How to be a Sadhu

“Whenever you think of anything or anyone as your own, you are actually letting yourself be trapped in this web of ego.” I have had a lifelong interest in becoming a Sadhu as a way to experience my own life. I want to learn and experience how to live a Sadhu life. I am working on my own deeply-seated ego issues. Sublimation of the ego is the first step in becoming a Sadhu. I am intrigued by the idea that ego and a sense of ownership are related. For myself, the erasure of ego is a work in progress. I like this article as it describes an open-minded view of Sadhu life, and starts to deconstruct narrow notions of Sadhu life. The writer professes to be a guru and his words have resonated with me.

Aghor Bhadra, lives in Ambala, Haryana, India CLICK HERE

Dear concerned,

For this you first need to understand, who is a sadhu? Being a sadhu doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a particular attire, having big beard or matted hair. Neither one has to necessarily leave his/her family and go to the woods in order to become a sadhu. Sadhuta or saintliness is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with your body. The hordes of saffron clad people with big white beards you see at our religious places are not sadhus. 90% of them are escapists.

Being a true sadhu is the most difficult thing in this world. Trust me it is easier to become a Bill Gates than being a true sadhu. Let me quote you from my experiences and that of my peers what you’ll have to go through in order to become a sadhu.

First thing which you should be ready to get out of is your ego. This is the first step. Now what is ego? We most of the times confuse ego with pride. However these are two completely different states of mind. Take this example. Suppose one guy has a huge house with all the modern luxuries and he is very proud of owning it. He keeps on flaunting this big house as his social status to others. Now this is called pride. Now there is another house which is modest and it’s owner is just satisfied with his house. He doesn’t flaunt his house, he’s just happy that he ‘owns’ this house, it belongs to him. Now this sense of ownership of anything is called ego. It is easy to get out of pride but it is almost impossible or at least extremely painful to get out of this ego.

Whenever you think of anything or anyone as your own, you are actually letting yourself trapped in this web of ego. In order to let go of your ego, you’ll have to let go of anyone and anything which you think belongs to you. Be it your career, your money, your house whatever you call yours will go away from you. My Bade Guru Ji said that for a number of days he only survived on cow dung because there was nothing else to eat even though He Himself belonged to a rich landlord family. I rose very high in my career very early and had every luxury available to myself. I used to spend lakhs in one night just for my entertainment. And then came a day when I didn’t have money to buy milk for my child. In Aghor we have a saying that when Maa wants someone to walk onto this path then She says, Main Raundungi Tohe, Kaun Bachabo ?means Now I Myself will trample your ego who in the world can save you now? So before thinking of becoming a sadhu, understand what you are asking for.

Becoming a sadhu is an ongoing process which continues throughout one’s life and even through many lifetimes. At every stage Maa keeps on testing you. Suppose you have a very strong resolve and you are able to clear the early tests and have been lucky enough to find the right Guru and His grace. Then a different game will start. Sadhna gives you Shakti/power. The harder your penance is, more powerful you become. Now as they say power is poison. Everyone can not handle the power. Whosoever gets just a little minuscule power misuses it immediately. This is why most of the senior IAS s or ministers etc don’t treat other people politely. Money is just a small form of power. And it is because of this small fraction of power most of the newly rich people think that they are from Mars. Interesting thing is most of the victims of this power harassment curse these powerful people but the moment they themselves become powerful, they become exactly like their oppressors. The problem does not lie with the powerful, this is the problem with ‘power’. Everyone thinks that he/she is a very nice human being and given the power he/she will never misuse it. However this is not the case.

What I am telling you was told to me also by my peers and I had a very good control over myself. But still 10 years back two people repeatedly kept on trying to harm me and at last I lost control and decided to use my power. To my good fortune Maa stopped me from doing it and instead asked me to ask for wisdom for them. Now understand my frustration, I have all the power to punish the wrongdoer but instead I am asking for wisdom from him. Initially it was difficult but slowly I learned how important it is to forgive even after having the power to punish. It takes years to let go of this frustration because Maa will keep on testing you again and again and every time you’ll have to just let go.

