25 March 2019

Delhi, Buddha relics, models and markets - a visual essay

New Delhi is an almost beautiful city. It is filled with wide boulevards, countless trees and luxuriant public gardens filled with flowers. There are grand monuments and a wonderful culture; so why only “almost”?

Ruth and I came as guests of the Brahma Kumaris to attend a major conference on Spiritual Response to Critical Times. So this week, another Indian pictorial essay featuring why “almost beautiful” - including a visit to a glorious, old time market; but first - and in the light of the Christchurch tragedy, some timely words from one who knew…

               Thought for the day

     Darkness cannot drive out darkness
     Only light can do that.

     Hate cannot drive out hate
     Only love can do that

                       Martin Luther King

So this is the problem.
The air in Delhi can be difficult to breath.

Sometimes, the beautiful trees on the other side of the road can be difficult to see.

Delhi is reputedly the most polluted capital in the world.

One of its satellites, Gurgaon (or Gurugram) was recently voted the most polluted city in the world.

So there are plenty of trees, but to keep up with the smog, they would need to be growing in high rises like the people, or in multiple layers like the freeways.

We were fortunate to stay with relatives of Melbourne friends and they took us into one of the old style markets, Chandni Chowk.

The market is crowded and full of people and colour and delightful spicy smells  - and the odd not so delightful sights and smells - just enough to keep it interesting…

But also, myriads of fascinating small shops


      With many inviting and beguiling
     alleyways to explore

Wise to pick your toilet. The locals prefer the ones that are good for bowel health, but some may rather seek out the Western version

                    Pause for lunch?

The food is terrific, although avoiding chillies and hot spices can be a challenge

       Consult with the cook?

Maybe you prefer to bargain for the raw ingredients?

                Leave an offering?

     Take one of many opportunities
      for an arty picture?

Look up and no, it is not the result
of the All India spaghetti factory exploding,
this is Asian wiring in the streets at it best.

Need a new connection?


Simply run another wire…

We moved on amidst some fairly crowded traffic.

      Push bikes everywhere

Or a classic tuc tuc if you prefer

And some really classy transport vehicles; I want one of these!

People work hard here;
making a living can be quite a struggle

   And then we came across a model
   promoting the next best thing…

        So Ruth did her own modeling

We dropped in to the Delhi National Museum and marveled at the Buddha relics.

These are reputedly genuine pieces of bone gathered from the Buddha’s cremation.

They have been enshrined in gold and diamonds by the Thai Government and the thing that really puzzled me was why this shrine has not become a major pilgrimage site - very few people there while we were.

Seems not so many know about this…

In the evening our hosts took us to an out door sound and light show.

Only problem… no one told us before the show began that the lights had been out of action for 2 weeks.

We were so taken by it all we stayed for the sound - a great historical tale of Delhi’s genesis and many incarnations over the years.

When it finished, we were the only 4 left. Highly memorable and great fun, just like all of our Delhi experience.

Next week, a report on the groundbreaking Conference we spoke at
- Spiritual Response to Critical Times.

05 March 2019

Time poor? Need a solution?

We are all “time poor” now, and some of us are getting poorer. What does this actually mean?

It means that we are trying to do too much too quickly, that we try and do two or more things simultaneously, that we do things in a shoddier and less careful way, that we feel a tension in our body, that we are more likely to get a number of stress-related illnesses, that we tend to blame ourselves or someone else for what is happening to us, and all because it feels like we are all trying to find more time or trying to escape from the feeling of being “under the pump”. Even just listing the problems seems exhausting!
So this week, in a guest blog from Ruth - the problem and a potential solution, but first

         Thought for the day

What can we gain by sailing to the moon 
If we are not able to cross the abyss 
That separates us from ourselves? 

This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, 
And without it, 
All the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

                         Thomas Merton

The solution? 

Well in the immediate sense, we desire a solution and everyone wants to sell us something.

Some promote a material goods like a machine that can do it all. How about a Thermomix?

Others push the next level App or faster more efficient software that supposedly speeds everything up. Now we can buy things with one tap on the mobile.

Some encourage us to take breaks and escape from it all. How about a cruises or a retreat holiday in some exotic location?

