Kumari

Kumari Ellis

Kumari is a Mullumbimby based author. Her novel about her mystical experiences in India is an absorbing and enlightening tale. Join her on a great adventure into one of the world’s most exotic and intricate spiritual cultures.

“I have always loved to write and it was six years ago that I first sat down to write this story of my time in India. Initially I had two days every week when I was released for a few hours of mothering duty, and in that time I would brew chai, and sit down to write. It was surprisingly easy for me to slip back to the days of India and I found great solace in doing so. It has been a lengthy process and I believe with this first manuscript I have learnt so much about the writing process. Indeed about myself as it took me beyond the edge of comfort at times with revealing more about myself than I ever set out to share. It is a story that wants to be shared and I found that the more I could get out of my own way and simply be present, to show up to the empty page, the more it revealed.”

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Gratitude
The long weeks of staying home have inspired a practice of gratitude.
The initial fear, the threat of the virus taking hold in our midst, the incredible good outcome for us that it has not, and what an understatement that is, has brought a deep appreciation for my life. 
Suffering, trauma, wars, famine, neglect, abuse, climate change, floods, fires, have all been part of our collective world for as long as I can remember. It is suffice to say that there has been untold suffering in this world for as long as history has been recorded.
The onslaught of media attention of this global pandemic sometimes has flavours of: before this everything was fine, now it is not. However, regardless of any personal opinion Covid19 has certainly brought to our attention many aspects of society, our lives, our world, that are greatly out of balance. And possibly never before has there been the same cause of such widespread suffering. 
This time of lockdown has highlighted that my tendency is to see life through the lens of ‘glass half empty’. What I lack, what could be better, comparisons to others, what is wrong. somewhat melancholic this view point has informed the narrative, to greater or lesser extent, that my mind creates as life unfolds. A commentary that dictates Ok, not Ok. welcome, not welcome, like dislike, yes, no, good bad. You and me. 
The Sanskrit word Samsara can be interpreted as ‘to measure’. To weigh up our experience. The first noble truth of the Buddha is that life is suffering. Samsara.
The more I shift my gaze to appreciation I note how this influences my perception. That there is a possibility, just for now, that all is ok. Gratitude replaces grumblings. Eases us into the present, when peace can prevail.
I love to walk. Recently a friend and I discovered a path neither had walked before. The path led steeply downhill, through old forest. Eucalyptus mostly, dried curls of bark strewn in copper and bronze across the path. The forest was silent. Peppered with birds, a rustle in the tree tops as a breeze blew through. As the path levelled out a body of water appeared like a mirage before us. The surprise to find it there and the utter beauty of it anyway, reminded me of a sacred lake, a place where waters are blessed and worshiped, and the loudness of the crickets chirping their praise amplified the delight. 
The path wound up through the trees, elaborate art works disfiguring the trunks in knots and burls. And I walked for all who cannot walk at this time. For my friend in lockdown in India who cannot leave her small apartment, who is grateful to have a terrace and a place to be outside. Who is grateful that the hot season has been kind this year and the power cuts have been less too. I walk for the man who lives down the street who has Parkinsons. I see him most days out with a carer, being pushed in his wheelchair or walking himself, holding onto the wheelchair, his gait unsteady. An effort to take each step. Then there is John. John is 94 and has no next of kin. His daily dawn walk to the war memorial near where he lives was the highlight of his day. His balance has become tricky and the strength in his legs seems to diminish every time I visit him. He walks with a wheelie walker now. Even around his flat, scared to fall like he has done several times of late.
 My mother has always loved to walk. In her older age she joined a walking group in the Roman town where she now lives. As time wore on so did her joints. Crippling Arthritis leaving chronic pain that nothing seems to help with. Walking became more of a struggle, yet she would push on, leaning heavily on her walker frame. A swollen knee, pain in her lower back. it was painful to witness her daily struggle along the corridor to the lift, to the foyer downstairs of the care home she moved to late last year. 
Nowadays she can’t even walk along the corridor. There is a case of Covid19 in her care home now. I find it so sad to consider not only my mom but all the residents isolated even more, unable to leave their rooms. 
Care homes have been so much in the limelight of late. Why is it that we have allowed our elders to be cared for by staff who are underpaid? There are no easy answers of course. A myriad of reasons why family structure is as it is. But in this time of pandemic perhaps we can question how we can do things a little differently. Maybe a return to the ways of old will be the solution as the economy no longer allows for the great privileges we have become accustomed to. Have come to expect as our right. I’m often reminded of rural Indian villages. The old woman tending to a young baby on the steps of a mud brick house. Old men playing cards, smoking beedis, drinking chai, whilst kids play close by. I cannot idealize any tradition but shutting our elders away seems deeply informative of so much that is amiss in our society. Families need to pull together. Share resources. Ease the burden on our earth. If only it were that simple. 

Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death and loss and hiding from the basic truths of the natural world and of our own nature. – Jack Kornfield

More so than ever I feel immense gratitude for my life. I am acutely aware that I have great privilege to sit on the step of my home, on a late autumn afternoon. Birds sing in harmony, hot ginger tea steams in the cold air. Warm clothes and a wood burning stove ready to light. The vivid beauty of low light spilling through vibrant green all lit up in glory, suddenly fades as clouds stretch like wings across the sky. Its constantly shifting. Changing. Poetry in motion.

The teaching of impermanence rests by my side. 
All things arise, suffer change, And pass away. 
This is their nature. 
When you know this Nothing perturbs you, 
Nothing hurts you. 
You become still. It is easy.
God made all things.
There is only God.
When you know this, Desire melts away. Clinging to nothing, You become still.
A verse from the Ashtavakra Gita:

And tonight the most incredible sunset. A collage of unsurpassed beauty. The river reflecting swathes of golden glory. A solitary pelican. Stillness. A deep hush as the skies shift to blood red. Time slows for the passing day, a gentle pause, the in- between. Neti Neti. Not this. Not that.
The words of the Buddha: Be a light unto yourself.
May your light shine brightly.
Hari Om Tat Sat.

Gratitude
The long weeks of staying home have inspired a practice of gratitude.
The initial fear, the threat of the virus taking hold in our midst, the incredible good outcome for us that it has not, and what an understatement that is, has brought a deep appreciation for my life.
Suffering, trauma, wars, famine, neglect, abuse, climate change, floods, fires, have all been part of our collective world for as long as I can remember. It is suffice to say that there has been untold suffering in this world for as long as history has been recorded.
The onslaught of media attention of this global pandemic sometimes has flavours of: before this everything was fine, now it is not. However, regardless of any personal opinion Covid19 has certainly brought to our attention many aspects of society, our lives, our world, that are greatly out of balance. And possibly never before has there been the same cause of such widespread suffering.
This time of lockdown has highlighted that my tendency is to see life through the lens of ‘glass half empty’. What I lack, what could be better, comparisons to others, what is wrong. somewhat melancholic this view point has informed the narrative, to greater or lesser extent, that my mind creates as life unfolds. A commentary that dictates Ok, not Ok. welcome, not welcome, like dislike, yes, no, good bad. You and me.
The Sanskrit word Samsara can be interpreted as ‘to measure’. To weigh up our experience. The first noble truth of the Buddha is that life is suffering. Samsara.
The more I shift my gaze to appreciation I note how this influences my perception. That there is a possibility, just for now, that all is ok. Gratitude replaces grumblings. Eases us into the present, when peace can prevail.
I love to walk. Recently a friend and I discovered a path neither had walked before. The path led steeply downhill, through old forest. Eucalyptus mostly, dried curls of bark strewn in copper and bronze across the path. The forest was silent. Peppered with birds, a rustle in the tree tops as a breeze blew through. As the path levelled out a body of water appeared like a mirage before us. The surprise to find it there and the utter beauty of it anyway, reminded me of a sacred lake, a place where waters are blessed and worshiped, and the loudness of the crickets chirping their praise amplified the delight.
The path wound up through the trees, elaborate art works disfiguring the trunks in knots and burls. And I walked for all who cannot walk at this time. For my friend in lockdown in India who cannot leave her small apartment, who is grateful to have a terrace and a place to be outside. Who is grateful that the hot season has been kind this year and the power cuts have been less too. I walk for the man who lives down the street who has Parkinsons. I see him most days out with a carer, being pushed in his wheelchair or walking himself, holding onto the wheelchair, his gait unsteady. An effort to take each step. Then there is John. John is 94 and has no next of kin. His daily dawn walk to the war memorial near where he lives was the highlight of his day. His balance has become tricky and the strength in his legs seems to diminish every time I visit him. He walks with a wheelie walker now. Even around his flat, scared to fall like he has done several times of late.
My mother has always loved to walk. In her older age she joined a walking group in the Roman town where she now lives. As time wore on so did her joints. Crippling Arthritis leaving chronic pain that nothing seems to help with. Walking became more of a struggle, yet she would push on, leaning heavily on her walker frame. A swollen knee, pain in her lower back. it was painful to witness her daily struggle along the corridor to the lift, to the foyer downstairs of the care home she moved to late last year.
Nowadays she can’t even walk along the corridor. There is a case of Covid19 in her care home now. I find it so sad to consider not only my mom but all the residents isolated even more, unable to leave their rooms.
Care homes have been so much in the limelight of late. Why is it that we have allowed our elders to be cared for by staff who are underpaid? There are no easy answers of course. A myriad of reasons why family structure is as it is. But in this time of pandemic perhaps we can question how we can do things a little differently. Maybe a return to the ways of old will be the solution as the economy no longer allows for the great privileges we have become accustomed to. Have come to expect as our right. I’m often reminded of rural Indian villages. The old woman tending to a young baby on the steps of a mud brick house. Old men playing cards, smoking beedis, drinking chai, whilst kids play close by. I cannot idealize any tradition but shutting our elders away seems deeply informative of so much that is amiss in our society. Families need to pull together. Share resources. Ease the burden on our earth. If only it were that simple.

'Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death and loss and hiding from the basic truths of the natural world and of our own nature'. – Jack Kornfield

More so than ever I feel immense gratitude for my life. I am acutely aware that I have great privilege to sit on the step of my home, on a late autumn afternoon. Birds sing in harmony, hot ginger tea steams in the cold air. Warm clothes and a wood burning stove ready to light. The vivid beauty of low light spilling through vibrant green all lit up in glory, suddenly fades as clouds stretch like wings across the sky. Its constantly shifting. Changing. Poetry in motion.

The teaching of impermanence rests by my side.
All things arise, suffer change, And pass away.
This is their nature.
When you know this Nothing perturbs you,
Nothing hurts you.
You become still. It is easy.
God made all things.
There is only God.
When you know this, Desire melts away. Clinging to nothing, You become still.
A verse from the Ashtavakra Gita:

And tonight the most incredible sunset. A collage of unsurpassed beauty. The river reflecting swathes of golden glory. A solitary pelican. Stillness. A deep hush as the skies shift to blood red. Time slows for the passing day, a gentle pause, the in- between. Neti Neti. Not this. Not that.
The words of the Buddha: Be a light unto yourself.
May your light shine brightly.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
... Read MoreSee Less

1 month ago

How are you doing in these strange and turbulent times?
The weeks of staying home now take tentative steps toward opening doors. I feel the shift in energy as a loosening, a lifting unseen shroud. The fear and anxiety that was easy to be caught in as the unknown tsunami threatened to break against our shores, has rippled and smoothed.
Here in Australia we have been deeply fortunate. Perhaps the tragedy of the bush fires were enough for us to bear.
Returning home, staying home. It took a while for the edges to smooth with 2 teenagers isolating from their friends when socialisation is a high priority. We have slowed softened and blended together in a soup that will bring lasting memories. initially in the early days of our forced retreat I felt confronted to see certain dynamics, dysfunction, traits within this little family with none of the usual distraction and escape. The time has given us all rest, the chance to unwind and shake off the outside world to the degree we can allow. And time to re-bond, deepen connection, become woven together into a fabric of softer ease.
My mother is in a care home in the UK. My fierce grief that she might die during this time, alone, struggling to breath, without a loved one by her side, softened to acceptance. Acceptance that for sure she will die at some time in the next years given she turns 86 next month. I live on the other side of the world. To be removed from my mother at this time of her life, regardless of covid and the restrictions of travel, brings its own process. All the more appreciation for her being here now at the end of a telephone…and the opportunities to tell her that I love her. That she is doing so well. She too has come to appreciate the small things and has befriended a pigeon who she feeds on the window sill outside her window. Life has become simple and easy she tells me. How wonderful, I reply. How wonderful.
As we all begin to emerge from the collective cocoon of hibernation I wonder what we will bring with us from this time of self-retreat. Over these weeks I have become adept at The long lost art of contemplation, of doing very little other than appreciate the slant of light through the blue fig tree and the way a curious king parrot clings to a branch of the bougainvillea, his bright red and green colouring so exotic, his brief presence so pleasing.
I had to let go. Befriend the voice that nags in my ear…surely you should be doing something? Write a new book, sing a new song. I have been playing the piano, loosing myself to the keys that seem to produce such lovely sound. Re-evaluate the deeper sense of identity, of what does it mean if I have no agenda. What pressures have I put on myself to achieve something, be somebody, measured by a world system that as we see now, all around us, has run a rampant race that no one feels like a winner within. And all this with 2 teenagers at home navigating zoom classes and online learning, and still working part time. The privilege of working with the very elderly who anyway tend to spend long hours alone. With social connections greatly reduced their porous loneliness soaks me up like a sponge.
Rest is restorative for the nervous system. We are all tired. Deeply so. Tired of our relentless pursuit of unachievable goals, tired of our critics our nagging complaining minds, the general dis ease of a mind that rarely is truly quiet. Rest harbours the tranquil waters of presence. Present to the small miracles occurring all around.

