Archive for the 'Ivan’s Story' Category

Apr 22 2009

John O’Donohue – In Praise of the Earth

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

In Praise of the Earth
by John O’Donohue

Let us bless
The imagination of the Earth,
That knew early the patience
To harness the mind of time,
Waited for the seas to warm,
Ready to welcome the emergence
Of things dreaming of voyaging
Among the stillness of land.

And how light knew to nurse
The growth until the face of the Earth
Brightened beneath a vision of color.

When the ages of ice came
And sealed the Earth inside
An endless coma of cold,
The heart of the Earth held hope,
Storing fragments of memory,
Ready for the return of the sun.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And hold our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Let us salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden
Trusting the first warmth of spring
Until its black infinity of cells
Becomes charged with dream;
Then the silent, slow nurture
Of the seed’s self, coaxing it
To trust the act of death.

The humility of the Earth
That transfigures all
That has fallen
Of outlived growth.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.

Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

— from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O’Donohue

/ Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer /

An Earth Day poem for you today.

There was a time when I lived on Maui, without much money but surrounded by stunning natural beauty. I stayed in a place half-way up Haleakala Volcano, at the edge of a eucalyptus forest. I fasted a lot in those days, and several times a week I would walk barefoot into the woods. Hidden among the trees was a small rock cave, just large enough for me to sit upright in meditation. To sit quietly in the cool, silent embrace of the Earth — a true blessing!

Though I now live in a small city, in a computer-powered world, I still carry that time with me in my heart. That memory continuously reminds me that, in spite of skyscrapers and the Internet, the world is not man-made. All the works of humanity are small accomplishments compared with the panoramic living miracle of the Earth.

The ground below us, sky above us, breath within us — all is the living Earth.

The Earth is the stage for our dramas.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And hold our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Not only could we not act without the Earth, we could not dream. The images the objects, the colors that populate the human psyche, they are all of the Earth too. The Earth speaks to us, and gives us a vocabulary to speak back.

The Earth is the place of birth, the stuff of life, and rest in death.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

The Earth is our everything.

While we as individuals live out the span of years alotted to us, the Earth is the full embodiment, the whole multiplicity of Life.

The tangible hints at the intangible. Matter expresses spirit. Earth gives form to heaven. How can we not honor that form? It is sacred. And it is us. You and I emerge to incarnate that form. Our challenge is to awaken and incarnate the secret light it suggests.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

Take some time today to sit on the Earth. Run your fingers through the grass. Feel the quiet strength filling your bones. Know you are home.

Have a beautiful day!

John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian poetry John O’Donohue

Ireland (1954 – 2008) Timeline
Christian : Catholic
Secular or Eclectic

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3 responses so far

Apr 03 2009

Sakyong Mipham – Fortunate Birth

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Fortunate Birth
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

In the kingdom of children
Every one of you is this child,
An innocent being
Who jumped out of heaven
And landed in Shambhala.
Fortunate birth is who you are–
Everything is perfect in your world.

Your clothing is the mist of heaven,
Your feet covered by dragon’s breath,
You are the most fortunate beings on earth.
You are the children of dharma.
Nothing can close your open heart.
Other children suffer, caught in perpetual dilemma–
Because Buddha has touched you,
You are fortunate.

Be dharmic now,
Be powerful now,
Be benevolent now–
Not for me, not for others–
But because that is your blood.
When you feel privileged, use it.
When you feel ashamed, pounce.
Consume that hesitation–
It’s only a flicker of your imagination.

You are the blessed people on this earth.
Every atom of your being is Buddha–
What’s left is joy.
You have no excuse;
Don’t sulk.
You can be sad, for sadness is
the most genuine expression.
Expression of goodness is who you are.
Being a child of dharma is dilemma.
Being a child of dharma is freedom.

Consume this hesitation of not knowing.
Never doubt,
Only walk forward.
Love everything,
For that is why you are here.

/ Photo by sara.atkins /

Fortunate birth is who you are–
Everything is perfect in your world.

Sometimes the goal of spiritual traditions can become so transcendent and otherworldly that we become — dare I say it? — wimpy. (I raise my hand: guilty.) An affirmation like, “All is light and love,” is, on the one level, absolutely true; yet, too often that perspective doesn’t prepare us for the very real struggles and intensity of lived life.

