Monday, July 11, 2011


A quick, massive thunderstorm storm ripped through the Chicago area this morning. I was practicing yoga downtown after teaching a Mysore class, and didn't notice just how violent it was.

Apparently the microburst included something called a derecho -- a short, violent windstorm with sustained straight line winds that can exceed 100 mph.

When I got home, I saw a fallen tree completely blocking the road.

Neighbors were milling about, pointing and talking about the parked car it had crushed.

(One of the positive side effects of minor natural disasters and fires is that they bring people together; there hasn't been this much unity and talking-to-strangers on the street since February's record-breaking blizzard).

Turns out there wasn't just one car crushed by the tree; a closer inspection revealed a second one hidden underneath.

You could just make out the SUV grill peeking through the leaves.

Apparently the driver was passing by at the exact moment the tree fell.

He was OK, according to the neighbors.

But the tree was not.

It made me sad, since I am convinced that trees (even ones condemned by the city last year) feel pain.

So I patted it and did a few Tryambakams for it.

aum tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam
urvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyor mukṣīya māmṛtāt

(LATER: I suppose the cars also feel the pain......time for more Tryambakams!).


  1. Ouch! We had exactly the same thing (microburst) happen in my neighborhood about 3 weeks ago. Downed trees power, no cell service, no hot water for 3 days. Scary and disruptive, isn't it?

    But there were benefits: chats with my friend when I borrowed her working landline, kids playing outside, neighbors helping each other clear away tree limbs, and a new appreciation for modern conveniences (electricity!) and small favors (a shower before work at the studio).

  2. That must've been one hell of a wind storm!

  3. Gail,

    That story fits in nicely with the first part of this quote from Swami Radha:

    "If you look at what is going on all around you, you will find out how much effort life takes. If you have experienced enough pain, disappointment and disillusionment, you will discover that most of your pain comes because you have approached a situation through unnecessary embellishment of your hopes and illusions. With your hopes and illusions you embellish even something so simple as thinking tomorrow morning you will have a wonderful breakfast. What if all of a sudden the electricity is shut off so you can't have your favorite coffee, or an egg cooked in a the particular way you like it? Everything is upside down. Is this going to ruin your day? What if your wife comes home late from work and hasn't done any shopping for food,and has forgotten to turn on the heat, or your husband says he has a business meeting and you're not sure what the business meeting really is?

    "You have illusions about things, and illusions are never, ever fulfilled. If you think you will be fulfilled if you can just achieve this social status, or that income bracket, there are always people who have more, whose social status is higher, whose influence is greater, and whose income is more. There is always somebody who has more.

    "If you have won part of the race by finally getting into a particular group, socially or financially, what have you got? You're not satisfied because you become aware that this group is not really all that much better. You should be in the next one. THERE, things will be better. You can go on and on this way, constantly in a race because desires and illusion go hand in hand. One desire creates another, and then all your time and effort goes into the fulfillment of desires.

    "Then I come along and say, 'Why bother?' If you want to belong to an exceptional group, belong to the yogis, who seek Higher Consciousness
    where there are no false promises, only clarification and the realization of how much of your power is illusory. Can you make this change? Can you stop living in illusion? From my experience I say, 'Yes, you can.' Find out what you truly desire, and if it is Higher Consciousness, then go straight for it. No sightseeing trips."

  4. After than long entry from Swami Radha, I think we really really need a 'Like' button as we do on FaceBook.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  5. Thank you, Ralph. But to do that I'd have to out myself on Facebook and become a "real" user. I'm not quite ready to do that (to me it falls under the category of sightseeing / entertainment).

  6. I Googled Swami Radha (Does it count as "entertainment"?). She had an interesting life. Where'd you get the quote? I assume it's not memorized.

    I like Facebook since my HS/college/PhD/postdoc friends are scattered. But it's a temporal black hole (Farmville, anyone?).

  7. @Gail: I jumped to the conclusion that this was ‘Swami Sivananda Radha’. Is this right C.K.? I see more possibilities showing up on Google. The only book I have read of hers is ‘Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search’ and an article she wrote, but found her an inspiration. I see from Amazon that she has a number of books – learn something new every day!!!

    I tend to not use FB as a social/entertainment site, but to exchange thoughts and information. I defriend people who do Farmville!!!

    Ralph from DeKalb

  8. Yes, Ralph, it is *that* Swami Raddha.

    Gail, I recommend starting with the book he mentioned - Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search.

    The quote is from one of her other books.

    Please let me know what you think of the one above.

    Ralph - please e-mail me if you'd like to read more Swami Radha.

  9. @ C.K.: Thanks for the book suggestion. I like autobiographies (reading Eleanor Roosevelt's now). I'll let you know, but it might take awhile to read it.

    @ Ralph: I flirted with Farmville when it was new but ignored my virtual crops and then gave up. I probably have the worst farm on Facebook.

  10. Of note, Tim & family still are without electricity, since Monday morning and it is now Friday morning.

    Life upside down indeed!

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