November 6, 2017 Monday Night Class: Do you want to be a disciple of death or a disciple of life…

badavagni_saraswati

The messaging in this week’s verse does not hold back, proclaiming loud and clear, do you want to be a disciple of death or of life…

 

76.
Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.

Plants are born tender and pliant,
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.

 

It’s an important question. Not just for those on a wisdom path. It’s a question the entire world would do well to consider.

I was at a meditation retreat a zillion years ago and the practice was simple and shocking. Contemplate your death. It’s a great practice. It puts everything into perspective.

Is it Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan who says we should live with the awareness that death is sitting on our left shoulder. I might not have the exact words or correct source, but the teaching is vast and deep. Death accompanies us through every moment of life. Easy to forget as we trudge through the hours. But remembering is such a gift. Steadfast contemplation of death is the surest way to become a disciple of life…..

This week’s class weaves the wisdom of the above verse with contemplation of the goddess Saraswati. For visitors to this blog unfamiliar with this sublime deity field, let me simply say, Saraswati lives inside of us as  the river of insight and inspiration. My favorite epithet for “her” is, She Who Lives on the Tongues of Poets.

Click here to read more about Saraswati.

SARASWATI MANTRAS

DHARMA TALK

LAKSMI DHUMAVATI MANTRAS

 

Here are the Mary Oliver poems I read in this week’s dharma talk. These are from her collection, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems. [With apologies to MO for my inability to tweak the program here so it keeps the subtleties of her formatting.]

 

Percy Wakes Me (Fourteen)

Percy wakes me and I am not ready.
He has slept all night under the covers.
Now he’s eager for action: a walk, then breakfast.
So I hasten up. He is sitting on the kitchen counter
where he is not supposed to be.
How wonderful you are, I say.  How clever, if you
needed me,
to wake me.
He thought he would hear a lecture and deeply
his eyes begin to shine.
He tumbles onto the couch for more compliments.
He squirms and squeals; he has done something
that he needed
and now he hears that it is okay.
I scratch his ears, I turn him over
and touch him everywhere.   He is
wild with the okayness of it.  Then we walk, then
he has breakfast, and he is happy.
This is a poem about Percy.
This is a poem about more than Percy.
Think about it.

 

I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not, how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I ever be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning.
and sang.

 

More Evidence.

4.
Let laughter come to you now and again, that
sturdy friend.

The impulse to leap off the cliff, when the
body falsely imagines it might fly, may be
restrained by reason, also by modesty. Of the
two possibilities, take your choice, and live.

Refuse all cooperation with the heart’s death.

 

Whispered Poem

I have been risky in my endeavors,
I have been steadfast in my loves;

Oh Lord, consider these when you judge me.

 

Don’t Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

October 16, 2017 Monday Night Class: “Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow…. Because he has given up helping, he is people’s great help.”

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78.
Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it. 

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s great help.
 
True words seem paradoxical.

This is such a great verse we stayed with it for two weeks. As I wrote in my last post, it’s an elegant articulation of the Sacred Feminine. For visitors to this blog who are unclear about what exactly is the Sacred Feminine, the simplest way to get this is to think of the feminine as the realm of being and masculine as the realm of doing.

While we can work with the personifications articulated as gods and goddesses, I think it’s way more helpful and relevant to understand that these are energies of consciousness within ourselves.

Think of the Goddess, aka Devi, aka the Sacred Feminine as the great interior well of being, ocean of the unconscious, ground of being, source of everything we are. It’s the mysterious inside of us. That which we don’t see. It’s what we sense and feel and intuit. And it is the content, to put it in more modern language contained within the vehicles, (which are of the masculine), of our actions and words…

So again: feminine = realm of being; masculine = realm of doing…

It’s helpful to think of the masculine as the bridge function; that which carries the energy of being into manifestation. For instance: creative inspiration arises from the feminine and is interpreted and developed (or denied and ignored) through the masculine faculty of thinking and creating. Great things happen when masculine and feminine work in loving harmony. The masculine stays connected to the feminine, understanding that this is its ground. Problems arise when the masculine (doing/thinking/individuating) function dissociates from its feminine source. The story I tell in this week’s dharma talk is a lovely illustration of this….

Here’s that talk.  It’s a good one 😉
Enjoy.

