Tonight my husband and I went to Ikea to do some light shopping (he wants some new furniture for his He-Man room) and while there we decided to get dinner. This visit to the store was probably the fifth time I’ve been since it opened in late 2017 and was the first time I didn’t have to park a football field away or sift through crowds to get through the place or wait in long lines at the cafeteria or checkout.

While eating, a certain song started playing over the Ikea store’s sound system. It was a Wild Cherry song called, “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” It’s a song I hardly ever hear and which actually predates me by four years. At the risk of sounding like a old man, it reminds me of a time when pop stars had to possess far more quality than they seem to need now. Back then, artists didn’t really have anything in the way of voice scrubbing or synthesizers to “fake” music. But that’s neither here nor there.

At first when the music came on and my mind picked up on it I boogied a little in my seat while biting into my meal. I imagined how I might dance to the song, were I to stand from the dinner table. While seeing myself dance around before my mind’s eye, I was soon joined by an unexpected guest. Her name was Alison. It’s not Alison anymore because she’s dead. Her name is either Nothing or else perhaps she’s transmigrated, taken a new human body, and been born again as someone else with a new name. Before Alison died last time, she worked where I do. I never really interacted with her. In fact, I’m not really sure what she did for the company aside from thinking I remember hearing that she was in our legal department. I think she was a smoker and I think that’s what killed her, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of, though, and it’s the reason Alison joined me for a dinnertime dance tonight, is that she LOVED to dance. She’d dance with anybody or she’d dance by herself. I know this only because the one real memory I have of Alison is from one company holiday party. The Wild Cherry song came on and for a few minutes Alison was the only person on the dance floor, utterly unaffected by that fact. She had shoulder-length, fine, bleach blonde hair and when she danced she would do a certain movement with her head and neck so as to cause her hair to fly a bit. Alison wasn’t a tiny gal by any means and I think that limited her range of possible dance moves. Her generation, the one before mine, also seemed to be fonder of more generalized ways of dancing. You just got out there and moved. You might do a certain, specific dance move sometimes but a lot of what I’ve seen is just good ole rug cutting. Just get out there and jam! Alison would get out there and shuffle her butt all over the place!

(Back at Ikea) While the song was playing still, and when I found a quick second to stop dancing with Alison, I returned to the dinner table and mentioned her to my husband. He worked there even before me and he was well aware of Alison and her “prowess” on the dance floor. His face lit up a little when I mentioned the song playing and my clear memory of Alison gettin’ out there and doin’ her stuff. (FACT: My husband’s face should ALWAYS light up. His smile is darling. His blue eyes are amazing. And the smile lines at the outside corners of those blue eyes not only make me melt but also fill me with all the gratitude – so lucky am I to be with him. It’s the handsomest vision of God I’ve known.) I was glad that my husband was seeing in his mind what I saw in mine.

As the song finished and my dinner dance with Alison from the legal department ended, I found myself unexpectedly overcome. Literally. I had to put my head down and in a very real way fight back tears and I almost openly wept there in the Ikea cafeteria. Trust me – my husband would confirm that my version of openly weeping is NOT gorgeous. But I was so overcome, and even now recounting it causes me to cry some. You see, the SOLE memory I have of this human is that of her dancing. If I were to bump into her family and reminisce at all, the ONLY thing I would be able to say is, “Boy – she LOVED to dance!”

I’m not fooled into thinking that lonesome dancing is all there was to Alison. Like every other human, she entered this life with baggage. She carried that baggage throughout her life’s duration, and when she departed this life (…if cause and effect mean anything in this universe…) she probably took some of it with her. But it – my memory of her – strikes me as wholly precious. She could have stayed on the sidelines like I was at the company party – talking with people about how the President is terrible or how the parking garage badly needs repaired. But she danced. What kinda world might we inhabit if we lived our lives in such a way that the only memories anyone had of us – the only memories we gave to others – were sweet and simple and the kind that make handsome husbands broadly smile?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Look Another Way


Just about every day on my way to the office I take the same route. And just about every day on my way from the office I take the same, but different than the first, route. My second route involves the interstate for about 3 miles. Between my on-ramp and the next exit over there’s always a burp of road during which my radio signal goes out. I don’t know if this happens for people listening to “normal” radio in their cars, but for me listening to satellite radio in my own car, there’s a brief bit of silence experienced whenever I hit that patch of road. If I’m going somewhere between 55 and 65 MPH, then I’d say the silence has a duration of about 4 seconds. Not long, but noticeable.

Another exit over(now two exits from my on-ramp) is where I get off if I’m going yarn shopping – which I do, far more than my budget says is healthy. That off-ramp curves a lot to the left and especially so as it connects to the major road right there. Because of that curve, it’s nearly impossible to take that exit and not see a massive and massively tall telecommunications tower. Or…. some such kind of tower, anyway. When stopped there and waiting on a green light, my satellite radio signal is interrupted just as when I’m going over the one patch of interstate. At this exit it is very clear that the tower is the reason my radio goes out right there.

Because of knowing that the tower at the second exit causes my radio to go out, for the last six hundred years of my life whenever I’m on that interstate and about go to over that “dry patch,” I look to my right (south) and try to spot the tower which must be there causing the signal’s interruption. And for the last six hundred years of my life I’ve failed to see it.

One day about two weeks ago – seriously, only two weeks ago – a thought crossed my mind that I ought to look north right there. I did and I feel almost embarrassed to admit that I was surprised to see the tower I previously would have sworn ought to be on the south side of the interstate! As soon as the surprise of that awareness wore off I was left with the realization that not only had I been looking the wrong direction the whole time but also that whole time I was practically obstinate about my thoughts and how they guided me.

For really no good reason, aside from failing to assess what was in my own head, I missed out on a perfect answer to what I questioned. In hindsight, I can now recognize that the south side of the interstate – in the area I was looking – has no place for such a tower. There are houses and businesses and schools and churches and parks. None of that mattered enough to me to ever cross my mind because I was so busy thinking what I already thought without ever really looking at what it was I was thinking or why. In that same area, but on the north side of the interstate, far more open space was available and no real proximity to homes, etc… got in the way of making that space the better option for that tower. That fuller realization – seeing the bigger picture – seems so obvious in retrospect.

I almost titled this post, “Look the Other Way,” but that didn’t communicate what I wanted. I’d already been looking the other way. We all do it, and usually too often. Looking the “other way” can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s done because we’re uncomfortable with what we’d see or have to face if we look another direction. Sometimes we look the other way because we’re lazy. I think sometimes, too, we look the other way because we feel we’ve worked hard to get to the view we currently have and looking another way instead of the other way would mean more work or somehow suggest outgrowing where we’ve gotten ourselves – that can be daunting and often brings feelings of wasted effort. It’s important to recognize, too, that looking the other way is always willful. We do make LOTS of choices and seemingly without even realizing we are but looking the other way, even when we don’t realize it, is always a choice being made somewhere inside you. The choice being made says, “I refuse to see…”

I encourage all (myself, included!) to look another way. Maybe the direction you’re already looking is just fine – but you can’t possibly be sure of that unless you look another way. You have to see what else is there.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The Second Purnam


January 2018 actually started off REALLY rough for me. I’ll spare you the details and really those who are closest to me had front row seats, so… probably not much more needs said. What I can say about all that is that, painful as it was, 2018 started off with learning and further confirmation of  my suspicion that 2018 would perhaps be a time of personal change. A lot of people will roll their eyes and think, “Typical new year’s resolutioner…new year new me nonsense.” But that’s not what this is about.

Anyone who knows me knows that I use my body’s clock to observe my New Year – not something based on someone else’s calendar. So my resolutions are actually set in August. Having said that, there’s a movement of energy that happens at the start of year that we all feed into and I’ve no issue admitting that that will likely affect the goals I set my sights on back in August.

January 2018 started with a full moon (purnima) and it ended with one, too! We see the same happen in March and there’s a purnima on my birthday this year. (Fun Fact: There was also a full moon on the day I was born and actually VERY close to the time of my birth) My mind sees this as auspicious and perhaps as a sign that fullness will be the tone of 2018. It’s now the second full moon of January and the second full moon of 2018.

Without going into great detail, which would surely bore you, the resolutions I set for myself last August all relate to simplification of life. So many challenges walk into our life when we open our eyes for the first time – and they often seem to compound as we age. And now, with plenty of age of my own, I’m feeling drawn to streamline things a bit – especially in 2018. To eliminate as much unnecessary burden as is practical to.

The Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness Maxims have been in mind for a while – probably more so lately because Daaji has spoken so much on a few of them recently. Good timing, too, because the ones that have been on my mind are some of those which he’s touched upon. Those Maxims are 4, 5, and 6. Maxim Four advises us to simplify our lives so as to be identical with Nature. This really sums it up, but to add to that, Maxim Five continues with advising us to always be truthful and accept miseries that come with life and to see the good in them. Finally, as the richest icing on any cake, Maxim Six is a rewording of one of the holiest and most profound ideas known to humans, “Know all people as thy brethren and treat them as such.” (NOTE: This is NOT the same as the Golden Rule or the idea of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s far deeper than that and touches on really meaty spirituality.)

These three combine to create a really wholesome, full, satisfying, and amazingly simple picture for the basic and strongest framework for one’s life and self-governance. These three can teach us a lot – not the least of which is how to eliminate drama from one’s life, how to gain better control of finances, how to make and keep new friends, how to heal familial rifts, and when applied properly to many contexts – even how to overcome addiction.

Fantastic! Such strength at the fingertips of (any)one who understands and implements these Maxims. Heartfulness, along with January’s two purnimas, helps me understand a positive and complete view of what 2018 might bring.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


The Prana of Dirt

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil ca. 2000

I love gardening. It’s something I think I get from my mother’s side of the gene pool. She liked having houseplants (though not to the degree or quantity I and her mother do) and my mother’s mother is a pro when it comes to African violets – at this moment I bet she has over a dozen in just one window. As often as I can, I try to have plants inside and outside my home and I’m often intentionally selective with their placement. Some plants will on their own try to dictate conditions under which they’ll grow – and they’re mostly right. A cactus, generally, will NOT grow in a swamp. However, I take such as “suggestion” and like I mentioned in my post about the Deading Dance, in my home things are often done … differently. Plus, I think there’s also a good bit of … umm … magic that goes into gardening. It should always be encouraged that sage or lavender or both be planted near entries and exits: doors, driveways, gates, etc… But none of that matter for this post really.

You can’t garden without dirt. And while dirt can sometimes stain and can almost always get under fingernails, it is precious. You wouldn’t be here without it. Literally. I have always enjoyed the smells dirt can have. After a rain, during a rain, when it’s super duper dry. Nobody wants a dirty house, but I’d be totally happy if my clean house smelled like dirt. It’s great stuff. I think the Buddha knew that, too.

I recently picked up a book called An Offering of Leaves by a Jewish-ish gal called Ruth Lauer-Manenti. I found her book at a second-hand book store I really ought to own stock in for as much money as I spend there and I was able to bring her work home for probably something like $6. I knew even before making the purchase that this book would end up living in the “General Hinduism” section (if that’s a thing) of my library. And I liked that each chapter seemed to start with some kind of Sanskrit stanza (this appeals to me because I take a lot of tattoo inspiration from these bits!) Beyond that I wasn’t sure I’d much enjoy the book, but could tell it would be good for stop-n-go reading, so … why not?

I had the book for at least a few days before deciding to dig into it and that really just means that it sat on my nightstand for a further few days before I actually opened it to read. The last part of the first chapter hit me hard, but in the sweetest way. I’ll share it now…(I’m going to add brackets to make it clearer who is speaking)

“There was a student, and every time he went to learn teachings from the Buddha he brought gold as an offering. He had so much wealth that he could bring a lot of gold. Then, many years passed, and this man spent all his wealth. He no longer had any gold. There was one special teaching coming up that he wanted to go to. He thought, ‘Well, I have nothing to offer. How can I approach the Buddha empty-handed?’ So he decided to go to the Buddha and ask. ‘Dear Buddha,’ he said, ‘I want so much to go to the teachings, but alas I’ve spent all my wealth. I have nothing to bring you. What should I do? I don’t want to come empty-handed.’ The Buddha said, ‘Oh, your wealth is gone?’ The man said, ‘Yes.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Oh! Gold is no longer there? You have no more gold?’ ‘This is correct,’ the man replied. ‘I have no more gold.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘OOohhh! Your wealth is finished?’ ‘Yes, it is finished dear Buddha. I have finished with my wealth.’ ‘Oh!’ the Buddha added. ‘Well, you have one garden. Don’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ the man responded. ‘I have one garden.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘You grow beautiful things out of that garden, don’t you? So many beautiful things grown in your garden?’ ‘Yes,’ said the man. ‘Beautiful, nice things grow in my garden.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Your dirt is very fertile. So it’s a beautiful thing to grow out of that dirt.’ [the man said…] ‘Yes. The dirt is full of nutrients.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Ah! It’s good dirt, is it not?’ ‘Yes, it’s good dirt,” said the man. [the Buddha said…] ‘Bring me some of that dirt. You have so much of it. Beautiful things grow out of it…. bring me some of that dirt.”

