Friday, April 24, 2009

Inside the Golden Ball of Enlightenment

Or one could say Inside the Death Star as one has to admit that in this construction phase photograph the Matri Mandir bares a striking resemblance. What with the scam-girl drama it's taken me a bit of time to get around to reporting on my recent trip to Pondicherry and Auroville but now the dust has settled I will proceed :

So actually I was very impressed by the Matri Mandir, so much so that I extended my trip by an extra day so I could go inside once again. It's an amazing structure and going inside is like, to carry on the Star Wars theme, entering the Inner Sanctum of the Jedi Temple or like some ancient Atlantean Hall of Wisdom. I tried to get some inside photo's off the web but to no avail so I'll try my best to describe it.

The whole sphere is suspended above a white marble lotus water feature underneath which receives a ray of light which passes right through the central axis of the structure from the very top. When one goes inside, the curved walls are subtly lit in rose shades of colour with a kind of matrix structure spanning the inner surface. One is required to put on a pair of clean white socks (supplied) and is silently ushered through a doorway onto one of two upwardly spiraling suspended ramps which resemble the double helix of DNA.

Ascending as if through open space, spiraling upwards around the central column of light, one is awed into stillness by the magnificence of the place. Reaching about half way up the sphere one enters into the inner chamber. It is a large open circular space 24m in diameter and about 18m high. On the floor is a thick white luxurious carpet and twelve huge white columns reach up to the ceiling. The whole place is kept at a refreshingly cool temperature and in total silence.

A shaft of pure white light is focused in through the central apex of the curved roof and sent directly downwards into a huge, perfectly spherical clear quartz crystal ball which diffuses a portion throughout the otherwise dark chamber and sends the rest downwards to the lotus pond below. One takes ones place on one of 48 meditation mats laid out in perfect order around the hall, closes ones eyes and sits quietly.

The place has an atmosphere of deep stillness and is certainly conducive to meditation. The consort of Sri Aurobindo, 'Sweet Mother', specified and oversaw every detail of the inner structure and decor and said she would guarantee there would be a strong presence of the divine there.

Surrounding the great globe are twelve 'petals', or individual meditation chambers, each embodying one of several different noble qualities such as courage, generosity, aspiration etc. and each with it's own particular colour scheme and symbology.Clearly, the pure white, silent and zen-like inner chamber represents the simplicity and stillness of pure consciousness (white light) and the more outer aspects represent the diverse manifest aspects of that pure consciousness (all the colours and qualities of the rainbow).

As I said after jumping through all of the initial hurdles required I was impressed. Now I am able to go there freely and meditate inside for one hour between 9.30am and 10.30am with prior booking the day before. It is pretty cool. At the end of the day one doesn't really need any grand structures such as this to meditate in, Guatama the Buddha became Enlightened under a simple tree, but I have to say the Matri Mandir is impressive and I can certainly see myself revisiting and meditating there again from time to time.

Talking about trees there is also a 400 year old Banyan tree next to the Matri Mandir which is quite amazing. Banyan trees can become really huge and spread out over a large area. In order to support the bulk of the massive branches the tree sends down tendrils which take root in the earth and form new trunks. So one tree can actually create a small forest all by itself, all connected together to one original central core.

There were other aspects to my 3 day trip such as getting hit on by a gay Indian man on the town bus (offer declined), forming a bit of an infatuation with a hot French woman at the Matri Mandir bag deposit office, watching some movie footage from the 1950's of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which resembled a Hitler Youth parade (complete with a slight variation on the 'sieg heil' salute), eating a meal in the Auroville 'Solar Kitchen', which prepares over 1000 meals a day by collecting sunlight to form steam for cooking, and making a few visits to the Indian sweet shop for Kulfi (very rich Indian ice-cream) and various other edible delights.

My next adventure is looking very likely to be a cross country train journey to Kerala on Monday night to be with Amma (famous hugging saint) for 10 days in her Ashram. Looks like I am going together with my Indian chess/meditator friend Batel Valsaram and a Swiss dude, Andreas/Satyajit, who has been living in India for a number of years. After that I am open. I have a few leads on various yogis, swamis, ashrams and gurus around Kerala I can follow up and then, I can come back here or I can proceed gradually north towards the Himalayas....................

