adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the trash, the rubble, the ruin

saturday, march 27
venice beach, ca

i woke up in my "own" room: for the first time in 3 months. the light flooding the tall ceilings and the blank white walls of my loft. green bamboo gently sways and dances on the other side of the window pane. the bamboo is dancing with the wind.

laying next to me is the body of a beautiful man. a lover of sorts. last night we fell asleep instead of falling into passion. i feel the languidness of his heavy body, the warmth of his sleeping skin. the dancing particles shifting between pure energy and form. the energy is my spirit, the form is my body full of lazy yearning. i enjoy the longing his body awakens in mine. there is intensity in the silence. i say my body prayers, running my mantra through my chakras, feeling the heat pass through my different body centers. i invite her in for today. sophia, the holy ghost. or the serpent kundalini. she has many names.

instead of waking him up, i gently lift his heavy arm and let him keep sleeping, i slip out from under him to come downstairs and make coffee and talk to the computer screen. some dances end before they begin.

i have been back from mother india 1 week.

god i love her
her warm body
her thick, pungent breath

the feel of her skin on my bare feet
the trash
the rubble
the ruin
the heartbreak
the poverty
the spontaneous smiles
the inquisitive and shameless black eyes

the trash
the rubble
the ruin
the glory, the endless glory

i peel my invisible heart open like a (transluscent) onion to meet another day

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Closest thing to grace

Thursday, March 25
Corona, California

This morning i am in a motel room in corona, california with my son. he is sleeping still. his body sprawling on the drab floral motel bedspread. his legs are so hairy. he is a man now, i guess. almost 18, not quite old enough to buy cigarettes.

i look at him and i think how we have been through so much together. family relationships are where the rubber really hits the road in spiritual work. if you think you are enlightened, spend a weekend with your parents. it is humbling. in that humbling is great humanity. an opportunity to be in the heart, even if it is painful sometimes.

i love my son. i have made choices that have hurt him, that had made things difficult for him. he shows me his pain and it is difficult to see. he tells me that last year he would drink every day after school to numb his pain. but i remain steadfast in my love, in trying my best each moment to be clear and present. to listen instead of talk. to witness instead of rushing to defend or fix with thoughts and words. to be here and to feel. my own parents were not able to witness me. it was too painful for them and so they would deny or blame me. it was too risky for them to see and feel those things in themselves.

it seems that after we talk about the difficult things, that's when we laugh the most. when we feel so close.

and the miracle is that this living relationship, this messy human interaction, is moving between us. in our loving, we express our emotions, not always pretty. but we fumble towards forgiveness and mutual understanding that is the closest thing to grace i know. i feel grateful to be here now.

How can God let this happen?

"How can God let this happen?"
There are things in this world that are very hard to sit with.

This morning i wake up, knowing a teenage girl who just moved out of her house because she called the police after 12 years of sexual abuse by her stepfather. She is staying with her relatives now. He is in jail. Jail is not kind to these kinds of offenders.

It is sad for the whole family. Her stepfather is the blood father of her younger siblings. The ties of blood and loyalty, guilt and shame are a complicated family web.

It triggers my own pain.

I breath, stretch, move. i sit in this moment in it's raw nakedness, there is nothing to dress up. my mind wants to make stories. on one hand, my mind can compress and drown in the story of sadness. but that doesn't feel entirely true. on the other hand, my mind can expand and see that they all live beyond this moment, their spirits are so much bigger and eternal than this moment. but that doesn't feel entirely true either. both perspectives are true. i try to keep dropping the thoughts and sit with the feeling.

"How can God let this happen?"

In spiritual work, this is one of the central questions everyone is circling.
Sexual Abuse.
Abuse of children.

What can we do with that?
How do we heal our pain?
How do we look at God?

Whether you think of God as an actual being, or as a collective of all our consciousness creating our existence...why are these things happening?

if you want to understand human nature, look inside yourself. all the seeds are there. the conflicts are there.

"There is nothing that exists outside that does not exist inside, and nothing that exists inside that does not exist outside." -tantric saying

"Make the outer as the inner and the inner as the outer" -Jesus, Gospel of Thomas

with all it's contradictions and complications, I still love this life.

Everything is suffering. yes, that is true. i picked up a buddhist book the first time many years ago, and read that as noble truth. if we can stop fighting that simple truth, we can find some peace in the acceptance.

Because of the dual nature of this world, pleasure and pain, many spiritual seekers are looking for a way out. heaven or not being re-incarnated again, achieving liberation from this dual world.

but we love this world too. my friends mom is battling cancer. she was sitting in her hospital bed and she told her daughter, "i haven't watched enough sunsets. i haven't eaten enough ice cream".

everything is suffering, and everthing is in bliss too.

after crying about the sadness of this situation last night, i found myself laughing over some silly jokes.

it as if i expect that a shadow this big would blot out any enjoyment.

but even through great pain, life is joyful and unexpectedly funny.

