An Audience Song

I took this at the theater of Alliance Française in Pondicherry and developed it in our darkroom

An Audience Song

Poetry enhances
our little corner of life’s room.
It’s what we splash on our faces
to get the stories out.
You would contradict this song.
That’s the mystery.
And we look at an iceberg,
it roses from the ground.
Underneath it stalls in light.
A brief ocean
has rounded in our ears
the equity
of a larger see than ours.
Alimony this payment
to that stuff in us
at noontide’s sing.

I’ve rounded poetry.
You hear the contradiction?
It’s a blistery see
with what ails yah,
the exuberance
of a state of being
laughing at the stars.
It’s a transaction
between you and sight
that calls all what you don’t see
into play.
I measure my life by it
one poem at a time,
a poet in my room
attended by verse itself.
You are my audience
lines of poetry.
What people there
the contradictory note,
the flowers of which I speak.

I Want Struggles To Be Light

By Douglas McElheny

A few days ago this line from the muse came to me in the morning.

I want struggles to be light.

You can definitely play around with multiple interpretations of a line like this because of the different meanings for the word ‘light’. One interpretation jumps out right away if you take ‘light’ in the sense of something being not heavy or not dark in color. Read this way the line is saying that I want a lighter load of struggles.  There’s no doubt I feel that way often, and I’m sure most people reading this can relate to that sentiment. Another idea though along these lines has to do with my belief that what really makes struggles and pain so dark and heavy is this consciousness we live in which is a state of identification with this mind and body. But as many spiritual teachers have said throughout the ages, if you can enter into a consciousness where you’re identified with the divine, or oneness or whatever you want to call it then you realize that this mind and body isn’t you, is more like a shirt you’ve put on, and you don’t take what happens to them so seriously anymore. Then, even though life’s challenges are still there, they’ve lost their heaviness, and you no longer suffer from them. You deal with them from a state of Light or Knowledge and not a state of Ignorance.  Hand in hand with that idea is a complementary take on the line where ‘light’ means spiritual illumination. This gives the sense to me of struggles being spiritually illumined and transmuted.

Another interpretation that occurred to me takes ‘light’ in the sense of a ‘means of igniting something’ as in “Hey buddy, you got a light?”. It’s a less obvious reading of the line and one that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me if I hadn’t been thinking a lot about something I’d read in the Mother’s Questions and Answers a few days before. I’ll share the quote first before I get into the interpretation.

Quite naturally we ask ourselves what this secret is, towards which pain leads us. For a superficial and imperfect understanding, one could believe that it is pain which the soul is seeking. Nothing of the kind. The very nature of the soul is divine Delight, constant, unvarying, unconditioned, ecstatic; but it is true that if one can face suffering with courage, endurance, an unshakable faith in the divine Grace, if one can, instead of shunning suffering when it comes, enter into it with this will, this aspiration to go through it and find the luminous truth, the unvarying delight which is at the core of all things, the door of pain is often more direct, more immediate than that of satisfaction or contentment.1

So like the Mother says here I think the line could be interpreted in the sense of changing my attitude so that struggles and pain become more a means of advancing on the spiritual path, more a means of igniting my aspiration to go through them in order to reach that ‘unvarying delight’ than something that holds me back when I have  resistance to the pain or depression about the pain. Backing up this idea, I feel, is an experience I had with Medhanada’s Eternity Game two nights before I received this line and a few hours after I’d read the above quote from the Mother. That quote is part of a longer passage where she says a number of things one of which is “When pain comes, it comes to teach us something.”2 As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, probably my biggest difficulty is contending with the constant chronic pain in my back and knees. So that night after reading the Mother’s words I asked the Eternity Game, “What’s the purpose of this pain?” The card I drew was ‘Dwarf’.

Europe 1997.3 25

In the Eternity Game this card represents the mental being, and as you can see its aspects are ‘Quest’, ‘Next Step’ and ‘Intelligence’. Medhananda gives detailed commentary on all the cards in the game, but he also gives short one sentence descriptions.  The short one he gives for the ‘Dwarf’ card is ‘advance, take the next step.’3 I took this as confirmation that I have to try and take the mental attitude the Mother recommends towards the pain so it becomes more a means of progress. I should point out that for me the fact that my reading of the  Mother’s words was followed by synchronicities with both the Eternity Game and my own inner guidance in just a matter of a few days stresses the need for this change in attitude. It’s not easy to do, and to truly surrender this pain is something I’ve been aspiring for for a while. Hopefully this will help me to take the ‘next step’ with that.

So that’s my take on things. Please feel free to share other ideas in the comments!

References

  1. Questions and Answers 1957-1958  by the Mother pg 41
  2. Ibid pg 42
  3. The Eternity Game by Medhananda pg 133

 

 

For Janet

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This morning my friend Janet’s long ordeal with cancer finally came to an end.  The last time I saw her a few days ago in hospice I read her a passage from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri about the soul.  I share it here as a tribute to her but also for the benefit of the reader.  It’s long but well worth the time to read.

A being stood immortal in transience,

Deathless dallying with momentary things,

In whose wide eyes of tranquil happiness

Which pity and sorrow could not abrogate

Infinity turned its gaze on finite shapes:

Observer of the silent steps of the hours,

Eternity upheld the minute’s acts

And the passing scenes of the Everlasting’s play.

In the mystery of its selecting will,

In the Divine Comedy a participant,

The Spirit’s conscious representative,

God’s delegate in our humanity,

Comrade of the universe, the Transcendent’s ray,

She had come into the mortal body’s room

To play at ball with Time and Circumstance.

A joy in the world her master movement here,

The passion of the game lighted her eyes:

A smile on her lips welcomed earth’s bliss and grief,

A laugh was her return to pleasure and pain.

All things she saw as a masquerade of Truth

Disguised in the costumes of Ignorance,

Crossing the years to immortality;

All she could front with the strong spirit’s peace.

But since she knows the toil of mind and life

As a mother feels and shares her children’s lives,

She puts forth a small portion of herself,

A being no bigger than the thumb of man

Into a hidden region of the heart

To face the pang and to forget the bliss,

To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds

And labour mid the labour of the stars.

This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,

Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;

Identified with the mind and body and life,

It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,

Bleeds with Fate’s whips and hangs upon the cross,

Yet is the unwounded and immortal self

Supporting the actor in the human scene.

Through this she sends us her glory and her powers,

Pushes to wisdom’s heights, through misery’s gulfs;

She gives us strength to do our daily task

And sympathy that partakes of others’ grief

And the little strength we have to help our race,

We who must fill the role of the universe

Acting itself out in a slight human shape

And on our shoulders carry the struggling world.

This is in us the godhead small and marred;

In this human portion of divinity

She seats the greatness of the Soul in Time

To uplift from light to light, from power to power,

Till on a heavenly peak it stands, a king.

In body weak, in its heart an invincible might,

It climbs stumbling, held up by an unseen hand,

A toiling spirit in a mortal shape.

Here in this chamber of flame and light they met;

They looked upon each other, knew themselves,

The secret deity and its human part,

The calm immortal and the struggling soul.

Then with a magic transformation’s speed

They rushed into each other and grew one.

From Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri pgs 526-527