O Mystic Nuns!

Photo by Abee5 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Thy love was not of earth; no woman’s soul 
For mortal love craved with such a yearning. 
So thou didst wed great God Himself! O Goal 
Beyond our ken, beyond our dim discerning! 
And soul to soul, like sunbeam unto Sun, 
Thou didst vanish away, O mystic Nun!

~ Sri Devendranath Sen

 

At all times, India has embraced the love and longing for God as a privileged access to our ultimate reality. This path of love or devotion, called bhakti, was trodden by countless seekers and poets who have offered their verses to posterity. Amongst them many women. Women who, alone, have walked the steep path to God, going against the society of men, marriage and conventions, with only one goal: to reach divine love. I present here three such women — Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai — these mystic nuns, whose personality and poetry are an unforgettable milestone to this day in India and elsewhere.

Through devoting or directing their love to a god, be it Krishna or Shiva, these devotees were searching to experience the bliss of their own being, the happiness that is the very nature of their self. But by conditioning their love to an object, they also experienced suffering, longing, sadness, anger, which all came to feed their poetry, their songs, all these exquisite expressions. These were the very vector that supported their spiritual search. But don’t think that this is a path that is limited or lacking depth. For though directed towards an object, the love they feel is always their own. The forms of Krishna or Shiva were a vehicle to lead them to their very self, to realise that their longing is and has always been for their own unborn nature, for love itself, the oneness of their own being.

This tension between the love for God as a form, and for being or oneness as a principle, between saguna and nirguna bhakti, as it is expressed in the Indian tradition, is at the core of the bhakti endeavour, of the journey to divine love. In ‘The Embodiment of Bhakti’, Karen Pechilis Prentiss wrote: “The lord is characterized by both ‘paratva’ (otherness) and ‘soulabhaya’ (ease of access). He is both here and beyond, both tangible as a person and intangible as a principle.” These nuns were expressing this tension with various degrees in their many songs and poems. Listen to their voice. Listen to how Krishna’s forms and attributes, ramblings and happenings are only expressions of a deeper reality, of the understanding and tensions at play in the seeker’s very being. They are their paths whose completion will lead to the recognition of their own true self. […]

Listen to the poetry of Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai… (READ MORE…)

 

The Search

Come, 
Come away, 
O love, 
Sit beside me; 
I will teach thee 
The way to 
Happiness
.”

 

I have collected here some excerpts of a poetical work by J. Krishnamurti, published first in 1927 under the title ‘The Search’, and later in the book ‘From Darkness to Light’ (1980), along with other poems from this period. Krishnamurti considered these writings as not being part of his official teachings, for they were written when he was still involved with the Theosophical Society, the organisation that raised him to become the new World Teacher and that he left in 1929. They are nevertheless a beautiful read, imbued with the wonder of nature, and the search for happiness. In the Publishers Note, we read: ‘These poetic writings represent a facet of Krishnamurti that is characterized by the intensity of his feelings and by his passionate appeal to the individual for self-realization of truth.’ I hope you enjoy them…

 

~

Balanced between the past and the future, 
the “I” is poised as a tiger ready to spring, 
as an eagle ready to fly, 
as the bow at the moment of releasing the arrow. 

This moment of equilibrium, of high tension, 
is “creation.” It is the fullness of all life, 
it is immortality. 

The wind of the desert sweeps away 
all trace of the traveller. 

The sole imprint is the footstep of the present. 
The past, the future… sands blown by the wind
.“

~ J. krishnamurti (From Darkness to Light)

~

 

I have been a wanderer long 
In this world of transient things. 
I have known the passing pleasures thereof. 
As the rainbow is beautiful, 
But soon vanishes into nothingness, 
So have I known, 
From the very foundation of the world, 
The passing away of all things 
Beautiful, joyous and pleasurable. 

 

If thou wouldst concern thyself with the lasting, 
With the eternal, with the indestructible, 
With divinity, with immortality, 
With wisdom which is the pool of Heaven, 
If thou wouldst know of that everlasting Kingdom of Happiness, 
If thou wouldst know of that Beauty that never fades or decays, 
If thou wouldst know of that Truth that is imperishable and alone— 
Then, O world, 
Look deep within thyself

[…]

Continue reading excerpts from this poem by Krishnamurti… (READ MORE…)

 

Stay Where You Are

There’s this new force that tells us
Stay where you are
Be confined within yourself
Don’t run after every miserable trick
That you invent for countenance

Stay where you are
You have the best view there
In the home that is truly yours
The one you have never built, the one
For which no walls were erected ever

Stay where you are
Where you will be blessed with full protection
For by being open to the winds of life
Defenceless, unprotected, you are therefore
Unbreakable

Stay where you are
In the expanse of your self
Be wide, no matter the limitations
For, believe me, there are none
Except on the racing grounds of mind

Stay where you are
Be a true opportunist 
Where life takes you, be like her guide
For you were never powerless
You are holding the show

Stay where you are
Don’t think it is not enough
For in the less you find the more
You are never prevented from anything 
You have all the freedom you need

 

~~~

Poem and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

 

The Hiding Place

There are times to let go of
The hopes and
The dearly loved dreams
And whisper in your life’s ear —
‘Baby, I will accept you now
As you are.’

There are times to stop clinging and 
Finally rest
In the bosom of your being
With all the comfort that —
At last!
You deserve here.

There are times to feel the ease
The joy un-contained
That rests in the moment
When you stop claiming 
Your due
And welcome it all.

It is not a sad time
Though you may have thought it was
It is the time you have been waiting for
All your life
Without knowing
So make room for it.

It is not a bad time
A sentence for
Your un-capabilities
It’s an eye-opener
For you have been it
Already — all the time.

But don’t renounce
Don’t make the move
Yourself
For it was never about you
It’s a free fall
Into the plentiful of this moment.

This time is coming
It has been patiently waiting 
For your readiness
Since the nowness of eternal being
Welcome it — come out of 
Your hiding place.

 

~~~

Poem and photo by Alain Joly

~~~

 

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

 

Change the Lighting

‘The edge of a Heath by moonlight’ – John Constable, 1810 – WikiArt

 

If you can’t change yourself, after all
the efforts, change the light
by which you read your story.
Exchange overhead for something softer –
a lamp, a candle, a vine of shining 
holiday lights – and feel yourself 
become hugged by the fabric of shadows.
You see the darkness here has wisdom too.
You see these objects around become related 
by the pregnant emptiness that holds them,
and you. Let this light reveal the rapture
of being just this. Then, further still, try
moonlight, or no light, until, at last,
this open, sourceless incandescence 
which you are
no matter who you think you are
will follow you from the inside 
wherever you may go, however 
you may change, or not.

 

~~~

Poem by Brooke McNamara
(excerpted from her book ‘Feed your Vow’)

Painting by John Constable (1776-1837)

~~~

 

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F319A9CC-4291-4FDC-91C5-986DA4372F6AOn her website, Brooke McNamara presents herself as a poet, performer, zen mama, and monk. She has practiced Zen meditation and is now a teacher in this tradition. She has also danced professionally for over a decade and toured internationally. She offers online classes in mindfulness, creative awakening, as well as movement education. She is a poet and published her first book ‘Feed your Vow’, in 2015. She lives with her husband and two sons in Boulder, CO.

Bibliography:
– ‘Feed Your Vow: poems for falling into fullness’ – by Brooke McNamara – (Performance Integral Édition)

Website:
Brooke McNamara
John Constable (Wikipedia)

 

The Slow Path

A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being. So it is something like an intimation, a subtle realisation of something that may take the form of a longing, or wishing, but is in fact already here, subtly present if not yet realised. I loved this humble prayer by Michael Leunig, so I share it here with you…

 

~

 

Dear God,

We pray for another way of being:
another way of knowing.

Across the difficult terrain of our existence
we have attempted to build a highway
and in so doing have lost our footpath.

God lead us to our footpath:
Lead us there where in simplicity
we may move at the speed of natural creatures
and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.

Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel
the movement of creation in our hearts.

And lead us there where side-by-side
we may feel the embrace of the common soul.
Nothing can be loved at speed.

God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights
of the pilgrim; another way of knowing: another way of being.

Amen.

 

~~~

Payer and cartoon by Michael Leunig

~~~

 

0526BD00-7BB3-43AD-BE57-E91737A198CCMichael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet. He describes his approach as regressive, humorous, messy, mystical, primal and vaudevillian – producing work which is open to many interpretations and has been widely adapted in education, music, theatre, psychotherapy and spiritual life. His work reflects, in his own words, “the fragile ecosystem of human nature and its relationship to the wider natural world.” He was declared a national living treasure by the National Trust for his unique contribution to Australian culture.

Read this article about Michael Leunig in Miriam Louisa Simon’s blog ‘The Awakened Eye’.

Bibliography:
– ‘The Penguin Leunig’ – by Michael Leunig – (Penguin Random House Australia)

Websites:
Michael Leunig
Michael Leunig Appreciation Page (on Facebook)

 

The Unattainable One

Parvathy Baul – Wikimedia

If you want to attain 
the unattainable One,
Free yourself from all that is
Fragile and temporary.
Know yourself
.”
~ Rasika Dasa

 

In the deepest villages of Bengal, there remains today a community of vagrant singers, both mystical bards and wandering minstrels, the Bauls. For centuries they have been treading the dust of the roads, with a firm and aerial step, at the rhythm of their daily needs and highest aspirations. The term ‘baul’, derived from the Sanskrit ‘vatulā’, means ’he who is affected, or carried away by the wind’. It might also refer to the term ‘vyakula’, meaning ‘impatient eagerness for god’, or ’auliyā’, a word of Arabic origin meaning ‘holy’, ‘ascetic’. But the asceticism of the Bauls is not lost in penances and meditations, is not only about achieving the set goal. It is rather a kind of refinement in the expression of the moment, a healthy ‘madness’ expressing through dance, music, and songs, the love of the divine and the spontaneity of living. Coming from both Hindu and Muslim religions, the Bauls retain nevertheless a fierce freedom of spirit and are rebellious to any ideology, following no ritual, referring to no scriptures. They are ’outside’, offbeat, refreshing and unique. […]

Continue reading about the Bauls of Bengal… (READ MORE…)