Claudia Weeraperuma

Claudia Weeraperuma


Claudia Weeraperuma was born in Berne (Switzerland) in 1961. She married the philosopher Susunaga Weeraperuma. She not only translated into German his book J.Krishnamurti as I Knew Him but also illustrated several of her husband’s works such as Mysterious Stories of Sri Lanka, The Pure in Heart, The Homeless Life, Nirvana the Highest Happiness and Serenity Here and Now. As a matter of fact, all the illustrations in this web site are the creations of Claudia who owns their copyright. Claudia is more a creative artist-cum-writer than an academic.


At university she studied English, German and Sanskrit. Her doctoral thesis was Contemplative Prayer in Christianity and Islam. Today she is spiritually sustained by the teachings of the Buddha, pure land Budhism and Zen.





The Magical Tree : Tales from Ancient India

Bamboo Grove : Buddhist poems

Contemplative Prayer in Christianity and Islam

Hunt of Hera : a novella

Ocean of Compassion : poems




themagicalThe Magical Tree

Tales from Ancient India

For the young and the young at heart


New Delhi : Samyak Prakashan

32/3, Paschim Puri

New Delhi — 110063



Phone:9810249452, 9810161823


104 pages with 5 coloured illustrations


The Magical Tree is a collection of stories for children and young adults. Each of these stories has an important message for today's youth. It tells us how we should face hostility, opposition and all the weaknesses of human nature. Based on the Buddhist Jataka stories, they bring to mind the great heroic doings of Gautama the Buddha in his former lives. These tales inspire our minds and hearts to follow the example of India's greatest and glorious son --- the Buddha, making this planet a happier and more peaceful place for animals and humans alike.



The  Earth  is  Breaking  Up !


There once lived a young hare by the name of Bhayam. He dwelt in a grove with many palms and Bael trees. Bhayam's home was a hole in the ground underneath a palm sapling. Shaped like a big rounded paper fan, the palm leaf gave Bhayam shade and protected him from fierce tigers and lions. It was the perfect hiding place for a hare. The leaf was so large that even four hares could easily have stayed under it without being noticed.


High over Bhayam's palm leaf towered a Bael tree with pear-like fruits. But this tall tree was of no interest to Bhayam. The little hare preferred to keep his eyes close to the ground where he could find tasty leaves to eat.


One morning in late autumn Bhayam left his hole as usual and stood under the palm sapling. Looking down at the ground before him, Bhayam suddenly noticed a tiny crack in the earth. Bhayam was terrified. He peeped with fear and his whole body started trembling.


Why was Bhayam so frightened? Why should the sight of a slight crack in the ground give him such a shock? This young hare remembered something that had happened in spring when he was still a baby. When he had been running behind his mother in the grove, he saw a black rabbit lying motionless.

“Is this rabbit asleep?” Bhayam had asked his mother.

“No, it's dead!” she had replied.

“Dead? What do you mean by 'dead'? What's it like being dead?” Bhayam had inquired.

“Well,” Bhayam's mother had said pensively, “death is the state when everything has broken up and there's nothing left.”

“Everything broken up?” Bhayam had asked. “Do you say that the trees and mountains have collapsed and that the earth has also broken up?”

“Yes, everything,” his mother had answered. “The earth, too, has broken up when one has died.”

Her words had struck terror into Bhayam's heart.


Bhayam's large black eyes were gazing incessantly at the crack in the ground. He stared fixedly at that nasty crack. Was the crack becoming wider? Was the earth beginning to break up? Bhayam imagined that wide openings in the ground were appearing everywhere. Trees were collapsing and mountains tumbling down. Soon would there be any firm ground under his feet? Would he not fall into a bottomless pit?


The nightmare of the earth breaking up gave Bhayam goose pimples. His nice grey fur began to look tousled. His paws became wet with cold sweat. He was even forgetting to look for food that morning. He could not bring himself to do anything but simply stare at the crack and listen intently to the sounds around him. Did he hear any trees collapsing? Was there any crashing of falling rocks?


At that very moment Bhayam heard a resounding thud. What was that terrible noise? It sounded like an explosion to Bhayam. He was so frightened that he fled. He ran away from his palm shelter and his hole in the ground.

“The earth is breaking up!” Bhayam shuddered.


Bhayam ran as fast as he could. After crossing the palm grove he soon came to a mustard field. He was running without stopping.


In that field there lived a brown female hare called Hema. She lived under a bush. Hema was nibbling at a nut when she saw Bhayam running.

“What's the matter? Why are you running?” she asked Bhayam when he was rushing by.

“Please, don't ask me!” Bhayam panted. He was neither slowing down nor looking at Hema.

“Please sir,” Hema pleaded, dropping the nut she was holding. Hema began to follow Bhayam but she was barely keeping pace with him. “What's the trouble? Why are you moving about in haste? Tell me, please!”

Hema was insisting on an explanation. Bhayam stopped for a short moment. Without turning to look at her, he said, “the earth is falling apart.”

“What?” Hema exclaimed, “the earth is falling to pieces?”

Bhayam did not hear her words. He had already dashed off elsewhere. Panic-stricken, Hema ran behind Bhayam at breakneck speed.


Soon after both Bhayam and Hema had crossed the mustard field, they came by a vast forest. A black hare saw them running. It asked, “why are you fleeing in fear?”

“The earth's bursting open,” Bhayam said huffing and puffing.


The black hare also got a fright. Immediately it joined the other two hares in their escape.


Many hares were living in that forest. The terrible news about the earth's forthcoming complete collapse spread from hare to hare. The fever of panic gripped each hare. Soon a swarm of one hundred thousand hares took to flight together.


A young male deer was chewing some herbs. He saw the swarm of hares racing by in the forest.

“Why are you in such a rush?” the deer asked one of the hares.

“The earth's exploding! Run!” the hare answered.

The deer was seized with dread. He, too, broke into a run.


