Archives for the month of: August, 2013

Credit : amomentatatime.org

 

Not more than even a century can withstand

Your quite ordinary precious thoughts –

Even the paper browns

In less than a decade in your hand,

What more we, you, I, outlast,

Than Christ’s Christmas grows

With imperfect repetition,

Meteoring out at last in ten thousand years ?

And that baby’s dear pink cheek

Is feebler still;

For in time’s hydraulic press

Like a fossil out of context

It remains

Chewed out to the bone;

So go fairy ego

Butterfly away

Into the impermanent sun.

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gaia

 

In the whole wide universe

You alone blue earth,

Where cells divide

Into fashion models on the cat-walk

And songs of love enthrall

Across the static

Of the Milky Way above.

 

Little wonder

Where waters fall,

Such as flowers unfold,

The plaintive cuckoo’s call

And lovers in embrace

Alone in infinite space.

 

Where instinct transcends

The play of physical laws,

Greater than a sun is born,

The bliss

Of an embryonic form.

 

Hen her chickens urging on

Make history in the galaxy,

Calf and cow, suckling sow,

My tugging heart

As I think of my distant son;

Nothing in orbits in comparison.

 

From out of the stellar vastnesses there,

I wish just one cover

Of earth’s blue mantle best

And snug in the oceans and the air,

Be confined inside

One drop of wonder

Where I belong,

Against the splendour of the rest.

Credit: marymademe.com

Credit: marymademe.com

Change is a fundamental fact of life. The Buddha observed that everything changes all the time and this is a cause of sorrow. If we remain equanimous while experiencing change sorrow will not afflict us. We ourselves change from moment to moment. We are not the same person which we see in a photographs of the past – childhood, youth, maturity, yesterday, five minutes ago. They are all different persons seemingly connected. It is as if we reincarnate from moment to moment not merely at the end of a life. We are able to observe this phenomenon more acutely in our children – they keep changing quite remarkably and if we were not conscious of it the child who you knew scarcely resembles what he is now  – with varied experiences of life transforming him every moment. This thought is not a sophisticated intellectual excercise but a vivid realization which all parents have known even if they did not put it down in words. My poem seeks to capture such a feeling, difficult to explain, like a rare visual caught suddenly on your camera:

 

            THE   CHILD   I   KNEW

 

Where is the child I knew,

Merged now in my grown son’s face ?

As if he just left the stage

And moved behind the wings

Allowing another to take his place.

Where his high voice has gone

Never to return, his little face ?

Another person I love well

Now inhabits that space,

Till I meet him again and another

Man has replaced the one I knew,

Now standing face to face

Like someone holding a baton in a race

As the others fade into the distance

And then even he moves on

As someone sprints ahead keeping pace

With my latest son. bearing my face.

ram sita best

A routine visit to a place of worship could be meaningless in uplifting us spiritually and yet we make those visits imagining that by so doing we may receive grace. Some look for signs during such visits that their prayers have been answered – kind of demand and receive – I offer my prayers, now your turn, fulfill my wishes. I am sure divinity if present there remains unmoved while we continue with the rituals hoping for results. Only some go to such places for communion without expectations, which should be the only reason for such a visit.

My poem bringing this out:

 

                  T  E  M  P  L  E

 

Temple bells toll,

Marigolds,

Butter heavy burning wicks,

And sweet insense,

Make hesitant hands fold

Against the fact of stoic idols

Of marble and gold.

 

A rose falls to the joy of a wish granted,

Someone stands in the corner and weeps;

The lamp glows in understanding,

The haze of insense as it wafts afreah

Shows the marble smile grow subtle,

Meaningful, promising.

 

People finger the engraven figures

Of marble,

Finger their doubts and hope

Against hope;

Wide eyed they wander,

Circumambulating.

 

While the misunderstood idol

Of marble and gold

Turns to stone.

 

Then from across,

A little girl’s song

To herself

Shakes the temple walls

With a presence

And no rose falls.