Friday, March 19, 2010

missing you

the first time i left india i asked my guru if he would miss me. i was standing in his doorway as he was getting ready for bed. i knew he was tired and i didn't want to bother him, but i couldn't help myself. i felt like a little kid, holding onto the doorframe, poking my head into his room, smiling sheepishly.

"gurujij, will you miss me?"
he turned slowly, it required effort for him to move his body when he was tired. or maybe my question was exausting him. he sighed.
"what do you want me to say? i miss the whole world"
a perfect answer because it nailed me to the spot.
i had come all this way to learn to love unconditionally, but i still wanted to be special. to be his favorite. i wanted him to say, "i will miss you. you are the best."

my love is often covetous. it wants to be the best.

all my talking about learning to love without attachment, to love in a way that makes myself and others free, and still i covet. the dark feminine energy wants to wrap herself around and squeeze.

"don't bind others with your love. bind with freedom". guruji told me that this trip. and my heart is bound to his because of the freedom he has made me feel.

leaving india

march 19

glory to the flower and glory to the bee. glory to the honey that makes the wing and the petal dance in between. life is attraction. i leave my love again.

this morning i watched the sun rise over a sea of clouds, setting fire to the wing of the plane. the orange, yellow and scarlet-red reflected on the metal made something so machine like look organic for a moment. washed in beauty. and it makes me wonder, what have i done to deserve being a witness to such beauty? i am floating in the no man's land, the space between countries, there are no flags, no possession here.

in the space in between, i live here a lot. i am bending space and time to create what delights me in the world. through faith, love and holding it all together with bubblegum. hanging my bare ass on the line. playing poker with the cosmic goddess, taking risks, flirting with instability. india works well on these terms. if you are passionate, if you are willing to sacrifice for what you love, she will meet you with magic that defies logic. sacrifice works. don't ask me why or how, i just know it does. offering your pound of gold, your pound of blood, sweat and flesh.

i move again. pick up my colorful tents like a nomadic time-travelling gypsy, drunken with love and sniffing like a dog in heat to follow the scent of what comes next. little silver bells tinkle on my anklets as i walk. they call this sound chal. each time i step, i stamp the earth with my foot and the little bells make their adamant noise, clear the way, we are coming.

the night before i left india, i got sick. spent the night tossing and turning and moaning. left the warm body i was cuddling and crawled into the bathroom and slept on the tile floor. i don't know what it is about that, like an animal when it sick just goes to lie in a corner and heal itself with the coolness of the floor. i didn't want to leave india. i didn't want my life to be so big. suddenly it all felt frightening, so big that the seams were coming apart and maybe i would be disappearing.

too much life to hold. too many transitions. i might just expolde in the frenzy. "sorry, psalm didn't make it back to america. she spontaneously combusted and all that is left is an indigo spot on the floor, almost jewel-like in color". secretly, i think spontaneous combustion to rejoin all the dancing waves of energy in the universe would be cool. but it isn't time for that yet.

i wondered if i was manifesting this last minute tango with dysentery to avoid going home. i am sure it was all the tension, the emotions coming to the surface as i get ready to make the next big transition. the birthing canal is often uncomfortable. if having a practice has taught me anything, it is patience. this too shall pass. the waves must be surfed. the uncomfortable must be endured.

i know it is time to go. how do i know? a little bird told me so. a little yellow bird who lives in my heart. my sufi teacher taught me a song in turkish. it is about king solomon. he is a great sufi saint. they say he could speak the language of the birds because he lived in his heart. in the heart, we understand all languages. my teacher named me after solomon, suleymon. a man's name for a woman. he said it is because i live in the world like a man, with freedom.

i got off the plane in london still barefoot. the ground here is much colder in the morning. the sky is grey and the houses are in neat little rows. this is definately not india. it is more contained. but i do not feel lost. one foot in front of the other.

"to dance beneath the diamond skies
with one hand waving free
silhouetted by the sea
with all memory and fate
driven deep beneath the waves,
let me forget about today until tomorrow"
-bob dylan

Monday, March 15, 2010

mothers love

seed to flower,
flower to seed

memory is like water

i remember her hands moving like white doves
brushing and braiding my long brown hair
it was golden then, touched by the sun
it is almost black now

every day i look more like my mother
every day i wake up and look in the mirror and see her lines tracing my face

seed to flower,
flower to seed
like rabia said,
i was born when all i once feared i could love

seed to flower,
flower to petal,
petal to earth,
earth to cloud,
cloud to sea,
sea to seed

i count my fingers and toes
i am more or less the sum of my parents bodies

memory is like water
i watch the sun reflecting on the face of the ocean
a face made of rippling skin
light scattered like shards of stained glass
like moving windows

that reveal nothing of the bottomless insides

friction is awesome

friction is awesome

what's with all this non-dual preaching?