Lots of wild animals noticed how the frightened hares were behaving. Together the hares were all quickly running away. The amazed onlookers consisted of a wild pig, an elk with powerful antlers, a bulky black buffalo, a strong wild ox, a rhinoceros, a fierce tiger, a long-clawed lion and an elephant with large tusks. All these wild spectators were rather amused at the sight of so many scurrying and scampering hares. The hares seemed so silly. However, when the amused animals came to know that the entire earth was about to give way, these strong and muscular forest dwellers, too, started fleeing in terror! Gradually the groups of big and small animals became an enormous mass of jumping, hopping and running creatures, extending over an area of more than five kilometres!


At that time there lived a solitary lion called Loca. This young lion enjoyed living in a cluster of teak trees bordering the sea. Loca had parted company with his parents and brothers and sisters. He was not angry with any of them but he preferred to live alone. Loca never got much fun out of playing silly games with members of his family. Nor did he enjoy fighting and hunting other animals. He liked quietness. He loved going on lone walks. Simply sitting under an old teak tree with his eyes half closed was his favourite pastime. He would often listen to the cries of the white water birds and the peaceful purr in his body. Loca liked the sight of long-necked cranes with their white bodies standing out against the blue sky.


When some flecks of dust tickled Loca's eyes and nostrils, he had to sneeze and close his eyes. After a few minutes he carefully opened them. He noticed a huge cloud of dust approaching him. It was moving towards him from a distant sandy plain. Loca sat up at once, pricking up his ears. Much to Loca's surprise, he suddenly saw a frenzied whirl of animals. Elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, tigers, oxen, deer, hares, and what have you, were all running in the direction of the sea. Loca was horrified and he thought,

“if they keep on running like this, wouldn't they fall into the deep ocean and get drowned? Aren't they heading for disaster?”


Loca looked upwards at a myna on a branch.

“Brother,” he asked the myna, “can you see those creatures running?”

“Yes, sir,” the myna replied politely.

“Why are they in such a hurry?” Loca inquired.

“Sir,” explained the myna, “I overheard them warn one another that the earth's breaking up. You see, sir, they've no wings like me. They can't lift off when there's trouble on the ground. They're scared, sir, mortally frightened.”

Loca listened silently to the myna. When Loca examined the ground and the trees he found nothing unusual. He felt that there was no earthquake. Then Loca looked carefully at a mountain  in the distance. Was it shaking? No, the mountain was quite still. Thereafter Loca's eyes turned to the sea. Were there tidal waves? No, the sea was not choppy. The sea was calm.

“The earth's not falling to pieces,” Loca reflected. “Has something else frightened these poor animals? Maybe they've heard a sound and misunderstood it. I'll do something to dispel their fear. They must stop running. If I don't try hard to stop them, they'll all die in the sea. I should save their lives at once!”


Loca left his shelter under the teak tree. He reached the herd with the speed of a lion and stood resolutely in front of the approaching animals. Behind him was a small mountain of bare rocks.


Fixing his eyes on the animals in front, Loca gave three loud roars. His voice echoed from the mountain like thunder and filled the animals with awe. They stood still. Huddling together in front of Loca, the thousands of elephants, tigers, oxen, hares and other animals fell silent.


Loca, the uncrowned king of the forest, gazed at the herd with pity. They were a sorry sight indeed. Exhausted and panting, their eyes were bleary, and the fur of many was shaggy. Some of the hares were so dirty and dusty that Loca could not make out the original colour of their fur. All the animals were hungry and thirsty. They had been so frightened while fleeing from their forest that they had no time for drinking water or eating grass.

“Brothers and sisters,” Loca said while addressing the assembly of animals, “please cool down. Today it's sunny. The sky is blue and the water birds are happily flying near the sea. The branches are waving softly in the breeze. All's well. However, you seem to be running a race. Are you running away from something? What's troubling you? What are your woes? What are your fears?”

“The earth is bursting open!” the animals whined. Some of them were so tired that they could only whisper words. Others did not open their mouths at all, fearing that the lion might devour them.

“Whoever saw the earth burst open?” Loca asked. The animals simply looked at one another, wondering what they should say. There was a moment's embarrassed silence.

“Who on earth saw the earth burst open?” Loca repeated.

“The elephants are aware of what happened,” said some animals scratching themselves.

Loca slowly went towards the elephants and sat opposite them. While looking up, he politely asked, “brothers, please,would you be so kind as to explain what you saw?”

The elephants kept quiet. Swinging their trunks from side to side, they shyly said, “we don't know, sir. The lions do know.”

Loca rose and moved to the lions. Then he sat before them.

“Was it you who saw the breaking-up of the earth?” he said. “What made you think that the earth was faling apart?”

The lions yawned and replied, “don't bother us! Ask the tigers.” Throwing themselves down, the lions stretched out their limbs.

Loca walked patiently to the tigers and asked them if they had seen any signs of the earth's collapse.

Licking their paws and giving Loca a gruff reply, the tigers said, “ask the rhinoceroses!”

Poor Loca went from the tigers to the rhinoceroses. Immediately the rhinoceroses referred him to the wild oxen. In this way each group of animals sent Loca to some other group. Finally, he sat near the hares and asked them the same question, “dear friends, did any among you see the earth giving way?”

Thereupon the hares cast looks of suspicion at Bhayam, who was caked with mud and the dirtiest of all the hares. Some of his friends gave Bhayam a powerful nudge. They pushed him right in front of Loca the lion, remembering that it was Bhayam who had spread the frightening rumour about the breaking-up of the earth.

“Quick, Bhayam!” the hares urged. “Wasn't it you who saw it? Tell the lion everything!”

Bhayam was too scared to open his mouth. He became pensive.  He thought, “didn't my mother always warn me to avoid lions at any cost? Didn't my mother tell me that lions kill hares in a flash and eat them? Didn't my mother say that I should never trust these big cats?”

Loca softly asked Bhayam, “is it true that the earth is falling to pieces?”

