Tibetans Compassion and Laughter

dalai lama

“Whether you believe in God or not does not matter much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much; as a Buddhist, whether you believe in reincarnation or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life.”  HH Dalai Lama

Sometimes I wonder why, I need to write. I no longer play, I no longer have the craving of the world to keep going without an end. I no longer am afraid of death. But I write, because inexplicably the people I have encountered in my journey have kept me going, have kept me living, have kept me believing and they wrote back.

I even wonder why I start with HH Dalai Lama, and without a question it is because HH touches my soul. I once did not believe in anything,  and even thought HH was a simple  political  figure that was  in the middle of the west and the east. The Us X China figure.

That what, before I sat in front of HH Dalai Lama. I was taken aback by his presence. Yet I thought that that was natural. He was  a political figure.

HH Dalai Lama started his speech by asking people to remain believing in what they did, He was a simple monk, a Tibetan Buddhist monk simply because he had been born in Tibet. Had he been anywhere else, he would have been raised believing in other gods.

“Keep what you believe in, it is too much work to change, keep from Buddhism what makes sense to you.”

How could one, not admire such a religious leader?  That was the first time I had been in front of a lama, and it was HH Dalai Lama. After that, in my path I encountered several Tulkus and Lamas. They always spoke of compassion. That really resonated with me. Simply because I loved Alyosha, the religious son of Fyodor Karamzov.  Till this day I take that book,  Dostoyevski’s last book as a sacred one.

And so my path followed, I searched so much. My father used to say I was in the quest of the Holy grail. And in that quest I got sick several times without much explanation. The last one,  I was taken into a coma, and I almost died. I did not remember much of anything once I woke up.

Dr. Getulio Rabello, my neurologist,  told me to write. And I worked so hard to attempt to do the impossible. To translated my thoughts so trapped in my mind into words. In the beginning it was a daily battle aggravated by the fact that I understood my brain, all that was said, and that I trusted someone very much that I shouldn’t.

For a while, all I could do was play music. Listen to music. Hallucinating  with songs I no longer knew the name of. It was a daily battle not knowing who I could trust or not.

HH Dalai Lama once said  ““The enemy is a very good teacher”

And it took me a while to fully understand that. So first I felt pain, then hatred, till nothing really mattered anymore.

And little by little came another sentence by HH

““Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”

And I did, I learned all rules, yet I broke them wrongly feeling inexplicably sad. The fact that I understood the rules helped me in understanding that my brain was healed. Yet there was so much pain. What can you do, when you understand, when your brain is capable but the pain does not stop existing?

Time went by and HH came to me one more time

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  HH Dalai Lama

I knew that. I have always known that. Yet, I could not feel it. I sincerely thought I was somehow dad inside. Without any possibility to recovering.

And I went once again to Dr. Getulio, and he was once again amazed that I was well. He insisted that I should have a project. I told him I had none, and about all that I had found out about my brain. About music. About meditation. He told me to go back to music, to study psychology. And I asked him whether I could finally climb.

climbing

He was shocked at first, but I explained how safe it would be. And he let me climb indoors. He let me drive in Sao Paulo. And I was happy beyond belief. I was almost back.

I drove under the rain listening to Choro, I saw my friends who remembered me and all that had happened to me. I explained though I had great equipment I did not remember really well how to go about it. They helped me. I climbed slowly after having done an hour of yoga just before…  and having had pain in my whole body for months. And as I was going up I remembered why mountains were sacred. They are grounded and they reached to the sky. I remembered Ladak, the cold air in my face, the stupas, how happy I was then, and now  how happy I was again.

ladakah

I drove away under the rain. I hugged my fellow friends from climbing. I cried. I knew them. And I drove to a place where the most amazing musicians of choro meet every week to play. Not a bar, just a studio.