hypocrites and hyenas are boring

the point is not to just be non-dual

to divorce yourself from the bride of the world

waiting lushly longingly for your worship

the universe chose make love to make new people

two become one and one become two

its really that simple

god is fuck

furnace of joy

march 16

bangalore india

woke up drowning in a syrup of love. the smell of skin still damp and sweaty in the morning. the tangle of limbs. i taste his shoulder. gently trace the line of bone, shoulder blade under the soft animal body. the aliveness of my smell, taste, touch makes me feel more myself. a few days and i leave again. get in the aluminum bird and fly home, wherever that is. circling round the compass of my heart. i think of the tremendous and lush beauty that like a flower, is blossoming now in a fullness that will ripen and give way to something else. seed to flower, flower to seed. return again. i like a big life.

Joy does not ask you to be good, nor worthy

But Joy does ask you to weather the storms of suffering and self-doubt

to walk alone through the valley of the shadow of death

to watch in wonder as all your old dwelling places burn down

to make friends with the rascal sacrifice

to be able to withstand feeling moments of such intense yet fleeting pleasure

that it will split your heart open

like new wine in old wineskins

to hold more of what is your most essential self

like a clay pot, i submit to being tested and fired in the furnace of joy

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tantra and the Void

"Closing the doors and windows of my body, I seized the thief, prana, and shut him in. I bound him tightly inside the chamber of my heart, And lashed him hard with the whip om.

I pulled the reins of the steed of the mind; I compressed the life force circulating through the ten channels; Then, indeed, did the lunar particle (shashi-kalŠ²) melt and dissolve, and the Void merged with the Void.

Concentrating on the om-sound, I made my body like blazing coal. Leaving behind the six crossroads, I travelled the path of Truth. And then I, Lalla, reached the Abode of Light."

This quote is from Lalla, a wandering female mystic from Kashmir in India. She was a saint and poetess who was married as a girl of 12, but later took sanyas (renunciation) in Kashmiri Shaivism, a tantric lineage. She was said to have wandered naked. In India, many of the gods are depicted nude, this is called "sky-clad", when the body is clad only in innocence, the sky, truth. The sky is also associated with the throat chakra, when we speak truth, we are liberated from constraints. Then we are naked, free.

She is describing a tantric yoga practice of using pranayama, bandhas and mantras to awaken kundalini. Kundalini is the feminine shakti energy that is symbolized as a sleeping snake at the base of the spine. Once it is awakened, it begins to climb upward through the spine to the crown of the head where she merges with the shiva, or masculine pole at the top of the spine. Their union there, at the thousand petalled lotus, is the Void, the center of all creation where space and time merge.

"I bound him tightly inside the chamber of my heart, And lashed him hard with the whip om", here she describes using mantra to focus the energies of the mind into the heart.

"I made my body like a blazing coal", here she is describing the tremendous heat that is released from the kundalini awakening. That is because the shakti is the positive pole (heat), and the shiva is the negative pole (cooling). Together, the two opposite poles attract and charge each other like a battery. From this energy the whole universe dances, being swallowed up and re-birthed from the Void.

"There was a day when One became two. When two become one again, what will you do?" -Jesus, Gospel of Thomas

One is the non-dual Void, before God created the world as a mirror to see itself. Two is the dual nature of the created world. "When two become one again", one explanation for this mystical saying is merging the solar and lunar channels within an individual. This inner marriage is the magical working of learning to weave and transverse the two sides of the brain. The left side of the brain experiences time (male), the right side of the brain experiences space (female).

Another explanation is the literal joining and union of two individuals representing the shiva and shakti. When male and female are joined, a seed of life is given. In the physical realm, this can create new human life. In the subtle realm, it can create new spiritual life.

The practices of tantra and yoga are real techniques and technologies to become more aware of the play of these energies. One of the things I love about tantra, is that it uses the romantic archetypes of the lovers, shiva and shakti, to describe the energies and forces of nature. In this way, life is seen as a lila, love-play between them, to be mastered and enjoyed, not a burden of illusion to be transcended.

This human life is a blessing. Eternity is in the present moment. God is in the world and people around you. Tantra is the acceptance of naked reality as the ground of illumination. Seek the simple things. The kingdom of heaven is given to the children.

i lay my body down

on altars of stone
i offered you the finest fruits of my first harvest
i lay my body down

on altars of ivory
i offered you the succulent mouth of my body
i lay my body down

on altars of sandalwood
i offered you spices from my heavily scented travels
i lay my body down

vanilla and cardamom
cinnamon and frankincense
sweet ylang ylang and deeply musked rose
i lay my body down

in temples and taverns
i lay my body down

why do you not seek my face anymore?
you treated me as your finest treasure
and now i am left to wander the desert of my parched mouth alone.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

malaria of love

what is this
that pulls me further and further towards the rythmic shores of no where?

