Shirley Now

When I was a little girl, in summer camp, there was a game we play called, “The Wonder Ball.” I really enjoyed this game.

We would stand in a circle, and pass a large ball to the next person while singing this song:

“The wonder ball, goes round and round,
to pass it quickly you are bound.
If you’re the one to hold it last,
the game for you is Shirley Past.
You Are Out!”

And the person left holding the ball on the word ‘Out’ was out of the game.

I often wondered who Shirley Past was, and what exactly she had to do with the game. I certainly didn’t want to be in her time.

I’m not exactly certain when I realized that the words in the rhyme were not ‘Shirley Past,’ but rather ‘surely past.’

A lot of things are surely past for many of us at this point. I’m certain we can all think of possibilities that are no longer possible for us. They have gone into oblivion along with good ole Shirley Past.

And we can all think of things that will Shirley Arrive–one of them at least being death.

But what about That which is not past, and which is not yet to arrive, and which in fact, is not subject to time in anyway whatsoever, and which has always been here, throughout childhood, adulthood and old age in exactly the same way? Maybe we could call that Shirley Now.

Now, now, now. Your being which is always now. always here. Shirley Past cannot touch that, nor can Shirley Arrive.

Shirley Now is the gal to know. Knowing her you are free. Still the game continues. You are out and you are in. In or out you are free.

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About Dhanya

Dhanya developed an interest in Hinduism and Eastern philosophy in the early 1970s. In 1973, she traveled to India in search of a guru to guide her on the spiritual path. While there she encountered disciples of Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings of bhakti and karma yoga which influenced her life from then on. She studied Vipasana meditation for some time with S.N. Goenkaji beginning in 1974. In 1991 she met HWL Poonja, whose words sparked a desire in her to understand the teachings of nonduality. Subsequently she met other advaita teachers, including Jean Klein and Sri Ranjit Maharaj, who were great sources of inspiration to her. In 2002 she met her current teacher, Dr. Carol Whitfield, a traditional teacher of Advaita/Vedanta and a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Having found a teaching and a teacher with whom she has a deep resonance and who clearly and effectively elucidate the means for self-knowledge, Dhanya now lives in Northern California, where she studies Vedanta and writes on the topic of nonduality.

5 thoughts on “Shirley Now

  1. Oh, Shirley Now!
    Take our bow.

    So what’s here
    As we hear
    Only a game
    What a shame!

    The rest is all
    Bat or ball
    Just a name
    None to blame;
    Shirley, Surely,
    Serely, or Surly
    Goes forever
    On and on
    And on.

  2. The play or game is in the name.
    The form is just a norm
    (Amongst all other norms)
    The Known is the unknown*.

    * by the mind

  3. Ah, the culprit is the mind
    That keeps us in the grind.
    Also makes us blind
    To the worldly bind.

    But isn’t it also one of its kind
    That helps us to find
    A way to wind
    The earthly show in the mind?

  4. Yes, indeed, Ram-es-AM!

    It’s not the mind which binds,
    But ignorance, the kind
    which keeps alone unknown
    That which is the only Known.

    And that, Rames-am, is your own:
    The ‘I AM’ we all call our home.

    • Thank you Martin for the extension on the poetic style of expression.

      Now that you touched on the issue of the ’cause,’ my poetic ability (which is very doubtful) totally evaporated. (: (:

      While I agree that all teaching adopts certain “models,” and all the models have to be dropped ultimately, I was wondering whether we can say: “It’s not the mind which binds..”

      Two mantras come to mind:
      Amritabindu Upanishad – 2: “Mana eva manuShyANAm, kAraNaM bandha mokshayoh (The mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation).”
      brihadAraNyaka IV-iv-19: Through the mind alone (It) is to be realised. (Also kaTha II-iv-11).


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