LIFE IN SADHANA FOREST (INDIA)

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Next to Auroville is Sadhana Forest. The word sadhana means spiritual practice. According to the founder, who was an ex-philosophy professor from Israel, the forest should be a place where people spend their time in total contact with nature, far from everything that sounds modern, like electricity, running water, and stone houses.
There were almost 200 volunteers from all over the world in Sadhana Forest, who had come just to spend some time plunged into a primitive environment. Their task consisted of planting trees and preserving the forest from fires, which can break out due to the dryness of the area.
We arrived in the forest by bus in the afternoon. The Israeli professor gave a speech about life in the forest. He said that many families lived there. One of the visitors asked, “What about your children? Do they go to school? Who gives them an education?”
“Our children,” the professor answered, “have home schooling. Then, if they want to go to school they can, but if they don’t want to go we don’t force them to have compulsory education.”
The professor led us around the forest and their tiny village, which was built on pilings. The dormitories for the volunteers were just over the pilings. There was neither running water nor electricity, except in one or two pilings. They produced power by a bicycle and solar panels.
They offered us a vegan meal and showed a film about life in the forest. We also saw how mercilessly they grow chickens and pigs in developed countries, which are fed inside very narrow cages until they are killed.
In the evening, when we got off the bus, a young man gave us a flier. Once at home we read it. The young man complained about having been expelled unjustly from Sadhana. Apparently, despite human endeavors, it is not possible to create a perfect society where everybody can live happily and without conflict, even in the forest.

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

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

CROSSING THE HIMALAYAS BY BUS

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There is a mountain pass from Manali to Lee. It is the highest pass in the world  at 5,500 meters above sea level. It is difficult to breathe at that altitude. You have to drink a lot of water. There are also no toilets on the road, so the bus stops from time to time along the way.
“Our bus broke down, and we were given the option of spending the night in a marquee at an altitude of around four thousand meters or continuing our way with another bus that had a few vacant seats. I opted for continuing my journey, because I couldn’t endure the altitude. I was very dizzy and had the feeling that I would collapse at any moment.
“The bus travelled on a vast plateau. No roads or paths were visible, but the driver seemed to know the way very well. I never imagined that there were such vast tablelands in the Himalayas. It was almost like a lunar landscape. The soil was dry, and needles and rocks emerged from the ground here and there—no trees, not a blade of grass. I had the sensation of having landed on another deserted planet in our solar system. Apparently, the monsoons can’t overcome the mountain range. Nevertheless, now and then I spotted some isolated green areas.”
“How is it possible that there are only patches that are green with trees? I asked a person sitting next to me.”
“It is like an oasis in the desert. Somehow there is water underneath the ground. The city of Lee is just an oasis. It doesn’t rain there much, but the area is rich in underground water, he answered.”
“We reached the maximum altitude of the pass and I felt relieved,” the woman continued. “From then on the bus would go downhill. The worst had passed, and gradually  I started breathing normally.”

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

 

THE LOST BEACH OF ERACLEA MINOA IN SICILY

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About fifteen years ago, I visited the beautiful beach of Eraclea Minoa. At that time, I was attracted by the broad sand beach and the pinewood by it.
Today, I came to Eraclea Minoa again, but to my surprise, the beautiful wide sand beach didn’t exist anymore.
It seems that the cause of the disappearance of the beach is just one: man’s greed for money. In fact, they took sand from the beach to build buildings and altered the natural course of the river.

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I think we’d better ponder on the lost beach of Eraclea Minoa. Now and then, beautiful nature disappears from Earth: a strip of rainforest, a glacier, a vegetable or animal species, and so on.
I don’t deny the importance of money. But I just want to say that the most important value is life on Earth and then money or other things.
While I was walking on the shore, I enjoyed what humans cannot destroy easily: The  unique Capo Bianco of Eraclea Minoa, a white promontory at the end of the pinewood.
I feel sorry for the disappearance of beautiful nature because of human greed.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY VISIT TO A SIKH TEMPLE IN LONDON

