Friday, December 29, 2017

Sharpen Your Axe

One day, after the evening prayers, Master told us a story. He spoke thus:

Many miles from here, there was a forest village, and in that village, many years ago lived a very famous and proud woodcutter. The village occupation was cutting woods hence everyone was really good at it but this man was the champion of champions. He could beat anyone in woodcutting. He was strong as an ox and he could work relentless. And he was vain as a peacock. He challenged other woodcutters to compete with him and ridiculed them when no one would accept the challenge or the very few who would, would face a humiliating defeat. And then one day arrived a rather unassuming, pale faced youth, bearing a woodcutting axe upon his gaunt shoulders. And as luck would have it, he met the proud vain woodcutter as soon as he entered the village seeking some sustenance.

Seeing the newcomer, the village champion asked him to compete with him. The youth agreed but first he wanted some food and water. Which the villagers promptly offered him. Everyone could sense a ridiculous contest in the offing and they wanted to have some merriment at the expense of the newcomer, who had no idea what he had agreed upon. So the villagers piled the youth with as much goodies they could offer, fattening the pig (in a manner of speaking) before the feast. The youth ate calmly and having finished his food, declared that he must rest for the day and the contest would be held next day at dawn. Everyone agreed and that night they held a fiesta, to celebrate the champion’s certain victory next morning.

Even before dawn the villagers gathered around the arena, where lay two identical long thick and terribly toughened gnarl of trees. The two contestants appeared and the crowd gathered around. They looked so incredibly unmatched: the hulk of the champion brandishing his massive axe upon his rippling torso, and the youth with his commonplace axe upon his commonplace physique. The village chieftain explained the rules: they each had to chop their tree into as many pieces they could, making them into a pile and no individual piece of chopped wood could be larger or smaller than an elbow length. Whoever finished first would be the winner.

It was a tough competition, requiring not only strength but finesse and tact. The champion snorted in delight and triumph. The youth remained silent and calm. The village chief signalled and the contest begin.

The champion went to the task like a man possessed. He swung his axe in a giant arc and brought it down with such force that the ground shook and he struck the wood like never before. While the youth chopped too but in a more timid fashion, in a steady pace, his axe barely swinging up and down and then to the utter disbelieve of the onlookers, he rested. While the champion went on relentless. He seemed stronger and more invincible than before. The youth chopped some and then rested. The villagers soon lost interest in the youth and they all focused upon the champion. Never before had they witnessed such savagery nor such strength and agility, they cheered the proud champion, who roared like a beast with every swing of his axe. The wood was tough and sure enough his strength started to deplete, but the pile of his chopped wood kept growing. Unheeded, unheralded, on the other side, the youth went on his task with calm resolve and at every regular interval he rested. No one bothered to see his pile of chopped woods, which was growing too, and a bit quicker than that of the champion.

The contest was nearing its end, the villagers could decipher, since the champion was now rather slow and his pile of chopped woods rather high, with little left to chop. He was sweating and grunting with the effort yet he wouldn’t stop even for a moment from his garrulous task. And then someone, perhaps mistakenly, looked on the other side at the youth, and guess what, lo and behold, the youth was sitting quietly upon his pile of chopped woods, smiling at the crowd since he had no more woods to chop.

The village chief raised his arm to declare that the contest was over. He checked both the piles, measuring the chopped woods and reluctantly declared the youth to be the champion. The proud champion as well as the onlookers couldn’t believe their eyes. How on earth could this happen.

The village chief asked the youth: tell me my son, is it sorcery or god’s intervention that you managed to chop all the woods before our champion could!

‘It is neither, my honourable host,’ the youth said.

‘Then how is it possible, he chopped wood non-stop and you rested often in between?’

‘You all saw that I rested, but none of you noticed what I did while I rested...’

‘And what did you do while you rested?’ The chief asked dumbfounded.

‘I sharpened my axe.’ Master paused.

‘Were you that youth woodcutter?’ I asked the Master.

‘Anybody could be that young woodcutter,’ Master patted my back, ‘as long as you don’t forget to sharpen your axe.’ 

Instrument of Destiny

One day, at the Master’s mountain hut, there came a convicted man running away from the law. He was armed and seemed dangerous. There were only a handful of us with the Master and we didn’t know what to do as we didn’t have any means of communicating with the outside world.

The man, brandishing his gun, addressed the Master: I will hide here for couple of days and then I would go away. Don’t try to do anything, I will kill you all. I have already murdered others.

As the rest of us stared dumbfounded, the Master smiled and opened his arms to welcome the man: There’s no need to use violence or angry words my son, you are in the mountains that belong to anyone and everyone, no matter what your deeds are or what you are or have become. You are free to stay here as long as you wish, but please do not disturb the others. Respect everyone and the sanctity of this place and you will be fine. But there’s a rule of this place, you must work for what you receive. You don’t get anything for nothing. You might be a criminal in the eye of the law but I am not a judge to condemn or absolve. Join us with humility and only with the identity of a fellow human being, that’s all I ask of you.

The man looked rather startled at the Master’s calm reply and smiling demeanour. Yet he couldn’t let down his guard or show of violence (which is actually a show of his cowardice). He brandished his gun at the Master, pointing it right at his forehead and said: aren’t you scared of me? I can kill you without hesitation.

My son, Master spoke, we all must die one day and for that to happen we all must die due to a reason and that reason is nothing but an instrument of god or destiny. That I should die due to you only makes you a venerable person since God has chosen you to be the instrument of my death. Therefore my son, I am grateful to you if indeed you will end my life today. Someone or something had to do it one day anyway, but few are so fortunate to know and see the instrument of destiny so up close and clear.  Be the instrument of my destiny by all means if that indeed is your destined ordeal in this life.

The man collapsed on the ground, his eyes overflowing with tears of repentance. He prostrated at the feet of the Master and sought forgiveness. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Every Day a Lifetime

One fine morning, Master was guiding us through the process of yogic breathing. All we had to do was breathe in and out completely, while focusing in the process of the air flow as it weaved in and out of our body. Our eyes were shut and the morning sunny breeze spread a pleasant glow. What we were trying to experience and learn was the art of living in the present while focusing completely into what we were doing at the moment. Past and future didn’t exist, neither did they seem important. At the end of the session, one of the aged participants asked the Master: why is every day important.

And the Master replied: there are several reasons my friend, but the most important ones are two. One is based on law of Karma or action. Without action nothing will happen and it is only today, which is our every day that we can take action and do something. You cannot act in the past or in the future, all you can do is to act in today, every day, which in turn will reflect upon tomorrow; yet that tomorrow has to first become today for you to experience and understand what your action has led to.

Then there is another way of looking at each day as a reflection or compression of a lifetime. Each day is a lifetime. We arise each morning as if newly born, with yet another opportunity to do something; we are fresh and full of energy. As the day wanes, we age and grow, we learn and act and we experience and also tire. At the end of the day, at night, when we rest, we metaphorically perish and die.

One single day with this cycle of being born when we awaken, aging through the day and then dying when we go to sleep and rest, symbolises and depicts our entire life. It’s a lifetime compressed within a day. Therefore what we do during a single day, today, every day, and how we do it, becomes the basis and symbol of our whole lifetime. Because life is only the sum of our every single day. Any day, today, can become our life’s turning point.

In a single moment, in one day, today, we can alter our life. Arise and awaken, today, every day. Starting at this very moment now. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Desire is Enough

Master, where will I find her? One day a young agitated man prostrated at the Master’s feet and ululated.

I don’t know, Master spoke softly: but my son, first you must find her within yourself.

How can I find her within myself? I don’t even know how she looks or even if she exists!

It is not necessary to know of what you desire to find, Master said, the desire by itself is enough. If you know then you may be disappointed when you find, but to find the unknown and unexpected is beyond disappointment since your quest is without expectations. And whatever you find will be magic.

Then what should I do? The man asked.

Tarry no more, here or anywhere, Master said, keep fuelling the desire and find you will.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


One fine morning in early spring the Master was regaling us with one hilarious story after another. The Master rolled on ground between guffaws while the rest of us (about a hundred) clutched our stomachs gasping for breath, laughing our heads off. But amidst all that merriment, there reposed one young girl of untold beauty, whose downcast eyes and pallid demeanour told of unbound misery. When the laughter had subsided to a manageable silence, the Master addressed the girl.

