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.

comicstrip superhero

i am a modular being, layered like a cake. the body,
mind & feelings compose the ego-personality layers,
& the witness stands central as portal to You, Shiva, making
the cake of me multidimensional, bridging & blending realms,
giving You access through me to pour bright energy to the world.
as witness i'm like a comicstrip superhero, peeling off
the outer layers of my disguise. i step forth when the need calls
to be the willing witness who can see the gift of the patterns
organizing the richly varied drama of daily life.

i aim to be detached so that no harm can ever befall me.
yet maya still seduces by lavishing me with my fondest
wishes, now fulfilled, luring me back to her sticky web. desires
i never knew were there have merely lurked just beneath the surface,
awaiting their cue to surge forward, & i am stuck yet again.
i'm caught once more in a situation i never saw coming
& don't want to let go, all layered enticingly & well.

where is my one-pointed awareness? where is my heart flying free?
where is that cool-headed detachment when i'm stuck here in maya's
web? You've brought out my hidden attachments, Shiva, the acceptance
i had never dared hope for before, & i get to unravel
the ties & the knots that i wasn't aware were there. it feels like
do-it-yourself open-heart surgery, & i'm clumsy at best.

maya entices me to plunge into the world where i'm whirled through
the cycles, the ups & the downs, with many a story to tell.
Shiva, You use all of maya's ruses to hone my edges as
sharp as keen knives that i freely may cut through the many ties that
weigh me down, bind tight & hold me back. i need to see it all through
to the final credits at the end & then the lights will come on
again. You will be revealed by my side to the inner vision
as maya shifts the scene & the music rises to bridge to the
next episode. the detached witness rises once more within to
do it all again, yet on a higher turn of maya's spiral.
this is our dance, Shiva, round after round, recognizing & then
refining the moves of the drama, turning the darkness to light.

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.

broken mirror

when i look at my earlier life, it is as if i can see
a broken mirror that has been pieced together & glued upon
a firm surface. this, my earthly identity, is the broken
mirror, flawed, fragmented & in pieces. You, Shiva, are the firm
surface that holds all the broken pieces together, steadily
present in the background of awareness as i do my duties.

here in this maya of jagat, in the midst of all the shattered
& fractured illusions & dreams, You are that companion who holds
firm to dharma for the well-being of us all. You help to make
the vision clear before us, that we may see ourselves endlessly
held together & bound through divine compassion & bold wisdom.
the patterns made by the cracks in the mirror are but a needed
part of the story. everything has a story to tell, like the
wrinkles on an elderly face or the scars upon a body.

oh my Beloved, You upon Whom my earthly life depends, Who
reveal my true identity to me: Your name is on my lips.
ah Shiva, my Shiva! the sweetness of Your name melts upon my
tongue like warm honey & fills the heart with bliss. You are my very
ground of being, my oxygen & water, & i say Your name
as tonic for the healing of us all: OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
this broken mirror shines with Your holy light, Shiva, my Shiva!

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 wisdom of the heart

"this is the path for you" they say, dripping devout intensity,
eyes burning as they nail me to their patriarchal history.

thus, religion is designed to create good faithful followers;
education teaches us to memorize accepted answers.

i prefer to ask deep questions in the form of humble prayers
& find my answers in the sky & the curvature of flowers.

i would rather walk a hillside path or sit by a quiet lake
than be closed in a room to give over my mind to them to take.

the price of such daring freedom is to stand outside of custom,
observing with detachment when they would rather have me trust them.

the wisdom of the heart will serve by the blessed grace of Shiva,
whom i trust with all my lives to guide me safely through this maya.

shared in the light

after the festive gala celebration comes the thorough clean-up.
after the inmost insight comes steady determined application.
after the fall from grace & light comes the humility to struggle
from the shattered scattered rubble & resolutely rise up again:
what is learned from the darkness is to be gathered & shared in the light.

after the sincere sadhana comes the fading of maya's mirage
in Shiva's pervasive light. He is kneading the soul as if it is
bread being carefully prepared for baking. He is working His light
deep into the cells that i may also be a light unto the world.

wherever i am, Shiva declares it a temple & i bow humbly.
i pray for the trees & the birds & for the young of all who are born
to bless this sad besieged world with the nectar of their sweet purity.
this is the time when abundant blessings are needed everywhere, for
what is learned from the darkness is to be gathered & shared in the light.

rainbows of the night shadows

i have seen subtle rainbows hidden in the deep shadows of night.
it's as if i am looking into the farthest reaches of space
& see others looking back at me, smiling & waving hello.

they gently assure that sublime shining wonders are on the rise.
they say that the energies within the form have full intention
to bless & nurture regardless of my shy, cautious reception.
they assure me that i am completely love-immersed, even in
harsh circumstances & human neglect & rejection. they say
that to exist is amazing & that love does not need a form
to express: that love is like gravity, like sun, water. it holds
us in close encounter on this planet, preparing us for new
adventures in maya, challenging human selfishness with the
call to group work & global cooperation. the rainbows of
the night shadows are prophets & healers, giving encouragement
in the deepest gloom & despair, emissaries of the soothing
darkness that Shiva settles over one to promote wise insight.

the seed is buried in darkness to grow & send out hands reaching
for the light, drinking sunshine with the whole body & rejoicing
with no consideration for the shadows of the night to come.

Shiva, thank You for the guidance of the inner rainbow, taking
its rise in the cultivated heart. even in the disquiet
of utmost darkness & disintegration, You are my strength.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA

the mines of maya

we are at work in the mines of maya, clearing & refining,
opening space for light to shine. we need that light in this mine.

that which is dark & jagged, we polish, smooth & purify.
we ourselves are being refined in this manner by the gods
who, in their turn, are also being refined & clarified
for the refulgence of light, the renewal we want to feel.

oh how we fly when we can & how we crawl when we must!
the dense events of life can weigh us down with added gravity
& subsequent immobility. we are at work in the
mines of maya, cleaning, digging out the darkness to find the
subtle veins of light concealed in all things, yet accessible.
light is hidden everywhere, Shiva, for You gave us this gift:
the light that calls us home, the yearning in our hearts for Your grace.

carry us forward

the pandemic is shaking out the hidden scorpions
in the global drama of this divine culling event.
it brings to view the cloaked & veiled shadow influences
that disrupt cooperation & sincere tolerance,
that negate inspiration, inclusiveness & kindness.
they drain the joyousness from the rising innocent day.

Shiva, You reveal to me how this great cosmic drama
of maya creates a stage & a playbill, a menu,
a compelling urge to act in the world as we are called.
our cosmic dharma as jiva is to cling to the light.
we have seen the dark. the cycles are turning, shifting now
by cosmic rhythmic decree & we are the advancing
edge. nature's cadences prevail throughout the galaxies.

dear Shiva, carry us forward in this dharma of change.
the darkness has exhausted the days of its dominance.
the wheel of evolution turns & the dawning of light
is now globally drawing near. the kali yuga wanes.
dear Shiva, carry us forward in this dharma of change.
hold us in Your heart & show us what is real, true & good.
 

stories

after i tell You my stories, Shiva -- the old ones,
the stories told to me, about me -- they fade away.
in their place are the new stories, emerging now that
i am ready to receive my true place in this life.

the new stories are about You, Shiva, how we met
& how You continued coming to me in spite of
my blind ignorance & grievous errors of thought.
it helps me to live in this world, being aware that
You are now, & always have been, central in my life.
without knowing Your name i have known Your warm presence
& ever sought to be near You in my heart & mind.

dear Shiva, i am entirely swept away by You.
You cause my heart to open & You bless me with love.
in this world of maya i have been given a shield
of protection by You & my life is devoted
to You & what You may want of me in this dream realm.
i do my duty to You here until You take me
beyond all the stories, beyond the form, into You.

today

some days i am like a cloud floating in the wide blue sky,
sun streaming into me like fingers of divine blessing,
wind carrying me effortlessly in a smooth swift flow.

other days i slog my way through the thick mud of the day,
struggling to take just one more step forward yet again
in the endless trudging of step after step after step.

some days i lay flat on my back in mud, surrendering
to inertia like an old balloon slowly deflating.

other days i say Your name before i fully awake,
feeling You deep within the hidden chamber of my heart
&, finding You there, lift my hands in glad salutation.

today i see all these changing shapes of the shifting days,
witness the flickering parade of possibilities.
they are so real to the human self pushing through maya!
my heart opens in compassionate wonder & soft love.

i seek refuge in You, Shiva. i am Yours forever.

i am Yours alone

i’m not obedient to society.
i am restless & questioning, persistent
in pushing against the edges & borders.
i don’t identify with culture or race
or nation or gender or wealth or title.
the body appears human. the indweller
is vaster, more inclusive than named alone.

ah, Shiva! the mind can see & say a lot,
yet it all so swiftly changes & flows on.
only You can remain constant in this realm.
only You are truly present within me
when the whole construct crashes down to the ground.

the transformative cycle begins anew
in this realm of infinite variety
where i cleave to You as the only constant.
You are my magnetic north, my sun & moon.
i take up this changing role for You alone,
as Your expression of transformation. thus,
i’m not obedient to society.
i am Yours alone, Shiva, embodied here
in this shining mystery as Your blessing.