November 20 & 27, 2017 Monday Night Classes: “She Who Is Tranquility Itself…”

SeatedKYSeated Kuan Yin from the Princeton University Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Life’s been so sped up these last few months, it’s been impossible to keep this blog current. My heartfelt apologies to everyone who looks forward to new content.  This post should fill some of that long gap. I’m including audio from the last two classes of November.

Class on November 20th was a rather free-wheeling journey that wove the Tao Te Ching, Sri Lalita Sahasranama, and a Mary Oliver poem. It’s all there in the talk. Text of readings below. And scroll down below that for audio of mantra chanting…

11.20.17 OPENING DHARANA AND DHARMA TALK

 

READINGS FROM DHARMA TALK

 

From the Tao Te Ching

73.
The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe,

And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn’t let a thing slip through.

* * * *

From the Sri Lalita Sahasranama

447.
Shanti
She who is tranquility itself.

Shanti is evenness of mind in happiness and in sorrow, in profit and in loss, in victory and in defeat.

According to Shaivagam, Shanti is… that kala which dispels the three major types of impurities, anava, maya, and karma… It shows the way for those who are struggling in the illusion of maya and in actions contrary to one’s karma, forsaking one’s own dharma and embracing that of someone else.

Slipping away from one’s own dharma will not bring prosperity; it causes loss of shanti. The declaration in the Gita that “better is death following one’s own dharma; following another’s dharma leads to fear” is indeed a cornerstone for building a righteous life.

* * * *

from Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings

HUM, HUM

1.

One summer afternoon I heard
a looming, mysterious hum
high in the air; then came something

like a small planet flying past –
something

not at all interested in me but on its own
way somewhere, all anointed with excitement:
bees, swarming,

not to be held back.

Nothing could hold them back.

2.

Gannets diving.
Black snake wrapped in a tree, our eyes
meeting.
The grass singing
as it sipped up the summer rain.
The owl in the darkness, that good darkness
under the stars.

The child that was myself, that kept running away
to the also running creek,
to colt’s foot and trilliams,
to the effortless prattle of the birds.

3.  SAID THE MOTHER

You are going to grow up
and in order for that to happen
I am going to have to grow old
and then I will die, and the blame
will be yours.

4.  OF THE FATHER

He wanted a body
so he took mine.
Some wounds never vanish.

Yet little by little

I learned to love my life.

Though sometimes I had to run hard –
especially from melancholy –

not to be held back.

5.

I think there ought to be
a little music here:
hum, hum.

6.

The resurrection of the morning.
The mystery of the night.
The hummingbird’s wings.
The excitement of thunder.
The rainbow in the waterfall.
Wild mustard, that rough blaze of the fields.

The mockingbird, replaying the songs of his
neighbors.
The bluebird with its unambitious warble
simple yet sufficient.

The shining fish. The beak of the crow.
The new colt who came to me and leaned
against the fence
that I might put my hands upon his warm body
and know no fear.

Also the words of poets
a hundred or hundreds of years dead —
their words that would not be held back.

7.

Oh the house of denial has thick walls
and very small windows
and whoever lives there, little by little,
will turn to stone.

In those years I did everything I could do
and I did it in the dark –
I mean, without understanding.

I ran away.
I ran away again.
Then, again, I ran away.

They were awfully little, those bees,
and maybe frightened,
yet unstoppably they flew on, somewhere,
to live their life.

Hum, hum, hum.

[Please note I’m unable to input proper transliteration of Sanskrit and formatting of Oliver’s poem.]

