Guest Posting Opportunity for Everyone

Now that he is back from working on Amma’s North India tour, Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon is starting a new Guest Posting event. It is called From Darkness to Light. Everyone who reads this post is welcome to write for it. Feel free to tell your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else in your life about it! They are also welcome to participate.

Sreejit said: “It is about sharing your darkest times and how you were able to use it to find purpose in your life.  Your words might be just what someone else needs to hear.  And in sharing we can all remember that we are not alone in our struggles.”

You can find the details here: https://theseekersdungeon.com/from-darkness-to-light/

This is What the Dream Looks Like

Sreejit is in the process of writing a new song called This is What the Dream Looks Like. It is about his experience of living and working on Amma’s most recent North India Tour. The video below was taken when he shared the lyrics with a group in Amritapuri.

Lyrics:

Straw mat and a concrete floor, food in the corner from two days before, laundry hanging from a rope through the center of the room – this is what the dream looks like.

Callus hands but they weren’t always rough, sharp words but we weren’t always tough, one thing this life teaches is that, together, we are enough.

This is what the dream looks like, more than a struggle it’s a fight to be kind when you’re hungry and tired, ‘cause you don’t have any right to be tired

when people are coming to forget their problems, and maybe a little of your time could help solve them, maybe a kind word from you would absolve them of the feeling that they’re all alone – though sometimes we all feel that we are all alone – yeah this is what the dream looks like.

Beaten down by the work no one sees, ‘cause it’s always full-on behind the scenes to magnify the glitz and the lights – yeah this is what the dream looks like.

Getting home to see family at most once a year, and never bringing home the glam and the cheer – just wanting to hide in your bed, to watch tv just to get out of your head – yeah this is what the dream looks like.

Feet full of cracks and can barely walk, always falling asleep and so can barely talk, all eyes on you confused why you can’t form a sentence, let alone a thought,

always irritated by the smallest things, ‘cause that’s just what happens when you forget to eat, and that’s just what happens when you’re consumed with the work that you love – yeah it truly is a gift from above.

Straw mat and a concrete floor, kind of looks like the city before, but that place had water and this one you have to go next door,

but next door they have a kitchen and some home cooked food, and a friendly ear to pry out the blues if you choose to forget for a moment that you are not alone in the struggle – yeah this is what the dream looks like.

Tour photos:

Heavenly Creatures

Sreejit’s Friday reflections are getting more profound every week. This is my favorite of them all.

The Seeker's Dungeon

When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Everyone in my school knew the reason for the change, so I didn’t have to explain it. When I joined the workforce, people would constantly ask me where my name came from and I wouldn’t want to go into the details because that would require a longer, deeper discussion. I hated the presumptuous question of, what is my real name, because that would require and even longer and even deeper discussion. They were asking a simple question and I developed a simple answer for it. “My Dad is black and my mother is Indian,” I would say. “Oh cool,” they would say. A simple question, a simple half-truth and we’d all move on.

As we call our guru, Amma, or mother, it wasn’t a full lie, but was…

View original post 1,042 more words

Now Available on Google Play

Digital copies of Sreejit’s four books are now available on Google Play. (Using that process, the books can be downloaded and then read on a computer.)

Where Love Meets War series

A modern tale, an ancient mysticism, a universal love. Overcome by the weight of his failure to live up to the world’s standards of success, Ballard Davies decides that there is only one solution. He gets in his car and drives. He drives away from everything and everyone that he knows, in an effort to just start over. He doesn’t care where he’s headed; he just wants another chance to get it right. What he finds is beyond his imagination, as he befriends an eccentric cast of characters. From the divinely inspired to the rationalistic blowhards, everyone becomes a part of his journey to begin again. But there is still one problem – he cannot escape himself. What will it take for Ballard to overcome his own self-imposed limitations and live the adventure he feels he deserves? This is the journey he now travels, down a path where truth, love, desperation, honor, the forgiving and the righteous, the mystics and the scientists all battle for the chance to be given the foremost spot in the realm of his mind. Will the pain of loneliness and separation prevail, or will Ballard find something to live for?