It can also become an excuse to step away from the discomfort of conflict and leave the world at the mercy of the brutal and the greedy.

You are the children of dharma.
Nothing can close your open heart.

But that doesn’t seem to be Sakyong Mipham’s perspective in this poem. We are “fortunate” and the world is “perfect,” not because things are so easy we can just glide through, but rather because you and I are inherently powerful enough to fully encounter life. It is perfect because we have been given the spiritual tools to engage with the world and each other.

Be dharmic now,
Be powerful now,
Be benevolent now–

We are not only strong enough to get through our experiences, but we can do so while courageously keeping the heart open and upholding dharma, the eternal law of harmony.

You are the blessed people on this earth.
Every atom of your being is Buddha–
What’s left is joy.
You have no excuse;
Don’t sulk.

No excuses; Sakyong Mipham challenges us to embody our divine nature, powerfully, on earth, right now.

Never doubt,
Only walk forward.
Love everything,
For that is why you are here.

So take courage, be bold, and build the world around the way your heart tells you it should be.


I want to take a moment to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to send me happy birthday wishes over the last couple of days. I received so many emails, lots of comments posted on the Poetry Chaikhana Blog, and my Facebook page is filled with your warm notes. Thank you all!


Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche poetry, Buddhist poetry Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

India, US (Contemporary)
Buddhist : Tibetan

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4 responses so far

Feb 13 2009

Kalidasa – Waking

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

by Kalidasa

English version by W. S. Merwin & J. Moussaieff Masson

Even the man who is happy
      glimpses something
      or a hair of sound touches him

      and his heart overflows with a longing
            he does not recognize

then it must be that he is remembering
      in a place out of reach
      shapes he has loved

      in a life before this

      the print of them still there in him waiting

— from East Window: Poems from Asia, Translated by W. S. Merwin

/ Photo by Stig Nygaard /

and his heart overflows with a longing
            he does not recognize

I just love these lines.

It reminds me of revelation I had around age 20 that really helped me through a lost, lonely period. It was a time when I felt this excruciating inner ache, a hole in myself, an empty space, with no idea how to fill it. Other people that age were busy with life: schoolwork, friends, dating, imagining their futures. But at that age I was struggling with a terrible void.

But then I started really watching people. I wanted to watch all the “normal” people to figure out how I could be more like them. Then suddenly it struck me: No matter how “happy” one may be, everyone — without exception — has that same gaping hole in their life. Most people pour all of their energies into either filling it endlessly, and with the wrong things, or they cover it up, ignore it, avoid it through endless activity. That sort of happiness is brittle, all too fragile. Suddenly we glimpse something or “a hair of sound touches” us, and that empty space becomes unavoidable. The hunger, the longing overflows.

I came to see that the whole world is defined by that longing. And I also began to understand that I wasn’t really different from everyone else. It’s just that perhaps I found it more difficult to avoid staring at that uncomfortable question mark that sits at the center of everyone’s life.

That insight not only reassured me that I was fundamentally okay, it also gave me permission to feel compassion for people I used to quietly envy. Everyone, all of us, high and low, rich and middle class and poor, famous and infamous and obscure — we’re all struggling with that haunting hunger.

But why? What is that hunger? Why is there a hole in the center of the world?

To really know the answer, we have to stop looking away. We have to stop distracting ourselves. And we have to stop trying to fill it with petty things — money, sex, fame.

Turn and sit and just quietly look at that empty space. Get to know it. Learn its feel.

Here’s what I’ve discovered in my own exploration: That hole is exactly God-shaped.

But there’s an important corollary to that statement: God is not shaped like the cutout doll handed to us when we were children. The word “God” itself is too limiting, and is heavily layered with cultural assumptions. That’s why I often use words like the Divine, the Eternal, the Real.

The most important thing about that God-shaped hole: When we finally, truly, really see it, an amazing river of bliss pours through that hole and washes over us…


Boy, was that somber, or what? Ivan wakes up to an overcast Colorado morning, and this is what he gives us? 😉 I predict the sun will shine next week!


