Kundalini Splendor

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Mary Oliver reading "When Death Comes" 

Here is Mary Oliver reading her beautiful poem "When Death Comes." It is taken from the following source:

"And if you're interested in the CD, it is At Blackwater Pond -- Mary Oliver reads Mary Oliver, published by Beacon Press (0-8070-0700- 5)"


In my view, Mary Oliver is one of the leading nature poets of all time--that is to say, she is a great poet who is in love with nature. She is a true mystic, one who probes the dark mysteries of the natural world and captures their essence in exquisite language. As such a poet, she had gone against the grain of much contemporary writing, which often focuses on the agony of personal issues, political concerns, or highly subjective explorations of minutiae. She reminds us of who we are, participants of a great scheme which includes infinitely more than our small selves, but she does not preach or philosophize so much as observe and record.

Above all, she dares to view the world from a perspective which includes delight, joy, and--yes--love for what surrounds her. Thus she restores the balance at a time when despair often seems the only allowable response to the human situation.

And--in the above poem--she turns to a new theme, looking her own mortality square in the eye, with bravery, honesty, and--above all--gifted language.

Here is a list of her many works (from Wikipedia):

The author of more than a dozen books of poetry and prose, Oliver’s first collection of poems, Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963. She has since published numerous books, including Thirst (Beacon Press, 2006); Why I Wake Early (2004); Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays (2003); Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems (1999); West Wind (1997); White Pine (1994). In 1992, her volume, New and Selected Poems (1992), won the National Book award. She won the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for her piece House of Light (1990). Her volume American Primitive (1983) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The first and second parts of her The Leaf and the Cloud were selected for inclusion in The Best American Poetry 1999 and The Best American Poetry 2000, respectively.
(image from Poets.org)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Newsletter from Anam Cara 

Here is the newsletter from Anam Cara, which is founded and directed by Lawrence Edwards

May 29, 2008 Anam Cara, Inc. Newsletter Perennial Wisdom For The Soul's Journey

Spring is maturing in New York with countless flowers and lush green foliage covering the ancient northern reaches of the Appalachian Mountains here. The cycles of nature, the rocks and boulders, the flooding streams, and the voices of myriad creatures all speak their wisdom which we can hear if we;re willing to listen with a still mind.

Teach us and show us the Way

Anonymous, Chinook, 18th Century

We call upon the earth, our planet home, with its

beautiful depths and soaring heights,

its vitality and abundance of life,

and together we ask that it

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the mountains, the Cascades and the

Olympics, the high green valleys

and meadows filled with wild flowers,

the snows that never melt,

the summits of intense silence,

and we ask that theyTeach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to

horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams,

that fall upon our gardens

and fields and we ask that theyTeach us,

and show us the Way.

We call upon the land which grows our food, the

nurturing soil, the fertile fields,

the abundant gardens and orchards, and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the forests, the great trees reaching

strongly to the sky with earth in

their roots and the heavens in their branches,

the fir and the pine and the cedar, and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests

and the seas, our brothers and sisters

the wolves and deer, the eagle and dove,

the great whales and the dolphin,

the beautiful Orca and salmon

who share our Northwest home,

and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon all those who have

lived on this earth,

our ancestors and our friends,

who dreamed the best for future generations,

and upon whose lives our lives are built,

and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

And lastly, we call upon all that we hold

most sacred, the presence and power

of the Great Spirit of love and truth

which flows through all the Universe,

to be with us to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

From "The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World's Great Wisdom Traditions," Edited by Andrew Harvey

June Programs Anam Cara, Bedford, NY April 30th-June 4th, Wednesday Evenings, 7:15-8:45 Week Course

Buddhist Wisdom Treasures for Non- Buddhists

Taught by Lawrence Edwards, Ph.D.

The Buddhist tradition offers great insights into the workings of the mind and how we can be free not only of the mind, but of all suffering. One doesn't have to be a Buddhist to gain the tremendous benefits offered by this ancient tradition of wisdom. Priests, nuns, rabbis, ministers, scientists, business leaders and people from every background have found the teachings of the Buddha enhanced their everyday lives and their spiritual practices. During this course we will explore the foundational teachings and practices that the Buddha offered to anyone who was interested in gaining greater freedom from suffering and gaining access to unwavering joy. There will be plenty of time to discuss how these teachings and practices apply to work, family, relationships, etc. This course will be repeated in the fall.

June 17th, Tuesday, 7:30- 9pm

Special Kirtan Night!

Shivananda, Mataji's musical director

whom many will remember for his extraordinary violin and tabla playing, will be back with us, along with Satya, Shubalanda and friends, to offer a night of ecstatic chanting. Join us and bring a friend!

June 29th, Sunday, 9--3:30

One Day Mini- Retreat:

Taking Refuge In Stillness

Give yourself a day to let go of it all and dive into the refreshing peace that lies just beyond the thought waves of the mind. Experience the deeper refreshment that comes from being quietly at ease for long enougth that it has a chance to truly soak in. All are welcome, pre-registration is required.

Meditation Group Every Tuesday Evening: starts promptly at 7:30pm at our center at SunRaven in Bedford, NY. All are welcome! Directions are on the Anam Cara website. If you wonder whether the group is being held on a particular Tuesday evening there will always be a message stating if it is cancelled on that night on 914-234-4800.

Click here to find out more about the programs....

Thank you all for your notes of appreciation for our newsletter. Everyone has the heart to be a true friend of the soul, an Anam Cara. By embodying that ideal ourselves we may help another to find it in themselves. Our highest nature is always manifest in relationship - to all other beings, to the environment, in relation to our own body and mind. Becoming mindful of the quality of our relationships allows us to learn where the light shines and where it needs to shine more. The ideal of Anam Cara is to continuously endeaver to expand the depth and the inclusiveness of the loving kindness we bring into every relationship. If you have any suggestions, comments or sharings, for our newsletter please don't hesitate to e-mail me and I'll do my best to respond.

Anam Cara, Inc. is a 501 (C) 3, non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching meditative practices. Our non-denominational programs are open to all. There are free meditation instructions and downloadable audio files of guided meditations on our website.Thank you for the many ways you have shown support for Anam Cara, Inc. Because of your gifts we can offer free programs like the ones we'll be putting on for hospice volunteers in April and our other offerings.I look forward to welcoming you in person to our programs. With great appreciation and love, I thank you all.
May all beings realize complete freedom from suffering and may all our actions reflect only wisdom, compassion, patience and loving kindness.
Lawrence Edwards, Ph.D. Founder and DirectorAnam Cara, Inc.
All newsletter contents copyrighted 2007

phone: 914-234-4800

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Poem by Rilke 

Once we go forth into nature, we ponder the vastness of the universe, its distant as well as its near places. Rilke is a poet who explores the mysteries, and thus speaks to us in a most profound way, as we too reflect on our relationship to this great unknown reality in which we are embedded.

