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Friday, May 28, 2010

Buddha Purnima...and the Deer Park Sermon

It was a full moon last night, the moon under which the Buddha was born in a grove of Sal trees and also the moon under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. I thought it only fitting that I put extracts from the Sermon at the Deer Park, his first Sermon after attaining enlightenment here. Since it is translated from Buddhist canons, it is highly lyrical (the Buddhist tracts were handed down orally for four hundred years before they were written down at the Second Council)...Happy Reading...You can also compare with the Sermon on the Mount, given by Christ, in the earlier blogs..:

The Buddha's First Sermon

English version by Sanderson Beck

These two extremes, monks, are not to be practiced
by one who has gone forth from the world.
What are the two?

That joined with the passions and luxury---
low, vulgar, common, ignoble, and useless,
and that joined with self-torture---
painful, ignoble, and useless.

Avoiding these two extremes the one who has thus come
has gained the enlightenment of the middle path,
which produces insight and knowledge,
and leads to peace, wisdom, enlightenment, and nirvana.

And what, monks, is the middle path, by which
the one who has thus come has gained enlightenment,
which produces knowledge and insight,
and leads to peace, wisdom, enlightenment, and nirvana?

This is the noble eightfold way, namely,
correct understanding, correct intention,
correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood,
correct attention, correct concentration,
and correct meditation.

This, monks, is the middle path, by which
the one who has thus come has gained enlightenment,
which produces insight and knowledge,
and leads to peace, wisdom, enlightenment, and nirvana.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth of pain:
birth is painful; old age is painful;
sickness is painful; death is painful;
sorrow, lamentation, dejection, and despair are painful.
Contact with unpleasant things is painful;
not getting what one wishes is painful.
In short the five groups of grasping are painful.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cause of pain:
the craving, which leads to rebirth,
combined with pleasure and lust,
finding pleasure here and there,
namely the craving for passion,
the craving for existence,
and the craving for non-existence.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth
of the cessation of pain:
the cessation without a remainder of craving,
the abandonment, forsaking, release, and non-attachment.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth
of the way that leads to the cessation of pain:
this is the noble eightfold way, namely,
correct understanding, correct intention,
correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood,
correct attention, correct concentration,
and correct meditation.

"This is the noble truth of pain":
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"This noble truth of pain must be comprehended."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"It has been comprehended."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"This is the noble truth of the cause of pain":
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"The cause of pain must be abandoned."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"It has been abandoned."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"This is the noble truth of the cessation of pain":
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"The cessation of pain must be realized."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"It has been realized."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"This is the noble truth
of the way that leads to the cessation of pain":
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"The way must be practiced."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

"It has been practiced."
Thus, monks, among doctrines unheard before,
in me insight, wisdom, knowledge, and light arose.

As long as in these four noble truths
my due knowledge and insight
with the three sections and twelve divisions
was not well purified, even so long, monks,
in the world with its gods, Mara, Brahma,
its beings with ascetics, priests, gods, and men,
I had not attained the highest complete enlightenment.
This I recognized.

And when, monks, in these four noble truths
my due knowledge and insight
with its three sections and twelve divisions
was well purified, then monks,
in the world with its gods, Mara, Brahma,
its beings with ascetics, priests, gods, and men,
I had attained the highest complete enlightenment.
This I recognized.

Knowledge arose in me;
insight arose that the release of my mind is unshakable:
this is my last existence;
now there is no rebirth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Uday Sahay: the other side of the coin..

Uday Sahay should be an inspiration to those who feel miserable because they are in Indian Information Service.
Here is an IPS officer, who liked being in the media so much that he spent 10 years outside his service, and eventually took voluntary retirement to remain in the media field.
And many of us long to be out of the media, and be policemen instead.....what an irony.
The lesson is simple: if you like your job, and do it with some flair, even in IIS, you'll be happy.
I'm attaching a link to Uday Sahay's blog here. Not that the writing is very good, or the grammar, but to give you
a flavour of how some of the better policemen can write:
http://udaysahaymakingnews.blogspot.com/2008/07/trp-vs-viewership-in-tv.html
Not bad, eh?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Usual Platitudes at PM's Presser