India (350? – 430?) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shakta (Goddess-oriented)

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10 responses so far

Feb 11 2009

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – Today, like every other day

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

— from Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks / Translated by John Moyne

/ Photo by koshyk /

I’m back. (I took an extra day to make room for the full moon and eclipse. Don’t want to mess with those… :-)

I want to thank everyone for the many thoughtful emails and blog comments. I was profoundly moved by the number and warmth of the messages. Although I wasn’t able to respond individually to everyone, I read every note.

To express my heartfelt thanks, I am sending you this Valentine’s Day card:

Many blessings!


PS – My dog, Koda, is shredding paper he’s stolen from the recycle bin. A comment on my recent writing activities…?

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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5 responses so far

Feb 02 2009

A Brief Hiatus

Published by under Ivan's Story

It’s been more than six months since I was last hit this hard, but over the weekend I had another intense bout of severe shakes, extreme sensitivity to touch and environment, and a drastic drop in physical energy. Some of the symptoms mirror descriptions of post-traumatic stress disorder described by veterans, though I haven’t been in a war or experienced other traumas recently. Sometimes I just tell people I’m doing my part to diffuse a little of the planetary PTSD.

While I think the most intense phase has passed, I’m pretty drained, and I need to put the Poetry Chaikhana emails and blog on hold for a little while until I’m more fully recovered. I hope you understand. I’ve also had to stop working at my day job for a while, as well, even though it’s caused some difficulty. (I’m blessed to have group of co-workers at my job who have been very supportive and flexible through all of this.)

I want to thank those of you who already heard through Facebook for your many kind-hearted notes.

And thank you also to everyone who has recently sent in a donation to the Poetry Chaikhana. Your support allows me to continue to cover the Poetry Chaikhana’s expenses even when income from my day job becomes uncertain.

My intention, assuming my symptoms continue to subside, is to resume the Poetry Chaikhana emails and posts on Monday, February 9. Not only is there so much amazing poetry eager to have its say, but we have a lot more to discuss in our Lover and Beloved series. Talk to you then.

Many blessings,

49 responses so far

Jan 17 2009

The Fire and the Ritual – A Visionary Experience of Healing

Published by under Ivan's Story

/ Photo by netlancer2006 /

A few weeks ago I wrote about a past life ‘memory’ from the American Civil War (Silent Guns). That post generated such strong interest that I thought I’d share another transformative experience I had at about the same time. But this is less easy to label. Is it a past life memory? A discussion with some part of my own psyche, or perhaps a spirit guide? Even I am not certain.

This was the early 1990s. At the time I was dating Michele, who would later become my wife. This particular night we got into an argument, first at a restaurant, and it spilled into the rest of the evening. We went back to her apartment, still arguing, when I started having difficulty breathing. I laid down on her living room floor, and Michele told me to breathe deeply from my belly.

I could hardly breathe. There was some sort of block in my chest. I struggled to inhale. My breath started to come in heavy sputters, half sobbed, half forced.

Then my breathing suddenly took on a life of its own. I wasn’t sure if I was pushing it or if it was pushing me. I wasn’t entirely in control of it. My breathing became deeper and more powerful, like a heavy bellows in my chest.

I grew hot. Heat built up in my feet. I started to take off my shoes, but I fumbled. I was having difficulty focusing on the laces. Michele removed my shoes for me.

The heat began to shoot up through my body in electric shivers. It was so strong that my body actually began to shake, and I couldn’t keep my legs still. I wasn’t aware of trying to move my legs, but they just started kicking out, as if they couldn’t be held to the ground. To someone else watching me, it would have looked like I was going into seizure. Continue Reading »

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Jan 16 2009

Ivan M. Granger – Twelve Ways to Lose Your Head on Maui

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Twelve Ways to Lose Your Head on Maui
by Ivan M. Granger

Piercing the clouds, fingers
of sunlight caress the valley floor.
The Iao Needle stands, its immense
      quiet crushing.

Staring blindly out the window,
no work getting done –
a stolen moment when silence
      has stolen me.

Reading, I shiver in the Upcountry chill.
Already old in the new year, the island
and I shiver
      and grow still.

Baldwin Avenue meandering to Paia
beneath an empty sky,
cane fields
      surge in the sun.

At the altar: Breath
aglow in my throat.
Golden treacle pools
      upon my heart.

The path to Twin Falls, dusty
between my toes. Ginger points
to the upper pool. Fallen guavas
      float downstream.

