There must have been a time when humans were born on this planet with a clarity of purpose and a constant awareness of purpose for this journey we find ourselves on.
It feels that something has occurred to cause a derailment of the human story, sometime, somehow, we took a wrong turn and we find ourselves lost to purpose, oblivious to the truth and determined to go on a path towards self destruction.
Were all the attempts at religion failed wakeup calls? What is next? Will we eventually wake up to the values this incredible and sustaining planet we live on? Or is abdication responsibility the way of tomorrow too?
Today I spent a larger part of the day driving around with my daughter from home to school to extra activities, home and school again. We have come to call Monday the ‘fun day’ partly sarcastically because of all the driving, and partly because we never know how it will unfold.
On the last one of today’s drives we both realized that we forgot to eat. This started a conversation that took me to my memories of meeting the Buddhist monks in Myanmar, in Cambodia and in Shangrila amongst others. One of the special things I discovered was that they only ate one meal a day.
Of course they do have their reasons and the discipline they adhere to, but this made me realize how much time we spend obsessing about food , our choices, the preparation, diets and the rest of it.
A dose of simplicity sounds right from time to time, doesn’t it?
We were treated yesterday to a beautiful tradition of Dukhoon where incense was burnt on our arrival and several times throughout the day during our visit and the midkhan or incense burner was passed around to allow us to incense our hair and clothing following the example of our hostess.
Dukhoon has a very long tradition in the Arabic culture of being used in religious ceremonies as well as social events and it’s use is reputed to heal, repel bad spirits, enhance smells and increase creativity and motivation.
There is something quite haunting about witnessing and being part of this tradition and obviously I go back home tomorrow with a variety of oud and incense to burn in my home and keep this tradition alive.
As part of my daily morning process, I have always started with observing the root number of the day. You arrive at this number by adding all the numbers of the day, month and year till you arrive at a single number between 1 and 9. Today is 15+12+2021=5.
5 days have to do with, yes, you guessed it, the nature of 5. If you start to observe the nature of days between 1 and 9, you gradually see a pattern. The best way to start this investigation is by researching the number itself, where have you seen in in nature, religion, culture, mathematical anomalies…etc.
5 is a prime number, we see it in many flower petals, in the number of fingers and toes, in our extremities (we look like stars), in starfish, the 5th Fibonacci number, 5 senses, the five elements in hinduism: earth, air, water, fire and space or ether, the 5 faces of Shiva, the 5 pillars of Islam, the 5 woundings of Christ, the 5 books of Judaism… and the list goes on.
The reason why my mind went more into 5 and numerology today is because of the image above. You see handprints in the world since the beginning of time, from cave paintings till today’s modern art. There is a huge discussion about these ancient hand prints to determine if they are art or not, as if that matters. But what is the real significance of creating a handprint? Where have we seen it before? I just love finding clues in history about things like this.
And what would the nature of a 5 day like today be? Balance comes to mind… What else? What is the root number of your birth date? What does it suggest? Mine is 5.
When you are like me and you love exploring this planet and learning about its inhabitants, then some places haunt you for years after you visit them. One of these places is Varanasi in India. You probably have heard of Varanasi, its floods of pilgrims, swamis, holy men and women, the river Ganga and its famous healing powers, great promise of immortality for those lucky ones who are cremated and released into its waters, or the miraculous healing to those who bathe in its folds.
I arrived there with an open mind, camera and great eagerness to document what I see. I saw and felt so much more than I could possibly hold on to, but to single out one topic from that journey for the sake of economy, it would be ‘faith’.
If you want to study faith, how people adopt it, how it leads their lives and actions, how it fortifies them against all challenges, then Varanasi is the place.
There is so much more to say about it, but I leave you with these 4 images for now until I dive into that world again.
When I was a small child, we lived close to a very special monastery. In that monastery was a very magical well that always fascinated the dreamy child in me. We were told that the well was always empty but if you prayed and your prayers were accepted then the water flowed and you could have a drink of holy water. I was in utter awe of seeing my suspended bowl attached to a piece of rope sometimes come up full.
In my travels I saw several cultures revere water in different ways. On this riverbank in Myanmar locals considered this water a miracle cure for their ailments, the river Ganga in India is considered the ultimate destination for Hindu worshippers.
There is so much mystery in something as simple as water. We are 70% mystery ourselves!
I remember as a child getting very excited about the occasional long walks we took to our favorite monastery pocketed in the heart of the Lebanese mountain overlooking the valley of the saints. We walked for hours and felt the importance of our pilgrimage with every dusty step. It says so much about pilgrimages and the necessity of removing oneself from a current situation to meet new requirements for personal development. Walking up the mountain dictated a baggage free walk and a sense of lightness and freedom that only comes from surrender to a higher cause.
I look back with so much endearment to those days, the time of innocence and magic.
Day 47 of 365~
Image taken of a young monk Myanmar during my trip there last year.
They raise their hands in unison, they chant all together with passion, they cheer in joy, they cry in despair, they fight disbelievers and they come back again and again, week after week to adore at the stadium of their favorite team.
Day 41 of 365~
Image taken during a football (soccer) game today in Germany
There is a place on the bank of the Ganges River in the holy city of Varanasi, where more than 300 bodies get cremated daily and the ashes thrown into the river with the belief that the soul of the dead will be allowed a chance at a new life through reincarnation. Hindus from all over India and Asia carry their dead to award them that honor. I sat for a long time on a boat watching the burnings and the surreal picture they painted while this regal bird circled around the ghat reminding me of the certain mortality of the physical body. It was eerie in a good way, because life begs us to question death and death urges us to value life.