Kundalini Splendor

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sonoma Ashram 

Last week, Michael and I visited the Sonoma Ashram, a small facility located some one and a half hours north of San Francisco. He knew the resident guru (Baba Hariji) from a workshop some years ago and was deeply impressed by this man's spiritual radiance.

When we arrived, we went immediately to the building housing the "temple" (this was a simple room in one of the units.) Here we found a shrine, containing on its wall a large picture of a smiling man . When I stood in front of this image, I immediately felt amazing "bliss waves," of the kind I have experienced so often recently from the Buddha on my thongka. I simply stood there quietly, drinking in the sweet nectar of the moment, for some ten or so minutes. I assumed this was a photo of Hariji, but no, it was in fact, an image of his own guru, whom he (Hariji) had served for several years during his apprenticeship.

This ashram prides itself on its atmosphere of peace and love, and indeed these were the qualities which one detected in abundance. All those we met were exceptionally gracious and kind, doing all they could to make us feel at home.

I had the opportunity to talk at length with Hariji, who proved to be a very humble, unassuming person, who stated that his goal was to give people what they most needed, and to help to make the world a better place. I loved the purity of his devotion and his purpose. He was, I felt, an authentic spiritual teacher, and his followers reflected his teachings in their own actions.

We even talked a bit about kundalini, and its possible relationship to enlightenment. I suggested that the moment of deep awakening seemed to offer at least a glimpse or taste of what is known as enlightenment. And his answer was, I thought, quite lovely: "All of the sea tastes the same, whether you take only a sip or whether you swallow a very large amount."

Frankly, he did a lot to redeem my own somewhat skeptical impression of gurus. He was in no way bigoted or dogmatic; indeed he emanated pure love and gentle acceptance. I deeply appreciated his willingness to engage in dialogue, rather than delivering a monologue of fixed truths. I felt he had honored my presence by letting me be seen for what I was, rather than (as so often happens) dismissing me as someone deluded or immature or inconsequential, as such luminaries are sometimes known to do. He was not playing out the ego role of the "great master." Unassuming and deeply attentive, he embodied his own truth.

An unexpected boon was the presence of some of Michael's friends, a family who had traveled from the East Coast to spend a long weekend at the ashram with Hariji. They had spent three weeks in India recently, staying at the ashram there which Hariji also oversees. This ashram,located near Varanasi (the most sacred city in India) includes an orphanage for young boys who have lost one or both of their parents. Dick had compiled an amazing video of the photos he had taken on their trip. He, his wife, and young daughter are planning to return in the fall for an extended stay.

As for me, I seemed to enter another dimension in the ashram. It seemed to stir up memories of the past, or else longings for the future, I couldn't tell which. In part I was quite exalted (at being in such transcendent space), and in part, I was saddened (almost a kind of nostalgia for some former existence.)

So now I have the India bug. I am sorely tempted to journey there, but so far haven't totally given in to that impulse. Half of me is already there, and the other half keeps reminding me of reasons I shouldn't go.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Poem by Michael Black 

Here is a recent poem by my friend Michael Black. I am, as always, delighted with poems on spiritual topics, and this is a good one. (And Michael is very spiritual. He often does his "seva" (service) by coming over to help me with various challenging tasks (putting up pictures, getting things wired up correctly, that sort of thing.) He is still looking for an excuse to use his drill, which he is very proud of.)

>> Oceania
>> Awash in my tiny boat,
>> Towering waves all about,
>> I remind myself that
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.
>> Awash in my tiny boat,
>> Towering waves all about,
>> I reach for my breath,
>> But it's not there. It's not there. Yet
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.
>> Awash in my tiny boat,
>> Towering waves all about,
>> My frail ego exudes pain, exudes pain,
>> But it's never-ending. Never-ending. Yet
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.
>> Awash in my tiny boat,
>> Towering waves all about,
>> My ego capsizes. There I am,
>> Flailing about for a mammoth life raft. Yet
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.
>> Awash in my tiny boat,
>> Towering waves all about,
>> I become a gallon of sea water,
>> for all sea water knows that
>> G-D is greater than an ocean,
>> G-D is greater than an ocean.

copyright, Michael Black

Michael and I went to visit his favorite ashram in Sonoma on Saturday. I exerienced much shakti there, and am still in the spell. I plan to write about the vist soon.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Two Love Poems for (from) God 

One of the recurring challenges of the mystic deeply in love with the Divine is how to express that relationship in language. The experience itself often mirrors human love in its intensity and totally sensuous nature. As I have remarked before, the Lover Within is a reality, an actual feeling or sense of presence, not a mere metaphor.

Yesterday I received this marvelous poem from my new friend in England, Eric Ashford. And I was inspired to write a response to it, a love poem (to the Divine) of my own.

Here is Eric's poem, followed by mine:

speak your thundering mind into my heart

Tell me

how you want me?

Should I lay down or stand?

Will I be in Your way

or Your door to open?

You may walk over me

but please do that

with Your lips and hands.

Show me

what position to assume.

What shadows to cast

into silhouettes of You?

This love affair just got serious

but I can smile as You use me.

Will I be the lion or the lamb?

My legs girders of passion

or stems for Your flowers?

Tell me

how to adopt a position

how to please You.

I cannot do this on my own.

This ravishing

must be a shared surrender.

