VISITING RISHIKESH (INDIA)

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The weather in Rishikesh changed radically the following day. The sun was shining and it became much hotter. We walked along the same lane as the day before and arrived at a narrow bridge. Only pedestrians and motorbikes could use it. Monkeys stood along the handrails, hoping to get some food.
We crossed the bridge and walked along the other bank of the river, which was also full of shops and restaurants. While we walked on the bridge, I admired the river in all its majesty, and noticed that the olive-green color was constant, even in stretches where the banks were surrounded by houses, when the trees were far away and the sky was cloudy. Its wonderful green color remained even at twilight. Obviously, the constant hue depended on some phenomenon that I didn’t know about, but there had to be something mysterious in the amazing Ganges. It could be considered sacred not only by Hindus, but by everybody. It cannot be ruled out that God, who is the same for all people, regardless of the race, becomes manifest in different ways so that He can show Himself through those holy waters.
Cows wandered freely in the narrow streets, while donkeys and mules were used to carry river sand, gravel, and red bricks to building sites. I hadn’t seen this kind of transportation for at least seventy years, when long lines of donkeys, mules, and horses carried goods and people from the countryside into Enna.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

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THE IDEAS OF AFTERLIFE, GOOD AND EVIL ACCORDING TO AN INDIAN HOMELESS MAN

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“He watched the river and then turned to me. ‘What a beautiful landscape! Once people used to come here and walk along the bank of the river until late at night. Now this river is full of garbage. It flows into another river called Krishna. It is the only river of India flowing eastward before arriving in the Bay of Bengal.’ ‘What is your job?’ I asked. ‘I am a yoga teacher, now! I was rich at one time. Then I lost all my money at the stock market. I just followed the advice of the managers of the bank, but things didn’t go well.’
“I didn’t have any reason to doubt his words. Maybe he was rich at one time. Who knows! It is not unusual to fall from riches to rags. As he said that he was a yoga teacher, I thought he knew something about the relationship between body and soul. So I asked him, ‘Do you think there is life after death?’ ‘After death there is a mutation. It happens because the frequency changes and the wavelength changes, too. Then, resonance takes place according to the whole cosmos. Resonance is everywhere. It can be chaotic or smooth. Human intelligence has to learn to accept the polarity of destruction and creativity, which is one infinite energy. These days women can’t resonate due to the education system. The male scientific mutation dominates the feminine resonance, so we are proceeding toward a global suicide,’ he answered.”

“Did you ask his name, Uncle Salvatore?”
“Yes, I did. ‘My name is Prem. I had my first death experience at the age of eighteen. The second experience came through pranayama, yoga, and long-time vipassana, or cosmic self-love. I was dying during my prayers. My mind stopped slowly, and my body also stopped. No breath, only awareness and cosmic vibrations. Peace, oneness, feeling of being drunk in bliss, freedom, and being in the now and here, no future, no past.’ ‘You said that everything is mutation of wholeness. Trees, animals, stars, the moon, human beings, and so on are mutations. Is wholeness God?’ ‘I don’t use the word God, I use the word godliness. God is a noun, while godliness expresses action, creativity, and quality,’ he answered.
“I wanted to stop the conversation with him. But I continued to talk because I didn’t want to hurt him. So I asked him, ‘Are people with a low intelligence a mutation of godliness?’ ‘They are a mutation of our retarded social system.’ ‘Is our retarded social system a mutation of godliness?’ ‘It is a mutation of the animal kingdom.’ ‘But the animal kingdom is also a mutation of God!’ ‘Look! There are three things: pain, pleasure, and transcendence of both. If there is no pain, there is no pleasure and no transcendence. Godliness means all three: animal, human, and superhuman. Being human means that through the right effort man can transform the inner animal into a superhuman being. If we don’t try to transcend instinct, we are not human beings, yet. We are just animals with contracted hearts or maybe without hearts. We are just robots that act mechanically. Our scientific inventions created by our animal minds are of no avail to go beyond animality.’ ‘Does evil come from godliness?’ ‘Evil means a closed and contracted heart. Good means an open and expanded heart. It depends upon us and our educational system.’”
“This time I agree with him, Uncle Salvatore. His idea about good and evil is unique. Yes, if our heart is closed and contracted, we can be evil, while good is an expression of an open and expanded heart.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

A MEETING WITH AN ANGEL IN LONDON

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Near Chiswick Square, I stopped for a while to look at a board in front of the entrance to an Anglican church. There was an advertisement for tai chi chuan. While I was standing in front of the board, a man about thirty years old with an athletic body came up behind my shoulders. He reached me and I assumed he was probably about to talk to me of tai chi chuan.

