I was reading a book or watching TV a couple of days ago when suddenly Anjali sits near my feet and says 'stretch your legs out Nanna.'
I smiled and did.
She sat down near my feet and held one and examined it. I am very conscious of my feet and became even more so. They are not the prettiest of feet going around.
Sunshine and love
'Nanna, you don't take care of your feet at all,; she said. 'Don't you apply any cream.'
I shook my head. I don't. Why would I apply cream to my feet? I am not used to taking care of myself and my body parts with any extra love. And I am certainly not used to others being interested in me.
'I will apply cream to your legs ok,' she said.
I liked that. She asked me and after I nodded she went and got the cream.
Then she sat on a cushion and carefully applied cream to my feet with utmost focus. It took all of ten minutes. After she was done with both feet, she looked at my calves.
'Look at them. They are all white. You don't put any cream Nanna. You don't take care of your legs.'
I looked on with a guilty look on my face.
'Ok stretch your leg,' she said.
The calves got the treatment too. And once done she got up and went off after pointing out how nice my legs were looking. They certainly felt much nicer and looked nicer.
But frankly I am not used to such acts of kindness and care from other people who take an interest in my good. I am just not used to even look at myself for my own good so I am really surprised when others do that. I was touched when Anjali did that and for a while stepped back and let her take over. Now she is 10 years I think she has so many other things on her mind but obviously not.
I am amazed at the things kids do so easily. I am sure adults do too - only it takes a lot more stuff than the simple way Anjali went about it. Ok, seems to be a problem here, let me sort it out the way I know it.
Could one be that way? I suppose so. Seems pretty simple. To give and to take, both are possible.
I was thrilled with the line I read in Tao Te Ching which said something like 'The man who is contented with what he has, is rich.' I loved the idea.
Yesterday evening I told it to Anjali and went on about it.
'That means Anjali, that one can be poor or rich, but if one is content with what they have - 10 rupees or 10000 crores - they will be rich. One the other hand if one is not content with what one has, then one rupee or ten thousand crores will still make one feel poor. See, its a matter of attitude. Richness is your attitude.'
I was trying to drive home the point that made such an impact on me. Now I can be content. And rich!
Anjali listened keenly. Then she said.
'I do not know why they say poor people are contented with little, and rich people are discontented with however much they have. All stories say that. Actually it is not about being poor or rich behaving differently - being contented or discontented. It means that you are rich or poor depending on how contented you are.'
It took me a minute to get that. But that was so nicely put.
That's an even better perspective. Why glorify the poor and rationalise their poverty with contentment and why put down the rich who have earned their money. Can we look at the attitude and not what they have?
Beautiful. That's two different perspectives in one day.
81 are the principles of Lao Tzu. Tao cannot be explained and can only be experienced. The only thing is that when someone puts it across like Lao Tzu does, we can only nod in agreement if we have experienced it sometime. But if there is one thing we learn from the Tao it is that the world's principles are of seeming paradoxes. Certainly of least effort, of softness, of yielding, of weak, of being supple, of bending and bowing, of egolessness, of dignity, of beauty, of receptivity, of unity, of contentment. The symbols are of supple and weak plants, of water, of low lying lands, of empty spaces, of those who stand behind and desire no war.
