Stephanie Karlik

Category: Soul






“The potencies of sound and of vach, the human voice, have nowhere else been so profoundly investigated as in India. The Aum vibration that reverberates throughout the universe (the “Word” or “voice of many waters” of the Bible) has three manifestations or gunas, those of creation, preservation, and destruction. Each time a man utters a word he puts into operation one of the three qualities of Aum. This is the lawful reason behind the injunction of all scriptures that man should speak the truth.” – Paramahansa Yogananda

Let us be cognizant of our gunas: creation, preservation, and destruction. Let us not destruct when we mean to preserve or create.


Still I Shine

(Inspired by Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”)


You may slander me most viciously

With all of that free time,

You may sling mud at my very face,

But still, like stars, I shine.

Does my comedy upset you?

Why wear that cynical frown?

‘Cause I stand like I’ve got gold bars

stacked up in a bank downtown.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like lights beaming bright,

Still I’ll shine.

Did you want to see me crippled?

Slumped down and far from fine?

Tears falling like weeping willows

Sobbing for what once was mine.

Does my confidence offend you?

Don’t you act so asinine

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got diamonds

Draped around my sharp neckline.

You may bite me with your venom,

You may murder me in your mind,

You may hunt me with your hatefulness,

But still, like jewels, I’ll shine.

Does my openness offend you?

Does it hurt that I will dance

Like I’ve got oil wells in my back yard

and a lover waiting in France?

Out from a zig-zagging history

I shine

Out from a past of adversity

I shine

I’m a fruit tree, rich, rooted, and strong

Growing and giving, I sing my peace song.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

We shine.

Into tomorrow so gorgeously clear

We shine.

Bearing the gifts that our ancestors bestowed,

With brothers and sisters, we build our abode.

We shine.

We shine.

We shine.


“Still I Rise”

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestor’s gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

光明道 The Way of Light and Clarity

(Calligraphy by Audrey Liao)

I recently have been meditating on the Chinese words 光明.

“Guang” means light or illumination. “Ming” means brightness or clarity.

I came upon these words while listening to a pastor give a sermon in Chinese. Rather than trying to understand his whole lecture, my mind grabbed onto the two simple words “guang” and “ming.”

Since then, these characters have been on my mind a lot. I visualize them. “Guangming” is something I’d like to cultivate within myself so that I can radiate it onto others. This requires a lot of mindful practice and is an ongoing way of life. I’m calling it the “光明道 (guangmingdao)” or “the way of light and clarity.”

How do I define guangming then? It is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual orientation, as well as the extension of that, a set of behaviors and practices.

I actually believe that it’s more beneficial to look at the three characters, “guangmingdao” in reverse order.

道, meaning way or road, is the road that you will be walking along as you live your life. Breathing, waking up, eating, drinking, traveling, working, interacting, feeling the range of human emotions from anger and depression to love and joy, and my favorite: sleeping. It’s your job to do those things.

明 is next, again, meaning clarity. Clarity derives from self-knowledge and a knowledge extending beyond the self. I believe that clarity comes from the asking of questions, from curiosity, and from a deep desire to understand all that is. This may mean reading books, listening to speeches, interacting with different kinds of people, traveling to new places, moving the body in exploratory forms, or anything that allows for expansion of the mind and exposure to ideas that you might not be exposed to in your immediate environment. Knowledge has been passed onto you by your family, your residential community, in your primary and secondary education, and perhaps even beyond at the university level or grad school, but is this knowledge really knowledge? It’s up to you to decide. I encourage people to push their limits and move into uncomfortable areas of thought for deep contemplation.

光 is last, meaning light or illumination. Through the previously mentioned deep contemplation and cultivation of knowledge, one becomes aware of many things, most importantly, the value of human life and the present moment. From this place of great security in oneself and sense of purpose, there you can radiate your energy onto others. You are readily available to smile, help, empathize, counsel, lead, and inspire.

Guang. Ming. Dao: simultaneous processes because you will always be in a state of dao, living your daily life; always in a state of ming, being a curious observer of the world; and always in a state of guang, beaming your energy onto others.

Miss Badu

From a Discman on the streets of Belgrano to an iPod on the Yamanote Line, she’s been singing me through life one location at a time. Finally saw her live last night. Draped in a white and black checkered cloak and donning a blue top hat, she took us all to therapy.

Butterflies, sun, moon, stones, water, trees,

her songs bring us back to the birds and the bees.

Whether she’s telling me to Call Tyrone,

with her Billie Holidayesque saxophone,

Or claiming her Window Seat,

accompanied by a digital drum beat,

She reminds us of the joy and suffering of being alive,

How we all “just want a chance to cry, a chance to fly, and a long bye-bye.”