Thursday, August 31, 2017
I touch God in my song
By Rabindranath Tagore
(1861 - 1941)
English version by Rabindranath Tagore
I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.
The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.
Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom.
Love remains a secret even when spoken,
for only a lover truly knows that he is loved.
Emancipation from the bondage of the soil
is no freedom for thee.
In love I pay my endless debt to thee
for what thou art.
(image from internet)
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Anam Cara Meditation Foundation
Perennial Wisdom For The Soul's Journey
Today is the day that millions of people have been anticipating for many years! This solar eclipse has received more publicity than any other that I can remember. With the world in such turmoil it is understandable that people want to gaze at the heavens and appreciate the predictable movements of the celestial spheres. Humanity has longed for such order on earth for thousands and thousands of years.
The sun and moon are ancient symbols of the Self-luminous One and the mind which can only reflect the light of the Self, the Light of Consciousness. Like the moon, the brilliance and clarity of the mind may wax and wane, but the radiance of the pure Light of Consciousness, one's true Self, is never diminished. Thus, as we gaze at the eclipse we can appreciate the celestial drama unfolding above and within ourselves. How often does the mind eclipse the radiance of one's own divine nature? The play of dark and light is the nature of this world.
What illumines even the darkness?
The Light of Consciousness.
The Seer who is never Seen.
The Knower who is never known.
Your own sublime Self.
Your Buddha nature.
Your Christ Consciousness.
You are beyond all names, all forms.
Dwelling in this wisdom you go
beyond all darkness, all suffering,
into the eternal light of wisdom,
compassion and love.
May you know the Light of Consciousness, radiant and pure, illuminating every moment of existence.
This is what it means to be living in the state of meditation, illumined and free.
To dive more deeply into Living Meditation you may want to take our October 6-8 retreat that is titled Living Meditation. The details are below.
Living Meditation: Deepening ; Integrating Practices
Retreat: Oct. 6-8, 2017 Wisdom House, Litchfield, CT
Led by Lawrence Edwards, PhD, poet, author, mentor and teacher.
Living Meditation will take you into the rich meditative practices and teachings found at the most profound levels of the great spiritual traditions, where the ultimate state of non-dual awareness is all that exists. In this retreat you will learn to deepen and integrate meditation into everyday life. Meditation uplifts our work life, our home life, our health and all that we engage in.
Meditation begins as a set of practices and then the transformative power of meditation processes becomes apparent as we shed old conditioned patterns of mind. The transformative processes develop and ripen, opening the boundless domain of the state of Living Meditation, also known as sahaja samadhi, in which every aspect of our life is transformed.
In this retreat you will learn how to deepen your practices, further empower the transformative process of meditation and discover the state of radical freedom, the state of Living Meditation. This is the state of the Living Presence that already exists within you as your true nature. Some call this their Buddha nature, or their Christ nature, or their Divine Self, but whatever we call it, it is beyond words, beyond the mind, yet at the very heart of our Being. Come to know your state of radical freedom, come to know the living presence of the One.
This retreat incorporates the classic forms of Shaktipat diksha and the unique Maha Kali Yantra empowerment. Everyone is welcome to attend. No prior experience is necessary.
Registration is limited to facilitate learning. Please register early to be ensure a space.
Come and enjoy a glorious fall weekend in New England!
Reserve your place now!
Click here for more information and to register.
Bimonthly Meditation Programs
Anam Cara Meditation Foundation
Everyone is welcome to our non-denominational meditation programs. No experience is necessary.
Open Meditation Program: 7:15pm on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays
The next program is 8/24/17.
2 Byram Brook Place, Armonk, NY 10504.
All are welcome! No registration needed.
Thank you all for your notes of appreciation for our newsletter. It's great to hear from you!
Everyone has the heart to be a true friend of the soul, an "Anam Cara." By embodying that ideal we serve to help others find love and compassion within themselves and the world.
Our highest nature is always manifest in relationship - to all other beings, to the environment, community, loved ones, and 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 endeavor to expand the depth and the inclusiveness of the loving kindness we bring into every relationship, every moment, every breath.
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.
The Anam Cara Meditation Foundation 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 the meditation page of our website.
May all beings know complete freedom from suffering and may all our actions reflect only wisdom, compassion, patience and love.
Lawrence Edwards, PhD
Founder and Director
Anam Cara Meditation Foundation
Anam Cara Meditation Foundation, Lawrence Edwards, PhD, Director, 2 Byram Brook Place, Armonk, NY 10504
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
The following poem does not describe my own experience but rather that of a friend who was with a tantric master.
The Tantric Lovers
Even before we begin
we know that
this is something rare,
We do not know
why we have been chosen
for this rite,
why we are here together
in this place now.
We are guided
by our instincts,
of all that is.
What we are certain of
is that together
we will be one,
you will become
who I am,
and I you.
The lost tales of the past
have told us so.
the figures caught
in the sculptures.
Images inscribed on the
We do not need
on how to do this.
We have possessed this knowledge
Already our bodies
have become the god/the goddess,
together locked into final reality,
a universe unfolding.
February 27, 2013
Monday, August 28, 2017
Here is a poem I wrote many, many years ago:
ON YOUR SLENDER BODY
On your slender body
you wore what women wore then— not silk, but jeans,
long white shirt,
hair parted behind.
You came in humming a song, up to date, like you. Your Indian eyes were brown, distanced,
as if you were looking
at a secret, something far away.
You were like a scent hovering nearby, perfuming the room, saying,
Here I am. I’ve come.
We did nothing exceptional. Sometimes we played bridge with the others
in the living room,
or shared a meal
We seldom went places together.
Everything centered on the one room, ours. Something there carried us
to yet another place.
I keep wondering
what happened to you,
where you went,
how many lovers you had afterward.
Was it true,
as the newspaper said,
you had married?
It was hard to believe
and I wondered why.
Where are you now?
Do you still sing those throaty songs, like love strokes in the dark?
I still have your picture.
