a bird is free to live according to its own winged nature, for all
animals are free in that way, including humans. the land animals
& sea & sky creatures are all free to live out their innate qualities
in innocent fulfillment of their own true essence, & so are humans.
we have our own unfolding destiny, an arc of training to complete.
we humans are the ladle that stirs the steaming pot of soup simmering
on the cooking fire. the Hand that holds the ladle is a Vaster Hand
than ours, preparing sacred sustenance for numinous devic beings.
as the mere ladle, we don't know the recipe or the recipients.
in fact, we believe that all this is our own triumph & accomplishment,
a conclusion that the other earthly animals are innocent of.
they rest in their own radiant pristine natures, while we humans sweat &
struggle, leaving a trail of wasteland behind us, calling it progress or
collateral damage, as we fondle & guard our medals & money.
ah, the resounding echo of the laughter of the Gods surely thunders
yet in our dreamtime! we loudly praise freedom as we stand weighed down by our
chains, for we are blind to our own bondage, & we proudly call ourselves free!
a bird is free. a fish is free. a deer, a cat, a butterfly: they are
all free within the purity of their hallowed wholeness, impeccable,
while we strategize & plan & lay claim to our own desires with gusto.
& the Holy Hand holds the ladle that stirs the pot & we look neither
upwards nor inwards, believing that we are the makers & doers. the
enjoyers of the feast smile at our ignorance as we laud our freedom.
ah Shiva! You are quite the tease, a Holy Joker & Awakener!
You prepare humanity for a grand destiny that we can't yet grasp,
so You teach us to endure & reflect upon the meaning of our lives.
thus we are here for the long journey, trekking through arcane cosmic cycles
on our way back home to You, Shiva, reaching out to touch Your Holy Hand.
i do not know how tightly i guard the borders of the body until
an attentive & curious little spider demonstrates it to me.
i am so intently aware of her that i feel like i'm vibrating.
the net of the mind is held tight over one alert spider: we study
one another for long intense intervals over the day & a half
that she is here. she takes periodic rest breaks & retires into the
dark havens of shadows & i maintain vigilance about where i place
these large human feet when i walk. i examine my whole environment
carefully so i won't inadvertently harm her. i am akin to
a guitar string pulled really tight for the span of the spider's visit.
only after she takes leave & departs do i realize how very
powerful & concentrated the energy has been during her stay.
i am not at ease with insects or spiders at all, so i had been in
emergency alert mode for the entire time my visitor is here.
as days pass by & the energies mellow, i realize at last that
the little spider who stayed & studied me had left a barren place in
my life. it is rather like the silence of an empty house after the
beloved guest has gone. i miss the presence that had brought me such focus.
she is more to me than merely a spider. she is a visitor who
has come through Shiva to teach me. my sadhana is to pay attention.
i love how miraculous life is! she had only a walk-on role, yet
she made a very deep impression on me & has left me pondering.
i know that everything is of value in the divine ecology.
Shiva, all of us serve a vital function as part of a vast wholeness.
since we all are important, i can't know if a spider is an angel,
an arachnid or an alien, so i am grateful for all beings.
beyond the surface appearance: we are holy, we are blessed, we are one.
empress creek begins as a spring beneath a boulder in the dell
above the bluff. it cascades down the worn stone face of the bluff &
becomes empress waterfall, flowing as creek down to the valley.
this is the place where i am called to honor the old earth mother.
at high-water times the waterfall roars & surges down the bluff,
overflowing the banks as the stream rushes on. in low-water
times the flow trickles down the face of the bluff with hardly a sound,
though the cool air still kisses my face & birds come to drink water.
one summer between high-water & low, i am called to the creek
to place a clear crystal the length of my hand into the water.
this crystal is being cleansed & dedicated to the mother
here at the foot of the small mossy boulder standing as a guardian.
the boulder abides as high as my chest, as broad as it is tall,
covered in emerald moss that sparks with bright diamonds of water.
i see the salamander now, small as the tip of my finger,
glowing bright ruby red, resting on the thick carpet of moss,
regarding me with gleaming eyes: here is the mother, observing!
i expand beyond the human realm, gaze as if from high above
upon this holy emissary, the fire salamander,
sharing in its alchemy. a hand divine touches me in this
intimate domain of trees & flowing water, boulders ranked like
soldiers standing tall. all of life has gathered up its potency
to send this jeweled messenger, whom i thank with humility.
empress creek holds us both in misty air beneath the canopy
of the noble watchful trees. the private holy moment, itself
a wordless prayer, holds me open & enraptured here in the warmth
of the day under the flickering leaves like fingers stroking the air.
Shiva, You gave me this, long before i knew Your name or how to
discern the sweet fragrance of Your hidden essence enfolding me.
although i served the mother then, she naturally led me to You.
You are my holy love, my mighty only love & i will sing
my songs to You, for You fill my heart so full it's overflowing.
all that once seemed so separate now reveals its true connection.
some seeds must be watered thoroughly by our tears before they can sprout: the darkness & moisture are needed before the heat of the bright day. things soften & fall away in the salty wetness of flowing tears. it's too early for the light, too early for words to begin pulling things apart or holding them together by dogged force & grim grit.
first must come the quickening tears, the basic form of the fertilizer of the soul, for growth needs abundant moisture to support suppleness. let the tears well up & flow. something inside is moving towards birth, struggling slick & wet into the soft dark blanket of the deep night.
You know about tears, Shiva. You know what a cleansing release they bring. You know that they have healing properties & a holy origin. i will rest in You, Shiva, & the tears will serve Your purpose as i do japa of Your sacred mantra on my rudraksha seed mala.
when i am meditating in my room or doing japa of Your name,
i am heartened by the subtle ways that You gently reveal Your presence.
here within these walls may drift the rich leafy-fresh scent of forest after rain.
there may be a slow warm touch upon the cheek as if You are here by me.
perhaps i suddenly feel Your heat melting the ancient chill in my heart,
or i look out the window & see the clouds spelling Your name in holy
script upon the sky. sometimes an almost-visible blessing wave may roll
through me & i open my heart as wide as i can for love to pour out.
i am nourished by You, Shiva, & i want to share Your kindness freely.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
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!
the wild god with laughing dark eyes & unruly long hair,
who charms the king of the cobras, is at my door.
whispered words of mantra resonate & penetrate
into hidden chambers deep within my waiting heart.
i quicken with an arcane awareness, open to Him.
Thus are luminous new worlds born of holy matter.