I embark on a journey off the map, off the yoga mat, out of time, and out of orbit. Against Father’s wishes (naturally!). I find myself sitting in a dense forest of consciousness. Human consciousness. Light consciousness. Flower consciousness. Tree consciousness. Stone consciousness. Insect consciousness. God consciousness.
Before all grows dark here, there is opportunity to read Spirituality and the Writer by Thomas Larson.
No need to move the body. Let the eyes move across the page. Let the mind process the meaning of words, but that is not all the consciousness experiences now. There is also the awareness of primal stillness, a silence so heavy with presence that we could wear it as a warm garment in the cold Himalayas. Let the presence of primal stillness be the robe you wear! And look at the spaces between these words! Sense the borderless, the unfathomable, limitless uncertainty, the heartbeat of Ardhanareeshwara and Saint Augustine. Sense the synaptic activity within the brain of both Kabir and Leo Tolstoy. Indulge the solitary visions of Dattatreya and Julian of Norwich. Is it possible to open up and allow the tears of Rumi and Margery Kempe to burn these reading eyes? Is it possible to listen so deeply and with such longing that by reading these words, these ears hear a fierce roar that is a collective cry from the depths of all these beings’ collective consciousness…? Is it possible to open this heart even more to allow every word such pulmonary impact as to oxygenate the blood flowing through these veins now?
Thomas Larson’s personal inquiry into the history of spiritual writing ignites fire within me. Poised aflame in this way, I embark upon a literary pilgrimage, a word yatra… There are no temple walls, no paths, no teachers, no teachings. There is only willingness to be sucked into this black hole that is the unambivalent, exuberant absorption into the subject of Larson’s inquiry: contemplate the extent and the ways of “the writer’s ability to bring his spirituality into syntactic being.”
If only I could shout out and make echo my cry through the tunnels of time: “Beloved ones, all your words have a passionate Lover… Yogi Ma!
I deeply appreciate the reverent way Laron writes about Peter Mattheissen’s Snow Leopard. His respect for Mattheissen’s process presents the layers and beauty of the inner journey that inspire me to be alert to every eternity within this moment. Zen with infinite Zero within one single breath that is with me and one with the Pavan Guru.
So, I add Thomas Larson to my ever-growing list of men for whom I chant So Purkh. I cannot say that I am chanting for any particular reason or means to any end. I have lost faith and am not religious. I simply love the feeling of this Shabad on my tongue and the way it dances on the upper palate of my mouth. Delicious! I roar. Delicious! It’s pure and simple infinite sensual pleasure. Roaring the So Purkh Shabad makes my heart grow large enough to fit everything into its embrace. Roaring the So Purkh Shabad gives me strength to fall madly in love with myself and the universe. Thomas Larson and many of these other men will never know that I roar So Purkh on their behalf (such is the ignorance of men!). Oh why is it that sometimes I still like to squirm and wonder and wrestle over a maddening contemplation: what difference does it make to chant So Purkh for men and total strangers? And when this line of inquiry makes me mad, I roar that Shabad some more. Beloved Guru Ram Das, can you hear me?
Thank you, Spirituality and the Writer for being here with me. As I go, I hang this book upon the Pole Star. I watch the book float weightless at midnight. I ride this book on the heaving surf of the Primordial Ocean. And when the pages are wet with sea water, I use them to wash my body clean. I am happy. My interior horizons quiver and quake with In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. The beings in this beginning realm never intended books as sources of knowledge. Maybe books are beings that cradle the Word / God and bend time and space and illuminate the inner life with deeper wonder and awe. Books are the tantric shelter. Books are bridges.
I cannot contain the expressive storm much longer. Silence between these two heart beats grows louder than thunder. I have already begged the Primal Being make me Her / His / or Its humble scribe. I have already roared and screamed and sang out crazy wisdom to no one. No one reads a joyful writer. Why is it that writers must always give best expression to the tortured soul to win praises from cool guys like Thomas Larson? Oh, great, have I written myself into a corner where I can finally mope and brood? Ugh! Help!
I am empty.
So, now I shall wait.
Yogi Bhajan said the highest art is to sit and wait and let it come. Am I supposed to believe that when I had embraced with my heart the highest art is literature…? Oh, well. I have no more faith in any of it at all anymore, not art, not yoga. So now is the best moment to sit and wait and let it come. Imagine reading an endless book called The History of Waiting. Let’s hang that one on the Pole Star!
Come, thunder! Come, lightning! Come, all dark intensity!