Ignorant before the heavens of my life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,
I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness
of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.
As if I didn't exist. Do I have any
share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with
their pure effect? Does my blood's ebb and flow
change with their changes? Let me put aside
every desire, every relationship
except this one, so that my heart grows used to
its farthest spaces. Better that it live
fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than
as if protected, soothed by what is near.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

(Translated by Stephen Mitchell )


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More from Detroit 

Here are more images from my recent Detroit visit. Included are some of the most remarkable people I have ever met. At the top is Joan, a former nun, who went to the Dominican Republic fifty years ago to help the women there organize themselves into projects which would improve their lives and the life of their community. As a result, the women banded together, pooled their resources and energies, and succeeded in many of their efforts, including sending several of their own children to college. Joan has just returned from yet another visit to this group, where they honored her for her work on their behalf.

Also in our group (we were picnicking in Point Pelee Park) was Pat Noonan, celebrated for her lifetime of dedication to feminist and other causes. She is known as the "mother of feminism" of Windsor, Ontario, and is frequently interviewed on T. V. and radio for her views of current affairs. (Somehow I managed to put her picture up twice, but believe me, she is a greater than life size woman, and deserves to be acknowledged more than once.)

Next, of course, is Patricia herself, my longtime friend and supporter. I have written of her accomplishments many times, and she continues to be a major player in my life. The scope of her achievements is amazing--art, music, photography, political causes, writing--she is celebrated and loved literally by thousands all over the world.

Next is an owl, which I somehow managed to photograph though I never did actually see it. It seems a fitting symbol for the collective wisdom of the women I just described (and also for Penny, whose picture appears later.)

And here are three "birders" intently gazing at their feathered subject--perhaps it was the owl they were peering at.

This birder and his son came all the way from Vietnam for this "Festival of the Birds" which is famous all over the world.

This is Penny, who was also an important part of our group. A poet and artist, she is planning to come to the Bay Area for the month of July and we hope to get together to explore San Francisco at that time.

The final image is part of Rivera's mural in the Detroit Art Institute. Although most of his depictions in this mural are of male factory workers, I selected this female figure who embodies the "earth mother" energies which sustain us all.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back from Detroit 

As always, my visit with Patricia was one epiphanic adventure after another. For me, many of the things we did were "firsts," experiences totally new to me. Among other things, we attended a jazz concert (held in the Detroit Symphony Hall) with Regina Carter and the Black Bottom Boys, went "birding" at Point Pelee, a large park in Canada (where I met three of her closest friends), toured the Detroit Art Institute, and saw a movie which will live in my memory forever.

The jazz was interesting. For the first time ever, I felt I finally got a handle on what jazz was all about, and enjoyed following the intricate rhythms and variations it offered. As for Point Pelee, we happened to arrive in the midst of one of the largest bird migrations in the world. In fact, people had come from many continents for this famous event. The bird symphony (jazz?) was a delight to the ears, and the company (which included an artist/poet and other friends of Patricia who have dedicated their lives to making the world better) wasdelightful. And we ate a fabulous lunch on the way home in Windsor, Canada, one to compare with anything San Francisco can offer. To end this perfect day, a rainbow appeared in the sky as we came back to the city.

But, of all the events, probably it was our visit to the art museum which impressed me most. First, there were the Diego Rivera murals, totally filling the walls of a large, high ceilinged room, most depicting men at work in the Detroit factories of the thirties as they turned out the cars and aircraft of the time. Rivera worked on the murals for some two years, swiftly painting the images on a quick drying wall. In some ways, he seemed a modern Michelangelo, a man pouring his huge creative energies into mammoth productions.

Then there were the more modern works, including one whimsical "portrait of the artist" (Pallas) made from assorted spare parts and electronic devices which lit up in various places when you moved your hand near. It was an arresting creation.

But most fascinating of all was the Rothko. I had never experienced an original Rothko painting, but had always heard that you need to stand in the work's actual presence to get the full effect. I was eager to discover what this might mean, since frankly I have long been puzzled by these curious bands of color which Rothko labored over for so many years.

As I stood before the painting, I opened my palms before it, and soon felt a familiar soft but sweet stirring of my own energies--k. was being aroused. Then, I realized that my face and head were becoming extremely hot, as the k. rose to the top of my head. The intensity grew swiftly, as if I were feeling the very pulse of the artist himself as he drove his brush over the canvas. So I stepped back, in awe of what I had experienced.

And Patricia, herself an accomplished artist, said that she felt it too--that her heart was beating swiftly before such powerful energies. And she added that this was, for her, a new experience, a new way of relating to art.

Later, I asked my friend Jeannine, also an artist and a person going through k. awakening as well, if she had ever experienced anything like this with Rothko. She assured me that she had, not only with Rothko but also with other art works imbued with deep spiritual significance. And, when I thought more about it, I realized that I had also felt the inner energies stirred at other times, as a diffuse sweet feeling when I was visiting certain exhibits. The difference here was, I think, that Rothko's painting consisted solely of line and color, and its power lay strictly in the intensity of the creation, not in the depiction of a subject.

Then, to round things off, Patricia and I went to see a thoroughly delightful and in fact unforgettable movie, "Young at Heart." I strongly recommend that you see it, if you haven't already. It is one of the best ever, with humor, tenderness, and love, yet untainted by sentimentality or sugar coating. As some of you know, it is about elders "claiming their power" through singing--not hymns in church, but raucous rock and roll hits of the recent past, all performed before a wildly enthusiastic audience. It is a movie about real people experiencing actual life events, a rare offering in our time.

And there was one more surprise. On the day I left Patricia learned that a series of her photos had been selected for inclusion in a DVD offering by Lenswork, a major photography journal. How exciting can life get?

