9/02/2008

The Names (A Chant)



Throughout the physical universe, through every atom and star, flows a continuous current of names, yours among them. This sub-atom stream of sound is the meeting ground of physics and religion.

Om Tamuz Shambu Ra!
Eloi Shiva Christus Ma!

O Nameless Tao Eternal Name
Thousand-Petaled Thousand-Hearted
Name with a Thousand Eyes, a Thousand Tongues of Flame!

Father's name and mother's name conceiving the name of the Son,
Mother vowel and father sibilant twining flames of black
Calligraphy in white fire suckling verbs of virgin birth,
Their Word made flesh in merest neuron and synaptic flash!

Do not forget the name of their daughter Lilith laughter
Of violent Titans dwelling in the hypothalamus
Of galaxy Andromeda naming enormously from chaos
The tiniest seashell Opalescent Nudibrank!

And do not forget the name of her hands that hold
The squirting nipple in our mouths the names of her fingers
the pseudo-zygo-dactylous gesture of Mary!

Or warrior-eyed and wrathful dance of twin names Jesus Sophia
Wisdom necklaced with names of skulls their terrible gazes
Turning anger into names of tribes on the Upper Ganges!

Glorious armies of names in white cells devouring viruses
Who are the sworn cursed names of outcast angels
Briarius, Allecto, Hecate muttered ancient and abysmal
In unfrocked priestly heretical prayer

Learned from a singing tree in the garden of names
Each fig womb-full and bija-ripe with countless
Uncreated planetary names of husbands seeds ancestors
All through chaos swimming straight to the name of the egg

Hebrew names, Mormon names, Celtic wailing Druid names
Pouring from cairns, mounds, nipples of Appalachia;
Names of creeks trickling into names of rivers into the name
Of the Great Pacific name hidden in stones or whispered
In prairie winds forlorn through swamps Arapaho
Shoshone dreams of Meriwether lying close to Sacajewaya's
Name wandering back to the place of emergence
In secret desert canyons named for a mother's parched lips

Prayer names holding blossoms folding names in hands
Each breath a new name in bright venous blood
Dying names changing color in October names falling
From withered vines names flying south for winter
Names rising from the dead and burning in the solstice
Names glistening in rings of ice around Saturn

Half names quarter names new names full names
That cry dance naked touching the sun, crawl creep or swim
On worlds newly-created names that go on all fours
In forests and slouch upward toward the frightening name
Of Homo Erectus names limp names buxom anorexic names
Vomiting older names until they are nameless and empty

Buddha remembering names he was given before birth
The name of one hand naming thunder the other name
Dropping from clouds to nourish the names of wheat and wine
The names of rice the brain-damaged names of Viet Nam
Veterans who cannot connect names to things and ask
"What is the name?" when you show them a box that says
"Bread" or the name of the rice-paddy flower Kashyapa
Could not name but only smile on when Siddhartha
Twirled the Name in his fingers a final nameless sermon

Spoken over food names spoken over the dead names
Of body parts with no dog tags and long arterial blue names
Like rooted orchids disappearing into the thigh of a corpse
Trickling Latin names secret names that blossom under the skin
Like "carcinoma" names that smell that families do not speak
But doctors name in gnostic circles of power names of stainless
Steel instruments hanging in operating rooms with names of eyes

Of hands of unknown organs on the floor of brains dreaming still
Of battle names of beautiful silent birds who carry our bones
Like bleeding severed names of Orpheus washed up softly singing
On the shore of Methymna scarlet tanagers warbling names
Of soldiers fallen in their lovers' name of Er awaking
From his spindled sleep in the meadow of Asphodel

Naming fog and sea moods barely remembered muffled
Or mumbled in dreams whispered to the newborn name
Recalling gardens of wisteria hemlock poppy soothing numb
Cold names leaping up the sound of waterfalls toward spawning
Pools milky with names threatened with extinction names
Of forgotten animals calling from old stories of firelight full
Of drums and names carved on the tooth of a whale

Partially seen in meditation swift as thought names misted
On the breath of Radhamanthys and the tongues of maiden
Oestraes riding names of white horses in the waves of dawn
Where clustered effervescent songs of stars recorded
In hieroglyphs on walls of lost cities name the temple rising
Out of jungle silence, secret rites, drowned runes
In a green and gloomy name of living water

Covered with sand with coral names untarnished golden
Names adorned with cat's eye and onyx rediscovered
By children without names playing by the ocean of birth
Where one ever-expanding name moans singing breathes
Through pale shuddering lips of a man just dead....



