Monday, December 29, 2008

The Reach of Light

Dear Tulsidas,
what compassion
to say

the Name of
Rama is

more precious than


and what

om sri ram jai ram jai jai ram

It is the Name
that leads me to

the depths
of Love


I am both Rama
a lover,
a lover of Rama

swallowed in

reach of Light.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Emptying Your Cup

What does it mean
to empty your

cup? If the contents
are you--you can't


turn the cup

would spell

by turns either




Ground & Sun

First one thinks, "What
about me?" That is

a crude part of
the human plant. Then a kind
comes along and
to patiently snip away
those crude branches--until

out of that
snipping the


emerges, "There is
no me."

What relief! What relief!

But then there is
the plant

in a garden filled
with plants--but then

there is

the ground, the Sun.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Salt Dolls

Imagine a salt

falling into the

ocean. This is
what happens when
the "I" is drawn by

into the

repeatedly fail
to suffice--because poems

such as this one
are lost in

the One


Thursday, December 11, 2008

To the Goddess

You spit

the resemblance
of myself

out of
the eye

of my mind

leading me, losing me in
the joy of

helpless longing.

There is no cause to
this play of Yours

that You beam through
every shape,
that is.

"By the Will of God"

"By the will of God"
means by the will of

This Ishvara is the other face of God
and also should be realized.

By the will of God
every person lives with greater peace
and happiness and joy
by the
will of God
to see clearly

by the will of God that
Ishvara is
the sole Doer
and willing all for
the Good by
the will, by the
will of God.

Shiva Lingam

What is Shiva in
a Shiva lingam is
beyond description.


there is the lingam
so that Shiva can be


a piece of

eliptical stone

that leads to
allowing for

The Axe of Discrimination

A reasoning person says,
"I have to trust my

A discriminating person


what emotions are--
finds them to be
a cord of
repeated thoughts

tightly wound.

Discrimination is
an axe
striking the root
to fell

the rising Ashvatta tree.

Feet to Feet

Before listening to their lessons ask,
"Who is
this teacher's

A teacher with no guru--
no matter how
will be



Even gentle Ramana had
his beloved Arunachala
for his guru,
his Father.

So Ramana's feet
were bound to
the mountain's

Trustworthy teaching
flows, flows


feet to

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gravest Sin

Soon as one believes,
"I have no ego"
this is when one is
most in danger--
is when one is ripe
for the gravest of


likely to


to words such as these:
"Touching the Essence
is not all

when all is for
the Good.

Saguna Brahman

That Brahman is Lord
as well as
Essence is
often overlooked.

Yet sages all honor

and saints all worship
and pray.

Because the flowering of
human life grows preciously from
the ground

each one depends, depends on
the ground.


One thing
that can not be found:

the blue of

the wet of

the atman of

the Brahman of

the swirl of a thousand
universes veils it
from the mind
and yet it
ever is.

Inside & Outside

A seed pressed in dark dirt
is death with
life locked

Inside; yet outside
must be
accommodating to draw
such life to

miraculous action.

Doubters doubt about
the life inside, while

fools fool themselves--believing
outside doesn't matter,

doesn't exist

at all.

A Rudraksha Mala

Often a rudraksha mala is hung
dustily around
some dusty figure on
some dusty altar

If, if this mala is
taken in hand for
counting beautiful japa

even the figure can
come to life as
Lakshmi, Ganesha
or Buddha.

The Name, the Name
so beautiful--is the
fragrant whole of the Named.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Imagine a road
that begins
were it

that travels




into its own face
each dancing step
it takes.

Imagine a road illuminated by
the starlight of its own


Self-Portrait as a Guru

"The longer the guru's beard
the more you should doubt
his spirituality"--

said a guru

whose beard

stretched to

his waist.

But a guru with
no beard at all?

He must be


Parmenides & Death

Parmenides went to the underworld
like a child's hand
plunged in

And what he came up with
was a mossy stone
dimpled with

But more unimportantly
has been read
from that


so that what was found might
be found unfound
and the gem stay rhinestone
to the mind made of rhinestone.


Once Krishna's mother
peered into His tiny mouth

and saw He held the universe

inside it.

And Arjuna--if you pause
to imagine--saw Krishna


in one loving instant.
Only Ishvara has the power
to create and to destroy.
Only Ishvara is

Like Brahman Krishna is both with and without qualities:
a perfect conundrum of
a ring that is gold

that is a ring.

All is That

Three, four, one, or zero:
who can say

Reality is?

And yet, and yet

no one can say
It is not--

though those who say
say and those who
try try

to pry themselves
out of
the teeth of
a garble
that can not
be scrambled--

all is Awareness--
is That.

To the Goddess

Sweet Ramakrishna realized You.

Then his arm was broken by You
and he realized You


O Bhavatarini!

the maya You use to veil Yourself
is subtle and deep.

Salutations to You for the true realizers.

Salutations to You Whose secret Name
is all and all names and forms.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


What is the best thing a spiritual aspirant can do?
Carry out his guru's instruction.

What must be avoided?
Deeds which lead us into greater ignorance of the truth.

Who is a guru?
He who has found the truth of Brahman and is always concerned for the welfare of his disciples.

What is the first and most important duty for a man of right understanding?
To cut through the bonds of worldly desire.

How can one be liberated?
By attaining the knowledge of Brahman.

Who, in this world, can be called pure?
He whose mind is pure.

Who can be called wise?
He who can discriminate between the real and the unreal.

What poisons the spiritual aspirant?
Neglect of the guru's teachings.

For one who has achieved human birth, what is the most desirable objective?
To realize that which is his ultimate good and to be constantly engaged in doing good to others.

What deludes a man like intoxicating drink?
Attachment to the objects of the senses.

