"As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility." (ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)Yoga Sutras - 2.35
Last night was the first little snow here in Levoča.
No big deal, but I took this nice pic this morning at 7am from my room.
I thought it was a little event until I was this post about snow in Bad Meinberg on the Yoga Vidya blog.
Goes to show that weather in this part of Central Europe is very similar to most of Germany. A bit colder and dryer.
Let's start off with this headstand picture. Their technique is sloppy, this has got to hurt the neck, and one should not use the wall. Very bad!
Shaolin adepts doing headstand without the hands and leaning against a wall
Ok, now the technique is VERY impressive. Still supposed to hurt the neck. Must be strengthening on some level though. As in the previous photo he's standing on hard floor without a mat or anything. Very impressive skillwise.
Shaolin practitioner doing headstand without the hands
Now that's too much. Our way to meditate is much gentler. I don't even get it. Why in the world would anybody do something like this? ...
Shaolin monk in meditating posture, hanging by the head
... Oh I see, in order to be able to walk on walls. Most yogis I know can't do that for sure.
Shaolin adept walking on side of wall
All comments are meant to be taken in good fun. The Shaolin tradition is very honorable and to be respected.
Here is a picture I took a couple days ago
It was left in this state after the bombings of World War 2 to remind everybody of the effects of war.
Just recently I came back from a three week visit to Haus Yoga Vidya in Bad Meinberg, Germany. My main reason for going was to attend some yoga courses led by Swami Atma, and boost my yoga practice. Here are some photos and thoughts about the trip.
My first and last nights in Germany were spent at the very nice Yoga Vidya center in Frankfurt. Maheshwara and Krishnapriya were generous and gracious hosts. I much appreciated the expert guidance on navigating the German train system from staff member Tarpan, and the excellent food and conversation with Maksim.
Maheshwara and Krishnapriya
Haus Yoga Vidya, Bad Meinberg
The next day I travelled by train to Bad Meinberg. The yoga center there is untraditional in the sense that from the outside it looks like a hotel, but on the inside functions as a very efficient and most excellent ashram.
Haus Yoga Vidya front entrance
The center is quite comfortable and the spiritual energy is very high. The staff were all extremely nice and helpful. The food was delicious, lots of variety and tons of different options accommodating all kinds of vegetarian diets.
Located around the center are lots of hiking and nature trails.
The setting is mostly rural which you can see from the upper floors of the center.
view from the 7th floor
And really they are quite surrounded by a peaceful and traditional farming community.
cows by the road
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The main course I attended while I was at Yoga Vidya was the Hatha Yoga Pradipika Advanced Teacher Training Course. The advanced pranayama techniques portion of the course was expertly led by Sukadev, the main teacher at Yoga Vidya. The lecture portion of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika text was led by Swami Atma.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika lecture with Swami Atma in Sivananda Saal
Altogether there were about 50 students in the class, and so we used the main hall where they also do satsang. The course was translated into english and german by Reinard depending on which teacher was speaking. I learned a lot more than I expected and had a wonderful time making new friends as we traversed through the rigorous schedule.
Students attending the center are also assigned an hour or so of karma yoga per day. This is selfless service helping out the ashram with the goal being to help purify the aspirant. My karma yoga this time was straightening the Sivananda Saal with Jagadamba.
After the Hatha Yoga Pradipika course ended, I also took an asana intensive led by Swami Atma and translated by Klaus. After that I attended a weekend intensive on the Secrets of the Mind, also led by Swami Atma and translated by Klaus.
One of the main events at an ashram is satsang. These are held twice a day and include meditation, chanting, lecture and arati. Every Saturday night Yoga Vidya has an extra-long satsang where there is a lot of chanting and special guest speakers.
Sukadev in satsang
One interesting thing for me was seeing someone play a tambura. This is a traditional Indian instrument that you sometimes see pictured with Swami Sivananda. I had never seen one before in person, and there was more than one person at Yoga Vidya who could play it.
staff member playing at satsang
The Yoga Vidya center is the largest in Europe, and at the big Saturday night satsangs there may be as many as 400 people attending.
Swami Atma speaking in satsang
English Teacher Training Course
The all-english Teacher Training Course began towards the end of my stay. This is a month long program where the students learn how to become yoga teachers. This year there are about 20 students going through the program. The main teachings are being given by Swami Atma, assisted by the very knowledgeable Bhavani.
Swami Atma and Bhavani in the Sahasrara Raum where the TTC is held
I was able to attend the first couple of days of this program before leaving.
Puja for Mahasamadhi
The night before I left was a big puja celebrating the Mahasamadhi of Swami Sivananda. This is the anniversary of the day in which Swami Sivananda left his body, and is typically celebrated with a worship ceremony called a puja.
The puja was led by Sukadev and all guests and staff members were able to participate if they wanted.
puja setup for the Mahasamadhi of Swami Sivananda
Overall I had a fabulous time on my trip. I definitely recommend visiting there if you would like to seriously boost your yoga practice. Yoga Vidya is currently making a big effort to reach out internationally and they offer more and more courses in english and spanish. If you want to go but feel intimidated because you don't speak german, there are so many helpful German people who speak english that I never felt lost or out of place.
Finally a big thank you to Sukadev and Suguna who went out of their way to make my stay at Yoga Vidya special. Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya!
On Sunday last weekend I went with a couple good friends on a nice outing in France next to the Mont Blanc and then in Switzerland.
St Gervais les Bains
The first Step was to visit little town St Gervais les bains. I spent a couple kids camps there when I was 8-9 years old. The views in and out of this spa town/ski station are gorgeous.
St. Gervais les Bains
Le Valais is a pretty canton in the heartland of the French part of Switzerland. Even though locals speak French, it's a very different culture than France. So it's fun for us French folks to visit. You've got to resist the strong tendency of French folks to make fun of the locals' accent. I know it's bad but it's in our genes.
Characteristics of the area are awesome sceneries as well as a wonderful micro climates. Therefore there are tons of orchards and lots of fine wine comes from there.
Picnic in Heaven
We had a great picnic in a very quiet spot in a valley. I could not stop taking photos. Little houses and chalets, wild flowers, small stream and of course jaw dropping mountains in the background.
La Vallée du Rhône
Our next plan was to go to Ovronnaz where there is a nice spa. This entailed a little over an hour car ride going down into the 'Vallée du Rhône'. Eye popping view.
The Spa in Ovronnaz
I did not take pictures there because I focused intently on relaxing. lol. Most foreigners don't know that in Switzerland you can find everywhere some spas with waters coming from the ground with lots of healing properties. Installations are first class and very hygienic of course. The kicker is you spend half a day in those places for barely more than the cost of a movie at the theater. Less when you count the snacks.
This particular one is located on the top of some mountains shown above on the left of the vallee so you've got views all around while you are soaking. The valley on one side and some high mounts on others.
On our way back I wanted to eat in a typical Valaisan place and eat typical Swiss food - but no fondue for a change. So I had a 'mean' Rösti (pronounce RRRRRReeuuuuuSSSSSCCCCCHHHHHHttteeeeeeeee , but harder, with more emphasis, and a singing voice) with local cheese.
It was a lovely and worderful day.
In the last few days I have been doing some house sitting for a friend who has a couple cats. The female one just had kittens and I'm breaking the cardinal blogging rule of never publishing photos of one's cat :-)
These four kittens are about 3 days old and, according to the two ladies who saw them come to this world, are twice as big as when they came in.
marigolds and the sky
orange day lily
dew on lily leaves
the hardest worker
yellow and orange flower
spider on a marigold
All photos by Shakti, age 14, Austin, Texas.
Unruffled state of the mind, poise, cheerfulness, inner strength, capacity to turn out difficult works, success in all undertakings, power to influence people, a magnetic and dynamic personality, magnetic aura on the face, sparkling eyes, steady gaze, powerful voice, a magnanimous gait, unyielding nature, fearlessness, etc., are some of the signs or symptoms that indicate one's 'will' is growing.
The source of all life, the source of all knowledge, is Atman, your innermost Self. This Atman or supreme Soul is transcendent, inexpressible, uninferable, indescribable, the ever-peaceful, all-blissful. It is Omnipotent; the more you reflect upon its infinite Strength, and the more you are conscious of this inner Power of the Infinite in you, the greater is your will-power. Swami Sivananda
As long as there are thought impressions and tendencies, there will be more reincarnation. The tendency of the ego itself must be broken down, for it, too, is illusion. Maya projects qualities onto the individual, and he thinks that he is tall, fat, man, woman, talented or dull. When all such ideas, good as well as evil, have been overcome, the soul stands alone. Swami Vishnu-devananda
For you there is no birth or death,
for you there is no mind,
for you there is no bondage or liberation,
no good or evil.
Why do you weep, my child?
Neither you nor I have name and form. Dattatreya,
... and Happy Birthday, Swami Atma, 4-22-08.
Offerings to God need not necessarily be rich and costly things. What did the lord of elephants (Gajendra) offer? Only a flower from the tank. Draupadi offered a vegetable leaf and Sabari some wild plums. But the Lord was pleased. It is the feeling of love for God that God takes into account and not the material that is offered. He is pleased even with leaves and mere water. Swami Sivananda
Who is God? What is God?
Is there a God? Where is God?
How to realise God?
Man wants an answer to these eternal questions,
Certainly there is God.
God exists; He is the only Reality.
God is your Creator, Saviour and Redeemer.
He is all-pervading, He dwells in your heart,
He is always near you.
He is nearer to you than your jugular vein or nose.
He loves you; He can talk to you.
You cannot find God by the intellect,
But by feeling, meditation, experience and realisation. Swami Sivananda
As I was editing some photos of our guru Swami Vishnu-devananda, I found this rather fun photograph which I really liked. It shows Swami Vishnu doing a headstand on the wing of his Peace Plane which he flew to many countries in the 70's distributing flowers and leaflets to promote world peace.
Swami Vishnu's teaching was that world peace could only happen when people first found peace within themselves. While the above photo is in fun, his mission was quite serious and important. In spite of all the continuing problems in the world today, we can be thankful that Swami Vishnu's peace mission lives on in the hearts of all the students who have taken his yoga teacher's training program.
The title says it all. Gorgeous photo.
I'm leaving Bad Meinberg this morning. I had a wonderful stay as usual. Next I'll be teaching tonight in Saarbrücken.
Below is the view from my room as it's snowing this morning.
You've got to love those ice storm pictures. Quite stunning
Recently I had the great fortune of sorting through some old paperwork and getting to see some photos and prints of Master Sivananda and Swami Vishnu-devananda. For the time being I have them spread across my desk to look at when I am at my computer.
Anyway, I find them very inspiring and so I wanted to share a few with you. Some you may have already seen other places.
Swami Sivananda and the River Ganga
Master and Swamiji and the Ganga, 1948
Swami Sivananda statue in Val Morin, Canada
Swami Vishnu lecturing late 1980's
classic photo of Swami Vishnu meditating
You've got to love it.
I like to look at pictures and learn about things from outer space. Generally I really like looking at the photos because they are often really beautiful and wonderful. I also like it because it helps keep a balance on remembering in the grand scheme of things how teeny our little world is and the usually overly-imagined importance of our place in it.
A good web site for looking at photos of outer space is the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day website. They also have explanations of the photos written by professional astronomers so you learn about what you are looking at.
Light Echoes from V838 Mon
This is today's picture from that website. It's a star (V838 Mon) that in 2002 for some unknown reason got really bright and then dimmed. This picture shows how the "light echo" from that event is now reflecting off the interstellar dust that is all around the star. The light echo spans 6 light years in diameter.
Jiun, a Shogun master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.
His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:
"Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization."
The picture below does not do justice to the real thing. Go to the original site and drag your mouse right and left and up and down. Enjoy the trip
They have many other panoramas to use and visit. Very cool use of modern technology.
May you be blessed in this new year with health, peace, prosperity, and spiritual illumination. May your sadhana be strong and joyful.
Starting tomorrow I will resume the publication of entertaining posts.
Here is an amazing collection of sand castles and other sculptures. I used to enjoy seeing gifted artists make such sculptures in Santa Monica. They probably still come and do their thing.
I haven't posted anything in a while and the news is even worse than that on the email front. I have let my e-mail pile come up to an unhealthy level.
Many of you may be mad at me and waiting for me to address important issues. My apologies to all. I will start diving into the pile this weekend. I ask you for a little more patience. To save time I'll probably try to call some of you instead of writing.
Om Namo Narayanaya
Here is an interesting Zen story of a Zen practitioner who attained enlightenment through the teachings he got from his butcher.
Wisdom is everywhere, or can be at least.
When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.
"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.
"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."
At these words Banzan became enlightened.
I have been reading more about Zen lately. Fascinating tradition. So many simple and beautiful stories about the spiritual path.
This first story is also very much quoted by yogis. It's called 'The Cup of Tea'.
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"
"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
There are many more in this interesting collection of colored water photos.
As I am working on my computer all of a sudden a real thunderstorm broke out. There have been quite a few since I'm here but just now big sized chunks of hail fell furiously. I took a pic.
And a related quote to illustrate the progress made and to be made.
If trends continue, by 2017, a single computer hard drive will be able to hold all the data contained on all of the hard drives currently in existence today.
How and why can this man walk on water? Here is the answer
... especially after your read the caption. See the award-winning photograph.
This serious study has been exploring what's the country with the happiest children.
The study by the UN children's organisation, Unicef, looked at relative poverty, educational and health standards, sexual behaviour and the children's relationship with friends and parents.
And the winner is ...
He says he is not surprised by the report. "On the one hand you have objective indicators in the report like health, income and education. The Netherlands is a very rich country. On the other hand, and perhaps more importantly, are the subjective indicators, young people's own subjective sense of well-being."
The whole article is very interesting. Especially the interviews of teenagers.
Rutt Veenhoven, professor of social conditions for human happiness at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, says he was unsurprised by the report's findings.
"Small affluent countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark are very democratic and very free. There is also a very good education system. People can use that freedom and education to make the right choices," he says.
The title says it all.
There are many other great photos to see.
Sunday night I gave a lecture on Advaita Vedanta in Frankfurt, followed by a nice satsang. During the lecture I talked about general concepts of Advaita and during the satsang gave the students 3 techniques to practice.
Although the topic can be off-putting to Westerners and especially less advanced yogis, it went over well with these groups.
On Monday I visited Frankfurt briefly and yesterday traveled to Mainz. I enjoyed the Frankfurt center very much. Thanks to Maheshwara and staff for hosting me and making the center such a pleasant place.
Here are a couple photos I took in Frankfurt.
Mainz is the biggest Yoga Vidya center. I taught a lecture and yoga class last night to a group mostly comprised of the ongoing 2-year TTC. The topic was Raja Yoga. All went well.
This morning we had a power satsang led by Atmarama, the director of the center. There are 8 intense yogis living here and the shakti is very strong. The altar in the meditation room is very impressive
An image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft February 4, 2007 and released on March 1, 2007 shows never-before-seen views of Saturn. (NASA/Handout/Reuters)
What's unigue is that this photo is taken from closer and from a different angle than what we are used to see.
Just thought of narrating this trip I just made via photos. The explanations will come before the photos.
Sunday night, a week ago, I flew in from Germany and my first contact with the Slovak language was the arrival sign at the Bratislava airport. Feels already like a long time ago. I was young then.
From Bratislava, the capital, we flew in to Kosice, the country's second largest city, and from there Jozef picked us in the middle of the night to drive to Levoča (English speakers should pronounce it like 'levocha'). The next morning, on Monday, we went to town and had a look at the house that is to become the AYA ashram.
This beam on the 3rd floor dates back to 1747.
View from 3rd floor.
Then we went on a walk in town and here is a view of the town square. Generally speaking the architecture is gorgeous even though a good number of buildings in town need renovation.
On that first afternoon we went back to visit to the house to discuss what each room would be used for. The natural choice for the meditation room was on top of the house on the 4th floor. The spot for the altar jumped out at me and the next morning, in the presence of the electrician, I found myself planning where to put the outlet and dimmers for the lights in the meditation room. Everything went so fast.
As described in a previous post we connected with the local, very active, yoga group and on Tuesday afternoon Hanuman Puri, the leader of the group, showed us their local yoga center/ashram and also drove us to the near-by hill where they are building an ashram for advanced students wanting to do meditation retreats. The view from there is breathtaking. Below is a view of the high Tatras, the range of mountains located about 25 kms (16 miles) away. Highest peaks are around 2,600 meters (9,000 feet).
On Wednesday two major events took place. First was the hike in the high Tatra Mountains. I could describe how pretty and fun it was but I'll let the pics do the talking.
The destination of our little hike was this refuge high up in the mountains. We had a nice mountain meal before going back down.
Here is another view.
On our way down we saw another refuge where, for Christmas, they had made a nativity scene in the snow/ice. At mid-March, it had only just began melting.
It was a really a good and intense day since I gave a satsang to the local yoga group. There 40 attendees, some of them coming from as far an Kosice, about 1 1/2 hours away by car. It turns out they are the Slovak branch of the Yoga in daily life group.
Here we see the conclusion of the satsang. We sang their beautiful Arati.
And then of course came the distribution of prasadam.
Thursday was my last day there. We first took a 5-hour train ride to Bratislava, had a good lunch there and then proceeded to do some sight-seeing before I flew back to Luxembourg via Germany.
Below are a couple of pics from Bratislava so that you can realize what the world is missing by not knowing more about this special country and its capital.
No matter where I go I can't seem to get away from paparazzi.
This morning we just completed a 5-day Yoga & Meditation Intensive. It was a fun course to teach with a group of 11 students of varied levels but with an equal eagerness to learn and practice.
Tonight I will be starting a weekend intensive on 'Secrets of the Mind'. Actually for me right now is more like 'secret of the title' because I'm not sure of the exact meaning of the title and course descriptions which I have only seen in German so far.
Otherwise all is well at the ashram here. Lots of sincere yogis working hard and practicing sincerely, with a good sense of humor for the most part.
Going through the photos on my computer I found this one I had not looked at for quite a while. It very much looks like some frogs I saw in Costa Rica in the last few trips I did there.
Not much time for writing posts these days but I'm trying to keep posting a photo daily. This first one is from satellite, copied from Google Maps.
And a close-by spring taken during this morning's daily walk.
Driving or even walking through the country side here and it's not rare to see modern wind mills and farms with plenty of solar panels on the roofs.
Following a quiet train ride with two stops, I got to the ashram around 5 pm.
All is well here, very much going like usual, which means tons of people of activities.
Tomorrow the 'Ayurveda Congress for Health and Spirituality' will be starting. We expect about 180 folks.I'll be giving 3 programs on Saturday.
Below is a photo I took last night.
A rare sight I presume.
A big plus of living in our modern days is the ability to watch all those space photos. Either directed at the deep sky or our own planet, they enrich our lives.
The photo below was taken from the International Space Station during a take-off of the Space Shuttle.
This site honors this inventiveness of those who are not blessed with material abundance.
Aptly named 'Lords of Logistic' it presents a series of 23 photos, most of them quite surprising, and which are a tribute to humanity.
This is a very nice series of photos illustrating the sizes of our planet and sun and relation to the rest of the universe.
Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving by train to get to the Yoga Vidya ashram in Westerwald and I thought it would be nice to conclude my stay here with a little 'photo essay'.
Yesterday I went for a walk and took close to 100 photos. Here are some which came out ok.
Clicking on each photo brings you to a larger version.
Cultural center designed by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer and irreverentially known here as 'le pot a yagourt'.
Photo from NASA.
I've got a new, more portable but with a higher resolution camera so I should be posting quite a few photos from now on. I intend to learn how to take good photos is it goes.
This is where I was introduced to spirituality. I took a break for a number of years and then came the real adventure when I discovered yoga and vedanta
Walked by this morning during my daily walk.
After a 7-month interruption I'm about to start seriously blogging again.
It's a long story but for the last several months I have been learning web programming and that led me to transfer the whole AYA web site to a brand-new database-driven Rails system and this blog is now been integrated with it.
Soon I'll publish my vision for the blog. It will be pretty much similar to before but better.
And for good measure, a nice photo from Tibet.
I was playing with Google Maps and I thought I'd share this satellite photo of where I'm staying these days (2 months altogether).
In Venice Beach, right by the ocean. Enlarge by clicking here.
Seen at the Kia Cerato Seoul World Inline Cup.
this ram needs a shave
The two hermit rams _ said to be about 8 years old _ were found hiding on the same hillside as Shrek and with wool lengths to rival the now world-famous sheep, the Otago Daily Times newspaper said.
That's why they call it Venice. Originally the founder, Abbot Kinney, wanted to create a little resort which would be at the image of Venice, Italy.
Quiet resort by the ocean and a number of pretty canals just a couple blocks inland.
Took this photo this morning. Since it rained heavily yesterday the air in LA is clearer today than over 340 days of the year.
... is another name for Venice Beach.
I preferred taking a photo in the morning when nobody was working out. The light was still very pretty and the moon was showing.
In the 60's body builders from all around the world came here to show off their big muscles. All pros were there including the current governor of the state.
Since I arrived in Venice I must say that I feel like I'm home again. Among all the traveling, Los Angeles is the place I have been most during the last 20 years and having left three years ago, I immediately felt very good as soon as I got here.
No worries I'm not thinking of moving here again but I will cherish the upcoming couple months.
Went for my 'usual' walks to Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey and already was tempted to take many photos of the area for this blog.
I decided to start with the best and most sattvic picture of the area. For those who know Venice beach, this statue is on the quieter side of the boardwalk, on the South part, very close to Marina Del Rey.
The Buddha is meditating there, facing the beach and the Sun and people routinely come to offer him flowers and other things.
I happen to be staying just a few houses from this statue.
A couple weeks ago I went to see "The March of the Penguins" and like most people I have been charmed by this movie.
This movie is actually a documentary on the penguins living in Antarctica and how their lifestyle and community spirit allows them to deal with the extraordinary harsh conditions. It's truly inspiring.
Just a little problem: I did not pay attention and did not notice that the movie was not offered with subtitles so I missed most of the commentaries which were in German.
I got the gist anyway and really enjoyed the most beautiful images and scenery. Now I need to see it again, if possible in the original French.
On top of that I saw a documentary on the documentary. They were trying to analyze why this movie was so popular all over the world and they showed how they did some of the filming. The filmmakers were ecstatic with the way it turned out but they would like the American audience to know a few things:
- This documentary is not American but actually, gasp, it's French. Produced, realized etc. by French people
- The US is the only market where the film was not shown with the original commentary (3 voices: 1 male, 1 female, 1 child)
- Morgan Freeman (the US narrator) is NOT the primary reason this movie has been so successful. The movie has been distributed in every other country in the world and it has been a hit everywhere with the original narration.
May be they'll put the option to get the original narration in the DVD, who knows. Enjoy the viewing.
Most of Kenya's estimated 50,000 prisoners gave up their ration of beans and corn porridge on the day President Mwai Kibaki declared the food shortages caused by drought a national disaster in an effort to speed up relief efforts, officials said.
A lesson in sharing. Read Whole story here.
Grey Heron in the margins of Lake Naivasha, Kenya.
Aidan with the guide
Aidan climbed 20,300-foot mountain with his father and several guides in November. His father, Warren Gold, said members of the Nepal Mountaineering Association told him Aidan is likely the youngest person to make the summit.
Inspiring story. Read Whole article here.
I would like to wish you a very happy new year. May 2006 bring you health, peace, prosperity, happiness and spiritual liberation.
One thing I like about Western Europe. Since, compared to Texas, California or other places I have spent much time at, it's closer to the North Pole the days in Summer time are very long. With the daylight savings time that makes for long evenings and if you are at the edge of the very broad European time zone like my home town in Normandy it's even more so. Darkness doesn't come until 11 pm or something.
Something I don't like so much about Western Europe. For the same reasons the days are very short in the Winter. With overcast weather, not a rarity, it's still dark at 8:30am and by 4pm you feel it's all over. So most people who work regular hours rarely see the light of day.