 

AUDIO OF CLASS CHANTING SARASWATI AND OM NAMAH SHIVAYA MANTRAS

 

AUDIO OF CLASS CHANTING GAYATRI MANTRA WITH CLOSING DHARANA 

 

AUDIO OF SG SOLO CHANTING BEFORE CLASS

 

11.27.17 AUDIO OF ENTIRE CLASS

November 27 was an all-chant class. Here’s the live recording from that. If you’ve never been to Monday Night Class, this will give you a sense of what it’s like to be in the room. This is very low-tech recording for music so do listen with gentle ears…

 

Finally, although I’ve stopped writing political commentary here, the age of Trump continues. Wreaking havoc on our democracy, international relations, the planet, and even outer space. If you want to embody Kuan Yin, whose name means, She Who Hears the Cries of the World, do click here to read Nicholas Kristof’s recent piece in the New York Times, and if you can, please make a donation to the Jamal family.  Along with that, if you’ve not seen Ai Weiwei’s extraordinary film, Human Flow, it’s essential education for anyone who cares about life on this amazing extraordinary planet we all call home…

October 2, 2017 Monday Night Class: Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be liberated?

NicholasRoerich

This week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching offers an exquisite teaching on the ripple effects of blame. If you pay attention to your own blame response, you’ll discover a many-headed demon masquerading as self-righteousness and truth. Insidious really. And hiding in the unconscious.

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame. 

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

The blame response goes deep. And its ripple effect always ends in pain. It often starts with expectation. Which then morphs into blame. Blaming gives rise to shame, hurt, and anger. This separates the blamer and the blamed, creating a sense of isolation and alienation so that connection and the possibility of empathy are destroyed. And since underneath the dramas of daily life, a sense of connection and empathy are what we most long for, one can see how the blame project takes us nowhere we really want to go.

And then of course, there is self-blame. Which is often at the bottom of the whole mess. When we really examine our blaming response, we discover it is fueled by projection. I blame you for what I refuse to see in myself. My own laziness, indulgence, self-absorption, bad habits, arrogance, bullying, forgetfulness, etc.

79.
Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

The answer of course is simple: fulfill our obligations, correct our own mistakes, do what we need to do and demand nothing of others. This doesn’t mean we roll over and play dead. This verse is telling us to wake up, to pay attention, to live in the space beyond right and wrong. Do we want to be right? Or do we want to be liberated…

Here’s my dharma talk from 10.2:

 

Here are the two poems I read.
From Mary Oliver’s, A Thousand Mornings.

POET OF THE ONE WORLD

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to 

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

GOOD-BYE FOX

He was lying under a tree, licking up the shade.
Hello again, Fox, I said. 

And hello to you too, said Fox, looking up and
not bounding away. 

You’re not running away? I said. 

Well, I’ve heard of your conversations about us. News
travels even among foxes, as you might know or not know.

What conversations do you mean? 

Some lady said to you, “The hunt is good for the fox.”
And you said, “Which fox?”

Yes, I remember. She was huffed.

So you’re okay in my book. 

Your book! That was in my book, that’s the difference
between us.

Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever
words, mulling and chewing on its meaning while
we just live it.

Oh! 

Could anyone figure it out, to a finality. So
why spend so much time trying. You fuss, we live.

And he stood, slowly, for he was old now, and
ambled away.

We chanted the Gayatri Mantra to open this class. There’s no audio of the chanting, but here’s the short dharana I gave on the mantra.

 

Finally, class chanting of Om Namah Shivaya with closing dharana.

March 10, 2015: Poems for the Inner Journey

Spring arrives Friday, March 20th at 6:45 PM EDT. And while the light has been returning since the solstice turn, there is something about the equinox, not to mention daylight savings time, that makes it all seem more, how can I say, official. Not that the cosmic movements need any official validation from us mere mortals….

Nevertheless, to honor the light and it’s lengthening return, we’ve been chanting myriad rounds of gayatri-mantra each week. For those visitors to this blog who do not actually attend class — and also for those who do not own the version of gayatri we recorded on our 2014 music release, Daughter of the Mountain, I’m including that as a small gift…

I’m posting poems I read at the last two classes.  These carry the essence of my talks. Sit with them and let them take you where they do. Audio clips of my dharma talks and class chanting will follow soon. For now, please enjoy what’s here.

Here’s the version of gayatri-mantra we created for Daughter of the Mountain. If you’re looking for a more traditional vedic style, scroll around this blog where you’ll find any number of clips from class chanting.

 

Here are poems from March 3 Monday Night Class. The theme for the evening was patience. This first poem is from Mary Oliver’s new collection, Blue Horses.