I promise to die for You

just give me Your Soul to lay down in.

Show me.

Speak Your thundering Mind into my heart.

copyright, Eric Ashford
Derbyshire, England
May 28, 2006

Carving Me into Constant Love

Do you know how many times
I have opened my body to Yours,
how often I have become
whatever it is You are.

I never know just when
You will arrive,
how You are going to look
that day.

Sometimes You are Shiva,
tendrils flaming
in Your restless hair,
gaze turned within
as if You didn't notice what You did,
ever dancing to keep the world alive.

Again, that Buddha
who lives in my front room,
vessel of compassion,
container of sensuous joy,
how effortlessly You enter the secret places,
my head, my throat or wrists.

Yesterday, You were
just an image
on a temple wall,
some long vanished
guru with his special powers
and inviting smile,
no one I had ever heard of

Dorothy Walters
May 28, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Beautiful Poem by Eric Ashford 

Here is another beautiful poem by Eric Ashford. He is truly an inspired poet, often writing several in one day. Here is his latest. It describes in a most moving way his own experience of opening to kundalini.

falling apart in the Ravishing

What I remember most is the vibrancy.
You fall in love
you bang your head on invisible walls,
that is a good thing
you like this contact with your mind.
A mind you take out and look at:
It is like a bruised flower
heavy with sensual aromas.
You want to keep it in a vase forever
just like this
but nothing lasts.
When it falls apart
you breathe in the flavor
of God.

A red hibiscus.
Lusts turning to colorless delights.
I like the word “lust” now.
I use it a lot in my everyday speech.
Friends become wary
so I talk about the vibrancy,
without the sexual connotations
of Shakti rising.

I am in the Opening,
that is what I called it:
The Opening.

A ravishing mouth
pulling apart atoms
to make a fountain of my soul.
I am in love
with my own dissolution.
I adore my shaking body
as it thunders silently into lightning.

I write.
I keep on writing love letters to myself.
It helps but it’s hard to type
or hold a pen
when you are the sexual play-thing
of the Universe.

copyright, Eric Ashford
jueves, mayo 25, 2006

see his blogs at:


also see "Shakti" in the "She" blog.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Breathing Buddha 

Today, another astonishing experience with Buddha. This time, I meant to spend only a few minutes in moving meditation, but, once again, I was held there by the sweet ecstatic flow of energies. I seemed to literally "breathe" the bliss. I tried self-reiki with exquisite energy flows therefrom. And I performed a few T'ai Chi movements, and found that, once again, the exquisite energies led me through my slow moves.

Once more, I wonder at those who might impose the moves of T'ai Chi or chi gong from without, teachers who insist on "correct form," "masters" who have never felt the bliss. For them, these practices seem to be exercises in conformity, rigid almost militaristic following of some externally imposed discipline. For me, it is naked (literally) bliss. What a delight! What a deep sense of connection with the life force itself.

And, once again, an image came through. This time it was, first, a dark field superimposed on the inner rectangle of the Buddha painting. I could make out only a hooded monk (Eastern), who seemed to be holding a bowl in his hands. (I first thought of this as a begging bowl.) He was standing in profile. Then, he turned and I saw him more clearly--as an ancient figure who was almost bald, his remaining hair drawn back in a pony tail. He reminded me of the drawings of the "mischievous bodhisattvas" which are sometimes depicted. And I realized that the bowl he was presenting to Buddha was his offering, something to be blessed and to bless with in turn.

How amazed I continue to be that this experience goes on unfolding in its own delicate and blissful way, even after twenty-five years. I think such experiences are happening more and more. And I think we should all welcome such evidence of our mutual link with transcendent reality, and share our discoveries with one another, for we are, indeed, participating in a common spiritual revolution.

That is what I think.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Here is a goddess poem by Eric Ashford, a gifted poet who lives in Derbyshire, England, and who has an intimate relationship with the goddess. To see his blog, click on the link called "She" listed at the bottom right column of this page.

You are the Attraction
a Goddess on a moonless night.
Everything gets pulled into You
moths and flames together.
The body gets pulled out of its soul
the soul becomes a moth
its own heart, infinite flame.
We are lifted backwards into
Your future---tenderly
even as we die.
You fly in us, for even the dawn
must have its shadows.
Where there was moonlight
there is only Your gleaming.
You are not dark.
You are a gentle glow of passion
for those in need.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

More on this Buddhist Thangka 

This morning, I examined the thangka more closely, and made some interesting discoveries. It seems to be bordered with various types of brocade--the outer border is black, the next bronze, the innermost maroon. The painting itself seems to be on some sort of parchment or very heavy paper--at least, that is how it feels to me. The Buddha sits atop a lotus throne, the stem of which rises from the water (dark blue waves) below. The throne consists of the many, many blooms emerging from this single stem.

The Buddha has black hair with something resembling a "widow's peak" in the center. His head and topknot are outlined in a green/gold border, which shades into a larger nimbus of green moving into indigo. Then, surrounding his entire figure is a very wide aura of undulating bronze/gold. The smaller Buddha who sits above his head has a similar design, though it is simplified.

The Buddha sits with on hand holding a begging bowl, the other resting on his knee. His shoulder is exposed in traditional monk fashion. As I noted earlier, he appears quite androgynous, and could easily be taken for a female. His lips are delicate. His eyebrows are quite dainty. His fingernails are painted light blue.

