Transcending Barriers- Linking the Trails

Dr Chandra Mohan Bhandari

by Chandra Mohan bhandari


The long cultural journey of mankind has been a mix of the best and the worst of human traits with innumerable shades in between. From wilderness to civilisation and modernisation it has been a long saga of an animal fighting for survival, the fight enhanced further by his thinking mind; his long nomadic past was followed by a settled life with agrarian revolution, modulated by the industrial and the information waves. The bloody struggles for survival and beyond  – for power, glory and greed, notwithstanding – there emerged islands here and there – islands of sanity, of understanding that had the vision to transcend narrow concerns and barriers. This essay is about some of these isles and an effort to seek a connecting link between them. This exercise is about one such linkage, it is by no means comprehensive. The task is difficult and full of uncertainties yet we must hold on to the ray of hope.  On this and many such efforts may depend the future trajectory of the cultural journey if mankind survives its follies?  

Keywords: Trails – Himalayan, Appalachian, transcendental, Upanishadic, Bhagwad Gita, American transcendental movement, superposition, hiking trails, dual trails, transpersonal, Ashoka, scientific findings and transcendence, theory of evolution, quantum theory, role and importance of road not taken.
  
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Nomadic man lived on this planet much longer than his dwelling in modern cities which, to some, seems something akin to a human zoo [1]. The long journey of biological evolution and relatively short ‘cultural trail’ brought forth a species that is ‘us the humans’. With a not-too-strong physical frame coupled with not-too-balanced psychic architecture the future of the species and, to some extent, the entire living world seem uncertain. It is that uncertainty which is the hunting ground for thinkers and writers, else there would be little left for them to dwell upon. The present essay is concerned with some of these issues along with a diffuse attempt to speculate what an understanding human mind could achieve thus far, and what small possible role it may play in choosing possible future pathways.
With mind’s eye I can visualise innumerable trails that highlight the cultural journey of which a particular one draws my attention. This trail passes through mighty Himalayas starting somewhere around Hindukush and extends up to entire range that stretches along the southern boundary of the Tibetan plateau.  It has been a unique trail, from Hindu Kush in the Western Himalayas to the Indus valley and further eastward to the Gangetic plains. Historians have described the migration of Aryans to the region of Indus Valley that saw emergence of a unique civilization. Over the time it acquired sufficient maturity to delve deeper into existential queries, including those pertaining to states of mind. An important aspect of this civilization was the fact that military expeditions and conquests were not their major concern. A period of relative stability and peace ushered in an era of understanding and awareness of the human condition which poured out in the form of poetic expressions. These poetic outpourings, related to deepest of queries pertaining to life and mind were at times exquisite and elegant. Just look at the first verse of Ishopanishad [2]:

 The Lord is the supreme Reality.
 Rejoice in him through renunciation,
 Covet nothing.

Three to five thousand years ago someone appreciating, even in principle, the notion of ‘rejoicing through renunciation’ was worth noticing. The verse essentially refers to a ‘state of mind that rejoices in renunciation’. Such a state of mind may be more dominant and visible in some but most humans do feel, to varying degrees, its presence especially in moments of deep reflection. One could not express in these terms without an exercise in ‘home cosmography’[3]. The layers deep inside the psyche keep drifting creating different patterns somewhat like geological formations. Like tectonic plates, deeper psychic layers move in ways often raising complex formations hard to grasp. Mind of a person corresponds to different states of being [2[r1] ], but there comes a state when the separate individual exists no more. That state of being (transcending the self), is the common denominator of all thoughtful minds, and growing concern to men of vision in all ages. Here we witness glimpses of first recorded accounts of transcendental concern. Glimpses of individual and isolated experiences of transcendence have always been present in all traditions. Any supposedly spiritual experience would remain incomplete without this. However, under favourable conditions an experience beyond individual could form a chain in space and time defining an era; this kind of situation is of primary concern here.

The thoughtful mind tries to communicate the experience knowing well that the picture may be incomplete. How could one interpret otherwise the words from Brihadaranyak Upanishad:

 You are what your deep, driving desire is.
 