Credit: wikipedia painting by Edvard Munch, National Gallery, Norway

Credit wikipedia
painting by Edvard Munch, National Gallery, Norway

Childhood traumas never really heal. Scars are only a superficial covering for something lying stirring beneath. They assume shapes and forms which become an integral part of our psyche and return to haunt us. We become our scars, are shaped and transformed by them. But life is full of healing herbs that then transform the transformation. There is always another dawn after a dark night. The roller coaster of life has as many highs as it has lows. After diving deep we soar. And in both, the soul of our being learns its best lessons.

My poem on such a scar:

S C A R

I still have that scar,
Folded by time
Healed and sealed.

But the thought
Remains tender
On the edge of a razor

And unabated blood
Flows from my childhood finger,
Haemophilic,

As perfumed mystics and astrologers,
Ghostly trains and bitter mixtures,
Loveless governesses, tonsils and tincture
Begin to haemorrhage again.

forest fires at home

Once during our stay in the Sydney suburb of Killara located on the ‘North Shore’ we were suddenly confronted by a forest fire which had been advancing along the distant hills for days but which now had reached the foot of the hill where our villa was located. We were advised to spray water on our rooftops  as sirens of fire engines screamed on the little lane outside our home. It was the scariest thing I had ever experienced as the smoke kept billowing down the hill with eucalyptus trees bursting into flame right before our eyes. We were finally asked to evacuate and collected our most precious possessions into the car with the kids, ready to depart saying farewell to our beautiful home absolutely traumatized. Then suddenly the wind changed direction as if in answer to our prayers blowing the raging fires at the foot of the hill back to where it had come from and extinguished it before it could reach our home.

The experience made me compose a poem on nature’s fury which I imagined was a kind of unbridled passion of love – why that imagery I cannot explain even to myself. Looking back at the poem somehow it reminded me of Haiku poetry though I had not intended it to be so – so my unintended Haiku look-alike for your enjoyment:

 

H O W  T H I S  L O V E

 

How this love

O Zen

As people cuddle

Their togetherness?

 

This sense of grass and twig,

Roar of cricket

Wafts;

 

Bright Bougainvillea’s

Tweeting

Hummingbirds,

Hint of fragrance;

 

Swiftly, as the lion

Plunges

Into a watermelon deer

Across the Savannah;

 

And crackle of barks

In eucalyptus fires

As my rising rhythms

Disperse

Into them.

KALI YANTRA - geometrical portrayal of Goddess Kali Credit: sics.se

KALI YANTRA – geometrical portrayal of Goddess Kali
Credit: sics.se

The primal energy of the creative force in Hindu theology is conceived as a feminine entity. This is quite remarkable for a country which is essentially patriarchical. Worship of the Goddess as mother is fairly universal with major festivals being dedicated to honouring her with chanting, prayer, song and dance. Millions also trek to pilgrimage sites with fervour, devotion and resolve to receive her maternal blessings and empowerment.

The Universal Essence is symbolized as partly masculine, the epitome of truth, consciousness, calm and bliss and partly feminine, creative, volatile, energetic and emotional. The masculine element, Shiva, contemplates creation through his eternal meditation and is regarded as the eternal yogi, while his counterpart Shakti ( energy in Sanskrit) is cosmic energy that enacts that creation. Shiva is the seed, Shakti is the womb.

LAKSHMI

LAKSHMI
Credit: vedicgoddess.weebly.com

Shakti is depicted as having three manifestations or aspects. Lakshmi is its benign form generating prosperity, growth, health, well-being and good fortune. One finds her portrait on an altar in most shops and commercial establishments, in addition to homes to ensure the success of the enterprise and well-being of the family.

SARASVATI

SARASVATI ( painting by Raja Ravi Varma)
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Sarasvati is the intellectual aspect generating scholarship, the fine arts, music dance and  knowledge. Her images with Sitar in hand adorn the stage where dance and music concerts are to be held or at inaugurations of cultural events. Students before joining an educational institution or proceeding to take an exam will seek her blessings.

Kali is Shakti’s darker aspect, symbolizing inexorable time (Kal), mortality and the ephemeral nature of physical existence – energy in a constant state of flux. Together the three aspects of Shakti create, facilitate growth, enhance the quality of life through prosperity and the creativity of the arts and finally terminate it to recycle the process again and again.

