.BUT if you decide to climb a mountain, do it for the right reasons. Let it not be an ego trip. To compete with others. Or because others are climbing mountains…….
Those inner mountains I refer to, are those soul challenges that reside deep within us. They are our base egos - the demons within us.
Each of us though, has differing degrees of an ego that we can or need to work through; if we are to grow and evolve spiritually. As we strive to transcend each egoistic obstacle we meet. We could be like the Sacred Lotus flower bud. Just as it begins from the mud then breaks free of it to enter the waters, travels through the waters, breaks out of it to enter the air medium, then travels through the air, swelling in size to finally reach that point when it blooms awesomely.
We on the other hand, may not bloom awesomely - as a soul, but we could arrive at a point in our lives where we could be living peacefully with ourselves. And others. Having transcended our egos. OR if we just can’t do either of that, we could then scale a real mountain! That itself is a real feat.
Note: Image below is Mt Pico in Portugal, highest mountain of Portugal at 2351m/7714ft. My daughter Romila just happened to send me this photo as I was writing this blog piece.
“No other flower bud begins in the miry mud to travel through the still waters of a pond or lake despite meeting with a host of challenges, to emerge untainted. And then grows on to bloom spectacularly. And continues to prepare for the next generation. No wonder, the Sacred Lotus is the metaphor for the evolution of the human soul - towards higher states of ‘Being’ and eventual enlightenment.”
“The beautiful Sacred Lotus Lake in her tranquility lay, beckoning to children, parents and the elders alike; come sit by me and listen to my secrets for all eternity”
Thayanithi Kulenthran ( 2003)
I was at a lunch get-together some months ago and was awakened! – To a new perspective of how I/we could work at saying “less or no” to meat /seafood proteins. Up to this lunch get together I had been quite content with my progress in making the shift towards less animal protein in my diet.
I was at a table with nine others. Only one among the nine of us was a vegetarian. I am a pescatarian – I eat fish (and eggs) – but only for three days of the week. Note my statement of “only for three days of the week”. You would have expected me to be a total vegetarian by now! Wouldn’t you? And that too when I proclaim myself to be an Earth Carer and an Environmentalist to top it off! Tut tut! Honestly I could do better!
I used to eat a range of animal proteins – fish, eggs, chicken, pork and lamb (pork and lamb rarely though, but I still did) twenty- four years ago. For 4-5 days of the week. And except for Hindu spiritual periods during the year. Then I decided for health and spiritual reasons I should add a day more of non -meat eating during the week. So it became 3 days of vegetarian, 4 days animal protein. For 20 years. However when I turned 60, I felt it was high time I gave up eating chicken altogether. Lamb and pork I had given up totally some years before: these being the more evolved creatures. Presently my diet is 4 days fully vegetarian and 3 days with sea food and eggs.
Back to the lunch get together. As the chicken dish was passed over to me I said “No, thank you”. I was asked why by some of the others. So I told them that I still hadn’t been able to work at giving up all animal protein – eggs and the seafood that I still enjoy. Cousin Arul, the vegetarian, piped up saying “ Oh that is a big excuse! If you really wanted to, you would!” I had to agree with Arul. It was the truth.
I then asked Arul “How and when did you become a total vegetarian?”
“Oh, when the 2004 tsunami struck. I felt I had eaten enough of meat for a life- time; I was 50 years old then– half a century! That would do!” Arul replied.
That was some awakening for me! Yes, half a century of meat eating. It had to be enough. Arul just overnight stopped eating meat altogether. His decision is a very significant contribution towards addressing the climate crisis and towards global food security.
Thayanithi Kulenthran, “Compassion for Earth”
Since that lunch, I am even more conscious of how much more I need to work at myself to refrain from seafood protein consumption that I still enjoy.
Do check out the following websites: 1.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth#img-1
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night..
When the English poet William Blake composed his poem “Tyger Tyger” just over two centuries ago, there were then at least 100,000 tigers in the wild in Asia. The tigers were burning bright in the forests of the night!
Today however the opening lines of Blake’s poem sadly no longer hold true. The number of tigers in the wild are at less than 3900 and about to go extinct. They are globally listed as “Endangered” on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Closer to home in and around Malaysia, the Malayan and Sumatran sub species is listed as “Critically Endangered”; less than 200 remain today.
I am in awe and yet fear this feline majestic and iconic creature. Most other folks would feel the same. Who can blame us? We have after all grown up with stories of man -eating tigers in our jungles and of Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Book of Shere Khan and Mowgli and of roaring tigers caged by travelling circuses. All of which did an excellent job of scaring us. And when I browsed through the tiger photos in the website www.panthera.org I am reminded of how scary tigers are.
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
There is however, one photograph by Steve Winter in the website that did not invoke any fear at all in me, but tenderness for this majestic wild cat. It is a photo that revealed the soft side of this wild big cat – a mother tiger with her cub. This is a photo we must all see. And meditate intently upon this photo – upon the mother tiger’s emotions of love and utter contentment with her cub and the cub’s comfort of being with its mother.
Ah, but the tiger is such a feared animal. Why bother? Well, if not for anything else, the Tiger is a species placed upon Earth by our Creator.
As human beings we have a moral duty - to protect and conserve every species that has been created. Our gazing deeply and compassionately at a mother tiger and her cub sends out positive vibrations out into the world. That somehow does play a part in Tigers protection. And then again there are of course the ecological reasons why we need to protect and conserve the Tiger. But that is a story for another day.
Thayanithi Kulenthran, “Compassion for Earth”
To see the photo of mother tiger and cub go to www.panthera.org - Menu – Meet the Big cats – click Tiger. It is the very first photograph - by Steve Winter the photographer.
MEN that I knew of who became fathers were generally very strict, hard and aloof. But that was not my Papa. Papa was a father that perhaps many of us born in the 1950’s and earlier would really appreciate having as their dad. Yes of course I am being prejudiced. But, if you just knew what he was, you would understand.
This was what my Papa was like –
When my younger sister was born, he took her in his arms gazing down at her and said “My Princess!”
To my youngest sister who was usually left out of our games being much younger, he was a source of comfort and a companion. He would take her on evening walks along Lido Beach in Johor Bahru, listening patiently as she talked incessantly to him. She was just seven years old then.
Papa introduced me to the blissful world of reading at six years of age. I was enrolled a member of the Gurney Library, a quaint house like building on a hill slope close to the Lake Gardens in Seremban town. Once a month, Papa would bring me from Malacca where we then lived in the early 1960’s, all the way up to Seremban to borrow a book. My first book as I vaguely recall, that Papa himself must have chosen for me, was a story of a very kind woman.
At school if we did badly at tests, we did not have to be afraid when it was time to bring report cards back home for father’s signature. All that Papa would say was “ You have studied – that I know. Next time work harder to do better”. And we did, because he was gentle and understanding about it. But he was strict when it came to preparing for the Lower Certificate Exams. He made sure we understood and practiced our Mathematics and learnt our Bahasa.
Imagine a father being the kind that you could talk to about your first teenage crush. I was then 15 years old. I had this wish to phone up a boy that I had taken a liking to, but was very hesitant to do so. I spoke to Papa about it. He said to me “why not, just call him!” And so I happily did.
Can you also imagine a father apologizing to his eighteen-year-old daughter (me then) after having on a rare instance raised his voice and scolded her? Papa did that. I was so taken aback, I replied, ”Papa it is your prerogative as a father to scold me and not have to apologize after that.”
Papa had significant emotionally painful and challenging early years of life. He lost his mother at nine years old and was brought up by an aunt who should have shown kindness. Papa began working at sixteen years old as a railway porter in Taiping where he had spent much of his youth. He had a Grade One for the Cambridge School Certificate Exam, and should have gone on to higher studies; like many of his classmates, who unlike him had not obtained a Grade One. But alas that was his destiny then. Despite all of this, Papa was the happiest, most content, loving and gentlest human being I have known.
My papa departed peacefully from Earth in sound mind - having sung one of his favourite songs “Enjoy Yourself (Its Later than you think) ” barely an hour before he passed away. Till the night before he passed away, he was still able to walk on his own though aided by a walking frame. Papa took leave of us a year and a half ago in late 2017. He was 94 years and 7 months of age. I feel a deep ache in my heart as I write now about him for Fathers’ Day 2019.
But let me not forget to wish all fathers out there in the world - “Happy Fathers Day! And do Enjoy Yourselves (Its Later than you think)!”
My earlier post on 2 June 2019 was how to go marketing for meat, fish, coconut milk without the use of plastic bags; the plastic bags when used are the most polluting from the market.
But how do we return home with fruits and vegetables, onions, garlic and ginger without the use of plastic bags? And without opting for those thin plastic resin mixed carrier bags that tear easily after just some use.
Simple – just invest in one of the Penan Uyut rattan baskets and a couple of jute carrier bags. See photos below. Use the Penan Uyut basket for vegetables or fruit and one jute bag for vegetable or fruit, and the other for onions, garlic, ginger and potatoes. The Penan Uyut rattan baskets are easily carried either on your arm, held in your hand or as a backpack. They are long lasting baskets and can be quickly rinsed out and dried easily. I first used a set of three Penan Uyut baskets weekly for 7 long years! They lasted all that time.
Compassion for the Earth
It’s June -The month of World Environment Day on June 5th and World Oceans’ Day on June 8th. With respect to these two days I would like to add on to the education regarding no single use, plastic bag - the theme of World Environment Day 2018. Since plastic bag use is rampant and inevitably finds its way into our oceans destroying marine life -we hence need to prevent its use!
To market, to market and back home - with no single use plastic bags! Really? How so?
Here is how to go about it.
But first let us list the things we normally buy at the market in a multi ethnic country like Malaysia, where many of us cook a variety of foods comprising the rich heritage of our mix of cultures. Listing the fresh produce we use helps us figure out preventive options to plastic bag use. The marketing list comprises largely-
1. Fruits and Vegetables – a necessity for good health
2. Onions, Garlic, Ginger and Potatoes – Asian culinary ingredients
3. Fresh Soya bean squares – called tauhu locally
5. Fresh Coconut and Coconut milk – for our curries, other dishes, local desserts
6. Fish and Meat
I will share today just two ideas – specifically to prevent use of plastic bags when we purchase -
• Fresh coconut and coconut milk
• Fish & meat
Both these are currently bought at our wet markets and handed over to us in single use plastic bags. They become oily with the coconut milk and dirty and bloody with freshly cut fish and meat. These polluting plastic bags normally end up in the trash bin, dumpsites, drains, rivers and the ocean.
So, what then can we use instead of plastic bags?
For coconut milk – I use a durable plastic tumbler with a tight screw on lid cover. See photo – lid not shown though. It would be better to use a stainless steel or bamboo one, though I have not found suitable ones yet.
For Fish (and meat, though I no longer eat meat) I use a large durable plastic container with handles -one I can carry easily. It can hold sufficient fish for a family of four for 3-4 weeks; with fish being eaten 3x a week. See photo.
We are still unfortunately resorting to the use of plastic based containers. It is not the best long-term option in view of preventing plastic use. But it does prevent single-use plastic bags.
I do hope you too will make the effort to prevent single use plastic bags, as shown in the photos when you go to the market.
Thayanithi Kulenthran, 2 June 2019.
Singapore Street is a little lane in the old Seremban town - my hometown. It comprises double storey timbered ceiling terraced shops built in the 1920’s.
During our childhood, we would frequently tag along with our parents to Singapore Street. To purchase groceries by the kilos packed in thick paper bags, and to get our pots and pans mended – as there was a Tinker Man. Those were the days when we didn’t just throw out anything. We repaired and reused practically everything. The Tinker Man is still around. He is eighty years of age. He and his son, now run the tinker shop, while of course producing new stuff.
Many if not most of the people who now work on Singapore Street, belong to the era in which I was born – the 1950’s and perhaps earlier. Some of them would be 40 years of age or so. By and large they are simple at heart. But are perhaps caught up with the desire to live beyond contentment. As most of us in the cities do, up to and into our 40’s. Had these folks been allowed to remain in the shelter of the bygone days of their parents, they may not have felt otherwise. But their lives are beginning to be infiltrated and surrounded by the rich who gradually begin to make their presence felt in Seremban town.