Some wise men have offered their insights about motherhood.
Sadhguru says, “Be a mother to the world.” I like this wisdom. It brings tears to my eyes. Mothering the world means including all beings in a mother’s embrace. Being a mother to the world is humbling. It takes strength and guts. In my experience, a strong yoga practice is needed to maintain and sustain such strength and guts. Let’s continue to practice together.
Yogi Bhajan talked about God standing second in line to a mother’s prayer. That’s how powerful a mother’s prayer is, assuming she is full of faith and brings her own humility to the prayer. Living life as a prayer helps keep a mother sane and glad. Lately, I have been reading a lot about the silent life of Benedictine monks I am using their wisdom to help me to be a better mother. I find it fascinating that Yogi Bhajan spent some formative years being educated at an all-girls Catholic school. This is what helped shape him, a good foundation for his reverence and devotion to his mission of uplifting all women.
I like to contemplate the many facets, dimensions, and layers of motherhood. There are the ways that a mother truly is, which rarely anyone sees. Then there are all the perceptions of mothers and the different faces, masks, hats that a mother wears. There are the infinite expectations of what a mother is supposed to be. What she is supposed to be is not nearly as dimensional and wondrous as what she truly is. Behold, the matriarch! When we behold the Matriarch, we are willing to see a mother as she truly is, strong in her infinite grace; she is the primal holder of the wisdom of the womb.
Behold, the matriarch! When we behold her as she truly is, we can awaken the mother within our own consciousness and allow that she is powerful beyond our perception. What a glorious thing it is to possess a womb and be a mother! Wise men may have had a lot to say about the womb and the mother, but the fact is that they do not know the direct experience. And in the wisdom of yogic teachings, direct experience reins supreme. But a mother always must transcend the silly psychological games of hierarchy and supremacy. These games are exactly what have poisoned this Earth and all Her beings. There is nothing higher or lower, nothing great or small, nothing in or out. All opposites merge and meet in the primal point of divine love consciousness.
Mother consciousness is divine love consciousness. When she knows this, she mothers all of the world.
May all mothers be guards for those who need protection, guides for those on the path, boats, rafts, and bridges for those who wish to cross the flood. May all mothers be lamps in the darkness, resting places for the weary, healing medicines for the sick, vases of plenty, and trees of miracles. May all mothers bring sustenance and awareness to the boundless multitudes of beings. May she endure like earth and sky until all beings are freed from sorrow and all are awakened. Sat Naam!
A poet whom I had not heard of before a month ago has entered into my awareness, and I write this post to honor the significance of my encounter with his work.
The poet’s name is Pádraig Ó Tuama.
In the beginning of March, I received an e mail from “Poem-a-Day,” an e mail list I subscribe to. I subscribe to so many lists that I quickly glance at message subject lines and am very selective about taking time to open a message. But on this day, the subject line “Makebelieve” intrigued me enough to click open the e mail message that contained Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poem, “Makebelieve.” One click is all…
One never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail message may lead, especially when that message contains a poem with these opening lines: “And on the first day / god made / something up.”
Now, receiving these words delighted me. Fun! To perceive the entire creation can be, quite possibly, one exuberant jazz improvisation! It is great fun to make something up. You go, god! It’s playful! In my own experience, playfulness is the closest I come to divinity. So, yes, I’m in, here we go, let’s play!
In the spirit of improvisation, I encounter this poem, wondering what I can make up here. Suppose this is a first day because, really, it must be a first day of something somewhere for someone. Today is Day One of “Makebelieve.”
Yogi Bhajan taught a meditation that repeats the mantra, “God and Me. Me and God are One.” Repetition of such words primes consciousness to realize Self, God and Creation are one great, shimmering, spinning thrum of spontaneity. With such awareness, the Self may encounter “Makebelieve” as inspiring a creation.
Hello to the flow of possibility!
“Makebelieve” enters my consciousness and begins its elfin dance in my world.
I inhale the entire poem deeply. Let open my cells, nerves, muscles, organs, glands. May I embrace the poem’s vibration within my body. Even the space between each word in the poem enters into my tissues, cells, and nerves. Let words of “Makebelieve” resonate throughout my 72,000 nadis and add to the gospel according to Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana!