When I read this I made a short post to Facebook about being moved to tears because of dirt. Honestly, I was moved by a number of things: To a degree, I can relate to the student who became a wealthy adult. I have far, far more than I need and like the wealthy man I’m happy to give and I feel bad if I find myself in a situation where I can’t. I can relate to the Buddha, too. Whether they realize it or not, I’m generally very aware of the perception others have of me and as baffling as it is to me, there are those in my life who feel like they need to bring something to me to sit at the same table. Like some kind of payment is part of the picture.  Like the Buddha, gold is the last thing I expect anyone to have or to bring. And like the Buddha, I can see value in things others might overlook or otherwise undervalue. A simple, cheap bouquet of flowers, of all things, means more to me than about any other present I might ever receive. So if I were the Buddha, it’d absolutely be something I’d tell someone to do: Bring me something from your garden.

But dirt is where the Buddha blows me outta the water. I love dirt. And I love the things that grow from it (both flora and fauna). But you’ll notice from the story that the Buddha had to tell the guy TWICE of the beauty growing out of the dirt. When I say beauty growing out of the dirt, I don’t mean flowers – and neither did the Buddha. Had he meant that, then he would have told the man to bring one of the beautiful things growing from his fertile dirty.

Beauty is itself growing out of the dirt. There is also beauty of growing out of the dirt. Latent, potential beauty of the dirt. All these aspects and fifty more.

I have had a close relationship with dirt for AGES. It’s practically a generational thing (again, from my mother’s side) and I still don’t think it has ever – even once – crossed my brain space that when my hands are caked in mud, I’m holding the potential … of everything. Of every thing. That superficial realization startled me. It almost made me sick, to think of it more deeply and as I did I just found myself crying a little. It was a peaceful little cry, but one that came from deeper within than I expected. It might sound silly to say, but I think I went to bed that night a different person.

The Buddha understood the prana of dirt. Now, thanks to a Jewish yogini’s book from a second-hand store, I’m beginning to also.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Deading Dance

It’s been a while since I last posted anything here and this isn’t the post I had planned for the first one of 2018. But today marks the death anniversary of my maternal grandfather and in a couple days a similar anniversary will be observed for the death of my father’s brother’s wife. I miss them both so much, even years on. But I don’t miss them nearly as much as I love them. Here’s my attempt at explaining why….

If you’ve ever watched the movie Practical Magic (I have a hundred times) you’ll recall when the parents of the newest generation of witches were outta the picture, they (the newest generation, Sally and Jillian) went to live with The Aunts. As the young girls were being welcomed by the aunts, one of the aunts – in an effort to introduce some levity to the sad situation the girls were in – advises them of some of the rules of the house which include things like never brushing your teeth and having chocolate before dinner. Anything a kid might like to hear.

All gay jokes and age jokes aside, my home is a bit like the aunts’ home. I’m definitely an auntie – I mean… at least in spirit. My home is not as rustic or earthy as the one inhabited by the family of witches, but the spirit here is no different: We do what we want, when we want, however we want, and we may well call it whatever we wish. Under my roof, Death is no exception.

I bet you weren’t expecting the last paragraph to end with that statement, were you? In so many homes (and hearts and minds), Death is ONLY a bringer of sorrow and pain. In those homes and hearts and minds, Death ONLY separates us from those we loved while they were living. And in those homes and hearts and minds, Death might additionally mean other unfortunate things like familial rifts, unexpected skeletons popping out of the family’s closet, the burden of the shift of financial debts, etc… And in my home Death still governs things like that.

