The time to move…

small bird waiting to move When it is time to move on in your life, it is not always an easy thing to do.  Ties are there, connections are there – a feeling of leaving family behind – especially when the life has been intense and committed and full of heart.  But even in that circumstance there are occasions when it is known that it is the time to move.

And even the time to move may not have a clear destination in front of it.. it may not have a shape yet – a place even – it is at this time just a feeling – a knowing that movement is needed.

picture of skyline in Cambodia

I have done just that and left my dearly beloved Indian family behind me – and flown to Cambodia – a new city – new country, different food, strange sounds, smells and places.  To wait and watch and do just what is arising under my nose for now.

Today I have been here a week – and today I was fortunate to be sent some words from my spiritual Master Osho that resonated so beautifully for me to assist me to simply appreciate where I am and the waiting and watching time:

Osho is talking to his friend Shambhu Babu who asks him:

“What are you going to do? – because I don’t think that you can remain in the university as a professor for long.”

Osho said, “Shambhu Babu, I never plan. If I drop out of this work I hope some other work will be there waiting for me. If God can find work for all kinds of people, animals, trees, I think He will be able to find some kind of work for me too. And if he cannot find any it is his problem, not mine.”

He laughed and said, “Yes, that is perfectly right. Yes, it is His problem if He is there, but the point is: if He is not there, then what?”

Osho said, “I don’t see any problem for me then either. If there is no work I can take a deep breath and say goodbye to existence. It is enough proof that I am not needed. And if I am not needed then I am not going to impose myself on this poor existence.”

I was delighted to read this – my mind had been nagging at me to create goals – to make a plan – to visualise myself in my next place – to do all of the things that my old world of ‘business management’ and ‘creating my own reality’ had taught me.

No – stop – don’t plan – do what is under your nose – the Universe has its own plan for you Shazar – it is simply the time to be available and to watch the signs.  Thank you again Osho for your timely assistance!!

Mother Earth, Water, Life and Death

Last week two trees lost their lives in service to our Mother Earth.

I felt the pain of the trees as they were chopped and hacked to the ground.  I was so angry with the wood cutter – and everyone here yelled at him and told him to stop.  But it was too late for those two trees – their lives finished by the chop of the blunt axe – digging deep into their core – they won’t die today – but they will die – and will no doubt be helped along the path to falling by the bite of another axe when we are not looking.  To be dragged down the hillside and used in the cooking fires of the villagers.

Picture of a hacked tree dying

I wanted to cry – but suddenly there was no point to the tears – only a point to action.  If those trees died and I cried .. what changes?  But if I am spurred to action – then meaning comes from their loss.

In my move to action first I thought to complain to the forestry department – but my Indian friends just laughed at that idea – after all what was our forestry department really going to do?  In their opinion simply nothing as they seem to do all along.

So my next action was to seek out others who were looking to help our land and I found something very interesting.

Picture of the method of recharging borewellBore well recharging.  The lights started to go on.

Water – the life blood of our Mother Earth – water so scarce here in this dry season.. that we have to truck it in every few days to keep our children supplied for all our many needs.
We have two bore wells.. one totally dry and the other produces only a little water each day.  But imagine if we can channel some of the tremendous water run off from the rainy season – if we can recharge or refill the underground aquifer – using nature’s place to store our water – then we can have a plentiful supply all year round.

From that moment things moved very fast and today less than a week later, Sikandar Meeranayak of the Sankalpa Rural Development Society came to speak with us.  We quickly gathered some of the local farmers together and he explained the simple methods they have perfected to make this happen.

Borewell recharge talk

And now as I sat in his talk, I began to see the reason why the trees died.  They had not died in vain – for their lives had triggered a chain of events that will lead to our children being able to grow their garden and to have quality food.  And the chain will not stop there as the farmers in our valley see the difference it makes to our water supply – they too may find the way to recharge the water deep in the earth.

We are going to store our water not in a big tank, but deep in the ground where Mother Earth already has the ‘tanks’ in a perfect place – cool, filtered, clean and bigger than any tank that we can build above ground – no evaporation from the sunshine, just waiting there for us to bring it to the surface – and to replenish it every time the huge and powerful rainy season monsoonal deluge comes.

Picture of Shazar and Sikander looking at the bore
What a simple an beautiful solution.

How grateful am I to the death of the two trees who gave their lives to trigger this discovery.

And in awe of the symmetry that surrounds me when I open my eyes to see.

