Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shiva's Mirror

I step out into the whirling vortex of impressions
and just like that
in an instant,
I forget Who I Am.

So many glances fall my way
luring me to live
the myth
that I am the shell.
And that the shell is
incomplete, imperfect, unlovable.

I find a mirror...
such as Your eyes.

When I see myself
in Your eyes
I am radiant!
A gem of light!

I fall in love with myself -
how can I not?

And in loving this reflection of me...
shining from Your eyes...

I remember again
Who I truly Am...

Chidananda Roopah, Shivoham, Shivoham.
(The embodiment of Bliss Consciousness, I am Shiva, I am Shiva)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am awed by my mortality. I am awed that despite the fact that I know I will die, I continue to live, to create, to love life. How amazing is that?

As a lover of history, which is the recounting of the memories and lives of people who once lived but are now quite dead, I am consistently brought face to face with the Great Equaliser. You can be Hitler, Arjuna, Napoleon or Gandhi, but you still end up dead. The story of your life, the one you choose to write upon the earth with the ink of this incarnation, is a miracle to me.  Because when you break it down to the basics, we humans live very short lives. The fact that we manage to accumulate such a vast array of opinions, judgements, experiences, accomplishments, growth milestones, failures and successes is incredible! We do so much in such a tiny space of time.

Just in case I give the impression of siding with some fundamentalist thought, I clarify - I don’t think we should ‘want to die’ or ‘sacrifice our lives’ for a cause. Nope. We are definitely of far more use to the planet alive than dead.  I do not support suicide either because for anyone who has allowed the lessons of death to teach them, we know that death is less about dying and more about living happily from the inside.

But the inevitability of death makes it important, in my humble opinion, for the topic to be brought to the table and discussed - without shame and without fear. ‘Mommy became a star’ is alright for 7 year-olds, though I wouldn’t have swallowed that at age 7, since I was exploring the concept of reincarnation then (and I suspect a lot of 7 year-olds would do the same if they were given half a chance to use their amazing intelligence.) But a thirteen year old needs something more substantial, don’t you think?

In polite (Indian) society, children are to be shielded from all discussions on death at all costs which is a ritual I find quite bizarre. That’s what they did with Prince Siddhartha – and when he finally heard of death and saw it, he went on a journey that made him The Buddha. At this time, we could definitely do with more kids taking such personal journeys.

But perhaps not everyone feels comfortable discussing their impending death at a dinner party. It’s generally considered a morbid topic and I haven’t quite fathomed why. There is a paranoia about death – as if by not talking about it, we could somehow avoid it happening to us. I don’t think that’s ever been proven possible. Everyone dies – the maggot, the pig and the human. We can be ostriches about this, but really, the writing’s always been on the wall.

The awareness of death and mortality, like all super-important cosmic truths, is a double-edged sword. It can kill you before you begin to live and make action purposeless, breathing pointless and strip life of all joy. Or, it can push you through that phase of inertia and fire your veins with the determination to live each moment to the fullest; to release the trivia; to make choices that could be deeply fulfilling in the long run.

Understanding the death of a loved one and releasing the fear of death can be messy and sticky – anything that makes us question our very existence and identity always is.  But what is fascinating is how we run from it! If there is one belief or one fact we need to wrap our heads around as mortals – it is that we are going to die.

After witnessing a fair share of death I find that accepting it is easier when we aren’t afraid of it. And what is death? A noun, a verb? What comes after it, if there is an ‘after’ to it?
There are plenty of beliefs out there – which one inspires you?

What I love about facing our mortality is that it brings us back to the very basics - where did I come from, and where am I going? The answers to these questions change on our journey, but the questions themselves  – their mere presence is important. They open up a separate track of awareness in the mind that gives a whole range of perspective to the strange and miraculous events that strung together, are called life.

Death is all around us. Do we know how to accept it when it takes loved ones? Do we know how to taste its wisdom? Do we know how to pass through grief into life again?

Do we know how to embrace death gracefully when our time comes?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blue Goddess

Wherever I go,
Sunset on the Atlantic ocean, Cape Town
I am cradled in Her blue arms.
Krishnaa by day,
Kali by night.