Translated by Arthur Waley
"True wisdom is different from much learning
Much learning means little wisdom"
He talks of doing things without doing. Of being soft. Of bending. Of being gentle. Of not having any firm likes and dislikes. Of seeing things as they are. And buy being so, achieving all and more. Some lines that I noted down. He who rids himself forever of desire can see the Secret Essence. He speaks of the danger of choosing one - because it will give rise to another. When we are attached to beauty we face ugliness, when we choose virtue we encounter wickedness - better not to be attached to one. Rule people by employing their hearts, filling their bellies, weakening intelligence, toughening sinews; make people knowledgeless and desireless." The way is to be empty - but can draw without needing to be filled. Valley spirit never dies. Draw as much but it never dries. Put yourself in the background but always to fore; remain outside but always be there, strive for no personal end - to ever last. The highest good is like water - benefits all but does not scramble, content with the places that all men disdain. Profound thought, gentleness in friendship, true words, order in government and no strife. When your work is done, then withdraw. Rear them but do not lay claim to them, control them but never lean upon them, be chief among them but do not manage them. It is in the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel, the house, depends. Just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognise the usefulness of what is not. He who is dealing with the empire regards his high rank as though it were his body is the best person to be entrusted with the rule. He rules his subjects as one should love one's body. Do not fill yourself to the brim. Then you will endure all wear and need no renewal. Strive towards void, quietness. The root of all things is quietness. Submission to fate. He who has room for everything has no prejudice. The sage says not a word. The work gets done. And people say it happened on its own. It is only when one thing appears that the other arrives. It is only when there is desire that people sway. Give them things to do, that occupy them, keep them busy. Banish learning and there will be no grieving. To remain whole be twisted, To become straight,let yourself be bent, To become full, be hollow Those that have little may get more Those that have much are perplexed It is by not believing in people that you turn them into liars. The small man, a man of consequence, will not be separated from his baggage wagon The lord of 10000 chariots allows himself to be lighter If he is light the foundation is low If he is active, the lord and master is lost Perfect activity leaves no track behind it. Return to a state of infancy, to the state of the uncarved block The greatest carver does the least cutting Discard the absolute, the all-inclusive, the extreme Fulfill purpose without boasting, pride, as a step that could not be avoided, without violence Even when he conquers, does not regard weapons as lovely things. The uncarved block is greater than anything under heaven Once the block is carved there will be names As soon as there are names, it is time to stop Understand, conquer yourself, Being content with what you have is to be rich Tao produces but takes no possession By not making a show of greatness, achieves greatness Tao is to use, not see or listen Dim the light before it shines bright, do the opposite of what needs to be done first, soft overcomes hard, weak overcomes strong Get things done without doing And 10000 things are transformed After Tao was lost came power After power was lost came human kindness After human kindness was lost came morality After morality was lost came ritual Ritual is husk Full grown men takes his stand upon the sorted substance and not husk Humble is the stem upon which the mighty grows Tao - the only motion is returning, weakness is the only quality, being is the product of non-being Great form comes without shape, great music comes with faint notes, large squares have no corners No man of violence can come to a good end Teaching without words, action that is actionless, few understand it He who grudges expense pays dearest in the end He who has hoarded most will suffer the heaviest loss Be content with what you have, none can despoil you Who stops in time, nothing can harm The most perfect seems to have something missing but works perfectly Most full seems empty but never fails Most straight seems crooked Great skill appears clumsy Staying still overcomes heat Limpid calm puts everything right No lure greater than to possess what others want No disaster greater than not to be content with what one has No presage of evil greater than that men should be wanting to get more He who has once known the contentment that comes simply through being content, will never again be otherwise than contented The further one travels, the less one knows The sage arrives without going, sees without looking Does nothing, achieves everything Tao consists in subtracting day by day Till one has reached inactivity By this inactivity, everything can be activated No heart of his own, the heart of the people as his heart Good and bad he approves, and thus he gets goodness For the world's sake, he dulls his wits Seems dazed with fright He who aims at life achieves death He who has a true hold on life is not touched by animals or weapons, has no death spot Rear but do not claim, content without leaning, be chief without managing Strength means holding on to what is weak An infant has the highest power, soft bones, strong grip But to fill life to the brim is to invite omens, Vigour invites decay Those who know do not speak, who speak do not know Do nothing, and people transform In inactivity, people become prosperous I have no wants, people return to the uncarved block When the ruler looks depressed, people are happy and satisfied Upon bad fortune, good fortune leans Sage squares without cutting, gives light without shining Running a large kingdom is like cooking small fish A large kingdom must be like the low ground towards which all streams