Kundalini Splendor

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Friday, February 29, 2008

One Stroke (poem) 

(Image from source)

One Stroke

Have you noticed
how a Tibetan bowl
is like a woman’s body,
open to receive the world’s caress.

One stroke
and it comes alive,
calling from its depths
the sound of its own

Dorothy Walters
February 28, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Borrowings (poem) 

(image from source)


A friend with a recorder
puts it on her windowsill
and captures the song
of a mockingbird
in her garden.

It sounds first like this winged one,
then that (do birds have names?),
on and on,
always cheerful and
trilling away,
never mind the real creators
of these stolen melodies.

Some people
want to track the primary source,
the original begetters
as it were
of these pilfered salutations.

Others just want to listen,
catch the inner music.
Echo these soaring tones.

Dorothy Walters
February 25, 2008

To hear the actual sound of the recording, go to this site created by N. M. Rai, who has contributed so much to this blog. Thanks, Naggie.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not by Talking 

(picture from source)

Not by Talking

If you think you
will get there
by talking about things,
you will never

If you believe that
endless explanations,
quibbling and wrangling
about those
ancient points,
one or three,
angels, pins,
will take you there
you will wander forever
in the desert of grief.

Dear one, know that
you have been here
you are god’s messenger
and her angel,
let your heart
be struck open by light.

Dorothy Walters
February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Rumi's Tavern 

(photo by N.M.Rai)

The Lover

The red gold labia
of the rose,
already beginning to
wither and curl,
how beautiful,
even as death
offers a kiss.

In Rumi's Tavern

Even now,
with the taste of honey
still on my lips,
I wake to such longing.

Echos of the night
still pulse within,
this music of the soul,
unseen singer.

Are you the Friend
or are you the Beloved?
Who cares what name
your bring.
It is only your touch
that matters.

Some call it a tavern,
some a chapel.
God is everywhere.

Take this breast
into your mouth
and drink.
Let your tongue
taste god.

Dorothy Walters
February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Those Who Stand Outside the Church Doors 

As wonderful as Karen Armstrong was, she was addressing (essentially) religious traditions as expressed through institutions and creeds and not the deep mystics, some of whom are embedded within the traditions, some wholly apart. She speaks to a general audience about compassion, tolerance, and understanding of other cultures and other religions, and these are extremely important. But what of those without institutional affiliation, or who find their unique path in ways contrary to the churches they serve? Where do the mystics fit in?

What is a deep mystic? I think of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross from the Christians, Muslims such as Rumi and others who sang of (and to) the Beloved Within, the Jewish Cabalists (and others) who related to the divine through the exploration of Mystery,the Hindus who follow the practices of ancient tantra and goddess worship, and, of course, the entirety of Tibetan Buddhism in its ancient, pure form.

Yes, deep mystics occur within the traditions, but they also exist outside all established orders. They are those who follow the "direct path" to the divine, without the intervention of priest, book, or rule.

To experience massive kundalini awakening is to be catapulted onto a profound mystical path. There may be no guide or map for the journey. One may have to discover a path which is uniquely one's own. Then one must listen carefully to the inner voice for counsel and direction. There may be many who are eager to interpret the experience (in their particular terms) or to direct the voyager along the way. Some of these may be helpful, others false prophets. Discrimination is essential. Caution is required.

But--the direct mystic may be one who holds in his/her hand the prize that the others are seeking. She may be one who is in fact fully open to God. She may be prepared to sacrifice all the identity markers of the outside world (professional success, social approval, standing in the community) in order to commune with the inner spirit, the (for her) one true voice.

All the mystics meet at the still point at the center. There is indeed only one god, one divine presence, one reality. We all seek it daily in our lives, whether we recognize it or not. The seeker-mystic is vouchsafed glimpses and tastes, but these are sufficient to keep her focused on the inner presence. The mystic knows that "God is within you" and that "you are within god." This affirmation is enough, and creeds, belief systems, churches are no longer needed.
February 25, 2008

Kundalini Circle near San Diego

I recently received the following e-mail:

I am a new comer (from the east coast) to the San Diego area, and am looking to join a Kundalini meditation group. I would also be willing to volunteer (free of charge) my time in facilitating kundalini meditation/dialogues with anyone (or a group) interested, within the San Diego area, (I live in the 92108 zip code).

Albert Nahmani

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Patricia Again 

(above image from Patricia Lay-Dorsey's "Winter Women drawn in light" gallery)

(photo from Patricia Lay-Dorsey's gallery, "Winter Woman Does T'ai Chi")

See all the photo galleries in Patricia's "Winter Nudes portfolio" at http://www.pbase.com/windchimewalker/winter_nudes

I have been looking at Patricia Lay-Dorsey's latest photos in her galleries on pbase. She has been deeply engaged in her new series called "Winter Nudes," which shows women's bodies as they truly are as they age into a special kind of beauty. Here is her introduction to this series:

Winter Nudes portfolio

There are seasons of life just as there are seasons of the year. While Western culture tends to idealize the springtime of life, especially when setting standards for physical beauty, we women of age know there is much to be said for having bodies that show all that we have lived. There is beauty to be found in every wrinkle, fold, crease, ripple, stretch mark, scar, bit of flab and fullness of contour. My Winter Nudes portfolio of galleries celebrates women who are coming into the winter of their lives with grace, wisdom, sensuality and adventuresome spirits. I invite you to view these images with respect and gratitude for their willingness to share their unclothed beauty so fearlessly.
I will be adding regularly to this portfolio.

Patricia is truly obsessed with her project. Sometimes she stays up all night posting her newest images. The results speak for themselves. Her work is artful, daring, and highly original. Who but Patricia would think to photograph nude older women doing t'ai chi? Who would focus on hands, feet, arms of older models?

As I have mentioned before, many find a deep connection between creative production and kundalini itself. The great geniuses of this world, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Rilke and others sometimes created their stunning work in great bursts of energy, locking out all outside distractions until the score or book or painting was finished. Patricia is now in such a time. I told her she was clearly "running on kundalini." And the results are astonishing.

