Category Archives: blog – 3: HINDUISM

Hinduism has become the most significant force in my life. For years I had been lost to agnosticism and had sought relief in Taoism, Buddhism, revisited Christianity, and had eventually given up on spirituality altogether. I was no longer seeking, then, quite unexpectedly I was called by Lord Shiva. Here is where I will tell that story and share those thoughts. Om Namah Shivaiya!

Ganesh, The Dying Fawn & Me

Standard
Diseased Fawn With Ganesh Outside Justine Mara Andersen's Window

Diseased Fawn With Ganesh Outside Justine Mara Andersen’s Window

I’m about to tell you a lot of truth here, truth that might upset and alarm some of my readers.

I have been suffering from increasingly consuming anxiety and depression episodes lately. I took up social dancing in an effort to get out, to meet people, as the loneliness I experience day to day has become unbearably agonizing. For a while I began to feel great, I loved the dancing and dated three men, two of them rejected me after the first date, and the third simply and slowly began to back away. The rejections hit hard and cut deep, and the day after the dates ended, I was diagnosed with a medical condition that upset me very deeply. I became not only frightened, but once again terribly alone… and still poor and without work.

I went from high hopes, dancing and romance, and a job doing a cover for the next Barbarella comic to crushing depression and rattling anxiety very quickly, and I’m going to tell the whole truth here, I broke down. My housemate called 911 when he found me on all fours in the dirt, wretching in emotional agony, when not crumbled into the dirt I began pacing mad circles around our driveway, the machine had broken down. I was devastated, exhausted, and just could not hold it together any longer. I kept saying “Something’s wrong!”

I’d been in the hospital once before after a breakdown, and it was the worst night of my life. The threat of returning to a hospital brought me down to a collapse in which I burrowed into the sofa in the living room. There my concerned housemate found me, and we decided that instead of taking me to a hospital, he would stay with me all night long.

He and I took all the pills from my cabinet.

I was suicidal.

Funny thing, after suicides everyone says insincere shit like “they should have reached out.” Bullshit. We do reach out, but everyone’s too busy. It makes them feel better to say “they should have reached out” afterwords, but the words are just lies we tell ourselves. I had been reaching out.

Fortunately I got in to see my doctor the next day and got on some meds. And luckily for me the best of my friends took me seriously, I reached out and they responded, and I am grateful. But I have been left in a state of deep depression, and essentially spent 2 weeks in bed watching TV. When I look at pictures of myself, I can’t believe I’m being left alone to suffer so much loneliness.

Am I so ugly that no one wants to date me, to care for me? It’s not a question I am asking out loud… but it is the question that spending 6 years alone has forced me to ask myself. And to ask time and again.

Justine Mara Andersen

Justine Mara Andersen

The fact is, I spend a lot of days and nights staring at the ceiling waiting to go to bed, with nothing to do and not a soul to talk to. I can’t even get enough work in to keep my mind occupied, which means I’m also too damn poor and broke to go out and do much.

And more and more being told how “hot” I am by guys on the internet has begun to sting like a thorn in the side. If I’m so hot… why am I so lonely? If I’m so smart, so interesting, why am I always alone?

Why?

And if I’m so damn talented… why am I so poor, so fucking bored, with NO work on my table?

You know what’s meaningless to an artist with no work…? Compliments. Yeah… I’m good, but so fucking what.

What The Lions SAW cover by Justine Mara Andersen

What The Lions SAW cover by Justine Mara Andersen

I’ve even been too miserable to meditate.

And in the middle of all this hell, this poor little fawn came from out of the forest and started settling in our lawn. I could see immediately, perhaps because she was a kindred spirit, that this beautiful animal had been abandoned. I could see that she had no one to care for her. I could see and feel the totality of the suffering.

Eventually she settled in just outside my window, just to the left of where I sit to study Hindu scriptures and the “Siva Purana,” right there between me and a garden statue of Ganesh. It was uncanny, the fawn’s position, timing and condition.

In the middle of my deepest depression, there she was, this poor dying creature, a 5-week old baby that chose to die between me and Ganesh… right under the watchful eye of Ganesh!

I sought wisdom, I talked to my spiritual teachers, told them of my hurting, of the suffering fawn and got some amazing feedback:

“As you perhaps know, in Indian literature the thinking mind is often compared to a deer, that is innocent, fearful, restless and swift. Here for a fawn to rest facing a stone Ganesh is auspicious, suggesting that a restless mind has found peace in still meditation on Ganesh. And just outside your window! This is especially conjured for you to see and reflect upon.”

…wrote one friend, and my favorite monk sent me this:

“Dear Justine,

Are you sure the fawn us dying? Of what cause?

In any event, what a gift, a validation. Clearly, for whatever reason, this fawn feels sheltered and nurtured by the energy near your place of study and contemplation of Shiva et al.

OM namah Shivaya!

May you be well and offer all you can to the woodland creatures for whom you embody sharanam!

With brotherly love and affection,
Shankara”

As for myself, I at least took their advice and began to contemplate and meditate on me, the fawn and Ganesh. I sat in half-lotus on the other side of the window, lit incense and stared over the fawn into my garden Ganesh. I saw that this deer was indeed me, or at least who I was at that moment: sick, weak, frightened and fleeting. It was a manifestation of what was between me and Ganesh, of that pain, that fear and suffering that was between me and God.

Meditation or not, I didn’t know what to do about my life, nor how to care for this fawn, but I knew I was responsible for both. I tried to get her to eat or drink, but nothing, and the poor fawn was swarmed by flies, it’s eyes scabbed shut, and it’s nose looked as if it was simply rotting off, that is why it had buried its nose in its haunches in the top photo. I could not help but watch this animal through my window, raising it’s hind leg, and with the finest touch, scratch at its nose, and it was perhaps the saddest thing I have ever had to witness.

I tried leaving the fawn in the care of Ganesh, but more and more I began to realize that I had to do something, but what? It had been out there for two days, dying before my eyes, right outside the glass of my own window!

Eventually I looked for someone in town who rescued wild animals, and fortunately found someone who was willing to come right over and look her over. She told me the fawn was suffering from a fatal skin condition, which was ironic as my diagnosis was also a potential skin condition. The symmetries were far too intense to be anything but divine. But, she said if we could catch her, the fawn could be treated and rehabilitated.

In our first efforts to catch her, the fawn escaped us, ran deep into the forest. Fortunately, she came back later that evening. I was delighted to see that she had come home… YES… HOME! So I called the wildlife rescuer back, and was surprised to find that she was not only ready and willing to come right over and try again, but that she was to be bringing two biologists who specialize in caring for deer.

We worked out a strategy to capture it. I told them that it had 4 places it liked to go (and ran for them the first time around before it escaped into the forest), and I told them it might be best if we sneak around the back of my room through the quiet dirt and block off the forest with a “wall” (of blanket), then I realized I was telling pros how to do their jobs I apologized, but they were happy to have so much information, so we went through with that plan. me and the wildlife rescuer came around the back in the dark, I held up a wall, she poised herself around the palm tree with a net, one of the biologists shone a spotlight in its eyes from the front (though the fawn was almost blind), and it only had one way to go, so the other biologist, in black, snuck up and caught the little fawn when she took off. It practically leapt into her arms.

It was exhilarating!

The moment the fawn was captured in the arms of the biologist and taken away to be healed… it felt very cathartic, as if a lot of my anxiety and depression went with it. The timing and position of the fawn was divinely guided, I have no doubt about that, neither did my fellow seekers and teachers. And… it came to me, when I needed her, and she came when she needed me. With help, I saved her life, and I think she came to save me as well.

The very next morning I went in to a dermatologist and found that the diagnosis I had received earlier was wrong, I, like the fawn, will be fine. Our skin will be fine.

And I got this when I told the story to my spiritual teacher:

“Dear One Seeking Refuge and Bliss,

Well done! Every act of selflessness and kindness improves the Force — within you and without you.

The vector of that fawn’s life is changed, and so the entire Universe is altered for the better, just that bit.

Big buckets can be filled, one drip at a time.

May you be well and in bright spirits,
Shankara, rejoicing for the beautiful fawn”

I still have a battle to fight, a lot of loneliness, a certain amount of despair about life, my career and hopes of being loved, but now at the very least I have this fawn to meditate on, this great gift from Mother Durga, Lord Shiva and Ganesh. I have great truths to meditate on.

Whatever comes, I must learn to take it as prasadam.

But first, I have to get through one more lonely night. At least that had been the last thought I felt like sharing, but instead a friend came as I wrote this entry and asked if I wanted to go out and have dinner.

And tomorrow, well, that’s another day.

Ganapati Bappa Morya!

The White Deer

Standard

The White Deer
by Justine Mara Andersen

Why, red cardinal, do you stare silently from the tangles,
Of dirt and roots that tell of how the mighty fall,
Are you silenced by what I have seen this morning,
Or is silence the only song that speaks of all we know?

Why eagle do you sit so low in the bowers and the branches,
So near that I now know the name and weight of your form,
So still that when you go I know the might of your flight,
I ask why do my feet remain solid in the sand and dust?

Why cardinal of the forest do you stare at me from the twigs,
As I contemplate all I am reading from the shady place,
That overlooks the lake reflecting every rising orange moon,
Are there secrets I will see only through your black eyes?

And wasn’t it just this morning as I crossed the lake,
Just this morning as I tended to the feeding of my body,
That I looked up and saw what I took for a wooly white goat,
But why a goat where the deer and turkeys come to feed?

My heart and every step did stop, and I forgot to breathe,
This was no goat before me, not standing with the timid doe,
This too was a doe, though luminous, white as the camphor,
The camphor I burn before the altar of my beloved Mahadev.

As it goes with wisdom, once I saw you for what you are,
You turned from me, white deer, and leapt into the forest,
Leaving nothing of you but a white ghost and many questions,
Leaving me with nothing in hand beyond what I had seen.

Today I saw the red cardinal from the roots of the fallen tree,
And I saw the great eagle perched amidst the bowers,
And I saw the silent cardinal stand forever in the twigs,
And I saw the white deer standing outside my forest room.

And today I read of the play of Parvati’s and Siva’s maya,
And though the words were wondrous and full of godly wisdom,
Their truth remains to me as elusive as the smoke of camphor,
Fleeting as the snow-white doe which I beheld but for a moment.

As with ecstasy, my wisdom vanishes like the smoke of incense,
As with wisdom the white deer only allowed me but a glimpse,
And a holy longing that one day I might run through the forest,
Alive in the camphor of His company, resolved fully in truth.

Aghori Baba Circling Back

Standard

Aghori Baba Circling Back
by Justine Mara Andersen

Having bowed under one, a dozen blew in on the wind,
Dancing dispassionate circles in the sky.

Some see you as ugly, grim, inauspicious and turn away,
I see truth in the center of your soaring.

Circling high, circling low, black winged Babas all,
In all they are, they teach all that we are.

Into their bellies then high above the thriving trees,
Wrinkled red-faced Gurus carry death like Gods.

Above samsara my Aghori Babas circle as all must circle,
Earth to death, birth to sky, sky to earth.

All that dissolves is destroyed by Mahadev’s dancing,
All that dances is destroyed as it is doing.

All that dies is reborn through Mahadev’s destruction,
All that falls must rise again to the dancing.

So why fear losing that which is released into flight,
Only once dissolved in bellies and destruction.

What greater victory over fear than bowing to vultures,
Jai Jai Shiva Shankar! Jai Jai Shiva Shambho,

What greater victory over death than red and black Babas,
Who fly the rot of death in their bellies.

Jai! To carry death above the trees! I bow in devotion,
Har Har Mahadev! Har Har Mahadev!

Aghori Baba

Standard

Aghori Baba
by Justine Mara Andersen

I saw you solely through the darkness of others,
As a thing of filth, as horrid and bald.

But today I see you, you who eat only death,
Without fear, it is you who finds life.

I bow to thee vulture, so alone in the branches,
Tears well in me, to see my Aghori Baba.

Exalted to be below your silent secret wisdom,
I stare in devotion, it is you who knows.

Teach me, Baba, to eat of death without fear,
To fly above the darkness others see.

Shedding tears in the shadow of your black wings,
I shade my eyes from so much sky and sun.

Poetry Reruns…

Standard

So, I’ve decided to rerun some of my poems because I have recently gotten involved in an illustrated poetry book. I am pleased with the images and thought I should run them with my poems… plus, no one ever reads my poetry, so I figure if I rerun a few of them, maybe 3 or 4 more people might read them.

Below is an illustration for a poem I did not write.

The rest (below) are all illos. for poems I did write… enjoy!

Existence

Existence