Wednesday, February 29, 2012

emptying out

once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold,
found some limit beyond the waterfall,
a season changes, and we come back, changed
but safe, quiet, grateful

~ william stafford

i have been studying and practicing
the kalachakra tantra for a dozen years at least..
kalachakra ~ the wheel of time.. the cycles of time..
kalachakra is both the tantric deity in vajrayana buddhism
as well as the philosophies and meditation practices.
it is often said that kalachakra is the most advanced form
of vajrayana practice: it certainly is one of the most complex ..
i can attest to that!
kalachakra revolves around the concept
of time (kāla) and cycles (chakra):
from the cycles of the planets
to the cycles of the breath...
it is the practice of working with the most subtle energies
within one's body on the path of enlightenment..
it is considered the highest yoga tantra...

when i traveled to india this trip,
i was going, in part, to study and receive,
yet again, the initiation of kalachakra..
from my dear spiritual friend and teacher,
the 14th dalai lama of tibet.
this would be his 32nd offering of
the kalachakra and it was taking
place in the holy city of bodhgaya..
this would be my 7th ..
hundreds of thousands of people were
in attendance to receive the teachings
as blessings, as initiates, as students
and lovers of the dharma..

i had been to baseball games, rock concerts
yet i had never been in the presence
of hundreds and hundreds
of thousands of human beings..
most like - minded for the kalachakra is
always offered as a practice of world peace..

there can be no union without separation,
no return without parting.
no belonging is permanent.
to live a creative and truthful life,
it is vital to learn the art of being separate
and the generosity of uniting.

~ john o' donohue

it is a mystery as to how it came about..
how all the teachings flowed through me and out again..
how i was no longer tied to the teachings, the teacher..
how i floated above the crowd with wings of clarity and heat..
how i emptied myself of all concepts and commitments..
how i gave all my vows back to the dust of the world..
how i severed the ropes of discipline and drank liberation..

during those ten days of teachings
i was courting a high fever..
burning up the stale practices that had turned to untruths..
burning up false pretenses and wayward loyalties..
burning up the oaths that were no longer mine to honor..

and so ..
i dropped the ball of kalachakra on a crowd
that i knew would pick it up and run with it..
to the finish line..
the wheel of time is roll - roll - rolling along...
without me...

there comes a time -
when we have to take ourselves seriously and die;
when we have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we've moved to thoughtlessly,
disenthrall ourselves,
cleanse ourselves of oratory,
static crowding of the wires...

to bestow on ourselves a silence,
a still and holy listening...
in truth we are always like this:
knowing it makes the difference

~ a. g.
edit. djl

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

sunday february 26 2012

i didn't see them at first..

the crowd of first nations; all walks of life nations ..
readying themselves to carry the mighty totem,
carved by rick williams and others,
to terra firma at the seattle center..
the totem pole was carved in memory
of john t. williams..a native carver...

this sunday... a wintry cold morning..
no rain...a morning that seattle likes to boast..
a no mountains grey to the bone morning
that could go either way..and it did..
sun shards through cloud covers open windows

sweet grass and sage offered..
smoke and fragrance to purify intentions..
sound of drum and rattle to call in the ancients..
purr of electric drill securing the long boards
to center the pole on the forerams of its bearers -

native tongue, prayer and song..
getting to know you conversation..
born in sitka, all the way from spokane,
my grandmother is married to your great uncle..

all carriers bedecked with a necklace of turtle or feather..
colourful beads of gratitude and strength...
to get us down (or up) the road..

lift off..the 3,500 pound cedar pole is light..
buoyed up with prayers,
yelps and hollers..
the grace of the elders..

maneuvering the pole up the ramp at pier 57..
that's when i see the motorcycle police..
making a safe passage for our journey..
along alaskan way to western..
up wall (was it?) to 2nd then broad
to 5th and into the center grounds..
where the totem stands resplendent, noble, sovereign ~

when i left my spot on the pole..
i thanked a cop for his help..
he thanked me back ~
we all get to be guilty
we all get to be free

john t. williams was killed by a policeman
as he was crossing a street with his carving knife and cedar block.

rest in peace ~ john t. williams

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

little bo peep

where is this i that i offer up
to all my friends, to strangers..
to loved ones.. to family?

lost like sheep..
no where to find it..
never was there a place
where i stood still long enough
to be pinned down as a known identity..
though didn't i try to hold the i
in some perfect static cling persona
who could answer all the questions..
and would look a certain way..
and held its unique i-ness separate and aloof..
heavens to betsy..what a spoof!

to no avail ~ when the dust settles..
there is no i, no sheep of sleep
that wakes up found in the apron of bo..

abandon the i
goes the cry
and baa! baa!
black sheep..
finds her way home..
no where to stand -
the aire goes poof!
no where to land -
aye! there 's the proof !

yet home am i
as big as the sky..
as vast as the middle
of infinity..
there is no limit to this eye of mine..
i see, i see..
says the sightless shine
of the heart the pounds the rounds around
home am i....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

time for serenity, anyone?

i like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. a sharp
reminder hits me: this world still is alive;
it stretches out there shivering towards its own
creation, and i am a part of it. even my breathing
enters into this elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun amd moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still ---this tranquil
chaos that seems to be going somewhere.
this wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
this motionless turmoil. this everything dance.