You can see this series (called "dualities") at http://www.pbase.com/windchimewalker/dualities
(The images above are all mine, except for the Rothko, which I found on Wikipedia. The first is Patricia as she takes a picture of me taking a picture of her. The second is of fishermen on Lake St. Claire, about a mile from Patricia's house. The third is a house next door to Patricia, and indicates the beautiful blossoms which filled her neighborhood. The last is a house not too far from her own. The front yard is filled with an amazing array of sculpture, arranged in no particular order, as if the pieces were on display for sale. This house and its odd decorations are a curiosity in the neighborhood. We wondered why the art pieces were not presented in a more artistic fashion, as, say, in a labyrinth or garden.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gone for a Few Days 

Dear Friends,
I am going out of town tomorrow and will not be posting for awhile. I'll resume the blog in about a week or so.
Have a good week, all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sri Aurobindo and Integral Consciousness 

The poem below was written by Sri Aurobindo, famous early Indian political figure and then renowned mystic. He was one of the first to posit the notion of the evolution of consciousness through what he termed "integral consciousness." He was extremely prolific, virtually channeling volume after volume of esoteric theory pertaining to spiritual transformation.

The ashram which he founded in Pondicherry, India, still exists and is a prime destination of many of today's pilgrim's.
(I am always intrigued by the connections between the earlier and contemporary proponents of evolution of consciousness. Gregg Bradon, Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna and the like were preceded by many advanced thinkers of earlier eras.)

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo (Bengali:)

(August 15, 1872December 5, 1950) was an Indian/Hindu nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru. After a short political career in which he became one of the leaders of the early movement for the freedom of India from British rule, Sri Aurobindo turned to the development and practice of a new spiritual path which he called the integral yoga.
The aim of the integral yoga was to further the evolution of life on earth by establishing a high level of spiritual consciousness, which he called the Supermind, that would represent a divine life free from physical death. Sri Aurobindo wrote prolifically in English on his spiritual philosophy and practice, on social and political development, on Indian culture including extensive commentaries and translations of ancient Indian scriptures, and on literature and poetry including the writing of much spiritual poetry.


My breath runs in a subtle rhythmic stream;

It fills my members with a might divine:

I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine.

Time is my drama or my pageant dream.

Now are my illumined cells joy’s flaming scheme

And changed my thrilled and branching nerves to fine

Channels of rapture opal and hyaline

For the influx of the Unknown and the Supreme.

I am no more a vassal of flesh,

A slave to Nature and her leaden rule;

I am caught no more in the senses’ narrow mesh.

My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight,

My body is God’s happy living tool,

My spirit a vast sun of deathless light.

- Sri Aurobindo

Note: This poem is a sonnet (fourteen lines following a prescribed rhyme scheme.) Although the language and use of rhyme makes it seem quite archaic to us, if you look closely at the content, it appears to be describing something akin to kundalini awakening, particularly in its references to joy and channels of rapture. Clearly he was a man well ahead of his time.
(Image from Wikipedia)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Elizabeth Reninger on Greg Braden 


Note: I cannot link to the second youtube site that Elizabeth gave. But if you go to http://www.youtube.com/ and search for Gregg Bradon Louise Hay interview, number one, you can find it.

Elizabeth Reninger is a friend who lives in Boulder where she pursues a deep spiritual practice as a teacher of chi gong, an acupuncturist, a writer and poet, and a student of Taoism and other wisdom traditions. Here is one of her recent articles in which she is integrating her thoughts from various areas.

Gregg Bradon is a well known "edge thinker" who comes originally from the traditional sciences, but has long since leaped out of the box of conventional thought.

Somehow, as I read Elizabeth's article, I was once again reminded of my own notion that today we are getting what are essentially similar messages (the Perennial Wisdom) emerging from many, many traditions, including sources of the modern era, each couched in a slightly different language. All are needed--in fact, humanity is being bombarded with these essential concepts, as if all the traditions were saying, "People, wake up! Here is the message which will save you!"

I particularly liked Elizabeth's ideas on the relationship of prayer/devotion/vision to embodied feeling. For me, kundalini itself can create a feeling state which enhances the practitioner's good thoughts going forth for the welfare of others. Thus personal practice serves an infinitely larger purpose. And the body is constantly infused with new energies as it is lifted into higher vibrational states.

Inner Alchemy & the Science of Compassion

by Elizabeth Reninger

I recently had a big Inner Alchemy "ah-ha" - sparked by the viewing of a couple of amazing video clips of scientist/mystic Gregg Braden. In an interview for a Louise Hay program, Mr. Braden talks about the relationship between thoughts, feelings and emotions, in relation to the practice of prayer and creative manifestation. Our conscious thoughts –-our visions of what we wish to manifest - are, Mr. Braden proposes, something akin to a quantum blueprint. These visions typically originate in the three upper chakras (crown, forehead and throat). While these visions, or prayers, might by themselves be quite beautiful and inspiring, they seem often to remain as just that:internal images or aspirations.

But how do we actually bring them into existence within our material world? According to Mr. Braden, we do this by activating the feeling level of our Being, rooted in the lower three chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus). Generating strongly-energized positive feelings about what we're envisioning is the key to manifesting these visions. Once we've generated this energy - in what Taoist Inner Alchemy calls the Lower Dantian and Snow Mountain areas - we allow it to flow upward, at the same time as the vision-energy flows downward. As these two energies meet within the electromagnetic field of the heart chakra, the vision is infused with the life-blood of our feeling-energy - a kind of "immaculate conception" which births the vision into the manifest world.

In the second video - "The Science of Compassion" - Mr. Braden presents fascinating information about the Shroud of Turin: the cloth which was supposedly used to wrap the body of the crucified Jesus, and left behind then when his body disappeared from the tomb. What has puzzled scientists and mystics alike is the source of an image found on the Shroud of Turin - an image which bears a strong resemblance to the body of a man, and the face of Master Jesus. According to a scientific analysis performed on the Shroud, the "linen was scorched from within by a high rapid intense heat source of bio-chemical origin unknown to us at this time."

What Mr. Braden suggests is that this "heat source" originated from the alchemical changes that occurred within the body of Jesus as he underwent what we now call the process of "resurrection." This process involved a rapid influx of qi into every cell of his body, generating the higher-frequency vibration whose heat left the imprint on the Shroud of Turin.

Resurrection, then, is a what Mr. Braden calls a "phase transition" or"change of state" which is the equivalent to what in Taoist Inner Alchemy we know as the alchemical "marriage" between Spirit/Heaven and the elements of the Earth, as manifest in a human body. This profound shift in the body's frequency (known in Taoism as Immortality) is brought about via a "science of compassion," in which the energy of feeling/emotion, experienced fully in the body, initiates a biochemical shift - an actual reordering of genetic coding.

Viewing these two videos brought to mind an experience I had a while back, at a meditation retreat. In the context of a practice that our sangha was doing, I generated a mental image of the world surrounded by a matrix of healing light, and the aspiration/prayer that all living beings be free from suffering. As the image became well-formed, and I began to access a deeply devotional attitude, I suddenly experienced, in my lower dantian, an infusion of intensely blissful heat. This blissful heat flowed immediately as a kind of life-blood into the vision/aspiration I was holding, making the prayer and practice as a whole feel infinitely more potent.

Part of my "ah-ha" moment was the realization that what I had experienced at this retreat was the kind of alchemical process described by Mr. Braden in the Lousie Hay interview. It was an infusing of my prayer/vision with the energy of feeling. Another aspect of the "ah-ha" was to see that these processes described by Gregg Braden, in the language of the chakras and western science, are exactly the same processes described by Taoist Inner Alchemy, in the language of the "Three Treasures" of jing, qi and shen.

A third component of the "ah-ha" had to do with understanding in a clearer way how the practice of devotion works. By generating strong positivefeelings - say toward a teacher, or toward a lineage/ tradition as a whole - we're actually generating the bio-chemical and energetic power needed to transform our spiritual aspirations into a living, breathing reality.

(Image from Youtube, video of Louise Hay's interview with Gregg Braden.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Evolution of Consciousness:Sheldrake, Abraham, and McKenna 

Many theories have appeared in recent years about the evolution of consciousness, a process that many of us feel in indeed occurring at this time in history. Consciousness theory is fascinating, particularly to those who have themselves undergone deep inner transformation through kundalini or other forms of spiritual awakening. Gopi Krishna asserted that kundalini was in fact the vehicle by which the entire race would enter a new level of evolutionary awareness. Indeed, once such deep transformation occurs, the world never looks the same again.

Some years ago, some friends and I used to meet and discuss various books we had read, including one in particular called "Trialogues at the Edge of the West." (A trialogue is a discussion among three participants, just as a dialogue takes place between two.) A second book, called "The Evolutionary Mind," has been published by the same authors.

In this case, the three were among the most advanced and far out thinkers of our time. They included Rupert Sheldrake, an English biologist, who pioneered the theory of "morphic fields." According to this theory, once something happens, a field is created which makes it easier for the phenomenon to occur a second time, and then a third, and so forth. Thus rats who learn to run a maze in London will make it easier over time for rats to learn the same maze in Boston.

A second speaker was Ralph Abraham, who was an early proponent of chaos theory, which is too complex for me to attempt to explain here, but which is a major feature in contemporary mathematical thought. And the third was Terence McKenna (now deceased), who held that early societies were able to extend the bounds of consciousness through eating certain mushrooms which expanded their awareness into other realms. He also felt that people today could benefit from experiencing similar mind expansion.

At that time, there was little information available on these areas outside print material, since the internet as such either did not yet exist, or else was in its infancy and unknown to most of us.

However, a friend has informed me that Rupert Sheldrake now has a website which not only includes writings on evolution of consciousness, but also several recordings of some of the early discussions on this topic. I listened to one of these last night, and was, frankly, quite stimulated by the conversation. They are not easy listening, but they are packed with evocative thought.

Instead of summarizing my response, I am going to reprint essentially what I wrote back to my friend as my initial reaction.

(Helen's e-mail subject line read :"I've died and gone to heaven!")

My response:

Well, thanks for taking me with you. I just listened to #2--The Evolutionary Mind--(I think it was) and love the interplay of the three participants. It's been quite long since I contemplated really complex thinking by open minds of such caliber.

Now--as always--I come back to kundalini--which is, I think, a way of opening the receptive organism through restructuring the nervous system to the reception of information not previously available--for example, allowing it to tune in to the ecstatic dance of the cells, the electrons, the stars, and so forth--the music of the spheres playing within the human receiver.
And, further, k. reestablishes the balance between the "right" and "left" sides of the brain as the system is retuned.

And--it also explains why some people can "receive" the internal messages and others are oblivious--their receivers are simply not finely tuned enough to pick up on what others are getting as signals, and hence these "tone deaf" folks are simply bewildered and frustrated by accounts of experiences outside their own range of comprehension.

There have always been those among us who were tuned to these finer frequencies, but now the phenomenon is growing at an accelerated rate as the morphic field is being strengthened. I am hearing from more folks having spontaneous k. awakening and expanding their range of consciousness and experiencing ecstasy and other blessings on a daily basis and I love it. ( And mine keeps on keepin' on--thank goodness, though much toned down and more refined and higher vibrations.)

Some still warn against such openings as something which "takes you off the path" or "leads to sensuousness" but I believe they are approaching the phenomenon from an earlier perspective and need to rethink it all. (Though at the same time there is much perennial wisdom in the traditions.) For me, such openings are the most spiritual states I can imagine.

Fascinating stuff and wish you were here so we could continue our own trialogues on the edge of sanity. (Which is where I prefer to dwell.)
Love to you and thanks again,
Dorothy from Kansas

Here is the website containing the recordings of the conversations. Unfortunately, I am not sufficiently evolved to know how to set up a hyperlink with the site. Sorry. I'll keep trying to transform into a techno savvy user.

(Image of book cover from Amazon.com)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Two Poems and a Reflection 

At Last I am Ready

Now at last
I am ready to do
the ten thousand

Over the many
I have already made
nine thousand nine hundred
and ninety-nine.

It is the last bow
that matters.

Dorothy Walters
May 5, 2008


The secret is
that the Self that you pray to
is really your own self.

And the Self that answers
speaks with your mouth.

Find out who you are.

Dorothy Walters
May 5, 2008

I have been thinking recently about the nature and usefulness of "rapture," blissful meditation. Of course, for me, one of the primary ingredients has long been sacred music and/or chanting. Yesterday, I listened through my earphones to the Dalai Lama's Healing Prayers, a CD which was given to me and which (I understand) he does not wish to be sold but rather something always to be received as a gift.

For me yesterday's gift included a special experience unlike any I have known before. As I listened (this time fully clothed--it was cold in my living room), I held the edge of my light hand held player to various chakras and other places on my body, beginning with the throat and working my way down, then back up again. Each position was a place of indescribable pleasure, as the energies were stirred into spiritual rapture. Often I wish we had a "vocabulary" of bliss to describe the many states if rapture, just as the Inuit have many words to describe various types of snow. But we do not, and it is extremely difficult to capture in words this most subjective of experiences. But yesterday, the feeling was essentially the joy of feeling opened and healed, of being made whole.

Let us always remember that rapture has been the lot of many on the spiritual path for centuries past--Saint Teresa, St. John of the Cross, Rumi, Mirabai, the poets who sang of the "Beloved Within"--all had refined their energies to the point where physical sensation merged with spiritual exaltation. I am not, of course, comparing myself to these elevated souls, but I am always grateful to be allowed to taste a bit of what they experienced so beautifully.

