posted by Kamala on Aug 20
Dearest Friends and Family,
We are in here in Stockholm. The flight was mercifully uneventful, except for some heavy turbulence from Kochi to Delhi.
At one point, after some shaking and tumbling about, the plane dropped, and bodies remained in the air. A woman called out, “AMMEY” and some small children laughed, like they were on a roller coaster ride, and called out, “Amma! Amma!”
We felt our Amma did all that to show us we are cupped in her beautiful hands.
The connection from Moscow to Stockholm was smooth, although it technically allowed for 2 hours between flights, however, we were literally running and got to the gate only after the third `Final Boarding’ announcement.
Alot of negative things have been written about Aerofloat, but we found it to be a wonderful airline. It is devoid of the 5 star globalized gimmicks – dolled up stewardesses and alcoholic drinks, with a constant pressure to buy tinsel and garbage. Its really a decent airline. The stewardesses are pleasant and fashionable without being in bad taste in anyway. The food was just fine, and the juice was plentiful and great. The Moscow airport was also nice, clean, but only one person to serve the transit needs of several planefulls of people which is why we almost missed the connecting flight.
I fell asleep in the shuttle ride to Link’s university, where we got the key to the new flat, met several classmates, and doubled up in another taxi with some new friends from Sri Lanka to the accomodation.
The accomodation is a converted convalescent /cum/assisted living place. The halls and hinges all groan with the quiet despair of the countless lives that passed here, abandoned by family and society. The room that was given to Link is starkly simple, and very much like what we have at Amritapuri. Instead of a gas stove, a hot plate. No counters, but, enough tables one of which now acts like part of the `kitchen hall’. I was a little disappointed that there was no oven. I had hoped to be able to make bread, and save lots of Krona, as well as pies, rolls, etc. Baking was always part of my cooking style, I have missed it. I kept trying to tell myself, to accept it all gratefully as prasad. But, what made it worse, was that all the other students had huge rooms, with separate kitchen areas, that had ovens, big fridges, lots of counter space and drawers, and the bathroom dressing area in a separate space.
I tried to adjust myself mentally to this, and Link was most helpful, saying things like, “Just imagine how Aunty Sarah would make that tiny space for the hot plate so practical and attractive….”
I went so far as to suggest twice that there may have been a mistake, and that we should see if we could get one with an oven….but to mention anything to authorities, didn’t seem right.
When we went shopping, I had to pass over the yams, ( couldn’t bake ‘em.) and other items. Plus there is the shock of krona / rupee differences. A single sided photo copy is 2 krona. double sided is 4. Thats not rupees, but krona. Yet a big thick blanket is 250 Krona. Apples, 14 Krona a kg.
I would love to say that I was able to graciously accept the situation, but, I felt a little hurt. ` Why do You want me here?’ was my thought. `No Oven?’ ( and I almost argued, `but everyone in Sweden has an oven…’ but didn’t quite dare.) There are no poor people, no begging people, no people left in material want. Its a country whose government honors intrinsic human dignity. Unfortunately, many are coming to take advantage of this generosity now. All eat well, and most are of fit proportions, whereas in the US, many are overweight. The water is pure and clean from the tap, no bizarre chemicals, florides, cholorines. Just delicious. So also, there is no water bottle waste anywhere. Imagine if in India, if the money spent on producing water bottles and selling them, went instead to producing clean municipal water!
I have to admit, that it was not until I met other students who had a shared bathroom and shared kitchen with another room of students, that I finally accepted my situation. This itself was self-disappointing. I would rather have been able to accept it all right off, rather than have come to accept it genuinely, based upon a comparison, and that also, at feeling glad that at least it wasn’t `That Bad.’
Its always disheartening to see one’s own pettiness.
Expectations, expectations, expectations. Our Principle example of Goodness and Wisdom, lives without expectations. Present moment, present moment, present moment. Gets all confounded with expectations.
In life, I have always been blessed with beautiful environs, with some close touch to Nature. I felt like we were put in a more rigid space. We are not to get lost in pies, breads, and delicious foods. Just to eat our normal kitchoris, alternated with toast and cheese and fruits. Bus. Madhi, Enuf. Small is beautiful, and as Truth Seekers, as people seeking to live a life of renunciation, we should find the gold of God in everything.
Our first night, we did a thorough cleaning of all surfaces, walls, cupboards, etc… As we cleaned and organized, and put our energy into the place, along with our music, it began to feel better and do-able. Basically, the human being is the most adjustable being, only we don’t realize it, as the mind has its expectations. Our flat has a small deck which over looks out to our temple grove. Its on a north side, so the flat has very little natural light.
I discovered the temple grove looking for soil, for some baby aloes which we found in the waste. Once you begin waste sorting, it never really stops. Speaking of which, all people are responsible for sorting their waste into almost 20 different categories, in bins in the basement. If we can understand the minds working behind our recycling efforts at Amritapuri, we will see the profound and needed environmental ethic in play. Its just a matter of time, thanks to their unending efforts that the populace there will catch up. Sweden is way ahead in environmental awareness. That day, in the little grove and forest thicket, I saw two large birds, at least 2 x larger than pidgeons, they seemed like Pheasants. The next day, I took Link there, and we decided it would be our ourside forest temple, our `Temple of Boughs.’ Just to go and sit in this place brings a feeling of peace. In it are a lot of our old friends: oak, hemlock-pine, birch, maple, aster, nettle, and several I have never seen before. I hope to learn their names soon. Its a great pity for children and society that botany is not a subject mandatory for everyone, like reading and writing.
The same bird re-appeared when Link came, and posed nicely for Link. Here it is, a real beauty, in our temple bowers.
Its just amazing how the harmonized presence of plants, that have been allowed to be what they are, without human interference, gives such a radiant sense of peace. Nature is the Greatest and Most Adorable.
Sweden is lovely, the people are, by and large, also lovely. I see many faces that are honest and simple, and by that I mean, without cunning. These are a peaceful people, non-violent, and not dangerous to their fellow human beings. The country has not waged war on anyone for a very long time. In the evolution of nations, Sweden has moved much farther ahead than many other countries. But it is all changing now, Sweden is falling fast into the grip of the globalized economic forces that steal governments and desecrate nature. Young Swedes have been taken by NATO forces to go kill people in other countries. My prayer is that real education will come to Sweden, and save Her youth, which are fast falling prey to the insidious goadings of a media gone mad in the hands of the utterly unscrupulous, who hide behind the anonymity of corporations.
Link went to a `Swedish class’ given by an anthropology professor, it was not about language. One thing the Prof told them is that for a recreational past-time, most Swedes like to go out into the forests. The forests are all open to everyone, even if they are on privately owned lands. Anyone can go, pick the mushrooms and berries and camp for a day or so. That makes great common sense. That, as a nation, this is a favourite past-time, speaks volumes for the level of sanity and reality that people are close to.
Today, we found our nearby forest and lake, and spent two hours trepassing happily in the deep woods quiet and glory. Sweden’s forests in this part abound with berries – blue berries, blackberries, wintergreen, etc. Now is the fall time also, and neighborhoods which all seem to grow their own apple, plum, cherry trees, are burgeoning over with fruits, which can be freely picked on the roadsides.
There is a soothing silence in the country, and people are quieter, speak more quietly. They all agree to respect the rules, which in turn, respect them, so the police presence is negligible. I noticed that the uncomfortable feelings I have when I am faced with a bunch of teenage boys, particularly in the USA, is without substance here. Even the youth that are getting `gang’ oriented, do not have that aggressiveness, rudeness and unpredictability that has become a signature of youth in hang-out groups in the USA urban and suburban environs. Gun regulations in the US make for real social insecurity. Here, the youth are sweet. Its very refreshing.
Link has come down with a cold but it seems to be diminishing.
We contacted our friends to find out when Satsangs are, and one, Therese Soderberg gave us this beautiful poem, on Sweden:
Poem of Gratefulness
I thank You
For deep forests and still lakes
For coffee drinking Mothers, loving Fathers
For leaves changing colors and
For the sun between the clouds
For the shimmering snow
And colorful meadows
For the little Ones
With sparkling eyes
Softening our unseen ties
I honor your hundreds years of peace
The traditions of the Laplanders
And your care for those without means
I appreciate your endless summer days
(But yet not your endless winter ways)
Thank you for the stars in the cold December sky
And for giving equality a serious try
Thank you for your depth and majesty
For all that clearly reminds us of Divinity
—by Therese Soderberg
These essential qualities, are very close to the surface here. This beautiful poem speaks to the soul of the true patriot, a theme I am working on for a book called, “Using the Fast; as prayer, a moral weapon, for self purification.”
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Here is a picture of a Swedish rose-hip flower and fruit:
Its 11 C now, there are no ants in the flat, no lizards, no flies that we see anywhere. Its a bit surprising. I can leave something on the table, and no one comes to enjoy it. There are far less birds than I would like. Perhaps they have gone to the deeper forests. I hear that southern Sweden is a huge migratory rest-over spot, and that millions of birds fly through there. Haven’t seen any squirrels yet, either. Even though it is cold, I keep the door to the deck open for a few minutes every couple of hours for air. No mosquitoes. I did see a dead toad on the road, so, I know there are toads, hence ponds and the critters that go with them….the govt. warns motorists to take care in the spring and avoid hurting the frogs and toads crossing the roads. Sweden is also the first EU country to insist that chickens raised for food be given room to move….so much good can be done when the govt. listens to the hearts of the people….
Here are a few photos of the lovely forest right near us:
It feels so good to be in the forest.