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.

when i was a whale

webb space telescope
when i was a whale in the pure blue-green depths of the ocean,
i would listen to the brilliant burning stars in the midnight
sky singing their melodious nocturnes. the stars inspired me
to respond, & that is how our vocal ensemble began.
this was many kalpas before the earth took such a dense &
definite form. everything was more permeable then, joined
yet by etheric strands of willingness & humility.

i sang with the stars in a harmony of clear crystalline
tones & sonorous gut-deep moans. we would send our voices out
into the ethers like a school of fish spreading out to bless
& explore wondrous new realms. we were a net of consciousness
in a vast ocean of love, those many long kalpas ago.

when i was a whale in the pure blue-green depths of the ocean,
hungry & yearning, i sang with the stars until nothing was
left but sound & light. we would combine & melt together in
a vast harmonic oversong that continues to resound.
it is rooted in our ancestral dreamtime & even yet
flourishes here, in the midst of this current deep density.

Shiva, You taught the stars to sing & then they taught me, way back
when i was a whale in the ancient ocean in that early
version of earth. i still recall the holy magic of that
great cosmic outpouring of sound, & i rejoice in it yet.

memories of that age are woven deep down within the strands
of dna, still resonant with that timeless euphoric
blending of amicable entities. they join sea & sky
in their dulcet pulsing music of light & sound, aimed like an
arrow at the target of the heart. thank you for this, Shiva!

the miracle of bread

internet image
baking bread is a dance between recipe & intuition,
plus awareness of timing & process. the living organisms
of yeast must be encouraged to multiply in culinary
choreography with flour, warm water, salt, sugar & butter.
substances are combined together, dough is kneaded & given
time to rise into fullness, then is punched down to flatness, shaped &
blessed to rest in holy repose, rising again, ready to bake.
this dance is a tandava, energetic, demanding, until
heat transforms mere ingredients into the miracle of bread.

Shiva, i am those ingredients: You are the Baker of bread!
i have been combined, stirred, mixed, heated, punched down when i fully
expand, then set aside to rise again. finally, at last, the
oven's heat acts upon that which was inedible & it cooks,
releasing the fresh baked fragrance of bread, a scent pleasing to all.

the acts of mixing, punching & heating are necessary to
produce the correct result. it is no mistake. the highs & lows
come about to teach of the physical realm & to encourage
enquiry into the hidden essence of spirit & matter.
hence i use life's challenges as stepping stones to You who call me.

these "down-times" are an essential part of fully maturing as
a sensitive, receptive being. when thoughts are dull & sluggish
& i struggle upon a bleak inner plateau, it is because
influences beyond ego are triggering transformation.
changes that can't be hurried or stopped now come about on their own.

likewise, it's true that the "up-times" are also not engendered by
my choosing or willing. they too happen as part of a wholesome
natural purification, unfolding spontaneously.
this dance whirls me up & down, around & around, urging balance.
i seek to be cooperative, while remaining grounded too.

those times when i have risen enough & must be reduced again
seem to purify & diminish the ego without judgement,
merely as needful adjustment. nothing is wrong or bad, no more
than the tides of the seas or the winds in the sky. it is life in
physical form, moving, changing, rising & falling: evolving.

yet You are the Baker, Shiva. You are the Doer of deeds, hence
i ask You for guidance & support, training the mind to discern
Your hand in all events. seeing You as the Baker & myself
as the loaf of bread that You prepare is yet another way i
remind myself that i am a cell in God's body, yielding to
Your divine direction for the manifestation of goodness.

just as the aroma of fresh baked bread calls the hungry to eat,
so the fragrance of a devotee calls forth higher beings to
feast upon the sweet healing energies that You evoke from we
who love You, Shiva. thus we all support & bless one another
in a divine ecology that transcends time, space & species.

eyebrows & galaxies

"there are galaxies swirling in Your eyebrows," she remarks teasingly
to Shiva, Who blesses her with His acceptance. she elaborates,
"we are everywhere, like space. we blend in telepathic rapport &
communion, which is dimensionless & beyond measurement. we are
formless pure consciousness." she continues: "eyebrows & galaxies are
artifacts of the physical plane, temporary & changing with
time." she glances at Shiva & is encouraged to go on when He
smiles invitingly. "both eyebrows & galaxies also have pleasing curves
whose beauty hints at sattvic energy," she says, drawing a deep breath.
"& they both are made of many smaller parts that constitute the whole."