It's a hard life with so many decisions to make but somehow, day by day, I am managing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well that last one seemed to stir up a bit of energy. I gave the girl back her forged document yesterday morning. Taking Murugans advice I let things be rather than confronting them with their lies. Predictably the girl was still sticking 'sincerely' to her story that it was all a misunderstanding and blah blah blah. I just said yes, yes. She asked when I am coming for my next Tamil lesson, I told her I will let her know when I am coming next (which is never). She asked if I am angry with her. I said goodbye, got on my bike and rode off without looking back.

There was temptation to confront them but what good would it do really? It would only have been venting on them. They seem to be without conscience or remorse and don't seem to know the difference between truth and lies. Any energy given to them is only more fuel for their games of deception. I let it go and don't expect there to be anymore to this particular story.

Jan, from A. Ramana's Aham Ashram India, told me one other story of a bedraggled woman beggar she would always see with a small dirty baby, always with a runny nose. Naturally it evokes ones concern and compassion but the funny thing was she saw the same woman every year, year after year, with a different baby but with the same runny nose. She must have been renting the babies or doing some kind of profit sharing deal with the real mothers!

It's kind of funny really as well as being sad. These people are not nearly as miserable and pathetic as they always seem. It's all just part of the professional begging act which they prefer rather than working for a living. True, many of the lower level jobs don't pay much but ................................ it must be a complex story as to how this kind of pervasive degeneration takes place and of course, it's not only India. It's all over the world in different varieties.

Well, I'm glad that it's not up to me to try and solve all of the worlds problems. The other side of the coin is that India is a very cheap place for people like me to come and live for extended periods of time so I guess it's all part of the polarity of life. Who ever said this world was supposed to be a heaven? Things are like this now.........

Monday, April 20, 2009

the evil lieing little bitch and the prostitute hag sorceress

I had wanted to give the girl the benefit of the doubt that she was just young, naive and misguided by her mother but it now seems that the whole family is corrupt to the core.

There is one man here who runs a local internet cafe/travel centre and he gave me a couple of heads up about this situation while I was still in the investigation stage. He himself has a good business and helps to sponsor some local kids. Today we went together to the girls home.

The girl is continually asking me for the statement back and I was slightly concerned that there may be some kind of local gang involved who might come looking for me if I didn't. I had initially been intending to keep it as protection against any extortion attempts.

The internet guy, Murugan, assured me that there is no local mafia or anything like that and there is nothing to worry about. We went there together, at a time arranged with the girl, and I was glad to see there were no hench men just the family and a couple of cows.

To cut a long story short Murugan won their confidence and got them talking. There is absolutely no genuine remorse, just more bullshit stories trying to cover their tracks and acting all innocent. They even tried to explain it all as a misunderstanding and asked if I can still give them money.

Talking in their local language, as Murugan informed me later, their contempt for what they perceive as rich stupid foreigners is thinly veiled and in their annoyance that I wasn't handing over the statement like they wanted, and in their pride and arrogance that I might think they are mere beggars, the old woman (who I had assumed was grannie but they called auntie) let slip that they actually own the land they are living on, and therefore are not the impoverished serfs they made themselves out to be.

Just continuous lies, deceit, attempted manipulations, feigned helplessness and story telling. Murugan also reckoned that they owned the plush a/c taxi that had been sitting there for a couple of weeks and that the mother (who he thought might actually be the girls older sister) is a small scale prostitute to a handful of local men. I'm not quite sure how he figured that last one out but he certainly seems to be pretty clued into how things work around here.

The latest thing is the girl sent me a text saying how very sorry she is, that I am her best friend and she needs my friendship. Friends like that I can do without. It's difficult to fathom how they can live like this and somehow think it is normal and okay. I have no doubt that they have been laughing at me and pouring their derision upon me all along and I've half a mind to turn the girl in to the college complete with the forged document.

However I probably won't because I can't think what kind of a monster it would help to create if she were thrown out of college and prosecuted. At least if she finishes her education she has a chance of getting a reasonable job and of going straight. On the other hand, India is full of corrupt people in all kinds of high places. Corruption seems endemic to India in this day and age and so these people are far from being unique even in this small place. The other reason for not doing it is that this is a place I am likely to return to many times and so I don't want to bring down a vendetta upon myself.

So what to say? What an eye opener. This place is full of human cockroaches, vermin and mosquitos. I am shocked and stunned. At the same time there are many dignified and good people here. It would be handy to be able to see aura's or something sometimes so one could more easily tell the difference. The 'mother' I found a bit manipulative from early on but the girl had me fooled good and proper.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

about the girl

So after a drawn out process of investigation I finally penetrated the story about the girl who requested help with her college fees. It turns out that she and her mother had been telling me a series of emotionally compelling lies to try and get money out of me.

Some of what she told me was true, that she is a student at the college doing the course she said, but her fee's for this year were already paid whereas she told me she had to pay the balance of $220US by early May or she wouldn't be able to commence the final year in June.

She and her mother are fine actors and obviously well practiced in the art of fleecing Westerners. However this particular Westerner wasn't about to accept anything less than water-tight evidence to verify their story.

After a series of lies and subterfuge which culminated in them producing a forged financial balance statement from the college, complete with the principals forged signature, I finally got to the bottom of it when I went and met with the vice-principal and got him to check the girls balance owing which turned out to be zero.

This was despite their best efforts to keep me away from the college with a series of stories such as foreigners are not allowed to visit college unless they are giving a donation and that the college will substantially increase her fees if they find out she is receiving financial help from abroad.

I went anyway, at first without telling the girls name, and then telling the girls name later when they left me with no other option. However I did it in such a way so as not to arouse suspicion with the school and without telling them about the forged statement which could land them in some serious shit I imagine.

The girl has admitted her lies to me and is now deperate to get the statement back which I have in my possession. I was intending to keep it as some form of protection incase they try some worse form of extortion but on the other hand one doesn't know how deep these things go and who is really behind it all.

Therefore rather than holding some incriminating evidence against them it may be better to give it back rather than risk some deperate action on their part to retrieve it. They do not know exactly where I live but this is a small town and they could probably find me if they really wanted to.

So exciting stuff and a first hand insight into the type of corruption which seems to penetrate Indian society at all levels. I can only hope that the girl does not continue along this path of lies but if she does she is only one of millions more. As Adam said in his comment on my original blog posting relating to this situation, India has some of the best of humanity and some of the worst.

It is impossible for me to know the girl and her families real situation. Whether they are working alone to try and scam income for their family or whether they are hooked into something altogether more sinister............................all I know is I'm staying well clear and hope that the 600 or so rupees I already gave them is all this will cost me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

in brief

Just a short update. I just arrived in Pondicherry again for a couple of days. Now that I have some bearings it is a lot easier to come here. I knew a good cheap quiet clean guest house to go to. I got the local bus for 3 rupees instead of walking or paying 40/50 rupees for an auto-rickshaw (both at the Tiru end and this end). Later when I'm hungry I know a good place to go and eat. Also I just found an extremely cheap a/c internet cafe (10rps/hr) and all I need now is to find a good cheap bicycle hire shop - last time they wanted to stuff me for twice the price I pay in Tiruvannamalai.

Being a Scotsman, and probably past lives as a meditating monk, then frugality comes naturally to me which is also necessary since there is a good chance I will stay in India until next March so I've got to make that money stretch. I'm meeting a friend I know from Tiru maybe tommorrow and I have an appointment to meditate in the cosmic golden golf ball on wednesday morning.

Back in Tiru life is going on nicely. I've been playing chess regularly with Batelvalsaram and I'm generally kicking butt although he did beat me for the first time in 18 games the other night. He's not a push over so I have to concentrate and he seems determined to keep at it. I've also been going to see Aum Amma regularly and like her very much. She adds a whole dimension of sweetness and joy to what can sometimes be a dry path. Meditation is proceeding well and insights continue to accrue (I'll save that for another posting).

My investigations into the case of the student who asked for help are coming to a conclusion with my meeting the college vice-principal on Thursday. Some generous offers of help have already come in from family and friends to the extent that about $80US of the $220US required for college fees has already been pledged. There are some additional expenses of about twenty something dollars for exam fees and bits n bobs which I am covering myself.

I will report on the outcome of my meeting soon. Menaka (the student) is a very bright young woman (14) from a very modest economic background. She has been promoted ahead 2 years in school and so has a head start on her college education which is a Diploma in Electronic and Communications Engineering. She has been giving me a few Tamil lessons and so I'm getting to know her family a little as well as the regional language.

