Thursday, 28 July 2011

Om Trayambakam

All the rain this year may have limited our chances to tan but it has certainly been a blessing for gardeners!  Bountiful crops are coming to harvest and we are enjoying the sweet and juicy fruits of our efforts and of the cycle of nature in abundance! 

A delicious gift of garden tomatos and a fresh cucumber from a generous student got me thinking about one of my favorite fresh summer salads (Israeli Salad Recipe on the Prasad Page) and a summer several years ago, when I worked at a U-pick cucumber farm to deepen my understanding of one of the most famous mantras in Yoga, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra.  This is the mantra of great liberation, also known as the Om Trayambakam.

Lord Shiva, Lord of the Yogis, destroying the demon of ignorance.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, whose eye of intuition (or third eye) opens to bring about the dance of destruction, this mantra is often chanted at the beginning of important endeavors and voyages and at occassions which mark time like birthdays, and passings.  Traditionally it is chanted as an amulet to protect the chanter or others from calamities like scorpion stings, rampaging elephants and other equally nasty disasters! 

Nowadays, at the ashram and at home, we chant it whenever we get into a vehicle, praying for the safety of the driver, the passengers and everyone on the road or in the air or on the ocean as the case may be.  We love to "Om Trayambakam" our friends when they depart, wishing them a safe journey and a speedy return.

This mantra evokes the image of a cucumber being severed from the vine, and reminds us that we too are released from the bondage of our own mortal limitations, not one itsy-bitsy moment too early or too late.

Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
We Meditate on the Three-eyed reality
Which permeates and nourishes all like a fragrance.
May we be liberated from death for the sake of immortality,
Even as the cucumber is severed from bondage to the creeper.

This mantra, handwritten in Devanagari or the written form of Sanskrit, as well as the transliteration and translation above can be found at:

You can chant this mantra 3 times, 9 times, or 108 times to bless and remind your Self that all things happen according to cycle of nature and divine timing! 

As I plucked the ripe cucumbers that summer, I chanted this mantra over and over and over again and re-learned a basic truth in gardening and in life.  Everything has a season.  There is a time to sow the seeds, and a time to reap the harvest of what we've planted. 

If the cucumbers are tugged before they are ready to release from the plant, the vine itself is damaged.  If they are left too long, they sag into the soil and rot.  The art in cucumber picking, and maybe life, is not to struggle against either. 

Be diligent in maintaining your garden and your practice and you won't lose or limit your harvest.  Be gentle and patient and at just the right moment, the sweet reward will drop willingly into your hands!

Om Trayambakam!

Kali's Kitchen

It seems to me, one of the most profound skills in meal preparation is the timing.  The art of transforming raw ingredients into nourishing and appetizing dishes, all ready and fragrant when your guests arrive at the table is no small task!

Lately I've been referring to my tiny cottage kitchen as Kali's, a place where delicious things manifest, and are devoured with relish, sometimes comepletely unexpectedly! 

I've noticed though, that like the Coconut Smoothies (go to the Kali's Kitchen Prasad page for the recipe!) that are sometimes served on the front step or sipped in the car or in the temple-living room, Kali's kitchen has no edge!  Kali's kitchen is my yoga mat, my relationships, my mind... In fact it seems, Kali's Kitchen is everywhere!

Kali is the great Mother Goddess of time and material nature.  She is sometimes frightening, sometimes sweet.  Like time itself, she can be comforting, or terrifying.  Kali's nature is to transform; to thrust us into the purifying fires, and bring forth the rasa, the divine flavor of each individual.

My teachers have always emphasized that spiritual concepts need time to "cook".  We need time to roll the ideas around, rearrange them, chew on them, combine them with the other ingredients in our spiritual pantries, and last but not least, subject them to the fire of our intellect and our own experience and roast 'em till they make us drool!

There is a saying in Sanskrit that in any situation, we learn just 25 percent from our teachers.  We learn 25 percent from eachother, and figure out 25 percent by ourselves.  The last 25 percent, we learn over time...
Many of you have studied with me during your Hatha Yoga Teacher Trainings or weekly asana classes.  We cover alot in a very little time.  I encourage you to give yourself time to integrate the ideas and allow them to grow fragrant in your own mind.

I often wonder how you're doing, and hope I run into you again so I can ask, "So how's that stuff we studied together cooking for you?"  So I offer you this, Kali's Kitchen, as a place to revisit those ideas once you've had a chance to gnaw on them for a bit, or to gather more of the ingredients you find appetizing to craft the feast that is your own personal philosophy and your own personal sadhana, or spiritual path.

I pray that this offering may nourish you; that you may savor the rasa, the juice of this beautiful lineage of teachings we have the privilege of exploring together. 

May the Goddess of Time treat you kindly.  May you be blessed with noble companionship and as many pots of tea as it takes to reach enlightenment in this lifetime! 



                Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
                 Om Gum Gurubhyo Namaha
                 Om Aim Saraswatyai Namaha
Woo Hoo!!! So I'm finally online, and looking forward to hanging out in Kali's Kitchen with you!  I'm new at this blog thing so forgive me for going "live" while still "under construction" but then, hey... isn't that what life's all about anyway? 

So, grab a cup of chai, listen to this beautiful invocation from Narayan Jyoti, take a look around at some of the great yoga links and resources I've already gathered here, and let me know what you think. 

I'll be adding more to the pages as often as I can, so come back soon!