Krishna. In this post I am using three lines that follow the one about Amma having had a vision of the Divine Mother holding an instrument called the veena. So these three lines are about what happened once her vision disappeared.
देवी सद्य: तिरोधान ताप व्यथित चेतसे नम : devi sadyas tirodhana tapa vyathita chetase namah …whose heart was burnt in the fire of sorrow on the Divine Mother’s sudden disappearance,
त्यक्तान्न पान निद्रदी निद्रादि सर्व दैहिक धर्मणे नम: tyaktanna pana nidradi sarva daihika dharmane namah … who gave up all bodily activities like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.
Note: In doing this post, I see that I didn’t write pana in any of my sentences. Whoops.
कुररादि समानीत भक्ष्य पोषित वर्ष्मणे नम: kuraradi samanita bhakshya poshita varshmane namah whose body was nourished by the food brought by birds and other animals
Note: I only wanted to use three lines in this post. Day 49 was “… whose sorrowful wailing was rending the ears of the four quarters.”
In a recent post, I wrote about having decided to use a beautiful chant consisting of 108 characteristics of Amma as a spiritual practice and an opportunity to start writing in Sanskrit again. My plan was to start at the beginning of the chant and write each line 10 times in Devanagari (Sanskrit script) … completing one line per day.
Today is the 40th day of that practice. I decided to share my journal pages from Days 38 and 39 with you. (I choose to write using a pen so you will see numerous corrections.)
Many of the lines in the chant are about events that happened during Amma’s early life. That is true of these two lines.
Day 38 वियोग शोक सम्मूर्व्व्हा मुहु: पतित वर्ष्मने नम: om viyoga shoka sammurccha muhurpatita varshmane namah … who often fell down unconscious due to the grief of non-union with Krishna
Day 39 सारमेयादि विहित शुश्रूषा लब्ध बुद्धाये नमः sarameyadi vihita shushrusha labdha buddhaye namah … who regained consciousness by the proper nursing given by dogs and other animals
My friend Kathie posted quite a variety of inspirational pieces on May 6. The two poems I’d read before but it was good to read them again. I was particularly moved by the last video, which was completely new to me. (You will have to click on view original post in order to see the last one.)
I shared this piece written by my younger brother on this blog in May of 2014. He wrote it before he died of cancer at the age of 39. This seems like a good time to share it again.
The Truth I Live By
(William John Smith 1953-1992)
Everything makes sense. This can be paraphrased many different ways, although many attempts are less accurate. One of Voltaire’s characters stated, “All is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds.” This is unnecessarily optimistic. My phrasing doesn’t imply that everything that happens to us is good either in the short or the long term. Everyone experiences moments or long periods of unpleasantness. One can hope that over the long period of a lifetime these sad times may not add up to much overall, but most persons with a little thought can think of individuals whom “fate has treated unkindly,” i.e. who have received more than their share of agonies. I think this is one of the hardest things for you, C., that what has happened is just not fair. I’m not sure how long ago I came to believe (or realize) that fairness isn’t the issue. There is nothing fair about life, either in distribution of rewards or unhappiness. And what’s to say that it should be fair. If each of us had an opportunity to create a world, then maybe that’s an attribute that we would build in. But this world is not of our making, and all of the mental checklists that we might make comparing who’s gotten more breaks than we have, etc., will never change the fact that we have to make the best of what we’ve got, not despair over what we perceive as inequities. So life isn’t fair. How do we cope with that? One way might be to remind ourselves that no matter how bad things seem to be at any one time, a little time spent flipping around the TV channel or reading a news magazine will serve as a reminder that we should be embarrassed to be heard complaining about the vast majority of things that concern us. I don’t doubt for a second that I have lived a very privileged existence compared to 90% of the world’s people.
I’m not sure that that is the best way to approach a new tragedy, though (i.e., making ourselves feel better by thinking of others doing worse). I would appreciate a more optimistic approach. The best way to greet each unpleasant event is to grab it by the throat and make the best of it. C. and I have both had our share of suffering, almost all of it, I’m happy to say proceeding our first date. There is no doubt that led to a degree of maturity that made our time together (pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis) much more meaningful than the lives of those growing up “with the silver spoons.”