This poem is inspired by another written in the nineteenth century by Wu Tsao, who has been called China’s great lesbian poet. Her poem is one of longing for her beloved, an elegant courtesan. It begins “On your slender body/ Jade and coral girdle ornaments chime.”
from SOME KISS WE WANT: Poems Selected and New
(image from internet)
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Looking For A River
We pass the long blue and white
tent, chairs set in sedate rows,
men and women silent shadows
in the heat; preparing for a revival,
they pay us no mind as our car
tires whine past on soft asphalt.
A bay horse grazes in a field; black
Angus stand belly-deep in a farm pond,
tails switching flies, heads down like
somnolent statues cut out of starless
skies. On and on we drive, a little lost,
following the thread of a shaky map.
We’re looking for a river. We’re looking
for a fresh green current, swirls of mica,
trout circling the kettle like holy ghosts.
We’re looking for the long white banner
of a waterfall, the hidden path behind
a plume of mist and ragged lace.
When we get there, we’ll slide across
slick dark gray rocks, push aside moss
cascading out of deep cracks like prophets.
We’ll crawl into that cool dark space
behind the veil, listen to the river preach:
granite gospel from the mouth of a mountain.
Deborah A. Miranda
Love Poem to a Butch Woman
This is how it is with me:
so strong, I want to draw the egg
from your womb and nourish it in my own.
I want to mother your child made only
of us, of me, you: no borrowed seed
from any man. I want to re-fashion
the matrix of creation, make a human being
from the human love that passes between
our bodies. Sweetheart, this is how it is:
when you emerge from the bedroom
in a clean cotton shirt, sleeves pushed back
over forearms, scented with cologne
from an amber bottle—I want to open
my heart, the brightest aching slit
of my soul, receive your pearl.
I watch your hands, wait for the sign
that means you’ll touch me,
open me, fill me; wait for that moment
when your desire leaps inside me.
Deborah A. Miranda
I just recently discovered this poet and her outstanding poems. I think she is amazing!
She is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California and holds a PHD from the University of Washington.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
I constructed a world around me.
Like them, mine contained limits,
a circumference telling me
how far I could go, where not.
Yet I kept trying,
Finally I found myself elsewhere,
as if I had traveled to outer space.
At first there were no other
It was a lonely exile,
yet one I had created
the old boundaries would no longer serve,
the air in those parts was too stifling,
the oxygen had all drained away.
Then I began to discover others
moving about in this expanded space.
We paused, we talked,
we compared notes on our journeys.
We kept on finding ways
to enter still more spacious realms.
Together we explored unknown
places not located on maps
The dimensions of our new
enlarged until we were in
totally unfamiliar territory.
Now we began to wonder,
were we still ordinary humans
or were we the beginnings of
a new species, some sort of hybrid
both human and divine.
Since we had no maps to guide us
we followed the voices within.
We began to talk in a new language,
often sent silent messages to the rest.
Our cells vibrated in a different way,
our inner frequencies rose,
the bliss streams flowed within.
Now we were something other,
creatures inhabiting another realm.
delight and discovery were our daily fare.
We reveled in our newfound state
and waited in joy till the rest arrived.
August 26, 2017
This poem is an allegory of how it feels to experience profound expanded consciousness, a state that opens you to new dimensions of feeling, but also sets you apart from much of humanity.
(image from internet)
Friday, August 25, 2017
When an Angel Appears
Nancy Rhynes, who had one of the most fascinating near death experiences of any I have heard, wrote about the following incident on her newsletter recently. She was feeling a bit "down" so went for a walk in nature. An old man approached her on the path, never looking up. As he passed her, he suddenly raised his head and said, "Everything is perfect," and lowered his gaze once more. When she turned to look for him, he had vanished, maybe around the next bend on the trail. Nancy felt that he might have been an angel sent to lift her out of her doldrums. She was grateful for that chance encounter.
Nancy's story reminded me of an experience I had about this time a year ago. I had been eating in a restaurant located in a rural setting outside of Santa Fe and was just getting in my car in front of the entrance when suddenly a very old man appeared out of nowhere and held the door open as I got in. Then he said, "Isn't it wonderful to be alive?" and simply disappeared into thin air. At the time, I wondered if he could have been an angel, sent to remind me of how precious life itself is.
Who knows what angels there are among us? Mostly we are unaware of their presence, for they may come in many guises and forms. They do not always come surrounded in light and in the body of a beautiful young woman. But we need to listen carefully to the messages they bring.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Whatever it is hangs over us,
wants us to keep on gliding forward,
as if a compass nestled in the heart,
as if a hidden magnet were always calling to
the bits of iron which swim in the blood,
or a boat was being drawn ahead
by a canal-man, with his steady line and
not asking why, just doing it,
even on the days we awaken
amidst the ruins of the spirit,
and have nothing to offer,
except a longing for the smell of hyacinths
and something else we can't fully recall.
From: Marrow of Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey
See Some Kiss We Want: Poems Selected and New
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
You cannot name it,
you cannot see it,
you cannot hold it in your arms.
It has no weight or measure,
no identifying marks.
Poets laud it,
artists strive to model it,
musicians hear it
in their ears.
Dancers and planets whirl to its
astronomers scan the skies.
Searchers in laboratories
seek in vain for its elements,
wise men write tomes.
Temples cannot hold it,
ceremonies cannot unveil it,
bring it down.
It hides in scents and elsewhere,
plants unfolding like blessings,
animals calling in the night.
Yet you will know it when it
the Lover who touches you
It chooses its own time
and vanishes whenever it likes.
Its unsung song is with you ever,
vibrating in your veins.
You call it the Beloved Within
and yearn for its secret caress.
When you die you will go
to join it
and become part of that which it is.
August 22, 2017
(image from internet)
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
More on the Eclipse
During yesterday's eclipse many had transcendent responses, for they knew they were having a "once in a lifetime" experience, one they would tell their children and grandchildren about for years. There were celebrations and shouts of joy, and people used such terms as awing, fabulous, and "beyond anything they had ever encountered" to describe their exalted state.
But my experience was quite different. For the most part, I stayed inside and watched the event on the T. V. However, when I went out on my balcony briefly during the time of partial darkness (more like twilight here), my eyes started hurting and my skin was irritated, as if I had encountered some kind of pollutant in the air. So I went back inside and watched the screen as the sun darkened again and again over the land.
But I was troubled as to why I had had such an atypical experience, when thousands of my fellow humans were in effect transported by this rare cosmic phenomenon. I wondered why I so often have had such unexpected and even bizarre reactions, not only to this but to other experiences as well. At times, I am the one who soars, at others I seem to descend.
Then a friend described to me a video by a female Indian guru, who enumerated what were (in her tradition) the dangers of solar eclipse. In her view (apparently handed down from the rishis of yore), eclipses were dangerous, for they released malevolent bacteria into the atmosphere. These could bring actual illness to humans as well as plants and animals. Growing crops would begin to droop and animals (such as lions and tigers) would be depressed, "hiding in the corner" and refusing to eat.
She advised that we ourselves should neither eat nor drink for about two hours before the eclipse, should remain inside, and should meditate during the actual event, for the effect of each meditation would be increased a hundred fold.
I do not know how valid her concerns are, but I do know that my response was indeed negative, and I realized that perhaps my reaction was not so strange after all. I was relieved when I uncovered this information. I had felt listless and depleted all that afternoon, but my energy finally returned later.
And oddly, I received this welcome knowledge from a new friend in my apartment complex, whom I just "happened" to meet as I went downstairs to retrieve my mail. I was most grateful to her for letting me know that certain ancient Hindu traditions warn about the possible dangers of such cosmic events, and that my response was in line with these teachings. Since then, I have heard from another friend who felt "nauseous" during the eclipse. Maybe such response is in the DNA of some of us who are "supersensitive" and thus have unusual reactions. As always, everything is a mystery.
Here is the link to the video:
"Amma Sri Karunamayi eNews"
Date: August 16, 2017 at 5:51:05 PM MDT
Subject: ✦ AMMA's Message for the SOLAR ECLIPSE ✦ Events in India ✦
Monday, August 21, 2017
Whales began to leap up in the sea
and the crickets on land began to sing.
I did not get the glasses,
so I stayed inside.
We did not get the full dark,
but as the moon rode past
in its headlong pace,
the light shifted into an unfamiliar key,
the atmosphere darkened,
like haze or sky before an incoming storm.
As if something was about to happen,
the beginning of something unknown
or else the end.
I stepped outside,
but never looked at the sun.
But my eyes started to hurt
and the flesh on my arms
began to sting.
So I went back in
and watched from the screen
as my mood brightened
and the clouds lifted
August 21, 2017
(picture from GettyImages––posted two by mistake and could not correct)
Sunday, August 20, 2017
First there are the Olympians,
the runners who head up the race,
win prizes and ribbons,
receive vast acclaim.
The rest of us
run out of breath
wish we could find some place
to sit down.
Then there are the sexual athletes.
They can go on for hours,
rack up many wins.
The rest of us
have more or less lost interest,
check the weather,
wish our favorite programs
would hurry and come on.
And of course there are
the spiritual achievers.
They wear robes,
go sit on mountain tops,
grow long beards,
forget to eat.
We say our own prayers,
do our sacred movements,
read Rumi and Kabir,
hope for the best.
August 20, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Path I Chose
(For all who chose "the road less traveled" and felt set apart from the rest of the world.)
Earlier in my life
something unexpected happened
almost like a dream
and when I woke up
I found myself
on this island.
At first it was total
The honeyed sunlight
stroking my skin
like a lover,
sea breezes flowing
soft music playing
in the distance.
Paradise at last,
blooming all around and within.
Then I looked all over
and finally realized
there was no one
I could share my story
no fellow being
share with me in return.
no sacred ceremonies
The trees whispered
to one another
in a language I
did not understand,
the stars were sending
codes that were exciting
but they were far away.
It was a solitary
like that of no one else.
Then I remembered
that this was the path
I had chosen.
I did not want to be encumbered
by other people's teachings,
imposed guidance from outside,
though I gave them
of arriving somewhere
but now I am wondering
what it all means,
what might next unfold.
Islands can be very lonely
silence too still.
August 19, 2017
Friday, August 18, 2017
A Random Act of Kindness
The morning was perfect. "Sunny and mild" as the say on the weather channel. I decided to walk over to Boulder creek, some half mile from my home. Recently I had done two such walks (in a different direction) and felt there would be no problem.
At first, it was fun. Two or three squirrels frolic in our courtyard, and one of them seemed to be waiting for me. He froze in place and looked me square in the eye. I stopped and returned his gaze. We examined one another this way for about 5 minutes and then he scampered off.
As I walked west along the sidewalk, I came upon a plant I truly love. I believe it is called "Egyptian grass." It is, to me, quite beautiful. I paused to admire its wavy golden "tresses" and even seemed to feel its energies flowing within.
I soon arrived at Naropa University, a famous Tibetan Buddhist school near by. Classes were not yet in session, so almost no one was around. I walked over to their lovely flower garden, and was immediately overtaken by one of the most beautiful scents ever. This aroma continued until I went on my way.
My aim was to visit the creek and enjoy its rioting, tumbling waters. However, the tree leaves were so thick along the bank that I could barely get a glimpse of the creek. As I continued along the sidewalk near the water, a strange fellow approached me. Clearly he was a transient, for he had a huge backpack and a bushy beard. He asked me (in a polite tone), "Do you want to freak people out?" Intrigued, I inquired how I could do that. "Tell them that you caught a hundred pound bass in Boulder Creek." I had a good chuckle to myself as I went on.
However, things changed after this. I started having trouble walking as I headed home. I was short of breath and my legs were heavy. Soon I had to stop every few steps and sit to rest at each bench I passed. I continued, always getting dizzier, more unsteady. I realized I was dehydrated, and this dryness was sapping my energy. However, I kept on, determined to make it home (only a few blocks away.) Finally I realized I needed someone to call a cab for me (old cell phone kaput, trying to buy a newer one). At first I waved to a woman passing in her car, and she waved back. I kept on walking
Finally, my good samaritan arrived. He went to fetch his own car nearby and drove me home. However, when he left me alone to get his car, I once more lost my balance and fell backwards against a wooden fence. Luckily, nothing was broken and he helped me up, gave me water to drink, and took me right to my address. I found out that he was in the service (intelligence) and had a brand new daughter. I thanked him profusely and told him his baby had a good father and his wife had a good husband.