But the undercurrent is there. And when my attention lags, or maybe for no reason at all, a downward pull shrinks me towards clouds of uncertainty, a gnarly fear at what lurks around the darkened corner.
“The future we face is utterly unprecedented, an impenetrable obscurity, a vast and dismal cloud of unknowing.”

Yet the future has always been unknown. We have been living with unrealistic dreams of an illusive utopia, entirely of our making, whilst all around mother earth weeps. The edge, the tipping point has never been sharper. It is for my kids that I fear the most. What will they encounter, endure?
Yet the sun keeps rising. Painting colours on the dawning horizon. Then departs again with a fanfare in the west. The ocean continues to surge against the sand, rising, falling, providing a carpet for the moon to scatter her pearls as she rises so huge and luminous on her night of fullness. How miraculous nature is.

There is a scripture called the Hsin Hsin Ming that I have been reading often lately. Here are a few verses:
‘The Great Way is not difficult
For those who have no preferences..

If you wish to see the truth
Then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Do not search for the truth
Only cease to cherish opinions.

One thing, all things;
Move among and intermingle,
Without distinction.
To live in this realization
Is to be without anxiety about non perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

After endless warm days with the skies so blue and a gracious divinity splashing light all around, the first chill of autumn reaches us. Leaves spiral in the winds and evening gathers early, bringing her quiet invitation to turn again towards home. Rest. We have had practice now for a beckoning winter of hibernation. And as life demands more from us the opportunity comes to sift through what is essential, and what can be left on the back burner, for now at least. How to remain steadfast in this world of samsara? It is the essence of all spiritual practise.

As Roshi Joan Sutherland writes:
Every moment, every circumstance, is another chance to experience things as they are, rather than as we wish or fear them to be.

Blessings to you all. Hari Om Tat Sat.
... Read MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Buddha Purnima....a super moon...gracing the heavens with light..... Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present momentImage attachment

Buddha Purnima....a super moon...gracing the heavens with light..... 'Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment' ... Read MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

'Messenger' by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
... Read MoreSee Less

3 months ago

“The Peace of Wild Things”
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.Image attachmentImage attachment

“The Peace of Wild Things”
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
... Read MoreSee Less

3 months ago

... Read MoreSee Less

4 months ago

'And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.'

- Kitty O'Meara
... Read MoreSee Less

4 months ago

And so, to sum up, when you get up in the morning, become the witness to everything that you see. Do not take anything for granted. Do not react to anything. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Every morning is a new beginning for you. As you get out of bed and you get dressed, realize who you are. "I am pure awareness, consciousness, I am Brahman, the absolute reality. Fire cannot burn me, water cannot drown me. For I was never born and I will never die. I am forever."

Remember the I-am you are referring to is not you or your body. It is consciousness itself. I-am forever. I have always been and I will always be. If you can start your day like this, then you will remember these things as you go through the day. When you go to work or wherever you go, you'll remember who you are, what you are, why you're here. And you'll do the right thing to awaken.

Robert Adams🌹
... Read MoreSee Less

4 months ago

Video image

a lovely interaction from the Mooji satsangs from Rishikesh....Hari om Tat Sat ... Read MoreSee Less

