August 8, 2016
I stuck a three-fold brochure entitled “What is Vedanta?” inside my book on writing. It’s a book mark but also a reminder. The pairing is everything.
The Vedanta is a philosophy based on the oldest scriptures of India, the Vedas. The basic premise teaches the divine in all of us, and the pursuit of the divine is all there is. Writing needs no definition. Most everyone writes.
But writing for some is more than communication, practical missives that need delivery to complete some operation, some function of human existence. Some of us write because it’s what we do to reach the divine in us. I’m not sure I’m including myself in that “us,” but I’d like to consider that conviction more.
More than God and the divine, the Vedanta embraces all other belief systems whose end goal is reaching the divine. In other words, it makes no difference the words or way, it’s making the journey that matters. And that’s sort of my approach to writing. I write. Every day. Some of it’s good, some not. No matter, it’s the doing that counts.
Some days writing is therapy. Some days it’s meditation. Others it’s creation, while still others–struggle. Writing is life. It’s all we do. Some of us.
The finest and lowest moments connect to writing: that painful process of birthing a poem, a story, an article, a listicle, even, like molding bramble, hay and rocks together to make a statue of the Mona Lisa. And then the miracle of finishing with something approximating Da Vinci’s girl, or even pretty damned close–well, that’s heavenly.
The struggle to achieve, find, see and discover the divine of us in, by, through and despite the Vedanta continues moment by moment. It is the ever-present, ever-elusive (seemingly) goal. Writing is the mock up.
I am neither my title,
I am a traveler
into the sheaves of human margins,
turning the book inside out
and rewriting the musical notes
to sing the paper strings.
I am a digger
in ancient French tongues,
salt and euphony,
and a forgiver of rhymes,
My daily question mark half circles
to dot the when of things,
bring them face to my own blind eyes,
up close like cilia sensors:
Our skin aflame
scented musk and cream,
as if all of us
walked to the holy house,
succumbed to the chewy silence,
perched on velvet crushed cushions
with our mouths circled
in the register
Image: cosmos via Flickr
June 30, 2016
Woke up with a pleasant, little hang-over, feeling calm and assured, recalling the spatial quietude both inner and outer of the Rama Krishna Vedanta Monastery in Rancho Santa Margarita. Snapshots of the musty, library thick with sound-absorbing books with titles like Yoga, the Vedanta, and You. I sat down on a faux leather sink-in couch and perused a few images on instructional pages before moving on to the meditation room. This dark sanctuary, replete with incensed-burning altar centered with a framed photo of one of the Rama Krishna disciples, I assume, compacted, thick, chewy air. I did not get close enough to examine the framed face heading the room. No, I stayed back in the sunken square dotted with cushy meditation pillows and blankets in deep wine and maroon velveteen or faux silk.
Pulling one aside, I sat on the pillow and lapsed into my habitual meditation pose, legs in half lotus, palms down and forefinger-thumb circled knees. I don’t know how long I breathed into the space which sucked out all noise save the air conditioner among three breathers. The desert outside did not exist in this room resonant with an abundance of meditations past: innumerable daily practicing monks and others since the 40s. Rich with endeavor and calm, I fell into the room’s focused peace.
The sweaty outdoor hike that followed contrasted deeply with steep climbs and declines along a narrow, mud-hardened, bramble-lined, winding path amid the chaparral—the shrine trail–leading to five meditative spaces symbolic of five religions or practices: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Vedanta. The highest spot is the last, the Vedanta, which embraces both physically (highest climb) and spiritually all the others.
On the way out, the 18 year old son of a friend who accompanied me, purchased in the gift shop a jar of honey produced by the bees the monks keep on the property and allow to swarm the lily-laced fountain pool surrounding the shrine statue located between the mess hall and library. He had never tried honey before. And so the little jaunt ended as it began with the same, sweet, subdued astonishment.