~ william stafford

Monday, February 20, 2012

tale feathers.....

since my first trip to india..
my first the early '70's -
i wanted to make my home in mother india...
at first for ever and always..
then, realistically.. six months of every year..
every pilgrimage the desire grew stronger..

the longing kept feeding itself..
occupying much of my daydreams..
occupying my present with future..

then, now..
when i reached delhi..
in one blink of an eyelash..
as my feet touched the earth..
it was

though i kept it alive
when i spoke with friends
while traveling this time..
i knew, i knew ..from the depths..
this would not ever be..

the hawk of insight
with one broad arc and swoop of tail feathers
dashed the trance in a heart beat..
in a breath..
this spell lay broken at my feet..

all the craziness,
all the empty plots,
all the ghosts and fears
have now passed -
i must have inhaled
a strange
that finally

~ hafiz

Saturday, February 18, 2012


even from the simplest,
the most realistic point of view,
the countries which we long for
occupy, at any given moment,
a far larger place in our actual life
than the country in which we happen to be..

~marcel proust
swann's way

Friday, February 17, 2012

saturday night fever

let me see...
where was i?

ah, yes..india..delhi..
the end of 2011..
o so the north..
thick with fog
though dry dusty mud hung like dew
on the green shrubs and trees..
i was dusty too...
in a mist..

having told a friend or two before i left
that i just might die on this journey
to the mother india..
one was anxious by my premonition;
the other laughed and said:
you always think you're going to die..
which is true and i will..

due to fog, the flight to bodhgaya
was cancelled on decembre 30th..
so i landed under the bodhi tree on new year's eve..
along with a fever that seemed to be trailing me
since i left the u. s. of a....who knew?

i went out to the hazel wood
because a fire was in my head...

~ yeats

india has always been..will always be..
a place of great sea change for me..
a place of odyssey..a hajj...
indeedy, it was no different this time..

india is a place that one cannot quite prepare for..
one can ready oneself to the ends of the earth..
and in india the gods will have moved the ends
for lila, for grief, for wisdom, for svadyaya...

i spent the new year's evening in bed..
shaking and shivering like john travolta..
dancing his heart out..
as i too would do ~

day after day after day...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the face of glory

to enjoy the world requires something more
than mere good health and good spirits;
for this world, as we all now surely know, is horrendous.
"all life, " said the Buddha, "is sorrowful";
and so, indeed, it is.
life consuming life: that is the essence of its being,
which is forever a becoming.
"the world," said the Buddha, "is an ever burning fire."
and so it is.
that is what one has to affirm, with a yea! a dance!
a knowing, solemn, stately dance of the mystic bliss
beyond pain that is at the heart of every mythic rite.

let me recount a marvelous Hindu legend
from the infinitely rich mythology of the god Shiva
and his glorious world-goddess Parvati.
the occasion was of a time when
there came before this great divinity
an audacious demon who had just overthrown
the ruling gods of the world
and now came to confront the highest of all
with a non-negotiable demand, namely,
that the god should hand over his goddess to the demon.
well, what Shiva did in reply was simply
to open that mystic third eye in the middle of his forehead,
and paff! a lightning bolt hit the earth ~
there was suddenly a second demon, even larger than the first.
he was a great lean thing with a lion like head,
hair waving to the quarters of the world,
and his nature was sheer hunger.
he had been brought into being to eat up the first,
and was clearly fit to do so.
the first thought: "so what do i do now?"
and with a very fortunate decision
threw himself upon Shiva's mercy.

it is a well-known theological rule
that when you throw yourself on a god's mercy
the god cannot refuse to protect you;
so Shiva now had to guard and protect
the first demon from the second.
which left the second, however,
without meat to quell his hunger and in anguish he asked Shiva,
"whom, then, do i eat?" to which the god replied,
"well, let's see: why not eat yourself?"

with that, no sooner said, did he begin..
commencing with his feet, teeth chopping away,
that grim phenomenon came right on up the line,
through his own belly, on up through his chest and neck,
until all that remained was a face.
and the god, thereupon, was enchanted.
for here at last was a perfect image
of the monstrous thing that is life, which lives on itself.
to that sunlike mask, which was now all that was left
of that lion like vision of hunger, Shiva said, exulting:
"i shall call you 'Face of Glory', Kirtimukha,
and you shall shine above the doors of all my temples.
any one who refuses to honor and worship you
will never come to know me."

the obvious lesson of all of this
is that the first step to the knowledge
of the highest divine symbol of the wonder and mystery of life
is the recognition of the monstrous nature of life
and its glory in that character:
the realization that this is just how it is;
that it cannot and will not be changed.
those who think -- and their name is legion --
that they know how the universe could have been better than it is,
how it would have been had they created it,
without pain, without sorrow, without time, without life,
are unfit for illumination.
or those who think -- as do many --
"let me first correct society, then get around to myself"
are barred from even the outer gate of the mansion of God's peace.

all societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable;
and so they will always be.
if you really want to help this world,
what you will have to teach is how to live in it.
that no one can do who has not himself learned
how to live in it - in the joyful sorrow and the sorrowful joy -
the knowledge of life as it is.
that is the meaning of the monstrous Kirtimukha, 'Face of Glory',
over the entrances of the sanctuaries to the god of yoga,
whose bride is the goddess of life.
no one can know this god and goddess who will not bow
to the mask in reverence and pass humbly through.
~joseph campbell

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

come this way

come this way ~
as a pilgrim...
it is a blessing
when the door slides open