Boston

I’ve moved to Boston as of September 13th as some of the first autumn leaves began appearing. I am temporarily residing in Reading, MA, house-sitting for a family friend while looking for a permanent place. It will be interesting to wait and see what this new endeavor will bring but I have already visited several libraries and have been rethinking my approach to study and living arrangements. The move in it self was facilitated by someone who I met in an interview in May of 2017 soon after I arrived in Virginia. I certainly believe he played the part of a Bodhisattva in all his efforts to get me here and now I owe it to him and the Tathagata to take full advantage of the many scholarly access I have gained.

I was really compelled to write this post to share photos of the many spider webs in the grass and trees that have become laden with the autumnal raindrops. The only other observation being the constant beckoning of Jainism from some of the most unsuspecting areas discourse since early this year. Perhaps in the incipient age of the machine, the dawn of the Anthropocene, one cannot afford to ignore the heart. This image is an offering to Mahavira and to all the Tirthankaras and Bodhisattvas.

Laks Indrakaran

Reading, MA.

Ribhu

That in which there is no appearance of maya (illusion),
In which there are no effects of maya (delusion),
In which there is neither knowledge nor ignorance,
In which there is neither Lord (Isvara) nor individual (jiva),
In which there is neither reality nor unreality,
And in which there is not the least appearance of the world–
Ever abide in Bliss, without a trace of a concept (sankalpa),
In That itself as That itself.
                                                                                                       – Ribhu Gita

The sky was gloomy, nearly like dusk due the marauding dark clouds and pouring heavy rains this morning.

My colleagues complained about the weather as I imagine most would but I bit my tongue as I wanted nothing more but to be under the covers in my bed left alone armed with a cup of tea and a book whilst care freely swirling in and out of sleep with the windows open listening to the heavy downpour. I don’t listen to any music while I read except the music of the rain, thunder, howling winds, waving branches and rustling leaves.

Regardless, I hadn’t much of a choice at this point except to hope that the “bad” weather perseveres until my lunch hour where I could escape to my car, which I ensure to park under tree shade not only to avoid the heat but to fully experience the music of the rain.

Sure enough it did.

At 11am, I scurried to the kitchen to tuck away a few morsels of food and disappeared out of the office through the rain and into my car.

I was chuffed that I could get forty minutes of rain and solitude but I hadn’t a book. I had, however, Nome’s Song of Ribhu audiobook. Nome’s calm yet resounding voice, I believe, was fitting for reading the Gita.

I put on the first disc and reclined my chair, eyes half closed feeling nothing more than the cool breeze and the light spattering of rain. As soon as Zia Mohiuddin Dagar’s vina started playing, I was instantaneously transported into the dream world and very rapidly into deep sleep only to be startled back to being half awake by Nome’s voice. “I” was oscillating between being awake, dreaming and deep sleep by merely grasping on to the thin thread of Nome reading the Ribhu.

Could it have been a momentary discarding of the”I” and an acknowledgement of That Itself?

Anything momentary cannot be real hence this too is to be discarded.

 

I have always liked Nome.

 

Laks Indrakaran

Norfolk, VA

Bacchanalia

As I sit alone in the rain under a slim bit of shade drinking what was donated to me and watching a ladybird climb up my chair, I am reminded of my past bacchanalian excesses. Of a time when good friends of high standing, not of wealth or pillars of society but instead rich in music and learning met to discuss our disillusionment and drank and danced the night away.

Perhaps a fictional past of a fictional individual.

I may have a scintilla of red dust still clinging to my garment but good to revisit the past even if in a daydream.

Norfolk, VA

Laks Indrakaran

Epictetus

In 2010, at my first Yi lesson, I was told that I ought to read three stoic texts before proceeding. The three texts being Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, Seneca’s Epistles Vol. I-III and Epictetus’s Enchiridion. Although at first I read the Penguin translations, however, as I found myself returning to these texts every year, I invested in the beutifully made Loeb Classics editions which have excellent translations with the original Greek & Roman texts and very good footnotes.

I recently picked Epictetus off my shelves as I have not revisited him since I was first told about him. I have found the text just as fresh as when I first read it. Epictetus seemed as pertinent now in my current situation as it was pertinent for someone wanting to learn the oracle.

I have been wanting to devote more time to the Stoics, Cynics. Heraclitus, Parmenides, Epicurus and would have liked to read Diogenes or Euphrates but nothing remains. There is, however,  a far greater urgency to grapple with and come to a true understanding of Advaita and Madhyamika. For now, I have Epictetus and Nisargadatta’s Self Love, The Original Dream on the arm of my reading chair.

Laks Indrakaran

Norfolk, VA.

The Fall

I was once in the company of friends who could sniff out the author of a poem regardless of who recited them or medium. Now I am in the company of people of who miss quote adverts they barely remember.

I never understood poems, i never understood Mark E. Smith and yet I long for my good old friends that kindly introduced me to the words uttered by the ancients, some belonging to my own heritage or the moderns who reintroduced the ancients. Those good old friends are no longer here and perhaps never to be seen again. To an extant they have expired just as Mark has. T’was them who introduced me to The Fall.

