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).

An uncontrollable fusion of a Solar love

Writing of love feels like an exercise in words, trying to define the indefinable within the stricture of language. Philia, Storge, Ludus, Agape, Philautia, Eros, Pragma … mere words that attempt to trace the ephemeral which escapes containment in syllables and consonants.

I think of the Sun when I imagine love that millions aspire to. The one that we glorify on Earth instead is that which never seems to get past the stage of affections or useful partnerships or a deep caring based on mutual respect and trust. Love for all intents and purposes appears quite practical, hormonal, hardwired into humans for the issuing of progeny and their caretaking, ensuring their chances of survival. Love aspiring to selflessness is painted often to be the holy grail. It’s terrible to imagine such a lofty unattainable ideal, it’s inherent impossibility and consign thus, ones attempts at love towards abject failure.

Is the answer then, not to idealize love in the way we imagine God or soul, creating such illusions to make those that seek, feel like failures in the absence of achieving that which cannot even sufficiently be described. The poem I write is about the holy grail of love, something one aspires to like God but the truth of which may never be known or perhaps something definable like the nuclear fusion within the Sun but extremely difficult to replicate.

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My Lord, I see you burn in passionate collisions / the universe conspires for such a meeting of minds in atoms / Was that the pressures of the Milky Way / the burdensome tug of orbit / gruesome gravity of planets / or nothing / but the fallacy of an eternal flame of selflessness //

Magnetic / interactions of atoms in soul / folding in unison into the hot of temperament / or was it temperature / Are they not the same / and us, mediocre imitations in our tepid flares of love sonnets / our feeble attempts in the melding of atoms / as we disrupt under practical pressures to a sad fission//

You burn in the lack of a starry name / venerated in mythical euphemisms of Man to be solely himself / Mithra / Jesus / Sol invictus / but You are no Man nor Woman / You power the world of plants / brighten Venus and Mars / hold the earth in a vice grip / as you vaporize the emotions of the morning /after the lashing out among the sheets of a bygone night under a full moon / which is simply fire on a dimmer switch //

The Love frenzy of plankton / boiling away the ocean for the function of the ages / acceding to the philosophy of purpose / practicing economy of gonads / surviving annhilation in annhilation / What then is love / but that which is in You, the Solar orb / the singular conceit of eternity in a blaze / and we my Lord, can never match that / in our petty commitments to mortality //

Octillions of candles in the Sun

I thread a prayer with beads of feeling

… a meagre attempt at gratitude

for the luminous that brightens life itself

and I am but a poor reflective moon like at night,

when the humid air is pregnant with poetry,

and the dark thick glabrous leaves of Sisal

give me goosebumps.

I have you for my personal solarium

where you shine nothing but love,

that I now assign you gender

and place you in my pantheon of deities;

the only way I can exalt your luminous presence

by submitting to you my insignificance.

I know you burn an internal heat

slowly making your way to a little death

through millions of years before you go

from red giant to white dwarf.

They say you aren’t massive enough

and there will be no black hole in your wake.

Yet, despite the derisions,

you make the leaves glow green as I plant bougainvillea and Plumeria

in a light drenched garden,

while the farmer in Morogoro plants Cassava and tomatoes

And elsewhere in the world they see auroras…

But you shine on me all year and I feel special

for my thoughts are bright and nothing rains down my cheeks.

The paddy fields in Mbeya are busy capturing your photons

and the dukas in Kariakoo will soon be selling fragrant rice,

that will feed the poor and the rich alike.

And I know there are times when you feel low

like the heat simmering in rage beneath a dark spot on your skinless surface,

so they map and measure your cycles

and astrologers and astronomers swear by them,

as when all your magnetic storms conspire to send signals,

that NASA can see and I can feel,

for it warms my heart to be able to stand

bathed in your warm presence

on the fringe of a sandy beach

alongside the turquoise waters of Msasani bay.

And I miss you when it rains

or when your sometimes petulant magnetic flares

are so impulsive and reckless,

they blow out the grid.

I need not worry then,

for ever since Prometheus stole the fire from Zeus

I now know how to make one …

and I light a candle or sometimes an oil lamp

to imitate, to worship you one way or another

and banish the darkness.

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Gratitude to the radiant Sun while in warm, tropical Dar es Salaam