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why i am sharing this nontraditional spiritual journey

  • to encourage anyone, anywhere, in their exploration of the spiritual path that calls to them even if others don’t understand. you are not alone.
  • to inform other seekers that the regular writing of poetry about the relationship with your Deity of choice can enrich life tremendously. the same is true about painting and drawing images of the Deity of your choice. it can bring the relationship alive & facilitate deeper communion.
  • to demonstrate that sincerity & devotion in this approach to the spiritual is fundamental & more essential than talent or skill in writing or art.
  • to urge especially those who are in the latter years of life to deepen the focus on the nonphysical spiritual realm. poetry & art can help greatly with this.
  • to express & fulfill my dedication & devotion to Shiva, who has shown me all that i have painted & written about. He began with the nonverbal intuitive paintings, continued with the verbal expressive poetry & now moves to the global cyber realm. this is my service to Shiva, the Deity of choice who guides my life. (essentially this is my sadhana journal & all the images are from my camera unless otherwise noted. all the poetry is syllabic: same number of syllables in each line.) may you be inspired & energized in your own explorations & journey! namaste!

not every flower will be a friend

Shiva, when You include me with You to gather dhatura flowers
to consecrate a new natural Shivling by the waterfall, You
bring back rich memories of my shamanic learning time in nature.

two-thousand-seven is my year of growing the shamanic power
plants dhatura inoxia & metel, plus brugmansia. these
are especially liked for their trumpet flowers, & is why i am
interested in growing them. i am aware of the dangers of
consuming these powerful plants, which is why i hope to get to know
them through meditating on the flowers. it seems like a discreet way
to encounter & greet a masterful mind-altering holy plant.

dhatura stramonium grows wild in the fields out here so i don't
cultivate it. i do find that the south american dhatura
plants are hard for me to grow! i find that salvia divinorum,
which is known to be challenging to grow, seems to be friendly to me
for it thrives, with strong large leaves. the dhatura plants &
brugmansia, however, persist in being sickly & stunted
in spite of my best educated efforts. the plants do come from a 
trustworthy grower so their refusal to thrive is mysterious.
they basically & stubbornly just don't want to grow, seeming to sulk.

summer & fall begin to blur together, yet no flowers have bloomed
in my small dhatura garden. the ragged plants are sadly bug-chewed
& fungus ridden, obviously in terminal decline. i have
quite given up on them too. nothing that i do seems to help those plants.

it is evening now, darkness is near & i am returning home
after meditating in the woods by the field. as i saunter down
the pathway that goes through a rugged overgrown wild patch by the fence,
i smell a strong rank peculiar odor, akin to rotting leaves.
it seems to swirl around me like a noxious invisible mist.
i hurry through it, for it feels aggressive, invasive, unfriendly.
i am eagerly headed home now, right at the end of this pathway.

i enter the screened-in front deck where our two indoor cats are lounging,
enjoying the evening. it is almost dark now &, suddenly,
the rank green smell descends upon us, surrounding us on the deck, &
the cats absolutely freak out! one is climbing the screen & i pluck
him off & toss him inside. the other cat dashes quickly inside
too. it is definitely time to remain inside with the doors shut!

i have a very strong feeling that the south american plants have
now informed me of their final decision that they will not be my
allies. i quite agree with them. not every flower will be a friend.
but the dhatura stramonium, whose blooms Shiva & i gathered
lately, is friendly. that's why Shiva chose its flowers for the Shivling.

the shamanic path, in fact, brings me to the sanatana dharma,
as the unity of all existence becomes clear & life-changing
within me. Shiva, Your divine presence steadily supports, although
Your identity & name take longer to find in my heart. i had to
be available for purification first, stripped down to essence,
& bereft of all i thought i knew, before i could meet & see
You truly, & the real heartfelt dharmic journey could at last begin.

all who yearn for wholeness

"why are we here?" i ask Shiva as we stand in the long shadows of
the early evening. He has brought us to the field by the old house
in the far north carolina mountain countryside where we lived years
ago. i miss that rustic lifestyle now, living in a nursing home.


Shiva hands me a woven basket. "let's go gather some dhatura
flowers for the Shivling," He says. there's a healthy stand of dhatura
bushes growing near the end of the field where the mountain begins to
rise up to the sun. they are large sturdy plants, some about as tall as
my shoulders. the rough, jagged, dark green leaves surround the medium-sized
pale lavender trumpet-shaped flowers. there are many lush & glowing
flowers standing out palely in the dusky dim light of twilight. the
blossoms will bloom throughout the night, & then wilt by morning, repeating
the same process each night all through fall, even into the frost. they are
hardy survivors, these wild dhatura stramonium bushes. yet the
flowers delicately allure, & Shiva loves them to be nearby,
these curious ghostly wildflowers, mystical & oddly scented.

we carefully remove the trumpet blossoms from the bushes' branches.
the plant is strongly green-smelling, definitely a wild scent: nothing
is cultivated here! as darkness falls, Shiva & i carry our
dhatura flower baskets up to the woods close to the waterfall.
we each fill a flask from the waterfall to pour on the chosen stone,
which is a tall husky one, & it loves being cleansed & sanctified.
we place the dhatura flowers on Shiva's favored stone, which is thrilled,
happy indeed, for Shiva Himself is here, placing His own hands on
this new Shivling. the stone becomes so filled with healing that miracles
of everyday blessing move closer. mist from the waterfall adds a
dreamy touch to our worship. it sets a hallowed & blessed mystic mood.

we softly begin singing bhajans & mantras, & the raccoons come
now to join us because they love our singing. next, a fox & a young
bear amble over, & the flying squirrels sail overhead, soon joined
by the pair of small warbling owls who grace the cool night with their strange song.

Shiva & i sit by the sacred Shiva lingam, which is richly
decorated with many dhatura blossoms. moonlight now shines down
upon us all, highlighting the beauty of the natural Shiva
lingam & its blossoms. the animals are all gathered around us
as we sing the ancient praise songs of the holy guardian beings,
affirming their on-going magical presence, encouraging them.

Shiva gazes over at me & winks. i wink back. "I brought you here,"
says Shiva finally, "to show you that you have been following me
for your whole life without realizing it. you have cherished my things:
the wild places, the animals, the mystery of consciousness,
the open sky, the mountain you stand upon, the dhatura flowers."
Shiva regards me warmly. "you are mine, made of my own true essence.
our destinies are entwined." we fall silent & bemused, opening
to the timely new awareness now spreading its roots down deep within.

the dhatura blossoms keep on releasing their subtle consciousness
altering pheromones. Shiva & we, His charges, share communion.
the night is young & blessed by Shiva to heal all who yearn for wholeness.

my first ufo

i'm seven years old when i see my first ufo. i'm by a tree
in front of our housing unit at the air force base, looking way up
in the tree to find a hummingbird nest. i have seen the hummingbird
flying in there, so i am sure there is a nest high in the branches.

motion in the sky beyond the crown of the tree grabs my attention.
i see a small silver disc shining in the blue sky, & i forget
about the hummingbird nest in a flash. my eyes are focussed upon
the silver disc, moving in ways i have never seen before. in full
flight, it suddenly reverses direction, zooms a bit, then swiftly
changes direction again! i know that this must be a ufo!
as my mind lights up with this awareness, the ufo makes a few
more full speed direction changes & then, it fades swiftly to mist.

it disappears. i study the sky for a while longer, but can't find
the ufo anywhere. i'm excited by this small & quiet
adventure, treasuring it silently in my heart, not wanting to
disclose it to my parents. i have learned to keep the most important
realizations to myself by now. what i do not know is that my
father had been on the air force investigative team that viewed the
ufo at roswell, new mexico, in nineteen forty seven.
my mother & i were there, but we knew nothing of the ufo
incident then. it was held in top secrecy from all at that time.

in my later years, i sometimes do wonder if that first ufo
i see is checking me out because i had been there too, at roswell,
new mexico at that ripe time of top secret alien presence.
i remember the afternoon there when i noticed that the workers
building a new house have left the basement door open when they go home,
& i am quite eager to explore this new territory. as i
stand at the top of the steps & look down into the basement, i am
struck by how very dark it is. i choose to ignore the darkness, &
i step down yet another step deeper into the basement. now the
darkness is intense, most powerful, & it seems to be pushing me
away from it. i'm determined to explore, so i step another
step deeper into the cool darkness, moving resolutely onwards.

