Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

Jul 27 2012

Real Thirst for Kindle

I’m pleased to announce that the Kindle edition of Real Thirst is now available for download!

I put quite a bit of extra attention into this electronic edition — formatting, figuring out some obscure technical details — and I hope you’ll agree that it makes the experience of reading the poems of Real Thirst on your Kindle a much more satisfying experience than with the typical ebook.

I know that we are an international community and many of you have not been able to purchase a copy of the printed book yet. While the book is available through Amazon’s North American and European sites, it is still not easily available to our many readers in India, Pakistan, and other parts of Asia. (Real Thirst is now on, but it is listed as “out of stock” — I hope to change that soon.)

But this electronic Kindle version is easily downloaded from anywhere in the world.

And you don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the Kindle edition of Real Thirst. You can download free Kindle Reader software for your computer or smart phone. Once you have the necessary software installed, you can quickly and easily purchase and download the Kindle edition of Real Thirst from anywhere.

I hope this makes Real Thirst more easily available to everyone who has not yet been able to purchase a copy.

I should also mention that the iBook version will be coming soon, as well.

(Moving step-by-step through the publication process. The larger Poetry Chaikhana anthology is still in the works…)

No responses yet

Jul 04 2012

Poetry Chaikhana is back – with a few updates

I apologize that it’s been so many days without a Poetry Chaikhana email. I’ve received a few concerned notes asking if I was in danger from the Colorado wildfires. We are safe. The wildfires have been devastating to the state, and a couple of the fires have been close enough that we could occasionally see and smell the smoke, but where I live and work are not directly threatened.


My absence for the past week has been due to a couple of other dramas. My wife and I recently brought a new puppy, named Apollo, into our family…

Last week the little fellow got extremely sick and we had to take him to an animal hospital. It looked bad. The veterinarians thought he wasn’t going to make it. He received some good care but he was not improving, and the tests were getting more expensive without revealing much. We decided to check him out of the hospital and take him on a visit to the nearby farm where he was born. Something about that visit reawakened his spirit. The little guy immediately perked up on that visit — he was playful again, eating again, showing all the vitality of a young puppy. Now that’s real medicine!

We spent a few more days nursing Apollo back to full health. At this point he’s got us running to keep up with all his energy. If you’re walking around without shoes on, watch out, he’s likely to pounce on your toes.

Email Challenges

Just as I was about to resume the Poetry Chaikhana emails, I had a problem with my internet service provider and my email was down for nearly two days. I guess a slightly longer rest was in order.

But I’m ready for some more poetry, aren’t you? I’ll resume the normal poetry emails on Friday.

28% Discount on Real Thirst through Amazon

I just found out that Amazon US is now offering a 28% discount on Real Thirst. This came as a surprise to me. I suspect that, because sales were good in the first few days after I announced the book (with thanks to the Poetry Chaikhana community), Amazon decided to view Real Thirst as a “legitimate” publication and they then applied their standard discount program. Their business logic must be that they trim their profit in the hopes of selling more copies.

Whatever Amazon’s logic is, I hope this new discount makes Real Thirst more affordable and available to more people. I don’t know how long Amazon will continue the discount, so now is an excellent time to purchase a copy. And remember that your purchase not only supports the Poetry Chaikhana, but it paves the way for a future full-length Poetry Chaikhana anthology… our next major publication goal.

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

Forgetting false future
suns, she sings

in no voice
but her own.

Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

Available through

Original poems by Ivan M. Granger with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

Read More:Table of Contents + Sample Poetry + About the Author

And — happy Independence Day. (Colonizer, colonized — the sane strive to be neither.)

Now… let’s return to some poetry. Oof, and watch out for pouncing puppies!


23 responses so far

Jun 15 2012

Enthusiastic Response to Real Thirst

I just want to send a thank you out to everyone who has already purchased a copy of Real Thirst. Because of your enthusiastic response, it is already ranked by Amazon as the 11th best selling book in the Inspirational Poetry category! I am stunned and humbled by these results — wow.

Beyond being a boost to the ego (or the nafs ;), these solid sales have a real and practical benefit. This will open doors as I begin to prepare a more complete collection of poems and commentaries for a Poetry Chaikhana anthology. The task of securing reprint permissions for the many poems and translations is a daunting one, and larger publishing houses are often inclined to only grant those permissions for their material to be included in books backed by established publishing houses. Being able to point to such solid sales in our first book should allow me to include more of the poems we all love in that future anthology.

But one step at a time. Right now, rest and a bit of celebration are in order, don’t you agree? I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

No responses yet

Jun 11 2012

Real Thirst – Poetry Chaikhana’s first book!

I am so pleased to announce our first publication…

Real Thirst, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, Ivan M. Granger Real Thirst
Poetry of theSpiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger


Also through
Real Thirst US Real Thirst UK Real Thirst FR Real Thirst DER

Fall 2012:
Kindle & iBook

The poems in Real Thirst are an exploration of the spiritual journey viewed through the mystic’s eyes. This collection is a delightful blend of word and silence, presenting moments of contemplation punctuated with bursts of ecstatic insight.

Real Thirst combines original poems by Ivan M. Granger with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

“I found Real Thirst to be a slow, cool and refreshing drink. The deep singularity present within each poem, evokes a kind of felt suchness, and that is a real gift. I believe you will find these poems an antidote to the rush of your days.”
     ~ JOHN FOX author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making

Today I feel like a proud father! The Poetry Chaikhana has published its first book!

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey is a collection of my own poems along with several translations of works by other visionary poets, from John of the Cross to Bulleh Shah.

This book wouldn’t have come into being without the encouragement and help of the Poetry Chaikhana community — so first and foremost, I want to thank all of you.

As satisfying as it is to have a book of my own poems and translations in print, my ultimate goal is to publish an anthology of sacred poetry, possibly a series of anthologies: a treasure trove of the great sacred poets, accompanied by commentaries. That’s always been the heart of the Poetry Chaikhana.

Before I could commit to such a large publishing project, however, I needed to learn the basics of the process. I had to educate myself step-by-step on every aspect of publishing: editing and proofreading (with the help of several excellent volunteers), page layout and formatting, cover design, print specifications, distribution channels, even marketing. It occurred to me early on that it would be best to go through the learning process with my own work first in order to be well prepared as I move into the bigger projects. Thus, Real Thirst was born.

And, I have to say, I’m very pleased with how this first book turned out.

I do hope you will buy a copy of Real Thirst… and I hope it’s a book you’ll love.

Not only does your purchase support the Poetry Chaikhana, you will also be encouraging future publications. Good sales of this first book makes future books possible. If you are eager to have an anthology of sacred poetry from the Poetry Chaikhana on your bookshelf, purchasing Real Thirst is the best way to help.

Purchasing Real Thirst

You can purchase Real Thirst directly, here. It is also available through

Since the Poetry Chaikhana is a global community, I managed to also make Real Thirst available through some of Amazon’s international sites, including Amazon UK and Amazon Germany.

eBook Formats Coming in Fall

For those of you with a Kindle or iPad, Real Thirst will be available in both formats later this year. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when the ebook formats are available.

Reader Reviews

If you like Real Thirst, another wonderful way you can help is to post your own review of the book online at and People do read those online reviews — I know I do. It is a great way to expand interest outside the Poetry Chaikhana community.

Read More

If you’d like to read a few more samples from Real Thirst click here. You can also see a bit more of the book by clicking the “Look Inside” link on

And please feel free to send me an email or post a note on the Poetry Chaikhana Blog to tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your responses. The publication of this book — the first of many, I hope — was made possible by the outpouring of love and encouragement from all of you.

Have a beautiful day!


“Ivan M. Granger has thrown open the doors of his body, heart and mind to the Infinite’s expressions of Itself in this world… These poems touch all the heart-strings. I laughed, I shed tears, I fell into contemplative states, I felt awe and wonder, love and longing as I read his offerings… You’ll want to return to this wellspring to quench your thirst over and over again.”
     ~ LAWRENCE EDWARDS, Ph.D. author of The Soul’s Journey: Guidance From the Divine Within and Kali’s Bazaar

Sample Poetry

First dawn. Even the
birds in the tallest pines are
surprised by the sun.
Continue Reading »

5 responses so far

Mar 12 2012

Clarification: “Website,” Blog, and Emails

I realized I’ve created some confusion around the recent website changes. I forget how differently I see the Poetry Chaikhana. As I’ve been posting notes about a “new website” several people who relate primarily to the Poetry Chaikhana emails thought they may have to sign up again. Others who mainly read the Poetry Chaikhana blog, thought that the URL for the blog had changed and that they should no longer visit the “old” blog. My apologies that I didn’t communicate what had changed more clearly.