But in my home Death is also a friend. It hasn’t always been this way, but over the last decade or so my relationship with Death has evolved extensively. Anytime Death comes near, there will probably be pain and I think no amount of personal development or esoteric evolution will ever change that. As far as all that is concerned, I find peace in surrender. I let the initial sting of Death be felt. It needs to be felt. But like any other sting, whether from the snap of a rubber band or from an angry scorpion, to stretch that stinging feeling out is very unwise, never mind unhealthy. In my home we allow that sting. We experience it and then we let the sting subside when it wants to. Neither the living nor the dead benefit from misery stretched out beyond what is natural.

But there’s more. Death, for all the sad it brings, can bring as much joy. Death is Birth’s only dance partner and in fact the two have an insanely strong and romantic relationship. Everything that is born must die. It’s as natural as a bird’s song or the dawn’s light and it should be celebrated – and in my home that’s what we do.

I think we intrinsically know this and because of that knowing (as well as some dumb religious influences) whenever someone passes on you will always hear some lame, trite fool state, “Oh – he’s in a better place now. He’s not hurting anymore….” But you’d never know that – the way some people wail and moan for ages after the death event. Either we’re totally bullshitting ourselves or else somewhere deepest inside our being we understand that the dead loved one now knows peace and stillness and absolute release.

Miss your dearly departed – miss the hell out of them! Be sad at their passing at first, if you need to be. Sift your way through whatever quagmire they left with all the tears and swear words you feel necessary to get the job done. But then make friends with Death and be as glad as is natural to you – the one you mourn is better off than they ever have been! The one you mourn is now closer to you than EVER before – and will always be that close!

And that’s how Death brings undeniable joy to us. If I love you – if I REALLY love you – then nothing can mean deeper joy than seeing you be free from pain and suffering and life’s hardships. If I REALLY love you, then for you to finally be closer to me than you ever have been before is a source of joy. This is the dance that Life and Death do together and while it’s surely bittersweet, the sweet part is SO sweet. It’s only because of Death that we usually will see a chance to truly celebrate life – or at least the life lived by those we love. We’re doing so much harm to ignore that.

In my home, we honor Death and the times it came nearer. We observe Pitru Paksha not once a year but on every friend’s or family member’s death anniversary – because that’s how we want to observe it. We light little lamps fueled by butter. We fragrance my home with incense. While remembering them so dearly, we sing to and for those who now more fully live inside our hearts. And we dance a little, too. Sometimes we dance for our dearly departed. Sometimes we dance for Death. And the love from our loved ones always makes us smile.

Shanti, shanti, shanti-hi!

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Daaji & Ganeshji


From a recent Heartfulness news letter….

Two elderly sisters from Babuji’s time had come to Kanha to visit Daaji. During a long discussion with them on various topics at Gokul Point under the neem tree, Daaji’s thoughts flowed one after the other in a natural way.

“In ancient times, the figure of Lord Ganesh was known for bringing happiness and joy. Look at how much joy such a jolly figure brings! Imagine for a moment, Lord Ganesh is taking his vehicle, a little mouse, on a walk while it is raining, carrying his tiny little umbrella. When you look at the image of Lord Ganesh it provokes joy and happiness. But I have another understanding too. In Sahaj Marg we believe that we move from animal man to human man to divine man. When you see the image of Lord Ganesh, it shows an animal that wants to be human and there is also one image of Ganesh with an umbrella dancing in the rain which I would say is a blissful state. It is hilarious. So, he is a combination of an animal and a man who is now blissful. So it is a total journey depicted with this image. You cannot depict ‘beyond bliss’ with a pen and pencil. Also, Lord Ganesh is depicted riding on a mouse. You know, an elephant can’t sit on a mouse but you can carry the mightiest with a humble heart. You have to be humble to carry the Lord in you. You have to become small to carry the big – egolessness.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


From a recent Heartfulness newsletter…

“Autophagy happens when we fast, so that the body has an opportunity to rejuvenate. Otherwise we are always busy assimilating and metabolising food. You see, Ekadashi has a logic behind it, a scientific reason behind it. When you observe the tides in the oceans of the Earth – the high tide and low tide – they are in sync with the lunar cycle. Now, our body is almost 70% water so imagine what the lunar cycle does to our system. Its effect starts becoming pronounced from the eighth day, and by the fifteenth day the effect is maximum. So, to nullify the lunar effect we fast on the eleventh day, which is the midpoint. Farmers also use the farmer’s almanac based on the cycles of the moon to plant above-ground crops, vine crops, root crops and grains, clear ground etc. All living creatures respond to the lunar cycles.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti