TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Posts tagged “Spirituality

Eye-Locks, Namaste and God


Namaste!

Namaskar!

Namaskaram!

The Hindu greeting: “I bow to the God in you.”

I love this form of greeting– so much better than a handshake.

Christians believe God dwells within our souls. Perhaps other religions do as well. It seems Hindus do also if that is not too simplistic of me to express. Please excuse me if it is.

In some of the best of the old Bollywood classics love is portrayed without so much as a simple kiss. It is shown by gazing into the eyes of the beloved and saying “I see God in you.”

Eyes are the window to the soul. For people such as my husband and myself who are on the Autism Spectrum, eye contact is fearsome. It is threatening. And yet eye contact is precious beyond all fortune. Eye contact in love is wondrous and life-changing.

I have seen God in my husband’s eyes for a fleeting moment of eye contact on a walk in the countryside when we were being loving with one another… and on precious contact when I come in to talk to him while he is on the computer in New York City. I have seen God in my husband when he is telling a joke and I am laughing at him and he is so happy to make me laugh. He is child like, God like. It seems I hit the jackpot in marrying him. Looking deeply into another’s eyes, the “right” other, one finds God is Love, God is Joy. This is nothing new– just new to me.

One time I looked deeply into another’s eyes with a person I worked with long before I met my husband. It reached down deep inside both of us and it changed my life forever. It led me on a road to a complete breakdown and a long road back rebuilding my personality slowly in therapy until I was whole. And then I met my husband. And eye-contact with him is precious. It is special. Not frequent and in its rarity, powerful and sacred.

Eye-locks are powerful, potent conveyors of love, joy, sadness and finally, and most importantly, they can be a vehicle to God.

Welcome to samples of my writing showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


BEINGS OF LIGHT


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December is my favorite time of year.  In this the month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in a fullness shown by so many, in so many ways.  As the days grow shorter in North America, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls.  In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and the beauty is shared by passersby.  For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza.  Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.   

An animal friend who lived down the road, a donkey in his stable, reminded me of the story of another manger over 2000 years ago.  And seeing him snug in his stable with snow on the ground gave the illusion that all was right in the world.  But all was not well and all is not right now. Thousands know no peace in any season. Millions are cold and starving.  Racism and religious wars prevail.  Climate change advances in leaps and bounds, faster than most predicted.

Those who live closer to the land are especially blessed.  They share their lives with animals who are constant reminders of humility and simplicity in this rapid, complex, multi-tasking world. They can drive around on a December night and see houses covered in lights with illuminated trees, houses warmed by fires, imagining them filled with laughter and conversation and love, and feel blessed.  Blessed to have so much when others have so little.  Blessed to be able to celebrate as they wish when others cannot. 

Yet even those living in the worst conditions show the light of the human spirit and celebrate the season of light in personal ways.  For the human spirit is indomitable.

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Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light unites us.

In December’s darkness we light lights.  For we are beings of light.  A light glows within each one of us. And, at the most basic level, we are all beings of light because we are made from stardust.  Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us– we are all– Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist– whatever– we are all made from star material.

And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as Christians say shepherds did over two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable like the one down the road. On that night they say a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds to the stable of the infant, Jesus, the son of God.   

In these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our trees, let us look inside and try to find the glow that may guide us each, alone but intrinsically one, to the LIGHT!

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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


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JOY * PEACE * LOVE


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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Edge of Winter


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It is an overcast day.  Brightly colored birds stand out like jewels in the greyness.  The winter birds– jays and cardinals, juncos, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers flock to the bird feeder and it has to be filled up almost every day.  The red berries on the bushes are nearly all gone and the feeder is becoming a matter of survival.  On our walks we see empty nests held in the bare arms of winter trees.  An empty robin’s nest is filled with snow– the hatchlings and the mother long gone to fairer climes.  The trees are stripped down to their souls.  With ice storms they become tinkling chandeliers.  In the rain the few remaining dead leaves drip icy tear drops.