So that's it for now. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Crazy Divine

Hi there, well my blog writing has certainly stepped down a few gears after a very prolific March. I must admit I was probably spending too much time in the email cafe but all of that stuff was wanting to be expressed so that was that.

I'm pretty well although I did have two or three days there of boredom, frustration and confusion which seems to have passed now. Can happen where ever one is. That said it has become very quiet here and becomes increasingly hot. It is quite likely that I will hit the road in the next two or three weeks and head over to Kerala.

There is one famous Saint there commonly known as 'hugging Ma' or 'Amma'. She travels the world every year holding events where thousands of people come to receive her blessings which come in the form of a peronal hug as well as a very devotional and highly charged atmosphere.

I met her myself last time in London October 1999 while I was in the Royal Navy. At that time I was going through a lot of suffering due to inner turmoil over what to do with my life. During the weekend with Amma I tuned into and softened into the inner depths, helped greatly by her presence, and also received a big boost in energy from her. I was in a very peaceful state for about a week afterwards.

The turmoil returned but perhaps not so intense as before and some months later another breakthrough came with meditation where the confusion evaporated and I had a clear knowing that I should leave the Navy and come to India. As it happened I did leave the Navy but instead of going to India life had another plan and I ended up meeting Maitreya and emigrating to New Zealand instead.

That was a rich time and here I am 9 years later, imbibing the stillness of Arunachala and finally going to see Amma again. I have met several of her devotees here both Western and Indian and at one point there was a gang of five of us (all staying at the same Ashram) and we were going for swimming, walking around the mountain and afternoon refreshments together. I called us the Sat-gang but neglected to get a picture.

They have mostly gone now but there is one Indian man, Batel Valsaram, with whom I have become good meditation buddies. This morning we went around the mountain with one other dude, went swimming in one of the big man-made holy watering holes called 'Tanks' (far from people so I am confident it is clean) and then had a game of chess after lunch. That was the first time I had played since with my Grandad in Scotland over Christmas. It was quite a good match and gives the brain a good exercise. I won as it happened but we'll see how future games go.

Other things happening are the situation with the young college girl I mentioned in a recent post. I have been over there for a couple of Tamil lessons and think that that could be a viable business for her with the westerners. In addition two generous offers of help have come in so far in reponse to my blog request along the lines I suggested. I am just checking into some final details in the next days and then I'll give my report.

I have also been a couple of times to see one 'Aum Amma' a few km's from where I am now. 'Amma' means mother in India and is often a name given to lady Saints here. Aum Amma is very sweet. She appears to be in some kind of ecstatic devotional trance most of the time and during 'Darshan' (seeing/meeting with a Saint) there is devotional Indian singing while she is all decked out in flower garlands and covering herself and those nearby in buckets full of flower petals.

The first time I went, after the initial session, she met with each person individually in a private room and gives them a big hit of cosmic loving. Like hugging Ma in Kerala (who is much much more well known), Aum Amma is considered by her devotees to be an incarnation or embodiment of the Divine Mother. That is the cosmic principle or Divine expression of Love. I can't comment on that but I do know that there is a very special energy around some of these beings and I have met many people who have been helped to lasting inner transformation by it (Satsang Werner being one of them).

On the social welfare front Hugging Ma in particular has instigated or inspired huge amounts of service work in providing disaster relief, schools, education, work skills, medical treatment etc. etc. for many under privileged people in India. In general it is probably better to give money to well run aid organisations like this rather than to individual cases although there is always an exception.

I'm not sure that Aum Amma is compos mentis enough to put anything like that together or whether she could even hold a reasonable conversation. Apparently Hugging Ma was a bit like that too in her early days but eventually adjusted to normal functioning, or should I say super-normal functioning which might be more accurate.

So no cosmic fireworks so far but Aum Amma puts a smile on my face and warms up my heart. Check her out for yourself :

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

keeping it simple

without trying there is a natural sense of existing
a natural sense of being
eyes open and eyes closed
abide as that
rest as that
remain alert as that
all is well
all is good

thoughts feelings and images come and go
this awareness-being does not come and go
only sometimes we are distracted from it

redirect attention back to the natural sense of being
ask 'Who?'
who is having these thoughts?
who is this I?
relax and rest quietly as that which already is

if that is not clear then feel the body and the breath
drop inside
awareness-being is right there
and its nature is peace
Aum Shanti

Thursday, April 2, 2009

meeting the locals and an opportunitiy to help

So last Sunday I was taking a bicycle ride around the quiet side of the mountain and came across a bit of a situation. Even in this small area there must be thousands of genuine situations of need as well as many scam artists out to milk gullible westerners for all they are worth.