When Rubbish Makes Me Cry

My tears are close
just below the surface of my being
hovering in the wings
trying to break through
what is this hypersensitivity?
this pain of being that hovers so near?
its triggered by such small things -
the child tossing the plastic over the wall
the dustbin right beside him – does he think this land is a dustbin, does he think at all of our Mother the Earth?

How is it to be able to explain this to children, to the adults of this land, to anyone… how to explain when the words are not there.. the language is not mine?

How to give lessons in mime?

Where to begin in this overwhelm place -
the feeling to run – to leap back to the safety of the sterile lands
but closing my eyes changes nothing
ignoring the pains – pretending they are not there
makes no wave
the ripple never reaches the shore
the Mother cries.

Closing my eyes
not seeing
not hearing
not feeling
no answer

no change
stuck, the boredom washes over me, the nothing in my heart, the loss the heartbreak the raw wound of the Mother trashed – crying under the plastic.

But pulsing deep still there, always deep always in harmony – always in flow – to feel that – to connect – to dive deep – past the pain into the womb of the Mother – to be.

To breathe – to let go – to come into Now…

Thank you ..Girl With flower

the smile of the child restores me
I can be for yet another day.

Singing a Song of Freedom

There is a story I’ve been told.  Its about a giant who lived on the top of the mountains and was very happy and full of freedom.  The little people in the valley were jealous of him.. and schemed and plotted to find a way to trap him.  One day they had a bright idea.. and full of cunning invited him to their village for a ‘celebration’.  The giant really didn’t want to come down form the mountain.. and said ‘Oh no, you go ahead and have your celebration.. I am happy here and don’t want to come to the valley.”  But the little people cried and insisted – and over and over requested the giant to come.  Finally he agreed.. but only for an hour.. then he would go back.

Down he came.. and when he arrived the people were overjoyed and welcomed him and invited him to stay to eat.. and then when he was finally persuaded, they asked him please to help them for a short time in their fields.  He protested, but gave in – feeling a little sorry for them.  Now when the work in the fields was complete they showed him to a huge bed.. quite comfortable – that they had prepared for him.  “You must be tired” they said and invited him to lie down and rest.  “Just till morning .. then you can go.”  The giant gave in once more – but during the night he woke to the sound of hammering and clanging of iron to find that the people wre building a cage around him.  “What are you doing?” he cried.

“Oh we are simply protecting you from the wild animals in the night.. relax, go back to sleep..see here is the door where you can easily go out.”

Each day passed as the one before – the giant being daily persuaded to stay just a little longer..until one day he had forgotten all about his home in the mountain and his freedom.  Every day he toiled in the fields and at night returned to the cage, thinking now that this was his true home.

One day a bird came and sat on his cage and began to sing.  It sang a song of freedom, a song about the mountain tops, about the skies and about flying and dancing on the wind.

The giant was at first annoyed at the sound and asked the bird to go away.  But the bird came each day and sang its song of freedom.  The giant didn’t listen – he continued to live on in his cage, only coming out to work for the villagers.

The bird continued to sing its song.

And then – it stopped coming.  The bird had died – and the giant missed the sound of its song.. but he continued to hear that song in his head.  And suddenly he heard the song.. missing the bird – he began to really understand what that bird had been saying all along.  The song of freedom.  And the giant stretched up one arm.. andthe cage shook and fell apart.. he stretched his other arm.. and the rest of the cage collapsed around him.  And now he stood, realising his freedom.  He was angry with the villagers for their deception – and strode away up the mountain – the song of freedom ringing in his ears forever.

Picture of a bird

It can take many years for the song of freedom to be heard – sometimes it is never heard – but it is the task of the bird to simply keep on singing the song whether it is really heard or not.

Please keep singing your song.

With thanks to Satish Moon who shared this story with me.

The Water Goddess of Our Spring

Picture of our spring waters

I was so fortunate today… I met the Goddess of our Spring.

After the work time a few of the children and our wonderful teacher Satish Mankar and I headed down to the spring to cool off.  We had been weeding and mulching our fruit trees and were all hot and sticky.  The new pump was busy pumping water to our house and little boys all stripped off and started playing in the down stream from the pond.  Satish splashed and played and got soaked and then turned on us with his splashing games.. before you know it almost everyone was in the game and the pumping pond was rapidly churned up.  I turned off the pump as they lept around in the water.

