Tuesday, March 29, 2011

big man, small man

this happened just last two thursdays ago. it was almost 12 in the evening. the jeepney i was riding in pulled to a stop. two people boarded the vehicle. the first to come in was a little fellow, a boy of about 5 or 6. he was dressed in shorts and a tee shirt and he had on this baseball cap bigger than his head. his eyes were full and very alert. as soon as he was  inside the jeepney, he looked at each of us other passengers, as if trying to assess  whom he'd be riding with. the look in his eyes said he's convinced both of them will be in safe company.
the boy kept looking back concernedly at his companion. the young man, about 25 years old, was struggling to get aboard the vehicle.

"papa," the boy screamed as he extended his small hand towards the young man. he grasped his father's hand firmly in his and desperately pulled him up to sit beside him. when they were seated, the driver started the vehicle again. the man almost fell off the seat as the jeepney darted forward. father and son laughed loudly.

we immediately guessed why the man was having a difficult time boarding the jeepney. he was very, very drunk. he could not sit still in his seat. i really can't imagine how he had drunk so much considering that he had his son with him. i saw him groped for something inside his pocket. he held up his closed fist very near his face. when he opened it, i saw coins in his palm. he counted them.

"we're short by two pesos," he blurted to his son, "do you have any money with you?"

the boy simply nodded to his father and pointed at a small kiddie purse slung across his shoulder. he unzipped it and shoved his little hand inside. he rummaged through all the kiddie stuff he had in there. he smilingly handed two bright 1-peso coins to his father. his father planted a kiss on his cheek. "here," he said to his son, "give our fare to the driver."

"here's our fare, mr. driver," he called the driver's attention in his little man's voice. the passenger near them accepted the coins and passed it on to the driver.

pretty soon, i saw the young father sound asleep. the liquor in his body had taken control. i gazed at the boy. he was wide-eyed and in full alert. he kept looking outside as the vehicle sped past. i guessed he was trying not to miss the landmark where they were supposed to get off. i knew he knows he can't rely on his father this time. he also does not fail to look at his father's face. he has this concerned look. he knew his father's so drunk.

"STOP! STOP!" the boy shouted after some time. the driver halted the vehicle. he had recognized the place where they were to get off. he tugged frantically at his father's shirt and woke him up. the man awoke a bit startled and dazed. confusion was on his face. he peered outside the jeepney. father and son looked at each other. only their eyes communicated. the boy proceeded to get off. he waited for his father by the side of the road. the father had shaken off his confusion and got off the vehicle.

the boy grabbed his father's hand and both walked away from our parked vehicle. the driver did not start the vehicle right away. we watched them as they walked towards the street lamp that marked their street. hand in hand, father and son walked. the big man staggering, the small man straight as an arrow, looking upwards, towards his drunk father's face.

our vehicle darted forward again. we knew they'd be home safe.

Life compensates for shortcomings.

the small man had clearly demonstrated this.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"searching for bobby fischer & good will hunting"

i was finally able to get hold of copies of these two old films, not very old, of course, but films like these, it's so hard to get copies.

i was so engrossed. these were excellent movies. well written. well acted, or should i say the actors were well chosen for their parts. i'm not a film buff, i just go by my feelings.

for me, these two films run along the same basic theme -- the struggle to find and to express one's true worth.

in "searching for bobby fischer", the lead character is a chess prodigy. he found his passion for chess upon seeing some men playing in a park. when his dad found out his gift, he decided to put him under the tutelage of a chess teacher whose rigid teaching rules somehow boxed in his free spirit for chess. he  lost the passion. later, his dad realized the mistake and allowed him again to visit his friends at the park. he regained the passion and once more found his self worth and his joy of playing chess.

in "good will hunting", the young man, will, is boxed in as well, by his dark past. he had an unhappy childhood. he is also a genius like the lead in the first film above. yet, he is not expressing his true worth. it was only when he was patiently guided by his mentor, a psychiatrist, that he was able to rise above the demons of his dark past, and found his true self worth. he also found his joy.

we are at the moment like these two people. for as long as we keep on embracing the code for happiness of the sensual world, the code of happiness that is being defined for us by our body, then we will not be able to find our true self worth. and we will not find true joy and peace. for as long as we forget, or deny, that we are not bodies alone, then we will continue to be boxed in, and our inner "child prodigies" and inner "geniuses" will never be able to manifest fully and find expression.

we must remember. we must not deny. we are all divine. our true self worth is divinity. we must not confine our code of happiness to be defined by the five senses and the body. the products of the material world will bring joy and happiness but these will not be lasting.

our true worth is Divinity. we must start to think inward. towards the recognition of the true self.

our true code for lasting happiness must be defined by our true selves. our Self Divine.

