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 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.
a rowdy pack of dogs goads a herd of cows through the rugged woods, where the cows take asylum in the fallow corn field by our house. during the weeks they are here they graze the field clear & they open a pathway down to shelter valley by the creek. here the cows rest safely beneath the great hemlock tree whom i call mother because of her broad, thick & wide-stretched open arms that guard & secure the cool protected cave-like chamber beneath this sentinel tree.
it is a sanctuary for the cows & later, for me, my haven where i meditate, self-review & become absorbed in the ancient energies of the mountain, valley & free-flowing streams of water bordering toward the east & the west of this secluded nature preserve & branch-cloistered nurturing retreat.
i call the auspicious spacious chamber beneath mother hemlock the temple of the green sun. sunlight filters through the green hemlock needles, casting an undersea glow because the branches sweep the earth around the tree & the feeling is of a sanctified place. my chair leans against her trunk as sunlight streams in long shifting bands of swirling dusty light all around & arching high overhead. for years we commune daily, the mother hemlock & i, in all kinds of weather, both inside my head & touching on the outer.
then it happens: the plague of wooly adelgids arrives at the blue ridge mountains & the mother hemlock falls a victim to it. the invasive insects slowly vampirize the tree, drinking her juices. her needles fall, branches becoming bare in a few years, her power & glory sucked away, her dark bones starkly showing. i am watching a loved one slowly die during these years, for there's no cure or help for the mother hemlock. we are all powerless in the face of this fierce invading pestilence that ravages.
the temple of the green sun is gone. it's now a somber graveyard, a tomb marking the death of a local goddess, & i am but memorializing her & the peaceful shelter she furnished. now she is a skeleton, bare & dark against the empty sky. goodbye, mother hemlock, farewell & my gratitude goes with you. i also no longer flourish & thrive, though it's better for me than for you, yet you are always in my memory: teacher, friend & dear companion for long, wonderful country-time years down the curvy backroads of the blue ridge mountains of north carolina.
ah Shiva! growing as a tree, You show me blessings & teach me patience, acceptance & detachment. I thank You for giving this insight, for showing me You can change form yet ever reappear as the consummate teacher & companion. You are woven like a heartening red thread patterned throughout my whole life, revealing Yourself to be the heart & soul of every blessing & every challenge, connecting the varied myriad parts as one, having a single intent. You make of me a better person so that my personality may serve the world. You show me that i also, in essence, extend far beyond form, merging myself into You at deepest core & fundament, eluding words altogether.
You are the dogs, the cows, the hemlock tree, wooly adelgids too. just because i cannot comprehend the whole pattern does not mean a thing & i know that fact well! i have taken refuge in You, Shiva, so let the drama play out; it's beyond my concern now. all i need is You, my Beloved, & You know that very well: You have been lighting the way ceaselessly since time & space burst forth. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
i am not meant to fit in or conform. i am made for the part of
independent observer & outsider, watcher & listener.
the body can no longer assert ties to my guardianship, for
Shiva invites me to withdraw my vigilance over the body's
condition & to release it to its natural process. i do.
i release the body to its fate. i focus instead on Shiva:
knowing Shiva, breathing Shiva, seeing, tasting, smelling & touching
Shiva. i plunge deep into Shiva & take full refuge in Shiva,
that i may live truly in Him, for i know that my home is not here.
Shiva, hear my lament! or maybe it's a rallying cry for the
forces of light to shine out ever more brightly & vividly.
Shiva, hear my lament! or perhaps it's the dying cry of the
ego as it exhausts the vasanas of the mind in weariness.
Shiva, hear me in my loss & confusion & have compassion for
this slowness & ignorance. hold me tightly as the ties to the world
dissolve in the natural process of this transformation & flux.
life is eternal; awareness is cosmic; words rest in the light of
sudden pure direct knowing, & pieces & parts are one with the whole.
Shiva, i am learning to know all substance as Your body &
all beings with varying forms & functions as Your expressions.
the density of matter cloaks complete knowledge of You, although
You truly are the all-pervading essence of that which remains
to awareness after the transitory departs yet again.
this grand drama of life gives birth to the earthly realm, with humans
& many other beings populating it in a dance of
flowing creativity in a subtle evolving pattern.
Shiva, i know that this body, the source of personality,
is shaped by genes, conditioning & impacting outer events.
therefore it is not who i really am, as You often point out.
i learn slowly, glad that You patiently persist in Your teaching
that who i really am is the one constant steady awareness
that remains vivid when all else is gone: this knowing that "i am",
the same indwelling wisdom common to all created beings.
Shiva, You are above, below, surrounding & within: source,
quest & destination. You are the universal medicine.
like a great tide You are upon me, sweeping me up in the flood
of Your expression, calling me to the heart, core & center of
all the various comings & goings of daily human life.
wherever i focus i see You at the living heart of it.
i know how it finally ends. i know that the light of kindness
will once more prevail & that darkness will again lessen & that
this dance will continue as it always does. this endless cosmic
glory is like a flower opening from bud, blooming, wilting,
fading, falling, releasing the seeds of new flowers to repeat
another sacramental cycle of Your rhythmic dance, Shiva.
i am looking within to the heart's chamber where You dwell & i
simply want to be with You in the refuge of Your calm presence.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
for long years i have followed You from the burning ground, Shiva.
now You come to me in the turmoil of my kurukshetra.
i know this much: no matter what the surroundings & events,
i love You. i dwell upon You. i call You. i cling to You.
i wrap Your holy presence around me like a second skin
& this empowers me through the necessary severings:
the old falling away, the new pushing through the yielding dark
into the light, opening the shy heart, freeing the bound mind
from the burden of impeding ruminations & insults.
now You have come to me in my most private kurukshetra,
for i followed You from the heat & smoke of the burning ground.
Your presence strengthens me in this destined battle which i face.
Shiva, You are my shield & protection. You are my refuge.
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.
You sent me out into the woods at twilight to sing
to devas in the blue ridge mountains of my dreamtime.
i consecrated leafy temples to the divine
as You urged me deeper into the green-fingered trees.
You led me on intense quest after quest. i trusted
You to guide me on my way & You have blessed me, made
a thing of beauty of my long stumbling life-journey.
You urged me close so that i could take refuge in You.
You are my true reality in this comedy
of posturing, this rowdy parade of cosmic clowns.
You have ordered this woman's life to sacred song
which is imprinted deeply in my heart's memory:
"i mean no harm. i am passing through. i celebrate
all existence." & i do, regularly, daily.
truly, seeking refuge in You takes me to the heart
where all experience is rendered luminous, pure,
with sacred secret messages of Your loving care,
that holy trust that has me singing of You, Shiva!
on all sides we are urged to action in this world,
to produce & share & organize & maintain,
to think & discriminate & improve ourselves.
great divine beings are also doing their work,
all the suns in the galaxies lighting the way,
& there is no end to the busyness of action.
dear Shiva, i want only to do that which You
have set before me, step by step, for You alone.
You are actor & the action & the acted-upon
& i do nothing but appear here in this world.
You reveal to me that which is now needful &
it takes on a life of its own, like a story
in a vast unfolding divine presentation.
dear Shiva, i know You want me to be here
but i don't know why, nor am i concerned with it.
this is Your world, Shiva, & i am here for You.
my own existence is truly action for You.
You are my service, my life & my final stop
as mind becomes weary of its survival games.
You urge me to be aware only of You now
& that is my most vital action in this world:
to rest in Your refuge as wave rests in ocean.
i'm sharing blessings through poetry, art, stories.
i'm giving all that to You, Shiva, who owns my heart.
You transform the dense substance into the subtle
through our dance together in this rich realm of form.
i am shy to tell You of my love, though You are
the center of my life & my heart melts in You.
You have blessed me far beyond my imagining.
i am Your devotee, Shiva, i am Yours now.
i live my life for You, i give my life to You.
i take refuge in You: hold me deep, deep within!