Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Talking Grief and Joy, Words of Power and Silence

I honor and respect the power and magic of the written and spoken word ('in the beginning'), but also tend to be geared more to sound vibration for it's true primacy (primal Aum), and that probably connects to my having been drawn to instrumental music, rhythm, and mantra-based vocal traditions. It did not surprise me to find an infinitely deepening pathway to inner discovery in a lifetime of exposure to more and more layers and levels of sublime subtlety and power there. But that is a path experienced by only a privileged few, and a privilege it is, accompanied by great gratitude. 

But we inhabit a world not so tuned to pure sound (Nada) and silence, but more to ideas written and spoken. And I'm in that matrix as much as everyone else. I'm also not 'a writer', in the artist/professional sense. But it is a curious contemplation to me about the 'process'. The only process I know involves certain steps: becoming aware of the 'calling' of the moment (of mental/emotional freedom), listening to the vibrational spectrum of the drone, matching the precise harmonics and overtones of my instrument at every point till I feel the merging in my body (shanti), and then becoming aware of what the instrument 'wishes to say' in relation to the moment and environment. 
I have no idea if there are similar or completely different processes involved in the art of 'wordsmithing', storytelling, and oration. My own processes can be either instantaneous or drawn out, and maybe that is the case in the latter practices. I don't know. But in this life I have experienced occasions where the power of both written and spoken word have reached comparable depths as those of musical expression. These have all involved spiritual/emotional/empathic dimensions, and have come from 'unknown' teachers, friends, poets, writers, orators and mystics living and dead, and those would include Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Trudell, Prechtel, MLK, Ramana, and a number of others - all of whom have entered into the 'bhav' and channeled timeless truths. What was said stays with me, becomes part of my 'remembrance', and I return there to heal my tribulations. 

I bring this up because, for one, this is the blog world and I have been minimally involved as well as much enjoying others' expressions, but also because I have more and more recently become bored with the spiritual and temporal superficiality of many of the popular contributions. There are a few exceptions, and those ladies know of whom I refer. I read for spiritual insight, tracking collective emotional 'weather', and for deep research into the forces and motivations of our adversaries as well as updates on the guerrilla successes against the wetiko institutions. I have neither the time nor interest in following either doom-predictions or external-salvation-hopeyness, nor narcissistic cooler-than-thou wanna-be sage and hip western cultural icons. I guess I'm just stuck with my artistic authenticity values extending to all realms. And 'deep' seems to be a matter of personal perspective. I've never gotten over the shock of realizing how little western man is satisfied with, as well as the tendency to claim expertise in subjects which one has not been deeply, genuinely immersed in. I really don't want to go there now, so I'll say no more.

Speaking of hopeyness, I appreciated the below-linked transcript of a sermon given last Sunday in Austin by Robert Jensen, which came from a site I subscribe to. Good on him for speaking the spiritual truth in a Christian church. I consider this to be a small example of right use of the spoken word ('vak'=siddhi of speech).
Hope Is For The Lazy: The Challenge Of Our Dead World
"Nature does not negotiate."
"Avoiding reality because it is harsh is not a winning strategy."
"There may, in fact, not be a winning strategy available to us at this point in history. But we have an obligation to assess the strategies available, and work at the ones that make the most sense. That is how we make a credible claim to being human. We don't become fully human through winning. We embrace our humanity by acting out of our deepest moral principles to care for each other and care for the larger living world, even if failure is likely, even if failure is inevitable."
He quotes Wendell Berry - “You can't know who you are if you don't know where you are.”
"To be truly hopeful is to risk irrelevance when engaged in polite conversation in mainstream America. Irrelevance, in these situations, is a virtue. Our chance of saving ourselves depends on enough people willing to be irrelevant soon enough."
He also quotes James Baldwin - "[we] must remember, however powerful the many who would rather forget, that life is the only touchstone and that life is dangerous, and that without the joyful acceptance of this danger, there can never be any safety for anyone, ever, anywhere." 
"The two, grief and joy, are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, rely on each other, and define the human condition."