Experiences such as this renew my faith in humanity. Blessed are those who practice "random acts of kindness."
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Now that I know so much,
I have decided to give up thinking.
"Form is emptiness,
emptiness is form."
How long I pondered that mystery.
Then one day I realized
that I did not exist,
for "I" was simply
a phantom passing before
a blank mirror,
just as the sages told.
Now I no longer bother
to wrestle with such notions.
Now it is the dance
and only the dance,
joy streaming through the body
as She enters,
the single confirmation I desire.
August 17, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
"Don’t let your life be governed by what disturbs you."
Abu al-Ala al-Ma’arri , c. 973-1058, Arab philosopher, poet, and writer.
I think this is very sound advice, especially these days when the news is so difficult. It is easy to get upset over current happenings and let anger and despair take over your awareness. But it is very important not to let these events dominate your life, to acknowledge what is happening, but maintain your own inner balance through your personal connection with that which sustains you best, and above all, what gives you joy.
I try to have a "witness" awareness, to observe and not get emotionally upset to see what is unfolding. Indeed, I have concern, but do not want to let outer events drive me into depression. You can see without hate, and know without being overwhelmed by grief.
"Think of your friends as life jackets." And your friends include all those poets and musicians and artists who have brought inspiration and vision into our world. The Beloved is always with us, no matter what!
P. S. "Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri ( 973–1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet, and writer. Al-Maʿarri held and expressed an irreligious worldview which was met with controversy, but in spite of it, he is regarded as one of the greatest classical Arabic poets.
Described as a "pessimistic freethinker", Al-Maʿarri was a controversial rationalist of his time, citing reason as the chief source of truth. He was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation. He attacked the dogmas of religion and rejected Islam. He was equally sarcastic towards the religions of Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. He advocated social justice, and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle." (from Wikipedia)
(image from internet)
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Jeff Richards is a remarkable artist who creates sacred geometrical images through a special process using industrial string. His work is quite compelling and virtually unique. I recommend his work strongly. In addition his own reflections are quite thought provoking and I am including them below.
I've opened a new exhibition of my work at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, featuring the latest series based on an exploration of the 7 chakras originating in the Hindu tradition.
01_June 21, 2017.jpg
The work is up until December 10, but can only reliably be seen Sundays 8am-2pm. I will be there this Sunday, August 13, 9am-2pm
Mile Hi Church 9077 W. Alameda Blvd, Lakewood
BTW, you don't have to attend a service (but you can).
Also, I've just posted a new blog entry - Return of the Aesthetic Jedi, Part 5 - Demise of the Oopsters. You can find it at http://hexagonart.blogspot.com
My Significant Other is the Kosmos: Return of the Aesthetic Jedi, Part 5 - Demise of the
Oops. Quite a concept to arrive at given the rather stunning scientific revelations vis a vis evolution and the Big Bang. Next time you take a look at some of those aforementioned Hubble Telescope images say to yourself "oops" and see how that holds up as an explanation.
Curiously, even the Buddha, some 2500 years ago, knew better then to say oops. I ran into that insight recently when I decided to actually get some basic understanding of Buddhism by reading a book on the subject ("Essentials of Buddhism - Basic Terminology and Concepts of Buddhist Philosophy and Practice" by Kogen Mizuno, a contemporary Buddhist scholar. Highly recommended, clear and concisely written). It seems there is a fundamental concept in Buddhist thought known as "The Doctrine of Dependent Origination". To quote Mizuno, "Phenomena are impermanent, constantly undergoing change. This change is not arbitrary; given the requisite conditions, each cause produces an inevitable effect. This principle of change is called dependent origination". In other words,cause and effect, without exception. Things don't happen out of a vacuum, they are caused, and each cause is itself the result of a cause. To quote Mizuno again, "this change is not arbitrary." (italics mine). So much for oops, at least according to Buddhism.
In general terms this statement is self-evident; hit a billiard ball with a cue stick, it hits another ball at a certain angle and sends the second ball to another destination - cause and effect. Nothing special there, even an elementary school student can figure that one out. So why is dependent origination a fundamental concept in Buddhism? It's because Buddhism's primary religious concern is not with billiard balls, but with the alleviation of suffering. The Buddha's very first proclamation after returning from his awakening experience and period of meditation on that experience was what he called "The Four Noble Truths". The very first of these noble truths (noble because they were beyond the mundane and everyday) is the truth of suffering. Yes, that was the very first utterance of his teachings, the truth of suffering. The second noble truth is that suffering has a cause; and there you have dependent origination. Suffering doesn't just happen, it is caused.
At this point you might be thinking that Buddhism is an awfully pessimistic religion, and in fact many have criticized it for just this emphasis on suffering. But hold off on that criticism! The third noble truth is.....suffering can be alleviated. It can be alleviated because it has a cause, and by eliminating that cause you eliminate suffering. And then, you get the fourth noble truth - the way to eliminate suffering, known as the eight-fold path. So there!
I won't go into detail about the eight-fold path, or what is known as the chain of dependent origination, both of which are worthy of exploration in another context. However, it's interesting to extend the concept of dependent origination out to the entire universe and stumble upon the truth that everything is dependent on everything! Now extend it back in time to the big bang and you realize that dependence goes all the way back in known history. To put it another way, it's all one ginormous process!! (If you have a picture of me right now with a tiny angel on each shoulder strumming a guitar and singing in my ear "All is one, one is all, kumbaya my lord, kumbaya" I can't say I blame you. But I do request that you delete that image immediately, and while you're at it empty the trash bin.)
There's that word again, process. And of course, process always involves time. Dependent origination involves time - cause followed by effect. Development involves time. Aesthetics involves time. Kundalini activation involves time. Evolution involves time. And, a process over time is going somewhere. If you're a Buddhist you might say that somewhere is either nirvana or samsara, liberation or rebirth into the world of suffering. A Buddhist might also say if you're aware that you're in a process of dependent origination you have an opportunity, through understanding the causes, to effect where you're going, suffering or liberation from suffering. But first you have to understand that you are in a process to begin with. We are not just stumbling around aimlessly, making the best of it until we die.