In order to become a sadhu you need to learn to accept respect and disrespect in the same stride. A sadhu never gets pleased by praises neither he gets shaken by abuses. For a sadhu, these are two faces of the same coin. To forgive each and everyone no matter how deep is the wound he/she has inflicted upon you is sadhuta/ saintliness. Once my Bade Guru Ji was in Patna with one of his disciple and some crazy people started making fun of them seeing their attire. Baba asked his disciple to leave that place and started walking. Those people came after them, mocking them calling them names but Baba kept on walking. Then some of them threw mud upon them, the disciple couldn’t take it and turned his face back to take revenge but Baba forcefully told him to just ignore them and keep walking. Then some of those people started hurling stones at them and Baba got hit by one, the disciple asked Baba in rage, Baba, why shouldn’t I kill them all here for doing this to you? Baba said, don’t do anything just keep walking. After a while those people got tired and returned. Baba reached an orchard out of the city and then calmly told his disciple that a true saint should take praises and abuses in the same stride, that is the nature of a true sadhu. Sadhus don’t take revenge, they only forgive.

Easier said than done. It takes a very long time to reach at this level of forgiveness. From my experience I can say that in the beginning one feels frustrated but slowly one gets out of this revenge cycle and ultimately learns to forgive. Slowly a sadhu reaches a point where he realises that forgiveness without an iota of revenge has become a part of his nature. A sadhu doesn’t see others as different people, he sees this world as an extension of himself. How can one then take revenge from himself?


The fallacy of race

I have pondered the notion of race and racial categorization for a long time, ever since the 1980s at UCLA. I want to re-focus my thinking in the direction of this debate once again. I have been greatly influenced by Ashley Montagu’s writings on the topic of race, and I found this more recent essay to be consistent with Montagu’s thesis that notions of race and racial category are a fallacy.

A helpful list for a moral life

The Five moral precepts

  • Refrain from taking life. Not killing any living being. D if you count food.
  • Refrain from taking what is not given. Not stealing from anyone. OK.
  • Refrain from the misuse of the senses. Not having too much sensual pleasure. …a work in progress
  • Refrain from wrong speech. Not lying or gossiping about other people. Trying hard.
  • Refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind. Ooops. My GPA just dropped.

That puts me as a D or F student as I scored somewhere around 60%. I love a good steak with a beer, sake and sashimi, or any other non-pork delicacy. I had my days back in the day with the shimmee princesses of main street. I am peace with the Beast as described by Socrates. But those weaknesses cost me at least 40% to the total possible points. That’s just being honest in my case. We’re not perfect, especially me. I’m far from being an A student. It’s a process. I got the full 20% on a couple of them but fail in some categories.

With imperfection as the paradigm, from the CulaHatthipadopama-sutta, the “Lesser Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprints”, details the journey of mindful consciousness [23]

  1. Dhammalsaddhalpabbajja: A layman hears a Buddha teach the Dhamma, comes to have faith in him, and decides to take ordination as a monk;
  2. sila: He adopts the moral precepts;
  3. indriyasamvara: He practises “guarding the six sense-doors”;
  4. sati-sampajanna: He practises mindfulness and self-possession (actually described as mindfulness of the body, kāyānussatti);
  5. jhana 1: He finds an isolated spot in which to meditate, purifies his mind of the hindrances (nwarana), and attains the first rupa-jhana;
  6. jhana 2: He attains the second jhana;
  7. jhana 3: He attains the third jhana;
  8. jhana 4: He attains the fourth jhana;
  9. pubbenivasanussati-nana: he recollects his many former existences in samsara;
  10. sattanam cutupapata-nana: he observes the death and rebirth of beings according to their karmas;
  11. dsavakkhaya-nana: He brings about the destruction of the dsavas (cankers), and attains a profound realization of (as opposed to mere knowledge about) the four noble truths;
  12. vimutti: He perceives that he is now liberated, that he has done what was to be done.

Quite a phenomenal journey one can follow. Once in a while I inch my way up the list but always start over and have a beginner’s mentality.

Old time fiddle music in the Ozarks 1980s

My new project dates back more than 40 years ago. Back in the early 1980s I traveled with my lifelong friend, Bob Morgan, in my beautiful 1970 VW poptop van to Missouri. We took our best audio and photo gear and ventured to the Ozarks and beyond with a $750 grant from UCLA. We were seeking some great fiddle music and musicians in the general area of Missouri. We made a great collection of recordings. I have digitized some of the audio but I am seeking funds for the hours of video, 16mm film, LPs, and photos, in addition to the audio recordings. I have started a Kickstarter campaign. CLICK HERE

What is wisdom?