“No, thanks.” I said, anticipating his words. “Sorry, I am not interested.”
“Come up with me, I want to talk with you.”
We went to the upper floor and entered a room equipped as a gymnasium. It was a traditional gymnasium, that is, without apparatuses for bodybuilding. On one of the sides, there was a step. We sat down on that step. The light was very dim, but I could see him clearly. I cannot forget his face, his eyes, and everything of him. He left an indelible imprint in my heart and mind.
The young guy was a bit taller than me and wore brown running trousers, a green T-shirt, and white training shoes. His hair was light brown and his eyes green. He had a small scar in his large forehead. His nose was a little bit snubby and his lips were very thin. His arms and legs were so stout and beefy that they made him seem capable of knocking a bull down, but his smile was the sweetest I had ever seen. As soon as we sat down, I went to the core of my issue one more time.
“I would like to know whether everything ends, or there is something that survives the decay of our body after death.”
The young English athlete stared into my eyes for a short while. All of a sudden, he stood up and bent his right arm.
“Stand up! Push my arm hard with all your strength!”
I stood up, too. For a while, I had the sensation of being in another world. That unexpected action of the young athlete, the half-light in the gymnasium, that chance meeting in London in a country different from mine, all these made me think that I was daydreaming or I was in an unreal place. I couldn’t feel like I was living in this world.
I had an instant of confusion, and then I decided to follow the instructions given me by the athlete. So, I put my hand on his arm and pushed it hard, with all the strength I could muster. The athlete went back markedly.
“Now you are strong!” he exclaimed.
Soon after, he recovered and pushed my arm back. Even though I tried hard to withstand him, I couldn’t help stepping back.
“Now you are weak! What’s happening?” he said to me.
We kept doing this exercise for a while, and the smile appeared on my face. Just that smile that I had lost for many, too many, years!
“What happened to you? When we entered the gymnasium, you were pale, pensive, and tied up with your question about death. Now you are smiling. How is it possible?”
“You are an angel, aren’t you? How can I thank you for the smile you’ve brought back to me!”
He seemed to appreciate my praise, with a big smile.
“Thank you! Today, I gave you a small amount of fire. It’s a fire that you will pass to others later!”
Then, he explained the meaning of the exercise we had done.
“You must never permit yourself to be conditioned by the result. Never ever act, work, study, fight, love, and so on only for the sake of a good outcome. The good action is important, not the result! You shouldn’t stop any action only because you haven’t achieved good results. In other words, you must be authentic to yourself regardless of success or failure. Success doesn’t give you strength or energy, nor can failure deprive you of your good qualities. So, remember this: Don’t depend upon anything outside yourself, but only rely on your inner energy! It is possible to apply this principle to sports as well. If a football team wins a match, it doesn’t mean that it is a strong team, and if a boxer wins a fight, it doesn’t mean that he is a champion. Both the football team and the boxer are really true champions only when they have a real autonomous, inner strength, regardless of winning…”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

