On Nirvana – It is not a place. It is a moment.

Nirvana (in Buddhism) is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.

I have been chasing Nirvana for many years now.
Did you notice the inherent problem with that stupid statement I made?
Nirvana is an indescribable state.
Nirvana can’t be chased.
It has to be attained.

I have been reading everything there is in books on science, philishophy and religion to understand and attain Nirvana.
I have to tried to read everything there is on the science of the brain, breathing, stillness, meditation and have implemented all those ideas and tried to hack myself into the Nirvana state.

Alas…it has been in vain.
I do find some quiteness here and there.
I do put myself in the violet mediation zone at the drop of a hat.
I do do that.

But, Nirvana evades me.
It plays hard to get.

That said, in the last few days, I got a taste of how Nirvana feels though.
I walked on beaches and stared at the waves.
I didn’t know where the blue sky ended and the blue ocean started.
I quietened my body, my mind and my soul.
As I stared at the ocean waves, I found the same feeling that I do when I climb mountains.

I found calmness come over me as I marveled at the grandeur of where I am placed  on this planet. Of how huge this planet and cosmos is…and how small of a speck I am.
As I contemplated on that, and I stared at the waves, I got a taste of Nirvana.

I hear you asking – “Ambal – So, how was it? What was Nirvana like?”

I would do such a poor job of describing that Nirvana state to you.
So, I am not even going to try. But, I will tell you this much.

I was “in the moment” without a thought in my head as I stared at the endless blue ocean and blue sky.

And, I think that “being in the moment” made all the difference.

You go ahead. Be brave. Find your Nirvana.

On Being Back Home

There is nothing as awesome as coming back home after a long week of travel, sleeping in your own bed (didn’t matter the boys pushed me to the very edge of the bed), waking up in the morning (yep, Kumar let me sleep in and handled the drop offs), making a cup of coffee, enjoying it, albeit hurriedly, and getting ready to tackle the rest of the day.

Happy Friday.

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest. – Robert Montgomery

On Finding Warmth and Cheer

Whether you are standing underneath the mistletoe with your sweetheart,
Whether you are rushing home to be with your loved ones,
Whether you are gathering near the overloaded holiday dinner table,
Wherever you are struggling through year end commitments,
Whether you are wondering where life is going to take you next,
Whether you are standing on a cold dark windy beach with your dog and wondering how much longer until you see Mom again,
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you find warmth and cheer (within you and outside you) during this last week of 2017.

As 2017 draws to a close, I want to take a moment to tell you that I am grateful for your readership. Despite a busy life, I continue to write because of the personal connections it helps me make with y’all.

Thank you for letting me share my stories with you. Thank you for reaching out to me and trusting me with your most personal stories.

I wish you a joyful holiday season surrounded by the warmth and cheer of family and friends.

I also wish you a happy and healthy 2018!

On Time

I had one of those serendipitous moments today.
It didn’t come easy.
I struggled for many decades because I didn’t even know what were the right questions to ask.
It only came because, over the years, I had gotten better at seeding the right questions in my brain.

Over the last 3 decades…by reading about time management, by using every time management tool there is possible, by optimizing, by juggling, by prioritizing and by trying to run my life as a project…..I haven’t actually been doing what I thought I did – Managing time instead of letting time manage me.

Due to my eastern learning, fortunately, I also know that time itself is timeless.

With that context, here is the realization that dawned on me today.

Ready for it?

I actual haven’t been managing time or let time manage me.
Something more.
I have been trying to OUTRUN time.
Did you hear that?
OUTRUN TIME.

How foolish?
How contrived?
How conceited?
How powerful?
And yet, how foolish and futile?!

In the picture, I am trying to outrun time and make it to Mt. Whitney 14,505 feet peak by noon.

Yes, I braved changing mountain conditions with a couple of hailstorms and indeed bagged Mt. Whitney one beautiful day in Summer 2010, by noon time, as I had willed it.

If I didn’t have Worldly Responsibilities

If I didn’t have worldly responsibilities, I would possibly be climbing mountains. Because, 2 eyes, 1 lifetime, 1 soul is not enough to enjoy God’s work from mountain peaks.

This shot was taken from my tiny camera at about 14,000 ft in the Inyo National Forest on my way to bagging the Mt. Whitney peak.

On Monday, July 26, 2010 about noon time Kumar and I completed one of our long standing goals of bagging the Mt. Whitney peak.

We ascended the summit from the Whitney Portal trail head at 8,365 feet and completed the round trip 22-mile hike in 19 hours! We managed to hike it without any altitude sickness (which can be dangerous and life-threatening!).

Mt. Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4421 m).

Here is a few of my writing on climbing/hiking:
http://ambalbalakrishnan.com/tag/climbing/
http://ambalbalakrishnan.com/tag/hiking/