Soul Retrieval, Failed: A Fable

Everest

Sharp mountains piercing the sky at dawn, casting their distorted reflection across a lightly lapping lake; and I can hear the eerie sound of trumpet blasts from the peaks calling an ancient race of men to their morning rituals, sitting in the mouths of caves, their guttural mantras vibrate this reality into continued shape and existence.

In this aetheric realm I have cast myself into the body of a hawk and I fly low and fast across the water searching yet again for an essential part of myself long lost.  And when I finally spot a body floating, fly closer, knowledge of a secret murder discovered, awareness that the boy is My Self, fly right up to the corpse and gaze deeply into the long dead milky eye staring out from a fish-pecked face. My wings take me away, high into the sky, filled with the knowledge that there is likely no resuscitation or resurrection possible.

I gasp back into the mundane, into my physical body, a dusty room filled with the sculpted artifacts of endlessly questing ritual-art, knowing in my bones that I traumatically died as a child yet this fleshy body shambles on, an actor on auto-pilot simulating life, work, play, completely devoid of meaning and joy, the talent and face seen by the world nothing more than willful, stubborn necromancy.

Lake in Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal, 2015

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Explore For the Sake of Exploration

Explore.jpg

“Explore” 9×12 Watercolor by PJ . Finished between my morning hatha class, and the restorative class I teach in the evening.

I mention this because the theme of my classes this week has been “Explore for the sake of exploration, not out of expectation of results, or for the destination.”

I saw a documentary this week with Neil deGrasse Tyson that looked at the space program, specifically manned space travel to the moon, and someday maybe Mars. It looked at how much trying to reach the moon did for our society, for science, for the advancement of human potential. And then. . .we Just. Stopped. Going.

Because our exploration was reactive. We were trying to beat the Russians. It was a matter of pride, and national defense. And once we did it for awhile, we just stopped.

This reminded me a lot of our practice of yoga. And we may start as reactive. Reacting to aging, or pain, or unhappiness, and we may have a goal. But it’s the journey, and the practice itself that is the reward. We might want to lose weight, or become healthier and happier, and that’s great, having goals is important, but when we become attached to the outcome as the motivator, it can easily become the very thing that derails us. Success can lead to boredom, and “failure” can lead to discouragement.

I find the same exact thing happens to me in every part of my life, including my creative life. When I’m stuck, it’s because invariably I’ve become attached to the result, and not the joy of exploring for the sake of what exploration brings to my life.

Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, says to Lord Arjuna “Let your concern be with the action alone, and never the fruits of the action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.” Having felt stuck in several places in my life recently, this message couldn’t have been more timely, or more helpful in getting me going again.

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The Bad Boys (and Girls) of Yoga

Thinking yogis are a bit weird is nothing new (from humble sadahkas to spooky siddhas.) Exhibit 1, this lovely excerpt from a 14th century Indian play, these are the lines the author put into the mouth of a tantric thaumaturge:

“I don’t know mantra from tantra,
nor meditation or anything about a teacher’s grace.
Instead, I drink cheap booze and enjoy some woman.
But I sure am going to liberation, since I got the Kula Path.
What’s more,
I took some horny slut and consecrated her my “holy wife.”
Sucking up booze and wolfing down red meat,
My “Holy Alms” are whatever I like to eat,
My bed is but a piece of human skin.
Say, who wouldn’t declare this the Kaula Religion
just about the most fun you can have?”
–Translation from David Gordon White, “Sinister Yogis”

Rishi

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Dharana on Rock n Roll

The following poem is inspired by the 112 Dharana’s (meditations) described in the gorgeous versus of the Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. This poem was composed on the flight home from Indonesia in November, where I rediscovered a part of myself that had been missing. The essential point of these tantras is that anything, really, can serve as a source of meditation leading you through that doorway into the inner luminosity residing beneath the surface of EVERYTHING.
 
DHARANA ON ROCK N ROLL
 
Find first the stillness
in your breath
Feel its sweetness
in your throat
 
Hear your heartbeat
 
Can you conjure
rock n roll
from silence, feel
the pagan dance
that’s pulsing through
your veins?
 
And with this beat
look into infinite emptiness,
Visualize the album art
hinting at the blissful
music within you
then spill paint
like warm blood across
blank white canvas
evoking and invoking
the myriad
gods and creatures
as energies that spring
the step and sway
the hips in dance.
 
Start a new day, again
rising like the sun,
sitting in stillness
linking the radiance
of your breath
to the radiance
of the sun
 
Inhale
the rock n roll
throbbing in your veins
 
Exhale your truth
tongue touching chin
with the roar
of lion’s breath.
 
Radiant Spleen 12-30-16
 
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Ganesha The Mama’s Boy

Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles

Ganesha, big old cuddly elephant, much beloved by western yogis, and basically, by everybody as far as I can tell.  What’s not to love about  an elephant-headed deity who will stomp with his tree-like legs through whatever obstacle is blocking your path forward in life?  Light a candle, chant Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, and voila!  Work your fuzzy yoga magix!

Well, I’ve had my blasphemous way with any number of Christian, Jewish and Islamic deities and figureheads to the ghast horror of those too stricken by fundamentalism to recognize the meaning of their own stories and myths, and so, with the blood of colonialist cultural appropriators beating through my viking veins, I’m also going to do a little unapologetic work on Ganesha.

Ganesha, remover of obstacles.  Why?

Ganesha, son of Parvati and Shiva, a son not even of conception, but created from the skin beneath his mom’s nails.  The disgusting skin neurotically scratched from her own unrequited flesh as her husband, Shiva, was off drunk, high and in deep meditation discovering the secrets of yoga, life, the universe and everything.

And having figured it all out, finally, Shiva is ready to come home and have his way with his woman.  And what does he find?  The remover of obstacles?  NO.

What Shiva finds standing guard outside his mothers bath is the Original Obstacle.  The Original Mama’s boy.  The Original Cock Blocker.  A boy so stupid he can’t even recognize the reflection of his own face in his father’s staring back at him.

Shiva removed the obstacle by chopping off that insolent little shit’s head and going on in to his wife.  Later, in the warm afterglow of love, Parvati sends Shiva out to fetch her slow boy a new head, and isn’t even all that bothered that the best Shiva can find is an elephants head.  Kids.

So next time you invoke Ganesha to help you remove an obstacle, understand, there never was any obstacle to achieving ANYTHING you wanted in the first place…. at ALL. . .except YOU.  You little Shit!

ganesha

Words and Watercolor by RadiantSpleen 2016

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Having a Blue Day

Lonely but not
alone, deeply feeling
the world…and
it confounds me.

No tears or rain
yet still my head runs
like diluted ink.

Each day passes
like years, each year
passing in a day.

I have no idea
how best to spend
this little time.

Dim ghosts
we flash occasionally
bright, like meteorites
across a moonless
sky.

blue-cloud-wash
Words and Watercolor by PJ Church 2016

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Archetypal Fates

THE MAGICIAN

Nearing the end
of the final act
the magician reaches
into his hat

To see
if he

Can once again
pull a rabbit
from within

But catching hold
of emptiness
his fingers find
the cold abyss

Reaches until he falls
right in, his toes
catch briefly on
the brim

And to approving screams
and cheers, the magician
finally
disappears.

(Images, “The Magician” and “The Black Rabbit of Inle” by Radiant Spleen)
The Magician and the Black Rabbit of Inle.jpg

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