To watch this series unfold is like being in the studio when a major work of art is being created. It is like coming close to the source itself. Brava,Patricia! You give us all a great gift!

Look for yourself at: http://www.pbase.com/windchimewalker/winter_nudes

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More on "Rumi Turning Ecstatic" 

On Thursday, February 21, I published the flyer announcing the presentation (film including reading of Rumi's poetry, interviews with major scholars and translators, live music, among others) which will occur on this coming Monday at Field's bookstore in San Francisco (8-9:30). Here is more information about this exciting event, which I would urge you to attend. It will be a rare experience.

"A Voice of Peace from Within Islam..." Mevlana Jelalludin Rumi was a 13th C. Mystic and Poet. He was born in Balkh Afghanistan and lived out his life in Konya Turkey. His two signature literary works "The Mathnawi" and the "Divani Shams i Tabriz" are considered second only in importance to the Koran in the Middle East.

In the West, he has outsold Shakespeare in the English language for 2 decades, becoming the best loved poet in America today.

Canadian filmmaker Tina Petrova shares her extraordinary encounter with Rumi ( a true story) as she leads us on a road trip of discovery across America to the shifting sands of the Middle East - seeking out scholars who animate his works in the world today. Featured are: UN award winning architect Nader Khalili, who builds emergency shelters in the Mohave Desert , the worlds most popular translator of Rumi - Coleman Barks , activist and author Andrew Harvey , the hypnotic spin of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey and Shaikh Kabir Helminski , who heads up Rumi’s spiritual order today.

To both the initiated and uninititated alike, Rumi -Turning Ecstatic propels the viewer deep into the heart of Sufi mysticism, with thought provoking and informative interviews, stunning stock footage from around the globe and a haunting soundtrack of ecstatic Sufi Music.

There are numerous readings of Rumi’s poetry throughout and a historical background of his life is given. Strong Interfaith elements make it suitable for discussion. ( It is currently being used as a teaching tool for selected Toronto High Schools.)

Religious studies, Poetry, Islam, Middle Eastern studies and World Literature
Official Selection: Santa Cruz Film Festival 2006
Cinema of the Spirit, New York
San Francisco Chronicle: 4 Star Review- 2006.

The Cast & Crew
Tina Petrova: Producer, Writer, Director
Tina has been part of the Canadian film, television and stage scene for over 20 years, as an award winning actress, a writer, producer and director.

She first studied theatre and dance at Ryerson University, later returning to study film in the mid 1990's. Her film debut “The Lost Years” garnered nationwide interest after being honoured by the Golden Sheaf Awards. It was produced with the assistance of the National Film Board of Canada. She is an alumni of the Canadian Film Centre, founded by Norman Jewison.

Film critics have dubbed Tina a "driving force" and "visionary," creating works of "faith and healing." Her primary passion over the years has being jumping feet first into projects of a social justice nature, including "Secret Survivors," and "Employment Equity- the Challenge."

CBC Radio is the exclusive distributor of her radio documentary -" Rumi, spoken by Coleman Barks.

Her current projects include travelling across America on a good will ambassador tour, exhibiting and promoting Rumi-Turning Ecstatic and publishing her first book, entitled "Passion for Rumi."
Stephen Roloff: Director, Writer, Producer

With an honors degree in Engineering from Queen's University and professional experience in Architecture, Stephen moved into the media some 18 years ago.

His work as a production designer and then producer and writer covers the creation of over 250 hours of filmed entertainment, working with clients such as Alliance Atlantis, Fireworks, Paramount, Universal, Lucasfilm Television and IMAX. Selected projects include the feature film "Foolproof", IMAX 3D "First City in Space", "Gene Roddenberry's Earth", "FX", "Traders", "Tekwar", "A Child's Christmas in Wales", "Maniac Mansion", "White Fang", "Heaven on Earth", and one rock video: the Rolling Stones' "Love is Strong". His 12 award nominations and wins include Emmy, Gemini, Ace, and Broadcast Design Awards.

Stephen has a reputation for visionary conceptual creation, inspired leadership, and technical innovation. Fascinated with the evolution (or non) of our species in general and the media in particular, he is currently working in partnership with Jim Banister (former head of New Media at Warner Brothers) on the development of a number of independent projects.


Coleman Barks: Author
Coleman Barks is a poet, author and Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia.

Following his first encounter with Rumi’s poetry , through celebrated poet Robert Bly, Coleman began translating literal versions of Rumi’s poetry into modern day verse. Today, Coleman is considered one of the premiere translators of Rumi’s poetry, with the Essential Rumi ( Harper Collins 1996) topping sales of 500,000. Other titles include “The Illiminated Rumi” ( with Michael Green), “The Glance”, “Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion” and “Open Secret” .

Coleman Barks has performed Rumi’ s poetry to ecstatic audiences around the world accompanied by renowned musicians. He has been featured on several PBS specials including “Fooling with Words” hosted by Bill Moyers

Andrew Harvey: Author
Andrew Harvey was born in India and educated at Oxford, where he became the youngest fellow of All Soul’s College in its history. A prolific writer , Andrew has authored over 10 books, including “ The Way of Passion” – A Celebration of Rumi, “Journey To Ladakh” and the best selling “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” which he co-authored with Sogyal Rinpoche. Andrew has been deemed a “gentle apocolyptarian, ” urging those of us on the planet who have a conscience- to “transform the spiritual barreness at the heart of Western life” to change the trajectory of devastating global consequences we are plunging into. Andrew, through his translations of Rumi’s poetry and his public lectures, transmits “the urgency, passion and intensity of Rumi’s message to our times-Rumi is a stern awakener and a doctor of souls…”


Camille Helminksi: Author
Camille Adams Helminski is the co-founder and co-director of the Threshold Society in Aptos , CA, along with her husband, Shaikh Kabir Helminksi. The Threshold Society is an educational organization, dedicated to preserving and disseminating the teachings of Mevlana Jelalludin Rumi, in the authentic Mevlevi tradition. With “The Light of Dawn” she was the first woman ever to translate a substantial portion of the Koran. Amongst her other titles are “The Mevlevi Wird,” “Rumi Daylight,” and Jewels of Remembrance (with Kabir Helminski). Camille has also collaborated with Refik Algan on a translation of Ahmet Hilmi's classic, Awakened Dreams. She is currently at work on a book on women in Sufism. Camille and Kabir are closely associated with Sufi teachers from other tariqats in Turkey and Syria, all of whom are committed to integrating the classical methods with modern needs.

