And My Love Says: I Have Come All This Way, Eager for You

arati lampBy Tadiya dasi, originally published on her blog, Bhakti Blossoms: Yoga of the Heart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent most of my life soundly asleep, ignoring everything around me. Completely oblivious to the grace and love and beauty abound around me, unaware of my own heart. My eyes frozen shut. Wrapped up in darkness while all around me the sun and the moon kept shining. I’ve spent years in the weird twilight zone of my mind and memories. And then years trying to deal with those lost years. But even those years in the dark—and even now when I’m trying to keep my eyes open, I often forget to look beyond the surface and thus get distracted. But I know, and I am reminded of it every time I take part in the arati-ceremony: that the light of God is such that it exists within the darkness as well.

And when we can’t see the light of the day in our madness or when in our twilight zones lose sight of the sun, then the moon comes—and he’s mad too! in his own way—and gives us his light instead. No matter how dark the night, the moonlight is there. The moon of Nityananda is always rising to meet us where we are. Shining his light in the form of sri guru.

Yet despite my beautiful intentions to stay awake and aware, even at the asrama, I never quite manage to be anyone but myself. Which means, I spend far too much time in my head. In the dark, I am oblivious to the light that shines through all things and people and the eternal now. Therefore despite the divine surroundings, I am embarrassingly human.  Waking up at 4 a.m means often I am tired, feeling a little dizzy and cold. And let’s just say that the cold shower in the morning is not a blissful prospect. It’s during those moments when I forget why I have come to Audarya, my guru’s asrama,  in the first place. I am here to get into my heart and explore it’s capacity to love—and thus not waste precious time being inside my head thinking the same old, same old.

But then there are moments of grace: when I am drawn—against myself—into the deeper realm where real life happens and I begin to remember why I am breathing. I start looking at the mirror of my mind and heart and realize, “Yes, it definitely needs polishing! And get to it.”

In my recent visit, it was the kirtanas in general and one in particular that opened the doors for me to take a deeper look at myself and my life. Their power spurred a lot of reflection for me. There was great reassurance in them. It was through the ritual realm of the arati—and through the sound of the mantra of Krsna’s names—that love invited me in. It held a safe container for me to try and bring my heart back to life and make sense and meaning of my lost years. It’s always like spiritual first aid for me to be with my teacher and to be in kirtana.

Every morning, despite my embarrassing clumsiness for having come into such a soft and sacred space “with my shoes on” so-to-speak (to use my teacher’s language), I would again to my embarrassment  notice that my beloved Gaura-Nityananda had come all the way to meet me here, eager for me to arrive “without shoes or shawl”. How true this is for all of us: they have come all this way,  just so  we could meet in this realm of ritual, realm of light!

All of this is facilitated by grace-in-action, that of my beloved friend and guide. All this because of his merciful glance of om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya cakshur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah. Frozen eyes are bound to melt in the company of such hearts, like that of my teacher, who is  always looking toward the eternal and looking at everything through the eternal. He is able to make meaning out of the meaninglessness.

Many a morning, I felt ashamed that I had entered the kirtana with an inappropriate attitude, unable to get out of my own head, too tired to focus, and so on. Yet, I was shown such tenderness. Mercy. Grace. And I’m telling you, these words I use are not soft enough or tender enough to convey the softness, the delicateness, and the sweetness of Gaura-Nityananda’s presence which permeates all of Audarya. I guess you will just have to visit to experience it for yourself.

All I can say to describe what I felt  during the kirtanas, especially when I was able to lay down the heavy burden of my mind at their feet for a second, is to borrow these words from a poem by Rumi called Bittersweet. This poem came to my mind after one particularly moving  kirtana during which I felt for a second their hearts like a powerful magnet pulling me. The sheer power and charge of their love for me both overwhelmed and embarrassed me: their eagerness to love baring my own heart and it’s inability to love.

from Bittersweet by Rumi

I yearn for happiness
I ask for help
I want mercy
And my love says:

Look at me and hear me
Because I am here
Just for that

I am your moon and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden and your water too
I have come all this way, eager for you
Without shoes or shawl

I want you to laugh
To kill all your worries
To love you
To nourish you

****

And here it is, in my own words.  A section from my own poem which I wrote on my experience.

Audarya Kirtan

From my cabin
in the woods I walk

heavy heart
with legs that lag behind
when I should be running!

From the woods, I walk into
the dark forest of my heart

walls rising high in every corner of it

and if there ever was a word
to describe it—it would be heavy

I can feel it in my bones: I’m dragging something heavier
than my soul up this pathway;

been housing sorrow
and anger,

bitterness in my bones

I want to lay it all down,

lay down
at his feet
at his feet

and write down the bones

as I whisper instructions to my own soul,
and walk to a sound of his name
hand in my heart;

trying to pull up
something to offer

but my heart sulks, turns her back towards me
refuses to awaken:

I have nothing.
But the nothingness
I’ve become, she says,

and always I walk with the shadow of sorrow behind me.

Darkness.

But then a ray of moonlight catches me,

and I think of how in the house of Shrivasa
Dukhi become Sukhi
just by carrying water

and I say, Gaura, let all my tears become the water I carry to you!

I say to my heart, keep telling her:
To come all this way
to all this light

and then walk in the dark?

To come empty handed before
the one who’s very arms are the form of giving?

Let the tears become the water you carry!

But this is like every other morning. I think too much.
Get up, tired. Walk to the bathhouse with sleep all over me.

Watch the light of Sri Guru up on a hill.
The ever-generous moon shining in his sweet fullness

sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam

and my heart should swell
but it only echoes a silence
where the name tries to enter

all this moonlight,
yet I stumble in the darkness and
trip into my own two feet;

save me from myself, Black Moon!

Enter the bathhouse
(of his grace)

where
my heart becomes a spilled water bucket; a splash of icy and cold,
it’s freeze all over me
empty

while he showers me with mercy.

anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam

In this shower, I’m
naked, yet hiding my heart;
I’ve not yet let him under my skin

for now it’s just me and my heart, empty bucket baths.
The dark.

After the shower, shivering, think to myself:
surely these quivering legs were not made for dancing!

Where in this blackness
has the moon hid himself?

I look at the mirror.
It needs polishing.
ceto-darpana-marjanam.

Then I take the clay from your realm
press it against my skin: it becomes an ornament.
A reminder: this body is not mine, but yours! Take it. May it dance to your drum.

Ashamed I suddenly think of how freely I press your
footprints to my forehead…
When the gopis were
afraid of placing your soft feet at their bosoms!
How hard is my head. How soft their chests.
We are world’s apart.

Wrap a shawl over my body, the sari enfolds on me.
At least I can dress the part.

Walk to the temple,
greet the moon on my way:
Jaya Gaura-Candra! Jaya Nitai-Candra!

The moon has so many faces of love here. Everywhere I turn,
I am greeted by his smile.

In this light,
in his light, I need no flash in the dark; I can see the whole way
to the temple. Finding your way here like walking hand in hand with your friend.

I am bold this morning, and so I ask from my love the impossible:
Bring me the moon! And moonlight, too!

Place my feet on the pathway of saints
and go. The temple is alight; I know where I’m heading.

Stepping on the grass, I think of how
yesterday, there were cows sprinting in joy here.

This must be the pasture where I have come to meet my herd.
To learn all their names.

I look for the prints of their hooves in the mud
like a map
and know just one word:
home.


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