February 18, 2021
Dearest Giulia and Jim,
Happy Spring!! We celebrated Vasant Panchami a few days back… Vasant: Spring, Panchami: Fifth day. I made my favorite ash gourd halwa for it. Ash gourd is one of my fave vegetables. The halwa is easy to make and turns out delish if you cook the whole thing on medium-low heat. The flavors of pure ghee, raw sugar, saffron, cardamom, and ash gourd all infuse nicely and when you take a bite of this piping hot dessert, it goes straight to your brain. When you visit India, and these gourds are in season, we can make it together. In case you wonder, the recipe is here.
Your letter Giulia, was very insightful for me. We can all relate to being tangled up in thoughts every now and then. That’s what keeps us in our humanity, I feel. But using the light of our awareness and connection with the Self, we can observe it and let it be until we have some revelations about it. It was good that you didn’t fight it because that will only energize it more. I firmly trust that I will know what there is to know, when I need to know it. So, I don’t worry much about what I don’t know… 😊
It seems the vaccinations are ongoing here and I have not heard much news about any issues. The two approved vaccines are made from inactivated virus, so they don’t need the cold chain. Vaccine or not, this virus appears to be mutating and it seems it may be with the humanity for a while. I did read somewhere that if people have some Neanderthal genes, it reduces the severity of symptoms; who knew? So, our immune system is not just this body, but a culmination of all the immune systems in our ancestry. In the meantime, I wondered about all those little things we used to take for granted- like meeting for lunch, driving together, handshakes, hugs, and kisses, etc. Will these ever return? We are herd animals, so I wonder what all these prevention measures are doing to the psychology and physiology of individuals. And, what, if any, will be the lasting impacts…
After the last two retreats with my Zen Master, I am feeling higher ratio in terms of alignment of spiritual and worldly life to the point, I don’t see them as different anymore. The turning point was the exercise and contemplation of Soulful values. How to know what these are? How to sense in the body when there is (mis)alignment between your actions and these values? Interestingly, before the teaching and exercise, there was a contemplation within me observing the body’s response in certain situations. The exercise facilitated the understanding and awareness.
In other news, I have found myself singing call-n-response kirtans more often. Krishna Das, Nina Rao, and Jai Uttal have been my favorites. Also joining in the evening kirtans at local temples if I happen to be there. There is something very freeing about it all. After the initial reservation about singing, it flows more naturally now- especially when I am preparing food, for some reason. It’s a good thing that there aren’t any neighbors within a quarter mile of this place.
So, till we zoom again, namaste, hugs, and kisses,