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I stood in front of the gilded dome for a short while and then entered the temple. At the entrance, a man asked me to take my shoes off and wash my feet. He picked up a reddish headscarf from a large basket and wrapped it around my head. At last, I was allowed to go in. There were two prayer rooms; the floors were covered with white sheets and no chairs. I noticed that the best places to sit down were by the pillars because I could lean my back against the pillar while sitting on the floor. I chose one of those places and sat down. I turned my head slowly to one side and then to the other side to see what kind of people were sitting there. The women were on the left side; the men on the right. Between the two groups, a long central space was left clear. Opposite me, on the left side, there was a window divided into three smaller ones. Three women, each in one of the small windows, seemed to be reading a book. At the center, I saw a lectern with a book on it. (Later, I knew it was the holy book of the Sikhs.) Standing behind the lectern, a man slowly waved a fan made of feathers over the holy book. Every about ten minutes, the person behind the lectern alternated. On the right side, there was a wooden platform with a small harmonium and a man was playing it.
Close to me, there was an olive-skinned man with a white turban and a graying, long beard. He looked quite relaxed while waiting for the ceremony to start. From time to time, he turned to me and looked at me in the eyes. Obviously, he wanted me to ask him something.
“In which town are we?” I asked.
“Southall.”
“Is this a Hindu temple?”
“No, we are Sikhs.”
“Sikhs?”
“Our religion was revealed to Guru Nanak Dev by God; then, the precepts were handed down to other gurus and collected in our holy book.”
“I am looking for a guru, a spiritual master. Can I find a guru in this temple?”
“Why do you think a guru is helpful to you?”
“I would like to progress in my spiritual path and know whether everything ends or whether there is something that survives the annihilation of the body when a living being dies.”
“To know the answer there is only one way. You have to ask God for help. Our religion is based on praising God and calling for his help. Do you expect that the human being can progress in his life without God’s protection and guidance? Reflect upon it for an instant! There is only one guru indeed. Life itself is the real guru or master. Live your life intensely. It will be your best guru. No guru is greater than life. Who taught you the way to arrive at this Sikh temple?”
“Circumstances, chance, fate!”
“In a sense, it is true. Man deceives himself about having his own willpower. One believes he is capable of making decisions, but actually the individual has no decision-making power. Only circumstances take the lead. We are like flags blown by every wind. Everything is fortuitous — to be born in that town and not in another place, to have those parents, families, and friends, not others. Even the encounters we make in the course of the day depend upon fortuitousness. You can make all the efforts you can and read as many books as those kept in the Library of Alexandria, but if the circumstances are not favorable for you, your efforts and knowledge will remain a dead letter. It is up to you to establish if there is mere chance or something else, some entity behind the happenings. In my opinion, the one who creates the circumstances is only God. Since God is the one who controls the events, it is natural that we invoke Him. But you, as a Christian, can invoke your master, Jesus. The result is the same.”
At the end of the ceremony, everyone was handed a bit of sweet, purplish pastry. Then, in a little procession, the holy book was carried along the central aisle and placed in an adjacent room. The man whom I had talked to before busied himself in tidying up the prayer room, folding the sheets, and cleaning the area where the holy book had been exposed.
When I was about to leave the temple, a man came up to me and asked me to accept the food that was being offered in the dining room. So, I entered a room where there were a few long carpets for people to sit down and eat the meal offered by the community. The food was vegetarian, abundant, and tasty. Each one took his own metal tray, which had four or five sections, and got in line to receive his ration. When my turn came, they put yogurt, some well-seasoned rice, and other spicy, Indian specialties, typical of the cooking of the Sikhs, in each section of my tray. Moreover, they gave me some soft bread similar to our dough for pizza.
I took my tray full of food and sat down at one side of those carpets to eat my meal. A man close to me talked about the meaning of that food, which was so abundant and free.
“Sikhism,” he said, “has eliminated castes and discriminations among the people who belong to different social levels or classes. We are equal before God. Eating together strengthens the feeling of equality.”…

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 PINE TREES IN GYEONGJU, THE CAPITAL OF SILLA

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THE PINE TREES IN GYEONGJU, THE CAPITAL OF SILLA

In old times, Korea was divided into three kingdoms: one of them was Silla.
Later, Silla succeeded in unifying the three kingdoms.
When we arrived in Gyeongju, first of all we visited the three Royal Tombs in Bae-dong. They look like big mounds but inside there are wooden rooms framed with a solid stonework. The rooms have the kings’ body, their crowns, jewels and personal things. In the past, many tombs were excavated by graverobbers, but some of them are still intact.

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Almost all the pine trees in the forests surrounding the three Royal Tombs are twisted.
According to a Korean friend of mine, botanists have studied the phenomenon and come to the conclusion that the pine trees of Gyeongju had modified their DNA not to be cut down. At the time, if the trunk was straight pine wood was used to build houses and palaces; being twisted, the trees would be of no use. Is it true? Who knows! Trees are also living beings. It cannot be ruled out that they have psychic processes and survival instinct.
King Gyeongae was the last king of Silla. He was killed by the rebel army of Gyeonhwon while holding a banquet with his court. Apparently, the step from joy of life to death is short and sudden!
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WALKING IN ANTIGUA

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WALKING IN ANTIGUA

Traveling across the world, I have landed in the city of Antigua, in Guatemala.

Today, I took a walk to spy out the place. Soon, my attention was drawn to the many ruined churches. What happened? Although the places of worship had been built well and with good materials, they didn’t withstand the earthquakes. Here, the ground quakes quite often.

The city, which once was the capital of Guatemala, stands near three volcanoes: two inactive and one, called ‘Fuego’, still active. The plumes of smoke from its peak are really amazing.

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Some churches have been rebuilt in different areas. I entered one which is run by the Franciscan Friars. They assist the population in many ways.

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Someone told me that a lot of children with the harelips are born in Guatemala. Their parents take them to the hospital to have surgery, but sometimes they don’t return to the hospital to take their children back home. The Franciscan Friars help all those abandoned children.

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Keeping walking, I came across a quinceanera, a girl who has just turned fifteen. She was standing in the square wearing a long, shiny dress to celebrate her transition from childhood to womanhood. Today, a big party will be given for her. According to Latino tradition, she is now ready for marriage. She is a woman.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo