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.

One Heart Fire 11

Day Eleven

One Heart Haiku

Southern Africa

Shamans ignite the One Heart Fire

My flame burns here.

 

One with the Sun and

feel all enlightened as One.

Now we’ll stay real close.

I want to express Infinite Gratitude to the San Bushmen of southern Africa for their One Heart Fire ceremony they hold today in Capetown.  It is so comforting to know that there are people today who value and unhold ancient wisdom.  It is so comforting to know there are custodians of our Soul Medicine who have the courage to commit to upholding ancient tradition.  Even though I am one ordinary woman living in southern California, I feel touched by the shamans’ One Heart Fire.  I feel passionate yearning to merge into the energy and intention of the One Heart Fire.  From this moment on, I promise to do my best to honor and encourage the growth of Enlightened Unity Consciousness in whatever humble ways that may serve my environments.  I celebrate humanity’s entrance into the Ninth Wave of Creation.  Sat Nam!

San.Bushmen

One Heart Fire 10

Day Ten

Yogi Bhajan said, “We meditate so that our minds can be sharp and alert.  We chant mantras so that our souls may ignite like candles.  We walk in the light of this beauty.”  I light a candle and practice this meditation to express my solidarity with shamans who Ignite the One Heart Fire in a ceremony that is being held May 24, 2017 by the San Bushmen of southern Africa.  It is that simple.  It is that timeless.  Now I bask in the infinite beauty of these moments before the fire starts.

Humble prayer:

May the purifying influence of fire destroy all the errors we have made in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.  May the ashes of that which is destroyed be carried by the Ninth Wave of Creation to our future as beings who engage in communion and realize unity consciousness.  May humanity walk in the light of the One Heart Fire.

Sat Nam!

40 Days of Radiant Words

Day Forty

Wahe Guru!

Ah!  Just dwelling in the pure joy of reaching Day Forty fills me with enough naked wonder. The ecstasy of the universe dances within every cell of my body!

I have brokien an old habit.  I can continue to practice to 90 days to create a new habit.  And if I continue to 120 days, the yogis say, that makes the new habit a part of me on the level of the soul.  The soul will never forget the new habit.  Continuing onto 1,000 days is the path to Mastery of that habit, provided I do not miss even one day.

But before I make any plans to move onto tomorrow, I will stay intimate with Day Forty and be happy.

I can safely say that I am a more conscious communicator today than I was when I started this practice.  I can contemplate every word I speak, think, write, and repeat with care and reverence, giving Each Word the honor that it deserves.  I can enter this contemplation and share my expression with royal courage that is supported by my refined Radiant Body.  What a blessing!

May I dwell in consciousness, not to be overcome by the intellect.  May I co-exists with all other beings with great intuitive ease and with a genuine intention to uplift myself and others.  May I recognize the beaming soul that exists within each word and within all beings everywhere!  Sat Nam!

Please join me in practicing this meditation for 11 minutes a day for as many days as serves your soul:  Meditation to Develop the Radiant Body.

Question for reflection:

What words would I think, write, speak, and repeat if I knew that whatever words I think, write, speak, and repeat must happen?

40 Days of Radiant Words

Day Thirty Nine

My husband is a busy lawyer.  He works harder than anyone I know.  He and I like to keep strange hours.

For instance, last night, in the middle of the night, we watched the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, an episdoe from several days ago.  We watched on this little laptap, as we choose not own a TV.

Trevor Noah had invited a guest onto the show, Ezra Edelman, the man who created OJ: Made in America, an 8-hour long documentary about the OJ Simpson trial of 1994.  The critical point Edelman made was that when the African American community was cheering for the OJ verdict, many Americans expressed their judgements and felt affronted.  Many were quick to view the situation as a problem with the American love of celebrity, sex, murder, and courtroom drama that made for a spectacle that allowed OJ to get away with murder.

But, what Edelaman pointed out was that the OJ Simpson trial illuminated a deeper, more troubling psychosis: the relationship between the African American community and the Los Angeles Police Department had a history defined by police brutality.  From Edelman’s perspective, the African American community finally witnessed a dynamic that they had never experienced: a black man got into trouble with the law, and he was able to walk free.  Edelman made the point that there was so much revelry and celebration around the verdict not becasue people were cheering for a celebrity, but they were cheering for an outcome in a criminal justice system that had historically treated the entire African Amerianc community unfairly.

Edelman repeated these words: “You don’t get these moments very often.  When you get a moment, seize the moment.”

I love moments.  I’m a yogi.  All we have are moments.  Seize them. And cease them.  Ceaselessly.

I feel an urge to reflect.  What does a yogi’s vision of a collective community ceasing the moment look like?  I would jump for joy to see a whole community, including everyone of every color, shape, size, walk of life, babies, pets, insects, and trees included when we all agree to practice One-Minute Breath for three minutes on the Spring Equinox 2017.  Inhale for twenty seconds.  Suspend the breath for twenty seconds.  Exhale for twenty seconds. Slow everything way down to take a collective breather.  Now, wouldn’t that be something to cheer about?  It’s worth hoping for; it’s worth dreaming the impossible dream.  It’s worth envisioning every being all together stopping and dropping what they’re doing for three minutes to breathe consciously.  Three minutes is all it would take.  Imagine!