One who follows this path is always open to the criticism of those who feel this is a "sensual" path, or one which takes the devotee away from the true journey. For me, it is the highest path (at least the highest I expect to discover in this lifetime). It is felt as merger with the unconditional love of the divine, and what more might one wish?

Some teachers warn against such experiences, lest they make the pupil feel "special." But, I wonder, are we to refuse such gifts out of such fear--should we "slam the door on God" or should we humbly, with deep devotion and gratitide, accept such blessings as come our way.

And--as I close my meditation, I dedicate whatever I may experience to prayers for those in need, first for those I know personally in need of sustenance, and then to all sensate beings. Joy and compassion are not antitheses. At the highest level, they become one. There are many paths to God, but this is mine.

I wish you blessings on your path, whatever that may be.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baba Hari Dass--Concluded 

(Here is the final segment of my account of meeting with Baba Hari Dass, as presented in "Unmasking the Rose: A Record of a Kundalini Initiation." Baba Hari Dass, now 85, heads an ashram/workshop retreat center in Northern California. He came to this country from India many years ago. In India, he lived in the jungle for many years, subsisting for some time on bananas alone. He was Ram Dass's yoga teacher there. The experience described here took place about l995.)

A Devotional Retreat

And then I went to Mount Madonna (Baba’s ashram, named for its location) to take part in a devotional retreat. About 50 of us (from outside) participated. We arrived on the evening of Thursday, May 27. Most of that night and also the following day were spent in explanation and instruction--how to do pranayam, what a mantra was, etc. We did a little practice, but there were many interruptions to explain, the rules of the ashram, etc., and apart from the Kirtan,there was little to inspire or lift the spirit. The food was good, the weather excellent, the company pleasant. I thought, well, this is a fine vacation, even if the transcendent element is missing.

Then, on Saturday, it began. I went into an "altered state" and took deep bliss from virtually every part of the day, from the ritual "arati" (fire ceremony to awaken Krishna, to bring his spirit into presence among us), to the hours of sanskrit chanting of the Gita, the pranayama, etc. Again the Kirtan (music) was ecstatic. Again, I felt as though I had stumbled into heaven, that perhaps this ashram was my true home.

Although Baba Hari Dass is silent, he at times takes questions from the group, which he answers by writing on a little slate board he carries with him. His assistant then reads his response aloud. Most of the questions had to do with moral attitudes and behavior, particularly with reference to sex or the acceptability of suicide. His answers were clear, to the point, and, for the most part, what we might expect from a devout, totally dedicated renunciant who wishes to give his flock sound precepts for living. Some questions had to do with sin, or maintaining the discipline of practice. Others asked about reincarnation, dreams, etc.

After careful thought, I submitted the following (anonymously): "Sometimes in spiritual practice, ecstatic feelings arise in the body, as, for example, the heart, head, and hands. When this happens, should the student seek counsel from the teacher or bear the ecstasy in silence"?
Baba's answer: "In spiritual practice, these things happen. It may be a sign of progress. However, there is a danger of getting fixated on them. Also, there is danger they will become sensual. Go beyond them."

So--Baba Hari Dass (whose name means "servant of god") does not endorse or encourage ecstasy as part of the spiritual path. He focuses on moral and physical "purity." His discussion focuses on ethics. I concluded that the yogic practices (asana, pranayama, chanting, ritual) open and awaken the energy centers. But never is the connection between these two levels (spirit and body) explored or made clear. If we wish to connect with god in a strictly mental, nonmaterial way, who bother to learn these various refinements and techniques? And, if we simply want to feel good physically, who worry about the moral imperatives?

What is "bliss of yogic union" if not a felt flow of rapture throughout the system--the divine piercing of the body, god essence entering every cell in an intimate merging? How can we be one , and not know it in our inner sensate being? How can we come to god if we do not open--totally, in every particular, in all dimensions--to the lover within?

Is this denial of the body's role (the subtle body, that is) more patriarchal condemnation of the feminine--of the realm of feelings, of joy, of rapture? Does it reflect the male fear that he will somehow go "out of control" and his reverence will give way to sensual passion? Is there a thin line (for many) between "sensual" (sexual) and sensuous (sensed, felt)? What, then, do we make of the passion of St. Teresa, the blade of love piercing her heart in Bernini's famous sculpture, her face rapt in near-orgasmic trance? What were the great saints of India--the Kabirs, the Mirabais, and their ilk--celebrating in their love songs if not their state of amorous adoration of the divine? Why did Rama Krishna go into overwhelming ecstasy, even when he tried to explain his state of mind to the others? And why did Rumi dance for weeks after the disappearance of Shams--surely his energies were raised to the highest pitch, reaching an intensity which demanded some release via the body’s ecstatic movement?

These admonitions to "slay the feelings" awaken uncomfortable reminders of the Puritans inveighing against the flesh--and they included in this sphere all art, beauty, ornament, movement, dancing. Are we back to gnostic rejection of the flesh as inherently evil, because it takes us out of the realm of pure thought and immerses us in the base plane of elemental feeling? Are we unable to make a distinction between a pleasure which is a fleshy thrill and a bliss which is a grace from god? Can we not discern the difference between that which primarily arouses us to sexual pursuit and that which begets in us the deepest love for self, god, and other--indeed, which reveals to us the scale on which we are ourselves embraced, thus enabling us to perceive our common identity with all humankind, whom we likewise reverence and adore?

Finally, if we are to undergo transformation "at the cellular level," will our cells not speak to us in love? Is our private joy not a minuscule taste of the ongoing cosmic rapture in which the divine is not "involved" but which is rather the continuing reality, the actual essence of the divine?

Who are we to reject the graces the unknown has bestowed upon us? Many had to defy the prohibitions of the parent to achieve initiation of the flesh. Now must we disregard the strictures of an over cautious, sense-denying religious "authority" to attain initiation of the spirit?

Today in meditation I saw an image of a corset--an old fashioned, straight-laced garment, designed to hold down and repress all the body’s natural capacities, even including the breath itself. I realized (with gratitude) that I was having none of it. I would follow my own path, even if it led straight to "hades" (which it doesn’t, believe me, unless one is unable to tell the difference between higher and lower realms).

Moreover, I want to maintain contact with this, the more usual, more ordinary mode of being (one which does not squelch the feeling aspect of self)--I do not want to climb to heaven on the broken bones of the senses.

I am not (never was) wanton, riotous, orgiastic. Quite the contrary, it has taken me a lifetime to contact this secret realm of the inner self, in which body and spirit conspire together, fusing into a unit of knowing that is neither one nor the other, but a totally new organ of consciousness. The world is vibration and I am that thing which allows and knows this divine energy as it streams into and through me, for I and it are of the same order of being.

Despite my almost irresistible attraction to Baba Hari Dass, I did not become a disciple. Something in me clung to the connection with my "inner guru," who had led me so expertly through my difficult journey. I visited Baba’s ashram once or twice again, but did not pursue a more intimate the personal connection.

On Thursday, I again talked with Andrew privately. He seemed a little taken aback that I would discuss ecstasy so openly. Again, there seems to be universal denial, even discomfort with this topic, as if one wanted to share the intimate details of one's sexual experience, or other basic biological functions. Andrew, too, feels that the rapturous state should give way to a sense of pure peace and tranquillity--where pain and pleasure no longer rule. But who wants such a passionless existence? Isn’t it better to allow the throb of bliss in the heart, to know love is part of a shared resonance, to feel the oneness with all which is external to self? Sometimes I wonder if the refusal to feel arises out of the "control needs" of the experiencer, or perhaps it is the consolation of those who have passed beyond this state into a less body-inclusive condition. I am reminded of old men who urge youth to be celibate. Or, libertines who say "Aha!" and wink when a prim maiden takes an innocent turn on the dance floor.

Those whose senses need reigning in, let them buy halters. For the rest of us, let us move forward freely, welcoming what awaits as well as the journey there.

The key, here, as always, is to attain a balance. Neither the ride of the Valkyries nor one of the restrained preludes of Chopin, but something strong, active, real--affirming and connecting self, other, world.

Post Script: My pursuit of the realm of feeling as a path to the divine continues to this day. This morning, my practice once again aroused sweet, delicate sensations as the lover within led me into bliss. I believe that such experience reflects the path of the early tantrics, who also sought divine union through the energies of joy. Energy itself is the key. It is that which unites us all and indeed unites everything that exists (as modern physics tells us). To experience these energies as joy is to know the delight of creation itself pursuing its eternal dance. Such delight is what Kundalini can bring. To quote once more what someone once said to me, "Kundalini is god moving through your body."

Monday, May 05, 2008

More on Baba Hari Dass 

Baba Hari Dass and the Rapture of Raptures

(from "Unmasking the Rose")

Yesterday, I drove to Santa Cruz with my friend Helen to experience satsang with Baba Hari Dass at the Pacific Cultural Center. It has been almost a year since my first encounter with him. But, since Andrew urged me to “associate with spiritual masters,” I felt it was time for a return visit, to see if the magic still held.

The Pacific Cultural Center is a pleasant, church-like building located in a residential section of Santa Cruz. The day was mild, the sun shining. We arrived about an hour early, for the drive down took less time than I had anticipated. I had felt a bit queasy, a little “off” during the drive and wondered if the experience would therefore fall flat.

When we entered the main room, it was still almost empty. I paused to look through some books and literature displayed on a table near the door. As I leafed through one book (which contained many pictures of Baba), I became aware of sweet sensations flowing within. These were a gentle foreshadowing of what was to follow.

The satsang included music (by an instrumental ensemble), chanting (from the Bhagavad Gita), silent meditation, prayer, and answers (written out on his “slate”) by Baba to questions presented by the audience. He also accepted several gifts from children of attendees.
Almost as soon as the Kirtan started, I sensed exquisite energies flowing in my head, and under my skull, as if a flower (I imaged a lotus) were pressing upward. Soon these energies swept downward into my chest and arms. As the music continued, I began to throb with a bliss of a texture unlike any I have before experienced. The feelings grew in intensity until I experienced what seemed to be the Rapture of Raptures, the Ecstasy of Ecstasies. Many times Baba looked at me--sometimes I looked back, when I was able to open my eyes. At times I remember looking up and moving my eyes (which were closed) back and forth or rotating them as sweet waves swept back and forth across and under my skull. At times my heart seemed pierced by excruciating bliss. And sometimes I thought I must lose consciousness, at least immediate awareness of my surroundings.

Once (when I had my eyes closed), I thought I felt Baba’s presence much closer--almost in front of me. I thought perhaps he had sent his spirit from the front of the room to stand before me; then I opened my eyes and saw that Baba was no longer sitting in front of us. He had left the room (temporarily), and had passed quite near me as he exited.

The rapture continued to be extremely intense during the ritual chanting of the Bhagavad Gita. Each syllable, each microsound awakened ever more subtle and refined sensations, fluctuating and pulsing throughout the torso and head, the hands and shoulders, at times even traveling into the sole of the feet. Sometimes I wondered how much I could sustain, but I always seemed to be ready for more.

Once I seemed to communicate telepathically with Baba. When he “asked” (mentally), “What do you want from me?”, I answered (silently), “To love you and be loved by you. To receive help in finding my life direction, and do the thing I am supposed to be doing in this life.”
At times I felt my aura (or energy field) expand far beyond its usual limits. I saw a few images during this experience: A female Indian guru flickered briefly in my “mind’s eye,” and then, to my surprise, Sri Aurobindo. But, even before these, came an image of Christ on the cross (the last image of my original initiation, through Kundalini). This Christ figure was slightly muscular--he was not the languid, soft being we so often encounter. And, once during the experience, I seemed to become Krishna himself, in radiant splendor.

Baba answered several questions (using his slate and an interpreter) after the kirtan and chanting. Most were quite elementary. The askers were young, and had not thought much about spiritual matters. One asked how to get rid of a curse. Baba answered, “I don’t know.” I found this an excellent reply.

Afterward, Helen and I brought lunch from the kitchen and sat down at a table in the larger room to eat. As Baba left, he paused briefly at our table (to give me time to turn and face him). I bowed and smiled--and he did likewise.

What is going on here? Is this the usual experience of one who received shaktipat? Do lots of people feel these vibrations from him? It it in any way personal? Is this a special meeting, or just a guru fishing for followers?

I don’t know. And I really don’t care. Afterwards, I felt that I had been totally ravished. I was overwhelmed.

My Kundalini first awakened May 24, l98l--twelve years ago, almost to the day. Often in past years, intense experiences have occurred on or around this date, as if an anniversary were being celebrated. What a birthday party!

Is it mere coincidence that “my” mantra, a gift of the inner guru (Sri Rama, Rama) is echoed in the name of Baba’s foundation (Sri Rama) for the care of orphans in India?

In any event, why go to Europe to receive the blessing of a saint when one is available so close to home?

And, what, exactly, does Baba Hari Dass mean?