suddenly i can't take the pressure from the darkness any longer.
i am done. this is it. the body leaves the basement much faster than
it entered. in fact, as i leave, scrambling as fast as i can up the
stairs, i feel my first touch of a deep dark absolute fear. i feel that
i am being driven out of this basement. I run all the way home.

have i tuned in to the alien's terror as they deal, injured, with
aggressive official questioners? have they warned me away? i have
wondered about the compelling quality of that primal fear that
can push me from a place of such absolute darkness out into the light.

i have seen more recent ufos too, again moving in ways that
our human aircraft have not yet quite mastered. perhaps Shiva has an
elite fleet of spacecraft docked in Mount Kailash to prepare us for change
to come? He is certainly helping me to maintain alertness &
focus, especially through these poems, for which dharma i am grateful!

You walk the world invisibly

we see the outer shell of things & treat that as the truth of it.
we reach a certain conclusion about a person or event
& think this is a sufficient explanation for the actions
that have occurred. we arrive in the middle of a stage play &
we think we know the whole plot & how it will probably turn out!

we live our days swaddled in the tatters of our misconceptions,
comforted by its shreds of warmth, oblivious to its subtle
corruption. we are content with our limitations, glad for the
boundaries they provide: we have made fine art out of our careful
limitations. why seek the inconvenient truth when dogma is
handy, available, & offers abundant support freely?

Shiva, You walk the world invisibly because the truth is less
desirable than the lies that inflame & keep knowledge hidden.
Shiva, You walk the world invisibly because entertainment
gets substantially more votes in the world than the truth ever does.
Shiva, You walk the world invisibly because so few really
hunger to see You & know You. they are afraid to pay Your price.
I, who have nothing, can pay Your price because You matter the most.
i give it all to You. the world means nothing to me without You.
You are the magic that lights up the color, the sparkle, my life!
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA

dear feet: i owe you

dear feet: i owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for eight long
decades of patient service. you are the farthest distance away from
my center of attention, yet you're as faithful & true as the sun
& the moon are in their service. you bear the weight of the whole body,
so strong & resilient you are; enduring & undemanding.
thank you, dear feet for holding me to my path for all these many years.

dear hands: i love your skill at fitting objects together & making
something useful from them. i appreciate your determination
to be practical, yet somehow to create beauty out of simple
necessity. thank you for holding tight to the really important
core values & blessings. i am equally grateful that you can let
go with grace & ease when the time does come around at last for release.
thank you, dear hands, for holding on tight to love & for not letting go.

dear brain: playground, toolbox & haven of the mind, hammering out the
learned synapses of thoughts, habits & proven survival strategies.
you wear the crown of responsibility for integrating the
parts into a responsive whole. thank you for continuing with your
synthesis of varied patterns into a meaningful picture. dear
brain/mind: thank you for helping me see the divine at work in my life
as it plays happily & innocently with beauty & wonder.

dear Shiva: i am humbly grateful to You for making Your presence
in my life known. You are the living gateway & channel for deeper
awareness of the subtle forces that move in & through me. the brain,
hands & feet owe everything to You, for You are their determining
master now that i have taken refuge in You & have my home &
true identity in You. thank You, Shiva, for reaching out to me
in my need when i was sinking under the dense weight of maya. i
hold fast to You, Shiva, through the magnetism of the holy heart,
the strongest of all the subtle forces, & the most healing by far.

enjoy the laugh, Shiva!

just when i think i'm so free & detached, wham! i notice myself
clinging to definite identity preferences with fiery
passion that i thought was long-faded & finally extinguished.

a lifetime's cultivation of detachment & dispassion is
nebulous & vague in the face of a new irresistible
attraction, which i never did see coming. i learn that i am
not free at all, but am tied to ego-values with roots as deep
as crabgrass. how can i adhere to detachment alongside
the strong desire that i should be respected? they both stand nobly
in the arena of the mind, regarding each other. desire
circles around detachment, & confusion is born. clarity
crumbles into rubble at my feet. where is trust? kindness now has
suspicious squinty eyes & nothing seems dependable at all
anymore, just as i began to think that i'm free & detached!

enjoy the laugh, Shiva! i can see the irony too, but You
alone have the solution. i am patient. i will wait for You.
this is all Yours anyway, & i am Yours too, for we return
to the fact that only in You is there full resolution &
refuge for me, who comes from Your own ancient timeless origin.

patience, endurance & alert observation

the body is convinced that it is here to be served. it wants to relax &
be gently, respectfully cared for. the emotions are convinced that feeling
happy & comfortable is most highly desirable to attain &
maintain. the mind is convinced that it is here to take charge of circumstances.

the Self is learning that it is not the body, the emotions or the mind.
the Self is that which remains after all the transitory things & beings
have exhausted their stories & actions. that which yet remains steady has seen
it all come & go, for the Self is the Witness to the rising & falling.

the world no longer intones its low hypnotic & alluring call to draw
me in, or maybe i just no longer pay attention. i'm listening for
Shiva now. He must be near because i can feel the deep pull of His power.
i await the next development in my journey home to Shiva. it will
probably require yet more patience, endurance & alert observation.
i have never yet encountered anything that did not benefit from it.

your warm dark eyes

i look into your warm dark eyes, my friend & family in Shiva,
as you sing that sincere hindustani classical music. it flows
out of you like clear streams & tides of pure water & light, nourishing
the dry parched & neglected emotions. you bring new life to ancient
words & you establish a pathway to the heart, which shivers gladly
in response. i focus upon you. i gaze so deeply into your
wise knowing eyes that the Self–the atman in me–touches the atman
in you, & everything else just falls away, recedes into nothing.
i gaze in awe at you, into you, so profoundly that i softly
merge with you in a tender burst of happiness down in the heart's depth.

you seem to feel it also, for you nod & smile & the joyfulness
seems to roll off you like reflected sunlight. it rolls right into my
heart. a sweet flow of grace happens spontaneously between our hearts.
it is ageless & wordless & it underlies the smooth recurring
rhythms of your song. the sound of your singing timelessly enfolds us
both: you in india & me here in america. yet there is
no space at all between us now. you are right here with me, directly
registered in the heart, through the eyes, & through the effulgence of love.

i do not belong to myself any more. i never did. clearly,
destiny has claimed me now for its own mysterious purposes.

my other improper lover

i drift by the window in the east room on this dim early morning
& suddenly, the bright new-rising sun kisses me smack on the lips,
so quickly that i yield & open fully in delighted surprise!
the sun is just above the horizon & it holds on to me for
a solid minute: such a deep soul kiss we exchange! i am filled with
tender light & i overflow into a song of praise to the sun.

the clouds must be very jealous, because they rush right in & cover
up the sun's shiny face behind layers & fingers & fists of clenched
dark clouds. they throw loud thunder & vivid lightning across the wide sky
& lay down thick heavy sheets of hard rain & hail & wind, darkening
the sky even more as i watch the impromptu cloud tantrum play out.

perhaps it may be improper to enjoy a deep sweet soul kiss with
the sun, yet so be it. that kiss ignited my needy heart & blessed the
entire day with its majestic spontaneity & exquisite
timing! i think that the sun must be in friendly cahoots with Shiva,
my other improper lover, for they both can be so surprising!

forgiveness

when i was still a child in primary school, i thought that all one
needed to do to make someone unconscious was to tap them on 
the head with a stone. it seemed quite simple. then they would quietly
fall down to the ground, as they did in the comic books & cartoons.

one day i was with my parents when we visited a country
house with a big sprawling garden, complete with a small pond, goldfish,
frogs & lily pads. the frogs were hard to catch & i was not so
skillful. i got the idea to toss a stone at a frog, hoping
to hit it on the head so it would be quiet & i could pick
it up. but it did not go well. i was shocked at the harm i caused.

i too suffer damage: the sick secret awareness that i had
badly hurt an innocent being, perhaps fatally. i slunk
away, ashamed, bearing a hidden burden of guilt & self-blame,
& i never told anyone about this, ever, until now.

