Three plus three

Small ego, big ego

Once, Krishna pretended he had a headache. His eyes were red, his face swollen; he put on a convincing act. After trying out various remedies, all of them ineffective, Rukmini, his queen, requested Narada to help out. Nothing can cure me, Krishna said to Narada, except the dust from the feet of a true disciple.  Narada sprang to his feet and rushed off to the closest Krishna temple to get the cure Krishna had asked for. Narada was disappointed; all of Krishna’s disciples hesitated to offer the dust off their feet as a cure for one whom they looked up to. We are small, low, inferior, they protested, how can we allow you to use the dust off our feet to cure him who we adore.

Narada returned to Krishna with the bad news and Krishna advised him to try asking his gopis in Vrindavan.

 `What do they know of bhakti?’ the queen laughed, but Narada left for Vrindavan immediately.

 When the gopis heard Krishna was ill, they didn’t hesitate for a moment before brushing the dust off their feet and giving it to Narada. Before Narada could reach Dwarka, Krishna’s headache was gone. `To consider oneself small, low and inferior is also a kind of egoism,’ Krishna said to Narada on his return, `and that is the point I wanted to drive him with this act of mine’.

 To condemn oneself is as foolish as it is to praise one’s own self is what Narada and Krishna’s disciples learnt from this charade of his.



Intelligent design

Mulla Nasrudin lay under a mulberry tree, looking at some water-melons which were growing nearby.

How is it, he thought, that an impressive tree like this mulberry brings forth such puny little fruits? And then look at the miserable, weakling creeper which produces such huge and delicious melons…As he was pondering the paradox, a mulberry fell and landed on his head.

`I see,’ said Nasrudin, when he reflected on what would have happened to his head if it had been a melon that had fallen instead of a mulberry. `That is the reason…I should have thought of it before.’



Life is precious

One day, a spiritual teacher had a vision in which he saw what he would become in his next life. He called an obedient disciple and asked him, `You have always told me you would do anything for me? Would you really?’

Of course I would, master, the young boy said.

`Do you see that brown pig over there in the distance? In my next life I’m going to be born to her…You will recognize me by a mark on my face…You have to do this for me—when you recognize me, kill me,’ the teacher said. The boy promised him he would.

After the teacher passed away, the brown pig did indeed give birth to four piglets and the young boy who had now grown himself noticed that one of the piglets did have a scar on its face. Eager to carry out his teacher’s wishes, the boy sharpened his knife one day and prepared to kill the piglet. As he picked up the piglet, it started to scream, `Stop, don’t kill me, please don’t…’ Shocked, he looked into the piglet’s eyes and saw pain and the fear of death. `Dont kill me,’ the piglet pleaded, `I want to live on as a pig. When I asked you to dispatch me, I didn’t know what a pig’s life would be like.It’s great. Just let me go.’

A Bengali folk-tale



You are the sky, you are the earth,

The air, the hours, the sacrificial grain,

You are the water, the sandal paste and flowers:

You are already in everything.

What shall I worship you with?

–Lal Ded, medieval mystic of Kashmir



The deva said:

`What is the sharpest sword?

What is the deadliest poison?

What is the fiercest fire?

What is the darkest night?’

The Blessed One replied:

`A word spoken in wrath is the sharpest sword;

Covetousness is the deadliest poison;

Passion is the fiercest fire;


Ignorance is the darkest night’.

From The Gospel of Budha by Paul Carus


Gently, gently, O mind, let all befall in time.

The gardener may empty a hundred waterpots,

but will the fruit come before its season?



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Three poems


The signs of the dawn are seen in the East

And the breath of the new life is here…

Mother Earth is the first to be called to awake…

She moves, she awakes, she rises,

She feels the breath of the new-born dawn.

The leaves and the grass stir;

All things move with the breath of the new day;

Everywhere life is renewed.


This is very mysterious.

We are speaking of something very sacred,

Although it happens every day.

–Tahirussawichi, Pawnee priest


Moderation is not a negation of intensity, but helps avoid monotony

Will you stop for a while, stop trying to pull yourself


for some clear “meaning’’—some momentary summary?

no one

can have  poetry or dances, prayers or climaxes all day;

the ordinary

blankness of little dramatic consciousness is good for the

health sometimes,

only Dosotyevsky can be Dostoyevskian at such long

tumultuous stretches;

look what intensity did to poor great Van Gogh!,

linger, lunge,

Scrounge and be stupid, that doesn’t take much centering

of one’s forces;

as wise Whitman said, `lounge and invite the soul.’ Get

enough sleep;

and not only because (as Cocteau said) `poetry is the

literature of sleep’;

be a dumb bell for a few minutes at least; we don’t want

Sunday church bells

ringing constantly.

–John Tagliabue


True Rest

Rest is not quitting

The busy career;

Rest is the fitting

Of self to one’s sphere.


`Tis the brook’s motion

Clear without strife,

Fleeing to ocean,

After this life.


`Tis loving and serving,

The highest and best;

`Tis onward unswerving,

And this is true rest.

