"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.
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.
if i were to immerse myself in a cyberspace virtual world, it would be akin to what i am doing here in this world of the western mindset. here i train the body to be the compassionate detached observer of life's unfolding events through the various daily dramas. i seek to navigate them consciously & kindly. this brings the exit door of maya's theater of thrills into view & more options become available, other levels of the game.
i search for the source & essence of that which captivates my desire. where does all this creation come from? how does it originate? how else to find out than to venture deeply within, beyond the realm of maya's dramas to the emanating inner point of awareness? by way of immersion into the secret chamber of the heart, i find Shiva, the lord of the animal body, who abides therein. He shepherds me through the iterations of change to the very source.
Shiva has various names & forms & they are all teachers & guides. when i turn my focus inwards, away from the changing outer world towards the realm within myself, Shiva likewise turns His face to me in the way that i can best resonate with & respond to. i have guidance & the warm sustenance of subtle divine companionship.
Shiva is the steward of virtual reality, counting this one i find myself in at the birth of this body. He is quite set upon awakening me to my full potential of awareness. i accept His offer! Let the good times roll in total immersion!
the wind is playing with the newly-leafed tresses of the nearby trees
today, tossing them about as if they were the long curls of intense
& passionate spanish dancers. i only see their shadows on my
curtains, but oh, how joyous they seem to be, flinging & swinging their
new spring leaves in dramatic sweeping curves of visual gratitude!
deep within, Shiva, there is springtime in the soul as well, reaching out
eagerly to You in Your guise as the solar winds to dance in grand
cosmic revelry. although i cannot see it directly, i do
notice the evidence of light & freely given exuberant
wonder & joyousness. i am stretching full out to catch it in the
fingers of subtle new awareness & discerning observation.
in this world, only the form is seen, & it too is beautiful in
the way that graceful moving shadows are when cast upon a curtain.
they draw us to open wide the curtain that we may see truly with
direct perception rather than partially & obliquely only.
yes, Shiva, everywhere i look i see Your messages & teachings.
the dancing shadow shapes of the leafing trees are Your fleeting greetings,
giving rise to a broad smile on my face & melting warmth in the heart.
it is as if i have been granted access to a dimension
previously unknown to me. evening enfolds, & the other
residents are in bed as the mind's silence now invites peace to
embrace. i relax in my recliner, contemplating the soft
surrounding space stretching above me & all around. my eyes lose
their concrete focus & widen into the shifting shadow &
light of the dancing air. it is as if the focus of my eyes
has adjusted to a more rarified realm. i can no longer
separate the vision of the physical eye from the mind's eye.
gradually i become aware of two vague beings on either
side of me. i slowly understand that they are benefactors,
healers, & that i am one of their charges. we communicate
wordlessly as they share their healing energy, which i accept,
leaning back in my recliner. i come to understand that this
interpenetrating higher dimension is always present,
freely offering access to uplifting energies. my own
vibratory rate has apparently quickened enough now to
allow contact. this information flows into me to comfort
with pure intent. all is warmly radiant with the light of truth
& the fragrance of cosmic love interpenetrates everything.
i relax into the healing blessing of this new frequency.
awareness has deepened & expanded to include so much more!
even after the passage of time back here in this world of flesh,
blood & bone, i can feel the benevolent subtle presence of
this more refined vibratory realm, a place of healing indeed!
thank you for the warm encouragement, Shiva! i am heartened &
energized to continue on, for i have now experienced
that which was previously known through the intellect alone. though
that is is not my goal, Shiva, it stands as a marker on the path
of return to You, who are the focus of my attention.
You alone dwell in my heart, which now sings Om Namah Shivaya!
i see that maya's way is to draw us into situations
whereby strands of our connective energy are hooked & woven
into it. many dramas will seek to involve us: family,
national, global, plus hidden inner conflicts & struggles when
all else is calm. it is unavoidable in the world of form.
i notice this strongly now, being elderly & disabled
& thus having less abundant energy. each cause that i feel
called to champion, every imbalance or injustice i seek to
ameliorate draws an energy thread to connect to it.
thus i'm woven into the sociocultural web & am
supporting its constructs with my prana & focussed intentions.
hence i become mindful indeed of where i want my energy
to flow. having less available energy, i must put it
into what i most prioritize. Shiva, what efficiency
You show to demonstrate maya & to teach me to cut the ties
to that which serves me not! all that has been generationally
established calls urgently for participation. family
values, national priorities, social-enculturation:
they all sing their majority-approved alluring siren songs.
refusal is frowned upon: there is always a price to pay for
freedom & mindfulness, yet it becomes necessary in time.
You encourage & support awareness, dispassion & kindness,
Shiva. Your voice eventually becomes more magnetic &
powerful than maya as i travel on this journey with You.
even negative events can serve a positive purpose by
training the mind to be a detached observer. such clear vision
can expand to reveal the pattern that eventually shows
itself to be serving growth. understanding this, i no longer
turn my back on Your guidance, Shiva. my heart goes out to You, blends
with You in fact. all this reduces the attraction of maya.
may we choose with care & may we be willing to pay the price of
our choice. remaining in thoughtless thrall to maya will exact its
own price, even as Shiva extracts His. i choose You, Shiva, &
i willingly pay Your price, for maya is but a dream, empty
& temporary. You, Shiva, are constant & You touch my heart
with Your pure, holy love. i turn my back on the shadow-show of
maya to embrace You, Shiva. i rest in You & take refuge.
the daily happenings around me are the distractions that delay
going deep within to commune with You, Shiva. life in this earthly
world is focussed upon outer events. You call me away from that
to journey within my inner world to the wellspring of awareness.
thus i must turn my back on the social demands of the outer world.
i must find that internal source from which awareness arises &
flows & i must remain with that, returning always to the central
knowing that "i am", even in the midst of harsh discord & downfall.
Shiva, i am asking for Your help, asking You to have no mercy
toward my dullness & density, my declining ability
& errors of thought. hold me close & repair the damage. hold me close
& bless the shy & tender, the pure & innocent deep, deep within.
hold me close to You & please help me to know that You see through these eyes;
You hear through these ears & You live in this world as You function through me.
hold me through the soul's dark night & hold me through my own & all others'
ignorant stumbling towards the promise of light. i can no longer
endure the dead weight of the darkness in this world's long struggle lightwards.
yet of course i must. the work is before me, as You have given, &
i continue on here in this eternal now. even as i rest
against You, even as You hold me & i press against You so hard
& deep that only You remain, this existence does continue on.
i live in You & You live through me, as me. I press my lips to Yours & You speak through me, carrying me forward beyond the distractions
of the world into Your body of bliss. I thank You for Your mercy.
the daily critique of people & events runs on one channel.
the witness of this drama watches it from another channel.
where do i place my voluntary attention & heartfelt choice?
at each moment there is a purposeful return to the witness.
over & over the urge manifests to see truly, clearly,
not to indulge in the ego drama of fierce feelings, needs &
iron preferences enclosing like binding chains & blinders.
if nothing more is done for sadhana than this alone, at least
this much is completed to coax & invite deeper awareness.
hence the mind's tv is tirelessly tuned to the witness channel,
forming the habit of divine detachment as a point of view.
it will eventually happen that the tv is turned off
& that there are no channels at all available any more.
now comes the singularity, the formless blending foretold
by quantum physics & the upanishads & psychedelics.
as the event horizon nears, i surrender the mind to You.
ah, it's better that my heart should thirst & pine after You, Shiva,
than to encounter the hungry ghosts of the active agile mind!