 

Here’s the story:

“Once Vishnu was riding through the air on the sunbird Garuda. Both of them, filled with their sense of self, saw in Vishnu the highest most irresistible and universal being. They flew past the throne of the Great Goddess but gave her no heed. “Fly on, fly on,” said Vishnu to Garuda. Then the Great Goddess poured rigidity upon them, and they could not stir from the spot. Vishnu in his rage shook her seat with both hands but could not move. Instead he fell and sank to the bottom of the world ocean. Unable to stir, he lost consciousness and became rigid, defenseless, and lifeless. Brahma went in search of him and tried to lift him, but he also fell under the same enchantment and grew rigid. The same fate befell all the other gods who tried to raise them from the bottom of the sea. Only Shiva understood what had happened and led them back to do homage to Her and obtain her grace… Then as they worshipped her, the Goddess revealed herself in the flesh and bade all gods drink of the waters of her womb and bathe therein. ‘Then you will be free of imprisonment in your ego…’ ”

 

Here are the two quotes, both cited in Edward C. Whitmont’s 1986 book, Return to the Goddess. The first is from Elucidations, Prologue to Chretien de Troyes’ Percival. The second is the verse I often recite from John C. We’s 1962 version of the Tao Te Ching. The above story is also told by Whitmont…

1.
The land was dead and desert
So that they lost the voices of the wells
And the maidens who were in them.  

2.
The spirit of the fountain never dies.
It is called the mysterious feminine.
The entrance to the mysterious feminine
Is the root of all heaven and earth.
Frail, frail it is, hardly existing.
But touch it; it will never run dry.

 

Here is this week’s chanting:

 

Here’s the opening chant and dharana:

 

And the final word goes to Mary Oliver. This is from her 2006 collection, Thirst. This is the poem I did not have time to read!

 

Messenger
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth, with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

October 9, 2017 Monday Night Class: When we realize that we are the flow, everything is possible…

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This week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching is a beautiful articulation of feminine wisdom; of the understanding that softening and yielding, of embracing rather than turning away, is a powerful stance for living.

78.
Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it. 
The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.
Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s great help.
 
True words seem paradoxical.

It’s a deep and important lesson, especially in a culture that venerates doing over being. Which from the perspective of feminine wisdom has it upside down. Put being first. Let doing serve being. That’s the understanding referenced in the title of this post. When we realize that we are the flow, everything is possible…

And the thing is, we really are the flow. We are not separate from it. Much as the mind and our wounding try to convince (and dissociate) us otherwise. Which is why every time we allow ourselves to breathe deeply, stretch into the moment, stop rushing, start listening, make friends with silence, and simply be with what is, we discover more space inside. And that spaciousness is the secret of possibility.

Here’s this week’s dharma talk:

 

Here are the poems I read. These three are Robert Bly’s versions of Kabir.

5.
Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine
mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine
mountains! 

All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions
of stars.
The acid that tests gold is there, and the one who
judges jewels.
And the music from the strings no one touches, and
the source of all water.

If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.

24.
Let’s leave for the country where the Guest lives!
There the water jar is filling with water
even though there is no rope to lower it.
There the skies are always blue,
and yet rain falls on the earth.
Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch!
Go out and walk in the rain!
The fall moon rides the sky all month there,
and it would sound silly to mention only one sun —
the light there comes from a number of them.

26.
The darkness of night is coming along fast, and
the shadows of love close in the body and
the mind.
Open the window to the west, and disappear into the
air inside you.

Near your breastbone there is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.
Waves are coming in:
there is so much magnificence near the ocean!
Listen: Sound of bells! Sound of immense seashells!

Kabir says: Friend, listen, this is what I have to say:
The One I love is inside of me!

 

Here’s the Mary Oliver from A Thousand Mornings.

LINES WRITTEN IN THE DAYS OF GROWING DARKNESS 

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do 

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

 

Here’s music audio. The first clip is opening chanting of Om Namah Shivaya and Namo Kuan Shih Yin P’u-Sa.

 

This clip is the Laksmi Murti Mantra with Dhumavati Bija leading into slow Om Namah Shivaya.  There is also a bit of commentary at the beginning and a dharana at the end…

_________________________________

Finally, if you’re interested in my thinking about the relevance of the Sacred Feminine and why I believe it’s crucial to do the internal work of balancing, you might like to read this piece I wrote in 2009.  This link will take you there.

October 2, 2017 Monday Night Class: Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be liberated?

NicholasRoerich

This week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching offers an exquisite teaching on the ripple effects of blame. If you pay attention to your own blame response, you’ll discover a many-headed demon masquerading as self-righteousness and truth. Insidious really. And hiding in the unconscious.

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame. 

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

The blame response goes deep. And its ripple effect always ends in pain. It often starts with expectation. Which then morphs into blame. Blaming gives rise to shame, hurt, and anger. This separates the blamer and the blamed, creating a sense of isolation and alienation so that connection and the possibility of empathy are destroyed. And since underneath the dramas of daily life, a sense of connection and empathy are what we most long for, one can see how the blame project takes us nowhere we really want to go.

And then of course, there is self-blame. Which is often at the bottom of the whole mess. When we really examine our blaming response, we discover it is fueled by projection. I blame you for what I refuse to see in myself. My own laziness, indulgence, self-absorption, bad habits, arrogance, bullying, forgetfulness, etc.