Kabir Helminski: Author
Kabir began his Mevlevi training as a student of the late Shaikh Suleyman Loras. In 1990, he was appointed A Shaikh by the late Dr. Celaleddin Celebi of Istanbul Turkey, head of the Mevlevi ( Tariqa ) Order and twenty first generation descendant of Mevlana Jelalludin Rumi. Under Kabir’s direction, the Mevlevi Order in North America works to apply traditional Sufi principles to the heart of modern day Western life. Among Kabir’s book titles are “Living Presence,” A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self,” and “The Knowing Heart.” Together with his wife Camille, they travel around the world, leading workshops on the teachings of Rumi and presenting at conferences.


Nader Khalili: Architect, Author, Founder of Calearth Institute of Earth Architecture

Nader Khalili, California architect and author is the mentor of Cal-Earth Institute . Inspired by the mystic poetry of Rumi in his native Persian language, he has created the Ceramic Houses and Superadobe technologies to build disaster resistant, self-help, and spiritual architecture with the universal elements of earth, water, air and fire. As a consultant to the U.N. (UNIDO) and a contributor to NASA for his designs for lunar and planetary habitation, he has received many awards and recognition for his terrestrial and space-related works. He has published five books including translations of Rumi's poetry in "Rumi, Fountain of Fire" and "Rumi, Dancing the Flame".

Khalili received his philosophy and architectural education in Iran, Turkey, and the United States. He has been a licensed architect in the State of California since 1970, and has practiced both in the U.S. and abroad.


More Thoughts on Karen Armstrong 

Today, I took part in a workshop with Karen Armstrong. Here are a few of my impressions:

Her clever wit: After discussing the relation of sexuality and religion, she added that she herself had never married nor lived with anyone. She then concluded that she was apparently "a failed heterosexual."

Her liberal view of homosexuality: When someone asked about the negative attitudes of the various religious traditions to homosexuality, she said that she was always surprised by the attention given to this subject in America. She explained that in England, this was a topic of little public concern, seldom discussed. She added that some of the fundamentalists seem obsessed with the topic, so that one might wonder what that fixation might suggest about their own sexuality.

On spirituality and the world: She feels, along with the Dalai Lama and others, that true spirituality is expressed in one's life and action, and that these must reflect deep compassion for all. Compassionate action is thus the key, and each one must discover the proper way to deliver that gift to the world.

Her courage: Her work arouses hostility from various quarters. Academics criticize her for writing for a "popular" readership rather than a narrow academic audience. (She writes not for the specialist but for the educated, literate group of those who are eager to broaden their knowledge of the world and its spiritual and political concerns from an enlightened informant.) As for more fundamentalist readers, some are so incensed by her ideas that she is sometimes threatened with death. When she traveled recently in Pakistan, an armed guard was assigned to stand outside her hotel room. Some countries in the far East ban her works entirely (though the people who come to her talks there seem to be familiar with her work.)

How young people react to her: In America, few young (under 30) people come to hear her speak. In Pakistan, they turned out in great numbers.

What she did not address: Her presentation focused essentially on the major traditions as embodied in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. She did not talk about the unaffiliated mystic, the independent traveler who embraces the "direct path" to the divine, rather than following an established church. She did not seem aware of the widespread "spiritual awakening" which many are now experiencing all over the world, outside the confines of traditional institutions.

When the small discussion groups met, most talked in terms of their churches and faith groups. I realized how outside the mainstream the independent voyager is, how truly lonely and isolated that path can be. And, of course, once kundalini is awakened, one is immediately set outside that "norm" of communal spiritual experience. We find each other now and again, and indeed I believe the transition is growing swiftly, perhaps exponentially. But we are lonely pilgrims, for the most part traveling a solitary path, following Buddha's injunction to "be a light unto yourself."

I for one would choose no other way. It is not the easiest of journeys, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Karen Armstrong is a jewel, one who travels the world with her essential message, spreading light and compassion throughout the world through her intelligent, compelling words.

Read her books if you can. And wonderful articles and interviews are available just by typing in her name on Google. One of the most interesting is found at

Friday, February 22, 2008

Karen Armstrong 

I went to hear a brilliant talk last night by Karen Armstrong, the renowned writer on world religion and the history of the Middle East, among other things. The title of her talk was “Understanding Islam.”
(photo from source)

The evening began with a recitation from the Koran by one of the Sufi luminaries in attendance. The “chant” was extremely moving, reminding me of the great spiritual power of certain Sanskrit passages.

Karen has an uncanny knack for bringing together solid factual information and comprehensive analysis of the underlying patterns of meaning. One of her main themes was that what we are now involved in is not an encounter between medieval and modern culture, nor between Islam and Christianity, but rather a conflict arising from the extremist minorities of both sides. The majority of Muslims do not feel that the attack on America was justified. Their primary concern is that Islam is so poorly understood in the West, and that they are somehow being judged for the acts of a radical few. By the same token, those who most flagrantly fan the fires of war in the West are a minority of so called “fundamentalists,” who in fact, are not practicing the fundamentals of Christianity at all. As she pointed out, the sacred text says “love thy enemies,” not go out and massacre them.

The extremists of both sides thus distort and misrepresent the essential, core teachings of their faith, and it is they who provoke hostile actions toward the perceived “enemy.” To those who insist that Islam is a religion which condones violence, she pointed out that Mohammad, once his followers were no longer threatened, renounced violence and indeed spoke against it.

She also noted that we now have a form of “secular fundamentalism” which rejects any notion of a divine reality, and insists that all action, both public and private, be totally stripped of any allusion to a truth beyond the mundane. She cited the example of what happened a few years ago in Utah, when the Dalai Lama, as part of a conference which was held in a school stadium, blessed the school children in attendance. This act of loving compassion was greeted with outrage and protest by some who contended that it constituted a violation of the separation of church and state.

When she was asked if she had had a key moment in her life when she felt profoundly connected to the divine, she said it was when she realized that in order to write about Mohammad, she would need to approach her subject with true compassion, that is, a deep seeing into and feeling with this man who was called by God to speak and deliver a new vision of spirituality.

The audience was enthralled by her presentation, and twice gave her a standing ovation.

Tomorrow, I plan to attend a day long workshop (on mysticism within the various religious traditions) with this remarkable woman. Once a nun, she left the cloister to go out into the world, and is now recognized as a major scholar in many fields, one who can take intrinsically challenging material and present it in a cogent and comprehensible way for the general reader. She has also written about her own life journey. She has won many honors, and yet presents herself with modesty and warmth. She is a jewel among us, and I strongly recommend her writings to you.

P. S. I just looked Karen Armstrong up on Google, and discovered some interested facts about her background. She is now in her early sixties. She suffered from epilepsy for many years before it was diagnosed, and this caused her to lose her teaching position. And (of special interest to me) her doctoral dissertation on Tennyson was rejected by an "outside authority." I know many women who suffered s similar fate. Only a few days ago I met a woman who had done special and original research on an early French philosopher, but her director was so slow in getting her through the process that someone else published similar material before she could submit her work for print. All of this was commonplace in academia at that time. Only after the women's movement erupted did women in higher education receive equal treatment.

And, since I am talking about that era, I will mention that, oddly enough, I see a connection between the shifting landscape of that time and kundalini itself. The connection I make is that this was the era when the notion of the "divine feminine" came to the fore. The goddess was rediscovered, the body was restored to its rightful place as the twin of the spirit, and the importance of the inner feelings (as loving energy) was affirmed.

For me, the kundalini energies are the essence of the divine itself, the impulse behind the goddess symbols, and the creative power of the universe. My journey took me through all these various stages, and perhaps this is why I feel such a strong connection to this interpretation.

In any event, it is truly gratifying to sit in an audience and imbibe the wisdom of this remarkable woman who survived many challenges along the way.

She now calls herself a "freelance monotheist" who values all the monotheistic religions equally (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) and feels they are differing expressions of a central core truth.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rumi Film in S. F. and Mountain View 

A RUMI Evening. . .

1419 Polk St.
San Francisco

Monday Feb. 25th. 8 -9:30 pm
"Rumi Turning Ecstatic..." Free

Talk, Poetry Reading, Live Sufi Music & excerpts of the film
with special guest : Filmaker Tina Petrova from Toronto

Please visit www.rumi-turningecstatic.com to learn more about the film. . .

...and also...

Friday, March 21
LIVING LIGHT CINEMA at East West Bookshop in Mountain View
Rumi: Turning Ecstatic
7:30pm • Free but call to reserve a place
Along with readings of poetry by Coleman Barks, interviews with Andrew Harvey, and featuring the Mevlevi Dervishes, here is a deeply moving film of personal redemption. It tells the true story of narrator Tina Petrova, who shares her mystical "encounter" with 13th century Sufi master Rumi. In this 800th year since Rumi's birth, travel with Petrova into the heart of Sufi mysticism, presented with historical background, thought-provoking discussion, and a soundtrack of ecstatic music.

To Reserve Tickets, Please Call 800-909=6161

You are ALL Mega Wattage Spirits Blessing this World with your Wild Loving! I am SO Proud of you all and would be Honored if you could all gather together to celebrate the reason I came to this Earth....RUMI

(as channeled by Marina, who then writes:)

I know this is a long email - and THANKS for reading it. If you want more info or some Love & Appreciation, feel free to call me at (415) 821-0227.
Gi-Normous Love to You All!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reflections on Tantra 

(image from source)

I think tantra is one of the most misunderstood terms/practices among us. I personally am quite suspicious of workshops that purport to teach "tantra," an ancient practice which required the aspirant to spend years of spiritual preparation before one was eligible to participate.

Here is one description of tantra:

Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the Godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways.
(David Gordon White)

Ancient tantra comes in both sexual and non-sexual forms. Baba Hari Dass (who taught Ram Das yoga) calls himself a Tantric. He is, as far as I am aware, celibate. Others call themselves Tantric (and I am one of these) who do energetic practices (totally non-sexual, except for a slightly erotic feeling) to move the bliss currents through the body, though it might affect only arms or eyes or head or whatever. And others do practice sexual tantra, during which the partner literally takes on the aura of the god or goddess.

I think when we have inner "fantasies" of the god or goddess arriving as a love object, that is tantra. Indeed, one tantric practice is that which set off my awakening--inner visualization of the god and goddess in union, the yab-yum so prevalent in Eastern culture. Some tantrics used a human partner, others a mental image.

I think Western goddess worship is also a form of tantra, since that too awakens deep energetic (and often erotic) responses.

All of this is fascinating, of course, as we try to unravel the connection between the various levels, the human and the divine, and discover to our amazement that creative energy is also love energy, and that in the full embrace of kundalini we experience what is indeed "unconditional love."

And, as I have mentioned before, I don't really do much of this anymore, as I focus on other things, and find that my "natural energies" have calmed down. But still it is an area of interest, as we continue to confront the Mystery.

I also suspect that many of us who have these intense, unexpected awakenings are ancient tantrics coming down again. Hence the ease of the (initial) awakening experience, the understanding of the sexual/spiritual connection, and the sense that this is a gift to be used in some way for the good of the world (to raise the vibrational level, among others.)

Here are two books which illustrate the connection between the vibrations on the personal level and those of the cosmos. They are ancient descriptions of how the universe began as pulsation (and, strangely, the rishis' theory was close to that of modern physics, I think.) The two books are, presumably, translations of the same text, but they read like two totally different volumes. Both are worthwhile.