Bhayam looked up. The large head of the lion was towering right  over him. Loca's thick mane almost touched Bhayam's long ears. Bhayam also noticed the lion's large brown eyes and broad nose. For a few minutes Bhayam the hare and Loca the lion were gazing at each other.

While Bhayam was looking into the lion's eyes, he thought, “do such gentle eyes belong to a killer and eater of hares? Are these the eyes of an enemy of ours?”

Bhayam who was puzzled at first, now felt oddly secure near this lion. His fears were slowly going away.

“Yes, I did see the earth falling to bits,” he said, answering Loca's question.

“Where were you when you saw it happening?” Loca asked the hare.

Bhayam replied, “I was living in a grove of palms and Bael trees. Everyday I'd lie there in the shade of a young palm tree. This has been a favourite spot of mine from the moment I was born. It's cool under that leafy green roof. I've always felt safe and happy there. But this morning on seeing a crack in the ground, I asked myself, 'suppose this earth bursts open, where shall I go?' At that very moment I heard an explosion. I was sure that the earth was blowing up. It was terrible! What else could I do but flee?”


Loca was deep in thought. “Couldn't it have been a flash of lightning followed by a crash of thunder? Couldn't it have been a piece of rock falling from the heavens? Couldn't it have been a meteor? Couldn't it have been that this hare got a shock? Couldn't it have been that the hare foolishly believed that the end of the world had come? Let me find out the truth.”

Speaking to the gathering of animals, Loca said:

“Dear brothers and sisters, I request you to remain calm. There's nothing to fear. This hare and I will go together to the place where he heard some noise. Together we'll find out if the earth is really collapsing. We must get to the truth. Please don't worry. Wait here patiently until we return.”


“Come, mount my back now,” said Loca to Bhayam, “let's see for ourselves if the earth's ending. Show me the way.”

“How can I climb your back when I'm all dirty. I'll spoil your coat,” said Bhayam, admiring the lion's shiny coat, which had the freshness and cleanliness of an animal that had bathed in the purest of springs.

“Don't worry,” Loca replied reassuringly.

“But you're a lion,” Bhayam whimpered hesitatingly. “Won't you eat me?”

“No, I won't harm you,” said Loca the lion.

It was then that Bhayam clambered up Loca's back. From his elevated  place on Loca's back the hare gazed in wonder at the scenery. Loca and Bhayam crossed plains, forest and fields. The mountains in the distance turned a violet hue in the evening sun. Bhayam could see grey clouds on the horizon, which were drifting slowly across the skies, sprinkling raindrops on the sun-baked earth. Behind the clouds the waxing moon was playing hide-and-seek. Bhayam was enjoying the coolness of the air and the silent company of his friend the lion.



The two animals reached the palm grove, where Bhayam had heard the terrifying sound. Here Loca requested the hare to get off his back.

“Now, can you show me the spot where exactly you heard the noise?” Loca told Bhayam. “We'll go there together and examine it.”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Bhayam whose body had begun to tremble. “I dare not go, sir. Suppose there is another explosion, what will happen? Won't I die?”

Loca bent down and looked straight into Bhayam's frightened eyes. “You won't die when you see the truth,” he told Bhayam enigmatically, “but you'll die only when you refuse to see it.”

Bhayam stared at Loca, unable to understand what his friend meant.

“Come, don't be afraid,” Loca coaxed, “let's see what really  frightened you.”

“Please sir,” Bhayam pleaded with tears in his eyes, “don't ask me to go with you. Can't you go alone? Can you see? It's over there!” He pointed to the Bael tree that was about ten metres away.  Then Bhayam started whispering:


“That's the place I used to dwell

And heard that dreadful sound.

What it was I cannot tell.

From where it came I've never found.”


Bhayam refused to accompany the friendly lion. Loca had to go there alone.


Bhayam observed Loca anxiously. The lion walked up to the Bael tree. There he painstakingly examined the ground for any signs of earth movements. He patiently looked under each and every leaf and branch. Soon Loca was standing before Bhayam's palm sapling. He motionlessly gazed at an object.  Bhayam could not make out what on earth that object was.

“Oh lion, what do you see now?” Bhayam asked nervously. “Is the earth broken up? Is there any crack in the ground?”

Loca did not reply.

“Oh lion,” Bhayam complained, “why are you so silent? Is there something worrying you? Can you hear me?”

Bhayam was pressing Loca to give an answer.

At last Loca moved closer to the hare, carrying something in his mouth. Loca opened his mouth and the object fell down. It was a yellow Bael fruit.

“Listen,” Loca explained, “I saw this Bael fruit lying right on your palm leaf. It had fallen from the Bael tree. When it struck the palm leaf, this fruit had made a thud. This is what had frightened you. You had believed that the earth was falling to pieces!”


Bhayam was speechlessly staring at the yellow fruit. After a few minutes' silence, Loca continued clearing up the misunderstanding.

“There is no sign of the earth's collapse,” Loca said. “You spoke of a crack in the ground? The crack you've seen has disappeared. The dry weather of the last few months shrivelled the soil and created cracks. But now that the rain has moistened the soil, there aren't any cracks.”


Bhayam felt as if a heavy stone had been lifted from his heart. After bowing before Loca, Bhayam sang:


“When I heard something like a shot

My mind saw phantoms that were not,

And I was scared.

But, lion-hearted one, you dared

To scan that frightening spot.

You understood how life could be

For harebrained lunatics like me.

You see what happened, why and how.

To you, oh king, I humbly bow.”


Loca and Bhayam went back to the large herd of animals that had been waiting impatiently for their return. It was dark now. The rain clouds had vanished and the waxing moon was clearly visible. The indigo sky was studded with a million stars.


In the meantime the tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, oxen, deer and all the other animals had been trying to get some sleep. But worried that the earth might give way below their bodies, they could not help restlessly rolling from side to side. Sleep was nigh impossible.


At last Bhayam and Loca reached the anxious animals. When Loca showed them the Bael fruit and explained everything to them, the animals breathed a deep sigh of relief. The elephants were so happy that they began bathing in nearby pools. The deer and oxen hungrily started eating grass. The tigers and lions leapt over one another for fun. But one of the tigers stood aside. He was fuming with anger.

“That stupid hare!” he screamed baring his teeth. “He misguided us all. Just because of a fallen fruit he made us believe that the earth was exploding. This idiot made us run like mad and some of us almost died of exhaustion!”

“If Bhayam is stupid,” an old buffalo argued, “then we're equally stupid. We believed in hearsay. This was foolishness. That lion was the only one who didn't blindly  believe the things that others said. He alone was wise.”

The buffalo rose his head and recited these lines:


“Unlike us he just ignored mere rumour.

Great intelligence's in his demeanour.

While we are crackpot creatures who got scared

He's a lion-hearted hero who had dared

To scan that frightening spot.

We fools saw phantoms that were not.

But he did see what happened, why and how.

To him I humbly bow.”


“Yes,” the animals shouted approvingly and repeated some of the buffalo's poetic words:

“ Unlike us he just ignored mere rumour.

Great intelligence 's in his demeanour!”


Loca did not hear their songs of praise. He had already walked away. Silently under the starlit sky the lion went to his shelter under the old teak tree.


Bhayam the hare on his part returned to his dwelling place at the foot of the Bael tree. But this timid rodent, gratefully remembering  the lion, would sing a devotional song in praise of Loca. Bhayam would sing lyrically:


“The moment he took me along

My heart was full of love and song.

This grove is not the way it was.

I now fear neither crashes, cracks nor claws.

The earth is good, the earth is strong.

The palms and Bael trees that here throng

Are all so straight, there's nothing wrong.


From far the great one carried me.

Pure gentleness was he.

How then could he a killer be?

Not malicious, false and sly,

He's not a real lion --- Don't know why.

I'm sure, between his paws I'd never die.”


Bhayam felt in his bones that Loca was no other than the Bodhisattva. He knew deep in his heart that Loca would in the fullness of time blossom into Gautama the Buddha. He understood that Loca would one day become the Knower of the universe with all its illusions --- Lokavidu.

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Bamboo Grove





Marrakech :  M. Al Aafaq
     Al Maghribia Newspaper Publications
  479 unité 4 Daoudiate,
Marrakesh – Morocco


Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha, all is over now.
Forever You have gone.
Blown out’s Your life that once had shone.
The Buddha statues are just stone,
Before which I must bow.

The holy diamond throne
Where You Nirvana found
Has been encased deep in the ground.
Your bones are buried in a mound.
You’re out of sight — men moan.

Where is the Bodhi Tree
That spread its branches wide,
That Shelter where You would abide?
The Tree has long since died.
Just offshoots I can see.

I touched the soil of Gaya
And felt my spirits lifted
Until I heard the soil’d been shifted :
The dust that touched Your feet had drifted —
I’d been ensnared in Maya!

So oft I try to turn
Over in my mind:
Your path to untie sad Samsara’s bind
And how You preached to cure the blind.
You, alas, will not return!

How can I venerate
My Teacher Glorious?
I seek Your voice victorious:
What I have read is perhaps spurious
And inappropriate.

The statues showing You
To me are very dear.
But they can neither see nor hear.
If only You were present here
Then might my life anew!

But hark! I hear a song
By monks who left the ocean
Of worldly life and base emotion.
They praise the Tree with deep devotion.
It carries me along.

While voices mild and soft
Sing tunes of homage true
I see within a sweetness new.
It is Awareness — Dharma — You,
Oh Buddha, most aloft!

Lord Buddha, it’s a lie
That all is over now.
You are alive — I don’t know how.
The statues breathe when I do bow.
Within me You don’t die.





Day of Illumination

Why did Gautam happen on
The cooling Land of No-Return
At nighttime when the May moon shone,
When mortal minds would rather burn
With worries waxing like the tide
Than in the Tranquil to abide?

Surely it is Mara's ruse
To show us dark skies at a distant height,
So that we foolishly refuse
To see the moon at night.
We like what's far and hate what's Near
Preferring theories to what's Clear.

The moon is full, its whole disk bright;
Moon urges us to see entirely our mind,
Each cranny, layer, however slight,
Some most unpleasant things we'll find —
The hideous dwellers of our heart —
Which are refusing to depart.

We'll gaze at all our inner ghosts:
Red pleasure-thirst, blue pride, hot hates, regrets,
Grey boredom, worries, hordes and ugly hosts
With plots, wild promises and threats.
One night the Truth within us gleams:
The full moon's fairer than those dreams.

That full moon night Siddharta woke
When all his ghosts like clouds did pass.
The hidden “I”, a phantom, broke.
The ground was dry and dead the grass.
From coming, going he's released.
The tears of turmoil fully ceased.







A sage from India I went to see,
Renowned for her compassion, boundless charity.
Each one of millions she would meet
And cheer with just few words of Dharma sweet.
There flowed affection from her heart.
I knew not any with such selfless art.

I went with gifts of radish, red tomato and a jar of balm
For rubbing on her painful arm.
When I was kneeling there, before her form
I was so flustered with excitement’s storm
That my three gifts I could not hold quite well,
And handing them to her, the balm jar fell
Down, landing on her lap.
What an embarrassing mishap!

She softly saw the bottle fall.
She picked it up — no hint of haste at all.
There wasn’t in her any grain of greed,
And of impatience not the smallest seed.
Her hand moved slowly to that jar of balm
With full awareness and with calm.

Relaxed, dear Amma held it for a while,
Unhurriedly — though hundreds waited in the aisle —
And quietly gave it away.
This calmness was her natural way.

How stressed and restive is the world today!
We want our money now, without delay!
Our greedy minds are pushing us to run!
Imaginary fears, some future fun
Make men and women madly jump the gun!

But see, how slowly move the moon and sun.
They quietly are cruising ‘cross the skies.
They give us time to rest and close our eyes.