I came with tape in my hands, blisters in my fingers, climbing shoes hanging from my bag, and I sat right in front of the musicians, next to Dona Inah and I felt pure joy. From yoga, to climbing, to Choro. I was for a whole day in a total meditative state.

choro

It lingered while I drove, when I fell asleep till today. It broke sometimes, when I remembered the injustices inflicted on me, and others. But I decided to listen to HH Dalai Lama, since he has been present supporting in silence my struggle against myself.

It came to my mind, the voices of people of all over the world, asking me to come back to believing in humanity.

 

And as I just heard him laughing, after listening to HH Karmapa. After talking to Denise I knew I had to write to share this. I don’t know what is the path that Dr. Getulio wants me to walk, but I know, I must write, I know I need music, I need yoga, I need mountains. And finally, I feel totally in peace.

karmapa

“This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.”

14th Dalai Lama

Wanderings about Art.

BULLFIGHT_n3_Savador_Dali

Art is such an intriguing thing. Sometimes it feels like it is one of the most subversive things there is. In others it feels like an example of force of those who already have it.

I just came home from watching a beautiful exposition of works by Picasso, Goya and Dali. The exposition was put out by my cousin and her colleagues. The public opening to the world is tomorrow. Today I was lucky to be invited to go to, and was accompanied by my almost 90 years old  grandmother.

The topic was the Tauromaquia, in other words the bullfight. It is far from being something that I admire, though I must say I have never seen one, nor do I have the desire to see it. My grandmother, whose brother was years ago the Ambassador of Brazil in Spain took her to see it. So I watched those powerful paintings with mixed feelings. My grandmother told me she was very afraid to go to see the bullfight, but that it was one of the most impressive rituals that she had ever seen.

 

I heard it, still was convinced I still did not want to see it, but was wandering why three important painters would have painted it. Without a question it is part of their culture, but there was more to it. You could feel it was also a political act. Sometimes, a protest against Guernica itself.  I could feel it, even before reading it.

I was brought back to England when I was taken to see an exposition of modern Art. I rarely like modern art because it is so plain obvious that one must be educated to accept that language, that I find it itself unfair and discriminating. In fact, in a sense, I find it less like art. Today, very few things had to be read, or explained for you to understand the power of these works. Had they had no names probably would make no difference to me.

But I was brought back to England to that exposition where nothing really looked like anything at all, unless you would read the titles, or hear the explanation of an “art specialist”. I was brought  back to that moment when I saw this painting that looked nothing and decided to listen to the explanation. According to the that specialist that painting ( loads of nothingness with some colours) represented the pain of the victims of the conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. I simply could not believe it. I looked around to see if there was any african that would have the same feeling that I had, there wasn’t any and I asked a question.

“Who painted this? Where is this painter from?  ”

“Germany.”

“Has this person ever been to Rwanda or Uganda? ”

Obviously not. The expert was without words for a second and then gave me a lecture on the importance of modern art.

I was happy there was not a single African there. They were all mainly Europeans and I felt it would have been quite offensive to anyone who had been in a war to have seen that as the representation of their pain.

I thought so much about this after. How much do we have the right to portray that which we have not experienced? Probably all, after all in a sense we are all human beings who are survivors, and inheritors of every single massacre that takes place every single day.

However the brutality of that painting is not in portraying pain that is not yours. It is to expect that the other, even the direct victim of something will need to be educated into understanding it. That is quite violent.

So, as I walked around seeing paintings I wondered how can one know a true exposition from one made to be put in the media.

And as I was left to talk with a professor from an university in Milan who works with processes of peace through art , as well as with a diplomat and they spoke about the power of Art I could think of nothing but that art that IS art needs no explanation. Art in whatever shape that it is will always be subversive.

Even art that is just simply perfect, and beautiful is subversive. And with that thought I remembered that for instance, in Palestine one of the first movements towards radicalisation was to kill art.

Art does not need to be explained, it just needs to be allowed to bloom in whatever place and shape that feels it suits.

I still do not want to see a bullfight, yet I now could feel in my body the power that comes from it. Even without any explanation.

 

 

 

 

Withering Heart

Image

What can move one? It is simply so random and yet sometimes so poignant that it becomes like  an inexplicable exercise to attempt to explain the inexplicable. Yet we do it, we attempt to understand the logic of it all, we attempt to understand the process of life, the world, the universe, the body, the mind, and some even the soul.

Yet, having, searched for so much, I am quite amazed by the fact that what brings you total joy, which is different than chemical pleasure originated by chemical release, that joy I am wondering about is of of another kind.  We could attempt to map it in the brain what happens there, and yet it is almost completely futile.

For me, my brain returning to its past capacities gives me some kind of joy.  Yet it is not even that. It is impossible to write about it . The fact that I took my guitar to compose something was a bigger expression of life, than any chemical exam. Those processes are so complex, and yet simple. So what brings me joy is to be in place. It is not simply to be in place, but to be understood, to feel my soul is here as well as it is my body. So rare had it been for me these moments, yet, they are back to me. The beginning of it, is here for me.

So I realise that what gives me joy is to share what I find is so beautiful. It is not to work, it is not to travel, it is a true encounter with the other. Sometimes, what brings total presence is the totally unexpected message of a friend from another world with a poem. And I seat here, to share that, as it was written in his language, I value it more. Since it was translated, it makes me understand it. And I write simply because I must share that poem. It brings me back to Asia, a place where I almost died, yet a place where I love very much.  It gives me joy to share this here, and imagine than other people will like me feel it to.

一棵開花的樹

席慕蓉

如何讓你遇見我

在我最美麗的時刻 為這

我已在佛前 求了五百年

求祂讓我們結一段塵緣

佛於是把我化作一棵樹

長在你必經的路旁

陽光下慎重地開滿了花

朵朵都是我前世的盼望

當你走近 請你細聽

那顫抖的葉是我等待的熱情

而當你終於無視地走過

在你身後落了一地的 

朋友啊 那不是花瓣

是我凋零的心

A blooming tree Xi Murong

“How to make you meet me

at my most beautiful moment.

For this,

I had prayed to Buddha for five hundred years

for making us an earthen fate.

Thus, Buddha turned me into a tree

growing on where you would pass by everyday.

I carefully bloomed fully under the sunshine.

Each flower was the looking forward of my previous life.

When you got closer, please listen carefully,

those trembling leaves were my waiting passions.

When you passed by without noticing,

what had fallen on the full ground behind you,

my friend, those were not leaves

but my withering heart.”

I shared these poem with friends and loved ones I thought I should. And strangely people from all over  the world in spite of their religion were moved as well. So I decided to write. And as I wrote, I realised once again, that just like in the brothers Karamazov I took the path of joy and not truth. Because truth is so unattainable.  More importantly, this path is the path of compassion. Well, my friend comes from Taiwan so I guess it is Tao, it is simply the path…..

 

Of Refugees, life and Capão

the-moroccans-leila-alaoui-6

Leila  Alaoui is a brilliant photographer , she has been my friend since when she started to take pictures. She lived with me in NY, and I visited her house in Morocco years ago. Leila, now lives in Lebanon. She works with Syrian refugees. She was the first person that I spoke to on  skype when I was still so sick. She always called me to talk to me. And I was capable to speak to her in French… when I barely spoke portuguese. She made me feel alive just like she made me write again.

Leila 2

Today as we spoke she told me about a film she had made. I saw it and I was so moved by it, and even told her I would write about it. Leila worked with Refugees, with survivors of wars, she lived and took beautiful pictures of them. And she asked me to film me. Me? What could I possibly be interesting for?  Her video was just appallingly beautiful, with  deserts, refugees, tracks, stories…. And as I watched I cried.

Leila

Then I wrote her to tell her what I will tell you here. Tell her of the things that it made me think. Not simply about the beauty of it, nor the photography, but because it took me back to the border of Africa and Europe… there  where Morocco stops and Ceuta is. Ceuta is in the African continent but it is Spain now.