"The Yoga of Vibration and Divine Pulsation" (tr.Jaideva Singh) is "A Translation of the Spanda Kirikas" It is published by the State University of New York Press and has a Foreward by Paul E. Muller-Ortega (and this is brilliant). Should be available on Amazon.

The other is:

"Yoga Spandakarika: The Sacred Texts of the Origins of Tantra," (tr. Daniel Odier, who is still living.) (Also on Amazon)

These are highly esoteric spiritual texts, not quick reads. I love them both, for they speak to me in a very deep way. They are part of the Shiva Shutras, the fundamental texts of Kashmiri Shaivism, my favorite tradition in its pure form.

I would start with the Odier text. It is much easier to follow. The Jaideva Singh is for those who wish to go much deeper into the technical implications of this ancient theory, which holds that "spanda" or pulsation is the source of the the material universe.

And--for an overview and more readily available discussion of tantra check out the entry on wikipedia, the useful internet encyclopedia. (www.wikipedia.org)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Awakening, Change, and Family Responsibilities 

Recently, I received the following question, which raised some interesting reflection on my part. It has to do with the matter of personal awakening and social and familial responsibility.


There is a passage in your book when you mention another kundalini expert/writer who recommends than anyone going through a kundalini awakening should avoid work, due to the hypersensitivity to all stimulation that comes, especially in the early stages. This made me think about the early days of my own journey, when it was so overwhelming and overpowering and I wanted nothing more than to lose my-self in it. Yet obligations to family and friends made that impossible of course...I am a householder and have a wife and children to support emotionally and financially. Indeed, the only "condition" I put on the Goddess when She first made Herself known to me was that She could do whatever She wanted with me and I would go along willingly, PROVIDED that no harm of any kind came to my family as a result of my journey. She accepted this condition.

This reminded me of the story of Buddha. When the prince began to awaken as he became aware of the pain of the world, he left his wife and family in order to find enlightenment. From the first time I read that story as a teenager, it bothered me...I always found it selfish of the Buddha to have done that, to have abandoned his family. But on the other hand, Jesus Himself (who I regard as an enlightened being akin to the Buddha) spoke of dividing families and setting brother against brother, and having to abandon your family to find the way. Who am I, a mere neophyte, to question the experiences of Buddha and Jesus?

What do you think about this? So much walking a fine line....I KNOW in my deepest being that so many of the things we struggle and worry about are completely meaningless in the big picture. We Are One...I have felt this, I have experienced this, I KNOW this. Yet the daily grind continues. Granted my own work is blessedly easy compared to the jobs of 99.99% of people on this planet. And if I, pampered as I am, struggle with this, what hope does anyone else with a much more difficult job have to walk this fine line?

My Response:

Like you,I have been bothered by the example of the Buddha who abandoned wife and family to follow his chosen path. The texts seem to slide over this detail, as if it has no real significance. But here I think the age old question comes up--do we follow our own "call to greatness" or do we forego that in order to live up to our human obligations? Of course, it is true that Buddha came from a wealthy family who could provide financially for the dependents he left behind. But did his wife and children not feel the pain of rejection? Did his departure not leave emotional scars?

Some might see his unilateral action similar to that of certain creative geniuses who neglect family and lovers in order to fulfill their own aesthetic call. Consider Picasso, who found inspiration in a succession of women, then cast them aside when they were no longer useful to him. And there was Rilke, who refused to attend his daughter's wedding lest he break his creative burst when he was writing "The Duino Elegies" (one of the great poetic creations of all time). And what about Gulley Jimson, the maverick artist in Joyce Carey's "The Horse's Mouth" who had "a nice little wifey and nice little children" and gave them up to follow his passion (painting)? What about Gauguin(and all the other great creative artists) who did the same?) And, finally, what about the admonition of Jesus, who seemed to counsel something similar for his followers?

Me, I think family comes first, even if it means one foregoes chances for enlightenment or greatness or whatever in this lifetime. This (again for me) is the true bodhisattva path, the willingness to put personal desire for extreme "spiritual" advancement aside in order to fulfill one's obligations in the world, whether to family or to society at large. And--as for Jesus--who knows what he really said? We have words in a book, which may or may not be authentic. Further, perhaps he was referring to ideas as such rather than overt action. Thus we may leave the family thought-circle, and embrace new perceptions of what the world is all about. Many of us do this in one way or another as we mature and reconstruct our received notions about the world.

Indeed, we must do this in order to claim who we truly are, in terms of our spiritual, sexual, and professional identity. Such acts of personal independence often do upset the family dynamic, and bring disproval and even division among family and other close groups. And, I would add, I believe as well that one has a reponsibiity to self, to follow and fulfill the new purpose with all the attention and time that circumstances permit--when this does not inflict actual suffering on others.

Sometimes it is important to go into prolonged retreat, or to work from a location of solitude rather than worldly involvement. Kundalini demands that attention must be paid, as we strive to balance the needs of the inner and outer worlds.

But--I believe that it is one thing to embrace a new vision and another simply to "walk away" from the obligations one has previously incurred.

Anyone undergoing the kundalini process may well confront such dilemmas.

And the process is indeed complicated when one must work at a demanding job which may become almost intolerable when one is so acutely sensitive to all outside pressures.

Perhaps this is why traditionally many undergo deep spiritual transformation later in their lives, during the period which Jung speaks of as "individuation." The study of caballa historically was reserved for those over forty. In Hindu practice, it was only after the period of the householder was complete that the devotee "went into the forest" in order to devote him/herself fully to spiritual pursuits.

I do not presume to have final answers here. These are extremely complex issues. We must cope with the new state as best we can, wherever we are in our lives. It (kundalini, spiritual awakening) is, I believe, a great gift, but like many things of value, it may also carry a heavy price.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Poem by Han-Shan 

(image from source)

My Son Reading Han-Shan

A frog squatting on a pond rock, my son
reads thousand year old eight line poems.
He reads and laughs, turns the page
and reads and laughs, shoulders rolling.
Han-shan, my old friend, now his too!
When the wind awakens the voice in pines
and sends mink scurrying toward shore,
he reads and laughs, teeth white as waves.