Just like those bright-faced friends in space
Was this renunciant’s radiant grace.
How soothing were her movements slow!
She breathed with nature’s gentle flow.
Such quietness was not a vow.
Her mind was rooted in the timeless NOW.

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Contemplative Prayer in Christianity and Islam

(St Augustine, St Teresa of Avila and Rabi'a al-'Adawiya)



Claudia Weeraperuma

Delhi: ISPCK

Excerpts from Contemplative Prayer in Christianity and Islam


“Contemplative Prayer is a communication with God and a simultaneous divinely inspired movement of the heart or soul towards Him that is accompanied by the loving awareness of His Presence.”

“The prerequisites for Rabi'a's and St Teresa's Contemplative Prayers converge at many points, especially concerning the virtues of humility, gratitude, contentment, chastity, love for God, poverty of spirit and detachment from the world.”

“Christian prayer not only leads to some future happiness, either in this life or in the hereafter, but it also can, in its more purified and disinterested form, namely in Contemplative Prayer, be its own reward.”

“It is not enough for a Christian merely to do good works and to be charitable. For it is necessary to reach a plane in which all actions are inspired by loving and serving God. This devotional quality can be reached through Contemplative Prayer.”

“In both Christianity and Islam the greatest virtue is the pursuit of God. The intense wish to see His face must supersede all other desires. Only true devotees who undeviatingly love God are worthy of emulation.”

“When she maintained that knowledge of God precedes contemplation, Rabi'a more or less implied what St Augustine had already stated. Both saints acquired this knowledge of God after having had a transcendental experience of Him.”

“Rabi'a al-'Adawiya, also called Rabi'a of Basra, was so humble that she remained secretive about her devotional feelings: she did not try to publicize her bond of friendship with God. This virtue of humility is not basically different from the teachings of St Teresa of Avila who taught that nuns should not openly give expression to their devotion to God.”

“Muslims believe that God understands and appreciates the body language of the worshipper. Body language not only expresses devotional states of mind and heart but can also create them. Some Christians like St Augustine agree that the posture of prostrating oneself can intensify one's fervour and humility during prayer. In Islam the belief exists that prostration is the best means of drawing nearer to God.”


“All the movements, postures and prayers in Salah are designed to lead to the state of absolute absorption in God, provided Salah is recited at a slow pace.”

“According to Rabi'a, a contented person not only accepts suffering with equanimity but is also grateful for it. This attitude of gratefulness for suffering and injuries was also the hallmark of some Christian saints. They knew that suffering was the only way to redemption.”

“Contemplative Prayer should be offered in such a way that at every stage it becomes a movement away from one's ego. This self-effacing trait is common to the virtues of humility and poverty of spirit.”

“St Teresa deemed humility to be the most important virtue of a spiritual aspirant. Every form of pride is a hindrance to the attainment of the Prayer of Quiet.”

“Mental Prayer can be a stimulus to the mystical elevation of the soul. By practising the Presence of God and by rapturously thinking about His exalted attributes, our love for Him can become so intense that God begins to draw us to Himself. Anyone is free to meditate on God with varying degrees of intensity of feeling, but the act of divine contemplation (consciousness of God's Presence) cannot be self-induced. Given the predetermination of all events by the Omnipotent One, it is the Lord alone who decides if, and when, a person is going to be drawn to Him.”

“Mental Prayer has a purificatory effect on the mind and emotions in so far as our shortcomings, weaknesses and moral lapses begin to surface, thereby enabling us to rectify ourselves. This is the beginning of self-knowledge and humility. It is, in fact, the commencement of spiritual evolution through prayer.”

“The Islamic practice of repeating Allah's great qualities could result in self-discovery and self-improvement. By knowing the remarkable attributes of the Lord a devout Muslim becomes painfully conscious of the fact that he is lacking in these very same virtues.”

“The Sufi concept of the heart bears much resemblance to St Teresa's consolations in the Prayer of Quiet... St Teresa compared these consolations to the flow of water. She also likened them to 'a brazier sprinkled with sweet perfumes. Although the spirit neither sees the flame nor knows where it is, yet it is penetrated by the warmth, and scented fumes, which are even sometimes perceived by the body. Understand me, the soul does not feel any real heat or scent, but something far more subtle...' This description is not dissimilar to the Sufi ideas about the heart. According to the Sufis the heart is believed to be an 'incorporeal luminous substance'. These descriptive words of the Sufis have an affinity with St Teresa's image of 'a brazier'.”

“It is interesting that the Sufis associated the heart's inner aspect, which some of them call 'the Spirit', with 'incorporeal human subtlety... the subtle vapour produced in the heart'. This concept of the heart's interior is reminiscent of St Teresa's 'scented fumes'. We can only surmise that Rabi'a's divine heart was probably the same as St Teresa's consolations.”

“There are close parallels between Rabi'a's divine heart and St Teresa's consolations:

The divine heart and the consolations are given to man by God and these cannot be brought about by man...

The divine heart and the consolations kindle a fervent love for God in the person who is the recipient of these divine favours...

Rabi'a's divine heart and St Teresa's consolations have the advantage of furthering spiritual progress tremendously. Rabi'a insisted that the only way to God was by means of the divine heart. St Teresa declared that consolations perfect the virtues and therefore indirectly lead to God.”





























“Rabi'a and St Teresa experienced God's love for them. This experience was a great delight for them...St Teresa felt the joy of the consolations in the Prayer of Quiet. Rabi'a, too, was in a state of ecstasy when she was blessed with divine love: Once Rabi'a observed that 'were the rapture of Divine Love which I have realized ever to be bestowed upon humankind, no one would remain unaffected by this love.'”

“The mystical states of these two saints have much in common. But there is one significant difference between St Teresa's consolations and Rabi'a's divine heart. While consolations are always happy states, the divine heart is not necessarily so, because the divine heart also knows periods of oppression and sorrow. In fact, Rabi'a is better known for her grief than for her ecstatic experiences.”

“The divine heart consists of mystical states in which the spiritual seeker can experience God's presence within himself; the divine heart includes consolations, ecstasies, constrictions and sorrows; finally, the divine heart increases the spiritual fervour and leads the seeker to the Sought.”

“For St Teresa and Rabi'a the experience of the most exalted stage of Contemplative Prayer was a kind of inward death; they lost their fear of physical death; they had out-of-body experiences as they truly advanced closer and closer to God; they desired to do God's will and live in complete harmony with it. They succeeded in their objectives. St Teresa and Rabi'a gladly accepted whatever experiences God offered them, be they trials or favours. St Teresa felt joy and peace when she was persecuted; Rabi'a found the curbing of her desires fulfilling, provided thereby she was in accord with God's will. They got a certain satisfaction from encountering difficult situations. Rabi'a seems to have welcomed suffering, just like St Teresa, when the latter had reached the Prayer of Union.”

“St Teresa as well as Rabi'a severed their worldly attachments in the course of their spiritual evolution. After St Teresa had experienced raptures... she perceived worldly things as 'nothingness'. Similarly, Rabi'a found that the world was 'nothing'. Rabi'a's spiritual attainment excluded everything other than God. Expressed differently, her entire being was replete with the Supreme. She had fully realised God as the absolute and only Reality... However, in spite of their detachment from people, Rabi'a and St Teresa had compassion for those in need of spiritual guidance.”

---Contemplative Prayer in Christianity and Islam





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Hunt of Hera

a novella


Claudia Weeraperuma


Calcutta: Writers Workshop

A special feature of this novella is the inclusion of complaints made by the spirits of slaughtered animals. The spirits speak of the terrible cruelties they have experienced. The novella is interspersed with poetic descriptions of the Provençal landscape. There are accounts of how Claudia, the main character of the novella, struggles to understand the nature and meaning of the noises she hears at night. She feels sympathy for the helpless creatures that suffer unbearably at the hands of man.

The novella titled Hunt of Hera is all about the experiences of a waitress called Claudia in a restaurant in the South of France. She is the narrator of the story. One morning Claudia is surprised when she discovers the smelly carcasses of a hunted she-boar and her piglet on the carpet of the restaurant's entrance hall. Carrying away the piglet is easy enough, but the proprietors of the restaurant, namely Monsieur and Madame Vial, and the hunter who killed the animals, Monsieur Peine, they all find it impossible to lift up the heavy carcass of the she-boar from the valuable carpet. Incidentally, Madame Vial is very upset as she treasures the carpet, which the Vials had recently brought from Morocco. Not succeeding in removing the blood stains on the carpet, she decides to leave the carcass on the carpet. The she-boar, along with the carpet, is then dragged to their garage where Monsieur Peine, the hunter, begins the task of cleaning and preparing the two boars for cooking. This process is described in lurid detail. The meat is put in a huge freezer where masses of other meat and fish are also kept in store for future use.


In the meantime some English customers arrive at the restaurant for lunch. They order mostly meat and fish dishes. Claudia, Madame Vial and her aged mother wait on them. After enjoying their meal, these guests cannot help talking about the food and singing its praises.


While thus preparing the two boars for the table, Monsieur Peine, the hunter, gets an unexpected call from his pregnant wife. Since he has to rush her to hospital, he finds that he has no time to finish his work inside the garage. Therefore Madame Vial has to do this unpleasant task.


When the waitress Claudia goes to the garage to fetch a bottle of wine, she is surprised to find Madame Vial lying on the floor in a state of shock. While Claudia attends to the lady, she trips and falls on the foor. Claudia also loses consciousness for a short time. On recovering consciousness Claudia realises to her dismay that a child of one of the English guests has locked the garage from the outside. Claudia and Madame Vial are both locked in that frightening place.


After Madame Vial has also recovered consciousness, Claudia asks her why she is in a state of shock. Madame Vial replies that she has heard the spirits of the dead animals groaning and protesting! She encourages Claudia to listen to the faint voices emanating not only from the freezer but also from the two killed boars that are outside. Soon both women start hearing long accounts of the sufferings experienced by Lady Hera Boar, Vulcan Boar, Bettina Beef, Charles Chicken and Fred Fish. In addition, the two of them actually see the spirits themselves! Madame Vial is so moved by the plight of the animals that she promises the animals never again to eat fish or meat. She also assures them that she would persuade her husband to do likewise.

The animal spirits finally disappear from their midst. Soon afterwards Monsieur Vial opens the garage and the two women are consequently freed.

Doctor Camus of the hospital breaks the news that Madame Peine's baby was stillborn. Madame Peine bled heavily and died. Her husband, Monsieur Peine, was so shocked by this tragedy that within minutes he suffered a massive heart attack. He collapsed in the operating theatre in front of the dead bodies of both his wife and son. There was no time even to treat him. He died immediately.

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Ocean of Compassion

poems by Claudia Weeraperuma







There is a land the sun has borne

That few of this world's people know.

There golden-hearted gods its fields adorn

And purple flowers of Compassion sow.

This sparkling stretch of light is Susunaga,

A man with noble heart and mind

Who never fails to see the smould'ring magma

Behind the masks of men most kind.

His lustrous eyes shed light on hidden things

To which unheeding folks are blind.

In him there are great mountain springs

With cooling crystal water.

They flow and flow, and so he brings

Much healthy food to every quarter,

To beggars, kings, the weak, the strong,

To horses, donkeys, dogs and deer

Who've yearned in secret all too long

For just that biscuit, pear or cheese as cheer.

For me he has since I was little

A seasoned oil --- He pours it on my hair,

Which had become too dry and brittle

From building castles in the air.

But once the sea was threatening to drown

My darling Susunaga.

When no one helped and he lay down

His hopes to live --- lo! all at once appeared

A person he had never seen before,

A person who just pulled him to the shore

And who without a trace then disappeared.

Dearest Susu, my Beginning and my End,

You may not be loved by throngs terrestrial,

But by gods and hosts celestial.

