Letting go

Go ego

Let go

You have created me

So much pain

Suffering

Go away

Or you shouldn’t go?

What would happen to Me?

Would I vanish into thin air

Empty

And stop writing?

.

Am I really the writer?

Or the observer?

Hm am I the narrator?

Or the one silently watching

Life folding and unfolding itself?

.

I see now

I am the one who takes up the heavy burden

I am the one who carries the heavy rucksack on my back

Oh it hurts so much

On my back, neck and head

I see now

It’s time to let go

Letting go

That is the Path

.

Really it’s not about taking more in

But of letting go

Flow on with the River

Freely

Burden not

Yourself with changing the world

It’s about letting go

Your ego is

The most destructive,

Oppressive,

Consumerist,

Colonialist,

Racist,

Sexist,

Patriarchal force

In this world

If you let go of it

The world will change accordingly

Sounds simple right?

No it’s quite difficult

But not impossible

This process might take

Lives and lives

But it’s better to start late than never

Just let go

.

Remember the story of Lord Buddha and the Brahmin

With a flower offering?

Buddha told him

Let go

The Brahmin switched the flower

From his right to his left hand

Buddha told him

Let go

He dropped the flower

Buddha told him again

Let go

Startled, the Brahmin replied

I am empty handed

There is nothing I can let go of

Lord Buddha replied

I did not mean the flower

But of your clinging mind

The Six Dusts, the Six Sense-Faculties and the six Sense-Consciousness

Just let go

And change will come…

.

streaming from a humble Chinese restaurant

I the ungrateful child of a restaurant have searched all around the world for solutions to my sufferings and I have been propelled back to you time after time until I finally realize that I failed to be grateful to you dear humble restaurant you are like my mother and father you have given me a roof a shelter you have given me food and nourished me to become who I am today you have sent me to school to college and traveling all around the world and here I am back to you my dear humble Chinese restaurant with all your flaws and imperfections please forgive me in failing to appreciate you the smell of stir fried oil the brothers and sisters within you who cook and serve all the customers that stop by for Chinese food please forgive me that I didn’t appreciate your blood sweat and tears dripped into the plates of food that you serve I know you have your own flaws but you are what you are as of now you might be part of a capitalist system that exploits its workers and condemns them to lots of suffering but I know you will be continuing your process of self-actualization and I know you will change someday somehow because you have too in order to survive and sustain yourself so let us be here and now and I am no longer shameful to say I love you and I am part of you and we shall never be separated my dear humble Chinese restaurant you are me and I am you in an imperfect world seeking transformation so I shall continue my journey flowing filled with love your bird child

Taking Refuge

My mind searches and searches

… as I try to find words

For my incessant search

What words to use?

River flow flowing chasing pleasure satisfaction fame respect identity bonds culture meaning life intimacy beer food consumption happiness the mind never stops chasing

Until I hit a dot

         o

Small, simple yet beyond powerful

Like a massive cliff

Here

Death

Stares me right in the face

At this point in time

I lay in bed

Old age or not

Diseased

Unable to move

Perhaps I am alone

Perhaps my family and friends are with me

Yet what can they do?

Sooner or later they will be snatched too

So they sit immobile and agonized

Watching me

Fearful for their own inevitable Fate

In whom do I take refuge?

Mother?

Father?

Brothers?

Sisters?

Friends?

A beautiful partner?

Wealth?

Memories?

Will the memories of a life I once had keep me happy?

Will I be ready to face Death?

No!

Memories are ephemeral moments long gone

And I am about to go too

When I see those shadows sneaking up to me

.

In whom do I take refuge?

In agony I scream to myself

In whom do I take refuge?

In whom do I take refuge?

.

Crying tears and snot

A sweet voice reminds me

Of the teachings

Expounded by the messengers of the Creator

All Paths lead to the One destination

.

I take refuge in the teachings of Love and Compassion

In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha

Fearless

I throw myself upon the cliff

Free-Falling

Finally Free

The Waterfall opens

The River of Life flows within as I write this sentence

Flowing free freedom wind caressing a birds feathers chasing fish gliding in rhythmic waves splashing into the golden sand crabs dance the dance of mating fisherman picking crabs taking home cooking a warm delicious crab soup for his beloved partner and children enjoying meal together going to the market selling crabs to roaming people shoppers from all classes and social statuses they go home cook eat fresh crab dishes enjoy life as the river flows people flow towards the cliff and .

