TEN DAYS OUTSIDE THE WORLD – PART TWO

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The course was held in an ancient Tuscan farmstead. We were about seventy participants, and had to wake up at four o’ clock in the morning when it was pitch dark. The meditation was held in the hall within half an hour.

The meals were breakfast at 6 and lunch at eleven in the morning. After lunch there was nothing to eat- except some fruit- until the next day. The teacher said that the stomach should be empty to meditate well.

During the first three days we did a kind of meditation called ‘Anapana’, which consisted in watching the air passing through our nostrils.

In the evening it was possible to ask questions to the teacher. So I went to him and asked: “ I’d like to know what is the meaning of watching my breathing.”

He didn’t seem to be taken aback by my question and answered with a kind smile. “The observation of the air passing through your nostrils leads you to see the reality as it is; there is nothing more objective than air. Furthermore watching yourself in the limited area around your nostrils and upper lip sharpens your mind to observe the body sensations.

After three days of ‘Anapana’, we were taught another kind of meditation called ‘Vipassana’, based on the observation of our body. Also this time I had the opportunity of asking the teacher about this topic. “What is for?” I asked.

“Through ‘Vipassana’ you will come across the ‘Law of Impermanence’”. “All body sensations,” he continued, “ come and go; they are impermanent so as everything in human life.”

After nine days of absolute silence and meditation, we were allowed to talk to each other.

I had been ten days outside worldly life. A really unique experience! Everybody should interrupt the chain of the events that lead them here and there like leaves swept away by the wind even for a little while and watch inside themselves, so as every authentic human being should do. So I recommend meditation to everybody who lives very busily.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind

 

 

 

TEN DAYS OUTSIDE THE WORLD – PART ONE

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One day while I was traveling in Indochina, I had the chance to meet a few extraordinary people who stayed at a very special meditation center for one month, where they meditated continuously. Later, although they were traveling across Thailand, they enjoyed meditating at least for two hours a day.

I was made curious by their way of living and asked them some information about the meditation course they had attended.

“We have been in a Dhamma Mediation Center,” they answered, “but you can find similar centers all over the world. It is very easy! All you have to do is to search them on the internet.”

Once back in Italy, I visited the website they had advised, and found that there was a Vipassana Meditation Center also in Italy, precisely in the countryside near Florence; so I applied for a ten days course.

As soon as I arrived, a volunteer at the reception – all Dhamma Centers are free, based on donations, and the workers and teachers are unpaid – asked me to leave my laptop, mobile phone, and books at the reception. For ten days I would be isolated from the rest of the world, in a state of absolute silence; not one word would be exchanged between me and the other participants. Men and women would attend the course in different areas…

 

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind

 

 

 

LIFE

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LIFE

 

We were sitting on our stone staircase.

What is life? I asked my siblings.

“Life is breathing,”answered Biagio. “Even trees breathe.”

“Life is a tiny bird on a small branch,”said Vincenzo.

“Unexpectedly the sprig snaps,

and the little bird flies away.”

“As for me,” replied Carolina, “life is a dream,

sometimes beautiful and often nightmarish.”

“Life is destiny!” I ended off. “It is a beautiful drawing on the sand,

and the drawer already knows when the tide will erase it .”

 

This poem is an excerpt from my book, A Hidden Sicilian History.

THE GIFTS OF INSULTS

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One day many people were bringing presents to Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who accepted all the gifts and smiled kindly at everybody, but all of a sudden an angry man started railing at him. Instead of gifts, that intolerant person hurled insults at Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

The prince continued to smile and replied politely. “I don’t like your gifts; therefore keep them just for you, because I don’t accept your presents.”

The angry man seemed bewildered and didn’t have the strength to reply.

The moral of the story? Whenever somebody insults you, instead of retaliating, just confine yourself to saying “ I don’t like your gifts, keep them for you!”

Don’t you think that if everybody acted that way, the world would be more peaceful?

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History

 

THE PUMPKIN SEEDS

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Once upon a time, in Northern India there was a woman in her forties, who wished to become a mother for a long time. It seemed that she was barren, but when the last ray of hope was about to vanish, unexpectedly she gave birth to a very beautiful baby girl.

At that time, she was the happiest woman in the world, but at the age of five years her little girl died suddenly.

She was desperate, and couldn’t accept that her beloved daughter had passed away. She cried and cried. One day, one of her neighbors advised her to go to Prince Gautama Buddha, who was a man able to perform miracles.