The pertinent next question is: what is after all our deep, driving desire. For individuals the answers may differ, and they should. However, talking of the state of being [2] when separate individual exists no more there does appear something of a common denominator - unanalyzable, unexplainable, somewhat fuzzy  – yet very much present. It is noteworthy that these exquisite poetic presentations do not mention an author which indicates an emphasis on transcendental concerns. The vision in Vedic and Upanishadic presentations is close to being empirical and therefore somewhat close to the scientific without asking you to believe in this or that. While speculating the creation of the universe the Nasadiya Sutra in Rig-Veda shows this in abundance. It simply states empirical understanding with balanced imaginative skill avoiding dogma of any kind. It was by all means a sound beginning, but as it happened very often in the history of cultures, the same tempo could not continue for long. This essay primarily deals with the emergence of deeper human concerns during Upanishadic era and tries to seek a trail linking them to some of the modern world events.
It is interesting to discover the details that help in making of a trail. Trails of different kind have defined the cultures all over the world. Walking along a trail one is likely to look for its deeper meanings and fathom its depth and variety [4]. The trailblazers having done their part of the work the pathways are maintained, modified and improved by those who understand and appreciate the basic nuances of the process of trail’s evolution. And in the end it is the everyday user who derives from the trail a meaning for himself and tries to get connected to other purposeful pathways in his long journey.

It must be noted that individual transcendental experience had never been rare or uncommon, but only occasionally it became part of a chain, embracing a group and that too for a considerable time interval. It did present glimpses of becoming a reality during 400 BC -  200 AD ( rough estimate). Buddha could be seen as a part of the chain in whose efforts the Upanishadic experience found its culmination and saw some degree of refinement, simplification and straightforwardness which was a historical necessity. Setting aside the undesirable and the trivial, the central point in these developments revolved around the issue of enlightenment, focusing primarily upon the things of central concern to life. The important point that emerged was the understanding that the goal could be achieved by anyone without the necessity to look for a divine intervention. Quoting Buddha:” No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”  It has been part of a long tradition of mature and rational thinking right from “rejoice in renunciation” and “you are what your deep driving desire is” to “we ourselves must walk the path. Glancing the entire thought pattern during this era one never has the feeling of lack of space, within and without.
When we study and write down our impressions on a theme we do so with a conscious effort. What results in is a coherent and comprehensible picture of the theme at hand. However, in real life scenario, happenings are neither coherent, nor comprehensible. They seem to make sense only from a distance in time and space. That somewhat precipitated or crystallised essence comes to us as an idealised picture. What we have been focusing upon did not represent an average situation, it was the crystallization of some of the wisest thoughts. With that understanding one has to proceed ahead in speculating the futuristic trends anticipating only partial success.
What after all could be deep driving desire of humans that may be an averaged out version of the whole? And that is going to be a challenge if an answer does exist. Under normal conditions each individual on an average would take himself (herself) at the focus. Understandably the driving desire for most would be to seek fortune and power, or stating it another way  - comfort and happiness. But then this has always been the need and expectation of our autonomous selves, and history has often been guided by these considerations. The one lesson we can learn from history is to seek a common denominator of all individual concerns, and to ‘look for the good of the whole’. I am of the opinion that democratic norms, even though full of many shortcomings, in some indirect way represent an outcome of the same desire. And in a more generalised form the concern could relate to the good of the planet earth and its inhabitants. This understanding may partly be due also to our increased awareness of ecological concerns during recent decades, and an understanding that we all are on the same boat, and in the longer run it would pay to consider the ‘whole’ which is much bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s a tall order and the working of complex human mind provides little indication of all that happening in any foreseeable future. But hoping against all hope is also a feature of human mind and, howsoever small the probability, we have every reason to catch and hold on to the fine thread of optimism.

