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.

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.

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.

now that i know Your name

i came to You late, Shiva, at age seventy five. although You came
early to me when i was thirteen, i didn't know who You were, & i
drifted elsewhere. i didn't know how to cultivate the connection, &
maya simply blew me away. You came again when i was fourteen.

the out of body journey that You took me on became a living
seed planted deep within my memory to continue informing
me as an adult. You showed me the holiness of this existence.
You encouraged me with the vision of my true divine potential.
You wrapped me in love. but for years i was like a blind person in a
strange new room, feeling my way through unknown mysterious obstacles
on my way to an equally cryptic & obscure destination.

finally, when my old life is dead & gone & i huddle amidst
the wreckage & the shards of the remaining scraps, finally, You come.
You come in response to the collapse of my beleaguered walls, roof &
foundation. You come because at last i am wide open & asking
for You, calling out, even though i don't yet know Your name. my heart calls
out the loudest of all, for the heart knows far more than the head alone.

& behold! events transpire that bring me to You at last, & You send
a helper with Your everlasting mantra: Om Namah Shivaya.
gradually the blinders fall away as my sadhana deepens,
& i take refuge in You via Your mantra: in You, my chosen
Deity who also chose me, & did so before i knew Your name.
i immerse myself in You, I throw myself off the cliff of the world
into the limitless ocean of You. i paint pictures of You, write
heartfelt poems to You, sing freely to You & i chant Your mantras.

my room looks like a museum honoring You, & even more like
a temple in full swing of celebrating Your sweet sacred presence.
in fact, Shiva, You genuinely do reside here now with me &
in me. You are living through me & i am drawn by You to all that
can assist me to come even closer to You. actually, You
take me to the consummation of my long journey to You, Shiva.

now that i know Your name, we cannot be separated. we are one
life & i am Your expression in the human world, as are others.
it's a mystery & i only have training wheels for exploring
such arcane wonders. it's all Your body anyway, just as i too
am Your body. because i don't know what else to do, i throw myself
upon You to know myself as one with You, vividly & purely.
i won't let go. i won't stop & i won't be sidetracked. You, Shiva, are
my swadharma, my destiny & fulfillment. blessed is Your name,
given as medicine for all. blessed is Om Namah Shivaya.

this fleeting human form

Shiva, You reach out to me through everything: through the high blue sky &
through a sudden breath of ambient air, warmer than the surroundings.
You stroke my cheek & my brow with gentle caressing intimacy &
thus i know--oh, i do know!--that You are here with me now, tenderly
murmuring "I love you" in the sweet subtle language You have taught me.

You are the sky pressing softly against me & the wind is Your breath.
You whisper to me that the body is a sacred vessel & that
the personality is loved just as much as a tiny kitten
is loved by mother in spite of its silly antics & accidents.
You lift me up in ways i can't describe & You wrap me safe within
the sky of You as if i am a gift offered to the storied world.

i am a gift: a virgin, holy mother & visionary crone.
i am Yours. All the roles & parts we humans play, we ultimately
give to You, for the gift & the giver are actually one in fact,
just as the deep blue sky is both space & atmosphere. Thank You, Shiva,
for respecting who i am inclusive of this fleeting human form.

the river

it happens once that a river bids me to come & lie on its 
long water-smoothed swathes of stone beach & touch its fossil runes &
time-sculpted stone poetry. the wisdom of the heart informs my
fingertips & i am enraptured by the river: its limestone
bluffs, meandering expanses of tactile river-refined stones.

they tell aeonic-long tales of the survival & ascension
of creatures from another geological age than this one.
they move me to my deepest heart & core. here at the core i find
my sincere root connection to this life, this realm wherein i now
find this body. it is embedded in the moment just as the
fossil beings are embedded in stone. i am not separate
from all that surrounds & supports me. i too am an expression
of Shiva here. what a grand dance this truly is: the minerals
in these bones & the dust on the moon, all one big cosmic event!

i tell this to the river as we lie on the stones in the sun,
blessed by the touch of warmth right down to our boulders, pebbles & bones.
i share my last dream, in which the river blesses me with a stone
imprinted with the stylized shape of an eye. this is the potent
dream--my invitation--that brings me here today, down the long rough
country road to the hidden winding path toward the swift river.
this Shiva-blessed river is kin to the great Ganges springing
from snow-melt in the far Himalayan heights half a world away.
i tell this to the river as we lie side by side in the sun.

once again i feel time & space shift & blend inexplicably,
a fresh fossil moment showing its story to be seen & known,
not hidden any more. we have no secrets, stripped down to essence,
to the wholeness of all existence. the river & i, under
the sun & sky: we lie together on the bedrock of it all
& Shiva holds us in the fullness of His pure eternal love.
He is another sun, hidden behind the one we see, concealed
within the mystery of the secret chamber within the heart.

the river knows this mystery too & is smiling in the way
that rivers can: with a thousand thousand bright shining glints of light.
now at my feet i see revealed the sacred stone of my deep dream,
emerging to be my talisman & companion wherever
Shiva sends us, graced with helpful dreams & miracles as we go.
this stone is known as "Shiva's eye," a guardian on my altar.
the river is the buffalo, the first national river park,
protected from development for all its wooded winding length.

