Shiva, You saved my life on that dark spring night when the huge old willow tree was blown over onto our house. it was not even a stormy night then either, just a strong gusting wind from an uncommon angle, plus moisture-laden soil from a previous prolonged heavy rainfall. three of us lived in the secluded old country house in the mountains of north carolina. we each had our own room & we each woke up when we heard the loud crack in the middle of the night. we all fell back to sleep again, thinking that it surely had been thunder. my room was at the front of the house facing the deck & the weeping willow tree, as was the living room. the other bedrooms were safely tucked in back. i didn't even know that my life had been jeopardized until i went outside in the early morning & saw how the tree had fallen. it had freely plunged down until the big main trunk rested upon the heavy roof beam of the house. that was the loud crack that we all had heard. yet the full crushing weight of the elderly willow did not rest on the beam of the roof. it had but merely touched it. What had stopped the tree from endangering me & the house under its full weight was one stout thick sturdy limb that was driven deeply into the earth to support the main massive weight of the tree trunk at a ninety degree angle. that one single auspicious limb kept me & the house safe & intact. this is but one of the many calling cards that You have left for me throughout my life. only now in this, the time of outer reckoning & inner synthesis, do i start to see the many blend into the One. i now see that Your calling cards are truly invitations to transcend limitation. they are divine love letters too & my heart knows this, & continues ardently on the path that You have set before us: the path of the heart as seen through the adoring eyes of love. we travel this journey together, Shiva, hand in hand & heart to heart. all other paths have faded away. the path to You is all that i can see before me now & i am grateful, so grateful for this!
mystery that loves us like family
i sowed flower seeds long ago in a grand design of a sacred garden. i planted bulbs, seedlings, bushes & young trees. i made durable trellises for passion-flower vines so the flowers could be presented as offerings to the presiding deity of the garden, the Sun. every year there were exotic sunflowers too, fantastic colors flirting to be noticed first. that was long ago. i have kept the Sun's beautiful garden well watered, fertilized, cultivated & trimmed. it was all a loving offering to the Sun. He liked it so much that He was moved to confide His own innermost private name of holy blessing to me: Radiant Giver. He told me that i could call Him this any time & He would clearly hear me & would respond. i told Him that i wanted to sing songs about Him & He liked that a lot. so i sang to Radiant Giver happily. songs of gratitude poured out freely, like spring rain on thirsty new flowers, like warm honey-colored sunlight on a cool early spring morning that invites the birds to sing so cheerfully. we have mingled as one event horizon: sunlight, flowers, trees, bushes, sky overhead holding us all together under our glorious Day Star who, in His purity, loves us & loves to be loved by us too. He can't resist our simple heartfelt songs in our humble untrained voices. now that we also have been given the Sun's holy blessing name, we too are wholly blessed as well. we animal-bodied beings too have long ago been carefully planted with subjective seeds of growth & blossoming into higher & yet higher octaves of functioning. we are the holy garden that our Sun, Radiant Giver, has planted & continues to cultivate & lovingly care for. it is this embodied life that i tend as an offering to Radiant Giver, that i may bless the world in a way similar to the Sun: with the warmth & vivid life-giving energy for eagerly evolving new growth. of course, all along Shiva has encouraged & supported establishing & deepening this healing connection with the Sun, Radiant Giver of the present life-wave on earth. Shiva says that we all are working on this one together to facilitate life to self-improve & thrive. there is nothing personal or separate about any of this. we are, each one of us, inextricably intertwined in mystery that loves us like family.
i will surely be all right
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.
holding me soft, like love itself
the sky is my delight & favorite mystery. the wind joins in with a sound track of primal rippling, swirling aeolian music that rushes wildly through my hair in long pale fingers of cool curved air. something deep down within feels the allure of distant space & hears the faint synchronized singing of the blazing stars. they sound like crystal chimes & tiny bells, & they tell me that they would like to roll their song through me like a soft warm translucent sphere of healing mist & sweet blessing. how can i remain separate with all life flirting outrageously with me? i am not so hard & solid any more. the sky comes all the way to the ground & wraps itself around me emphatically. i'm not wanting to get away from it: i know it for a blessing. "you can take me now, sky!" i cry. "roll your holy song through me, bright stars! i fully consent." i can't quite say what happens next, because it is all as nonverbal as it can be. i can say that i am changed now: i'm not fully of this earth any more. i have cosmic family, relatives that can claim me from before planet earth even exists. the sky has done its duty, reuniting me with far family. the sky is just another word for space after it has taken off its shiny jewelry & wrapped it in air & clouds & wind & rain. the sky is domesticated space. just as i have reached up to it & honored it, so it has been called down to me reciprocally. i know that all of this comes about because of Your presence, Shiva. Your hand has been busy in all this earthly & cosmic blending, for Your work is behind the scenes. it is only because i hold Your hand in mine that i am able to come as far as i have. You are my guide & protector, Shiva, & i am as close to You as Your own existence, actually being a part of You. i am truly, assuredly, a cell in Your Body, blue like sky curving above & wrapping around: Your holy arms holding me soft, like love itself.
