Monday, August 26, 2013: “And for what he has become, There is no name…”

Hummingbird logo

I’ve been in end of summer vacation mode which has been lovely for the soul but threw a wrench into my blogging schedule. Rather than stay in chronological order however, I’m posting last week’s class. Which focused on the topic of “Desire.” Desire gets everyone into all sorts of trouble. For those who walk a wisdom path, it’s very good to make friends with this powerful force. We want to get it working for rather than against us.

Here’s my dharma talk which opens with a short breath meditation and ends with a reading from Thomas Byrom’s wonderful translation of Ashtavakra Gita. I’ve titled this post with the final lines from this glorious text…

Here’s the Byrom text:
From The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of Ashtavakra Gita, Thomas Byrom, Shambhala Dragon Editions.

17. Beyond All
 
1.
The man who is happy and pure
And likes his own company
Gathers the fruit of his practice
And the fruit of wisdom.
 
2.
The man who knows the truth
is never unhappy in the world.
 
For he alone fills the universe.
 
3.
Just as the elephant loves
The leaves of the sallaki tree,
But not the neem tree,
So the man who loves himself
Always spurns the senses.
 
4.
It is hard to find
A man who has no desire
For what he has not tasted,
Or who tastes the world
And is untouched.
 
5.
Here in the world
Some crave pleasure,
Some seek freedom.
But it is hard to find
A man who wants neither.
 
He is a great soul.
 
6.
It is hard to find
A man who has an open mind,
Who neither seeks nor shuns
Wealth or pleasure,
Duty or liberation,
Life or death. . .
 
7.
He does not want the world to end.
He does not mind if it lasts.
 
Whatever befalls him,
He lives in happiness.
 
For he is truly blessed.
 
8.
Now that he understands,
He is fulfilled.
His mind is drawn within,
And he is fulfilled.
 
He sees and he hears,
He touches and smells and tastes,
And he is happy.
 
9.
What he does is without purpose.
His senses have been stilled.
His eyes are empty.
 
He is without desire or aversion.
 
For him the waters of the world
Have all dried up!
 
10.
He is not asleep.
He is not awake.
He  never closes his eyes.
Or opens them.
 
Wherever he is,
He is beyond everything.
He is free.
 
11.
And the man who is free
Always lives in his heart.
His heart is always pure.
 
Whatever happens,
He is free of all desires.
 
12.
Whatever he sees or hears or touches,
Whatever he smells or tastes,
Whatever he acquires,
He is free.
 
Free from striving,
And from stillness.
 
For he is indeed a great soul.
 
13.
Without blame or praise,
Anger or rejoicing.
 
He gives nothing.
He takes nothing.
 
He wants nothing,
Nothing at all.
 
14.
And whoever draws near him,
A woman full of passion
Or Death Himself,
He is not shaken.
 
He stays in his heart.
 
He is free indeed!
 
15.
It is all the same to him.
Man or woman,
Good fortune or bad,
Happiness or sorrow.
 
It makes no difference.
He is serene.
 
16.
The world no longer holds him.
He has gone beyond
The bounds of human nature.
 
Without compassion
Or the wish to harm,
Without pride or humility.
 
Nothing disturbs him.
Nothing surprises him.
 
17. Because he is free,
He neither craves nor disdains
The things of the world.
 
He takes them as they come.
 
His mind is always detached.
 
18.
His mind is empty.
He is not concerned with meditation,
Or the absence of it,
Or the struggle between good and evil.
 
He is beyond all,
Alone.
 
19.
No “I,”
No “mine.”
 
He knows there is nothing.
 
All his inner desires have melted away.
 
Whatever he does,
He does nothing.
 
20.
His mind has stopped working!
 
It has simply melted away . . .
 
And with it,
Dreams and delusions and dullness.
 
And for what he has become,
There is no name.

 

I tried a new microphone placement this week which alas did not work so well. I’m therefore not including opening chanting from this class. Here however is our final recitation of the Maha Mrtunjaya Mantra resolving into Om Namah Shivaya and a closing dharana. Enjoy…

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.”

Monday, April 22, 2013, Happy Birthday SG! Class

Since it’s been awhile since I’ve written here, I thought I’d post the class that fell on my birthday. For those who visit this blog but have never been to class, I thought you might enjoy seeing photos:

SG Birthday

Birthday cake1

Cutting cake

SG cropped  Birthday

Bday cake2

Here’s my birthday dharma talk…

Here’s the text of the Mirabai poem I read:

Why Mira Can’t Go Back to Her Old House

The colors of the Dark One have penetrated Mira’s body; all the other colors washed out.
Making love with the Dark One and eating little, those are my pearls and my carnelians.
Meditation beads and the forehead streak, those are my scarves and rings.
That’s enough feminine wiles for me. My teacher taught me this.
Approve me or disapprove me: I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.
I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.
I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone. What will you charge me with?
I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders; and now you want me to climb on a jackass?
Try to be serious.  [tr. by Robert Bly]

And here’s a clip of chanting from this class. With apologies for sound quality. But the spirit and energy are certainly here. This is Narayana and Kali Durge.

The Saraswati Work: Dharma Talk & Chanting from Monday, February 11, 2013

Cubist Saraswati

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continue swimming in the waters of the deity field personified in the Indian tradition as the goddess Saraswati. Here’s my dharma talk from February 11th. It opens with a commentary/exposition on the Saraswti Bija Mantra and goes on to explore the dance between embrace, descent, and reclamation on the spiritual, creative, transformational journey…

 

Here’s a clip of chanting from this class: Saraswati Bija Mantra gliding into Om Namah Shivaya followed by a dharana on the luminosity of Saraswati:

 

Here’s text of the David White poems I read in my dharma talk:

THE STATUE OF SHIVA
–David Whyte
 
The statue of Shiva
entwined with his lover
– the way
we love to hold closely
what is ours.
 
Their speech
so plain to the attentive ear
bowing close to listen.
 
“The universe refuses the vows
of the celibate.
Preparing them instead with
songs for marriage.
Everything it knows
was born of the great embrace.”

THE HUSK OF YOUR VOICE
–David Whyte
 
The husk of your voice
is like a chrysalis
grown round something
hidden,
waiting to be born
and waiting for you
to stop.
 
What is inside
wants you to know itself fully
before it is born.
 
That’s why it refuses
to reveal itself,
sure as you are
that you need not slip down
that long branch of your body
to the very root
and in that earth
hear the damp echo
of everything
you have not touched
reflected
in your voice, and the air
suddenly quicken
as if innocent speech
could rise again
from that rich and
impossible soil
composed
of your neglected
past.
 
Like sap rising
in the steady tree
of your life.
 
Your voice opens
and shows
the strong outline
of that tree
against the sky,
 
where another
shadow
takes flight
startled by your
new cry,
 
the shadow
of something leaving
to find its own way
in the world.
 
Something you carried
as a black weight
for many years.
 
You watch it go
relieved
as if it might return
blessed by world
which
allows its going,
refusing to be held
and refusing to hold
you again,
free and finally
in its flight
to another’s mouth
untroubled by your breath.

 

And the last word goes to Kabir. This beloved poet-weaver of Varanasi is, in my opinion, one of the greatest channels for the insight-wisdom-luminosity-stream personified as the goddess Saraswati:

THE CLAY JUG
Kabir [version by Robert Bly]
 
Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine
mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine
mountains!
All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of
stars.
The acid that tests gold is there, and the one who judges
jewels.
And the music from the strings no one touches, and the
source of all water.
 
If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.

