Lessons From Cambodia For Current Times.



Angkor Wat, Cambodia


Cambodia is a beautiful, photogenic country with much to offer. We can treat it like a two-day holiday and enjoy the spectacular sights. Or be overwhelmingly dismayed by its Killing Fields. 
Or, we can pay close attention to the whole and learn some invaluable lessons.  

Humans are capable of outstanding creativity as well as deplorable behavior. 
Conflict, terrorism, and political fallouts are not something far and distant, but immediate and impactful for all of us today. The growing levels of intolerance, separatism and violence are evident everywhere. Experts who understand NLP, group and individual psychology, economic unrest, strategic power plays, audio-visual influence and the craft of words and pictures are actively misusing their knowledge to influence the masses for their own vested interests.

While in the thick of things, one can miss the ripple effects of our actions and non-actions. Only time will reveal the full consequences of our denial or active/passive/participative response.

With this essay, I hope to invite the more conscious reader to consider engaging mindfully with what is happening around us, rather than stepping back. For if everyone turns away from the difficult and challenging, how are things going to get better?

In Cambodia, is an example of the far-reaching ramifications of history, alive and visible together, all in one frame: Provoking us to examine and understand how our individual choices unfold to a collective repercussion over time. 

Below is a brief, simplistic summary of the complex impressions I carried back. I share the highlights of what I consider as the three divergent filters through which we can view what we see today.

  1. Impassioned, unquestioned beliefs and their self-indulgent imposition on others can lead to unspeakable horrors.

It is estimated that one out of every four people in the country died during the relatively recent Khmer Rouge regime. 

“Modern research has located 20,000 mass graves from the Khmer Rouge era all over Cambodia. Various studies have estimated the death toll at between 740,000 and 3,000,000, most commonly between 1.4 million and 2.2 million, with perhaps half of those deaths being due to executions, and the rest from starvation and disease.” ~ Wikipedia.

We aren’t talking about an ancient, primitive occurring here. This happened as recently as a few decades back. Educated people were deliberately targeted and urban folk were driven out of the cities and forced to work at the fields in dismal conditions. The unbelievable horrors inflicted deliberately and otherwise during this civil war, are described during the audio commentaries at Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields. Locals add that a hugely significant percentage of the Cambodian forest cover was also lost. Landmines were planted all over, animals were killed and infrastructure was destroyed. Subsequently, those who could simply read and write became teachers and the younger generation face the consequences of this difficult legacy.

Some say that when those who were a part of the Khmer Rouge were asked why did they do what they did (to their own fellowmen), they say they acted out of fear for their life, or because they were brainwashed.

While the torture and executions were being carried out, people in surrounding areas, and escorted foreign visitors often had no idea as to what was really going on. Much of the world did not realise what had occurred in Cambodia until much after. As impossible as it seems, facts can remain hidden from public scrutiny, and propaganda can leave us deaf. 

For those who believe attack, subjugation and violence are an answer to things, they may do well to pause and reconsider. Heroic movies and video games are one thing. The cost on the ground is another. Can you imagine living in an area where every single family has suffered in one way or the other? Where life, limb, livelihood, dignity and everything honourable has been lost? 
Without the human story, every telling is simplistically reduced to soulless, cold numbers.

The effects of the chilling 1975-1979 years are still reverberating through the population today. And humanity at large would do well to pay attention. For God knows, we have many similar situations (some nascent, some churning, and some full blown) occurring all over the world today.

2. Together, with our intelligence, skills, imagination, creativity and co-operative action, we can create amazing wonders.

The stunning engineering, architecture, and intricate craftsmanship from hundreds of years ago, inspires thousands of visitors even today. These awe-inspiring monuments indicate that the science, arts, and skills of those days were of an extraordinary level. It is almost as though the very boundaries of what we could produce were being stretched.

These megastructures provided employment and inspiration to those who came hundreds of years ago – and they continue to provide a livelihood to hundreds in the tourism and hospitality industry there today. Not only archaeologists and artisans but also NASA and other scientists take an interest in understanding the mysteries of these structures.

Equally impressive is the demeanor of the Khmers. Despite the continuing economic, political, emotional and physical challenges(let us not forget the many innocent victims of landmines and war) Cambodians are largely warm, smiling, helpful and resilient.

They are apparently also rather forgiving. While many of the surviving Khmer Rouge have left the country, I am told, many have integrated back into their villages.

All this raises the bar on what we as humans think ourselves capable of: whether that be physically, intellectually, emotionally or spiritually.

3. We need to recognise, respect and work with the powerful energies and presence of the land and forests, instead of exploiting them like lifeless resources.

 Those familiar with energy ley lines and energy vortexes consider sites here to be significant and powerful locations. A visit to these lands makes it easy to understand why animism predated Buddhism and Hinduism here. Every space has a geomagnetic force and that is something that not even the skeptics can overlook. (If you are interested in learning more about the electromagnetic force fields we generate, how they interact and the correlation with the earth’s force field and solar activity, do have a look at Heart Math Institute research.)

In Cambodia, especially in the jungles, the raw, intense vibe of the land and it’s forests is yet palpable. The fact that those ancient people knew enough about the stars to build the temples in a configuration that reflects the Draco constellation at equinox over here, gives us some food for thought. Perhaps, that civilization knew something we are yet figuring out? For they must have had some compelling reasons to go out into those thick, snake-infested jungles and carve out these temples in those places. 

Whether you are a sensitive who understands subtle energies, or someone who is open to the possibility that an ancient civilisation was more advanced than we are today, or an environmentalist who cringes at the destruction wrought by civil war and modern, short-sighted thinking, one is reminded here that any potential needs to be handled responsibly, with care and respect.

Technology (whether new or ancient) and energies(whether subtle or measurable) can be harnessed for good, or carelessly exploited.

Each of the above three ‘filters’ highlights a different aspect of today’s reality. In a 3-D world, the very same object will concurrently appear different from varying perspectives. And until we learn to listen, to co-exist, to interact with some modicum and mutual respect, we are doomed to fail to see the whole picture, let alone find a harmonious view point.

We inherit not only DNA, but trapped emotions, beliefs ,and even memories from our ancestors. Unhealed wounds do not fade away. World over, we have people still reeling from historical Partitions and Wars. Episodes of mindless mob contagion that leave scars for generations.

Do not for a minute underestimate your contribution to current times.

The unquestioned, passionate, verbal and physical outbursts that news and social media encourage, endorse and multiply – is adding up to the legacy we leave behind. 

A recurring theme at Angkor Thom is the ‘Churning of the Ocean’ motif. Every bridge across the moat has Devas(Gods) lined up on one side and the Asuras(demons) lined up on the other. The walker is thus encouraged to consciously choose the mindful middle path.

For myself, I believe change begins with me. So I continue to work at walking mindfully, staying in the present moment, without being carried away by any extreme, polarized views.

I have no simplistic solutions to offer. All I can do is share my thoughts and hope that they provoke some introspection in at least a handful of readers. 

Thank you for your time. 

(For a photo album showcasing lesser known sites and more details on Cambodia, please visit my FB album.)

(If taking responsibility for the world we co-create appeals to you, you may like to read: “Poems: Restoration of Peace”.)


Ta Prohm. Cambodia


Poems: Restoration Of Peace

Even the land and waters forget,
As do the trees.

Soak them in enough blood
Violate mercilessly,
Leaving no time to mend, to heal…

Do it long enough
And you can confuse them.
(Though even then,
Far less than us
Deranged they be.)

Not themselves for sure.
Ragged, disconnected, incomplete.

Buying into our sense of separation
Identifying with horrors they have seen
Branded and known forever
As numbing battlefields…

Like us,
These too require a gentle touch.
The kiss of remembrance
The restoration of sanity:

I am sorry, please forgive me.
May we all return
To the love and peace we be.


(Written at Koh Ker, Cambodia. If you are not familiar with Cambodia’s history, you may want to look it up. )

Footnote – An Extract From Wikipedia

“Hoʻoponopono (ho-oponopono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.”


“…includes using the mantra, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.[40] It is based on Len’s idea of 100% responsibility,[41] taking responsibility for everyone’s actions, not only for one’s own. If one would take complete responsibility for one’s life, then everything one sees, hears, tastes, touches, or in any way experiences would be one’s responsibility because it is in one’s life.[42] The problem would not be with our external reality, it would be with ourselves. Total Responsibility, according to Hew Len, advocates that everything exists as a projection from inside the human being.”


From Suffering To Lightness – An EFT Script For Pain

Suffering, says Shinzen Young(a Buddhist teacher), is our pain multiplied by our resistance to the same.  