Hana Highway, pausing
at each bridge to let traffic pass.
Around the bend –
      endless ocean.

Fasting on Saturday –
empty stomach, empty head.
Time spreads
      into stillness.

Cinnamon-red and blue, a pheasant stares
through the window. Michele
calls me, whisper. I see them
      see each other.

In the cave among the eucalyptus
up Alae Road – a fine seat
for a city boy
      playing sadhu.

In bursts of wingbeats
a cardinal darts by. The red
bird finds himself lost
      among the red proteas.

The sun setting beyond
Ma’alaea Harbor. The golden ocean,
I see, drinks the tired eye in.
      I am gone.

/ Photo by JoshBerglund19 /

For some reason I woke up this morning thinking of the handful of years I spent in Hawaii.

My wife and I moved to the island of Maui having never even visited the islands before, and my first impressions didn’t match my visions of a tropical paradise at all. We arrived just after the cane harvest, and half of the upcountry was just exposed red earth. Driving through the ramshackle surfer town of Paia for the first time, with red dust swirling around wood slat storefronts, it felt like we had arrived in the Australian outback.

But you know, over time, I really came to love the aina, the land of Hawaii. I wasn’t a beach dweller; my wife and I lived high up along the slopes of Haleakala Volcano, among the misty forests of eucalyptus and wattle. Every human structure was kind of run down, but there was something… normal about that. Even the trophy mansions hidden behind iron gates felt somehow temporary, just passing through on a slow current.

As I began to give in to the rhythms of life on the island, a quiet and ease settled into my body in a way I’d never known before.

It was too expensive to live there for long. And my wife, Michele, became severely allergic to a mold on the island that hit one winter. It was time to move back to the mainland.

But I still have visions of looking down the slope of Haleakala, all the way down to Ma’alaea Harbor, while the heavy golden sun sinks in glory beneath the horizon…

Malama pono!

Ivan M. Granger, Ivan M. Granger poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Ivan M. Granger

US (1969 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Yoga / Hindu : Advaita / Non-Dualist

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7 responses so far

Jan 16 2009

Music & Video: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

I moved to Hawaii a few years after Israel Kamakawiwo’oli — IZ — died, and he was still greatly mourned. Bruddah IZ was a big man with a big heart, and a soaring falsetto voice that could bring tears unexpectedly to your eyes. He was in many ways the voice of the Hawaiian nation. His songs expressed his love for the aina, the beautiful land of Hawaii, and he gave voice to the sorrows of the Hawaiian people and their delightful playfulness.

When I think of my years living among the islands, I hear IZ’s songs playing among my memories of water, sky, and green…

Mahalo nui loa, Bruddah IZ!

Facing Future (CD)
by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
Alone in IZ World (CD)
by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
Wonderful World (CD)
by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
E Ala E (CD)
by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
IZ in Concert: The Man and His Music (CD)
by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole

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Jan 11 2009

Book Recommendations: Getting Oriented

Published by under Books,Ivan's Story

Where did my interest in the world’s spiritual traditions come from? Which religious tradition was I raised in? I’m asked these questions all the time.

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret about myself…

I was raised by single mother, an ex-Catholic hippie turned social worker and secret New Ager who told me I should choose my own religion when I was old enough, but who also couldn’t hide her distaste for most organized religion.

By college age, I had a strong interior life and my own motley spiritual practice, but virtually no understanding of what most people call “religion.” While formally studying history and biology, I started sneaking into Bible as literature classes – that was when I read the Bible for the first time.

At eighteen, I became a voracious reader on religion and spirituality in my spare time, often jumping right to the source material without any context. I read the Quran. I read the Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist texts. I read books on shamanism. I was fascinated and lost amidst everything.

Those were dazzling, bumpy years of searching.

You know what would have saved me a lot of confusion? Discovering one of the following books. Each of these books is a good, highly readable introduction to the deeper spiritual dimensions of a particular religious tradition. Check them out…

Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages
by Ursula King

This is not a book of poetry, but highly recommended if you want a brief survey of important visionaries and trends within the sometimes hidden history of Christian mysticism. Francis of Assisi, Hildegard von Bingen, the Beguines, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Jacob Boehme, Symeon the New Theologian, and many others. The author of this book has done a nice job of balancing history with spirituality. This little book makes an excellent introduction to depths of the Christian tradition that are too often overlooked. Even if you were raised within the Christian tradition, my guess is that much of your own spiritual history was not handed down to you. Here is a good place to start to regain that connection.

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31 responses so far

Jan 09 2009

Milarepa – The Profound Definitive Meaning

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

The Profound Definitive Meaning
by Milarepa

English version by Marpa Translation Committee

For the mind that masters view the emptiness dawns
In the content seen not even an atom exists
A seer and seen refined until they’re gone
This way of realizing view, it works quite well

When meditation is clear light river flow
There is no need to confine it to sessions and breaks
Meditator and object refined until they’re gone
This heart bone of meditation, it beats quite well

When you’re sure that conducts work is luminous light
And you’re sure that interdependence is emptiness
A doer and deed refined until they’re gone
This way of working with conduct, it works quite well

When biased thinking has vanished into space
No phony facades, eight dharmas, nor hopes and fears,
A keeper and kept refined until they’re gone
This way of keeping samaya, it works quite well

When you’ve finally discovered your mind is dharmakaya
And you’re really doing yourself and others good
A winner and won refined until they’re gone
This way of winning results, it works quite well.

/ Photo by meg and rahul /

Seer and seen refined until they’re gone…

Look deeply enough, with your whole being, and the two merge. The object disappears into you. You disappear into it. Seer and seen are gone! What is left but a field living awareness?

…it works quite well.

Have a beautiful day, and remember to take a look around you. Who knows what adventure that glance might initiate?


I know, I know… There was no poem on Wednesday, and no explanation. Truthfully, I didn’t even turn my computer on that day. I had a New Years’ flu, one of those that hits you like an avalanche. Wrapped in blankets, hardly moving from the couch, I became much more familiar with the daytime television schedule than I care to admit. But I’m back now (mentally), mostly… Am I babbling now? Hmm, I wonder what’s on TV…

Milarepa, Milarepa poetry, Buddhist poetry Milarepa

Tibet (1052 – 1135) Timeline
Buddhist : Tibetan

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3 responses so far

Dec 29 2008

Ivan M. Granger – The Warbler Knows

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

The Warbler Knows
by Ivan M. Granger

The warbler knows
only dawn’s shaft
of light
on her breast.

Forgetting false future
suns, she sings

in no voice
but her own.

/ Photo by Taz-Voll /

Although snow is still on the ground here in Colorado, we’ve had a couple of days gentle sunshine, and it brought to mind tis poem I wrote a few years ago. I hope this short song summons a warm shaft of sunlight to you too…

Dawn is the flood of light that comes from the east which causes us to awaken. When we allow ourselves to become fully aware of this sacred state, we know nothing else, see nothing else; the spiritual dawn engulfs all, enlightening everything.

And we experience this state most strongly in the breast, a warming and radical opening and deep centering in the heart.

Utterly content in the eternal present, we forget the mind’s endless fantasies and fears about the future. All the future ever can be is an extension of the present, and it is here, now that we reside — always.

Recognizing this, we settle into silence, “no voice,” yet a song emerges from the stillness, nonetheless. The voice that sings is not the mind or the ego, but the presence quietly and eternally seated behind those fluctuating elements; it is the deeply familiar voice our true Self.

Ivan M. Granger, Ivan M. Granger poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Ivan M. Granger

US (1969 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Yoga / Hindu : Advaita / Non-Dualist

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6 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Love and compassion are effortless

Love and compassion are effortless.
The soul is exhausted by the effort
to stop this natural outpouring
of the living heart.

3 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Rolf Jacobsen – Moon and Apple

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Moon and Apple
by Rolf Jacobsen

English version by Robert Bly

When the apple tree blooms,
the moon comes often like a blossom,
paler than any of them,
shining over the tree.

It is the ghost of the summer,
the white sister of the blossoms who returns
to drop in on us,
and radiate peace with her hands
so that you shouldn’t feel too bad when the hard times come.
For the Earth itself is a blossom, she says,
on the star tree,
pale with luminous
ocean leaves.

