____________HOME________________AUTHOR________________BOOK________________POETRY_______________LINKS___________

8/31/2009

Our Daily Breath

Good Sunday morning, creation's first day! I enter the Kingdom of Little Things. I find something very small to hold in my hand, a pebble, a feather, a berry. I cherish its mere mysterious Thingness.

Through my senses, I breathe the Little Thing's color, weight, shape, texture into my body. Then I breathe out gratitude. This is called 'living & breathing on earth.' It is the meditation that humans practice all day unaware. It requires neither church, nor temple, nor preisthood, nor scripture, nor belief. Just Awareness. Just some Awareness is needed to turn our daily breath, among little things, into worship.

The Warrior and the Pacifist

The Warrior and the Pacifist each have their role to play. Does one have the right to judge the other?


I would not count on the Warrior to make peace. Neither would I count on the Pacifist to defend my children from attack.


To claim that the world needs no warriors is the luxury of the well-protected. To claim that the world needs no pacifists is to starve for a vision.


Let those who love peace not condemn the warriors. True warriors do not choose our foreign policy. They choose to protect our children.


Rather let us condemn, with all the fury of God's righteousness, the powers and principalities, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the corporate profiteers and politicians, who never spent an hour in combat and whose children are too privileged to fight, yet who abuse and misuse our valiant soldiers for the purpose of mastering Third World resources, to line their own pockets with the wealth of empire.

Local


After the collapse
of post-industrial corporate feudalism,
its imperial armies and global banks,
its hierarchies of priestly credit and debt,
all that is vast, abstract, untenably complex
will die into The Local
like a cluster of vines to the root.
We too, locating ourselves, will return
to the family farm of origin
and remember how to eat,
how to grow woolly well-muscled sheep
and uniquely delicious tomatoes,
discovering our hands for seed scattering,
for stone setting, for writing poems
on trees and caves; discovering
our feet again for grape crushing.
Later, by December fires, we will listen
to silence, we will learn to listen again,
energized by wind and water.
In a terrible and lovely antlered mask,
the village shaman will birth us in Springtime
and bless our old bones in Autumn,
preparing our Winter souls
for new bodies. A circle of friends,
chanting, drumming, dancing,
will bind us to our Creator,
as our Creator is bound
to this heart.

Take A Moment


Red begonias with burgundy pelts,
opulent, furry as otters
wriggling in November rain
through your vacuous eyes,
where a constant wind sucks inward
all light, to make a compost
of pure consciousness.
No need to stop time, just take
a moment for eternity.
Observe all day the back yard
sacraments, trans-substantiations,
a drowned mouse in the birdbath.
Nothing is ordinary, not even
a coke bottle in the black loam,
polished to a smooth green talisman
by the tumbling earth.
Rest in no space but your own
clarity, that which is never
a distraction. Let your tongue,
your nostrils, ears and eyes
become the angels
of revelation.

Why Meditate?



A friend asked me, 'Why bother to meditate?' This picture of my teacher is the answer. When I gaze into the eyes of the Beloved, I have no choice. Meditation happens.

'Then you have lost your freedom!' the intellectual replies. Intellect feels threatened by the Love that is beyond choice. Intellect feels alive only when it restlessly pinches itself with choosing, 'This is better than that, this is true and that is false.'

But as intellect comes to rest in the radiance of choiceless love, which is the choice that ends restless choosing, there is freedom. That freedom is meditation.

'Our hearts are ever restless till they come to rest in Thee.' -St. Augustine

(Thanks to Scotty Hague for the beautiful darshan picture.)

Power of Play



If your meditation doesn't 'work,' you must have turned it into a job.


Let meditation be play, the wave-play of awareness resting in its oceanic self. Meditation is the source of play, the primordial play of Silence.


This universe arises from nothing through Lila Shakti, the power of play. In Indian philosophy, there is no other cause for creation than divine playfulness. Unmanifest pure awareness spontaneously arises in waves of creative intelligence, which become particles of matter. This is the bubbling bliss of the Samadhi state in deep meditation.