i did not intend harm, yet harm was given by my own hand. there
was no ill will or anger, just misguided curiosity,
misjudgement & ignorance. Shiva tells me that i'm innocent
of intent to harm, yet this kind of innocence carries a cost.

from such innocence i can well understand that the doctor who
performed the hysterectomy on this body meant no harm when
he mistakenly sewed my intestine to the abdominal
wall. he meant no harm when i almost died twenty-five years later
from intestinal obstructions due to adhesions from his lapse.
yet there is no blame, no call for guilt over a misaction.
equally, the frog's situation is not my karma, even
though i caused damage. thus, neither do i blame the doctor for his
mistake. life has enough room in it for this kind of forgiveness.

we human beings are like children who are seeking a way through
mystery too vast to comprehend with ease. our clumsy efforts
at braille cannot touch the heart of wind, cannot trace the aurora's
sweeping path across the sky. we are but witnesses who gasp
in amazement like the eager cosmic children we really are.
we were placed here to play innocently & to learn a new arc
of training that has only barely begun to make itself known.
this grand cosmic dance does not end; it evolves ceaselessly onward.

the dust of our ancestors

the dust that falls from the sky on a high windy day is
borne here from far unknown origins. it carries countless
particles of our ancestors, called forth by the winds of
these times. the necessary mantric chants have been performed
& the spirits have gathered around us. the old mammoths
buried beneath ancient stone & earth are sending forth their
cellular emissaries: ancestors, all of them. they're
restlessly roaming the wild wind currents of the skyways.

Shiva! our most humble helpers have now arrived with this
new wind. they are widespread, part of this vast crucible that
constitutes our planet earth. the winds of change stir with the
return of the ancestors & the old earthly dreaming.

the long scroll of maya rolls out the script that we all must
fumble our way through. it goes on & on, through ups & downs
forever. it brings new challenges, such as the winds our
primeval ancestors lash us with now. they demand our
accountability, those ancient ones. they urge us to
respond, all those ghosts & phantoms of the past, the specters
& spirits who have risen into the wind to get our
attention now in this time of planetary ripeness.

Shiva! we hear the message & we ask for Your guidance.
our hands are covered thick with the dust of the ancestors
& we know not what to do! Shiva, we implore Your grace!

cameo appearance

You have made many cameo appearances in my life, Shiva,
brief sightings to reassure my fragile human self of Your presence.
You have given wonders & miracles to wake me up somewhat.
i am grateful. i wish that i could remain awakened, but dullness
& weariness grip the body, & my initiative has slowly
congealed & become stiff, encumbering me & slowing me down more.

i am old & i am not a hero: i simply continue to
endure. sometimes i feel this must surely qualify as heroic:
just to keep on going! oh Shiva! is it time now for another
cameo appearance? or maybe even a small wonder? i will
wait here for You, alert & observant, continuing to endure,
chanting Your mantra day after day & writing these poems to You.

You came to me softly

You came to me softly in the night all those years ago, Your tender
comfort wrapping me as completely as a swaddling blanket, from the
top of my head to the soles of my feet. i had never felt so loved.

You were bodiless, yet Your attraction was strong, like a tractor beam
sweetly drawing me in to You. i had called You to me: You may have
me completely. i give myself to You fully in service to light.

i said that with a thirteen year old's sincerity in a stifling
society. i turned my back on that world & i faced toward You,
my visitor from another dimensional realm of mystery.
alas, Your visit was so fleeting! You stayed but briefly, just to teach
me how to make an altar that supported my deepest inner life.

after all the detritus & dust has settled, You emerge again
to me, in your body of power this time. i am swept up. i am
wholly pulled in. i am with You, connected at the heart & by Your
name. we are sealed together with Your mantra: om namah Shivaya.

initially, You came to me softly in the night, yet now we walk
in the light of day in bold unconcern & nonchalance. after all,
You do have me completely, while the human world has but a small part.
i travel this journey with You, Shiva, swaddled in Your divine name,
which surrounds & overlights like the wild charm of Your holy aura.