Is cancer unfair? Is it fair that we should expect billions of cells in our body to reproduce over and over again, over an entire lifetime, and always get it right? Doesn’t it make more sense to recognize the initial miracle of our birth, the magnificence of our growth into feeling, loving, praising adults, the privilege of experiencing enough of life that we can despair over not having the time to spend longer doing the same? One of the things I am most grateful for is that many, many years ago I learned to be grateful for what I’ve been given. I didn’t, as occurs with many, only get shocked into this realization by a terminal tragedy. This type of appreciation often does begin in the midst of despair, and for that reason I am actually glad that I had enough hard times as a young man, to allow me to think hard about what things are and are not important. Accordingly, for the past 15 or 20 years, I’ve been able to ignore aspects of 20 th century American living that are of no consequence to me (parties, cars, frivolous chatter, clubs, etc.) and concentrate on things that touch me personally. I am forever grateful for what it was that dropped the blinders from my eyes so many years ago.
I am very sad that people seem to see so little of the world around them. I can’t walk outside without seeing the beauty of our created world, from the rainbow in a line of earthworm slime, to another visible ring on Jupiter. We have been given this magnificent world to study and enjoy in limitless detail at any level, microscopic to cosmic. Even though I have enough things to interest me another 10 lifetimes, I must take solace in knowing that, at least compared to others, I’ve had much more than my share even in half a life time..
I am blessed to have had a brother who could embody these attitudes. I hope those of you who read this find his words meaningful in your lives as well.
Nimo Patel from Empty Hands Music just released a new music video, so I, as usual, am sending it out right away.
This was the message that went with it:
These are unprecedented times for all of us. We need to act now: to serve, to support the collective and to help those in need. We also need to pray. Most of us cannot leave home, but we can send positive vibrations into the world, the air, our ears, our hearts, and our minds. We need to pray to change the energy field. Prayer can be anything your heart yearns for. Share your love and prayers everyday for all of humanity and all of Planet Earth. We need it and we can all do that wherever we are. In isolation or in community. Love you all.
When I went to my blog’s stats page yesterday, I noticed that six people had read a post I had written in July of 2015. How had they found it? The “referrers” and “search engine terms” sections of the stats page didn’t give me a clue.
It was interesting for me to read the post again. In the last two weeks there have been many stories on the news about the run on toilet paper. Since then, the store shelves where the toilet paper once resided have been empty every time I’ve been to the grocery store. Some stores are putting a limit on how much toilet paper people can buy as a way to prevent the hoarding.
I’m thankful that I had bought some toilet paper just before the run on it began. I’m even more thankful for the 30+ years I’ve been going to India. Especially in the early years, there was generally no toilet paper available. I know I would survive even if I had to live without it.
It seems a fitting time for me to repost this 2015 article.
When I went to the supermarket yesterday, these displays caught my eye.
The three displays were next to each other and all were devoted to the sale of toilet paper!
A few minutes later I found another display directly across from the check out counter:
Yes, it was more toilet paper! I wonder if any other country in the world would devote this much supermarket space to toilet paper. I doubt it.
This morning, I decided to go back to the store and take a look at the packaging. I thought it might be interesting to read the advertising comments and it was! These words and phrases were used:
A Soft Clean
Soft and Strong
Strong and Absorbent
Softness and Strength
Long Lasting Value
3x Stronger plus Resistant
Soft and Affordable
Soft on Nature, Soft on You
Soft and Absorbent
I have to wonder how toilet paper can have clean stretch or long lasting value!
I wish I had counted how many different types of toilet paper there were. I know one company made three or four types, on a scale from Basic to Ultra!
I don’t know what kind of summary statement to make about this post. I think I will let the information speak for itself and look forward to hearing your reactions. Does toilet paper receive this much attention where you live?
As I mentioned in my posts from India, I have been having trouble with balance. It started about two years ago but has been getting worse. With my doctor’s support,I had dealt with it by working with a personal trainer at a gym and doing physical therapy. Both have been valuable, but it was while I was coping with uneven ground in India that I realized how much worse my balance had gotten in the last year. And I also noticed that the balance problem was often accompanied by a sense of wooziness and exhaustion.The India heat and jet lag made those symptoms even worse. It was towards the end of the trip that it first occurred to me that I should stop leading work parties in the Greenbelt. I let that thought percolate in the back of my mind.
Seeing that the symptoms were getting worse, and that strength building at the gym and physical therapy weren’t sufficient for dealing with the physical problems, once I returned to Seattle, I started getting medical tests to rule out underlying causes. (Some of those tests have been delayed because of the pandemic.)
Around the same time, it occurred to me that my physical problems might also be due to overthinking, overdoing and letting myself get overly stressed. After all, from the time I started working in the Greenbelt, I had thought and even dreamed about the restoration work incessantly.