Quantum physics describes the same bubbling up of the vacuum in spontaneous creation, where 'virtual photons' and 'virtual electrons' vibrate out of silence, out of the zero at the source of all mathematical equations describing matter. Founder of quantum physics, Sir James Jeans, wrote that to modern science the universe appears less "like an enormous machine" and more "like an enormous thought." Cosmos arises where silent awareness percolates into Word, the Logos, and the Logos sings hosts of particles and galaxies.


In Hindu thought, the universe is the dream of Vishnu. But unlike us who are lost in the dream, Vishnu is awake even while dreaming, to witness and delight in the drama, the play.


The Bible gives its own version of this same creation story. "In the beginning when God was creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void... Then God said, Let there be light, and there was light. God saw the light, that it was good."

And God laughed with delight at what his Spirit had playfully created in the silence of deep meditation.

Sunday Morning


*
This beautiful stormy Sunday morning, I went outside and bowed down to a holly berry on the tip of a twig. In that instant I attained the supremely perfect absolute bliss of eternal liberation, but only for a moment - just for the instant my forehead touched the ground. Then I bowed down to a poodle, a cat, a woman, a dead mouse, and a cup of coffee.
Good morning.

I think that's the way to enlightenment. It's not some eternity outside of time or detached from creation. It's bowing down to every creature in the world, every particle of dust, every pair of eyes, moment after moment.

*
Joy and sorrow, anger and peace, sleep and waking come and go. But what never comes and goes, what remains constant amidst the arising and dissolving of all phenomenon and feeling, what underlies the universe, is a presence of perpetual wonder.

Therefor, I can be happy or sad, angry or forgiving, dreaming or waking, but I can never be bored. I have too many occasions for astonishment.

Passers By

I was walking down the sidewalk feeling rather low, worrying about work, about paying bills, about all my mistakes. Hearing a song, I looked up. Three carousers, their arms across each others shoulders, half danced and half stumbled toward me. I recognized them immediately: Jesus, Krishna, and Buddha.

Jesus said, "Hurry to the Tavern! Happy Hour is almost over. But while it lasts, everything is free."

Krishna said, "He's talking about the Tavern inside you."

Buddha said, "There is no Tavern. You're already drunk."

As they passed by, I became blessed with confusion, the music in their eyes, the sparkle of their laughter. I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to be worrying about.

What's Your Point?

You have a good point. I'm trying to make a point. Everyone has a point of view. But God is the vast space of intelligence without a point. God is pointless.

Twice a Day


In the tavern of my heart
I get drunk twice a day.
On the door there's a name
that turns all other words to laughter
but I can't pronounce it when I get like this
so I just point and dance.
I yell at people in the street:
"Don't go to work! Step inside,
drink this bewildering wine!
The tavern keeper won't bill you
till the end of time.
Then you can tell him, 'It's your fault:
your grace made me tipsy!'
Such wine is better than breast milk.
When nothing is left, you'll see your Beloved
gazing from the bottom of the cup.
This is the emptiness we all adore!"

Honor and Let Go



In this sacred season of turnings, I cannot let go of the past until I bow down to it. Whether I honor an old love or an old wound, I must bow down. In that very moment of surrender, I am free. As my forehead touches the earth, loss become a blessing that opens a way.

Is There A Safe Place?

Afghanistan is not a safe place. Fort Hood, Texas, is not a safe place. This hometown is not a safe place. The closet in the bedroom is not a safe place. The mind, full of doubt and desire, is not a safe place. There is only one safe place in the entire world: a heart surrendered to its song. Are you singing the song no one else can sing? Only this song brings peace.

My Burden Is Light



Some people think they can HAVE it all. Very few know that they can BE it all.

Why limit yourself to an infinitesimal "i"? Nothing is heavier than this little "i" trying to possess everything. Let the "i" dissolve into "Am," and the weight is gone. i don't have to carry anything because I Am everything. This is what Christ-Consciousness meant when he said, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light."

At this very moment, there are countless conscious beings who are more miserable and afraid than you are, and countless conscious beings who are more joyful and enlightened. Yet they are all You, for You are consciousness itself: clear, self-luminous, unlimited space containing all others, all worlds of hell and heaven, in addition to this tiny reference point you call "i." Thus you have immediate access to the suffering and the ecstasy of the entire cosmos.