"i'm claiming that seeing galaxies swirling in Your eyebrows is like
saying, 'You Who are formless & cosmic are also approachable
here on the limited level of the physical plane.'" she nods for
emphasis. "seeking You & communing with You places me in that
auspicious cosmic curve too—that sattvic smile—& is like being bathed
in blessings." she shyly continues, "Shiva, You radiate such sweet
sattvic energy that complete good will & loving responsiveness
is very natural in Your presence." she winks at Him with a smile.
"& You draw the playfulness out with the warm magnetism of Your
acceptance." Shiva chuckles & winks back. "if eyebrows & galaxies
are so closely connected," He remarks, "you can be sure, with the right
effort, to reveal that all is truly one down at the deep taproot."
"You mean," she says, "that i am You & You are me & we are all
together?" she grins, "you got it!" Shiva laughs, "now let's go have fun in
maya's marvelous mesmerizing drama of the day!" so it goes,
continues & ever begins yet again. om namah Shivaya!

like a river of sweet healing

Buffalo River internet image
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.
 

the fire of flaming truth

i am not the body-personality nor am i the author of the
actions of that physical being. i am the observing awareness, the
indwelling presence ever abiding beyond thought, who calmly witnesses.

that which is done through the body's agency, because of the influence of
the personality, belongs to that entity alone. it is not mine.
i am the pure bright awareness enlivening the body: truly, i am
not of the body. i am ever free, ever stainless, like a cloud in the sky,
like space itself, just present, offering no resistance & no attachment.

now i am standing on the threshold between body-personality &
observing awareness. in daily life both flow with the evolving events
of the moment. yet the body-personality has many ups & downs,
whereas the awareness remains clear & steady, unattached to the outcome.

this is what i contemplate in sadhana, Shiva. i currently am a
fluctuating amalgam of spirit & matter. it's like that tremulous
moment when the butterfly realizes that she is in the chrysalis &
can  remotely sense her wings slowly developing, but she herself is yet
vulnerable & powerless to act. nor is it needful, for creation
is unfolding & happening naturally, by itself, for all of us.

ah Shiva! this sadhana is on-going, a way of life, & i am quite
fundamentally drawn to it, attracted like the moth to her fulfillment
in the fire of flaming truth. i am witness to the blazing conflagration.

look beyond the body

we are vulnerable to the human world when we identify
with the body & desire specific outcomes. without the body,
how can we suffer or have problems? discomfort has its roots in the
body & its artifact, the mind. all memory & body-based
experience belongs to the physical domain & is in fact
temporary, coming & going according to circumstances.

i can find only one realm in life that remains constant & steady
in the midst of this churning flow of change: the knowing that
i exist. for the body-personality, this "i am" is akin to the
universal vibration of OM. it's like a cosmic building block,
the basis of causality & creativity. "i am" is
a doorway accessing the subtle realm, a way out of attachment.

these deep thoughts are given to us as keys for opening alternate
realms through a change of focus, which helps us look beyond the body &
the outer world for stability & truth. You gave me this download,
Shiva. You showed this to me & i have truly taken it to heart.
i firmly commit to following the "i am" to its sacred source,
journeying with You, Shiva, for which i feel blessed & deeply grateful.

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 gates’ saturn way station & space refinery

that's the name that my final husband, bill, & i called our home to the
various friends, family & wanderers who came our way over
the years. we were the gates family, & we named our home "way station"
to indicate that it was a place to rest while on a long journey.
some came & left quickly, while others became a good part of our lives
for ages. all were teachers of various kinds, & we also shared
all that we could with them of positive world views & lessons we learned.

we included the planet "saturn" in our home name, for he is the
task master & way shower, the wise companion of our elderhood.
thrift & discipline as a way of life were acceptable to us:
we learned from everyone & everything, intending good will to all.

we named our home "space refinery" because we so cherished the deep
philosophical discussions & spiritual musings that we
often enjoyed with other people. we felt that we contributed
positively to the planetary noosphere in this small way.

for more than forty years bill & i held this vision dear to our hearts,
& manifested it in our lives. even here in this nursing home,
we held fast to a positive vision & ideal, glad that we were
able to remain at least under the same roof until death did part
us physically. we are still together in the space refinery
though, for it is nonphysical in its essence. the subtle inner
work continues onward, only briefly interrupted after all.

such has been Your influence on me, Shiva, silently guiding me
through the years, refining the best in me to a realm of purity
i could not imagine in my younger years of untried ignorance.
saturn is another teacher in Your cosmic university.
the gates' saturn way station & space refinery was just one small
classroom in Your vast cosmic university, one among many.

ah Shiva, so we move into the evolving energies of now,
as i plunge wholly into You: the gates' saturn way station & space
refinery merges fully into the infinite unknown in
sacred solemn trust in You. You take this awareness far beyond the
human & temporal into my true home in You, as You. just as
the planet is one with the solar system, & the solar system
is one with the galaxy, so am i also one with You, Shiva.
i rest in You, never to be parted, for the body's death is but
the opening of the door for me finally to come home to You.

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 woods in the deep of the night

the woods at deep twilight smell sweet & moist, immersed in the subtle
allure of the night's hidden magic. the roosting crows in repose
mutter good night to one another in soft clicks & croaks. shadows
settle over the trees, descending from the hands of the sky like
a shawl to wrap the woods in featureless & faceless protection.

sharp details belong to the day, are necessary to see for
the accomplishments & unveilings that take place under the sun.
deeds are done & tasks await: gathering & dispersing happens.
order is valued & scripts are offered for all the roles & their
requirements. survival is the bottom line. i hold myself in
to fit within the narrow slot allotted for those such as me.

but at night, in the mysterious woods, none of that bright world rules.
here in the darkness, the unknown & irrational prevail, & the
shadows may be doorways opening into other realms. You come
to me through those shadows, Shiva, & tell me of wonders beyond.
You touch my heart & unlock it, & i will forever thank You
for this, for coming to me. i will forever thank You, Shiva.

the woods in full nightfall smell sweet & moist, an invitation to
deeper magic. Shiva, soon the moon will rise high & the darkling
playmates emerge from hiding. there's a song in my heart that escapes
through my lips & it stands as a motto for this entire life. "i
mean no harm; i am passing through. i celebrate all existence."

thank You, Shiva, for urging me out to befriend the darkness &
the unfamiliar. You hold me in Your hands & in Your heart
& i hold on to You forever. You take away my concern &
You leave me with Your grace, here in the woods in the deep of the night.

other levels of the game

internet image
if i were to immerse myself in a cyberspace virtual world,
it would be akin to what i am doing here in this world of the
western mindset. here i train the body to be the compassionate
detached observer of life's unfolding events through the various
daily dramas. i seek to navigate them consciously & kindly.
this brings the exit door of maya's theater of thrills into view
& more options become available, other levels of the game.

i search for the source & essence of that which captivates my desire.
where does all this creation come from? how does it originate? how
else to find out than to venture deeply within, beyond the realm of
maya's dramas to the emanating inner point of awareness?
by way of immersion into the secret chamber of the heart, i
find Shiva, the lord of the animal body, who abides therein.
He shepherds me through the iterations of change to the very source.

Shiva has various names & forms & they are all teachers & guides.
when i turn my focus inwards, away from the changing outer world
towards the realm within myself, Shiva likewise turns His face to me
in the way that i can best resonate with & respond to. i have
guidance & the warm sustenance of subtle divine companionship.

Shiva is the steward of virtual reality, counting this
one i find myself in at the birth of this body. He is quite set
upon awakening me to my full potential of awareness.
i accept His offer! Let the good times roll in total immersion!

these wings

i rise into flight & i break into song, into a thousand
thousand pieces. they all have their own holy lives & they have their
own wings as they fly off to do their own duties. surely songs are
free beings with their own dharma after they emerge from the lips:
they have their own journeys to set out upon. i carried them all
when they were tender & small & it's time now to let them go free.

i break out of the prison i carefully made out of rules, roles
& regulations. i'm cutting the cords; i'm leaving the matrix.
i'm fully out of the chrysalis now, shedding the confining
tight old skin & spreading my wings into the rising sunlight. they
glow & they know just where to go, & i am but a passenger.
Shiva, these wings will take me to You: what else can be their purpose?
what else can they do but take me to You? that's what this life is for.