I read an article that connects notions of wisdom with loneliness. In the article, loneliness is defined this way: “Loneliness does not mean being alone; loneliness does not mean not having friends. […] Loneliness is defined as ‘subjective distress.’ Essentially, it is the perceived gap between the relationships you have and the ones you want.”

On the other hand, wisdom is defined as “a complex human trait with specific components — i.e., emotional regulation, self-reflection, pro-social behaviors such as empathy and compassion, decisiveness, social advising, tolerance of divergent values, and spirituality.”

For myself, it is useful to have a more clear understanding of “what is wisdom?” and its effect on subjective distress.

A good read. CLICK HERE


I am reviving an old project of mine from the 1970s and 80s. At that time I was passionate about fiddle playing and old time music from the southwest Missouri Ozarks. I approached this music as a fiddler, filmmaker, and ethno-musicologist.

CLICK HERE for musical examples

At this time I am trying to organize all of the 16mm film, various video formats, audio recordings, photographs, and other materials that I produced at that time that feature several fiddle players from that region . I believe my work is good and the music is great. The goal is to digitize all the analog elements and to design a creative and useful website for students and general audiences of this music.


PHOTO: Emmanuel Wood (fiddle) and Family, Ozark, Missouri. 1981.

My objective at this time is to have all of the analog elements (field recordings and footage) that I produced of Emmanuel Wood and Family, Lonnie Robertson, Art Galbraith, and others, preparing these materials for archival preservation, digitization, and access by website.

Some initial examples of work to be digitized include the following:

1) I would be happy if you will take the time to watch Echoes of the Ozarks — a 30 minute documentary I produced in 1984 in Ava, MO.  The film was funded by NEH and others.  Your input is welcome

2) I would also be happy if you will listen to the short radio documentary Missouri Fiddlin’.  This 15 minute audio documentary will give you an idea of the quality and nature of the recordings. The documentary is followed by a 40 minute sampling of recordings of fiddle playing.

Please feel free to share your response, ideas, or suggestions as I move forward. Thanks, Anthony

Valle de Guadalupe

I just recently toured some of the highways of Baja California, from LA to Ensenada to Catavina to Catavina to San Felipe and across the linea at Mexicali.  My next trip will explore the Ensenada-Tecate highway for its food, wine, and scenery.  I did that route many times many years ago but have no concept for what to expect.  I am doing research about restaurants and hotels in Valle de Guadalupe and found this useful article:


Learning assessment, Finnish style

I am trying to find new, innovative, and useful models for assessing higher learning in student work.  I also seek formative assessment through self-reflection upon my own performance as a teacher-facilitator.

Five purposes of mathematics assessment have been outlined by Kulm (1994) as the following:

  1. improving instruction and learning,
  2. evaluating student progress,
  3. providing feedback for students to understand their thinking,
  4. communicating expectations, and
  5. improving attitudes toward mathematics.

In the USA there is great resistance to change in the classroom and assessment is based upon standardized testing as the measure for learning and performance.  Conversely, in Finland, the purpose of assessment is to guide and encourage studying and self-assessment skills. Assessment measures a combination of educational progress, work skills, and behavior (Finnish National Board of Education, 2010). Classroom assessment practices in Finland allow teachers to evaluate and change instruction based on student needs.

I recognize that Finland is culturally more homogenous in comparison with most parts of the USA, so comparisons are difficult.  But a teaching and learning environment that facilitates creative expression and deep learning are my priorities as a teacher and learner. That is the way I dream for schools in the USA, where learning is experiential and reflective, but the norm here is so far away from the Finnish model. The odd irony is that Finnish model is partly based on 19th century scholarly and philosophical thought about Education in the USA (Dewey).

Spicy-hot Thai Isan food near the University

Isan food comes from NE Thailand.  I am so glad there is a great place to enjoy super spicy larb kai and other larbs right across the street from the Ramkhamhaeng University in central Bangkok where I have been fortunate to teach for one month each year!

A central Bangkok add-on to an ongoing bucket list.

Thanks to Mark Wiens for finding this place who writes, “This is one restaurant in Bangkok that if you ask it for “really spicy,” they will actually deliver.”  Nice.