You can breathe in the darkness of this and many other worlds, tenderly holding their pain in your heart, for your silent heart is a space wider than any suffering. The weariness you enfold in that space is not just your personal weariness; it is the weariness of all sentient beings. In your heart, embrace all suffering without fear. Transmute that weight into the weightless pure luminosity You Are. Then breathe out Compassion through every cell of your body.

Likewise, You can breathe in the radiance of the sun, the stars, the brilliance of creation's first day, the splendor of myriad celestial kingdoms. For they are all waves and bubbles of the one oceanic being You Are. Breathe perfect Light into the crystal Christ-All center of your heart. Be utterly and finally illumined this instant. Now, breathe out Beauty through every cell of your body.

It's no fun being separate when you can be All, when you can be part of the bright Cloud of Witnesses, the Communion of Saints, that envelopes the earth.

Happy All Saints Day!
November 1, 2009

Coming Out As God



For a long time, I've been harboring doubts about my humanity. After deep soul searching, I've figured out who I really am. I've decided to come out of the closet and share my true human identity. I am God.

Don't be shocked. There are more of us in your life than you ever imagined. We're your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, even your parents. Some say as many as one out of every ten human beings is God. I think it's more. I think there's God in all of us.

Just because I'm God doesn't make me any less human than you. I will no longer hide my divinity under feelings of shame, inferiority, and sin. I will celebrate being me, fully human and fully divine, just like my brother, Jesus.

On the surface, I may get confused and unhappy now and then, but deep down inside, where it counts, I know who I am. I Am. I Am Being. I Am God.

Are you sure you aren't God too?

8/30/2009

The Way of the Wizard

Wizards utilize the power of uncertainty. When we are unsure, we often seek certainty in the mind and become limited by our beliefs. But wizards regard the Uncertain as a deep ocean of Possibility: an opportunity to sink from the mind into the heart. There, in the heart's core-silence, wizards operate through pure intuition, free from the bondage of thought and belief.

We are all wizards.

The Human


The world is a theater of mirrors, all wildly tossing one image from emptiness to emptiness, in a sea of clarity. That is how God dances, remaining motionless, and the One expresses multitudes. Souls, devas, angels and demons: all reflections of the same divine Likeness, many from one for the sake of love.

Almighty Father casts his reflection in the mirror of his own consciousness: that image is Mother Divine. The Mother reflects herself in the mirror her own consciousness: that image is the Creator. Every soul is the image of another, cast in consciousness, spilling through spaces of infinite possibility down stairways of reflection, until a brilliant beam awakens as You, staring every which way and wondering, "Who am I?" Don't you remember now? You are the original Light.

Great Mother, Creatrix and Theotokos, gives birth to souls, angels, Avatars and Bodhisattvas in the multiversal unfolding lotus of light, petals within petals, all born from one Seed, all finished and perfected in the very same Seed where they are born. That Eternal Seed is both beginning and end.

Dante described this cosmic lotus as the 'Heavenly Rose' of his Paradisio: a flower containing the hierarchy of angels, saints and liberated souls terraced in radiant rainbow shades of white light, tones of celestial harmony, tiers of bliss, up-spilling toward one center, a luminous cruciform stamen, shape of the human body, arms outstretched to embrace creation, welcoming all sentient beings into the Sacred Heart.

It matters not whether we call this form the Mystical Body of Christ, the Adam Kadmon of Jewish Kabbala, or Krishna, the transcendental form of the formless. They reveal one and the same secret:

As divinity illuminates the
inmost core of the human heart, so Humanity illuminates the inmost core of the Divine. This is the double reflection of God and Man, the meaning of our creation "in the image and likeness of God."

Never doubt that God has become You so that You can become God.


No Need



The ocean is the waves. The waves are the ocean. The one has no need to become two. It is already two. The two have no need to become one. They are already one.

To dwell in this No-Need, just seeing how the other is already yourself, is enlightenment without practice.

