Sunday, April 30, 2006

In My Craft or Sullen Art

"I read your blog when I want to read something not written by an asshole."
--A Cherish'd Reader

What? It doesn't sound like the highest praise?

I knew what he meant...instant publication begets instant opinion, nearly always idiotic or half-baked.
You go on Technorati or somewhere and enter your favorite subject in the search box...see what you get. Likely a liquid-crystal tsunami of insecurities, prejudices, misinformation, knee-jerk speechifyin', and plenty of links to other, similar streams of "thought." Same thing with most e-zines. It isn't that thousands of Internet writers really are assholes (so goes my theory), it's that their writing lacks the polish and self-awareness that--most assholes also lack.

It is probably an example of my obsessiveness and perfectionism
(like you need another one!) that, for every post you read on WiHW, at least one other never sees the light of day, residing in digital oblivion until it's deleted from my "Edit posts" folder. Not that the posts laid out before you--like some smorgasbord of devotional confession--confessional devotion??--represent the pinnacle of artistic achievement...

and I don't mean to sound arrogant...

I just don't want my posts to suck.

The fact is, because I'm dealing in this airy realm of spirituality, this intuitive, potentially mucho-BS-freighted area of the unseen and half-heard, of the dreamt and dot-connected-- the burden is on me to provide language that is as concrete as possible. So I have to take the time to subtly shape and shade what I really mean, to craft lies that tell the truth. I don't
make stuff up, you understand--

well, Fiorenza
didn't say that the POW painter had used ash for paint. (But it made sense in the post: Orpheus and his Beloved fleeing--Hell? Ash? POW? War? Destruction? Ash? The subtext of my own death and rebirth...the phoenix and all that? you get it...) The POW did use a screwdriver as a brush...or my name isn't Kalibhakta.

Well--it's my
true name. The name my parents gave me, as much as I like it and as much as it "sounds like" a writer's name or Southern gentleman's name--this legally accepted and "real" name doesn't refer to who I really (think I) am, a child of the Divine Mother. "Kalibhakta" --"Devotee of Kali"--does.



You're saying--that you need to keep it real-- so you make it fake?? "subtly shape and shade"???

Oh, no...this is all real-- I haven't even blogged the most mind-boggling stuff, but don't worry, it's all "authentic," as they love to say in the Ur-fake mass media. It's as real as a bomb-nose camera's image of fall, the instant before oblivion: the explosion rendered as static--it can't explode truthfully, because the camera becomes white-hot fragments as its journey ends...and yes, you gotta admit those smart-bomb cameras don't deliver Panavision...the fake explosions of Hollywood do seem more real... so I guess we can call a blog a docudrama, a Bowling for Columbine or Fog of War to record the fireworks of the heart.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Here to Go

This rings true... I have a commute of a little over an hour each way, and I'm one of that 20 percent grateful for the "Zen time." (Of course, I pay over $200.00 a month for those idyllic gardens of mental sand, another big factor in my planned move...)

When I got my job, I was just glad to have...A Job. The market was grim around that time for People Who Do What I Do, especially if temp gigs in flyover states don't appeal to you. So I'd drive my hour or so and just sit behind the wheel of my noisy little Toyota thinking, "Damn...I have
a job. And it's sort of--a real job." I've worked as a day laborer, newsstand stander, night watchman, CD store sneerer (at customers' hunger for Phil Collins and Michael Bolton), medical experiment guinea-pig, retail robot, tech writer, computer trainer (well, I trained people to use them--but same difference), bank gofer, personal assistant to an interior decorator, grocery store price checker, barnacle scraper, and so many more stupid jobs that it seems like I've done almost everything, and What I Do Now is far and away the best.

I actually wake up in the morning and think, excitedly, "Oh, boy! I get to do What I Do today!"
Most mornings. Some, I'm just on intra-cranial caffeine drip and a prayer.

Or, actually, a series of prayers, because that's what I use my commute for: communing. With G-d...the Infinite Beyond Conception...Kali...various personifications of the Pleroma...or maybe just an imaginary Friend with a disconcerting knack for significant coincidences. Having this time to center myself on something other than
duties, subordinates, superiors, paycheck, leisure fantasies has been one of the most significant factors in whatever spiritual growth I've managed since 1998 and my encounter with my first Teacher.

