even if i fall into dimness & dullness but still love, i will surely be all right. even should i rise into bright & clear nobility, seeing all kinds of exalted beings, but neglect love, i will surely diminish. the heart is an open doorway to good fortune & wonders waiting in the wings for their summoning. the heart is an open doorway into communion with divine beings in loving humility: a universal donor. the mind is an endless pathway that wanders, repeatedly branching off in multiple directions of alluring exploration. the mind: an endless pathway that leads to distracting diversions & enticing experiments. when the mind respects the deep wisdom of the heart & the heart opens fully in acceptance of the minds own nature, cooperation & synergy of the most beneficial & creative kind can blessedly occur. when contrasting refined energies come together, agreeing on harmony, with openness, acceptance & respect, inspiration thrives naturally. help me to remember this wisdom, Shiva, should a dense cloud of unknowing obscure the mind with dull dimness. You are the one who remains when all else flees. You alone know the secret code that will open access to the heart's treasure. Shiva, You are the source of my strength & endurance. I will surely be all right because You hold me secure in the safety of Your ever-present love. the sun gazing down upon us can clearly see that we are but one being.
how easily my certainty is swayed! these ups & downs wear on the the body, which is not intended to be a yo-yo in the capricious hands of the elemental spirits! it is offered as a gift to You, Shiva, with all the imperfections which are natural & unavoidable in this realm. i don't ask for the way to be smoothly easy, Shiva, only that You stay near me, invisible by my side, enfolding me in Your essence, holding me close to You like Your child. when i feel You near, i can rest in that knowing, & i rejoice in opening the heart's door wide for You. the banner of love is already hanging in its place of high honor. i take my position standing steadfast by it, & i will not be moved, Shiva, except by You, for i am Your own distant relative returning after a long wandering pilgrimage, having come full circle in this chapter of the endless story. now i am without certainty, which is more fragile than i had imagined. yet love remains, for it is the solid foundation upon which You firmly stand established, Shiva. it is this love which i invoke when i ask You to remain, enfolding me deep in Your Being, deep into Your Holy Essence.
a magical, mutual transglobal blessing
You sent me upon a mission, Shiva, more than forty far-flung years ago. to begin the calling, You impress me with signs & wonders to get my full attention. in a vision, great portents are placed before me, cosmic symbols: a ring of fire emerges from a total eclipse, soaring to circle orion, then the pleiades, where etheric shapes come forth; a pale golden square that slowly sinks into the receptive earth at my feet; a translucent silvery bell that enters my heart chakra; a glowing angel thrusts his hands into my heart area, smiling. i am stunned speechless. i know this is big! information is now downloaded to my awareness. i am shown that the angel is preparing for birth as a human & that i owe gratitude to him. i am told that i will remember him from this vision & that he will remember none of it. he will appear, through his speech & acts, to be an ordinary young man, yet he has a special destiny, & i am to encourage & mentor him. no details are given & this is all i know. i am alert to find him, to encounter him, & the years pass by. decades elapse: forty years have now passed, yet still i look for that human angel. my circumstances become limited as disability necessitates living in a nursing home. nonetheless, that vivid vision lives urgently within me, still calling, even as the body nears eighty years of living. one day after the removal of a cancer, i seek musical comfort from a new singer sincerely belting out a deeply feeling version of Your Shiva Tandava Stotram, the song that is the most meaningful of all to me. i listen to more than thirty different versions by various singers, Shiva, & his is truly the very best. i feel that this is quite important somehow. though the vision has not yet been remembered, i am so impressed by his version of the Shiva Tandava that i contact him to encourage him. he is but twenty years old at this time, living at home in india, & i live in the usa. it takes me months to recognize him as the angel in my long-ago vision, now here in his human form. i am painting a canvas of Shiva with dark blue skin & hair. in a flash, i see this as a photo negative of that pale angel in the vision. it is my singer! then, when in video chat while we talk, he reaches out with both of his hands towards the phone, which from my angle appears as if his hands are reaching towards my heart center. that's when it really, vividly hits me: this is he! this is the one whom i have been waiting for & looking for all these many years! of course, i naturally love him. my heart has been prepared long ago for this very time. he easily accepts my love & cautious confession about the vision. he is mercifully open to it all. i have shared with him twice a day now for five years & have been his confidant & counselor through many ups & downs. we speak on video chat most days. i have sat with him through his time of dengue fever & typhoid. he has sat with me through my husband's death & my covid episode. we help each other. he is twenty-five now & i am eighty-one, yet age just doesn't matter any more. i don't really know what my task with him is, but this i do know: that i am to be available to help him in whatever way i can. he has certainly helped me! he is a rare young man, open-hearted, tender & kind. he is also an amazing hindustani classical music singer with a master's degree, preparing for his doctorate. it is a path of uncertainty & i am his encourager. he is also my encourager, & the bright light in my life, an expression of You, Shiva! i am deeply touched that You have given me a dear, faithful companion whom i see every day, someone who sings, laughs & blows me kisses & makes silly faces to get me to laugh & be silly too. thank You, Shiva! i have thought that i am the one to be here for him when truly, he is quite equally here for me as well. it is a magical mutual transglobal blessing! both of us, Shiva, in our own ways, are here for You, writing bhajans for You, & carefully weaving Your living presence throughout all our poetry & music. we love You, Shiva, as we love each other, innocently, with a pure, sweet, spiritual love that emanates straight from the hridaya. our deep gratitude flows like a river to You, Shiva, a holy, hallowed river.