What are thieves?
The objects which steal our hearts away from the truth.

What causes the bondage of worldly desire?
Thirst to enjoy these objects.

What is the obstacle to spiritual growth?

What is the best weapon with which to subdue others?
Sound reasoning.

Wherein lies strength?
In patience.

Where is poison?
Within the wicked.

What is fearlessness?

What is most to be feared?
To become possessed by your own wealth.

What is most rarely found among mankind?
Love for the Lord.

What are the evils most difficult to rid oneself of?
Jealousy and envy.

Who is dear to the Lord?
He who is fearless and takes away fear from others.

How does on attain liberation?
By practicing spiritual disciplines.

Who is most lovable?
The knower of Brahman.

How does one develop the power of discrimination?
Through service to an elder.

Who are elders?
Those who have realized the ultimate truth.

Who is truly wealthy?
He who worships the Lord with devotion.

Who profits from his life?
The humble man.

Who is a loser?
He who is proud.

What is the most difficult task for a man?
To keep his mind under constant control.

Who protects an aspirant?
His guru.

Who is the teacher of this world?
The Lord.

How does one attain wisdom?
By the grace of the Lord.

How is one liberated?
Through devotion to the Lord.

Who is the Lord?
He who leads us out of ignorance.

What is ignorance?
The obstacle to the unfoldment of the Divine which is within us.

What is the ultimate Reality?

What is unreal?
That which disappears when knowledge awakes.

How long has ignorance existed?
From a time without beginning.

What is unavoidable?
The death of the body.

Whom should we worship?
An incarnation of God.

What is liberation?
The destruction of our ignorance.

Who is not to be trusted?
He who lies habitually.

What is the strength of a holy man?
His trust in God.

Who is a holy man?
He who is forever blissful.

Who is free from sin?
He who chants the name of the Lord.

What is the source of all the scriptures?
The sacred syllable OM.

What carry us across the ocean of worldliness?
The lotus feet of the Lord; they carry us like a great ship.

Who is bound?
He who is attached to worldliness.

Who is free?
He who is dispassionate.

How is heaven attained?
The attainment of heaven is freedom from cravings.

What destroys craving?
Realization of one's self.

What is the gate of hell?

Who lives in happiness?
He who has attained samadhi.

Who is awake?
He who discriminates between right and wrong.

Who are our enemies?
Our sense-organs, when they are uncontrolled.

Who are our friends?
Our sense-organs, when they are controlled.

Who is poor?
He who is greedy.

Who is totally blind?
He who is lustful.

Who has overcome the world?
He who has conquered his own mind.

What are the duties of a spiritual aspirant?
To keep company with the holy, to renounce all thoughts of "me" and "mine", to devote himself to God.

Whose birth is blessed?
His who does not have to be reborn.

Who is immortal?
He who does not have to pass through another death.

When is one established in the idea of renunciation?
When one knows that Atman and Brahman are one.

What is right action?
Action that pleases the Lord.

In this world, what is the greatest terror?
The fear of death.

Who is the greatest hero?
He who is not terror-stricken by the arrows which shoot from the eyes of a beautiful girl.

Who is poor?
He who is not contented.

What is meanness?
To beg from someone who has less than you.

Whom should we honor?
Him who does not beg from anyone.

Who, in this world, is truly alive?
He whose character is free from blemish.

Who is awake?
He who practices discrimination.

Who is asleep?
He who lives in ignorance.

What roll quickly away, like drops of water from a lotus leaf?
Youth, wealth and the years of a man's life.

Who are said to be as pure as the rays of the moon?
Holy men.

What is hell?
To live in slavery to others.

What is happiness?

What is a man's duty?
To do good to all beings.

What are worthless as soon as they are won?
Honor and fame.

What brings happiness?
The friendship of the holy.

What is death?

What is the most valuable thing?
A gift given at the right time.

What disease lingers on until a man dies?
A bad deed which has been hidden.

What should one strive for?
To go on learning as long as one lives.

What should a man hate?
Greed for the wives and the wealth of other men.

What should a man think of, day and night?
He should think how transitory this world is. He should never think thoughts of lust.

What should we prize most dearly?
Compassion and the friendship of the holy.

Whose heart do you fail to win even if you try your hardest?
The heart of a fool or of a man who is afraid or stricken with grief or incapable of gratitude.

Who avoids the snares of the world?
He who is truthful and who is able to remain unmoved by either pleasure or pain and all life's other pairs of opposites.

To whom do the gods themselves pay homage?
To him who is compassionate.

Whom do all men respect?
Him who is humble and speaks the truth so that it does good to others and makes them happy.

Who is blind?
He who does evil deeds.

Who is deaf?
He who will not listen to good advice.

Who is dumb?
He who does not speak kind words when they are needed.

Who is a friend?
He who prevents another from doing evil.

What is a man's best ornament?
His good character.

What qualities are the rarest in the world?
To have the gift of speaking sweet words with compassion, to be learned without pride, to be heroic and also forgiving, to be rich without attachment to riches--these four are rare.

What is the most to be deplored?
Miserliness in the wealthy.

What is to be praised?

Who is revered by the wise?
He who is humble.

Who wins glory for his entire family?
He who remains humble when is endowed with greatness.

Who is the master of this world?
He whose words are sweet and beneficial and who follows the path of righteousness.

Who is never touched by any danger?
He who follows the words of the wise and has his senses under control.

Where should one live?
One should live with the holy.

What should a wise man refrain from uttering?
Falsehoods and evil words against others.

What ought a man to remember?
The sacred name of the Lord.

What are the enemies of the spiritual aspirant?
Lust and greed.

What should a man protect from harm?
A faithful wife and his power of discrimination.

What is the tree that fulfills all wishes?
The teachings of the guru.

Translated by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood