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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
what do i seek out, time & again? what does my heart compel me
to search for? not money, fame or possessions. not status, land or
followers: i turn my back on those. what calls me? i face into
the rising sun, a fragrant red rosebush at my side, the sweet song
of a wood thrush soaring up from the nearby grove of tall oak trees.
nature comes closest to what i seek, & has helped to pass the time.
once i thought it was companionship with accepting people, but
that human realm is replete with shifting alliances, & it
ultimately offers no lasting truth. we seem to repeat the
old ingrained patterns of the dusty past while striving to break free.
i look for the absence of attachment, for freedom from the leash
that restrains my hands from removing the tightly knotted blindfold.
why do i look outside anyway? i only want You, Shiva.
although other things are attractive, my heart opens only to
You, my love: for You alone does the heart become warm & melt into
complete acquiescence. only for You does the body relax
its grasp upon the allure of the world. only for You, Shiva,
do i release all that i thought was true so that You can fill me
with the truth that brings me refuge forever within Your domain.
it is my true home. the heart knows this & has never forgotten.
i am sitting on the toilet when i see the spider watching me
from the corner of the room. she is not large, yet has my attention.
i am carefully tracking her since i can't go to her at this time.
she moves to sit in front of the door & now my attention wanders.
when next i look, she is gone. when i rise from the toilet, i check out
the corners & crannies of the room: i don't see her. i carefully,
slowly, alertly return to my room, searching for her. here she is!
sitting in front of my recliner! we examine each other from
across the room. i talk to her, explaining that i would like to take
her carefully outside where i am fully convinced that she would be
happier. i speak in a sweetly soothing voice & go to get my
spider-catcher, a clear plastic drinking glass with poster-board lid to
slide over the opening. i return to see her yet sitting by
my recliner. i move slowly toward her, still speaking soothingly.
when she sees the glass in my nearing hand, she quickly scurries away,
out of sight. i sit in my chair, transferring the glass to the little
table in front, still talking to the spider. she slowly emerges
from hiding & returns to sit in front of my chair. i simply talk
companionably to her & slowly reach for the spider-catcher,
calmly rising with it in my hand. again, upon seeing the glass,
she scuttles rapidly away, disappearing from my sight once more.
i apologize to her for causing fear & explain that outside
truly is better than in here, but she does not show herself again to me.
hours later she returns to sit by me, seemingly still curious.
i am determined to safely remove her, but she won't permit it:
whenever she sees me with the glass in hand, she speedily departs.
the next day i ponder this wonder-filled visiting spider event.
she seems as intent on watching me as i am on watching her. she
does seem to make certain that i see her, so it seems that perhaps she
is giving me a message. an exchange of energy does take place:
i can feel the connective charge between us, the mutual regard.
slowly, like the sun rising over the far horizon, i begin
to understand more of this event. Shiva, You teach me by coming
as a spider to awaken me to the great holy realm of small
earthly life. oh! didn't i just write a poem about maya's web?
that's a spider-friendly image, & the lesson is to do what one
must with conscious awareness & with kind & full intent to bless, while
safely navigating maya's alluring situation set-ups.
there is no judgement involved. it is all too vast & mysterious
for heavy-handed words or confining concepts to seize & capture.
i set my pen & paper down as i prepare to rise from the chair.
wait! what is this? again my gaze lights upon the intrepid spider
who taught me so very much, sitting here once more at my feet right now!
a flood of wonder rushes all through me. the spider moves aside to sit
nearby & i grab my smartphone to take her picture. she poses calmly.
i move to get the spider-catcher & she moves too, swiftly gone now.
this is no ordinary spider, accepting the smartphone held in
my hand, yet fearing a glass held in that same hand! does she know my thoughts?
i can't help but laugh in amazement at this glorious, outrageous
display of divine playfulness! what else is there to do in the face
of such events? anything is possible: Shiva can play the role
of a spider. all life is holy & blessed in the midst of this pure
sacred rising toward the endless glory of the light of being.
all life is included in this abiding divine downpour of love.
fifty years ago--when studying the spiritual tarot--
i used to contemplate the sun's reflection in glass & metal.
at the center of the scintillating bright orb thus revealed, i
would see a dark dancing figure in swift moving exultation.
i would rejoice that a divine being was graciously present,
which my heart would tell me by the warmth of its joyous quickening.
now i know that it was You, Shiva, touching my heart yet again,
keeping in touch. in this way, small events & insights were building
a foundation deep within me, preparing me for You, as the
bride is prepared for the auspicious advent of her wedding day.
much time, preparation & cultivation has gone by since then.
i have honored You in my heart for years now. my wedding dress hangs
ready in the closet & i await You, Shiva, every day.
the heart is filled with longing & the mind echoes with Your mantra.
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.
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.
this peaceful old hippie is also the daughter & wife of career soldiers.
thus have i landed here in this military nursing home for old soldiers.
it's clear to me from Shiva's teaching that this body & the circumstances
of its birth are not who i really am, but is the role that has been given.
in outer action due respect is offered, while inwardly it can be seen
as karmic duty until awakening. Shiva's hand propels the action.
There's no limitation to the inner life, & culture is shed like old skin.
outwardly the role is well fulfilled & the long social dance is nearly done.
hippie & soldier live side by side when the dust of the battle has settled.
ideals, livelihood & bodies are but props in this grand play of maya.
yet still i speak of my love for Shiva: He rises in my heart like the sun.
my hands lift up in namaste & the warm light of His love pours freely down.