July 2009 Archives


“Who binds unto himself a joy

Doth the winged life destroy…”


Where bumblebee makes love to purple bee balm

And blanketflowers toss their leonine manes,

 Nodding onion weeps and wild rose blooms

Where ponderosa pines cast fragrant shade,

Where Flatirons lick the sky like great rock flames

Where tallgrass waves head high to me,

 Shoulder high to you,

Where warbler chirps and pewee cries by stream,

Where smooth black chokecherries burst upon the palate

Tickling it in unexpected ways,

Where sticky geranium calls to us

To kiss the joy as it flies,

There I will walk with you, my love,

In eternity’s sunrise.

Chokecherry and Crab Apple Chutney


This is a right brained recipe—eyeball quantities yourself!



Crab apples (about 1/3 the 3volume of the chokecherries)

Jaggery or raw sugar

Raisins or currants


Jalapeno Pepper




Star Anise





1.Boil chokecherries with a little water.

2.Cut up crab apples, removing cores.

3.Separately stew crab apples.

4.Mash chokecherries with potato masher, stain through large sieve, add liquid to stewing crab apples.

5. Repeat step 4 for a total of four times until all good stuff is extracted from chokecherries.

6. Add raisins or currant and sugar or jaggery to fruit mix and gently let it cook, stirring well to prevent burning. It will become jam-like.

7. Chop ginger and chillies, grind spices.

8. Heat ghee in a pan and make a tarkar by frying the spices, ginger and chillies.

9. Add to jam mix.

10. Add a little salt to bring out the flavours.

11. Offer to God and Guru.

12. Taste….you may need to add more sweetener to offset the sourness!

13. Serve with rice& dal, kitcheri

          Continuing our series of essays on Mahamritunjaya mantra, we now turn out attention to the line sughandhim pushtivardhanam. Here sugandhim means fragrant, or literally, good smell. Some commentators connect the word sugandhim with tryambak, i.e. it is the Lord who is fragrant, while others connect it with yaj, referring to the fragrance emanating from the sacrifice. In either case, gandha or smell brings us to the earth element and the muladhara (first) chakra. After starting the mantra at the ajna (third eye) and crown chakras, abode of Shiva ,we now move to muladhara, the abode of kundalini shakti. This chakra is also the home of Ganesha, whose long, curling trunk reminds us of his connexion both with the sense of smell and with the coiled serpent power. Sugandhim roots the mantra deep in our own body, the guttural sound of gandha drawing us into our core.

             Pushtivardhanam is the increaser of nourishment .We can see in this line the fragrance of sacrifice which brings rain and thus food. We can also see Shiva, the inner Self, as sugandhim pushtivardhanam , the one who provides all our nourishment of body, mind and spirit. In the Lord’s Prayer in Christian tradition we first evoke the Heavenly Father and then sanctify his Name, that is the shekhina or immanent feminine aspect. In the same way, in this mantra we first call forth the transcendent Shiva and then evoke Shakti, the indwelling feminine aspect. And then, just as in the Lord’s Prayer we ask for our daily bread, we now call upon the divine gift of nourishment in the line pushtivardhanam. It is a moment of humility, recalling that all gifts, even life itself, come from the only giver. And humility, literally meaning nearness to earth, is the gift of the Earth element.

          The increaser of nourishment is Lord Shiva, bestower of food security. Shiva’s connexion with deer recalls the time when we implored him to give us the knowledge of the deer, our source of food. Yet just as in the Shiva Puranas, the hunter who worships Shiva eventually gives up his hunting life, we became agrarian beings. And so, seeing Shiva as the rider on the bull, his mount Nandi, we realize that we depend upon him for the fertility of field and herds. Today, with genetically engineered terminator seeds and over-bred cattle languishing on feedlots, we are on the verge of losing the precious food security gained over millennia. One person in six alive today is going to bed hungry. Because we have made food a commodity instead of a sacred gift, because we rely upon agribusiness and not upon the Divine, our arrogance and greed are causing us to throw away heedlessly what we gained through long centuries of devotion and humility.

        From a yogic standpoint, there is another meaning for sughandhim pushtivardhanam. Shiva, the three eyed Lord, our own true nature, nourishes us with bliss molecules, feeds our spirit with enlightenment. When we attain the state of tryambak, when our three channels are open and flowing, we receive the true nourishment, of which Jesus spoke when he said to his disciples, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

      And as we realize our true nature we also become sughandhim pushtivardhanam—we ourselves become increasers of nourishment. From the miracle of feeding the five thousand to stories of Neem Karoli Baba told in Miracle of Love, there are numerous accounts of how enlightened beings could feed innumerable people with just a little food. On one occasion at Alandi Ashram we cooked for fifteen and thirty five people arrived. “Cover the pot and serve without looking in it,” I told my fellow server. We served everyone and had plenty left over. Generosity is a divine quality and manifests in feeding the hungry. We can also express the state of sughandhim pushtivardhanam by giving knowledge to feed minds, giving love to feed hearts and giving spiritual teachings to feed souls. As long as we remain humble understanding that everything comes from the Divine, we ourselves can actualize the state of fragrant increaser of nourishment for all beings. 

Ma’s Song

I do not make my abode

On the lofty mountain peaks

For the way of ice and snow

Is not my way.

I have pitched my tent beside you, friend,

In the valley of human experience.

Bring me your tender joys

And I will feed them corn

From my own hands

And take delight as they chirp beside my door.

Give me your mewing sorrows;

I will cradle and stroke them lovingly,

For they are mine.

I hang your tears

As prayer flags in the breeze,

I wear your smiles,

A garland on my breast.

Let me iron the creases of perplexity

And sweep the dust of confusion from your heart.

I will untie your heavy boots of weariness

And worship them on the altar of our longing.

 I pour myself into your thirsty cup,

Offer my grief as ointment for your wounds.

The ringing of your laughter and your cries

Has called me to this holy pilgrimage.

I have come to you from the lofty mountain peaks

For the way of ice and snow is not my way.

Today is my father's birthday so I wanted to post something in memory. Here is a dream I recently had.
I go to a hospital and meet a male nurse dressed in black who tells me Dad is alive. I tell him that I was there when Dad died and all my friends know this. He replies, “He fell asleep for a while but now he’s awake.”  I walk to the hospital cafeteria thinking that we need to proceed with the utmost caution and great boldness. A woman dressed in black walks over and sits opposite me at the table. She has a white and gold name tag saying Dr Alia Moscovitch. (Moscovitch was my grandmothers’ maiden name.) She says to me, “We need to proceed with the utmost caution and great boldness.” I don’t want her to talk down to me so I tell her that I’m also a doctor myself. She replies, “Yes but it’s different because he’s your father and you’re emotionally involved.”
 I get ready to go to see Dad by putting on ‘Sufi order of the West earrings’ which are large oval shaped earrings, white with gold Arabic calligraphy of Quaranic verses.  I also take off the white cotton dervish hat I’m wearing and put on a white felt Mevlevi hat. Then I go down a corridor into a room where there is an elderly Jewish gentleman sitting up in bed. I say, “Is it really you?” “Yes.” “You’re Peter?” “Yes.” “And you’re my Dad?” “Yes”. I give him a hug and then I wake up, not sure whether my father is really dead or not.

Here is the interpretation by Habiba, our Sufi circle leader:
I feel this dream is a confirmation for you that your father has passed safely into the Realm of Beauty and that your grandmother was somehow helpful in this transition.  He is alive, awake and well and resting there. 

It feels as if putting on the Sufi garb somehow allowed you to travel briefly to the other side and make this confirmation for yourself.


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    This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

    June 2009 is the previous archive.

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