Laks

Norfolk, VA.

Hiatus

It has been a long while since I’ve written on here. Since my last post, I was hired full-time and moved into my own place. The entire process of settling into a new house and new job, in a new field and in a new country, had sapped me of any energy to pursue my interests. I have also decided not to get internet, so as to get away from internet addiction and to try spend more time reading, gardening or just sitting doing nothing.

In the last several months of living alone and with very little distractions, I had come to face a few overwhelming obstacles, for lack of a better word. Some of which I thought I had put behind me and some of which I had predicted will crop up but was not prepared for.

For the first time, I am faced with loneliness at what seems like its rawest. Although I predicted that loneliness would eventually loom like dark storm clouds and not easily shaken off, I was none the less surprised at times, at how overwhelming it can get. I still do not feel at home in my current surroundings and am hoping that this will only spur me on to truly appreciate Advaitic and Buddhist views on the unreality of “my” desires. Perhaps the growing disillusionment will lead to caring less about worldly existence? I would go through frequent phases of consuming a Bukowskian amount of booze (lacking all poetry or insight. Fights are not my style) and doing very little else. The overwhelming ennui and silence oddly did not lead to me reveling in listening to the birds and sounds of the rain while consuming the vast quantities of books I had accumulated over the last decade but it instead lead me desperately looking for distractions.

Despite all that, I do believe I am gradually beginning to enjoy the quiet and hopefully soon I will have more to write. I have just started reading Michael Comans‘s absolutely brilliant book The Method of Early Advaita. It is unmistakable that Comans knows what he is writing about. I have only read the first half of his chapter on Gaudapada and have found his commentaries profoundly revealing.

Laks Indrakaran

Norfolk, VA

Discarding

Q: How can I want the inconceivable?

M: What else is there worth wanting? Granted, the real cannot be wanted, as a thing is wanted. But you can see the unreal as unreal and discard it. It is the discarding the false that opens the way to the true. – I Am That – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

When I first met, a particularly bookish friend, he told me that he was getting rid of most of his books and have always lived on as little as possible. That inspired me to begin questioning my own careless amassing of objects, even items that were given to me as gifts. I was soon told about the Hojoki, by the same friend. The Hojoki is a poignant Buddhist text with powerful apocalyptic imagery describing the temporal world. Some would use the rather tired and cliched term “impermanence”, which has been so frequently attached to so many so called spiritual texts but I’ve rarely come across anyone who takes it seriously enough.

I was no better either, as I was often in a fitful state acquiring books rapidly, not to mention my penchant for nice clothes. Before I knew it, I had acquired a massive library, enormous enough that, should It topple over, it would have been fatal and yet most of the books remain unread. A pointless maiming.

It was in moving out of the UK and again out of Malaysia that I felt the lightness of not only discarding my belongings but many of the preconceived ideas and identities that “I” clutched on to. Leaving London and Malaysia also meant leaving behind a cultural and psychological narrative that I clung on too with tooth and nail. I do, however, still reminisce about the good old days.

Upon arriving in Virginia Beach, my friend wrote to me mentioning Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist Living. A book on getting rid of possessions and modern Japanese minimalism.  A very well written book with excellent advice and a lighthearted yet thorough treatment of psychological traits that allow for possessing objects. I did, however, find Sasaki’s repetitive admiration of Steve Jobs very jarring. Steve Jobs is certainly not the hero of minimalism that Sasaki believes. Sasaki also does not fully address data hoarding , in fact he encourages digitizing all information in view of storing them. Aside from that it is a brilliant book. I had come across Nagisa Tatsumi’s The Art of Discarding from Sasaki and read it straight after and it too is a brilliant book, with lots more examples and easy to follow advice. I highly recommend both books for anyone considering living on no more than just the essentials. This includes getting rid of gadgets and reducing if not getting rid of the internet and smartphone. There  are several books that deal with doing away with gadgetry but I believe the most convincing are Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and Eric Brende’s Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. I cannot recommend these two titles enough. They have given me a whole new world view on technology and proved to be great stepping stones that lead my private research into the effects of technology on people and the enviroment.

Aside from books on discarding objects, I have been reading my Nisargadatta Maharaj collection some of which for the first time and some I have been coming back to again and again over the past seven years. I have only two small rows of books on my shelves now and of which the majority are recorded dialogues of the three Maharaj’s (Nisargadatta, Ranjit and Siddharameshwar) and Ramana Maharshi. The rest being a few books on Pure Land and Zen Buddhism, six Loeb Classics translations of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus and a few translations of the Yijing.

Reading Maharaj and books on minimalism in tandem felt appropriate as I am no longer only discarding objects but also examining ideas such as the existance of objects, birth, my body, likes and dislikes, hopes and regrets and basically every-“thing“ in the field of consciousness in view of discarding them all.

Laks Indrakaran

Virginia Beach, US.