The title comes from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, Howl
The title comes from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, Howl
Sri Eknath Easwaran distinguishes two kinds of spiritual reading: that of instruction and that of inspiration. Simone Weil’s book, Waiting for God, is an example of the latter, as it is fecund with material for examining one’s life and path. Reading her brought to mind the Buddhists Thich Nhat Hanh and Chan Khong, Hindu Sri Anandamayi Ma, and Catholics Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and José María Vigil who espoused “political holiness.” Her essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God” is superb.
I offer a short selection in what follows…
Method of investigation— as soon as one has arrived at any position, try to find in what sense the contrary is true.
Except for those whose whole soul is inhabited by Christ, everybody despises the afflicted to some extent, although practically no one is conscious of it.
I love the saints through their writings and what is told of their lives … I love the six or seven Catholics of genuine spirituality whom chance has led me to meet in the course of my life. I love the Catholic liturgy, hymns, architecture, rites and ceremonies.
I fell in love with Saint Francis of Assisi as soon as I came to know about him. Read the rest of this entry »
51. Neal looks older, Jewish, very serious and on powerful integrity drive.
–Allen Ginsberg, letter to Jack Kerouac
151. In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, “I have attained something.” All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. Dogen-zenji, the founder of our school, always emphasized how important it is to resume our boundless original mind. Then we are always true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can actually practice.
–Suzuki Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
251. No one is new to me. All are always familial.
–Sri Anandamayi Ma, quoted in Swami Mangalananda, A Goddess among Us Read the rest of this entry »
I am sending out the following to a few of my friends, Bengali-Americans, who haven’t heard of Sri Anandamayi Ma. I think they’ll be open to her.
I’m grateful we read her before I went to law school.
It was reported that various Indian philosophers and scholars said to the Bengali mystic Sri Anandamayi Ma: “We have studied dry scriptures. But, we now see before us, a living embodiment of all that is contained in our holy books of wisdom.”
Sri Anandamayi Ma passed from this life in 1982. Even though we no longer have the opportunity of darshan of her “living embodiment,” we still can learn something from Joseph Fitzgerald’s The Essential Sri Anandamayi Ma: Life and Teachings of a 20th Century Indian Saint. Given the pace of our lives, the intense pressures to achieve success, and our nagging sense of being frequently adrift, an acquaintance with Ma is a step toward sanity.
First, we can ponder reflections from Ma’s biographer, Alexander Lipski, like the following…
I felt as though I was mentally stripped naked. It seemed to me that she could see into the innermost recesses of my mind. I asked her to tell me what the chief obstacles on my spiritual path were. In response she revealed to me some glaring shortcomings of which I had been hitherto totally unaware. What She said was in no way flattering, in fact, painful, but Anandamayi Ma said it so compassionately, although firmly, that I did not feel condemned. I realized what true loving detachment was. Read the rest of this entry »
Everybody needs a guru, I’ve got Nima Sheth among the living, she’s just back from India. But it’s good to have lotsa gurus, including those bodily deceased but still lodged in heart/mind, as Allen Ginsberg is for me. Here’s why, in these selections from Jane Kramer’s portrait, Allen Ginsberg in America:
Guru as emanating trust and comfort: [AG] made a comfortable, avuncular presence—a rumpled, friendly-looking man with a nice toothy face, big brown owl eyes behind the horn-rimmed classes, and a weary, rather affecting slouch. 5
Guru as book fiend: What books do I carry around with me, like AG did the Prajnaparamita Sutra? … Go ahead, savor books.
Guru as Beloved Teacher: He has been revered by thousands of heady, flower-wielding boys and girls as a combination guru and paterfamilias, and by a generation of students—who consider him a natural ally, if for no other reason than that he terrifies their parents with his elaborate and passionate friendliness—as a kind of ultimate faculty advisor. 9
Guru as faithful, indefatigable correspondent: Ginsberg answers all his letters. 16 Read the rest of this entry »
What did people see in [Sri Anandamayi] Ma that so captivated their hearts? They found a combination of the sweetness of maternal affection and the profound depths of a mystical knower of God. In this fragile, delicate, young woman, they found the strength and energy of the Devi herself, together with the concern and care of an old and trusted friend.
— Swami Mangalananda
Allen Ginsberg: Well, the Hindus say that this is the Kali Age or Kali Yuga or Kali Cycle, and we are all so sunk in matter, the five senses are matter, sense, that they say there’s absolutely no way out by intellect, by thought, by discipline, by practice, by sadhana, by jnanayoga, nor karma yoga—that is, doing good works—no way out through our own will or our own effort. The only way out that they generally now prescribe, generally in India at the moment, is through bhakti yoga, which is Faith Hope Adoration-Worship, or like probably the equivalent of the Christian Sacred Heart…. the only way you can be saved is to sing. In other words, the only way to drag up, from the depths of this depression, to drag up your soul to its proper bliss, and understanding, is to give yourself, completely to your heart’s desire. The image will be determined by the heart’s compass, by the compass of what the heart moves toward and desires.…The Hindu bhakti is like excess of devotion; you just, you know, give yourself all out to devotion. 276
Allen Ginsberg: … but that the fixed expressions that people have, the habitual expression, the manners, the mode of talk, are all masks hiding this consciousness. 284 The twisted faces of all those people, the faces were twisted by rejection. And hatred of self, finally. The internalization of that rejection. And finally disbelief in that shining self. Disbelief in that infinite self. 285
Allen Ginsberg: Everybody too intransigent. Everybody too mean. 275
So what if David Harvey’s Marxist analysis is verified by each day’s dispiriting news?
“Full effort is full victory.”
So what if the interlocking system of oppressions appears stronger with each passing month?
“Be here now.”
So what if the work feels crushingly overwhelming and gratitude for the work is depressingly underwhelming?
“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.”
So what if we wake up some mornings and in world-weariness want to stay in bed all day?
“Wherever you are, immerse yourself totally in one-pointed sadhana.”
So what if samadhi often feels like a million years away?
“Concentration is consecration.”
So what if the daily grind is wearing down our faith and kicking our hope into the gutter?
“Love is the strongest medicine. It is more powerful than electricity.”
So what if you are 750 miles away and I only get to see you twice a year?
“You and I aren’t ‘we’; you and I are One.”
Line 2: Mohandas Gandhi
Line 4: Title of Ram Dass’s 1971 spiritual manual
Line 6: Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 47
Line 8: Last words of Sri Anandamayi Ma
Line 10: Sri Eknath Easwaran
Line 12: Neem Karoli Baba
Line 14: Meher Baba
–from work-in-progress, Namaste Forever
for Dr. Amy Afanasevich
After meditating way past midnight
I went to my mat and fell asleep
And soon in a dream
Sri Anandamayi Ma and I are having a tête-à-tête
She looks mid-twenties
She is wearing a tie-dye t-shirt
And is sitting across from me
Outside at Gelateria
The curious passers-by
Might assume she is a medical student
Taking a break from her books
That would account for the light emanating from her
She’s wearing a faint smile
And I’m a little nervous
She obviously knows this too
And tries to put me at ease Read the rest of this entry »
Before coming to tonight’s writing class
I listened to a song from my youth
George Harrison late 1970
My Sweet Lord
I think I could go far in mettā
If I allowed that song to penetrate my life
“Incredible! Irresponsible! Delusional!”
I hear the scoffers (in my mind)
But that song is full of bhakti
Deep, ardent devotion Read the rest of this entry »