Finally everyone calmed down and headed back to the house leaving me in peace and quiet. But I was not alone.  The music of the water – cavorting down the rocks, swirling in energy whorls and sparkling down the crevices… brought me to peace inside.  As the peace grew, her presence became tangible.. she was there.. and I felt her joy at the sharing of the laughter of the children – and her deep gratitude for the respect we are offering her .. just as she in turn, offers to us the bountiful and deeply energised waters of the Mother Earth.

These days there are no papers, or soap wrappers, no chunks of plastic floating in her waters.. all is pristine, clear, clean .. respect shown – and her gifts are given in abundance in return.  We thank you dear Water Goddess – for your overwhelming gift that keeps our boys here at Shikshan Gram alive, clean well and happy.

What generosity our Mother Earth shows us.. my heart overflows.

picture of ferns at our spring

Pane Bohot Ganda Hei

Yes I am learning .. slowly slowy – some Hindi and some Marathi is coming in.  Wishing someone out there would just make a chip I could insert in my left ear and hey presto instant translation!

People often ask me .. “what about your day? what is that you do every day there at the Shelter for Homeless Kids.” 

Today – variety is never ending – meditation at 5.45 – always somewhat challenging for a person who used to think silence was a requirement to meditate!  Little chance of an undisturbed meditation in a huge rambling building site that also houses 67 young boys! And then the day really starts.. and now its 3pm and what have I done today?  Patched up two injuries, put cream on sundry scrapes, comforted two crying ones who had suffered an altercation with another boy – ticked off severely one of our young Shaolin Team – (who help take care of this chaotic place) for physically whacking one of the kids.. after all he is supposed to be a role model.  Not the place for whacking!

Then I spent some time on the computer – updating our facebook page – researching sustainability power and fuel sources for our rural place, and then a quick wander down to the spring where the Shaolin team were cleaning out the pond area from where we pump our water.  It was hot and they were working hard, in the sun and despite being half in the water they were sweating.  Girls and boys together doing a great job.

Back to the building site for lunch.. subji (vegetables, chappati and rice) and then a computer class for four of the older boys.. switch on.. save files , switch off, .. switch on, save files, switch off, and some paint practice for light relief.  Teaching one of the heavy handed and impatient ones, Yogesh, who speaks NO english that a double click was preferable to bashing the mouse proved decidely interesting!

And the phrase that heads this post? I learned thatjust now as I tried to call to the boys – on the excuse of washing a mat – who were playing and swimming in our local water hole which is now totally dirty.. it means.. “Water very dirty”.  Picture of boys swimming

Oh how I love these kids.. what happened to me – the one who never wanted children, the one who always just wanted to give them back to their parents? Now in love with almost every one of them.  My heart opened and they fell in.  Gratitude for being here is profound. I am more than lucky.

The Space Within

Picture of our BuddhaDo you know that space?  That feeling behind the solar plexus, that gap?  The one we often fill with our addictions?  I am feeling it tonight.. I try to put a label on it.. ‘homesick, alone,’ looking for something outside of myself to fill it.  Examine it, enter into it, feel it – because it is there not to be covered up or glossed over.  It has a shape and a reason – and although it is inside, if I enter it – everything expands. The edges of me blur and lose distinction and separation disappears.

Being here at Shikshan Gram has a tendency to put me right in touch with me.  There are no easy addictions to escape into.  TV – movies – special foods – alcohol – not even the fridge to find the pre-dinner biscuits and cheese, just the space inside.

Its very interesting this feeling of being on a retreat in the middle of the racket and noise and chaos of living on a building site filled with the sounds of a hundred small boys!  But a retreat it is .. and I ask for the courage to enter in to this space inside that has no limits – and I know I have not even begun to feel the truth of it as yet.

The Real Secret

I am privileged to be reading Barbara Marx Hubbard’s wonderful book 2012 and Beyond – and a snippet jumped out at me today – she said that the Secret was all about what you could get.  But really the true Secret is all about what you can give.

This resonated so deeply with me.. the reward that flows when you seek truly what is yours to give and do that – is immense.  And it is of course not that you are doing it for those rewards, but they flow.

Back Home at Shikshan Gram – India

Its impossible to describe to you how I really feel about being back here.. about this sense of being at home.

Picture of the Shikshan Gram family outside our half finished building.Its unrealistic to try to paint you a word picture of the love and happiness that is flowing in this place… how a simple time spent in the kitchen area, hanging out watching the breakfast being prepared – with both Satish and Yogita being in there – hands on.. mixing the spices, washing the channa (chickpeas) joking, singing, laughing, spreading the love to everyone who comes by or who is helping the process move along.