I still, after all these years, remember vividly my feeling, the images, the thoughts. There were so many people… I was walking back to Morocco. People sold even the paper that was free, simply because lots of people who could not know how to feel it. People carried toilet paper, clothes, begs, suitcases, dreams. People who were going back to Africa  I guess carried nostalgic feelings. People  going back home could come easily back to Africa. Now the people who were coming to Spain they were held for long times. I was young, and yet I knew we were all lost, in between….. that the people who were going to Europe were searching for a better life in an almost impossible future. The people who were coming back, you could almost see their face the feeling of loss, of failure, and of missing from where they came from.

My crossing was easy. I had the “Right” papers…. On the other side there were lots of cabs. I just took one in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of hundreds of cabs. I remember thinking, that most people would find that dangerous. But I felt in place. After all, most of these different people were like me… displaced.

All these images came to my head as I watched Leila’s film.  And then suddenly came to my had a meeting I had a couple weeks ago. As I  was about to go home, someone dropped a glass in my foot, and someone else stopped to help me.

The guy said Hi, said I was beautiful. And since he was so friendly I started to talk to him. Then suddenly he said

” Stop, talking to me. I am from Capao Redondo”.

I told him I did’t care, he had helped me. Why should I not talk to him?

” You do not even know where this is or what it means!”

“I do, I have been there. Actually twice.”

He was intrigued. And maybe I should  add here that that place is a dangerous neighbourhood in Sao Paulo. It has in the past had more people being killed in a year that in many places that are in a war.

I insisted and told him

” You know, I trust strangers. I went to your neighbourhood. I stayed in the house of people I met on buses in Palestine, in Kashmir etc. So I have no problem to talk to you, unless you don’t want to talk to me.”

“I am impressed. Really. I ll be honest with you, you are beautiful and I wanted to kiss you, but now I can’t. I can see you are real. And you have such a sadness inside of you that makes me want to protect you. What happened to you? Why did you go to these places for, what have they done to you there?”

I told him, all that had happened to me which was in no dangerous place. And then he said something that really intrigued me. First he understood my pain of total abandonment by someone I trusted. And then he said something so intriguing that reminded me of Leila as well.

“Ju, you are much more impressive than me. I was born in that neighbourhood. I did not choose to live there. You come from the richer side of Sao Paulo and yet you chose to go there to see people in a very dangerous place. You chose to go Palestine. To Kashmir, to borders. And that is why I can’t simply kiss you like you were one more superficial girl here. You are profound. You know death, life, war, borders, poverty. You chose even without needing to go to see the world how it really is. Why? Why were you not afraid?”

I was really taken aback… and thought about it…. and realised…

“No one that you barely know, can hurt you. It is people who really knows you, who you truly trust that can kill your soul. I was never afraid of losing things, being killed,raped bc as painful as that sounds…. it is in these places  that most people are afraid of that I was most taken care of. It is in truly harsh places that people have not lost the value of life. Of friends. Of shelter. Of food. Of love.”

So today, as I was speaking to my dear friend Leila I remembered that. She, just like me studied abroad, came from a great life and yet she always wanted to know the other. The borders, the refugees, the places were life is so felt.

I told her what could I possibly tell her in a film? I saw her  picture, her film. It felt unfair to all those in a real war.

“Jules, you inspire me.”

And so I seat here to write this, to wonder why would that be? And suddenly it dawned to me. It simply because we have not totally lost faith in humanity. It is because we search it in extremity. It is because we know, that in these places people know the real value of life. Just like they know the non importance of death.

I write again because Leila Alaoui inspires me too. And I am fortunate enough to have her as a friend.

http://www.leilaalaoui.com/

Dona Inah and Choro.

Inah

Time has passed. I dance every week. I seat listening to a real Diva: Dona Inah. Before I dance and listen to her, I seat and talk about her life. Every week Dona Inah tells me something new…. like about when she played with Cesaria Evora, or about when she had a concert in Morocco. We both love Morocco. Sometimes she tells me about her last trip to Cuba where she recorded a CD which is about to come out. She  who had played with many of the musicians of Buena Vista in other times.  She who had sang with Omara Portuondo and so many other amazing artist and yet she is so kind. Dona Inah is 78, and every week she sings till 3,5 am in Sao Paulo.

inah-e-cesc3a1ria-evora

I am literally flabbergasted by her. Her joy, her voice, her strength and her stories. Her life and music just flow through her.  She who had started singing professionally when she was only 12 in Araras, a country side town of the state of Sao Paulo, and who had only become famous when she was  in her 70’s. Dona Inah, like me, goes to listen to Choro in a small place where some musicians go every week. I go to listen to Isaias and Israel and so many other brilliant musicians  who just pop there every single Friday, bringing their instruments and their brilliancy… It is free,  and somehow hidden in a little studio. I feel I am very privileged to be invited to go there, so I never invite almost anyone else, who might make noise there, in respect to the musicians I go alone, or with someone who plays or deeply respect music.  And so we all seat to listen to Choro.

Dona Inah

This Friday there was a storm in Sao Paulo. It had been days that it had been incredibly hot, and strangely without rain. But this Friday there was a storm, so when we got there under the rain there was no light.

choro

It was then that the mystery and the sacredness of music could be really felt. We could not see anyone, and yet music flew, and was played perfectly. As I stood up and walked carefully to go the toilet I heard my name. Two of my very dear friends were there. They were amazed to see me there. I had not seen them in ages. They held me and told me that all would now be alright. Just like before… and somehow I knew they were right. And so we stood there listening to music.

The following morning I woke up with my body all in place. Simply all in place. I still had to go see Dr. Getulio today.  I knew I was finally ok.  Even before Carnival was about to start, my soul felt it could dance again. My tears became more scarce and it feels that soon, it will be nothing but joy.

The Greatest Mystery of Time

Muster

The passing of time is just soo mysterious. Sometimes it feels wonderful, while other’s it is very painful. The greatest mystery of it is the ability to desire to go to its future but never to go to its past. Actually that is probably its hardest quality, the inability to go back. Especially since we can see the past but not the future.

Years ago, I once wrote I was coming home to Brazil because Cidao, the owner of my favourite bar in Sao Paulo was dead. At the time I received tens of messages in my Iphone while I was on my way back to Israel and Palestine. I put the thought aside then in the airport of some eastern european country, till  one day I could no longer do it. I avoided the though a lot of times.. feeling a bit sick both in Israel and in Palestine. Being taken care enormously in both places.

One day I realised I was afraid of loosing my feeling of home, which was strangely connected to the bar of Cidao. I came back to Brasil soon later, and yet once again I fell severely sick again.

I never truly understood what my nomadic soul wanted so as I was recovering I wrote my book. And then I left once again back to all places I had been before. I was confronted from the feeling of many I had left. I was puzzled, never had I thought my own feeling of abandonment could be shared by the ones who had stayed.

I left once again and it was this time that I was almost dead. The near experience of death did not make me more afraid of living not of or dying. It actually it made me  remember the words of many friends of mine who had celebrated the life and the  suicide of one of my colleague of the Phd.  At the time I did not understand that.

And life took its course. And then a few things led me to sit here to write.

Foe once  I had a conversation with Chi. My friend from Taiwan. Chi who I hosted in England in 2011, and then here 2012. Chi who was in the road for all these years. Who had travelled fundamentally different than me. Chi who though distant is together with Francesco the people who most cared about my mind. Chi crossed about 50  countries making connections never profound, always with distance.

Francesco is a doctor who wanted to be a philosopher and who accompanied lots of my situation over watsapp. Francesco went all the way to Asia to look  for salvation, mysteries. At the time, having already been to Asia several times I advised him to go to Africa or South America to volunteer as a doctor. There he would find profound connections and some kind of salvation in his mind. and body, in the relationships of others..