Please join me in practicing this meditation for 11 minutes a day for 40 days:  Meditation to Develop the Radiant Body

Question for reflection:

What words would I think, write, speak, and repeat if I knew that whatever words I think, write, speak, and repeat must happen?

 

40 Days of Radiant Words

Day Thirty Eight

Writing is a habit that I can’t seem to break.  I write every day because it is an impulse and a comfort.  I write so much that I often forget what I have written.  Below is a poem I wrote that I had forgotten all about.  Some time ago, Guru Meher asked my permission if he could share this poem with his yoga students.  That felt nice, that someone liked my poem enough to share it.  So, I am going to share this poem here because I guess this means it is sharable, especially with those who like to practice one minute breath.

One-Minute Breath

Take twenty seconds, now, to inhale:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20.

And hold that breath in while you read the following words

over the span of twenty seconds:

 

What words can we speak to Law Enforcement

that upon hearing them Officers

would feel appreciated and at ease to

Inhale for twenty seconds,

Suspend the Breath for twenty seconds,

and Exhale for twenty seconds to

know clear answers

then act?

 

We’d all breathe the breath of sages.

We’d all breathe then act.

 

Now, exhale for twenty seconds and read these words:

 

What words can we speak to Black Men

that upon hearing them they would know their worth,

feel an endless pulse of Deep Respect, and

know that the History of Royal Spirit, the History of True Strength

and the History of Courage course through their veins?

 

We’d all breathe the breath of saints—

Twenty seconds in.  Twenty seconds hold.  Twenty seconds out.

 

the Rest

is History.

 

Now inhale for twenty seconds while reading these words:

 

What words could we speak to the Victims of mass violence

that upon hearing them their Untimely Deaths

and their loved ones’ Grief

could transform into

The Great Gift—the psycho shift—that would illuminate

diamond-mind awareness within

the consciousness of the New Humanity?

 

We’d all breathe the Grief into fearlessness.

 

Now, hold thisbreath—dearMaster of Life

for twenty seconds, and read:

 

What words could we speak to World Leaders

that upon hearing them they would humbly serve

with genuine interest in continually feeding the hungry,

educating the ignorant, providing dignified

health care for the infirm; and, they would

lead with deep sensitivity and clarity so as to

uphold human equality, dignity and contentment

beyond liberty and justice for all?

 

We would all breathe and lead with kindness.

 

Now, exhale for twenty seconds while you read:

 

What words could we speak to Children

that upon hearing them they would rise and thrive—

bold and loving—hearts echoing the sound of ancient tribal drums,

romp dance, be rhythmic and fly with Rhyme

keep Time and Play the joyful beat

Infinity: alive, alive, alive?

 

We’d all breathe and be free.

 

Now, inhale for twenty seconds while you read:

 

What words can I speak to my own heart

that upon hearing them I would be certain that I am

tuning out the neurotic and psychotic noise

of media, of the violent throng;

and, I can tune in to—even intimately touch—

the purity of my own soul?

 

We’d all inhale.  We’d all exhale.

 

Now, hold the breath for twenty seconds while you read:

 

What words can gods and goddesses, the One God, and the

Generating, Organizing, and Delivering force of Creation

speak as one voice

that would be heard by all beings,

and that would reassure us

that, no matter what, we are deeply loved, and

all will be well?

 

May the Creator of All That Is adore the Creation.

 

We’d all breathe.

 

Now, exhale for twenty seconds while you read:

 

If we speak, write, and sing such words,

Who will hear them?

If we speak, write, and sing such words,

Who will understand them?

If we speak, write, and sing such words,

Who would be listening?

And if—globally—we synchronize

our One-Minute Breath

for just three minutes—

just three minutes in the history of this planet—

wonder what new life We could breathe into Creation.

Please join me in practicing this meditation for 11 minutes a day for 40 days:  Meditation to Develop the Radiant Body.

Question for reflection:

What words would I speak, write, think, and repeat if I knew that whatever words I speak, write, think, and repeat must happen?

40 Days of Radiant Words

Day Thirty Seven

Today’s radiant words are from The Radiance Sutras:

Experience that everything is made out of divine creative energy–friends, enemies, honor, dishonor.  In this equanimity be perpetually joyous.

Similarly, I can experience the divine creative energy of an ordinary morning filled with routines, music, laughter, challenge, barking dogs, clouds, and sun.  Today I did not lose my keys.  Today I did not forget anyone’s birthday.  Today I took a little more time than usual to kiss the members of my family goodbye as we parted.  Perhaps it felt awkward to them that I took so long to say goodbye, but I have to admit that I was feeling a lot of creative energy in that lingering and I wanted to make it last.

May this moment find you as joyous as the next.  May you feel that my heart is open and devoted to celebrating your perpetual joy.

Please join me in practicing this meditation for 11 minutes a day for 40 days:  Meditation to Develop the Radiant Body.

Question for reflection:

What words would I think, speak, write, and repeat if I knew that whatever words I think, speak, write, and repeat must happen?