HOW TO OVERCOME FEAR OF FLYING

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London is a big city rather an ensemble of small towns joined together to form Greater London. To try to unravel the mysteries of the city, the best thing to do is to get on a red, double-decker bus and see the interesting places to visit from above. Following that idea, I waited for the first double-decker bus at the corner of Bath Road. It was the number 105.
The first stop was at Heathrow Airport. There were three terminals. On the upper floor of the terminal for international flights there was a waiting lounge flanked by shops. There were also rows of chairs for the passengers to sit while waiting for their flight.
I sat on one of those chairs and watched the people walking down the lounge and going in or out of the shops. There were people of all kinds of races. Many wore the traditional clothes of their homeland. I observed all those passengers and asked myself why I couldn’t travel by airplane. I thought about my absurd fear of flying. What was the cause? All those people around me were traveling by plane with no problems. Why not me?
I felt like a pigeon pushed away from its nest by the beak of its mother. Instead of opening its wings and flying, it hides in a bramble bush where it feels safe and from where it watches the other birds flying high.
While I was watching the crowd, a young couple came and sat close to me. He had Eastern features and wore a long, brightly colored robe and a fez on his head. Of the woman, I was able to see only her eyes; the rest of her body was covered with veils.
“Are you also waiting for your flight?” the man asked me.
“No, I am not. I’m just watching the passengers.”
“Are you a writer? Are you going to write a novel?” asked the veiled woman whose eyes looked like black quicksilver and flashed like those of a ferret. Her eyes reflected her gaiety.
“We got married just a short time ago,” said the man, “and we are going to Malaysia.”
“Where is Malaysia?”
“Near Thailand.”
“How long does it take to fly to Malaysia?”
“About fourteen hours, but we will transfer in Bangkok.”
“Aren’t you afraid that the airplane might fall?”
“There is no danger!” they both answered with one voice.
They said goodbye with great warmth, and I remained sitting there for a while, keeping watch of the continuous flow of people. At last, I decided that my abnormal situation should not last any longer; I had to finish being handicapped! I had to put a stop, once and for all, to my fear of flying. But what should I do? How could I do that? I had the sensation that, if I got onto an airplane, I would die of fear. I thought I would not be able to bear the changes in atmospheric pressure in my ears. Nevertheless, I was determined to win this battle. So, I started watching the airplanes during takeoffs and landings. In order to keep up my observations, I left the airport and went to a nearby two-story building.
On the ground floor, there was a permanent exhibition dedicated to civil aviation. On the walls, I saw pictures of famous figures when they got on or off an airplane. Among them there were Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, taken in the late fifties when they disembarked from a four-engine aircraft with propellers.
There was also a simulated flight deck. I vied with the children to get on that flight deck! Inside, everything looked real: the seats, the cockpit, the console full of electronic instruments, and the wide windscreen. I followed the stages of the flight: takeoff, flying at high altitude, and landing.
Everything was reproduced perfectly, even the conversations between the captain and the control tower. I listened to the instructions the control tower gave to the captain before landing. I often went back to that flight deck and focused my attention on those talks.
On the upper floor, there were large windows through which I was able to see two runways from a short distance, one for landing and the other for taking off. I noticed that most of the airplanes, after taking off, made a turn toward the right, and then went straight on their way. Nearing the airport, the airplanes descended slowly and landed smoothly. I admired the takeoff of a Concorde, which usually left for New York in the late afternoon. I was struck by the elegance of that supersonic airplane and noticed that its four engines emitted a red glow at sunset.
The following year, I was in London again, but this time as a volunteer of RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds). I had conquered my fear of planes as a result of my experience with the simulated flight board the year before. I boarded a low-cost flight from Palermo to London Stansted Airport. It took three hours to go from Sicily to England. The previous year the journey had taken three days by train and I had spent nearly 300 percent more!…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE VINEGAR TASTERS

