the occasion of covid finds us again at this nursing home. covid
is a great respecter of age, finding mature elder bodies to be
the very best hosts: simply too tired to refuse entry, so come on in!
it is surely the way of nature of the elderly to make way for
the new generations of fresh young bodies to carry on. they have the
strength & resilience to do the most necessary things in this world.
caring for it comes to them now: to these lively & eager fresh fledglings
who flex their ready muscles & minds as they wait for their turn in the sun.
in the meanwhile, at nursing homes throughout the struggling world,
the designated elderly await their journeys home to the pure land
where all bodies are composed of luminous light & originate from
the universal refulgence, starshine, & from Shiva's abiding love.
but weep not, for there is no suffering, & this fateful transition comes
to all of us in good & proper time, like a graduation party
after the most difficult course ever encountered at university.
now our preparation is over & done, the course is completed &
graduation is in the past. we are now freed from old obligations.
nature has taken its given course. all is well in the vaster holy
realm wherein we find our true home of the heart. it is far beyond the
portal that covid opened to us for a brief time, yet it works well for
our sacramental homecoming. Shiva waits for us there to welcome us
with song & dance! i hear that the music & light show is out of this world!
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.
there flows a river, cool, deep & mysterious in many places,
yet shallow, clear & inviting in other locales where it broadens
to tumble over smooth water-sculpted stones. the river shelters, on
her wild pebbled shores, secret sites of profound quiet communion with
companionable energies. hidden realms of vague otherworldly
ambiances flirt with the edge of my vision, subtly enticing.
these are my favorite places. Here, i can be raptly immersed in
sacred primal natural healing. the sun & sky, trees, water, stones:
they speak in tactile messages to the old lizard living at the
back of the animal brain. all of these peaceful blessed beings croon
tuneful comforting ageless mantras to the body's very bones. trees
softly murmur their undertone counterpoint, & the breath gently adds
its own quiet rhythm to the chorus. the river harmonizes
with her liquid burbling melody. lying on the rounded river
stones by the slow-flowing water, i let go, relax & join the flow.
breathing & being, i merge into the entirety of it all
for an allotted eternity, until the mind comes nibbling at
my fingertips, pushing me to pick up my pen & find words to share.
both nature & the mind are active, prolific, wanting to reach out,
wanting to exclaim, "look! see the holiness, behold the divine hand
ever reaching out to us, blessing." i look, see & listen deeply,
holding it all cupped fast in the depths of my innermost chamber for
Your blessing, Shiva, You who are the Lord of all tender living things.
i am Your innocent little child, Shiva, holding out my pretties
so that You, too, can enjoy the glory of their wonder & beauty.
nature does this to me: erases the thin clear veneer of subtle
separation that goes with civilization, education &
enculturation. nature rises up within the body, urging
the crimson flower of the heart to spread its petals wide & soak up
the light of cosmic love pouring down like a river of sweet healing.
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.
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.
the lead bird in the migrating flock follows an undeniable call
that urgently flows, spine through wingtip, surging further than sight. birds respond
naturally to this seasonal invocation of guiding power
& the lead bird feels the pull first, drawing the others to accompany.
day after day the steady relentless primal call surges through the flock.
the one who leads is not concerned with getting ahead & the ones trailing
after are not concerned that they are following. there is one thing only:
the numinous call to journey that maintains its compelling driving force.
all follow it throughout nature's vast realm, responding as they are able.
Shiva, You call irresistibly & i respond to the urgency,
offering myself to You. there is no lull for those who can hear Your call,
nor is it needed, for being near You fills all the emptiness within.
i am a stone at the bottom of the cascading stream,
smoothed by its invisible elemental cool fingers.
i am the sky in the water, the water in the sky,
the many in the one & the one within the many.
i am the music of the water splashing & tumbling
over the shoulders of the bowing hills, & rejoicing.
i am speech & the subtle space between the streaming words.
i am the silence & the fragrance of the peaceful heart.
i am an expression of You, Shiva, discovering
again my personal absence in Your holy presence.
fruit hanging on the tree ripens from tart to sweet, ever
maturing & softening, becoming lushly juicy.
fully ripe fruit may fall from the tree, offering itself
to the passing hungry beings, to all who search for food.
this is the dharma of fruit: to nourish all, that the seed
inside may be carried to fertile soil to continue
the ageless cycle of replication & provision.
Shiva, You have given me sweetness, color & fragrance.
i hang here on this branch, ripe & awaiting Your harvest
in the coming time, in the season of ingathering.
whether i grow on the highest branch or on the lowest
is of no concern, for You see my innate potential
transcending the exterior circumstances. You are
the lord of trees, of the green world, Shiva, overseeing
their divine gifts of nurture, shelter, ceaseless protection
& generosity. in the same way, people who give
of themselves without measure abide in Your protection.
i am here on this branch awaiting Your harvest, Shiva,
giving myself to Your service, for this is my dharma.
the fallow field is demonstrating rest to replenish reserves,
giving rise to the serendipitous wild growth that heals the earth.
the erupting volcano is demonstrating the power of
hidden forces far beyond human control or understanding.
the earth shaking, shifting beneath our feet, is demonstrating that
even the seemingly hard & firm is only temporary.
the vast fierce winds of a formidable storm are demonstrating
the untamable invisible force of that which we call air.
the flooding rivers & oceans are demonstrating the power
of permeability, perseverance & nonresistance.
the awe felt when viewing a rainbow or stars on a moonless
night is demonstrating the power of numinous mystery.
the blossoming flower garden is demonstrating the sublime
beauty of cooperative beings sharing innermost gifts.
the caring human being is demonstrating that goodness springs
up naturally to nourish & bless all planetary life.
thus in this manner, Shiva, all existence is demonstrating
intrinsic wholeness composed of many interrelating parts.
as the sun is to the circling earth; as the earth is to all its
living beings, so are You essential to me, without a doubt.
i embrace You, Shiva, in all this rampant variety &
unsettling change, for You alone are my heart's true compass & guide.
i am grateful to be aware of You dwelling deep in my heart
where Your light can leak out in thought & word & deed to bless & heal.
You come in the form of an owl, swift-swooping close by my face
to assure full wakefulness, calling out to me in kinship.
You come in the form of a large majestic bobcat crossing
the path i follow, pausing a few meters away to stare
deeply into my eyes, entwined with me in wordless wonder.
You come in the form of a raccoon, earnestly enraptured
by the devotional chant i sing. You stand at my feet &
place Your hands on my knees, peering up at me curiously.
You come in the form of a fox, pulling me outside at night
with the gripping power of Your commanding bark that beckons.
You dance on the snow in the moonlight out in the fallow field
& the heart responds to You as if You are my beloved.
You come in the form of a mother bear bringing her three cubs
for a family picnic at our generous bird feeders.
You come in the form of a hawk soaring up over my head,
grasping a snake in its talons, snagging my rapt attention.
You come in the form of a shy flying squirrel at twilight,
gliding smoothly, dipping down to hear as i sing sacred chants.
You come in the form of a wild turkey seeking refuge while
recovering from an injury, glad for the provided food.
You come in the form of a gallant male grouse who soon becomes
the wild turkey's companion as we all meditate beneath
the sheltering branches of a sky-blessed hallowed hemlock tree.
You come as the sun & moon, as all the earthly delights &
heavenly realms that entice & enfold us in sweet wonder.
Shiva, You are all that's left when I release everything,
when there is not a "me" to perform any action at all,
for action appears to take place in a spontaneous flow.
in this manner, through me, You create these poems for sharing.
thus, glad expression is given to the Source of existence.
in the divine realm, these words are lotus blossoms & roses
placed at Your holy altar, Shiva. here on earth they flow through
the pen from the heart to You. i am Your wandering child coming
home again, the wave ever returning to the ocean.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
Shiva, my refuge & my beloved! i am for You & You alone!
You have shown me that every well-intentioned, upbeat & constructive thought
& feeling is nourishment for the divine forces of light, for angels
& devas & gods, for the well-being of countless blessed beings & worlds.
You have shown me how they flourish & deepen in goodness & in service.
You have also revealed to me that every negative & hate-filled thought
is food & fuel for the forces of darkness, for demons & devils
& the sly covert undermining of innocent, good & pure beings.
therefore i no longer indulge in angry, bitter, resentful feelings
nor linger in dim dull grey gloom or wearisome comparative thinking,
for i myself may then become an infectious contagion to others.
thus it is, Shiva, that i will focus on You & the many blessings
which continually urge me toward my greatest unfolding goodness.
i seek to prepare a banquet of joy for angels & devas & gods
that the beauty of kindness & the gentle caring heart may be present.
i rejoice in the generous abundance of nature, the sky, the sun,
oceans, rivers, mountains, valleys & their varied populations.
may heartfelt gratitude & sincere appreciation pour forth freely,
like honey from the honeycomb & cool refreshing rain from the heavens!
Shiva, my refuge & my beloved! i am for You & You alone!
we nourish the manvantara by pouring out our love relentlessly.
i am foolish to speak of You for what can words say of You? i long to commune soul to soul as we did when You first came to me years ago. You ignited the flame of love, made it burn. it has been a beacon throughout the storms & clashes of life. You marked me for Yourself & i also have vowed my service from a deep well of recognition & heartfelt commitment. without You, i am a shadow falling flat upon dark earth. with You, i am sky, galaxies, dimensions beyond telling. i am foolish to speak of You, yet i do this very thing! it is love's nature to be the profoundest of contagions!
i know You in my tears which flow in happiness
from the balm of Your presence, renewing vision.
this vision is of the heart open in blessing
& these tears are an offering at Your altar.
i know You in the blood pulsing through the body,
thoroughly pervading everywhere within me.
You sing the same salty hymn in my own blood as
You sing in the mother, the ocean unbounded.
i know You in the sweet morning dew fresh upon
the bright flowers nodding gently in the garden.
i have seen You winking at me from the rainbows
flashing in dewdrops in the early rays of sun.
i know You in the soft drip-dropping of the rain
as You nourish mineral, plant & animal,
journeying all the way up from the wide ocean
& down to earth again by devas dressed in clouds.
i know You in the stream rushing down the mountain
to quench the thirst & guide to fruitful level ground.
animals eagerly come to Your banks to drink
& many little lives rejoice in Your blessings.
i know You in the river in the raging storm,
flooding over human structures, washing away
the known & certain, casting it aside like straw,
reshaping the borders of our crushed illusions.
i know You in the ocean, vast, rhythmic, surging
in & out swelling, thundering, owning the earth
from horizon to horizon, mother of life.
i am but a wave in the broad ocean of You.
everywhere that i look i see You, i know You!
i disappear in the glory of You, Shiva!
it seems that i do not exist except as an
observer of You, again & again, of You!