Monday, October 04, 2021

Hildegard von Bingen's Vision of the Divine Feminine

She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at Her face or Her garments for the splendour with which She shines. For She is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both Her terror and Her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans . . . . But She is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is Her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which She sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.

- Hildegard von Bingen’s vision of the Feminine Divine, from Scivias, III, 4.15, translated by Mother Columba Hart, O.S.B. and Jane Bishop

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Chakra Scroll


Chakra scroll, Kashmir, early 19th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The top image represents the state above the Sahasrara Chakra called Pralaya, the dissolution of the universe before it is recreated. 
The sage Markandeya is shown worshipping Lord Vishnu in the form of an infant sucking his toe (symbolising the sweetness of surrendering to the Lotus Feet of the Divine). All that exists is The Self (Lord Vishnu), the ocean of existence (pure undifferentiated being), a banyan tree (representing Self-knowledge), and the sage (the witness).

Other images are of some of the chakras.
The bottom image is of the Kundalini, the coiled spiritual energy which connects us with the All-pervading Supreme Self.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Lady Truth

Petrarch and Laura de Noves, Ashmolean Museum

“Often have I wondered with much curiosity as to our coming into this world and what will follow our departure. When I was ruminating lately on this matter, not in any dream as one in sickness and slumber, but wide awake and with all my wits about me, I was greatly astonished to behold a very beautiful Lady, shining with an indescribable light about her. She seemed as one whose beauty is not known, as it might be, to mankind. I could not tell how she came there, but from her raiment and appearance I judged her a fair Virgin, and her eyes, like the sun, seemed to send forth rays of such light that they made me lower my own before her, so that I was afraid to look up.”

“it occurred to me this could be none other than Truth herself.”

-Petrarch, Secretus

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Milan Cathedral


Rose window of Milan Cathedral, with symbols of the Om, Shakti and Heart.

Angelus Silesius

Angelus Silesius was a 17th century Christian mystic, native to Silesia, in what is now Poland, and was known as The Prophet of the Ineffable. He composed spiritual epigrams mostly in the form of couplets written in German, and was influenced by his reading of medieval mystics such as Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroeck. 

Most of the English translations I have seen of his epigrams are very outdated, and sometimes horribly contorted in order to make them rhyme in English. I think Silesius wrote them as rhyming verses, but it's not always possible to translate such concise rhyming couplets into another language successfully. 

Here are some renderings I've made from them, some freer than others in adherence to the originals. They are not intended to be accurate translations, and I didn't try to make them rhyme. I was struck by the similarity of some of Angelus's poems to Indian mystical writing. 

Search within yourself. 
The Philosopher’s Stone, 
the key to transformation, 
cannot be found outside. 

The entire Universe, 
Heaven, Hell and Earth, 
are all within you. 
Whatever you desire, 
you already have. 

The world does not contain you; 
you contain the world. 
You are yourself the world 
and you contain nothing but yourself. 

God is no thing. 
He is untouched by time or matter 
God is heard in silence, 
and is best worshipped in silence. 

The saint does not look forward to a heaven in an afterlife; 
he lives in heaven now. 

You cannot enter heaven; 
heaven is who you are. 

Before there was a sense of a separate I, 
there was only Universal Being. 
And when the separateness disintegrates, 
you will know you are that Universal Being. 

Time is timeless; 
it is only the mind that tries 
to measure what is measureless. 

God is gold hidden in river sand, 
and love is river water, 
washing God into view. 

The rose has no rationale, 
it simply blooms. 

Joy can only be experienced 
by dissolving the sense of ‘I’ and ‘other’ 
in the ocean of Unity. 

Love is a faster way to God than knowledge. 

God pours Himself out into Creation for Eternity, 
yet He is undiminished. 

Without rebirth we are like rivers 
which turn back from the ocean. 

Theologians form different schools to describe God, 
but the school of the Spirit within you teaches you to know God. 

When the human heart becomes attuned to God, 
the whole everlasting cosmos becomes a bell that rings. 

Those who know God’s depths also attain His peaks. 

We think a child foolish for crying over a broken doll, 
but are the things we covet any more alive than a doll? 

When you heart is pulled neither by attraction nor aversion, it rests in God. 

The richness and vastness of God is like an undiscovered continent. 

Even if God was to be born a thousand times to Mary, in Bethlehem, 
it would do you no good if you do not bear Him within yourself. 

The saint knows that all possessions are nothing but himself. 
The owner of the world’s greatest treasure is poorer than a beggar 
if he sees that treasure as other than himself. 

God is one without an other. 
To know God, the knower must know that he is one with the known. 

A loaf contains many grains, 
and the sea countless drops; 
so is God both one and many. 

The All emerges from the One 
and to the One the All returns. 

If you do not become reborn in God 
you do not value His birth in Bethlehem, 
and if your separateness does not die, 
His death at Golgotha will not save you. 

God and Self are one. 
If the Self ceased to exist 
God would cease to exist.

Rose Window, Milan Cathedral

Tuesday, May 04, 2021


Richard Herold, Poplars
Oskar Kaubisch-Cavertitz, Pappelallee am Weg nach Schöna, um 1930

The Singular Substance

Spinoza believed that there is only one substance to reality, and that this singlular Substance is God/Nature, the immanent, not the transitive cause of all things’ and ‘absolutely infinite’.

Indian Advaita philosophy also posits that God and the world are one and the same. The Western mind has difficulty with the concept that God is immanent and not separate from world and Self, but Spinoza's Substance Monism gives Monotheism its true meaning: there is no being but God.

Baruch Spinoza

"The more you struggle to live, the less you live. 

Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. 
Instead, surrender to what is real within you,
for that alone is sure….
you are above everything distressing."

- Baruch Spinoza

Friday, January 01, 2021

Saga of the Oak

Everything is part of me,

Firmament and moving sea;

I of all that is am part,

Stone and star and human heart.

Primal Cause etern, self-wrought,

Majesty transcending thought.

-William H. Venable

Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869), Memory of a Wooded Island in the Baltic Sea (Oak trees by the Sea) (1834-35), oil on canvas, 117.5 x 162.5 cm, Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden, Germany. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Shri Nanakiji


Nanaka and Nanaki, digital edit, by Jeronimus, of Indian calendar art
Shri Nanakiji (Bibi Nanaki ji) was the older sister of Shri Guru Nanakaji, the founder of the Sikh religion.

She recognised her brother's holiness, from his infancy, and became a protective mother figure to him. She encouraged her brother's spiritual life, and was his first follower (the first Sikh). She suggested that he use music as a vehicle for spreading his teaching.

Shri Mataji has identified Nanaki as an incarnation of the Goddess, Devi. Shri Devi is the fiercely protective warrior aspect of the Goddess, but sometimes she takes birth as a close relative of great spiritual masters, to give them support in a quieter role.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Divine Feminine as Wisdom in the Bible

Despite the devotion expressed towards Her in the Bible, the Feminine aspect of God has been neglected in the Christian churches (particularly the Protestant churches), some would say, to their detriment. This is no doubt due to the bias of an all male priesthood.

She is personified as Wisdom in The Book of Proverbs, in the Old Testament, and invoked in The Book of Wisdom, which is considered canonical, and part of the Old Testament, by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, though not by all Protestants.

She is described as having existed before the Creation (perhaps always) and as the agent through which it was achieved. She is considered to be the Breath of God, and the manifestation of His power. Like the Holy Spirit (who some believe is the same being, and therefore a feminine, motherly aspect of the Holy Trinity) She is present in those who have the pure desire for God.

For She is the breath of the power of God,
and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty:
therefore no defiled thing can fall into Her.
For She is the brightness of the everlasting light,
the unspotted mirror of the power of God,
and the image of His goodness.
And being but one, She can do all things:
and remaining in Herself, She makes all things new:
and in all ages entering into holy souls,
She makes them friends of God, and prophets.

-The Book of Wisdom 7:25-27

Luca Giordano, Allegory of Divine Wisdom, National Gallery, London (detail)

Friday, April 10, 2020


NASA image of Jupiter's clouds

In the ancient Hindu philosophical system of correlates, the planet Jupiter represents the aspect of the Divine as Guru - spiritual teacher and upholder of Dharma. When we awaken this principle within us, we develop wisdom, discipline, and self mastery.
Brihaspati was a sage mentioned in the Vedas. He was the teacher or guru of all the gods. In time he became associated with the planet Jupiter. It is sometimes said that Jupiter is the Earth's protector. Its immense gravity field absorbing comets that could have wiped out life. The guru principle gives a person gravitas and dignity. Brihaspati is often depicted riding an elephant, the animal which best embodies this quality. The Sanskrit word guru, means ’weighty and venerable’, and is probably related to the Latin gravitas, from gravis, meaning ‘heavy’.

Shri Mataji has explained that Jupiter is the planet for the area of the subtle system known as the Void - bhava sagara in Sanskrit. Bhava sagara can be translated as 'Ocean of Worldly Existence' or 'Ocean of Illusion'. If we become lost in attachments to aspects of life, we fall into confusion. The inner master is the navigator who takes us across this ocean. In the subtle body this Void is located around the navel chakra at the centre of the body.
Jupiter takes approximately 12 years to complete a circuit of the Sun. A "Jupiter return", is a time when the planet is at the same position as it was at the time of birth. It therefore happens at the age of 12, 24, 36, 48 and so on. These are times in which there is an expansion of life's opportunities and sense of self-mastery.

To Pass into It

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Remember You Are This Universe

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Widayat, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Joy Harjo 
Joy Harjo was appointed the new United States poet laureate in 2019. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is the author of several books of poetry, including An American Sunrise, which is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2019, and Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015). She is a current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Who Was The Buddha?

Who am I? What is the Self? This is the most fundamental of questions.

Buddhism has the concept of anatta (no self) which is usually interpreted to mean that souls and selves do not exist. However, The Buddha may have meant that individual, discrete selves are an illusion, but there is a singular, undivided Self that can be realised by one who has awakened from the dream of separateness (ego). This interpretation makes The Buddha's teaching compatible with the Indian philosophy of Advaita (non-duality).

Buddhists believe in reincarnation, which suggests the existence of souls. It may be that The Buddha saw souls as merely subtler forms of the gross body, and not something one should identify with. Perhaps this is the intention of the anatta doctrine. Centuries later, the sage Shri Shankaracharya wrote his Tad Niskala, which states that who you are is not the body, or the sheaths of the subtle body (soul), but Shiva (the Self of all that exists). Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has said that Shri Shankaracharya was a reincarnation of The Buddha. Shankara encouraged devotion for the Adi Shakti, the feminine aspect of Shiva, the Universal Self, who manifests in each of us as the Kundalini. This is because, without Kundalini awakening, Self-realisation is not possible.

One might ask why The Buddha bothered to try to liberate people if he did not believe in souls, or selves. What would be the point of mere matter trying to enlighten mere matter? It's a good question. According to tradition, The Buddha did initially consider that perhaps teaching people about enlightenment would be a futile task. The answer may be that the Self, like the sun, must shine, no matter that there are clouds of ignorance and illusion. Suffering is due to the illusion of separateness, and this illusion should be dispelled, even if there are ultimately no 'others' who suffer.

The Buddhist scholar Alexander Wynne considers this issue, and also questions the emphasis on therapy in the contemporary offshoot of Buddhism, Mindfulness Meditation, in contrast to the Buddha's emphasis on Self-realisation as the main aim. In his article Who Was The Buddha?, he also tries to separate the mythical and historical figure of Gotama Buddha.

Read the article. here