What troubles you my child? Why so sad amidst so much joy!

After a brief moment, the girl looked up and said: I love the most wonderful man and I have hurt him, inflicting severe pain, through my actions. And now I do not know what to do.

The Master beckoned her to come forward and be seated by his side. He caressed her head lovingly and said:

To love someone, you will hurt. You cannot love without hurting, just like you cannot eat an apple without biting into it. So don’t blame yourself for the hurt you caused to the one you love since you are not the cause of his hurt. It’s part of the process. It’s the way of love and loving. You hurt him, if you so believe, but who hurt you, since you are suffering too! It is just a process of action and reaction, of cycling and recycling, of beginning and ending only to begin again. Only through pain and grief, call it hurt if you must, true love shines splendid like the sun.

Then what should I do? She asked.

Just return to him at this instant and embrace him to your heart. Don’t say a word. And he will understand that the clouds have parted and it is a brilliant beautiful day. 

Friday, August 11, 2017


One day the Master was in deep slumber under the banyan tree; or so we presumed. Nearby his followers and I sat discussing what he had told us in the morning. Some of us marvelled at his words, some pondered, some revered, and some were clearly bewildered. But we all agreed that whatever the Master said were surely wise even if we didn’t understand the full purport. And then one enthusiastic disciple said, a bit louder than the rest... Master is always right.

I am never right. The Master spoke despite his shut eyes.
Then are you always wrong? I jested.

I am never wrong. The Master responded. Now his eyes were open and twinkling mischievously.

But how can that be? One woman asked. You cannot be both right and wrong at the same time. You must be one or the other.

Tell me sister, the Master asked the lady: is it day or night?
It is day Master. She said cautiously.

You are both right and wrong. You are right because it is day here where you are and the day that you can see, but somewhere on the Earth, right now it is night that you cannot see, so you are wrong as well. I asked you objectively is it day or night? And you presumed that I asked for this place where we are physically right now. Similarly if we ask is it cold or hot, and somewhere it is cold and somewhere it is hot. So the answer is equally right or wrong. What you may find beautiful might be ugly to someone else, what is food to you might be another’s poison. What I say might be wise to you but to another might sound foolish.

But that is so confusing, if everything is both right and wrong. How do we know what we should listen to?

Hear what I say, the Master explained, but listen to what I don’t say. Read the words that I utter, but understand those I don’t. Emptiness makes up most of the universe, yet without it, the world will collapse and would not sustain. Within the nothingness lies everything. For something to mean we must have much more of the meaningless.

I may not mean what I say but do I mean what I don’t?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


As I walked beside the Master one afternoon, ambling and enjoying the fresh mountain breeze, silently submerged in our respective thoughts. Shortly we came across a beautiful emerald lake that was known for its rejuvenating waters. Many pilgrims travelled from afar to dip into the waters to cure of their ailments. As we skirted the lake, many of the devotees greeted the Master reverently. Everybody knew of him.

A little ahead, we came to an old man of stout health, dipping himself vigorously into the lake. Master paused to stare at the old man with amusement writ large upon his face. I too stopped and stared. Soon the old man noticed the Master and literally jumped out of the lake. He approached us and fell at the Master’s feet.

Master, he said, please tell me how to get rid of my pain and miseries. I have been to all the holy lakes and have been immersing myself but I am still in agony. I don’t know what to do anymore.

My brother, Master said, by immersing yourself into holy lakes you only get rid of the dirt and grime of your body. Not that of the mind and soul. For that you got to immerse your mind and soul along with your body.

How can I do that? The old man asked much puzzled.

What is the colour of this lake? Master posed.

Blue, the old man replied instantly. You are mistaken my friend, Master said, the water is colourless, it only reflects what falls upon its glassy surface, therefore appearing blue right now due to the blue sky above but orange at dawn and dusk. It has no colour because it doesn’t hold on to anything. Similarly your pains and miseries refuse to go away since you refuse to let go. You are holding on to them for your dear life yet they take life away from you.

Let them go and become colourless like the lake. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Living in the Moment

One morning a middle aged lady came to visit the Master. She seemed highly perturbed about something. She sat in front of the Master and bowed her head in reverence, and was about to speak, when Master uttered: my child come with me. Let’s take a walk.