As I blog this, a rare event is on: the Prime Minister's Press Conference. After 4 years, the PM has deigned to have a press conference in the Capital. This seems to be part of the strategy of all prime ministers: namely, not have detailed interactions with the press, and confine themselves to brief off-the-cuff remarks at impromptu occasions created by Investiture ceremonies, on-board occasions on the Prime Ministerial plane, or Iftar parties. This is so different from how it works in other democracies: Obama exposes himself to the White House Press Corps on a almost weekly basis, and so do the British leaders.
Anyhow, tough questions were asked, to which the usual platitudes were trotted out. Since our newspersons do not hunt in packs, there were no follow-up questions asked to those platitudes. Of course nobody is allowed to ask a second question, but the follow-up could have come from someone else. Alas, we let the PM off the hook despite the puerile replies.
It was tough watching the live telecast: between failure of the live feed from Vigyan Bhavan, to power failures of the local cable operators, interruption of the viewing was the order of the day.Guess some heads will roll in DD in the coming days. 
Not surprisingly, the tough question came from the rude and combative Sunil Prabhu, a virtual "rowdy" in Tamil style: "Are you going to step down later in the term, and allow Rahul Gandhi to become the PM?" 
As anyone who has been a part of the Delhi press corps knows, there is no louder voice than the Sunil Prabhu foghorn. I've seen entire pressers being hijacked by him. The PM, to his credit, gave a shy smile, and said , I'm always willing to do whatever the party wants...
Though the PM started off looking slow and rusty, he improved as the presser went on. That makes a case for more frequent interactions. That would also make the pressers easier, as the press would find a more regular vent for their questions, than compress it for years, and then open a sudden valve like this...
One  surprising thing was his discomfort with Hindi. Even to questions in Hindi, he answered in English. Surprising because this was not a Tamil-bound Azhagiri, but a Punjabi settled in Delhi for many a decade.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Museum Heist

Many of us would have read about the Museum heist in Paris, in which paintings by five modern art masters were stolen. I thought it would be interesting to put up the paintings themselves. Above is one of them, Picasso's "Le pigeon aux petits-pois"...its a Cubist masterpiece, and I hope you will be able to detect the Pigeon with the Peas amongst the cubes and triangles... the last Picasso painting auction a week back went for some 100 odd million dollars, so this will be atleast worth that, and probably much more....us poor starving amateur painters..!!

That's the second one of the paintings which were stolen. The painting is "La Pastorale" by Matisse. It's done in a Fauvist style, with wild lines and rushed colours, typical of the Fauvist style. Guess we dont have such picnics in Lodhi garden, do we?

This is the third painting that was stolen from the Paris Museum.
Braque is commonly bracketed along with Picasso, in histories of art.
Yet this painting is as different from Picasso as possible, and not really like the rest of Braque's work.





It's called "The Olive Tree near Estaque", and i like the colourfulness, being a typical Tamilian!!




This is the fourth painting that was stolen, by Modigliani, called "Woman with a Fan". This guy had a life which would make Van Gogh's life look dull and sober by comparison!!




The last of the five paintings stolen from the Paris museum, Ferdinand Leger's "Nature morte aux chandeliers"...now that's a real cubist for you...out picassoing picasso himself. The total value of the those five painting would be roughly in between 300 to 400 million dollars , I guess...now that's what's called a true Hollywood style heist...you need not have eleven men for that, as in "Ocean's eleven", just one, and some inside help.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Frost/Nixon

There's a fascinating movie going on in HBO, titled "Frost/Nixon".
Its a fictional re-construction of a series of interviews that famous Brit
Journalist David Frost did with Nixon, some three years after he had stepped down, in 1977.
What's fascinating for those of us connected with media and PR is the behind-the-scenes tussle between the two parties: Nixon's spin-meisters wanting the President to come out all shining from the interviews, and the journalist camp trying their best to force Nixon to break down and confess to his crimes.
The film assumes a working knowledge of the history of Watergate.
The basic theme is simple: is an interview a win-win situation for both parties, or is it a battlefield where there can be only one victor?
Obviously, confrontational interviews make for some gripping TV viewing, even if they are not particularly informative.
For those who want a cinematic account of Watergate, "All the President's Men", starring Robert Redford is a good choice.
Ofcourse, Doordarshan does not have to ponder much over such points, for when did anyone see the last confrontational interview on DD?