i hear my heart calling
like a parched earth cracking open, making room to be filled with

my heart hides the secret
(like shocking pink mouth of the fig)
she is always thirsty

there aren't enough people to satisfy her thirst
for this thunder love
shaking my inner landscape, making trembling,
unlacing my most inside heart

my eyes are always searching
the further horizon
for this
as if they know what
i have long ago forgotten
that in this lifetime i will never be satisfied

i journey on in my shape shifting boat of dreams

glimpses of stupefying beauty fill the horizon
and i rest in each one as if it were an eternity
like the pink sunset sweetly revealing herself for a few moments
as the softly folds of a woman's skin
before swallowing herself into the night
the honey calls to follow the mystery

i do not know what makes my heart so tender and love come on like an exotic sickness
like a malaria of love

still, everywhere i go, i think of you

Friday, March 5, 2010

love, it splits me in two

i talked to my teenage son this morning, the phone line crackling and our voices blurry on my cheap indian cell phone. secretly and not so secretly, in my heart of hearts, i hope i do not hurt him by choosing this life of travel, of finding my own way.

i have never understood how to be a good mother. this boy was born from a deep longing to have someone of my own to love and to be loved back, the unconditional love of a mother and a child. at 17 i got pregnant willfully to know that love.

and now he stands 17 and i 35, and there are no guarantees. from the beginning this longing and love split me in two, even as he came gasping out of my body. from the beginning when the seed began to grow and my belly ripened like a mango...what i wanted and how it came to me always split me in two. there is no control of the ripening belly and locomotive of birth. i was so young, what could i understand except the most basic desires of the body and the heart?

i am proud of my son. not because he has done what i have asked, or made the choices i would have chosen for him, but i understand now what god meant when he looked at jesus suffering and said, "this is my son whom i love". i would carry a photo with me and show it to everyone in the whole world and say, "this is my son whom i love". whether i am deserving or not, this is my love. it splits me in two. it splits me in two.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

goodbye at the train station

we said good bye at the train station. we are supposed to meet in 24 hours in another city. a train and a plane will take me there, first west and north to delhi, then east and south to vizag. i bought my tickets ahead of time. he has no tickets. he is going to wait at the station to look for trains, to try to meet there one way or another. but this is his country. he says, "don't worry, i'll come out", and makes a motion of being born.

he helps me load my bags on the train. we do not hug because that is not the custom for men and women in india. always it seems eyes are watching. i am aware as a white woman of not wanting to bring more attention to myself. i think my purple bra strap has slipped and is showing, and that is shocking enough. so we wave goodbye in the doorway of the train, exchanging secret smiles with our eyes.

i sit down and begin to let my mind wander. then i feel a tap on the window behind me. i turn, there is his hand pressed to the window. i press mine back and then he is gone. i see his tall head bobbing above the crowd until it disappears. "there is no space, they all choke each other", he had said when we were fighting our way to the train through the mass of bodies, thick as a bloodstream. maybe i will see him in 24 hours.

inshallah means, god's will be done, but it can't really be translated into english. it implies a whole culture and faith. deeply engrained patterns of time as old as the deserts. it also means, i surrender to what is meant to be. to destiny. to chance. i surrender to fate. to the will of god, to the will of nature, to the will of all living things that fill the earth. i surrender to the influences of the elements, the weather. i surrender to the influence of the heavenly bodies, the way the moon pulls the mighty ocean. i surrender to the invisible interconnection of all things and the fate we share together.

i bought my ticket last minute and i don't know where my sleeping berth is. i am so tired my eyes are burning. i find an empty berth and lay down to wait for the ticket man to come help me. i fall asleep immediately. i am woken up by a woman saying it is her berth. i am sleepy and disoriented. i wander to another train carriage. the train sways beneath my feet. i can see black velvet night and the moving earth between the gap of the train carriages. i find another empty berth and hope i won't be woken up again tonight.

i open my eyes and feel the train gently rocking my body. side to side. i check my cell phone for the time, 6:30am. travel is disorienting. it makes me aware of how little i control. i must allow myself to slip into the stream, to give my body to the swiftly moving current. like swimming, it is easier if i relax and give my weight to the water. then i am supported and carried on.

the naked flourescent bulb is next to my head, it illuminates the train with an unromantic eye. the sellers begin walking through the aisles, singing songs of what they have to sell.
"chai, chai, coffee, coffee"
omelette, bread, omlette, bread"
the travellers before me are murmuring in hindi. the woman is not saying words at all, just a sing-song, "ha, ha" to let the man's voice know she is listening. she sounds like a bird, maybe a parrot. when i do not speak the language around me, i am reminded that words are just auditory symbols we have agreed to have a common meaning for, to communicate. underneath all the language of words is another language of emotion, tone and vibration.