flow. The point where all things converge. Must be the female and get underneath to conquer the male. Large kingdoms needs inhabitants. Small kingdoms need some place to send surplus inhabitants Tao is like the south west corner of the house, the treasure of the good man Everything difficult must be dealt with when easy, when small Deal in state of not-yet-being, put in order before confusion He who acts harms, who grabs, lets up Heed the end no less than the beginning And your work will not be spoiled The more knowledge people have, the harder they are to rule Those who rule without giving knowledge bring a stock of good fortune to the land In order to be above, speak as though you are lower to the people Only he that pities is truly brave, Only he who is frugal is profuse Only he who refuses to be foremost is capable of being the Chief of Ministers The best charioteer does not rush ahead The best fighters do not make a display of their wrath The greatest conqueror wins without joining issue The best user of men acts as if he were their inferior This is the power of not contending It is he who does not delight in war that wins When you doubt your ability to meet the enemy's attack, take the offensive yourself. If you doubt your ability to advance an inch, then retreat a foot To know when one does not know is best To think one knows when one does not know is a dire disease Only he who recognises this disease as a disease Can cure himself of the disease The Sage's way of curing the disease Also consists in making people recognise their diseases as diseases and thus ceasing to be diseased If you do not harass people they will not turn away form you Know your value, but do not place yourself high Conquer without striving, get answers without speaking, get things without beckoning Coarse are the meshes but nothing slips through He who tries to do the master carpenter's chipping will most likely cut his hand People starve because people above them eat too much People are difficult to keep in order because those above them interfere People attach no importance to death because those above them are too grossly absorbed in the pursuit of life When he is born, man is soft and weak: is death he becomes stiff and hard When things are alive they are supple and soft, but when they are dead, they become brittle and dry What is stiff and hard is companion of death The hard and mighty are cast down; the soft and weak are set on high. Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water But when it attacks things hard and resistant there is not one of them that can prevail The yielding conquers the resistant and the soft conquers the hard It is Heaven's way, without distinction of persons, to keep the good perpetually supplied. True words are not fine sounding, Fine sounding words are not true The good man does not prove by argument And he who proves by argument is not good True wisdom is different from learning Much learning means little wisdom For Heaven's way is to sharpen without cutting And the Sage's way is to act without striving
My big lessons. About spending. About weakness. About softness. Read and reread. It's a never ending story. But more importantly, practice. Tao is not to listen and see, but to be.
This book was a birthday present from my best friend.It is based about a citygirl from Bangalore.
Anoushka aka Nooni is a brave,courageous but simple girl. She has to stay with her Ajja and Ajji in their village for her summer vacations.She learns bicycling,trekking and other things you could do only in a village with the help of Amit,Anand,Medha and the young college boy- Mahadeva.
After a few days when Nooni begs for a story, Ajji tells her one about King Somanayaka and the magic stepwell. Almost the next day ,Nooni along with her friends discover remains of the step well. As excited as Nooni, her grandparents inform the whole village. Shankar Master, Hanume gowda (head of the village panchayat) and Ajja plan it all out. The digging,the calling of certain people,the rules for the stepwell etc. With the help of Abdul Rasheed, a friend of Nooni's dad they dig out the stepwell.
It's 1993. It's Linklater. The movie is about the last day of school in 1976. Issues the teenagers had then - coach of the football team wants players to sign a commitment that they will not do drugs or alcohol etc, parties, girls, sex, rules, rebellion etc.
The day starts with the school closing for summer. The seniors have a practice of ragging freshmen - some more seriously than the others. The freshmen are running for cover. Seniors have their own issues. The party house gets busted because the parents get wind of it. A run in with cops, some breaking of the law, some fights, some broken hearts, some new romances. And all the time there play the 1970s hit songs for Led Zeppelin to Nazareth to Alice Cooper to Kiss to ZZ Top.
And if that was not enough well there is Mathew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Renee Zelleweger etc who were all a bunch of nobodys then. In that one day Linklater gives a pretty good idea of what society was like then and that makes for good cinema in my book.
We were discussing something about dog food today. Anjali told some story about how two guys ate dog food and survived. I told her of how Pedigree, the dog food, was good enough to eat - when we did a program for Mars they has actually invited us to the plant and to eat the dog food.
'Once we give a name it changes everything,' she said.
'Labels,' pondered Shobha.
'If it was not called dog food people would probably eat it like they would eat McDonalds or something,' said Anjali.
Wow! That's a bit thing to discover. That labels are so restricting. That they change our perception and they change our actions.
And just this evening I was reading the 'Tao Te Ching' and there is a line which goes something like, the moment it is called something is the time when you must stop doing whatever you are doing, because you are stuck with the label and it straitjackets you.
"The uncarved block is greater than anything under heaven Once the block is carved there will be names As soon as there are names, it is time to stop"