sonnet to a lost child

you raised your head and  looked around to see
faces different from the ones you've known
all fixedly at you staring with glee --
a stranger in their midst whose heart has flown;
different are the melodies they sing
all the more stressing you're now too far
from the Path you've promised to keep on treading
till you embrace its lone Unflick'ring Star;
now, you're won'dring how you have yourself found,
in this strange land, just fooling around
with men who keep on asking you your name
just to prolong their Name-Forgetting game.
someday, you'll learn just why you've wandered far,
how bright-lit nights could hide a Blazing Star.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

they're looking at this same glorious afternoon sun ..

i went out of my office building after work. it was 1 pm. immediately as i stepped down the stairs i was greeted by the light of this glorious afternoon sun. it is cold inside the office where i am stationed and i have to wear a sweater. here, outside the building, as i removed my sweater, my whole body was caressed by the soothing, gentle heat of this wonderful, life-giving star, this glorious sun. i allowed my body to be soaked for a few minutes by her warmth. i smiled outwardly and inwardly. i looked downward as i walked towards the jeepney stop where i'd be getting my ride. a very short shadow was being cast on the ground as i took my steps. the sun's overhead. and then this sudden realization came over me --

they are looking at this same glorious sun,
but they will not be basking in her warmth, our dear brethren in japan, a lot of them will feel very cold especially inside, because of sorrow, because of the desolation, because of the devastation, they have just experienced ..

it is still ongoing, this harrowing experience, and our japanese brethren must continue to find within themselves the strength, the heroism, the fortitude, to withstand this, and to prevail.

to find within themselves, their inner, glorious sun, their inner light, so that they can withstand this test, the coldness of sorrow and desolation that has beset their land.

i stopped walking for a few minutes of silence. for a few minutes of remembrance for these dear brethren. for them i silently offered this powerful prayer by that great indian saint, Paramahansa Yogananda --
"teach us to feel
 that Thou art the Power
 behind all wealth
 and the Value
 within all things
 finding Thee first
 we shall find everything else in Thee!"
dear japanese brethren, we firmly believe you will find your glorious sun, your inner radiant light, in these difficult times, and you will be strengthened,  and yes, you will be comforted.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

japan earthquake, tsunami -- a reminder

it is so hard to write this as i view the pictures of the aftermath of just this recent event in that beautiful country of japan. an 8.9 earthquake, and then that thunderous surging of a great wall of water, tsunami. they say it was about 10  meters high. so horrible indeed. before, we only manage to see this in movies. yet, it is happening now.

it is a reminder, albeit, a grim one, how we should really value this given life. it is again the Infinite speaking and we must listen and listen well. that at any moment, even when we least expect it, an end of this life will come. if not a physical end, an end to a comfortable life.

we must not spend all of our time towards pursuing the "glamour of the outer life, the life of the senses". we must devote a portion of our time on this planet towards connecting with our inner life, our purposeful life, our life Divine.

that japan earthquake and tsunami had clearly shown it. it only takes minutes for the glamour of the outer life to be erased.  looking at the images, every thing, every product of the material life, lies there, in rubble, in ruins. outer riches amassed over time, levelled to the ground.
old Sages and Masters remind us -- seek for inner riches, wealth that will never be corrupted nor destroyed. wealth that can be carried over life after life after life.  devote time, precious time, to seek this inner treasures.

let us endeavor to remember. and remember well.

give thanks for this that you received
the chance to better appreciate the days
that pass by in your life
the hours spent with friends 
in merriment and frolic.
give thanks that you have less to think about
unlike those whose hearts were set
to linger long in pains and uncertainties
for whom even a smile is a painful act.
pray then, pray hard, this would not change,
or, if so, that it would be for good,
and then, silently offer a smile
for those who could not so afford
remembering them, never forgetting,
even in hours of merriment and frolic...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

do not be angry with yourself

the old Sages and Masters have always advised us -- the ideal for us men is to lead a purposeful life, one that renders service to one's fellowmen. one must always aspire to recognize one's divinity, and upon remembering this, help others remember too. this is the key to happiness.

of course, this is easier said than done. especially if one finds he is being beset by troubles and difficulties. yet, if one ponders it hard enough, one will find these difficulties are mostly associated only with our pursuit of, as that great Master, Sant Kirpal Singh,  had referred to, the "glamour of the outer life, the life of the senses". when we find that life's circumstances prevent us from enjoying and amassing the fruits of the outer life, we feel dejected. we consider ourselves failures and we become angry with ourselves. this anger then prevents us more from remembering our true worth, from remembering our divinity. and more unhappiness kicks in.

therefore, let us find time to remember. of the 24 hours of each day, let us set aside time for remembrance -- that we are divine. let us recognize our true worth. it is not living the life of the senses that will bring us lasting happiness.