DURGA

DURGA
Credit: hindudevotionalblog.com

The three Goddesses when combined as one force are pictured as Durga displaying beauty and strength as a many armed maiden astride a lion ( or tiger) furiously battling the forces of inertia, atrophy, darkness and evil represented as the buffalo-demon which she slays even as it seeks to change form to deceive her.

Kali  ( the dark one and time in Sanskrit) is the most striking and fearsome aspect of Shakti. She is shown as standing with one foot irreverently placed on the chest of her recumbent lord Shiva, the blissful representation of the Universal Essence whose inner force she actually is! According to myth she was conceived to destroy demonic entities who had overpowered the  demigods and subverted nature imperilling creation. Even after their destruction her furious destructive energy could not be contained thus threatening the very creation she had been produced to save ( much like nuclear energy gone awry). Shiva then as a last resort threw himself at her feet to contain her fury but she carrying forward with uncontrolled momentum inadvertently placed her foot on his breast Thus the epitome of truth, consciousness and bliss, lord of the universe, lay under the foot of his own power time, which strode over him as if to declare that she alone ruled the material world of opposites ( good and evil, light and dark, pain and pleasure, love and hate, life and death). As she places her energetic foot on the chest of the universal lord she suddenly realizes what she has done and in embarrassment sticks out her tongue, realizing that the physical world is only a mirage created by the Universal Lord. The allegory is stark. The uncontrolled physical momentum of the physical world can only be restrained and tamed when it over steps its spiritual base and in so doing is shocked back into equilibrium.

The stirring, striking and paradoxical imagery of Kali with Shiva underfoot took the Hindu psyche by storm and is abundantly on display at meditation centres and places of worship where people hope to overcome persistent obstacles in their path. In Kolkata this representation of our combined spiritualism and materialism is worshipped at the famous temples of Kaligahat and Dakshineshwar where goats are sacrificed to appease her fury. Unlike most branches of Hindu worship  vegetarianism is not observed here and in place of honey water and milk cakes being offered to worshippers as sacred blessing the practice in many Kali temples is to offer wine and preparations of meat.

It is Kali who helps brides consummate their marriage, it is she who protects us from physical traumas. I composed a poem as a tribute to the goddess who though fearsome as life itself is yet full of hope and maternal concern.

KALI

KALI
Credit: fanpop.com

 

                      M O  T  H  E  R

 

Red stamens

Stick out

Like her tongue

In hibiscus garlands,

Prescribed adornments

In Kolkata.

 

The great Shiva

Lies prostrate

Underfoot,

Holocaust inevitable

Contained

In Kolkata.

 

Life blood is stark red

Against the darkness

Of death,

But together,fundamental

Cosmic flux,

In Kolkata.

 

Her spirit is everywhere;

In the parting

Of bridal hair,

anointed vermillion,

Lissom bodies bare

In Kolkata.

 

Dear mother,

Protector,

In fearsome aspect

Is abroad;

As we are secure

In Kolkata.

 

Dakishneshwar Temple

Dakishneshwar Temple
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Credit : mi2g.com

Credit : mi2g.com

 

Whether scientist, artist, philosophers, mystics, theologians or worshippers, all speak of the grand Unity of which we are a part – the splendid diversity of the glorious Unity. So I felt moved to compose a poem which I present for your enjoyment:

 

                       U  N  I  T  Y

To distinguish

The fish of the lakes and the sea,

To seek the similarity

In the features of our kin,

Of feather and fin;

To want to compare

The horse and the mare,

To contrast

The rabbit and the hare,

The difference

In egg and seed,

Hybrid, thoroughbred,

Infinite variety

Connected

Diversity,

Common threads

Conjoining

United

Unity.

 

Credit: wallpapre.brothersoft.com

Credit: wallpapre.brothersoft.com

 

In probing the ‘After-Life’, World of Spirits, we moved from Near Death Experiences to episodes of Past Life repressions by eminent psychiatrists and hypnotherapists providing glimpses of that alternative reality which many described as our real Home World. We now look at it more closely through the eyes of a renowned American psychic and medium. Sylvia Browne for the past 50 years and more has established herself as possibly the most remarkable psychic, medium, channel and clairvoyant of the New Age, whose personal experiences and hypnotic regression appear to reveal all the secrets of that mystical world where souls are at home before and after life on the physical plane.

Her findings have been steeped in controversy with allegations of fraud by none other than a former estranged husband. Many of her forecasts and predictions have been proved erroneous and eminent sceptics and atheists have challenged her claims in the public domain. Yet, police and even the FBI are believed to have quietly relied on her sixth sense to apprehend criminals with satisfaction. She claims that these challenges were indeed of her own choosing in the Theme of Life Chart of her present incarnation wherein her soul itself inserted such negativities to hone her skills and for its own evolution in overcoming them.  Frankly I don’t see why a psychic is made to indulge in the business of making forecasts. A psychic is not an astrologer or palmiest after all. There is little doubt that she has paranormal abilities which does not need to be tested in such a public manner. It is like asking a great athlete to prove himself not merely on the parallel bars but to swallow fire and pierce his cheeks with flaming rods. She is a psychic not a circus performer.

If we wander into any Barnes and Noble bookshop in NYC to the section on philosophy, mysticism, the paranormal and New Age, we would find a whole shelf dedicated to the display of her books, several of which have been on the # 1 New York Times’ bestseller list. One can also find her numerous interviews with Larry King and the Montel Williams Show and several others on the internet. She has also set up a church inspired by the Gnostics called Novus Spiritus and the Nirvana Foundation of Psychic Research. She has also studied theology and world religions and interacted with priests, yogis, Tantriks, nuns, rabbis and Zen masters.

Her psychic abilities became evident from early childhood. She claims that her family history is full of psychics for almost 300 years, including her grandmother, son and granddaughter. She began having visions and premonitions of impending events from the age of five. As she grew to adulthood and began having frequent visitations from her Spirit Guides Francine and Raheim she began to doubt her sanity believing that she now fitted perfectly the description of a schizophrenic until Francine sought to disabuse her of her fears. Francine then by pre-arrangement materialized before her sceptical parents and sister. After that she never questioned her sanity and seriously began her quest. She began to give talks and lectures, many of which were ‘delivered’ by her Spirit Guide Francine by channeling through her. She also began regressive hypnotherapy to help cure psychic conditions.

Her knowledge of the ‘Other Side’ comes from her perpetually chattering companion and Spirit Guides Francine and Raheim, her own Near Death Experience (NDE), her claims to Astral Travel together with those of her son Christopher and granddaughter  in dreams and trances ( Out of Body Experiences OBE) and her questioning of patients and clients through regressive hypnotherapy.

Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne

The picture she paints generally matches those of persons who have undergone NDE and the reports of Regression therapies of psychiatrists and hypnotherapists we have covered earlier:  the soul moving out of the body and viewing it, the tunnel into which it is drawn, the growing light on the other side, the reception by guide Spirits, relatives and friends, recuperation, reconditioning and healing, the review of the last life, realization, acknowledgement and judgement of ones own failures in the charted mission goals that one had set, discussions with the Council of Advanced souls, the Elders, further research and threadbare examination of the course of that life, choice of reincarnation by the soul itself rather than God or Karma or anyone else, the existence of more elevated souls that do not need to incarnate, like elders, angels, teachers and Masters, the peaceful and tranquil, non judgemental environment of the Spirit world full of love and familiarity, preparation for reincarnation into the physical world at an appropriate time of the soul’s choosing, freedom to choose location, environment, parents, family and chart of a new life, including negativities and challenges and time and manner of exit, the dire need for reincarnation for soul’s evolution through experience of negativities on the physical plane and the challenge to overcome them, the presence of dedicated Spirit Guides throughout ones life time, the acceptance of all religious denominations and cultures as equally necessary and ennobling.