Shiva holds us close to Him, me & the buffalo river stone.
we dream together of lessons learned & goodness to be revealed,
& the river flows clear & i rejoice: OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!

one more time

need is honed by the whetted knives of appetite & truly, Shiva,
i hunger for You. gone are home & husband: only You remain to
feel my need & only You, my panacea, can satisfy it.

after the hard fall from grace comes humility. after the blessing
of divine presence comes also humility, for what on earth can
long endure? i am like an autumn butterfly floating in the wind
as if a bright & tattered fallen leaf spiraling in circles not
of my own choosing. i am being carried home, Shiva, on this long
journey of return to You, yet another weary old butterfly
coasting on worn ragged wings & deeply rooted instinct
as the days grow shorter & cooler & the nights fall even colder.

the crisp clear nights are overseen by orion & the pleiades,
who make their promises & work their spell upon my stuttering heart.
i am promised to You, Shiva, carried & cloistered by messengers
who are following Your firm command. my life is not my own. even
my need & appetite do not originate with me but come as
endowments, strange puzzles concealing Your calling card & messages
written in subtle sensory glyphs which You have taught me how to read.
they say, "wear it out, burn it up, let it go & seek Me everywhere
as we play hide & seek in this burning ground of purification
called daily life on planet earth. I will carry you home at the end."

"are we home yet, Shiva?" i ask Him like a child, again & again,
& we giggle & play tag in body after body one more time.

mind & body dance in partnership

the body is temporary. that which enlivens it is eternal.
i am that enlivening spark, knowing the body as a beloved
companion animal, responsibly attending to its basic needs.

here's the challenge: the mind interprets the body's needs very broadly, hence
alertness is called for. the body's genuine needs are not so pressing
as the mind's elaborations. discrimination is needed. mind
& body dance in partnership &, as the detached observer of them both,
a balance of discipline & care evolves. sometimes the body simply
cannot have what it wants. the mind defends the body's desires,
hence alert observation, detachment & firmness is necessary.

just as mind & body dance in partnership, Shiva, so You dance with me
in this continuing sadhana, this fierce unfolding blessing from You.

pieces & parts

i am not meant to fit in or conform. i am made for the part of
independent observer & outsider, watcher & listener.
the body can no longer assert ties to my guardianship, for
Shiva invites me to withdraw my vigilance over the body's
condition & to release it to its natural process. i do.

i release the body to its fate. i focus instead on Shiva:
knowing Shiva, breathing Shiva, seeing, tasting, smelling & touching
Shiva. i plunge deep into Shiva & take full refuge in Shiva,
that i may live truly in Him, for i know that my home is not here.

Shiva, hear my lament! or maybe it's a rallying cry for the
forces of light to shine out ever more brightly & vividly.
Shiva, hear my lament! or perhaps it's the dying cry of the
ego as it exhausts the vasanas of the mind in weariness.

Shiva, hear me in my loss & confusion & have compassion for
this slowness & ignorance. hold me tightly as the ties to the world
dissolve in the natural process of this transformation & flux.
life is eternal; awareness is cosmic; words rest in the light of
sudden pure direct knowing, & pieces & parts are one with the whole.

the openness of disclosure


Shiva, when You gave me this sadhana of sharing my journey
with You by way of poetry in a blog, it deepened my life.
i thought of wordpress as a platform for creating a webpage.
i did not realize that it is also a community
of people sharing their insights & life events from various
perspectives & interests, yet all with respectful courtesy.

poetry especially fosters this acceptance, for it is
like a finger pointing to something vital & heartfelt, as there
is the openness of disclosure & the freedom to share.

along with this, our culture & society tend to promote
focus on the gender differences between men & women.
in my sadhana on this path of Sanatana Dharma, i'm
detaching from the body-mind identity & sharing as
the observer & witness to the daily drama of this life.

because of this, i did not choose to reveal the body gender.
there have been times when gender has been assumed & i am addressed
as "sir". since i greatly value truth, i did add "wife & mother"
to my bio under the menu choice "this happened: the story".
this is where i look when i read a blog, so this seemed a good place.

Shiva, i find that each level of growth & evolution brings
the deep work of intensifying clarity & compassion.
it's like climbing a mountain, to discover a vast expanse of
mountains & plateaux going on & on into the far distance.

yet it's only the next step that i need to concern myself with.
so i focus on Your companionship, Shiva, holding Your hand,
walking on this path of inner unfoldment, always attending
to the very next step, seeking harmony & rapport with You.

