Thursday, June 20, 2013

The mantra of Pure Emptiness~ Svabhava Shuddo Ham

Om Svabhava Shuddha Sarva Dharma Svabhava Shuddho Ham ~

First, do this.

Exhale and let go. Let go into the primal emptiness of all that is.

Exhale again. Let go of all the tension you are holding on to.

Release the worries, the fears, the guilts, the shoulds and the have tos.

Exhale and let go of your judgments, your opinions and your preconceived notions of yourself. Let go of your habits, your patterns; let go of the very fabric of self that you have woven so carefully, so tightly.

For just a little bit now, let yourself be nothing:

No-Thing. No-one-thing. Let yourself be pure emptiness: Limitless; without constraint; infinitely changeable.

Relax for a while in this freedom, this recognition of your true nature.


There is a sacred Sanskrit phrase that expresses this reality:

Om Svabhava Shuddha—The fundamental essence of all things is pure .

Sarva Dharma Svabhava Shuddho Ham —At their deepest nature, all existing phenomena, including you and me, are arising from pure essence.

This Buddhist mantra, known as the mantra of emptiness, is used, for the purpose of purification, as a preliminary to many practices. I first learned to chant it as a prelude to the Medicine Buddha mantra.

The Medicine Buddha mantra is a prayer for the alleviation of pain and suffering. It both calls upon the great lineage of Medicine Buddhas and, also, invokes the healing qualities of a medicine Buddha within oneself. I chant it as a regular part of my personal practice and before my counseling sessions.

In researching and then chanting Om Svabhava Shuddha, I came to an important realization: In order to alleviate pain and suffering, in myself or in others, I first have to recognize the inherent wholeness from which I come. I have to recognize that I am, have always been and will always be arising out of the vast, unknown, limitless essence of pure being. 

This pure essence is formless and, at the same time, always taking shape anew. It is expansive and untainted; it is naturally luminous.
It is the state of pure potential: constantly and continuously pregnant with possibility.

In any given moment, in every given moment, this pure essence is birthing all of creation.

It is the power to arise, the power to remain, the power to disintegrate.

Everything, every thing, arises from this pure Source. Everything, including me, including you, is inherently pure.

Ahhh, yes.

Svabhava Shuddho Ham­­—I am that inherently pure essence from which all things are formed. I am stainless, limitless and free.

I have the power to arise, the power to remain, the power to disintegrate.

I arise from the vast ocean of pure potential.

In every moment creation is born anew— I am born anew.

Anything is possible.

Shuddho Ham—From THIS we rise.



Monday, April 29, 2013

Nuran Allah Nur ~ Light Upon Light

Nuran allah nur

Moonlight merging with sunrise

Light reflecting Light

 - Dahlia's morning Haiku

On a fairly regular basis, I designate and then devote myself to a 40 day meditation practice. I find that this kind of framework gives me renewed focus and deepens my meditation. It gives me an opportunity to reexamine my emotional, mental and physical process and to adjust my meditation so that it is most appropriate and fruitful for my current circumstances. Often, I coordinate these 40 day practices to the seasonal changes or to a celestial event.  Since spring is such a good time of year to start something new, something fresh, something with promise, on the spring equinox I began a new practice.

I have been dealing with chronic pain, exhaustion and a low WBC for some years. Recently I was told by a trusted medical intuitive that I have a chronic viral infection in my spleen, that it is causing an autoimmune condition and creating inflammation in my joints. As I look at what I can do to rid myself of this virus, I can think of no better way than to burn it out with Light, my Light, the Light of Being. What better time of year to work with an invocation about increasing light, now as the light is increasing toward the summer solstice.

      I learned this prayer or salat from my Sufi friend, Karuna. It’s in Arabic:  Allahu nurus samu wadi wal ardth—Allah (the One Being in All) is the light of the heavens and of the earth. Another way to say this is, “As in light, so in all forms…” This is what I want to bring into my body consciousness, into my cells. This form, this body is Light. There is no room for disease here. This body is a manifestation of the One. There is no room for disease here. This body is God.

Today is my 40th day of doing this practice. Every morning I awake and the first thing I do is chant this salat as I count on my mala of 108 clear, glass beads: one bead for each repetition of the word Nur, each repetition of Light. Allahu nurus samu wadi wal ardth~ I sing light into my cells. I sing light into each organ. I sing light into my blood, my bones and my nerves.  As in Light, so in all forms~ I bring light into each chakra; I bring light forth from each chakra. I feel myself tingle and soften as I let the light permeate my body. Nuran allah Nur, Light upon Light~ I purify my body with Light—cleansing, clearing, healing. I burn away all disease—the virus of despair, the illness of doubt. I feel the pain and exhaustion melting away.

           With this sacred song, I affirm the reality I want to know: As in light, so in all forms. Yes, even this form, especially this form, especially this precious body. And so, I am beginning each day bathed in Light. Indeed, I begin each day a little bit more enlightened. Nuran Allah Nur—Grant me Light upon Light.




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Dances of Universal Peace ~

            Like bee to flower,

                        These Dances do draw me in

And nourish my soul.  

                                                ~ Dahlia, morning haiku

            Nourishment is a good word to describe what the Dances mean to me.

            Standing in the center of the circle, playing my guitar, connecting with other musicians and giving my full attention to the dance leader as people sing and dance around us; I am deeply nourished by this spiritual practice of attunement and of singing praises to God in community with others. Community, communion, communication: all derive from the same Latin root, communis, meaning common. And it is this that I love most about the Dances, this sense of belonging, this feeling of common intent and purpose. As my brother, Skip, said to me a long time ago, “Playing music with someone is just another kind of conversation.”  I like this way of conversing, of communicating.

            I do love to sing, and so to sing my praises, my prayers, is very fulfilling. And these sacred phrases we sing are praises: to Life, to the Beloved, to the Earth, to the Cosmos, to the saints and prophets that have made a path before us, to the many and varied names for the Divine. I also love to dance, and so the simple movements that accompany the Dances are a perfect expression of my need for body prayer, my need to feel the Divine in this physical body.

So much damage has been done in the name of religion, so much tragedy and so much division. I have avoided organized religion my whole life for just this reason. I can’t ascribe to any system of belief that insists on its righteousness, on its way as the only way (not that all religion does this). For years I have been forging my own path of spirituality insistently incorporating the fundamental premises that I believe underlie all religion: God is One, God is Love, God is within us all. For many years I have been reading, meditating, chanting, praying, practicing yoga and qigong—seeking for, and developing a spiritual practice of inclusiveness, tolerance, and acceptance, a practice that will bring me to realization of the truth as I know it, the truth of Oneness: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within”; There is no separation; La ilaha il’allah—There is only One True Being or as my friend Maitreya says, "There is only one of us here."

            In these Dances—The Dances of Universal Peace—I have finally found a form consistent with and supportive of my spiritual practice, a form that also satisfies my longing to share my spirituality with others. When we sing and dance these sacred phrases from the many religious traditions of the world, when we sing in the language of those traditions, it’s like “…walking a mile in another man’s moccasins.”  As Murshid Samuel Lewis, the originator of the Dances of Universal Peace said, “When people eat, dance and pray together, the world finds peace”. When I sing to the sacred in these many languages of the world, I find the common tongue that connects us all and my heart finds peace.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

AUM ~ The Sacred Syllable of Creation

The sacred Aum is a bow, the arrow is the individual self, and Absolute Reality is the target. With a tranquil heart, take aim. Lose thyself in the Absolute, even as the arrow is lost in the target. ~Mundaka Upanishad

Someone asked me yesterday what it is I love about chanting the Aum. Here is my answer:
I love the simplicity of this practice, knowing that for an hour I’m going to immersmyself in this single sacred syllable. I don’t’ have to worry about right or wrong, there is no right or wrong. I can just relax and let my breath have its full in and out—no hurry, no rush, no pressure—the wordless inhale is just as important as the chanting exhale.

I love the first tone that arises naturally from the ocean of breath. It becomes the Ahhh sound—a big opening, like a funnel connecting me to the universe. It forms into the Ohhh—bringing the tone into form, into my body. Then it closes with the Mmmm—settling deep into my bones, into the fiber of my being. These three sounds of the Aum combined into one, are said to represent the waking life of supreme consciousness.

I love to play with my voice, to explore its full range: incredible low rumbles that come from deep down in my core and high, high notes like bird calls or singing bowls. I often feel like a singing bowl, a flute, a cello.
I love listening to and merging with the voices of others—I love the harmonies that form and dissolve, the discords that churn and resolve. I love the swell and lull of sound, the rise and fall of Aum, this ebb and flow of creation. I love the way that the other voices hold me, support me; I stop to rest and simply breathe and the Aum continues on.

I love the power of this meditation practice. When my mind wanders, I am pulled back by the repetition of the mantra, pulled back by the breath itself. I love the resonating spaciousness that happens in my brain, the sense of timelessness, the feeling of ancient presence, the feeling of myself as both ancient and present.

Finally, I love how the Aum allows me to enter into a state of deep relaxation. It’s as if the vibration has permeated every cell of my body.  I love the all-encompassing expansion that I feel in my heart; the knowingness, the certain knowingness, that everything, everywhere is connected to the Absolute.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo:
“I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law.”

The Japanese Buddhist monk, Nichiren, established this chant in the 13th century. His intensive studies of the Buddhist sutras convinced him that the Lotus Sutra contained the essence of the Buddha’s enlightenment and that it held the key to transforming people’s suffering and to enabling society to flourish.
The Lotus Sutra affirms that all people, regardless of gender, capacity or social standing inherently possess the qualities of a Buddha and are therefore equally worthy of the utmost respect. Nichiren distilled the teachings of the Lotus Sutra into the phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and established its use as an invocation for all to realize their inherent Buddha nature. Its Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese characters fuse elements of Sanskrit and Chinese.
          My friend, Mike, was in the army in Vietnam in 1969. He described to me being on a weekend leave and while walking through the devastated countryside, coming upon an open-air Buddhist temple. As he approached, he could hear and also feel the vibrations of a simple chant resonating from the temple. He said that the chant penetrated deep into his heart and that he experienced a sense of peace and joy that he had never felt before. He began chanting this simple chant—Nam Myoho Renge Kyo— every day. He told me he felt that it carried him through the remainder of his painful duty in Vietnam.
I had heard of the Lotus Sutra before but I had no understanding of its meaning. I was curious and began to do some research.  I discovered the literal translation of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo: Nam=devotion; Myoho=mystic way; Renge=lotus; Kyo=sutra, petition, prayer. 
I had done a lot of reading on the healing power of sound and had begun to use chant as part of my meditation practice in an effort to deal with my chronic pain. Incorporating the chant into my own meditation practice I began to feel the power of its simplicity and beauty—my own petition for the unfolding of my awakened potential. The monotone chant that I began with soon transformed itself into something with more melody—my own lotus heart song.
I live on a small lake in the Hudson Valley of New York State. When our neighbor, Mark, told us about the giant water lilies that had taken hold in the north end of the lake, my husband, Lee, and I took the boat and went to find them.
Huge round dark green leaves spread across the water in an overlapping carpet with pale yellow-white flowers, as big as my face, rising from amongst the leaves on strong stalks. I was sure they were Lotuses. Beautiful as they were, I was afraid that they must have escaped from someone’s pond and had become an invasive foreign species in our little lake.
The next month, my Nature Conservancy calendar showed a photo of lotuses blooming in a lake in Michigan. I was so delighted; these lotuses, the same as in our lake, were a native species—Nelumbo lutea, American lotus—not invaders after all. I recognized the seedpods as the ornamentals I had sometimes seen in flower arrangements and began to collect the pods to put in my solstice wreaths.
Now, the Lotus Sutra took on new meaning for me. As I sang in my morning meditation I imagined one of these beautiful blossoms, big as my chest, unfolding in my heart. I could feel the strong, green stem— supple, thick, like an umbilicus sometimes three or four feet long— stretching down into the dark water. I imagined the roots of the lotus deep in the mud of the lake and that stalk reaching, reaching for the light. I felt my own reaching up, out of the muck of my existence, out of my pain, reaching for the light.
This past autumn when they lowered the water level of the lake, I was able to walk the shoreline and so I went to the lotus bed. It was difficult to walk there—the swamp a sloppy muck field. The only sure footing was to walk on the lotus roots themselves. I learned that lotus roots are actually edible rhizomes brought to the Northeast as a food source by wandering southern tribes of native Americans; that lotus reproduce not only by seed but also through their spreading interconnected root system. Looking over the criss-crossed swamp I realized that what I had thought of as individual lotus plants were an inter-connected system of plants, could even be thought of as one plant.
I brought this new awareness into my heart lotus chant—the awareness of our interconnection, the oneness of our deeply entwined roots, drawing our sustenance from the mud. Rising out of the darkness to reach for the light, to unfold our individual blossoms in the sun, to grace the world with our fragrance, our fruit.
I shared the chant with my friend, Karuna. Together we put movements to it and created a community circle dance, a Dance of Universal Peace:
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo—walking in a circle, arms down and forward to acknowledge our lotus roots;
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo—right arm reaching up, like the lotus stem reaching for the light as we turn right to face into the circle;
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo— arms down and out to the sides, over-lapping each other’s wrists like inter-twined roots, one step into the circle and back out again;
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo—hands to the heart then opening like lotus flowers as we turn to the right, this time outward, to share our blossoming with the world.
 In this dance, I feel the chant has come to full fruition for me. This is my petition, my prayer: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo— May we devote ourselves to the mystical path, to the unfolding of our highest potential, our beautiful lotus heart flowers reaching from the rich muck of existence to the unique fulfillment of our shared Buddha nature.

My neice, Laurel, with lotus and waterlily

CopyrightÓ2011 D. Bartz Cabe