Translucent coruscation of chthonic names
Barnacled to new names on voluptuous heavenly boats
That ferry one name to another across the crimson river
Of voices pulsing in your throat where a nameless hand
Presses, pardons, heals all your ancestors kneeling
At the throne of a terrible atavistic name in the amygdala

Lost names of tribes still thriving in tiny aneurysms
Of the cerebellum, fissures smoldering in the colon,
Names of future generations freaking in bolts
Of dopamine across the lightning dendrite of this moment
Dance of limbo names of stillborn sons the hobo and aborted
Names of cretin faces in their drunken mothers' brains

Names of mastodons now crushed to coal and diamonds dug
By black thirsty miners in the Transvaal names
Throbbing for centuries through families in a sacred djembe
Dwelling ten thousand years in one house named for the father
Whose anger is the name of fire the name of a whole
Incinerated goat offered to the name of sperm

Name that cannot be spoken oh magnificent
Name whose blinding gaseous trails explode
In radiant clusters of suns with names like dust
In solar wind on measureless and desert slopes
Of God's one wild and violet-petaled echo

This! my fragrant prayer whose secret smoke
Of rising ululation now distills
The burning names of vanished angels
Lost in silence.

8/24/2008

Heliocentric Pluralism: God's Countless Faces


"Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of Allah!" (Qu'ran)
"By hundreds and by thousands, behold my countless celestial forms." (Bhagavad Gita)


Many planets, one sun. Many suns, one galaxy. Many divine faces, one God.

In the late 16th Century, Christians could not tolerate a heliocentric universe. The Inquisition condemned masters of wisdom and science like Giordano Bruno and Galileo. Believers couldn't stand the thought that their religion was one among multiple systems of salvation, each appropriate for its planet, each planet being equally special in the eyes of the creator.

If, as Bruno taught, there are countless worlds circling countless suns, then the centrality of Christ is undermined by the possibility that God created other races in His, or Her, divine image; those races may be unfallen; and such worlds may have no need for the precious blood of Jesus, or the sacraments of the Christian Church.

Indeed, Bruno taught that God is present in every particle of the universe. The Divine is incarnate everywhere, from the furthest star to the subatomic particle, or seed as Bruno called it. Bruno was burned at the stake.

The heliocentric universe was a profound theological threat. Christendom survived it, though not without a Reformation and a cultural divide between science and faith. Now the Church is threatened again, in precisely the same way, by religious pluralism. What heliocentrism was to the 16th Century, pluralism is to the 21st. And there are as many Christians today who would burn pluralists at the stake, had they the political power, as there once were ready to burn Galileo.

Pluralism asserts that, for its own believers, another religion may have as much truth in its perspective as Christianity has for the Christian. Each religion is a relative point of view conditioned by its age, culture, geographical experience, and language. Each may equally shower its devotees with blessing, and all those blessings descend from one Godhead, whose names are many but essence is one. Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vedantihih, declares the Vedic scripture of ancient India: God is One, but the wise have called Him by many names. This is history's first expression of pluralism.

A second would be the Rock Edict of the Buddhist King Ashoka from India, 3rd Century BCE: “It is best not to criticize but to honor other religions. By so doing, one's own religion benefits, and so do other religions. But doing otherwise harms one's own religion and the religions of others. Whoever praises his own religion while condemning others, only harms his own religion. Therefore contact between religions is good. One should respect the doctrines professed by others. The King desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions.”