Occasionally a dove visits the feeder.  The chipmunk, who gathered scattered seeds under the feeder all fall, is not to be seen.  He must be in torpor in his den.  According to Bernd Heinrich in: The Winter World: the Ingenuity of Animal Survival, the eastern chipmunk builds a twelve foot storage system with a nest chamber some three feet down and a tunnel system which includes a food storage chamber.  Heinrich says chipmunks go in and out of torpor.  He reasons that they would not gather food if they were to be in torpor all winter long.  We will probably not see our chipmunk for the rest of the winter for, in his stuporous state, he would be easy prey.  However he can be roused to eat and venture outdoors if need be, especially in March when there still may be snow on the ground but mating season begins.

The grey squirrels are busy clearing snow from branches as they run along tree limbs.  On the ground they dig through the snow for the walnuts we watched them bury in the ground with their noses this fall.  They do not need to hibernate for they have food stores which they built up in the autumn and leafy, well-insulated nests.  The red squirrels survive winter by putting on a thick, insulating fur.

The back yard is a maze of tunnels.  We think they are deer mouse tunnels as many have tunneled their way into our house.  But they must get by the feral cat who sometimes waits out a snow storm under our deck.  In the woods, the occasional deer waits out the same storm under a squat fir tree.   The tracks in the snow tell the story of how they weathered a Nor’Easter.

Beneath the tracks in the snow, in the frozen leaf litter, the insect world is dormant.  Some hibernate.  Others fill their bodies with antifreeze, glycerol, to stay alive.  Heinrich talks about  woolly bears hibernating but they are also capable of freezing solid and surviving, coming to life again as they thaw in the spring.  The pupae, however, don’t survive being frozen. 

In Winter: an Ecological Handbook, authors, James C. Halfpenny, Elizabeth Besiot and Roy Douglas Ozonne, tell us that the reptiles and amphibians pick out a “microclimate for hibernation that does not freeze” for their winter, such as the “bottoms of ponds, streams, or deep in the ground.”

Our stream flows out back in the marsh under ice and snow and one can see the elongated bubbles of running water.  In the pond next door the turtles lay beneath the ice in their hibernacula.  At the end of the book, The Year of the Turtle, David M. Carroll, the naturalist, author and artist, has his watercolor of a spotted turtle hibernating.  This picture is hypnotic and in its spell, I think of all the animals hibernating beneath our feet in lugubrious gloom.  It reminds me of the penguins in the film, The March of the Penguins, in the dead of an Antarctic winter, huddled together for warmth in the harsh, strong winds and snow, taking turns being on the outside of the huddle.  Winter can be magnificent in its transformations yet tragic in its harshness: hibernating animals who freeze to death and deer starving to death in the snow among the victims of its violence.

Carroll’s drawing shows the turtle all alone, withdrawn into its shell under less than two feet of water lodged firmly in the mud under ice under snow in a sunny winter’s day, a far better clime than the penguin’s–  and yet it evokes a certain sadness for this little creature all alone beneath the snow, in a torpid state.  The turtle is missing out on a sunny day, sleeping a deep sleep in a “half year of stillness.”

Carroll’s writing is sheer poetry as he describes the turtle’s hibernation: “Mounting layers of snow silently cover the ice.  Night after night in the harshest depth of winter, as Orion and the Pleiades burn distant and brilliant in the black sky and strong winds howl off the mountain to the northwest, the turtles rest beneath the ice.  With the life in them nearly suspended, reduced to its most tenuous hold, all but extinct in the vast, inhospitable regime that reaches above them to the limits of the universe, they lie within their shells, waiting for the earth to make its required turnings and return them to the sun that will awaken them to another season.” 

I think of the turtles below, along with all the other beautiful creatures.   I wish them a kind sleep from which they will safely stir with the life force surging through their veins as the sun brings them to the fullness of life again.  The death of some, and the half life of so many, proffers the poignancy of winter.

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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


The Trees of Late Fall & the Promise of Winter


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Bontecou Lake Swamp, Millbrook, New York

Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in the weeks before official winter– my love affair with trees. Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the cold, colorful pre-winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their colorful, dead blossoms amid the ground cover and their burgeoning berries, the offspring of a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.

Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.

These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice. While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.

All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while we wee, little creatures race around distractedly below.

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Hammond Road, Millbrook, NY


Realism and Abstraction no.2


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Millbrook in Autumn– from Realism to Abstraction


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Bontecou Lake in Autumn


Millbrook, New York

This landscape no longer exists. Cut down for hunters. 😢


Autumn Memories


Millbrook, NY “Cool Change” by Little River Band

Diwali in Khajuraho, Madya Pradesh, India


(Click to enlarge) In conjunction with HeyGo Tours @ HeyGo.com
(Click to enlarge) In conjunction with HeyGo Tours @ HeyGo.com
(Click to enlarge) In conjunction with HeyGo Tours @ HeyGo.com

Eyes to Eternity


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At age 35 I found someone who was more afraid of closeness than I was.  I understood him almost from day one.  This understanding came out of years of therapy that followed my breakdown at age 28.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that I was depressed.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that my failed relationships were due to my fear of closeness.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know I was Bipolar.  I learned a lot of things in therapy that helped to change the direction of my life.

And then one day Thomas walked into the library where I had been working for 10 years.  He got a job as a library assistant.  He was a graduate student and wanted to work part-time.  I took the first steps towards asking him out because it was obvious he never would.  I had learned a thing or two after a stint at being gay.  We bumbled our way into a relationship and, after 4 years, into marriage.  We didn’t know that either one of us had Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum, until much, much later.  We just thought we were very, very shy.

After some 33 years of marriage we are still shy with each other.  Our instincts are still to run away from closeness, but now we are able to override the first gut feeling.  We have grown together, becoming very, very close.  So close that now my biggest fear is of losing Thomas.  So close that sometimes we communicate without talking, as if we are on the same radio frequency.  In fact talking often confuses things.

We have pushed each other along life’s path.  Tom became a clinical social worker and I became a writer and artist.  The road has been bumpy in spots.  My being Bipolar has been hard for Tom at times.  Many times.  But there have been many more moments of joy that make it all worthwhile.  We both feel the other is the best thing that happened to us, and the journey continues.  New lessons are learned.   There are still new magical moments and new epiphanies.

It is 3A.M.   I lay beside Thomas in bed listening to his breathing as I watch a silent light show outside our bedroom windows.  This is not a 3A.M. awakening born of despair as some are.  At the moment I feel the Presence and that Presence fills me with love.

The moonlight beckons to me, and I respond by getting up and gazing at the twinkling stars and the hushed light of flickering fireflies. In the quiet stillness of a country night I am stirred by the music of the silence.  My ears hum, the sound of the nervous system according to my husband.

The cool air is intoxicating.  I go to the den to write and sit in a moonlit cathedral, watching the seemingly random flashing flames of fireflies flying in a frenzy of love.  The madness of desire.  Well do I know how love possesses one’s spirit and makes one fly through life, manic with emotion.

Yet sometimes, beneath the energy that stirs one’s blood, lies a silent union—a momentary glimpse of eternity in a loved-locked gaze into the eyes of one’s beloved.  It is fleeting, at least for me.  Gone in a flash, and yet it leaves me wondering just whom I am seeing.   The inner voice says that God has touched my soul through Thomas, for the best of human love is merely a sampling of the Divine.  Eye contact, so problematic for both my husband and me, is wondrous in this context.  For a second, eternity beckons like the moonlight, whispering of another life, another world, something beyond the here and now.

(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html  for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)


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The Eyes, the Windows to the Soul, Fruit Vendor in Palayam (Old Calicut) Market, Kerala, India


(Click to enlarge) In conjunction with HeyGo Tours @ Heygo.com

Starlight, Starbright


Another reblog…

MOONSIDE

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Starlight through the skylight
Moonlight just above the roof
Fireflies flickering flames
Random to our eyes
In a dizzying mercurial display
Flitting to the tune
Of trilling frogs
And the flutter of batwings
I see goblins in the windows
Alone would be terrified
With you here beatified
By the beauty of the silence
Punctuated by the frogs
Spotlighted by the moon
And the sparkling stars
Whose dust makes up
These rented bodies we carry
While inside heartbeats
Tick away our lives
To the beat of a flashing firefly
Or a flickering star.

View original post


My Cathedral


Another reblog…

MOONSIDE

The wilderness
is my cathedral
Spring Trees at Sunset  (digital photo)
The sky
my steeple
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The trees
my buttresses
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Hay bales
my statuary
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Flowers
my stained glass
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A babbling brook
my organ
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Frogs and toads
my choir
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Fields of wildflowers
my incense
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Thunder storms
my high mass
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A very diverse congregation…

From cows

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to snails and turtles

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to gazillions
of insects

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Deer sometimes come round

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Butterflies abound

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Moths, too

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Birds of every hue

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All that’s missing is you

but you worship your own way

doing charity every day

more than I can say

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Eyes to Eternity


Forgive me for reblogging this. I have zero creativity these days, fear of the pandemic and all, but I still have the feelings expressed here, if anything, even more intensely now in a marriage that is almost 32 years old.   So I am posting this again..

MOONSIDE

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At age 35 I found someone who was more afraid of closeness than I was.  I understood him almost from day one.  This understanding came out of years of therapy that followed my breakdown at age 28.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that I was depressed.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that my failed relationships were due to my fear of closeness.  Before the breakdown, I didn’t know I was Bipolar.  I learned a lot of things in therapy that helped to change the direction of my life.

And then one day Thomas walked into the library where I had been working for 10 years.  He got a job as a library assistant.  He was a graduate student and wanted to work part-time.  I took the first steps towards asking him out because it was obvious he never would.  I had learned a thing or two after a stint…

View original post 484 more words


Divine Romance


Our third decade together. And the love grows deeper against a background of eventual, inevitable loss. A loss more unimaginable than one’s own demise.

I look deeply into your eyes, my eyes linger, falling into your blue orbs, while you, in turn, delight in my gaze, going far beyond the polite looks people use in everyday conversations. We pause too long. I fall into the abyss of your sky blues and feel reverence. Reverence for your happy spirit, infectious mood.

It is not the Eros of our first decade that waned in the second and all but disappeared in the third. Attraction, yes, but of a different nature. Attraction of the heart, the soul, the spirit. We bring each other to pure joy, bliss, a sharing of spirit. We give each other a taste of oneness with all.


Reaching for the Stars


“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree… a tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”  The opening lines of the poem,“Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer.  Indigenous peoples through the ages have talked of tree spirits and trees as wise ones.  Trees are striking as they permanently lift their arms to the Heavens in seeming prayer, day and night in communication with the Creator, their outstretched arms reaching for the stars. 

Reaching for the stars.  The image calls to mind a dance of the Kalahari Bushmen who were featured in the movie “The Gods They Must be Crazy.”  The Kalahari, the last men born of the Stone Age culture according to Laurens Van Der Post, have no sense of individuality and so share all they have. They have a dance of gratitude which Van Der Post describes in his book entitled “A Mantis Carol”: “I never see their dancing without feeling deeply moved and utterly irreverent and blasphemous because of our own incapacity for acknowledging what life will give if only we will let it in.”  And then there is their dance of the “great hunger,” a dance that says we do not live by bread alone, a dance at life’s end fraught with longing, with arms outstretched taughtly towards the Heavens as they reach for the stars.

My grandfather reached for the stars.  He came here,  a 16-year-old peasant stonecutter from the mountains of Sicily, knowing no English.  He wound up carving the Lincoln Gettysburg address at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.  While working on the Gettysburg Address he studied English at night school.  I remember him telling me how he was the laughing stock of his fellow stone cutters because, inspired by Lincoln’s words, he carved his initials at the top of the monument, “A.L.” for Anthony LaManna (and, of course, for Abraham Lincoln), followed by: “Attorney at Law.”  Working his way through school, he actually did eventually become a VA lawyer.  He reached for the stars and touched them without ever forgetting where he came from.  And he was childlike as he took care of me, as we danced to records on the victrola or as he played the mandolin and sang to me.  I always think of him with a tinge of sadness, for more than anyone, he taught me to reach for the stars. 

Reach for the creator–  that is what the trees say.  At this time of year I yearn for the days of childhood in which God seemed close.  This yearning fully ripens each year at Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah when the people brighten their houses with festive lights.  It is a time of year in which we light up our hearts and look to the heavens and sing songs of love to a babe born not so very long ago, or in which we give thanks for the oil to light the lights of the temple for eight days.  We are all really seeking the love that motivated the Kalahari Bushmen to do their dance.  We are seeking a savior, and yearning for the Light in this overlit, commercialized, complicated world in which the inspiring simplicity of the Bushmen, the peasant, is rapidly disappearing.  And the trees touch my heart in their upward reach for the Heavens.  For at this time so many millions of them are sacrificed as they become our Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, to be discarded after the holidays are over. 

May we enter this holy season with a simpler yearning, not for presents and parties and hoopla, but with our hearts full of gratitude, taking lessons from the trees, from the Kalahari Bushmen, from our ancestors, and seek Love, in whatever form it takes in our souls.


Introduction to Daaji


The most humble guru I have yet encountered and his meditations are the most relaxing.  Heartfulness meditations.


The Spirit of Snow


The Spirit of snow

highlights the love of line

the loving grace of trees in winter

bare and spiritual

the horses a gift of color

in otherwise black and white


What the Trees Say


Feather trees whisper a blessed new year to you all!


Spirit in Summer


Summer spirit

whispers to

the lowly weeds

dances round

the graceful trees

and sends peace

to pacify

an observant cow

 

 


Through the Blur of Maya


“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Bible verse from the King James version of the Bible, 1 Corinthians Chap 13 verse 12

 

And the guru who is my eyes right now is Kamlesh Patel, known as “Daaji,” and his disciple, Joshua Pollock in their book “The Heartfulness Way.”  See below.  I have read it twice and will reread it again.  It is the No. 1 Bestseller in India right now and it is chock full of insights and directions to follow the path of “Heartfulness.”  It is the path of love and the heart.  The path of Raja Yoga.  How could I resist?  Daaji does not charge for his teaching.  He has a network of trainers available on the Internet.   The key to Raja Yoga is the transmission you receive from the guru, from the trainers.  The path of Heartfulness is leading me to peace.  And as I am in the midst of withdrawing from a major tranquilizer STILL (a long process that will continue for months), peace is MAJOR.  I am not there yet but I see light at the end of the tunnel of Maya.  “I see now through a glass darkly…”


Sadhguru’s Cure for a Spiritual Lobotomy


Another invisible illness silently
sapping quality of life
vertigo and acute nausea
now join
constant migraines
and, with Aspergers, I am
more of a recluse than ever
But my beloved stands by me
A few weeks ago
I wanted to die
Bipolar, too, you see
too sick to sleep
too long a wait
to see a doctor
My beloved, my savior
keeps me going.
But I must fight on my own
and have enlisted Sadhguru
an Indian mystic and Yogi and guru
who promises bliss.

Meditating and chanting every day
with my beautiful husband
whose love
pulls me through
My husband the healer
who worked
with the poorest of the poor
the dejected and rejected
the condemned
My husband who married me
despite my mental illness.

Sadhguru says my mind
can poison my body
Sadhguru, my last best hope
I meditate and chant Aum
with him daily
living the life of a hermit
in a 3 room box in New York City
rather than in a cave in the Himalayas
Desperately seeking
the spirituality of years ago
before antipsychotic medication
gave me a spiritual lobotomy
A trade off
it offered me
some sort of stability
to have a quasi normal life
with my devoted husband
of 28 years.

Why can’t you have
pharmacological sanity
that allows you to love
AND spirituality???
I am going to try…
With Sadhguru.


Flitting and Flirting on a Flower


Butterflies mating
on a flower petal bed
The perfume of love
in a plethora of hues
Fleeting moments
of life
of the present
past in a blink
of the eye
or the flutter
of a butterfly wing.