Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Offer My Head at Thy Feet...

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Repost of earlier 2012 posting:
Please note that I have added/removed sections as appropriate to protect names and such:

I originally removed this post when I re- inaugurated my blog this year, wanting to keep things separate in categories across my blogs, but then again, I've nothing to hide and this is actually the "larger part" of my life...and I have been asked to put it back up for view from those who are intimately involved in my story (Guru's Lila) :

Originally dated 6-12012

Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj

I perform service for Your servant, O God
And I wipe his feet with my hair.

I offer my head to him,
And listen to the Glorious Praises of the Lord,
The Source of Bliss.
~Sri Guru Granth

The Sikh Mythos

This beautiful hymn is a very small portion of the bani, or word of the Sikh Gurus.  It speaks of utter surrender to the Divine, literally offering one's head to God.  In the original it is truly ecstatic.  The large corpus containing the collections of the poetry of the Sikh gurus, I've often called "the mad rantings of ten God intoxicated men."

I am on a personal retreat for a few days...and I have been pondering for some time to relate something extraordinarily personal on my blog.  I've considered that doing so would be against my better judgement, and that has been my continued thought for years, honestly...yet now, in this day and time, this moment I've been moved to write about it, but it a way, that perhaps it may somehow be of some benefit to someone who might read it, and consider its meaning in themselves.

I dearly love the poetry of the Sikh gurus.  When heard spoken or sung, the poetry of the (Sikh) gurus has power to lift one out of themselves, out of fear, out of pain, out of anger, jealousy, hatred, self importance (and the list goes on, you get the point.)  Insomuch as we allow ourselves to surrender to the Divine that exists within and as us, we, each and all have this selfsame power.  It is my hope that in some small way, the words that I write can benefit others, especially those who have suffered in life with a disabling condition, and particularly AgCC.

When the last living Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa or the Pure, history relates that he asked for the heads of 5 disciples, to show that they were willing to surrender all to God.  I imagine this must have caused quite a stir amongst the Sikhs?  "God wants someone to lop off my head?"

One after another 5 disciples disappeared inside a tent with Guru Gobind Singh.  After each, coming out with his sword bloodied awaiting the next "volunteer."

After having done so, the wise Gobind Singh comes out of the encosure, in the company of the five men who so willingly would even allow their beloved guru to use his sword and behead them.

You see, never did he want any of them to spill their Life's blood for God (in some sick sacrificial manner), rather that they so trusted God with their lives that they gave their all, even when they most definitely did not understand what was really being asked of them. (And, if you are wondering, then "how the bloody sword", well he killed a goat and used its blood for the effect.

Those five men, who showed utter selflessness became the first five Khalsa Sikhs, sworn to defend the weak and the powerless with the recognition that all men and women are equal in the sight of the Divine.

The Hebrew Mythos:

Such a history as this immediately brings to my mind the angels mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures, not to mention the many other faith paths that rose up in the middle east.

We read in Bereshit (Genesis):

"God drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden God stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."
This teaching metaphor (any of them, historical or not) with a sword is found abundantly in sources from all over the planet.  Each may or may not have any or all historical roots in actual events, but to even argue such a point betrays an individuals foresighted approach to all such things.

In the Western mysteries, as is said in Bereshit the angel in the East,  is guardian to entrance upon the path that leads to the Tree of Life, our "inner architecture" if you will that leads us to true Knowledge, that cannot be learned from without a person, but only within them. The flaming sword that moves in all directions preventing entrance, consider our default or kill switch that disables our ability to even perceive that such a doorway exists within ourselves that leads to inner peace.  This is so, because in order to know peace, we must know ourselves fully and completely, sans judgement that stems from fear or ignorance.  We must in effect offer our head to our Higher Self.

We once more see this theme subtly related in the story of the Akedát Yitzḥák or the Binding of Issac:

We are all familiar with the story as it is related by Christians, but this is not the only view, in fact, it is not the view of either Judaism or the Mysteries...

Matthew built his Jesus around this story and put forth the unsaid assertion that the Binding is a prefiguring of the same.  Yet, one must ask if this is so, why did the angel stay Avraham's hand and not allow him to take the life of his son?