Death

Should I Stop?

No the energy continues never dies only transforms itself returning to mother earth memories temporarily erased rebirth following its causes and conditions karma life continues suffering taking the path until its ultimate liberation

Nibanna

There Is A Dragon By the River

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Xin. ‘Xin’ means Heart in Chinese but the boy only partly understood his name. Sometimes he was grateful for his name but most of the times, the boy thought ‘Xin’ to be such a silly name and blamed his Chinese ancestry for it. He would complain to himself, Why can’t I have a simple name like ‘Jai’ or even a Christian name like ‘John’? All options sounded better than ‘Xin’…

Xin thought himself to be Indian but Indians saw him as Chinese. Looks don’t lie, right? Xin had that Chinese looking face, his squinty eyes, flat nose, black hair and ‘fair’ skin colour…so he was Chinese although he was born and raised in India. Xin grew up playing cricket and football in Kolkata’s green Maidan, he grew up under the sight of the mighty Howrah Bridge and he grew up eating dal baath1 and biryani2 with his hands. Anyway looks don’t lie, right? A ‘Chinese’ is a Chinese and an ‘Indian’ is an Indian. Can you be both? ‘Hell no,’ most people would say.

Actually the only few ties that Xin has to China is the historical fact that his great-grandfather boarded a trade ship from his ancestral homeland in a village in south China to British India. Xin always had that inner desire to ask his great-grandfather ‘Why did you decide to come to India?’. Since his great-grandfather is already resting in a Chinese cemetery in the Hills3, Xin tried asking his grandparents all these questions about this mysterious land of China. And from what he could extract from his grandparents was that there were conflicts and famine in China and since he heard of money and jobs in India, he decided to give it a ‘shot’. A big ‘shot’ he took, crossing the sea in a trade ship from Guangdong to Calcutta…His great-grandfather’s original plan was to cross the sea in a trade ship, make some money, send some home and return to China as soon as he could. However that return trip never happened and somehow he fell in love, married a lady from Northeast India and settled down in the land of Ganga Ma.

During Xin’s great-grandfather’s life in India, the beautiful Ganga was still engaged to the powerful Brahmaputra. People, culture and trade actively flowed along their joined hair-like threads of life. This marriage had lasted for centuries and was sustained by small fishermen and trading boats travelling up and down these joined Rivers. Then European colonizers came and everything changed.  His great-grandfather arrived during the peak of the British Raj and ships cut through the channels between the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers carrying laborers, tea, silk, jute, cotton and opium. This marriage had become dark and all different kinds of transactions happened along its waters. Lies, cheating and domestic violence, this marriage was doomed to end. And it ended in 1947, what a painful, bloody and tearful separation…

These Rivers have now separated but maybe one day they are destined to reunite again. Once in a while, both Rivers still have flashbacks of their former union and their common source—the mighty Himalayas. These holy, sacred mountains that touch Heaven and separate the long-lost brothers of India and China.

Growing up in India, Xin wanted the smallest connection possible to China. He wanted to be considered Indian, not Chinese by others. Therefore, he had to act like an Indian not Chinese. However one day, after seeing a very old photo of his great-grandfather somewhere in the Himalayas, an inner urge sparked within Xin to go beyond these mountains and journey to China. From his heart, curiosity bursted and he started searching…Xin started wondering about his great-grandfather’s journey from China to India and how hard it was and the details of it. First he asked his grandfather, who was reading a Chinese newspaper published in India, this existential question: ‘Why? Why didn’t great-grandfather return to China? Why did he choose to stay here in India?’

His grandfather replied, ‘I wish I knew Xin, if I asked him that time, he would have given me a nice beating…’ He paused for a second while giving another glance at his newspaper. ‘Some people say love is a powerful force,’ added his grandfather with a laugh. Xin kept interrogating both his grandfather and grandmother about China and Chinese culture for these two topics were quite intriguing and fascinating to him. They tried to answer Xin as much as they could but sometimes they would be get annoyed by such an inquisitive child. ‘This boy keeps asking questions and questions…put him to work as a detective or investigator or something,’ his grandparents would say to Xin’s parents.

