Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spiritual Birthday

3 rotations of the sun ago I was putting myself back together after a period of unraveling I like to call my "quarter life crisis". The story of that is indeed another story but as it pertains to today's post I will mention it along with the fact that I was really and truly in the heart of and on the cusp of adventure. A two week stint at an ashram in the mountains seemed a perfect compliment to my trip to New York City which was proving to be both exhilarating and exhausting. I was finding my compass...

I was to work in the greenhouse, this was my karma yoga, for 4 hours a day with a man named Paul who when I asked "So what brought you here?" replied: "A 62' Dodge". I planted rows upon rows of spinach; little tiny seeds that in my brief stay I would come to see poke their first sprouts above the soil. My crisis had left me flying high in the ether of untethered existence and somehow it was perfectly aligned that I was to spend the bulk of each day with my hands in the earth.

The day was book ended with meditation, chanting, reading and prayer. I have not been so much for the structure of such things, but the familiar rhythm of ritual was as grounding as playing with earth worms. Most of the time, the satsang was led by a man named Krishnadas. He was inappropriately gorgeous for a man of his celibate status; he seemed to glow from the inside like his blood was actually pure Norwegian spring water. And he played those tablas like it was hot jazz. Most of the time it was Krishnadas at the helm of these operations, steering our varying numbers towards Spirit; but sometimes the resident Brahman priest dressed in orange and all of about 5 feet would be our guide, using little English and chanting long Sanskrit recitations.

I have never met or seen another person before or since who has so apparently been able to control the flow of their own energy at will. This small yet mighty 60-80 year old man (these people don't seem to age... only get wiser and more intense) would walk down the hall head high and brow relaxed yet engaged; as he got closer I would observe myself preparing for an average social interaction: perhaps a "Hi, how are you?" or "Good morning"... and he would often breeze by with no acknowledgement leaving you to wallow in your own attachments to societal norms and your disappointment at these expectations not being met.

There were a few occasions however when I saw this serious spiritual scholar reach down into the depths of his heart and erupt in a belly laugh or an ear to ear grin that would immediately illuminate the entire ranch. His eyes would shine pure love at you and all would be right with the world. One of these times was when a fellow karma yogi and I were making chai from scratch in the kitchen and he began poking fun at us for our unnecessarily fancy western recipe (he then proceeded to make us the most delicious tea I have ever tasted out of simply: milk, black tea, ginger, cinnamon and sugar... lots of sugar). Another was when we were outside at dawn celebrating the Equinox and from his bare feet (standing on two feet of fresh Catskills snow) to his bald head he ignited as the sun rose and he sung the final stanza of his chant. And the third time was during my naming ceremony at which he chose me my spiritual name for this life. That was three years ago today... the details of which are between a seeker and her teacher, but I can say this much: from the hard earned lofty place of thought this man was operating from, he imparted on me the wisdom I needed to go forward: You are pure, pray for ego-lessness, you shine brightly and the moon loves you.

Happy Spiritual Birthday to me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

catapult me to the sliver moon

There are those ‘dark nights of the soul’, certainly there are. But more often than those (which are sometimes in their inverted way glorious and help put one right again), more often than those are the infinitely trickier sepia toned evenings staring up at the sun spent sky. These nights are illustrious in their ambiguity, irritating in their refusal to be anything but slightly uneven: am I lonely, frightened, wound up, procrastinating, hungry, still breathing? There is a frenetic pace of thought accompanied by a strong sense of purpose. This is a lethal combination that has driven many an artist (practicing or not) mad. How can I distill these thoughts into a well crafted... fill in the blank. How can I listen long enough to decipher the language the muses are speaking tonight? Those wily wenches with their many flavoured tongues....

Can we ever communicate fully? Understand and be understood? Is trying a selfish act of affirmation? How does one know one exists without communication with other? It is the truest test of one’s fundamental belief: can you be at peace alone? If you can be then that means you need no one but you, nothing but your breath to prove your existence. And wouldn’t that be nice.

And why is it that I am obsessed with this question right now? I have been at peace alone. I am not currently at peace alone. It has been a while since I have been at peace alone for any number of consecutive days. I am so unaccustomed to being at peace alone that I could not tell you at this moment whether I am hungry, tired, or almost, what city I am in.