4 months ago

Comment on FB

Summer time. The long summer holidays over and 2020 rushes on. 2020..perfect vision. May we see life from the perspective of kindness compassion and transience. That all things come and go. Our summer has been blessed. Friends from Portugal, and lovely days of satsang, sangha, picnics, amidst the beauty of our surrounds here in the Byron shire. Gatherings for meditation, mantra,  prayers for mother earth, enhancing the healing that deep connection brings. Our annual pilgrimage to a remote and wild beach, a place of soul retrieval, simplicity, slowing right down. Driving past bush fire ravaged trees, already sprouting vivid green regrowth. Whilst all around road works and signs declare a 4.9 billion highway upgrade. The Bushfires that ravaged parts of Australia this summer, left us all deeply affected. Such immense devastation. Trauma and tragedy. It was heartening to witness wildlife in pristine surrounds. Way out on the rock platform exposed by the low tide, we watch a sea turtle swim slowly from the tide pool, and she popped her head out and looked at me with her big turtle eye. In the same pool a wobbegong shark, with beautiful bronze patterns, lazily swims laps. Turning on her back to scratch against the sandy bottom, where hermit crabs race and the water is crystal clear. Seaweed sways in the current and rock pools glisten with a thousand jewels. The bay rests in blue. deep vivid azure, a cobalt creation that stretches to infinity. 
Waking before dawn for sunrise and the ancient practise of agni hotra: offering ghee and rice to a small fire. The day unfurls from her blanket of night, with a gentle yawn of colour in the eastern sky. The ocean soft and bubbling at this hour, as light gathers on the horizon the promise of the sun heralds orange against the pale heaven. The flame is lit and as she dances before me tongues of orange and the fragrance of cow dung and ghee, the sun rises and golden light illuminates the damp sand, catches in the flecks of waves, shines on wet stones, a dancing reflection reaching like the hand of god to shore. 

And again the rains have come. Last evening we took the tinny and from the river mouth watched the storm clouds gather in a mottled array of charcoal greys. Such power. Such beauty. In deep appreciation of our mother earth. The miracle, the mystery, of creation. Hari Om Tat Sat. May we all live in peace.Image attachmentImage attachment

Summer time. The long summer holidays over and 2020 rushes on. 2020..perfect vision. May we see life from the perspective of kindness compassion and transience. That all things come and go. Our summer has been blessed. Friends from Portugal, and lovely days of satsang, sangha, picnics, amidst the beauty of our surrounds here in the Byron shire. Gatherings for meditation, mantra, prayers for mother earth, enhancing the healing that deep connection brings. Our annual pilgrimage to a remote and wild beach, a place of soul retrieval, simplicity, slowing right down. Driving past bush fire ravaged trees, already sprouting vivid green regrowth. Whilst all around road works and signs declare a 4.9 billion highway upgrade. The Bushfires that ravaged parts of Australia this summer, left us all deeply affected. Such immense devastation. Trauma and tragedy. It was heartening to witness wildlife in pristine surrounds. Way out on the rock platform exposed by the low tide, we watch a sea turtle swim slowly from the tide pool, and she popped her head out and looked at me with her big turtle eye. In the same pool a wobbegong shark, with beautiful bronze patterns, lazily swims laps. Turning on her back to scratch against the sandy bottom, where hermit crabs race and the water is crystal clear. Seaweed sways in the current and rock pools glisten with a thousand jewels. The bay rests in blue. deep vivid azure, a cobalt creation that stretches to infinity.
Waking before dawn for sunrise and the ancient practise of agni hotra: offering ghee and rice to a small fire. The day unfurls from her blanket of night, with a gentle yawn of colour in the eastern sky. The ocean soft and bubbling at this hour, as light gathers on the horizon the promise of the sun heralds orange against the pale heaven. The flame is lit and as she dances before me tongues of orange and the fragrance of cow dung and ghee, the sun rises and golden light illuminates the damp sand, catches in the flecks of waves, shines on wet stones, a dancing reflection reaching like the hand of god to shore.

And again the rains have come. Last evening we took the tinny and from the river mouth watched the storm clouds gather in a mottled array of charcoal greys. Such power. Such beauty. In deep appreciation of our mother earth. The miracle, the mystery, of creation. Hari Om Tat Sat. May we all live in peace.
... Read MoreSee Less

