Friday, March 30, 2007
Last night I listened to a program on the work of Richard C. Hoagland, an innovative scientific observer,who has served as advisor to NASA, spoken before the UN, and published several books on his unconventional ideas. One of his early contentions was that there was water on Mars. At the time, he was derided for this (then) extremist view but Martian exploration has proved him right.
Another of his leading edge ideas is that there has been human life on Mars in the past--he cites the famous "Martian face" as part of this evidence. He also notes that at the north pole of Saturn (which is composed mostly of a cloudlike gas) are interconnected hexagons, rotating one within the other. The forms themselves remain stationary over time, though the gases constantly rotate within them. He feels that this evidence is extremely important to our understanding of how the universe works. He contends that the formations are energized from another dimension, one unknown to us. This phenomenon (and others) suggests that there are controlling "grids" or formulas for the operation of the cosmos which we have yet to discover. Spinning motion is essential to all of these phenomena, and seems to be related to the creation of the forms which occur in the material universe.
He also points out that both Saturn and Jupiter emit vast amounts of energy which do not derive from the sun. Since no current scientific theory accounts for this disparity, he again posits "hyperdimensions," which send the energy through to the planet. He posits that rotation in nature is the key to the idea of zero point energy, or free energy, a theory which has been around for several years on the "fringe" areas of science. (To look up these ideas, check "torsion physics" on Google.)
What is gaining wider acceptance today is the notion that there are "spin waves" within matter itself. "Spin waves in condensed matter are a current and well-studied topic in modern physics. However, there is a less-known backwater in this field: Torsion Fields, the quantum spin of empty space; the large-scale coherent effects of the spin of the particles in the virtual sea." (from another web source)
Indeed, much of the physical universe consists of spirals, from galaxies to the greater cosmos. So spinning, spirals, turning motions are all fundamental to the structure and operations of the physical universe.
Today, I attended a ceremony celebrating the life of Huston Smith, the grand old man of the spiritual world. (His writings on world religion are classics in the field.) As part of the event, Sufis from the area performed their famed whirling dances. As they danced before us, their graceful movements and music awakened the inner centers, and truly transported the onlookers onto another plane.
Surely these traditional movements serve to awaken and circulate the inner energies, hence begetting bliss. The dancers were clearly in a soft trance state, with ecstasy evident on their faces.
I once read of a man whose "practice" consisted of rotating his torso in a spiral several times a day. Through doing this, he kept his energies flowing, and maintained his connection with the transcendent realms.
Chakras are, according to ancient texts, wheels which turn as energies pass through them. So, as we move into higher states of consciousness, our energies spin in our bodies, and as a result, we frequently feel this spiraling as bliss or perhaps even ecstasy.
Perhaps what we sometimes feel within our own bodies is a taste of a great ecstasy which floods the cosmos itself with joy as it moves through its majestic turnings.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Recently I watched a PBS special on "The Mystics of Iran." One of the segments presented women sufis, whose existence has been hidden from the world for many centuries. Included in this (or another segment) was a piece about female followers of Zoroaster. Fire is an essential element in this religion, and these women sometimes go into trance and "eat fire." (Actually, they swallow smoke from a burning brand. Subsequently, they breathe out the smoke, as if they were "exhaling fire.")
Then, a few minutes ago, an ad appeared on my computer for "fire dancing." Curious, I checked out the site. Apparently this term applies to a form of contemporary exercise, in which the performer twirls lighted batons above her head as a way to strengthen muscles and lose weight.
I could not help wondering whether or not this contemporary exercise is in some way related to ancient fire worship, only now it is (like so many things) commercialized and somewhat debased in its presentation.
Fire has long been a symbol of the profoundly sacred, used for centuries in ritual and ceremony. It is both desired and feared, for it can be devastating when it gets out of control.
In ancient India, fire (agni) was often the center of sacred ceremonies performed to call the gods into being. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods so that humankind might be relieved of suffering and ignorance. For this act of defiance, he was chained to a rock "for eternity." Each day, an eagle pecked at his liver, each night the liver grew back.
Thus fire has long been a universal symbol associated with magic, the mysterious, the sacred, the realm of the unknown. It reflects our insistence on exploring hidden realms, and connecting with what is often forbidden to us as mere mortals.
Kundalini also is associated with fire. As many know, it can bring along immense bodily heat, sometimes causing severe physical discomfort. In ancient Tibet, monks who practiced kundalini arousal held contests to see which one could dry the most "sheets" (these much smaller than ours today) through the heat of kundalini. Sometimes attempts are made to raise kundalini by (metaphorically) breathing like a bellows. Kundalini is the fiery serpent, the awakener of knowledge, the bestower of enlightenment and blessings. And indeed, the fire of the inner awakening does bring about a kind of knowing not given to the majority of mortals. It can be both a blessing and (in some cases) a seeming curse, a good servant, a bad master when it gets out of control (as one writer described fire itself.)
Hence the secrets of kundalini have been closely guarded for centuries. Only those prepared by sacrifice and purification were admitted into the inner circles of knowledge. In part, these prohibitions were for the protection of the seeker, for kundalini can be dangerous as well as liberating.
Today, however, many find themselves suddenly awakened with little prior preparation. The esoteric is becoming more and more present in the world of the exoteric (public). There are even practices which claim to arouse the inner energies and transport the follower to enlightenment.
My own feeling is that the secret of kundalini cannot be had for the purchase. Many false versions are available for a price, but they are not the authentic experience of the sacred, the ultimate opening into what is still (to a great extent) secret knowledge. Many may look at the book, but few understand the meaning of the words. Many may drink at the well, but few gain real sustenance thereby.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Recently, I attended an evening "sacred sound circle" offered by Janet Ryan, a gifted sound healer in our area. Before the event began, I received "deeksha" from a woman who had recently learned to offer this transmission during a three week stay in India with Bhagavan and Amma, a couple who have taken on the divine mission of spreading deeksha throughout the world. The word "deeksha" (often spelled "diksha") is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning (basically) initiation. In this contemporary context, it refers to energy transmission through the laying on of hands. Apparently, more and more people are going to India for the period of purification and initiation and bringing the technique back to their countries of origin. And, further, anyone who receives deeksha is then empowered to give it to others. The hope is that this sacred energy will ultimately transform the planet, and bring about universal elevation of consciousness.
As the "giver" placed her hands on my head and then on my shoulders, I felt, first, heat, and, later, an overall sense of well being or balancing. It was a pleasant but not a blissful experience.
Then the evening ceremony began. First, we did simple relaxation exercises to prepare ourselves to enter fully into the spirit of the evening. We then did toning, an exercise in which one emits any sound one wishes, whether it is a musical tone or some other sound (caws, grunts and growls are some of the noises some people produce.) During this exercise I heard a male voice from across the room more or less singing in what was, I am prepared to say, the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. When I asked Janet about it later, she said that yes, this man was a former opera singer.
Janet now began to sound her gorgeous Tibetan and crystal bowls, producing exquisite tones resonating the entire room. I was enjoying all of this hugely, but in a state which was still essentially grounded, when she played a CD containing the Sanskrit chant which begins with "Jai Ram, Shree Ram." That did it. It often happens (for me), that Sanskrit chanting (particularly this phrase) throws me into high bliss, and I now was feeling ready to float upward toward the ceiling. I was, in fact, in an extremely altered state of consciousness, pure ecstasy, something I had not felt for many weeks (when Janet came to my house in December to do a sound session.)
However, the next morning when I woke up, I was soon quite ill (gastrointestinal difficulties.) But the "high" came back and lasted through the day. (This is the condition (for me) when I can feel exquisite energies flow by moving my fingers or eyes ever so slightly. I always marvel that this condition can occur.)
The following day, I felt quite well, in a state of balanced health and well being. But the gastrointestinal problems returned the day after that, and then a pattern developed for several days--one day of feeling fine, one day of feeling ill.
Were the energies excessive for my system? Why (for me ) is a high state of consciousness so often followed by a low? Why does this pattern occur for me and certain others, but not for everyone?
Who knows? Kundalini, as always, is the great Mystery, the unfathomable blessing which comes at a cost. Yet, despite the penalty, I would not give up the experience it offers, for it is rare and precious despite the price it exacts.
And, as always, I reflect that if we could remain in one state or the other (elevated consciousness vs. "normal" consciousness), these problems would not occur. It is the traveling back and forth which seems to bring about the trouble. And then I conclude that an occasional taste of paradise is well worth the price, for life on the "normal" plane alone would be a dull existence indeed.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
A few nights ago, I heard Carolyn Myss speak in San Francisco. (See earlier blogs on Harvey interview). I will admit I was a bit wary of her, mainly because of some statements she made years ago implicating someone unjustly in a misdeed. Also, friends had warned me that she was rather harsh in her manner.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. Since her "vision" of St. Teresa, she has mellowed and softened. Indeed, it is clear that she has undergone a profound spiritual awakening (she herself said that the spiritual element was for many years missing in her life.) Her account of her experience was revealing and witty, both entertaining and informative.
Just before Teresa appeared to her, she (Carolyn) experienced a grand mal seizure. She had never experienced such an event before, nor has she since. She was at the time busy writing a new book under contract to a New York publisher, but when Teresa spoke to her, calling her "daughter," she gave up all thought of the book she was working on. She deleted the manuscript from her computer, threw out all her notes and references, and began anew. (Any writer will appreciate the enormity of this sacrifice.) When she called her editor to tell her what she had done, there was a long silence on the other end. Finally, her editor said, "Well, tell Teresa she's got five months." And later Carolyn herself asked Teresa, "Can you write?"
During the composition of "Entering the Castle," Carolyn felt Teresa's presence constantly, though she never spoke to her again. Once the book was completed, Teresa left and Carolyn had no more contact.
Carolyn herself did not want to include her personal encounter as part of "Entering," but her editor insisted. Indeed, it takes great courage to "go public" with such intimate accounts--one fears that others will think you "have lost it," or are exaggerating. But Carolyn is clearly a woman of spunk and courage. This is not the first time she has "crossed the boundaries" of convention. (Remember, that for years she was a medical intuitive, working with doctors for the diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses.)
Yes, she is still a bit "salty." (She spoke of herself as "crusty.") But her defenses have to a great extent come down. She is no longer afraid to reveal her inner being to others, and was received enthusiastically by the audience.
She has, it seems, crossed the moat and entered the castle, which is the true self, the divine presence waiting to welcome us all.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Ivan Granger sent me these sites for spiritual podcasts, and I am passing them along to you:
If you have a copy of iTunes on your computer, all you have to do is
go to the "Advanced" menu, select "Subscribe to Podcast", and then
paste the web address I've provided below into the URL field.
The Spirit of Things
A very good Australian radio program that explores many subjects of
spirituality and religion
Fascinating, open-minded news and discussion program run by an
activist nun looking at the many issues in a world of religious
Regular, down-to-earth Zen talks by the gentle-hearted Gil
Fronsdale. A favorite.
Intelligent, sometimes iconoclastic Zen talks by Michael McAlister.
Sometimes very inspired.
Just discovered this one. In fact, I think it's from Boulder. Very
direct Interviews with prominent figures in the Buddhist community,
especially within the Tibetan tradition.
Vedic Mythology, Music & Mantras
Another new discovery. Traditional tale! s from t he Mahabharata, etc.
with a light exploration of inner meanings, then followed by
beautiful music and mantras.
Friday, March 23, 2007
When I existed,
(1398? - 1448?)
English version by Nirmal Dass
When I existed,
You did not.
Now You exist
and I do not:
as a storm lifts waves
from water --
still they are water
how can we describe
What we believe does not exist.
A mighty king sleeps
on his throne
and in his dream
becomes a beggar.
Seeing his kingdom vanish
he greatly mourns --
such is our condition.
Like the tale
of the serpent
and the rope --
I know a little
of the secret.
Seeing many bracelets
we think gold has many forms --
but it is always forever gold.
In all things
exists the Lord,
assuming countless shapes;
in each pore he plays and sports.
Ravi Dass say,
He is nearer than my hand.
All that comes to pass
is by His will alone.
from Songs and Saints from the Adi Granth, Translated by Nirmal Dass
Thought for the Day:
It takes immense effort
to remain distracted.
Your natural state is bliss.
Stop working so hard to forget this!
Ivan has recently published his daily Sayings in a lovely e-book, which he is offering on the internet, asking only donations from readers. Here is the title:
The Silence Will Teach You
Sayings and Artwork by Ivan M. Granger
Go to his Poetry Chaikhana for further information (see link on sidebar).
And here is what Ivan tells us about Ravidas:
Ravidas lived in Varanasi (Benares) and is generally thought to have been a younger contemporary of Kabir. In his poetry, he describes himself as a leather worker, someone whose contact with dead animals would have marked him as an untouchable in Indian society. Yet he is revered by both Sikhs and Hindus.
According to some sources, Ravidas was initiated by Kabir's famous guru Ramananda. And some traditions assert that Ravidas was, in turn, the guru of the great female poet-saint Mirabai.
Because of his untouchability, Ravidas has become an important figure for oppressed castes in India today, his followers calling themselves Ravidasis.
A warm blessing this weekend to all the outcasts... which is all of us, when we are honest. Have a beautiful weekend!
Thanks to you, Ivan, for all you give to the spiritual community, particularly those of us who are in love with poetry.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
At a Time of Turning
(What the Ancient Oracle Said)
as the rising waters come
as the winds blow over us
bringing pillows of sand.
earth blazes beneath our feet
as we turn to you,
god who dances always,
worlds coming to birth
creation and destruction
as sperm and egg,
as breath and soul,
let us move with you,
let us be who you are.
In the midst of the chaos,
cities rioting, bursting flame,
brother against brother,
confusion of anarchy,
guns, exploding streets and avenues,
cries of children and animals,
a voice which is stillness,
a silence which speaks:
What you have constructed,
so your habitation.
What you have chosen,
thus your world.
At the center only,
at the quiet core,
at the place where movement
becomes the interval between,
cessation of action,
where the agitation and striving
voice and longing
The Lion's Mouth
A leader stood up
and announced his ambition
to the world.
echoed his words
advisors of cunning intent,
Their dark designs
undid the world,
set free the demons
who rose against
were soon carved up,
the voices which spoke out
The people murmured,
did not act.
in the balance scales
in the lion's mouth.
by always getting,
hurrying here and there,
who has discovered
the lost key?
Whose lantern can light
The false prophets
spoke to the
ready to follow
the elusive words,
willing to be led
over the precipice edge,
over the cliff.
out of the darkness,
a seed opening
in the moist womb
of the unseen mother.
A flower was pressing upward
past the thick blanket
arriving into being,
eager to behold the sun.
The earth stood ready,
the air filled with scent.
Everything became still
Did the world now enter
its final transcendence?
Did all dissolve
into a rubbish heap of decay?
Who knows how a story
the direction it will choose?
Who can say
what manner of happenings
his shimmering dance,
only the dancer
who is the world.
March 20, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I am impatient as always
wanting the high notes
that curl of the sun
on my tongue
that flare of heat inside
I resist the damp green
of leaves, the slide of mud
along the path
the dailiness of days
even though I know
snail shells are
constructions of wonder
I am impatient as always
wanting the high notes
that curl of the sun
on my tongue
that flare of heat inside
I resist the damp green
of leaves, the slide of mud
along the path
the dailiness of days
even though I know
snail shells are
constructions of wonder
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
What the Wise Elder Said
is to help keep the world
steady in its course,
the familiar figure at the wheel
holding the helm steady past the
storm racked shore.
You know the image:
The world under assault,
their origin or intent
and one firm hand.
Indeed, at times we are like bits of cork
bobbing on the current,
Then we reflect
and know that we are more.
We are a direction,
an entry point:
a portal, a door,
a window to that
March 27, 2007.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Struck by the thunderbolt of love
Struck by the thunderbolt
we are swept along
by the swift currents.
We neither know
nor care where we
are being taken.
We know only
that it is for this
we have been longing,
prayed for through
the long nights,
wept for at dawn.
a flower waits to open,
somewhere a shell
is being washed ashore.
March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Ghost Shapes Awakening
By the time
we reach a certain
the storms of life
(as they love to call it)
have washed over us,
tempests and gales
driving us ashore
leaving us exhausted
as wave tossed
glistening on the shoals,
but again and again,
as we lie there
wondering what it is
that has happened,
we think surely not
this familiar theme once more,
and then each time
we rose like the ghost shapes
of lost mariners awakening,
took our bearings
and followed the inward moving
tracks in the sand,
heard the land birds
calling us on,
headed for the remembered
stopped to rest
by the magic fountain
of the dream.
March 15, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
The following poem is by Jeannine Keenan, one of my dearest friends and also one of the wisest and most gifted people I know.
By Jeannine Keenan
If I could wake while dreaming
Abandon to the dance
Not caring how the light fades.
Only my bare foot hard
On the moist ground
Sounding the earth.
Until at last I am
Only the echo of a hum
Beneath the great silence.
Even fallen leaves glisten
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
"I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty."
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: "I am not working in ignorance.
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach Perfection,
You will never be done praising my name."
from "The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi," by Andrew Harvey
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
We know that Teresa of Avila experienced both intense rapture and extreme pain in the course of her life, like many other mystics both past and present. Indeed, this vacillation between the two unlike states is characteristic not only of the mystic per se, but of those undergoing intense kundalini awakening. In fact, several writers suggest that such highly spiritual beings as Teresa and St. John of the Cross were in fact displaying the characteristic symptoms of ongoing kundalini.
In her indispensable work called "Mysticism," Evelyn Underhill (in my view, the greatest authority on the subject) says this of Teresa:
"Rapture," says St. Teresa..."comes in general as a shock, quick and sharp, before you can collect your thoughts, or help yourself in any way; and you see and feel it as a cloud, or a strong eagle rising upwards and carrying you away on its wings. . .When the rapture was over, my body seemed frequently to be buoyant, as if all weight had departed from it. . .By the command of the Bridegroom when He intends ravishing the soul...the doors of the mansions and even those . . .of the whole castle are closed. . ." "Such great graces leave the soul avid of total possession of the Bridegroom who has conferred them."
Indeed, many undergoing the ecstasies of kundalini bliss would like to remain in perpetual union with the "Beloved Within." I met one woman who wept each morning when she had to leave off her transcendent practice and enter the workaday world.
And both states involve pain as well as pleasure. Underhill tells us, "Our bodies are animal things, made for animal activities. When a spirit of unusual ardour insists on using its nerve-cells for other activities, they kick against the pricks, and inflict...the penalty of 'mystical ill-health.' 'I cause thee extreme pain of body,' says the voice of Love to Mechthild of Magdeburg. 'If I gave myself to thee as often as thou wouldst have me, I should deprive myself of the sweet shelter I have of thee in this world, for a thousand bodies could not protect a loving soul from her desire. Therefore the higher the love, the greater the pain.'
These thought should give comfort to those undergoing the extremes of kundalini manifestation. In some ways, kundalini is a synonym for the mystical state. To be a mystic is not easy, in that earlier world or this. Most of us do not have the protection of monastery or ashram. We often must proceed on our own, dealing with our swings of spirit as best we can, with the help of the constant Inner Guide.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Only What Dances
Lord, join me in these fields of love.
I stand always
outside the gates,
beneath the walls
of the bastioned city.
Lord, join me in these fields of love.
I am the one
the young ones against,
who come to me
Lord, join me in these field of love.
When the sun
breaks over the distant hills,
my music floats
over cypress and pine.
My call echoes
across the snowy peaks,
the hidden valleys.
Lord, join me now in these fields of love.
The planets pulse
with the breath of my being,
the distant stars float by
in ecstasies of sound,
my rhythms foretell
the rise and fall of
dominions and heavenly bodies.
Lord who art as well my Lady,
come to me now,
let us move together.
Only what dances is real.
March 12, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Teresa (of Avila) lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. Her life began with the culmination of the Protestant Reformation, and ended shortly after the Council of Trent.
The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.
As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man's world of her time. She was "her own woman," entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.
Teresa was a woman "for God," a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her own conversion was no overnight affair; it was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.
Teresa was a woman "for others." Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought -- always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.
In 1970 the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.
"The Lord does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it."
-- St. Teresa of Avila
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Worlds Come into Being
Worlds come into being
and pass away
like the river of your life
crashing over the
rocks of enlightenment.
The goddess is as
as your inflowing
the outbreath of your
This temple is who
you are the scent
the music which
awakens your arms,
strokes your cheeks
March 6, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Andrew Harvey: Finally you have inherited, I believe from the Catholic mystical tradition, a deep belief in sanctity. You deeply believe in the divinization of the human through the disciplines of mystical rigor. You truly believe that through these exercises, through this discipline, through this devotion, through following this rigorous road map of the soul that all of the Catholic mystics have and Teresa, of course is the supreme teacher of it that the human being can go to a completely new level of self-empowerment, radiance, humility and unconditional compassionate action in this world. This is a very powerful transmission that's come through to you from your tradition.
Andrew Harvey: What is going to make this book so helpful is that you have separated the essential jewels of the tradition from the dogma and the authoritarian aspects of the tradition, which are clearly destructive. Now, these jewels - of a profound sense of cosmic sacredness, of a deep sense of holy passion, of an absolute commitment to true discipline, of a profound psychological realism that is absolutely unsentimental and of a vision of the potential sanctification of the human can now through Teresa and your work together be given to any seeker on any path of any religion to be used in the core of modern life.
Andrew Harvey: I am so moved by the way in which you have been able to universalize and rescue these truths from all of the excretions of the tradition, which you nevertheless celebrate with such profound humility and gratitude.
Andrew Harvey: What you're looking at in our world, is an overwhelming, even demonic triumph of the false self, in all the different aspects of human endeavor. This is why your enterprise in this book is so important. Through Teresa's grace and with her help, you are bringing back an authentic mysticism which is deeply rigorous, which shines a divine, clear, fierce light on all illusions, all agendas, all fantasies and helps people enter the truth and the peace and the real self-empowerment of the soul.
Andrew Harvey: What is especially exiting to me about what you¹re saying is your insistence that the demands of this time have ended the privileged vision of the mystic as a person who withdraws into a monastery or an ashram. I agree deeply with you that our time of vast and challenging change is inviting all of us to become what you call mystics without monasteries, and to act from the deepest spiritual wisdom in all the arenas of our burning world.
Andrew Harvey: Am I characterizing your thought?
Caroline Myss: Yes, absolutely. And within that context of transformation that you described, again the question needs to be posed, "Why would someone want to enter his or her Castle?" I bring this up again because the fact is this journey is one of great power. No one makes this journey and continues to live an ordinary life. The Castle is the deep metaphor for the soul. Why would someone want to enter the journey of illumination? What's in it for them? When a mystic speaks about how painful the journey into the soul could be, for example, what are they talking about? And that is an appropriate question, among the many we could bring up, because as I have discovered in my work, most people are terrified of an intimate experience with God. They fear that they will lose their worldly goods and suffer illness, loss, and poverty an image that we can thank Catholic history for fostering.
Caroline Myss: But what I explain to people again and again is that a Mystics' pain is not ordinary pain, not at all. It's the pain of seeing clearly, a pain that comes from waking up and seeing that life could be other than the way it is. It's the pain of recognizing that humanity does not have to struggle the way it's struggling or to see clearly, that there is a cost to seeing truth and living within a culture of deception.
Andrew Harvey: T. S. Elliott puts it beautifully when he says that the choice is between fire or fire. The fire of being destroyed by a culture of negation, irony, desolation, cynicism and a total addiction to lies; or the fire that is the divine fire that purifies and that can sometimes feel like agony and death.
Caroline Myss: Rightly so. A person should say, "What do I want this for?" What do I want this for? And it's like what you face when you motivate people in sacred activism. Why do I want to become active with the sacred? Why? When in fact I could indulge myself and continue to indulge myself. What do I care about the next generation I'm not going to be here?
Andrew Harvey: The chaos and deceit that is occurring all around us today can be so overwhelming as to lead to complete denial like in ancient Rome, where they turned to a culture of bread and circuses.
Andrew Harvey: The thing that does motivate people, I've discovered -and this I believe is what all mystics discover- is that the radiance and power and joy and ecstasy and deep health of the heart that come to those who undertake the mystical journey, intoxicates them with a real promise that their life can be a transfigured life.
Caroline Myss: What ultimately I have hope in, as I talk to people about this mystical renaissance that we are in the midst of right now, is that people are being called, just like they were in the old days of the classic mystics who were called into monasteries. They difference is these individuals are not meant to be recluses mystics without monasteries. They are being called to fall in love with God in an impassioned way wherever they are and they are given a ferocious appetite to discover that power of prayer, to discover that force to hold a door open and watch that simple act of respect give a man back his will to live. Nothing is more profound than to awaken your power to channel grace at a distance and know that the grace that flows through you is a source of healing. That they can access what the mystics did, that they can become a vessel of transformation through the power of their soul that is what the journey of illumination within one's Castle is all about. That's when a person discovers for the first time what the real meaning is of knowing he or she was truly born for a higher purpose. That higher purpose has to do with a Divine calling and not an earthly occupation. Therein lies the seduction of God.
Andrew Harvey: I believe that this book represents your own transformation as well as a transmission from Teresa to your heart. I believe that you¹ve been taken into the profound and fiery crucible of a mystical transformation. I believe too that the process of the writing of the book and getting all the different mansions of the soul clear for other people, have also been a tremendous process of self-reflection and self-transformation for yourself.
Andrew Harvey: And I wonder on this morning, as we sit with the winter sun streaming through into your dining room - where are you in your journey now? Where has this sublime and harrowing journey with Teresa taken you?
Caroline Myss: Where I once felt that I didn't have any active spiritual life, I feel completely alive spiritually. I feel alive, whereas before I felt like an outsider, looking in. That's the best way I could put it.
"May God let you taste the incredible joy of complete union. Nothing the world can give us Not possessions, not riches, not delights or honors, not great feasts or festivals Can match the happiness of a single moment Spent by a soul totally united to God."
--Teresa of Avila
Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, mystical scholar, spiritual teacher and a pioneering architect of Sacred Activism. He is the author of more than 30 books, including "Son of Man"; "The Mystical Path to Christ" (Tarcher 1999) which sets out in detail his vision of Jesus's revolutionary mission and the Christian mystical tradition, and The "Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi" (Tarcher paperback 2000) which explores his long love for Rumi and Rumi's message for our time. Andrew Harvey is now dedicating his life to what he has called "Sacred Activism" that fusion of sacred knowledge, passion, and energy with clear wise radical action in all arena's that he believes essential both to the transformation of humanity and it's survival. His DVD "Sacred Activism" is available from the Hartley Foundation at 800-937-1819 (info at www.hartleyfoundation.org
Monday, March 05, 2007
(Part Two of Andrew Harvey's Interview with Carolyn Myss on St. Teresa of Avila)
Andrew Harvey: Melted into the sacred?
Caroline Myss: Melted, yes, I guess that would be a better way to say it. I had melted into God. I began to merge into the meaning of Divine language instead of the definition of it. The light from the language of the Divine felt but only for the briefest second as if it was coming right through me. I felt a mystical fire enter into my entire body. Shortly after that, I had a grand mal seizure. And when I came to, I realized that I had drifted into a space of hell, I knew that my wiring - my interior wiring was different - I knew that. I also knew my interior life was different. A passageway had opened up within me that I could sense vibrationally, energetically, spiritually. I could feel it through silence, through prayer. The seizure had blown open the door to my Castle.
Andrew Harvey: I would love you to talk about the timeless relationship with Teresa that began after the grand mal seizure. This is an extraordinary story, Caroline, and you must share it.
Caroline Myss: You know you cannot return to your base of power from which you feel safe once you¹ve had a mystical crisis, and it is a crisis. And, what I mean by that is I have an Institute and I was teaching a class and I very much wanted to teach my course on how intuition inevitably evolves to the mystical bridge. And I was going about it mind you as a scholar. It's all I knew but I approached this subject with great reverence because I deeply believe in what I teach. And, so there I was, prepared to teach how we naturally progress from creatures of instinct to a yearning for self-awareness to a desire for consciousness guidance to a passion for a mystical connection. I intended to show on this day the archetypal evolution of the soul through all the great traditions. I was actually going to begin with St. John of the Cross but I grabbed THE INTERIOR CASTLE by Teresa of Avila accidentally and didn't feel like looking through my stack of books to find THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. And I thought, "What difference does it make anyway?"
Caroline Myss: Earlier that day, someone in the audience had asked about my personal spiritual history and my spiritual life, which I had always kept private. And perhaps opening up to this wonderful group of individuals created the atmosphere for my encounter with Teresa of Avila, I really can't say for sure. But that morning, after I shared my history with this group more openly than I have ever discussed with any group of people, I returned to the class after break prepared to plunge right into a lecture. No more personal stuff. Suddenly, instantly, I felt something near me, someone near me. And I paused for a moment as I could feel something in my field and that something had an exquisite field of grace. I thought, "Who's with me?" and then I heard, "Follow me, daughter." And I knew it was Teresa. I knew it was her.
Andrew Harvey: I want to suggest something and that is that one of the things that you discover on this journey into the soul is that you are capable of having the most passionate and powerful and exquisitely empowering relationships with divine human beings from another epoch. Rumi wrote in one of his poems that the relationships between the divine beings of the past and the divine human beings who are trying and struggling to realize themselves are part of the mystery of the godhead and one of the most exquisite of those mysteries.
Andrew Harvey: I myself have had a very profound soul friendship with Rumi who is more vivid and more alive to me than any other person in my life, and with Jesus. And what I've discovered in my relationship with Rumi and Jesus is that there are definite aspects of my own all to human nature that are fulfilled divinely in their nature, and in a way that constantly works to transform me. I want to suggest to you that there are three aspects of the person I know as you which are close to the personality, divine and human, of Teresa.
Andrew Harvey: The first is that Teresa is both sublime and extremely practical, and your nature has that wonderful marriage of great elevation and very keen, sometimes fierce, down-home truthfulness.
Andrew Harvey: The second element that I think links you and her is your extraordinary gift for honest self-revelation. Both Teresa and you are people who are faithful and rigorous to the truth of your own experience and very naked about the realities of that experience, what it costs, what it demands, what it means, what it entails.
Andrew Harvey: The third aspect that I think links you is that you both have a genius for synthesis and clarifying very complex information into luminous and simple diagrams. What I'm suggesting Caroline is that Teresa knew who she was choosing and she chose you because of these resonances between your nature and hers - so that her divine nature could communicate its essence to yours because yours was - in such remarkable ways - so prepared to mirror hers.
Andrew Harvey: The other thing that I think is essential in this extraordinary relationship that you've had with Teresa is that your very extensive Catholic education, including your graduate work in theology, prepared you from the earliest part of your life for this mystical experience.
Andrew Harvey: I would like you to talk about what you feel you derived from that education, and how you feel it has influenced you and sustained you in this mystical partnership that you've had with Teresa.
Caroline Myss: First, I would like to clarify in great detail exactly what my very delicate and subtle relationship with Teresa was like during the writing of ENTERING THE CASTLE, lest I give the wrong impression. Working with Teresa did not involve episodes of her grabbing my hand and writing through me, as if she or some other secondary spirit had possessed me. It was none of that kind of nonsense. Working with her also did not involve hearing her every day as in that very extraordinary first encounter. Rather, it was subtle, what she would call intellectual revelation and that¹s her name for it - as described in the 6th mansion of her great classic, THE INTERIOR CASTLE.
Caroline Myss: I experienced a dialogue of intellectual revelation and it required that I, myself become a vessel that required a great deal of preparation. I had to attain a certain state of tranquility, a certain height of interior clarity. This required prayer and silence, which I had to maintain as much as possible within me as well as within my home. My office space became a sanctuary that began to feel like an embodiment of the sacred. This was the only way I could attain the altitude necessary to perceive or receive perceptions that I knew were not mine. The way that I would explain that is that any parent who knows his or her child recognizes when the thinking of someone else has influenced that child. The parent then asks the child, "Who have you been talking to?" They know how that child thinks, and the parameters of that child's perceptual systems, so they recognize immediately when their child has been exposed to a new way of thinking.
Caroline Myss: And in that same way, you know the way you think and you know the parameters of your thinking, and when you have been given an idea or infused with a perception that is outside your realm of thought. Then you observe how that single perception reorders an entire cluster of thoughts and perceptions that are familiar to you or that are in the formative stages within your sensory system. That is, they are perceptions that you have sensed but not yet given language or structure to, yet these perceptions incarnate into clear form almost instantly as the result of being given one core truth. Teresa¹s guidance was one truth at a time and each one ordered an entire chapter in the book, for example.
Andrew Harvey: You could only really receive her divine instruction and be receptive to the images of perceptions of her divine instruction if you become like a mirror, cleansed of all your false self impressions.
Caroline Myss: Exactly. I had to know where I stopped and where she began.
Andrew Harvey: So, your job was to stay in that state of radiant nothingness so that the everything could flash messages on to the screen of your mirror mind, mirror heart that's the truest meaning of humility, isn't it? To stay in that silent receptivity, that silent, grounded, divinely tender, divinely prayerful receptivity so that into that ground the divine can pour It's truth and It's brilliance.
Caroline Myss: First, Andrew, let me say that no one can describe the experience I had more exquisitely than you. Just the phrase, "radiant nothingness" is something I would never have thought to say. On a more grounded level, I had to maintain my inner tranquility, to the best of my ability, given the daily struggles with my own life. But the effort is so worth the rewards. I think it is appropriate to ask about the relevance of the teachings of this Carmelite nun from the 1600's in today's society whose great work was a treatise on mystical illumination through prayer. At first glance, the ordinary mind would be inclined perhaps to dismiss her work as too Catholic or just for Catholics or just for nuns or monastics. But nothing could be further from the truth. We are living in a world gone mad, but not just mad in terms of war and chaos. There is a madness in this world that is the result of living too fast, forcing yourself to function without time to reflect upon the cause and effect of your choices and the quality of your relationships and the consequences of your actions. People live so scheduled, so pressured, so bound up in this nonsensical adoration of doing things faster and faster and faster among other superficial values that this adoration of speed has transferred to what they expect from their spiritual life, if you want to call what they have a spiritual life at all. A yoga class and a vegetarian diet is not a spiritual life, nor is therapy and learning about self-empowerment and how to get what you want in three easy lessons. What on earth does that have to do with the soul?
Caroline Myss: Small comments are great indicators of what people really believe as opposed to what they say they believe and the following example, which is among the most common that I hear, positions the matter of faith as the last empowered option that people turn to. When a crisis occurs and everything "humanly possible" has been done to rectify or treat the problem or illness, people will always say, "All we can do now is pray". Prayer is seen as a last option or the tactic one turns to when the really effective things that they were counting on have failed. The statement is really a symbolic admission that says prayer is the caboose on the train of life for people and not the engine. If people truly understood the power of prayer and the power of grace, they would pray as their first step in every thing that they did and not as a last resort because everything else on the human level failed. But that is not how most people truly and authentically relate to the power of prayer it is not a real power for them, at least it is not as real as a power they can touch.
Caroline Myss: It's more than appropriate at this critical stage in our spiritual, social, and political climate, that the work of Teresa of Avila be re-introduced into the mainstream of our culture. People need to discover the profound power of their soul. We need to discover the power that the mystics uncovered when they fell in love with God. We need to discover that more than needing to be healed, that we have the capacity to heal others and that our deepest calling in life is to move beyond needing to have more and more and more. We need to step beyond ourselves and discover what it means to be of service, beyond the experience of taking care of others in such a way that it leads to self-exhaustion, resentment, and burn-out. That's not spiritual service; that's self-pity and working from the motivation of the ego. The soul doesn't exhaust from serving others, regardless of the arena, but one has to learn how to merge service with wisdom, self-reflection, and the management of grace.
Caroline Myss: As odd as this may strike the reader upon first glance, the fact is that the call to be a "mystic out of a monastery" and to serve humanity through acts of the soul is now falling upon the shoulders of the ordinary human being. Mystics have long been associated with being recluses, running away to monasteries in order to keep their own company. But they were wild, strong, stubborn, powerful, and rebellious personalities who lead rebellions and wrote great books and turned their worlds up-side-down. They became the healers of their day and the educators and the ones who withdrew into prayer in order to receive Divine revelation about what the society should do next in times of great change. The last thing Teresa of Avila or Francis of Assisi or John of the Cross or Eastern mystics such as Rumi or Rabindranath Tagore were recluses. They were profound and powerful leaders of eras of transformation, not unlike the times we face right now.
Caroline Myss: What they knew is what many people are now discovering in their own way: the more the outside world spins out of control, the more your interior world must assume full control. Acquiring material goods will not help you to make sense of the massive changes occurring in this world and you have to be blind to think that America or the rest of the world is headed toward peace. We are headed toward more and more chaotic change and we must rise to face that change with courage and not denial. That is why I feel compelled to lead people across cross the drawbridge and into their inner Castle. Each person is born with a passion to connect with the sacred. We have a yearning for that. We have an absolutely passion to be brought to our knees before the Divine, to witness a miracle, to see the waters part, to see the blind recover their eyesight, to see people healed from incurable diseases. We long to see the presence of God among us in these ways, which is why people make pilgrimages to sacred spots or even go on nature outings and swoon over a sunset. They will reach to anything to be near God, or as close to a version of God as they will allow themselves to go near. Teresa's teachings are perfect for this time. They are perfect for the modern sojourner. I know because I have worked with people for twenty-five years and I have come to the conclusion that this search for highest potential that drives the contemporary spiritual seeker is really a search for the drawbridge into the Castle. It's really a search to find a way not to be afraid of your own life, or to hear guidance that tells you to help a homeless person. It's tragic to live in fear of your own life. Tragic.
Andrew Harvey: Lets get back to the influence that your Catholic background had on you. I thinks it's crucial.
Caroline Myss: Well, I'm no devotee of the Vatican, so let's just say there¹s a difference between religion and the soul path. And the religion, any religion, is an expression of the politics of God, so all religions have that in common therein lies the politics of God, so whether your dealing with Judaism or Islam or Catholicism, all of them are a manifestation of the power of God reduced to tribalism and tribal masks and tribal myths. But, Catholic mysticism absolutely intrigues me, the tradition of the saints, the tradition of the mystical experience, the tradition of being passionately drawn to the soul's journey. I believe I would be a mystic no matter what tradition I had been born in because that is the nature of my soul. I happen to have been born a Catholic, which is the most mystical tradition of the Christians. So, the ground rules were set for me to walk this path within the Christian tradition.
Caroline Myss: So I have this tradition in my bones that says, "Heaven walks next to you." Not above you, within and next to. It breathes with you. The Madonna is not some imaginative force she's not some goddess, I can't use that word very comfortably, actually, as it's not natural to me. But she is very much a Divine Mother and she appears when this Earth is in trouble. And you know what, she does, like her famous apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima, and now Medjugorje. Her messages are consistent in all apparitions, messages calling for prayers, conversion not to Catholicism, by the way, but to prayer and to peace. In return, places of profound miracles are left behind, such as the healing water of Lourdes. In none of her apparitions has she urged people to convert to Catholicism. She urges conversion to acts of love, prayer, and compassion so that all of humanity can cease its unnecessary suffering.
Caroline Myss: Now, the concept of what mysticism is very much a mystery. It is a deep and profoundly conscious mystery that beckons one to tamper with the very structure of his or her cosmic compass. A person that says "I Don't think I want heaven to be way up above me. Rather, I think I want it next to me, indeed, I want heaven to exist within me. What would happen, for example, if I shifted the location of my idea of God and decided that the Divine did not exist in some sort of cosmic distance above or beyond the celestial bodies of light. What if I lowered that equation and breathed the Divine next to me and within me, surrounding myself with the presence and power of God. That shift in compass would mean the end of all boundaries between this physical world and a Divine world as the two would merge into one."
Caroline Myss: Our five senses want immediate gratification. We want to see the cause and effect of our actions right now, and it's very hard to compete with the speed at which our five senses want a cause and effect. Like money, we want to see a cause and effect on the interest of our investments immediately. It's very difficult to compete with that reality. So, when you say to someone that prayer is far more powerful than any force in the physical world, I realize that to the five sensory driven individual, that remains incomprehensible. People often ask, "Well, which prayers work?" They treat prayers as magical spells.
Andrew Harvey: I think that is true. I think you were saved from what I call "the marzipan mysticism of our time" by being schooled in this clean, clear, fierce, rigorous school of Catholic mysticism. There are five aspects of this schooling that have actually been penetrating your work from the beginning, and that are now coming to fruition in Entering the Castle.
Andrew Harvey: The first thing that you got, I believe, from this amazing education that you had was what you describe as the feeling that heaven is walking in you and beside you - a profound sense of the sacred and of the cosmos as sacred, which is the essence of the great Catholic mystics from Eckhart to St. Francis to Teresa, herself.
Andrew Harvey: The second thing I believe that you have derived from the Catholic mystical tradition is a profound sense that the core of the relationship between the soul and the Beloved is a great passion, a great holy, divine passion. You have this in your personal life, in the way you teach and in the way you speak about Teresa but, it's one of the things that has deeply intoxicated you when you speak about Teresa, you speak about her with a great holy passion of the soul and it¹s this holy passion of the Christian mystics, for Jesus or for the Madonna that has actually ignited the great stream of Christian mysticism, and it's something that you share and transmit.
Andrew Harvey: The third thing that I believe you derive from your Catholic schooling is a very deep discipline of devotion. All of the great mystics of the Catholic tradition speak again and again in different ways of the necessity for a daily, down-home practice of deep contemplative devotion as a profound means of uncovering the inner life of the soul. And, one of the things I love deeply about your book is your constant emphasis on the unending need for this sacred discipline.
Andrew Harvey: The fourth thing that I believe that you have inherited from this tradition is one of it¹s greatest contributions to world mysticism - an absolutely no-nonsense psychological realism.
Andrew Harvey: And one of the great strengths of the book that you¹ve created is how again and again you help people see how their fears, fantasies and illusions are blocking them.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I am very happy to present to you an interview I did with my great friend and spiritual sister, Caroline Myss. I cannot recommend her new book ENTERING THE CASTLE highly enough. I also include a new article on Sacred Activism from NY Naturally Magazine, which I hope will inspire you. Please send these out to anyone whom you think might benefit from them.
My Love and Best Wishes,
THE COMPELLING POWER OF TERESA OF AVILA: An interview with Caroline Myss conducted by Andrew Harvey
All Caroline Myss's work is characterized by a forensic clarity and pioneering courage and brilliance. In her superb new book, "Entering the Castle," out from Free Press, Simon and Schuster, March 6, 2007 (see www.myss.com
Caroline and I sat together on a luminous day in January 2007, in her dining room in Oak Park, IL, and, as the winter sun danced around us, embarked on the wild, rich, exploratory conversation that follows. I pray that all of you who read this will share the holy joy that flowed between us.
Please read our interview slowly, and with your deepest attention. May it bring you what Teresa of Avila called "the inspiration of the loving soul." May it take you into your own "interior castle" and invite you to become "mystics without monasteries" and "Sacred Activists" beings who fuse sacred wisdom and passion, with clear wise radical action, in an endangered world. In St. Teresa's words:
"The Divine has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which the Divine compassion is to look out to the world Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now."
Andrew Harvey: Why at this moment in your great career did you choose to write a book about a 16th century nun and her map of the mystical path?
Caroline Myss: When I was writing Invisible Acts of Power, I was absolutely broken wide open. I took a look at the nature of service and why people were drawn to be of service after surviving a crisis. Somehow, a "resurrection Force", like a primal light from the soul, gets ignited in people who undergo a life transforming crisis, such as loss or disease. This light is the underlying grace that activates personal transformations and specifically the transformations that I noticed included a fundamental need to be of service. These people no longer wanted to take from life; they wanted to give to life. That fascinated me. Something had shifted their interior compass. A passion was awakened in them that gave them a new appetite for life that was made up of an entirely new interior alchemy that was lying dormant before, combining gratitude for their own survival, an appreciation for the simple things of life, and a genuine awareness that the meaning and purpose they were searching for in life was to be found in improving the lives of others. So, I did a mailing on my website and I asked people, "What does the concept of service mean to you?" and "Who have you served?" and, "Who served you?"