As the Master led the lady, the rest of us followed. I would never miss a chance to walk with the Master. Upon these walks lay the secret to greatest of wisdoms.

Right behind the Master’s humble hut, there ran a clear sparkling brook that gurgled gently throughout the day. He led the woman to the brook and stopped. I noticed that he had stopped where there was a small dirty pool of water right next to the bank of the brook. The pool had stagnant muddy water. 

The Master pointed at the murky pool and said: your mind is like this still water, clutching onto the mud and dirt of the past and of the unknown future, therefore you suffer. But look at the brook, you won’t find any dirty water there, no matter how much dust or dirt or things fall into it, because it keeps moving and takes the dirt away. It is always in the present. Allow your mind to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future, and move with the flow of life, living in the moment.

Be the moving brook not the stagnant pool. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lake or the Glass

One day I was sharing a lighter moment with the Master, when a much agitated young man arrived. He fell at the feet of the Master and ululated: Oh Master, show me the way, my life is full of miseries.

Bring him a glass of water; Master commandeered, which I obeyed. The youth gulped the water down. The Master filled his glass up and then added a spoon of salt in it. Now drink this son.

The bewildered youth followed and immediately spat out the water. How does it taste? Master asked. Awful, it’s so bitter. He replied.

Let’s go for a walk to the mountain lake. Master suggested. Three of us, followed by few more, left for the walk. All through the journey of an hour, Master hummed a beautiful melody while I walked beside merrily. Only the young fellow seemed more troubled. He didn’t see how his miseries can be solved with a glass of salty water followed by a walk to a mountain lake.

We reached the shores of the turquoise lake. It glistened and shimmered beneath the sun. Small waves slithered across, chased by the cherubic breeze. Master produced another spoon of salt and handed to the youth. Please mix this into the lake. He asked.

The young man did as told. Now drink from the lake, the Master asked. And the young man did so and he drank several gulps as he must have been thirsty and tired after his long journey.

How does the water taste? Master asked. It’s so sweet, I feel so refreshed Master. The young man replied merrily.

My son, the amount of miseries in life is same for everyone for we create them through our choices and deeds, and it’s like the amount of salt you had in your glass or in this lake. Yet one tasted bitter and undrinkable while the other is sweet like nectar. Miseries will always be miseries but it is up to you to be the glass of water or the mountain lake. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Crossing the River

Once I walked with Master along a wild river that rushed from the cold mountains into the sweltering valleys. At one point a much harassed looking man crossed us. He asked: is there a bridge to cross this river, I have been trying to find one for hours.

My friend is it necessary to cross this river? Master said, there are opportunities on this side too you can look for since you have already crossed over to this side.

No I must cross the river. The man insisted. Master replied thoughtfully: well there must be a bridge somewhere if you keep walking but it may take you very far from what you seek on the other side, after all this is a very long river.

That is true. The man agreed now.

Master now chuckled and said: but my friend is a bridge the only way to cross the river! 

Lonely or Alone

Once I attended a discourse at Master’s mountain abode, where many devotees had thronged too. Among them was one young man who seemed eternally melancholy. He rarely spoke or communicated with the rest of us. On the final day, while people were taking Master’s blessings before dispersing, Master asked the man:

Why do you look unhappy my son?
I am alone Master, there’s no one and nothing for me. The man replied gloomily.

Are you alone or you are lonely? Master quizzed
What’s the difference? The man asked.

Being lonely is rejection of yourself and all that is around you, it is a negative state of existence, and it is about self-hate and self destruction. It is like wiping out the candle to see in darkness, it is denial of who and what you are and the world that embraces you.

Being alone is acceptance of yourself and all that is around you, it is a positive state of existence, and it is about self-love and self preservation. It is like lighting up the candle to eliminate darkness, it is who you are and what you are and it is about embracing the world back that embraces you.

We suffer when lonely; when alone we rejoice. We all come into this life alone and must leave alone, but none of us are lonely, unless we wish to be.

ALONE stands for ALL-in-ONE therefore my son, find all that you seek and desire within yourself, because you are the One and you have all within you.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

God's Creation

One day a great sage from another land visited the Master and they had a long discourse about God, theology, ethics and such other esoteric subjects. I sat quietly and hearkened.

