St Beuno’s (01/11/-08/11)
* Instructions to the Cook -Zen Master’s Recipe for a Life that Matters, Christof Wolf (d. & prod., Loyola Jesuits, Berlin), while cleaning, you will notice what you have – you cook with whatever you have, Indra’s net – not for itself; cooking is for others, … Interelatedness
* (2/11) The Secret Life of Beas – Gina Prince-Bythenwood (d., 2008), Boawright sisters accept little Lilly in to their home in exchange of her & maid’s help in home chores & bee-keeping
* The Reader – Stephen Daldry (d., 2008), Kate Winslet, Fiennes, Kroas – A teenage boy’s affairs with an elderly woman (Nazi) – Nuremberg trials & this boy the lawyer – distinction between good & bad
* (3/11) Tuesdays with Morrie – (Oprah Winfry – prod; Mick Jackson – d.) – Sports journalist makes time for his ailing sociology professor – Tuesdays dedicated to him, inspite of his busy schedule – he learns from Morrie.
* (4/11) – Lay Hawke – Richard Donnor (d.) – Haur & M. Pfifer
* Life of Pie – Ang Lee (d.) – Suraj Sharma & Irrfan Khan & Tabu – in search of spirituality
* (5/11) Amazing Grace – Michael Apted (d.) – Ivan Gruffield, Benedict Cumberbarch, Romola Garai – Abolition of slave trade (1784-1814) in the UK – MP William Wilberforce fights for the bill; John Newton – PM & friend Willilam Pitt & others help vs. fierce opposition
* King’s Speech – historical drama
* 6/11 Des Hommes et de dieux (of Gods and Men, 2011) – Xavier Beauvois (d.) – Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale – the monastery Notre-Dame d’Atlas, Algeria: 1996 – low contrast lighting – mood poignancy, paths
‘when do you know you are in love?’ asks a girl with a Brother – ‘feel the Presence, but the heart is in turmoil,’ tells the Brother
Dinner sequence – joy of being together.
* A Late Quartet – Yaron Zilberman (d., 2002) – Philip Seymour Hoffman, C. Walker, C. Catherine.
* (7/11) Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009) – Morgan Freeman & Matt Damon – Nelson Mandela’s struggle to lead just-freed South Africa to harmony through rugby (1995 world cup) – initial anxieties of the whites and resentment of the blacks, vs. Mandela’s compassionate approach.
* Fly Home Away – Carrol.
* le petit monde de Don Camillo/ the little world of Don Camillo (French) – Julien Duvivier (1951) – two former world war champion friends: one a city mayor & the other a vicar of the same parish; both friends but ideological enemies – their friendship & politics.
* Partie de campagne/ A Day in the Country (French short)- Jean Renoir – a family goes to countryside for picnic where the daughter meets a man – the family returns many years later – lyrical
* Angels and Insects – Philip Hass (d.) – with Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott thomas & Patsy Kensit – elite British biologists & an ordinary, brilliant student joins him; welcomed by all except the son – marries his daughter – story of natural-life quest & teaching vs. incest – (visual poetry)
* Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen (d.) – Rachel McAdams as fiancee Inez, Owen Wilson as Gil the Hollywood screenwriter in Paris, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard; Gil goes to Paris (the city of memories) to write his novel – meet Inez with her family – falls in love with night Paris
* la cage aux folles/ the bird cage (French) – Francis Veber (d.) – Ugo Tognazzi & Michel Serrault; a gay family owns a dance club; the son falls in love with a prominent public servant (morality commission)’s daughter – they come to see the house of the pretending ‘diplomatic’ – and goof up – comedy
* le diner de cons – Francis Veber (d.; French) with Thierry Lhermitte & Jacque Villeret – bringing the most spectacular idiot for their Wednesday party Brochant finds one
* Amelie – Jean-Pierre Jeunet (d.) – bar girl Amelie finding her happiness/love while helping others
*The Social Network – David Fincher (d.) & Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), with Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella – setting up of Facebook by two Harvard boys (Zuckerberg & friend) – legalities
*Junebug – Phil Morrison (d.), with Amy Adams as heavily pregnant Ashley, Embeth Davidtz (art dealer Madeleine); dealing with Madeleine’s home, and Ashley’s approach; Junebug unborn baby.
* Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – John Madden (d.) with Nicolas Cage as Captain Anton Corelli, Penelope Cruz as Pelagia & John Hurt as Mandra? – Italy occupied Greece/ Albania, with German forces; final earthquake
* The Bucket List – Rob Reiner (d.) with Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson (2007) – living the last moments of their lives joyfully – finding joy & giving joy.
15 Dec. This is the second part of the Maun Sadhana developed by Guruji Pithekar. A few months ago I had published the first part – it received good response from the netizens.
Guruji has been kind enough to put his spiritual experience in writing for the benifit of those seeking spiritual light. Do use it.
A Path to Inner Freedom.
Maun Sadhana is a meditation based on Pranayam, Vipassana and Centring prayer. It is a method to lead the sadhak to contemplative prayer, prayer of silence, prayer of the heart. It is not just Vipassana, but goes far beyond Vipassana.
We have some assumptions of this method. These assumptions will affirm our need to attend to our inner life.
a. I ask for moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in
hand I will finish afterwards. ( Tagore, Gitanjali,5)
b. The people who study others are wise but those who study themselves are
enlightened. (Robin Sharma, The monk who sold his Ferrari, p. 74)
c. If you really want to improve your outer world, whether this means your
health, your relationships or your finances, you must first improve your
inner world. (Robin Sharma, The monk who… p. 94)
d. What lies behind you and what lies in front of you is nothing compared to
what lies within you. ( Robin Sharma, The monk…p. 91)
e. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us
becomes better too. ( Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.158)
f. Everything that is thought and expressed in words, is one sided, only half
the truth, it all lacks totality, completeness, and unity. ( Herman Hesse,
Our Theme could be expressed in the following words.
1. “non resistance, non judgment, and non attachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.” ( Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, p.225)
2. “The measure of progress in the spiritual life is the transcending of self-love, self-will and self-interest.” ( Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, no.189, rendering of Parmanand Diwarkar, s. j)
“My progress in living out my life in Xt will be in proportion to the surrender of my own self-love and of my own will and interests.” ( Spir. Ex. No. 189, rendering of D. Fleming, s. j.)
“ In contemplation a new perspective appears: union, harmony, reconciliation, love.” ( Frans Jalics, s. j., Called to share in His life, p.103)
So this will be the refrain of our retreat.
Pranayam is a systematic method of breathing. It is rhythmic and controlled breathing. The actual proportion is 1:4:2:1. But the simpler proportion would be 1:2:2:1. That is to say, if I take 3 seconds to breathe in (Purak), I should hold the breath for 6 seconds ( antar Kumbhak ), then breathe out for 6 seconds (Rechak), and again hold the breath out for 3 seconds (bahya Kumbhak). First just breathe in and breathe out. Do not count. Then breathe in, hold your breath, and breathe out. After that breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out and hold your breath out. Do not breathe in immediately. After holding the breath out, try to breathe in slowly, not quickly.
We need to focus on the fourth step, that is, bahya kumbhak. As you hold your breath out, you remain without air for a while. If one can manage without breath for a while, one could manage without many things in life. For survival only one thing is essential, breath. Nothing is absolute. Only God is absolute.
Now while we focus on the bahya kumbhak we should focus on the stillness of the body. This is the time when the body is most still. There is a natural gap between breathing in and out. We should try to increase this gap consciously and deliberately. We will come back to this stillness later on.
Now we should come back to gentle breathing in and out. Breathe in with minimum effort and breathe out without any effort. This could be called active and passive breathing. Later on we will define prayer as ‘actively passive’ or ‘passively active’. When we arrive at this effortless breathing, we should move into the act of faith. This effortless breathing will create certain amount of harmony within and without.
