A Book Review & the Himalayas

The writer in me longs to communicate and reveal conflict; the yogi in me longs to be in silent and be in unity.  My first travels to the Himalayas brought to the surface the tensions between these two dimensions of my being. 

When I journeyed to the Himalayas for a yoga immersion in the Fall 2017, I received a golden opportunity to travel with a master yogi.  My job was to pen down and transcribe his teachings.  My writing journey and my yogic journey finally received an opportunity to merge.

I am generally reserved.  I get to know people intimately before I am ready to share.  When I started to open up to this group of traveling yogis, a deeper conflict vexed me:  back home among my writing friends, no one expressed much enthusiasm for the benefits of the practice or the esoteric dimensions of yogic philosophy that fascinate me; meanwhile, among my yoga friends here bumping around in this old bus on this dangerous road from Chandigarh to Leh, there was no interest in lyrical writing.  No one shared a joy for reading.  So, I got to wondering:  How shall my writing life and yoga life resonate a sense of communion?  If no unity is possible, will the deeper yogic exploration of consciousness compel me to give up writing?  Or, conversely, will the word-lover in me — and my love for literary writing — urge me to abandon yoga practice? 

Himalaya: A Literary Homage to Adventure, Meditation, and Life on the Roof of the World is an anthology that offers me companionship through this inner conflict.  This collection of over thirty essays reveal a range of voices.  Ruskin Bond and Namita Gokhale are astute editors who created a gathering that perceives the Himalayas from all angles.  This book offered me a way to reconcile my spiritual practice with my writing life. 

For instance, in his essay “Ladakh Sojourn,” Andrew Harvey contemplates: “Every object in the light of Ladakh seems to have something infinite behind it; every object, even the most humble, seems to abide in its real place.” 

This reminded me of practicing meditation at Lake Pangong.  We stared, unblinking, at the space between our eyes and a mountain.  We gazed so long with empty minds at the space between our eyes and the mountain until every object grew blurry and dissolved.  In his essay, Harvey continues his mind’s wandering over the myriad ways Tibetans, Kashimirs, Ladakhis, and Muslims live, struggle, and pray side by side in this ancient mountain town.  I welcomed everything I gazed upon to show me how to abide in my real place.    

Arundhathi Subramaniam’s presence in this anthology fills me with deep pleasure.  She is a kindred spirit.  She travels with her teacher, Sadhguru. In her essay, “Just a Strand of Shiva’s Hair: Face-to-Face with the Axis of the World,” Subramaniam struggles on an uphill trek toward Mount Kailash, her whole being so fatigued it hurts to breathe.  Her essay describes her inner journey, one in which her consciousness shifts from respectful observer to cautious participant, and finally, reluctantly, she realizes she is a devotee.  This is the kind of inner crossing that the Himalayas inspire.  

There is a theme that repeats in yogic stories wherein the seeker comes to realize that book knowledge is inferior to lived experience.  As a reader and literacy advocate, I am always uncomfortable with this theme.  Finally, I have found that this anthology supports my personal notion that a book gives an experience; reading is an experience.  Perhaps in the past some yogis and sages realized that books do not give ultimate spiritual experience, but books are not the problem. The problem arises when there is any sense of upholding one kind of experience superior over another. Books are not superior to lived experience. Nor is lived experience superior to book knowledge. Neither is higher nor lower. We bow to both.

Now, I remember the feeling of cold stones touching my forehead when we bowed on the bank where the Indus and Zanskar Rivers meet.  With my consciousness flowing over memories of my physical journey to the Himalayas mixed with reading the anthology followed by arriving to the end of writing this essay, there exists a flow that comes to a meeting where my awareness blooms.  There is reconciliation.  I realize I shall write as a way of paying homage.  My every act of writing can be an expression of bowing to these mountains, to beloved teachers, writers, readers, yogis, sages, scholars, poets, friends.  I secretly contain this intention — may every word I write open a sacred space within me; and may every spiritual discipline light the secret flame burning on the shrine within that sacred space.

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

The purpose of life is to love the Word.

This is a writer’s inner journey at play with yoga kriya (Trikutui Kriya), Sadhana (daily practice), Shabad Yoga (chanting So Pukh), while enjoying an ecstatic love relationship with the Sacred Tremor (from the Yoga Spandakarika).

I am a lover of yoga and a lover of words, and my practice involves merging these two. Words are all welcome to arise here on this blog as they please. I am simply giving words the space to arise. I am acknowledging and bowing to words as sacred beings that have consciousness. Thank you, Beloved Words, for being my gurus and my companions when others have abandoned me. When those whom I have held dear choose to walk away form me or are suddenly taken away from me, the Shabad / Sacred Word is the only companion that remains.

Rise words. Rise. I am here to listen.

Here is a Vision Quest for today:

Morning places a soft hand on my shoulder to comfort me while I weep. She tells me to keep heart. Though today I must bury a dearly beloved One, a dear one who was so close to me, Morning is here. Though I must move into a state of deep grief, Morning assures me she has something to offer . Morning looks so ravishing in her crimson gown, even through the veil of tears flooding my eyes. Morning raises her empty palms before my face and says, “Here is your gift.” The gift is invisible, yet also incandescent; it has no fragrance but carries the fragrance of roses. The gift floats before me, then lovingly makes its way into my nostrils and my mouth. The Gift is My Breath. Morning has brought me The Gift of My Breath. I must grieve; I must breathe. I must move on. Thank you, Beloved Morning, for bringing me My Breath in this moment.  

Sat Nam.

When Mothers Pray, Infinity Must Listen

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.

Sat Naam!

 

Divine Mother

Thresholds and Twilight Zones

 

Now, I am spinning with joy.

 

I have just joined the San Diego Threshold Choir.

 

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.”

 

This voice in my head is not me.

 

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!”

 

Sat Naam!

 

Sing-the-Cosmos1

 

 

Mother’s Prayer for Safe Schools

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!

subconscious.mind

 

Yoga with Haiku

Yoga with Surjot Kaur

The Five Tattvas Haiku

Earth 

We pass a dark house.

Inside, a woman ready to die,

sings a full moon hymn.

Water 

Walk close to the edge,

so our Friend can push us

into the cold pool.

Fire 

We Sit together

in this burning yogi cave.

The empty bowl sings.

Air 

We chant the true name.

The cave fills with strong, cold wind;

yet, there is no sound.

Ether 

Hush and divine void,

the seers enter Samadhi.

Silence hums and spins.

Beyond 

Words melt, light breeze–

All within these empty hands,

Now Great Cosmic Love.

burning.cave

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