Caroline Myss: As a result of that inquiry, I received over 1,200 responses within ten days. I did not expect that the responses of these people would have the soul-opening affect on me that they did, but I have to say that these responses broke my heart wide open. To this day, I'm not sure that I can communicate exactly how or why the stories of those wonderful people had that effect on me. Maybe it's because I read all 1,300 in such a short period of time, although I don't think so. I think it's because I had the realization for the first time of how profoundly powerful the force of love, generosity, compassion, kindness, and the nonjudging heart truly is. These letters were filled with accounts of people who literally decided to not commit suicide or pulled themselves out of the despair and broken-spirited crisis of being homeless because one human being smiled at them with respect or held a door open for them. That single act was enough to breathe life back into the soul of another human being. I was stunned by how little it took on the part of one human being to do so much for another.
Caroline Myss: The more I read these stories, the more I thought, "Do human beings have any idea what power they have at all?" I thought they don't go anywhere near this power because they can't see it, and I thought what is it they can't see? Why isn't that power even seen? And then I realized that that is the soul, and we don't see that power because it is so profoundly humble, it's such a sweetly humble light.
Caroline Myss: I decided that these stories had to be shared, which is why I wrote, INVISIBLE ACTS OF POWER. In gathering all these stories of how a human being resurrects another human being through such simple means, I turned to sacred literature, thinking that I would weave the teachings of all great sacred traditions in between these wonderful accounts as they were living, breathing, proof of the miracles of grace that the great saints and mystics and the greatest holy beings like Jesus and Buddha, said occurred when human actions were blended with the power of Divine grace. But, as I was saturating myself in the sacred literature again, just thinking I was on an academic mission to find the right pieces of sacred literature to put into my book, I thought, "Uh, oh I've put myself on a retreat." My spiritual instincts were awakened immediately with that realization as I knew I had in the language of Teresa of Avila, crossed over the drawbridge and entered into my Castle, only at the time, I had no idea what that meant in terms of the profound depth of the journey that had just begun. I sat in my office one day and thought, "This peace I¹m feeling, this rich delicious peace where am I?" I realized I'd crossed something and I'd gone into a deep, deep retreat space, and I felt for the first time in my life that I had become soft in the sacred. I can't say it any other way.
Friday, March 02, 2007
No doubt about it, our world today is struggling between two contradictory views of reality . (Well, actually, more than two, but for purposes of discussion, two are chosen as subject.)
The two I have in mind are: the world and human experience as serious, necessary, and transcendent; and the universe as chaotic, absurd, trivial, and unworthy.
I found illustrations of both in my morning reading. The first is a poem by Rilke, which appeared on Ivan Granger's Poetry Chaikhana (see link):
As once the winged energy of delight
By Rainer Maria Rilke
(1875 - 1926)
English version by Stephen Mitchell
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.
Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.
To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.
Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions. . . For the god
wants to know himself in you.
In this lovely poem, Rilke is telling us that when we were young, it was pure joy, the "winged energy of delight" which enabled us to survive our times of suffering, carried us over "childhood's dark abysses." In adulthood the task is more complex. It is not enough merely to be swept along. He calls on us to take the powers we possess and make of them a kind of bridge to "span the chasm" which confronts us.
The final line is especially moving: "For the god wants to know himself in you."
Here is the second illustration. It appeared in a New York Times review of an exhibition currently showing at MOMA in New York City:
More comic installation than comic abstraction, Juan Muñoz's "Waiting for Jerry" consists of the soundtrack of a "Tom and Jerry" animated cartoon: a cacophony of inferred chases, sneaks, skids, crashes, plops and general hysteria. Emanating from a lighted mouse hole cut in the old-fashioned molding of a small, dark room, it echoes throughout the show.
I think that in our present world, it is getting more and more difficult to discover the "Rilkean sensibility" amidst the Tom and Jerry confusion. True, the unifying myths of the earlier centuries have faded. There is no common, affirming worldview to sustain humanity's sense of connection as the world crumbles around us. As Yeats said, "The center does not hold." Many of us struggle with constant despair when we look closely at the current threats to our planet on many levels.
What does all of this have to do with kundalini? Just this. Once that experience occurs, once one is embraced by the goddess and feels those sweet and thrilling energies flow within in effulgent streams of love --then one is convinced of the reality of the Mystery, the "divine otherness" which is now not other but one's very self. One knows that despite the unsettling confusions and convulsions of our age, there is an abiding and undeniable essence, loving and sustaining, once we open to it. "The god wants to know himself in you," and kundalini is one of the ways this can come to be.
And this, I think, accounts for much of the lostness of the world at present. We as a world population have wandered too far from our sacred source, lost touch with our holy roots. The result is dislocation and despair.
But--there are definite signs of hope. Spritual regeneration is occurring all around. And--in addition--there are more and more reports of uncommon children coming into the world. These are children who seem to have special gifts, remarkable abilities of perception and spiritual awareness.
Indeed, it seems that--amidst the destruction and decay--something quite wonderful is coming into being.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Recently, I considered whether or not kundalini could be "catching." My friend Lawrence Edwards (Kalidas) wrote the following in response. (See link for his website) Kalidas lived in India as a disciple of Mutananda for many years and continues his practice in that lineage. He is now a world authority on the subject of kundalini and offers workshops and classes on meditation and spiritual practices.
I saw what you had written about Kundalini being contagious. It definitely is! Baba Muktananda used to joke about it in his shaktipat intensives where the Shakti would move through the hundreds of people in waves. One person would begin having physical kriyas and then two people next to them and it would spread out in ripples of ecstasy! Baba would say, you see - it's not just colds that you can catch from another person! There were countless sharings of spouses and children getting shaktipat from family members who had returned home after an intensive weekend. My mother received shaktipat through me shortly after I met Baba in 1976 and she had an extraordinary vision of Christ that overwhelmed her with love, leaving her dissolved in tears and a bit frightened! Not what the little old Norwegian was expecting from trying some foreign sounding mantra that she didn't know anything about! Thousand upon thousands of people have received the grace of Kundalini in this way. Kundalini is the Divine Contagion - pass it on!
In Her love and service,