"why are we here?" i ask Shiva as we stand in the long shadows of
the early evening. He has brought us to the field by the old house
in the far north carolina mountain countryside where we lived years
ago. i miss that rustic lifestyle now, living in a nursing home.
Shiva hands me a woven basket. "let's go gather some dhatura
flowers for the Shivling," He says. there's a healthy stand of dhatura
bushes growing near the end of the field where the mountain begins to
rise up to the sun. they are large sturdy plants, some about as tall as
my shoulders. the rough, jagged, dark green leaves surround the medium-sized
pale lavender trumpet-shaped flowers. there are many lush & glowing
flowers standing out palely in the dusky dim light of twilight. the
blossoms will bloom throughout the night, & then wilt by morning, repeating
the same process each night all through fall, even into the frost. they are
hardy survivors, these wild dhatura stramonium bushes. yet the
flowers delicately allure, & Shiva loves them to be nearby,
these curious ghostly wildflowers, mystical & oddly scented.
we carefully remove the trumpet blossoms from the bushes' branches.
the plant is strongly green-smelling, definitely a wild scent: nothing
is cultivated here! as darkness falls, Shiva & i carry our
dhatura flower baskets up to the woods close to the waterfall.
we each fill a flask from the waterfall to pour on the chosen stone,
which is a tall husky one, & it loves being cleansed & sanctified.
we place the dhatura flowers on Shiva's favored stone, which is thrilled,
happy indeed, for Shiva Himself is here, placing His own hands on
this new Shivling. the stone becomes so filled with healing that miracles
of everyday blessing move closer. mist from the waterfall adds a
dreamy touch to our worship. it sets a hallowed & blessed mystic mood.
we softly begin singing bhajans & mantras, & the raccoons come
now to join us because they love our singing. next, a fox & a young
bear amble over, & the flying squirrels sail overhead, soon joined
by the pair of small warbling owls who grace the cool night with their strange song.
Shiva & i sit by the sacred Shiva lingam, which is richly
decorated with many dhatura blossoms. moonlight now shines down
upon us all, highlighting the beauty of the natural Shiva
lingam & its blossoms. the animals are all gathered around us
as we sing the ancient praise songs of the holy guardian beings,
affirming their on-going magical presence, encouraging them.
Shiva gazes over at me & winks. i wink back. "I brought you here,"
says Shiva finally, "to show you that you have been following me
for your whole life without realizing it. you have cherished my things:
the wild places, the animals, the mystery of consciousness,
the open sky, the mountain you stand upon, the dhatura flowers."
Shiva regards me warmly. "you are mine, made of my own true essence.
our destinies are entwined." we fall silent & bemused, opening
to the timely new awareness now spreading its roots down deep within.
the dhatura blossoms keep on releasing their subtle consciousness
altering pheromones. Shiva & we, His charges, share communion.
the night is young & blessed by Shiva to heal all who yearn for wholeness.
the universe is music. everything sings its song, shaped from primal
essence & counterpointed by a sweetly unique sound signature,
unlike any other. we meet & combine our melodies into
vast dances & soaring flights of glad praise. each & every galaxy
is a grand ongoing concert of expressive communion. solar
systems join in with their own complimentary contributions, as
each planet adds its favorite riff to the cooperative mix.
with subtle inner focus, one can hear the combined glissandos of
multiple galactic groups. it's enough to strip the body away
& release the cramped spirit to rise in ecstatic jubilation
of woven sound! we phase in & out of quantum fluctuations like
drumbeats of emphasis nearing crescendo. we dissolve formlessly
in the whirling, stirring intergalactic sea of sound vibration.
let me put it this way. when i look out my window at the rising
golden sun this morning, i am pierced by the yearning of the sweetest
sound i have ever heard. it massages me inside & out, & leaves
me gasping with the fading glory of its echo. it is the song
of the Self of the sun, praising Shiva for its life & song, much as
i also do. i, too, find that i'm essentially music reaching
for a harmonic partner: for a grand interwoven chorus of
soaring harmony, sounding like a murmuration of starlings looks.
i dissolve into that wholeness & slowly, atom by atom, i
find my home at long last as the silence between sounds smooths & soothes.
this silence holds all sound in potential. everything, from galaxy
to human, eventually returns to this deep silence & leaves
the gift of its song as a testament to a shining life. Shiva
gathers up all our songs, cherishing them in perpetuity, &
He honors them for their holy origin & for our sacrifice
in the name of goodness, beauty & the fulfillment of our dharma.
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.
i do not know how tightly i guard the borders of the body until
an attentive & curious little spider demonstrates it to me.
i am so intently aware of her that i feel like i'm vibrating.
the net of the mind is held tight over one alert spider: we study
one another for long intense intervals over the day & a half
that she is here. she takes periodic rest breaks & retires into the
dark havens of shadows & i maintain vigilance about where i place
these large human feet when i walk. i examine my whole environment
carefully so i won't inadvertently harm her. i am akin to
a guitar string pulled really tight for the span of the spider's visit.
only after she takes leave & departs do i realize how very
powerful & concentrated the energy has been during her stay.
i am not at ease with insects or spiders at all, so i had been in
emergency alert mode for the entire time my visitor is here.
as days pass by & the energies mellow, i realize at last that
the little spider who stayed & studied me had left a barren place in
my life. it is rather like the silence of an empty house after the
beloved guest has gone. i miss the presence that had brought me such focus.
she is more to me than merely a spider. she is a visitor who
has come through Shiva to teach me. my sadhana is to pay attention.
i love how miraculous life is! she had only a walk-on role, yet
she made a very deep impression on me & has left me pondering.
i know that everything is of value in the divine ecology.
Shiva, all of us serve a vital function as part of a vast wholeness.
since we all are important, i can't know if a spider is an angel,
an arachnid or an alien, so i am grateful for all beings.
beyond the surface appearance: we are holy, we are blessed, we are one.
some blessings are so amazing that i don't recognize them
as blessings for years, sometimes even decades. they are like the
mystic eggs of a strange bird, bound to hatch in their own time, placed
in the nest of me, knowing not what may come from them or when.
i have seen blessings change into challenges overnight &
challenges throw off their concealment to emerge as blessings.
therefore i will rejoice in the gifts of the moment, holding
them lightly that they may fly when they are called by destiny.
You teach me to regard blessing & challenge with equal eyes,
Shiva: as opportunity in disguise, to be esteemed.
i cannot court one without bowing to the other also.
we are all golden beneath the dust, deeply imprinted with
the urge to evolve into wholeness. there is no turning back,
no refusal to be what i yearn to be & am at heart.
i will protect these strange eggs, Shiva, & will accept what may
come from them with gentle respect for their divine origin.
it happens once that a river bids me to come & lie on its
long water-smoothed swathes of stone beach & touch its fossil runes &
time-sculpted stone poetry. the wisdom of the heart informs my
fingertips & i am enraptured by the river: its limestone
bluffs, meandering expanses of tactile river-refined stones.
they tell aeonic-long tales of the survival & ascension
of creatures from another geological age than this one.
they move me to my deepest heart & core. here at the core i find
my sincere root connection to this life, this realm wherein i now
find this body. it is embedded in the moment just as the
fossil beings are embedded in stone. i am not separate
from all that surrounds & supports me. i too am an expression
of Shiva here. what a grand dance this truly is: the minerals
in these bones & the dust on the moon, all one big cosmic event!
i tell this to the river as we lie on the stones in the sun,
blessed by the touch of warmth right down to our boulders, pebbles & bones.
i share my last dream, in which the river blesses me with a stone
imprinted with the stylized shape of an eye. this is the potent
dream--my invitation--that brings me here today, down the long rough
country road to the hidden winding path toward the swift river.
this Shiva-blessed river is kin to the great Ganges springing
from snow-melt in the far Himalayan heights half a world away.
i tell this to the river as we lie side by side in the sun.
once again i feel time & space shift & blend inexplicably,
a fresh fossil moment showing its story to be seen & known,
not hidden any more. we have no secrets, stripped down to essence,
to the wholeness of all existence. the river & i, under
the sun & sky: we lie together on the bedrock of it all
& Shiva holds us in the fullness of His pure eternal love.
He is another sun, hidden behind the one we see, concealed
within the mystery of the secret chamber within the heart.
the river knows this mystery too & is smiling in the way
that rivers can: with a thousand thousand bright shining glints of light.
now at my feet i see revealed the sacred stone of my deep dream,
emerging to be my talisman & companion wherever
Shiva sends us, graced with helpful dreams & miracles as we go.
this stone is known as "Shiva's eye," a guardian on my altar.
the river is the buffalo, the first national river park,
protected from development for all its wooded winding length.
Shiva holds us close to Him, me & the buffalo river stone.
we dream together of lessons learned & goodness to be revealed,
& the river flows clear & i rejoice: OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
there is a forest where each tree will greet us like a dear old friend
who delights in seeing us again. we know we are home here.
we know that the body has come from this moist, rich soil & has brought
hidden greetings from ancient veiled beings. we know that home is here.
there is a forest where the boulders speak of the time when they were
temples. they now innocently confess that they are still temples,
sheltered by the forest for the sincere seeker of the sacred.
we will feel peace here, wholeness & the tingle of awakening
deep inside, invisible to the loud crowd of pressing people
pacing to the measured steps of the socially required motions.
there is a forest that bathes us in cool deep green serenity.
when we touch the tender new ferns & vines with our bare fingertips
they tell us that we are welcome here, now & forever at home
in this quietly breathing forest graced by slow shifting sunbeams.
"you were born here before," the trees tell us, "& we remember you."
we know this is true because the body responds eagerly to
the dim cellular memory. we have never felt more at home
than when we are communing with trees, stones & plants in the depths of the
leafy living forest where the birds can be heard rejoicing in
their wings & songs. "sing freely," cry the birds, "that's what voices are for!"
so we dare to sing & we know that goodness is at the root of
everything & that the forest is made of the same stuff as the
human body & we are close kin, sharing genes & molecules,
breathing together to sustain life. "we are holy through & through,
every atom holy & blessed," say the trees, "nothing is left out."
Shiva, You made them thus to be our teachers. we are all blessed from
the very beginning, for every atom is made of blessings.
the trees know this & they have been teaching us for millennia.
when we go into the forest we can hear them murmuring truth
into the wind. Shiva, You urge us to listen, for You are their
Lord & Protector. they tell us to live in deeply respectful
harmony & devotion: Shiva, help us to be more like trees!
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.
i have done this before: continually urged myself to progress, accepting that there would be ups & downs, blessings lost & blessings found. i am not new to this journey, neither do i rejoice nor complain. there is really no choice, for basically i follow my own nature: that which i genuinely want to do, which circumstances call forth.
the mind is programmed by life to respond in certain ways, according to the situation set-up of this dreamlike domain of jagat. there is great joy in expressing within the flow of ones own nature, feeling the fullness of energy building & its smooth streaming forth to evolve, flower & fruit, & gladly to share the final harvest.
once i stood before a tapestry hundreds of miles in length & width. i contemplated a single square inch of it & found fault & flaw, no meaningful pattern or redeeming quality could i find there. You, Shiva, came to me & took my hand, pulling me along with You. You showed me such vast sweet glory that the budding inner self quickened & blossomed in the light of it all, in the wonder & radiance.
I saw that the whole vast pattern seamlessly included even that single small inch too &, at that moment of direct knowing, i ceased judging what i perceived & began to rejoice in the layered complexity of divine love & in You, Shiva, my authentic, inclusive, good, pure, vital, vibrant, enduring connection to wholeness.
so it is that i simply take what comes into my life & love it into a meaningful pattern, to the best of my ability. i earnestly move forward toward You who have called me & to whom i have given all that i am now & all that i may yet become. this writing chronicles it, for there is no other journey for me.
You blast through my protective wall of words & strip me clean
of concepts, removing me from my comfort zone, Shiva!
You are revealed to me now, human attachments laid bare,
withering in the pure fire of Your seal upon my heart.
every happening in this life is a teaching from You.
this jiva, a rough piece of rock, is polished to become
a shining jewel in the fullness of time & process.
love without attachment or expectation is Your gift
& i learn, i learn from pain & from delight, i do learn.
You blast through my protective wall of words & strip me clean
of concepts & guide me toward my holy home, Shiva,
where no "i" or "You" remain, only the dancing wholeness.