Kundalini Splendor

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Changes and Counter Changes 

I have not posted on this blog for some time, for my life has been full of changes and responses to change.

I love this quote from Denise Levertov's poem "Annunciation," which beautifully sums up how we may react to possibilities which open in our lives.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often
those moments
when roads of light and shadow
open from darkness in a man or a
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway

So, the initial task for us all is to recognize the moment of "annunciation," the opportunity which arises when a new and important path opens for us, and not to turn away. Such decision requires great courage, for it demands the release of former, more familiar patterns, and requires that we disrupt our comfortable, established routines for unknown experiences. It can lead to deep transformation and profound growth.

However, sometimes even when all doors seem to open for us in an uncanny and even magical way to bring us into a new state of being, things do not work out. Our expectations are dashed by events outside our control. The landscape changes, and we realize that our venture is not to be completed according to our hopes.

At this point, we must become totally flexible, feel our way through the situation, and not let unfulfilled promise lead us into despair.

I have encountered similar situations several times in my life. Once, when I was much younger, I (along with a few friends) dreamed that we might together buy an amazing property in the Rocky Mountains, a house located in one of the most stunning regions in that whole area. Everything seemed certain about the deal, but at the last moment it fell through. What had seemed too good to be true, was just that. I was deeply disappointed, but thought perhaps something better would come along and--voila!--it did. The money I would have used for this attractive but somewhat iffy investment became the down payment on a wonderful house where I lived for many happy years. The fates knew better than I what was best for me at that time.

Twice I planned exciting trips to Europe, living for weeks in heady anticipation. Both times the trips fell through, once when a close friend who was to go with our group became seriously ill at the last minute. It was indeed a blessing that the trip could be cancelled just in time, and she could recover at home.

Recently, I experienced a similar reversal of plans when I contemplated a move to another area some distance away. Everything seemed to be all set, including welcoming friends and a wonderful place to live. I even traveled south to taste the new experience. But, once again, at the last minute, the situation changed, and I knew it was best for me not to attempt such a transition. I decided instead to seek new quarters in my familiar city of San Francisco. (I was already beginning to miss the excitement of life in this wondrous city, with its numerous ethnic restaurants, museums, bookstores, theaters, etc.)

And once again the goddess blessed me with a wonderful gift--soon I will be moving to a very special apartment, located in a pleasant, older building where the small number of residents are generous and kind. From my large bay window I will look out over the city all the way to the Golden Gate bridge. The location is perfect for me--on a major avenue with incredible bus connections to all parts of the city. A large grocery is located just across the street. Furthermore, only four blocks away is the Sea Cliff district, which is quite special. You can literally feel the sweet vibrations of this magical area when you walk there. A close friend has recently moved nearby, a real boon in a large city where friends are often separated by great distances. And, my apartment has large rooms with spaces for bookshelves and incredibly generous closet and storage space. Such quarters are a rare find in a city as expensive and crowded as this.

So--my ultimate conclusion is this: When things fall apart, you do not have to. Your immediate expectations may not be met, but something better, more beautiful may coming your way. Instead of attempting to control your destiny, move with it, and allow the fates to take you in the direction which is best for you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Navaho Prayer 

Navaho Prayer - May it be beautiful

By Anonymous - Navaho Prayer - May it be beautiful
(19th Century)

This lovely poem was Ivan Granger's selection for the day:

Dark young pine, at the center of the earth originating,
I have made your sacrifice.
Whiteshell, turquoise, abalone beautiful,
Jet beautiful, fool's gold beautiful, blue pollen beautiful,
Reed pollen, pollen beautiful, your sacrifice I have made.
This day your child I have become, I say.

Watch over me.
Hold your hand before me in protection.
Stand guard for me, speak in defense of me.
As I speak for you, speak for me.
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.

I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.


Ivan also included this beautiful thought for the day:

Each one of us does not exist
except as an empty field
in which God meets God.
We are the flash of self-recognition
that lights the face of the Divine.

(copyright, Ivan Granger)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Stephanie Marohn and her Encounter with the Pig 

Among my many friends who are dedicated to the love and care of animals, Stephanie Marohn stands out as one of the most committed. Providing for the well being of her animal companions (as well as that of all the animals of the planet) is her primary life purpose. A professional writer/editor, she also maintains her own animal sanctuary, where she tends various farm creatures she has welcomed into her band through the years. These delightful inhabitants of the Sanctuary (including sheep, a horse, and a donkey) may be viewed through her website, www.stephaniemarohn.com, where you will find links to her Animal Messenger Sanctuary page.

Stephanie is convinced that animals coming to earth at this time have a special purpose, to help humanity in this moment of great global crisis. She is currently writing a novel describing this vision. Stephanie collects the wool from the sheep, and from this wool she makes lovely soft comforters. When I felt one of these amazing comforters, I could literally sense the gentle sweet vibrations of Chloe, who had supplied the wool. The friend who bought it loves it and says she feels nurtured and cherished when she sleeps under it.

Stephanie is indeed an animal shaman, one who has a mystical connection with and understanding of those creatures with whom we share our planet. The following autobiographical account describes the beginnings of her mystical calling.

Pearls of the Swine
A story about an Animal Messenger

When I was four, my parents were teaching at a Quaker boarding school that was also a working farm. While my mother was in class, I wandered around the campus. All the adults knew each other’s children and looked out for them, so I enjoyed a certain degree of freedom even at that age. Near the barn on campus was a pigpen, a large jungly pasture of gnarled trees and high grasses. The grass hid the pigs from view, so one day I climbed over the fence. The pigs had worn paths through the undergrowth and it was a thrill to be all alone in there, in the dimness of the shaded paths, shielded from the outside world. I walked the maze of paths in hopes of meeting one of the huge pigs. When one finally came snuffling and snorting along the path toward me, I wasn’t at all afraid though she was gigantic to a child of my size. She stopped, and we stood still, looking into each other’s eyes for what seemed a long, long time. I felt myself flow into the pig and felt her flow into me. Then I was back in my own body, meeting the pig’s deep and wise gaze. She stayed a moment longer, then turned around and trotted away down the path.

I was elated by this encounter; not by my bravery in facing the pig (I took that for granted and didn’t even think about it), but by what my adult self now terms the transcendent connection I experienced between us. After that, I visited the pigs whenever I could. I kept silent about these visits, knowing that this was probably not condoned behavior. Unfortunately, a whiny brat who didn’t abide by the children’s code of honor saw me go in one day and told on me. My mother declared the pigpen off-limits. Ordinarily, I would have been scared to disregard a parental taboo, but transcendence in the pigpen was too strong a draw. Already a mystical junkie, I kept returning in hopes of more amazing encounters, but as so often happens, the luminous quality of the first was not repeated, though a calm communion took its place.

The pigpen transcendence story now serves as an immediate reminder to me that I am always walking the path of the sacred, regardless of where I am and in what muck I find myself, and that the sacred is all around me.

—Stephanie Marohn

© 2005, Stephanie Marohn, all rights reserved.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Seyh Galib's poem 

Once more, I offer a poem from Ivan Granger's poetry-chaikhana site. His interpretation is especially meaningful here.

Love is a lamp of God, I am its moth;

By Seyh Galib
(1757 - 1799)

English version by Bernard Lewis

Love is a lamp of God, I am its moth;
love is a shackle, my heart is its crazy captive.

Since becoming a sharer in the secret of your glance
my heart became a friend of the friend, a stranger to the stranger.

Making no difference between dry piety and endless carouse --
such is the libertine way of the masters of ecstasy.

The black soil of the reveler’s world is full of abundance,
the sun of wisdom rises in the tavern jar.

He drinks the wine mingled with poison of the glance of those eyes;
I could be tipsy from the languor of those blue eyes.

Take care, do not neglect that sleeping dagger,
its tale is always the gossip of death.

Galib, enter the secluded palace of pleasure and see its secret,
the wise way of the daughter of the vine is something else.

-- from Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems, Translated by Bernard Lewis

Seyh Galib, also known as Galib Dede, was born in Istanbul. His father was a government official with a connection to the Mevlevi Sufi order, the order of "whirling dervishes" founded by Rumi.

Galib attempted to combine a government career with the interior life of a Sufi, but he eventually turned his focus wholeheartedly to the spiritual life, becoming the sheikh of the Mevlevi order in the Galata district of Istanbul.

Galib is considered to be the last of the great classical Ottoman poets.

This poem, like much of Sufi poetry, uses a language of the profane to describe the oneness with God as the Divine Beloved. Galib speaks of revelry and carousing, of taverns and "the daughter of the wine."

It is partly because of these sorts of metaphors that Victorian Europe chose to view the Muslim world as one of licentiousness and excess -- quite the opposite of the modern Western prejudice that likes to view Muslims as world-denying extremists. Both perspectives represent a profound misunderstanding of the deep wisdom being expressed through this sort of language.

Wine, as I have said elsewhere, is a common metaphor for the subtle and "intoxicating" drink of bliss. It is sweet on the palate and warms the heart. The resulting flood of energy in the body can be so intense that it often causes trembling or jerking body movements, occasionally unconsciousness, suggesting drunkenness to a spectator.

But it is in the wine glass, the "tavern jar," that the "sun of wisdom rises." By immersing yourself in that ecstasy, false concepts are washed away and true knowing emerges.

As in many sacred traditions, the Sufis often describe the interaction with the ego-self and the Divine as a game of love. Thus, Galib writes of eyes that make the "reveler" tipsy. A glance from those eyes causes him to drink "wine mingled with poison." Why poison? The wine causes the sweet ecstasy, but there is poison there too, because such a divine glance leads to the death of the ego. Ultimately, only the eternal glance remains. That is what it means to truly enter the "secluded palace of pleasure and see its secret."


Monday, February 06, 2006

From my Youth--Poem by Ancient Zen Master 

Once again, the poem which follows is from Ivan Granger's splendid poetry-chaikhana site. And once more, Ivan offers a most elegant interpretation of the poem. The method the writer recommends (by implication) is what Andrew Harvey advocates: "The Direct Path". This is the mystic's favorite mode of approach, experiencing the divine directly without aid of priest or other intervening figures. And Andrew, like Ivan, also pays homage to the proper use of sacred text and wisdom writers. But nothing, not even the most perceptive text, can replace the mystic's own immediate penetration of and by the divine reality as lived experience.

From my youth I piled studies upon studies, (from Shodoka)

By Yoka Genkaku (Yongjia Xuanjue)
(665 - 713)

English version by Robert Aitken

From my youth I piled studies upon studies,
In sutras and sastras I searched and researched,
Classifying terms and forms, oblivious to fatigue.
I entered the sea to count the sands in vain
And then the Tathagata scolded me kindly
As I read "What profit in counting your neighbor's treasure?"
My work had been scattered and entirely useless,
For years I was dust blown by the wind.

Hi Dorothy -

Yongjia Xuanjue (known in Japanese as Yoka Genkaku) is the author of the Cheng Tao Ko (The Shodoka in Japanese), a key scripture of early Zen Buddhism.

This verse is a powerful and devastating reminder for the seeker:

In sutras and sastras I searched and researched,
Classifying terms and forms, oblivious to fatigue.
I entered the sea to count the sands in vain...

Study of sacred scriptures ("sutras and sastras"), sacred traditions -- even sacred poetry -- can too often become a "vain" and "useless" act when we are merely "classifying terms and forms." When devotion is absent, when we ourselves in our essential presence are absent, the study of even sacred things devolves into a sort of spiritual materialism. Our study becomes a mere accumulation of data that allows us to proclaim, 'I have read this, I have memorized that. Look how hard I have worked to understand... I have acquired it; it is MINE. Surely I am now more spiritual and closer to God, closer to truth.' But what do we really have?

We are challenged by the question: "What profit in counting your neighbor's treasure?"

In studying sacred teachings and traditions, we are essentially studying spiritual truth as perceived and taught by others. That spiritual truth is "your neighbor's treasure." The goal is not to endlessly classify and categorize what others have said. The goal is to receive the treasure for yourself!

Now please don't think I am suggesting there is no value in reading sacred scriptures or in following sacred tradition. But we must understand their true purpose: They are maps pointing the direction. If we endlessly study a map without actually making the journey, then what is the purpose of the map? What does it matter if we can name every landmark but have never set a foot upon the road?

In other words, we must realize and not merely intellectualize. This is the only way to honor the sacred scriptures, traditions, teachings, poems we study. We honor the sacred not by acquiring but by becoming.


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Ivan M. Granger's original poetry, stories and commentaries are Copyright © 2002 - 2005 by Ivan M. Granger.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Found Poem 

This morning, while I was straightening my bedroom, I found this poem on the floor. I had no recollection of having written it, nor under what circumstances. But in truth I like it, and am glad it resurfaced after so many weeks. It has to do with the elusive quality of the Mystery, that which we constantly yearn for and pursue, and which sometimes grants us a fleeting, ghostlike glimpse.

Sudden and Disheveled

And then I am the wild teacher
rising up sudden and disheveled
from the desert floor.

Smoke and cloud shadows
pass overhead . . .
Am I a mirage
or a thing that is real?

Your eyes grow still and questioning . . . .
Am I still there?

Sometimes jeweled words
fall like petals
from my lips.
At others,
a senseless muttering,
a rambling of no sense.

But you keep listening,
straining to hear.

In the street,
I’ll wear a disguise,
a rag woman
or a Santa Claus
ringing a bell.

Don’t look at me
or say hello.

This is a secret
between us two.

Dorothy Walters
November 16, 2005

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