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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!

capable of melting

when i was a small sparrow & i ate seeds where i could find them,
i said "thank You" to Shiva for giving them to me. when i was
a hawk & i could catch a sparrow on the wing for my supper,
i said "thank You" to Shiva for providing my next meal for me.

when i was a deer & i munched on tender grass & leaves to feed
my hunger, i said "thank You" to Shiva for offering Himself
to me in this form. when i was a wolf & i ate deer to stay
alive, i said "thank You" to Shiva for this welcome gift You bring:
& i laid myself down flat upon the ground, prostrating to Him.

now i am human. i ask Shiva what He suggests I should eat.
He tells me that i, myself, am both the eater & the eaten.
Shiva confides that everything is made from His own body, that
all things nurture in their own way: & that once i eat i also
am confirmed within the realm of the eatible. all matter is
circulated & transformed in the process; as caterpillar
becomes chrysalis; as water evaporates from the ocean
to become rain. all matter is subject to transformation, &
the master-transformer is Shiva, who provides everything that
we eat from His own primal substance, His body of expression.

all is given by divine provision, for it is one & it is
holy. i call this Shiva; others may say God or Jehovah,
Allah, Buddha, Krishna or the Tao. Although appearing as quite
diverse, all is seen essentially as one, when examined with
holistic sight & a receptive heart capable of melting.

though all is made from the substance of that one vast holy being,
what i eat does become part of this body, thus i'm selective.
i don't eat anything that has a face, so i eat vegetables,
grains & milk products, giving some degree of purity for You
Who finally partake of me in the higher realm that i am
headed for. i say "thank You," Shiva, as i offer myself like
a sweet, juicy purple plum, ripe on the branch in morning sunshine,
ready for a transformative journey to Whom all things return.

anotherWhere

the things that we see & touch in this world are the shiny mirror-blurry
reflections of beauty from anotherWhere, so familiar! we know that
dear realm from the hot sweet-swift throb of recognition deep within the heart.
we yearn for that original purity, & we chase after the things
of this world hoping to reclaim it, yet it disappears in the grasping.

the music we hear that moves us to the core is a faint intimation
of that glorious music of anotherWhere. we hope to follow it
back home to our place of original purity, yet we have become
heavy, dense & cumbersome in bodies of warm meat & blood. we know
somehow that we are so much more than this, & we quest after that which is
still beyond our ability to register. yet this journey comes to
us all eventually. it is what happens when we can finally
struggle & shrug our way out of our protective yet restraining cocoon
or chrysalis. Shiva silently oversees this inevitable
timely transformation. He gives us the push & the lift to open our
wings & soar finally into the purity of that embracing space
of endless enfolding love that we can never quite forget. even our
new wings are made of shimmering light & music now that we return to
our root origin. it is our home, & we are here bearing the gifts of
our various wanderings, ending our exile in moist meat & dense bone,
as we return again to the living light of the soul's divine abode.

in the end

i watch the exodus of the fall leaves from the trees; crispy red, yellow,
orange & brown against the cerulean sky. some leaves simply let go
& drift slowly to the ground among the other fallen leaves. ah, but some
leaves are teased from the silent trees by the busy hands of the wind & whirled
on a great journey, as if on a pilgrimage to holy Mount Kailash.
they spin in spirals, almost describing arcane esoteric glyphs of
power & vision; up, up into the sky & onward beyond my ken.

i ponder on those soaring leaves, taken up through no intention of their
own to sail through the deep mystery into the light. they appear to be
no different from the other leaves that simply fall softly to the earth
& lie there unnoticed. who can say that wind-surfing half the world away
to Kailash is any more auspicious than quietly yielding to ones
destiny without fanfare, & nobly enduring? in the end, Shiva
holds us all to his breast like lost children come home to be cherished at last.
in the end, when it all folds up again, we return to our innocence.

butterflies from a cage

time is not a commodity that we can cook & store in jars
for later use. we cannot condense space into a small cube for
eventual expansion, neither can we press smiles between the
pages of a book to set free at our whim, like butterflies from
a cage. we are essentially helpless, yet with sincere intent
to live kindly in this peopled world. we feed & cuddle our high
aspirations every day, & they snuggle up to us at night.

i am awaiting Your instructions, Shiva, holding out my hand
to You to guide me inward to the heart & onward to beyond.

my beloved in Shiva

i can't save you, for that is yours alone to do. i merely
stand by the sign warning you of danger & firmly attempt
to get your attention, pointing urgently to the sign. you
smile vaguely as you blindly amble onward, provoking the
hidden guardians just ahead, a surprised look on your face
when you plunge to the ground as the guardians fall upon you.

the remainder of the story is yet to be played out: the
wounds, the regret, the empty resolve to continue onward
into the building storm on the horizon. the wind blows hard.

many warning signs are posted all alone the way, which you
persist in ignoring in your heedless push forward. all my
cautioning words fall on dry ground & become sharp stones that you
carefully circumvent. you follow your own agenda, that
much is clear, & i too take my place among the ignored signs,
while you stumble toward your destiny as if you chose it.

i can't delay what you have to learn. i can only watch from
the far side of the path as you push headstrong into the trap
awaiting you, concealed within your very own reckless mind.
i can't save you from yourself, for that is yours alone to do.

my beloved in Shiva, your path is to be walked by you.
i stand here as your witness & as one who loves you in spite
of your folly as you face into the challenge of your life.

a murmuration of starlings

internet image
the universe is music. everything sings its song, shaped from primal
essence & counterpointed by a sweetly unique sound signature,
unlike any other. we meet & combine our melodies into
vast dances & soaring flights of glad praise. each & every galaxy
is a grand ongoing concert of expressive communion. solar
systems join in with their own complimentary contributions, as
each planet adds its favorite riff to the cooperative mix.

with subtle inner focus, one can hear the combined glissandos of
multiple galactic groups. it's enough to strip the body away
& release the cramped spirit to rise in ecstatic jubilation
of woven sound! we phase in & out of quantum fluctuations like
drumbeats of emphasis nearing crescendo. we dissolve formlessly
in the whirling, stirring intergalactic sea of sound vibration.

let me put it this way. when i look out my window at the rising
golden sun this morning, i am pierced by the yearning of the sweetest
sound i have ever heard. it massages me inside & out, & leaves
me gasping with the fading glory of its echo. it is the song
of the Self of the sun, praising Shiva for its life & song, much as
i also do. i, too, find that i'm essentially music reaching
for a harmonic partner: for a grand interwoven chorus of
soaring harmony, sounding like a murmuration of starlings looks.

i dissolve into that wholeness & slowly, atom by atom, i
find my home at long last as the silence between sounds smooths & soothes.
this silence holds all sound in potential. everything, from galaxy
to human, eventually returns to this deep silence & leaves
the gift of its song as a testament to a shining life. Shiva
gathers up all our songs, cherishing them in perpetuity, &
He honors them for their holy origin & for our sacrifice
in the name of goodness, beauty & the fulfillment of our dharma.

william gates: 1931–2019

i'm glad you are free of the ailing body that held you down &
the old brain that forced you into the role of prisoner, bowed & 
bent. biology is the prison &, when the gates are all flung
open finally, that is freedom from the body's binding thrall!

i have been strolling through the playground of my memories with you.
we had such wholesome fun together, my dear helpmeet & playmate!
i rejoice in your light & love that yet flows to me in nurture.
it circulates freely: love knows where to go. nothing–neither hand
nor heart–can hold it back. you poured it out as blessing when you were
released from the body's burden, & now it flows like great rivers
throughout all the thirsty continents of this life. it flows back to
its origin in the great mystery, as you, too, have done, as
you continue to do every day, as do all my thoughts of you.
i rejoice that you are free of the body that held you down &
the brain that finally yielded to your peaceful liberation.

thank You, Shiva, for being my safety net when i was falling
into singularity. You caught me. You hold me yet, for You
 are everywhere, of infinite arms & gentle nectarean
grace. You are my refuge & partner beyond all biology.

the good, the true, the beautiful

the first thing that i understand clearly from You, Shiva–looking back
over the years–is the importance of dwelling on the good, the true
& the beautiful. all else is just not relevant to my purpose:
aligning my energies with influences that benefit & bless.

i had to want to turn away from darkness, bitterness & despair.
i had to do it again & again for years, turning away from
the old shadows, facing into the light. You kept urging me onward,
Shiva, sometimes with gentle sweetness & sometimes with a lashing whip.

thank You for being the goldsmith to my jagged lump of grimy gold, melting me down to the bare bones & building me up again, all smooth
& shiny to reflect the golden light of Your divine healing love.
may this mirror You have made of me dazzle the darkness with Your love.

satyam, shivam, sundaram: om namah Shivaya! om haum joom sah!

the ancient stepwell

internet image
it is bright noon in a mystic hot fertile land. i descend the smooth worn
stone steps of the deep ancient stepwell, placing my feet carefully, treading
down & down. the burning sky above is shining in the well, reflecting,
blurring my orientation. i feel like i'm gliding through space into
a liminal realm where all possibilities exist in unison.

hidden portals open, & i find myself plunging fast down, down into
the well, down, down far beyond into a world of light, subtle & almost
invisible due to its ephemeral quality. it glows softly,
surging, as alive & responsive as an attentive mother cat at
nursing time. i curl up in this warm light, feeling like i am a tiny
kitten longing for my mother & all my kitten kin. the living light
lifts me up in one slow rolling movement, holding me close, snugly cuddled,
enfolded in holy love that nourishes me sweetly & completely.

now form melts away like wisps of morning mist in the warm sunshine. all that
remains is intelligent life, endless & immeasurable. without
the form, there is no separation, no discrimination, no struggle
towards a worthy goal, no hard-won conquest, no failure, no need at all.

