Here. Photo taken in Jitpur Phedi village in Nepal.

Here

The breeze, it’s too cold here. I feel something, it is too near.

This I know, it cannot be fear. The five degrees of celsius,
tonight, challenge me to type, faster, as I must write.

In the village, with nature, the place I had once known.
The words come pouring through, from the unknown.

The fingers, on these hands, they are too stiff, rough,
rigid, and cold. They cannot dance.

They are far weaker, than this here, seeker. 

Last day here, as a volunteer, before I journey,
alone, to the Everest frontier.

Come time to go, never rush, take time, and go, but slow.

For what lies there, is not better, or worse.
Once gone, to the beyond, know these words.

You were never excited, to leave, there.
You are always glad, to arrive, here.

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Fred and Bob - The Realization

Adventures of Fred and Bob: The Realization

Having finally entered the place, the two professors sit down at the bar. Drinks start pouring. After a few, their conversation gets deep. They’re philosophers by profession and currently writing their respective PhD theses on the meaning of life at Columbia University in New York City.

An hour ago they had passed by a lounge, the same one they’re drinking at now. Live Tonight! Debut Performance: Frank Sinatra. They notice the bright red lights flashing on the sign above as they walk near Time Square. It’s a breezy starry Saturday night in December, 1942. “Hmm. Live music, sounds entertaining. Shall we go?” One of them, Fred, suggests in a somber tone. “I’m not sure, Fred. I’ve never heard of this guy. It says he’s new.” The other professor, Bob, facilitates the hesitation. “You’re right. He may not even be any good. And we’ll have wasted our whole night. But it’s late, we might as well go here.” Fred rationalizes their significant decision to enter the lounge.

At the bar, they cannot resist discussing work. “To be is to do.” Fred argues while pressing his thick-frame, burgundy glasses up along his greasy nose. He likes to find problems in things, like life, especially, when there’s nothing wrong. “No Fred. Believe me. To do is to be.” Bob subtly asserts his claim stroking his beard. He doesn’t care for Fred’s ideas. They keep arguing back and forth. They are soon hopeless and angry, with themselves, with each other, with the lounge. Heck, with life. There’s no progress. There’s no discovery. There’s no realization.

After the tenth or so drink, being so drunk, they finally stop contemplating. They cannot contemplate anymore. The alcohol has temporarily numbed their mental ability for logic. Their primary human senses begin to surface. They notice, the music, for the first time. The only thing they came here for. They’re completely taken away by everything, the people, the sounds, the lights, the scents, the vibe. They feel it running through their core. They could care less about the meaning. They just want to be with it. They are lost, in the music, in the moment. 

“Doo be doo be doo…” They listen, to Frank Sinatra, singing his debut song. “Man, we were so pathetic! Look at the performer. He’s having such a good time, he is so happy! And he’s singing both our ideas!” Fred cheers with uncontrollable excitement. “You’re right. Here we were, sitting around, contemplating on what it all means. We were so stuck in thinking that we never did anything. We shut up for once and now we see, we feel, we know what it means – whatever the hell it means!” Bob subtly exposes the realization. “You’re right bro! Man, I love this place, I love the performer, I love the music, I love you, I love life too!” Fred could no longer contain the joy boiling up in his being. “Alright, Fred. Love you too man.” Bob too shares the joy. 

Everyone’s got a little philosopher inside. I have a big philosopher in me, or used to. He’s gotten so old, he’s almost dead. Living as a philosopher is a terrible thing. It’s a sickening way to cope. You cannot find one truly happy philosopher in history. They are great men who contemplated a lot. They shed light on truth. Some even died for truth. But few of them, came to know, truth, through experience. 

Most people think about life, few, live life. Be the latter, not the former.

The next time the little philosopher in you yaps his mouth, smack him in the face. Shut him up. Laugh at him too, just to annoy him. Don’t let him ruin your moment, your one, epic, life. You’re unsure of something, anything, try it and find out for yourself, while you still have the time. There are no answers in hesitation and contemplation.

While you remain sheltered in the comfort of contemplation and hesitation suffocated by the thought of fear, guess who’s out there, taking risks, making moves, living and loving life? The explorer. The musician. The entrepreneur. The writer. The visionary. The photographer. The dancer. The lover. The artist. The rebel. The creator. The crazy ones.

You’re here, for the music.
Hear it, listen to it, feel it.

But, don’t settle for this.
It will not satisfy you.

You must go beyond.

Get up. Get out.
Create your own.

Dance, to your, tone.