We are, in fact, always in a process, and I would suggest that that process is moving toward... value, pulled by value attractors - the good, the true, the beautiful in so many words. That's why aesthetics is so importance, because it engages a process of movement toward value through dependent origination - cause and effect. Because I feel the value attraction of great literature I hear a radio program reading part of War and Peace, causing me to read War and Peace, causing me to reorient myself in a creative direction, setting in a chain of causes through dependent origination that culminates (for the time being) in the words coming out on this very page. And some completely different chain of dependent origination, possibly going back many years, culminated in you reading these words.
I think we're going somewhere.
To be continued...
Monday, August 14, 2017
Either you will
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely
but much will blind you
much will evade you,
at what cost, who knows?
The door itself
makes no promises
it is only a door.
Adrienne Rich was one of the most gifted and beloved poets of our time. I was especially interested in her because she was born almost in the same year I was. I watched her grow in her poetry and her life. At first, she wrote as a committed heterosexual, and her poems gave no offense to patriarchal establishment. She was published and acclaimed when she was quite young, and won prestigious prizes. Then she came out as a lesbian, and the critics no longer endorsed her work. Her book "Twenty-One Love Poems" is a beautiful tribute to her long time partner Michelle Cliff. It appeared at a time when being this public about your sexual preference was a bold act of defiance. She also wrote "Diving into the Wreck," now considered a classic. In later years she explored her Jewish heritage and her concern for America.
I once met her at a conference and was extremely honored to be in her presence.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
I have always been one
who was "different."
I was the child reading a book
in the corner while the others
played rough and tumble games
on the playground at recess.
Then, while the other girls
were looking for "Mr. Right,"
I just had a "best friend."
I fell in love with her.
We walked home after school
each day arm in arm
and that was the highlight,
the epitome of bliss.
Then I got enamored
of my college poetry teacher,
a transcendentalist who felt
that poetry, like nature,
She converted me to
a new kind of religion.
In church we repeated
"There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance
in matter. All is infinite Mind
and its infinite manifestation,
for God is All-in-all."
For this reason we never went
to doctors, but relied on
"readers" to heal us, should
we have some kind of ailment.
We called these flaws "mistakes."
When the cat's eye got sore,
her little daughter explained to me,
"The cat has a mistake
in its eye."
I read the myth of Plato's cave
and realized the fallacy
of the social trance,
its norms and expectations.
Suddenly the world and
all its contents
and love was everywhere.
There was a truth beyond seeming truth,
a beauty beyond the manifest.
Later I entered graduate school,
something frowned upon
by society at that time.
Women were supposed
to stay home, bake bread,
support their husbands.
That as a future life
did not appeal to me.
I lost my faith and fell in love
and realized who I was.
After that I lived a hidden life,
forced to conceal my true identity
for the public censure that would arouse.
I loved a person of my own sex,
and that was not tolerated.
I was an outcast.
I got my heart broken several times
and had no one to tell.
The last time was so much a shock
that my Kundalini jumped.
Now I had a new lover,
one who would never leave,
for she lived inside me.
Again, there was no one to tell.
I call her "the Beloved Within"
and we still make love often,
in ways that call up words
like "ecstasy" and "rapture."
We never touch.
Each moment together
Even the teachers
often cannot explain
what this is.
I think this is God
reminding you of
who you truly are.
I think that all of us
are moving toward
this state, and will know it
or when we die.
I think that this in fact
is "unconditional love"
and that is the reality
of all that is.
Blessings to all.
May your journey be filled
with joy and grace.
August 13, 2017
(image from internet)
Friday, August 11, 2017
I think it is enough
to go without knowing
where the end is,
what the beginning__
so long ago.
Perhaps you have friends
who can whisper
in your ear,
hear little bits of
in the laughter of children.
But mostly we just proceed ahead,
how it all started,
where it is leading,
if we are the waiting animal
or the animal's passing
in the grass.
From: The Ley Lines of the Soul:
Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension
Thursday, August 10, 2017
from Sutra Journal
A curated journal on art, culture and dharma
LAL-DED: THE MYSTIC OF KASHMIR
by M.H. Zaffar March, 2016
Here is a fascinating article on the saint/poet Lal-Ded, also known as Lalla. She was an amazing woman, who rebelled against the ritualistic, hierarchical, patriarchal nature of the religious structures of her time. The accepted story is that she left her husband and her family, took off her clothes, and went dancing and singing along the roads. She is still recognized as a major voice for the independent worshipper of her time and our own. Read her poems aloud and relish their power.
Lal-Ded is a rebel saint, a revolutionary mystic of the 14th century Kashmir. We know her only through her verses called 'Vak'; that have come down to us through folk tradition of Kashmir. To my mind to describe Lal-Ded as a poet is a misnomer, notwithstanding the fact that her Vak are the specimen of best poetry. In no way can she be called a poet in the modern sense of the term. Lala-vak is not primarily poetry nor is it mere learned discourse. It is a discourse for the practical purpose of sanctifying and divinizing human nature. For Lal-Ded herself her Vak is the mantra and worship of the lord as she herself proclaims:
whatever work I did became worship of the lord
whatever word I uttered became mantra
what this body of mine experienced became
the sadhana of saiva tantra.
Illumining my path to parma shiva[i]
Lal-Vak forms the foundation not only of the contemporary Kashmiri literature but also of Kashmiri culture as a whole. In the ancient and the medieval period Kashmir produced great thinkers and spiritual practitioners. But all their works are in Sanskrit. After the advent of Islam in Kashmir around the 11 th century AD, Kashmiris gradually lost their hold on the language (Sanskrit) due to various political, social, religious, and linguistic reasons; and whatever intellectual heritage their predecessors had bequeathed, became inaccessible to them. With the passage of time a deficit emerged between pre-Islamic Kashmir and Islamic Kashmir. Lal-Ded is the most significant historical bridge that connects the two shores of this gulf very effectively. She was the product of the spiritual creed that had been evolving in Kashmir for centuries and her immediate predecessors were saints and scholars like Vasugupta Rishi, Acharaya Somanand, Acharaya Utpal Dev and Acharaya Abhinavagupta. Her immediate successor and a great saint and scholar in his own right, Nund Rishi the founder of Muslim Rishi order in Kashmir has this to say about Lal-Ded:
It was Lalla of Padmanpur,
Who drank in long draughst, nectar Divine.
She was the Divine Manifestation for us,
May thou Lord bestow a similar boon upon me[ii].
Lal-Vak was not written down during her life time. It was because of her power to impact her listeners that people heard her and formed her sayings into chants and mantras which continue to be sung even today. She revolted against all the oppressive structures that stifle and kill the human spirit and critically interrogated practices of inequality and injustice that were current during the times. Lal-Vak is not only a continuation of the tradition; it is also simultaneously a break or rebellion against the tradition. Her rebellion was unprecedented. She challenged the validity of all the socio-political and religious structures, and was deadly against maintaining the status quo, thus she was perceived as a threat to the established social order. To neutralise the impact of this rebellion, the elite of the times, the custodians of the tradition declared her to be mad and insane, it is because of these circumstances that we don’t find her mention in any of the historical accounts written in Sanskrit during and after her times.
Lal-ded rebelled against the educated elite of Sanskrit academia who were the custodians of knowledge and tradition. She articulated the spiritual path and message she had inherited; in Kashmiri language which was the language of the man in the street. By doing so, she made it available to all the people irrespective of caste, creed, colour, sex, religion or region. It was no more a preserve of the Sanskrit academy. This act on the part of Lal-ded - to make Kashmiri language the vehicle for spreading her message of universal brotherhood through her outpourings- was probably a part of the Divine Mission which she had to fulfil and in recognition of which the great saint Nunda-Rishi calls her, ‘the Divine Manifestation for us.’ This act remains the greatest revolutionary act in the cultural history of Kashmir and makes her the undisputed founder not only of the contemporary Kashmiri literature but also of the contemporary Kashmiri culture.
Discrediting the large sections of the tantric lore Lal-Ded rejects wholly the ritualistic aspect of the śaivistic spiritual discipline. This rejection is articulated and expressed with great force in her Vak. She denigrates the ceremonial piety, and to her most of these rituals are devoid of any spiritual merit and only an uncultivated person will engage in such barren and fruitless activities .She herself had no possessions, not even a shelter but in her ‘homeless wisdom’ articulated in a language that provides no lulling abodes of thought she tried to dismantle the deeply ingrained hereditary patterns of thought and action. She had her own revolutionary views regarding the rituals like, idol worship, animal sacrifice, fasting, visiting sacred places and reading sacred books. In the light of her own intense spiritual experiences, she re-evaluates these rituals and comments:
“The idol is but stone
The Temple is but stone,
From top to bottom, all is but stone
Whom will you worship, O stubborn Pandit?”
“It covers your shame,
Saves you from cold,
Its food and drink, mere water and grass
Who counselled you, O Brahmin,
To slaughter a living sheep as a sacrifice
Unto a lifeless stone?”
“O fool, right action does not lie
In fasting and other ceremonial rites
O fool right action does not lie
In providing for bodily comfort and ease
In contemplation of the self alone is right action and right council for you."
“The pilgrim sanyasin goes from shrine to shrine,
Seeking to meet Him
Who abides within herself.
Knowing the truth, O soul, be not misled;
It is distance that makes the turf look green”
“Some leave their home, some the hermitage
But the restless mind knows no rest.
Then watch your breath day and night,
And stay where you are”
“I have worn out my plate and tongue reading the holy books,
But I have not learnt the practices that would please my lord.
I have worn thin fingers and thumb telling my rosary beads,
But I have not been able to dispel duality from my mind.”
“The thoughtless read the holy books
As parrots in their cages recite “Ram, Ram”
Their reading is like churning water,
Fruitless effort, ridiculous conceit.”[iii]
By opposing vehemently the ritualistic aspect of Trikmat, Lalla revolted against the powerful clergy of the times who had transformed these rituals into a means of exploitation and a tool for perpetuating their hereditary hegemony. She also revolted against the objectification of women in Saiva rituals. She totally rejects the secondary dependent status allotted to women in these rituals and emerges and dominates the scene as a subject.
On the one hand, Lala gave a new lease of life to Kashmiri Śaivistic spiritual tradition but on the other , she demystified Śaivism by articulating its tenets in the language of the common people and deconstructed its ideology of being a Rahasya Sampradaya (a secret sect) by making all the Upayas (means of realization) available to all those interested in the realization of their true identity, thus making it a viable and effective tool not only for individual emancipation but also for social unification. There is an inbuilt dynamic reciprocal relationship between the two, and each reinforces the other. This is the reason for total acceptance of Lal-Ded by almost all Kashmiris. With the passage of time there was a schism in the Saivistic Trikamat. On the one hand, we have the branch that maintains the rituals, although not much of the traditional rituals detailed by Abhinava Gupta have survived the ravages of time. On the other hand, we have the ritual free Trikamat of Lal-Ded which is a syncretic tradition that assimilates not only the essence of Buddhist spirituality but also reaches out to the Sufi-Mystic tradition of Islam. In Buddhist tradition being a Bodhi-sattva implies being full of compassion conjoined with insight into reality, realizing emptiness (shunaya) or the essence of all things. In this light we may consider the verse by Lalla:
Realization is rare indeed, Seek not afar, it is near, by you
First slay desire, then still the mind, giving up vain imaginings
Then meditate on self within and lo! The void merges in the void
Or this one:
Let go the sacred tantra rites
Only the mantra sound remains
And when the mantra sound departs
Only the chitta is left behind
Then lo! The chitta itself is gone
And there is nothing left behind
The void merges in the void[iv]
In the true Buddhist spirit Lalla-Ded advocates the middle path as the path of liberation and we may consider the following Vᾱk in this regard:
“By pandering to your appetites and desires
You get nowhere
By penance and fasting,
You get conceit
Be moderate in food and drink
You will be moderate
Your path will surely be illuminated*”[v]
Here are some of her verses that give us some idea of the path Lal-Ded traversed:
In life I sought neither wealth nor power,
Nor ran after the pleasures of sense,
Moderate in food and drink, I lived a controlled life;
Patiently bore my lot, my pain and poverty,
And loved my god.