the shining eye of the sky in the stepwell serves as a sacred lens to
magnify who i really am beyond the clamoring body/mind &
the scaffolding of its urgent needs. it has cleansed awareness & refreshed
the weary heart, as i slowly return to the form that houses me now.

filled with glad wonder, i ascend the time-worn stone steps up from the ancient
ancestral stepwell. i salute the fullness of the sun-drenched day, grateful
to You, Shiva, for Your ever-present teaching: my refuge & my strength.
You are closer to me than the body, which is on loan but for a while.
You, Shiva, remain forever & always with me, essence-deep inside.

thread by thread

as i age i become more fully aware of the softly binding skein
of attachments that surrounds the body-personality & weaves it
into the world of having & doing. the requirements, activities,
appointments! the expectations, desires, hopes, education & training!

lifelong this weaving persists, layer upon layer of entanglements,
of outer achievements & awards. i am held & cocooned within the
complex itineraries of others, drawing me further & deeper
into the world, securing me into the expanding global order.

thread by thread & stitch by stitch, i am now cutting through & pulling apart
the widespread web of hypnotic ties that urgently seeks to reattach.
the sociocultural necessities snort & snuffle restlessly,
while i steadfastly turn my back & struggle free; turn my back on them all.

ah, but love has caught me up, has charmed & secured me with a holy hand
that i cannot deny or flee! love has fixed me in place here & will not
let me go. it is more than i am: it is vast, & it is replacing
all other attachments with itself. Your universal medicine has
found me, Shiva, as i now merge with the many into the sacred One.

Your divine love dissolves the ties of the world & it dissolves me also,
Shiva, into the great spiritual heart where life always throbs as One,
knowing no other, & all pending accounts are paid in full forever.

the House of Detachment

internet image: lingam
the stones by the Dead Sea are rich with fossils & color. everything here
is brilliant & intense with power: the clear blue sky overarches the
bright blue-green of the Dead Sea. huge flat boulders rest in wadis & on slopes
near the rising tawny cliffs of Mount Yishai. they are dense with fossil shapes:
ammonites, trilobites & other nameless ancient creatures set in stone.

one can walk upon them, those primordial beings who were alive just
as we are now. presently they are wedded to stone, partnered close in a
fixed slice of time, paving the great pavilion of the House of Detachment.
being a friend of stones, i am at peace in the House of Detachment, as
i sit musing long hours with the fossil beings, dreaming with them as they
dream with me. they tell me "dark" & "cold," "bright" & "warm": their sharing is pure &
simple, innocent & primal. it feels like cool air wafting from a well.

our genes blend subtly. we dream together & i tell them about Shiva,
earth's holy caretaker who is known by His shape in stone. Shiva is the
earth reaching up to the sacred sky, sun & stars. He is like a finger
pointing toward the mystery, i tell them. He is a great stone column,
a divine lingam. Shiva is mountains, obelisks, towers, standing stones,
& cairns worldwide. they all announce & reflect Shiva's signature presence.

we who love Shiva see Him everywhere. He is generativity
& new life. He is rest & formlessness, decay of the old & outworn.
the fossil beings dreaming with me understand Shiva. they recognize
what it is to be of-the-earth. they span millennia of risings &
fallings, of villages & kingdoms. we are all cousins, here for a while
peering into the mystery, wondering & pondering together
in the House of Detachment, abiding in Shiva's enduring presence.

Shiva

i come to You as a beggar when i ask You to grant me Your grace.
i come to You as a seeker when i chant Your mantra every day.
i come to You as a lover when i sing praises of Your glory.
i come to You as a servant when i find You living in my heart.
i come to You as a devotee, humble, having no words at all.
i come to You as iron comes to the irresistible magnet.
i come to You in gratitude that You saved me from my lonely hell.

in these harsh times

dear Shiva, please bless me in these harsh times with the endurance & patience of earth;
the relentless persistence & generosity of water; the purity
& high energy of fire; the clarity & transparency of air; & the
acceptance & inclusiveness of space. i serve You through these living elements.

may i give of my intelligent light freely to all, as the sun teaches. may
i illuminate the mystery & wonder of darkness, as the moon teaches.
may i be a spark of encouragement & upliftment, as the blazing stars teach.
the sun, moon & stars call us to lift our eyes to the sky to be touched by guidance
& instruction from divine powers vaster than our human capabilities.

may i be a source of ever-renewing nurture & stability, as earth
teaches. may i be a source of circulating motion, ever including both
the lowest & the highest realms, as water teaches. may i be a source of pure
dynamic energy & enthusiasm, as fire teaches. may i be a
source of inspiration, movement, change, inquiry & detachment, as air teaches.
may i be a source of healing through the sacred power of OM, as space teaches.

dear Shiva, i am grateful that everything has the capacity to instruct,
as You have ordained for our continuing healing, evolution & wisdom.