Picure of the family cleaning the chick peas ready for cooking

Cooking a huge pot of chickpeas for breakfast for all of us.. over100 people … and the taste!!!!

But I will do my best!

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home.. well you really feel it here.. it seems to me that the most precious times I experience here are in the kitchen – the communal way of preparing food, the team work that goes into it.. peeling great piles of garlic.. four people at once, the huge amount of food that all gets cooked on one gas ring.  The girls sitting on the floor using small round wooden boards to roll out the chapatis – a job that takes more than an hour each day as Picture of making chapatisthere are chapatis to be made for everyone.

Satish singing songs – or sometimes playing his flute.. and laughter.. always laughter.

I wander out onto the top of the roof – above the hall below .. now our gathering place – the place for meditation and for celebration and for Kung Fu practice when it is raining – I find an old plastic chair and sit amongst the building materials – looking out across the valley.  The rain has stopped for a short time, although I realise I have a damp ‘behind’.. mmm the chair was not quite dry!

The valley is so green is in almost unreal.  There are huge white cranes flying from one rice paddy to the next.  It seems the lush growth and the damp absorbs the noise that rebounds from the distant highway at the end of the valley as I have hardly heard it since being back.

I sit there and realise that I feel so blessed to be here.. what good fortune it is to share this journey with these people.  I wonder at how it is that I have been so lucky to deserve this experience.Picture of three of the boys who live at the shelter

…and then company arrives… in the form of three boys. come to chat.. there is always someone around.

Gone is the isolation that so many of us experience in the west… the sense that you can be in your house and not see anyone from one end of the day to the other.. that you can walk out the front door, get in your car and go to the shop and hardly speak a word to anyone.  Not so here.. there is shouts and laughter and the noise of the children washing over the place .. you might think that is a disturbing noise – that living almost as it were in a school could be challenging.. but not so.  It just deepens the sense of harmony.

India – and the opening of the heart

I have been in India now since October 6th – 2 months- and how they have flown.

My days lean into each other.. am I busy?.. absolutely – so what is different about my life here .. that holds my heart that catches me and connects me?Shikshan Gram children at play

I look out of my window and the valley merges into the hillside – the pattern on the valley floor a kaleidoscope of different greens and browns.  The sounds of the kids playing down on the flat playground come practice area for our karate group are all around me.. noisy.. yes it certainly is sometimes.. but there is also a depth of quiet that is profound in between the laughs and the chatter of the children.

I have cried buckets since I have been here.. and until a couple of days ago, didn’t really understand what that has been about.  Until I heard a downloaded talk by Andrew Harvey on Sacred Activism.

Here I was squashed into an unbelievably small patch of corridor on the Pune – Mumbai Express Train 7am.. not an inch between me and the next people.. in fact we could not fall over.. there was no space to do so.  Okay I said to myself.. I am going to be in this position for a couple of hours so I may as well listen to something else than the train noises and the yells of those who incredibly are still trying to sell things as they squeeze past pushing us further into intimacy with those next to us.

So I dig out my iphone and plug in my headset.. and choose a random talk from the Food For All Summit calls.  Here was a man Andrew Harvey, speaking about just what I had been experiencing.  His name for it is Sacred Activism.

And the first thing he said in these times that is needed is to experience the breaking of your heart.  The synchronicity that is occurring in my life is miraculous to me.. how is it possible that I receive just the answer I need at just the time I need it?

Here was this man talking to me about how when you leave behind your addictions.. and those things that hold your protective shell around you.. when you strip these away.. then the reality of the world is revealed.. and at this time – that reality can be incredibly painful.

ladies cutting the woodHere for me.. the pain is related to Mother Earth.. as each injustice is done to her I have been feeling it as my own pain – as the trees are chopped for firewood around me in the forest, I feel the baring of the earth and the pain of the trees.  As I see the emaciated body of a man lying on the street and it is unclear whether he is still living or not.. I feel the pain of our humanity and the wretchedness of our inhumanity.

And then we turn the corner and meet a 95 year old gentleman whose generosity of heart floods all the pain away.

I cannot describe the amazement that is present and the gratitude that flows as I see this world with clear eyes – gratitude for being – gratitude to the timeless nature of things – gratitude for the simplest events – and my days flow into one another being here, in service to our children – the future of our earth.