Poem: “Dakshina

Here’s another odd one that showed up out of nowhere one morning:

Dakshina

On the long road, I met a man
next to an old shrine
to the monkey-god Hanuman

He stood not before
the colorful painted statue, but
alongside the dusty rightward wall

There, a lush rose bush flourished
in soil I would have thought
too poor to sustain even weeds

As I admired the fabulous blossoms
the bearded man, with arms muscled
like braided ropes, bade me stand back

"You would not want to stain
your fine, fine dress," said he
as he drew forth a curved dagger

I started, afraid he meant robbery
but no, instead his swift slash
opened a long rent on his forearm

Glistening blood, the precise same hue
as the red, red roses welled forth
gathered and rained upon the ground

For minutes, he fed the bush thus, long enough
to see his arms were enmeshed
in a dense network of scars, old and new

Eventually, face pale and sweating
he relented — wiped and sheathed the knife
and wrapped his arm with a roll of fresh cloth

"Why do you do this?" I cried
"The river is not half an hour walk
the way I came.  Why this?"

He showed yellow teeth behind his beard
"The soil here is poor — and so am I
My blood is all I have to offer to such beauty"

"But it’s just a rose bush,"
said I.  "Surely there are hundreds
just as beautiful, in more clement places"

"Only this one grows near
this Hanuman statue, which is enough
I am amply rewarded"

He showed me his arms
so thickly laced with scars
they seemed embroidered

"With each cut, my skin becomes stronger,"
he beamed, stroking the thick lines
"Already, it is like leather"

A perverse impulse made me ask:
"What will you do, when your skin
is so tough it turns away the blade?"

He grinned more widely
"I’ll find a sharper knife
and bear down harder"

"What will you do," I had to know
"at the end of days, when your hand
is too weak to wield the knife?"

Shrugging, he answered my question
with a question of his own:
"You volunteering?"

– 27 October 2006, Becca Morn

About Becca

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11 Responses to Poem: “Dakshina

  1. Racer says:

    Isn’t it ironic that we work so hard to compete with others, do work out and eat healthy food to keep our blood healthy but at the same time we donate blood to save the weak/ loved ones like that beautiful rose?

    There is something that we all human beings want to succeed but we also want to be helpful, be loved and leave a memorable legacy behind us.

    Why? Go figure ….

    In search for an Answer just like you… :)
    Racer

  2. Becca says:

    A while back, somebody asked Sri Kaleshwar if giving blood was a good thing or bad, given that the blood is considered one of the highest of our vital energy channels.

    He says it is very, very good to give blood — because we are giving of ourselves, making a genuine sacrifice.

    I don’t see any irony at all. If we give a gift to someone, we should want it to be as good as we can possibly give, no?

    To be of service, to be loved, and to leave something meaningful behind — these strike me as the highest aspirations for us mortals.

    Take care, my friend,
    Becca

  3. thepoetryman says:

    Wow! Becca! That story/poem was superb my friend! Thank you! I hope all is well with you and yours.

    Peace.

  4. Uncle Dennis says:

    Good Poem! Have I sent you any of my stuff since “The Clown” back in Feb?? My friend Maria (Peachwoods Bartender) just had her 60th birthday where she announced “My kids are older than me” so I expanded on it… I’ll email you a copy.

    Happy Halloween (Samhain)
    – D

  5. Racer says:

    Hi Becca,

    I absolutely agree with the highest human aspirations of giving the best… humans sacrifice for their country… or they donate organs and give blood to their loved ones or donate money/goods to the community.

    But what I find ironic is that same person who would work hard throughout his life, compete/fight with others decides to donate a big part of his wealth in the end. For example, Bill Gates. He made a fortune of some 40billion dollars and he is donating some 20B for world community. Is it a sacrifice or change of heart? Is he buying some fame with money? Why would he do that? Because he thinks he no longer needs it or is he really sacrificing? There are lots of people like Bill Gates in this world who donate or volunteer. It is kind of sweet but I find it ironic in terms of how God has wired our brain or how society looks at it.

    Another example. The parents work hard and spend big part of their earnings to raise their kids. Even though, the kids might get them into serious troubles, parents still do that. If they did not have kids, they may not have to work that hard in their lives. Logically it does not even make sense to work and give it to others, right? But we all do it. Why? I think God has made our spirit such or wired our brain is such a way that we really do not enjoy living just for ourselves. Initially for survival it helps to be selfish. However, once passed that stage, even if we live in a Golden Palace with all the luxuries and securities we could think of, we will not be happy unless we share our life with the people we like. I think that is kind of weird or ironic.

    Let us look at the life of animals. They generally live for themselves and are happy as long as they get shelter and food. But we humans? They are different. They love to sacrifice, donate or volunteer. I know, we have taken it for granted since it has been going on for generations. But is it not kind of weird?

    We might ask, why does it matter what happens after we die. Does it matter we go to heaven or hell? Logically, does it matter we are raised from death or we have re-birth? Selfishly speaking, it does not matter what happens after we die. But we have been wired such that we do all the best we can to leave behind us some sweet memories so that when people talk about us, they remember us fondly and with affection.

    People who believe in Darwin theory might say that we have gradually become more civilized and we try to live by society’s standards while religious Godly people would say that God has put some good spirit inside us so that we human beings work as Gardner of this earth rather than as exploiter or destroyer.

    Hope I got my point across. However, I am still not sure why our brain is wired like that.. :) :)

    With sweet regards,
    Racer

  6. Becca says:

    Thanks so much, Poetryman, UncleDennis! You’re most kind.

    As for your questions and ruminations, Racer, as always you do ponder deeply. I don’t know either…but I disagree, I think, a little on the conclusions. True, it doesn’t matter whether we’re reborn or head off to some heavenly reward (or hellish punishment) — we should live as best we can, and leave behind good works, well-raised children (if we have any), and do what we can to leave the world a better place than when we arrived in it.

    But it does matter, too — because that’s what leads us to ask the most difficult questions. I was going to say ‘unanswerble’, but I’ve come to think that maybe there can be answers, gleaned in the ‘inner experiences’. Maybe I *can* know what is likely to happen after I depart this mortal coil — and better still, for this wee peanut of a soul to have a little say in where I go. Or at least make my wishes known. Ultimately, of course, the Divine says ‘jump’, I’m already gone.

    I’ll let y’all in on a little secret (and blabbing it on the Internet sure is a way to make things mega-public, eh?): Whatever the shape of the ‘afterlife’, I don’t want either of them. I want no ‘heavenly paradise’ because I’m not interested in becoming like a lotus eater. Nor do I want any more reincarnations; after this one I’ve had here, I can honestly say I’ve probably done everything, been everything. Enough already.

    What I want is my next job.

    In the meantime, I shall write words and craft poetry, and try to make the world a slightly better place than when I got here.

    toodles,
    Becca

  7. Racer says:

    Next job? You mean job job? Good luck.

    By the way, what is toodles?

    I just read a good article on Happiness. May be it helps to find your Happiness.

    ================================================
    How To Be Happy by Bob Tschannen-Moran

    … we have learned a few things about how to be happy. For starters, happiness is a byproduct. It seldom works to make happiness our goal. Instead, happiness comes upon us as we pursue other goals, especially goals that make a positive contribution to planet earth and the human community.

    Within the framework of meaningful and uplifting goals, we have discovered twelve steps that make happiness more likely. By striking the right balance or finding the right rhythm in these twelve areas, happiness will find you on the trek of life.

    1. Avoid Control / Embrace Freedom. As human beings we have a natural desire to control things. And over the millennia we have developed a wide variety of control systems, including magic, religion, politics, and science. But sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, those systems fail to work. Sometimes, the panacea fails to cure, the security fails to protect, and the foam insulation still flies off the fuel tank. To think we can control the course of life is magical thinking that we best give up if we hope to promote spiritual wellness.

    Better to embrace freedom instead. Freedom from attachment to particular outcomes, from addiction to particular practices, and from adherence to particular illusions. We must intentionally give these up if we hope to be spiritually well. And to stay well it takes more than just intention. It takes the assistance of other people and of the Great One to complete the past and to move forward in freedom. For all its uncertainty, the way of freedom is a better way to be.

    2. Avoid Cynicism / Embrace Possibility. Once we give up on our ability to control particular outcomes, it’s easy for the pendulum to swing all the way over to cynicism. “Why bother!” we exclaim. “If there are no systems that are guaranteed to work, then why strive for anything at all? Better to just live for the moment, since tomorrow we may die.”

    Although living in the moment is an important part of mindfulness, to stop striving for anything is to ignore the possibility that human beings do have a natural ability to influence things. Just because nothing works all of the time does not mean that nothing works any of the time. In fact, the possibilities are limitless. Spiritual wellness brings this awareness to the forefront. We approach life not with guarantees as to what the future holds but with confidence as to what holds the future.

    3. Avoid Manipulation / Embrace Mindfulness. Unfortunately, this confidence can incline us to manipulation. We may not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can beg or barter our way to the top. “Do me this one favor,” we promise the Great One, “and I’ll be good.” But the Great One cuts no deals. Not even “the power of positive thinking” can make everything turn out all right. As it turns out, positive thinking is not very powerful at all.

    But that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking or paying attention to life. Indeed, paying attention is a powerful spiritual practice. Instead of trying to control life with the power of mind over matter, we seek to notice life with the attention of mind to matter. Instead of whining about life because it doesn’t conform to our expectations, we engage with life as it proceeds in the here and now. The more mindful we become in the present moment, the more opportunities we will discover to move forward in the direction of our dreams.

    4. Avoid Pessimism / Embrace Responsibility. While the cynic questions whether anything will ever work out, the pessimist knows that nothing will ever work out. In some cases, that’s because pessimists blame the world. In other cases, that’s because they blame themselves. Either way, they suffer from what M. Scott Peck calls “disorders of responsibility,” taking on either too little or too much responsibility to be spiritually well.

    Better to embrace the ability to respond, regardless of what comes our way. In good times and bad, we can be responsible. But don’t confuse this with being accountable. Accountability is about answering for something, as in taking the credit or the blame. Responsibility is about engaging with something, as in giving our best selves to every situation. In both challenging and comfortable times, we can take responsibility for life.

    5. Avoid Distraction / Embrace Silence. There are many things that can distract us from examining our lives. Some of us live at a frenetic pace, allowing precious little time for reflection and planning. Others are numbed by chemical and social mendicants, such as alcohol or television. Still others have never learned to appreciate the value of critical thinking. Whatever may be your distraction, Socrates was right when he observed that “an unexamined life is not worth living.”

    That’s because we have to go deep if we want to give our lives a sense of meaning and purpose. These things do not emerge without some measure of wrestling and contemplation. So finding moments of silence, both short and long, becomes an important spiritual discipline. There we can learn to release our fears and to approach others with gratitude. There, in the absence of noise, we can learn the truth about ourselves and about our place in the family of things.

    6. Avoid Exclusivity / Embrace Diversity. It’s easy to get seduced by the word “exclusive.” It sounds so attractive, favorable, and special. From exclusive offers to exclusive communities, we find ourselves drawn to privileges and perks. But this is not the road to life. Exclusivity does more harm than good. It sets people up, one against the other, in competitive us-versus-them relationships. It tears at the fabric of human community and undermines our ability to be spiritually well.

    Better to embrace diversity as though the whole human family were of one body, mind, and spirit. “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once noted in a sermon, “but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” That comes only when we learn to embrace the rich multidimensionality of the human community as not just a fact of life but as a positive value to be celebrated and encouraged.

    7. Avoid Anxiety / Embrace Mystery. We live in an age of anxiety. Troubles and terrors, both of natural and human origin, are real. But that does not mean we can afford to live from that anxiety. Not only is anxiety unproductive, it undermines creativity, obscures possibility, and negates temerity. It brings us up short in the game of life.

    Which is especially unfortunate given the mysterious way things have of working out. What may, at first, seem to be a catastrophe often appears, in hindsight, to be a blessing. Indeed, the very nature of our quantum universe argues against anxiety, which is itself a remnant of the Newtonian principles of cause and effect. If that’s the only way things happen, then we have reason for anxiety. But if the universe can jump natural barriers, respond to subtle energies, and generate synchronicities then we can embrace mystery as our way of being in the world.

    8. Avoid Aimlessness / Embrace Hope. It’s hard to say what represents the most frequent reason people come to coaching. Many, of course, want assistance to make their dreams come true. Many others, however, want assistance to remember their dreams. Life has become an aimless routine of getting up and going through the motions. There is little to no engagement with a personal or professional sense of cause. As a result, life has become empty, flat, and devoid of meaning.

    Enter the mystery of hope. Working with a coach is itself an act of hope. The notion that we can together discern the themes and dreams of a person’s life implies that we believe they are there, even when they are buried. Learning to manifest those themes and dreams is yet another act of hope. It is to come from the place that believes we can make a difference in the world, even if we sing as but one solitary voice. Even when the odds are stacked against success, hope enables us to make a strong and vital witness to the things we hold dear.

    9. Avoid Superiority / Embrace Humility. Just as confidence in what holds the future can incline us to manipulation, so can hope incline us to a superiority complex. We can become so certain of our witness that we can bowl people over along the way. We start showing off, taking credit, and demanding privileges for all that we do, say, have, and are. But this is not the way of true mastery and it sows the seeds of our own demise.

    Remembering that there are no guarantees in life, that we exercise influence rather than control, it is both more appropriate and more effective to become a humble witness to the things we hold dear rather than a haughty one. No one enjoys people with an attitude! But humble people, who know the ground from which they come and the shoulders on which they stand, attract the energy that makes their hopes and dreams come true. They don’t boast of what they know; in fact, they hardly notice what they know as they seek to give themselves away in service to others.

