The Gift

This poem-like piece is about the evolution of my experience with the spiritual practice of japa, or mantra repetition. I was introduced to this practice in 1980 and was initially deeply judgmental and skeptical about the practice. However, over many years, I became deeply grateful for the grace that allowed me to persevere and experience indescribable and remarkably beautiful spiritual treasures. This is the story of my relationship with my beads.

The Gift

When I was told about the practice of japa
I thought “What a silly practice.”
Repeating the same thing over and over
on these silly beads.
I thought “This is for the weak and those without experience.”

Om Namah Shivaya,
it sounded beautiful and
a gift is always saturated with the spirit of the giver.

All the disciples
and those looking to convince others
were quick to tell
how great is “The mantra”.
But religious words are usually tainted,
Truth mixed with myth and exaggeration.
The square peg trying to fit into the round hole…
these words of theirs.
The Truth is good enough.

Like a sheep following the flock
I repeated Om Namah Shivaya.
I felt silly doing this practice
and following the pack.
I thought “I’m better than this childish practice.”

However, I felt something.
I was changing within
so I repeated Om Namah Shivaya
and watched the flowers slowly bloom.

Against my little will
something benevolent within
patiently guides me.
Who or what, I don’t claim to know.
This is a great mystery
to which I am eternally indebted.

It was many years
before it happened.
Peace, like a shimmering sun
exploded in every direction.
Like a flock of
a million caged doves,
awareness broke free
and flew in every direction.
The walls came down and
I was set free,
for a moment,
the bliss of absolute freedom.

Saying goodbye to everything
and hello to everything,
I was greeted by the almighty
with open arms,
What a remarkable moment.

The ocean of awareness
overtook smallness,
and life as I knew it was over,
and just as quickly, was not.

When the ocean of supreme bliss subsided,
I laughed.
“Perhaps I was wrong about this innocent practice.”
“Perhaps my judgment of others was a reflection of my own pain”
When the ocean of love arrives, generosity and compassion come easy.

And now the beads are sacred.
This sound is no longer another’s story.
I no longer look elsewhere to define
the music
within and without
any more than I need a scholar to teach me about the fragrance of a flower.

The scent of a gardenia is best enjoyed privately,
when no one is watching.
The Truth visits
in the quiet moments.

Om….the silence…the stillness.
The foundation on which the symphony of this world is built.
Namah…the gratitude with which we surrender to the beloved.
Beyond imagination, beyond imagination.
Shivaya…our own awareness,
the form of the beloved
that we have chosen.
Light of God,
benevolent Lord,
undisturbed and shining everywhere.

Like diving into a clear lake on a hot day,
the sound of Om Namah Shivaya
has awakened me…purified me…and changed my world.
It has become dear to me.
My friend who travels with me everywhere.

Rain and thunder,
drums and singing voices,
children laughing,
the lover’s voice,
and the melody of the breath.
Sounds come from everywhere,
and they all have destinations for us.

This life is a gift to be renewed in every moment.
Lovers share a glance.
A hungry man is fed.
A baby finds the breast.
The old finds wisdom.

Where is my friend taking me?
Those who have been know.
and are fortunate,
for they have met the Lord
while living in this world.

Love is the gift
I unwrap
again and again and again.

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