21. Consort Yoga
(C.W. 98 Against Unworthy Praise)
One heart in wholeness cannot preserve
itself, yet it can break in two
and joined in twoness, so reserve
the passions of the pair that through
exchange of word and glance
there runs like ‘silver on a trembling leaf
one vein after the next of chance
emotion, feeling that permutates so fast
as to elude capture, and outstrip grief,
becoming touched sensation, jeweled mist.
What lingers of the two will come around to skin,
to lips that speak and kiss at once, to youth recovered,
all mingled in the labyrinth of a single gaze,
refuge for hungry looks, desire rediscovered.
And how the dreaming of this consort dance
so renders life to magic that lovers there ensealed
are not compelled to define their romance
by any term or claim, for only in surrender
does love merit its name, and deign to be revealed
half empty yet half filled, endlessly tender.
22. January 2009
(C.W. 115 September 1913)
What seeks us now, coming alive
and pouring into every sense,
inviting love’s delight to thrive
with awe and care and innocence,
has drawn upon marrow and bone,
incites a rage, invokes a blaze,
but no one here can love alone
the goddess who shines in that gaze.
If humankind were of a different strain,
no child or learned sage, no lover
or no one who loses love to pain
could make a differece for another
like the difference Her pleasure makes,
when it is so observed, so held in honor,
that human folly and abuse partakes
of our release, the radiance upon Her.
Was it for two wild swans that glided
in diamond light upon a winter tide,
that this pleasured love of mine collided
with a counterpart who died?
Or was it due to fate, that goddess
and her sex would finally converge,
only to wander blindly into loss
and take abandon for a purge?
There is no moment in succession
that will repeat what love does still invite,
the measure of the swan’s discretion
dances forever in the diamond light.
Pleasure and passion, merely words,
but words the goddess takes for praise,
and ever be is so, be is so done,
that radiance remains to warm her days.
23. The Three Yogis
(C.W. 122 The Three Hermits)
Three yogis perched upon a ledge
by a broad and sparkling lake
beneath the peak of Mount Kailash,
they tantricized for Drolma’s sake.
One prayed on breath to mother lode,
one rummaged in clear mind,
and the third, unsure of his abode,
his vajra pride essayed to find.
By snowy mountain crest
beneath the streaming sky,
all three did their level best
to own what cannot live or die.
And looking at each other, bold,
they contemplated love a moment, too,
and wondered how the hold
of love might factor into bindu blue.
But no discernment passed to them,
no vision of empty desire,
for they had not desired as men,
and could not feel the blessing fire
of passion turned upon itself,
become compassion, unselfed and free,
or how their very sinews dwelt
in the sweet tension of serenity.
They mocked each other, despite
their vow of high respect,
and hid their chagrin in the bright
prospect of refuge, in a sect.
No radiant rags adorn these three,
no respite from the male disease,
’til goddess wisdom set them free,
and woman magic lend them ease.
24. The Omen Before Dawn
(C.W. 125 The Hour Before Dawn)
A dugpa with a rugged face
an owl feather in his hand,
circulates a sacred space
where vultures oversee the land.
He strides with ritual delay,
in mudra posed, his gaze aligned
upon the ridge where brightening day
will underscore a death divined.
The waking birdsong, a stray sheep,
and not another house in sight,
oak silhouettes against the deep
dissolving bank of night.
Mindful is he of boar and hare
that range across the nearby field,
small munching critters hiding there
by a sheep carcass with bones peeled
of skin and sinew,
his mind revealed:
“That whitening carcass could be me,
but since it’s not, I take the cue:
what’s left of my humanity,
is gathering the pre-dawn dew
that barely glitters in the haze-
like emanation of circling stars—
so that, if now my eyes I raise
into the range of those far-
scattered lights, I will divine
the limits of my life this time around;
and do it in this set formula of time
and purpose, on the same ground
of raked stones I have prepared
for owl feather divination
to know if I might be spared
the drama of her expiration.”
She is my companion of thirteen years,
a soul of stoic force, a loyal friend,
a woman whose simplicity endears
me to her fate and renders me
its ally, perhaps, though in what sense
complicity in fate can alter fate,
I do not know. And how to bring
all that I find written in the sky
around to human compromise,
or to mere comprehension,
neither do I know,
nor seek to know.
My sacred calling is divination,
the art I practice now in hours
before dawn, four days in a row,
solitary, sparing food or drink.
I hold the owl feather to the sky
and keep this vigil with a terton’s eye.
My preparations are exact, and drawn
meticulously from life: I have
in hand the feather, yantra thread of wool,
and necklace of small rippled brown sea shells
she gave to me in memory of walks
beside the sea in Belgium, Ostende
and Middelkerke, the dismal sites
where love would lose its way
to recharge its affections, each time
for the last, if only the last be found.
How many times we beheld the day
creep over and allay the gray north sea,
the channel where shrimp-ridden waves
wash sand in rhythms that inspired
the sexual healing of a generation,
though she knew not that dispensation.
This rite requires no plan but watching,
weather permitting, the horizon is clear:
where no mind must attend, matching
darkness to the inner silence of the seer
who does not look, does not bring
scrutiny to bear on any sight or sound.
For in this art the elementary thing
is empty pause, as if no one were around.
Three nights in a row so far, four hours
to a watch, I have seen wonders flow
out of the dark, swift flashing meteors
and throbbing constellations, ‘though
the sight that I await in none of these.
The omen to come will itself design,
the moment I am readied by the rising moon,
and the answer I will then divine
cannot be other than a sacred boon.
The dugpa in his solemn tread
around the graveled yard now takes
into his teeth the woolen thread
and, hearing the rude rooster that wakes
before the dawn, attunes his life entire
to a single sight, not yet revealed:
the lunar orb that edges higher and higher
behind the hill, dark disk concealed
in blackness, its opal rim presenting horns
that prize upon the day, the upturned tips
emerge the moment that the moon adorns
the eastern ridge, sunrise underway, and slips
the silhouetted limbs of the attending oaks.
What wonder to behold, this crescent thin
as a pared nail, what splendor is to come
when the tips break light and rise and win
the solar rays, the moon becomes a feathered drum:
its disk still darkened, cradled in the horns
that touch the branches of that hilltop oak.
But captured by the beauty of the morn,
the terton faltered when the omen broke.
He lurched and turned aside and sobbed,
leaning against the wall of his abode,
the omen feather fallen to his side. He throbbed
beneath the bounty of this treasure lode,
the feathered drum, the streaming rays
of opalescent light drawn from the sun
held pendant on the rising orb in the day’s
first roseate blush — he was so totally undone.
The ritual disturbed, he could regain
neither vigilance nor poise, believing
he had lost the moment, then looked again
at how the ascending orb was leaving
the horizon, the divination gone…
Except that he had moved away, and sunk
down half upon his knees, alone
and shivering with grief, or drunk
with joy, he could not tell.
But looked to catch
that splendor once again, and noticed how
the lunar orb had settled in an olive tree
and in that quick divining glance, unexpected,
beheld the streaming opal light that caught
a human figure there, right in the face,
as radiance condensed, the moment she sought
death she found in tunneled light her fractious grace.
owl feather: terton’s instrument for divination, especially favored in rituals for posing questions about fate, mortal limits, death, and the conditions of death
shrimp-bound: allusion to the celebrated crevettes fished on the Belgian coast near Ostende
sexual healing of a generation: allusion to the popular song by Marvin Gaye, composed when the singer was sojourning in Belgium. Just before his death, he said in an interview that the rhythm of that song, and the lyrics as well, came to him will running on the beach at Ostende.
sacred boon: Tertons receive may rewards or “perks” for their skill in the divining arts and treasure-finding.
the opal rim presenting horns / that prize the day: the appearance of the sunrise crescent
feathered drum: the impression (which cannot be reproduced photographically) of feathered streams of light radiating downward from the two points of the rising crescent
tunneled light: allusion to the tunnel of light universally attested in the near death experience, described to the terton by his Belgian friend who underwent a NDE
25. The Witch and the Peacock
(C.W. 131 I To a Child Dancing in the Wind,
C.W. 132 II Two Years Later)
I. The Witch
Seek and be sought,
whatever’s to befall you
as you die was wrought
by that lean hag upon the roof, who
took your youth and turned
it into treasure, with crystal knife
infused your blood and churned
your death-wish into this elixir.
II. The Peacock
What richness found you
in that bright nacreous balm,
what silent glory to pursue?
Time-beaten, turquoise charm
adorns the desolation of your pride,
your fancified elation,
and Tantra dances in your stride
in peacock-tail display, no harm,
no feather clipped by deprivation.
26. Dakini Dancing, Two Seconds Later
(C.W. 131, I. To a Child Dancing in the Wind,
C.W. 132, II, Two Years Later)
I Dakini Dancing
Dance there upon the azure rim,
Delight the mind and senses both,
For sense is sky and mind is wind.
This sensual dream is all your truth.
Seminal blue distilled in drops,
eternal youth, essence of love,
the transient instant never stops
and never goes: so loss will prove.
Supreme desire is your high call,
and anything it brings along
brings liberation, too, but not for all:
to freedom does this dance belong.
II Two Seconds Later
Has no one invited you into this dare
with gleaming eyes to match your glow?
Or welcomed you to shun despair,
no matter what you seem to know?
I do not warn, but welcome the young,
so we may speak a common tongue.
Will you forsake the living dream,
again get lost, go unbefriended,
or can you forgo every meme
to sink away in bliss untended?
The day we share a magic tongue,
I am not old, you are not young.
azure rim: in heightened awareness, the affect of fractionalization of the apparent emptiness of the atmosphere, producing the appearance of a limitless dome of hexagonal cells (Benard cells) suspended in an azure-green gel, i.e. “diamond sky”
sensual dream: in Mayavada Vedanta and the phenomenalist view of Vajrayana, the world is an apparition as real as the “ultimate reality,” the unmanifest ground awareness that produces it, like a mirror produces a reflection. The sensual dream (Maya) does not conceal the transcendent reality, pure consciousness, the Absolute, etc: it reveals and expresses it. The primary metaphor for this conception is the myth of the dreaming god: Vishnu in Hindu myth, or the Gnostic Aeon Sophia, who dreams the human species
seminal blue distilled in drops: blue sky heart emptiness dispensed in drops by the Diamond Sky Dakinis, bringing mind and body to perfect attention in the unity of bliss and emptiness, wisdom and bliss
Supreme desire: as a condition of interactivity, the Diamond Sky Dakinis hold each person to his or her highest desire. In Kala Tantra, liberation is achieved through living desire outrageously to its supreme expression, not by renouncing it.
bliss untended: the transcendent bliss that takes care of us, tending to the human heart in both joy and sorrow, but is tended by no one
magic tongue: sandhya-bhasa, “twilight talk,” language attributed to the Dakinis which may be whispered (oral: mantra) or textually encoded (written: tantra) or transmitted through touch and ritual act (mudra)
27. This Lineage
(C.W. 139 The Magi)
Not until this consort union could I conceive in the left eye
of manas those bright and massive cumuli adrift
beyond the window frame, and understand at last why
they looked as they did, unnatural; for in that shift
from real to ritual view, the lama put me into his own mind
where I knew naught but silencc, yet that silence bore
the drift of two hundred years, cloud-born ter for me to find:
this lineage, Mahamudra Sky, Kala, Gaia, Tantra galore.
this consort union: conversation with my Shakti, walking along the Singel in Amsterdam, Friday, October 17, 2008, concerning my sitting with Dudjom Rinpoche in Santa Fe, New Mexico
left eye of manas: the eye of discrimination, discerning the origin of things; contrasted to the right eye of buddhi, the view from the origin
from real to ritual view: the effect, during that sitting, of flat-bottomed cumulus clouds viewed through a window arch by the lama and myself, appearing in a procession of regular mounds as seen painted on stupas and in tangkas, rather than in their natural, irregular forms
the drift of two centuries, cloud-born ter: Dorje Nhamkai Kandro Nying Thig, “Seminal Heart of the Diamond Sky Dakinis,” the terma of Gaia Awakening with a duration of 208 years from October 2008
Mahamudra Sky: the constellations of the sky, ecliptic and extra-ecliptic, converted to the vision of indigenous Bon shamanism
Kala: this very instant. Also, this precise moment in historical time.
Gaia: the self-aware, superanimating presence of the earth, who attention is identified in the 18th dakini of the Shakti Cluster, Vajravilasi
Tantra galore: the bounty of Planetary Tantra. The terma of Gaia Awakening is serial and pluralistic, to be received, shared, and developed by many people.