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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.