6/06/16 Monday Night Class: Sun Mantras, Ganesha, and the Incredible Lightness of Being…

13330921_10157248014180227_2932591289537748488_n

This week’s class fell on 6/06/16 which got me thinking about the significance of the number six. If you stop think about it, the number six is composed of 2 3’s and/or 3 2’s. The 2’s represent opposite poles and the movement towards balance. The 3’s represent a unifying synthesis, the sacred trinity we find in so many traditions. When you put that all together, you can see why you end up with a number that is connected to the exuberant amazing glorious expressive, and most of all life-giving Sun…

Here’s a quote from Vicki Noble’s Motherpeace Tarot:

Sixes: Exuberance

The Sixes are full and expressive, a peak number, always expansive and positive in some way. Six represents exuberance or triumph, being on top of things. Like the Sun sitting at the center of the solar system, Six sits at the center of the Kabalistic Tree of Life and radiates out in every direction, saying, “yes!” Six represents a moment of decisive action or a climax of some sort, a moment of glory.

Which all seemed an excellent jumping off point for a class that constellated around the fifth Sun mantra, the creation story of Ganesha, and the inner possibility of soaring…

ॐ खगाय नमः
om khagāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Khaga, who travels the sky like a bird…

I love all the Sun mantras, but this is one that always jumps out at me. I love the image of light traveling through the sky like a bird. I also love the way “light” as in light and “light” as in lightness are so connected. Which gets me thinking about the incredible lightness of being we feel in the presence of people who are, well, full of light. People who have a buoyancy of spirit and soul that soars like a bird. And what a delight (there’s that word again) to have them in our lives. Because let’s face it. Most of us lean towards the heaviness of being. We are gravity-based creatures. And that’s not just the gravity of Earth. There’s a potent gravitational force in the demands of daily life, in the stress we hold in our bodies, in the narratives and belief systems that can (and often do) keep us down. Although we don’t like to admit it, many of us prefer to be stressed out. It’s familiar, provides solid reasons for everything that’s not working in our lives, and most of all, distracts us from remembering we are finite being living in an unfathomable mystery we will never be able to control. The irony being that the Mystery does seem to be made of light…

 

Here’s my opening dharana on the mantra Om Namaha Shivaya  as a bird with two wings:

 

And here is this week’s dharma talk, a weaving of the well-known creation story of Ganesha from the Shiva Purana with 5th Sun mantra. I’m interested in what it takes to foster the incredible lightness of being embodied in Ganesha and articulated in this mantra. One point I didn’t get into in this talk is looking at Ganesha as a threshold keeper. If you look at the two common epithets assigned to “him,” Lord of Beginnings and Gatekeeper of the Sacred Feminine, you can see what I’m talking about. But what does that really mean, to be a threshold keeper. Ganesha resides in the space between, embodying a perfect balance, a lightness of being that makes it possible to ride on the back of mouse without crushing it. In my opinion, this is the reason for spiritual practice. So that we can walk lightly on the Earth, lightly through ups and downs of daily life, and perhaps most important since it makes these first two possible, walk lightly within ourselves…

 

 

The Glow of Your Presence
Hafiz  [English version by David and Sabrineh Fideler]

Where have you taken your sweet song?
Come back and play me a tune.

I never really cared for the things of this world.
It was the glow of your presence
that filled it with beauty.

October 13, 2014: Unveil the Self-Radiant Diamond of Your Essence

We’re moving into a cycle of wisdom teachings of the Devi tradition, expressed so beautifully in Lex Hixon’s version of this poem from Ramprasad:

 

Unveil the self-radiant diamond of your essence
Ramprasad/Hixon
 

O distracted mind,

why are you indulging in anxiety?
Be still for just the space of Kali, Kali, Kali
and concentrate your gaze on her reality.
Those who worship the Goddess with splendid ceremony
become imbued with pride.
Much better is the inward path of secret devotion,
invisible to the curious state of the world.

Why construct static images of Mother Reality
from metal, stone, straw, clay?
Allow pure mind to compose her form
from consciousness alone.
Place this living image on the heart lotys
and wait for her to come.

Why bother to gather ripe plantains
to present with ritual gestures at her feet?
She delights only in the nectar of selfless love,
offered directly and abundantly,
breath by breath.

Why worship with such profusion of jewels and lamps?
Unveil the self-radiant diamond of your essence,
O mind, and allow it alone to illuminate
the heart’s secret shrine day and night.

What sense is there to sacrifice animals
as worship of Goddess Kali,
when she desires only the death of egocentricity?
Cut through these childish dreams of separation
with her sword of nondual wisdom,
crying: “Victory to Kali! Jai Ma Kali!
May your truth of oneness triumph endlessly!”

The singer of this hymn has no need for flute or drum
but calls ecstatically to everyone:
“Clap your hands and proclaim melodiously
Ma Kali’s universal victory,
until the mind dissolves completely
into her inconceivable reality.”

The poem says it so exquisitely:

“Until the mind dissolves completely into her inconceivable reality” — i.e., the self-radiant diamond of our essential nature…

And that my friends is the path and the goal. Experiencing that, knowing that, moving into that…. That’s the practice. That’s why we practice. That, quite simply, is it.  Or as Keats put it, “that is all we need to know…”

 

* * * * * * *

Here’s the opening chant from last week’s class. I’ve been personally obsessing with this version of Durga, Durga, Durga. I posted words and free translation on last week’s post. Here they are again:

Durga Durga Durga, Jai Jai Ma
Karuna Sagari Ma
Kali Kapalini Ma Jagododharini Ma
Jai Jagadambe Jai Jai Ma

Glory to the Ocean of Knowledge, Compassion, and Truth that carries me across the ocean of the world.

Think of the ocean of the world as the sense of limitation and separateness that wreaks havoc in the ways we conduct ourselves in our inner and outer lives…  (aka “O distracted mind, why are you indulging in anxiety…’)

 

Here’s my 10.6 Dharma Talk. This clip also contains class chanting of Hymn to Devi and my reading of  the Ramprasad poem:

 

Finally, here’s class chanting of Navarna mantra and closing dharana:

June 13, 2014, Vijnana Bhairava II: That Who Seeks; That Who Knows

I was a premature baby, born six weeks before term. My lifelong pattern of bypassing the beginning was probably set that day. Here’s how I learned to ski:

My father took me to Davos Mountain in upstate New York, rented me boots and skis and out we went. By the end of the day I was making my way down the mountain without too many falls and quite enjoying myself. Walking back to the lodge we passed the beginner’s slope. I still remember my shock. “Dad,” I said, “Why didn’t you start me here?” “Try it now,” he said. And after a day on the intermediate slopes, the beginner’s run was easy…

And so too with our immersion in Vijnana Bhairava. I initially skipped us over the introductory verses, moving right into the dharanas. While the decision made sense at the time, I began to suspect the impulse was driven by this deep unconscious leapfrog pattern.  While I’m not suggesting leapfrogging is always the wrong choice, I would rather not subject Monday Night Class to my unconscious motivation.

We’ve therefore circled back to the beginning of this text. Full disclosure: I’ve always discounted these first verses as a literary device to get the text moving. Devi asks Bhairava to explain the meaning of life and after some and back and forth, the discourse begins.

What I now come to see is that these introductory verses are much more than a literary device. They are setting up the text as a dialogue between that within us that asks the question and that within us that knows the answer.

Our culture places great value on knowing. We’re conditioned to give the “right” answer and many of us feel shame when we get it “wrong.” The answer is somehow more important than the question. I will say that this comes from our fear of the unknown, from our need to “look good,” from a deep and terrifying sense that we are not okay.

The notion that knowing will protect us is a dangerous one. We all see how on its own, knowing is a static state of being. At the individual level, it keeps us stuck in tired old narratives and belief systems. At the collective level, it hardens into oppressive political, religious, cultural, etc. institutions. And what is all of that but a thrust away from what actually is… from the unpredictable, unknowable Mystery in which we are born and live our lives and die back into again and again and again…

It’s quite possible that my father who was an expert skier thought we were on the beginner’s slope. However, I doubt that very much. I think he understood the power of not knowing. I think he took a risk that day, moved by a sense that taking me out on the intermediate slope would push me through any fear-based notion I had of what it is to be a beginning skier. Ironically, by bypassing the beginner’s slope, he broke me into “beginner’s mind.”  He allowed me the experience of moving in the wide-open space that the yoga of Vijnana Bhairava is all about.

Here’s an audio clip of the June 2 class:

 

Here are the introductory verses. These are from The Radiance Sutras: A New Version of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, by Lorin Roche. 

 

1.

One day the Goddess sang to her lover, Bhairava:

Beloved and radiant Lord of the space before birth,
Revealer of essence
Slayer of the ignorance that binds us,

You who in play have created this universe
And permeated all forms in it with never-ending truth —
I have been wondering…

I have been listening to hymns of creation,
Enchanted by the verses,
Yet still I am curious.

What is this delight-filled universe
Into which we find ourselves born?
What is this mysterious awareness
Shimmering everywhere within it?

2.
I have been listening to the love songs of
Form longing for formless.
 
What are these energies
Undulating through our bodies,
Pulsing us into action?
And this “matter” out of which our forms are made –
What are these dancing particles of condensed radiance?

3.
The Goddess then asks,
 
What is this power we call Life,
Appearing as the play of flesh and breath?
How may I know this mystery and enter it more deeply?
 
Beloved, my attention is ensnared by a myriad of forms,
Innumerable individual entities everywhere.
Lead me into the wholeness beyond all these parts.
 
You who hold the mysteries in your hand –
Of will, knowledge, and action,
Reveal to me the path of illumined knowing.
 
Lead me into joyous union
                With the life of the universe.
Teach me that I may know it fully,
Realize it deeply,
And breathe in luminous truth.

 

Regular visitors to this blog know I like to bring in parallel readings to whatever text we’re wandering through. This is an excerpt from, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic, by Adyashanti, reprinted in the Summer 2014 issue of Parabola Magazine. The article is titled, The Mystery of The Resurrection. Adyashanti is writing about the version of the story as told in the Gospel of Mark.

 

Of course, Mark always goes for the surprise; he turns corners in his storytelling you don’t expect, and that is the beauty of  Mark. Mark doesn’t always read eloquently; he’s not a poet like the writer of John’s gospel. He’s more interested in exploring the unexpected shifts and turns of the story, and I think he does this because it opens the mind and heart to the mysteriousness of life. When we keep reading things that are unexpected, and encountering scenes that sometimes end almost before they’ve begun, it leaves us in a mysterious state of being. And I think this state of openness is where the writer of the  Gospel of Mark wanted to leave us. This is the state in which we can recognize the radiance and, when we’re open and caught off guard by the winds of spirit, we can be transformed into its shining. 

 

When SUNY Press reissued Jaideva Singh’s English translation of Vijnana Bhairava, they gave it the title, The Yoga of Delight, Wonder, and Astonishment. And that’s it right there. Wonder, astonishment, and delight. It’s enough to begin with contemplating the possibility of living in this space, of living in this spaciousness.

We tend to ascribe the so-called positive emotions — feelings of love, joy, contentment — to words like “delight” and “wonder.” Alas, this leaves out the other half of the experience of being human. I think it’s crucial to understand that as we practice living, breathing, perceiving, from the mysterious space between, what we might call the Heart Space, whatever is arising from our feeling-body, so-called positive or negative emotion, is held.  That’s the paradox. We are so huge we can hold it all and in that holding, as Adyashanti writes, we are transformed.

I had a glimpse of this at my very first yogic meditation retreat. In those days my musical life was focused on improvisational piano.  Much of the music that came through me was melodic and lyrical, beautiful, pleasing, acceptable. There was this whole other music that was wild and dissonant, dark, loud, crashing. There was nothing beautiful or acceptable about it. Yet when I was in this music, I felt a deep sense of power and aliveness. These were the early years of my journey. I had no way of holding what was happening to me. Mostly I kept it secret, shrouded in confusion and shame.

So here I am. It’s the third day of a euphoric experience. I’ve found my path, my practice, my guru. All is right with the world until the afternoon meditation session when I find myself lost in a maelstrom of doubt and self-loathing. Then comes the question, “What is wrong with me? I just want to make beautiful music. What is this terrible music I can’t stop playing?” And then I hear the voice.  “Your music is my music. It is the music of the Earth. It is the music of crashing waves and thunderstorms, of sun and moon, of dark and light. Let it all sing through you. Let it all be one.”

 

Monday, January 27, 2014: Warming the Stone Child

Stone child

I woke up Monday morning hearing the words “warming the stone child…” I remembered this is a title from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ canon although did not recall the story. The image however is so evocative, I sat with it awhile, reflecting on winter and the stone cold darkness, on the longing for warmth and nurture, on how nothing warms the stone child like the blazing fire of the heart…

The other phrase I kept hearing was “sonic hydration.” Which struck me as the other medicine the stone child sorely needs.  Heart fire and heart hydration. And we all know the quickest route to these is chanting the Name…

I found a transcription of CPE’s telling of Warming the Stone Child online so was able to read it at class and will also post it here. It’s a beautiful version of this Inuit tale and as I said at class, who knows better how to thrive in the long dark cold of winter but people of the Artic.

Like all great wisdom tales, it transcends time and place and can be felt through myriad lenses of perception. For people on a yogic path, it has a lot to say about clinging to form, about surrender, about the awesome power of tears shed from the depths of suffering—about how everything we search for is within….

It reminds me of the Mirabai poem, The Heat of Midnight Tears which I also read at class. All this in the dharma talk audio clip below.

Here’s the story and the poem:

The Stone Child:
An Inuit Story told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 There was an orphan that was so lonely and so hungry that no one wanted to be near him.  His mouth was open all the time and his teeth were always showing and tears were always running down from his eyes, and he was so wild with hunger that they had to tie him in the entrance to one of the skin houses so he’d not try to eat the hunters on their way to the seal hunt; that’s how hungry he was.

They would, on occasion, leave him some rancid reindeer meat or maybe some spoiled intestines to eat, but, as we know, it was more than hunger that was gnawing at him.  Those deep needs that not even the person themselves understands.  So everyday he stretched his chain a little bit and a little bit more, until he could get near a stone that was more or less the same size as himself.  You see, his mother and father had died one night, and their bodies had been dragged off by bears, and all that had been left behind by them was this one particular stone.  So he wrapped both his arms and his legs around that rock and he wouldn’t let go of it.  And, of course, his people thought he was crazier than ever, and on their way home from the hunt, with animal carcasses slung over their shoulders, they would jeer at him, and they would say, “Analuk has taken a stone for a wife, ha ha.  It’s good for you to have a wife who is a stone, for then you cannot use your hunger and eat her.”  And they went on their way.  

But the boy was so lonely and so hungry that he really had reached the end of his feeling for life.  And even though he had that terrible loneliness and that gnawing hunger, he kept his body wrapped around that stone, and because the stone began to take the heat from his flesh, the boy began to die.  The stone took the heat from his hands, and then it took the heat from his thighs, and it even took the heat from his chin where he rested it on top of the stone.  

And just as the boy was living his last breath, the hunters of his village came by again on their way home from the hunt, and again they called him down, and they said, “You crazy boy!  You are nesting with that stone like it is an egg.  We should call you Bird Boy, you good-for-nothing creature.”  And because the boy was near death, his feelings were hurt more than he could ever say, and great icy tears began to roll down his face and across his parka, and his cold, cold tears hit the hot, hot stone with a sizzle and a hiss and a crack, and it broke the stone right in two.

And inside was the most perfect little female the boy could ever want.  “Come,” she said, “I am here now, and you are an orphan no more.”  And she gave him a bow and arrows and a harpoon she had brought with her, and the boy and the girl made their house and had babies.  And, if they are not yet dead, they are in that land where the snow is violet and the night sky is black.  They are there, living still.

The Heat of Midnight Tears
Mirabai,  English version by Robert Bly

Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
Kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night.

If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through nothing but berries and wild nuts,
Then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves,
Then the goats would surely go to the Holy One before us!

If the worship of stone statues could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

One point I did not get to in this week’s dharma talk is the perfect ending of the Stone Child story: ” They are there, living still…”   Living still.   Such a beautiful evocation of the eternal stillness of the present moment. Reminds me of the opening sutras of Patanjali:

1.1 Atha  yogānushāsanam

1.2 Yogah  chitta  vritti  nirodhaha

1.3 Tadā  drashtu svarupe  avasthānam

Now, in this moment, the study of Yoga, which is the stilling of the thought waves of the mind; and in that stillness we rest in our essential nature.

I’ve walked this path now for nearly forty years and for me, chanting Om Namah Shivaya feels as fresh and alive as that very first time…Every repetition bathing me in sonic hydration, warming me from the inside, breaking open the stone child barriers in heart and mind so I merge, over and over, with the tender magnificence of the Self.

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

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

I’m still reflecting on sweetness and light, and the longing to merge into this luminous honey of the heart. As yogis we want to swim, dare I say, drown there. So I thought we’d open class with the Krsna Govinda kirtan. Here’s a clip of that. The sound quality is not great. I’m including it here because everyone loves this chant. [I’m happy to report I’m getting closer to returning to the studio. I need a few more months for the non-stop drama of my last two years to resolve. Once that happens, I’m looking forward to drowning in this music of my heart.]

And here’s this week’s dharma talk, which runs around 17 minutes.  I read from Kabir & Rumi, two drenched souls who knew a thing or two about drowning. All text is posted after the sound clip:

Here’s the Kabir:

The darkness of night is coming along fast, and
the shadows of love close in the body and the mind.
Open the window to the west, and disappear into the air inside you.
 
Near your breastbone three is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.
Waves are coming in:
there is so much magnificence near the ocean!
Listen: Sound of bells! Sound of immense seashells!
 
Kabir says, Friend, listen, this is what I have to say:
the One I love is inside of me!

Yes, at the end of the day, it’s all about Love, and our longing, which is actually the connecting thread.  Kabir says it far better than I:

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for, it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work. Look at me and you will see a slave of that intensity.

Here are the Rumi poems:

1.
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meetr them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Welcome difficulty. Learn the alchemy True Human Beings know: the moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door opens.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade. Joke with torment brought by the Friend.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets that serve to cover, and then are taken off.

That undressing, and the beautiful naked body underneath is the sweetness that comes after grief.
 

2.
One night a man was crying, “Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising, until a cynic said,
“So I have heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?”
The man had no answer to that. He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
 
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls, in a thick green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. The whining is the connection.
There are love-dogs no one knows the names of.

Give your life to be one of them.

And here’s the quote from Lawrence Kushner’s, The River of Light:

There is a realm of being that comes before us and follows after us. Streaming through and uniting all creation. Knowing who we have been and will be. It contaminates our sleep with visions of higher reality and exalts our waking with stories. It is a river of light. “She is a tree of Life to those who hold onto her.” [Prov. 3:18]. Her branches and shoots are the nerves and vessels of this world coursing beneath our surfaces, pulsing through our veins. A blueprint underlying the cosmos. The primary process of being. The inner structure of consciousness. The way of the Tao. “And all her paths are peace.” [Prov. 3:17]. Just behind and beneath everything. If we could but stand it, everything would have meaning. Everything connected to everything else even as they all share a common Root.

This week’s recording of slow mantra had some technical glitches so I won’t post sound clips. Instead, I dug into my archive of not-yet-posted recordings and chose the first one that jumped out at me. Which was July 25, 2011. This was back in the days when Sri Dan was with us each week so we were singing much more kirtan. This class opened with Jaya Shiva Shankara.  There were a lot of new people in the room that night so the recording begins with an introduction to this chant. You’ll hear Sri Dan on tabla. Sweet light. Enjoy.

I’m also including the dharma talk from that week. We were deep into Patanjali, swimming around in Book II. I was so struck by the threads between what we were talking about then and what we’re talking about now, I thought I’d leave the entire talk. Think of it as a bonus feature;)  I don’t have time for a careful edit so this is one long 50 minute sound clip. Here’s a rough breakdown: Jaya Shiva Shankara, 0-26; dharma talk, 26-43; and there’s an interesting dharana on Om Namah Shivaya, 43-50.  Once you click on the sound file, you’ll see the time and you can click around within the file:

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.