 

Part I: “Naked and bowed low…”

Image

2.9.2013

I was ill for much of January, brought to my knees by the flu. Confined to bed and couch, the key word was surrender. Each time I tried to go vertical before horizontal was done with me, I found myself crashing back down.  Which had me thinking a lot about the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s Descent. In this story, Inanna, Queen of Heaven & Earth must descend to the Underworld realm of her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dark Below.  If you know the story, you’ll remember Inanna must pass through seven gates, surrendering an article of clothing at each one. So she arrives in the Underworld, “naked and bowed low.” Inanna’s chief hindrance is pride. Within moments of coming into Ereshkigal’s presence, she insults her, and ends up hanging on a meat hook for three days. A rather drastic purification, but this is the Dark Below. No sugarcoating of Reality down here…

Which is pretty much how I felt during the worst days of the flu. Illness does this, stripping us down to bare essence.

Descents can be physically devastating and emotionally brutal. So we need to learn to honor our descent time, holding onto awareness as we make the journey down. Counter-intuitive though it sounds, the more we embrace descent, surrendering to the fertile darkness, the more we return from the journey, renewed, refreshed, and inspired. In Devi Yoga, we call this process The Kali Work.

Here’s a dharma talk, inspired by the notion of descent, from January 1.28.13. I was somewhere between the under and above worlds when I gave this talk. Feeling well enough to teach class, I was far from recovered. This is therefore not the most coherent talk I’ve ever given, but the points are worth making.  I’ll also include chanting clips and text from the excerpt I read from Stephen Mitchell’s excellent translation of Bhagavad Gita.

Here’s an audio clip of my dharma talk:

This class opened with chanting of the Navarna mantra. Regular visitors to this Blog will by now have discerned that this mantra is a regular part of our practice. Although the seed syllables are associated with other deity fields, the heart of the mantra, Chamunda, is an extremely potent aspect — perhaps the most potent aspect — of the deity field personified in the Indian tradition as Kali Ma. The Sumerians drew her as Ereshkigal. It really doesn’t matter how we name or image the archetype. And much as I love goddess theology, to reduce it to goddess form is like playing with dolls. This is the primal power of Truth, the internal force that pulsates around and through our authenticity. This is the power of consciousness that destroys the ties that bind us, demolishing thieves of the heart, and drawing us down, into the luminous vortex of Self. So we don’t want to contemplate Descent without paying homage to this radiant force…

Here’s text from Stephen Mitchell’s beautiful translation and commentary on Bhagavad Gita:

from Chapter 2: The Practice of Yoga

THE BLESSED LORD SPOKE

 

When a man gives up all desires

that emerge from the mind, and rests

contented in the Self by the Self,

he is called a man of firm wisdom.

 

He whose mind is untroubled

by any misfortune, whose craving

for pleasures has disappeared,

who is free from greed, fear, anger,

who is unattached to all things,

who neither grieves nor rejoices

if good or bad things happen —

that man is a man of firm wisdom.

“By ceasing to question the sun, I have become light” — Dharma talk, chanting, & dharanas from 10.22.12

Becoming Light

I’m titling this post with a quote from the Thomas Merton poem I read at class on 10.22. “By ceasing to question the sun, I have become light…”  For me, this line offers the essence of the path of heart. The mystery, the teaching, the practice. The poem itself is like a mantra. Radiant with shakti. Read it over ten thousand times. It will shape your inner being in its bliss…

O Sweet Irrational Worship
-Thomas Merton

Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.

By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,

Bird and wind.

My leaves sing.

I am earth, earth

All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.

A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.

When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!

I am earth, earth

My heart’s love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
Stand reflected.

I am earth, earth

Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.

Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship.

Here’s a clip of my 10.22 dharma talk. It runs around twenty minutes, riffs on poetry from Denise Levertov and Dorothy Waters, and ends with Merton.

 

This audio clip of class chanting Om Namah Shivaya runs around 13 minutes and ends with a 2-minute dharana on the Merton poem.

Here are the Levertov and Waters poems:

The Secret
-Denise Levertov

Two girls discover

the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

 

Taken

-Dorothy Walters

First, you must let your heart
be broken open
in a way you have never
felt before,
cannot imagine.

You will
not know if what you are
feeling
is anguish or joy,
something predestined
or merely old wounds
flowing once more,
reminders of all that is
unfinished in your life.

Something will flood into
your chest
like air sweetened by
desert honeysuckle,
love that is too
strong.

You will stand there,
very still,
not seeing what this is.
Later, you will not remember
any of this
until the next time
when you will say,
yes, yes, I have known this before,
it has come again,
just as your eyes fold under
once more.

 

I sit at my computer assembling the elements of this post and there is so much I want to say to you. My heart overflows with the longing. But listening to the talk, re-living the poems, anything more seems redundant. So I will leave off here, bidding you adieu until we meet again, from my heart to yours…

The Fire of Love: Dharma Talk, Dharanas, and Chanting from 10.15.12

It’s been nearly three months since I’ve written here. Coming back this evening I discovered content that’s been sitting since October, waiting to be fleshed out and published.

This is a talk I gave on 10.15. While the Path of Heart was still my principal focus, I was beginning to weave the Kali Work back into the tapestry. For the last few years, I’ve moved away from metaphors of the Sacred Feminine. This talk on the fire of love marks a shift back into that perceptual framework and articulates where we find ourselves when Kali awakens on the Path of Heart…

Here’s the Mary Oliver poem I read as a dharana at the end of my talk:

Maybe
 -Mary Oliver
 
Sweet Jesus, talking
his melancholy madness,
stood up in the boat
and the sea lay down,
silky and sorry.
So everybody was saved
that night.
But you know how it is
 
when something
different crosses
the threshold — the uncles
mutter together,
 
the women walk away,
the young brother begins
to sharpen his knife.
Nobody knows what the soul is.
 
It comes and goes
like the wind over the water —
sometimes, for days,
you don’t think of it.
 
Maybe, after the sermon,
after the multitude was fed,
one or two of them felt
the soul slip forth
like a tremor of pure sunlight
before exhaustion,
that wants to swallow everything,
gripped their bones and left them
 
miserable and sleepy,
as they are now, forgetting
how the wind tore at the sails
before he rose and talked to it —
 
tender and luminous and demanding
as he always was —
a thousand times more frightening
than the killer storm.

Here are mantras [om namah shivaya and navarna] with a short dharana at the end of the clip:

And the last word goes to Mirabai/Bly.  If you’re still wondering how to walk the Fire Path of Heart, here are operating instructions…

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.
 

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.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

For the first class of the new fall season, it seemed only right to bask in the luminosity of Gayatri mantra. For readers of this blog who do not attend class, here is the mantra in transliterated Sanskrit:

As I wrote in the previous post, Gayatri mantra is considered the sound form of light.  So Sanskrit, as a language of vibration, is offering us a sonic vessel of  liquid light. Pour it into your bloodstream. Chant it with all your heart. Meaning is secondary, almost irrelevant. Still the mind loves something to dwell on, hence the beautiful imagery of the literal English translation:

Earth. Atmosphere. Heavens.
We meditate on the sacred light of the effulgent source.
Let that light infuse our entire being.

bhur         earth
bhuvah       atmosphere
svaha       heavens
tat          that
savitur      of the source
varenyam     to be held sacred
bhargo       light
devasya      of the effulgent
dhimahi      we meditate on
dhiyo        thoughts, intentions, prayers
yah          which (source)
nah          our
procadayat   should direct, urge, inspire

Here’s a clip of the first round of chanting from this week’s class:

Here’s my dharma talk:

This last clip contains a short dharana to ease into final chanting of the evening: a second round of Gayatri [approximately 26 minutes], followed by Om Namah Shivaya. 

And the final word goes to Rumi. Here’s the text I read at class, from Coleman Barks’ & Michael Green’s, The Illuminated Rumi:

In any gathering, in any
chance meeting
on the street, there is
a shine, an elegance
rising up

Today, I recognized that the jewel-like beauty
is the presence.

Our loving confusion,
the glow in which
watery clay gets
brighter than fire,
the one we call the Friend.

I begged, “Is there a way into you, a ladder?”
“Your head is the ladder, bring it down under your feet.”

The mind, this globe of awareness, is a starry universe that when you push off with your foot, a thousand new roads become clear, as you yourself do at dawn, sailing through the light.