Wrapped in the blue sky cocoon of divinity,
wherever I go,
I am home.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mom's birthday

Kuan Yin, Goddess of Healing
On this day, 61 years ago, a soul incarnated.
She lived in this reailty for 49 years after which, her path led her to other realms.
For 19 of those years, I was honoured that she chose to play the role of my mother and mentor.
Salutations to that beautiful soul wherever she is on her journey through the Universe.

 Gratitude! Blessed be!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final."

Dehradun, Himalayan foothills: I spent a beautiful morning lying in this stream
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, April 25, 2011

And so it begins...

Reflections on what I see around me and inside me after Sai Baba shed his earthly form.
The Great Teacher

And so it begins...
The melee, the madness, the mortal mud-slinging.
Like hyenas, ripping the remains of a carcass, they descend.
Their wild calls echoing, their saliva dripping at the sight of scandal.
Anything, to abuse. Anything, to tear down.
Driven by the cold iciness of emptiness within, they howl.

And so it begins...
The mantle has been passed.
What was once contained, has now escaped Its shackles
And we are all bathed in droplets of Love.

And so it begins...
The hyenas snap and lunge, their tongues eager for the taste of victory.
I must stand calm, washed in the light of Love.
Knowing that it is my judgement alone that marks them as hyenas and I as something ‘greater.’
In truth, we are one, and have always been one.

And so it begins...
A wordless prayer ... Goddess, love through me.
Let me look upon those open jaws with the gaze of Love
Let me listen to those howls and hear them with Love
Let me remember that all is a manifestation of Love
Let me not try to change what is into what ‘I’ want it to be...
Let me only Love, Goddess, with your Unconditional Love.

And so it begins...
The transformation the Great Teacher wrought..
From emptiness to pure love.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adventure - Random (and slightly disconnected) musings of a 19 year old

(I wrote this in February 1999, in Fairfield, Iowa.)

It is true that adventure calls. It is as though one can swim through life relatively easily with no extraordinary occurrences – indeed there are people who do. But adventure calls – sometimes softly and sometimes so loud that it seems as though the very insides of the earth can hear here terrifying roar.

Has adventure ever called me? Indeed it has – it has always seemed that the adventurous path is the one made for me. It seems not a new adventure but an exciting story being lived again – all the signposts, the guides are familiar characters, but each one is now played by a different soul. The setting, the story, the unfolding is the same. I am the same, though physically different – and the cast is new.

What is adventure but the constant search for balance? In Kali Yuga, balance has to be maintained so carefully at each point – for imbalance is so easily achieved. In ages past, the restoration of balance was the great adventure – a call to rebirth. Today, each moment is an adventure, each moment a crossroad – will I , the hero, take the path to greater balance for myself and the world? Or the path to imbalance? That is my test.

No longer the glory of the world-conquering, earth-saving hero – each of us is a hero today. Each life path an adventure. When we begin to feel and see life as an adventure, it comes alive and breathes breath into us and opens up its treasures of guides and angels and tests and tribulations from other worlds. It is this call of adventure that we must yield to. Yes – adventure calls – she speaks all the time – for she and life are one. And yet we are deaf to her speech, blind to her beauty and insensitive to her touch.

When she comes alive and we follow her light, we truly fulfil our individual mission on earth.

That is when we truly start living life.

(12 years of tests, tribulation, treasures and angels, and the adventure continues...)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ashtami and the Unmarried Woman

Oil-soaked pooris (fried Indian bread) appeared at the breakfast table this morning. I notice them piled on various paper plates, each also holding chickpeas and halwa (Indian dessert) and a red thread and a twenty rupee note. Now I remembered – it’s Ashtami – the eighth day of the Nine Days of the Goddess.

The tradition, which is very sweet and beautiful, requires each family to cook a specific meal (poori, chickpeas and halwa) and distribute it along with clothing/jewellery/cash to at least eight or nine kanyaas in the neighbourhood on the eighth day of this Goddess Worshipping Festival.

The word ‘kanyaa’ has developed different meanings. There was a time when kanyaa meant a girl who had not yet begun menstruating. It then expanded in breadth becoming a term used for a girl who was unmarried, and (hence) a virgin. It is the latter meaning that has continued to be associated with the word today.

The idea was to revere the goddess energy manifest in girls – a truly unique celebration of the Feminine that only happens in India. The idea was to make the girls conscious of their feminine power, to help them identify themselves with the Goddess and thus access Her gifts within them. The idea was to teach them to know their power and their place in society – a pedestal which was the highest a man could give a woman – that of the Divine Goddess. It was an empowering ritual for the girl and a reminder to her father of the sacred nature of her existence.

Like all traditions, it’s dwindled into the drudgery of ritual, for most people. I mean, it seems quite pointless feeding and clothing and worshipping the goddess in your daughter in April and then murdering your daughter in May because she decides to marry a young man who doesn’t belong to your caste. (Yes, this does happen in Indian cities even today. The phenomenon is known as ‘honour killings.’)

It’s like making a trip to Vaishno Devi (a famous goddess pilgrimage spot) for ‘mata ke darshan’ (vision of the Mother Goddess) and then coming home a week later and beating your wife in a drunken stupor or forcing your daughter to quit her studies so she can marry. I don’t think that could really put you in high favour with the Great Goddess. Nope. Definitely not.

To me, the tradition is beautiful, especially if it accomplishes its original aim. And if I had a daughter I would remind her exactly what it meant before I gave her pooris and halwa or maybe just pasta would do. The food wouldn’t be the point of course. 

The reason I wrote this blogpost, however, was to voice a completely different idea: I am compelled to observe that in a society that is marriage-obsessed – the ritual can be a tad embarrassing.

In India, as a woman, your shelf life (value in the marriage market) dips considerably when you cross 25 years of age. If you’ve made it to 30 without being wedded, you are old news – literally – like yesterday’s newspaper that lines the bins. All the ‘good’ men are taken. Only the ‘divorcees’ (still mentioned in hushed whispers) are left and well, I mean, you really don’t want to settle for a ‘divorcee’ (hushed whisper) unless you are 38 and there’s ‘no other option.’ I am rolling my eyes here – seriously.

(I’m not even going to venture into the shocking lack of acceptance of divorced people in this society – it is truly appalling – martyrs who murder their souls in loveless marriages are given greater respect than individuals who choose to stand up for themselves and define their boundaries or awaken to find their trust betrayed by a partner and their honour tarnished in society – all in one fell swoop.)

But I digress.

What I meant to say was that in such a marriage-obsessed society, it is a bit of a rude shock to be woken up, at the age of 31 with poori and halwa from well-meaning neighbours on Ashtami.  The assumption is that I am still a kanyaa as I am not wedded to a man. (I might be engaged, in a relationship, living in on weekends in secret, or lesbian - but that doesn't count, strictly speaking.)

I immediately thought of all my single girl friends aged 30 and above who might still be waking up to poori and halwa on Ashtami morning, twice a year. A sweet gesture from the neighbourhood aunties that says they love you. Yet for these young women, embittered by their struggle to understand how to be single without having to feel apolegetic about it in this culture, or signing away your life to someone you don’t love – for them it could very well be a snub, an embarrassment, a prod in a tender spot – ‘You aren’t married YET! You’re an Old Maid, if ever there was one.’

Perhaps well-meaning neighbours can be a teeny bit sensitive about sending Ashtami Poori and Halwa to women above the age of 28 yrs. That would be a fair age to stop rubbing it in. Alternatively, they can honour the Divine in all women regardless of age or marital status by sending Poori and Halwa for all the women in the household, and thus celebrate the grace of the Goddess with great gusto. 

I'm sure the Goddess, benevolent as She is, wouldn't mind.

And that was what I really wanted to say.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Once a bird has flown the cage
The safety of convention
Is an oppressive burden
Upon her tender wings

Wings that ache to feel the rush of wind
Wings that have found their purpose
Wings that have already tasted the creamy blue sky
And cannot fold or fit in
Like they once did.

Once a bird has flown the cage
The gleam of its gold bars
No longer enchants her.