79.
Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

The answer of course is simple: fulfill our obligations, correct our own mistakes, do what we need to do and demand nothing of others. This doesn’t mean we roll over and play dead. This verse is telling us to wake up, to pay attention, to live in the space beyond right and wrong. Do we want to be right? Or do we want to be liberated…

Here’s my dharma talk from 10.2:

 

Here are the two poems I read.
From Mary Oliver’s, A Thousand Mornings.

POET OF THE ONE WORLD

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world
we all belong to 

where everything
sooner or later
is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

GOOD-BYE FOX

He was lying under a tree, licking up the shade.
Hello again, Fox, I said. 

And hello to you too, said Fox, looking up and
not bounding away. 

You’re not running away? I said. 

Well, I’ve heard of your conversations about us. News
travels even among foxes, as you might know or not know.

What conversations do you mean? 

Some lady said to you, “The hunt is good for the fox.”
And you said, “Which fox?”

Yes, I remember. She was huffed.

So you’re okay in my book. 

Your book! That was in my book, that’s the difference
between us.

Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever
words, mulling and chewing on its meaning while
we just live it.

Oh! 

Could anyone figure it out, to a finality. So
why spend so much time trying. You fuss, we live.

And he stood, slowly, for he was old now, and
ambled away.

We chanted the Gayatri Mantra to open this class. There’s no audio of the chanting, but here’s the short dharana I gave on the mantra.

 

Finally, class chanting of Om Namah Shivaya with closing dharana.

September 25, 2017 Monday Night Class: When we practice contentment, we experience that which we truly are…

Abstract shiva

While a literal reading of this week’s verse from the Tao Te Ching offers a potent packet of wisdom, I find it more interesting to read with the awareness that the “country” is our own individual self and “wise governance” comes when we live from and of the Self…

Tao Te Ching
Verse 80

If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don’t waste time inventing
labor-saving machines.
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren’t interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don’t go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs
barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.

I found this verse such a beautiful evocation of the yogic practice of contentment, aka santosha, I also brought in Edwin Bryant, Chip Hartranft and Mukunda Stiles’ versions of Patanjali-Yoga-Sutra, II:42. I didn’t have time to read EB in class but will include that here.

II, 42.

Contentment brings unsurpassed joy.   (CH)

From contentment one gains supreme happiness.   (MS)

From contentment, the highest happiness is attained.   (EB)

[santoshad anuttamaha sukha-laabhaha]

 

Here’s this week’s dharma talk which unpacks all of the above. Ordinarily I would write more but am feeling under the weather so will let my dharma talk do the talking for this post…

 

I’ll leave the final word to Mary Oliver…

 

TODAY

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep. 

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance. 

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple. 

VARANASI

Early in the morning we crossed the ghat,
where fires were still smoldering,
and gazed with our Western minds, into the Ganges.
A woman was standing in the river up to her waist;
she was lifting handfuls of water and spilling it
over her body, slowly and many times,
as if until there came some moment
of inner satisfaction between her own life and the river’s.
Then she dipped a vessel she had brought with her
and carried it filled with water back across the ghat,
no doubt to refresh some shrine near where she lives,
for this is the holy city of Shiva, maker
of the world, and this is his river.
I can’t say much more, except that it all happened
in silence and peaceful simplicity, and something that felt
like the bliss of a certainty and a life lived
in accordance with that certainty.
I must remember this, I thought, as we fly back
to America.
Pray God I remember this.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

And close with class chanting of Om Namah Shivaya and final dharana...

August 5, 2017: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump, Part II

NicholasRoerich
JUNE 26, 2017: BHAGAVAD GITA TALK #17
CHAPTER SIX: THE YOGA OF MEDITATION

“When he sees all beings are equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga. [6.32]

This will be the final post re Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump. The above-quoted verse truly encapsulates the wisdom of Chapter Six, the wisdom, in fact, of all the wisdom traditions. When we see all beings as equal in suffering or in joy because they are like ourselves, we have become fully human… 

It’s over a month since our last June class. And what a month in the Age of Trump. With each passing day our ill-equipped president becomes more like the Game of Thrones‘ Mad King. How this all plays out is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, good to do whatever we can to help our political leaders understand how important it is to make policy from the awareness that all beings are equal in suffering and in joy, because they are like ourselves…

And speaking of politics, a small aside:

I recently saw Michael Moore’s new Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender.  It’s a wonderful piece of political theater that along with being tremendously entertaining, demolishes the notion that one person’s action can’t make a difference. We may not all have his courage and fortitude. On the other hand, the story he tells about a librarian from Englewood, NJ is an astonishing example of what one individual can do…

 

Here’s my dharma talk from June 26. Which will more than likely be my final talk on the Bhagavad Gita. Enjoy…

 

Here are the poems. The first is from Mary Oliver, Blue Horses
The second is from Robert Bly’s versions of Kabir.

1.
FORGIVE ME

Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It’s what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there. 

If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
continuously.
I’m not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I’m often so late coming
back from wherever I went.

Forgive me.

2.
Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!

Think…and think…while you are alive.

What you call “salvations” belongs to the time before
death.

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after? 

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten—
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will end up with an apartment in the City
of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire. 

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

I also re-read some favorite lines from Stephen Mitchell’s Introduction to the Gita.

The Gita is usually thought of as a great philosophical poem. It is that, of course. It is also an instruction manual for spiritual practice and a guide to peace of heart. But essentially, it is, as the title implies, a love song to God. However powerful its thinking, its intention is not to be a treatise but a psalm. The Gita is a love song to reality, a hymn in praise of everything excellent and beautiful and brave. It is a love song to both the darkness and the light, to our own true Self in the depths of being, the core from which all the glories and horrors of the universe unfold…..

The healthiest way to begin reading and absorbing a text like the Bhagavad Gita is to understand that ultimately it has nothing to teach. Everything essential that it points to—what we call wisdom or radiance or peace—is already present inside us. Once we have practiced meditation sincerely and seen layer after layer of the inauthentic fall away, we come to a place where dualities such as sacred and profane, spiritual and unspiritual, fall away as well…

In that place, God is the ground we walk on, the food we eat, and the gratitude we express to no one in particular, as natural as breathing.

And here are audio clips of chanting. The first two clips each end with a dharana. The great Daniel Johnson was at this class so you’ll hear his superb tabla accompanying the chanting. A small caveat to new visitors to this blog. These are very basic low tech recordings. Please listen with gentle ears…

Opening Mantras and Closing Dharana

Om Namah Shivaya with a closing dharana

Sri Krsna Chaitana 

This quote from my May 22 dharma talk seems a perfect ending to this teaching cycle of Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump. 

Let all these teachings from the Gita keep entering into you and awaken what you already know. That’s all the Gita is doing. It’s telling us what we already know when we really stop to listen. Rest in your own experience. Rest in the experience of the Self, of your own presence, of that in you which sees, of that in you which knows, of that in you which has always been looking out through your eyes, listening through your ears. If the mind wanders, remind it to rest in the Self, which is the source of the mind. Allow your mind to dissolve into this infinite presence so very alive within us. This is all we need to do.

July 20, 2017: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump, Part I

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JUNE 19, 2017: BHAGAVAD GITA TALK #16
CHAPTER SIX: THE YOGA OF MEDITATION
“ADMIRING IS EASY, BUT AFFINITY, THAT DOES TAKE SOME TIME.”

When he sees all beings are equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga. [6.32]

I was out walking the other day when I encountered a snake and a stick. Lying just so on the ground. They reminded me of the old Vedanta teaching story about the snake and the rope. This was a snake and a stick but you get the point.  A snake is a snake. A rope is a rope. A stick is a stick. We need to see life as it is.

Monday Night Class broke for the summer at the end of June. I’ll post June 19 here. June 26 will follow. And with these two posts, we close out this blog season I’ve titled, “Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump…”

Ironically, today is the six-month mark of the Trump presidency. Where ropes are snakes and snakes are sticks. Dizzying, devastating, dangerous, and exhausting. And what can we do but keep standing up for the truth.

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m sure you exulted in Sunday night’s new season premiere when Arya Stark turned to the young woman whose life she spared and said, “When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers.” Yes. The North remembers. It’s a fitting metaphor for our time.

Here’s my dharma talk from June 19:

Here are the readings:

From the Gita:

Sitting down, having chosen
a spot that is neither too high
nor too low, that is clean and covered
with a grass mat, a deerskin, and a cloth,

he should concentrate, with his whole
mind, on a single object:
if he practices in this way,
his mind will soon become pure.

With torso and head held straight,
with posture steady and unmoving,
gazing at the tip of his nose,
not letting his eyes look elsewhere,

he should sit there calm, fearless,
firm in his vow to be chaste,
his whole mind controlled, directed,
focused, absorbed in me.   [6. 11-14]

Mature in yoga, impartial
everywhere that he looks,
he sees himself in all beings
and all beings in himself. 

The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being: wherever
he goes, he remains in me.

When he sees all beings are equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.  [6.29-32]

From Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses:

ON MEDITATION, SORT OF

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place—half asleep—where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter—
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints—
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

THE MANGROVES

As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, “Listen,
we are trees too.” Okay, I’m trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don’t
they know it, can’t be done. “Are you
trying to fly or what?” I ask, and they
answer back, “We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.”

Here’s audio of class chanting. Daniel Johnson joined us for these last two classes so you will hear his tabla in the music.

Om Tara Tuttare Ture Swaha

 

Om Namah Shivaya

 

Shivaya Namah Om Fast Chant