The Rumi Rundown

Day before I had the chance to go for a Rumi Yoga session. When I asked the person who had invited me what was the connection I was told that the people who are conducting the session are basically Yoga teachers. Usually I would have avoided as the session was on a working day but as I have a deep interest in Sufi philosophy I decided to go.

As part of the session all participants were asked to share one of their favorite compositions from Rumi. I chose ‘Naman Behuda Girde’ which I love for its poetry but even more so because of the way Nusrat Fateh Ali Sahab has sung it in the qawwali form.

The teachers arrived and I was amused to see that they were wearing Himanchali caps. Guess it was to give the impression of being a Turkish Mevlana. But as far as I know the Sufis of Chishti order in India did not wear such caps but it was OK for the ‘feel’ of it. Next the lights were dimmed and the poetry session started. Now me being myself I had translated the whole poem from Persian and had even taken a printout as some of the words are tough to pronounce/remember. But lo and behold the teacher asked everyone to take out their phones and Google their “favorite” Rumi poem. It was quite a tough task as within the next five minutes one had to go through the top ranking quotes(not poems) and decide which one was their “favorite”.😊

By the time my turn came I had heard many a quote which I knew by heart anyways and I was in two minds if I should really read the ten verses I had prepared. Then I thought – what the hell they have wasted my time so I have full right to waste theirs !

Once the quote/poetry reading was over the teacher said now we will listen to random Sufi music from hindi movies and everyone must transform themselves into whirling dervishes. Songs such as Khwaja mere Khwaja were played on blue tooth speakers and folks started turning round and round like stoned zombies. Although many reported a sudden surge of creative energy, life force etc. In fact one girl looked like she wanted to claim that she was enlightened but probably decided to keep her spiritual secret to herself. In the end everyone sat silently for two minutes as in offering condolence ( presumably to the spirit of Rumi) and ended the session after rubbing their palms vigorously and transmitting the Universal energy from their hands to their eyelids. Going by the looks I think most people were 33% enlightened except me as the least I expected was to be able to listen to Nusrat Sahab ‘s qawwali at full volume with all of us clapping with the qawwals to reach the crescendo where the Mureed meets his Murshid in the spirit and energy generated by Sema. Of course, it was a completely wrong notion on my part.

Om Swami whom I look upto for spiritual guidance says in one of his discourses that – अगर आप लोगों को बोलो की इस पेड़ को झप्पी डालने से भगवान मिल जाएंगे तो आपको बीस पचास लोग मिल जाएंगे पेड़ को पकड़ कर खड़े रहने के लिए 😊

Now the thing is that there is nothing wrong or right as it is everyone’s own journey and the good part is that many have begun to search for their true self. Even the folks who conducted the session were very nice people. The only thing is that if we just spend a little more time and be a little more sincere in our quest then one can really get something out of it, else it’s better to grab a couple of drinks at the nearest bar and have a good time. It’s like you are walking to a destination so the effort is there but if you are walking in the wrong direction you will never reach plus get tired. Also,the faster your pace the farther you will be from your goal.

So while I am happy that there was a good turnout and so many people are interested in the matters of spirit, I just wish that the search is more genuine, more from the heart.

Let me leave you with another beautiful Rumi Composition – Tu Karimi, Mann Kamina. I am sure you will sway with the rhythm and get consumed by the yearning of Rumi ‘s heart.

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Becoming a Writer

I wrote my first blog post in November 2008 so technically it will be a decade this year, ever since I started putting words onto the screen. Ten years of being a writer !

In the last ten years I have written close to 450 blog posts, of course not all verbose and not all my own thoughts but yes many of them original in content/ideas. I have written articles, poems, short stories and everything else that has inspired me. Like all writers I have struggled between days of overflowing creativity to absolute emptiness of thoughts and ideas. Like all writers I have wondered if there is a way or a technique to it. But the question has always eluded any convincing answers. For the last couple of years I am going by the advice of authors such as Stephen King and Ray Bradbury who say that in order to be a writer you must read a lot and write a lot. It’s almost like saying that to be a runner you must run or to become a pilot you must fly. The more you do it the better you become. Once you get the initial hang of it any improvement will only come from constant practice. Surprisingly, my teacher said the same thing even for meditation. At first, I found the idea of practising to do nothing quite vague but now after 20 years I know a little bit about what he meant. The state of very few thoughts is attained much more quickly, I can consciously watch my thoughts as they arise and disappear when I don’t engage with them, and I can sit quietly for long periods without any urge to be up and about.

In this context, I find the below poem from Charles Bukowski quite revealing even close to my experience as a writer, especially of poetry. It just happens as if the words were always floating in the universe and when my frequency is right they start playing in my mind just like that song on the radio. But I have observed that these have been very inspired moments either from the sheer joy or misery of my existence. The puzzle for me is whether I should wait for the inspiration to descend and then started clicking on the the key board or to start clicking on the key board and hope that the universe will oblige. I am sure everyone deals with this dilemma. I have chosen keep writing vigorously hoping to get better in the process. You have to be really gifted if inspiration just descends on you without effort on your side.

Anyways, you enjoy the poetry by Charles and share your thoughts in comments below in case you find this post inspiring enough 🙂

*So, you wanna be a writer*

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything, don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut, don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your typewriter
searching for words, don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame, don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed, don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else, forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you, then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you, do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was..

Destiny

Tis all a chequered board of Nights and Days,
Where destiny with men of pieces plays,
Hither and thither moves,and mates and slays,
And one by one back in the closet Lays,
Me thinks this Wheel at which we gape and stare,
Is Chinese lantern – like we buy at fair;
The lamp is Sun and paper shade the world,
And we the pictures whirling unaware…

~ Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

( As translated by Fitzgerald )

Nature

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say to me.

~ Wynn Bullock

That Saffron Pullover

वो ज़ाफ़रानी पुलोवर उसी का हिस्सा है,
कोई जो दूसरा पहने तो दूसरा ही लगे…

You know that saffron sweater – its a part of her,

Its not the same when someone else wears it

~ बशीर बद्र

(Interpretative translation by aahang)

Dark Storm

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine. And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Of Broken Hearts & Travellers

ये ज़रूरी नहीं कि सब दिल टूट ही गए हों

कुछ ऐसे भी हैं जो बस चिटक के रह गए

Not all hearts were destined to be broken

A few just cracked and remained so

और ये भी नहीं कि सब राही भूल गए हों राहें

कुछ ऐसे भी हैं सफर में जो बस भटक के रह गए

And not all travellers forgot their destination

There were a few who just lost their way

~ aahang