Monthly Archives: Feb 2012

Rabindranath Tagore, from Gitanjali.

“I thought I should ask of thee—but I dared not—the rose wreath thou hadst on thy neck. Thus I waited for the morning, when thou didst depart, to find a few fragments on the bed. And like a beggar I searched in the dawn only for a stray petal or two.
Ah me, what is it I find? What token left of thy love? It is no flower, no spices, no vase of perfumed water. It is thy mighty sword, flashing as a flame, heavy as a bolt of thunder. The young light of morning comes through the window and spread itself upon thy bed. The morning bird twitters and asks, `Woman, what hast thou got?’ No, it is no flower, nor spices, nor vase of perfumed water—it is thy dreadful sword.
I sit and muse in wonder, what gift is this of thine. I can find no place to hide it. I am ashamed to wear it, frail as I am, and it hurts me when press it to my bosom. Yet shall I bear in my heart this honour of the burden of pain, this gift of thine.
From now there shall be no fear left for me in this world, and thou shalt be victorious in all my strife. Thou hast left death for my companion and I shall crown him with my life. Thy sword is with me to cut asunder my bonds, and there shall be no fear left for me in the world.
From now I leave off all petty decorations. Lord of my heart, no more shall there be for me waiting and weeping in corners, no more coyness and sweetness of demeanour. Thou hast given me thy sword for adornment. No more doll’s decorations for me!

Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with stars and cunningly wrought in myriad-coloured jewels. But more beautiful to me thy sword with its curve of lightning like the outspread wings of the divine bird of Vishnu, perfectly poised in the angry red light of the sunset.
It quivers like the one last response of life in ecstasy of pain at the final stroke of death; it shines like the pure flame of being burning up earthly sense with one fierce flash.
Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with starry gems; but thy sword, O lord of thunder, is wrought with uttermost beauty, terrible to behold or think of.”

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“When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower of mercy.
When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song.
When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.
When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.
When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one, thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.”

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“Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.
I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.
I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart.
And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act.”

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“That ole muddy water gonna clear my mind…”

I’m visiting my family in New Orleans, so I’ve been using this trip as a convenient excuse busy and not writing blog entries.

I’ve been musing a lot on ego, and weighing how ultimately self- (or Self)-defeating it is to keep a blog in which I write about my worship, my thoughts and impressions, my ideas. I struggle with this.

Sometimes, it helps to remember the written works of spiritual greats who have shared their journeys, to guide others. When I think about this, I read those words for inspiration, and meditate to purify my own character like unto those exalted beings, and I spend time distilling the clarity of my mind, instead of organising jumping thoughts into journal updates.

More often than I’d like, I become listless and self-pitying, and don’t bother to record anything about my own piddling little plod down the spiritual path. Often I don’t feel I have anything new, unique, or worthy to say to anybody, and it seems such arrogance to write a single word. I just stare at a blank screen for a few minutes, then close the site.

Other times, I wish I’d recorded something of my thoughts and questions along the way. The other day, for instance, I realised that – while I respect pūjā as an intensely moving ritual of personal service, and I recognise temples as vital places of peace, worship, and divine presence – I am filled with an incomparable, burning determination to serve, to offer self-as-sacrifice, each time I light a fire. But how exactly did that happen? What bizarre celestial confluences were working the day that I read about starting a fire in an inverted copper pyramid and then throwing butter and herbs into it, such that I actually thought, well, now, that seems like a worthwhile use of my time? I wonder if I might see patterns and progresses in my journey through time, and then I wonder if recording my own past will just keep me mired in it.

These ceaseless inner debates continue, and still interfere with finishing my travelogue, despite more than two months passing since the trip ended. My heart is cracking with longing, to return to India and resume the learning of which I had only a tiny taste. Each time I start to write, I think or I could go meditate, or chant, or study, or do something that would actually help me go back.

So, bear with me while I try to pick up my self-esteem from the floor. Objectively, I know there’s a lot of value in the peculiar sort of satsang that we religious folks create online, by writing of devotion and ideals. I know that there’s a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge, ask and answer questions, a chance that exists every day because of this magical Indra’s-net of world connections that enables me to talk to people I’ve never even seen! And if everyone tore themselves up with questions like these, we wouldn’t have scripture at all; as early as the Vedas, the ṛṣi-s would have thought, oh, who cares? and abandoned their meditations in favour of a rousing game of Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy*.

(*Note: Anyone who instantly responded with a mental sigh and an exclamation along the lines of, No, not that soma!, good for you! Everyone else needs to read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, immediately, and that is a recommendation I will stand behind no matter how self-effacing I feel.)

Current Music: The Cadillac Black, Down to the River.

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