Poetry & Music -
2nd May 2017
with Mike Parsons David Kessel, Abe Gibson,
and Roger Hoddle.
floor spots come early...
Powis Road (off Bruce Road) E3 3HJ see map
Bow Road or Bromley by Bow Tube/Bow Church DLR
3-Bees Cafe 4 - 8: bring a bottle/cans
Austerity Door Policy - give what you can afford
Not agitated by grief or hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger.
This second verse in the inspiring picture Sri Krishna is painting of the illumined man is of extreme importance in daily life, because according to the Gita the very texture of this life is one of duality – pain and pleasure, success and defeat, birth and death. Like most of you, in my earlier days, I also held on to the hope that I would be able to isolate pleasure, take it home, keep it on my table, and throw out pain. This has been the hope of every ambitious person, but up to this day no one has succeeded. Anyone who goes after pleasure, honesty demands, cannot complain when he comes across pain. If you do not want pain, do not go after pleasure either When we hear this from the Gita, we immediately get frustrated because we believe, on the evidence of the intellect and senses, that we have a choice of either pain or pleasure. There is no choice. But when we do not go after pleasure, we do not have to be on intimate terms with pain; we go beyond the duality of pain and pleasure, into a state of tranquility, serenity, security, and abiding joy. Beyond pleasure and pain there is this realm of abiding joy that is called, to use Gandiji's phrase, Ramarajya, the Kingdom of Rama. We just do not want to go there. We want to live in the border kingdom where we are haunted by pain and pleasure.Sri Krishna does not use mystical terms here; he does not go in for exaggerated language. He asks, “Don't you want to be sthitadhi? This means: aren't you tired of being a plaything of the forces of life, of being pushed by pleasure here and pulled around by pain there? Aren't you tired of being dependent upon other people's praise, afraid of other people's censure, trying to manipulate people and return unkindness for kindness? We all need joy, and we can all receive joy in only one way, by adding to the joy of others. This is the simple teaching of the Gita: do not complain against the Lord, and do not complain against fate; if you are miserable, it is because you have added to the misery of others. If you are happy, it is because you have added to the happiness of others. Sri Krishna says that no matter what may have taken place in your past, here is the choice you have today; why don't you make it? Often our way of translating this into action is to write in our diary, “Today I began a life of putting other people first,” and to have a sticker on the back of the car saying “I Put Myself Last.” This is all very easy, but it does not add to security; it does not add to anybody's joy except that of the manufacturer of the sticker and button. We have been dwelling upon ourselves so long, caught for so long in our own needs, urges, impulses, and conditioning, that we should be patient with ourselves while undergoing the discipline of gradually subordinating our personal profit and pleasure to the needs of those around us. This is the first and last of the spiritual disciplines, and it is not a matter of high IQ. It is a matter of high WQ, Will Quotient. In order to strengthen the will, start early morning when you want a third piece of toast. Just push it away, and you have increased your will. From breakfast onwards this goes on, and every time you can say no to the craving of the palate you have added to the will just a little. Now just imagine: breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner, and midnight snack; five attempts at strengthening the will every day – in one month, one hundred opportunities. When you do not yield to the craving of the palate, after a long period of discipline the great day will come when you realize that these cravings were a thorn in your flesh. An even more effective way of increasing your will is to put the comfort and convenience of other people first in situations where you are used to putting yourself first. In many matters every day it is painful to make these concessions. It is not too difficult to be a hero on the great stage, but to be a hero when nobody is looking except your cat is extremely difficult. When there is an immense upsurge of self-will saying, “This is how I want it to be. Not you, not you, but me!” that is the time to give, particularly to your parents, to your husband or wife, to your children, and to your friends. That is the time to yield, and yield, and yield. You will find, beautifully enough, that when you start practicing this others start doing the same. This is the advantage of a spiritual family where everybody is putting the welfare of everybody else first - everybody is first. I do not indulge in too much sympathy when I see someone is growing up, even though he or she groans a little. Whenever I see somebody growing up and standing on his or her own feet, it is a day of jubilation for me. Tears, sighs, and groans are part of the process of growth; so Sri Krishna says that when suffering comes, we should remember that we can use it to increase our spiritual awareness. It is said that pain is the only teacher you or I will accept, and without this stern teacher, none of us would grow up to our full stature. When we are suffering, we may be tempted to say, “If the Lord wants me to live the spiritual life, I expect him to be more cordial and more hospitable, instead of hitting me and making me cry. This is no way to treat a devotee.” The Lord is extremely fond of us, but he has no sense of false pity. He wants us to grow out of our selfishness and separateness to be united with him, and he knows suffering is often the only language you or I understand. v56
Eknath Easwaran – The End of Sorrow (Nilgiri Press 1975) pp 109 - 111
""Sages speak of the immutable ashvattha tree, The Tree of Life, with its taproot above and its branches below. On this tree grow the scriptures; seeing their source, one knows their essence. Nourished by the gunas, the limbs of this tree spread above and below. Sense objects grow on the limbs as buds; the roots hanging down bind us to action in this world. The true form of this tree- its essence, beginning and end - is not perceived on this earth. Cut down this strong-rooted tree with the sharp axe of detachment; then find the path which does not come back again. Seek That, the First Cause, from which the universe came long ago."
Most of the Tree of Life, we should remember, lies in the world within. Sri Krishna is telling us to get beneath the surface and trace our way back to the source.
One school of thought speaks of this tree as an illusion, because separateness is an illusion. But I would say each leaf is precious. Each individual creature deserves our respect, love and protection. So instead of talking about cutting down trees, I would rather talk about digging to the root, deep in the soil of the consciousness. Meditation is the tool for digging."" (click on coloured text for link to Blue Mountain Centre site)
Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living p. 182 -chapter 15 1-4 - by Eknath Easwaran
""Above and below its branches spread, blossoming because of the gunas, having for their shoots the sense-objects; deep down in the world of men are ramified its roots, in the shape of the consequences of action.(ch 2) In the first verse, Sri Krishna shows the means of going beyond this world. In this verse, he has described the world from another point of view, that of the ignorant man.
Its form as such is not here percieved, neither is its end, nor beginnning, nor basis. Let men first hew down this deep-rooted Ashvattha with the sure weapon of detachment: Let him pray to win to that haven from which there is no return and seek to find refuge in the Primal Being from whom has emanated this ancient world of action.
We shall remain apart from this world, while working in it, when we no longer look upon it as God's sport but, regarding it as the sphere in which people run after enjoyments, cut it off at the root with the weapon of non-cooperation. In no other way is it possible to cut it off at the roots, for it is without beginning and without end. That is why Shri Krishna has advised non-cooperation.
To that imperishable haven those enlightened souls go - who are without pride and delusion, who have triumphed over the taints of attachment, who are ever in tune with the Supreme, whose passions have died, who are exempt from the pairs of opposites, such as pleasure and pain.
They who crave to win that haven are indifferent to honour or insult. They are absolutely free from delusion. They have scored triumph over the taints of attachment. Those who are always atmarthi (that is, who are aware every moment that they are not their physical bodies but are the atman), whose cravings for objects of senses have subsided (who look not fear-struck but serene at the moment of death) are the enlightened souls that go to that imperishable haven.
On every leaf of the banyan tree are inscribed the Vedas, which means that Ramanama is inscribed on its every leaf. The world is a holy gift made by God out of His grace; the tree of the world grows from the navel of Brahma. But there is another world with its root below, whose leaves are the various objects of sense pleasure; that world is the world of desire. Adhyatmanityah means those whose thoughts dwell with love on Rama, who repeat His name and who do his work. (pp. 252/253)
from M.K. Gandhi Interprets The Bhagavadgita Orient Paperbacks - "discourses which he gave at the Satyagraha Ashram, Ahmedabad, during morning prayers over a period of nine months from February 24 to November 27, 1926".