It was to the Tinker shop that I had gone to mend a stack of stainless steel containers. It could not clasp shut. So naturally Singapore Street, Seremban was the solution.
When I arrived at the Tinker shop, only the son of the elderly owner was in. He may have been in his 40’s or at most early 50’s. I couldn’t help but say to him,
“Please do not sell off this shop. You do not see these shops anymore. It is a heritage. I remember it from my childhood days “
“ Oh, but what is the use of this? I am still poor. “ He replied.
“Poor? Don’t you have enough to eat?” I asked.
“ Yes of course. But I am not rich.”
“But what is the point of being rich? Most of the very rich and wealthy do not have peace of mind and have to have bodyguards accompanying them wherever they go” I responded.
“But who cares. You should see those rich men! How they strut about with such pomp with their bodyguards around them. I wouldn’t mind being in their shoes!”
“Really? I certainly wouldn’t trade my freedom for those riches. Imagine not being able to go anywhere without a bodyguard! Our personal freedom is a very precious thing. It can’t ever be bought.” I added.
The man looked surprised; the simple small town boy that he was at heart. It probably had not occurred to him what a price we pay along the way and in the end in the relentless pursuit for monetary wealth.
As I left the man, I could not help think of Pushkin’s words “Luxury only comforts the poor, and even then but for a brief season, while they are unused to it.”
Thaya Kulenthran (April 2017
Om manipadme hum - “Hail jewel in the Lotus!” is a popular mantra from the Mahayana sutras of Buddhism. Reciting it is said to lead to liberation (moksha) and eventual Buddhahood. The mantra lies at the very heart of Avalokitesvara (the supreme Buddha of Compassion) and said to usher in an Awakening.
Hence in honour of Gautama Buddha, it being currently the period of Wesak day celebrations, may we remember and gradually return to the divine blossom - the Sacred Lotus, and its tranquil ponds.
Bring a smile and chuckle back in 90+ year old mum
LET’S TWIST AGAIN – Yay! To Chubby Checkers twist music. Dance by yourself. As a morning and evening exercise to keep fit. Especially when you are house bound as I am, when I’m on duty looking after my elderly mother. Music and dance have a lovely way of uplifting the spirit. So do try it especially when you are a primary caregiver to your very elderly mother (or father). Dance away near your mum(or father) and watch her (him) smile and chuckle. I just did today! It was such a joy to see my 91+ year old mum chuckle!
Do join me and dance while you are with your very elderly parent- however far apart we may each as caregivers be. Then let’s gather 2-3 siblings or cousins or hometown friends and have an occasional “Let’s Twist Again” dance exercise session at mum’s home followed by breakfast. There will be lots of smiles and chuckles in mum as she watches it all!
LET’S TWIST AGAIN !!
The Awakening of a young Boy to Kindness
IT happened the Sunday, of 9th April 2017.
My husband and I had decided to have breakfast for a change at the Royal Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur. Having done with breakfast, I asked my husband (who does not like sudden change in plans) whether I could just take a walk down to the lotus pond in the Perdana Botanical Gardens; I hadn’t been down there for quite some time. The Perdana Botanical Gardens is located just beside the Royal Lake Club.
Leaving my husband sitting by himself, I set off to walk towards the lotus pond. As always, I could feel the healing “vibrations” of the lotus pond as I approached it. I sat down at on one of the wooden tables very close to and overlooking the pond. The pond with its white lotuses was in a state of bloom, but predominantly with its spectacular emerald green leaves. As I sat there, immersed and soothed by the healing balm of the lotus pond I began to tear - because of the sheer power of that healing energy. Soon, a small flock of about 15 birds –mynas and pigeons, began to descend quite close to where I was seated.
As my gaze shifted between the birds and the lotus pond, I became conscious of someone coming with bold long strides down the slope, behind me. It was a young boy, well dressed in a brown khaki suit. And he had a long stick in his hand. I guessed what he was about to do. But before I could call out to him, he threw the stick at one of the mynas standing alone, apart from the flock of birds. That myna immediately flew off in sheer fright.
I called out to the boy “ Hello Boy, don’t do that!” But he ignored me and picked up the stick and threw it next at the flock of birds that had gathered happily there. This time I stood up and walked up to him.