this fragile flower
i will not pluck this fragile flower of the elusive moment. i will gently touch it just with fingertips alone, barely there. i will inhale its fragrance deeply (so sweet!), & i will exhale this body's own scent upon its petals & pistils in return. i blend with it, become part of it. there is no place where i end & it begins in the seamless wholeness of now. i gently touch this moment, breathe into it to release it to float away in the mingling probability streams that so freely morph & change. my edges are thinner than ever before. it must happen with age, this slow disappearing of division & separation. yes, fingertips alone can truly touch with gentle full respect, & without coercion or pulling apart. the moment goes, is now gone to Shiva, who knows well how to cherish oddities & exceptions such as we who love Him, & we who are born out of His love through all the cycles of creation & dissolution. let us adore this fragile flower of the elusive moment.
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.
with all the many hands of my heart
Shiva, i forgot that Your timely cameo appearances are often coupled with deep inner need & suffering. such profound intensity sends powerful impulses throbbing, cascading through the ethers, which serves as Your invitation. it calls You to me. thus, You explain the usefulness & value of suffering to the awakening soul seeking non-attachment. You tell me that the more powerfully impacted the ego is by things, the less able it is to maintain its iron-strong grip on its favorite worldviews. over time & repeated impacts, the ego becomes more & more unsettled, & therefore more likely to diminish. it becomes weary of hanging on, & can consider other possibilities & perspectives. what is the ego? the ego is the mind's devoted interface tool, the product of primal biological survival instincts. it is convinced of the absolute necessity that the body continue to exist. the ego is a survival strategy, determined that it must be right. when the body is worn down by sufficient suffering, especially the low-level continuing suffering, attachment to the known & certain weakens & decreases. new space opens up in the mind, & humble inner purification takes place deep within the unexplored mind & in the heart. the thoroughness of this purification is necessary to bring the hidden darkness to light & to move through it with dignity & bravery. hold me through this one, Shiva! hold me tightly! together we can comfort the bewildered personality who kneels in exhaustion upon her knees in weary & sincere prayer & mantra. this is in Your hands now, Shiva. i am as powerless here as a small child, except to cling to You with all the many hands of my heart, as what once seemed to be two is now known to be One.
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.
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.
william gates: 1931–2019
i'm glad you are free of the ailing body that held you down & the old brain that forced you into the role of prisoner, bowed & bent. biology is the prison &, when the gates are all flung open finally, that is freedom from the body's binding thrall! i have been strolling through the playground of my memories with you. we had such wholesome fun together, my dear helpmeet & playmate! i rejoice in your light & love that yet flows to me in nurture. it circulates freely: love knows where to go. nothing–neither hand nor heart–can hold it back. you poured it out as blessing when you were released from the body's burden, & now it flows like great rivers throughout all the thirsty continents of this life. it flows back to its origin in the great mystery, as you, too, have done, as you continue to do every day, as do all my thoughts of you. i rejoice that you are free of the body that held you down & the brain that finally yielded to your peaceful liberation. thank You, Shiva, for being my safety net when i was falling into singularity. You caught me. You hold me yet, for You are everywhere, of infinite arms & gentle nectarean grace. You are my refuge & partner beyond all biology.
the good, the true, the beautiful
the first thing that i understand clearly from You, Shiva–looking back over the years–is the importance of dwelling on the good, the true & the beautiful. all else is just not relevant to my purpose: aligning my energies with influences that benefit & bless. i had to want to turn away from darkness, bitterness & despair. i had to do it again & again for years, turning away from the old shadows, facing into the light. You kept urging me onward, Shiva, sometimes with gentle sweetness & sometimes with a lashing whip. thank You for being the goldsmith to my jagged lump of grimy gold, melting me down to the bare bones & building me up again, all smooth & shiny to reflect the golden light of Your divine healing love. may this mirror You have made of me dazzle the darkness with Your love. satyam, shivam, sundaram: om namah Shivaya! om haum joom sah!
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.
silence of the heart
there is holy silence in the heart when all the urgent words are said & the inner choice stands clear at last. there is nothing more to be done. silence dwells within the heart when i lay my defenses down & bow in humble gratitude to Shiva's conquest of my stubborn self-will. silence reigns within the heart when the internal struggle is over & i set to work with bandages & ointments, applying them as needed to both the innocent & damned, for compassion judges not. from the holy silence of the heart flows now the purity of love.