It didn't start out so grand and noble, this commute. As I've already indicated, it was pretty secular back in the day. I remember one sunny morning spitting water all over myself after I'd had the misfortune to swig from a bottle of Dasani at the precise moment Howard Stern let fly a flavorful bon mot. Fortunately this evolved into me listening to a CD of my guru singing the songs of Ramprasad...I did that for years, and it calmed me, and led me to see Kali in the rising sun, the greening leaves, the silver fog, even the dead animals by the roadside who in their death hosted legions of the living: germs, flies, vultures (ever a symbol of the Divine Mother, for this very reason).

And soon I wanted to sing, so I sang to Her songs from a wondrous cassette called Jai Ma Kirtan. And soon singing wasn't enough, so I poured my heart out to Her, learning that I could say the most trivial, insignificant things and still feel the sun of Her infinite love. Soon I was saying a mantra from my heart chakra, the bija mantra for the heart chakra, and I felt it opening, felt myself prising it open like a safecracker heeding the thuds and clicks to unlock a bright treasure...

and now I give Her myself, my day, my every act...knowing I might re-take these things in selfishness or fear, but knowing, too, that only in the gesture lies the real: excellence is not an act, but a habit. Some mornings I really don't feel like praying. I'm too goddam tired or have too much on my mind, and I'd rather just zone out to a CD or take in the sun-touched, misty scenery. But I know I have to throw myself at the divine--have to stomp the spiritual gas pedal to make escape velocity...and in this steady practice I'm starting to see everything else as Her unfolding.

One day early on, going home, driving through the swamp, I saw all the trees become living flame. The whole world turned to flame in the mantra I was saying. Nothing like it has happened since, but I know I'm kindling myself with every mile, every loving word sent aloft. "Today the world turned to flame," it said in my journal...and so it is now, in the pixels before you that only exist in surging neuronal the fire of memory, fire of anticipation or of wanting that G-d lights in each of us, wanderlusting us, leading us home.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Towers of Babel

I haven't been blogging much because
  • my job now resembles the backstage chaos right before the big runway show in Milan (except no one's interviewing me for W or dumping Glad bags of Euros on me)
  • so I seem to be working feverishly every waking second
    • [but you're not working now, you're blogging]
  • yeah, because stuff has slowed down a bit--but all the same--
    • [what's the real reason?]
  • the real reason is, I'm avoiding talking about my plans to move the Temple of Doom because the idea of moving out of Teresa's house when her disease is getting worse and when it's about to be our 10th anniversary is enough to make me want to die, flip, or go to India.
  • [but, Christ on a pony--I've had all the [indirect] [passive [/aggressive]] abuse I can take...
    • [every relationship is a narrative--
    • --and thus a fiction--
  • so today I sat by the lake at Fiorenza's house, with the water and the sun and the blossoms and the jet-skis...and told my friend my troubles and marveled at her calm, sane answers...and marveled as she encouraged my most playful, irrational tendencies--
    • and fictions aren't lies--
  • like giving the URL for this blog to an exquisitely beautiful woman I barely know, as
    • necessarily, but their structure is artificial, agreed on by the participants
  • some kind of invitation, and Fauré's Requiem played softly, adamantly all the while [did you plan that, Fiorenza??]...
  • and Fiorenza told me about her dead angelic cousin who still visits--"He shows you beauty, beauty where you can't see any: you 'll be walking along and you'll see something ugly or distasteful and a voice will whisper--no, look at it from beside, below--do you see the perfection now?"
    • and when one participant in the narrative refuses her or his role, of hearing or telling, then the narrative suspends and
  • and Fiorenza pointed to her wall and said, "See this painting? It's Orpheus and his lover escaping Hell--a prisoner of war painted it, using ash for paint, a screwdriver for a brush."]
    • anything can happen.]

Friday, April 7, 2006

"This Is Who You Really Are"

Last time I alluded to the thought-waves...the ripples and tides of mind we mistake for ourselves, for a reality outside us...and I wrote of how mantra stills the waves and redirects the tides.

It feels like I've been surfing in a cyclone lately...though I
try not to resent my job and some of the worthies there employed, it's one of those times of the year when everything's got to be done yesterday and yet few are doing much, save me and Sophia, my brilliant, magickal friend and my attitude has been less than positive. It's a lot better than it was pre-M----, pre-Kali...a lot better. But I want it to be better still.

(I think that terribly selfish people like me, like Malcolm Little, like Margery Kempe are perfect for the spiritual path because we always want
more, we're willing to climb that long spiral stair because, dammit, this little sublime taste of Your infinite glory is all wonderful and everything, God, but it's not enough...)

swore I wasn't going to do this...come home from work from the kind of week I've had, and then plop down in front of the computer. I didn't want to see another computer ever again. (I was telling Sophia this today and she all but snorted...yeah, right, you'll be hittin' that silicon before sundown...and so I am...)...but...I will share this anecdote:

so the other day I'm readin' work email and allllll my other email (I have 5? 6?? email accounts), and I'm letting myself get into that overwhelmed, "why me?" kind of crap...the "they are doing bad things to me" victim thang
...but--this email from my guru's ashram shows up. And they've re-done their web site, it says, and there's now all these FAQs and videos and audios and la-de-dah, big whoop.

But--I feel all warm and fuzzy suddenly, and, even though I have no time, I click the link and the first thing that pops up is a picture of my guru, and...BAM!!! the waves of love and shakti tumble over and beneath my low-grade hominid fear, swirling me into absolute peace and surrender.

It's just a picture! I have this picture in my living room and in my office at work. And it's old--She doesn't even look like this anymore and never has as long as I've known Her. But...Her shakti flows from the picture like Niagara; my heart is wrenched open and I sit in pure wonder, loving Her, loving Her, lovingherlovingher...a storm of love whirling into my heart chakra...and I hear Her say:
this is who you really are, my child: a wave in the sea of divine consciousness... you feel it as is even more than that... I am not the beleaguered worker drone, am not the adrenaline addict, am not the perfidious (to myself) perfectionist; I am Her child...borne of Love...

Sunday, April 2, 2006

The Power of Mantra

We all have mantras: internal slogans, stories we tell ourselves.

One of the jokes of Al-Anon is: in the beginning you laugh at the slogans (
one day at a time, let it begin with me, let go and let god--I used to really hate that last one) and then you figure out, hey wait, I've had slogans my whole life: I'm not good enough, what will they think of me? I can fix his/her/their/your problems...

The choice, then, is: will we choose our mantras or let them arise from the muck of our unconscious conditioning? Will we guide our own inner lives or let our half-formed lower selves guide us?

I've blogged about my sojourn in New Zealand, where I chanced to read a book about a guru so powerful (or a devotee so gullible) I could scarcely believe it; when I got back to the States I googled this guru and saw a photo so lovable (or a Being so powerful) something turn'd in my heart--a sweet knife in my breast, and I saw Her as my True Teacher...even though, in the mental space I was in then, in 1998, there really wasn't no guru who could see through your eyes; there really wasn't a god (there was "Energy"...); there really wasn't anything but the play of neural fibers firing around patterns of sensation and learned response...

but why not say the mantra I saw on a web site devoted to Her? Why not perform yet another neural experiment on myself...after acid, after witchcraft, after dharmadhatu...and so I did. And in a couple of months it wasn't an experiment any more--I believed. Or--better--She was real, within me--the mantra had reorganized my chaotic thought into love-waves, sweet adoration-waves flowing to my sweet Guru M----.

I dreamed of Her, spoke to Her daily, felt Her dance in my heart...but, She cautioned, She wasn't God. Well, I wanted Her to be...but She wasn't, or wouldn't be. And when I refused to demote Her, She fired me as her disciple, telling me to go out and find my chosen deity...and so after a fair amount of weeping and praying, Kali came shortly thereafter, 2000-2001...and the mantra changed, and my consciousness reorganized itself, this time around the Black Goddess of Dakshineswar...but still around the same Love, the same devotion. And that's what mantra is, I learned: (re)organizing the chaos of daily thought around a spindle point of order, slotting the random data of shapeless experience into a story...a story of love.

And so when I read something like this, I'm not so surprised. It sounds overblown--but mantra changed my life, too.

P.S. Weirdly, just after I wrote the first draft of this last night, I got an email about M----'s upcoming tour of North America. I think I'm going to go see Her, though I understand She's quite a bit more goth than Amma or my own present Guru. I harbor egotistical thoughts that She will remember me, but more than that I want to see Her for the first time.