Many opt for what seems like a simple answer and go straight for a drug offering to alleviate the symptoms. Prescription, legal (alcohol, Panadol etc) or elicit??? Others want to teach us to meditate so we can treat the feelings of discomfort more naturally and maybe get some relief.

So, the challenge is this

Desire and capitalism is a very dangerous mixture.

The Buddhists say that this world of ours is actually a manifestation of the desire realm. Capitalism is about making money out of selling something. So we have now got a rapid escalation in all the things we can buy, how we can buy, with what we can buy and ever increasing speed with which we are doing the buying.

On the surface of things there are competing industries – like it looks like the drug companies are competing with the lifestyle industries, and the other sectors like education and housing.

But it is beyond the capability of any individual or community to actually change the direction our world is heading.

In the 40 years since David Suzuki came to Australia and warned of the dire effects of over-population we have had an IVF industry develop which is giving us one baby for every 20 babies born and many more of these babies are surviving better than ever before. We have seen Australia’s population double.

Since Al Gore put out “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006 we regularly hear “climate change” is still being debated as being a worthwhile matter to address.

Even great people cannot seem to stop the addiction of this global civilisation of ours to more speed, more stuff, more people, more rubbish. Even our leaders with integrity seem to be floundering. Leaders with no integrity show no interest in these massive issues which will affect their own offspring.

It takes us back to the prophetic song of Bob Dylan’s Everything is Broken to which I offer another verse :

Broken democracy, broken education,

Broken atmosphere, broken oceans,

Broken traditions, broken families,

People zoned-out from broken drugs,

Ain't no use jiving

Ain't no use joking

Everything is broken

And in the mean time we will keep carrying on as if there is hope on this material level. Maybe it was always like that, but then I am pretty sure there are more people living in appalling conditions than ever before.

We are the lucky ones who are just paddling as fast as we can, and getting some temporary relief from nature, medications, retreats, holidays and the irrepressible optimism that is a requirement for being a decent human being.

Depressing ? Maybe…..

But, not for me. Because I think this may force us to recognise that if we are going to have any chance of living a fulfilling life we need to look to a deeper meaning than just the world we recognise through scientific investigation. That science is unlikely to save the planet, or our schools or our hospitals; that the current trajectory just leads to greater and greater complexity and expense; all necessitating that we work more and speed up.

But we are paddling as fast as we can, aren’t we? Maybe we need some time out ...

Plain logic and common sense tells me the answer to having a better life, a more meaningful life, a more enjoyable life, is to take a real interest in knowing who and what we really are.

And what “on earth” we are doing here on this planet together.

Yes, you and me.

And to dedicate some special time to look into the truth the spiritual traditions offer - that there is in fact a magical and infinite dimension to ourselves that has power to create and transform.

That this truth defies simple instincts and matters of survival , and cannot be bought or sold.

Bigger than us, yet part of us.

 Invisible, and yet can it be known by its impact. A truth so hard to grasp intellectually that it slips our of any description that is offered…and yet the amazing thing is they tell us we can know it more and more, to a depth that is unfathomable.

So, it seems to me that we could at least slow down occasionally, enough to notice, what really matters and take an interest in it. And then when our life is over, we will not be left bewildered, and wondering “what was that all about?”

The real solution is in learning to sit within our own silence ...

And doing that regularly.

All else will follow ...


Ruth will lead a seven day meditation retreat pre-Easter with Melissa Borich that is highly recommended. Ruth has asked me to come in one evening for a Q and A session that I am happy to do, so maybe I will see you there?

 Ruth is also leading another meditation retreat at the Living Centre in September as well as two healing based retreats with Prof Sanjay Raghav.

Details are on the Foundation’s website. Do yourself a favour…


RECLAIMING JOY - April 12 - 18 2019, Yarra Valley Living Centre.

Details - call the Foundation - 03 5967 1730 or link here for DETAILS

The legend of Meditation in the Forest lives on!

This classic 7 day meditation retreat is on again for yet another pre-Easter.

In 2019 it will be lead by Ruth Gawler and Melissa Borich.

Some will have had the good fortune to have shared time with Melissa in some of our previous retreats. Melissa is a highly accomplished yoga teacher with a wonderful capacity to tailor yoga for beginners or the advanced. Melissa has also trained with me as a meditation teacher and is one of the people I highly value and recommend.

These two women will present a wonderful retreat - lucky you if you get to be there :)