If I were to have a private appointment with him, I think I would ask: “Who are you? And who am I? And have we been together before?”
(image from www.mountmaddona.org)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Baba Hari Dass 

Recently, I have been thinking about gurus and their relationship with their followers. Here is a description of a meeting which took place some twelve or so years ago with Baba Hari Dass at his ashram south of San Francisco. It is excerpted from "Unmasking the Rose," which itself is based on the journals I kept during the early years of my awakening.

An Encounter with a Guru: Baba Hari Dass

Last Thursday, I drove south to a conference at Mt. Madonna Center (up on a mountain in the Santa Cruz range near Watsonville); the conference was sponsored by the “Kundalini Research Network.”

When I first arrived, I was lingering in the hall, waiting for dinner, when I saw a man of some 60 or more years go by and enter a private room. He looked like somebody who had just come from work--say in the kitchen or on the grounds. But his features were extremely arresting. He was slender, olive-skinned, and wore his greying hair in a ponytail. “My,” I thought, “they certainly have interesting people on the staff here.”

A short time later, as I stood in line for dinner, I saw (through an open door) a small group of people collected at the feet of a man seated at the front of the room. This man was the one I had seen a few minutes earlier. When I got my dinner tray, I carried it into that room and joined the other diners on the floor.

The man was Baba Hari Dass, the founder guru of the ashram/retreat center where the conference was being held. As I entered and took my place, he gazed at me closely. Waves of joy swept through--after I sat, I fell into total, exquisite bliss, which lasted for as long as I was there. All around me, the “followers” were not only eating, but chatting and moving about in a lively hubbub. Baba himself took a tray, and ate, sometimes stopping to hear questions from those who approached him. He has taken a vow of silence, so he answered by writing on a small slate board he carries with him. The bliss I experienced was a deep rapture, beginning in the heart and traveling upwards into the head (although my head was not completely opened, as in my original experience). I remained in this state until he left the room.

Next evening, as I stood in line for dinner, I felt rapturous waves sweep my body from crown to toe. I looked up and realized that, once more, Baba was holding satsang in the adjacent room. I didn’t bother to pick up food, but entered and immediately fell into a state of ecstasy, amidst the clamor and movement of the residents, many of whom had brought their children.

On Saturday, I went in a third time--this time, there was some bliss, but not as much as before. Baba seemed to be focused more on the questioners, and on playing with and teasing the children.

I also experienced great bliss during the first “meditation” class offered by “Sarasvati,” one of his long time students. This experience consisted primarily of performing the four yogic purification practices (prana yama). Each time I sucked in my diaphragm, or expelled my breath in short gusts, I felt exquisite rushes of pleasure. I went to the class a second time on Saturday, but, as with the satsang on that day, the bliss was much less intense.

Whence comes this bliss? I have experienced such feelings many many times--during my own practice, especially when the “inner lover” manifests; or during classes at CIIS, such as those taught by David Roche, or Jim Ryan, which involve music or chanting or group meditation; or, sometimes simply when I am with a “spiritually evolved” group, at a workshop or conference, where there is frequently a deep flow of blissful energy.

But I do not think I have ever had an experience where merely sitting with the “holy one” had such an effect. (Of course, the “followers” also contributed energy and vibrations.) I am deeply drawn to him--perhaps this experience is akin to shaktipat. Or perhaps he actually gave me shaktipat--if so, it was a very familiar vibration; does this mean that he and I derive from the same source (tradition)? Or does it merely signify that the guru sets your own inner frequency in motion, and that you experience it according to your own nature? In any event, I was much surprised, for I found that I deeply loved this man, and would be content to remain in his presence always. Yet, at the same time, I feel I have something to give in exchange. I am unwilling to be cast in the role of passive recipient. What I want is for him to recognize me as someone he knew in a remote past--perhaps as teacher or friend, someone now returned in a very different guise. I would be angry if he treated me like any beginner, though in some ways that is exactly what I am. And I want him to talk to me. I do not see the logic of his vow. What does it accomplish? I think it is merely an irritating impediment, a self-indulgence, rather than a self-discipline. But then, I am no guru. And for me, he needs no words.

Clearly, this is the “sweet fire” that Andrew Harvey experiences in the presence of his own guru. (I had recently read Harvey’s “Hidden Journey,” and was extremely excited by this poetic and revelatory account of one man’s spiritual adventure. Unlike other spiritual autobiographies which were often rather pedestrian descriptions of the inner adventure, this was a model of deeply felt and eloquently articulated personal experience .) What would it be like to know this divine energy on a constant basis? I both desire and fear this experience. I do not wish to feel that my own inner sensations are so dependent on the presence of another being--I want to be the spiritual leader, the one who gives shaktipat But of course, I am in no way prepared, since my own energies are so unpredictable, and since I have not undergone the necessary disciplines to attain this higher state. Something in me is irresistibly drawn toward him, and something else strongly objects to giving up so much personal power to another human. How would he treat me?

On Tuesday, I went to take a “yoga lesson” at the Integral Yoga Center, 2 blocks away, whose guru is Satchidananda. The teacher was much concerned that I performed the asanas so poorly. She kept trying to “help” me by correcting me, or coming over to observe me more closely, or having me stop to see how the others were doing the postures. Finally, she asked if I had confused this class with another, one designed for those unable to do the regular beginner’s class . So I asked her if she wanted me to leave. She said no, and didn’t bother me thereafter. Afterwards, I told her that I often feel the energies deeply, even though I cannot do the asanas very well. I showed her how I can sometimes feel incredibly bliss just by moving my fingers a little. She appeared to understand, but I feel she showed great insensitivity in the class by singling me out. Once again, I am not successful when I try to connect with an established center as a student.

Baba Hari Dass is the only spiritual leader I have discovered who inspires me to pursue the connection.

Note: I recently ran across this quote from Baba Hari Dass which I strongly agree with:

Q: Can we gain liberation through intellectual understanding of systems or theories?

A: There is no end to intellectual understanding. It doesn't give feeling, just as memorizing the definition of ' iberation' won't giveone liberation. The more we forget intellectual games, the more devotion we develop. In surrendering to God we don't have toread scriptures, we don't have to attend lectures of priests, saints, or psychologists. We just have to do it!

(image from www.mountmadonna.org)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Turning to Light 


The jeweled cloud sways


Meanwhile our cells

are turning to air,

finer and finer arrangements

of light.

from Marrow of Flame

I wrote this poem over ten years ago, but I think it was a clear prediction of what is taking place today. More and more of us are experiencing this "turning to air," and becoming indeed "finer and finer arrangements of light." At that earlier date, many of us talked about what was going to happen as we moved into our next stage of evolution. Now, I believe, that we are in the midst of it.