A Beginner’s Mentality in Teaching

I am teaching a short term course for South Bay Adult School in Manhattan Beach, California, Beginning Screenplay Writing, for the next four weeks.  The course website gives an overview of the course content and approach.  I will apply this same model when I go to teach in Karachi, Bangkok, and Shanghai.  Always having a beginner’s mentality!


Wisely and earnestly: I keep trying to remember this idea

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. – Buddha’s Wise Words that I emulate to the best of my ability.

Why do people read?

I assume the most basic explanation or response to the question: why do people read? is that reading is a likable activity for the most part.  It yields good results.  But to question, Why do people read, wondering about reading and deeper learning by students from a critical perspective–this is a personal effort to improve myself as a teacher.  I like the process of inquiry and reflection and practice, ad infinitum.  I hope this knowledge continues to yield good results.  Report on the rise of e-reading and the general reading habits of Americans

A new way to travel in Thailand

This website helps us to find good ways to experience Thailand from a different perspective that raw tourism and mere commercial entertainment.

Transmedia Storytelling

I am finding opportunities and work in a new field of teaching (new, for myself)—Transmedia Storytelling.  I am supposed to teach this subject so it’s a good time to define what transmedia storytelling is, and how students can learn from it.  I found this good article that helps as an introduction.  I am looking forward to integrating digital media, dance, music, spoken words, aromas and other sensory tools into creative and scholarly work!


Malaria Info by Country

I’m planning for upcoming trips to Karachi Pakistan, Shanghai, Bangkok and farming areas in central Thailand, and the Philippines in the southern areas of Siquijor and Bukidnon, at least.  Looks like I’ll be taking CHLOROQUINE in the foreseeable future.  I must avoid malaria (and dengue) at all costs without going paranoid.  I must do more research about chloroquine’s nutritional and biochemical effects, and how it will cooperate with the pile of other meds that I take on a daily basis.  Appreciate any knowledge that can be shared on this topic.  Maybe it’s also a good time to start researching quinine and other more traditional ways of avoiding mosquito bites in the first place.  Perhaps, gin and tonic as an antimalarial?

I guess my old understanding, from the 60s, that Vitamin B11 helps against mosquito bites is a myth or at least questionable.



Rainbow Millet Tabbouleh

In Place of Other Grains: Rainbow Millet TabboulehTABBOULEH-with-BARLEY-Raw-Vegan-1200x774

Millet is capable of doing the job of pretty much any other grain. For example, tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur but a gluten-free version can be made with millet. It’s delicious by itself or served with your favorite Mediterranean dishes. The different colored vegetables give it a rainbow appearance. And you know your food is healthy when it has all the colors of a rainbow. To make Rainbow Millet Tabbouleh: First get the millet cooking. It takes about 20 minutes and during that time, the rest of the ingredients can be prepped and ready to go. Add 1 cup millet into a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of broth or water (or a combination of both). Add a pinch of salt, cover the pot and over a medium-high heat, bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes until the millet is fluffy.

While the millet is cooking, get all the veggies and herbs seeded and chopped up. Seed and/or chop 2 cucumbers, 3 plum tomatoes, 1 yellow bell pepper, 5 scallions, 1 cup fresh parsley and ½ cup fresh mint. When it’s ready, transfer the millet to a large bowl and let it cool. To the bowl of fluffy millet, add the cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper and scallions. Add the parsley and mint and toss well. Dress the tabbouleh with 3 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper and mix it well. Taste to see if any adjustments are necessary. You should be able to taste the fluffiness of the millet, the crunch of the veggies, the freshness of the mint and the brightness of the lemon.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Some Sagitarian things about me that I should improve

I recently read that Sagitarian folks like me share these characteristics in our relationships:

1. You can’t deal with attention-seeking partners.
2. You are too blunt with your words.
3. You lose interest too easily.
4. You don’t respect other people’s boundaries and personal lines.
5. You make promises that are bigger than you.
6. You like your single status, but you always want some “benefits” of a relationship.
7. You’re a highly impatient person.

Hmmm.  At this point in life I am willing to acknowledge the probability that I am guilty of most or all those characteristics, to some lesser or greater extent.  Time to change myself for the better!  Better late than never as they say.  How?  I go one breath at a time, knowing that patience is a virtue.

What are some of the beautiful natural wonders in Iran?