 

Traversing a world based on perspective, with the force of our own illusions propping us up, what would you forsake to know the truth? Two families, separated by continents, are wrapped up in the same timeless struggle – to be more than the sum of their parts. Join them as they seek to solve a mystery that goes beyond the limits of our physical reality. With time never on our side, the question arises: what would you give up for freedom?

 

 

The third novel in this intriguing and captivating series, Willow, will be available in the not too distant future.

***

The other two books Sreejit has placed on Google Play are collections of his poetry.

Out of the Fog: 30 poetic musings on the world to which I cling.

Perspective shapes our truth, our vision, and the way we move throughout this world. Our beliefs are filtered through the experiences that we’ve had and the weight that we allow these experiences to carry in the shaping of our truth. The world becomes illusion when we realize that every creature sees and understands it from different vantage points. Our world is all about perspective. The one written about here is mine.

 

 

 

Gypsy Soup: A Collection of Poetry

Cover artGypsy Soup is a reflection of the frailty of human intention, as well as the power of the human spirit. 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider checking them out at: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=sreejit%20poole&c=books

The Wonders of Nature

Sreejit’s direction for this week’s Dungeon Prompt is to “pick a quote from a famous person that best describes your life’s journey. The quote can be about the person that you’ve been up until now or the person that you are trying to become. Tell us about it. Use the quote as a springboard for letting us get a better glimpse of who you are.”

While my brother Bill would not have considered himself to be a famous person, nor would he be considered a famous person by the world, it was in a section of his journal that I found the quote that fits the most for me. Bill died at the age of 39. His words reflect some of the values that I held early in my life and during the last five to eight years have again become a major focus. The quote:

I am very sad that people seem to see so little of the world around them. I can’t walk outside without seeing the beauty of our created world, from the rainbow in a line of earthworm slime, to another visible ring on Jupiter. We have been given this magnificent world to study and enjoy in limitless detail at any level, microscopic to cosmic. Even though I have enough things to interest me another 10 lifetimes, I must take solace in knowing that, at least compared to others, I’ve had much more than my share even in half a life time.   (William John Smith 1953-1992)

When I was a child, I was fascinated by butterflies. I am mortified now to think of the butterfly collection I had then. I caught butterflies with a net, used some chloroform type liquid to kill them and then mounted them on a display board. At the same time I feel grief about that, I recognize that we had a different way of thinking in the 50’s and that I had made the display out of my love and appreciation for butterflies.

I have memories of making forts in the forest when I was young, although I don’t remember where that was. It is possible that the “forest” was just my back yard, but I don’t think so. Being an army brat, we moved every three years. I have almost no memory of the places I lived or events that happened there.

I do remember an incident from the 4th grade when we were living in Germany. I had crawled under the schoolyard fence during recess so that I could collect snails in a box. When I came back into the schoolyard at the end of recess, I looked up the hill only to see my teacher and my mother, who also taught at the school, standing behind a railing watching me. I have no memory of what came next but I do remember getting “caught in the act”.

I know there was also a time during my school years when I had a microscope and loved using it. I enjoyed studying the biological sciences when I was working on my Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree from 1966 to 1970.

When Al and I first married, we bought a house three miles south of the center of Seattle. To me, it it felt like having a farm in the middle of the city. There was a pantry in the basement where I could store canned fruits and the house had an outdoor clothesline that operated by a pulley, going from the porch to a nearby tree. There were concord grape vines growing in the yard and I made grape jelly from the grapes. We purchased the lot behind our house and made a garden there.

Over the years, I stopped gardening. There were a few times I planted some vegetables but the trees grew so high that the backyard got very little sunlight. Besides, my life was filled with child-rearing, going to school and working multiple jobs. I didn’t start gardening again until Amma began to encourage us to grow organic vegetables at home. That was probably around 2010.

Over the next few years, I removed part of the grass from my front yard, so I could build a garden that would get some sun. I took out all of the grass three years ago. It is a small area, but now the whole front yard is a garden.

Next, I developed an interest in vermi-composting, a process by which red wiggler worms transform food scraps into high quality compost. The worms became my pets. I still love my worms. Other people have to find dog and cat sitters. When I go to India I have to find a worm sitter!

In March of 2014, I started blogging. The primary focus of my writing was about the process of learning life’s lessons. I wrote from both psychological and spiritual perspectives. Over the years, I started to use photographs on my blog and in time I started to focus on nature and nature photography… in addition to writing about learning life’s lessons.