Where's the Should?


"He who expects nothing enjoys everything," said St. Francis of Assisi.

When the world doesn't meet our expectations, is the problem in the world or the mind? Our mind imposes expectations on the present moment from the storehouse of past impressions. We pick the best of the past and project it as "hope." When experience conforms to our hope, we call it "good." When it doesn't, we call it "bad." Granting authority to the past, we live in a constant conflict between the way the world is and the way we remember it. This is suffering: the conflict between the present and the past, between what Is and what Should be.

Suffering is irresponsible: a failure to respond. Suffering happens when we get so stuck in how it should be that we can't respond to how it is. Pain, of course, is inevitable. But suffering is a choice: a choice to prefer the past.

When we drop our expectations, what happens? We eliminate suffering before it arises. We relieve the tension between past and present. We become instantly alert, energetic, and sensible. We acquire response-ability for the Now.

Do I have enough courage to renounce the authority of the past, with its Should?

Have you ever wondered where Should comes from? I may feel that it comes from inside, but how did it get there? Fear of someone outside drove that Should deep within me, until I thought it must be my own voice and my guide. But the true guide, deeper than thinking, at the very source of mind, is not the voice of Should but the voice of silence. There is no Should in silence.

The silence of awareness is there before a single word arises. True guidance is voiceless. I know that I make the right decision, not because I hear a voice saying "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not," but because I feel a centering, a release of tension in the heart, the warmth of inward home-coming.

Real renunciation means dropping the Should, so that we may live in what St. Francis called "perfect joy." Renunciation isn't wearing a robe or living in a cave, but opening our hearts to the naked miraculous terrible ecstatic world that Is, just as it Is, without any expectations, without any ground to stand on but Now.

Ano Raniyan


Stunning new Hubble telescope images give us hope. Just to gaze at them is health insurance.

Is this vast space out there, or is it in here? Perhaps this is the trail of a quark in the nucleus of an atom at the tip of a neuron in your brain as you gaze at this very image and form a thought about it now. Why not?

"O Nature and O soul of man!" writes Melville in Moby Dick, "how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! Not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind." So declare the Upanishads of ancient India, "Ano raniyan mahato mahiyan: One atom of the smallest is greater than the greatest." The empty space between electrons firing neuropeptides through a synapse in your hypothalamus enfolds golden galaxies of starry intelligent virtual light. You make the universe conscious. You are the miracle. You are God's body, born to manifest a uniquely unfolding image of the total creation.

Don't you remember? Who taught you otherwise? To conceive of yourself as anything less is the original sin.

Parenting



Unconditional Love contains both Yes and No.


Parenting is tricky. For years I thought I was in an advanced state of Buddhic non-attachment. Now I realize my parents put me in time-out and I'm still there. On the other hand, the children of blissed-out New Agers I know are mostly brats. And they're all named Ananda, which is depressing. Is the boy pictured here in time-out? Or is he a child of the New Age, whose parents allow him to urinate in my living room?

It really doesn't matter. However we parent them, our children turn out to be who they are. They manage to survive us, and they survive every new theory of parenting pretty much unscathed. So stop worrying about parenting and just be YOU with your kids. If your child is really a beam of God's light - and I hope you believe your child is a beam of God, or why bother to have a child at all? - then how can you diminish God in any way by sticking Her in a corner? Maybe God is a brat who needs a little discipline now and then, just as a jewel needs polishing to bring out the radiance.

My Guru Maharshi Mahesh used to say, "Mother is at home." It was one of his favorite expressions. It means that, no matter what happens, Mother is here and things work out just as they need to. To experience how deeply Mother is at home, WE need to be at Om. We need to be at rest in the Source. Then we can parent by just Being.

Don't fret about the when and how of parenting. There's no script. When Anna and I had our first child, people gave us all the latest parenting books. They made us neurotic. So we threw them away and embarked on the wondrous adventure of being unique parents to our own unique child. Which we already were.

The only parenting book worth reading is the one written in your heart, the one that is about your child and no one else's. And please don't practice Unconditional Love: not in my house. We had good friends who came to visit us with their toddler. They were playing Jesus-parent. The kid wandered around knocking over porcelain vases, dropping glasses of juice on our rug, and spreading grape jelly fingerprints on the living room walls, while mom sat there smiling blissfully. But her bliss was artificial: it was not in harmony with the environment. Real bliss would have said "No!"

Unconditional love contains both Yes and No. Unconditional love is not a practice. It is a state of Being that encompasses whatever practice is needed in the moment. Such love includes hugs and kisses, reprimands and regulations, or appropriate discipline. Love is like the clear pure space that contains the clouds, which come and go within it. Space remains still, but the clouds can get stormy.

You can BE unconditional love, but you cannot DO it. Why? Because all doing is conditioned and relative to what has already been done. Doing is the field of karma. Unconditional love is completely separate from karma. This is why Jesus taught, "My kingdom is not of this world." And, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." This sounds like a total cop-out until you discover that there are two realms: the absolute and the relative, the Purusha (or universal soul) and Prakriti (or nature). Prakriti is the mirage, Purusha is the still space in which the mirage dances. They are ultimately one, but in our daily experience, they are separate.

Unconditional love is always at rest in the silence of the Parusha. But Prakriti is an endless churning storm of conditioning, karmic action and reaction. What's this have to do with parenting? Well, it turns out that parenting is an advanced school for learning these truths: much more advanced than sitting in a cave in the Himalayas and meditating all day! The enlightened parent surrounds her child with pure Being. Yet simultaneously she performs the action appropriate to the occasion. The parent learns to BE unconditional love while DOING conditional karma. She does not confuse being with doing. For if one makes that mistake, either love diminishes or action is ineffective.

But, hell, we're not enlightened! We make mistakes all the time. The realm of karma IS the realm of mistakes. The truth is, if Mother is at Om in your heart, what happens in the realm of karma doesn't really matter. It's bound to happen. So let Heather have a frigging Hostess Twinkie once in awhile. Or stick her in the corner for two minutes. And don't worry if she hears somebody yell, "Fuck!" The field of karma is never the field of perfection. Perfection lies only within the heart, where Mother is at Om.

Your child will remember your little mistakes and laugh about them some day. How often my daughters tell me, "Dad, you were so worried about insanely small stuff. We thought you were stupid. But we knew one thing: no matter how many stupid things you did, you loved us."

I was a klutz, but my kids turned out to be perfectly who they are. Children are the most adaptable forgiving unstuck graceful beings on earth. THEY DON'T NEED OUR PERFECTION. And I guarantee you, whoever you want your child to be, your child will be somebody else.

Just be at home in the heart, Mother. Just be at Om, Father. Who cares if you mess up now and then? It's called humanity. Your children will forgive you. All that really matters is, YOU WERE THERE.

Give yourself some credit for just showing up. Give yourself credit for just Being.

Dropping Mythology



When I question my assumptions, I glimpse my mythology. When I see through my mythology, which is all about getting the past "right" by repeating it in the future, I let my story dissolve like mist in the clear air of the present moment.

This is "viveka," discrimination. Viveka leads to freedom, freedom to dwell in presence, freedom to drop every story about a tragic or heroic "me" from the past who will return. Then who is left to be offended, avenged, forgiven or redeemed? Who needs to be saved? From what?

Happier Than Thou


Happiness happens. When it happens, I can be happy. When it doesn't, I can just be.

Being happy and being sad are two flavors of the same being. Why insist on being happy? Insist on being.

The irony is, being sad is happier than needing to be happy. Being is fullness. Needing is lack.

In the competitive marketplace of New Age spirituality, happiness sells. Has "happier than thou" replaced "holier than thou"? Permanent happiness is an emotional flat-line invented by pharmaceutical corporations. Whoever said you shouldn't have mood swings? Moods have phases like the moon. Let them come and go: they're not who you really are. Behind moon changes, a changeless sun. So, behind mental or emotional states, a stillness that has nothing to do with happy or sad. It is your core-silence, the silent stillness of Being. Give yourself a break from the labor of maintaining a happy-face. Once in awhile, disobey New Age doctrine. Have M&M's for breakfast, and embrace whatever mood swings your way.

Why is happiness the indicator of spirituality, any more than courage, intelligence, psychic ability, or a positive ratio of muscle mass to body fat? Making any one factor the test of enlightenment is a desperate escape from the final truth that life is simply as it is. Sometimes you feel happy, sometimes sad. So what? Why get stuck in the task of making it all feel the same?

Deeply spiritual souls can struggle with chronic depression. If you're one of them, it's rather insulting to be told you should always be happy. Vapid materialists can be chronically cheerful. Maybe it's in their designer genes.

Genius knows loneliness as well as inspiration. The world's greatest artists sometimes sense the nameless grief. Israel's prophets felt the suffering of multitudes. Jesus was "a man of sorrows." Yet moments of sorrow did not prevent him from bestowing the heart's deepest peace upon his friends.

If we are too blissed-out to feel the ache of Iraq and Afghanistan, the pangs of Dharfur, the groan of oceans stressed, threatened streams, burning skies, cries of earth, and "the still sad music of humanity," then we are using a false happiness to numb the heart. This is not real ananda, real bliss. Real ananda breathes the world in, breaks the heart open, and breathes out compassion.

While Walking

The following practices will stop the mind while you take a walk, delivering attention from the artificial world of thought into the Radiance of immediate perception.

When we walk in Grace we don't practice anything. But the egoic mind wants to take over and DO something. We yearn to walk in Grace, and we know how vain it is to practice any "technique." But what should we do about this mind that keeps getting in the way?

We trick it. We trick this ego by giving it exactly what it wants: something to do. Offer the mind something which short-circuits its thinking and annihilates its effort. Then the mind is dumb-struck, thoughtless, and capable of only one thing: observing. These practices are given simply to sabotage our ambition, to stop our thinking so that we can notice what is.

Every spiritual practice, ritual, or meditation is only this: an act of sabotage. Spiritual practices have one purpose: to stop the mind. There is no other value to any religious technique whatsoever.

Between the eye and the earth, thought throws up its gray world of distraction. God is only real, as experience, when there is no thought of "God." In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is poured out all over the earth, but men do not see it." If you stop thinking, you will see the face of Christ in the swirling pond-water of a disappearing tadpole, or in the wing of the moth you mistook a moment ago for a withered pod.

Short-circuit thinking and awaken to a world that doesn't depend on the vanity of our speculation. Let the landscape settle back into its miracle, revealing the Kingdom which has always been right here.

1. Place

Find a place near your home or work where you can walk among green plants, useless rocks, still water, dripping rain or running stream. Suppose we say that it is the responsibility of each citizen to connect with such a place for walking. This would be the first rule of a healthy civilization.

2. Moving Stillness

Have you ever noticed pure space? Not the objects in space, but space itself? Pure space cannot be noticed by eye or ear: it is noticed by committing an intentional act of naked awareness. Often this happens when we travel to the great plains or the desert: we notice space as space, and it is breath-taking. But confined to the cubicles of our daily work, and the smaller cubicles of thought, we lose all sense of spaciousness. Yet we can practice spaciousness while taking a walk. Then we can bring some of that spacious, boundless quality back to our work place, and our relationships.

Anger, fear and envy require some inner space in which to be seen, to dissipate and to dissolve. Inner spaciousness is the setting of forgiveness. Where will we acquire that inward space?

Walk in wild places. Walk slowly. Become aware of the space around you as an immense sea of living force, more substantial than the objects it contains. This is a shift of foreground-background. Space becomes foreground, the things in space, background.

Now become aware of the movement of your body into the stillness of space. You are not entering space: space is drawing you, opening a way for your body to fill it. Depth of space welcomes you by expanding. It is not your effort that moves you, but the expansion of space that pulls you into its silent vacuum... This is motionless walking.

Let the movements of your body rise and fall in stillness. Observe motion in stillness and stillness in motion. Is there an edge between your movement and the still space around you? Notice the threshold where stillness trembles into motion, and motion settles into repose. This is the threshold where you float on God's breath. You are a secret wave rolling through the silence of the sea. You no longer move yourself: you are moved by Grace.