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“One day, I was walking on Portobello Road. I entered a small booth where some antique objects were exhibited. Rummaging in the bits and pieces, I found a scroll in a bronze case. I took it out. To my surprise, it was a copy of an ancient Chinese painting, The Vinegar Tasters. I unrolled the scroll and spread it out on a little table. I was very happy to find so excellent a copy with the colors still vivid and brilliant. Three different characters were portrayed in the act of licking their finger after dipping it into a pan containing vinegar. After tasting it, they showed a different expression on their faces. Obviously, the painting had an allegorical meaning. The three men were not common and ordinary tasters, but the masters of the most important schools of thought in China. Vinegar symbolized life itself in that painting. The three masters were Kung Fu (Confucius), Buddha, and Lao Tzu. This last is the author of the most ancient book about Tao. After tasting the vinegar, Confucius assumed a sour expression, Buddha showed a bitter look, and Lao Tzu had a smiling face. Apparently, each of them expressed a different way of intending life. For Confucius, life on this earth is sour and not up to heavenly life. According to Buddha, life is bitter because it brings suffering. For the third master, Lao Tzu, there exists a natural harmony between heaven and earth. According to him, life is an incomparable teacher. There is a paramount force over heaven and earth, called Tao (the way). This cosmic principle or force can’t be described correctly in words. But why is Lao Tzu smiling instead of assuming a sour or bitter countenance like the other two? Because Lao Tzu lives in harmony with the circumstances, without fighting or forcing the events. He thinks that unfavorable situations are a source of personal growth. In Taoism, the sourness and bitterness of life are not caused by life itself, but by our minds, which don’t know how to transform the unfavorable situations into favorable ones.”
“Who is right among them?” I asked.
“I think all of them are right. We can’t say which way is the best.”
“So far, you haven’t answered my question about life after death.”
“I can say once more that you have to find the answer by yourself, inside yourself. Even if I knew the right answer, I wouldn’t tell you. This is a path that each one has to cover individually. It is an inner journey that everybody has to experience alone!”
Then he took a leaflet about tai chi chuan out of his pocket and wrote the titles of four books in the corners. Two of them were about Tao, one was about the concept of time and space, and the last was about the search for mindfulness through breathing meditation.
In the meantime, it was getting late, very late. The conversation had lasted a long time, maybe more than two hours. I felt like time had stopped. The caretaker of the gymnasium hurried us to go out because he had to lock the room. We said goodbye to each other, and I have never seen that young man again…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

LABYRINTH – TRAVEL – MEDITATION

st-francis-labyrinth-closeup-20075673[2]The symbol of the labyrinth dates back over 4,000 years. It is widespread all over planet Earth. Symbols are the work of a secret geometry and predate human mind. This symbol is related to the idea of travel.
Since ancient times, people used to go on a pilgrimage. In Greece, that to Delphi was renowned.
In the Christian era the pilgrimage par excellence was that to the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. But, in the middle ages it was quite dangerous to go there. So, above all in northern Europe, the real journey to Jerusalem was replaced with a symbolic pilgrimage to a cathedral labyrinth. Pilgrims walked on the labyrinth following a sinuous path up to the center which symbolized Jerusalem. At that time, most cathedrals had a labyrinth inside. Later, they were effaced, because people made fun of them. Nowadays, the only cathedral labyrinth left is that of Chartress Cathedral, in France. But, above all in North America, there are many new labyrinths reproducing that of Chartress Cathedral. We can find them in churches, parks, hospitals, prisons, and schools. There are even labyrinths printed on canvas.
How to walk the labyrinth? Just follow the path. While walking you may focus your attention on your breathing or on your steps. When you arrive at the center, rest there for some minutes and watch yourself. Life is like a labyrinth. It is not straight, but full of twists leading to the center.
A doctor, after creating a labyrinth in a hospital, said that the term disease is a compound word: (dis) (ease). We get sick when we are not at ease. Walking the labyrinth calms our minds and helps get over the dis-ease we are suffering from. It is also a kind of meditation. It cleanses both mind and body to live a different life.
Ettore Grillo, author of
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE BLOG OF MY HEART

blog-colorful-text-white-background-59881483[1]In the Canadian monastery where I am staying until October 10, one of the Sisters died.
Mass was celebrated inside the chapel. Then, the funeral procession moved from there to the small cemetery where the nuns rest. There are about one hundred graves in that small graveyard. Both the graves and the gravestones are the same. Only the names of the Sisters, the dates of birth, ordination and death change.
The chapel was crowded with people coming from outside the monastery. They were relatives and workmates of the Sister. In fact, she had worked as a nurse.
The funeral Mass inside the chapel was touching and evocative. I was tempted to describe the funeral from beginning to end. But, I will not do that. Would it be respectful to the Sister to describe her private funeral in my blog? Of course not. But I have another blog which I keep in my heart. It contains everything I cannot express in words. On it, I will record the music of the organ, the singing of the nuns, the death knell and the other details of the funeral. When the right time comes, I will disclose this my second blog.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo