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.

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.

protons, neutrons & electrons

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.

the heart knows this

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.

the spider trilogy 1: the spider who taught me

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.

small events & insights

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

the shadow-show of maya

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.

the fire salamander

internet image
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.

side by side

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.

the nectar of Your name

once i was a convenience & a commodity, addressed by the
title of the social role i fulfilled--but no more! that old yoke was
lifted & i walked away, turned my back on it all & moved deeper
into the vast mystery. it had been calling to me for most of
my life & now i am free to go, for i am done with the world's work.

only the limitations of my own abilities restrain me
now. my actions are no longer shaped to please the expectations
& demands of others. they come spontaneously in natural
response to circumstances & i observe without interference,
seeing that events come & go, rise & fall, cycling repeatedly.

You alone remain constant in this lifetime, Shiva. Your name flows smooth
like pure nectar on the tongue & the heart opens the door wide into
borderless love. sweetness arises warm within. this is the medicine
needed now for the healing of this wounded human world, to soothe the
weary people crying out in wordless supplication for Your grace.

the unseen holy power of the mantra can usher in that grace.
Shiva, Your name repeated over time forms a strong protective field
& the nectar of Your name flows like a slow infusion of Your love.
there is no cure for the pain of the world but there is an anodyne:
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!

the open door of my waiting heart

i welcome You, Beloved, to the open door of my waiting heart.
all has been cleaned & blessed, Shiva. the air is scented with sandalwood
& flowers are heaped in woven baskets: gardenias & hyacinths,
roses & violets, honeysuckle & wisteria. i am
drunk with the celebration of flowers, their laughter like tiny bells,
their presence honoring You, Beloved who lives deep within. You are
the raw living fire of consciousness, burning me sweetly, lifting me
gently. i am Yours to consume utterly, to imbibe & savor.

in this way i return to You, origin & source, who give me life
even before time begins, bringing gifts of flowers & love that has
no beginning or end but swallows us all fully into itself.
here i am again, Beloved! let's dance this dance where two become one
without a second & all melts into love scented with sandalwood.
i welcome You, Beloved, to the open door of my waiting heart.
 

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.

the lead bird

she feels it first & deepest. it is undeniable: the call.
it reaches deep down inside & wraps around her heart pulling her
insistently to her feet, impelling forward, onward, upward!
her wings spread wide, she leaps into the air & the call lifts her up.
the call blends with the wind & she is airborne, soaring in the sky.
a great etheric trail follows in her wake, a sign for action.
it is the vitalizing scent of the call, invoking the flock.

the other members of the flock are mesmerized & magnetized,
enchanted by the alluring trail that invites them to follow.
as one, they beat their wings in a low thrumming thunder, lifting up
into the welcoming surges of wind in the high clear sky: what
a rush it is! what a perfect activity: balancing on
the currents of magnetic energy pulsating from the heart
of the earth to her winged children calling out gladly in flight.

moving in supportive harmony together, the living cloud
of birds dances in tandem with the magnetic heart of the earth,
shaping messages of encouragement on the dome of the sky.

the lead bird now melds into the greater flock in the natural
flow of the long group flight that the planet has set into motion.
a new lead bird moves seamlessly in place to guide the flock's journey.
they follow the call of the living earth to their new food & shelter.

i hear the call too. it sounds like OM & it feels like love, & it
comes from You, Shiva, plunging deeply within, irresistible.
my heart flies with the flock, held safe in the arms of heaven & earth,
each wingbeat a prayer, every utterance a sacred mantra.