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Seek the Sky while Knowing The River

Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so to not listen, mute your speakers)

I am returning here after some time, and I am sure I miss my writing more than you do, but that is OK, and just the way this blog space, and life, works. I share a free verse blog poem I began over a month ago. This poem is about being caught up in life, so much so that I couldn't write much during the last two months. From a writer's perspective, this is funny, because there was so much "grist for the mill" or interesting events for possible writing material. While I did begin a few other pieces, I wasn't able to finish them. I am not speaking of "writer's block," but of feeling caught up with circumstances and pushed in many directions. While these pushes were not bad in themselves, somehow they weren't conducive for my writing practice. As a result of what seemed to be impediments for creating blogs, I was reminded of how much time and energy it takes to regularly write and to publish it here.

According to the Bhagavad Gita we aren't the real doer, and our will is only one of five factors of action [Bg 18.14]. Thus we are never independent, even in the simple (not so simple) maintenance of our body, and what to speak of accomplishing anything of value. From a spiritual perspective, we have to be "empowered" just to live and breathe. And this is more obvious to me in any creative pursuit like art, drama, writing, or what have you. Personally, without making writing a priority I can't consistently write, or write well enough to connect with my audience.

While I admit to being a mediocre writer when compared to the masters, I love to do it, and generally feel what I say, which I pray will be communicated to you. If I am successful, then my words have power and utility. I have found that my free verse poems generally are read less than my regular blogs. I have developed a free verse style over the last 6 years on that works for me, and those I have heard from. Admittedly you may be required to read a line or series of lines a few times to have a sense of the flow--whether a line is a complete thought or goes on for several lines. However, I am not trying to confuse you or make you work too hard (which I think some poets do), but to be as clear and concise as possible. Call it shorthand, codes, word pictures, sutras (to be generous), etc., my endeavor is to share what moves me in various ways. I pray my writing may be of use to you on your spiritual journey, and thus I seek your feedback, and, if possible, our continual conversation. I also record an audio version of my blogs to make it easier to connect with the material, especially for the poems, which I hope makes them more accessible and reveals my "style."

Seek the Sky while Knowing The River

Beginning with unforeseen events
including unusual computer glitches
sprinkled with wedding travel
fall preparation for next year’s planting
saintly company and hosting guests
giving time in service, attention, heart, advice
feeling so many competing necessities
only a few of which are completed
my whirling life carries me, revealing
a force pushing in many directions
my inability to go beyond life’s demands
a blessing beckoning me to go within
so I escape to my writing getaway
surrounded by nature, sitting by the stream
reflecting on a two month writing drought.

Chanting and praying for guidance
I discover a living metaphor which speaks—
being still, I can feel the River of Life
whose current flows everywhere, carrying us,
sometimes calm, or raging
a placid lake, or dangerous rapids
of which I have no control
forced to react, or choosing to respond—
still, the River moves regardless
invisibly influencing all situations
with a powerful karmic agenda
growing events and relationships
playing out inclinations and attachments
yet hinting at lessons to learn.

Time goes by naturally
without thinking about me
regardless of my protests
like the river’s endless flow
moving me to an unknown place,
swimming upstream is useless
still, we chart a course of action
or rest on the shore
knowing we need to move (change)
thinking of a possible direction,
weighed down by old habits
which die with daunting difficulty
even after so much effort—
our default settings are powerful
we find ourselves still at the beginning
brought to our knees in tears
only prayerful surrender can help.

The River points to an underlying Reality
sustaining us, pushing us toward growth
while allowing us to fall on our face
hidden to the casual (non)observer
revealed to the wise who seek Truth
beyond the intellect’s narrow views
keeping a beginner’s mind
an uncluttered open heart, with faith
opening the door of grace
to learn from all things—
if we want to hear guidance
then, with the river’s roar, messages
the world speaks to our spiritual need
to our questions, appropriate answers.

In our youth of possibilities
the tiny stream seems tame
its slow waters let us play
while we tried different options
allowing us to explore the banks
yet forcing us to travel downstream;
at first, imperceivably increasing speed
then, as we define life parameters
with maturity and focus, the speed increases
as our preferences or attachments manifest
giving a sense of increased velocity
a limited direction we have defined
feeling blessed, cursed, or in-between
by how we have lived before
manifesting our today and beyond
either continued River life, or growing wings
becoming a sky creature of the spiritual world.