Who is your God? The great sage asked
Who is yours?
He is the omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent and omnipresent God.
How do you serve your God? Master asked
I pray to him, I respect him praise him and I never forget him.
And Master replied: my God is his creation, if he is there and he has indeed created, then I prefer to serve his creation since that is the best way to pray, to take care of those that he created. My God is nature: the animals, the trees, this river, the mountains and I serve them and I love them.
But what about your belief, who do you believe in? The sage asked.
I believe in his creation, I believe all that is around me with whom I interact.
Let’s go for a walk my friend, Master said, it’s a beautiful day. He invited the Sage to go with him. I followed from a discrete distance.

The path was beautiful, winding through fragrant flower fields with birds twittering from the trees. What you see around you? Master asked.
I see my God, he is everywhere, he sees everything; I see God in all.

We continued walking for long, the sage was tiring out though Master was chirpy and energetic as ever. He was used to climbing and hard life. So again he asked, ‘now what do you see?’ ‘I feel tired and exhausted and I am hungry,’ the sage replied. ‘I want to sit down beneath that tree with the shade.’ He dropped down under the tree and Master asked, ‘what do you see now my friend.’ ‘I see this tree and it is really nice and I am thankful that it is here. Otherwise I would have died of exhaustion and the sun. Now I wish it also had some fruits I could eat. I am so hungry.’

After some rest we walked on and found a plum tree full of juicy red plums. The sage ate his heart’s fill and Master asked; what do you see now, how do you feel? Oh I see this beautiful plum and I feel so great eating it, it’s so sweet and nourishing and filling.

So you see my friend, I serve his creation through whom he interacts with us, I take care of the tree and this plum tree, the flowers and the river since that is the way I communicate with him. I believe in him because I can see his creation, it is for them that I believe there is a creator, not the other way round.

Then we walked on and soon it became dark and we were in deep forest. We couldn’t see the path anymore and wild hungry animals were growling around. Master and I knew the path well but the sage got scared. Oh we are lost; some animal is surely going to eat us. We should have gone back well before. He started saying.

But my friend, the Master spoke kindly like he was talking to a child, don’t you see and find your God now; in this darkness and moment of despair isn’t he watching you, doesn’t he know that you are in trouble and will he not come to your rescue because you have always worshipped him and sang his praises. Why are you afraid now if you believe in your God?

I can only think of my life and getting back safely, I can’t think of God or in his powers. The sage replied shivering.

You abandon your God and your belief right at the moment when you need it, the test of your belief is not in the good times but in moments of crisis but how can you believe and trust in something that is abstract, which you or no one has ever seen or touched. So my friend I believe in his creation, in nature and in this forest with all its animals. I love them, I take care of them and I believe that now they will take care of us.

Don’t worry my friend, moon will be up shortly and we will get back safely very soon. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Love is Belief

One day a beautiful girl visited the Master and asked: how do I know how much he loves me, how do I define how he loves me and how do I understand how he loves me.

Master smiled and asked the girl to ease her worrying mind: my child do you wish to bind your love to limitations, do you wish to define it within the words derived by human and do you wish to understand it with human intellect?

I don’t understand you Master. She replied puzzled.

My girl, Master spoke: love as I understand is of only one kind, that which is boundless and beyond definition and cognisance. When you seek ‘how much’ you are seeking a boundary of scale, which by itself is a limitation no matter how big the scale is. Let love be boundless and beyond compare. Let it be without beginning and end or mass or dimensions, let it be effervescent as well as tangible, let it be all and nothing, let it be boundless timeless eternal and all permeating. When you seek to define, you put words to describe what is indescribable and even indecipherable and there’s no way you or anyone can achieve that. We cannot put into words something that is beyond and above definition. Leave it undefined, leave it open, leave it as a sense as an essence of something that you know and don’t all at the same instant. When you wish to understand you are limiting it again by putting it across the scale of your knowledge and understanding. You wish to understand it within the periphery of your existing knowledge or the knowledge of humanity. Yet how can you do that since it is something that no one understands except the fact that it is the most potent force in the world. We don’t know what love is but we know what it can do. Just like we don’t know what God is, but we know that what God can do. So treat love like we treat God.

Love is a belief and belief cannot be defined, measured or understood. It is what it is and so let it be.