 

Such Silence
Mary Oliver
 
As deep as I ever went into the forest
I came upon an old stone bench, very, very old,
And around it a clearing, and beyond that
Trees taller and older than I had ever seen.
 
Such silence!
It really wasn’t so far from a town, but it seemed
all the clocks in the world had stopped counting.
So it was hard to suppose the usual rules applied.
 
Sometimes there’s only a hint, a possibility.
What’s magical, sometimes, has deeper roots
Than reason.
I hope everyone knows that.
 
I saw on the bench, waiting for something.
An angel, perhaps.
Or dancers with the legs of goats.
 
No, I didn’t see either. But only, I think, because
I didn’t stay long enough.

 

The second poem is from Mother of the Universe, Lex Hixon’s ecstatic versions of Ramprasad.

 

Beat the Great Drum of Fearlessness
Ramprasad/Lex Hixon
 
O longing mind,
focus all your longing on Mother Kali.
You will receive pure love and liberating knowledge
tangibly as fruits placed on the palm of the hand.
Release any lingering pride of personal power
and merge your entire being with her.
This is the worship that disappoints Death.
 
Please heed the call of Mother Reality!
Inwardly repeat Kali’s transforming name
and discover the fountain of illumination
where the thirst of her lovers is quenched,
their very being immersed in her being.
 
Infused by Goddess Wisdom,
this poet proclaims with adamantine conviction:
“Sisters and brothers, release your root obsession,
your greed, anger, pride, jealousy.
There are only forms of fear.
beat the great drum of fearlessness
and reach the final goal,
awakening as pure consciousness.”

 

The theme of March 9 Monday Night Class was something like: “get over yourself, drop the stories, drop the ego’s identification, and simply embrace what is…” And who better to express that then the great Hafiz. These three poems are from Daniel Landinsky’s The Gift.

 

Stop Being So Religious
Hafiz
 
What
Do sad people have in
Common?
 
It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past
 
And often go there
And do a strange wail and
Worship.
 
What is the beginning of
Happiness?
 
It is to stop being
So religious
 
Like
 
That.

 

Crooked Deals
Hafiz
 
There is
A madman inside of you
Who is always running for office—
Why vote him in,
For he never keeps the accounts straight.
He gets all kinds of crooked deals
Happening all over town
That will just give you a big headache
And glue to your kisser
A gigantic
Confused
Frown.

 

The Idiot’s Warehouse
Hafiz
 
 
I know the idiot’s warehouse
Is always full.
 
I know each of us
Could run back and forth from there
All day long
 
And show everyone our vast collection.
 
Though tonight, Hafiz,
Retire from the madness for an hour,
 
Gather with some loyal friends
Or sit alone
 
And
Sing beautiful songs
 
To God.

January 3, 2014

Sno

Here in central NJ I’m watching the snow come down. Looks like we have a good ten inches or more. Startling to gaze at this east coast winter wonderland and realize it’s sunny and warm on the west coast and there’s a heat wave in Australia. To those readers in places with more serious blizzard conditions than we’re having here, I wish you warmth, safety, and the good fortune to be able to stay indoors until you choose to venture out…. To those facing the opposite weather extremes, I wish you cooling breezes and gentle rain. Weather extremes notwithstanding, I wish everyone a good beginning to 2014.

01a08a75fb7d3dbe22537bd9e713d19cdd31b1757e

suzingreen.com   It’s been an auspicious start for me. January 1, my new album and website both went live. These have been major projects and what a joy to see them launch. Please visit the website — http://www.suzingreen.com — we’re still fine tuning but the basics are there.

Album Cover - CopyThe Mantra Project, Vol. I: Daughter of the Mountain     Please click the tab at the top of this blog for details about this new release. Of course we’d love you to buy copies and/or download tracks, but you can also listen for free through the wonders of Sound Cloud and Spotify. Please help us get this music out to the world. Reviews on iTunes and CD Baby along with shout-outs on FB and Twitter are most appreciated.

