baking bread is a dance between recipe & intuition,
plus awareness of timing & process. the living organisms
of yeast must be encouraged to multiply in culinary
choreography with flour, warm water, salt, sugar & butter.
substances are combined together, dough is kneaded & given
time to rise into fullness, then is punched down to flatness, shaped &
blessed to rest in holy repose, rising again, ready to bake.
this dance is a tandava, energetic, demanding, until
heat transforms mere ingredients into the miracle of bread.
Shiva, i am those ingredients: You are the Baker of bread!
i have been combined, stirred, mixed, heated, punched down when i fully
expand, then set aside to rise again. finally, at last, the
oven's heat acts upon that which was inedible & it cooks,
releasing the fresh baked fragrance of bread, a scent pleasing to all.
the acts of mixing, punching & heating are necessary to
produce the correct result. it is no mistake. the highs & lows
come about to teach of the physical realm & to encourage
enquiry into the hidden essence of spirit & matter.
hence i use life's challenges as stepping stones to You who call me.
these "down-times" are an essential part of fully maturing as
a sensitive, receptive being. when thoughts are dull & sluggish
& i struggle upon a bleak inner plateau, it is because
influences beyond ego are triggering transformation.
changes that can't be hurried or stopped now come about on their own.
likewise, it's true that the "up-times" are also not engendered by
my choosing or willing. they too happen as part of a wholesome
natural purification, unfolding spontaneously.
this dance whirls me up & down, around & around, urging balance.
i seek to be cooperative, while remaining grounded too.
those times when i have risen enough & must be reduced again
seem to purify & diminish the ego without judgement,
merely as needful adjustment. nothing is wrong or bad, no more
than the tides of the seas or the winds in the sky. it is life in
physical form, moving, changing, rising & falling: evolving.
yet You are the Baker, Shiva. You are the Doer of deeds, hence
i ask You for guidance & support, training the mind to discern
Your hand in all events. seeing You as the Baker & myself
as the loaf of bread that You prepare is yet another way i
remind myself that i am a cell in God's body, yielding to
Your divine direction for the manifestation of goodness.
just as the aroma of fresh baked bread calls the hungry to eat,
so the fragrance of a devotee calls forth higher beings to
feast upon the sweet healing energies that You evoke from we
who love You, Shiva. thus we all support & bless one another
in a divine ecology that transcends time, space & species.
"there are galaxies swirling in Your eyebrows," she remarks teasingly to Shiva, Who blesses her with His acceptance. she elaborates, "we are everywhere, like space. we blend in telepathic rapport & communion, which is dimensionless & beyond measurement. we are formless pure consciousness." she continues: "eyebrows & galaxies are artifacts of the physical plane, temporary & changing with time." she glances at Shiva & is encouraged to go on when He smiles invitingly. "both eyebrows & galaxies also have pleasing curves whose beauty hints at sattvic energy," she says, drawing a deep breath. "& they both are made of many smaller parts that constitute the whole." "i'm claiming that seeing galaxies swirling in Your eyebrows is like saying, 'You Who are formless & cosmic are also approachable here on the limited level of the physical plane.'" she nods for emphasis. "seeking You & communing with You places me in that auspicious cosmic curve too—that sattvic smile—& is like being bathed in blessings." she shyly continues, "Shiva, You radiate such sweet sattvic energy that complete good will & loving responsiveness is very natural in Your presence." she winks at Him with a smile. "& You draw the playfulness out with the warm magnetism of Your acceptance." Shiva chuckles & winks back. "if eyebrows & galaxies are so closely connected," He remarks, "you can be sure, with the right effort, to reveal that all is truly one down at the deep taproot." "You mean," she says, "that i am You & You are me & we are all together?" she grins, "you got it!" Shiva laughs, "now let's go have fun in maya's marvelous mesmerizing drama of the day!" so it goes, continues & ever begins yet again. om namah Shivaya!
there flows a river, cool, deep & mysterious in many places, yet shallow, clear & inviting in other locales where it broadens to tumble over smooth water-sculpted stones. the river shelters, on her wild pebbled shores, secret sites of profound quiet communion with companionable energies. hidden realms of vague otherworldly ambiances flirt with the edge of my vision, subtly enticing. these are my favorite places. Here, i can be raptly immersed in sacred primal natural healing. the sun & sky, trees, water, stones: they speak in tactile messages to the old lizard living at the back of the animal brain. all of these peaceful blessed beings croon tuneful comforting ageless mantras to the body's very bones. trees softly murmur their undertone counterpoint, & the breath gently adds its own quiet rhythm to the chorus. the river harmonizes with her liquid burbling melody. lying on the rounded river stones by the slow-flowing water, i let go, relax & join the flow. breathing & being, i merge into the entirety of it all for an allotted eternity, until the mind comes nibbling at my fingertips, pushing me to pick up my pen & find words to share. both nature & the mind are active, prolific, wanting to reach out, wanting to exclaim, "look! see the holiness, behold the divine hand ever reaching out to us, blessing." i look, see & listen deeply, holding it all cupped fast in the depths of my innermost chamber for Your blessing, Shiva, You who are the Lord of all tender living things. i am Your innocent little child, Shiva, holding out my pretties so that You, too, can enjoy the glory of their wonder & beauty. nature does this to me: erases the thin clear veneer of subtle separation that goes with civilization, education & enculturation. nature rises up within the body, urging the crimson flower of the heart to spread its petals wide & soak up the light of cosmic love pouring down like a river of sweet healing.
i am not the body-personality nor am i the author of the actions of that physical being. i am the observing awareness, the indwelling presence ever abiding beyond thought, who calmly witnesses. that which is done through the body's agency, because of the influence of the personality, belongs to that entity alone. it is not mine. i am the pure bright awareness enlivening the body: truly, i am not of the body. i am ever free, ever stainless, like a cloud in the sky, like space itself, just present, offering no resistance & no attachment. now i am standing on the threshold between body-personality & observing awareness. in daily life both flow with the evolving events of the moment. yet the body-personality has many ups & downs, whereas the awareness remains clear & steady, unattached to the outcome. this is what i contemplate in sadhana, Shiva. i currently am a fluctuating amalgam of spirit & matter. it's like that tremulous moment when the butterfly realizes that she is in the chrysalis & can remotely sense her wings slowly developing, but she herself is yet vulnerable & powerless to act. nor is it needful, for creation is unfolding & happening naturally, by itself, for all of us. ah Shiva! this sadhana is on-going, a way of life, & i am quite fundamentally drawn to it, attracted like the moth to her fulfillment in the fire of flaming truth. i am witness to the blazing conflagration.
we are vulnerable to the human world when we identify with the body & desire specific outcomes. without the body, how can we suffer or have problems? discomfort has its roots in the body & its artifact, the mind. all memory & body-based experience belongs to the physical domain & is in fact temporary, coming & going according to circumstances. i can find only one realm in life that remains constant & steady in the midst of this churning flow of change: the knowing that i exist. for the body-personality, this "i am" is akin to the universal vibration of OM. it's like a cosmic building block, the basis of causality & creativity. "i am" is a doorway accessing the subtle realm, a way out of attachment. these deep thoughts are given to us as keys for opening alternate realms through a change of focus, which helps us look beyond the body & the outer world for stability & truth. You gave me this download, Shiva. You showed this to me & i have truly taken it to heart. i firmly commit to following the "i am" to its sacred source, journeying with You, Shiva, for which i feel blessed & deeply grateful.
whenever we love & our hearts overflow with warmly inclusive feelings of gratitude & affection, the universe pours itself into us, for love gets noticed. love attracts & unifies, blessing sincere effort to evolve, releasing the vulgar & immature for later ripening. when love becomes personified, at that point the human adventure begins: the seeking, searching & desiring, the finding, having & losing. love doesn't mind the repetition of the endless old pattern, for love is always waiting at the end of it all. we can't go wrong. we were born out of love into love & love is silently waiting for us to fall into it after all. love is only one of Shiva's numberless names. my name & your name are His names too. there is no escaping causeless transcendental love, for it is the numinous foundation, the basic building block of matter, supporting all the little protons, neutrons & electrons. we can turn away from love, but where shall we turn? where to hide ourselves? turning our backs on love does nothing to love, but it sets us apart like steel bars & stone walls! may Shiva's blessing of loving awareness purify & cleanse our hearts through His grace. in that grace, all suffering is dissolved & the shining underlying wholeness is then revealed.
that's the name that my final husband, bill, & i called our home to the various friends, family & wanderers who came our way over the years. we were the gates family, & we named our home "way station" to indicate that it was a place to rest while on a long journey. some came & left quickly, while others became a good part of our lives for ages. all were teachers of various kinds, & we also shared all that we could with them of positive world views & lessons we learned. we included the planet "saturn" in our home name, for he is the task master & way shower, the wise companion of our elderhood. thrift & discipline as a way of life were acceptable to us: we learned from everyone & everything, intending good will to all. we named our home "space refinery" because we so cherished the deep philosophical discussions & spiritual musings that we often enjoyed with other people. we felt that we contributed positively to the planetary noosphere in this small way. for more than forty years bill & i held this vision dear to our hearts, & manifested it in our lives. even here in this nursing home, we held fast to a positive vision & ideal, glad that we were able to remain at least under the same roof until death did part us physically. we are still together in the space refinery though, for it is nonphysical in its essence. the subtle inner work continues onward, only briefly interrupted after all. such has been Your influence on me, Shiva, silently guiding me through the years, refining the best in me to a realm of purity i could not imagine in my younger years of untried ignorance. saturn is another teacher in Your cosmic university. the gates' saturn way station & space refinery was just one small classroom in Your vast cosmic university, one among many. ah Shiva, so we move into the evolving energies of now, as i plunge wholly into You: the gates' saturn way station & space refinery merges fully into the infinite unknown in sacred solemn trust in You. You take this awareness far beyond the human & temporal into my true home in You, as You. just as the planet is one with the solar system, & the solar system is one with the galaxy, so am i also one with You, Shiva. i rest in You, never to be parted, for the body's death is but the opening of the door for me finally to come home to You.