Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On Dreams - Sigmund Freud

Freud’s first book on the topic was The Interpretation of Dreams published in 1899. It was such a lengthy and formidable work that Freud decided to write a more accessible version entitled On Dreams. It was first published in 1901.
I must say this brief work itself is formidable enough.
44 pages. I picked it up thinking I would finish reading it in 2 days. And it took me about 2 weeks.
But I must admit it’s a very interesting and informative book.

The language used though, is very convoluted. First of all the subject itself is a rather serious one and somewhat difficult to understand and then the convoluted language makes it all the more difficult.

Using examples, the book explains the various phenomena in and around dreams. The examples however are inadequate both in number and detail. There certainly could have been more number of examples but as far as detail is concerned Freud gives an explanation for their incompleteness; every dream investigated leads to a point after which there is a need for discretion or secrecy. Every Dream!

The first phenomenon explained is the simplest and easy to understand – dramatization. These are straightforward dreams common among children – direct wish fulfilment. The dream is usually related to an incident that occurred on the same day or the previous day. Example, a child is taken to a beach where it plays for a while and then when it asks for ice cream, it is denied to him by parents. The child dreams that night that he was on the beach having ice cream. An idea merely existing in the region of possibility is replaced by a vision of its accomplishment.

Before I proceed further, I will have to introduce you to the terminology used in book.

Dream content – the content of the dream – images, sounds, words, conversations and all that one sees in a dream.
Dream thoughts – when one begins to analyse and dissect a dream, one is lead through a chain of thoughts, wishes and incidents in the waking life of the dreamer that relate to the dream content and from which the dream is constructed.
Dream work – the psychic process which converts dream thoughts into dream content and puts the dream together.

The next phenomenon explained is condensation – the dream itself is a very short one- sometimes just a scene – but when dissected, the different components of the scene can be traced back to several dream thoughts, all of them related to or having a common aspect – a common thought – a common idea etc – ‘all these things have an x in common’. The dream work therefore condenses several thoughts, puts together several ideas – some thoughts of the present time and some from the past, all having a common thread and then creates a scene in which all of them can be presented, slightly modifying and tailoring each component of the dream, blending ideas and persons to create persons with new identities in order to make them all fit together – a remarkable job!

An important thing to be noted is that the dream work is not creative; it develops no fancies of it’s own, judges nothing, decides nothing. What it presents is ‘already there” but after a lot of processing.

The next phenomenon explained is a common characteristic of almost all dreams in adults – Dream Displacement: Displacement is the reason why dreams are weird, meaningless, obscure and unintelligible. The dream work uses symbols, metaphors, allegories, substitutes and allusions to represent thoughts, ideas and impressions of our waking life.
The next phenomenon is presentation – as the last step, the dream work gives a facade, an appearance to the content – out of regard for intelligibility.

Further explained is a very interesting thing – the motive behind displacement.
As you proceed along the chain of thoughts during analysis, you arrive finally at ideas that surprise you, that you have not known to be yours and which not only appear foreign to you but which are unpleasant and which you would like to oppose vehemently. By virtue of a particular psychological condition, these thoughts cannot become conscious to you. This condition is called Repression. The cause of obscurity in dreams is the desire to conceal these thoughts. Displacement serves the purpose of disguising these repressed objects.

An example of a repressed thought – your best friend gets the first rank while you get the second. At the conscious level, you are happy, for it is your best friend. At the unconscious level, there is a streak of jealously (assuming) but if the possibility is even mentioned to you by someone, you would vehemently oppose it. This streak of jealousy is a repressed or suppressed thought which cannot enter your consciousness.

Our psychical apparatus contains 2 procedures for the construction of thoughts. In the 2nd procedure, the products find an open path to consciousness whereas the activity of the first procedure is unknown to itself and can only arrive at consciousness through the second one. At the border land between 2 procedures, where the 1st passes over to the 2nd, a censorship is established which only passes what pleases it, keeping back everything else. That which is rejected by censorship is in a state of repression.