O fool, right action does not lie
In observing fasts and ceremonial rites
O fool, right action does not lie
In providing for bodily comfort and ease
In contemplation of the self alone
Is right action and right counsel for you
* Compare this with the record of the Buddha’s first sermon at the Deer Park Varanasi which states:
Then the blessed one addressed the group of five religious mendicants:
“Mendicants, there are two extremes which should not be practiced by any person who has left society to find salvation. What are these extremes? On the one hand there is a realm of desire and pursuit of pleasure which is in accord with desire – it is a base pursuit, boorish, profane, crude and without profit. On the other hand, there is a pursuit of self-mortification which is sheer misery, as well as crude and without profit. Mendicants, Passing through these two extremes and avoiding them both is the middle way, object of the tathagata’s perfect awakening, opening the eyes and mind, leading to peace, to omniscience, to complete awakening, and to nirvana”
My guru gave me but one precept
“From without withdraw your gaze within
And fix it on the Inmost self."
Taking to heart this one precept,
Naked I began to dance.[vi]
These Vᾱks give us an idea of the spiritual discipline that Lal practiced and prescribed for us. Now let us see the fruit of this spiritual labour:
Thou wert absorbed in Thine Own Self,
hidden from me;
I passed whole days in seeking Thee out
But when I saw Thee in mine own Self
O joy! Then Thou and I
disported ourselves in ecstasy
I traversed the vastness of the void alone,
Leaving behind me reason and sense,
Then came upon the secret of the self;
And, all of a sudden, unexpectedly,
In mud the lotus bloomed for me.
Like a tenuous web Siva spreads Himself,
Penetrating all frames of all things,
If while alive, you cannot see Him,
How can you see Him after death?
Think deep and sift the true Self from the self.[vii]
The last two Vaks are a bold statement that absolute reality can and is to be realized in this very life. Notice the interrogative emphasis in the two lines:
If while alive you cannot see Him,
How can you see Him after death?
And relate it to the last line of the earlier Vak which reads:
In mud the lotus bloomed for me.
Through spiritual effort one has to realize the blooming of the flower upon the dirty ground covered with litter, mud and dirt i.e. something valueless (representing human body). One has to begin with brute matter, the lower prakrti, the manifested universe in order to realize the higher self within (the flower) and thence to immerse in the lake of immortality (lay Ka’rmas amritsars) that is absorption in the Divine (to quote her oft repeated phrase) void merging in the void (shunyas shunyaya millith gay). To recognize oneself is to recognize that one is essentially the vibrating light of consciousness. This light is eternally recreating and regenerating itself through the eternal processes of manifestation and reabsorption. And Lal proclaims:
the chitta (the mind), is ever new
the ever changing moon is new
and ever new the shore less expanse of waters that I have seen
Since I, Lalla, have scoured my body and mind,
(emptied it of dead yesterdays
and tomorrows unborn),
I live in the ever-present Now
(and all things always are to me)
for ever new and new.[viii]
This vibration is not physical, it is not vibration in the sense of movement, it is the creative power of consciousness which is beyond all human communication. Lal says:
Here is neither word nor thought,
Transcendent nor non-Transcendent
The vows of silence and mystic mudras,
cannot gain you admittance here,
Even Siva and Shakti (tattva-s) remain not here[ix]
Illusions are the part and parcel of this worldly life, that is why we call this world Mayajala(Web of Illusions). The more one is spiritually evolved the less illusions will he or she entertain. The ultimate illusion is that of individual existence, 'Aham' or 'I am'; this is the branch upon which one is standing and even the most evolved persons are not inclined to cut this branch, apprehending that in case of a fall, he or she will hit the ground. But Lal, the saint of Kashmir, the Avtar of Kashmir has all the spiritual power to cut even the branch upon which she is standing as she has realized that there is no ground to hit. No doubt Lal-ded belongs to the spiritual tradition of Kashmir which is in turn informed by Buddhism, Saivism and Islam but she cannot be identified with any particular colour or segment of this multi-faced tradition. She transcends all particularities and her message is absolutely universal. No doubt its form that is its linguistic expression is particular, as it is expressed in Kashmiri Language, but it’s Kernel, that is its essence transcends all particularities. It is the identification and realization of a spiritual path, (shorn of all rituals), for one’s self-recognition, that implies the recognition of the Lord.
[i] . Jayalal Kaul (ed) : Lal Ded Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1973, P.No. 134
[ii] B. N. Paromoo, Tr; Nund Rishi Unity In diversity, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar 1984, P.No's.105, 106
[iii] Jayalal Kaul (ed) : Lal Ded Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1973, P.No.'s.110, 107, 124, 103, 104.
[iv] Ibid., p-118
[v] Ibid., p-99
[vi] Ibid., p-98, 97,107
[vii] Ibid., p-133,122,115
[viii] Ibid., p-133-34
[ix] Ibid., p-132
Meem Hai Zaffar, Ph.D.
by Meem Hai Zaffar, Ph.D.
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Prayer to the Beloved
Please stay with me,
do not leave.
I will never leave,
for I am you.
Please show me the way,
tell me what to do.
You already know
what to do.
You are your own guide.
How can I know
that you are there,
not gone away to some
I am always there
not beside but
You and I are
the same being,
bound in love,
cells within the same body,
ever holding each other close.
Attend and you will feel
me stirring inside.
I am god, the goddess,
the many breasted Diana,
Krishna and all the rest.
I am you.
August 7, 2017
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
"Accomplish your journey beyond yourself."
Have you thought about what this means?
You must go forward, rise into a new beginning,
risk what is known, who you are,
in order to awaken to the new being
who is you.
Your inner ones are working constantly
to lead you ahead,
open new pathways,
instruct you in unfamiliar ways.
In order for the new to be born,
the old must be relinquished.
Don't be an old dog
sleeping by the fire.