let us not be angry with ourselves for failing to enjoy the "glamour of the outer life".

let us begin little by little to try living the inner life. the true, purposeful life. the life divine that will not only benefit us but also benefit our fellows.

why loathe now?
when everything is bleak,
your singing coarse,
your body weak,
your mind so restless,
your peace unloosed.

think hard, think deep,
think not of how to weep.

instead, remember things about:
how flowers fade and wither
and bloom again;
how candles burn bright, flicker,
and then burn bright again;
how the sun sets at evening
and then surprises the morning rain,
the droplets panic, they stop,
and yet, they fall again!

why loathe now?

you are the flower,
the candle,
the sun,
the rain,

you'd be Yourself again. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

like dead stone

i've heard it and read it lots of times when people describe the mode of living they are in now as something like "dead stone". it is so, they say, because of routine. they go over the same usual rounds of activities day after day after day. and because of these, they almost feel the same regular feelings. regularity breeds familiarity. familiarity breeds indifference. indifference leads to stagnancy. one then becomes stone cold.  they say this mainly because they find themselves unhappy.

rich people, poor people, they have the same complaint-- that they find it hard to stay happy. for most  people, rich or poor, happiness is counting the additional products of this material world that they have amassed. that they were able to possess. if the day does not provide this, that day is an unhappy day. so for most of us, happiness is equated with possession. of material things. for most of us, this then is our routine: day after day after day, to perform the same round of actions that will benefit us more. self-serving activities that make us able to hoard more material possessions.

if we have only two feet, why aspire to have 100 pairs of shoes? if we only have one body, why seek to collect clothes that we just wear once or twice and end up being forgotten in one's closet? if our stomachs can only hold as much food, why continue buying excess food that just become spoiled and thrown away?

old Sages have always advised: live Life for a greater purpose. know our true selves and then live life to help others find their true selves too. do not be caught up in self-aggrandizement. live each day with a purpose of service to others. this will bring new light to each day. this will end a life of routine. this will prevent one from becoming stone cold.

yes, stones are inert materials. yet, when the man of purpose arranged them to create his zen garden, these very stones were able to be viewed under a different light. they are no longer cold. they instead evoked feelings of Life Vibrant, Life Alive, Life Divine.

if you feel like dead stone now, close your eyes, and discover the greater purpose to life. let yourself be touched by your True Self and be like that living stone in the Infinite' s zen garden.

Friday, March 04, 2011

paying the jeepney fare

it was yesterday. i was off from work but i have to do some errand for the wife. she asked me to deliver some documents needed by her friend. i have to leave early as her friend lives far from our place and also i don't want to be caught in the usual morning traffic. the jeepney i rode in was full. office workers, vendors, students. i know we all have the same thing in mind -- beat the early morning traffic. i know even the jeepney driver has the same thought. the more he will not be caught in traffic, the more trips he can make, and more earnings of course. i can sense everyone is in a good mood inside this vehicle. it is amazing how without ever willing it, we can know the general atmosphere inside a place we are in. some say it is intuition at work. the old Sages say, if one can develop this, intuition,  this can be a very practical tool. one can be guided towards making correct decisions, correct choices. always.

after some time, we are only about four passengers left inside the jeep. then this young man, i don't know if he's still a student or already an office worker, broke the silence inside the jeepney.

"here's my fare, sir." he said as he forked over to the man seated behind the driver his money. the man absentmindedly handed it over to the driver.

"don't you have a bigger bill than this?" the driver's voice is full of sarcasm. he is looking at the young man in the rear view mirror. he is waving a crisp 500-peso bill in his right hand. "young man, don't you know how much your fare is? IT'S JUST 8 PESOS! this is just my very first trip we're all having our first trip here and you expect me to break this bill for you? you should have handed it over earlier so i could have stopped at a gasoline station so we can break it.". the driver is shaking his head from side to side. the man behind him could not suppress a laugh. there goes this beautiful day for the driver, my mind told me. i looked at the young man. he is frantically searching his pockets and his wallet for coins or any other smaller bill but i believe it's just for show.

"i don't have any smaller bill." declared the young man. his tone of voice is not even apologetic. it's clear he is expecting the driver to hand him his change.

"here, take it back!" replied the driver, "and thank you." the driver's voice is seething with sarcasm. the man behind him took the 500-peso bill and handed it over to the young guy. the driver is shaking his head with unbelief.

when we reached the jeepney stop the young man hurriedly alighted from the vehicle. he did not even leave a word of thanks to the driver for the free ride. the driver could just throw a sharp stare in his direction.

 i could not help but think back about a few days ago. i berated my daughter for being irresponsible.

