Friday, 30 January 2015


Here are the descriptions: in the first one I am sitting reflectively by our stream; in the second one I am collecting rocks from the stream in the rain for our flower beds. In the third, you can see a view of our home as you enter from the driveway.

Thursday, 29 January 2015


This is the deep pool in the stream in front of our house in India. Last year I discovered I could be in it -- without catching a cold or falling sick -- if I wore a wetsuit. I adore being in the water. And Foxy is in the picture, too!

Monday, 26 January 2015


This is part of a miniature temple made by our wood worker, carpenter and gardener

The above is a table we made with a boulder whose top part is a stone mill wheel. It sits in a little grotto by the side of our home.

the trunk of the oak growing in the grotto


This is a little nook in the library, overlooking the stream. 
Another view of the library, and below, our front entry stairs with a stone wall, our front door, and one of Payson's paintings.


I must let THE SINGING GURU leave the nest. Yesterday I was very agitated because Mandala didn’t include the endorsements in the book, which is already printed. The joy that it is printed and ready to go was entirely obscured by this. I had spent the whole year collecting them and was quite proud of them. I was grumpy and whiny the entire day. But right now the thought comes: let it leave the nest, like a winged seed, like a bird, and pray that it travels far and wide. Abandon it to its destiny. It is out of my hands, and like a good mother, I must let my child go when the world summons it. I am, henceforth, to watch. This gives me pause and much relief. 


Kikky, of course, is the obvious example. She belonged to my neighbors', not me. But even if she belonged to me, she would not have have belonged to me. Nothing in the world, no people in it, not even our own bodies are ours. We go so wrong in love when we become possessive and begin to delude ourselves that our husbands or wives or lovers or children are ours. Each has his or her destiny that we may not change or even interfere with.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Immediately after I had posted the last blog, Kikky's mommy called! She left yesterday and I have been missing her presence in the house, getting accustomed to the fact that she will never just come strolling in the way she used to. The first thing I did every morning while she was in my neighborhood was to open my cat door wide to the possibility of her visit. Well, it isn't going to happen anymore. It is like a death, in fact. I combed and fed her well, all the time thinking how in India a corpse is always bathed before it is taken for cremation. It is a way of nurturing the body and honoring the vehicle of the soul.

Animals are very dear to me; people sometimes don't understand it fully; one of my friends said to me, I want to reincarnate in my next life as your pet! I treat them like my children, not having any myself. I find loving them very rewarding. Kikky's mom wanted to give me a gift for taking care of her, and I said to her, Kikky was my gift. She did drop off a couple of bottles of wine, however, as a gesture.

I feel sad today but I am enjoying that sadness because it comes from love and loss. True detachment is letting those we love move on. It doesn't however mean that they leave our hearts. Quite the contrary. Yoko Ono once replied to someone who said -- 'don't you miss John? You guys were together most of the time' --' now we are together all the time.' I know that all the people and animals I have loved and lost  inhabit the room of my heart. They are beyond time and space, and therefore non-local, which means available anytime at all.

Friday, 23 January 2015


These days I am mommy to a cat. She belonged to our neighbors who divorced and moved away and wanted me to keep her while they settled down. I have known Kikky for six years -- I fell in love with her when she came to visit us one day. When I found out she belonged to our neighbors, I would, like a love-stricken girl, walk secretly up

their driveway in the hopes of seeing her. They didn't want me to feed her, though I have to admit I secretly did, a kibble or two here and there, in order to lure her, but she wasn't interested in the food. She loved the occasional spoon full of cream, though. She would let me comb her and sometimes when I was in the garden she would come by and say hello. Sometimes she wouldn't come for weeks, and I would be heartbroken. I would always leave my cat door open -- I have one from the days I had my own cats, Chua and Purry, before we started spending half the year the India -- always open to her mysterious presence.

She has been with me for ten days now (I thought it was going to be two) but they haven't called me and I haven't either, being in no hurry to see her go.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Wanting is so ubiquitous it must be natural, human, meant to be.
It is so natural it cannot be wrong.

You want someone to love you; you want to have money; you want to have a child; you want fame and you want success.

What turns it bad is when you want it Now! At your command. You should get it just because you want it. 


I want to take a detour with the idea of That Rare Space where the writing happens not just as ideas and notes but the word by word weaving of sentences and ideas into that one braid that will make the stay of the sail. It is continuous, unfolding like the unfolding of flowers, spontaneously, organically, almost mindlessly.

Yes, it is rare. It is not something I can struggle to attain to. No amount of willing and forcing can control and harness it. It is free, like Pegasus, the winged horse that goes where he wills. I cannot command it. I have to recognize that I am no more than a servant. I serve it, not it me. I am its willing slave because I adore It and because without It my life would not be worth living even if I became the Emperor of the Universe. 

My status is the status of an instrument which, unless it be touched, is mute of music.

It is not just the space in which writing happens: it is the moment when no matter how ‘menial’ your task, you become aware of the miracle of yourself, doing this or that, utterly present, your heart and head where it needs to be, here, now, the happening place, all the company you need, all the success, just you, and the broom.  


How much of joy depends upon our ability to let our thoughts and intentions go when they are no longer working! How much of it on spontaneity, knowing when to do something and when not. Only an example can clarify this.

Even though I was tired yesterday and I didn’t think I could work on the essay on the relationship between Guru Nanak and Mardana that Geetanjali Chadha suggested I write for Sikh Formations (RoutledgeI sat down and wrote the introduction and two whole single-spaced pages. I was pleased and thought and intended that I would do the same today. I was all geared up for it and when I sat down to do it, it simply wasn’t happening. By ‘happening’ I mean being in that wonderful, that rare space where the writing happens not just as ideas and notes but the word by word weaving of sentences and ideas into that one braid that will make the stay of the sail. It is continuous, unfolding like the unfolding of flowers, spontaneously, organically, almost mindlessly. Today that space was not present. Fortunately, I realized it, shut down the computer, and made us a nice salmon scramble for breakfast, cleaned up the few dishes that Payson hadn’t done (he does them most of the time), cleaned the counters, mopped the floor because it was sticky, all in the greatest happiness.

It wasn’t always like this. I have suffered my whole life from the disease of self-will. I have wanted control of my day, and imposed my own agendas on it. In my prioritizing my time thus – writing, writing, writing first – I have missed out on the joy of my life. When my agenda was not successful, I spent my entire day grumbling, unhappy with myself, the day, the sunshine, the flowers, and God herself for not fulfilling my desires and wants. For over fifty years I have lived like this, believe it or not, because human nature can be so persistently blind and get into vortexes from which they cannot extricate themselves. They keep going round and round and round in it endlessly without even realizing that something is wrong, or something is being done wrong which is the cause of your suffering. We can get used to anything, even hell. 

The sages would call this attachment. That is the thing about attachment – that it doesn’t only refer to people, to possession to ideas and dreams – but also, or perhaps specially, to those states that keep us fettered and suffering. If we don’t even realize we are suffering, that things can be some other way, then there is no hope of getting out of that state. The first stage is to see it. But then, I who consider myself more aware than most people, took over 50 years to realize it. How can I blame or accuse anyone of blindness and stupidity when I have been the blindest of all? 

I have to admit that left to myself I would have gone on suffering. Today could have also been a hell instead of a heaven, if the rain of grace hadn’t fallen on me like manna. Did I deserve it? Probably not, but then Guru Nanak says, it is not because we deserve it but because suddenly the willful Giver has been kind and merciful.