Oh how Xin enjoyed listening and asking questions about Chinese folk stories from his beloved grandparents! There was one story about mythical dragons who slumbered deep down the river and awakened every year to send rain upon the land. These water dragons were quite ill-tempered. Sometimes they would send no rain at all causing painful droughts and sometimes they would send too much rain bringing floods. Hence it was very necessary to appease these dragons with offerings. Every year in China, during the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, all kinds of offerings were made to these river dragons. One of the most important offerings were zong zi—glutinous rice stuffed with meat or sweet paste wrapped in bamboo leaves.

And there was another story about a wondering poet and exiled minister named Qu Yuan who who offered his body to the River after hearing the tragic news about the demise of his home Kingdom of Chu. Qu Yuan had warned the King and other ministers about a neighbour Kingdom’s false peace treaty but the King and other minister’s didn’t listen to him and exiled him instead. The poet and former minister wandered for years producing enduring poems that still touch the hearts of readers today. When the poet heard the news that his Kingdom of Chu had been conquered by the Kingdom of Qin, Qu Yuan decided to offer his life to the river as an act of protest. The fishermen and local villagers after hearing about Qu Yuan’s suicide, they took out their boats and searched for his body and while throwing zong zi into the river in hope that the fish would eat the zong zi instead of Qu Yuan’s body.

During school break, the boy tried telling these stories to his group of ‘friends’. Oh how he was laughed at and became the target of schoolyard jokes.

‘Xin, Xin, listen, yesterday I saw a dragon in the river.’ One of his ‘friends’ talked to Xin with a sneaky smile while making eye contact with the other boys.

‘Where, where?’ asked Xin very excited.

‘In your crazy head.’ Everyone bursted out laughing unscrupulously. ‘He’s such crazy boy. Leave him, let’s go watch a movie after school, the new Transformers movie is out.’

During school time, Xin would sketch all types of dragons in his notebook. He loved drawing and painting, he did have the innate talent for art but he was afraid to show it to others. One day, the gang snatched his precious notebook and showed it to everyone while laughing at his drawings to finally rip them apart.

How they ripped apart the boy’s paper heart into little shreds. Broken, the boy picked up his shredded pieces of heart and tried to assemble it back by the riverside where an ancient Portuguese church stood mighty like a fortress. By the river, the boy sat at one of the benches facing the beautiful riverscape.

The Riverscape

Sometimes he sobbed his broken heart out—even the passerby animals took pity on him. Wondering dogs, goats, birds and fish would stop and dwell next him, perhaps in an attempt to comfort him. Other times, he got jolted by sparks of inspiration and drew river dragons as he imagined them to be. And sometimes he prayed.  How he prayed to Lord Jesus Christ, the Buddha and other deities so that his ‘friends’ would stop bullying him. How he prayed that one day, he could catch a river dragon, ride it down the river and show everyone the Truth—that dragons really do exist!

These riverside pilgrimages became a daily routine for the boy.

‘Oh crazy boy! Where are you going? Are you going to cry like a baby by the river?’ The boy didn’t pay attention to the bullies’ taunts so everyday he continued his silent pilgrimages to the bench by the riverside. Time passed by. Days, weeks and months flowed by just like the Ganga rushing to join the sea.

The Bench By the River

One day, on a very sunny day, during the time of the year when the flower buds perform their stretching yogas to blossom into the world and little birds pitch their chirping to praise the beauty of Creation, the boy sat at the bench by the river. He was fully concentrated sketching river dragons. Suddenly he heard a soft, singing like voice next to him:

‘Ei ekati nadi dragana haya?’ (in Bengali) (Is this a river dragon?)

‘Ksama karem? Caca, mainne tumhem suna nahim tha.’(In Hindi) (Sorry? Uncle, I couldn’t hear you.)—replied the boy confused.

‘Is that a river dragon?’—asked the short, tanned, thin man with a short bush-like beard. He wore a yellowish white banian, a dhoti and was standing barefoot.  He must be one of these fishermen who work by the river, thought the boy.