    10. Avoid Inferiority / Embrace Beauty. But humility is not to be confused with inferiority. Humble people do not think poorly of themselves, they just don’t think of themselves. And they certainly don’t think poorly of others. Inferiority breeds failure since it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think, feel, speak, act, and pray as though you don’t have what it takes to make things work, then things won’t work. If all you can see is impossibility, then nothing is possible. If you deny your access to intuition and instinctive intelligence, then you won’t notice the things that make for success.

    Embracing beauty is an antidote for inferiority. No matter how poorly you think of yourself or the world in which we live, noticing beauty will lift your spirits and move the human community in the direction we need to go. Sometimes beauty is easy to see, especially when we are surrounded by nature, art, culture, and love. Other times we have to look hard, such as when we suffer the indignities and shattering blows of life. Either way, beauty is always there for the noticing and doing so makes all the difference in the world.

    11. Avoid Scarcity / Embrace Justice. In a world that’s drowning in a sea of abundance, where self-storage has become a bigger industry than the motion-picture industry, it’s hard to believe that people still suffer from a scarcity mentality. But this mentality — that there just isn’t enough to go around — lies behind the practices and policies of many institutions, movements, and people in the world today. Time, money, energy, and love are all viewed as limited commodities that need to be traded and protected carefully.

    So instead of pursuing justice for all, we end up pursuing justice for some. We can’t even see the perspective of oppressed peoples, global ecology, and world peace since these things threaten to undermine our standard of living and our sense of security in the world. But what if our standards are the very things that contribute to our insecurity? Spiritual leaders the world over, from every tradition, have long made this connection. Apart from justice, there is no chance for wellness of any sort to flourish and prosper.

    12. Avoid Selfishness / Embrace Love. Selfishness is the personal manifestation of scarcity thinking. Lest we fail to have, do, or be enough, we hoard everything that comes our way. “More, more, more” and “mine, mine, mine” become our mantras. We can even come to justify this in terms of extreme self-care. Unless we take good care of ourselves, we reason, we can’t take good care of others. So we live selfishly with the hope that it will somehow benefit one and all.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works. Self-care is not a product of selfish living but a byproduct of pursuing generosity, justice, peace, and love. These are the things that make for spiritual wellness and all other forms of wellness. The more we extend ourselves for others, not because of who they are and what they can do for us but because of who we are and what we can do for them, the more joy we will find in life and love.

    These, then, are the twelve embraces that make for happiness. Freedom, possibility, mindfulness, responsibility, silence, diversity, mystery, hope, humility, beauty, justice, and love are the things that make life worth living. The more we incorporate them into our daily living the more we will contribute and the closer we will be to the Great Spirit of life.

    Coaching Inquiries: Which of the twelve embraces do you practice most regularly? Which ones do you practice only occasionally? Which ones would you like to practice more? How could you make all of them more a part of your life?

    ==============================
    With Cheers and Prayers,
    Racer

  8. Becca says:

    Hi Racer,

    ‘Toodles’ is just a way of saying farewell for now.

    As for this, it’s very nice — but awfully wordy. To try to keep all that in one’s head would fill it with words — and that actually defeats the purpose of Silence. Which is what? Stilling our inner voice, so that we can hear the voice of the Divine.

    True happiness is not so complicated as “twelve embraces”, or twelve things to avoid. I know of nobody who can manage so many things at the same time.

    He didn’t get the basic concepts wrong, I think he merely over-decorated it.

    I’m no philosopher or great spiritual writer, but could not all those things above be said simply as this: “Be kind, be good. Serve others, and enjoy life”?

    I’d add only this: “Love everybody, starting with yourself.”

    Happiness is the path you are on, not the clearing at the end of it.

    cheers,
    Becca

  9. Becca says:

    Oh, p.s., about my ‘next job’? No, nothing so literal as a money-making vocation. I’m already doing what I like best — writing, studying, exploring.

    What I’m referring to is my next ‘job’ as a spiritual being, after I’ve departed this particular mortal coil. If I can get off it, I’d prefer to be done with the wheel of Earthly karma. After this particular lifetime and its decidedly unusual and unique challenges, I think I’ve seen and experienced enough.

  10. Racer says:

    I will remember that.

    1. “Be kind, be good. Serve others, and enjoy life”?

    2. “Love everybody, starting with yourself.”

    With best regards,
    Racer

  11. Becca says:

    Basically yep, that’s it. Simple, eh? *grins*

    Amazing how we can muck it up with perceived desires for more money, bigger houses, a high-end car, a passionate love, a villa in Milan…

    Here’s another treacly aphorism of mine: “Bliss is being happy, whatever the path you’re on, even if it’s through a briar patch just now.”

    -Becca