The gold of the painting appears primarily in the pattern of the robe and in the tips of the leaves intertwined among the lotus blossoms.

Why am I detailing all of this so minutely? I'm not sure. I have read that when practitioners sit in contemplation of deity images, they are instructed to memorize all the details of the presentation, including the instruments the deity carries. I seem to have followed this injunction unconsciously. Indeed, this morning, I spent most of my time just looking more closely at the detail of the painting.

May you find this description useful, even though it still doesn't account for the powerful energies which emanate from this timeless figure.

For me, the entire experience of "living with Buddha" has provided a deeper understanding of why certain meditators spend their time contemplating images of deity. Something connects. Something is felt, which goes beyond mere visual perception, mere aesthetic display. What the image projects is, finally, mystery, a mystery that is palpable and real.

As Yeats said, "Man can embody truth, but never know it."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

About Thangkas 

This morning, I again had an unexpected experience with the Buddha thangka. I stopped in front of it after I woke up, just to more or less "say hello," and then stepped forward to see it more clearly. It was, again, as if I had entered a special energy field (a "Buddha field"?). The energies were, as before, quite blissful, and extremely high. I stayed there only a few minutes, since it seems I can only tolerate small doses of this "heavenly nectar."

Several friends have asked me what a thangka is, and how it is made. I am reprinting an article here from Wikipedia, which offers helpful information about thonkas.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thangka painting, at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim: Thangka is a painted or embroidered Tibetan banner which was hung in a monastery or a family altar and carried by lamas in ceremonial processions. In Tibetan the word 'than' means flat and the suffix 'ka' stands for painting. The Thangka is thus a kind of painting done on flat surface but which can be rolled up when not required for display, sometimes called a scroll-painting. The most common shape of a Thangka is the upright rectangular form.

Thangkas in the West have often been regarded as decorative wall hangings (although this has changed in recent years), but their history in the East is usually purely religious, and there is a long tradition of blessing thangkas by Lamas before they are hung. Blessed thangkas are almost never sold, save through black market traders or collectors who are usually uninformed or have little care as to the traditions and origins of the art.

Types of Thangkas

On the basis of techniques involved and materials used thangkas can be grouped into several categories. Generally they are divided into two broad categories: those which are painted (called bris-than in Tibetan) and those which are made of silk either by weaving or with embroidery called (gos-than). The painted thangkas are further divided into five categories:

Thangkas which have different colors in the background
Thangkas which have a gold background
Thangkas which have a red background
Thangkas painted on a black background
Thangkas whose outlines are printed on cotton support and then touched up with colors

The Process

Thangkas are painted on cotton canvas with water soluble pigments, both mineral and organic, tempered with a herb and glue solution. The entire process demands great mastery over the drawing and perfect understanding of iconometric principles.

The physical construction of a thangka, as with the majority of Buddhist art, is highly geometric. Arms, legs, eyes, nostrils, ears, and various ritual implements are all laid out on a systematic grid of angles and intersecting lines. A skilled thangka artist will generally select from a variety of predesigned items to include in the composition, ranging from alms bowls and animals, to the shape, size, and angle of a figure's eyes, nose, and lips. The process seems very scientific, but often requires a very deep understanding of the symbolism of the scene being depicted, in order to capture the essence or spirit of it.

External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

ThangkaHistory of Of Thangka
More than 4000 pages of sacred art from Dharmapala Thangka Centre - Kathmandu | Nepal
Sacred Buddhist Painting - The Tibetan Thangka
Importance and Use Of Thangka
Online Gallery of Thangka Artwork from Tibet, Nepal and Himalayan India
Makers of Giant Thangkas in Tibet
Applique Thangkas
Virtual Gallery of Thangkas for Vajrayana Buddhist Practioners
High quality thangkas for practioners from the master artist Dawa from Nepal | Dawa Arts

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thangka"

Monday, May 15, 2006

More Adventures with Buddha 

The Buddha which now hangs on my living room wall continues to bring surprises. Yesterday, after a hot shower, I went in to pay my respects and to perform chi gong as part of my continuing practice. Once again, I was startled to note that even as I made my first bow before the thangka, sweet energies were flowing through my hands, shoulders, and arms. Then, it was as though I was led to try a new position--this time it resembled the beginning of a squatting pose. As I gently raised my torso, I felt even more delightful energy flow, including streams flashing up my spine. And then I intuitively entered several "body mudras" (standing poses), each of which was extremely ecstatic.

While this was going on, a voice kept repeating "Stand up straight." This advice was not from some nagger within, but a simple reminder--advice I definitely need. And then I saw a new personage within--a soldier from the ancient Chinese royal court, who somehow seemed to be me. And so I wrote this poem about him:

Ching Mao

Ching Mao
chief deputy of the
Royal Palace Guard
stood straight
before the King.

His pointed hat,
his flowing skirts
and staff
were all in proper form.

He served his Lord assiduously,
kept strict rule
among the men.

But when the garrison slept
at night
he stole out among
the silver ponds,
gathered moonflowers
for his bed.

And this morning, there was yet another new experience. This time the unexpected happening was not energetic, but visual. As I gazed upon him (her), the image flashed and sparkled, as if I had again entered the astral world, where things reveal their true essence. At times, I witnessed an aura of clear light around the borders of the tapestry, as well as Buddha's own body and head.