‘Yes, how do you know about dragons sir?’

‘I’ve seen a few back in the days when I was your age.’

‘What? You’ve seen dragons?’, asked the boy really surprised.

‘Yes,’ replied the man like it was the most natural thing in the world.

‘My friends always tell me that dragons don’t exist. They say that I’m crazy for believing that dragons exist.’

‘If you have friends like these, who needs enemies?’

‘Hm you’re right about that,’ nodding his head with a pensive expression.

‘True friends are like very rare fish, it is very hard to catch these days. So don’t confuse the low quality fish latta with the rare fish hilsa.’

‘Yes, sometimes I do wonder if they really are my friends. They make my life miserable.’

‘Don’t worry, one day you will find the best fish in the world. Just make sure when you find it, you don’t let it slip away.’

‘Yes,’ nodded the boy in agreement.

‘Where did you see the river dragon uncle?’

‘Does it really matter where? I am telling you I’ve seen it.’

‘Then when did you see the river dragon uncle?’

‘Does it really matter when? I am telling you I’ve seen it.’

‘Ok, did other people also see that river dragon uncle?’

‘Does it really matter if others also saw the river dragon? I am telling you I’ve seen it.’

Perplexed by his vague answers, the boy stared into the river and reflected on the fisherman’s words for some time. The river was orange with brushstrokes of dark blue and green from the surrounding trees and the sun was slowly setting, ready for a peaceful nap. The birds were chirping, dragonflies circling and a gentle breeze was blowing like an old man smoking, very relaxed in his old arm-chair.

‘You’re right. It doesn’t really matter as long as you yourself experienced it.’

‘Can you take me to see the river dragon?’—asked the boy burning with excitement.

The fisherman looked at the boy—his eyes were shinning like the North Star on a dark cloudless night. Just like the times when he gazed at the sky’s divine Beauty while lying on his back in his boat dancing with the river in the by the rhythm of life. The fisherman reminisced for a moment and calmly replied, ‘Ok you come tomorrow around the same time with your sketchbook and we can prepare to go see the river dragon.’

The next day Xin rushed to go meet the fisherman. His heart was drumming with joy. In the same place by the river, the fisherman greeted him with a nod and said, ‘Before we start preparing for this journey to see the dragon, I am going to ask you a few questions. Hope you don’t mind.’

‘Sure, not at all,’ quickly replied the boy.

‘Do you really want to see the river dragon?’

‘Yes!’—replied Xin with a flash of certainty.

‘Aren’t you afraid to see the river dragon?’

The boy pauses for a few seconds and answers with a solid ‘No.’

‘How badly do you want to see the river dragon?’

‘I want to see it from the bottom of my heart!’

‘It seems like you do want to see the river dragon. Let’s get ready for the journey then.’

‘First we have to build a boat and then we sail down the river to find that dragon.’

‘What kind of boat are we building?’

‘A dragon boat!’

‘Oh a dragon boat. I still remember when my grandparents used to tell me stories about how my people—the Chinese used to build dragon boats and hold races during the Double Five Festival in honor of river dragons and the poet Qu Yuan.’

‘Yes! That’s the dragon boat I’m talking about. Now you draw me a dragon boat.’

‘But I can’t. I can draw river dragons but not a dragon boat.”

‘You should hear the words you are saying. Of course you can! Believe in yourself my friend. You can draw dragons, right? Just visualize it. Shape the dragon into the form of a boat. See my boat over there. You can take the shape and measurements from it.’

Fisherman's Boat

The boy examined the fisherman’s boat, noted down the specific shape and measurements from it and started drawing and filling it with colours. After some time, Xin finished sketching a dragon boat.

‘Beautiful! See, it wasn’t hard at all. It’s all in your mind. The biggest obstacles are not outside of you but all inside your mind. Break them free! Now take my dear boat, see those these buckets of paint over there and paint it just like the dragon boat you’ve sketched.’

‘But this is your boat? Don’t you need it for your fishing? I’m afraid of ruining your boat.’

‘Don’t worry about that. My boat, your boat, all the same. Anyway I need to change the looks of my old boat, it has gotten too boring.’