"dad," she declared, "i made a mistake."
"what?" i asked.
"our professor entrusted to me the copy of our quiz. she assigned me to get it photocopied for the whole class but i can't find it now. i think i lost it."
"oh my! how irresponsible can you be. how can you lose such an important thing?". i was so upset with her.
"don't worry, dad," she assured me, "i'll just go and ask the professor to give me a fresh copy."
"well," i replied, "she might be able to give you another but that's beside the point. my point is your taking responsibility. imagine, from about forty people in your class, you were the one chosen by your prof for that task. she gave you importance but you did not honor that recognition by losing that piece of paper! if you have been entrusted with something to do, don't ever procrastinate. accomplish it early so there will be no chance of you ever forgetting. now, when you tell her you lost it, what will she think of you?".

my daughter was quiet. i'm seeing tears forming at the corners of her eyes but i'm not letting her off easy on this though.

"be responsible," i continued, "i have been hammering this into your head time and again. you must always be aware of your actions. of what you are doing. of what you are supposed to do. if you cannot be responsible for small things nobody will ever trust you to take care of bigger things. please remember this always!"  i saw her tears fall.

later that day she texted me on my mobile phone. she told me not to worry. she apologized to her professor about losing the quiz paper. she told her what happened. the prof understood and gave her another copy. the whole class was able to take the quiz as scheduled.

being responsible. being aware of our actions. of our thoughts. we must always remember this. this will save a lot of conflicts and inconveniences. this will ensure that the quality of day will not be lost.

had that young man remembered to prepare an 8-peso fare then he would have saved a great day for that driver. who knows, it could be that because the driver had become so upset early that day he might have lost the motivation to do his job well. he might have lost the opportunity to earn more. and by not earning well, his family will have been affected. that young man might have taken his not being able to pay his 8-peso fare to the driver nor even his not giving him thanks for the free ride for granted but for this hardworking driver this could mean a lot! an otherwise great day for him got ruined!

love your neighbor as you love yourself.

think positive thoughts for our fellowmen. let us not hurt others by being irresponsible.
act lovingly. act responsibly. act divinely.

let us start with small, everyday tasks like paying a jeepney fare or safekeeping a quiz sheet.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

eyeshadows, face powders

night again  and i'm off to work. the sky is clear. stars are very clearly visible. i remembered what my dear friend said in the lecture he made last saturday -- these stars, we might not be realizing this, or we might have forgotten,  their shine that beautify the  night sky, might already be history. some of these stars might have already died long ago. it's that they are so far from us that it is just this time that their light had arrived and became visible to us.

ah, such is the grandeur of Creation! one can only assent to this with disbelief and wonderment.

this jeepney ride to work was smooth and quiet until this group of young girls boarded the vehicle. when they entered the jeepney immediately the air became suffused with the scent of their perfume. i don't know if its because they might be wearing cheap perfume but for me the scent was rather strong and somehow irritating. it's unlike when a wind blows and your nose somehow catches a  faint hint of perfume and you are gently disturbed by it and you could not help but follow the scent and try to trace its source. you are somehow mysteriously drawn to where the pleasant smell emanates. and you heave a sigh to find a person sitting or standing  a few paces from you, unmindful of you, unaware that you have been disturbed.

yet, with this group of young ladies, it is different. the scent hits you right smack in your face and you immediately know where it is coming  from. they willed it to be so. no subtlety. and you immediately know. it is an open invitation. it is related to their work. they are ladies of night. sweet-painted ladies, as one song goes. their conversation was very animated and loud. they do not care less for the other passengers. they are deliberately drawing attention to themselves. i observed them. they are heavily made up. cheeks and lips reddened. tight and revealing dresses. they are on their way to work too. perhaps they are dancers, or club girls, or bar girls. overhearing their conversation, you can say they love what they do. or, perhaps, pretend to love it. anyway, they seem to be happy.

they hailed the jeepney to stop right in front of a small building whose facade is adorned with bright, blinking lights. the sign in front of the building says "Happy Hour! ice cold beer 24 pesos."

eyeshadows and face powders in your bag
red lipsticks and bottles of perfume
fancy hair-do and a dress that reveal
a greater part of you;
well-fabricated smiles, inviting eyes,
deep drunken nights,
lonely hearts seeking comfort,
or, cheating hearts wanting pleasure,
escaping from pain;
they are all you need in your trade
they could explain all the money you made
and you say, "Blame me not,
you have no right to,
you gave me options how to live,
but, your own living chose for me!"

they alighted and walked towards the door of the building. the lights are blinking animatedly. their shine is not like the stars in the night sky. and they are not history yet.

our jeepney continued on its journey. the scent of the girls' perfume still hung in the air inside the vehicle for a few minutes more before it faded into the night adorned with stars ...