During the sleeping state, the balance of power between 2 procedures is so changed that what is repressed can no longer be kept back. In the sleeping state, the censor becomes weak, and what has been hitherto repressed will find its way to consciousness. But since censorship is never absent but merely weak, certain alterations must be made to the repressed thoughts so as to placate the censor. It is a compromise between what one procedure has in view and the demands of the other. Therefore, the repressed thought is replaced by a substitute, a symbol that makes the dream meaningless and obscure.

Next, what sort of thoughts require suppression?
No other class of instincts has required so vast a suppression at the behest of civilization as the sexual!
Thus Freud deduces that the dreams of most adults are traced by analysis to erotic desires!
A very logical deduction, but one that, after you have finished reading the book and closed it, you should like to disagree with.

Another interesting fact is that, in contrast with those views that assume that sleep is disturbed by dreams, dream is a guardian of sleep!
If not for dreams, a place for wish fulfilment, the many unfulfilled desires would disturb one’s sleep! Freud says – “A boy woke up screaming “I want a rhinoceros!. A good boy in his place would have dreamt that he was playing with a rhino, while sleeping peacefully”... a dream removes a desire and makes sleep possible.
The function of the dream is to prolong sleep. You can find proof of this fact in dreams that you see during early hours of the morning. Did you dream that you were performing before an audience and there was clapping after that? At that time, someone, like your mom was probably beating the carpet or your bed. The dream converted this disturbance into a sound in your sleep so that you could continue to sleep some more!
Many a time, I have dreamt that I was drinking water and suddenly woke up to find that I was actually thirsty! My dream was fulfilling my thirst so that I need not have to actually wake up!

That was the summary of the book for you.
I would like to read The Interpretation of Dreams someday but I don’t think I will pick up the book in the next five years.

Do pick up this book if you find it.

Happy Dreaming!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gora - Rabindranath Tagore

Ever since I read ‘Creative Unity’, a collection of essays by Tagore, I became a disciple of Tagore. With ‘Gora’, I have become a devotee.

This is a long post but it’s a Tagore! And then who is writing about it? You don’t want to miss it. :-)

Five hundred pages of pure literature. You wish it would not come to an end. The experience of reading Tagore, especially this book is like the experience of sailing, though I have not really sailed. However, the connotations I associate with sailing are calm, tranquillity, effortlessness, stillness, composure and self assuredness. Panorama, depth, vision, contemplation and serendipity are a few other connotations.

Even when Tagore takes up the question of religion, society, traditions, or embarks on the danger of comparing races, nations and people (which he does often), he makes his point but without being strident. There is courage and confidence in his writing.

The dispassion in the narration is deceptive for it carefully hides in its womb a lot of passion and feeling about issues of serious nature such as nation, religion, tradition and culture.

A story of the common people, set in Bengal, during the early 1900, this is a magnificent yet simple work. It’s a story of two friends, Gora and Binoy. It’s the story of a Hindu family and a Brahmo family. It’s a story of love and friendship, of patriotism, religious fervour, disillusionment and much more...

It’s a book that is representative not only of Tagore’s mastery over English language but also of the depth of his thinking, his understanding of his society, it’s people, its ways and mankind in general.

The story begins with Binoy Bhushan Chatterji, a sober but sensitive, thoughtful Hindu boy becoming attracted to Sucharita. Sucharita, living some distance away from Binoy’s house, though a Hindu girl, is a Brahmo, as she lives with her foster parents who happen to be Brahmos.
Paresh Chandra Bhattacharya – the head of the Brahmo family, is a mature, wise, tolerant and quiet man, respected by all in the family and is a support to Sucharita whenever she is in doubt or dilemma.

Binoy starts visiting them under the pretext of having to meet his new and young friend Satish who is Sucharita’s brother. As he becomes acquainted with all the family members, his feeling for Sucharita dies gradually. And the gradual dying of the feeling within a short time without an explanation is something I liked. I think this is quite rare to find; it usually reaches a crescendo and then there is fulfilment or tragedy.

Meanwhile Baroda, who happens to be Paresh babu’s wife gets friendly with Binoy, hoping to initiate him into the Brahmo religion. It was Baroda who changed Sucharita’s actual Hindu name ‘Radharani’ to Sucharita.

Haran is a friend of the family and is unofficially engaged to Sucharita. Haran is a staunch Brahmo who holds strong feelings of resentment and derision about the Hindu society and its customs. Haran disapproved of this (reading Bhagavad-Gita and Mahabharata) for he wanted to banish all such books from Brahmo households. He himself never read them, wishing to keep aloof from all such literature favoured by the orthodox. Amongst the scriptures of the world religions his only support was the Bible. Haran’s sectarianism and his narrow mindedness often vex people...

Binoy happens to be a long time friend of Gora or Gourmohan Babu. As far as his friendship with Gora goes, Binoy is portrayed as a boy, who is sometimes confused and who feels emotionally bullied by his friend Gora, a staunch Hindu with a strong personality and strong set opinions who not only practises what he believes in but convinces others too to follow him, by way of debating and discussing with them at the first opportunity.

Anandamoyi, Gora’s mother, is similar in character to Paresh Babu – patient, mature, wise and having a broad outlook. Anandamoyi is a mother, not just to Gora but also to Binoy and the two are very attached to each other.

Krishna Dayal Babu – Anandamoyi ‘s husband – who was modern in his ways in his younger days, who made a mockery of traditions and changed his orthodox and traditional wife, returned to orthodoxy and ceremony in his old age. Anadamoyi however, retained her change unable to follow her husband in his somersaults. The secret of Gora’s birth is known only to her and her husband.

Notwithstanding Gora’s disapproval of his interacting with members of a Brahmo household, Binoy continues to visit Paresh babu’s house, sometimes with and sometimes without the knowledge of Gora. As he interacts more and more with Paresh Babu’s family and gets to know Lolita, one of Praesh babu’s daughters, he falls in love with her and she with him.

Gora’s elder stepbrother Mohim, born to Krishnadayal’s first wife has daughter by name Sasi. Mohim has plans to wed his daughter to Binoy and expects Gora to persuade Binoy to give his consent!

Gora, so sure of his allegiance to Hindu religion and society, who has taken the oath of Brahmacharya for the sake of discharging his duty towards country and religion and who warns Binoy to keep away from the Brahmo family inevitably feels drawn towards Sucharita, and Sucharita who was initially offended by Gora’s opinionated talk and found him abrasive, eventually falls in love with him.

Haran Babu who had been hitherto exercising control over Sucharita gradually loses his grip over her and becomes frustrated.

These are the main characters, around and about whom the story evolves. The story is centred at one time around one family or one character, and at another time, another family, another character... you can actually feel what the character is experiencing and you identify with all the characters at some point or another. I like such realistic works where there are no fixed protagonists and antagonists.

All the characters, so sure of themselves and their purpose in the beginning, begin to re-evaluate their beliefs as they interact with one another and get exposure to new situations and experience emotions they have never known before. Long standing opinions and surging emotions battle with each other. As always, in the end, love wins.

This is a book of very interesting and insightful conversations and arguments between various characters about Hinduism, religion, society, customs, duty etc. It’s a very fine job of character sketching. You can see the characters in your mind. And most of the character sketching is achieved through these conversations.

One of the aspects typical of the generation of those times that the story presents is the extent of maturity in women, which is reflected by their conversations. The female characters are all less than 18 years old but their thoughtfulness, their sense of responsibility towards family and society are remarkable. Their traits are typical of an era where social interest was above personal interest and individualism was almost absent.

This work is special in that, it provides close views of the Brahmo society, the ways of the Brahmo people, their outlook and hence it provides an insight into the religion itself. This triggered some deep thinking and some verification of preconception. More on this in another post...

A monumental work. I could read it again.

As usual, I wish to mark a few lines from the work ... either for the use of language or a meaningful insight they provide...

