Ajahn Chah.

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I received these four books as a gift parcel from my cousin Shankar who had a fascinating tale to tell me about them.

Shankar was quite attached to a young lad who was his nephew’s classmate from school. This young lad is now 41 and having emigrated to Canada some years ago, for the past few years has been a Buddhist Monk there.

The monk has returned to India for a short visit to meet up with his past and had invited Shankar over to his family’s home to meet him and some other friends who have also come from Canada with him.

Shankar bought some of the books that the school to which the young monk belongs and sent them to me for the simple reason that he felt that I was the only one in the family who would enjoy reading them and also perhaps understand the contents.

I was quite intrigued as to his motivation and asked him on the phone as to what made him decide to choose me to receive the gifts and he said something that has been resonating with me since our talk. He said that I was the only one that he knew who had gone deeply into matters spiritual and also the only one who has more or less become very comfortable being on his own with his books and spiritual pursuits. Obviously, this is the image that I have in my family and I am very pleased that I am thought of as being like this.

Coming to the books, I had never heard of Ajahn Chah. My son Ranjan had a few Thai classmates in college who used to come home often and one of them even became a monk. I therefore knew that Thailand has a vibrant Buddhist environment and that there are many schools of Buddhism there.

I am intrigued enough with the new books to drop all other reading material that I have in the pipe line to read all these four books. If at the end of it all, I find anything interesting, I shall blog again about my impressions.

Prose Vs Poetry.

“When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine. Cooked rice doesn’t change its shape, but rice wine changes both in quality and shape. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one’s lifespan . . . wine, on the other hand, makes one drunk, makes the sad happy, and the happy sad. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation.” – Wu Qiao

I am alive and kicking and will hopefully be so well beyond the proverbial three score and ten years which I have already crossed. I did not get here by getting drunk on rice wine. There is nothing sublime beyond explanation in me which can be attested to by my readers who have been with me and my prose for quite some years.

My family had three English Literature teachers in my father’s late elder brother who carried the honorary title of Shakespeare before his official name, his son and my cousin who was Head Of The Department of English of his college before a tumour in his brain put paid to his fame, not for his proficiency in English but more for his prolific writing in prose in our native language Tamil; and the third, the current living English Pundit is my sister Padmini who is also expected to contribute some prose to this weekly attempt at some fun, but who is otherwise preoccupied. I too got my Bachelor’s Degree in what was then called the Liberal Arts and a subject that was included in that attempt was English Literature.

While I cannot speak for those three very illustrious English teachers, I found English poetry tedious and never took to it. I learnt the bare minimum to get passing grades and that was that. Very rarely did some English poetry appeal to me nor did poetry in the Indian Languages that I know except for Sanskrit which appeals to me not because it is a form of literature, but because its subject matter is spiritual and that sublime matter can best be explained in the verse form. Be that as it may, my choice of Prose over Poetry depends on logic, not personal likes and / or dislikes. For instance, how can something as sublime as this be ever conveyed in Poetry?

“In my youth I thought of writing a satire on mankind; but now in my age I think I should write an apology for them.”
~ Horace Walpole

For the record, I have not attempted to write prose or poetry in a language other than English and even in English, the poetry that I did try was a total and miserable failure. I would rather not dig it up again to embarrass me!

My readers can best judge my proficiency in my English Prose, and with that very interesting thought, I leave you my dear reader to go and read some Sanskrit Poetry. And while I am at that very noble pursuit, I shall entertain you with this very amusing video from Thailand.

This topic was suggested by Me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us are supposed to write on the same topic every Friday. Unfortunately, most have not been doing as last week only Lin at Dun-Na-Sead and I posted. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort this week.  The six other bloggers who areexpected to write regularly are, in alphabetical order, AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!