My bucket list of places to visit in Iran, with this mini-list focusing on the natural environment:

Kaluts, Kerman
Keshit canyon, Kerman
Hormoz colorful landscapes, Persian Gulf
Yalan great dunes, Kerman
Bisheh waterfall, Lorestan
Badabsourt, Mazandaran
Arasbaran forests, Tabriz
Damavand peak, Tehran
Tabas kaleh jenni, Yazd
Alisadr cave, Hamedan

What kind of teacher am I?

I will describe a little bit about my most recent classes and describe the process of work, learning and output that are expected.
I find myself as a sort of wandering teacher (21st century Erasmus?) so I teach sometimes in California at Marymount California University (MCU) and other times (1x or 2x per year) in Thailand at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University.  I also plan to go to Shanghai to teach in the upcoming year.
As you might know the British higher education semester is made of units. Each unit is a few weeks or a month in duration with a semester-long structure.  I find a lot of inspiration and rewards doing what do because I am able work within the US and the UK systems.  In Thailand, the university uses the British system.
In all of my teaching I aim to find ways to build intrinsic motivation in learning, mostly about professional practice, theoretical and contextual aspects of work, and the building and re-application of technical skills and knowledge.  Besides the process of development, writing, production and editing in digital media production I focus a lot of class time on presentation, discussion and reflection (blog, verbal and in writing).
In a recent “History of Multimedia” class at MCU all the students were undergraduate digital media majors, but my class was about critical/historical studies.  Normally the students would research and write a conventional research paper and I would lecture all the time.  I find that approach to be constricting and it limits self-reflection, expression and deep learning, plus it exceeds the attention span of most students.  I try to teach in an experiential and integrated way so it is different than the norm—reluctantly tolerated by old-fashioned thinkers.
At MCU, each student applied individual creative skills in digital media and design to build a web-based timeline of communication history, from about the Gutenberg press forward (using (posted on  Students built new data and knowledge about the history of multimedia, then integrate creative/tech kills (photoshop and other programs and skills) and demonstrate their scholarly knowledge.  Students commented on their deeper learning and retention of the historical themes, persona and events throughout the project.  It was a successful project that integrates scholarly research, writing and creative expression.
In Bangkok, at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University–most recently I was teaching two courses–Principles of Multimedia Writing and a TV Production.  Each year as I have returned for the past five years, my classes are a different mix of students from around the world.  Many of the students take both units (about 15 total) at the same time—so I have many of the students all day, every day for a specified period of time.  I also try to integrate the two classes to a useful degree but am mindful that each course has its specific focus.
In the writing course, the students did interviews with a person of their choosing.  The focus was to interview someone “who makes the world a better place.”  Students prepared one open question (Grounded theory, Glaser) and recorded the interview with their phones (aiming for best results, although no equipment is made available by the university).  Students produced an interview/response to the open-ended question, transcribed the interview, re-interviewed and expanded the scope of the inquiry, re-transcribed and presented an edited audio podcast that was posted on the WP free website they built for the class.  It was very interesting and well received by students because of their integration of practice, theory and professionalism.  All this is in an ESL context and took about three weeks in total.
In the TV production class—again we have no university equipment—I focused the learning about the visualization/story board/production/editing of entirely visual (silent) process and interaction sequences.
NOTE; I recommended (not compelled) that the interviewee could be the on-camera person for the recorded process and interaction sequences (integration). Most students positively responded to that suggestion and were happy with their results.  Students were using phone cameras to shoot video and laptops to edit silent sequences—they learned to do the whole production process with their imagination, a pencil and paper, their mobile phones and free software on their laptops, all uploaded to their free WP site for that purpose.
Ultimately, students in the TV class would edit and integrate the audio interview (from the other class) and use some or all of that audio as voice over in the visual project/work in the production class (creative and skills integration).
We ended up with very good and inspiring works in both classes in Thailand and at MCU—creative and informed/integrated work.  Students seemed to appreciate this kind of learning and I believe it effectively encourages praxis and reflection.

Teaching an online course

In Bangkok, at the Institute for International Studies at Ramkhamhaeng University, I am trying to integrate online learning in my classroom teaching.  This integration is a challenge on several levels, but is effective and worthwhile.  My ability and success are a work in progress, but my intention is to apply experiential and integrate learning theory in my teaching, whether it is online or in the classroom.

This is a good article about developing and teaching an online course.

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