"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

spirituality

A Maiden’s Prayer

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Picture of Robin’s mother in prayer on Christmas evening, before the party festivities begin.


A Question Of Confidence

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“O gates, lift high your heads;
Grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter.. ”
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Translation taken from The Grail Psalter. Picture taken in the Carmelite Seminary, Fort Cochin

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Cloistered

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Salisbury, quite apart from its tall spire and ancient clockalso claims a record for Britain’s largest cloistered quadrangle: 
A slightly odd achievement for this beautiful medieval cathedral, which never housed a monastery.

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Rather than being designed as the enclosed walk for a “cloistered” religious community, it seems to have served the purpose of housing clergy and choir when they assembled prior to processional entrance into the cathedral. 

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An eloquent testament to the grace of Gothic architecture and spiritual aspirations.

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Pictures taken in the cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, UK.


Within The Temple Walls

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On entering Trichy’s Jambukeswarar Temple, much of the frantic commerce quietens.

Despite the milling devotees

And in-house retail outlets,

It retains a sense of peaceful piety.

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The temple is a complex brew of dreams, devotion and domestic activities.

But still manages to breathe the air of religious worship.

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A River Runs Through It

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”

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Hampi sits alongside a river used for ritual bathing

And the washing of sacred artefacts.

The expression of a very human desire:

Release from the taint of corruption.

An aspiration which transcends all religious traditions.

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A Visit To The Hill-Top Temple

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From the wilds of Wayanad and the elephants of Tamil Nadu, we crossed into Karnataka. 

Our first stop was at the Himavad Gopalswamy Betta Temple.

Built almost 700 years ago at the summit of a quiet and lonely hill, it is often hidden by mist. But we had arrived in brilliant sunshine. 

Despite, or perhaps because of the presence of many devotees, there was a palpable sense of quiet and prayer.

Having received the blessing of the temple priest in the inner sanctum, we walked around the temple then made our way back down the steep and narrow track.

On this road, a pilgrim bus had jammed the rear corner of its chassis while taking a sharp hair-pin bend.
With minimal fuss, the passengers disembarked while the bus was re-manoeuvred into a drivable position, then quietly returned to their transport. There was neither shouting nor horn-tooting from drivers blocked by the stationary vehicle.
Something of a rarity in India.

Perhaps the calm and peace of the temple was more pervasive than I had realised…

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The Journey Is The Destination: Part 5

Roadside Stations of the Cross

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Picture taken from the car, whilst on my travels

 


The Journey Is The Destination: Part 3

The attraction of spiritual accessories

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Picture taken on my travels in Karnataka


Preparing for a Feast: Sacred

Today is the Feast of St Joseph.

Late on Thursday evening, a friend took me on his motorbike to St Anthony’s Church, Kannamaly – a quiet semi-rural backwater of Cochin –

Where preparations for the annual festival involve the entire community.

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A time of preparation, quiet meditation and devotion.

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A Visit To The Jain Temple

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“Live and let live. Love all. Serve all.”

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“All Souls are alike and potentially divine. None is Superior or Inferior.”

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“Have compassion towards all living beings. Hatred leads to destruction.”

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“A man is seated on top of a tree in the midst of a burning forest. He sees all living beings perish. But he doesn’t realize that the same fate is soon to overtake him also. That man is a fool.”

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All quotes are taken from Thus Spake Lord Mahavir: Excerpts from the sacred books of Jainism


Taking The Waters

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While culture and traditions vary immensely, a sense of personal failure and having fallen short of the mark seems integral to us all.

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From Christian Baptism through to Jewish, Islāmic and Hindu purifications, the desire for some sort of redemption from our follies is often expressed by the symbolic act of washing.

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In India, beside almost every temple is a small reservoir or tank.

Often, before offering puja, the faithful will bathe in these waters.

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On Sunday we visited the Suchindram Temple, just across the state border in Tamil Nadu.

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Strolling around the temple tank,

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We watched the bathing and laundering,

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The houses and people,

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And made the most of the facilities.

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“Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.”

Psalm 51.7

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“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” *

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*The origin of “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, a common proverb, dates as far back as ancient Hebrew writings and possibly longer.

‘While some attribute to the Bible, it’s actually not found there. The known English appearance of the proverb is from the writings of Sir Francis Bacon in 1605. In his ‘Advancement of Learning’ Bacon wrote, “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” Roughly 200 years later, John Wesley used the words we are now familiar with, “Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness” ‘

From:  reference.com


Parties of One

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“We are born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Orson Wells.

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“Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.”     Paul Tillich.

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Truths: Confused, Revealed or Forgotten?

Truths confused

Retirement offers ample time to focus on one’s bearings.

On waking, my attention tends towards the structural bearings: the state of my natural and prosthetic joints.

But by evening, my thoughts often question where exactly I am.

A news item catches my eye:

BBC NEWS

Man rescued after sailing blunder

A lost sailor had to be rescued after running out of fuel circling a small island when he thought he was sailing around the UK coast.

With only a road map for directions, he set off on the river Medway, from Gillingham, and headed for Southampton.

But the coastguard said the man had ended up travelling around the Isle of Sheppey. A spokesman said “This guy had run aground after running out of fuel. He was attempting to travel around the UK from Medway to Southampton and somehow lost his bearings and ended up travelling around the Isle of Sheppey. He didn’t have the usual navigation charts or maritime equipment.”

The man told the rescue team he had been keeping the coastline to his right and had ended up sailing in circles around Sheppey. After the coastguards gave him advice on fuel usage, it is understood the man later attempted to continue his journey.

Published: 2010/04/28 01:55:28 GMT © BBC MMX

The story is amusing and instructive.

Am I boldly setting out to experience life’s myriad wonders?

Or, wasting opportunity and energy, confined in the tight circumnavigation of habit?


Truths revealed?

Truths forgotten?

Reliable charts? Accurate navigation equipment? Ready for stormy weather?

Who am I kidding?!

(Both cartoons from this month’s editions of  The New Yorker)



Spiritual Masala

Here spirituality is a religious ratatouille:

The recipe includes Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Each providing

Colour

St Sebastian's Day Festival

Cochin Synagogue

Jain Temple

Culture

Preparing for Kathakali dance

Christian Festival

Curiosity

Commerce

Temple souvenirs

Temple traders

Conversation

Comfort

And

Contemplation