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Permission to Be

Permission to Be

If you have a feeling, an urge, for something, anything, adventure, lust, passion, or pursuit of any kind, you must, see to it. Be glad for it. Be happy that you’ve come to a point where you feel what you are feeling. It’s trying to tell you something. It’s saying you can no longer live falsely. You can no longer lie, to yourself. It’s trying to lead you somewhere. Somewhere you have never been. Somewhere you are supposed to be.

You cannot repress it. You must not. To do so is suicide. It is a seed planted that must come to fruition and only then can it blossom, grow and die – setting you free. It is a volcano waiting to erupt, explode, and be. You cannot contain it. To avoid it, is to mask it. It is still there. The only way to free yourself of it is by seeing to it. Only then can you know without a shadow of a doubt why you wanted to lose yourself in something beyond. Only then can you transcended the urge. Only then can you let go. Only then will you know, truth.

To do or to not do a thing because you have been told so by a parent, a priest, a teacher, a book, or anyone else, is to be a puppet – not a human being. A human being is an animal, albeit one with the capacity for intelligence and consciousness, nevertheless an animal. An individual. You are born wild. You are born free – as such you must live, die, and be. You are to seek. You are to explore. You are to wonder. You are to discover. You have a right to know. There’s no fear. There’s no guilt. There’s no punishment. There’s no sin. It all just, is. There is love. There is wonder. There is joy. There is freedom. There is pure bliss.

It’s all just a ride. But you have to do the riding yourself. You must ride alone, to go beyond loneliness. You cannot sit around and remain sheltered because you’ve been told it’s dangerous or it’s risky. You, are, danger. You, are, risk. You start running risks the moment you are born. All of life is a risk. Nothing is guaranteed. Not even the next breathe you may take in, after, breathing out this one. But you trust in your breathe don’t you? You do, because your life depends on it. You don’t realize that your life and liveliness too, depend on trusting, in yourself. Trust in yourself, in what you feel – you are of the same source.

What absurdity can you live by? It’s not even living. It’s sleeping. It’s experiencing a fantasy. Not even your own dream, but one that has been prescribed to you. Wake up and live. Create your own prescription and take your own medicine. It will taste sweeter than anything you have ever known, not to mention the aches it will cure. Do what your heart desires for only then you can see, know, for yourself, what is true.

You must be. Be yourself and only this. You must live your individuality, not a personality. You are not capable of repeating anybody else and there’s no need. This will cause repression. You will act as a shadow of your idea of someone you are not. You will be a hypocrisy, not a human being. Give yourself, the permission, to be.

 

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The Greatest Journey in the World

The Greatest Journey in the World

In you, lies immense potential – deep reservoirs of ability. The same ability that the greatest idols and heroes of all time possess. The same unspeakable mystery that gives them the ability to achieve what they set out to, you too, can realize. The same energy, the same capacity for greatness, you too, can tap into. We are all one, and the same, yet different. We are all human, nevertheless, all human. Humans with the most powerful, naturally evolved, yet least understood, operating system, ever. Your mind.

The mind is the operating brain. It’s in honing and refining this operation that you gradually come to unearth, your own greatness – the beauty that lies within you. This is the only way to harness what you possess. Your mind is an operating system. It will run any app that is loaded into it. Choose the right apps. The right apps are those based on truth, not mere facts or opinions. Truth can only be known through individual experience. This can be achieved by living mindfully. 

Mindfulness is not sharpening the mind or attaining a certain intellectual level. Mindfulness is mindlessness, or having no mind. The practice is aimed to experience the freedom of aimlessness. Aimlessness is the experience of having no logical expectation of any experience, including the experience of life itself. A life of purity. A life of clarity. A life in which you feel, here, and now. You experience all that is, without interference of the thinking brain, or the mind. This is mindfulness. 

Mindfulness can be experienced through meditation. Meditation is the practice of going inward. It is the journey of the seeker. It is an individual journey. It can be achieved through silent breathing meditation. Yet, you need not seek clarity only when you are seated to meditate. You see more clearly each time you forgo the unrefined mind’s seemingly spontaneous, yet habitual urge to indulge in the pleasure of sense stimulation – be it that of speech, taste, touch, or else. 

One who has decided to live life authentically must go beyond opinion or belief. Belief, too, is false. Belief exist only in the mind of the believer. It too, is unreal. Belief deludes your view and experience of life. It exists so long as you dull your vision by holding on to it. Belief is the projection of your own thoughts onto the world. A true seeker is free and is not held by anything, not even beliefs. 

Life, becomes amazing, once you realize that life is already amazing, as it is, without any purpose.
You, become great, once you realize that you are already great, as you are, without any reason. 