So I rode past a small dwelling in a field off of a side road. A young girl called out to me if I want to buy any papaya or any coconut? I didn't then but on the way back I did so I popped in and the mother and daughter took me into the field to get some ripe fruits.

They were pretty friendly and the daughter spoke quite good English and she offered to give me Tamil lessons which is the native language in this state of India. Before long she started telling me a story of hardship and how she needs financial help with her college fees. In particular she had an exam tomorrow and needed to come up with 100 rupees ($2US) deposit on the exam fee or she wouldn't be able to sit it.

I said okay, I'll tell you what, I won't give you the money but I'll pay you 100 rupees in advance now for some conversational Tamil lessons. That worked out okay and I bought some fruit from them also. They tried to petition me for some more money, saying that she had had a foreign sponsor but that they had disappeared on her, but I left it at that and arranged to come back the next day for a Tamil lesson.

Next day after some lessons I got more of the story. There are four of them (grandma, mother, one teenage boy and the girl) living in one small dwelling the size of most peoples lounge room (not unusual in India). The father was an abusive drunk and has ran off leaving them to pay off the debt of money he borrowed from the land owner. So according to what they told me they are living as some kind of indentured servants to the land owner for very little money.

So, to cut a long story short, they are obviously looking to recruit some new comparatively wealthy foreign sponsorship to help the girl complete her studies which will then allow her to get a better paid job and to help her family. She is a nice girl and apparently a gifted pupil coming top of her class of 72 students in some exam.

On the one hand I was wary of being scammed by a plausible hard luck story and on the other hand if her case was genuine the amount of money she was talking about was not huge but could make a huge difference in this young lady and her families life.

After considering the matter I suggested that maybe I could help her to promote her own business giving Tamil lessons to foreigners which would help her to earn her own money and also to come in contact with more potential donors.

She also needs to pay off the remaining balance of 11,000 rupees (about $220US) for this current years study before June or she will not be allowed to commence her 3rd and final year of her Diploma in Electronics & Communication Engineering which can be funded more gradually by installments.

It does not seem feasible that they could raise that much money in two months without outside help. Wages are very very low here and it is the quiet time of year. Also they apparently have no assets or property to borrow against. I considered that $220US was quite a chunk for any one person to give her but that maybe if a bunch of people put in together then it would hardly be noticeable and yet would have a very big impact for her.

I told her that subject to certain conditions then myself and some friends overseas might be willing to help her. My conditions were that :

1) she provides some official documentation from the college to verify the balance owing
2) she arrange that I can meet with one of her teachers who can verify her academic and other details
3) if money is raised then I would not give it to her or her mother but would need to personally see it being paid directly to the college

I figured that if she is willing and able to meet these conditions then it would go along way to proving that her case is genuine and will ensure that the money went to the right place. She indicated this morning via mobile that she will organise it. Also I am going to meet with one retired scientist man who is an ex-neighbour and friend of the family who can perhaps help to substantiate the story and I have emailed the college to verify some of the general financial details.

I didn't want to be unnecessarily strict but there are too many stories of dishonest people making a profession out of scamming money from Westerners with all kinds of plausible yarns.

If all the details of her story check out as being genuine then I cannot really think of any good reason not to help her out. Generally I don't want to become involved in this type of thing as there is a seemingly unending ocean of disadvantaged people needing help in this world (especially in places like India) but I happened to become involved in this particular case and it seems that a little help would make a big difference in at least this one young persons life.

So while everything is being verified I would like to ask you all to consider if you might like to contribute something. I will certainly put in 10% of the $220US needed in the short term and perhaps if a few others feel to chip in as well then the target will easily be met without anyone of the givers really noticing such a modest amount. A little goes a long way in India and many small contributions help to fill the pot so even a couple of dollars or pounds will help.

I'll get back with further details as things unfold but if things work out then I envisage collecting contributions through any one of my NZ, AUS or UK bank accounts and I might be able to recruit a friend to do a similar thing in the US (and other countries as needed?).

Of course you would have to trust that I myself am not pulling an elaborate scam just so I can perpetuate the high life for myself!!!