I think of the Poetry Chaikhana in a few broad sections:

The “Website”

The Poetry Chaikhana website is an encyclopedic online library with hundreds of poets, thousands of poems. Poets are listed by name, by tradition, by century, and on timelines. Poems are listed by poet, by theme. You’ll also find recommended books, some great links to other websites, and my own commentary. If you haven’t yet visited this part of the Poetry Chaikhana, there is a lot to explore and contemplate.

This is the “website” that was redesigned recently, although the URL/web address for the home page is still the same.

The Blog

The Poetry Chaikhana Blog is a specialized section of the larger website. It is a running collection of my posts, usually a close parallel to the poem emails, though occasionally I’ll post a few other things to the blog, as well, like YouTube videos, book reviews, etc.

A few weeks ago I changed the look and theme of the Poetry Chaikhana Blog, but it has not changed in any other way. You can still find it at the same location on the Web, and I am still posting regularly.

The Poem Emails

Many people only know of the Poetry Chaikhana poem emails, and don’t realize that there is an extensive website and blog behind it all. And that’s fine. For most people one email every couple of days is just the right amount, and more might feel like too much. Also I feel that I have the most personal connection to people through the poem emails.

But no changes have occurred with the emails. If you are already receiving the emails, you will continue to receive them without interruption.

Social Media

The Poetry Chaikhana also has a very active Facebook page, with bite-sized bits of poetry (often accompanied by photos) and updates about the site.

Poetry Chaikhana on Twitter isn’t as active as many other twitterers, but most days I’ll post one or two things.

The Poetry Chaikhana YouTube page goes through periods without much activity. But when I find an interesting or inspiring video — poetry, song, or something else entirely — I’ll post it here (and often on the blog, as well).

That’s an overview of the online realm of the Poetry Chaikhana. When I mentioned “the new website” before, I was specifically referring to the extensive online library of poets, poems, and timelines. Hopefully this note has introduced you to other parts of the Poetry Chaikhana world you’d like to find out more about…

No responses yet

Mar 07 2012

The New Website is Here!

Just in time for the full moon — a new website for the Poetry Chaikhana!

Take a look, explore, tell me what you think:

The Look and Feel

I’ve been busily working on this redesign for several months.

First, I had to settle on a new look. I’ve always considered the Poetry Chaikhana website to be sacred space on the Internet, and I wanted the look and feel to reflect that.

I’ve tried to maintain a simple, spacious design. Visiting the Poetry Chaikhana pages should be a serene experience. I want you to instinctively take an easy, full breath when your browser finds its way to the Poetry Chaikhana. Sacred poetry is best savored when we discover those timeless moments.

After testing a few dozen predesigned website themes, I finally found one I thought came close to what I wanted. That’s when I started digging under the hood, so to speak, changing and adapting the code, to get the look and feel I wanted. Nothing too showy, but there are some subtle touches that I think you’ll appreciate.

The Nuts and Bolts

The unique challenges of creating a website for the Poetry Chaikhana are that–

a) I have LOTS of material — hundreds of poets, thousands of poems, notes on important sacred poetry themes, timelines…
b) I need to be able to maintain and regularly update this extensive site in my limited free time
c) I need to use web technology that I personally understand and have the software tools to maintain, since I can’t yet afford to hire someone

The solution I came up with years ago when I started the Poetry Chaikhana site was to use my skill as a database developer to build a rich, customized database. That gave me an excellent interrelated filing system for everything. And then I got a little fancy and figured out how to generate the website’s HTML code directly from the database itself. The result was a customized system that allowed me to easily add new material and regularly post a new copy of the site on the Web — and all the new pages were automatically integrated. (This is different from the more common approach of using a live database back end. Too much technical gobbledy-gook to explain why I didn’t use that approach.)

But a major redesign also meant a major database redesign. So I let the old design limp along for a bit too long. I won’t bore you with the geeky details of how I made the changes for the new site, but the Poetry Chaikhana database files have been extensively reworked so I can now generate and update the site with ease. And, future design changes should require considerably less front end work.

Fine Tuning

With a major update like this, I expect there to be glitches to fix and details to be tweaked. I’ve already got a small list started of things to do. Please let me know if you find any problems or come across anything that seems confusing. I want the site to be inviting.

Most of all, I really hope you’ll think of the Poetry Chaikhana as a great place to discover new poets and, if we’re lucky, a few Aha! moments. So, please, have fun exploring!

…Now, I can turn my full attention to readying the first of the upcoming books for publication. Keep checking back. It will be ready soon!

Sending a warm smile (and a satisfied sigh of relief),


33 responses so far

Feb 27 2012

Lent and Sunday School Comments

A few people have raised some valid questions to my introductory comment to the recent poem by Francis of Assisi.


First, my reference to “the Catholic season of Lent” makes it sound as if Lent is only observed by Catholics.

I do know that Lent is not just for Catholics, but it isn’t so widely observed in the various Protestant denominations. I referred to it as Catholic as a sort of short hand. In the minds of most people who do not celebrate Lent, it is particularly thought of as a Catholic practice.

But on reflection, I see that the criticism is a valid one. In the future I will try to avoid casual, imprecise statements like this. My apologies to the many other Christian denominations that also honor Lent.

“Sunday School”

A few people objected to my statement that “many of you will instinctively react against this selection’s tone. It might have too much of a Sunday school savor for your taste.” Why would I say that about Christian poetry, but not Muslim or Buddhist poetry?

This is an important question; one to which I only have an imperfect answer: I’ve gotten so many emails over the years from people who, for many reasons, have strongly negative associations with “churchy” language. This reaction is particularly triggered by the language of institutionalized Christianity.

I do regularly feature Christian poets from many Christian traditions, and I have a deep personal love and respect for this profound material, but when the language is overtly “religious” (as in the recent poem by St. Francis), I know that a large portion of readers will be tempted to tune out. When I share a Christian poem with a strongly religious tone, I feel compelled to acknowledge what I know will be a strong counter-reaction by a significant number of readers.

My statement about “instinctively reacting against” the poem was an attempt to encourage everyone to read the poem anyway. It is my awkward way of letting people know that I am not trying to proselytize, that I understand that hesitation to delve into this sort of language, but to say that there is so much depth and richness to be found here when we approach it with non-dogmatic minds.

It’s always a difficult balance with such a diverse readership. I sincerely hope I haven’t caused any offense.

3 responses so far

Feb 27 2012

Songs of the Soul 2012

If you are going to be in the San Francisco area between March 16 and 18, this is an event you shouldn’t miss!

Poetry readings and discussions, Sufi music, explorations of Sufi philosophy and prayer practices.

Coleman Barks
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
John Fox
Riffat Sultana (an amazing singer!)

…and many other excellent poets, spiritual teachers, scholars, and musicians.

For more information, visit

No responses yet

Feb 17 2012

Comments on Comments

Yesterday, one of the blog’s regular visitors commented that she’d like more “Facebook-like” conversation threads, the ability to “like” individual comments, etc. I thought to myself, “What an excellent idea! There must be a WordPress plug-in out there that does that.”

Don’t you think it’s a good idea too?

Well… after several hours of research today, I can report that there are at least three good options available — and none of them is a good solution for the Poetry Chaikhana Blog. Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Feb 15 2012

New Projects, New Look – Books, Website, More

It all started a few weeks ago with an email. Someone mentioned how much they liked my poetry selections and commentary, and asked how to order a Poetry Chaikhana book. And then I received an email asking about a book of my own poetry. And then more emails started coming in, all asking about my books, if they exist, when they will exist.

I know how to take a hint. It’s time to get my long-term plans for the Poetry Chaikhana back on track. Sure I still have periodic struggles with chronic fatigue, and I still have a day job to maintain, but enough excuses – the Poetry Chaikhana community has spoken!

But, before I can announce new books through the Poetry Chaikhana, I realized that I need to first update the website. So, in addition to gathering together material for some books, I’ve also been secretly working on a redesign of the website. And, of course, the Poetry Chaikhana Blog needed some changes too.

So keep checking in. Over the next few months you’ll notice changes to the website, new books, and some other cool stuff.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you in on my behind-the-scenes activities recently. I’ve been busy, so there’s a lot to cover… Continue Reading »

19 responses so far

Dec 19 2011

Happy Holidays

Since many people are on vacation, I am going to put the Poetry Chaikhana on hold until January. If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice… I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. And may the dawning of the new year bring new possibilities and new joys.

Click here for a special e-card for everyone in the Poetry Chaikhana community.

I look forward to reconnecting with everyone in the new year!

29 responses so far

Nov 07 2011

No Story Can Contain You – Words by Ivan M. Granger

No Story Can Contain You – Words by Ivan M. Granger

I am regularly asked who the author of the Thought for the Day is. I am. I always try to be very careful about attributing everything to the correct author, so if an author isn’t specifically mentioned, then I am the author. To avoid confusion, I’ve considered adding something like “by Ivan M. Granger” to the Thoughts for the Day, but that feels awkward and oddly self-promotional. Mainly I want to share my thoughts.

If you like those thoughts, several have been gathered together for a small deck of cards by an artist in Hawaii — one short saying or poem per card. If you’re interested in ordering a set, you can find them at Rashani Rea’s Dharma Gaia Cards — click on the “Small Card Decks by Rashani” link, and scroll down to the end of the list to the “No Story Can Contain You” set. I encourage you to explore some of Rashani Rea’s other wonderful work, on this and other pages. In addition to other small card decks, you’ll also find inspiring, artistic greeting cards.

5 responses so far

Aug 28 2011

On Hold for a Week (or Two)

I’ve been dealing with a rough bout of chronic fatigue recently and it’s gotten to the point that I’ve had trouble working at my day job. I never seem to lack the energy necessary to send out the poetry emails, but I’ve decided to put the Poetry Chaikhana on hold for a week or two to allow my system to rebound and also to try bring my income back up in my normal job.

Wish me well. I’ll resume the poetry soon.

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

…And to everyone in the vicinity of Hurricane Irene, be well, be safe, appreciate the majesty.

83 responses so far

Jul 25 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke – Ah, not to be cut off

Ah, not to be cut off
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

— from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.

When I sit at my computer in the morning and decide which poem to select for the day, I often feel like a musician, trying to find just the right tone and rhythm. It’s a Monday, the beginning of the work week for most people on this list, not the right time for a long poem or a long-winded commentary. Also many people really responded to Friday’s selection, and I don’t want mentally to crowd it out with today’s selection. So I thought we should go with something short, without a lot of my own commentary. Something that gently shifts perception and soothes the heart, but without hooking into the analytical mind.

That’s the tone I like to renew my connection with the world each week.

The inner — what is it?
if not the intensified sky…

A peek into the musical art of poem selection.

…hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

Have a beautiful day!

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

Germany (1875 – 1926) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

3 responses so far

May 25 2011

Forum Clarification

From a few notes I’ve received, I realize that my original note from a few days ago about the forum closing wasn’t as clear as it should have been. I am only halting the discussion forum, NOT the entire Poetry Chaikhana. The discussion forum has always been small compared with the rest of the Poetry Chaikhana so, with the new technical concerns, I made the decision not to continue with it. But the rest of the Poetry Chaikhana is very much alive and well! The website will continue to grow and evolve, the blog will continue to be updated regularly, and the poetry emails will continue to be sent out. So please join in and explore!

One response so far

Apr 27 2011

John O’Donohue – I arise today

I arise today
by John O’Donohue

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day.

— from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong, by John O’Donohue

/ Photo by Vincepal /

On Friday afternoon, right after sending out the poem email, my computer went kaput… problem with the hard drive. I just got it back yesterday, with a healthy new hard drive. Four days without a computer, without email, without access to the Internet. As much as I work at the computer these days, it’s a little disorienting to have it totally removed from my life… and then it’s pretty nice! 🙂 A good reminder of all the rest of life.

…But that’s why you haven’t heard from me since last week. It might take me another day or two to get caught up with emails.

Anyway, I’m back and I’m reachable again.


Today’s poem, what should I say?

May I live this day.


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

Ireland (1956 – 2008) Timeline
Christian : Catholic
Secular or Eclectic

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Mar 30 2011

Health, Spirit & Support

Ivan M. Granger

I am often asked why I don’t publish a book. I usually give one of several standard answers that are all partly true, but the real reason is that I suffer from chronic fatigue. Balancing my day job, nurturing the Poetry Chaikhana, and maintaining my spiritual practice is often a challenging struggle for me. I just don’t have enough energy left to put together a book, at least for now.

Ivan’s Work

I now find myself with a difficult decision… The company I work for in my day job, my primary source of income, has had to cut my work hours by nearly half. The change should be temporary, for a few months perhaps. But I still have to find a way to make ends meet while keeping the Poetry Chaikhana going.

I may have to consider taking on a second job. But it’s difficult to find work that is adaptable to my up and down schedule due to chronic fatigue patterns. I’d have to reserve as much energy as possible for the new job and either drastically cut back on the Poetry Chaikhana work or possibly put it on hold. That’s not the way I’d like to go.

To avoid that scenario and keep the Poetry Chaikhana going in a good rhythm, I need to reach out and ask for your support. As a community of more than 10,000 regular readers, we can cover enough of the daily expenses to support the Poetry Chaikhana — allowing me to continue to write commentary and send out the daily poem, maintain the poetry database, research and add new poets, update the website, and respond to your emails.

If the Poetry Chaikhana brings something special to you each day, please consider supporting the Poetry Chaikhana by sending a donation or signing up for a voluntary subscription. Your contribution is truly appreciated!

But please don’t feel as if I’m asking you to contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a small amount — from many people — is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.

Ways you can contribute:

  • You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana” and addressed to:
    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306
  • You can make a secure donation online in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button below or on the Poetry Chaikhana home page
  • You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also below or at (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)

I also want to thank everyone who has been so generous to the Poetry Chaikhana already, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

A warm thank you to everyone!


I know I’m not alone with health struggles. I thought I’d share an excerpt of something I wrote a few years ago, a meditation on Health, Suffering, and Spirit. I hope it you find it helpful and inspiring.

Here’s the thing: Not every disease or discomfort is meant to be overcome.

That’s a hard thing to say, and even harder to accept. But it’s true. If disease dares to show up in our lives, we want it fixed, removed. We want to get on with life and refuse to see disease as being part of life. Even in the holistic health community which views illness as a teacher, we often want to learn the “lesson” so we can quickly dismiss the teacher.

Sometimes, though, dis-ease is an annoyingly persistent teacher. It teaches us interior awareness. Not something learned quickly. It teaches sheer endurance. And, maybe the most difficult lesson, surrender. Many of us get into the world of “alternative” health as a way to take control. But surrender, that’s much more difficult to achieve with grace. It requires real subtlety to even distinguish between surrender and defeat. I don’t think we should give in or give up. I personally keep trying new things, new approaches, new… strategies. Maybe it’s my Aries nature, but I sometimes think of it as a sparring match. I don’t necessarily get into to it to win. I just like the sparring. Like a martial artist. The back and forth teaches me more about myself.

Don’t speak of your suffering — He is speaking.
Don’t look for Him everywhere — He’s looking for you.



One other thing that has come to me over the years — one of the mental reflexes for suffering is… jealousy. That’s not the first emotion one normally associates with illness, but it’s often lurking in the background. I’ve certainly noticed it.

Why should I have so much of my life and attention diverted by this, when everyone else has it so easy?

Says Farid,
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,
And found every house on fire.

Baba Sheikh Farid

I’m always being reminded that no one has it easy. Sure, some people have less struggle, while others have heartbreaking levels of suffering. But, when the weariness clears, I glimpse a surprising truth: None of that is the point. The purpose of the human spirit isn’t to be free from difficulty.

That may sound like a cold statement, but it is not. When deeply embraced, this understanding opens us to greater levels of empathy and compassion, and it begins to create a profound resilience within ourselves, allowing us to encounter suffering without shutting down. In other words, if you hold in your mind the idea that suffering is inherently and always wrong, then when you encounter it, you will instinctively shut down. If, however, you accept the existence of suffering — in yourself, in others — your eyes and heart remain open and your hands become willing in the midst of struggles. Accepting suffering gives you greater ability to genuinely alleviate it.

Spirituality and Health

There is a related unconscious thought we often carry that suffering and illness are the sign that something is imperfect about ourselves spiritually. Saints get cancer and have heart attacks. Sages suffer epilepsy. Medicine women get migraines. The body, being a limited vehicle designed to operate in a sometimes disharmonious environment, will sometimes ail. The mark of attainment is not a lack of struggle, but how we respond to that struggle.

Our lives are simply stories. Sometimes the drama and the heat are high, sometimes they are quiet. What is important is the meaning we discover and reveal through that drama. It’s a supremely difficult paradox: We have to engage intensely in the body and the challenges of life, yet, at the same time, it’s not personal… it’s a fascinating story being told through us.

The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven,
Obtains at corporeal cost –
The Summit is not given

To Him who strives severe
At middle of the Hill –
But He who has achieved the Top –
All – is the price of All –

Emily Dickinson

Meaning and Suffering

The ultimate question is one of meaning. When we discover meaning in suffering, the suffering becomes endurable. Even comfort and ease, without meaning, eventually become unbearable.

Illness may be devastating, but discovering meaning feeds a hunger even more fundamental than the desire to be free from pain. It feeds the hunger of the soul know itself.

That hunger, when left unfed, is the real source of suffering in the world.


how can the heart in love
ever stop opening
– Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

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