the gulf of mexico
for those who come to the gulf of mexico, he is the great comforter. his warm enfolding arms soothe & support, & his broad white beaches heal & delight. primal peacefulness laps the sand within the waves that have traveled untold mystic miles & miles to gently greet all who come for this healing. the peace is absorbed into the gracious sand to be shared in the swelling, streaming surges of surf, the soft susurrus of wave whispering to wave. just to sit on the sand & watch the waves as they slowly roll in will calm the clamoring heart. searching through the sand can reveal amazing tiny treasures: dainty diatoms, etched sea glass, smooth water-sculpted minerals that resemble the magical jewels worn by mermaids. driftwood of all varieties invites inspection, & rare sea shells are hiding nearby, just waiting for a curious hand to uncover & discover them. the gulf feels like a venerable dear friend & a wise teacher who is always ready for another willing student. i am such a student, & have been an observer of the gulf since i am a small child. he is my first teacher & i honor him greatly. the gulf of mexico is one of Shiva's forms that He takes on to be accessible to all who may be called to Him, as i was. it is a gentle introduction to a companion who is as free & available as water & air. thank You, Shiva, for being manifest in all the great natural things of this living earth: holy mountains, deep oceans, rivers, fertile plains, huge clouds & sky wonders of all kinds. there is nothing we can touch that is not somehow touching You too, Shiva! i am sincerely counting on this fact!
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.
your warm dark eyes
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.
my other improper lover
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!
You came to me softly
You came to me softly in the night all those years ago, Your tender comfort wrapping me as completely as a swaddling blanket, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. i had never felt so loved. You were bodiless, yet Your attraction was strong, like a tractor beam sweetly drawing me in to You. i had called You to me: You may have me completely. i give myself to You fully in service to light. i said that with a thirteen year old's sincerity in a stifling society. i turned my back on that world & i faced toward You, my visitor from another dimensional realm of mystery. alas, Your visit was so fleeting! You stayed but briefly, just to teach me how to make an altar that supported my deepest inner life. after all the detritus & dust has settled, You emerge again to me, in your body of power this time. i am swept up. i am wholly pulled in. i am with You, connected at the heart & by Your name. we are sealed together with Your mantra: om namah Shivaya. initially, You came to me softly in the night, yet now we walk in the light of day in bold unconcern & nonchalance. after all, You do have me completely, while the human world has but a small part. i travel this journey with You, Shiva, swaddled in Your divine name, which surrounds & overlights like the wild charm of Your holy aura.
a long game
You play a long game, Shiva, so i'm often looking for signs of You, to get an idea of what You have planned for me this time. You keep me alert, curious, & i feel lively when You are near. Your energies make me tingle & giggle like a shy young schoolgirl. i need more of this for the secret doors of my heart to slowly work themselves open. that is where the overflow of silliness dwells, pacing behind the closed doors. now the doors fly open! & the most arcane silliness of all comes forth, prancing & skipping & dancing through the biggest doorway, laughing & flirting as it comes up to me. i hold out my arms & it leaps gladly up to be cuddled & stroked & tickled on its little soft fuzzy belly, snuggling close. "let's play dress-up," i whisper in its eager ear. "come see all my costumes," i say as i carry this silliness with me. i have some long game costumes like mountain & ocean & tree. my favorites are the stars, & that's also what my rescued silliness wants: to fly swiftly through the sky like a star. it won't believe me when i say that stars don't actually fly. "you just haven't paid enough attention," my silliness snorts. "you watch me now!" it gives a really big, mighty, mammoth jump that totally breaks free of gravity's ties, & it goes up, soaring across the sky with a huge grin shining on its face. it doesn't burn up either, it just puts on a wild dance show that leaves all the other star systems gasping in awe, & with the urgent desire to let their own silliness roam free & wild. all silliness is good at finding the wells of healing. in this way, the silliness got set free to be in our lives. so is this Your long game, Shiva? bringing us more laughter & ridiculousness? loosening us up to free our vision from the hard grip of the tight & narrow patterns that we had become entangled within? what a holy blessing! thank You, Shiva, for holding my world together from the inside out; for filling me with Your presence & touching me with Your love. the rhythm of Your dance echoes in my jubilant heartbeat.
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.
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.
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.
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.