A Quantum of Sattva

Sometimes, it’s not the number of things we do but the amount we think that exhausts us. I like long solitary walks in wooded areas together with my music. It is positively grounding. This week I may work on a daily Pranayama and some fasting, which I regret I haven’t made time for recently, or in a strict routine. I find them both helpful, especially for meditation. This poem is parsing a way out to a place of meditative silence, not to curb the creativity as much as to channel it, to take a break from oneself, so to speak.

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The Sun is risen / gratitude is measured / to limbs that stretch far like rays to rival a mountain of assumptions / or a wanton horse in a meadow / or a bow aiming for reason / or bent like a hair pin securing locks of wild ebony / invoking that which brightens the day in radiance / moves across the sky with intention / is a friend / aum mitraye namaha //

The breath of life / an inhale of the universe / still as a deep lake in the holding place of love / an exhale of self / and in this, the expansiveness of heart / like in an elasticity of silence / clocks cease to exist here / time fills the lungs and loud spaces /a mind, eerily empty / settling like silt as rivers of thought meet the ocean of acceptance //

Food of spirit / Sattva in a steep consciousness / the altitude of a reckoning / and a chaste eating / even if it were a stone soup / to be sipped in gratefulness in a spiritual famine / A sense of cumin like a quantum of humanity / the fragrance of ginger in the abundant grace of serene moonlight //

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The first verse indicates the Hatha Yoga Asanas of the Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations and the 12 poses, each with a greeting to the Sun in gratitude. Mitraye means a friend in Sanskrit.

The second is on Pranayama. Ideally, Yoga Asanas were merely preparation for breathing, at least in the way it was meant to be, inorder to achieve a meditative state.

The third verse is about the concept of Sattva in food and through it, in spirit. I have never been able to adhere to Sattvic food for long, that would mean going vegan. Sattvic food follows a similar concept as the Japanese Shojin Ryori.

Sattva is one of the three modes of existence, the other being Rajas and Tamas. It refers in Sanskrit to the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, serenity, balance, peacefulness, and virtuousness that is drawn towards dharma (loosely the right way of living) and Gyana (knowledge).

Weighing the Soul

The poem was inspired by the cliff scene from the Swedish horror drama ‘Midsommar’, that depicts a ritual called √Ąttestupa. It is based on the premise of senicide, where at 72, the elderly cult members throw themselves off a cliff. Such a ritual is historically inaccurate, but it made me wonder of the myriad forms of approaching death, this one voluntary and clearly without a history of mental distress, it felt like a horrific and painful euthanasia. Ari Aster’s movie reeks of death but even so, the actors are all marvellous, the cinematography excellent, the premise of the film absolutely bizarre and overall, a movie that stayed with me because I actually enjoyed it. It is quite a work of art.

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A promise was inscribed at the cliff edge of reason / What were the birds and the butterflies thinking / to fly without a harness / seeking salvation as simply as wading / through water like a seal / and coming up short of breath //

The soul feels ill prepared for what comes next / Transmogrify and perhaps / it can become a dove on it’s way down / through the sheer intent of words //

Promises made to the heart / that love will make the soul buoyant / as it will float finally like loose feathers / once the weighted bird hits the rocks far below //

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I hope my readers don’t find the theme of this poem too morbid, this movie was quite bizarre, yet so creative. I had to translate the scene to speak for beliefs I think people have, that seem to provide for faith strong enough to jump to such a painful death, even if this particular ritual is historically inaccurate.