The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight

by Kamalakanta

Original Language Bengali

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight
To the blue lotus flower of Mother Shyama's feet,
The blue flower of the feet of Kali, Shiva's Consort;
Tasteless, to the bee, are the blossoms of desire.
My Mother's feet are black, and black, too, is the bee;
Black is made one with black! This much of the mystery
My mortal eyes behold, then hastily retreat.
But Kamalakanta's hopes are answered in the end;
He swims in the Sea of Bliss, unmoved by joy or pain.

-- from Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar, by Elizabeth U. Harding

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

In the imagery associated with the goddess Kali (Shyama), black is the divine color, for it is the color of mystery, of the night, that which is beyond knowing, the color that swallows all other colors.

My Mother's feet are black, and black, too, is the bee...

With devotion, the busy bee of the mind becomes quiet and "black" like the vast, still mystery of God (or, rather, Goddess). Drawn to the center of awareness, it loses itself in the blissful nectar's sweetness, until...

Black is made one with black!



(Kali isn't normally depicted as such an old woman, but the eyes of the woman in this photograph, so quiet and keen within that beautifully weathered face, just made me think, "Those are the eyes of the mother goddess peering into our hearts...")


This approach creates a dilemma, no doubt about it. It is very difficult to spend the day dealing with the intense, constant specificity of a busy life engaged with the challenges of the world, sometimes even having to navigate the psychic extremes of conflict and confrontation, yet returning again and again to meditation and prayerful quiet. What is the solution? Practice. Dedication. Acceptance of the difficulties that arise in a life lived with heart and compassion. But also, we can draw strength from recognizing how the active and the inner feed each other. When we tap into those moments of deep peace, we can discover in ourselves a clarity and purpose which strengthen our actions, while daily action and service in the world reinforce the deepest values of the heart. Whatever we do in the world becomes a ritual of sorts, an embodied affirmation through interaction, validating what we have learned, highlighting where we yet need strengthening and refinement.

I encourage each of us, each in our own unique way, to reach out and work for a better, kinder, safer, more just world. What we do can be small or it can be grand. It doesn't have to be what other people expect or recognize as "service." It just has to satisfy the heart's instinct to help. And then support that with whatever creative or quiet pursuits feed the spirit -- meditation, prayer, poetry, play.

Me, personally, I'm pretty good at the internal life, but fiery and erratic with the outer stuff, especially when I witness cruelty. That's the balance I work at, learning steadiness and patience in my worldly activity, while not letting that draw too much energy away from my internal, creative life. Add ME/chronic fatigue syndrome to the mix and I have a rich practice that keeps me challenged and engaged. What is the particular balance you work at?

Sending love to everyone.

Recommended Books: Kamalakanta

Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar

The black bee of my