To keep you safe they do all that they can

Because they value GOODNESS in a man.





The Stream


Hapless, heart-shaped Bodhi leaf

Oscillating on the stream,

Who can offer you relief

Hearing your faint rustling scream?

Your drièd cheek is pallid and adust,

So dull and deadened from the long and bumpy ride.

You think the mountains all are madly jumping past

When giddily you watch them going past your side.

You even think they are one boisterous burly beast!

But why are you not turning turtle once at least?

Are you afraid of wetting your dry coat?

Do you believe the stream’s a foul, infernal moat?


Oh no! You do not know this river to the full.

The world below the water’s surface you deny.

You fear that life down there is plain, without the playful pull

Of all those showy scenes that restlessly roll by.

Why think the journey’s full of pleasure and of zest

Since you like its sweet exciting swirls and swings?

Yet when you shun the river’s depth you shun all rest,

You lack the peace that nothing but completeness brings.

When the wind detached you from the sacred tree,

The tree where Prince Siddharta reached Enlightenment,

Your nature could not keep you in the air all free

For long. Inevitable was a swift descent.

But tell me why you landed on this stream?

Did you believe by surfing you’d be young again

Just like when you were basking in the Buddha’s blissful beam?

Alas! Your blood will stay forever seared. Your youth is slain.

Oh dearest leaf, if only you turned round!

If only you would wet your dried-up cheek,

For all this water flows on holy ground!

Turn round, dear leaf, if truth and peace you seek!

Soaking in the water heavily you’ll weigh.

Slowly you shall sink without a fight.



Bright rainbow trout and shimmering bluegill on your way

Will dazzle you with their full sunset glow,

Reminding you how in the sunny days of May

The water lilies blue and rose and gold would grow.

Immersed from head to foot in sheets of seething masses

You’ll dare to dart with tons of water tongues that throb

And aim at some imaginary calm oasis,

Where soon the rolling oar of time would slow, then stop.

As days and weeks and months creep by you’ll swell

To soft and sooty stuff like cast-off felt,

So spongeous that no trout or carp could tell

That long ago your coat was crisp as fingers felt.


Be brave, my leaf, when those colossal liquid lumps

All knead you in a wizard rapid rhythm

Right down to pulp benumbed by a thousand drums.

Then --- in a momentous cataclysm ---

You decompose into a myriad elfin threads ---

Oh leaf, oh leaf, where will you be by then?

Say, where your heart-shaped frame, your once so luscious green?

Say, where will be your pores, your coat, your sap, your stem?

Will you behold again the springtime lilies you had seen

And all the dancing hills, the madly restless mountains?

Will you be there to know the fun and folly of the drift?

Will you see the sun and tree, your feeding-fountains?

Oh leaf, say, where you’ll be then, you who float so swift!

Fear not! Despite your ending up a heap of fragile fibres

You’ll find yourself deep at the solid bottom of the river

And rest there ---

This vast harbour houses

Dispersèd debris of dissolvèd leaves like yourself ---

Without a quiver.

Neither trembling there nor stirring, your remains will lie.

No longer will you see the mountains moving.

Nor will you take as fixed that changing “I”.

Never more will you regard as real that which is deluding.

A secret Sun will send through you Its rays.

Unequalled will Its splendour be.

It may remind you of some ancient days,

That Light beneath the Bodhi tree.







































The Divine Musician


You've been ringing in man's ears from that primeval time

When dawn broke and our sun began to shine.

Throughout a myriad forms that life assumes

You've always sung those old forgotten tunes.


We can only hear Your wondrous psalm

When all around us rests in perfect calm,

And we dive into our heart's great Arch

Where our soul is floating on a barge

Studded with a thousand radiant pearls,

Which none can find in our oceans' whirls.

But in that other Vault beyond our earthly ties

There is the Place where sounds celestial rise.


You're chirping like a swarm of Crickets

As if You stayed in trees and thickets,

In fennel-scented meadows of some southern clime.

Ceaseless is Your sun-intoxicated rhyme.


Heavenly Bard, the more we listen to Your singing

The more diverse the sounds You're ringing.

What softly tinkling instruments we hear!

You seem to be a Lady in Her bridal gear

Of sparkling silvery ornaments around her limbs,

Of golden bracelets, necklaces and rings,

Of anklets made with tiny bells, and shiny bangles,

So that all this finery gleams and jingles.

Fair Bride, and while You shyly tremble all the time,

How Your lovely jewels gently chime!


And deep within You, bashful Bride,

What soothing timbres hide!

For us Your heart plays melodies

Of mauve melancholy, some solemn elegies.

Your instrument then seems a flute,

A bell or harp, an Indian sarod or a lute.

Oh no! More mellow than all these

Is its timbre; so it slowly sings to please,

Streaming with such mastèry and ease

That it radiates heartfelt peace.


We intently hearken, wondering about this instrument,

Why and whence it had been sent,

If in another world is its creation?

Or, an ear disease, some dark hallucination?

Our minds aren't wondering any more;

Their usual chase is lulled, then stunnèd to its core ---

When suddenly we hear some other sounds

Much further down in our inner towns.


You seem all hollow like some earthen Urn,

In which there are colossal waves of milk You churn.

Monotonously murmuring, You seem an empty stone Crypt

With long hypnotic chants of priests from Ancient Egypt,

Of thousand deep-toned voices rolling low

Or distant thunder that late summer shadows blow.


Yet while we hear the range of inner sounds

You're infusing into us the yearning to renounce

All that we hear. You seems to say:

“Beloved, I'm not the music that I play.

I am not those crickets of a summer day.

They merely come and soon they fly away.

I am not that charming and bejewelled bride

Atremble by the bridegroom's side.

I am not that sweetly singing flute,

Neither bell nor sarod, neither harp nor lute.

Am I those thousand deep-toned voices rolling low,

Or distant thunder that late summer shadows blow?



I'm not any of all these.

I'm not a Person, please.