I feel this to be true. In Facing the StormsI gave diverse examples of the benefits of stepping into uncomfortable feelings. With this post, I invite you to not only turn and meet the pain head on – but to also allow it without any resistance. The subtle difference here is to shift from a defiant, confrontational energy to a mindful, receptive one.

What we resist, persists.  The defensive energy of fighting with pain, whether it be physical or emotional in nature, creates tension, contraction and its own consequences within our mind and body. Our defensiveness reinforces our identification with the limited mind-body and the pain, creating further suffering.

Our true, expanded state needs neither protection nor repair. A gentle acceptance of things the way they are arises easily when we are rooted in our true nature.

However, the experience of pain is real. It cannot and should not be denied.  When identified with the pain, all non-duality concepts seem to be just that – concepts.  But when we are able to find the courage to allow the pain, slowly but surely, we start connecting with that part of us which is always at peace – regardless of the state of body or outer circumstances. 

This understanding is particularly helpful in long-standing situations such as chronic disease or close, difficult relationships.  Here, though This Too Shall Pass – change may be slow in coming, and the pain could be repetitive and intense.

A simple way to see if this approach works for you is this:  When another episode of emotional/physical pain turns up, sit quietly and focus on your breathing.  Imagine as though you are breathing in and out of your heart.  Next imagine the pain is represented by the image of an immense lake of liquid light.  Now visualize yourself gradually immersing deeper and deeper into this lake.  It may initially seem intimidating and overwhelming, with the surface being dark and choppy.  But know that as you go deeper, the waters begin to feel stiller, lighter and reassuring.  Right at the bottom, below all the intensity – you will reach a peaceful place.  This visualization works astonishingly well for me, but then I love water 🙂

Alternatively, the EFT(Emotional Freedom Techniques) script below should help most people. EFT is remarkably effective during acute episodes of pain.  I often used it as the first demonstration in EFT workshops, because it’s easier for people to notice the change in pain than in their emotions.  While results differ, EFT has almost always given a significant benefit.

This script goes beyond addressing the acute, obvious symptoms.  Even in the midst of pain, it assists in taking us back home.  I wrote this for a client only a few days back and subsequently shared it with a few others. The positive feedback has me posting it here, hoping that many more will benefit.  If it works for you, please do share it with others.

(You can download EFT in one page here if required.  For a more detailed understanding of EFT, you can get my book – Emotional Freedom Techniques.)

Peace Be With You!

Karate Chop     Even though I have this pain, I release all resistance to it now
Karate Chop     Even though I have this pain, I release all argument with it now
Karate Chop     Even though I have this pain, I release the need for it to go away now

Eyebrow                All the meaning I have attached to this pain
Side of the eye    All the significance I have given this pain
Under the eye     All that I fear will follow this pain
Under the nose   All the dread of what I expect next
Chin                       All the anxiety of this pain becoming worse
Collarbone           All the panic of this pain staying on forever
Under the arm    All the reasons I feel I don’t deserve this pain
Top of the Head  All the ways in which I believe and prove that pain is inevitable

Karate Chop         All the known and unknown ways in which I am inviting, creating or                                              perpetuating this pain, I release dissolve and let go now
Karate Chop         I release all fixed points of view around this pain
Karate Chop         I give myself permission to allow things to be as they are now

Eyebrow                 For just this minute, I relax.
Side of the eye     For just this minute, I breathe.
Under the eye      For just this minute, I welcome it all.
Under the nose   For just this minute, I let life lead.
Chin                        For just a little while, I rest.
Collarbone            For just a little while, let all thoughts cease.
Under the arm     For a little while, whether pain is present,
Top of the head   Or goes absent, I choose peace.

(Drink water and repeat a few rounds if required.)


Photo Credit: Tanushree Vaidya @photohappyme


Raising Your Vibe

In Colourful Tools To Uplift Your Spirits, I shared suggestions on how to design and use visual cues in a way that can quickly and easily help elevate one’s mood.  This is another offering to add to that collection.

You can use this image as a screensaver, wallpaper or poster.  You may get specific insights that you can then action.  In all likelihood, after repeating these queries a few times, you will begin to feel lighter, more enthusiastic, loving, joyous and peaceful, for no specific reason.

The questions can also be used with EFT, or the Access Consciousness Clearing statement if you so prefer.

Would be happy to hear of your experience in the comments below.  (If you enjoy the results, you are most welcome to share it with others.)

May the Force be with you 🙂

Yoda speaks



(Image made using Notegraphy)

5th Blog Anniversary – List of Select Posts

Mykonos lighthouse by Tanushree Vaidya

Today is the fifth anniversary of this blog, which I started writing on Sameer’s 6th death anniversary. In my first post, “Light House”, describing a mysterious happening after his passing, I wrote:

Death is an unarguable inevitability.  And there will  be questions and emotions when a loved one moves on.  However, those who stay behind – can celebrate the life lived.  Through greater love,  deeper understanding in their own lives.

In light of that start, today, I look back with satisfaction on the 147 posts thus far. Each one sharing a little bit of myself and what I have learned.  In the hope that it will be of some help to someone else.

And I dare say, the articles have lived up to this intent.  As a repository of resource articles, the blog has generated a great deal of soul-satisfying feedback from its small, but regular group of followers.  That makes all the hours of composition and writing worthwhile.

A heartfelt thanks to all those who read, experiment with the suggestions, like, share with friends, and write back with their feedback.  You motivate me to continue.

I shared a List of Select Posts last September, for the ease of bookmarking. Here are some additions from the current year, (based upon the response they received) in no particular order:

Looking forward to our continuing interaction!
Good wishes to all and thank you.

Photo Credit: Tanushree Vaidya Photography

A 5 Minute Exercise To Reclaim Peace

Tanushree Vaidya Photography

Healing is a return to wholeness, an experiential understanding of our expansive nature.  To become one with this present moment, without any resistance, can be a deeply restorative process.

Here is a simple, effective and powerful energy exercise that can bring you immense peace and lightness in less than a couple of minutes.  Do keep time to rest in the spaciousness that ensues.

We will be using NOW healing for this, which requires us to focus attention on the ‘centre’. To learn about NOW healing and the ‘centre’ in greater detail, click here. For the purpose of this exercise, it is sufficient to follow these instructions:
“Center“: Place your attention at the base of your spine, and then sweep your awareness quickly up the middle of your body, and out the top of your head, expanding upwards and outwards, in not more than 2 seconds.  Don’t think or concentrate too much, just do it quickly and lightly.

To “Enter the command, mentally say the command while sweeping your attention up the centre, as described above.

Return to Peace

1. Sit straight and relaxed with your eyes closed.
2. Take your attention to your ‘Centre’ and ‘enter’ the following commands (one sweep up the centre for each one):
  • Align to wholeness Now
  • Align to your own energies Now
  • Disentangle from all external noises, distractions and interference Now
  • Disentangle from all internal noises, distraction and interference Now
  • Disentangle from all trauma and drama from the past Now
  • Disentangle from all peak experiences and attachments to the past Now
  • Disentangle from all fears and anxieties related to the future Now
  • Disentangle from all the hopes and demands related to the future Now
  • Disentangle from all resistance and denial of what is here and Now
  • Align to joy, ease and peace in the presence or absence of whatever is present now
  • Repair energy field Now
  • Reintegrate now
    ( You may want to read aloud and record the above for ease of use.)

3.  Breathe in deeply and remain seated for as long as you feel the need to.

Do you feel a sparkling stillness?  Please share your experiences in comments below.

And if you found this exercise useful, please do share widely with others.  Thank you!
Update on 27/11/14
My friend, Nithya Shanti  offers many of his spiritual talks and guided meditations on Soundcloud.  He has helpfully added an audio recording of this exercise to his offerings. You can listen to this track at https://soundcloud.com/nithya-shanti/reclaiming-peace-5-mins
(I recommend exploring his other audios as well!)
Image Credit:  Tanushree Vaidya (all rights reserved)

Poems: Homecoming


Home. Such a precious word.
Describing far more than a place.
It is all the times and spaces
You are at ease, safe.

Where all blindfolds have been removed,
Protective Kevlar set aside,
Chuckles gurgle past the lips
And tears need not hide

Where fingers snap and feet tap
To the beat of silent songs
When there is nothing to prove
Or attain, but simply carry on

Carry on being alive
Vividly. Brightly. Aware.
Knowing this is but an exotic game
And you have the courage to meet the dare.

You search for counterfeit comfort
In strange, distant lands
Or breathlessly await the gift
from another’s hands

While all along it waits patiently within,
Constant. Consistent. Available on demand

Related Post: Are You Singing Your Own Song Or Dancing To Another Tune?