Spiritual-Mystical Poems and Prose

Poems, prose poems, pseudo-essays (which I call imaginessays), and other writings (sometimes humorous) expressing different aspects of some of our deepest experiences as human beings–at least, that is the intention.

JEWISH

The Zohar
Recently translated and edited writings from a newly discovered cache of teachings from the Zohar, the Book of Radiance (or Splendor), the most mystical of mystical Jewish books, which began appearing in Spain in the late thirteenth century but which traditionally is attributed to the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar (or ben) Yohai.

Everything Is Music, old and new ideas about the afterlife, reincarnation, and resurrection, mostly but not entirely from a Jewish point of view.

The Forlorn Young Woman, a recently discovered fragment of the Zohar, dealing with, among other matters, the feminine presence of God, why the Torah seems to start off by asserting there were many gods at the Creation, and how to correctly interpret other apparent multiplicities.

The Forlorn Woman: Analysis, Interpretation, and Commentary, extensive explication of the previous fragment of the Zohar.

The Orchard: The Zohar on Talmud Tractate Hagigah 14b, a newly discovered and edited chapter of the Zohar that comments on the famous and somewhat enigmatic passage in the Babylonian Talmud in which four rabbis ascend to Paradise.

Addendum to Tikkunei Zohar*
You are beyond understanding
Neither male nor female, big nor small
Expanded nor contracted, divisible nor indivisible
Neither one, two, three, nor four nor ten

What I think you are
You are not
What I think you are not
You very well might or might not be

You have one name
A hundred names
One hundred thousand
And no name

You also go by the name of the nameless one
And by a nameless name
Unprounceable by some
Pronouncable by others

Although you have form and no form
Some say that you were formed
Some that you formed
Were both created and uncreated

You are the one who created the universe in a Big Bang
Who held everything in a steady state
Who contracted to allow the universe to form
Then expanded to emptiness

You both play dice and determine everything
And oversee each infinitesimal iota of creation
From the movements of viruses in mites
To the motions of galaxies and electrons

You also just let things happen
Without directing anything
Without interfering
However good, however bad

You do this in this world
And in all the others
Before, now, and in the future
Although of course there is no before, now, and future

Some would give you a human body
With hands, toes, eyes, and heart
Each corresponding to a Hebrew letter
And a face with different countenances

But of course you both are and are not like this
And like everything between, beyond, and beyond the beyond
For if man, why not woman, flower, ant, or dinosaur
Or even stone, sand, or water?
**********
I awake in the morning
Contemplating these matters
Trying to decide when
Or even whether to get up

The news today, as it is every day,
Is terrible. Man’s inhumanity to man
Is the theme of the day, the week, month, year, and decade.
How could things go so awry?

There is no answer to such a question
So I get up, do my thing, and try to rejoice
In the temporarily blue beautiful sky
Songs of blackbirds and robins

The sight of a squirrel
Licking pecan bits off the deck
A blue jay hovering nearby
Waiting to be tossed a peanut.

At these moments it doesn’t matter what You are
Or aren’t, whether You even are, because everything comes together
In an affirmation of the details of life
However they came to be

*Also written Tikkunei ha-Zohar. One of the components of the Zohar, the Book of Splendor.
4/24/18
Louisville, CO

Original Poetry and Prose

Here I Seek You: Jewish Poems for Shabbat, Holy Days, and Everydays, a book of liturgical poems that can accompany the prayer service or be read or recited on their own. Click here for an online version showing the poems in their liturgical context

Coiling the Serpent, an assortment of poems containing some that might be termed spiritual, mystical, or religious.

INDIAN

The Death of Swami Vivekananda, a poem about one of the greatest Indians and human beings, who was the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, perhaps the greatest Indian saint of the last two hundred years (he lived in the 19th century). Swami Vivekananda was the greatest, and probably the first, Indian spiritual leader to visit the United States. He was a pure nondualist, believing that no distinctions exist between beings, whether lower or higher–our soul and God are one. Maya is the illusion–the false belief–that they are separate. He was a brilliant speaker (you can listen on YouTube to his presentation at the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago) and a writer of extraordinary depth and clarity (publications of his teachings are too numerous to list here).Jagadanandakaraka, the first of the Pancharatna Kritis (pancharatna = “five jewels”), five famous devotional songs written by Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847), the beloved South Indian composer. This kriti honors Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu and the hero of the Ramayana. This one is written in Sanskrit; the rest, in Telugu. Two excellent recordings of Jagadanandakaraka are on YouTube by M. Balamuralikrishna and M.S. Subbulakshmi. If you like this composition, you can search for other recordings on the Internet or at the library or in a music store selling recordings of Indian music.

Poems by the Masala Mystic, a potpourri of poems on many of the questions of existence, like, is there a world, is there a God, is everything an illusion, and is the soul immortal?

The Salt Doll of Sri Ramakrishna, a poem based on a teaching of the great saint of 19th-century India, whose legacy continues in teachings, organizations, and good works.

Three Nirguni Bhajans, devotional poems inspired by Indian songs about the “formless God.”

OTHER

The Grand Synthesis, questions and thoughts about reality and illusion.

The Many Greens, in which the ancient Greek philosopher Plotinus wrestles with the many shades of green.

The Play, something for the Christian in many of us.

Troubled Sleep, an imaginessay kind of prose poem.

Wheel of Fortune, an imaginessay kind of prose poem having something to do with Buddhism, Indian mythology, and mystical Judaism, inspired by a trip to Angkor Wat.

The Word That Was Lost, a prose-poetic response to a concept of Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Zero-Sum Nirvana, an imaginessay kind of prose poem.