I shared photos of flowers…

…  wrote posts about experiences with snails (Photo Journal of a Snail’s Adventure), moles (Attitude is the Key), slugs (Seeking to Live in Harmony with Slugs) and ants (Wait, Watch and Wonder).

Soon I wanted to know more about these garden “pests.” I started reading about them and was amazed by what I learned. I shared that information in my blog posts. (The Symbiotic Relationship Between Ants and Aphids) (Slugs Underground) (The Fascinating Fruit Fly)

Several years ago, I remembered my fascination with my childhood microscope. I decided I would buy another one “someday.” One morning it occurred to me that I could add microscopic photography to my nature posts. I immediately purchased a microscope and adapter that connected  it to my iPhone camera. I started taking and sharing microscopic photos.

In September of 2016, I woke up one morning thinking that I was not willing to watch one more tree die in the area of Seattle’s Greenbelt that is near my house. I took my shears and started cutting down the blackberry and ivy vines that had covered that land for 30-50 years. That day was the impetus for starting the GreenFriends Greenbelt Restoration Project that is now my passion.

Our GreenFriends group, aided by a neighbor and students from the Introduction to Environmental Science class at the University, the Green Seattle Partnership and the Seattle Parks Department began to clear the land. Once the invasive vines were removed, we dug out blackberry root balls, covered the cleared land with burlap to hold back weed growth and then put dried blackberry canes and other debris on top of the burlap. The debris and the burlap will disintegrate and enrich the soil. This fall we will plant 400 trees, shrubs and ground covers and will continue to plant until the land is once again a healthy forest.

Every day I work in the Greenbelt is filled with seeing wonders of nature, whether it be a fern, flower or tree whose will to live has been so strong that it has defied being buried under invasive plants for decades or whether it is watching the birds, butterflies and other creatures that are returning to the land. One day, a mole stuck its head out of the ground and looked at my friend Ananya who was sitting nearby.

My passion for nature that began as a child, went into the recesses of my mind for decades, is now back in full force. I feel grateful and blessed. I so appreciate that Bill’s words helped keep that part of me alive during the intervening  years.

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Defined by a Quote

To read more of Bill’s life philosophy go to The Truth I Live By.

The photo at the top of this post is from pixabay.com.

Shared with Senior Salon

Dungeon Prompts: Moral Authority

Last Thursday, I received notice that Sreejit from The Seekers Dungeon was re-starting his Dungeon Prompt series. I was intrigued by the topic for the week, Moral Authority. I began to think about what moral authority meant to me.

The next day, I read that the Trump Administration had 1) stopped a study of the health effects of a mining practice in Appalachia, 2) disbanded the federal advisory committee on climate change, and 3) decided that the Environmental Protection Agency would work on building partnerships rather than focusing on regulations and enforcement. I felt despair when I read that information. It occurred to me that I was seeing examples of what moral authority is NOT, at least in my world view. 

I accept that President Trump has some authority over me because of the power of his position, but due to the things he says and does on nearly a daily basis, I do not believe that he has moral authority, or it least none that I will accept.

Since those were thoughts I had on the spot, I decided it was time for me to learn more about moral authority.

Wikipedia stated:

Moral authority is authority premised on principles, or fundamental truths, which are independent of written, or positive, laws. As such, moral authority necessitates the existence of and adherence to truth. Because truth does not change, the principles of moral authority are immutable or unchangeable, although as applied to individual circumstances the dictates of moral authority for action may vary due to the exigencies of human life. These principles, which can be of metaphysical and/or religious nature, are considered normative for behavior, whether they are or are not also embodied in written laws,[1] and even if the community is ignoring or violating them.[2] Therefore, the authoritativeness or force of moral authority is applied to the conscience of each individual, who is free to act according to or against its dictates.

Moral authority has thus also been defined as the “fundamental assumptions that guide our perceptions of the world”.[3]

Theodore Brown wrote:

Put the phrase “moral authority” into a Google search, and you will get back something over 670,000 hits.  Clearly the expression gets used a lot.  But what do people mean when they use it?  Many people seem to think that it means the right to weigh in on discussions involving what to do about some tough issue.  Other uses suggest that it is a measure of virtue; those who live exemplary lives have moral authority.  Or, that one can gain moral authority by having been put through a trial: the John McCain effect.  One simple definition is that moral authority is the capacity to convince others of how the world should be.  This distinguishes it from expert or epistemic authority, which could be defined as the capacity to convince others of how the world is.

When I found the diagram at the top of this post, it occurred to me that reflecting on those positive and negative behaviors might help me identify those people who I think have moral authority. From that exploration, I came up with a list of  behaviors that I think those who have moral authority have in common.  In my mind, people with moral authority:

  • love all beings in the world
  • love and are committed to nature
  • live lives of service
  • speak the truth
  • teach others to live in integrity
  • teach others healthy principles of living
  • teach others to love and respect one another
  • value unity over division
  • live lives that are true to their teachings, i.e. they walk their talk

As I pondered who the people were that I think have moral authority, Jesus, Amma, Martin Luther King, and Pope Francis came instantly to my mind. Amma is clearly the person whose moral authority has impacted my life the most.

I believe blind faith may come in an instant, but mature faith develops from experience. I have been in Amma’s presence for 28 years- watching her, learning from her and seeing the impact she has had on my life and the lives of my friends, family, and other devotees. I have no doubt that she has made a massive difference in the lives of millions of people the world over.

Many years ago, I wrote a song, and had a friend translate it into Malayalam, that in a way reflects my decision to accept Amma’s moral authority. I titled the song, Only for This I Pray.

This is an audiotape and lyrics of that song.  Please pardon any pronunciation errors.

amma ende karangal ennum ninne sevikkatte
amma ende manass˘ mantrathāl nirayename
amma ende vākkukal ennum ninne pukazhthette
ende hridayam ānandam kond˘ nrittamādatte

ende sneham prakāshamāyi ennenum thilangatte
amma ende vishvāsam valarnnu kondirikkatte
ennenum ammayepole āyi varename
amma itinnu vendi mātram nyan prārthikkyunnu

Mother, may my hands be in service, my mind fill with mantra
May my voice forever sing your praise, my heart dance with joy
May my love shine ever brighter, my faith ever grow
Mother, may each day I become more like you, only for this I pray
Only for this I pray

That prayer is as true for me today as it was the day I wrote it.

 

Dungeon Prompts is Back!

Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon announced yesterday that he is going to  begin offering weekly Dungeon Prompts again. This week’s prompt is “Moral Authority.” Sreejit provided the questions below to stimulate our reflection:

You can tackle this issue from any perspective you wish.  The basic question is what is morality for you?  Where does your morality come from?  Is there someone that you look to as a moral authority?  Does your morality come from your sense of truth or human nature?  Does it have to do with religion or spirituality, or is it a completely separate issue for you? How do you integrate your own beliefs, with the beliefs of others?

You can, and are encouraged to, participate whether you have a blog or not.

I look forward to the possibility of meeting you in the Dungeon! For more information about the process click here.

A Tribute to Sreejit on his 40th Birthday

As hard as it is for me to imagine, my son Sreejit is turning 40 years old today!  He was born on December 13, 1974.   He has been such a blessing to his dad and me and to so many others.

I have loved looking through the old pictures in preparation for this post.  So many special ones, especially in this age group.  This was also the period when his sister Chaitanya joined our family!  I remember Sreejit came to see me at the hospital after she was born, bringing chocolates and flowers.  When it was time to go home, he wanted me to come with him.  When I said that wasn’t possible, he wanted to take the chocolates back!  (His dad doesn’t have a memory of this event, but since it is a strong one for me I’m going to leave it in!)

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Some of my memories of Sreejit’s school aged years were his involvement with Boy Scouts, summer camp and his love of Michael Jackson.  He also started to draw during that time.  A friend and he spent countless hours creating comic books.

During his preteen and teenage years, Sreejit played the saxophone, piano and both acoustic and electric guitar.  I took him to his first rock concert, to see Prince!  He loved it and so did I.   He became very interested in heavy metal music and wanted to become a rock star!

