Wednesday, April 16, 2014

imagined landscape

Excerpt from the book India - A Sacred Geography by Diana L. Eck

This landscape not only connects places to the lore of gods, heroes, and saints, but it connects places to one another through local, regional and trans-regional practices of pilgrimage. Even more, these tracks of connection stretch from this world toward the horizon of the infinite, linking this world with the world beyond. The pilgrim's India is a vividly imagined landscape that has been created not by homing in on the singular importance of one place, but by the linking, duplication, and multiplication of places so as to constitute an entire world. The critical rule of thumb is this: Those things that are deeply important are to be widely repeated. The repetition of places, the creation of clusters and circles of sacred places, the articulation of groups of four, five, seven, or twelve sites - all this constitutes a vivid symbolic landscape characterized not by exclusivity and uniqueness, but by polycentricity, pluralism, and duplication. Most important, this "imagined landscape" has been constituted not by priests and their literature, though there is plenty of literature to be sure, but by countless millions of pilgrims who have generated a powerful sense of land, location, and belonging through journeys to their hearts' destinations. 

Brilliantly said and absolutely true in every sense. I have visited so many temples in South India that are named as 'Dakshina Kashi' meaning "South Kashi". And I used to wonder why? I always thought there should be some reason behind this multiplication of duplicated places. The thumb rule in the above paragraph says it all!


Friday, April 4, 2014

as things they are

Meditation is like..

"in water, you let the dust to settle down so that water becomes very clean, also very peaceful and even still. If the water is still, the surface is like a mirror and it would reflect the surroundings as things they are. Meditation is to help us to see things as they really are..."  ~ Yifa, Buddhist nun

This is the best definition of meditation I have come across. This is a clip from the video lecture as part of my Coursera course on "Buddhism and Modern Psychology" by Robert Wright from Princeton University.