James Lenfestey

One of the delights of reading ancient sacred poetry is to discover the very early writers who were skilled poets and deeply in touch with their own spiritual currents. Not much is known about Han-Shan, who may have lived in China in early times. He may have been a mythical figure, his poems written by various hands. Or he may have been an actual Taoist monk who resided in seclusion in the mountains, disdaining city life and communal existence.

Here is one of the poems attributed to him:

Poem 26:

Since I came to Cold Mountain
how many thousand years have passed?
Accepting my fate I fled to the woods,
to dwell and gaze in freedom.
No one visits the cliffs
forever hidden by clouds.
Soft grass serves as a mattress,
my quilt is the dark blue sky.
A boulder makes a fine pillow;
Heaven and Earth can crumble and change.

(by Han-Shan, translated by Red Pine)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Poem by Rilke 

We are the driving ones

By Rainer Maria Rilke
(1875 - 1926)

We are the driving ones.
Ah, but the step of time:
think of it as a dream
in what forever remains.

All that is hurrying
soon will be over with;
only what lasts can bring
us to the truth.

Young men, don't put your trust
into the trials of flight,
into the hot and quick.

All things already rest:
darkness and morning light,
flower and book.

(tr., Stephen Mitchell; from Poetry Chaikhana)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Song of Songs 

In Honor of St. Valentine(s Day

From the Song of Songs
Chapter 2

(illus. manuscript, 1849, Australia)

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

As a lily among thorns,

so is my love among the daughters.

As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood,

so is my beloved among the sons.

Under its shadow I delighted to sit,

and its fruit was sweet to my taste.

He hath brought me to the banqueting-house,

and his banner over me is love.

'Stay ye me with dainties, refresh me

with apples; for I am love-sick.'

Let his left hand be under my head,

and his right hand embrace me.

'I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field,

that ye awaken not, nor stir up love, until it please.'

Hark! my beloved! behold, he cometh, leaping

upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart; behold,

he standeth behind our wall, he looketh in

through the windows, he peereth through the lattice.

My beloved spoke, and said unto me:

'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth;

the time of singing is come,

and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs,

and the vines in blossom give forth their fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,

in the covert of the cliff, let me see thy countenance,

let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice,

and thy countenance is comely.'

'Take us the foxes, the little foxes,

that spoil the vineyards;

for our vineyards are in blossom.'

My beloved is mine, and I am his,

that feedeth among the lilies.

Until the day breathe, and the shadows flee away,

turn, my beloved, and be thou like a gazelle or

a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

)translation: The Jewish Virtual Bible)

(Note: N. M. Rai sent this to me this morning , and so I have reprinted it here, with thanks.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Poem by N. M. Rai 

(photo by N. M. Rai)

Tornado Warnings

The stuff is in the bag
camera, extra socks,
a few books
what I'd take
if the house erased itself
into the dark night rain.

The warnings evaporate.
Relief licks my skin.
Today's storms will be
only severe, a threat
to small birds.
Tension releases like
flower petals uncurling.

N. M. Rai

(N. M. Rai is a gifted poet/artist/photographer who is fully dedicated to her creative work. She writes. captures camera images, and/or paints every day, no matter what may be going on otherwise in her life. She is an inspiration to many, for she bears the soul of the true artist, committed fully to her creative work. She is also my dear friend, and has helped me in countless ways. It is a joy and a blessing to have such a comrade on the path.)

See more photos by N. M. Rai at http://www.pbase.com/nmrai

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Patricia Lay-Dorsey on Creativity 

Free-Falling into Creativity

by Patricia Lay-Dorsey

Creativity is a window into another world. Even if our intent is to show exactly what we see around us, the act of choosing our subject, point of view, area upon which to focus, ISO/WB/aperturez/shutter speed, the moment to release the shutter button all combine to move our photo beyond the objective into the realm of originality. And everyone knows that originality is fraught with mystery. It is the place where all the "why's" crowd around the "who's", "how's", "where's" and "when's", hoping to be noticed. But all too often they aren't. Our minds get in the way, keeping us focused on everything but the essential question: Why did we take this photo exactly as we did? So often we don't hear the quiet voice asking this question because we don't want to. Its question makes us uncomfortable. It brings up "stuff" we'd rather keep hidden...even from ourselves. Especially from ourselves.

I know a photographer, a superb artist, who says he is giving it up. His photos are no longer what he wants or expects. He feels dry as a desert creek bed in the middle of summer. So he is saying thank you and goodbye. And why not? Isn't photography supposed to satisfy the photographer? I say not.

Creativity is not about satisfaction or inspiration or success or even expressing what you think you want to say: it is about mystery. It is about jumping off the cliff of knowing and free-falling into the unknown. It is about having not the slightest idea what you are doing, saying or becoming. True creativity is a mess that you don't want to look at, much less clean up. It is all about trust. Blind, unthinking trust. It's about forging ahead even when you think your work stinks. It can also be about taking time out. But not giving up or giving in to the feelings of despair and worthlessness that may assail you day after day, night after night. Once an artist, always an artist.

And who is an artist? Every single human being on the planet. We are ALL artists. We are all creative. We are all unique. Our choice of media is what sets us apart from others. And it may take a lifetime to find our particular niche, to find the artistic medium that fits our eye, ear, hands, voice and body. Or we may have different chapters of life, each of which is expressed through its own artistic means.

When people say to me, "You are so creative", of course I'm pleased. But I want to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves reflected in it, so they can see who and what I see--that they are artists too! You, who are reading these words, are an artist. No one in today's world or in the past or future has your vision, your creative gifts, your unique ways of working with the tools you choose. That's why it is so important that we encourage our PBase sisters and brothers in their search for excellence. And that we keep them from beating themselves up when they feel they've fallen short. My most significant creative breakthroughs have often come out of what I saw as a mistake, a failure, a bust. That's when the real Muse can get in. She slips in through the cracks of our failed expectations.

