Wow--this weekend really proved to me that I need to get out more!
I really wanted to go swimming Saturday afternoon. I'd spent the morning helping a friend move and I was hot and tired and sweaty. Usually I just drive up the road, along the Taos river, and park my car and jump in. But this particular day, I had serendipitously run into a couple of friends that morning at the coffee shop and they mentioned going swimming somewhere north of Taos. I didn't think I'd be able to join them, but then all things come together and off we headed.
I don't know that I'll ever be able to find it on my own, but as you drive past these amazing Earthships and modern adobe houses, you turn down toward the Gorge. And there along the ridge you park your car and head down. It must be a 300 ft hike down into the canyon. There at the bottom are some tiny natural springs and the river. . . . perfect way to spend the afternoon.
There were amazing lava rock formations--black rock against green grass--I wish I was a photographer; it was beautiful.
It's called Stagecoach because evidently, this is the point that stagecoaches used to cross the river. . . you can see a line going up the opposite side that looks like a tiny trail. Hard to imagine it could have supported a team of horses at one point.
I can't wait to go back!
Durga Ma Kali Ma Ma Ma Ma
So over Summer Solstice, I had a session with an amazing teacher, Shiv Charan Singh, from England. He helped me break through a lot of things in a very small amount of time. One of the things he suggested I do is meditate on Durga. Now, when I first got on this path, my first teacher jokingly called me Kali Kaur because of my intense and fiery nature. Kali is a manifestation of Durga Ma. So it was interesting to get this direction and have Kali/Durga come full circle again.
I didn't really know how to go about fulfilling his direction until one day, by chance, I learned that Guru Gobind Singh had written an epic poem about Durga called Chandi di Vaar. Upon learning about it, I went to Sikhnet and printed out a copy of the poem (about 35 pages!) and have been reading it every day. It's a powerful experience. I experience a lot of heat in my body; and my tendency toward anger is definately tested. But in a good way, things that I should be angry about, but tend to avoid for whatever (co-dependent) reasons, I'm becoming more comfortable sitting with my anger around. And I'm also letting go of the anger more quickly, once I've expressed it--and sometimes even without expressing it. It's enough to be with it and recognize it's in there and perhaps it will protect me the next time I'm faced with a similar situation: disrespect, contempt, disregard for my feelings, etc.
Durga is the great mother of compassion, but she is also the slayer of demons. She takes no s--- and does not tarry fools, especially in her manifestation as Kali. Kali can throw down--you know what I mean?
So in studying and reading about this great battle, I'm hoping to overcome some very old ones within myself. Old demons, habits, and behaviors that no longer serve me, but nevertheless, tend to win in the daily battle to be the woman I want to be. And that's all any of us wants really--to have who we believe we can be, become who we are.
May the Divine Mother
slay every demon in your path
to being You.
May the Divine Mother
ever hold you at her breast
so you may always be filled
May the Divine Mother
ever guide you to your own truth
the you within you
And may you never compromise
that you for anything
even the things
you believe you want most
it doesn't work that way
May you always be true
May you always be you
And when you falter
May you forgive and live
on to try again
And may you always remember
All that Jazz
Got a chance to see another show in the New Mexico Jazz Festival last night. Wow! Am I glad I made the effort. I walked toward the doors and a woman offered me a ticket for half price; then the show wasn't sold out, so I got a really good seat on the balcony. And it was hot! It reminded me somewhat of my favorite jazz pianist, Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The Michel Camilo trio was fantastic. Some straight up jazz, a lot of Cuban Sol tradition, and a few really extraordinary ballads. They had the entire audience on its feet at the end.
The drummer was extraordinary--and that always makes it for me. . . .well and a good bassist always helps too.
There's nothing like live music to make you feel like living!
What is the What?
by Dave Eggers
I don't know that I figured out what the what was. . . . this book was so wrenching that it took me literally months to finish; so somewhere in that space and time I forgot the original reference to 'the what'. But I think it has something to do with life carrying on--relentlessly it seems in this story.
The most beautiful and interesting thing I found about the narrative and the way it was told (autobiography as told through a fiction writer) was the framing within a single 48 hour period in which the main character, who goes by many names throughout the book, is assaulted in his own apartment and then after he's released spends another grueling 24 hours trying to get treated at an emergency room and then his laborious trek to work--on foot--without having slept. During this single period, he tells his story.--in his mind--to everyone he encounters. I found this treatment and approach to storytelling so moving because it made me realize that we all want to be seen. We live our anonymous lives out in the world. We interact with dozens of people everyday, shopping clerks, bank tellers, neighborhood kids, and we know nothing about them. Is there something within them, within me, that longs to reach out and tell our story--make a connection? Especially immigrants. . . .many who served as professionals in their country of origin are now hotel managers, or shop clerks, or day laborers. How they must long to tell their story.
