Sunday, October 18, 2009


Like a white hanji stroke
left by a master calligrapher
on a black rice paper sheet

Like a still white thunderbolt
frozen in a starless night,
You meditate in a dark hall
of a hundred silent souls.

“You are a yogini,” I said.
“Not I,” you cried. “For tapa I dread.”

You were right to distrust a tryst
even in the name of dhyan,
with a withered man,
of broken teeth and bones of rust,
of white grey hair and suspected lust.

Smoke covers every blaze,
and with an expert whispered “no,”
you fanned away the haze.

What is left behind is just the flame.
Oh look, my sweet, for “Tapa” is its name.

When Brahma found himself in the dark,
in the lotus, alone, before the world began,
he heard that word; it was his spark.

By tapa he created,
by tapa does it mend,
and through that very tapa
Shiva brings about its end.

Tapa’s the fire at the base of the spine.
Tapa makes the vajra adamantine.
Tapa is what makes us and all this turn.
Tapa makes both our käma and our karma burn.
Tapa cleans the gold of dross,
Tapa is the Christian’s cross.

From tapa starts the work of prem,
Love tapa and there’s no fear or shame.
Tapa is brightness, tapa is light—
It’s your tapa that made you shine in my sight.

Part II

And this too is tapa—
the hunger that makes me look at you as you walk
or sit, or laugh, or look, or listen, or talk,
and makes my heart center expand and glow
without knowing if I will ever know
what this is all about.

This too is tapa—
When I sit in meditation and see your light
Like a Roman candle gushing up and out
Blue and bright from your heart to your head
And imagine two columns of light instead
intertwined and intermingled to make an inner sun
merge with the moon and making one.

And this too is tapa,
Where we go ever higher,
working this experiment
From earth to sky
and beyond the firmament.


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