We Met

We met on an endless journey
Into stillness...
Within every particle of my body,
Within every particle of your body,
The same sky...

'Gateh,' The Beyond Within

Gateh, Gateh, Para Gateh, Parasam Gateh, Bodhi Svaha!
"Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone Beyond the Beyond: Hail the Go-er!"

At some point, images get in the way, even our favorite image of God: so we pass beyond it. At some point, words get in the way, even the divine name: so we pass beyond it. At some point, we even stop clinging to the dearest feeling: we pass beyond it. And at some point, the soul itself gets in the way: so we pass beyond it. This is the meaning of Gateh in the great meditation mantra of Tibet.

But breath never gets in the way. Breath remains, even when there is no mind. Thinking dissolves into pure Presence, then there is only this breath: not the previous breath or the next one. And this breath is never my breath.

Where does this breath come from? Where does it go? Follow it and see. Breathing is constant rehearsal for the moment of liberation.

This breath expires into silence. But this silence is no mere absence of sound. It is the heart's silence, rich with creative energy, luminous with love, yet free from any image or thought. Amma Karunamayi tells us simply, "In meditation, silence is the Mother."

Do not assume that this is simply an Eastern teaching. It is also the age-old practice of Christian mystics. In the early Church, these mystics were called hesychasts, which means practitioners of silence. In the 7th Century, St. Hesychius of Jerusalem wrote that the core of Christian mysticism is, "The heart's silence, undisturbed by any thought." The light of Christ can only be born in the womb of the silent heart.

To silence the heart may at first seen like a negation, yet this is the most positive experience possible. This silence is the soul and source of creation: the silence that was here before God said, "Let there be light." Womb-silence generates the world, yet ever transcends what She gives birth to. This also is the meaning of Gateh, beyond. She is the Causeless in whom all chains of causation are rooted. She is the groundless from whom all seeds spring. The silence of the heart breathes forth all creatures yet abides un-created. This silence has no edges; it is ever-expanding joy.

If only for an instant, between out-breath and in-breath, if I surrender and die in this eternal silence, I truly Am.

What remains after surrender cannot be spoken. To describe it would be another image, another word, another thought. One might say, Surrender and all that is left is Buddha-mind. One might say, Be crucified with Jesus in the still-point at the center of the cross of opposites. One might say, Become sat-chit-ananda: Divine Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. Yet each of these affirmations only creates another little thinker to affirm it. One calls himself a Buddhist, one calls herself a Christian, one says, I'm a Hindu. Better just surrender, and drop thinking for awhile...

"Be still and know that I Am God," advises the Biblical Psalmist. This beautiful verse shows us that Bhakti and Vedanta, devotion and non-dualism, are just concepts. They point to exactly the same experience. When conceptual thinking is still, there is true knowledge, or Gnana, without thought. Then the I Am, and the God that I adore, are one and the same.

Who is this God? The answer comes not as a thought, but as the energy of grace in the next inhalation. This energy is Shakti. She is the living Spirit, the supreme Mother of creation. Breathing Her is the answer: not a belief or a concept, but Shakti herself, the scintillating star-stuff gushing from the heart, wine that ferments in silence before the Word.

Therefor the classic Tantric scripture Vijnana Bhairava declares:
Exhalation goes out, inhalation comes in. At the place where they merge, one experiences the state from which Creation comes forth and into which it is absorbed....
The supreme Goddess, whose nature is to create, constantly expresses herself as exhalation and inhalation. By resting awareness in the space of the heart, between the descending and ascending breaths, one experiences Bhairava, the source of creation.
We breathe the Goddess every moment of the day. We're just too busy to notice; too busy to notice the gift of this breath, and in the gift, the Giver.

Un-Doing the Sabbath

The ocean of stars is looking for you today, longing to crash
on the shores of your smile.

The earth wants to stand there motionless, dumbstruck,
and watch you dance.

You are not one breath old; your story has vanished into the silence
of a hollow eyeball.

Please don't ruin the moment between dawn and sunset; don't try
to do a damned thing.

These once poppied meadows have all been cemented by do-ers;
the yacking of activists is also a kind of smog.

Isn't it time to wait and see what happens when you're quiet,
in the settling stillness of golden photons?

When grace takes over, all your garbage becomes useful.

There is never a wasted moment, because the concept of "waste"
no longer arises.

Heaven is full of mistakes, and every mistake is a gift,
a tool, a sparkling window.

Don't worry, the old protester's breathing won't stop;
some sweetness in the sky will pull it out and in.

Just repose without your mind in a snow globe of dissolving suns.

Accomplish more than do-ers could do if do-ers could do more.

Emptiness is not a destination, but a door.



We confuse busy-ness with accomplishment, rushing through each task to get to ten more. But fulfillment seldom comes from doing everything we can. It comes from doing a few things very well, or even just one. I learned this from a caterpillar, moving slowly down a twig toward its singularity, the angled cleft that the universe had chosen for a cocoon.


Shhhh, here's a 4 A.M. secret:
The Goddess isn't just an 'energy,' 

She's a person.
The 'energy' comes from her gaze.
The gaze comes from you heart.
You can never be alone.



Our educational system fails us because it is based on one goal: getting the right answer. But healthy communities have never been based on competing for the right answer. They are based on creating threads of belonging, weaving root networks of trust. I don't care if you have the right answer. I care about you caring that we care. We meet in the space of the heart, the ether of caring. 

(Painting: Madonna of the Rose, 1435)

New Moon of September

Wishing a peaceful Rosh Hoshana (New Year) to all Jewish friends who begin the High Holy Days today; and a joyful Navratti to all devotees of the Mother, as we begin the nine holiest nights on the Vedic calendar of India. These ancient festivals follow the lunar cycle, and come on the first New Moon after the Autumn Equinox. In the Northern hemisphere, to the primal earth-centered eye, creation tilts toward the dark womb of its source. These mysteries are open secrets, revealed by the beauty of the ruined garden.

If you feel the call of inner silence at this time, a sinking and withering of the light, a purifying fall, just let go into the mystery of fructifying darkness. Repose in the Groundless tonight: this is deep meditation. We can feel a bit spacey and displaced during this transition, because organic life hollows out, thins its marrow, furrows its soul for the planting of a new Light Seed at the Winter Solstice. Just be compassionate with yourself, and be gentle with this breath.