The depressive sombre mood continued yesterday. All the passion and that warm, loving and fuzzy feeling I had been having most of the last week including Sunday seemed like a far cry from some other time. I felt so far below in the world of my egocentric sadness that no thoughts of the beloved would pull me out of it. Loneliness closed in on me taking me to the depths of darkness I knew from some years back : a feeling of deep loss or heartbreak with dejection and hopelessness for future. I felt suffocated and short of breath. My heart sinking into a well of pessimism after knowing the buoyant joy of these past few months and a wish to believe that I was capable of receiving love I had only dreamt of. It felt like happiness had left me. Like there were a cloud obscuring clear vision and sun. I found no energy or reason to pull me out of this state other than to start cleaning up the house and organizing for the upcoming trip to Spain. To occupy myself with practical details requiring me to be present in the here and now. Cooking, cleaning, clearing and organizing did remove some of those cobwebs from my mind though the unsettling feeling did not change. I felt weak, vulnerable and insecure, needing something or someone to reassure me that everything was alright.
As usual, I turn to astrology for when I can not find my bearings. But a closer look at the stars told me of nothing that was alarming or would explain why I was feeling less than I should. And as is usually the case, when digging into astrology, I read up on some other related transits as well and then some more. I found out that one of them (merely thinking about which had been a source of great concern and anxiety without even actually having it currently) may actually turn out to be not that bad. With astrology, the downside is that the interpretation remains personal and in the absence of an objective or detached vantage point, things might look darker than they actually might be. Even though I consciously try to look for the positive in dark places as well but sometimes it is just too much to handle on one’s own. So I found out that this particular scary transit might actually be getting the benefit of spiritual light from Neptune*. Now Neptune has this quality of rounding off the edges or even blurring the edges altogether to make any experience more spiritual and richer in metaphysical meaning. So long as there is a silver lining, it can not be all that bad. This lifted up the shadow from my heart somewhat. Continue reading
The hot and sunny weather is making me drowsy in addition to feeling sad. I want to cry my heart out to the skies to let the Gods hear of my loneliness. Life becomes somewhat bearable escaping through fantasies or even meditation but there is no permanent cure. Blame it on the full moon earlier during the course but by middle of the retreat, fuelled by my imagination, my passion was on fire. Meditating while have a burning desire for a deep heart and soul connection leading to intense physical love is painful. There isn’t a moment I did not think of the beloved and sent out my love to him. Does he think of me too or am I destined to pass my days without ever knowing his deep reciprocal love?
Life at the meditation center during the retreat has hardly changed over the years except in minor, practical details as the center is continuously expanding to accommodate more meditators. This particular summer course has the majority of Cambodian participants so naturally the food is also made by Cambodian servers. For me, the exotic food combined with the peaceful, non-competitive presence of these sweet Cambodian people is a major draw to do the course at this time of the year especially if I have not been able to do a course in the winter previously. Most of the Cambodians wear white clothes during their meditation retreat though I do not know if there is any particular reason for it. Mindful of this and to blend in with them as much as my tanned skin and Indian looks would allow, I selected mostly white outfits too for the retreat though for the genuine spiritual seeker, superficial details such as these are of little significance. Going into meditation for a prolonged duration with a calm mindset helps though with this particular retreat I did not get the sensation of having really deeply meditated, whatever the reasons. I am not angry or disappointed with myself though there were moments when I did question whether I was really meditating or just whiling away my time there. No doubts there were moments of meditative absorption too but mostly I found my attention scattered. Usually in a course there is a day or two of loose focus before my concentration gets better for an intense day or more but during this course, it did not happen. Continue reading
わが宿の 夕影草の 白露の 消ぬがにもとな 思ほゆるかも
– 万葉集 4 – 594
Watched 東京物語 (1953, Tōkyō Monogatari) by 小津 安二郎 (Ozu Yasujirō) last night. It made me slightly sad but I did not feel any particular internal conflict. It reflected the reality of relationships whether as a parent or as a child (because our parents were once children and we will be as old as our parents too). Probably experiences like these reinforce our detachment from the world and worldly affairs and actually help in attaining spiritual maturity (even though on the worldly level, it is not without some or even a lot of pain). But we do need reminders like these. I will now call my parents before leaving for the meditation center just the same.
Wa ga yado no yūkagekusa no shiratsuyu no kenu gani motona omōyuru kamo
– Man’yōshū 4-594
As if the dewdrops on the grass in my garden glistening in the evening sun were to dissipate, so do I languish longingly in love for you.