In Asia the continent I deeply adore I found good paths to loneliness. After a long path I did learn you could mediate to separate yourself to the world, but you should rather meditate to connect to all.

For those who are escaping their lives, Asia is an easier place to be. It is rather more dangerous exactly for that. Encounter the deep knowledge you must escape your fear of the other.

I eventually went back to Asia, to the border of Thailand and Laos. I once again could have the pleasure to see daily beauty of each sunset in the Mekong. My soul  had always craved to go to Burma, before going there I was at Mut Mee, seing the Mekong. There is my  home in Asia. And from there I heard my grandmother was in hospital. So as I took the train to go to Bangkok to go to Burma, then I collapsed and in my following days I almost died.

For the period that I was in a Coma I had a complete sense that I could choose to never wake up. Yet, I decided I wanted to come back.  Why was it so? It was clear I wanted to go back to people, and especially to see my grandmother who was at that time in hospital.

As some of you might know it has been since september that I fell sick. I am back home in Sao Paulo. And now I find time is even more mysterious. The melancholy that I feel for all these people  I have met over the world bring me tears in my eyes as I write.

I was just told by the widow of Cidao that the bar will close this sunday. For those of you who read me for a while you might know, how  much that place is important to me. And how it is related to me constructing a life here in Sao Paulo. I will definitely be there that sunday to celebrate it. Time is mysterious but in our symbolic existence we must make celebrations.

As I wrote to a friend these days, I no longer believe committing suicide is  necessarily bad.That it is not to mean that I plan to commit suicide. It is simply to overflow my feelings over time.

Time flows forward, while lots of our existence flows back. Buddhist are right in insisting we should be present. The greatest mystery of life, the greatest act of courage is to fully encounter the other. I have lived a life of full encounters so as I recover I can nothing but thank, and hope to have some reencounters again… not all… that would be asking too much.

The greatest mystery of life is to encounter the other, and for that I guess we have to get that the greatest mystery of time is to be present.

Happy New Year, and I wish you all a happy, truthful life.

Recovery of my list, And Happy New Year!

Dear friends,

I have finally been able to recover a large part of my old email list. I believe most of you might know I was gone for so long because I was severely sick the past few months.

For those who did not know that… in brief..while in Asia I was forced into a coma after having a non stop epileptic crisis.

I was about to go to Burma but then I  had a major fit just in front of the Burmese Embassy, where  there was luckily a Hospital.

I was accompanied by Edu and was kept in an Hospital in Thailand for a while till my parents came to rescue me.

Since my fits never stopped it was decided I should be induced into a coma since the non continuation of seizers could harm my brain. I naturally do not remember not of that.

I was in a total different world while this was taking place. I lived real battles, where death was  strangely not a disaster, nor a sweet thing but a simple option. It still took a while for us to return to Brazil my parents and Edu and I.  It took that long because we needed the permission of the hospital to be allowed in an airplane

I was truly in another planet. And it is taking a lot of me  to fully recover. Luckily now I recognise all the people, and able to write full sentences and not need anymore someone to take care of me.

I have been working really hard on recovering. Now it is becoming more natural again. I have been maintaining my two blogs. In english

https://translatingthoughts.wordpress.com/

And in Portuguese

http://descolonizandoamente.wordpress.com/

I do not write exactly the same things in both.. As it would be incredibly boring to do that… even when I was healthy that was the case.

But I started writing as anexercise to observe my own brain. It was Getulio Dare Rabello who had suggested.

Thank god, the scientists and the enormous amount of love I have received my brain is doing much much much much better.

Soon I will be free of most of my medications. Soon I hope I will eat less and go back to my usual life.

Thank you to all of you  who wrote me, who came here, and if I have not replied… believe me… it is only now that I actually am being able to see how much love for so many places in the world I have received… and how much I should write back! Happy New Year!

Lots of love and a Happy New Yearfrom Brazil,

Julieta

ps: if you want to be added in my english list let me know..just as if you  s know to receive emails as well