Shiva, You know me by my energy-signature & essence.
i am grateful. the form is not important but the purity
of intention does matter. thank You for this opportunity
to be forthcoming & visible to others in service & gratitude to You.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA

there is a forest

there is a forest where each tree will greet us like a dear old friend
who delights in seeing us again. we know we are home here.
we know that the body has come from this moist, rich soil & has brought
hidden greetings from ancient veiled beings. we know that home is here.

there is a forest where the boulders speak of the time when they were
temples. they now innocently confess that they are still temples,
sheltered by the forest for the sincere seeker of the sacred.
we will feel peace here, wholeness & the tingle of awakening
deep inside, invisible to the loud crowd of pressing people
pacing to the measured steps of the socially required motions.

there is a forest that bathes us in cool deep green serenity.
when we touch the tender new ferns & vines with our bare fingertips
they tell us that we are welcome here, now & forever at home
in this quietly breathing forest graced by slow shifting sunbeams.
"you were born here before," the trees tell us, "& we remember you."
we know this is true because the body responds eagerly to
the dim cellular memory. we have never felt more at home
than when we are communing with trees, stones & plants in the depths of the
leafy living forest where the birds can be heard rejoicing in
their wings & songs. "sing freely," cry the birds, "that's what voices are for!"

so we dare to sing & we know that goodness is at the root of
everything & that the forest is made of the same stuff as the
human body & we are close kin, sharing genes & molecules,
breathing together to sustain life. "we are holy through & through,
every atom holy & blessed," say the trees, "nothing is left out."

Shiva, You made them thus to be our teachers. we are all blessed from
the very beginning, for every atom is made of blessings.
the trees know this & they have been teaching us for millennia.
when we go into the forest we can hear them murmuring truth
into the wind. Shiva, You urge us to listen, for You are their
Lord & Protector. they tell us to live in deeply respectful
harmony & devotion: Shiva, help us to be more like trees!

soft & new as a baby

the emptiness of inner space enfolds in peaceful calm quiet.
it sublimes everything into a warm embrace, a touch that feels
as though the sharp edges that had kept the heart enclosed have now been
softened into passing scenery--going, gone, no longer there.
the past is a blur of green, blue, gold, dissolving into nothing
that can be named, including myself. all the names now fall away.

yet an urge remains, a calling, a gentle magnetic pulling that
has me held fast in its grasp & takes me to the still-point of all
that i have ever yearned for in my deepest most hidden heart shrine.
it's You, Shiva. i am calling You--or is it You who call me?
this emptiness of inner space is really filled by You, Shiva:
Your fragrance of jasmine & datura, Your holy siren song
that triggers all the best in me & affects me like ambrosia.

the body wants the known & familiar in a pleasant pattern
formed to cushion & protect the sociocultural program.
that is not possible for me since i overflow its edges
in the way that irrepressible exuberant life will do.
no boundary can contain or limit me, Shiva, for You have
fashioned me thus: for the liminal places & the far edges
where reality melts into color & tone & songs are born.
stories leak out sentence by sentence & numinous myths dwell there.

cradle me close, Shiva, for i am soft & new as a baby
in the absence of enculturation & social compulsion.
only You are vast enough to hold me now that i have cast off
the lines that bound me to the body & its documented past.
all that remains now is the tender intimate vastness of You.
cradle me close, Shiva, for i am soft & new as a baby.

this knowing that “i am”

Shiva, i am learning to know all substance as Your body &
all beings with varying forms & functions as Your expressions.
the density of matter cloaks complete knowledge of You, although
You truly are the all-pervading essence of that which remains
to awareness after the transitory departs yet again.

this grand drama of life gives birth to the earthly realm, with humans
& many other beings populating it in a dance of
flowing creativity in a subtle evolving pattern.

Shiva, i know that this body, the source of personality,
is shaped by genes, conditioning & impacting outer events.
therefore it is not who i really am, as You often point out.
i learn slowly, glad that You patiently persist in Your teaching
that who i really am is the one constant steady awareness
that remains vivid when all else is gone: this knowing that "i am",
the same indwelling wisdom common to all created beings.

Shiva, You are above, below, surrounding & within: source,
quest & destination. You are the universal medicine.
like a great tide You are upon me, sweeping me up in the flood
of Your expression, calling me to the heart, core & center of
all the various comings & goings of daily human life.
wherever i focus i see You at the living heart of it.

i know how it finally ends. i know that the light of kindness
will once more prevail & that darkness will again lessen & that
this dance will continue as it always does. this endless cosmic
glory is like a flower opening from bud, blooming, wilting,
fading, falling, releasing the seeds of new flowers to repeat
another sacramental cycle of Your rhythmic dance, Shiva.
i am looking within to the heart's chamber where You dwell & i
simply want to be with You in the refuge of Your calm presence.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA