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To Thyself Be Kind

TIRUVANNAMALAI, TAMIL NADU, I N D I A

No more struggle now sweet one
The time of toil and trouble done
Kindness is the word today
Resolve to treat yourself this way
Slowly, slowly unfold the now
For this becomes the sacred vow
The only way the work will come
Obsession with the presence – one
Assimilate the form of essence
Summon love’s incandescence
No need, no need for haste and frown
All the mantles of your rich crown
Appear as you have labored well
Though sometimes you could not quite tell
See it now in humble form
Quietly, quietly observe each storm
That tossed and shook your world apart
That scraped away the myth and mask
Pulled you far from loves great task
And now you see the brambled path
That tore and pricked
And pulled and kicked
Refined your eye
Designed the sky
And seeded stars
That healed the scars
From all those steps
Your precious feet
Once walked upon that stony street
That street called fear
Which now is clear
Hold dear, hold dear
Your worthy heart
Come now and start
To play your part
The music score awaits your voice
Of this you know the purest choice
With ease and grace
Upon your face
The notes come through
As sure and true
Crystal power
Nectars flower
Align with earth
Rebirth, rebirth

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From the Jungle to the Mountain

First impressions of India during a taxi ride

KARALA, I n d i a

She’s beautiful and she’s ugly. Grand and grotesque. Lush and littered.

I looked through the car window like I was watching an 8-hour movie, as we traveled through poverty and richness, simplicity and chaos; avoiding at least 1000 accidents along the way. Coming face to face with buses, scooters, cows and roosters, dogs and humans.

And yet the navigation is peaceful and routine, as we squeeze between a truck piled 10 feet high with sacks of rice and monkeys eating on the side of the road. Whilst Kumar, our taxi driver, all dressed in white, eyes on the road, hand on the horn, makes sure we arrive unscathed. Here you must have eyes in the back of your head and the sides, with a 7th sense and amazing reflexes and be able to channel Brahma in every moment along the way. Thank God Ganesha lives on the dashboard of every taxi, bus and rickshaw.

We reach another small village with tiny street-front stores; a tailor, a grocer a shoeshine stand. Colorful jugs of water dance atop sareed women’s heads. Little boys and girls walk home from school. Home is a simple building, painted blue with a straw roof and right on the street, where a cow is tied to a tree and emaciated dogs scurry by in search of the next scrap of food. Ducks bath in sewage on the sidewalk.

We slam on breaks as an elderly man with white hair and a long beard is slowly making his way across the chaotic sea of traffic. He is not phased in the least and neither is the taxi driver. It just is. No one is uptight or anxious. We just navigate the best we can. We duck and dive and stay alive.

The fruit stalls side-by-side are stocked to the brim with bananas and papayas and a man on a bicycle carries at least 50 coconuts. How is that even possible? There’s another on a scooter carrying dozens of aluminum pots. He shimmers and rattles down the road in the setting sun.

My glance follows him as he disappears down the street and I notice a goat; insides spilling out onto the street. I think she’s giving birth but then I notice a swift slice to her neck. She’s being skinned alive right there; with passers-by, with traffic and flies and people selling their wares.

It’s all in the blink of an eye as we drive by.

Jungle Dreaming

KERALA, I N D I A

And it rained all night,
My dreams awash in jungle air
Crickets pausing
Silence speaks
Angels floating in to teach.

And you who wandered through my story
All those years beyond the now
Scatter forth like weary ghosts
Dissolve into luminescent dust

Free me now
For I am sovereign.

Flowers bloom around my head
Dripping nectar as I tread,
Upon a starlit path tonight
Rising up as I take flight.