Satish refusing to take Binoy’s help – ‘He began to give all kinds of precedents to show how usual it was for him to go about alone...’

Gora to Binoy, ‘Your idea of the best method of navigation will be reduced to drifting anyhow....
I am for each one of us keeping to our limits; once you yield a pin’s point of ground, there is no knowing where you will end.’

It was difficult to say how far Binoy, who was largely guided by the heart, accepted the principles Gora preached for their own sake and how far because of his friendship for him.

Gora “We must refuse to allow our country to stand at the bar of a foreign court and be judged according to a foreign law. Our ideas of shame or glory must not depend on minute comparisons at every step with a foreign standard. We must not feel apologetic about the country of our birth...”

‘Whatever religion is really yours according to your own karma, to it you will have to return sooner or later, - no one can stand in your way... ‘, Krishnadayal

On Paresh Babu’s comment on deity having a finite form and form being limited and Baroda questioning idol worship...
Gora “Nothing can become manifest unless it has limits. The infinite has taken the help of form in order to manifest Himself, otherwise, how could he be revealed? That which is unrevealed cannot attain perfection. The formless is fulfilled in forms just as thought is perfected in words. If the formless had been the real perfection, then form would have found no place in the universe at all.

In response to Haran Babu’s claim that our country can never progress, that the Indians have many flaws in Indian society, customs...
Gora, “Falsehood is a sin, false censure is a still greater sin, but there are few sins to compare with the false revilement of one’s own people. When you are able to condemn all the evil customs of the English with as much honest indignation, you will have a right to talk about evil customs of our society.

Sucharita understood somehow that in this protesting orthodoxy of Gora there was a spirit of defiance, - that it had not the naturalness of real conviction, - that it did not find its full satisfaction in his own faith, - that in fact it was assumed in anger and arrogance in order to hurt others.

Stimulated by his own unexpected cleverness and power of expresssion, Binoy felt a joyous exhilaration which made his face radiant...

When Binoy confessed his love to Gora who did not quite approve of it...,
Gora “I can’t honestly say that I exactly understand this kind of thing, nor would you have understood it any better a few days ago. I can’t even deny that, amidst all the immensity of life, this side of it, for all its effusiveness and passion, has struck me as utterly trivial. But perhaps it may not be really so – that much I am free to admit. It has seemed to me thin and unsubstantial because I have never experienced its power or its depths. But now I cannot dismiss as false what you have realised so tremendously. The fact of the matter is, that if the truths outside the field of one’s own work did not appear of less moment, no man could have carried on with his duty. Therefore God has not confused man by making all objects equally clear to his vision. We must select for ourselves the field on which we would focus our attention and forgo our greed for all the rest outside it, else we shall never find the truth at all. I cannot worship at the shrine where you have seen truth’s image for if I did, I should have to lose the inner truth of my own life.

When I see the defects of our society, the abuses of our caste system, I cannot but express my doubts; but Gora tells me that doubt is only the result of trying to see great things in too much detail- to regard the broken branches and withered leaves as the ultimate nature of a tree is simply the result of intellectual impatience. Gora says he does not ask for any praise of the decaying boughs, but asks us to look at the whole tree and then try to understand its purpose.

The less the outward proof of offense, the more importunate becomes the accuser...

He was not indulging in any play of words but that his opinions had long years of thought and practise behind them...

Because, so long he had not acknowledged her sway, Nature had now taken her revenge by enmeshing him in her magic net... with a strong effort, he threw off the web of absorption that had cast its spell around him...

Network of leaves with so many glittering bayonets...

She had been his first waking thought...

According to scriptures, the urgency of doing justice appertains to the King. On him recoils the crime of injustice...

Something in her face and tone of voice seemed to hint to a tear purified life of sorrow...

Those who are in prison are bearing the punishment for the sins of those who judge others, but not themselves. The faults of many go to the making of a crime, but only these unfortunates have to bear the brunt of it. When or how or where the sin of those who are living comfortable and respectable lives outside the prison walls will be expiated, we do not know.

How much more terrible was man’s tyranny over man than all the other cruelties in the world, and how vast and intolerable it had become with the combines power of society and government behind it!

The more he felt that he was gradually losing the respect of everyone in this house, the more desperately he struggled to maintain his position in it, forgetting that to clutch tighter a weakening support only makes it give way the sooner.

That Lolita could possibly be in love with him was a supposition which Binoy had not sufficient self conceit to entertain.

The silent are always found guilty. In this world, those who lodge their plaints first win their suits...

How true man is himself and how false the things about which his quarrels divide man from man...

Some people are constitutionally incapable of taking a hint...

He girded up his loins for a renewed struggle that day onwards...

It is always easy to obey with alacrity the call of truth and duty when it prompts us to condemn and punish other’s transgressions.

One puts a premium on evil by suffering it without protest. The proper remedy for evil is to fight against it.

It was his habit to walk up and down in the garden at night all alone with his head bowed in thought– it was as if he were smoothing out from his mind all the creases of the day’s work in the pure darkness of evening and preparing himself for the night’s rest by storing up in his heart deep thoughts of unsullied peace.

Binoy, upon Haran’s questioning Lolita’s character for her travelling alone with Binoy on the boat, “If you are going to place on an equality some purely external event with a fault of the inner life, then what need was there for you to leave the Hindu society and become a Brahmo?...

Religion is not built up on the foundations of society and the individual, it is society and the individual which depend on religion. If you once begin to call that religion which society happens to want then society itself will be ruined; if society puts any obstacles in the way of a right religious freedom, then by surmounting such unreasonable obstructions, we are doing our duty to society.

Those who have large hearts are such interested friends...

Paresh Babu “It’s a mistake to think that it’s one’s duty to be doing something always; often enough one’s chief duty is not to do anything at all ...”

You have always exaggerated more than ordinary people do. There was a hollow space in your mind and you had to use plenty of mortar to fill it up. So much would not have been so necessary if your faith had been simple.

Hindu society has always given shelter to new sects, and it can be the society of all religious communities...

If Hindu society remains in such a narrow condition, then we must undertake the responsibility for rescuing it from that state. No one wants to reduce to ruins, a fine building in order to get more light and air, when it would do just as well to enlarge its doors and windows.

The more inclined we are to regard things with pity the more completely do we lose our power of seeing truth as a whole and unchanging – we obscure what should be light by our compassion just like smoke obscures fire.
Therefore it has always been the rule in our country for those who have to bear the burden of the welfare of all to remain aloof. The idea that a king can protect his subjects by mixing intimately with them is entirely without foundation. The kind of wisdom that is needed by a Raja in his relationship with his subjects is defiled by association with them. It is for this reason that the subjects surround their king of their own free will with a halo of aloofness for they realize that if their king becomes their companion, then the reason for his existence disappears.

To invest someone with a sacred thread... sacred thread investiture...
He had a caste mark of Ganges clay on his forehead...
Perform ceremonial cleansing after sitting down for a meal...
Anything savouring of orthodoxy had her allegiance...
They were having an esoteric conversation...
I do not have force of conviction as him...
He was imbued to the bone with western ideas...
She went inside precipitately when she saw a group of boys approach the gate...

How supinely unconscious of its own power was this vast expanse of rural India!
Pluck – courage, spirit – he had admiration for her pluck...
He cast covetous eyes on her property

Dinning – force information into a person by constant repetition – go on dinning the same thing over

Her joy was not unalloyed – there was some anxiety, some sorrow...)

Binoy in love – Binoy assured himself that in the ordinary relationship between and woman in worldly society, it was impossible that such a supremely lofty note could be heard, and again and again he told Gora that he must not compare it with the relationships with others. It was doubtful whether ever before quite what had happened to Binoy had occurred to anyone else! If such experiences had been universal, then the whole of human society would have become restless on every side with the surge of new life just as with the breath of spring, all the forests rejoice in their fresh leaves and blossoms. Then people would not have spent dull lives in sleeping and eating as they do now. This was the golden wand the touch of which no one could afford to neglect or remain insensitive to. By it even the most commonplace people became exceptional, and if once man tasted the strength of this rare experience he would acquire a knowledge of the truth of life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ladakh - Day 3 - Sindhu

After Shey, the next destination was Stok. But before that, my driver friend had a promise to fulfill. So we drove on, as I looked around in anticipation.