While all these attributes of life on the Other Side are familiar to us from previous posts, in her path breaking book ‘Life on the Other Side – A Psychics Tour of the After Life’ ( copyright @ Sylvia Browne, SIGNET 2001, New American Library, a division of Penguins Group USA) she dwells in great detail on remarkable facts about the spiritual world on the Other Side which provide fresh insight on a topic hardly explored elsewhere.

What emerges is a kind of parallel living world in an alternate dimension ( barely a few feet away) which in many ways resembles our physical world as a kind of prototype. Incredibly, the spirit world is remarkably similar to the physical one with all the continents (add Atlantis) oceans, mountains and peoples inhabiting it as spirits. A glorious perpetual dawn ( no day and night), and clement weather (no storms) however distinguish it from the volatility of the physical one. It is also ‘timeless’ and its inhabitants are all aged about 30 years in perpetuity. Thought creates instant mobility ( no need for cars or vehicles). Thought also provides instant construction of homes, ones we have always dreamed of ( no need for masons or architects). Individual personalities and preferences are the permanent  identity and stamp of each souls’ identity, some have humour, others are serious and sedate etc all with diverse abilities and ambitions. Spirits are not intangible or wispy but have bodies and even, unbelievably, organs ( heart, lungs, kidneys – the works), though there is no production of ‘waste’, no ageing, no disease. A soul can enjoy eating what it likes in the early stages of rehabilitation, though it is not necessary for survival – you may cook your favourite meal for a while till you don’t want to anymore. There is no termination of ‘life’ which is eternal. Communication is possible through language or telepathy. Every manner of entertainment is universally available.

Flora and fauna are at their resplendent best, never withering, with unmatched scenic beauty and gardens. animals and birds abound adding to the beauty of the spiritual ‘nature, though there are no insects!. Spirits specialize in all manner of activity and research. Most inventions on the physical plane are first conceived by spirits in their research centres ( they are presently working on eradicating AIDS and Cancer)! Spirits pursue careers as scientists, artists, philosophers, students, performers, teachers, thinkers, healers – you name it. Schools, libraries, research centres, areas for socializing and recreation abound. In a word, spirits are busy with their lives and have fun also. Spirits can also adopt any appearance they wish without loosing their identity or recognition.

Spirits however do not suffer from anger, hatred, envy, greed, or any other negative quality. spirits also do not engage in sex ( sorry). However when they feel deeply intimate toward one another, they ‘merge’ exquisitely, sharing in harmony all their knowledge of one another, which is more profound, intimate and satisfying than sex could ever be !  Spirits also have gender and retain the same gender throughout eternity, despite reincarnating as either male or female for evolution. The institution of marriage does not exist on the spirit side ( redundant), nor are there any families, though there are friendly groups and clusters of like-minded souls at the same level of development who are closer than any family could be.

On arrival back at the spirit world the soul observes certain important buildings. The Hall of Wisdom where scanning machines help one to review in holograms, ones past life experiences, for evaluation. Then there are the Towers, where troubled and disoriented returnees are cacooned for healing. There are also the Hall of Records and the Hall of Justice where distinguished Elders help in a detailed examination of lives on the physical plane.The Hall of Tones is for meditation and chanting while the Hall of Voices for hearing the celestial songs of angels.

In due course spirits decide to reincarnate (reluctantly) after deciding upon a chart for a new incarnation. Before departure they have the privilege of an audience with a messiah of their preference ( Christ, Buddha etc)  which is fulfilling. energizing and empowering beyond measure. The final stage is a twilight sleep and transfer to a waiting womb of ones choice.

The story of an After Life Paradise through a psychic and medium’s perspective and experience, does appear at times like an incredible fairy tale or a scene from a fantastic science fiction movie, particularly the aspects which show that the spirit world is quite as tangible and physical as our own. But this should be neither surprising nor novel. All religions after all speak of such a Paradise, a ‘land of milk and honey’. peace and plenty, eternal fulfillment and bliss, constant satisfaction. We have the Christian Paradise full of angels, the Muslim Zannah with Houris, the Hindu Swarg Lok with dancing Apsaras – if you research these concepts in the respective scriptures you will find some echoes of Sylvia’s Paradise.