Finally, to regular [and new] visitors to this blog, let me say I’m keenly aware that posting has been erratic bordering on remiss. It’s been impossible to stay current here while working on the new album and writing content for the website. Plus, we started a major house-painting project in October so I’ve been living and working in a semi-construction zone since then. I do record class every week so there’s quite a lot of material to post here. I’m truly looking forward to things settling down and being able to get back to some semblance of regular blogging. For now, I thank you for your enduring patience and ongoing support of my work.

With love and fond wishes to you all.

Suzin

 

June 9 Devi Yoga Retreat: Long Day’s Journey Into Light: Dharma Talk, “What Do You Want To Take Refuge In?”

light forest

Although this blog is mostly dedicated to Monday Night Class, I’ll also be posting audio clips from last month’s retreat, “Long Day’s Journey into Light. ” Btw, thanks for your patience with my less than frequent updates here. I keep thinking time and space will open for regular posting and then it does not.

As the name implies, “Long Day’s Journey into Light” was just that, a day constellated around the Mystery of Light.  Opening into light, merging with light, resting in light, becoming light, discovering light in the fertile darkness, knowing that light as source, beacon, and luminous path of the heart…

Ordinarily I would edit my talks in the order they were given so I could post them in context. People have requested I get this one up first however, so here it is.  In this talk I’m drawing connections between our deep creative nature and light — and posing the question, what do you want to take refuge in… your story or that light?

The talk ends with a reading of Mary Oliver’s poem, “When I Am Among the Trees.”  If you want an example of deep creative nature completely at one with its source, here it is. I love teaching and some have said I’m rather good in this role. However, let us say it like it is:  it is the trees who are our great teachers….

When I Am Among the Trees
-Mary Oliver

 
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
 
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
 
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
 
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you to have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Two Short Clips of Current Music in Progress

As I wrote in a recent post, I’m back in the studio with the amazing Dan Johnson, recording music that’s been in the pipeline the last ten years. Here are two short clips of work in progress. This is ***not*** finished work.  These are tiny previews of longer tracks. Look for release some time this fall. Stay tuned for new clips as we add more musicians and mantras to the mix…

Here’s a 3-minute version of the Mangalam:

And a tiny taste of our version of the Gayatri Mantra:

Monday, September 17, 2012

This week’s class fell on Rosh Hashonah, the first day of the Jewish New Year. In Jewish tradition, the first ten days of the year are considered the High Holy Days, the Days of Awe. There’s a sense that over these first ten days we lay the blueprint for the rest of the year. So the suggestion is to spend this time in quiet contemplation, taking stock of how we’ve moved towards the light, and how we’ve moved away. Along with this intensive self-inquiry, it’s traditional to eat apples dipped in honey, a symbolic act for bringing sweetness into our lives.

So I thought it only right to offer this class to sweetness and light…

Hence, I added srim, the Laksmi bija mantra, to last week’s mix of Gayatri and Om Namah Shivaya — and brought in a group of Hafiz/Landinsky poems and a reading from Lawrence Kushner’s kabbalistic musings, Honey From the Rock.

For visitors unfamiliar with the Laksmi bija mantra, let me say a few things about srim — which I can’t properly transliterate here — fyi, it’s pronounced “shreem.” Srim is a seed mantra meaning it contains the full potency of the deity field. In this case, Laksmi, aka the power of splendor, magnificence, expansiveness, abundance… you get the idea.  So the teachings go that whatever Laksmi touches grows into its most magnificent form.  And sweetness is one of the attributes of Laksmi. This is a perfect sweetness. Not so sweet as to be cloying or just plain too sweet. This is the perfection of sweetness. The sweetness that makes us feel, well, let me say it like it is, positively delicious. We might say we experience the sweetness of Laksmi as a kind of effervescent grace. When all is right with our lives and infinity is possible…

Before I go on, let me also say a few things about Monday Night Class. There is much I love about this class. Its longevity. The people who find their way there. The depth and power of the teachings and practice. The sense of welcome, safety, and community. Sometimes though, I think what I love best is the sweetness of the laughter. Here’s a clip from this week’s class:

https://suzingreen.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/9-17-laughter1.mp3

Here’s this week’s dharma talk. Which  begins with the below posted Hafiz. This small group of poems offers an excellent teaching on what gets in the way of our ability/intention to live in and of our sweetness and light [and delight!] I’ll post the Kushner quote which I also read in this talk, below Hafiz. Kushner is writing specifically about Light. The two together make an excellent counterpoint on the topic of sweetness and light. Add in the mantras and we have a fugue for the heart…

Here are the Hafiz poems, from Daniel Landinsky’s book, The Gift. 

THE SAD GAME,

Blame
Keeps the sad game going.
It keeps stealing all your wealth –
Giving it to an imbecile with
No financial skills.
Dear one,
Wise
Up.

 

TIRED OF SPEAKING SWEETLY

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth.
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And  practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold  us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

 

DROPPING KEYS

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

  

FIND A BETTER JOB

Now
That
All your worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.

 

I WISH I COULD SPEAK LIKE MUSIC

I wish I could speak like music.
I wish I could put the swaying splendor
of the fields into words
so that you could hold Truth
Against your body
And dance.
I am trying the best I can
With this crude brush, the tongue,
To cover you with light.
I wish I could speak like divine music.
I want to give you the sublime rhythms
Of this earth and the sky’s limbs
As they joyously spin and surrender,
Surrender
Against God’s luminous breath.
Hafiz wants you to hold me
Against your precious
Body
And dance,
Dance.

Here’s the quote from Lawrence Kushner’s Honey from the Rock:

It is no accident that all the great creation tales begin with light. Of all the things that the Creator might have first formed – mountains, waterfalls, stars, flowers, fruited plains, lions and lambs, leviathans and whirlwinds, single-celled creatures and man – He made light. First of all the Holy One fashioned consciousness.

Let us retell the story of this light which is a metaphor for spiritual awareness:
A light with which the Holy One began the creation. Let there be light and there was light.
In the Zohar we read further of creation. Some kind of dark flame – blinding flash – issued forth from the innermost hiddenness – from the mystery of the Ayn-Sof, the Infinite One….
 
A light that was so dazzling that by it…man could gaze from one end of the universe to the other. A light so powerful that is shattered earthly vessels. A light that if it fell into the hands of the wicked could return creation itself back to primordial chaos. A light that therefore had to be hidden away. And God made a separation.
 
A light that was set aside for the Tsadikim [the righteous ones].
Light is sown for the righteous…
 
A light whose appearance initiates creation. But it is a creation only able to withstand a tiny bit of light. Therefore the light had to be concealed. And so it is that darkness and incompletion and separation are the price of this world. While light initiates existence, existence conceals light.
 
For with the appearance of the light being began,
But with the concealment of the light
all manner of individuated existence was created…
Just this is the mystery of the work of creation;
And one who is able to understand will understand.
 
A light imprisoned in the shards of this created world, waiting for us to free it. Returning itself and us to the Creator.
 
A light so awesome that even a fraction of its splendor – just so much as a ray the thinness of a needle is all any of us need for unimaginable illumination.

Here’s a clip of this week’s chanting. I tried a different microphone placement, hoping to pick up less harmonium, more voices. Alas, I ended up with more harmonium. The call is quite clear, but I’m sorry to say the response is barely audible.

Finally, here’s a clip of the dharana I gave before gliding into silent meditation:

And when the topic is light, the last word goes to Devi, the Shining. This quote is found in the frontpiece of Ajit Mookerjee’s book, Kali, the Feminine Force. He cites Bhairava Yamala as the source text.  I’ve never been able to find this text or any verse resembling the quote. A google search brings up nothing definitive. So I’m going to assume that Mookerjee had access to an unpublished text fragment and made this very beautiful translation. Wherever it comes from, whatever its source, it pulsates with sweetness, luminosity, and supreme bliss:

 She is Light itself and transcendent.

Emanating from Her body are rays in thousands
two thousand, a hundred thousand, tens of millions,
a hundred million
there is no counting their numbers.
 
It is by and through Her that all things moving
and motionless shine.  It is by the light of this
Devi that all things become manifest.