見渡せば 明石の浦に 燭す火の 穂にぞ出でぬる 妹に恋ふらく
– 万葉集, 3-326
In the hotel room in Yffiniac in Bretagne, I got up from sleep to answer the phone that rang may be two or three times before I could reach it. The day had been exhausting. Having slept at 9 and with the long summer daylight, it was hard to tell what time it was. The window curtain was open. It still looked like evening to me with the clear blue sky. The moon was beginning its ascent next to a star that was shining brightly. I wondered if it was Jupiter and if Jupiter was indeed visible with naked eyes. A look at the clock on the TV tells me it is a few minutes past 11. It is li’l r on the other side of the phone. She asks me if it is an okay time to talk. “No problem.” Had left her at the center for a course in sailing earlier during the afternoon. She is telling me that she has settled down well with other children. That they are going to sleep in a tent on the island which will be their home for the next one week. This is also where they will learn to sail before embarking on a real time sailing voyage for another 5 days aboard a full length sail boat. Despite the late hour, I can hear other children’s playful voices in the background including a naughty boy of may be the same age as my daughter who has apparently eavesdropped on our conversation. He is asking me on the phone if I wanted to be his friend. This makes me laugh and I answer, “Yes, why not?!” At this, li’l r informs me that the boy can not hear me. Amidst laughter and a promise to talk later, she hangs up hurriedly. I go back to the bed after one good look at the moon. I am wondering if this is the same moon that shines on the beloved’s world and if he looks at it sometimes. I fall asleep quickly only to wake up after some time. Once again it is difficult to tell the hour but the sky is a darker shade of blue now. I can see the moon right there in the window without even getting up. It is shining brightly spreading a cool silvery light in the room. Continue reading
Watched 元禄 忠臣蔵 (Genroku Chūshingura, The Treasury of Loyal Retainers of the Genroku era, 1941) by 溝口 健二 (Mizoguchi Kenji) yesterday. Although the story is well known and my recent interest in 歌舞伎 (Kabuki) had me watching the Kabuki version of it earlier 仮名手本忠臣蔵 (Kanadehon Chūshingura) but the epic film triggered a certain state of melancholy and reflection. The perspective from which 元禄 忠臣蔵 is mainly seen is that of 大石内蔵助 (Ōishi Kuranosuke), a man of high moral caliber, courage, honour and loyalty whose dilemmas do not fail to stir emotions. His story along with the 46 others became famous but had such values not been the norm of the day, it would not have found such a resonance and sympathy back then. We human beings delight in noble qualities whether in our own or someone else’s and this might be why this story continues to enjoy a wide appeal even centuries later.
Watching 山椒大夫 (Sanshō Dayū, 1954) the day before, on the other hand, had me looking at the ugly underbelly of human character. Although both the movies are 時代劇 (jidaigeki) but the starting point of the unmitigated abuse of power rendered the mood sober. While nobility of spirit seems to have all but disappeared, the wretchedness is there in all its glory even today. As far as physical abilities are concerned, I would like to think that animals are far superior compared to us. But even mentally, most of us are a slave to our lower instincts. When this weakened spirit takes hold, men have their heads spinning with the illusions of power. They roam around freely engaging in licentious behavior, oppressing the weak and the underprivileged, deciding the course of destinies not unlike a game of chess and amassing great fortune that only serves to nourish their overinflated ego while mistakenly believing in a world that does not lend itself to the supremely eternal law of change. Continue reading
It is middle of the night. A half-naked woman with her breasts exposed is lying on her back in a wooden boat. She beckons her lover. ” 好きです ,” she says. At this, her lover, dressed only in a 褌 (fundoshi) leaps on top of her with a ferocious urgency. Their silhouettes in the darkness of the night are ambiguous. Their bodies submerging in water. My heart is beating faster. My mind goes blank. This is one of the opening scenes in a black comedy by 今村 昌平 (Imamura Shōhei) I started to watch yesterday. The eroticism in this simple scene left me speechless with a kind of intimate pleasure in which I am not a spectator but that naked woman in a similar scene going on in my mind’s eye with vivid clarity. I want to see the beloved in a 褌. I want to see him in a 着物 (kimono), in a 浴衣 (yukata), a 浴衣 (hakama),… I decide to abandon the film to watch 山椒大夫 (Sanshō Dayū, 1954) by 溝口 健二 (Mizoguchi Kenji) but keep feeling the ripples of pleasure long afterward. Such is the power of suggestion.
Probably as a leftover of the brooding and unsettling 芥川 龍之介 (Akutagawa Ryūnosuke) influenced mood, I found the poetry session on Friday morning to be insipid and uninspiring. That the session had not been confirmed till the last moment made me slightly mad since the absence of precise details made it difficult to organize several commitments and chores of the days in an effective manner. Anyway, I decided to walk towards the café after sending a short message seeking confirmation of the session. Without waiting for an answer, I walked on for about half an hour and was the first one to arrive. At 10 am, there were not too many people in this spacious and luminous café – trendy lunch restaurant. I settled down on a light blue sofa and pulled out my pocket book on kabuki to fill up the time. Not long afterward, I am joined by founder of the group. It must have been my huge cuppa morning tea that made me use the rest room before starting. By the time I returned to the hall, the third one had joined in too. Au complet for the day, we ordered tea/ coffee and settled down to begin the session.
Since the third one had an appointment constraint for noon, we invited her to recite her poem first. It was titled “Hell” by a poet called Auden (who I had not heard of earlier nor have any particular desire to know now). The third lady warned us that she had herself not understood the poem. I am intrigued. She recited the poem in her Russian accented English. No matter which poem, I always need at least two recitals before the words or the meaning register in my head but with this poem, the task is further complicated. While she is talking to the second woman, I read the poem silently from her book. This was one of those poems that had neither head nor tail, in my opinion at least. If a poem is made to sound too intelligent, it puts me off. Poetry is the domain of the heart and not of the mind though with that said, refinement of skill lies in using intelligence to portray one’s emotions or thoughts sensibly and sensitively. But when intelligence stoops to being a mere trophy of someone’s superiority (in word play, displaying the language prowess or pun as is the case with the British wry humour), it feels cheap, smug and artificial and this is what this poem felt. The second woman is going on about what she had understood. Her words are going over my head just like the poem. I can make neither head nor tail out of the meaning she thought she got but keep my peace. She gushes that it is a very nice poem. “Really?” I ask in my head without actually letting the words roll off my tongue. Continue reading