Kundalini Splendor

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Poem by Muktabai, an Early Mystic 

Here is the daily poem selected by Ivan Granger for his amazing "Poetry Chaikhana" along with Ivan's very illuminating commentary. What he says here is a very perceptive description of the mystical state as such. (See www.poetry-chaikhana.com for a rich treasury of sacred poetry.)

Where darkness is gone I live

By Muktabai
(13th Century)

English version by Willis Barnstone

Where darkness is gone I live,
where I am happy.
I am not troubled by coming and going,
I am beyond all vision,
above all spheres.
His spirit lives in my soul.

Mukta says: He is my heart's only home.

-- from "The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry," Edited by Aliki Barnstone

Ivan's commentary:

Muktabai (not to be confused with Mirabai) was the sister of the highly revered Jnanadev, but Muktabai is a profound poet-saint in her own right.

Their father had been a sadhu ascetic who later abandoned the renunciate life to marry and raise children. This was shocking to orthodox authorities and the family was generally shunned.

When the children were all very young, their parents died and the children had to survive by begging. Yet from this family a spiritual vision of the greatest depth emerged.

This poem is an utterance of supreme unity. Muktabai declares that she dwells in the divine radiance "where darkness is gone." This radiance or light permeates all things. It is the single substance beneath the many forms. Residing in this fundamental awareness, the thingness of things is lost. Separate objects or people are no longer perceived, but a living pool of radiance. No longer seeing a world of subject and object, Muktabai is "beyond all vision."

When Muktabai says she is "not troubled by coming and going," she is stating that, for her, action has come to a halt. The constant interplay of karma, of effort and its repercussions has ceased. This does not mean that all interaction with her environment has stopped, that she has somehow stopped moving or eating or anything like that. The physical body by its nature must always be engaged in some sort of exchange with the world around it. But the ego-self, has subsided into where it lives, where it is happy, the heart. The "coming and going" that is no longer occurring is the false doing of the sticky self, the ego-self. When the ego subsides, the true identity emerges, supremely still and unmoved by action or inaction. Another way of saying this is that action is done, but there is no sense of a doer claiming ownership. You become more of a witness to your action rather than the doer. The awareness is no longer "troubled" by these actions. Because your true nature is finally known, you no longer falsely identify with the actions. Your true self does not come or go, caught in the tides of the actions... the actions gently flow through you. All the while she is at rest "above all spheres" with "His spirit" who "lives in my soul."

In the second line, to use the word as "happy" in this English translation falls short. One could use "content" in the fullest sense imaginable: complete, whole, at rest. But more evocative words would be "ecstatic" or "filled with bliss" -- for these are better descriptions of the natural state when one finally recognizes the life that is the "heart's only home."

Have a day of happiness and contentment, a day filled with bliss!


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