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Yet Another Trail
There is no simple way to take a comprehensive view of the entire cultural journey; we may take one particular aspect at a time and having already defined our primary concern we shall try to focus on a  possible linkage of events in different space-time. The other end of the trail of our concern takes us to north eastern United States. The Hudson valley in the state of New York presents a panoramic view of the river flanked on both sides by forests and hills of varying heights. The space out there finds an echo within.  It is this craving for space (and its quality) within that I am compelled to express myself in these pages.
Hudson valley provides an ideal setting for hikers of all categories. The guide book can help you to take a quick decision about the possible spots depending on the effort you are willing to put in. One of the moderate hikes could be the 900 feet summit on the eastern side to the hill top known as Anthony’s Nose which is clearly visible from across the river. The guide book also mentioned a segment of the Appalachian Trail that could be easily followed to reach the summit without much confusion [5]. Appalachian Trail (AT) is one of the longest trails extending from the north eastern state of Maine to Springer Mountain, in Georgia, covering a distance of about 2100 miles. It has gained much popularity during recent years due to the efforts of several voluntary organisations and clubs whose effort has been laudable in creating and maintaining trails. Different segments of the trail are constantly used by hikers of all categories [6]. There are dozens who have covered the entire distance, a few of them doing it alone covering the distance in five to six months’ time. For a modest day-long hike one may take a segment of Appalachian Trail from the Bear Mountain area, part of which is along the bridge across the river. After crossing over to the east side of the river a walk of around two miles takes you to a spot where the trail leaves the main road and enters the forest. After ascending nearly the full height of the ridge which is about 700 feet from the base, the Appalachian Trail turns left on way to north and you have to take another connecting trail to reach Anthony’s Nose. The trail that turns northward is a segment of Appalachian Trail and important in the present context, it leads to the area through New England and extends up to Maine.
It is this region of United States that initiated many a new ideas relevant for the modern world. Much of the new world order is linked to this part of the globe just as much of the ancient world draws our attention invariably to the trails around and across the Himalayan region. In spite of a troubled history of military expeditions, wars, acts of cruelty and injustice the region witnessed an era of stability culminating in emergence of a unique  movement that tried to transcend the human concerns of completely self-centred commitments. The intellectual environment that grew during early and middle decades of the nineteenth century gained sufficient maturity to delve deeper into existential queries much like the scenario in the region of the Himalayas in an earlier era. This was yet another serious  effort with capacity to enlarge human vision – an effort to understand human situation in the modern context. Much happened here with the visionaries sharing their views – Thoreau, Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Melville, Hawthorne and others. I could see with my mind’s eye some of the ancient trails in the Himalayas getting extended onto the modern pathways close to the Appalachian Trail. In some of the writings during this period [3, 7] that linkage with the Himalayan Trails is clearly discernible. The American Transcendental Movement [8] around two centuries back clearly displays that linkage with Indian Transcendental experience in an earlier time frame. Quoting Dale Riepe [9] “There has been a continuous concern for Indian thought in the United States since Emerson’s early years.” It is worth noticing that the emergence of linkage in transcendental concerns in the West and the East had to await the emergence of American Transcendentalism (AT) in the region close to the Appalachian Trail. The happenings in the area known as New England could not possibly emerge in England for obvious regions; England’s mental space was largely occupied with imperial pride which was not the case with that of New England. The linkage took roots and strengthened gradually even though geopolitical events during this era had pushed the Eastern trail into mist of uncertainty. However, AT movement was sufficiently energetic to see through the mist; Gandhi like some others was well aware of these linkages, and while planning his role in the freedom struggle he re-defined his experiment on ‘Satyagraha’ motivated by Thoreau’s ideas. The chain of thought in space-time seemed to have completed one full cycle.  
                                                                                   