Funny how this simple photo of our kitchen window led me to this exploration of creativity. Maybe it was because I had no thoughts or expectations when I started to write. I just let myself free-fall into it, like jumping off a cliff.

copyright, Patricia Lay-Dorsey

As many of you know Patricia is one of my closest and dearest friends. She is indeed one of "the most creative people I know." Her current interest is photography, and she is advancing rapidly into the ranks of first class photographers.

Her comments on creativity bear close scrutiny. They offer precious reminders to all of us to value the talents we have, to continue to explore our own possibilities and grow, rather than to feel we are lacking and shrink.

And I feel that much of what she says about creativity also applies to the long apiritual process of transformation we call kundalini:

Creativity is not about satisfaction or inspiration or success or even expressing what you think you want to say: it is about mystery. It is about jumping off the cliff of knowing and free-falling into the unknown. It is about having not the slightest idea what you are doing, saying or becoming.. . .It is all about trust. Blind, unthinking trust.

And so with kundalini, where we plunge into mystery and trust is our only guide.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kundalini and Evolution of Consciousness 

(image from source)

Recently, I posted an entry on kundalini and enlightenment which included the following statement:

"What we are offered instead (I believe) are temporary tastes and glimpses
of this sublime awareness, so that we can know that it is real, but not a
place where we can dwell permanently while we are on this earth. "

I received the following query in response, and it gave me pause to reflect. The writer is asking a fundamental question, one which I am sure many others have asked in one form or another:

"Can you tell me your theory as to why we would not be able to dwell within the blissful realm of kundalini while on earth?"

In one sense, the answer is simple: we are living on earth, not in heaven, we are human, not angels. Humankind has asked from the earliest of times why we no longer dwell in paradise. Myths of the lost Golden Age appear in the cultures of many, many cultures, from the story of Adam and Eve to the accounts of the "yugas" (eras) in Eastern literature (which descend from the earliest--the Golden Era--to our own time. We now live in the Kali Yuga, the time of strife and chaos.

However, for kundalini, the question becomes a bit more specific. Why, having once tasted "paradise" on this earth is it so often snatched away, the bliss overturned as pain and forms of dis-ease ensue? Why can we not maintain this elevataed state in which all was bathed in the bliss of overwhelming love and our bodies and souls seemed to exist (finally) in complete accord?

To begin with, we have to remember that when kundalini is awakened we are--temporarily--more or less removed from this world into an inner Eden. We exist and feel in ways we have never experienced before. We are like babes enjoying the complete attention and devotion of mothers who dote on us and give us constant love and nourishment.

But then, suddenly, our Edenic world fades and we become aware of the pressures of the outside world. The mother-force vanishes (or diminishes) we are on our own in a disturbed, sometimes uncaring, sometimes threatening world. We realize we have to do more than sigh in rapture, that we have to earn a living, care for the needs of families and friends (who may be undergoing special challenges in their own lives), our own health may seem to falter. Old psychological issues may surface and demand to be attended to. Old injuries may begin to pain us again.

I think this first period is the honeymoon time of kundalini. It can last for days or weeks or even years, but at some point (at least for all I know) it will take a different turn. The honeymoon is now over, and we must deal with some very pressing issues before we are ready to go forward to the next stage. What we have experienced thus far is a huge quantam leap into another level of existence. That part was easy. Now the real work begins. We must go back, deal with all unfinished business in our lives, learn new ways to cope with the world and its stressors, find new methods to maintain balance. This is the time of purification, of making ourselves ready to sustain these new energies and this new way of life in a more consistent way.

The first phase came to us through grace. Now we must prove our worthiness, make ourselves strong, mend all weaknesses, clear all faults (including the flaw of excessive self-rejection.)

It is one thing to visit another planet as a temporary visitor. To take up residence as a permanent citizen is another matter. Our bodies must adjust to a new climate, our nerves to new energies, our systems to a new level of vibration.

It would, I believe, be much easier to make this transition in a protected environment. In earlier times, those undergoing such deep spiritual transformation went into monasteries, sought out caves, withdrew into the forest. But most of us are unable to do that. We must continue to exist in the midst of a disturbed and disturbing society, to be buffeted constantly by the knowledge of the disruptions going on around us, to withstand the shocks and traumas which accompany every day living.

We must learn to live in "the two worlds," the inner world of deep spiritual connection and the outer world of the external society.

And we must find ways to "bring the gift back home". Joseph Campbell, in his classic work, describes how the hero, after facing many arduous ordeals, captures the treasure (for us, new awareness, new ways of being) and returns to offer it to society as a whole, so that all may share.

And that, I think, is exactly what we are called to do in this particular era, when survival of the race is itself the key issue. We must forego focusing exclusively on private salvation (now a luxury) in order to give of ourselves to the world, to help others in their life predicaments and to aid them as they too progress to higher levels.

This is the evolutionary process. It does not occur as a single, final leap into a new way of being. It is unpredictable, now advancing, now slowing, now going forward, now retreating. If we are the new New Race of Humans, we must remember that we are merely the advance models. I think those of us undergoing transformation at this time have come to the planet in order to make it easier for those who follow. They will, I believe, do it better. Their transition will be easier, their progress more steady.

Some call this process "the divinization of matter." Teihard de Chardin spoke of advancement toward "Omega Point," where the human and the divine would meet. Many today are speaking about Evolution of Consciousness. All of these point to a similar phenomenon--the movement of humanity to a higher level of being. At times it seems like the forces of spiritual evolution are in a race with the forces of massive world destruction. No one knows how the contest will end.

Ours is not an easy assignment, but more and more are joining the ranks. Ours is not an easy task, but it is the most essential endeavor I can think of. And I feel that to be included in this effort is a blessing of the highest order.

(P. S. I do not believe that kundalini by itself is proof of "enlightenment." I will say more about this later.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Medusa, poem by Ivan Granger 

(image from www.poetry-chaikhana.com)

Ivan M. Granger

Medusa says -

I was wisdom
black as night.

Now they call me:

So I hide
behind this hissing curtain
of hair.

little ones,
breathe easy;
you are free
to not see.

what is a lonely
old lady to do?

I still wait
for some daughter,
some son,
so wounded by the world,
to seize these snakes
and part my locks wide.

I still wait
for some bold, tired
wild child of mine,
determined to die
seeing what's reflected
in my unblinking eye.

copyright Ivan Granger)

(Ivan Granger created and administers www.poetry-chaikhana.com ,the valuable site for sacred poetry of all ages.)


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Poem by Larry Robinson 

(image from source)

Three Dreams

I dreamt of walking dark streets,
towering structures to either side,
narrow passages branching.
Seized from above,
I was lifted and saw below
my own sole.

I dreamt of a grain of sand
inflaming an oyster,
becoming a pearl
and the pearl was called Jerusalem.

I dreamt of snow falling
silently in a vast bowl.

- Larry Robinson

Larry Robinson is the driving force behind the "Rumi's Caravan" which I described in my last entry. He also offers a daily poem (by various poets) on his e-mail list. He has exquisite taste, and the poems are a real treat. To sign up, just e-mail him at: "Larry Robinson"

Larry is a strong proponent of poetry recited aloud rather than read from the page. Believe me, this does make a difference--the poetry is generally more powerful, striking deep into the heart of the listener.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rumi's Caravan 

Once a year, Sebastopol, a small city just north of San Francisco, presents "Rumi's Caravan," an evening of recitation and music and feasting. I have heard of this event, but was never able to attend until this year, when my friend Kathy offered to drive to Sebastopol. We had not reckoned on the weather. Emily Dickinson referred to "Wild Nights" in one of her poems, and this was indeed such a night. Kathy, a wonderful driver, wove skillfully through heavy highway traffic and pouring rain and wind for a good hour, and never lost her grip or her nerve.

So--that was our dramatic prologue to Rumi's Caravan. This event is a group presentation by what seems to be the entire town of Sebastopol. The hall was packed. There were some five or six reciters of poetry onstage--all were extremely polished and effective in their delivery. One woman offered a brilliant rendition of a Rumi poem in Farsi, his original language, and it was quite moving to hear the words in Rumi's own tongue. The speakers were accompanied by a beautiful ensemble playing Middle Eastern music. And, in addition, a delicious meal of Middle Eastern food was served at the intermission.

It was truly a magical evening. I felt it demonstrated what poetry can do when it is presented in the right context. Poetry in its origins is a sacred art, meant to be spoken aloud and (often) to the accompaniment of music. To be present on such an occasion is a very different experience from silently reading words on a page. It made me think how it must have been to have been there so long ago when Rumi composed and recited his poems aloud to his followers, likely with some musical accompaniment and perhaps even with a bit of dancing (at least in my phantasy). I suspect that they also fell into a kind of trance state, one in which the words become more than mere syllables, and the sounds move through the body as if some invisible hand were playing an instrument within. Yes, this is real poetry, the magic of its origin, why it was said for centuries before crowds of eager listeners, how it can touch the inmost parts of the soul. And also how it can create community among those present. In this state, poetry is not divorced from feeling, heart not separated from head.

A favorite image of the poets of that time was that of the tavern, the place where followers got "drunk on God." I certainly got high on the offerings of this night, and the next morning was still a bit inebriated from that overflowing joy of the evening before. And so I wrote this poem, still in a state of intoxication:


Alone in the tavern.

Everyone else fled
long ago,
while the stars were
still turning.
Was it hours or days?

The sun up long since,
the animals stirring,
people going out
to market.

Still sipping this
delicate wine,
still feeling that whatever it is
flow in my bones.

How can I ever leave?

Dorothy Walters
February 3, 2007

I felt very blessed to experience this rare event.

Friday, February 01, 2008

What is Kundalini? 

(image from source)

Often people who know little about kundalini ask, "What is kundalini?" As many are aware, there is no easy answer to this question, for kundalini arrives in various kinds of packaging, and affects each person in a very individual way. Further, descriptions about snakes and wheels and references to various sanskrit terms often serve to confuse the seeker even more.

Here is a reply I am currently mulling over. It seems to me to make sense and keeps the explanation fairly simple:

In its most basic form, kundalini is the bioelectrical energy of the physical body . Usually this energy operates by itself, below the threshold of consciousness. This is the elemental life force, what keeps us going as long as we are alive.

Once the kundalini "awakens," bodily sensations and impulses come into consciousness in a way not experienced before. One becomes incredibly sensitive to both pleasure and pain, as if the cells themselves were firing in awareness as small (or large) explosions of joy or discomfort. Generally, it is believed that pain results when there are "blockages," that is, hang ups in mind, body, emotions, or psyche. Persons with major unresolved psychological issues, as well as those with serious physical challenges, may be especially at risk. As the kundalini works through the system, it flushes out these hidden blockages, and presses until they are cleared. This process can be difficult and troublesome, even for the most seemingly balanced and normal person. There may be periods of intense bliss, or periods of severe pain. It all depends on the subject herself. It is almost as if the kundalini has an intelligence of its own--it may be strong or weak at various times, but it generally continues until the task is completed.

Kundalini is connection with the divine. Often, especially during the bliss states, one feels as though these visitations come from a heavenly source. One may experience unconditional love in a most dramatic way, as if (as one person put it) "God is moving through your body." During this time, the subject may feel as though the Beloved Within is a real lover, who awakens each part of the self to sensuous, tender rapture or even ecstasy. One may feel blessed to the extreme, even though no one can say for certain what is actually going on within or where the process will go.

In its highest manifestation, kundalini may lead to enlightenment, as the crown opens to receive divine blessings and the inflow of ecstatic energy awakens even the brain itself to love. At this point, the devotee discovers that he or she does not in fact exist at all other than as a miniscule particle in the greater Reality. Some actually beocme upset at this revelation, clinging to the notion of separate identity. Very few on earth enter such bliss and maintain it permanently (at least, not any that I know of, though some are reputed to have arrived at this exalted level.) What we are offered instead (I believe) are temporary tastes and glimpses of this sublime awareness, so that we can know that it is real, but not a place where we can dwell permanently while we are on this earth. In fact, the boddhisatva is one who rejects personal salvation so that he/she may serve others and help them progress on their way.

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