And on the first day
Then everything came along:
seconds, sex and
beasts and breaths and rabies;
hunger and healings,
lust and lust’s rejections;
swarming things that swarm
inside the dirt;
girth and grind
and grit and shit and all shit’s
rings inside the treetrunk
and branches broken by the snow;
pig’s hearts and stars,
mystery, suspense and stingrays;
and interests and death;
with all our viruses, laments and
all our songs and made-up stories;
and our songs about the stories
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve
and to hold it all together god made
and those rhyming seasons
that display decay.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Read it again over long moments and visualize welcoming this poem into my pineal gland, and inviting the pineal gland to secrete its Nectar of Mystic Pleasure.
I read the poem over and over aloud and then in a whisper and then silently. I inhale and suspend the breath inside while I silently repeat the poem.
Then I exhale and suspend the breath out while I silently repeat the poem.
Filling and emptying myself with poem and with breath in this way I can amuse / observe myself for hours. I combine a simple, ancient yogic breathing pattern with deeply experiencing this one good contemporary poem. And guess what, Mister Pádraig Ó Tuama? I am meditating with your poem, and breathing consciously all while sitting in my yogi cave! And after regarding your work, sir, I do know how you feel about caves. Hello to the Cave between my eyebrows! Welcome in! You, sir, have nothing to fear in this yogi cave as you are welcomed here with great reverence. Friend, you are known in here as
The Lord of the Rings Inside Tree Trunks!
Not that you created the rings inside tree trunks, but you created my fresh-colored awareness of them. Before I read your poem, the rings inside tree trunks were brown. After reading your poem, for me, the rings inside tree trunks are brown tinged with gold.
Let’s just sit here the day long and breathe this poem. Let every word and thought be intimately entwined with breath awareness. Any poem worth reading demands The Slowed-Breath Reading. Elongate the moments of the poem; take it word by word with lots of pause and be aware of the eye’s movements: ask, over which words or spaces do my lids close then open, close then open? What unseen dust do my lashes flit off? What of the play of light the words toss inside these eyes? When I happen upon a word or groups of words I adore, am I open to regarding their effect inside my body as miraculous as, say, news of the birth of our world’s beloved Savior?
Can breathing and being with this one poem align me up for longed-for, deep-connection encounters with my fellow word-lovers who delight in the wordly realm of divine play?
I seek and find a travel companion in this complete stranger, this Gay Irish Catholic poet named Pádraig, who knows nothing whatsoever of my own queer existence. Now, a shadow of me may lurk in his subconscious mind somewhere as “the reader,” but the way his writing resonates with me, I would have to insist I know him too well. I want to proclaim I am his Brother.
Now, I know I can be perceived to be wearing a woman’s body. But the hug I imagine giving my Brother to thank him for his writings, the heart hug I imagine giving him, is a hug that I give him with a man’s arms, with a man’s heart, with a generous amount of gratitude and admiration transferred through all my man-muscles squeezing. And when we regularly squeeze tension into our muscles and then release, we learn how to let go of tension. Hug often. Squeeze often. Let go often.
But now back to “Poem-a-Day.” This daily e mail offers so much more in one e mail message than one poem per day.
Now I choose to create infinite amounts of time, leisure, open hours, quiet light that urges me to listen to the voice of my soul that says, yes, explore here! Though I have a list of “things to do,” I am choosing to listen to my soul and take a heartfelt dive into this here rich library of resources before me offered by Poetry.org. What truth does this tell about my relationship to my “to do” list?
This e mail message relays all sorts of things that relate to the poem, “Makebelieve.” Welcome all this now to relate to all of me. Let me dwell and draw out this moment when my first encounter with this poem, this poet, this stranger exudes its power. The power of this Stranger is that he piques my curiosity, invites me into a fresh realm of the contemplative journey, a new mystery, and fabulous play. Over the month of March, I have been submersing myself in his writing, and my encounter with this writer is guiding me on a lyrical pilgrimage.
He is returning me, after a long time exploring a variety of sacred texts and bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, his work is returning me to explore love for the The Holy Bible.
The “Makebelieve” poem comes with a list of titles by the author, plus any links to further resources. In the first encounter, I learned a bit of biographical information about Pádraig Ó Tuama. Here is his insight that instantly invited my joyful participation.
“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”
Pádraig Ó Tuama
In this beginning right now is longing for friendship. So, I continue to be here. I learn he wrote a book of poems called Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. Reading a bit further, I learn that The Corrymeela Community is Ireland’s oldest reconciliation community. An easy click on the content below that leads me to the Corrymeela Community homepage.
In the “About Us” page, I read that the Corrymeela Community is a people of “prayers, conversation, curiosity, and questioning.” Instantly, I think, Yes, I adore these people! This is my kind of community. How I long to retreat to such a place where people are devoted to sitting fireside together, drinking cups of tea and engaging in deep, honest conversations about difficult subjects.