Know that I am neither Heaven nor Hell

For within you I always dwell.

With the end of every thought

The mind is now reduced to nought.

Then suddenly you'll see

That nothing is apart from Me.

No, nothing is external.


And You are Me and I am You

In Silence Bright Eternal.”

















































Mata Amritanandamayi

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

I've thought and talked and searched for many years amiss

Before I saw how lovingly You do embrace

Each one of us, the millions passing by Your face

From every country, caste and class and creed,

Weighed down with pains and many kinds of need.

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

Respectfully You bow before each one of us to kiss

Wholeheartedly our hands that do, alas, less good than harm.

You draw us to Your smiling face as if we had some charm

That is entrancing You, but which we don't perceive.

Your natural humility does lessen our grief.

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

I've thought and talked and searched for many years amiss.

I've borne my “heart” so proudly in my head.

How heavy it has weighed, like chests of solid lead!

For long I've failed to let go of my mind to sink.

Oh for Your pure Heart --- ambrosian drink!

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

You're not just this Your earthly body that we see,

Which was the victim of much family cruelty

When You were little and a child abused

By those around You, often mocked and wrongly accused.

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

I'd known You ere I saw You with my mortal eyes:

A golden Lady with a child that at Her bosom lies.

So calm Her face. She's smiling not --- nor does She cry ---

Motionlessly standing on a sandbank dry.

Her glowing skin absorbs the sombre forms around,

Dissolving into voidness all forms bound.

Her flowing robes of deep red hue

Move not, as they're of rubies true.

A star as brilliant as a diamond sparkles in the sky.

Then all at once it falls to Earth, and I do not know why.

But later She appears with jasmines from afar.

Amma's diamond nose ring shines just like a star,

Sending forth four glints of gold and green,

Deep blue and orange as I never in my life have seen.

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

I've thought and talked and searched for many years amiss

Before I saw how lovingly You do embrace

Each one of us, adoring Your divinely given grace,

From every nation, race and sect and creed,

Weighed down with woes and many types of greed.

Oh Amma of Immortal Bliss,

I beg You, teach us selflessness.

Do tell us how to face our deepest pains

Illusion of the self then wanes.





The Pine

Explosive heat glows hidden in the Pine.

This Tree desires to turn into a mighty shrine

Of all the gods of bounty, care and love.

The Pine spreads out Her branches far and wide above

All man-made roofs. With nigh delirious largesse

She forms a mighty shield, so She may bless

Forever homeless vagabonds and herds

Of sheep, tanned shepherds and loud singing birds,

And those with dazzled eyes and weary limbs.

The Pine with life-infusing current brims.

Oh pity-pouring deep green Pine!

You call me in Your august vault to dine

So generously on Your spicy pungent scent.

Your aromatic shade with summer heat is blent.

Your breath is bathed in innervating oils

That balm with zest my heart-hardening boils.

Your love revived my deadened eyes and sense of smell

And all the untold stories that the ancients tell

Who had toiled on this dry and chalky russet soil.

You fed me tender kernels swelled with lustrous oil,

And dropping on the ground Your needles smooth,

You nursed me, Mother, in Your soft and scented booth.




The Cypress

Among the kings of Provençal Sublime

The spear-shaped Cypress long and fine

Rises high into the dry sapphire sky,

Ever striving upwards, but not telling why.

What purpose underlies the way You grow?

Is it towards some noble loftiness to soar

And fearlessly to pierce the sky's supernal sphere

To drink its light, ambrosial and clear?

Great Loner, Cypress, by Your love of lofty realms of light

You teach me to renounce this world's contagious blight.

My restless mind is stillèd by Your heart of silence.

You thin Yourself so that surrounding things seem islands

Far removed from You. And all their happy chatter

Leaves You undisturbed, and nothing seems to matter.

Your dark green scaly leaves are strong

As they protectively Your spine's coarse surface throng,

Concealing You completely from all awry eyes.

Your scent celestial never tires to rise

From sprawling earth-soiled roots. So neither storm

And heat nor wintry hail Your wholesome work can harm.

Pillaring Provence, You are so pure and tall

As from an era long before man's fall.

To be like You, so artless and so straight,

Like You, who have cast off the brainwork's noxious weight:

The heavy chains of slavery to what is past,

The dreamy fabric of the future that won't last.

You teach to live in what has substance and is true:

The heart's pulsating presence NOW, so near, so new!




The Olive

The heaths replete with loud cicada song,

Their infectious smile would be all false,

Their music would be wrong,

If not for their Friend --- and mine --- the Olive tree.

How I would be forever cursed if I could never see

This Prince of trees Who charms these wide and open slopes,

Inspiring many a dejected heart with hopes

And joy and gladness, just like lovers' eyes,

When into moonstruck fools He turns the wise!

No, at first I did not find You, Olive, to be fair,

For Your dull and greyish leaves I did not care.

Your fruits caused bitter burning vapour in my mouth

When I picked them fresh from You --- I spat them out!

But then, one day You changed. Your magic won.

The sky had shrouded angrily its sun,

Which lifeless over noisy houses in the dale,

Wore sadly then a whitish mourning veil.

Next I saw You. Just below that saddened brow

You smiled. In the sultry gloominess I wondered how

Your soul in thousand million silvery leaves was glistening,

Whispering words of peace --- when villagers weren't listening.

Oh Olive, Muse of tranquil time,

Without You there'd be neither rhyme,

Letters, music, dance nor art.

Since Your loveliness awakens our celestial Heart.

Your crown of leaves so fine

Points out to us the infinity of sparkling stars.

Is it hence not important that we must

Regard, by contrast, our mind-made scars

As just some passing specks of dust?

Olive, Cypress, Pine,

Friends and Masters mine,

Provence is not mere senses' joy

Providing merriment for girl and boy.

But let us see it as a Temple of Reflection

Where one and all find inner satisfaction.

Olive, Cypress, Pine!

May Your glory shine

Now and for all time!




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