— from The Winged Energy of Delight, Translated by Robert Bly

/ Photo by Athena’s Pix /

It’s past the summer season of apple blossoms and even the autumn of ripe apples (or, for those of you south of the equator, it’s much too early), but something about this poem spoke to me today. The blossoms of the apple tree glowing beneath the shining moon. And a reminder to us all that even when things seem difficult, the Earth itself — and each one of us — “is a blossom… on the star tree.” If we are blossoms, that must mean we are quietly ripening with the seasons, and in the natural unfolding of things we will become sweet fruit in the cosmos.

Rolf Jacobsen, Rolf Jacobsen poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rolf Jacobsen

Norway (1907 – 1994) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Christian : Catholic

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4 responses so far

Nov 10 2008

Silent Guns – A Past Life Memory

Published by under Ivan's Story

I am often asked about my life and spiritual path. How did I develop such an intense interest in spirituality and sacred poetry at a relatively young age? I’ve always leaned in that direction, from as far back as early childhood, but there were certainly some key turning points that set me firmly on my path.

This is one of the more unusual events.

Many people go through a difficult time in their teenage and early adult years, but my moods were extreme, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I would swing from mild depression to panic attacks so extreme that I would skip school or, later, call in sick to work. I felt like death surrounded me.

As I entered my early twenties, I began to overcome the worst of my anxieties, but they were still there. I had just learned to grit my teeth and get through the day as best I could.

I first started dating my wife, Michele Anderson, about that time. Early on, Michele told me that she was psychic. I was intrigued, on the one hand, but on the other… I guess I didn’t know what to think. I had read and seen enough to believe such things were possible, just not in anyone I knew. Not normal, everyday people.

She hinted a few times that she saw me fighting in the American Civil War. I shrugged the comments off. When dating a psychic, one must expect the occasional odd statement. Actually, I’ve always had a mild interest in history, but it was really the period of the American Revolution that held my attention in history books, not the Civil War. The Civil War always seemed, well, depressing to me. I tended to avoid reading about the period.

Then an interesting series of events occurred. I was going through a rough week, and I went to get a massage — something that felt comforting. As I was on the table having my abdomen worked on, I suddenly burst out crying. When the massage therapist asked me what was wrong, I started talking about the Civil War!

(The following dialog excerpts are taken from the notes I wrote within hours of the experiences.)

Massage Therapist: What’s wrong?

Ivan M. Granger: So much death. I see rifles, a lot of them. With bayonets on them. I see lines and lines of rifles with bayonets sticking up like spiked fences. So many of them. It’s like a field of spikes. Kids are lying in dug out trenches with their pointed rifles sticking out. I’m standing above. I can see it all. Continue Reading »

7 responses so far

Oct 01 2008

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari – The Beauty of Oneness

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

The Beauty of Oneness
by Khwaja Abdullah Ansari

English version by A.G. Farhadi

Any eye filled with the vision of this world
      cannot see the attributes of the Hereafter,
Any eye filled with the attributes of the Hereafter
      would be deprived of the Beauty of Oneness.

— from Munajat: The Intimate Invocations, by Sheikh Ansari / Translated by A. G. Farhadi

/ Photo by Mayr /

I’ve always been sensitive to key events in society. Something about that collective mental and emotional focus has always hit a sensitive nerve in me. I tend to feel major upheavals in my own personal energies.

For example, in 2001 I was living in Hawaii. When the attacks of September 11th hit in New York and Washington DC, it was morning for most of the US, but it was the middle of the night for me in Hawaii. I woke up at about 3:00AM, unable to sleep after having had nightmares about conflicts in the Middle East. I got up, paced around the house and, when I realized I couldn’t fall back asleep, I turned on the television. I flipped to a news station — just in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

My system feels, at times, like a Richter scale for the planet. That sensitivity can be debilitating at times, but also a source of insight and a reminder of how interconnected we all are.

Naturally, I’ve had lots of reason to feel further global agitations since then, given the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the many horrors that have resulted. I can, of course, list several other major political and environmental disasters, and bubbling tensions. That internal needle of mine has gotten jumpy in recent years.

So I thought I should at least take a moment to say something about the current financial concerns in the world. I’ve certainly felt it. The financial crisis is not just a blip that will be forgotten in a couple of months. The problems are deep rooted and the current instability has been brewing for some time. That’s not the most reassuring thing to say, but that’s what I see.