To have no bondage to anyone or to anything, to have no desire for any meaning, purpose, or logical idea of existence whatsoever, and still, be able to let yourself take it in, to take all of it in, to love life with intense, joyful, childlike wonder, to be effortlessly grateful for the beauty that is not only around you but within you, to laugh so deeply at the odds so that death trembles before you, this, my dear friend, is the highest, of all achievements. 

This achievement lies in the journey. The journey, is, the destination. The journey, is here and now. The journey, exists. It, is real. The destination, or purpose, is an illusion. The destination is the sun setting in the horizon, no matter how well you sail your ship toward it, you’ll never get there. It is always away from you. If you are too fixated on the destination, you miss all the beauty and wonder that pass you by, on the greatest journey in the world, your one, precious, life. 

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Baba working at the Ashram

You Cannot Game Life

You can game yourself to sell customers on your claims. But you cannot game your customers into loyal, diehard clients.

You can game yourself into social tactics to win more acquaintances than you can keep up with. But you cannot game your acquaintances into real friends.

You can game yourself to pick up a girl that is there to be picked up at a bar. But you cannot game her into a true relationship.

You can game yourself with a degree and some networking into a fancy, good paying job. But you cannot game your career into a passionate one.

You can game yourself into paying a company to do everything for you to trek to Everest basecamp including planning, carrying your stuff, guiding you, feeding you, accommodating you, all but maybe walk for you. But you cannot game the fear, challenge, adventure, joy, and growth of facing the unknown, all alone, with nothing, but your own. 

Life is not a game. Life is the real thing.
It’s happening already, right here, right now.

Life cannot be confined or controlled.
Life is uncertain and unknowable.
Life is changing and flowing.

Life can only be grasped through experience.

Learn more about life.
By trusting life and yourself.

By practice. Persistent, mindful, practice.
Practice living true to yourself. No matter what.
Start where you are. Live one day at a time.

Live according to what gives you peace. 

Peace not pleasure. Peace not comfort.
Peace not certainty. Peace not luxury.
Peace not popularity. Peace.

Stop gaming yourself and start living life.

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Expectationless - photo taken in Jitpurphedi village Nepal of VIN volunteers.

Expectationless

Every encounter is a gift, given to you and me,
free of charge, 
free of expectations.

A gift to learn. A gift to give. A gift to be.
A gift to practice, having no expectations.

The bank teller. The flight attendant.
The waitress. The taxi driver.
The conversation with the bartender.
The girl sitting next to you, on the plane.
The presentation you’ll give at work.

Your colleagues, your friends, your relatives.

The guy you’ll bump into down the street today.

It’s all, a gift. Honor it by having no expectations.

Share yourself. Be Expectationless.
Show them, the beauty, that you see.

Now, become Expectationless with your plans,
your career, your goals, your relationships, your life.

Soak in the joy of letting go and letting life be.

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The Exposed Soul

Exposed

The unexposed mind, possesses a desire, for others’ understanding and acceptance, of what she has been, what she is, and what she may become. Such desire is rooted in fear. This desire can delude her view of reality. It confines her. It holds her back. In order to become what she was born to be, what only, she can be, she must detach. Detach from the comfort of what she knows. Because her potential lies, in the unknown, that is life.

She must expose herself to life.
To learn to be on her own. To earn trust in her own nature.
To gather her own self-knowledge. To realize she can manifest anything.
To become self-reliant. She must awaken, and live, her dream.
Once she has awoken, life is forever more lively.

Relationships are no longer the same. They too, are more pure.

There’s no attachment. There is trust.
There’s no assumption. There is clarity.
There’s no desire. There is love.
There’s no expectation. There is gratitude.

She is grateful, for all she has been, done, known, felt, and seen.
Life has matured her capacity to see, to feel, to know, to do, and to be, beyond herself.
She no longer sees herself as a victim of the stories of the past.
She can remember the pain, of yesterday, but, it too, is no longer the same.
She has forgiven, herself. She has forgiven and forgotten.
Sorrow has transformed into joy.

Joy is life.

In life, she is free. She exudes light. A mysterious, pure, innocent, yet refined quality.
Others gravitate toward her, unknowingly.
She has unearthed her own greatness. She has seen, the one, within.
She exposes, in love, the beauty of all she encounters.

Her soul is exposed.

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Be happy with no reason

Be

It does not interest me,
what you do for a living,
where you come from, or
what you have done.

I want to know, if you can, 

feel, with no thought,
do good, with no god,

walk, with no destination,
give, with no expectation,

climb, with no summit,
live, with no purpose,
love, with no desire,

be happy, with no reason.

- Sepehr Vakili

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Asutosh studying geography in Nepal

The Astronaut

“I watch Hindi films too.” I say to Asutosh soon after arriving at the home stay in Jitpur Phedi village in Nepal. He lives next door. He’s the youngest cousin of the family I live with while volunteering with Volunteers Initiative Nepal. “Oh, which movies have you seen?” He asks with surprise. “I’ve seen a few, but I don’t recall most of the titles. I’ve seen Chennai Express. Shah Rukh Khan is my favorite Indian actor.” I answer. “You have seen Chennai Express!” He exclaims. “What else, which film?” He is glad to know the foreigner, born in Iran, raised in America, has seen Indian films, the same ones he and his cousins love to watch. “I want to see Jodha Akbar.” I don’t want to disappoint him so I name the movie which I had downloaded, but had yet to watch. “Oh, Jodha Akbar! Jodha Akbar! I have this on DVD. Wait, wait, I will bring.” He’s grateful as he runs next door to his house returning promptly with the DVD in hand. 

He’s sweet, humble, and kind. Reminds me of my little brother. He has a spark that is pure and true, the kind we are given, at birth. The kind that unfortunately, too often sheds off, as we become, adults. “Which countries have you been to?” He asks, not to know, but, because he is knowledgeable. “I’ve been to about twenty-five or so.” I answer while reaching for the iPhone kept in the right pocket of The North Face jacket I wear to keep my body warm in the 6 degree celsius weather, inside the room. “Okay, Iran, Austria, USA…” I read the chronological list from the offline iCloud Notes. “Oh, Austria, it’s land-locked, like Nepal.” He remarks. “What? I don’t understand.” I ask him to repeat as I squint my eyes turning my head slightly, exposing my right ear to him. “Land, locked.” He stresses, clearly. “Nepal is also surrounded by land, no body of water.” He teaches me. “Wow, you’re right, I don’t remember ever learning this term.” I thank him for teaching me something new.  

He studies in the mornings as I go to the city or the village for volunteer duty. He walks atop the hill where the two homes sit on, overlooking the open horizon where the sun rises. The flat lands below are abundant with green rice fields. He walks back and forth covering about fifty feet of ground, reading aloud, some time in English, some time in Nepali. The family’s calf, Maya, which means love in Nepali, munches on hay and grass as Asotush walks by, gently stroking her hair with his left hand, holding the textbook with the other. 

Asutosh hugging Maya, the family calf.

Asutosh hugging Maya, the family calf.

“So, you always study on the weekend?” I ask him, two weeks later, as he curiously approaches me to see the screen of my MacBook Air. I am editing a poem I had written the night before. He carries two books, one in each hand, both geography, one in English, the other in Nepali. “Yes, sometimes, but this is not for school. I just want to know about the world.” He answers. It is a Saturday morning, his one-day weekend. I’m staying in the village this weekend to spend time with Asutosh and the family. We sit on the concrete flat, about two feet above the dirt ground, facing the sun. The eagles glide freely in the misty blue sky beyond. Nepal is known for its eight hundred and sixty-four species of birds. The rising sun evaporates the cool water on the fields below, clearing the misty air, as the eyes shed tears when an aching, broken heart needs to heal.

“What is your dream? Your aim.” I ask as he turns the page to the map of Iran to locate my birthplace, Birjand. “Oh, oh, my dream, I don’t know.” He hesitates, momentarily, as he brushes his fingers through his hair, lowering his head, bringing his chin to his chest in a side to side wobble. “My dream is to be an astronaut.” His head rises, his face glows, instantly, revealing an effortless smile. “Oh wow, astronaut! That’s wonderful. Why, why astronaut?” I ask to learn if his dream is for an imagined future prestige, or a pure and present pursuit in and of itself. “Because, I want to know more about the planets, and maybe one day go to space.” He confirms the happiness in his pursuit.

Asutosh locating Birjand Iran.

Asutosh locating Birjand Iran.

For Asutosh, school, is not about memorizing random facts to one day get a job that he’s not even interested in, as it was, for me. For him, going to school, is, living, his dream. 

Asutosh, is not a thirteen-year-old boy. 

He is, a seeker.
He is, an explorer.
He is, a dreamer.

He is, an astronaut.

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Free - Eagle in Jitpur Phedi Nepal

Free

Atop the hill, the sun, shinning,
over the rice fields, green.
The eagle, gliding,
she, is, free.

I have lost.
Lost the pain.
The pain, of yesterday.

A distant nightmare,
I saw, for sleep, I remained.
Alas, I have awaken,
to the dream.

In joy, I live. 

I too, am free, as is she,
gliding, beyond me.
I am not, me. I am, thee.
And you, are me.

- Sepehr Vakili

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