5 months ago

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Gratitude
The long weeks of staying home have inspired a practice of gratitude.
The initial fear, the threat of the virus taking hold in our midst, the incredible good outcome for us that it has not, and what an understatement that is, has brought a deep appreciation for my life. 
Suffering, trauma, wars, famine, neglect, abuse, climate change, floods, fires, have all been part of our collective world for as long as I can remember. It is suffice to say that there has been untold suffering in this world for as long as history has been recorded.
The onslaught of media attention of this global pandemic sometimes has flavours of: before this everything was fine, now it is not. However, regardless of any personal opinion Covid19 has certainly brought to our attention many aspects of society, our lives, our world, that are greatly out of balance. And possibly never before has there been the same cause of such widespread suffering. 
This time of lockdown has highlighted that my tendency is to see life through the lens of ‘glass half empty’. What I lack, what could be better, comparisons to others, what is wrong. somewhat melancholic this view point has informed the narrative, to greater or lesser extent, that my mind creates as life unfolds. A commentary that dictates Ok, not Ok. welcome, not welcome, like dislike, yes, no, good bad. You and me. 
The Sanskrit word Samsara can be interpreted as ‘to measure’. To weigh up our experience. The first noble truth of the Buddha is that life is suffering. Samsara.
The more I shift my gaze to appreciation I note how this influences my perception. That there is a possibility, just for now, that all is ok. Gratitude replaces grumblings. Eases us into the present, when peace can prevail.
I love to walk. Recently a friend and I discovered a path neither had walked before. The path led steeply downhill, through old forest. Eucalyptus mostly, dried curls of bark strewn in copper and bronze across the path. The forest was silent. Peppered with birds, a rustle in the tree tops as a breeze blew through. As the path levelled out a body of water appeared like a mirage before us. The surprise to find it there and the utter beauty of it anyway, reminded me of a sacred lake, a place where waters are blessed and worshiped, and the loudness of the crickets chirping their praise amplified the delight. 
The path wound up through the trees, elaborate art works disfiguring the trunks in knots and burls. And I walked for all who cannot walk at this time. For my friend in lockdown in India who cannot leave her small apartment, who is grateful to have a terrace and a place to be outside. Who is grateful that the hot season has been kind this year and the power cuts have been less too. I walk for the man who lives down the street who has Parkinsons. I see him most days out with a carer, being pushed in his wheelchair or walking himself, holding onto the wheelchair, his gait unsteady. An effort to take each step. Then there is John. John is 94 and has no next of kin. His daily dawn walk to the war memorial near where he lives was the highlight of his day. His balance has become tricky and the strength in his legs seems to diminish every time I visit him. He walks with a wheelie walker now. Even around his flat, scared to fall like he has done several times of late.
 My mother has always loved to walk. In her older age she joined a walking group in the Roman town where she now lives. As time wore on so did her joints. Crippling Arthritis leaving chronic pain that nothing seems to help with. Walking became more of a struggle, yet she would push on, leaning heavily on her walker frame. A swollen knee, pain in her lower back. it was painful to witness her daily struggle along the corridor to the lift, to the foyer downstairs of the care home she moved to late last year. 
Nowadays she can’t even walk along the corridor. There is a case of Covid19 in her care home now. I find it so sad to consider not only my mom but all the residents isolated even more, unable to leave their rooms. 
Care homes have been so much in the limelight of late. Why is it that we have allowed our elders to be cared for by staff who are underpaid? There are no easy answers of course. A myriad of reasons why family structure is as it is. But in this time of pandemic perhaps we can question how we can do things a little differently. Maybe a return to the ways of old will be the solution as the economy no longer allows for the great privileges we have become accustomed to. Have come to expect as our right. I’m often reminded of rural Indian villages. The old woman tending to a young baby on the steps of a mud brick house. Old men playing cards, smoking beedis, drinking chai, whilst kids play close by. I cannot idealize any tradition but shutting our elders away seems deeply informative of so much that is amiss in our society. Families need to pull together. Share resources. Ease the burden on our earth. If only it were that simple. 

'Ours is a society of denial that conditions us to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying our insecurity, fighting pain, death and loss and hiding from the basic truths of the natural world and of our own nature'. – Jack Kornfield

More so than ever I feel immense gratitude for my life. I am acutely aware that I have great privilege to sit on the step of my home, on a late autumn afternoon. Birds sing in harmony, hot ginger tea steams in the cold air. Warm clothes and a wood burning stove ready to light. The vivid beauty of low light spilling through vibrant green all lit up in glory, suddenly fades as clouds stretch like wings across the sky. Its constantly shifting. Changing. Poetry in motion.

The teaching of impermanence rests by my side. 
All things arise, suffer change, And pass away. 
This is their nature. 
When you know this Nothing perturbs you, 
Nothing hurts you. 
You become still. It is easy.
God made all things.
There is only God.
When you know this, Desire melts away. Clinging to nothing, You become still.
A verse from the Ashtavakra Gita:

And tonight the most incredible sunset. A collage of unsurpassed beauty. The river reflecting swathes of golden glory. A solitary pelican. Stillness. A deep hush as the skies shift to blood red. Time slows for the passing day, a gentle pause, the in- between. Neti Neti. Not this. Not that.
The words of the Buddha: Be a light unto yourself.
May your light shine brightly.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
'Messenger' by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
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