We modern Christians must endure a dizzying transformation of consciousness, as uncomfortable as the change we endured when we abandoned Ptolemy's earth-centered universe for the Copernican model. After this transformation, the Christian will say, "As I am assured of salvation through Jesus, so the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim and Jew are equally assured of salvation through their faiths."

We must surrender our Christ-centered universe because it is, in plain speech, a self-centered universe. Our culturally-refracted vision has created a realm of Christian self-centeredness. We call it the world. It is merely our projection of the world. We can have our cake, but cannot eat it too. We must share it. The Christian may continue to enjoy a personal relationship of inexpressible love for Jesus. But none has any right to insist that this relationship is the way for others.

Why did we ever make such a demand in the first place? What ever drove us to convert others? Was it not our insecurity and secret doubt? Doubt is the believer!

If I must convert others to my point of view, I must be haunted by the secret doubt that I could be wrong. But if I am secure in my faith, rooted in the ground of love, what is it to me if others take a different path, and worship God by a different name? To insist that each soul mimic my relationship with God, is as perverse as insisting that everyone marry my spouse.

Why is my faith threatened if the God who reveals his love for me in the face of Christ reveals his love for the Hindu in the dance of Krishna, for the Buddhist in the smile of Sakyamuni, for the Muslim in the chanting of the holy Qu'ran? Rumi wrote: "The lamps are different, but the Light is the same."

Don't hide your lamp. Let it shine. But do not condemn the light that shines from other lamps, lest your's go out....

7/02/2008

What Is Action?

Chinese masters speak of "Wei Wu Wei," doing by not doing. An ancient Chinese general, having defeated several armies of invaders, declared, "I would rather retreat one mile than advance one inch." Is that action?

In the "Bhagavad Gita," which was Gandhi's favorite book, God appears to the warrior, Arjuna, on a battlefield just before combat. Arjuna asks the Lord whether to fulfill his duty and fight, or refrain from battle. The Lord replies: "When you see stillness in action, and action in stillness, then you truly see."

Quantum physics reveals that material particles vibrate out of a silent vacuum. Even more mysterious, the stillness of the vacuum is teeming with unmanifest "virtual" particles. It seems this entire world of physical activity is pervaded by stillness.

If you march in a political demonstration, passionately shouting your beliefs against those who shout against you, shutting down traffic and commerce to stop the war, is that action? If you stand still for hours in silence, with a vigil candle in hand, before a court house or a military recruiting station, is that action? If you write a passionate essay or a letter to the newspaper, are your words actions?

If you gaze into the eyes of a passing stranger, with your heart full of love, what have you done?

If you sit in deep meditation, filling the boundless universe with compassion, are you not doing? Not-doing? Or undoing the not?

In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ's disciples confronted the authorities with sword in hand. The situation was ripe for revolution. But Jesus said, "Stop. Put the sword away." The authorities arrested him, beat him up, and took him to Pilate, the Roman ruler. Finally, Jesus had an opportunity to speak truth to power! But before Pilate, he was silent. Not a word! They led him away to be crucified.

Why didn't he do something?

5/24/2008

Imagine Your Body



Imagine your Body. Let your Body imagine you.
Your Body is all you have imagined until now.
Your Soul is the glow of your Body this moment.
What you imagine today is your Body tomorrow.
To imagine anything but your Body is a dream.
To imagine that your Body is any less than a cosmos,
each cell a furnace roaring with delight, each atom
a wild and perfect swirl of sentience
whose center is the womb of suns,
and in the silence at the proton's core,
the infinitesimal pause between the pulse
of quark and anti-quark, this sky,
this vast out-whirling mother of night
who mantles all our hope with stars:
To imagine your Body anything less
is the only Sin.

2/22/2008

Om Ah Hung: Tibetan New Year, Feb. 25


"Hatred cannot conquer hatred. Hatred is only conquered by love." (Dhammapada of Buddha)

"Have compassion for your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you." (Gospel of Christ)

We meditate for the earth's oppressed on the Tibetan New Year, February 25. For them we chant, Om Ah Hung. We remember those whom the world has forgotten.

