Published on July 13th, 2015 | by Harmonist staff0
The Feeling of You (aka, What it Feels Like to Have a Guru, Part 2)
By Tadiya Dasi
In bhakti yoga, this is emphasized: sanga, meaning the company and community of others on the path, is considered to be something that we absolutely need in order to grow in and sustain our faith. Bhakti yogis are instructed to develop intimate and confidential friendships with others on the path. Loving God includes loving all those dear to him. In bhakti we progress by cultivating positive attachment, not by detachment. Love and trust are the two skills needed to do just that.
I wrote this poem originally intending to write about how my guru, my guide and teacher in bhakti yoga, feels like a friend of the soul to me and how the very feeling of him seems to sustain my soul. But in the process of writing, I changed it from a singular friend to plural, as in “friends of the soul”, realizing that God’s grace comes to me – yes, in the form of my guru – but also in other friendships that nourish my soul.
Besides relationships, God’s grace and good will toward me sometimes takes other forms. For example, I consider the feeling of hope and faith as such good “friends of my soul”.
Inspiration for this poem came also from an often quoted saying by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, a beloved teacher of bhakti: “the environment is friendly.” Meaning that when we are able to see the world through the eyes of faith and love – and approach it as servants rather than exploiters – we will see how everything in our lives is indeed friendly and helping us. And “a bad worker quarrels with his tools”, Sridhara Maharaja continues. Meaning: we must start where we are, work with what we have and use our circumstances – good and bad – for spiritual growth.
What I have, personally, is a lot of shame and sorrow, and doubt as well, to work with. And I certainly have wasted a lot of time quarreling with myself, and my circumstances. And, at times, to my regret, that has created considerable distance between me and my friend(s) of the soul.
But what has pulled me through – and near – has always been the love of my guru and my friends, their love for my soul.
This poem is dedicated to all my friends, especially to my guru, a dearmost friend of my soul. This, my friends, is what it feels like to have a guru: something in him makes my soul come out and be near. The feeling of him a space that’s widening in my heart; and I come out bigger, having been in it.
The Feeling of You
Dear friend of the soul,
I’ve been holding my distance
I have stood my ground on nothing
for fear gave me
such impossible marching orders that
my feet, for a year, refused to go
Only distance grew big in me
as I leaned into it
I became small,
of the concrete of despair
let me tell you –
should never feel like your only friend
So, I stood still
wearing the heavy shoes of hesitation;
feet in the cement of my
and the place I once hurried to,
became just a blurred vision on the horizon,
as I let the
the feeling of you
and doubt to wear myself thin
somehow, I lost touch
of the Meaningful
let my hope
be reduced to a tiny whisper in the corners of the self
made my home into the alone and
housed myself in the smallest possible corner
of the self: shame.
I fell so far and away
But then, as
the very ground beneath my stumbling
rose up to hold me
I found out that
a little hope
goes a long way
for everything holds a possibility
for entering the Meaningful.
There are two ways to live:
as though everything has meaning
The nothing, got me nowhere
but the everything,
got me cornered: I had to face myself in all directions
pull away far enough
and you are pulled near – almost by accident.
Such is the crookedness of grace. It gets you
while you’re getting away from it.
And the something missing
in search of us
until you recognize her
as the very Friend you’ve missed all your life
and then you will see how
God has sent so many good friends to meet you on the way!
Friends of the soul, who come
with hopeful news about the meaning of it all
who hold your heart
in such a way that
the very feeling of them
is enough of an answer.
coming with arms full
love letters to your soul
Think about it: you can be
with the Forever.
Oh my friends,
I fold the feeling of you into a corner of my heart
and keep it there, in the chambers of my
ready to be pulled out when and if need be
I hold on to this, the faith of you
that gives the Meaningful into my empty arms
so much to hold onto
that I am held
from here to hope, to love
and my soul is received in such a way
that nothing can no longer
claim to fill me.
everything about you pulls me nearer to the Meaningful
as I lean towards this feeling of you; this vastness
that’s holding my heart
– and the things
it has to say to me,
my head can hardly believe it
so like an unsent letter, I hide it away, tuck it under my heart
and wonder if there’s a way to say it?
Or if I can even feel it tomorrow
Still, the feeling of you
is now a space that’s widening
inside of me,
come out bigger
for having been in it.
Something in you,
makes my soul
come out and be near.
In the presence of friends
who love my self like their own self
distance is no longer an option.
I know this now:
to have this kind of intimacy, even for a moment,
between you and the one that needs no introducing
and to feel the vastness of that love
that somehow squeezes itself
inside your little heart and makes it bigger,
is the miracle we were born into.
The embrace is such
that your prayers become short: just wishes
for everyone to have friends like this!
To come across a friend of the soul
is the reassurance of ten thousand loving arms
wrapping themselves around you
To know that God has such friends for your soul
makes everything appear friendly;
you might even begin to befriend
the stranger in your own self,
so difficult to love, to embrace
for it’s like spring, when someone receives you
you grow without trying to.
And friends like this
who welcome your soul,
like the sun welcomes the day
it’s light: illuminates
your absolute need for mercy
and the existence of it –
God does not just give grace
– she becomes it
and you see it
in your friend’s smiling face – in your own smile, too
like a thousand suns
appearing across the horizon of your heart
and you feel it,
as the heart you’ve held closed
now pours itself out
What the world needs
is this space
widening in every heart
may the something missing
lead you there
and your soul come to know
the embrace of such Friends
may the feeling of them
to the Meaningful
in search of you.
Look around: Everything wants to be your friend.