I know how frightened, even traumatized many people are feeling right now. But it is so important to keep things in perspective. No matter how events play out, remember that the fundamentals of life are dependable and rock solid. The basic purpose of your life won’t change. Whether you have a lot of money or are struggling to pay bills, our real job day-to-day is still to be kind and compassionate and to deepen our awareness. When you see need, help if you can. That guideline doesn’t change.

In other words, the things that are truly important in life, our reasons for being here at all, they aren’t affected in the slightest. We can even say we are being given even greater opportunity to challenge ourselves and express our purpose in life.

One more opportunity to expand our vision beyond the merely tangible, and also beyond the lovely escape of a Hereafter, and finally recognize the Beauty of Oneness everywhere — and then to build society based upon that vision.


Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Khwaja Abdullah Ansari

Afghanistan (1006 – 1088) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Sep 29 2008

My father’s passing

Published by under Ivan's Story

I want to take a moment to thank you all for the many heartfelt messages about my father’s recent passing. Your emails and posts to the Poetry Chaikhana blog have touched me deeply. Thank you so much!

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Sep 22 2008

Wendell Berry – Testament

Published by under Ivan's Story,Poetry

by Wendell Berry

And now to the Abyss I pass
Of that Unfathomable Grass…

Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath
Grows large and free in air, don’t call it death —
A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire
His surly art of imitating life; conspire
Against him. Say that my body cannot now
Be improved upon; it has no fault to show
To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh
Has a perfect compliance with the grass
Truer than any it could have striven for.
You will recognize the earth in me, as before
I wished to know it in myself: my earth
That has been my care and faithful charge from birth,
And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound,
And all my hopes. Say that I have found
A good solution, and am on my way
To the roots. And say I have left my native clay
At last, to be a traveler; that too will be so.
Traveler to where? Say you don’t know.

But do not let your ignorance
Of my spirit’s whereabouts dismay
You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say

Anything too final. Whatever
Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger
Than flesh. Beyond reach of thought
Let imagination figure

Your hope. That will be generous
To me and to yourselves. Why settle
For some know-it-all’s despair
When the dead may dance to the fiddle

Hereafter, for all anybody knows?
And remember that the Heavenly soil
Need not be too rich to please
One who was happy in Port Royal.

I may be already heading back,
A new and better man, toward
That town. The thought’s unreasonable,
But so is life, thank the Lord!

So treat me, even dead,
As a man who has a place
To go, and something to do.
Don’t muck up my face

With wax and powder and rouge
As one would prettify
An unalterable fact
To give bitterness the lie.

Admit the native earth
My body is and will be,
Admit its freedom and
Its changeability.

Dress me in the clothes
I wore in the day’s round.
Lay me in a wooden box.
Put the box in the ground.

Beneath this stone a Berry is planted
In his home land, as he wanted.

He has come to the gathering of his kin,
Among whom some were worthy men,

Farmers mostly, who lived by hand,
But one was a cobbler from Ireland,

Another played the eternal fool
By riding on a circus mule

To be remembered in grateful laughter
Longer than the rest. After

Doing that they had to do
They are at ease here. Let all of you

Who yet for pain find force and voice
Look on their peace, and rejoice.

/ Photo by Nicholas_T /

I dedicate today’s poem to my father, Steven Charles Granger. He died late last week. I got word over the weekend that he passed away in his sleep in Varna, along the Black Sea of Bulgaria, where he had retired.

My father was a poet, an artist, and a teacher. Although he was born and raised in America, he lived much of his life as an expatriate, taking teaching jobs in universities all over the world, including in Iran before the revolution in the late 1970s and more recently in Saudi Arabia for several years.

My parents divorced when I was quite young, and with his travels, my father was in some ways a stranger to me — but many sons can say that of their fathers. We also had our personality clashes; there was even a period of a few years when we didn’t speak with each other, but that rift was finally healed several years ago.

So much shared history of distances and misunderstandings, with surprising connections, mutual recognition, and moments of pure delight. When I peer through all that and simply see the man, not even my father, but just the man, I can honestly say I see a good man. And I see a man who felt a deep love for his three children. I’m not sure everyone can say that, and so I was blessed to call him my father. Continue Reading »

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