Overthinking, overdoing and letting myself get overly stressed and exhausted have been life patterns for me. There were times in my life when I felt as if my mind was like a computer that was about to explode. My present-day physical symptoms were eerily similar to those experiences. My old pattern was to keep doing all of those behaviors until I got so sick that I couldn’t do the work anymore. I believe that was why I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the mid 80’s and in the 2000’s developed high blood pressure.
Having these insights felt very helpful, but what was to be done with them? Since August of 2016, my life had been primarily focused on the Greenbelt restoration project. I had loved working on the land as well as working with the team leaders and the many hundreds of volunteers who had helped. I had treasured watching the land transform from space overrun with blackberries, ivy and bindweed to land filled with native trees, shrubs and ground covers. But the joy had been accompanied by hardship. The ground is sloped and uneven and I had tripped and fallen many times, once even breaking my wrist. It had taken a tremendous amount of effort to find volunteers to help with the work parties. All of the planning and administrative work had practically turned into a full- time job. And everything had gotten more difficult for me to do as the balance problems and wooziness worsened.
I realized that almost all of my overthinking, overdoing and stress was related to my Greenbelt restoration work. I knew myself well enough to know that cutting back was not an option; I wouldn’t be able to stop the overthinking with that approach. I knew I needed to stop doing the restoration work as soon as possible. In addition, I needed to accept the fact that I am 71 years old now and have limitations that go with aging.
But I would not makethe change immediately. If at all possible, it was important to me to finish Winter Quarter activities since I had University of Washington Service-Learning students as well as Capstone interns from the UW School of the Environment. Even though it was difficult, I was able to complete that commitment!
I have never questioned my decision to stop my involvement in the restoration project, but I knew that I would feel devastated if the land reverted to its 2016 state. I felt relieved when the Green Seattle Partnership staff told me that they were committed to finding another Forest Steward to continue the project.
Several friends and family members told me that my replacement would be revealed. One day, our newest team leader came into my mind. She knows so much and has so much energy. And she had participated in almost all of the student work parties this quarter. I contacted her and asked if she had ever thought about becoming a Forest Steward. I was astounded when she told me she already was one, she had taken the Forest Steward training in 2014. And she was interested in the position!
She prefers to work in a team, so hopefully one or more of our other team leaders will take the training when it is offered in October. But the fact that she is already a Forest Steward means the project can continue now. The saying “what you need will be provided” has certainly come true.
I will miss leading the project but know that I can potentially help in the future. And since the site borders my property, I can still watch the new plants grow and take nature photos. What I am primarily experiencing is a sense of relief.
Just before I sat down to write this post, the title of a book I used to recommend came to mind.
Life is Goodbye, Life is Hello Grieving Well Through All Kinds of Loss
I know I am saying both goodbye and hello in my life and realize that I may experience a myriad of feelings as I continue this process of living, learning and letting go.
I’m not the only one letting go. While I am feeling a lot of relief about my decision about my own life, I’m much more excited about another person’s transformation. Have any of you wondered why you no longer can find my son’s blog, The Seeker’s Dungeon?
Sreejit deleted The Seeker’s Dungeon when he found out he was going to receive the yellow robes of a brahmachari. (To learn more about brahmacharis and brahmacharya click here.)
The decision to delete his blog was part of letting go of his Sreejit identity as he moves into the next stage of his life.
His name is now Brahmachari (Br.) Sattvamrita Chaitanya. Chaitanya is like a last name for all brahmacharis so would only be said in a formal setting. Most of the time he will be called Sattvamrita. The phonetic spelling is sut VAAM ri tu. The u’s are like the short u in hut, the aa is long like the a in psalm or alms, and the i is like the i in knit. The capitalized letters are for the syllable that is emphasized.
I have loved seeing him so excited and happy.
Here are a few photos of Sattvamrita. Cutting off his hair and beard was part of the initiation process.
His sister is so happy for him too. (BTW The sleeves on Sattvamrita’s shirt will be hemmed at a later time! 😁)
My daughter sent me a quote a few days ago that made me laugh, but it also made me think. I have found it helpful and so have some of the people to whom I have sent it. I tried to track down the author but have been unsuccessful in that endeavor.
I’ve also noticed that the quote comes in several forms. I have decided to share it even though I don’t know who wrote it…. because of the importance of the message. I am using the form that I was sent and that I like the best.