Monday, July 22, 2013: “Whatever It was that made this earth…to that Mystery, indifferent to differences, to it I pray…”


I’ve titled this post with a quote from one of the Devara Dasimayya poems I read towards the end of class. Whether we respond to form or formless, literal or metaphor, silence or the roar, underneath it all is the triadic heart of wisdom, simplicity, and love so clearly articulated in these poetic lines…

Monday Night Class continues our sojourn into the Maha Mrtunjaya mantra. Nowadays we can google a mantra and find pages of commentary and videos. Which can be a decent introduction. However, in my experience, if you want a mantra to come alive inside of you, if you want to receive the power of that mantra, chanting it over and over again is the portal…  Nothing I [or anyone] can say is as important as your own practice.

So during this cycle of classes, I’m keeping my dharma talks rather brief, focusing on the experiential process of chanting the Maha Mrtunjaya mantra:

Here’s an audio clip from the first round of chanting:

Here’s my dharma talk:

Here’s a clip of of second round of Maha Mrtunjaya moving into Om Namah Shivaya:

Here’s a lovely dharana on the Maha Mrtunjaya mantra:

And here are the four Devara Dasimayya poems I read towards the end of class. Text follows this audio clip:

Whatever It was
that made this earth
the base,
the world its life,
the wind its pillar,
arranged the lotus and the moon,
and covered it all with folds
of sky
with Itself inside,
to that Mystery
indifferent to differences,
to It I pray…

The earth is your gift,
the growing grain your gift,
the blowing wind your gift.
What shall I call these fools
who eat out of your hand
and praise everyone else?

To the utterly at-one with Shiva
there’s no dawn,
no new moon,
no noonday,
nor equinoxes,
nor sunsets,
nor full moons;
his front yard
is the true Benares…

Suppose you cut a tall bamboo
in two;
make the bottom piece a woman,
the headpiece a man;
rub them together
till they kindle:
                             tell me now,
the fire that’s born,
is it male or female?

Finally, just to note that this week’s class fell on Guru Purnima, the full moon of July holiday when yogis honor their guru. Tainted though it’s been by scandal and all too human clay feet, the guru principle is profound. The syllable “gu” translates as ignorance and “ru” as that which removes ignorance. So the guru is the wisdom force that obliterates the darkness of ignorance, leaving in its place, the light of the Self.

The great full moon of mid-summer is a potent mirror of that light…  and to that Mystery in all its myriad names, paths, and forms, indifferent to differences, I bow…

July 15, 2013: Shiva’s in the House — The Maha Mrtunjaya Mantra

Shiva for MahaMrtunjaya

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be immersing ourselves in Maha Mrtunjaya, the go-to mantra for healing and longevity. For Monday Night Blog visitors unfamiliar with this mantra, Maha Mrtunjaya is a vedic chant addressed to Lord Shiva as Tryambaka, the “Three-Eyed One.” So for starters, understand that this mantra works with the third eye, opening a portal so the blaze of inner luminosity can cut through all the layers of stuff that keep us bound…

The literal translation of Maha Mrtunjaya is the great victory over death mantra. While traditionalists believe chanting this mantra bestows immortality, I come from a less literal perspective. More on this in my dharma talk. Here’s the text and a lovely translation from Thomas Ashley-Farrand:

Om Tryambhakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam |
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat ||

Shelter me, O three-eyed Lord Shiva.
Bless me with health and immortality
and sever me from the clutches of death,
even as a cucumber is cut from its creeper.

Here’s my dharma talk and a dharana for working with this mantra. My apologies for the sound quality on tonight’s recordings. That awful drone you’ll hear is the air conditioner. Awful background noise not withstanding, if you can bear it, this talk is worth a listen. Some thought-provoking points and a fresh approach to practice…

Here’s the mantra itself which resolves into several rounds of Om Namah Shivaya

I’m also including a bit of the opening kirtan. The sound quality tonight is so poor I won’t post the entire 15 minutes. But here’s a small taste…

Finally, a poem by Dorothy Walters that for me epitomizes the essence and being of the Maha Mrtunjaya Mantra.

Don’t Make Lists

Every day a new flower rises
from your body’s fresh soil.
Don’t go around looking
for fallen petals
in a fairy tale, when you’ve
got the golden plant
right here, now,
shooting forth in light from your eyes,
your awakening crown.

Don’t make lists,
or explore ancient accounts.
Forget everything you know
and open.

June 9 Devi Yoga Retreat: Long Day’s Journey Into Light: Dharma Talk, “What Do You Want To Take Refuge In?”

light forest

Although this blog is mostly dedicated to Monday Night Class, I’ll also be posting audio clips from last month’s retreat, “Long Day’s Journey into Light. ” Btw, thanks for your patience with my less than frequent updates here. I keep thinking time and space will open for regular posting and then it does not.

As the name implies, “Long Day’s Journey into Light” was just that, a day constellated around the Mystery of Light.  Opening into light, merging with light, resting in light, becoming light, discovering light in the fertile darkness, knowing that light as source, beacon, and luminous path of the heart…

Ordinarily I would edit my talks in the order they were given so I could post them in context. People have requested I get this one up first however, so here it is.  In this talk I’m drawing connections between our deep creative nature and light — and posing the question, what do you want to take refuge in… your story or that light?

The talk ends with a reading of Mary Oliver’s poem, “When I Am Among the Trees.”  If you want an example of deep creative nature completely at one with its source, here it is. I love teaching and some have said I’m rather good in this role. However, let us say it like it is:  it is the trees who are our great teachers….

When I Am Among the Trees
-Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you to have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”