It seems to me that all of these continuing revelations relate to the experience, some weeks ago, when a brilliantly lit Buddha entered my head. It seems to have been an announcement of things to come.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Buddhas Everywhere 

Today, I had more interesting experiences with my "Buddha of Love" (the thangka I recently purchased.) As I looked at "him" with soft eyes, the face shifted to that of a female goddess-like figure, then a mother with babe at breast, then a boy about 13 or 14. None of these images was totally clear--they were as much mental creations as outward manifestations. Then, as I continued to gaze, the gold highlights of the painting (real gold, as I understand it) began to flicker, and I watched a kind of mini-light show. It reminded me of the strange light which seemed to emanate from the ouija board many years ago, as I focused on the messages being spelled out by our "spirit guide." I think it is possible that such illuminations come from the "astral plane," the level we go to when we surrender "ordinary awareness," and begin to see with different eyes.

And I continue to meet extraordinary people as I voyage about the city. On the bus I met a lovely women in her seventies, who was carrying flowers she had grown in her garden to a friend's house. She confided that she had been born in China, then had lived in Mongolia where her father (an American diplomat) was the head consul. During World War II the family had to flee. After spending time in a refugee camp, they settled in San Francisco, where she had lived for many years. Again, this was a pleasant and totally transitory encounter. I am sure I will never see her again.

And, in another part of the city, I happened to stroll by a chiropractor's office. When I stopped to check the interesting flyers on his open door, he came out to visit. His space was very interesting. One or two other practitioners were working on people on tables set up nearby. The walls were hung with artwork from local artists, all for sale at various prices. The owner (a nice looking fellow probably in his forties) asked me what I did, and when I confessed that I was a poet, he said he loved poetry. He named W. H. Auden and John Donne among his favorites, and then added Edna St. Vincent Millay. She, of course, has fallen out of favor in recent years, now that the "romantic vision" is no longer the dominant mode. But who could forget the opening lines of her famous poem which begins "All I could see/ from where I stood/ was three long mountains/ and a wood." Andy (the chiropractor) said he had visited the very spot which she was describing, and we agreed that she was a moving poet, even if she isn't taken all that seriously by today's critics.

"Dr.Andy" gave me his card as I left, and I found his philosophy on the back:

Keep your heart free from hate, your mind free from worry.

Live simply. Expect little. Give much

Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine.

Forget self. Think of others. Do as you would be done by.

Trust God. Thank God for all your blessings.

Do all you can for people without thought of personal gain.

Spread happiness.

Would that our world would place such admonitions on our courthouse lawns, and that people would abide by them. How simple and wonderful might life then be.

"Dr. Andy" offers a free first visit, and advertises "affordable chiropractic guaranteed."

Another practitioner who exemplifies this philosophy through his work is Joshua, my amazing herbalist. Joshua gathers and prepares his own tinctures, and seems to have an uncanny grasp of the client's needs. His office is itself like a meditation chamber, with quiet clear energies and soothing atmosphere. He is comparatively young, but highly skilled in his profession. With his help, I have remedied health problems which have plagued me for years, including the digestive upsets which at one time threated to ruin my life. I not only feel ten years younger, I feel even better than I did ten years ago. He also has a commitment to helping others, rather than trying to squeeze them for the last possible dollar or dime He is especially generous toward those unable to pay the usual rates (and his are modest to start with). He has a sliding scale, geared to what the person is able to pay, and will in certain cases charge nothing at all for his herbs.

And I could enumerate many others who seek to give, rather than to take, from their fellow homans, including, rather conspicuously, Dr. Lawrence Edwards, the Jungian therapist who is also a world expert on kundalini, and gives generously of his time and knowledge to those seeking help or information on kundalini transformation.

And, of course, I would add those like my dear friend Michael, whose recent "seva" (devotional service) has been to assist me in countless ways getting myself moved and settled into new quarters.

It is folks like these I call "the Buddhas among us." They are doing their part to make this world a better place, rather than trying to get rich and invest in schemes to make ever more money.

They will do well when they arrive at heaven's gate. I wonder what the others will carry with them in their "portfolios."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Buddha and Vanity Fair 

Yesterday, my dear friend Michael (archangel for short) came by. He straightened my new Buddha thangka for me, then stood before it and meditated for a few minutes. He is extremely sensitive to energies, and he confirmed that those emanating from this image were very, very powerful. We spent a lovely day together, and ended with a stroll through the "arboretum" in Golden Gate Park, which includes many wondrous sections of flowers as well as trees. As always, he drove me here and there to do my chores.

This morning, I decided to step briefly in front of the thangka before getting dressed and eating breakfast. But I was instantly charged with its energies, which felt like gentle yet sweet electric flows through the body, especially the hands and forearms. I was held there, quite mesmerized, for some time, unable to leave this magical "Buddha field."

Finally I broke away, and returned later, intending to do my chi gong warm up exercises. But here again, I was surprised. This time the fellow with the mortar board hat (the one I call "Master Chi") came forward (in my mind) and seemed to lead me in a soft, graceful dance, using the fan and the flowing garments of his robe as part of the overall presentation. It occurred to me that perhaps he had been a dancer/performer for the emperor of his time, and also that he was likely gay. During the dance, I seemed to merge with him (as I usually do with these inner visitors), but I would be quite surprised if he represented a "past life" of my own. In any event, the delicate movements he led me through aroused the inner "bliss currents," so soft they were barely detectable.

Then I went downstairs to finish my laundry, but the dryers were occupied. While I awaited my turn, I picked up the current issue of "Vanity Fair" which somebody had left on the table. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was a "green issue," devoted primarily not to the latest fashions and fads but to the ecological crisis we are currently facing. The lead articles were by Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Al Gore, and Edward Kennedy, Jr. I was quite impressed by what they said--their messages are much the same as those of MoveOn.org and other avant garde sources from some years back. But the news has finally filtered down and is now reaching the mainstream press as people seem to be (finally) waking up to the seriousness we face in terms of keeping the planet (our home) alive. I recommend that you pick up a copy of this issue if you can and see for yourself what these folks are doing. They are to be commended, I think. They are truly "spiritual activists," throwing the weight of their celebrity into their support of this critical cause. Indeed, many now feel that global warning may be a bigger threat than terrorism.

So--again I feel there are grounds for hope, that shifts of consciousness are occurring, both in terms of growing awareness of major issues and ongoing personal openings. As I have noted before, the world seems to be falling apart and being reconstructed all at the same time. Indeed, this is an exciting time to be alive.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Buddha, Bliss, and Seeing Faces 

Today was again a "good meditation day." I recommend the movements of chi gong to everyone who can find a teacher. I myself do only the basic moves--really, the "preparation stretches." And yet these, in themselves, are wonderfully invigorating and pleasurable.

Today, as I began, many images began to flow inwardly. First there was Buddha, not as a mature wise man, but as a young, athletic fellow, who sort of merged with my "Sturdy Boy" to guide me through my movements. Then, in rather swift succession, I saw a dancing Tara (who brought in sensations of bliss), a Sanskrit "Om," and, once more, the fellow in the mortar board hat, who was dressed in flowing silk robes with elongated sleeves. He was also a teacher, and demonstrated "fan work." And I was "given" his name (Master Chi--that is, master of the chi energies.) We all seem to realize that these are nicknames, useful for purposes of identity.

Recently, some of my friends and I have been comparing notes about "seeing faces." (Faces which morph into other faces when we look with "soft eyes"). Some see animals as well as humans, or even non-human objects. Sometimes these images pick up on favorite possessions or thoughts of the subject (cats for a cat lover, Mona Lisa for an art history major). Some animal communicators say that animals use images to "talk" with one another. And some psychics (for example, John Edwards) appear to get much of their information through images, rather than language.

Now, I know little about martial arts as such, but I have seen practitioners in the park use fans in place of swords during their sessions. I am going to try to find out more about this usage (I myself would certainly prefer the fan to the weapon, given what each implies.)

And today was quite special, for this afternoon I purchased a thangka (wall hanging) of a Buddha. An import store was clearing its stock, and had everything marked half price. Well, the Buddha seemed to have my name on it, so I bought it. I knew it was the right decision when I felt its energies (by running my hand over it), and discovered they were very sweet. It now hangs on my living room wall.

Some of my feminist friends might wonder why I bought a male figure rather than a female. Of course, the basic answer is that I was drawn to it. The depiction is not that of a stereotyped male. This Buddha is very androgynous, someone who might as well be female as male. "He" is young and delicate of feature. And, for me, he represents not a person (nor a belief system) but an ideal--this figure is an emblem of compassionate wisdom. I think I am seeking to get more closely in touch with these attributes. As I have said often, bliss and compassion are two sides of a single coin. Both are essential if we are to realize our complete nature.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Rabia is one of the most interesting of the early Sufi saint/poets. Here is one of her poems (posted by Ivan Granger today) followed by his own very helpful description of her background.

O my Lord, the stars glitter

By Rabia (Rabi'a Al-'Adawiyya)
(717 - 801)

English version by Charles Upton

O my Lord,
the stars glitter
and the eyes of men are closed.
Kings have locked their doors
and each lover is alone with his love.

Here, I am alone with you.

-- from Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabia, Translated by Charles Upton


Rabia, sometimes called Rabia of Basra or Rabia al Basri, was born to a poor family in Basra in what is now Iraq. Her parents died of famine and she was eventually sold into slavery.

The story is told that her master one night woke up and saw a light shining above her head while she was praying. Stunned, he freed her the next morning.

Rabia chose a solitary life of prayer, living much of her life in desert seclusion.

Her fame as a holy woman spread and people began to journey to her retreat, to ask advice, to study, to learn.

Today she is greatly revered by devout Muslims and mystics throughout the world.

A question for all you lovers: What does it mean to be truly alone with God?

Ivan Granger

(see www.poetry-chaikhana.com)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Patricia and Other Strong Women 

Once again, Patricia (Lay-Dorsey) is in the thick of things. Her journal account of her activities continues to be mind boggling. She never ceases to give of herself to the cause of peace. Here is her journal entry for today. I couldn't resist quoting it in this space.

At 4:40 p.m. Abayomi looked at his watch, and I realized we needed to get going if we wanted to attend the 5 p.m. peace symposium at WSU that I'd told them about earlier. This extraordinary event was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Wayne State University's Honors Program. Organized by Dr. Ali Moiin of The Shirin Ebadi Foundation and titled "The Role of Governments in Achieving or Obstructing Worldwide Peace," it featured four women Nobel Laureates, three of whom would be there in person and the fourth would be speaking to us via video.

So I scooted the five blocks to WSU's General Lectures Auditorium in my fastest mode, and Abayomi drove Judith over in his car. We got there in plenty of time. I pulled my "disabled card" and even got us seats in the front row that was being reserved for dignitaries. Judith and I were there for the entire presentation, and Abayomi, who had to take care of some business, joined us at the break.

The program was introduced by Dr. Ali Moiin of The Shirin Ebadi Foundation, followed by a musical prelude entitled "Invocation for World Peace" played poignantly by cellist Michael Fitzpatrick. After greetings by Professor Jerry Herron, Director of the Honors Program, and by WSU President Irvin Reid, Justice Maura Corrigan of Michigan's Supreme Court introduced the Nobel Laureates. She wove excerpts from W.H. Auden's poem, "September 1, 1939," into each introduction and his words offered a powerful context to the evening. One stanza that moved me greatly was:

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Each of the four speakers was given about fifteen minutes for her presentation. After a break, there was to be a question and answer period--questions submitted by audience members in writing--at which time U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D, Michigan) would join the panel.

We first heard from Betty Williams, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner with Mairead Corrigan for founding the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (renamed Community of Peace People) and for their work to bring peace in their native Ireland. Ms. Williams was unable to attend in person but spoke via video.

I didn't take notes as I did with the other speakers, but vividly recall her putting forward statistics and stories of children across the globe who suffer dislocation, death and wounds because of wars, and malnutrition, starvation and illnesses that could be prevented and/or treated if governments cared enough to do so. Since 1992, her primary focus has been these children. Her Global Children's Studies Center evolved into the World Centers of Compassion for Children International that she founded in 1997 in honour of the Dalai Lama.

Betty Williams was completedly honest in her assessment of how governments provide or obstruct worldwide peace. She described the United States government as obstructing peace in almost every way possible, and said that U.S. President George W. Bush, who is waging an endless war on terrorism, is a terrorist himself, and probably the most dangerous one in our world today. The audience responded to this statement with cheers and sustained applause.

Shirin Ebadi of Iran spoke next. This lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially the rights of women and children. A conscientious Muslim herself, Ms. Ebadi sees no conflict between the tenets of Islam and democracy. But, for us to understand where she was coming from, it was essential that we hear her description of what she calls "advanced democracy" and how it differs from what most governments call "democracy."

Ms. Ebadi frequently referred to the separation between people and their government as an indication that a true democracy does not exist. In countries like Iran, she pointed out the difficulties that occur when the government becomes overly identified with its dominant religion. She said there is no such thing as an Islamic or Christian democracy, that when religion takes over the government then dissent is not allowed because it is seen as criticism of the religion, not just the government. In a democracy, dissent must be allowed. But, contrary to many Western interpretations, Ms. Ebadi asserts that Islam and democracy are compatible since Islam "is a religion of equality."

As a lifelong human rights advocate and activist, Shirin Ebadi is well aware of the temptation in what she calls "superficial democracies," for governmental leaders who have taken the majority of the votes to take care of that majority while ignoring or even oppressing the minorities in their country. She stressed that the leaders of any real democracy must respect the human rights of ALL, not just their electoral base. Democracy and human rights can never be separated.

Ms. Ebadi spoke of the role of oil in many of today's Middle Eastern conflicts. "The bloodstream of the world's technology exists in this region," is how she put it. And it all boils down to greed. "Colonization and exploitation exist everywhere," Ms. Ebadi went on to say. And the colonizers prefer to have puppets in power in the countries they want to loot. She brought up the 1953 CIA-engineered overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, after he had threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaced him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, who had America's oil interests at heart. She repeatedly warned that when a people feel separated from their government, they have no will to resist, which is most dangerous.

But Ms. Ebadi's passion really flared when she brought up the issue of women's rights. So often in countries that call themselves democratic, women are the last to benefit. They get whatever is left over after the men have had their fill. "The victory of feminist movements will open the door for democracy in the Middle East. Women who fight for equality of rights are the pioneers of peace."

Ms. Ebadi closed by saying, "Instead of bringing democracy through cluster bombs, let women bring democracy through working for women's rights!"

(back to Dorothy)
It so happened that I saw a television interview with Dr. Ebadi this week. She is truly amazing. She has been imprisoned for her views, but is now free. She made it clear that she supports the idea of democracy, but that it can never be imposed from without. The people themselves must desire it and bring it into being. She also said she did not want her cause to receive money from the U. S., because then she and her fellow advocates would be accused of being pawns of America. She stated that she did not want the support of governments, but of the people of those countries.

When you encounter persons of such dignity and strength, you are encouraged for the future of our world.

And thank you, Patricia, for your own courage and wisdom, and the example you set for all of us.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Visionary Prepares to Leave (poem) 

This poem picks up two common beliefs about dying--first, that as we die we relive all of our past experiences. And second, that we actually leave earth in a final moment of ecstasy, as the kundalini energies are fully released within. Those who undergo "near death" experiences often report feelings of unconditional love as this sweet energy sweeps through them in the last stages of their death process.

The inspiration for this poem came, oddly enough, when I was reading a critic's comment on one of the late poems of W. B. Yeats. He said that Yeats had been preparing to write this very powerful poem all of his life, for in it he drew on all of his past experience both as a seer and as a poet.

It occurred to me that all of us do much the same kind of summing up, as we enter the "final moment" of our lives--thus in this last moment we become our own poem.

The Visionary Prepares to Leave

I see now how it happens.

How all the twisted strands
of memory and desire,
the moment on the cliffs
above the raging foam,
the quiet interlude
among the redwoods
gathered round like saints,
the scent on the veranda
hinting of ripe fruit on the wind,
the velvet breast
brushing the arm—
everything that has come forward,
imprinted forever on who we are,
even the threads of feeling
playing in their silent dance
beneath it all
like muted music,
how each enters
this resonance
of voices
conspiring now
in one last coherent pulse,
one final gasp
of knowing,
brief moment of
ultimate bliss.

April 28, 2006
Dorothy Walters

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Meeting the Rest of the World 

San Franciso is filled with people from somewhere else (including yours truly). They have interesting stories to tell. But for some reason, I have always been a bit hesitant to initiate conversations with strangers--say people you meet in stores or on buses, in part because I feel there is truly very little I can share about my own life (as a poet/mystic/lesbian whose existence has been shaped by kundalini awakening for so many years.) I generally feel like a "stranger in a strange land," and play safe by confining my verbal exchanges to those I already know, friends or others I have things in common with.

But lately I have been reaching out more. I speak with all sorts of people, and have met some interesting fellow human beings. I have a long standing interest in Tibet and Tibetan spirituality. Recently, while riding the city bus, I talked with a Tibetan immigrant who was saying prayers while she fingered her mala (prayer beads). And, yes, she was repeated the famous mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum." She explained to me that her sister, who had been quite ill, had recovered by praying in this way. (I realized she was Tibetan from her looks--they are, I think, a most beautiful people. Many of the faces of the immigrant women seem to be the prototypes for the ancient depictions of goddesses--perhaps the gene pool has remined much the same over the years.)

Today, (again on the bus) I spoke with an octogenarian from Kiev. (She also had attended the symphony today). A meteorologist by profession, she had flown missions with the Russian Army during WWWII so that she could get close up views of the weather in the region. She has come to San Francisco in part to get away from the lingering after effects of the Chernobyl disaster.

In the book store recently, I met a woman who had come here from Mexico as a child. She had worked most of her life in clerical positions to support her family. She loves foreign films and art films (as I do), particularly those with a social slant. She confided that her daughter was a lesbian, and that she (the mother) was a member of an organization for parents of gays and lesbians. When I told her I was also a lesbian, she was quite pleased.

When I was unable to find a seat in the museum cafeteria, a very nice couple invited me to sit with them The wife, a retired public school teacher, was--wonder of wonders--a native San Franciscan. This is primarily a city of immigrants (including Americans seeking a wider culture), so it is very unusual to meet someone born and bred here in this city. They had come for the "Arts and Crafts Exhibit" (from William Morris on) which I also wanted to see. (That is where I saw the intriguing wood sculpture of himself carved by a Japanese Buddhist monk over a century ago.) We felt especially connected because we all had come from teaching careers.

What, someone might ask, does all of this have to do with kundalini or even spirituality as such? Well, this is a time when all of us need to be more open, to come to know our sisters and brothers better that we may honor them and their life experience. We have more in common than we know. Each life story is an important chapter in our universal tale of being human. As they say, "We are all in this together," and together we will sink or swim.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This is a Good Time 

My friend (spiritual counselor Tosha Silver--check out the link to her site) recently sent out an update on her upcoming classes. She explained that during the interval between the two eclipses (March 16 and again March 30, as I recall), she, like many others, had experienced a "down period," not wanting to go outdoors and confront the world. Many of my friends (me as well) also went through "downers," and we all wondered what was going on in our lives. Now Tosha (and my friends and I) all have "come back to life," and are experiencing an influx of creativity and renewed energies.

Poems have literally been pouring out of me, some seeming to write themselves in unexpected moments. And my friend J. (the gifted artist) is hard at work creating mandalas through collage. In addition, my energy movement meditations (slow but sweet) have once more become delightful. Yesterday, I did chi gong after a hot shower, and the energies were remarkable. (I recommend this practice to everyone--the shower seems to open the pores and awaken the inner and outer feelings.) Also, I find that the fewer clothes you wear for this, the better. Again, less clothing lets the body breathe. An inner "energy teacher" appeared, in the form of a very healthy young Japanese male, short and well toned. I knew he had come to help me gain more strength from my movements. (Now, I don't claim he was "real" on our plane, but he is very real on some plane His name was Master Sturdy Boy, and I truly liked him.)

I noticed that my feet and legs were especially alive yesterday. I had walked for some three hours (out to Baker Beach from my house) the day before and I am sure this contributed to my sense of enlivenment. Yesterday, I practiced without music. Today I played Krishna Das (Door of Faith) and felt softer but very blissful energetic movement. (An image of a delicate, feminine Buddha popped in immediately--he had a bun at the nape of his neck. His left hand carried a flower and his right rested in his lap. Then he began to do mudras (sacred hand gestures) which I did as well.)

Again, there was energy in unexpected places--this time, I felt a sweet flow in the solar plexus, where my hiatal hernia has caused me so much trouble in the past. It seems to be healed--I can now branch out and eat things I was unable to digest for many years--yesterday, I even had an ice cream cone, a rare treat for me. And my solar plexus (power center) feels freer of constraint brought on by external circumstances.

This blog is not the one I had intended to write, but maybe it is good to describe these experiences from time to time. Some "authorities" claim that it is better to meditate without imagery (a more advanced level of consciousness), but I am glad that my images have returned. Perhaps the renewal of inner imagery is related to my experience with the "astral visitor" who pressed her forehead to mine (third eye.)

One morning recently I began with a mental vision of Tara, and I was surprised when she turned into my mother. Now, some theories hold that we "earthlings" may indeed be descendents of or particles from such higher beings. We "were" such elevated spirits in former lives in the sense that we formed minute bits of their essence. We came to earth in shrunken form partly to learn how difficult it is to be a human with all the limitations that implies, rather than functioning as a totally free heavenly spirit. In any event, here is the poem which came forth from that inner vision. It gives me greater insight into my mother's personality as a limited human(just as we all are limited. )

My Mother as Tara

You were beautiful
but you never
knew it.

Childhood scars
kept you well away
from seeing
who you really were.

In the meantime,
goddess shrunk
to human scale,
you kept your appearance up,
sought beauty where you could
in your small world.

You fretted constantly
because your offspring
were not perfect.

You always felt
that something dreadful
was just about
to happen,
the way your frontier father died
so sudden
when you were only two,
and left your mother
to find a means
to keep the family going,
all five of you,
by raising backyard chickens,
teaching school for little pay,
whatever might put food
upon the table,
it was touch and go,
never mind your sagging hems
and worn stockings
(the other girls had fathers,
homes, nice clothes, even
buggies in the barn.)

Whatever of heaven's luster
clung to you
faded in
became the constant struggle
to keep your looks intact,
hold your head up high
in our little town
which now was home,
while your mate
did all he could
to give you all the things
you craved:
nice clothes,
spiffy car out front,
new brick home,
security, but little show
of love.

When you were young,
a unicorn once crossed
your path (you
didn't know its name
or that it was a sign.)

What happened to that mystic
beast that flashed in view?
What happened to that child,
so blessed
so long ago?

May 1, 2006

(copyright, Dorothy Walters)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Poem for Mukujiki Shonin 

On my post for April 25, I described the fascinating wood carving made by a Japanese itinerant monk in the nineteenth century. Here is the poem I subsequently wrote about him:

Mukujiki Shonin

Mukujiki Shonin,
fat-faced Buddhist monk,
traveled village to village
carving tokens of his craft
(the village elders,
the waterfall)
even as he went.

This is his life-sized
self-portrait in wood
at 86,
round belly sagging
through his well worn gown.
smile with
twinkling eyes,
though his teeth are
no longer there
to prop his
sagging jowls.

How much misery
and grief
he must have met
along his way.
How much suffering
he must have witnessed
in that hostile world.

Yet he is still smiling
with his toothless grin.
How happy he seems.
How content he was
with all things,
as he patiently released
each image
from the waiting wood.

April 26, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Poem for a Poet 

Mark Doty is one of the most distinguished writers of our time, in both poetry and prose. I have long admired his work--he crafts exquisite creations in both genres. His skill with language is stunning, and I have learned much from reading his books.

Mark is not a mystic. However, in his memoir called "Heaven's Coast" (which recounts in beautiful language his role as caretaker to his partner dying of AIDS) he describes a mystical opening he experienced during an acupuncture treatment. All the world became pure dazzling energy, the source and content of all that is. For whatever reason, he rejected the offered path and chose to continue in a more "normal" state of consciousness, the artist who sees and renders all facets of human experience. I love the man and his work, but am puzzled and somewhat disappointed by his choice. (Yet, I know others who have had similar experiences.)

Here is a poem I wrote recently. It contains two "fictional presences." One is the narrator, who resembles me, but yet is not entirely me--that is, what the speaker says and what I feel are not necessarily identical. Yet these are the words which came forth when I wrote the poem. The other "fiction" is the subject being described--this appraisal is not necessarily accurate. The poem thus is what "someone" might say about the author, summing up his gifts and his limitations.

I encourage you to read Mark Doty and decide for yourself.

The Master Poet

(Mark Doty)

This man has learned
to hedge his bets,
not to go too far,
stumble into those
fog ridden realms
where the mystics
and crackpots dwell.

His language is eloquent,
but he risks
only what is verifiable--
the scents and smells
of a summer day,
the perceivable connections
of events and their origins,
pleasurable (I never thought
of it that way, we marvel) insights
into the hidden world
of a threaded reality,
yet all safe,
well within the comfort zone
of our belief.

No one can accuse him
of being a new Whitman
or Kerouac
hysterical with language,
flinging words onto the page
like some verbal Jackson Pollock
splattering to birth
a new creation.

His laser eyes
scan a provable landscape,
familiar yet opening
to unexpected vistas,
unguessed shadows.

His exquisite script
claims the world
as form,
thing seen anew,
something we
are eager to hold close again.

Dorothy Walters
Carmel by the Sea
April 29, 2006

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