‘Thank you sir.’ The boy raised his concentration and transformed the fisherman’s boat to look like the dragon boat he visualized. Of course the traditional Chinese dragon boat is much longer and thinner in width but Xin had to work with what it was given by the fisherman. Xin worked for hours and hours on this boat and he only stopped after he completed his assigned task.

‘You took your time but not bad! The boat work is done, now we have to wait for the auspicious day of Double Five and we set sail into the river to see the dragon!’

‘Wait that’s actually in five days!’

‘Yes, go rest for five days and return here during Double Five Festival! On that day we are going see the river dragon! Also, you have to bring a set of Chinese drums and some zongzi. The drums will be used to awaken the dragon and the zongzi will be used as offerings to it. Are you going to remember this?’

‘Yes,’ replied the boy while noting everything down in his sketchbook.

‘Good. Now go and take some rest. Keep yourself healthy and see you in five days.’

These five days went by very slowly. The boy was very anxious and started to have streaks of heat and cold, insomnia, mood swings from worry to grief to fear, to anger and back to happiness and his body went completely out of balance. Sometimes his heart beat too fast, sometimes he felt there was something wrong with his liver or kidney or lungs or spleen. What a crazy five day journey! He was so happy that he came out alive after these five days of crazy change. It was now the day for the Double Five Festival.  Xin got his grandfather’s set of Chinese drums and some zong zi made by his mother to go meet the fisherman.

Xin left his home early so he slowly and joyfully walked to the riverside to meet the fisherman. He sang his old childhood songs along the way and he looked at his surroundings in a state of bliss and admiration of all the Beauty surrounding him. It seemed like life finally made sense. No more searching, no more striving, just Being in time. Once he reached the riverside, the fisherman was sitting under the shade of a banyan tree, very relaxed and taking a few puffs of a bindi while sitting under the shade of a tree.

Under the Tree

Gently the fisherman asked, ‘I hope you are feeling well.’

‘Now I am feeling great. Not so well for the last five days.’

‘I am glad you are feeling better,’ said the fisherman with a smile.

‘Are you ready for the dragon?’

‘I was born ready!’

‘Haha, good to hear!’

The boy and the fisherman worked together to push the boat through the mud into the river. At first Xin slipped a few times while pushing the boat but soon he got the hang of it. They got momentum from their joined force and used it to reach the river. Both of them got into the boat.

‘Sails up! Drums ready?’ exclaimed the fisherman.

‘Yes sir!’

‘It’s time to set sail! Forward we go!’ screamed the fisherman to encourage Xin.

‘Forward we go!’ repeated Xin, brimming confidence.

The fisherman and the boy sailed out into the river playing the Chinese drums out loud. Then they threw the zong zi into the river as offerings. The Chinese drums kept soaring higher and higher. They sailed down the river towards the sea. The drums kept soaring higher and higher.

All the people in the river bathing and doing puja in the ghats stopped and saw the happening, looking perplexed. Xin’s so called ‘friends’ saw it and became speechless…Suddenly they started cheering for Xin and the news soon spread across the town and people started flocking to the riverside. Xin’s parents and grandparents came to see, how proud they were. The boy’s community—the Indian Chinese came to see, how awed they were. Everyone from Chinese, Anglo-Indians, Bengalis, Gujaratis, Marwaris, Biharis, Punjabis, Rich, Poor, Literate, Illiterate, Old, Young, all kept exclaiming ‘There is a Dragon In the River!’

‘There is a Dragon In the River!’

‘There is a Dragon In the River!’

 

To be continued or not…

Notes:

dal baath1 A popular staple food dish in India, Nepal and Bangladesh consisting of steamed rice and lentil soup.

biryani2 A famous Indian mixed rice dish consisting of long-size rice cooked with spices, meat and/or vegetables.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the Hills3 A local term used to refer hill stations such as Darjeeling and Kalimpong where tea is often cultivated and the Chinese used to worked in these plantations.

Mind Laundry

Wash-Clothes-without-a-Washing-Machine-Step-8 Wikihow
Photo: Wash Clothes Without a Washing Machine Step 8, from Wikihow

I used to dislike doing laundry

Just had to put what’s ‘dirty’

Into the machine

And like magic

It would become sort of ‘clean’

 

Yet I felt too lazy

In my energy-saving world

My time was too important

To be spent doing laundry

I had better and bigger things to do

I had to find a way ‘to save the world’

So day-by-day the dirty clothes piled up

Soon it started to stink

And it reached the day

When I had no more clean clothes to wear

 

What to do?

I sat and reflected

I took a day off

Maybe two

I pushed through

And cleaned this mountain like pile of laundry

 

It took time

So exhausting yet rewarding

Then I decided to

Stop falling prey

To this consumerist machine

I decided to escape

To a place

Where I can wash my clothes

By hand…

Plus a bucket and a scruber

 

Now I don’t need a machine

To do my laundry

No pre-set programs

Just hands and a process

Weaving art and creativity

As long as it leaves the clothes clean

 

Wash, wash, clean

I tell myself

Sometimes I sing

Sometimes I remember

The Buddha’s message

To Suddhipanthaka

‘Sweep Clean’

Alas this disciple found Liberation

With these two ‘simple’ words

‘Sweep Clean’

People used to call him stupid

For he could not remember half a line of a verse

Arhats tried to teach him

But he could not remember

Until he internalized

‘Sweep Clean’

 

I used to think that

My clothes were clean

Until I discovered

The stench that I carried within

So I wash, wash, clean

I throw my dirty clothes

Into the water bucket

Cycle around and around

Twelve times to the right

Twelve times to the left

And thirty times up and down

Is it clean?

No, not yet

Fill another bucket of water

And throw it back again and cycle

 

Twelve times to the right

Twelve times to the left

And thirty times up and down

Is it clean?

No, not yet

So I throw it back again and cycle

I am still in the process of washing clean

I don’t know when

But one day these clothes will be cleansed

And its Owner shall exclaim

‘What a clean shirt!’

And He shall wear it!

 

But up until that day

I shall continue repeating

Wash, wash, clean

Is it clean?

No, not yet?

Then throw it back again into the bucket!

 

 

 

Song for the Boring Scholar

Oh boring scholar

You’ve come so far

What are you searching

Far away from home

 

Is it fame

To build your name

In the boring circle

Of elite intellectuals

 

Is it power

To make others lower

Their heads and hands

Under your speeches

 

Is it wealth

To fill your shelf

With trophies and books

And golden ornaments

 

Is it knowledge

To become a sage

And be the one

Who claims understanding

 

Oh boring scholar

You’ve come so far

What are you searching

Far away from home

 

Oh boring scholar

Where is your heart

Does it still beat

Crushed flat by your books

 

Oh boring scholar

Where is your mind

Is it blind

To its inner workings

 

Oh boring scholar

Where is your soul

Does it still ascend

To transcend the world

 

Oh boring scholar

Will you ever attain liberation

Freedom from craving

That realization of Nothingness

 

My dear scholar

To climb the mountain of Truth

You have to drop your books

Lighten your soul

Follow your heart

And release your mind

There will a point in time

When you have to take the Great Leap

 

Maybe then you’ll reach the summit

Or maybe you’ll die trying

The path to Truth is indeed hard

Choose wisely my dear scholar

Flying Home

Home

Is a concept I struggle with

 

Where is home?

Sometimes I ask

Flying around the world

 

Is home

Lisbon?

An estuary city where the adventurous Tagus River

Meets the mysterious Atlantic Ocean

History recalls that seabound ships left

This city’s shore towards the four corners of the world

Some call it discovering new worlds

Others call it conquering,

Pillaging,

Raping,

Murdering and enslaving.

Whatever terms people decide to give

By the other side of the river

Lord Jesus Christ stands with arms wide open

Watching over

Who am I to judge?

I am just a little wave among all the waves

Hitting the shores of this coastal city

Where fishermen sail deep into the ocean

Praying to hopefully return to their families

With cartloads fresh fish

Oh that lightly charred sardine!

Oh the smell of roasted chestnuts

Tap-dancing in the hot oven

To the humble seller’s melodic chants

Nearby pigeons

Dance in circles their stylish pigeon-dance

Around the old smiling lady

Feeding corn and stale bread

Calmly

Each movement gently flowing

No rush to do anything

People sitting and chatting

In sunny esplanades

Drinking “cafés”

Laughing

And reminiscing the good old times…

I remember

From when I was still in elementary school

That unexplainable smell of warm spring rain

Gently touching the mud

Pregnant with the seeds of spring flowers

Waiting to blossom into the world

When rain fell

All the children would stop playing their usual games

Some seek cover, some not at all

And everyone would simply contemplate little raindrops

Falling from the sky

Into the open school ground

And when these short rain showers stopped

I would run with my best friends

Dig holes in the mud

And continue our glass bead game

Our circular beads

Clashing and departing

Only memories remain

 

Is home

Gantou?

A small village in south-east China

By the margins of Ou River

Where my kinship line is traced to

The ancestral tombs resting on bayberry covered hills

Calmly watching over the village and its descendants

Sometimes I wonder

If my ancestors are happy with all these changes happening:

From a small village to an industrial town

From small huts to tall buildings

From farms to factories

From cattle to cars

From streams to stench

Oh my childhood stream

Where I used to swim

It no longer flows

Standing still like a puddle of stenchy urine

Discharged by uncaring residents and factories

I remember I almost drowned playing in that stream

Fortunately I was saved from death

But how about the people slowly drowning in the polluted industrialized air?

How about the old people silently drowning in sorrow

For their past village memories no longer correspond to their present reality

Oh lonely elderly parents

Most of their children have migrated abroad

Filled up their pockets with foreign money

Some send back remittances

Some return to build big tall houses for their parents

Or for themselves to display and compete for social status

Their pockets might be full

Yet their roots are rotten

But who am I to judge?

I am just a little stream among many streams

Flowing trying to connect to the river of Life

Instead of judging others

I strive to clean up my own mind

And deeply dive into myself

Therefore I continue my search for home…

 

Is home

New York City?

Where I was born

Under the shadow of temple like skyscrapers

Spreading ideas and ideologies

Coded in images, sounds, products and services

Casting a web like illusive world

Where people flock like sheep

To this land of struggle and opportunity

Searching for the American dream

And once the ‘chosen’ ones finally reach this place

They are given a take it or leave it offer

Either take a bite of the American dream like everyone else does

Or go back to where you came from, loser

I wish I knew where I came from

So I’ll continue searching…

 

Is home

Ithaca?

A land of waterfalls and peaks

Rising and falling

Into its vineyard surrounded lakes

A hilly place this is

Where learning and un-learning occurs

Where conditioning and un-conditioning occurs

Depending on the seeker

A place where the bonds of friendship are tied and untied

Where the cold heart is tickled by the warmth of its downtown festivals

Where all kinds and types of people somehow gather together

To celebrate, dance, sing and eat

Crunchy apples, savory chilis, pad-thais, momos

And whatever dishes you can think of

Ithaca can be place of inspiration

Contemplation

And meditation

On its South hill

A Buddhist monastery

Stands majestic

Spreading dharma into the ten directions.

Hm I am still not settled yet so I’ll continue searching…

 

Is home

Kolkata?

A city in the land of Bengal, India

Where the Ganga flows though

To surrender herself to the divine Sea

Where the East meets West

Not so peacefully

Where everyday is a battleground

Of class, caste, race and ethnicity

Yet from chaos

Sometimes order ensues

After the traffic fog clears

The divine nature of things

Can be experienced by the river

Impermanence

When people bid farewell to their beloved ones

For no(body) lives on forever

Interdependence

When upper and lower castes all depend on the same river for survival

The Void

When the river fully absorbs and becomes the force acted upon it

 

It might be

That the concept of home is

Self-constructed by the Ego

 

It might be

That the concept of home is

Beyond the concept of space

Beyond the concept of time

And it is necessary to transcend these

 

It might be

That in order to transcend these

I need to clean up my sense of “I”

Wash off the mind’s dirt

Sweep the dust of cyclic existence

Clean up past karma

And purify all impurities

 

It might be

That home is a state of mind

Beyond consciousness

Or consciousness meeting consciousness

And exclaiming

Long time no see

It was about time my old friend

Welcome Home

Search no more

For you have finally arrived at your Destination.