Sreejit’s life goals changed abruptly when he met Amma in 1990.  A resident from Amma’s San Ramon ashram came up to me the night he met her and said, “Did you see the way that boy looked at Amma, and the way she looked at him?  He is going to become a brahmachari (monk).”  The woman didn’t know Sreejit was my son at the time she said that to me.  Her intuition was certainly right on though.  He soon exchanged his black heavy metal clothes for the white attire that most devotees wear.  He learned to play the harmonium (a keyboard instrument that has bellows) and the tabla (Indian drums).

Sreejit moved to Amma’s San Ramon ashram in 1994 and lived there for 15 years.  During most of that time, he worked two or three jobs simultaneously, as well as doing the work required of an ashram resident.  In addition, he completed his Philosophy degree at San Jose State College.  Soon after he graduated, he wrote a book titled, Of Mind Or Matter.  The book was fiction, but it incorporated his knowledge of philosophy and spirituality.

Sreejit’s love for music has continued throughout his life.  He has composed many songs.  One of my favorites is “It’s a Long Road”

ammaandsreejit

It’s a long road
I’ve forgotten
who I am.
It’s a long road
I’ve forgotten
what’s the plan.
Your hands
hold me close
but your eyes
are to the sky,
millions seek your mercy
but you say
freedom is your right,
just fight.

Do you remember me,
for I don’t have the eyes to see,
do you remember me,
am I your everything,
for you’re everything to me.

To walk through this world
a human being
is to carry the burden
of countless lifetimes
of suffering.
As I grow weary
I remind myself
that every problem
I’ve created myself.
Do you remember me,
for I don’t have the eyes to see.

I know I don’t deserve
this life I’ve been given
– time after time
I’ve chosen easy over right.
But, still
you shower praise
and I can’t help but
think your crazy
– crazy for the life,
crazy for the fight,
crazy for the divine
and I know your right,
but do you remember me?

The recording features David Balakrishnan on Violin
Anu Aiyer on table,
Swarna Aiyer on keys
Amritapriya Schmidt on backing vocals
and Sreejit Poole on vocals and guitar

Sreejit was invited to come to Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri, India in 2009 to be a cook in the Western kitchen.  That has been his primary ashram work since that time.  2009 was the same year that he and Chaitanya, who also lives at the ashram, started creating Broadway style musicals which are performed on Christmas Eve.  Chaitanya writes and directs the plays; Sreejit and his friends write most of the tunes. During the musicals, Sreejit plays the harmonium and frequently sings and/or has a voice role (In Indian plays the voices often come from people on microphones behind the scenes.)  A few years ago, Sreejit was an actor in the play as well as participating as a musician.  As soon as one musical is over, Sreejit and his friends start writing the musical scores for the next one.

In 2012, Sreejit started a blog called The Seeker’s Dungeon.  He said this about his blog:

There are plenty of people to write about a heaven that they haven’t experienced. But I want to write about the road traveled to get there. This is meant to be an intense and honest look into the motivations of the human spirit and a search for answers into how we can use the passions of humanity, not just to satisfy our base level instincts, but to bring about a positive change in our world. Maybe it is dark. That is fine. Only when we open the blinds do we see the dust in the room. The dust to me, if not the main goal, is still interesting all the same..

At first, The Seeker’s Dungeon was a poetry blog, but over time he started writing in many different styles.  I was amazed at the depth and skill of his writing.  I feel so much respect for his work.  Many other bloggers were impressed as well; as of today he has 7,670 followers.  For most of a year, he encouraged me to start a blog of my own.  I began to feel the desire to participate in Dungeon Prompts, a weekly challenge he offered to other bloggers.  One day, I decided to build the blog and answer one of his prompts without him knowing I was doing it.  I loved surprising him in that way.  I am so grateful to him for introducing me to blogging and the WordPress community.

You never know what Sreejit is going to do next.  Recently he started a YouTube page and posted some of the  music he has composed.  He also has begun to play the guitar again.  And most surprising, he has decided he wants to learn to tap dance!  He asked me to bring tap shoes for him to India and has started teaching himself to tap.

Sreejit has dedicated his life to spiritual growth and service from the time he met Amma at 15 years of age.  He has used his 40 years of life well.  I am so proud of him and proud to be his mother.  Happy 40th Birthday Sreejit!

With Love,  Mom

 

 

Notes:

Some of you may wonder why you are receiving this on December 12.  India is 13 1/2 hours ahead of Seattle so it is already his birthday here!