Friday, April 20, 2007
Last night, I participated in a poetry reading at Field's Bookstore, the oldest spiritual and metaphysical bookstore in San Francisco. The reading was presented as part of the ongoing celebration of poetry month and also to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the store.
I had decided to begin with a brief statement, going something like this: "When I moved to San Francisco many years ago, one of the first places I visited was Field's Bookstore. And there, in the corner by the front door, I met Rumi and we have been fast friends ever since. At that time (some twenty years ago) he was not as well known as he is today, and I had him (I thought) mostly to myself. Now, of course, he is a world celebrity and I must share him with countless others."
Now, I was the second reader. When the first poet, a transplanted New Yorker, began, he said, "When I moved to San Francisco Field's was one of the first bookstores I visited. Here I discovered Rumi who has been a major influence on my writing ever since."
I was more that a little amazed at this coincidence, and told my new friend that he had "literally taken the words out of my mouth."
The reading was well received by the audience of some twenty listeners (a very good number for a poetry reading.) No books were sold (poets are traditionally poor), but I received at least one memorable response. A young man in his twenties came up to me afterward and said, "You were good. In fact, you were the best one. You were really hot!" I took it as a compliment.
I felt a bit of shakti stir in the room during my reading. Then this morning, I detected early on definite energy flows, so I once again repeatead my morning practice in front of my Buddha thangka, and once again the raptures came, in still more refined and delicate waves of delight. At one point as I bowed or repeated certain micromovements (or perhaps just stood still), the sweetness seemed to flow across my shoulders and back, at another energies floated around my face. Once more I marveled at such exquisite pleasure. Once more I felt I had reached a new level of somatic response. And yet another time I wondered what might account for this, and whether others feel something similar.
As far as I am aware, no one really knows the answer to any of this. But we do know that this, or something like it, is in fact happening to more and more people over the world, though each one's experience is unique.
When I finished, I noticed that my head was extremely warm, though not my hands or the rest of my body. I take it that this means that the energies are flowing upward, rather than down, as is the case for most people.
Yes, meditation of this sort definitely changes the nervous system. We do indeed "feel with new senses and respond with revised awareness."
One of the continuing amazements for me is that these rapturous sensations continue even after some twenty-five years of such practice. I am going to write a paper sometime on "Kundalini and the Elder."
I might add that my practice is not dedicated solely to this inner rapture (which as I have often said, I view as a way of communing with the Divine, the Beloved Within.) I include prayers for all I know and also for all I may not know who are in need. I continue to feel that ecstasy and compassion need not be mutually exclusive nor that we need feel guilty for allowing joy as well as pain to enter our awareness. I remember that in the Dalai Lama's Secret Temple on the side of the Potola in Lhasa, there are two wall paintings. One is of the Buddha, the other of seemingly wild creatures in frenzied dance--depicting, I believe, the dual nature of divinity--compassion and ecstatic love.
(I wrote in an earlier entry about the "Secret Temple". If you want to read more, you can check out the "Dalai Lama's Secret Temple" on Google or Amazon.