this happened: the story

i am 79, living in a nursing home where i am deepening my spiritual practice. i am a follower of the Sanatana Dharma & a devotee of Shiva. i am multicultural, androgynous, eclectic & a global citizen. in my earlier years i was a christian, a jew, kabbalist, astrologer, spiritual tarot reader, palmist, follower of rajneesh, neotheosophist & i-kuan daoist. And then, this happened: in october 2018 a medical diagnosis and surgery inspires me at age 78 to put my life in order.

i embark upon a spiritual adventure of soul-searching, subjective housecleaning and creativity. it is important to me to tie up the loose ends of my life, to clarify how i view my life and its events in terms of an overstory. i want to deepen my spiritual practice of japa mala, meditation and study of the Sanatana Dharma as expressed through the Bhagavad Gita.

i live in a nursing home, so when acrylic painting is offered as an activity, i am ripe for it. i am ignorant of training and technique, yet i am enthusiastic to begin experimenting. i have, from youth, enjoyed drawing faces, so naturally this is where i begin.

it is perfect timing for a visual journal, for words alone are inadequate to express the inner process. in fact, at this point it is not at all clear to me what that is, only that there is an urge for expression. i allow myself to proceed intuitively, step by step, in all the (so far) fifteen paintings.

i refrain from judging the creative expression as well, feeling that it is a communication from a vaster part of life as shared through this individual. in other words, the paintings are not mine, but come through me.

the first six paintings are like the introduction to a story: they lay the foundation. i name them: 1) receiving, 2) transducing, 3) releasing, 4) recharging, 5) sharing, 6) witnessing.

the flowers in the first painting are in full bloom. the trees in the second are bearing fruit. an autumn tree losing leaves follows, and next is a still, dark landscape, followed by bright daylight and human interaction. the sixth painting expresses a numinous, dynamic energy, a big event on the way.

the big event which is witnessed is the coming forward of Shiva, the Hindu God of transformation and regeneration, into center stage in my life, for in the seventh painting, Shiva arrives. he has been nearing for months as i deepen my spiritual life. my mantra is the primary mantra Om Namah Shivaya, so i actually have been inviting him for many months.

as i realize that the celestial event the sixth painting foretells is Shiva coming to me, i am deeply moved. i feel that my task now is to paint Shiva as a way of focussing and immersing myself energetically to provide the opening for Shiva to manifest more fully in my life and in my awareness. painting pictures of Shiva is like sustaining a conduit of spiritual connection. it brings it alive powerfully.

i feel that the task of the final part of my life is to reach out to the next stage of evolution (the one that comes after the expiration of the body) to build an energy connection. this is in order to bridge from this dense form to the upcoming formlessness, consciously and in blessing.

for me, Shiva comes as a guide. he is my divine companion, friend and teacher. in Jungian terms, Shiva is a psychopomp, an escort from earth to the afterlife. i intend to welcome death consciously, in companionship with Shiva as my beloved guide.

each of the nine Shiva paintings out-pictures an aspect of Shiva, of whom there are many. one by one they reveal themselves to me and the painting is done as a meditation. i attune myself to that which is ripe within and is seeking outer expression (i feel into it), while i also study images of Shiva, searching for the one most resonant with my current process as inspiration.

the spontaneous and flowing state which comes about feels like a cooperative endeavor between form and formlessness, consciousness and the unconscious. my hand holds the brush, yet a vaster power paints through me. only when the painting is done and i study it do i get a sense of what is being communicated. this is not done in one sitting but over a period of days and weeks. at each point i study the painting for a sense of what comes next. it seems to speak to me. it’s very intuitive.

this is naturally quite integrating, grounding and satisfying. Shiva’s energies are increasingly coming alive within me. when this body/form expires i rest in the comfort, the assurance, that Shiva is with me, within me, enfolding and comforting me, actually is my true Self. along with this, i find my heart is opening in love for Shiva, for there is a mysterious affinity there which has informed my entire life and is only now coming to fruition. this gradually deepens and continues to develop and unfold.

at this time the paintings are being joined by poems as well, celebrating Shiva and also revealing the inner process of healing. i review my life and tell a new story about it now, sparked by painting, poetry, meditation and japa mala. it is a rewarding process which continues its revelatory inspiration in my life, inspiring me to begin this blog to share my spiritual practice, my sadhana.

although one poet says to “rage against the dying of the light,” i prefer to celebrate and embrace the comforting arms of the gentle darkness for i know that Shiva is with me now and will remain with me. i am committed to this process as a life and death matter, taking it deeply to heart.