I recommend the book because it tells a personal story of the "lost boys of Sudan" and with the ongoing unrest in Darfur, it's important to have a reference. It's not an easy read. Nothing seems to go right, other than the fact that he continues living, he continues on, in spite of everything, he keeps moving forward. It's a tenacity that my own consciousness cannot grasp but in that is great courage and great caliber. The Yiddish Policeman's Union
by Michael Chabon
Chabon is one of my favorite authors. He's an excellent story teller. He has a way of describing the most ordinary things and making it extraordinary; one almost gasps at some of his turns of phrase. . . .I wish I had the book with me to give some examples (bad reviewer!).
This is a mystery set within an abusrdist's context, so you know there's going to be a moral allegory in the end, but it still surprised me! In this tale, the war of 1948 is lost and Israel is booted out of the holy land and settled in, of all places, Sitka, Alaska. Now after more than 50 years, they are on the verge of losing their temporary home and all hell is breaking lose. This book has everything, the classical mystery noir, the bittersweet love, the down-and-out detective, the junkie, the savior, the fall guy (or gal as in this case), the mob, the mobster's wife, and the outsider.
It's a great summer read! Pick it up today.
Labels: book reviews
I prayed for Guru to relieve me of myself yesterday--and I woke up today--relieved. Wahe Guru. Of course, then I just get to watch the reaction to the relief--ha! But sometimes the mind just needs a break from itself and I got a good dose of it last night.
Went to an incredible performance last night--Toumani Diakambe (?)--from Mali. He plays the Kora, the traditional African harp. He was accompanied by 11 other musicians from all over West Africa. Djembe player from the Ivory Coast, bassist from Burkina Fasso, keyboards and drums from Guinnea-Bissau, traditional guitar from Mauritania, drummer from Senegal. It was amazing. The mix of traditional and modern instruments was beautiful and so uplifting. They had the entire audience dancing by the end of the show.
I was so inspired, I woke up this morning (relieved) and decided to go to African Dance class. Yes, I know, a white girl; but sometimes, you just have to move--and it's fun!
Give yourself a break
Let yourself dance
Walk in the rain
Rejoice in the breath
Gifts from Friends
Many of the things that I've accumulated over the years are from other friends who've since left the dharma. . . . I'm not saying that it's a foretaste of things to come, but rather, what others have left behind have come to bless me and support me in my own path.
Today I received a care package from my friend Sahaj in Seattle. She's passed along so many things to me over the years--my first kirpan (a necklace), the kirpan I took Amrit with, the SGGS that I cherish, a copy of Peace Lagoon, turban material, etc. You name it--and she's provided it.
She recently visited me and took the Level Two Lifecycles Course here at KRI. It was great to see her, but of course I had to tease her: "Where are my turban pins?" Because, you see, I knew she had quit wearing turban. Although still a devoted Sikh and a daughter of the Guru, it's just not 'her'. And I see it now that I've spent time with her. She's coming into herself in an authentic way and she's so brave in the face of it all. Meanwhile, in response to my teasing, she's sent me some incredible turban pins today! Wahe Guru. Pieces I would never have the money for--like nectar from heaven.
So thank you Sahaj! May you be blessed as you continue on your path--and I'll do my best to honor your gift.
What will be, will be
. . . . is the conclusion of today's hukam. My beloved sings 'Que serah serah' over the phone to me. My mom used to sing that to me all the time. Strange the convergence of memory and the present moment; longing and living without; wanting and waiting. It's a game of trust that you either win by quitting--giving up your worrying, your planning, your trying--or you continue playing.
It's interesting to be made to look--stare--at my doubt, my insecurity, my impatience. There's no relief from it--well, I had about 24 hours relief; but then, there it is again--my mind, my longing, my desire . . . .my oh my. It's exhausting. Even as he's singing to me, I miss him. The longing--physical, emotional, mental, spiritual--is becoming unbearable, which means, Wahe Guru, something will have to change. I'll have to let go, but until then, what to do?
May the mind
in all its infinite capacity
to see and observe
and dream and expand
finally learn to relax
May the heart
in its certitude
that love is there
May the soul's longing
and allow what will be
Que serah serah
whatever will be, will be
I had an amazing healing session yesterday with Guru Bhai, a local healer here in the Espanola/Albuquerque area. I don't know what he does but it works! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. So much grief moved out and so much space moved in. My energy was so shifted last night that I went to Ojo by myself, came home and danced around the living room until I sweat, and then sat down to write some poems. I'm not saying they're good--but the creative juices were flowing and for that alone I'm grateful.Ode to Being Alone
An Homage to the Things We Can Only Do When We're By Ourselves
Dance around the living room
and not care that you probably look like an idiot
Talk to yourself
and not have other people think you're crazy
Eat ice cream for dinner
Leave the bathroom door open
Walk around naked
Laugh at your own jokes
Go to bed early
Go to bed late
Read good books
Watch bad tv
with or without candles
and trashy magazines
Long walks with your dog
Afternoon naps with your cats
Write silly poems about the joys of
being aloneBig Love
Two beautiful hands
reach down for the tawny
fawn that is our child
The rough skin of his knuckles
slip behind the smooth curve
of her head
The ring I gave him
on a whim, years ago,
glints in the moonlight
Just when I thought
I'd reached the limit
of what my heart could hold
He stands there
whispering in her ear
Papa's here, Papa's here
I end many of my posts with a blessing so that I remember I'm not the only one wanting, needing, desiring, living, breathing, loving, etc. So I try to include everyone who may be going through what I'm going through in my prayer. Here's a blessing from Yogiji:
May your designated destiny
give you the power to bless yourself.
May your mind find out the richness
of your existence and give you all the power
and strength of being, so good and elegant.
May you start appreciating yourself,
in the sense of word, and in a comparative study
may you be thankful for all the virtues.
May your values be shared
in all the goodness and honesty,
and may you be in a position
to fall in love with you,
so that you understand this basic love.
May God take away from you the interrogation
of self-criticism and self-denial,
and may you live well;
in His name, with His grace, for His sake.
May you all be prosperous, virtuous,
compassionate, kind and caring.
May this day bring in you the change,
so you can face the coming age with strength,
with self-loyalty, and with your own virtues.
May Almighty God make you worthy of it. Sat Nam.
--Yogi Bhajan, February 7, 2000
Music that Moves You
Saturday evening I saw Marc Copland and Bruce Dunlap at the Gig, a tiny music space in Santa Fe. The music was transcendent. There was a quiet but thrilling dance between the piano and the guitar; there was harmony even in the dissonance. There is something that Copland does as a jazz pianist that others haven't found. There is a shuniya within his sound--a silence, a stillness. The beauty of watching his hands play a single note--and hearing the difference between two hands playing that single note and then one hand. The dance.
And Bruce, what more can be said about him. He can play anything and make it look so easy.
If Copland comes to your neighborhood--go!
There is something so beautiful and simple about beind held. It fulfills so many fundamental longings--the longing to belong, the longing for safety, the longing to comfort and be comforted. It is karta purkh, the hand that guides, protects, and watches over. To be held by the one you love--sublime.
My longing to belong to someone grows stronger every day. I've been single for a long time, so I know how to be alone. It's very familiar. It's comfortable. It's safe. The longing to belong to someone, though not new, has become an expression of my desire to grow. I've reached the limits of personal growth on my own; I need a mirror, a relationship with another human being, to reflect me back to myself in order to expand further, to grow beyond my blocks, to see myself. It's too easy to hide when you live alone.
This longing to belong, this longing to be chosen, has created a vast desert around me. Everything is dry and empty in the face of this longing. I feel like the bird in the Guru Granth that only accepts water from the heavens, so cries with its throat open to the sky, waiting, waiting for that one drop of rain. I have lost interest in food or water and wait only for the nectar that is love--that long-awaited pool of cool water that will surround me, bathe me in delight, wash me in the ecstasy of merger with another.
This waiting, this emptiness, this zero-point, I know will make the nectar of love, when it comes, taste all the sweeter. And I know that it will come. I have received the hukam. So I wait. And long for the day when my beloved will hold me and never let me go, never let me run, never let me hide, but will shine on me like the sun and show me myself and love me in the face of everything--good and bad, known and unknown.
May we all receive
that which we most long for
may the desert be filled
with blooming flowers
and may the cry of the peeoo
be filled with that longed-for
drop of rain
Chasing Ghosts and Discovering the Name
For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember my commentary on story--how it defines us, how it moves us, and how we see the world through our own particular lens called story.
Often the pain of the present--or the ecstasy--will lead our minds to fantasy. Anywhere but here. Whatever our nervous system, heart, guts, mind--whatever piece of ourselves that can't accept what's happening--checks out. And the hidden self takes its place along with all its agendas and reactions.
For some it means turning to mediums for guidance, or numerology, or astrology, or whatever--anything to not check in with ourselves. For me, I turn to the pendulum, which is always wrong, but nevertheless, the desire for something outside ourselves to confirm our reality is a strong draw; it's a hook. In the past 24 hours I've been confronted with my own hook, my own desire for confirmation outside myself, even as I challenge my beloved to turn within and recognize and accept his heart's own truth.
One of the major hooks in the spiritual life is the spiritual ego. The more power we accumulate through our practice, the more susceptible we are. We all long to be great. There is something within us that is God and we must own it in order to be ourselves--our True Self. For so many years, my story was, I know I'm great, but . . . .and I made up every excuse in the world, I clung to every obstacle, I refused to see. Now that I've had an experience of that God within, an experience of my expansiveness, my compassion, my strength, I understand how simple it is. Our stories of greatness, and all the accompanying fears and strivings and ego that go with them, keep us from the simple recognition of our Self. It's been an interesting journey toward recognizing the identity that is my name--Sat Purkh. True Being, Beloved of God, Perfect Protector of Truth.
When we drop the story, drop the obstacles, drop the hidden agendas and just look at the world--what do we see? What do I see when I see me? By simply being, I am that perfect protector, I am beloved, I am, I am.
May we no longer chase the ghosts
of our stories
May we live in the ever-present reality
that is all-pervading love
May we rest in that reality
And simply offer
with an open heart
and open hands
And may our shadows
see the light
And may our ghosts flee
and allow us to simply
Encounter with Strawberries and the Cat Who Rode the Dog
I spent the day in Santa Fe yesterday with my friend Sahaj. It was perfect weather and beautiful all around. After breakfast/brunch at my favorite place, we went to my favorite courtyard in Santa Fe--Just off the square. It has a lovely little chocolate shop and a restaurant, but mainly it's just a paradise of big trees, roses, and this time, hundreds and hundreds of hollyhocks! Lovely.
As we sat on the bench talking and relaxing, I looked down into a tiny patch of sunlight beneath the tree and there, right in the center, was the tiniest wild strawberry. It made me recognize the way the world works together for the good--auspicious circumstances arise to create just the perfect home for that strawberry.
My next encounter with strawberry was at the gelato shop. Strawberry-Habanero gelato. Sweet with a bit stronger bite than I expected, which also reminds me a little bit of life these days. The sweet things have been coming with a very bitter aftertaste.
The afternoon came to a perfect summation when we saw a man walking his dog with his cat riding atop it. Goes to show you that you never know what's around the next corner.
Lifestyles and Lifecycles
Well, we've just finished the launch of another level two course here at KRI. It's a grueling process, but the week went really well. Smooth for the most part and I get to continue to look at my perfectionism, sigh.
Most participants had an experience around something--whether it was death, or aging, or old childhood wounds. For myself, a lot of grief came up around the adult years. How much time was lost . . . how much unnecessary pain was generated . . . but I have to always remember it is what brought me to who and what I am today. I have something to share because of what I've been through. However, it does make me think that life is too short to continue generating suffering. Yogi Bhajan has said that pain is a part of life, a part of the polarity, but suffering is a choice.
I no longer choose to suffer.
I choose to be free.
I choose to love.
I choose to be loved.
I choose to be happy.
I choose to be healthy.
I choose to be holy.
May we all be blessed with contentment.
May we all be blessed with containment.
May we all be blessed with a grateful heart.
The Sound of Silence
As a Yogi, I have a stated purpose--to seek and experience the Anahat, the unstruck sound at the heart, silence. It is the key to shuniya--stillness--the zero point in which everything is nothing and nothing is everything. This silence and stillness are the keys to prosperity, living in the flow, and the experience of the True Self.
However, when as human being, I'm the recipient of the 'silent treatment', it's not so easy. Yogi Bhajan said that it's the most painful thing you can do to your beloved and should only be used in the most extreme cases. It's so painful at this point because it feels so out-of-nowhere. Yes we had an argument; but where there was a door there is now a wall. It's like everything that came before is forgotten--the beautiful day, the working together as a team, the fun, the camaraderie, the plans--and now there's only silence.
This is the beginning of day five of silence between us. I pray it ends soon or this story, my story, may have to be rewritten--again.
May silence always be tranquil
and a peace for the heart
May silence bring equanimity
and grace to the spirit
May silence be a wellspring
of gifts to the soul