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Connecting Trails                    
The two trails in different space-time configurations seeking to enhance man’s vision is worth noticing. And this is important in spite of everything that seems opposed to this – wars, acts of injustice, crime, exploitation and all kind of corrupt practices. Amidst all the noise and confusion of geo-political events unfolding it is necessary not to lose our focus on such trails which may often get hazy and muddled. The same people who practiced slavery few centuries back opposed it and tried to uphold the norms of justice and equality.  Deeper human concerns grew side by side with the narrow self-interests and to some extent this trend seems intrinsic to human psychic architecture. And in the East too in an earlier era enlightened minds, whose effort transcended narrow domains of individual concerns with eyes focused on universal values, could not be instrumental in supporting just cause and fair treatment to all fellow beings.    
‘Reality never makes sense, it is the fiction that makes sense.’ Aldous Huxley’s words signify the difference between the happenings out there and those within the thinking mind trying to make sense of the apparent senseless mumbo-jumbo. And in spite of all odds this has to be done, it is a historical necessity and we must not fail ourselves. The reality as we envisage for the coming world must first be seen as a virtual reality in our mind’s website.
The high points of the two trails although separated in space-time seemed quite close; to   quote from Thoreau: [3]
                             Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find a thousand regions in your mind
                                    Yet undiscovered. Travel them, and be expert in home-cosmography.
My mind is wandering around the northern end of the Appalachian Trail re-entering the area in Concord where Thoreau spent a brief but fruitful time of his life, transcending geographical, cultural and temporal domains of existence taking the route to freedom through renunciation. It was a freedom as envisaged by philosophers and men of vision in all cultures. The freedom from mental constructs, from captivity of patterns, from prejudices took him to the East again. In his own words:
“Thus it appears that the sweltering inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and Calcutta, drink at my well. In the morning I bath my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of BhagwatGita……………………….”
Without trying to analyse the statement it is easy to feel the linkage of the Himalayan and Appalachian Trails and judge the transcendence implicit in the words. That kind of transcendence is at the very roots of the extended vision for the mankind, and in a more advanced form for all life.

The words of Gita were supposedly uttered by Lord Krishna in the great battlefield where two warring sides were face to face. Krishna spoke to Arjuna exhorting him to take up arms and be ready to fight as that was his duty, he was fighting against injustice, prejudice and selfishness. Gandhi and several others have written their own commentaries on Gita. According to his views the real battle might or might not have been fought historically; that part was not of our concern in the present context. The important point that emerged was a realization that the battle of Mahabharata was constantly being fought within all of us, that the characters of the epic were nothing but various facets and inclinations of our own psyche. Each of us is a ‘superposition’ of many- in- one in different proportions and various characters of the epic represent all shades.
That kind of battle each of us has to fight everyday every moment. The need of taking care of our own physical existence is part of our autonomous self. However, in moments of deep thought we do experience the transpersonal domain and try to transcend our narrow interests. The final battle is to be fought within ourselves where our transcendental concerns are locked in a tussle with our own self-interests, biases and prejudices. And this is true for individuals as also clans, societies and nations.

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Future Trajectory
The best possible step in speculating possible future trajectory in the cultural journey would be to continue transcending artificial barriers seeking a rational linkage between trails. 
  “The pure water of the Walden is mingled with the sacred water of Ganges.”    (Thoreau)
The hermit of Walden could find that linkage strengthening and enriching it further in his own way  fighting the battle within and without;  and so did the Mahatma who was motivated and inspired by Thoreau.  As for the battle in the epic most of us keep fighting all our lives.
Hiking along Dual Trails
Hiking along dual trails – inner and outer – brings about a refreshing experience, and must be encouraged at all possible levels. Hiking along regions out there and also within one discovers and re-discovers the meaning of being and one’s role in it. In a recent version of such a dual journey Robert Pirsig [10] offers glimpses of a unique mind. In his book with an uncommon title (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) he deals with certain contemporary and ancient queries alternately and takes the reader along an inner trail to search meaning of being and its quality. In his own interesting style he takes the reader frequently to the East and more often to Greece where some basic philosophic queries were put under scrutiny.
 Travel along the paths known historically has always been interesting. Just consider the path from Egypt to Jerusalem that was taken up by Moses. Reliving that experience could be extremely rewarding. Consider another path-- the trade route from Sur (Oman) to Mandvi (Gujarat) which has been taken by some researchers recently. The Silk Road has been among the important trade routes in an earlier era. What about the historic route taken by the Chinese scholar Huen Tsang in the seventh century AD. Along the route the most important item that was carried through was a concept, a philosophy and a tradition. In a recently published book   author Sun Shuyun [11] tries to relive the experience (taking somewhat similar route) in the modern times. More than two thousand years ago human thought at its very best had seen the exposition of some basic principles as regards the human condition. And today the same experience needs to be reaffirmed by an individual in a background of general apathy and disregard to what was already known. Shuyun’s book describes the same journey in the traditional sense and also along the inner route. She had been a witness to the disillusionment of her parents and others, the suffocation of living in a cultural vacuum worsened by emerging consumerism. The book is an account of author’s own inner journey, yet it reflects the conflicts and concerns of most of us in the present day world.
Such dual explorations[10, 11] must continue, and we must encourage and appreciate dual explorations of various kind. We must allow the continuous mixing of waters of Walden and Ganga, and connect the trails in the Hudson and the Himalayas.  This mixing has a symbolic context too. Much of the present day world has been shaped in the West finding its peak in the developments along the Hudson and the Appalachian Trail. Much of the ancient wisdom has flourished in the region of the Himalayas. The two civilizations – the ancient and the modern, that define the two major trends of human mind --are to be brought together to shape the future trajectory for the mankind. The two trails often merge with each other making it one, and at times run parallel, indicating a degree of complementarity.
Having said this it must be acknowledged that there are several other pathways created in different regions of the world and at different times; efforts must continue to seek linkages between them. This essay is about one of the many possible linkages of pathways that may be needed to build bridges for the future of the mankind, and the planet.
The world events proceed in ways that are complex and seldom predictable. The same can be said of the human mind and its working. Thinkers and philosophers may not agree on one particular issue, and even if they do there is little in their hands to change the course of history. The best they can do is to keep the flame burning and wait for men at the helm of affairs do the needful when the time comes. And this is certainly more likely to happen in a democratic set up in spite of its innumerable shortcomings. The coming decades may see a more solid manifestation of trails merging on different platforms and somewhat different context than we started with. The geopolitical compulsions may see a new emerging linkage between the two nations ( India and United States) which have, in spite of many differences, some vital points in common. Besides democratic values another common meeting ground is: an acceptance of plurality which is not very common even in many liberal and advanced societies. Another point which may be of help is the past experience of intellectuals  (beyond individuals) to search new and fresh ideas transcending set patterns and patterned thought. The two nations representing the most populous and the most powerful democracies could possibly join hands and take lead not in terms of conventional alliance but with an emphasis on choosing a future for mankind. They have much in common and much of whatever seems different seems complementary. That this is not totally unlikely seems justified from the following.
Emperor with a Difference
More than two thousand years ago Emperor Ashoka ruled (268 -232 BCE) almost the entire Indian subcontinent. The kingdom of Kalinga was not subservient to him and he fought a bloody battle to subjugate it. After the war he visited the battlefield and saw the destruction and misery with his own eyes and was moved beyond words. He vowed never to gain supremacy through territorial conquests. He became a Buddhist and made sincere effort for promoting the Dhamma. His efforts [12, 13] were partly responsible for spreading message of Buddha to South-East Asia and China. At that moment of time he was in a position to enlarge his empire by conventional means but he chose otherwise. In an indirect way the scenario after the second World-War and the American role could be seen in the light of Ashokan experience.  No one could possibly tell the shape of things to emerge with any degree of confidence but there does appear a small chance of managing the world affairs with minimal use of  force. Will it be a tall order to expect that a joining of efforts by two democracies could see a modern and modified version of Ashokan legacy? If this happens even partially this particular chapter that had a beginning in India could find an ending in the West akin to but in reverse order to what was envisaged by Arnold Toynbee [14].
The two nations are by no means the only deserving candidates for the purpose outlined, they just need to take the lead. This geopolitical scenario is one of the many possible trajectories, and may need designing skills of mature thinkers and responsible politicians of all nations with an aim to keep it well on track.
                                                                                     
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The Transpersonal Domain of Psyche
 Let us talk of Wilber’s spectrum psychology which is an essence of so many doctrines and concepts learnt over a vast span of time in the long cultural journey. According to Ken Wilber [15, 16] the entire psychic activity of an individual is composed of three basic domains which he refers to as (a) the ego level, (b) the biosocial level, and  (c ) the existential level. The ego level refers to that domain of psyche which primarily deals with the self, its survival and other aspects. The second level deals with a person’s relationships with the family, friends and the larger social network. The two levels (ego level and biosocial level ) to a large extent determine and define a personality in early stages of a person. With growing age the third level, the existential level, gradually manifests itself. This level refers to several existential problems and conflicts, such as life-death dualism, pleasure-pain, love-hatred and similar conflicting situations. In a grown up person the three levels may define almost the entire psychic activity. Most of our lives are dominated by these three levels. The conflicts pertaining to the existential problems along with others often disturb us keeping us entangled in the web of life and living.

These existential and other problems do not find a satisfactory resolution for most of us, and they can only be tackled by transcending the self, focussing on the things beyond. Wilber incorporates into the psychic activity yet another domain which he refers to as the transpersonal level. Here he gets the clue from age old traditions and experiences of wise men from all traditions. The problems of psyche can be partly resolved only when we try to transcend our own selves. This, according to age-old traditions, is the best answer to the problems of existential nature, and seeking cultural trails pertaining to this theme has been the primary concern in the present essay. The working of human mind is often based on patterns [17] which make its job easy; however, the patterns could put barriers in free and unbiased thinking. Effective use of patterns without being obstructed by them as and when required is certainly essential in any step towards transpersonal.

The Scientific Connection
Around four centuries back modern science made its appearance; at times this was marked by a cultural bias. Initial concerns were focused on energy, power and inter-convertibility of different energy forms. However, this was not merely a one way traffic; culture too got influenced by science. Ideas and concepts keep crossing the walls of the compartments where they are initiated and this kind of cross-border influence leads to new dimensions in human thought. Two among scientific theories are of great importance for understanding the world as also the human condition – the Theory of Evolution (TE) and The Quantum Theory (QT). TE reminds man in no uncertain terms of his lowly origin (“Man with all his qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible marks of his lowly origin” –Charles Darwin); QT explains the world events at the microscopic level where the first one (evolutionary process) seems to operate (micro-biology). Both are uniquely placed to focus upon the human condition and are also unique for conflict resolution, as and when that is required. The cultural trajectory of man could not remain uninfluenced by these scientific developments. TE connects all living being and QT, as we shall see, connects different possibilities such as the road taken and those not taken, and the relationship between them. It is interesting to see that the two important scientific theories have peculiar transcendental features.
It is interesting to note that Darwin could have been motivated in his work on evolution by the general atmosphere and trend in his family[18, 19].  He had started with the assumption that all mankind was essentially one. The family of Darwin was among the enlightened ones with a liberal outlook. Slavery was being vehemently criticized and in some cases had already been banned by law.   
It is easy to understand and appreciate the transcendental overtones in the theory of evolution as it not only connects various species but outlines a common origin for all. When we transcend our own narrow selves and consider the world beyond it is difficult not to think of  the entire living world. Our ecological concern too could find a place in the wider definition of the transpersonal [20]. 
Not easy to simplify QT has many features which are not incomprehensible to a layman provided you avoid the mathematical terminology which is truly its backbone. The two striking concepts that differentiate QT [21, 22] with other known theories are (a) superposition and (b) entanglement; this essay will confine itself to the first one. To travel from A to B there are two routes available to me – along path 1 and path 2. I cannot take both paths simultaneously but a micro object like an electron can. It may be so because at that level there is a wave-particle dualism and a wave can be part here, part there. However when we try to make a measurement to find the path taken, the electron (whole of it) is found only along one path. For larger material objects this kind of situation is not valid. However, for microscopic objects this gives a good description of reality; at the level of thought too it is possible to take two or more routes simultaneously.
In a beautiful experiment[23] a beam of particles is split into two and each of them takes a different path. Finally they are allowed to meet again causing an interference which when analysed shows outcomes which are correct quantum theoretically but incomprehensible as per common sense. The particle seems to take only one of the two paths but in the final outcome the other path (not travelled) also makes its presence felt.  The outcome of such a quantum interference experiment provides a glimpse of the importance of the route not taken along with the route actually taken. This is about hard scientific facts. Taking a diversion we may seek correspondence with our thought processes especially at the transpersonal level. The route not taken is akin in my thought about the person which I am not, yet in my actions at some stage the other person gets a role to play. In between the road frequently taken and those not taken one may get a glimpse of a road less frequently taken, and that too may make a difference in the final outcome.