AN ACT OF FAITH:
Breathe as smoothly as you can. Only when you are quiet should you make an act of faith. It is a simple act of faith. This is taken from the Cloud of Unknowing. One has to be aware of God’s presence within and without. That I am in God and God is in me. That I am in God is the only reality of our lives. Every thing exists in God the Creator. “On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you” (Jn.14:20)
This act of Faith will lead us to a sense awe and wonder of creation and to the wonder of my own being. A sense of gratitude to the vital organs of my body: the lungs, the heart, the kidneys, the liver etc. They function silently and in harmony. Secondly a sense of gratitude to all the elements that sustain me. The air, the water, the earth, the fire and space; they all are within me and without me.
After spending some time in silence, we should move to vipassana.
Vipassana means seeing, seeing whatever is happening to our bodies. We must see all the aches and pains and any kind of sensations in our bodies as they rise and fall. It is easy to be aware of aches and pains. But it is not so easy to be aware of our sensations. We are not used to see them. We tend to ignore them. Or rather they do not count for our practical purposes. They do not affect our day to day functioning. But they belong to our inner life. They rise from our depth. So it is of utmost importance that we pay attention to them. They indicate things that lie deep within us. Any sense of itching, pricking, poking, a sense of heaviness, lightness, expansion, contraction, losing balance, uprooting, numbness, actual perspiration or a sense of perspiration, or whatever is happening or one thinks that it is happening, all this is a part of our inner being. And we must pay attention to this. This is an indication of things that are buried deep within us. The events or incidents that are not integrated remain as negativities or knots in our body-mind system. They appear either on the surface of the skin or below the surface.
We should remain neutral to these sensations, aches and pains. Do not react either mentally or physically. Mental reactions will be shown by either Craving or Aversions. There should be no desire to get rid of this discomfort in the body or a desire to continue a good feeling within. As they rise, they fall. As they appear, they disappear. Everything is Anitya, that is, not permanent, not eternal, but passing. Do not analyze or justify any aches, pains, or sensations.
I AM A PROBLEM AND I AM A SOLUTION. I am the cause of whatever is happening within my body; and I am the solution. This is done without having any kind of desire to get rid of these sensations, aches and pains. We have to watch our Craving and Aversion. They can be very subtle. By desiring to get rid of anything that is happening within the body, we may create further negativities. Vipassana tells us not to hold on even to good feelings or consolations.
Keep on scanning your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. Just be aware of body sensations. Do not linger too long on any sensation, ache or pain.
“This is a practical way to examine the reality of one’s own body and mind, to uncover and solve whatever problems lie hidden there, to develop unused potential, and to channel it for one’s own good and the good of others.” ( William Hart, The Art of Living, Introduction, p.6)
Vipassana is knowing, awareness. It is at the level of the body and mind system. We must now move beyond body-mind system. So from knowing we move into unknowing, from awareness to depth awareness, from body to the Spirit, to our own depth, to our Centre.
The author of the Cloud of Unknowing posits two concepts before us: the cloud of unknowing and the cloud of forgetting. His theory is that God is Love. And He/She cannot be known by concepts, images, thoughts, fantasies or imagination. So we have to give up all thinking and remain still in the cloud of unknowing. Every thought, concept, imagination, fantasy, consolation, inspiration and even desire to pray to or for, even a desire to adore God, all this must be thrown into the cloud of forgetting. We must remain with our naked self in the cloud of unknowing. Every time we realize we are somewhere else we must come back and remain steady in the cloud of unknowing. This is an act of love. Every time we turn away from the creatures and turn to God the Creator, we consciously choose God.
Whenever I come back to my centre, to my stillness, this stillness becomes my cloud of unknowing. God is my Centre. God is defined as having Centre every where and periphery nowhere. When I break my ties with the material world, I strengthen my eternal tie with God. My conceptual process ceases. So this becomes my prayer of the Heart, prayer of Faith, prayer of Silence.