Well, irrelevance is a pretty familiar feeling for me these days, even though I'm able to avoid 'polite conversation' most of the time. Maintaining a retreat status with sound, silence, and a nourishing natural environment works well and keeps my focus off stress, preferring the words and expressions of the masters. Reading and viewing some archival films of a genuine master, intimately connected to the natural world, I came upon unknown details of an astonishing story. It relates to the sage Ramana Maharshi of Arunachala, South India. The story itself is the relationship he had for many years with the cow "Lakshmi". (There's even a book called "The Life of Lakshmi the Cow".) Lakshmi (name of goddess of abundance) was given to him in 1926 and became a visibly ardent devotee engaging in daily conversations with the master, demonstrating full sentience, informing him of her needs and joys, insisting he be the first to welcome each new calf (often on his birthday), attending daily meals with devotees, insisting he be the first to enter her new shed/quarters and bless the foundation ceremony, always facing his room/window, and many other marvelous episodes which continued for decades. Ramana also had deep connection with deer, peacock, crow, dog, etc, many of  whom have their samadhi/tombs on his ashram grounds and are kept up to this day. Lakshmi's passing in 1948 was attended to by Ramana in the manner afforded to a mahatma, as he personally guided her over into ultimate liberation (videhamukti), accompanied by tears of grief and joy. There is much more in the details, which can be read at the Ramana blog.
"It is not true that birth as a man is necessarily the highest, and that one must attain realisation only from being a man. Even an animal can attain Self-realisation."

So, there you have it, read it and weep. Life is stranger than any of us know, and places like India are not just 'other cultures' but other all-inclusive realities, worlds within our world which include unknown truths (as well as supreme lies and frauds). We have been tragically discouraged from outer, as well as inner, exploration in our wetiko-controlled delusional system, and it's nearly infected the whole planet. 

To wind up this 'word' post, I leave you with this short talk of exceptional words of power - 
Philip Wollen: Animals Should Be Off the Menu 
[Full debate:]


amarynth said...

Thank you for your teaching.

Philip Wollen - Undeniably Great!

I told a condensed version of the story of "Lakshmi" over breakfast this morning. Seems as if people went about their day with a little more openness to seeing those things that are wonderful.

nina said...

Given the opportunity, doesn't it seem there are zillions of Lakshmis unrecognized? And where one is recognized, in respect to the unification of all living beings, would not everything living have sentience?

Apologies for not commenting earlier, your writings weigh heavy on the heart, words are no match for the intensities you put forth here, as it should be.

bholanath said...

Yes, "zillions". That is what I believe is the point. Not just me, either. Jonathan Balcombe and many others have been turning a scientific eye onto irrefutable evidence of sentience, emotional sophistication, and startling intelligence in animal nations. These have been long taboo subjects, getting you blackballed, in the scientific world.

About the "holy cow" thing:
Westerners have no concept of what happens when humans and cows share a common environment daily for centuries. Cows know and assert their special status, in sometimes comical ways, but always aware that treats could be forthcoming. Average people will stoop to touch the feet of cows as they pass one sprawled across the path. There's generally none of that 'running away' from humans in fear like here.
The other aspect is the traditional 'dairy' practices. The males are not sent to veal crates etc., but many are castrated to become 'bullocks' - work animals, plowing and pulling bullock carts - the old primary hauling system.
The cows are milked as well as allowed to nurse their calves. No problem - sharing.
So, while I can respect the veganistas for their ethical stance, I'm personally attuned to the practices of traditional husbandry, and enjoy, and maybe even require dairy products, though it is a very conflicting issue here in the West for all of us so inclined.
India is also very fucked up in regard to many other animals. Don't understand why they have double standard with water buffaloes. They are so cool, sweet and sensitive, and provide maybe even more milk products.
Out of control population and psychopathic economic-and-caste practices have radically changed this traditional reality, and it's becoming a real mess.
But hanging with the (real) cowboys, stroking the cows while savoring the exquisite fresh 'malai' in the barn by candle-light is hard to beat.

amarynth said...

I grew up like that ... even 300 milking cows .. we knew each one by name. A favorite was to feed the calves ... stick a hand into the milk and let them suck it off your hand - lovely.

amarynth said...

Here is something really great. Gorillas dismantling traps

bholanath said...

Thanks, Amarynth -
That's totally over the top hilarious. And deeply interesting on so many levels. I envision seeing more of this type thing happening.
Evolution proceeds, tipping points are reached...

Anonymous said...

I did mean to comment earlier bho but strange week over here of general weirdness and watching closely responsive actions to the general weirdness,,,,,mr woolens speech held an awful lot of power in it,,,, I had never heard him or read him before,,,,,he is deeply immersed in very potent powerful beautiful energy,,

Respect neil

Anonymous said...

via Homer..

God bless you, Bholanath.
Thank you so much.

You are a very fine man.
Intelligent and sensitive, skillful, valuable and dear in your compassionate seva.

"Don't misunderstand that we are preaching that mahatmas are only in India. No. By the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there are mahatmas even amongst the birds, even amongst the beasts, even amongst the lower than animals. Because this Krsna (God) consciousness movement is going on in different places, in different circumstances."

-Srila Prabhupada