And then we parked the car and walked.

This is an embankment built by the river Sindhu where the annual Sindhu festival is conducted.

Sindhu. The river that gave India its name. The fountainhead of a civilisation. A mother who has silently witnessed all that was gained and all that was lost in seven thousand years and more… I wonder how it feels to live that long …

I just stood still for a while and looked at her…as if hoping to spot a sign of familiarity, may be recognition…

It was time to get closer, to fell the caress of her waters.
As had been taught at home, before making my first contact with my feet, I bent down, nay bowed down, touched the water to my eyes and put a few drops on my head.
And then I entered her. The riverbed was made of smooth, rounded rocks and the finest soil. It was very slippery. My driver friend was holding my hand and guarding me in strange waters.

I went further, step after step, groping to find the right stone beneath my feet. And after a few feet, I found sand. I let go of my friend’s hand and stood all by myself, resisting the temptation to go further.

Now I was almost in the middle of the river with beautiful scenery all around me.

I stood for some time with folded hands, thanking her for everything. For this great civilization. For this great religion. For the greatest people in the world.
I collected the water in my cupped hands and drank it. I took out the small kingfisher water bottle that they had given me on the plane, filled it with the elixir and closed the lid tight.

The picture around was truly magical. Many pictures in one picture. The play of sunlight and clouds. The yellow and green, fresh and dry shrubs all along the opposite bank, the mountains beyond, brown and grey, brown turning grey as if put to sleep by a cloud above and grey turning brown when waking to the sun above, several of them overlapping, only their contours giving away their distinctness.

The Sindhu valley, once most fertile, turned to a desert. I wonder know how and when this must have happened.

Very reluctantly we walked back to our car and drove on…

We passed by these Stupas at one end of a huge field. Apparently, when Dalai Lama visits this place, this field is where he addresses the masses.

We arrived at the bridge. I got down and took these last pictures

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zest. For Life. In Spite Of Life

It hurts. To meet people dear to you after a span of months or years and see them less cheerful, less happy and more cynical. It hurts to see flowers wilting away.

But I understand.

In the face of hopeless circumstances, fleeting time, a body that is creaking under the demands made of it by stressful days and sleepless nights and generally, the unfair ways of life, it is very difficult to have faith in goodness, keep the hope in your heart, a smile on your face, spring in your step and zest for life.

As I write this, I am thinking about some of my friends and acquaintances, who were extremely positive in life at the time I met them. They were cheerful and confident of themselves. They believed strongly in certain ideals. There was an innocent belief in “As you sow, sow shall you reap” and “Good begets good”. Their effervescence could even light up other peoples’ lives. They were more or less in control of their lives or so they thought. These were people you could draw inspiration from.

I met these people again after a long time. Of course, I met each of them separately and at a different time.
I was eager, ebullient and enthusiastic to meet them after a long time.
But I was surprised and pained to see them so changed.

What happened to her smile?
What happened to those ideals? “It was just my perception. And perceptions change with time” came the reply. But I could see that she was not happy to let go of that ideal. She had let go but with reluctance.

Rahul. A die- hard romantic. He had written some beautiful love poems. He had loved before. And lost. But his search had not stopped. He would find her. Sooner or later.
Now when he told me he was engaged, I was all curious. “So, did you find her?”
“No. it’s a typical arranged marriage. There is no such thing as love. One has to be practical in life. Can't go on waiting. I am 34 already”.
That was a long wait. And a futile one.
Though he did not say so, he was disillusioned and disappointed.
He would probably never love her enough to be inspired to write a poem for her. He might. But who knows? It was not somebody he could not live without. It was just somebody he could live with.

He was one of the people who had shown me my next level. It had just been a three hour conversation. And I advanced by leaps and bounds after that. Twinkle in his eyes. Dimple smile. Purpose and meaning. A versatile fellow who had written 20 short stories and was looking forward to get them published.
We were meeting after just two years. But he looked so much older. Whatever happened to that twinkle now?
Life had been harsh in these two years. He had lost his father. And a lot of money in the stock market crash. A dental surgery. A painful one. House loan. EMI.
The book is not published and he is not even making an effort. He does not write anymore. "No time. Work is crazy. I hate it. But..."

What happened to the promise you had made to yourselves? About living the life you wanted? What happened to that self assurance? You always told me to listen to my heart and follow my inner voice. You always said everything happens for the best? Do you believe in it still?

It did not seem like that with these people. A tenderness had been lost. They had smothered their Ideals. They had allowed time and circumstances to harden them. A shade of resignation could be seen in their demeanour. The incorrigible optimism had been uprooted and cynicism, though imperceptible had germinated in its place.

These were people I once drew strength from.
It hurt. It pained to see them having given up. It feels like I could do anything to revive that hope, that twinkle and that dimple on their face.

It’s amazing how life strives to prove unworthy of all the hope and trust people have in it.
It’s remarkable how it chooses to let down, among all, those who have believed in it the most.
Those who do not pause, even for moment to think about it, life leaves alone; but it hunts down those zestful, thoughtful, lively custodians of life who strive to salvage it from the negative philosophy of the cynical, pessimistic ones who proclaim that ‘it all ends in death’!

I walked back home after meeting these people with a heavy heart. The weekend saw me in a philosophical, contemplative and serious mood.

No matter how life treats me, I don’t want to resign, I don’t want to be hardened, I want to keep hoping and believing. I want to keep my innocence. I want to hold on to my ideals.
No matter what happens to me, I want to be positive enough to tell people "Everything happens for the best."
No matter what destiny has in store for me, I want to be able to tell people to keep trying, not to give up.
Whether or not life rewards me for all my good, I want to be able to tell people to believe in goodness and tread the correct path.
Whether or not I find love, I want to always believe in love and be able to tell people "Do not marry someone you can live with. Marry someone you can’t live without."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ladakh - Day 3 - Shey

After Thikse, it was Shey.

Shey is an ancient capital of Ladhak with now a ruined castle and a gompa enshrining a giant sitting Buddha.

The castle is reached by a path that zigzags up the crag from the road, reaching the entrance porch.

As I climbed the rugged path, I looked back to these views.

A row of chortens (stupas), some freshly painted, some dilapidated, stand on the far side of the slope, beyond the derelict palace.

Facing the palace, is 180 degrees of superb scenery, that looks gorgeous from that height.

A lake surrounded by lush fields lies in front of the hill, beyond the road. The lake is artificial and was probably dug when the castle was built. While the castle is less than 400 years old, Shey was ladakh’s capital as far back as the 10th century.

A huge Stupa with a gilded finial.

As you enter the temple you see a giant, faintly smiling Sakyamuni Buddha. It’s a colossal sitting Buddha, copper gilt on clay (supposed to be disappointing artistically). It’s 8 meter or 26 feet high. It was built by Nepalese artists aided by goldsmiths from the village of Chilling, long the metalworking capital of Ladakh.

As in Thikse, you are level with the shoulders of the Buddha on the upper floor; the statue rises from the ground floor. The walls of the upper floor containing some great paintings are blackened and faded. The two statues at the back of the temple are of the buddha’s disciples Sariputra and Mogallana.

In front of the Buddha statue, are 2 glass cases enclosing female protector deities Chakpa Maylen (red) and Palden Lhamo (on a horse).

The portion of the terrace behind the temple …

There are superb views of the Indus valley from the terrace outside.

Near a bend on the road notice the bas relief of five Buddha figures on a rock face. The engravings date back to at least 11th – 12th century, for the carvings are of the five Dhyani buddhas with Vairochana in the middle, a theme then greatly prevalent.