“ If you beseech that holy man, your daughter will come back to life!” said the neighbor.

The lady set out towards the place where Buddha lived and after two days’ walk she reached him.

Prince Gautama Buddha was sitting surrounded by many monks. Seeing her so badly upset, he felt pity.

“To perform the miracle,” said Prince Gautama to the lady, “ you need to bring me seven pumpkin seeds, but they must be taken from a house where nobody has died.”

The lady was happy and confident that she would easily get the seven pumpkin seeds, and Prince Siddhartha Gautama would perform the miracle to revive her child.

She knocked on the door of a house and asked: “Do you have pumpkin seeds?”

“Yes, of course we have a lot of pumpkin seeds,” answered a young lady on the threshold.

“Did someone die in this house?”

“Unfortunately, last year my father passed away,” she answered.

She kept going from house to house asking for pumpkin seeds, but she couldn’t find a house where nobody had died. Everyone had suffered the death of someone.

Meanwhile, the desperate lady returned to reason, and finally realized that life and death are two sides of the same coin, no one can escape the latter.

What is the moral of the story?

You are not the only one who struggles in life; whenever you feel a pain which seems unbearable, look at the others and you will see your trouble fade away.

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History

 

ONE-STAR RATING

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Nowadays, more and more people buy items on the internet: books, electronics, musical instruments, cars, shoes, and so on. Usually, they read the product review before purchasing, which ranges from one-star to five-star.

If an item is rated one-star, people don’t even read the product review and skip it to look for another article with more stars.

Have you ever asked yourself if this way of judging is the right one?

Three years ago I posted a comment on Reddit, which is a social media.

My comment was about what happened at a restaurant in Houston. A family of four asked to have dinner at a distance from the table where another family with a disabled child was dining, and addressed the waiter with a few pungent words.

“Disabled children should eat in special places when they enter a restaurant!”

On hearing those words, the waiter refused to serve those intolerant customers, who left the restaurant.

The news spread quite soon, and the restaurant was praised by host of people due to the waiter’s behavior.

My voice was dissenting from those who had praised the restaurant.

In my opinion the waiter had the duty to serve the intolerant guests, although he had different ideas in his mind.

My article was misunderstood and misinterpreted.

A few anonymous people posted some tart replies. An anonymous reader bought the electronic copy of my newly published book The Vibrations of Words, and immediately posted a one-star review on Amazon.

That pseudo-review has nothing to do with the contents of the book, as it is related to my article on Reddit, but the readers don’t know that, and seeing my book on Amazon rated one-star, they pass over it.

Reality is different from appearance the Buddhists say, and I agree with them. Not everything that at first glance seems to be true is the truth.

The Vibrations of Words is a wonderful book indeed, and I recommend it to the readers. Who knows! Maybe someone, after having read it, can post a good review on Amazon to counterbalance the fake one, and give my book the luck it deserves.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of The Vibrations of Words

WHAT IS A BALUT?

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Traveling across the world, it has happened to me to eat every kind of food. I have eaten cockroaches, worms, grasshopper, frogs, raw meat, raw fish and so on, but at first glance what I was not able to eat was a balut.

What is a balut? It is a fertilized egg, that is an egg with a chick inside. It is considered a delicacy by the local people in Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.

While I was travelling Indo-China I came across a balut twice.

The first time in Thailand. I was in Chang May, eating at a restaurant, when I saw a pile of white hard-boiled eggs in the shape of a pyramid that were kept warm by steam.

I was attracted by those eggs and ordered two of them. When I removed the eggshell, I saw some strange red veins. “This egg is not good!” I said to the waitress.

“No, it is very tasty! There is a chick inside” she replayed.

Despite her insistence, I was unable to eat that strange food and paid in vain.

A few years went by, and in Vietnam at a restaurant a waiter served me another balut. This time I wanted to try it, and little by little I ate both the chick and the egg.

Why I am writing about a balut? Because I want to draw attention to the fact that very often we humans cringe if a chick is eaten or a nest is destroyed, but we are left completely indifferent whenever thousands and thousands of migrants drown in the Mediterranean sea while trying to reach the European coasts. There are even people who love animals, but hate their neighbor. We had better observe reality as it is, regardless of our feelings of pleasure or displeasure, taste or disgust.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of Travels of the Mind