–Johann Wolfagang Von Goethe




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Four poems




Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,

Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,

Or stand under the trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,

Or sit at a table at dinner with the rest,

Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,

Or animals feeding in the fields,

Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,

Or the wonderfulness of  the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,

Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring:

These with the rest, one and all, to me are miracles,

The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.


To me every hour of light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,

Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,

The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them,

What stranger miracles are there?

–Walt Whitman


What is the world?

This is a piece too fair

To be the child of Chance, and not of Care.

No Atoms casually together hurl’d

Could e’er produce so beautiful a world.

–John Dryden


For every thing there is a season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose: a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

–Ecclesiastes, 3:1-11

(The piece above has also been put to music by The Byrds, titled `Turn Turn Turn’…Click on to hear the song)


The Cat

Observe the Cat upon this page.

Philosophers in every age,

The very wisest of the wise

Have tried her mind to analyze

In vain, for nothing can they learn.

She baffles them at every turn

Like Mister Hamlet in the play.

She leads their reasoning astray;

She feigns an interest in string

Or yarn or any rolling thing.

Unlike the Dog, she does not care

With common Man her thoughts to share.

She teaches us that in life’s walk

`T is better to let others talk,

And  listen while they say instead

The foolish things we might have said.

–Oliver Herford





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Comic relief…..Woody Allen on death

I’m not afraid of death,  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.


If you want to make God  laugh, tell him about your plans.


You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.


If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss Bank.


Photons have mass? I didn’t even know they were Catholic.


What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.


I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.


The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you.


I hate reality but it’s still the best place to get a good steak.


Not only is there no God, but try finding a plumber on Sunday.


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Drop the past, move on…

Sensho and his two other friends, both monks, were about to step into the water to cross the river when they noticed a beautiful young woman standing on its banks.

`I fear the water and I wish to go to the other side,’ she said plaintively. `Could one of you  help me please?’

Sensho’s friends looked at her and walked away but they were shocked when Sensho offered to help. `Climb onto my back,’ he said to her, `I will take you across to the other side.’  As monks, they were not allowed to have any sort of physical contact with women. Upset but saying nothing, they  proceeded, very aware of Sensho slowly making his way behind them.

On reaching the other side, the young woman climbed down from Sensho’s back, offered her gratitude and went her way. The three monks continued on their path, two of them still in a state of shock and very very glum.

`What is the matter?’ Sensho asked after they had trekked a few kilometres. `Why are you guys so quiet?’

`What you have done is blasphemous…You have violated the code of the order, you have dishonoured it….Why did you pick up that woman?’

Ah, so this is what was bothering them. `I picked her up two hours ago and I dropped her an hour ago….You ask me why I picked her up?….I ask you why don’t you drop her…’



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`Everybody hates me,’ moaned Simba the snake, `no one loves me.’

Stroking his short hip French beard, his guru replied, `Well, why are you surprised?….You are always going around biting people, hurting people….Try and stop biting people and you will see the difference. ’

OK, said Simba, will do, from now on I’m Simba the cool, peacenik, dude snake. Slipping into his `Love them all today’ T-shirt and his sunglasses, he went out singing `Peace, Love, Peace, Love to all’. Now the people stopped hating him but they beat the living daylights out of him because they were not scared of him anymore. Rescuing his fragile sunglasses, Simba hurriedly slunk away into the bushes and decided to consult his hip, French-bearded guru once again.

`You told me to become a cool dude and I did…You told me to stop biting and I did…And they beat me to a pulp because they just don’t fear me anymore…’ Simba wept.

`Dude, I told you to stop biting, I didn’t tell you to stop hissing…’


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Two Mullas and a folk-tale…

The right time to worry…

Mulla Nasrudin’s donkey had gone missing, and everyone in the village was busy searching for the animal.

`The whole village is worried about your donkey except you,’ one of the villagers said to him. `What if the animal is never found? Have you thought of that?.’

`I plan to start worrying,’ Mulla replied, pointing to a hill in the distance. `See that hill…You people havent looked there yet…If you dont find it there, I will start worrying.’


Believe me…

`I would like to borrow your donkey, Mulla’, Mulla Nasrudin’s neighbour said to him.

`Not possible…Someone has already borrowed it,’ Mulla replied. Just then, the donkey brayed out loud from Mulla’s backyard.

`You liar, Mulla, that’s your donkey braying from behind the house’, the neighbour shouted.

Nasrudin slammed the door shut in his face. `A person who believes a donkey more than he believes me should not be lent anything’.


Walking on water (a Tibetan folk-tale):

A yogi saw another yogi sitting across the river and decided to impress him. He crossed the river by walking on water and on reaching the other side, asked proudly `Did you see that?’

`Very impressive,’ said the other yogi. `How did you do that?’

`I meditated in the Himalayas for fifteen years, slept on beds of nails, stood on one leg for three years to be able to perform this miraculous feat,’ the yogi replied.

`You wasted all that time to do this? The boatman would have ferried you across for a mere eight annas’.


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