Recently, someone wrote me to ask if there were special energies coming onto the planet at this time, since she and her partner were experiencing strong infusions of rapture. My answer is indeed this appears to be the case, though not everyone is being moved into states of bliss. Many of my friends who are extra sensitive report that they are undergoing pain of various kinds, as though they were absorbing into their bodies the agonies of the earth itself as it confronts potential devastation. Different people will react to such intensification of the cosmic vibrations in different ways.

I again had an unusual session this morning. I did somethng different--something I have not done for a long time. This is what happened.

First, I took a long and very hot shower. I find that this is one of the best ways to "open up" the body, not only the physical pores but the spiritual elements as well. Then, instead of listening to music, I focused on certain sacred objects I possess. (For such practice of awakening the inner energies, it is best to wear as little clothing as possible, so that the body can--as the Zens say--breathe.) Then I sounded my two singing bowls, one small and the other medium, to "tune" the body. And now I picked up a crystal which has been in my possession for many months, but which, for some reason, I did not truly relate to. This crystal, said to be from sacred Mt. Shasta area, is rather large. Green in color, it covers my entire palm. Holding it near, I began to move it in circles in front of my body, and as I did so, I felt delightful sensations here and there. As I moved upward, I had another "breakthrough" opening--this time of the throat area.

In my original awakening experience, only four chakras had opened fully--first the lower two, then the upper two, as the energies shot into my head. My solar plexus, heart, and throat did not open. My heart opened quite some time later during an exquisite and intensely ecstatic practice.

But not the solar plexus or throat. Now, as I moved my crystal in front of my throat area, I felt lovely sensations throughout, including the cheeks themselves. It was gratifying to experience such responses after so many years. It is as if my process, which has gone on so long, is now in a stage of polishing and refining the reactions. It feels as though everything should be open as we move into what may be a final stage.

These were not intensely ecstatic, heavy sensuous feelings. Rather, it was, once again, like being stroked by long stemmed roses. I have felt similar sensations in the past by "stroking my aura" with my hand (in this process, the hand remains always a few inches above the flesh.)

Again, I report these personal experiences because I am in such a late stage in my journey, and we all are hoping to learn more about what kundalini is and how it is affecting each of us. In my case, I am reporting what is going on with a woman in her eighty-first year, who has been experiencing the energies now for some twenty-six years. Frankly, I still consider the whole phenomenon remarkable, but am happy, certainly, to continue to play my part.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Preparation, Non-Attachment, and Bliss 

Sometimes when we do our practice, the result is profound and loving bliss. Sometimes (like today for me), the result is simply a nice routine of movement and stretching, with little play of the inner energies.

Both are good, both are welcome, both are essential. Kundalini is not something that arrives at our beck and call. We can prepare the household, set the table, and light the candles, but our precious guest may or may not show up. Kundalini will come on its own timetable and according to its own inscrutable desire. It is always in control, and we are the grateful recipients of its blessings.

Likewise, we should not, I think, construct our lives with the explicit goal of "awakening kundalini." Kundalini should be a boon which comes at the right time and place, when our spirit is ready. We may wait years, or lifetimes, but we should not try to hasten or force the opening.

But--we can do things to prepare ourselves for the experience when it happens. Most important is to build a strong foundation in every area of our lives. Foremost is the body itself--we should strengthen ourselves in every possible way, not as athletes in training, but as ordinary humans seeking to make ourselves healthy and well by following the well known guidelines for well being--eating properly, not indulging in strong stimulants or drugs, exercising in moderation and so forth. We all know what we are supposed to do to maintain our physical state.

And we should also prepare our minds, by reading wisdom literature which will broaden our perspectives and increase our mental scope. Books such as Joseph's Campbell's "Hero's Journey" and works on the Divine Feminine as embodied in the Great Goddess are invaluable, especially as directives for understanding and balancing our own male and female natures.

The writings of the Tibetan Buddhists also come to mind, especially the "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" as well as the writings of the Buddha and other known spiritual writers (for me, the Shaiva Sutras are indispensable, though they are esoteric to say the least.) Evelyn Underhill's masterpiece "Mysticism" is critical as a guide to the spiritual journey, but it is not easy reading, not something to be skimmed in one night. (Indeed, if you tackle it, start with section two, whic is more specific on the stages of the journey). And don't forget poetry--the poems of T. S. Eliot, Yeats, Rilke, Mary Oliver, Lisel Muller, Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz, Meerabai and many others take us into the far reaches of the spirit and are worth our close attention--the more poetry you read, the more you will love it.

Don't accept or believe anything just because it exists in print or someone has said it. Argue with even the most renowned writers. Buddha said, "Be a light unto yourselves," and to me this means carve your own path, though keeping an open attitude to all other possiblities.. Don't give away your power in any area, including personal relations, but don't avoid human connections as such. It is better to explore fully the human experience as you go, so that you won't feel later that you missed something important in your life. Go ahead and fall head over heels in love even if you get your heart broken, take off and go on some wild adventure if you are young and able to and it won't ruin your life forever. You need to try certain things just to get them out of your system. If you want to live communally, do it and see how that life style suits you. If you want to be a hermit, take off for Alaska. If you think you want to get rich, join a corporation or find a stressful professional job, but don't be surprised if something seems lacking in your life-- then leave when you realize this is not the life you want.

Listen to sacred music of the sort which appeals to you (I like Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Diane Rogers, Tibetan chanting, Bach's B- Mass, almost all Requiems, as well as Mahler, Schubert, Mozart and the other greats of the standard repetoire.) Choose your own. Listen carefully as you pursue the Yoga of Music . Move with the rhythm (lots or little, whatever works). Attend carefully to what is going on inside your body. Don't just sit there. Be one with the music.

Do the form of meditation which is right for you. Some like quiet sitting. Others prefer dynamic listening or some kind of movement. There are as many approaches to meditation as there are people. You will know which one draws you.

If you like sanskit mantra, repeat mantra. If you love hatha yoga, do that. If you are struck by wonder in nature, go for rambles and excursions. But, above all, be attentive. Let youself connect in the deepest possible manner. Be ready.

Clear your emotional and psychological issues as best you can. Go to therapy if that is what is called for and if you can afford it (a big issue these days.) Let yourself uncover past trauma in order to get to the root cause and possible resolution.

Accept what comes with joy and gratitude. Who knows what the outcome will be? Believe me, anything can happen, often when we least expect it.

P. S. The books and music I mention are just my own "top of the mind" suggestions and is by no means a comprehensive list. If others have additional suggestions for reading or doing, I would welcome your response.

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