As soon as I realize that I am somewhere else, I must come back to Here and Now. We struggle to remain Here and Now. Our mind tends to take us either in the past or in the future. But this very struggle to be in the present becomes our prayer. We choose not the consolations of God but the God of all consolations. Remain actively passive and passively active. Be gentle with your erring mind when you bring it to here and now. Fight against sleepiness. This will strengthen our consciousness of God, making us contemplatives in action.
Psalm 46:11, “Be still, know that I am God.”
“One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (ps.84:11)
“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is with you in secret.” (Mt.6:6)
The only way to pray continually and be conscious of God is to cultivate stillness within. “But the hour is coming and is even now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worship the Father wants.” (Jn.4:23)
In stillness, at the centre, we receive strength and wisdom. This is the strength of the Spirit and wisdom of the heart.
“No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge; but each one, in a different way, can grasp Him fully through love…And this marvelous work of love goes on forever, for He whom we love is eternal.” (The Cloud of Unknowing, ch.4)
This will bring us back to our theme of non resistance, non judgment, non attachment; or to the transcending of, surrender of, self love, self will and self interests. A person dead to the world is fully alive to God and to the world.
FORMULAE OF INSPIRATION: to be recited before the Maitri Bhavana.
1. Today and just for today, I shall be satisfied with, and be grateful to, whatever happens.
2. Today and just for today, I shall show compassion to my neighbour, and respect every being and
3. “Deep at the centre of my being there is an infinite well of love. I now allow this love to flow to
the surface. It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness and my whole being; and
radiates out from me in all directions and returns to me multiplied. The more love I use and give,
the more I have to give, the supply is endless. The use of love makes me feel good. It is an
expression of my inner joy.” ( Louis Hay)
MAITRI BHAVANA, Mangal Maitri:
We are called to be divine. In order to be divine we need to cross the boundaries of time and space. We need to cross the boundaries that we create by our knowledge, experience, likes and dislikes. Maitri bhavana is a unique way of exercising our divinity.
This Universal prayer of friendship will allow us to send positive vibrations to all. Whatever we receive in our meditation, we must share it with the whole of creation. We need to be positive towards all creatures. The unconditional love of God which we experience in our depth will lead us to Compassion (Karuna), Fearlessness ( Nirbhay), Inner Freedom ( Anasakti), Harmony and Peace (Ekata, Shanti).
May my experience of God’s unconditional love fill my heart with compassion, compassion towards all beings. May all beings be filled with compassion for one another.
May God’s unfailing love lead me to fearlessness and prudence. Fearlessness to face the truth and reality of my life. May all beings be filled with fearlessness and prudence.
May God’s abiding love fill my heart with inner freedom, freedom from all attachments. Attachments to persons, situations, things and even to my views and experiences. May all people long for this inner freedom.
May God’s constant love create in me a longing for harmony leading to peace. May all beings learn to live in harmony and peace.
SO ALL SHALL BE WELL, AND ALL SHALL BE WELL AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS SHALL BE WELL. ( Juliana of Norwich).
Sabaka mangal, sabaka mangal, sabaka mangal hoi re;
Tera mangal, tera mangal, tera mangal hoi re;
Jan jan mangal, jan jan mangal, jan jan sukhia hoi re.
Joseph M.Pithekar, s.j.
Mo. 09422 534 691
P.O. Vasai Road,
M.S. 401 202.
I conduct these meditations in a group during an 8 day retreat. Each meditation should be given at least 35 to 45 minutes. This structure need not be followed once one acquires certain amount of spontaneity, or ease in this meditation.
Formulated on 04.12.08
1. Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing, New York, Image books,(1973)
2. Hart William, The Art of Living, Igatpuri, VRI,(1987)
3. Pennington Basil, Centring Prayer, ST PAULS, Bandra(1998)
4. Tolle Eckhart, A New Earth, London, Penguin Books,(2005)
5. Osho, Dhyan-Sutra (Hindi), Pune, Osho International Foundation,(1980)
6. Nouwen Henri, The way of the Heart, New York, The Seabury Press, (1980)
7. Maloney George,s.j., Prayer of the Heart, Notre Dam, Ave Maria Press,(1981)