                       Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
                        I took the one less traveled by,
                        And that has made all the difference.
-          Robert Frost



An Unusual Trail [24]

Hiking along the Appalachian Trail
That overlooks the Hudson at a distance,
Mountain ranges along the valley
Witness the river embrace the ocean.
Looking back I find
A turbulent history of the region,
I wonder at the changing scenario 
An effort to seek a new paradigm
Transcending all barriers
Of race, nationality, space and time.
Then I begin to move
Along new emerging pathways
Covering the dual canvas
Often connecting the trails.
Three thousand years back
I find myself along the Himalayan Trail
On way to Indus and Gangetic plains
That marked an era in passage of time
An experiment delving deep into mind
Encoded in poetic outpourings of unusual kind.

Next I move on a trail along the Hudson
Another experiment in modern version
A liberal outlook, justice and freedom,
A new defining era of enlightened mind.

The two trails in different space and time
Merge sometime, often running parallel too
From the Himalayan to the Appalachian
Streams of reason come to a confluence
A new signature on the canvas of mind.

Standing on the summit heading North
I wait for fresh breath and look back
The miles I have covered
Then I look forward and assess
Miles to cover before I find
The confluence –
The origin of Himplachian Trail,
Invisible, yet slowly taking shape
In deep recesses of every thoughtful mind.
.

References:
[1] Desmond Morris, The Human Zoo, Triad, Panther Books, 1979.
[2] Eknath Easwaran (Introduced and Translated ), The Upanishads, Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain
      Centre of Meditation, CA, USA.
[3] Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Castle Books, Edison, NJ, USA.
[4] Robert Moor, On Trails, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, New York.
[5] P.W.  Kick, 2006, Catskills and Hudson valley, Appalachian Mountain Club books, Boston, Ma, USA.
[6] D. Miller, 2010, Awol on the Appalachian Trail, Amazon Encore, USA.

[7] Ralph Waldo Emerson: Collected Poems and Translations, New York: The Library of America, 1994.
[8] Lawrence Buell (ed.) The American Transcendentalists, New York, The Modern Library, 2006.
[9] Dale Riepe, The Indian influence in American philosophy: Emerson to Moore, Philosophy East and West, 17:  ¼ (1967) 125-137.
[10] Robert Pirsig, Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, A Bantam New Age Book, 1981.
[11] Shuyun Sun, 2003,Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud, Harper Collins, USA.
[12] A L Basham, The Wonder that was India, Picador – India Edition, 2004.
[13] Romila Thapar, Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford India Perennials series, 1997.
[14] Arnold Toynbee (quote): “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in self destruction of the human race.
At this supremely dangerous moment in history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way.”
[15] Ken Wilber, The  Spectrum of Consciousness, M B Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi(2002), Published by arrangements with Theosophical Pub House, USA (1977).
[16] Ken Wilber. ‘Up from Eden: Transpersonal view of human evolution’, Quest Books, 1996.
[17] Edward de Bono, Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity, Ward Lock Education, 1970; Penguin Books, 1990.
[18] T. Hayden, what Darwin didn’t know, Smithsonian Magazine(USA), February 2009.
[19] A Desmond and J Moore, Darwin’s Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins, The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
[20] Warwick Fox, “Transpersonal Ecology” : pychologising’ ecophilosophy, Journal of Transpersonal psychology, 22(1), 59 (1990).
[21] Gary Zukav, Dancing Wu Li Masters, Morrow Quill, New York, 1979.
[22] Alastair Ray, Quantum Mechanics- Illusion or Reality, Cambridge University Press, 10, 1980.
[23] S Durr, T Nonn and G Rempe, Origin of quantum mechanical complementarity probed by a ‘which way’ experiment in an atom interferometer, Nature, Volume 395, page 33.
[24] C M Bhandari, An Unusual Trail, Poemhunter.com, 2013.




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