The view found in the Mystery schools since ancient time reveal something very interesting when you abandon English and go back to the  Hebrew of the Masoretic text, or the Greek of the Septuagint, as they both relate the same imagery...which is why throughout history Jews have never referred to this (no, not even before Christianity) as the "sacrifice" of Isaac/Yitzḥák, rather "the Binding.

A deeper look at this mythos reveals a very different teaching.  It was not  the Divine who demanded the sacrifice of Yitzḥák, rather it was the Elohim, the gods or "errant powers of God" loose upon the face of reality.  It is said that God saw what Avraham was about to do, and that he was faithful, and the Angel of  the Lord was sent to stay his hand.

This then, is the understanding that is being transmitted...In the time of Avraham, it was regular practice for mankind to perform infanticide, sacrificing their children to an assortment of gods, but in this particular case the god Moloch.  Therefore this teaching reveals the extreme disgust with which God held human sacrifice, let alone blood sacrifice of any kind.  Further, it then becomes clear that the Divine allowed Avraham and the proto Jewish nation to continue a form of sacrifice using animals...not to "appease" God, rather as a compromise to wean them off of/away from the concept of blood magic or blood sacrifice.  Again, the Angel of the Lord says "God knows/sees your faithfulness."  Therefore this was indeed a test of the Patriarch, just not what what is all too commonly assumed today.  As is written in the book of Yeshayahu or Isaiah:
"And all these My hand has made, And all these things are, An affirmation of YHVH! And unto this one I look attentively, Unto the humble and bruised in spirit, And who is trembling at My word."
And again, King David says:

"For you don't delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering." 
"The sacrifices pleasing to God are a broken spirit;
A heart broken and bruised, O God, You do not despise"
Mahakali Maa Devi
The Vedic Mythos:

I've one more thing I want to speak about, all in an attempt to introduce the reader to some background that will somewhat  prepare you for how this all ties in with my own very personal experience...

For me, perhaps the most powerful, and comforting mythos and imagery regarding sword and sacrifice, and deeper meaning is the Divine Mother. The ancient Rishis, many thousands of years ago relate that there is only One Truth, but the wise understand this One appears in many forms/has many names.  I am particularly interested here, however, in speaking about Mother in the form of MahaKali Maa.

Widely misunderstood in the West (and even sometimes in the East) some see Her beautiful image and it strikes fear in them, or it should...  You see, Mother Kali is a form of Mother that appears ugly, dark and menacing, if we are ugly, dark, and menacing.  She is, however, anything but this.  Rather the Chandi Path/Durga Saptashati says that She shines with the light of a million of our suns.

In Her lovely hands She holds a severed head.  She is naked, except for a garland of human skulls, and most often seen with a girdle of severed human hands.  In Her upraised hand She wields a bloody sword (I remind you of the history related of Guru Gobind Singh and the Panj Pyaare or Five Beloved that would sacrifice their heads to God.)  Her long tongue protrudes from Her mouth seeming to wag or even to menace those beholding her.

Again, this is powerful imagery, that can't easily be shaken from Consciousness and sits uncomfortably within us, like a splinter under the skin or a sesame seed between the teeth...we cannot get Her out of our Craw, so to speak.   If we stay with this discomfort long enough, we discover that our ignorance and resistance to change is the likely source of our pain...and as we look beyond the pain the Mother of the Universe is revealed.

Kali Maa, is the perfect example of what I stated above in so many words, the image or form that appears before us (continually, daily, in life) is made up largely from our personal bias, apprehensions and judgements prior to questioning their authenticity.   To really understand Her, it helps to have been a mother in this world...a mother would do almost anything to defend Her children, without question.

In Her hands she holds the severed head of the demon Raktabija...loosely translated "seeds of blood."  You see Raktabīja had a boon that whenever a drop of his blood fell on the ground, a duplicate Raktabīja would be born at that spot.  You kill one of him and many more spring up from his blood that dropped to the Earth.  At this point, the Goddess emanated the form of Kali Maa, who stretched Her tongue over the earth, and licked up each drop of blood pouring from Raktabīja's body and devoured his duplicates into Her gaping mouth. Ultimately, Raktabīja was annihilated.  In the Devi Mahatmya, Raktabija is the general of the asura (demon) army bent on taking over the world, and especially mankind.  He fought along side Sumbha, and Nishumba, or Too Much and Too Little...and they are all the wrong thinking, false thoughts that cause mankind, (and all living things) eternal suffering.

Hence, the garland of human skulls that hides Maa's nakedness represent all possible thoughts, all possible egos.  The girdle of severed human arms that cover Her Yoni are all humanities wrong actions, towards self, other and God.

In the end, Raktabija fell, to the Devi, and so did Shumba and Nishumba, the thoughts of Too Much and Too little.  As Her oppressors thought they could overcome Her by force She even taunted them to throw all their weapons at Her.  With only a Word from Her mouth She incinerated all the weapons of wrong thinking, extending Her large protruding tongue out into the world and eating, en mass all the darkness left over in this battle.

and now,
My Thoughts, Reflections & Considerations on Thought, Mind, Surrender et al:

I have several things in mind as I write this.  I hope to lead the read into an understanding of my Life experience, in relation to all of the above mythos.  I also hope to iterate my own understanding, patterned after an ancient tradition of useful fictions.

Fictionalism is a methodological theory in philosophy that suggests that statements of a certain sort should not be taken to be literally true, but merely as a useful fiction. Two important strands of fictionalism are modal fictionalism developed by Gideon Rosen, which states that possible worlds, regardless of whether they exist or not, may be a part of a useful discourse, and mathematical fictionalism advocated by Hartry Field, which states that talk of numbers and other mathematical objects is nothing more than a convenience for doing science. Also in meta-ethics, there is an equivalent position called moral fictionalism.

Fictionalism consists in at least the following three theses:
Claims made within the domain of discourse are taken to be truth-apt; that is, true or false.

The domain of discourse is to be interpreted at face value--not reduced to meaning something else.

The aim of discourse in any given domain is not historical truth, but some other virtue(s) (e.g., simplicity, explanatory scope).

In short, it might be summed up to a form of "surrendered agnosticism", in the sense that the actual Truths being related in the mythos stand above, and beyond time and place, and as principle removed from physical context in any form, yet speak directly to a reality that we know intimately within us, yet can "wear any clothing" It dictates in order to transmit It's Knowledge.

I imagine by now, some if not many of you are at the very least confused, or may not see how all the above can possibly come together into a coherent thought and tangible structure...If you've stuck with me thus far, do so for a bit more and this will become apparent to you...

There has been in my life, a coherent and consistent Golden Thread, that I am personally aware of since my earliest age.  My very first memories consist of sitting on the lap of my Grandpa, around two years of age or slightly less.  Even today, I remember his voice, the softness of his cotton shirt against my cheek, his love and warmth.

Yet, I also remember something that has never left me.  From the earliest moments of my recollection, I not only felt, but even visibly and physically perceived the divine Oneness that existed in this world of duality, of subject and object.  In my experience, or recollection, this "appears" as an all encompassing, endless Light, without beginning, end, border or limitation.  Being a child born with AgCC, you might argue that all of this will have been my imagination or some form of confabulatory experience.  But this is not so.

I've also known this Light to be the Source/Nature of all that I was/we are, were, and ever will be.  Yet, I must also admit, that for me to even describe such as this, does it a profound disservice, because as this experience, there is no one, no ego, nor mind, nor soul or spirit or body that perceives this Unity.  Only does the same endeavor to "remember" (what it never experienced in the first place), and feebly it confabulates words and history to describe it.  Interestingly, this is not only true of those like me born with AgCC, but is true of all living Beings.  The best we can do for others is simply to "point at" the Knowledge, and via for others to enter into it in their own way at their own time.

As a young child, my parents were very much into showing our German Shepherd dogs in obedience trials throughout the Country.  Some weekends, we would spend hours driving, going in all directions from home, to attend a dog show.

My thoughts go back to my tweens, I was perhaps ten or eleven years  old.  Not truly understanding the impact or implication of my experience at the time, it is foundational to the entirety of my life.  I remember after the sun going down, my parents finished for the day, taking off in the car to head home.  I became immediately enamored with the moon and stars, the sky, the expanse.

Within my heart words began to arise, no, not words but music...this music was in fact the first Bani or poem of the Sikh Gurus....

ik-oNkaar sat naam kartaa purakh nirbha-o nirvair
akaal moorat ajoonee saibhaN gur parsaad.


aad sach jugaad sach hai bhee sach naanak hosee bhee sach. ||1||

One Universal Creator God.
The Name Is Truth. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Hatred. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace ~


True In The Primal Beginning. True Throughout The Ages.
True Here And Now. O Nanak, Forever And Ever True

sochai soch na hova-ee jay sochee lakh vaar.
chupai chup na hova-ee jay laa-ay rahaa liv taar.
bhukhi-aa bhukh na utree jay bannaa puree-aa bhaar.
sahas si-aanpaa lakh hohi ta ik na chalai naal.
kiv sachi-aaraa ho-ee-ai kiv koorhai tutai paal.
hukam rajaa-ee chalnaa naanak likhi-aa naal. ||1||

By thinking, He cannot be reduced to thought, even by thinking hundreds of thousands of times.
By remaining silent, inner silence is not obtained, even by remaining lovingly absorbed deep within.
The hunger of the hungry is not appeased, even by piling up loads of worldly goods.
Hundreds of thousands of clever tricks, but not even one of them will go along with you in the end.
So how can you become truthful? And how can the veil of illusion be torn away?
O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will.
These wonderous words flowing through my heart and mind in song, with no prior knowledge of the Sanatan Sikhi, tears flowed in my eyes, my heart exploding in love for God, the night sky above me became the all pervasive Light I've known since infancy.

 A few years later, attending an Episcopal Church weekend.  I distinctly remember wandering off into the woods and down to Panther Creek in Pennsylvania.  My personal life had already become filled with pain and anxiety, misunderstanding, fear, and an even deeper craving to reunite with that One I knew so well.  I had already begun to realize that even in my sexuality, that I was never, ever attracted to the opposite sex, but had always been attracted to my same sex/gender.  Living in a socially (not religiously) conservative family, and being the good 'ol rigid minded AgCCer that I am, I was emotionally torn up and falling apart.

I do remember that morning, after Anglican Matins and Mass wondering out onto a great rock in the middle of Panther Creek with the water rushing all around me in deafening silence.  I started to weep, to pour my heart out to the Living One about all "my troubles."  Knowing the Light, the expansive All inclusive One in this way, even if in this fleeting and temporary moments where the curtain is pulled back and one realizes This has always been the case...and living in and as this "Joseph" person, this AgCC person, with his peculiar way of perceiving the world and relating to it has caused this same person, (me, myself, & I), to pine for this, to want to return to the emptiness and peace in this place of no one, and nothing in All things as One.  In short my life has been one continues journey towards reawakening the full immediate Knowledge that is and is in that Light.  In my case this has taken a variety of expressions, as would likely boggle the mind of the average person, could I sit with them and enumerate them all.

Some years later as a teenager, deeper in the confusion presented by being AgCC and watching everyone (my age) develop socially, emotionally, intellectually, relationally around me, while I was experiencing, as it were being left in the dust.  Possessed of a grand imagination, you might argue such experience to be  as mentioned before, fantasy or confabulation... I would remind the reader what any serious study in psychology, behavior and memory is taught...each time we "re" "member" something we change it, confabulation is related to memory and recall.

I was I think 18 years old and was involved in a radical Holiness Pentecostal church, and the summer after high school I went to a compound in Virginia where meetings were being held and lived there for some months.  Again, today looking back I understand that I was looking for stability, something that doesn't change, rigidity to sooth my mind that could never stay in one place for one minute...struggling with and denying my homosexuality, something I always knew, even before it was a "sexual" understanding, that I in fact had no drive, nor passion, nor any kind of attraction to the opposite sex.  I kept hoping something or someone would "fix" me.

The Doorway to the Kingdom of God is in Motel 6, Room 301:

It is now 10pm, I've just arrived via Greyhound in Ashland, Va.  I'm here to visit the compound I mentioned earlier.  I will not call them by arrangement because I do not want to call them late at night, but in the early morning, and they will pick me up.

At this moment in my life, I am filled with much fear of what would become of me.  I already recognized at 17-18 that in all of the common AgCC ways I was not normal.  I had no idea why I did what I did, and didn't what I didn't...nor why emotions for the  most part did not nurture me, but were sources of pain and confusion, all inclusive of even so-called positive emotions.  On top of this, I was post pubescent, gay, confused, with no one to speak to about it nor ask for help.  At one point, I truly wanted to take my own life, but had not even the emotional or psychological understanding or power yet to even act on such thoughts.

I was in such emotional and spiritual agony, and hadn't yet even developed an adequate awareness of my internal thoughts, emotions, feelings, processes...I only knew the Unity I'd once perceived in fullness, but now only with the vaguest of memories.  On this night I was literally stretched out on the floor face down crying my eyes out in pain, at point even shouting out at God for my "horrible life."  It felt to me as though my inside, physical and mental were shredding up inside of me, all I was, no, all I am was crying out to that One I knew.   Begging God to remove all these things from me.  In retrospect, even if that were possible, I would not be today the man that I am.  Regardless, I wasn't letting up.

I find myself now, standing and facing an ugly amorphous blob of shifting grey and black smoke, greasy, foul smelling and vulgar to even look at.  I knew immediately, although I cannot say how I knew, that this creature, this "demon" represented everything I thought and believed to be ugly and hateful about myself.  I even understood in this moment that it was in fact the embodiment of all I hated, of all my suffering, and I knew I would never be free of it.

Then, in this instant out of the corner of my eye came a huge blinding light, not quite the Light I've spoken of, but not absent of it either.  Out of this light comes what I thought at this time was a very odd looking but imposing angel, with a sword longer than his arm.  This sword he swung in a complete arc, which half way through severed my head from its body.
In this moment there is only Light, it might even be more accurate to call it the Untainted Quality of Light.  Its source is at one and the same time in all possible space and there has never been a time when this wasn't so, the Light exists throughout and beyond time as commonly conceived.

I am poor in my efforts to speak of this, because I must fully acknowledge that there simply was no "one" there to experience this, and in the "moment of return" to what is thought of as normal consciousness there is but a small glimpse in memory of Its immensity.  I have been here, a billion, trillion trillion years and more, there was never a time when the Light was not, nor shall there ever be any such time.

Again, I would want to describe it as a sea of nothing but unconditional love and favor, yet again, there is no one "in" the Ocean, there is the Ocean and it is only.  This has always been so.  Time becomes meaningless...

And now it is many hour later, the sun coming up the day beginning.  All at once I am that which I just spoke about and now find myself sitting in Motel 6 Room 301 sitting in Padmasana with my eyes wide open looking across into the mirror.  To borrow a phrase from a friend on Facebook, I had just been washed over with Silence as the Ocean washes over the sand.

I would spend the rest of my life in deepest Love with this One that revealed Itself to me, exploring countless ways that others used to regain that Knowledge.

Many years later I would find that the great imposing angel was in fact a human man who once lived in the Northern regions of India by the name of Guru Gobind Singh whom I mentioned earlier.  The flashing moment before sword and human neck collided I saw his figure head on.  Up to this time I had never in my life had any contact with Sanatan Sikhi nor any worldly knowledge of it.  Yet, all the same, I never forgot from this night the visage of the man.  Wearing a royal blue silken dress called a Chola, with a bright yellow sash across his chest from which hung an enormous scabbard that would hold his sword.  He had very long black hair and beard, the hair mostly under a beautiful yellow turban with a peacock feather protruding from the apex of the turban.   Behind him a great falcon...The last thing I saw, the last thing I did was look deeply into his eyes, the very moment the head left the body.  It would be a few years later and someone will show me a printed image, the very man I describe above.

Be Nice to Mother and Offer Your Head:

It is again many years later, during yet another deep crisis of both identity and the longing for the Unity  that I had touched time and time again.  During my first visit to Shree Maa of Kamachia I sat near a homa or firepit where the worship of the Divine Mother in the form of Chandi took place.  I'd been given permission to come worship with them, and felt I needed to go.

I met a diminutive little woman, scarcely one hundred pounds, that even to my physical eyes radiated like the sun at noon.

I'd again been to the point of desperation with my "own" life and listened intently to the 700 mantras of the Chandi being chanted while Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda offer rice into the roaring fire.

In this instant, from out of the fire Shree Maa rose, yet in a younger form beautiful, maybe 16 years old and as she did her visage changed entirely and she become Mother Kali who then jumped immediately to my front and with the force of a nuclear bomb her sword severed my head from its body.  The rest, as they say, is history...or perhaps not.  Once again, to say that someone even exists to experience Her as Light, is a best a fantasy and at worst a lie.  The human mind cannot comprehend it.

She would become my Guru, my Ishta or chosen beloved, the Mother.  The Chandi says tersely "A child can be bad, but a Mother can never be bad" (remember I speak of divine Motherhood not human motherhood.)  About this, I was sharing a long time later with Swami Satyananda.  Swami followed Maa as they walked the foothills of the Himalayas and throughout India.  He is like her spiritual son/sun who allows only Her to shine through and bless everyone he meets.  When I shared this, and shared with him in recent times about my AgCC (I had recently been diagnosed as an adult) I had been crying, I was so distraught...

Swami says simply "It is a good thing you are not your brain."  And it is true.  Yes, it is also true that the personality is created by, mediated through our meat-puppet's command center the brain and central nervous system...but this is a teacup of water in an Ocean that is endless.

Again, some would argue over and over again, perhaps even forcefully that I am deluded or delusional, that I "imagined" all of this.  I would ask you to consider what I mentioned earlier...all humans confabulate memory to record it.  Even if I accept the premise of this argument, I would counter that the human brain and nervous system, the energetic and psychic bodies of mankind are more real than the desk you are sitting at reading this from your computer screen.

There have been other times.  In fact my last visit with Shree Maa, she patted me on the cheek and there is only Light, and it has always been so.  Thanks to my Guru's and teachers and guides I've now been given tools both psychological and spiritual and with no effort at all (and I do mean no effort, in fact the harder one "tries" the least accessible is the bliss I speak of) I can be That.  Were it not for the gift of this broken human body, I would never in my lifetime know such Peace.  If one cannot experience pain,  there can therefore be no pleasure.

And what of the meaning of all this?  I don't even have to think about this to answer, I know the answer deep in my gut... Swami already told me "I am not my brain."  This is not a belief but rather is and always has been my experience whether or not I recognized it at the time.  Were it not for this Knowledge, I would rather starve this body and die.  With this Knowledge, there is no end to, well, anything, change is constant, yet behind the curtain all is Mother's lila or Divine Play.

As for "historicity and reality" I would say that each and every memory a human being has is to one degree or another a confabulation.  And this then is the point, how functional is that "memory", does it serve me, does it enable me to serve others, or does it somehow hold me back from becoming something altogether different?  I know with absolute certainly only this, that I see a brightly colored web of mutual interdependence throughout every and anything I perceive to exists, it is the Light that has been extended into the forms and activities we know as "reality."  I do not even need to close my eyes to experience Light, there is no where I can go, nothing I can do, no time I could exist where It is not All and in All.

It is the stability gained in deep meditation that has allowed me to stabilize this as my own reality.  I am soon to be 50 years old, and in the very best way, I feel like an 18 year old boy again, facing life for the first time, this time armed with Knowledge of who I really am, and tools to navigate the useful fiction I call the world. me fly!

My heart goes out to all those who have and continue to guide me in my Journey, Truth comes in so many many forms, I would prostrate before each and every one that has extended unconditional love and acceptance enabling me to find the happiness I've always known existed.

I wish also, I could walk through history, and remember all that in my youth or ignorance I used or abused, caused pain or suffering, through my words or the time I did not realize the agony I was experiencing that I was extending this to others...I am so sorry.  I wish you all peace, health, happiness, love, belonging and Light.

And all this, because I simply offered my head to the feet of the One who showed me the Light, utterly undeserving, yet entirely grateful.  May each and everyone who reads these words Know the happiness and freedom they are.

in all sincerity,

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