35. Two Songs of a Dugpa
(C.W. 186, Two Songs of a Fool)
A sleek black cat and snow-white steed
eat by my terrace
as they need;
and both confer upon my face
the dignity and elegance
of sentient creatures steeped in trance.
Arising from my kind of sleep,
I contemplate how they reveal
the way the silence runs so deep
and soft throughout the house,
and out into the fields around,
as if the space inside and out composed a single sound.
I beat a drum to match my mind,
ignoring any rule of thumb,
for what I find
by random beats makes dumb
the thoughts that come and go,
as if all space were but echo.
Seated upon a three-legged stool beside the fire,
the sleek black cat curled at my feet,
I never bother my desire
or question how complete
my heart would be, gathered into a drop.
Who asks such questions, anyway,
how anyone might reach for someone dear
or cherish the embrace that falls away
the moment one would draw it near?
Have I just wakened from a sleep
that found me in a woman’s gaze?
It may be so, or may be just a daze
where I turned toward a blank desire
only to feel the sudden draft of the chimney fire.
36. Another Song of the Dugpa
(C.W. 187, Another Song of a Fool)
The globe of this milkweed plant
spindled so lightly in my hands,
is made from spikes at every slant
like beams out-raying from the sun.
Who once lived here, in Buddha-field,
still lives out there, in some next world,
where alaya alone can yield
a record of these spikes unfurled.
So like the silence of a bell,
the milky spikes are still and round:
this is how the mind can tell
it’s thinking, but without a sound.
alaya Sanskrit, ” open field,” the store-consciousness that retains traces of all actions and events
37. The Double Vision of Jan Kerouac
(C.W. 188, The Double Vision of Michael Robartes)
From the harsh rock of Gaucin my dreaming eye
beheld a coastline that looked a lot like Maine,
one morning when I wakened to a blue-bright sky
seen from the terrace, pale moon on the wane.
Under that moon, my gaze dispelled the dream
and drew me up the steps with Africa in sight,
but what I saw was not the normal view,
but Maine for sure, as sure as day is light.
Baffled and totally enthralled, I fell against the rail
and gaped upon the scene that was not there,
yet physical it was, so that I could not fail
to register that something grand was near.
As if by magic pass or momentary spell
I reckoned that I was awake but in another realm,
Andromeda, the place she dwells
in triumph over death and gloom.
Andromeda it was, with the white town all around.
I stepped away and touched the other ground
like Buddha touching earth, serene,
in wonderment of being seen,
For people came to meet and greet me,
some folks at leisure by the sea,
where Jan now wiled her time away,
yet being dead, eluded me—to my great dismay.
I saw it not in my mind’s eye, not vague,
but in a lucid dream that caught me like a wave
and held me in it, stunned and solid as the moon
that hung upon the background, before noon.
Then Jan pealed out a laugh, familiar as can be,
And I saw her eyes glitter sadly, looking straight at me,
Taller than she was before, and lithe,
she spread her lovely aura, calm and bright.
The moon in the day sky was fixed upon my head,
and love moved in my heart: I knew she was not dead,
yet I could not define or span in any way
the way she stood before me, clear as day.
How much I really saw of what I saw
depended on the longing felt, the draw
of her corporal charm on me, its dancing force
and everything it swept into my mortal loss.
The moment came and held, when I beheld
Jan turning up a path across the estuary green,
and startled then, I nearly yelled
out to her, but what would yelling mean?
In that perception of Andromeda, her sanctuary
out of time where beauty turned the very
rhythm of her walk into the proof of living
otherwise, I captured and surpassed my mortal striving.
Later, I knew that I had seen her vision slide
between the porous world aside,
and meld into my dreaming mood
as if her lovely shape before me stood.
But linger she did not, and in the luminosity
that registered on me, the sheer velocity
of time swept me back to the Spanish town,
leaving Jan to the sorrow where she told me she would drown.
Andromeda is not a place for such tears, although
I reckon that a flood of them will flow
upon my visit the next time, whenever
I awake in dream again, or when I wake forever.
The increment of passion split, the silent frenzy
of that scene, brought Jan into the lens
of my devotion, more beautiful than ever,
and joined to me in love no death can dissever.
This waking dream lifted my heart to song
and emptied me of sorrow, for I belong
eternally in double passion with a womanchild,
the waif who claims me with a wistful smile.
Gaucin Mountain village Andalucia where the lucid dream occurred
Andromeda External galaxy at a distance of 2.2 million light-years from earth, harboring a parallel world to the earth
white town Spanish pueblo blanco, applied to towns in Andalucia on the route from Ronda to the sea
world aside Poetic slang for such a parallel world
38. Sadhana for My Shakti
(C.W. 201, A Prayer for my Daughter)
for Jeanne, shining now alone
This night under a howling storm, half-gone
to distance, in void as well as form
my shakti sleeps. There is no separation
from the Reed Valley, this green vale,
to her beach house or urban home;
Over the Atlantic there courses no wind
that does not into silence our lives bind
and hold us loved, in union, though alone.
I steep in my sadhana, attendant to the time
completion brings me to a pause sublime.
Swept under each and every expectation
coming into arms, desire dissolves to liberation.
The excitement spun in this reverie
does not excel the thrill of its demise:
evacuation of the radiant thigle,
my heart condensed, afloat in diamond skies.
May we be rendered unto beauty, once again
and ever only once, and never in the strain
that looks for love, but finding it and being found
(so rising by what makes us hit the ground),
we will surrender to the tantric way,
lose nothing but our minds and nothing less,
this heart-revealing intimate caress
that chooses for us how to make each day.
Some fabled beauty or dauntless heroine of old
may well have known how tender and how bold
lovers must be, to sink into such luminosity,
desiring neither origin nor goal, impetuosity
and diligence combined, this way to turn
two figures into fusion and watch the fusion glow
with feathered mystic heat, the bindu sinks below
and pinpoints where the heart will float and churn.
This passion is not learned or taught
but something in it can almost be caught,
even by those who cannot take the rush,
who must retire from youth and lose the flush
of beauty’s own conversion, its self-peeling
magic seal, “so allusive that we call it love”
or call it anything that comes to mind, one feeling
as good as another, fitted like hand to glove.
My Shakti becomes now like a yaksha tree,
or has already been one, so it looks to me,
for such is her magnanimity in flesh
that she bears fruit and foliage as fresh
as Daphne turned into a laurel green
and limber, bent by the toss of frantic winds,
gentle and resilient, how easily she finds
her eyes inviting mine to dance, that we be seen.
My mind, now in its merge with diamond-sky delight
knows love for her in form and void, the bright
and dark of crystal seen together, not as one
but even better in complement, and gone
as fast as samsara goes, caught in the flow
of these emotions—pick any one you like—
no resistance to what comes, no afterglow,
no knowing when the vajra ray will strike.
Mere intellectual knowing is the least—
we learned once, a thunderbolt released—
but loveliness is all, so eager, so adorned
with nakedness, our gate, portal to the unborn.
Liberated mind does not accept a cause
for any lovely thing or even for what’s vile,
and wisdom of the heart that cannot be defiled
gives recognition with no rules, no laws.
Innocence we offer, for innocence reflects
life at its source, the way mind self-corrects
with nothing to improve or change or lose,
for non-origination is its playful ruse.
When my shakti wakes and puts on her desire
she can, like no one else I care to know,
bring all my longing to a gentle glow,
inviting the sweet sunken flare of mystic fire.
And may her shakta bring their life to celebration,
by terma and instruction, he’s brewing a sensation.
His arrogance along with his humility
is going to break the odds on this humane futility.
Ask how in void and form love can endure,
or simultaneously, they do and evermore;
My Shakti wields my power at its core;
Her innocence, like mine, keeps this union pure.
sadhana Sanskrit, “practice, spiritual rite,” loosely meant here as copmparable to a prayer
Reed Valley The southernmost south-facing valley in Europe, traversed by the Guardiaro river and leading to the Rock of Gibraltar
thigle Tibetan equivalent to Sanskrit bindu, “seed, essence, drop”
yaksha Indic tree goddess, comparable to Daphne in Greek myth
thunderbolt released With Jeanne, Gaucin, August 21, 2008
(C. W. 214 The Wheel)
Through seasons four and eons vast,
the wheel of time turns on its rim,
the karmic echoes from the past
arise and mingle, insight grows dim,
And soon enough there’s no recourse
against the crush of human need
except the stars in their discourse—
the timing of these cycles, freed.
Kalachakra Sanskrit, “wheel of time,” a complex system of initiatory ritual and esoteric teaching with references to cosmic patterns and planetary cycles
40. This Nirmanakaya
(C.W. 220 Leda and the Swan)
Descending coils: the lithe relay of jewel-
beaded scales, the softly trembling man
held in the cooling swirl of mystic fire, dual
currents, rainbow hues, and silence like a fan
of massive feathers spread over the room,
one afternoon in wintertime in Spain.
How can a body laid in that white rush resume
its mortal self, its repertoire of human pain
no more alive than an expiring heart
that in its last pulsation alone, assumes Eternity?
Broke open heart of presence, a flutter in the genes,
Ananta coiled and floating, no life displayed apart
from this Nirmanakaya, whatever it may be—
wherever now is to be lived, this tremor intervenes.
Ananta Mythical serpent of eternity in Hindu myth