We remember the sufferings of Buddhists in Tibet, of Baha'i in Iran, of Christians in China, of Palestinians and Jews in the troubled lands of Gaza, Israel and the Left Bank of the Jordon. We remember all who suffer in Dafur, Zaire, the Sudan, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We remember the sufferings of New Orleans. We call to mind those who are dear to us, speaking their names or holding them silently in the light of compassion....

May the fruits of our meditation nourish not only the oppressed but the oppressors, whose minds are confused through lack of peace, whose deeds are bitter through lack of joy, who project the shadows of their fear upon the innocent through lack of heart. We bless all with the sacred syllables, Om Ah Hung: instruments of transformation bequeathed to every religion and culture by ancient guides enlightened in the science of consciousness.

With deep breath in the body and awareness filling space, we chant Om. Resonating in the brow, it illuminates all sentient beings with healing sky-blue radiance. Om... Peace.

With deep breath in the body and awareness filling space, we chant Ah, opening the throat, expanding the chest, sending forth yellow beams like sunlight. Ah... May all beings be happy.

With deep breath in the body and awareness filling space, we chant Hung. This primordial sound eternally hums like a gong struck in our hearts before the dawn of creation. It causes the heart to glow, spreading its flame-colored warmth into every atom of the earth, granting strength to all beings. Through this syllable, we are rooted and grounded in truth, and fearlessly committed to justice. Hung... So be it, on earth as in heaven.

Thrice now we chant these syllables together, blessing ourselves and others, those who suffer and those who cause suffering. Om Ah Hung... Om Ah Hung... Om Ah Hung... Be peaceful. Be happy. May our hearts be free from fear. Svaha!

1/18/2008

Cosmic Eros



"Man has no Body distinct from his Soul: for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. " (William Blake)

"Eternity was in our lips and eyes." (Shakespeare)

You are invited to relax and expand through your senses. Each of your senses - hearing, seeing, taste, touch, smell - is a spectrum of consciousness that widens from the dense physical organ in your body to all-pervading space, embracing the galaxies. You may release yourself now from constricted, obsessive, genital-centered sexuality to Cosmic Eros.

Cosmic Eros is the sensation that irradiates the universe. Cosmic Eros is non-localized: it overflows the locus of the bodily organ. Cosmic Eros spills from each rain drop and star, each budding twig and human cell. Just as sap permeates the stem, leaf and petal of a flower, Cosmic Eros saturates the world. Enlivening all who are graced with embodiment, Cosmic Eros is the out-flowing sensuality of the in-dwelling Spirit. Relaxed and released, taste holy intimacy, delight in reverent flirtation with all creatures.

In a previous age of temples and priests, this loving Christ-Consciousness was explained as a sacrifice, offered once and for all time. In this age of culturally-induced sexual obsession, we must use a new metaphor: orgasm. You may relax your attention from its bondage in bodily organs, and expand in the divine orgasm that has always already happened.

This is no mere metaphor. For too long we have separated erotic sensation from the soul. But they are one unified field: energy and its radiance. Delight need not be imprisoned in the groin, or the eye, or the tongue. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," says Psalm 38. Tasting from the Tree of Life, enjoy the enlightened sensuality of Adam and Eve before the fall.

Breathe Cosmic Energy upward from the earth into your heart. Breathing out, release this warmth into every cell of your flesh. Feel it radiate beyond your skin into the air, into the home, into field and forest, mountains and clouds. Breathe your delight into the stars, vibrating in the boundless vacuum of space.

You are the honey that soaks the hive, no longer confined to particular cells. Rest in the space of awareness itself, with no compulsion to grasp any concept about it. This is pure relief: the "salvation" that has already happened! Then discover, in the depths of that silence, a downy softness overflowing from no center. Let emptiness express the sap.

Heaven and earth are not separated by anything but a thought. But in the self-effulgent silence and relief of Cosmic Eros, there is no thought. Perceived through a glistening dewdrop of this love, earth is a garden, God is the Spring. Are the garden and the Springtime two?