Perspectives on Present and Future
30th of December, 2007 - 6:15
With the new year right behind the corner, some thoughts on present and future are in place.
The Great American and His Four Kinds of Devotees
23rd of December, 2007 - 3:37
The story of the Great American and his four kinds of devotees.
New E-mail
14th of December, 2007 - 13:22
A new e-mail address, please use for all future correspondence.
An Ode to Solitude
9th of December, 2007 - 7:25
Part two of the previous blog entry. From ashram life to nirjana.

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Perspectives on Present and Future
Posted: 30th of December, 2007 - 6:15
With the new year right behind the corner, some thoughts on present and future are in place.

Life here for the past 16 months has no doubt been the experience of my life, even if I can't say it would've exactly matched my expectations. It has left me with a vast horde of experiences, as fulfilling as at times shattering, and as enlightening as at times disillusioning, all for the ultimate good.

As readers of this blog have no doubt observed, ever since my move to India activity has been sporadic at best — owing to the great deal of attention life off the keyboard has demanded, leaving little energy or attention for sharing something with others, if indeed the themes I've at times dwelt on were fit for a public blog to begin with. Personal company with people who've made it to the holy land carries hundred-fold the impact on an individual than any quantity of my writings ever will; so has my experience been, for a number of reasons best left for a later study.

On all things online and electronic, the trend has been one of withdrawal, conscious or otherwise. A time will come in the not so distant future that'll take me underground altogether, for in solitude is God to be found. It is time enough for me to start paying attention to my own quest, lest I be the proverbial blind man, confident of the salvation's road yet ending in the ditch with the rest of the poor lot. While we're on the theme, if there are volunteers inclined to do something — anything — about the future of the current websites, now is the prime time to make yourself known. While I have no timeline fixed for my vanishing, take it as no more than half a year. Which brings us onward to our next theme.

Towards the summer of 2008, and no dates have been fixed as of yet, I will need to take a detour to Finland. Our country has a law of compulsory military service (6 or 9 months depending on your wits) on all young men, to start latest during the year of their turning 28 (which is 2008 for me). An option is 13 months of civil service with a "salary" of 10% of the normal pay (€5 daily). Total refusal, which is what I am opting for, gives one a six-month prison sentence, having gone through which one's duty is considered fulfilled. Some quality time in that ah-so-precious solitude I've been calling for.

For people worried over prison conditions, suffice it to say that even a segregation cell in a Finnish prison is in all likelihood bigger and fancier than my current cube-kutir (2.3x2.3 meters), and I am quite capable of doing a fruitarian diet. (No, I would not take food they have cooked.) For those assuming there'd be a way out, religious or ethical grounds do not qualify for exemption. I did send in a long'ish document calling for exemption over a year back, but typically it went unanswered. Medical reasons would qualify for exemption, and some indeed go to charlatan doctors to get a false statement, but I am not one to lie.

The option to this would be to go underground here in India. Having sent in my letter of refusal, I would need to stay underground until the end of the year I turn 30 (2010) for the charge to expire. Were the subpoena delivered to me but I failed to show up either in the court or in jail, it would be three years more, up to the end of 2013. The large problem with this (otherwise compelling) solution is that my passport won't be renewed until I've cleared my accounts with Finland, and no passport means no renewed visa.

One staying without a visa in India, again, runs the risk of being captured, deported and blacklisted for an unpredictable amount of years from obtaining a new visa. This would then mean that, after a successful three years underground, I would have to sneak across the northern border to Nepal with local pilgrims and show up at the local Finnish embassy, or otherwise secure another route out of the country through bribery. This, again, is a bit more hassle than I care to tend to.

People have been asking about Malati and the house. Let's start with the latter. The house was completed, for as complete as it ever needed to become, towards late spring. The budget kept bulging as the work progressed — the local contractors seem to have the idea that you'll be pleased if the initial estimate is low — and effectively totally depleted our finances. A kitchen, one room and and underground room (incidentally flooded, in the process of drying), a separate toilet and bathroom, and a decent two meter boundary around the land is what it ended up being. I never ended up moving to the house, owing to the depletion of funds that left the second room unconstructed, and the flooding of the basement where I could have, in theory, lived.

The yard is now a blossoming garden with a good selection of vegetables, flowers and tulasi growing, thanks to Malati's efforts. Yes, Malati. People know little of us, and have wondered of my having lived separately since her moving into the house. To give this a general context, for the past several years we haven't really been a grihastha-grihini or a husband-wife sort of team, not by a far stretch. We have both been increasingly minding our own business and our own meditations, following our own routines with a great deal of mutual freedom — more of a dynamic resembling room-mates and friends in fact.

I believe it never went to the blog, at least in so many words, the depth of our relationship with Sanatana Das Babaji. He was a siksa-guru for us for the better part of three years, and still is for Malati. With a sleight of providence's unseen hand, some misunderstandings and misgivings drove a serious wedge between myself and the babaji. No details need to be delved upon here, for people unacquainted with the whole story will be prone to undue critique. The intimate guru-disciple relationship between the two, we found, weighed heavier in the grand scale of life when things turned out to be irreconciliable; for after all, was it not an objective of spirit we once settled on?

Consequently, in due course of time and with no small amount of reflection, our consensus was that the future would be more fulfilling for the two of us, were we to pursue our own ways. For, after all, a great wedge had cut into the spiritual synergy that once held us together. Each must pursue his and her ultimate; for does not the Brihadaranyaka say, "This, which is nearer to us than anything, this Self, is dearer than a son, dearer than wealth, and dearer than all else."

"Do you call it a divorce, then?" asked the other person. Ah, the negative connotations of the word. Divorce, and re-marriage, and re-divorce — the cycle of the civilized world. If that's what the word means to you, shun the thought of it here. A natural evolution into the next phase of life. The forest-dweller, the hermit, the ascetic, intent on contemplation, worship and inner discovery. For all practical purposes, the life that already was to a great extent, and is now finding its fulfillment. The path that leads to inner joy and final emancipation, may that be the path of the thoughtful, whichever the choices be that need to be made. Yes, the house — the house is her hermitage. I am where destiny takes me. So much on that.

To return to the beginning. Both of this writing, and indeed to the dawn of all things that matter. Life has provided me with an abundant supply of riddles to solve, boulders to demolish, and light to be seen. With this, it is unavoidable that I withdraw my long and once active arms back into the shell they grew of, investing myself internally. For did the sages not say, "And if one were to say to another who declares other than the Self dear, that he will lose what is dear to him, very likely it would be so." For those who feel a sense of comradeship with me, whether for illuminating experiences or for a lack of better judgment, I am, but cannot vouch for frequent communications.

"And the forest-dweller shall grow a beard and wear matted locks, living in a thatched cottage or a mountain cave, enduring snowfall, wind, rain and the blazing sun." Speak no more!
The Great American and His Four Kinds of Devotees
Posted: 23rd of December, 2007 - 3:37
I am the Great American, born as I am the unseen land of the Utopian States. To re-establish the principles of my spiritual life and to delight in the company of my brethren, I descend to the holy land of India time and again. Dwelling among the mortals, four kinds of pious men approach me.

The suffering. They worship me as one to give solutions to their tribulations. They befriend me to raise their downtrodden social image. No longer are they the nobody everyone always took them to be, they can now show off their magnitude in the company of the Great American. They wish me to narrate tales of the Great America, the land of their dreams, instilling hopes of a future paradise amidst the harsh struggles of existence. Perhaps, so they ardently pray, I will one day redeem them and bring them to the Great America where an abundance of dollars is easily available for one and all.

The greedy. They know that my skin is white for the daily milk baths I take, milk purchased from an infinite stock of magic dollars. After all, in Great America we use small notes for wallpaper, and old notes we pulverize and scatter across our yards; that's why our grass is so lushly green. They befriend me, take me as their bosom friend, and tell me long tales culminating in their need for money. Perhaps I would grace them with a hundred rupees or a thousand, or even give some American dollars. And upon my next ascent, I would certainly bring them an American camera or a walkman made in America, for goods manufactured in America have an immortal shine. With these hopes, the greedy indulge me with various local pleasantries.

The curious. They are well-established in life and often also well educated, relatively free from the worries that trouble the suffering and the greedy. For them, I am a foreign curiosity able to provide varieties of mental fulfillments and delights through discussions and dialogs, a man with an access to a base of knowledge beyond common reach. They are often eager to hear about the relative value of the dollar, the working conditions and cultural traits of the Great America, and also the system of divorcing and the free availability of sex. The cost of a round-trip and the hours spent on the journey also feature among the favorite trivia. A particularly fine specimen among the curious might even entertain me with a discussion featuring the great Hellenic philosophers.

The wise. These rare souls share an insight on the reason for my descent. They are overjoyed to hear that I have left behind the Great America with an aim to obtain the final emancipation spoken of in the ancient scriptures, and that my ties to the Great America have been forsaken. Even if they share curiosities with the other three classes of devotees, they easily understand my disinclination to indulge in the same, respecting my wish to keep my attention internal. They might even offer me a good advice, unsolicited and without expectation of anything in return. They view me not as an object of attainment, but establish a relationship in the spirit of brotherhood.

The heart of the Great American, however, is a heart crying for solitude, for the objective is to be found within. Social interactions, whether of the more common nuisance flavor, or of the occasional neutral flavor, are distractions all the same, acts calling to be minimized for my ultimate good. Exchanges making a substantial positive internal contribution, the meetings with the truly great, are shining beacons of light in the vast and engulfing darkness of human existence. Alas, if they accounted for even just one in a ten thousand meetings, I might be inclined to keep my eyes outward-looking.
New E-mail
Posted: 14th of December, 2007 - 13:22
I'm now using a GMail account as my primary e-mail address for the convenience of being able to access all my mails from anywhere. Please send future correspondence to this address only.

Do not send any chain letters or other cool forwarded stuff to this mail, and especially don't add it as a CC to letters with a hundred other e-mail addresses unknown to me. (And there was no please in that sentence. =P)
An Ode to Solitude
Posted: 9th of December, 2007 - 7:25
With one and half months with Anonymous Das Babaji, I have chosen to return to my precious solitude. The period has indeed left me with many a precious lesson, even if probably not the lessons the teacher intended me to part with. I will not write in detail on what led me to pack my bags and move on in fear of effecting Vaisnava-aparadha, whether by me or by anyone in the blog audience. Suffice it to say that the psychological gap between the two cultures can be immense, and concepts of honesty, acceptable conduct and so forth can be like day and night.

The day before yesterday I moved to a small kutir upstairs at Narottami Mandir, to the solitude I so badly needed. I am now moving out for a couple of days for parikrama of Varshana and Nandagram, and will also be seeking the counsel of Sri Vinod Bihari Das Babaji (photo posted on the front page) on certain pending matters concerning myself and the aforementioned mahatma. There are more reflections to be written on this, but they will have to wait for a better time.

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