How I long to spend every Spring season reading poetry, meditating, practicing yoga kriya, and praying my radiant heart out. Then wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with any person, idea, or state of being that has hurt or helped me and engage in a good, long, difficult talk?
Hello to the distance between us.
Hello to closing that distance with sharing contemplative writing.
Instantly, I ordered my own copy of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. When it arrived to my home in California several days later, I read it over and over. And to dive into the details of how my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and etheric bodies encounter these quiet poems will take so much longer than this blog post. So now all that and all I wish to contemplate and write while slowly reading through his book In the Shelter is filling page after page of my quiet notebooks.
Hello to pure contentment.
Hello to my solitary cloister.
I like to contemplate the different ways we sit with the body when we are in prayer; more specifically, I wonder at the various ways we place the hands to pray. Friend, when you pray, do you fold your hands in what yogis refer to as a Venus lock, with the fingers interlaced and finger tips resting on the back of the hands; or do you press your palms together with the fingers aligned upright pointing each skyward, palm flat against palm, and pressing with a bit of pressure between the palms? Do you pray with the forehead kissing the Earth? What gesture do you use to express that your head serves your heart? What ways do you proclaim to the cosmos your sense of humility and awe in the presence of the divine? Perhaps you find comfort in returning to the curled position humans assume in the womb, all curled up, you pray? In what position do you pray? I wonder: How did Jesus hold his hands and his body, privately, while he was making his most private, inward, anguished prayer? What did Jesus feel within his spine? What word did he use to describe the sensations within his Brahmarandhra?
I love to imagine myself present while the Corrymeela Community prays. I image myself engaging in conversations, arguments, question and answer sessions with everyday people who have endured great suffering and conflict. Let me pour you a cup of tea. Let us bow our heads. Let us pray. Let us breathe. Though I am far away and a complete stranger, please feel me close to you. Feel a friend near, a yogi with a big, generous heart. Please welcome me as one who longs to hear your stories of all that troubles you and all that comforts you.
Here is what I admire about the Corrymeela Community: they sincerely work “to be engaged with the world at its points of fracture, faith and potential.” This resonates with me as a kundalini yogi because Kundalini is defined as “the creative potential within a being.” Potential is always beloved of yogis and this potential blooms from within.
Sadhguru says it like this:
If you know how to be equanimous and exuberant at the same time, there will be no fear. Whatever situation you may face, life will always be beautiful. Once there is exuberance and equanimity in you, your destiny will not be ruled by what happens around you, but only by what happens within you.
I am full of exuberance about this poet I have met through the written word. In my mind and heart I behold his writing…slowly. Perhaps it seems that circumstances prohibit me from physically visiting the Corrymeela Community at this time, other than through my online journey. But as a yogi, I intend to project my subtle body, my intention, and my prayers, which know no bounds. I practice yogic art of subtle transmission to pay my visit to Corrymeela Community. Dear Friends, I am listening.
Here is how I intend to be present and celebrate and be with this community:
I dedicate my own 40 days of kundalini yoga practice of Creative Energy Kriya and the Meditation for Word Power to the Corrymeela Community in “[The] North[ern] [of] Ireland.” Throughout these 40 days, may whatever shifts I observe in my body, my thoughts, my energy, and my consciousness be a dedication to all beings who encounter fracture, faith, and potential. May we engage in these encounters with sensitivity, awareness, listening, and longing for peace. May this practice resonate loving solidarity with those who pray from a place of witness, from a place of humility, from a place of feeling the touch of God’s grace within the depths of human longing.
I repeat: one never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail may lead. Embracing this mystery compels me to wonder at and imagine the ripples, ramifications and consequences of my larger gestures, the great actions I embark upon throughout the day. What will my hands touch? Where will these feet take me? What words will this tongue speak and what impact will all of that movement have, if any? Would it be better or worse if I keep quiet and be still?
So, to close, I shall bow–forehead smooching dirt–to that singular moment when I clicked open that “Poem-a-Day” message. I bow again to the flow that carried me with my own curiosity through the caves within the land of “Makebelieve.” And I bow to every small gesture that guided the poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama, to complete and share his poem “Makebelieve.” I bow to everyone who reads the poem and encounters it with their full consciousness. As this will keep me bowing for quite some time, I surrender some part of my Self to dwell in an inward repetition of Infinite Pranams.
Here is a prayer: May this forty-day Sadhana be a journey into deeper awareness of how creative energy works and what we do now, and can do, with creative energy. May there be realization of heart-to-heart connection. And though each personal “here and now” may seem distant, different, dissonant, or distinct from one another, may we perceive at the heart a brotherhood of glory and a brotherhood of grace. May we come to appreciate the ways in which we are co-creators of peace, conscious repeaters of hurts and reconciliations, and quiet strugglers with internal conflict in a universe of ever-shifting bounds and seasons. May I feel the courage to ask: Is there room enough at your table, you who explore the “Spirituality of Conflict,” to be open to a dialogue with one who wants to learn more about you as she also studies the very-softly-whispering gospels according to Ida, Pingala and Shushmana (the three subtle energy channels that run on the left, right and middle of the human spine that are most important to ancient yogis)?
May every inhale gift a poem; may every exhale give a prayer.
Yogi Bhajan said, “The most powerful prayer in the universe is the prayer of the mother.”
So, envision a whole collective of mothers coming together to pray for schools and communities that are safe, nurturing, and conscious. This collective prayer is for communities that encourage mothers to raise blissful children. This prayer is for every human being to heal and uplift the mother within and the child deep within everyone.
This is a volunteer organization that offers the service of singing to people who are on their deathbed.
It is an honor to use my voice and my heart in this way.
I love to sing.
I am not a professional. Few people have ever told me I have a beautiful voice. In fact, though I have longed for it, no one has ever requested me to sing to them. But nor has anyone ever told me that I should not sing to them.
Whenever I sing, there is almost always a voice in my head that says, “What are you doing? You are no Tori Amos or Snatam Kaur. Why are you singing so loudly and with so much love and confidence? Maybe you should shut your mouth and keep quiet.”
Now, I could waste a little time wondering, where ever did that inner message come from? After all these years that I have been singing in a variety of situations from college choir to morning Sadhana with Kundalini Yogis to Music Together circles with Mamas and Babes, why would such a critic still exists inside of me? Hasn’t this voice gotten the message that no matter what it says, I will sing?
Or, I could just keep singing.
As for now, I am bowing my head to those few people who have ever told me that I have a lovely singing voice. Their kind remark has given me the energy and nerve to step up to use this voice to serve.
I am eager to begin my adventure with the San Diego Threshold Choir. It may seem that the people who are visiting the dying are paying a service to those who are dying. That may be true. But I also recognize that being invited to pay a dying person a visit to sing to them is one of the highest blessings that a dying person could give to his or her visitors.
It is actually a high honor to be in the presence of anyone who is on the threshold to pass from one lifetime to the Beloved Beyond. The dying being is in a twilight zone; this means he or she is not fully alive anymore, but nor fully dead yet. These twilight zones are where the Amrit, the nectar, flows most freely. And wherever the nectar flows freely, I grow soft, open, receptive, willing, and joyful.
May we understand threshold spaces as spaces of infinite possibility and enchantment. May we realize this possibility and enchantment to grow in love and ecstasy. May we continue to request those near and dear to us to sing to us and to sing with us. May the next words I say to the next person I see be, “Please, sing!”
Violence is a fixture that churns deep in the American psyche.
Violence pervades our most seemingly innocent experiences, from going to the mall to walking through the park. No matter what it is a typical American does on a typical day, violent images, memories, song lyrics, movie scenes, words, ideas, stories, and language accompany every move we make.
To appreciate the depth to which we are steeped in violence, we need to appreciate the workings of the subconscious mind and the subtle realm. We need to become more deeply conscious. We need to be deeply aware of the ways that glorification of violence influences the subconscious mind.
In America today, most people do not want to admit it or do not choose to notice, but violence exists as a prominent leader in the American Subtle Consciousness. Most people are not paying attention to the subtle realm. Why should they? After all, the subtle realm is subtle. And if you do not practice any form of yoga, meditation, or mindfulness, chances are you have no idea that the subtle realm even exists.
The first gross solution is to get rid of guns.
The solution for the mind is to clean the subconscious of its garbage. The way to do that is meditation.
Pushing measures through the government and legal system are useless.
Instead, change the brain!
Here is a sure fie way to protect children through violence:
Chant the Mother’s Prayer for Her Child eleven times as your child falls asleep at night. Even if your child is grown and moved away, chant this prayer for your child every day, eleven times a day. Do this every day without fail. While chanting, expand your awareness to swaddle every child — even your inner child — in this blessing. Sat Nam!