“Boy, You really should not have done that. Imagine if you were the myna, standing quietly by yourself, and a Giant came and threw a stick at you.” Pausing long enough for that statement to sink into the young boy, I added on in the same gentle and low voice “Also imagine if you had gathered with your friends, and were having a good time chatting like all those birds, and a Giant threw a stick at all of you. Would you like that?”
‘No” He replied sheepishly with downcast eyes. But he continued to politely stand quietly where he was.
I continued, “For birds, human beings seem like Giants. God created birds and us human beings. We are all animals; yes even we human beings. But we human beings have to take care of all the life that God created.” (I did not go into explaining that as the most evolved species on Earth, it was our - human duty to protect all life forms)
The boy listened intently.
“Boy, what is your name though?” I then asked.
“xxxxxxx” he replied, still sheepishly.
“How old are you?”
“Eight going on nine”
“ Do you have any brothers and sisters? I continued.
“ Yes I do”
“ How many?”
“And who is the eldest among you?”
“Now imagine if you set the example of throwing sticks at birds. Your younger brothers and sisters will begin to follow. Next more and more children will begin to do that. What a wicked world it will be.” I continued gently.
“Well, if you notice these mynas they are always on the alert, looking hither and thither for danger, even when they are feeding and looking for worms in the ground. That is how cautious they have to be.”
“They are also beautiful in their flight. Notice the white patches on their wings as they spread in flight. And how hard they have to work, at flapping their wings up and down to keep in flight.”
“If you just sat down here and watched them, there is much you will learn, “ I added.
The boy nodded.
I extended my hand out then, to introduce myself. “My name is Thayanithi.” He in turn put out his hand and we shook hands. I then left him, and went back to my seat at the wooden bench by the lotus pond. After about ten minutes, I got up to return to my husband, having promised him, that I would only be half an hour at the lotus pond.
As I walked back up the slope, I noticed the boy seated on the ground under the canopy of a tree. His left leg was stretched out, and his right knee drawn up to his chest, right hand over the knee, looking out over the lotus pond, in deep thought and reflection.
Thaya Kulenthran (April 2017)
It first happened in the year 2004; in December, about two weeks before the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.
It was in the late afternoon. I do not recall the exact date. I was at my desk top computer, absorbed in my work. All of a sudden, I heard a tapping sound on a shut window pane. I looked up in the direction of the sound, and saw a bird –the yellow vented bulbul, seated on the window sill, tapping the glass pane. I ignored it as I wanted to carry on with my work. The tapping did not stop. It continued fervently for some time. Then all of a sudden, I realised the tapping was directed at me – to draw my attention. This was the first time I was experiencing a bird trying to draw my attention. I called out to my husband.
“Why is this bird repeatedly tapping the shut window pane?”
Kulenthran seated in the adjoining living room, called out “Perhaps it wants you to open the window”
Hmm, of course, I thought then to myself. I got up to open the window. As soon as I reached out for the window handle and began to open it, the bulbul flew off.
On December 26th 2004, the devastating tsunami struck across the Indian Ocean, crashing on the shores of Acheh, Penang, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
But I did not at all think then, there was any connection between the bulbul tapping our window pane to draw my attention and that tsunami of 2004.
Well, not until I experienced another episode of a pair of bulbuls again calling out to me the following year….
Thaya Kulenthran (2013)
Today, 22nd April, is the day we have internationally dedicated to remembering EARTH. We should really be remembering EARTH daily. However, with the life goals and lifestyles many of us have chosen for ourselves, for much of our lives, EARTH sadly does get forgotten.
This month, I have thus far focussed on our planet EARTH. Aspects of HER that I hope readers of my blog will begin to think about deeply, if they have not already done so.
When we work in our gardens, we dig, shovel, weed and plant. We are on our knees and bent head down. Indeed we are in a prayer.
As I worked in my garden, somehow there began a deep communion with the spirit and soul of the Earth. It became especially profound after I began to grow and nurture the Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera - that spiritually powerful plant of all plants!
Then, as the years rolled on and I began to work from home, I found myself wanting to sit quietly and alone by my garden. Just to feel its soothing vibrations. These vibrations were in effect, the vibrations of Earth - I believe reaching out to me. An inner overwhelming sense of gratitude and a deep love for this supreme ‘Being’ Earth awakened within me.
Note Images below are of The DayAnidhi Earth Garden.
Is it actually possible to feel the spirit of the Earth? I think so.
I began to first feel the spirit of the Earth (and indirectly the Sun) - in the garden; when I was 7 years old. I recall coming home from school, to run immediately and excitedly into the corner of the garden to see how my patch of red and purple zinnia plants were growing. Mother would tell me “Go pick some ladies fingers from the garden” and I would rejoice; there was something magical out there in the garden that made me so happy.
As the years went by into my teen years, I planted and nurtured chrysanthemums, roses, orchids and sunflowers; flowers that need much sun. I spoke to my plants as a little girl and through my teenage years. When a recently planted rose branch was struggling to put out its first leaf, I spoke to it daily. And stroked the planted branch. It would respond; lo and behold with an emerging leaf bud! Throughout my growing years until I left home for university, the garden was the place I loved and enjoyed being in most.
Gardens are our very first connection to the spirit of the Earth.
I believe the Earth is a Living Being, that SHE has a spirit and a soul like every-one of us. How else could she support life if she was not alive herself? Perhaps because what we see of her is primarily plants and rock, or sand, or soil mass, and water and sky. That for the most part are silent, immobile or with limited movement. It is hard then to imagine the Earth being alive. Until of course we experience earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and storms. Then we are reminded that we don’t actually live upon an inanimate Being.
My belief of the Earth being alive, is based upon what I have just expressed above. And personal psychic intuitive experiences, I have had of HER. I cannot explain these experiences logically nor scientifically. But I am conscious of HER and it is of great comfort to me. I believe Earth, ordained by our Creator to be the only habitable planet in our solar system, communicates with me. Most people will find this difficult to accept and comprehend. But there are others like me.
"...Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related." Plato.
IS Earth merely the Big Blue Marble (an apt synonym) described by the National Geographic some time back in its website? OR is she more than the mass of rock with a molten nickel iron core? Upon which sit interlinked jigsaws of interconnected oceans, brown and green land masses, traversed by serpent spines and sunken cradles of fresh water. And within which live a spectrum of sessile and mobile life forms, both lower and higher including humans, totally dependent upon Earth for their existence? All enveloped by a thin veil – the atmosphere, as we know Earth today?
IS Earth perhaps more than just the only known habitable planet in our galaxy, or perhaps even in our cosmos? Since she supports LIFE, could she perhaps be another Living BEING herself? Vibrating with a certain frequency - of a very high order? And with a life force quite unknown to most of humanity, except to those whose souls and spirits in alignment with Earth?
Indigenous peoples, since time immemorial have been aware of the soul and spirit of the Earth. They lived in total harmony with Earth. Never taking more of her resources than was necessary. Always ensuring there was enough left behind for those who came after. These ‘peoples of the Earth’ sense HER; know HER. Ancient agricultural communities too had a special reverence for the Earth. They felt gratitude to the Earth for the bounty she bestowed upon them through their harvests. This was evident through cultural festivities that accompanied the end of harvest.
There are too, some amongst the rest of us ordinary folks, born in more recent times, with a destiny to be especially conscious of the soul and spirit of Earth. And who live in relative quiet, simplicity and stillness, seeking to be within Earth’s embrace and in alignment with Her vibrations.
Earth has Intelligence and Spirituality unknown perhaps to most of humanity. She seeks to communicate with some of us; directly or through other life forms. But to those that she does indeed communicate with, it is no trifle matter. She communicates to warn of calamities yet to come. She communicates to reveal Her sense of despair with humanity.
She communicates to reveal when she is reassured. That some amongst us bring hope, light, love and compassion into the lives of those other Beings that she supports.
Perhaps there is more to Earth than we are aware of.
Note: Image Source:- www.nasa.org
The Sun and the Earth represent the most beautiful partnership conceivable. Both the Sun and the Earth are interdependent upon each other; one provides the energy for the other to support life. The Sun would be a mere glowing body of hot gases - mainly hydrogen and helium, and nothing much more. If not for Earth, positioned at just the right distance from the Sun.