Be a wild creature,
leaping and dancing
always into new vistas,
than what you define yourself
Gamble away all your hoard
of riches and your will be
with a heart filled
with treasures of gold.
August 8, 2017
(image from internet)
Monday, August 07, 2017
Finding Your Identity
At first you think
you are a real being,
someone to be seen
and reckoned with.
The world now must
do your bidding,
or face the consequences,
your howls, your screams,
your tantrums of disapproval.
A bit later you discover
that there are others
demanding the same kind
your cannot all play with
the same toys at once,
or be first on the slide
or merry go round.
Then you grow a bit
and realize that
not everything is
the way it has been
presented to you.
Your read Thoreau
and learn that some simply
sleep walk through life,
and never wake from
the pervasive cultural trance.
You start to break rules,
try to find out
who you really are.
You keep on following
this line of thought
until one day you realize
you do not fit in.
You love poetry,
Emerson and Dante.
You read the myth
of the shadows in Plato's cave
and the universal charade is obvious.
Now you are well outside the norm,
you get more and more isolated from rest.
You follow your bliss,
select your own lifestyle,
no longer care
what the others think.
Then something happens
that shatters your mind.
You discover that you in fact
do not really exist,
you are part of a vast ocean
swirling through the cosmos,
inextricably connected with
everyone else who are also mirages,
phantoms caught in this heaving sea
of reality called love
and that is who you are.
August 6, 2017
Sunday, August 06, 2017
Eben Alexander and his NDE
Today I attended a fascinating lecture by Eben Alexander on his own journey into the higher realms that exist beyond our familiar world through almost dying.
Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, had a remarkable Near Death Experience a few years ago. After being in a chemically induced coma (for his own safety) that lasted two weeks he came back into consciousness after he was apparently dead. Subsequently he has written several books about his experience, the first of which titled "Proof of Heaven" was on the best seller list for many weeks.
According to Alexander's account, paradise does exist and is a beautiful place full of love and wonders of many kinds. He offers a remarkable description of his time there and is convinced that what he experienced is indeed a truthful depiction of life on the other side of the veil.
The primary thesis of the book is that consciousness does not emanate from the pre-frontal cortex, as is commonly beloved, but comes from a higher reality, that is independent of the brain as such. From this premise, he goes on to question the notion of materialistic science that only the facts confirmed by their experiments and observations offer the path to truth and that all awareness ends at death. He feels that love itself holds our universe together, and that we are in fact not independent entities but rather part of this enfolding presence.
Alexander is a very intelligent and articulate speaker, especially on the scientific aspects of the brain and its relation to consciousness. I was quite take by his presentation.
The second part of the program consisted of audience participation in listening to certain frequencies intended to alter one's state of consciousness into a higher level. Many reported that they had had lovely experiences including seeing colors or entering meditative states of tranquility and vastness. I had, rather, a negative and painful response. These frequencies gave me a headache and also sent sharp pain into a certain place in my body that probably needs attention. I spoke to the leader about this later and she said that some people do in fact experience pain rather than pleasure during the "meditation." We agreed that different people connect with different modalities and we must each discover and follow what is best for us.
One aspect of Alexander's talk that concerned me was that although he spoke of expanded states of consciousness he did not mention Kundalini or the bliss that it can bring when all is in alignment. For me, bliss is the key ingredient in the evolution of the species we are now all involved in. It is the ananda in the sat chit ananda of the East and the universally acknowledged end point of the mystical journey.
Also, although Alexander stressed that consciousness itself was the source of our universe, he made no reference to the ancient yogic writings that begin from this very premise. Today even Depak Chopra explains all of this quite well, for it is a fundamental
aspect of ancient yogic thought.
Saturday, August 05, 2017
The stone, the tree, the star––
they all have secrets inside
that I want to uncover.
I have tried everything
to get them to open.
Incantations, dancing naked
seductive songs until I am hoarse.
They just stay there,
silently amused at my
No, they will never
Not until I go to
become a stone, a tree, a star.
August 3, 2017
August 3, 2017
Thursday, August 03, 2017
I wrote "Glimpses" yesterday morning. Then later that day I ran across the second poem printed here below. It seemed like an interesting coincidence that these poems each focus on a common theme.
Some are dying and then coming back
to tell us what life is like in that other world.
The rest of us are dying constantly,
as the past slips away
and the future is merely a myth.
They tell us that only the present moment
is real, it alone exists,
but even as we perceive it
it eludes our grasp,
for already it has joined the procession made of
lost shards of memory.
We try to hold on as best we can,
attempt to construct a cloth of meaning
from these bits and scraps we call our lives,
unlock coherence from fragmented
glimpses of truth, even as lightning
shatters open the landscape around us,
exposing realities we had never guessed.
August 2, 2017
Living is Dying
When effort is needed, effort will appear.
When effortlessness becomes essential, it will assert itself.
You need not push life about.
Just flow with it and give yourself completely
to the task of the present moment,
which is the dying now to the now.
For living is dying.
Without death life cannot be.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Q&A with Andrew Harvey - Wednesday, August 2 at 5:00pm Pacific
Can't recommend this course highly enough! Listen to this free presentation today! The Sufi path is the path of love. And of course, it is indeed the path of Kundalini, for it is love felt for all that is without and within.
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
No, it will not happen again,
that moment before the waterfall,
or on the beach in Oregon when
you realized that this was it,
the peak, the highlight,
the crash and boom of
waves against shore,
your life would never reach
this pitch again.
Or the times in the mountains
when the others lugged
for the fires
and the sparks rose
like departing spirits
into the sky and we all
drank too much wine
and spoke brilliant words
How did we ever
make it down?
Angels guarding the young.
Or that special kiss
that still burns
in your memory,
or the walk in the woods
when everything turned
purple wildflowers and the bark overcoats
all lit with transcendent candles
Or the night journey
across the desert
when everything swam
Nothing repeated, ever,
some sort of magic
now it is of
a different kind,
always fresh inside,
just as you can never
hear a piece of music
twice in the same way,
feel a poem strike
the same chords,
or meet someone again
for the first time.
July 31, 2017