Truly I don't really care that much about it but it's fun to notice the change. One thing for sure is that it could be worse. I could be staying in Northern Sweden or Northern Alaska!
By the way, one of my too many desires would be to see the Midnight Sun in July in Northern Sweden. Who knows? It may happen someday.
The way of the sun in the "night" of the 5./6. july 2005 between 23.00 pm and 01.45 am in Uttakleiv on the Lofoten-islands in the north of norway. Composite of 12 exposures made every 15 minutes.
These photos were taken during my morning walk.
Fresh Snow in the Forest
Liestal church top
View from my room a couple days ago in the morning.
You may know that in the last couple years I have spent a lot of time in Switzerland. These days, I'm here for a few weeks teaching a few yoga classes a week. Most visualize Switzerland with the high Alp mountains and lots of snow in the Winter.
I happen to be staying in the Northwestern part of the country No mountains close by here but it does snow occasionally in the winter.
Liestal is a charming small town which is the capital of the the canton of Basel land. Only a 9 minute train ride from Basel where I can get my fill of city atmosphere I'm just a few minutes from the deep woods. It's basically perfect.
Part of my daily routine is to take a one to one and a half hour walk in the woods. Photo of the path below.
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much. Walter Lippmann
and another one ...
Men can know more than their ancestors did if they start with a knowledge of what their ancestors had already learned....That is why a society can be progressive only if it conserves its traditions. Walter Lippmann
Over a week ago, on my way back from Texas to Switzerland I stopped by in New York for 3-4 days and had a good time.
First picture or so with my new "used" camera - not too bad for a beginner
Besides spending some nice time with good friends I did a few cool things.
But first of all, an odd fact. Doing quite a bit of walking in the city during these few days I must report that I did cross 2 or 3 New Yorkers who did NOT have an ipod!!!
The New York Public Library
I got to visit the awesome New York public library. The building is truly gorgeous outside and inside and we got to visit two interesting exhibits.
Forgot how this is called. Let's call it the main study room.
The first exhibit consisted of over 100 ancient manuscripts. We are talking masterpieces hand written several centuries ago, many of them dating to the 1,200s. Most volumes were of the religious kinds, many of them actual bibles. In our modern days of computers and automation it's just mind boggling that these works were done by hand.
The precision and detail of both the calligraphy and the illustrations were impressive. The illustration below gives a fair idea of such works but does not quite do them justice.
The second exhibit called "treasured maps" showed originals of some of the first world maps. It was fun seeing how good they were while having a lack of precision, or some big parts of the world which were just missing as they did not get a chance to go there yet. Quite fascinating.
Other good maps were some of Manhattan 100 years or more ago. One of them had illustrations of existing trees, houses and other buildings and you can clearly tell that 60th street and above was just like country side. Quite a change now.
The Radio City Music Hall
The Radio City music hall is another landmark and historical building. It has been completely renovated in the last few years but they have preserved it and restored so that it still looks like it did at the beginning.
The guided tour was instructive especially because, as an ignorant swami, I did not even know what it was before so I learned things on different levels.
About every big star in the last century went through that place and at one point we were sitting in a screening room and they said that may be Hitchkock or other "big" people were sitting in the same seat we were in. I first got impressed and then my mind told me that the same thing probably happened many times when I sit at airports.
The Soup Nazi
This last bit will only be interesting to the readers familiar with the "Seinfeld" sitcom. Since the readership of this blog is mostly divided between American and European demographics, the Europeans need to know that Seinfeld is the best sitcom ever and is very, very funny.
A famous show took place at "the soup nazi" restaurant, a joint that used to serve excellent soup but according to many customers, the owner had quite an attitude. They made fun of this on the show and also created the nickname.
That original restaurant closed a couple years ago and now they opened this first place of what may become a national chain. You read it here first. This is where we went for lunch. The actual "soup man" was not in the store but you had employees selling expensive soups like there is no tomorrow. What about the attitude, you will ask? Well it's mostly showing through the sign below which is a bit curt.
... and we all complied