Sylvia also speaks of a dark side, though it is not ‘Satanic’ in the sense of being ruled by a Satan with horns and a pitchfork. Those beings who commit irremediable crimes with no trace of remorse or repentance are souls that deny and refuse to embrace the light and are neither received by the light, at death nor find a place in ‘Paradise’ but quickly return through a dark abyss into another womb until some action eons later provides a glimmer of hope. Even they are not eternally lost though, being doomed to return age after age as dark entities without spirit guides to help them along the way, particularly because they reject help. The effort to redeem them however continues and one day they may see and accept the light. They till then dwell in a dark and lonely isolation and they may well intrude into your charted course of life uninvited as someone in your closest circle who exhibits evil traits with little hope of redemption.

Sylvia’s ‘Paradise’ appears to reflect the beliefs of several cultures and religions. Her description of buildings and monuments in the Spirit World with gothic arches and Greco-Roman architecture clearly are Western in their inspiration. On the other hand her repeated assertion that God has a male and female aspect, intellectual and emotional, combined as one, are Eastern. The ‘Mother goddess’ she speaks of with flowing hair and a staff in one hand, though robed in a classical western gown, has a lion standing beside her, clearly inspired by the popular Hindu depiction of the ‘Mother’ (Ma), epitomizing the energy of god and the universe (the concept of Shakti in Hinduism) astride a tiger or a lion. In the Hall of Tones, the chanting actually begins with the Sanskrit word Om, common to most religions of Indian origin when commencing a prayer and referring to the sound of creation. Paradise then does not neglect either Eastern or Western inspirations in becoming their prototype!

Sylvia’s Paradise though supported by scriptural analogies, is not always easy to accept no matter how comforting. It is one thing to accept that the soul is eternal and survives after death and that it reincarnates for its own evolution through experiencing the challenges and negativities of the physical plane and that it is welcomed after death into the spirit world, embraced by divine light and love – quite another to allow magnificent and thoroughly tangible scenic beauty, bodies with organs, buildings with halls and marble benches, scanning machines with holograms, records of lives being maintained in scrolls in libraries, dressing for events with just a flicker of a thought, wandering through superb gardens and a host of other physical activities  we never imagined  spirit worlds would, could or even needed to engage in.

From a metaphysical standpoint, those of us who are so inclined, would only allow a divine spirit to confine its physical activity to the human body when incarnating on the physical earthly plane rather than carrying forward a physical ‘hang-over’ to the spiritual one. All we would allow is an urge for the soul to be finally free of the physical and as pure spirit to seek to reunite blissfully with its divine source to become one again with the creative force, rather than enjoying separation. The idea of divinity within as a drop, merging back into the divinity of the grand ocean which creates the mirage (Maya) of the physical world, rather than itself becoming yet another physical albeit elevated mirage. Even if we were to allow this physical ‘Paradise’ to have any reality, it would only be another intermediate manifestation of the divine mirage or illusion (Maya). Only another physical level to be transcended.

To be fair, Sylvia does hint or address this issue when she speaks of levels of advancement for the soul. The Seventh level ( seventh heaven?) is as she says where the ‘rare’ souls lose their very identity and merge into the ‘ uncreated mass’  or the ‘ infinite, unfathomable force field from which the love and power of God emanates’. That is surely the ulterior dimension from which it never returns either as a spiritual entity or as an incarnation. Compare this with the Hindu concept of the last incarnation of an embodied soul where after it totally merges with the Absolute it  never incarnates again. She uses the same analogy as in Eastern cultures – the drop falls back into the ocean or as she puts it ‘ a cup of water spills into the Pacific Ocean’.

She however confesses that the ‘Seventh Level’ is not for her, as she would rather remain in a ‘spiritual world’  which still resembles the physical one.

In the Hindu scripture the Gita, there is a revealing passage which says:

”Worshppers of the gods go to the gods, worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts; but those who worship Me come to Me.”

Thus those who cannot overcome the need for physicality return to those realms (Paradise?), while those that have advanced merge with the pure spirit of Godhead.

Caption: wallpapersus.com

Caption: wallpapersus.com

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