3. Divine Space

There is an ancient Tibetan saying, "Emptiness engenders compassion." Have you ever considered that what we call "God" is not "above" or "within," but present in space around you? Have you ever considered that space may be conscious? Why limit yourself by assuming otherwise? When you were a child, it was the most natural thing in the world to assume that the space around you was the mind of God. Have you considered that the objective world of things may exist simply to make us aware of the space around them, so that we may awaken to the Presence of the Divine?

Walk slowly into stillness. As you become conscious of space, allow space to be conscious of you, enfolding you in its care. Let space envelope your body as a sea of living compassion. This experience is available without the slightest religious belief or intellectual analysis. All you need to do is agree to become aware.

Now see the stones on your path, the weeds, trees, children, clouds, all bathed and submerged in the translucent waters of divine love, the living power of space.

4. Hearing Silence

Just as you shifted your attention from objects in space to space itself, you can shift your attention from sounds to silence. Become aware of silence, not by resisting noises but by hearing them. Hear the subtlest, the most distant sounds. Hear the quietness between one bird's chirp and the next. A single thrush's cry can clear the weather of your thoughts. A cricket can dispel the mind. When you are really listening to that cricket, you cannot be anywhere else but here, now. There can be no time past or future when there is a cricket.

Allow a foreground-background shift in your listening. Let sounds become backround as silence condenses into the primary texture of your sensation. You can hear the silence even while threads of sound arise and dissolve within it.

This too, a threshold: between sound and silence, where a constant subliminal song arises from the elements, the wind, the rain, the earth. The song is there even in the distant swish of city traffic. Beneath each creature-melody, a basso continuo. Hear that silence and you are in the beginning, at the first moment of creation, where the world is spoken from silence.

5. One Color

Become aware of a single color. Choose a color, any color. As you walk, see the vibrancy of that one color, its infinite variety, all around you. Notice that color in trunk bark, clouds on water, swathes of field weed. Be Van Gogh on a country road outside of Arles, finding purple in a stone, or pink in cow manure, blue in the summer wheat. This exercise will sharpen your spiritual eye. As Jesus taught, "The eye is the light of your body. When your eye is single, your whole body is full of light!"

When you walk in the forest, try this exercise with the color green. How many shades of green do you see? You'll be stunned as you wander through the dimensions, the corridors, the cathedral vaults of green. In the 10th Century, Hildegaard of Bingen described the Holy Spirit as "greening power." As she walked in deep forests along the river Rhine, she saw God all around her.

6. One Thing

A Sufi proverb says, "The fools! They ask for miracles when they are surrounded by nothing else!" There is no greater miracle than a Thing. Any Thing. How does it emerge from space? How do quadrillions of sub-nuclear particles maintain its form? Was it created in the past? Or is it created now, as a continuous particle-stream emitted from the vacuum of space? If the Thing was created in the past, what living energy makes it continue to be present? If the Thing is created now, it must be alive with the breath of its creator, even if it is a stone. Ask these questions about any Thing you look at or hold in your hand. Perhaps it is the smallest flower, or a smooth pebble.

In his journal, painter Andrew Wyeth writes: "I can never get close enough to an object, or inside of it enough." Quantum physics reveals an inner world of resonant frequencies underlying the world of apparently inanimate objects. No thing is inanimate. The pebble is a cosmos. Stupendous energies burst and dissolve in it's atoms. Every proton was fashioned in a star. I told a kindergarten child that a stone is alive. When she told her teacher, the child got in trouble. I don't think the teacher was alive.

Every atom of this pebble vibrates with the same architectural intelligence that designed our galaxy. In scale, the atom contains shimmering light-years of consciousness. Medieval theologians understood this. Pondering the "quidity," the "whatness" of a Thing, they saw angels dancing in a neutron. We joke about it. We are blind.

James Joyce wrote of "the ineluctable modality of the visible." The world ripples with miracle in the suchness of Things as they are. A robin's egg contains the sky. A thistle is filled with the stuff of suns. Every toddlers knows that leaves are shot with golden photons of Apollo. See like Issa, the Japanese haiku master: the whole earth is yours the moment you enter a dewdrop. If you can't find God in the wing of a gnat, you will never find God in heaven. Take a walk and look at a Thing.

In your primary attention, observe the space around the Thing, the Thing itself only in periphery. Let empty space solidify into consciousness. See the Thing bathed in living awareness. You are not only observing your own awareness of the Thing; you are observing God's awareness of creation.

Gradually allow your attention to shift back to the edge of the Thing in space. Observe that edge dissolve into atoms of air. Can you observe that there are really no boundaries? Mathematicians tell us that objects don't end at their apparent edges: they infuse through fractal geometry the air around them, extending to infinity. Zeno was right: there's a never-ending distance between the hand and the Thing it tries to touch. Our fingers are asymptotes. "If the doors of perception were open, we would see all things as they are: infinite." (William Blake)

As you observe this liminal threshold between the Thing and the space around it, let your gaze soften. Become aware of the aureole around the edges of the Thing, just as you might see a glow around a flame. Move your gaze to the object, then back to the space around it, until your attention settles in the radiant vibrancy between them. You are exploring the realm where Spirit becomes matter. You are perceiving the breath of God at work in creation.

Don't concern yourself whether this aura is objectively "real" or just a "trick" of the eye. Such questions will only invite your mind to chatter. Instead, silently observe the creative spiritual shimmer at the threshold of Thingness.

Practice this for a minute or two, then resume your walk. As you familiarize yourself with this mode of seeing, it begins to happen spontaneously while walking. Eventually, it happens in the crowded market place. Now you are ready to look at people!

7. Seeing People

As Blake wrote: "We are set on earth a little space to learn to bear the beams of love."

While sitting in a doctor's waiting room, or on a subway, or walking in a busy market, observe a Person just as you observed a Thing. You have seen the living energy of a flower, a leaf, a stone in the woods. What does the living energy of a Person look like? Even if the Person seems hostile, strange, threatening, observe the space around them. Gradually shift your attention to that threshold between form and space, at the periphery of the Person's face. See the lively edge around the Person's head, the shimmer of life between their body and the space that enfolds it. After practicing this for a few moments, shift your gaze gently to the Person's face.

You will see that face in a new way, bathed by an inner light. You will see, glowing through the outer form, the inwardness that makes that Thing a person. You will see something of the child who once inhabited that form, glimmering beneath layers of regret, etchings of sorrow. The empty space of your awareness will enfold that Person's face in spontaneous compassion. You will know that Person as perfect, right in this moment.

Even if, especially if, you are in a difficult relationship, and the other person is angry or afflicted, practice this gazing. You don't need to listen to what the Person is saying. At that moment of tension, what they say doesn't matter anyway. Just embrace their countenance with awareness, God's awareness. Let the motion of their anger and pain be enfolded by the stillness of pure space. You will not only save your mind from entanglement: you will soften and illuminate the their world. This is how to deal with another person's anger: as you would deal with a flower in the silence of the forest.

Baruchah!



Baruk etah Adonai h'Olam! Blessed are you, Lord of all Creation!

What audacious blessing from the Hebrew Prayer Book is this? We do not ask for God's blessing. We bless Him from whom all blessings flow! What creature has been blessed deeply enough to bless the Creator?

The lion cannot do it, the orchid cannot do it, the sun cannot do it, nor the galaxy; creatures mightier and more lovely than Man, but with no voice of praise! Only one small otherwise worthless creature can do this thing, can bless the Blessed One.

Ever creature has a purpose. The lilac's purpose is releasing fragrance and seed, the lioness hunts to feed her cubs, the cloud brings rain to fields of wheat. But what is the purpose of a woman and a man?

We cannot bring rain. We hunt not nearly so well as the lion. We release no lilac fragrance, nor till a garden as well as a worm. So inept we are at the tasks of other creatures, that we employ their skills and strengths to sustain us. We took the power of the ox, the swiftness of the horse, the warmth of sheep's wool, the oil of whales to light our lamps, the feather of a bird for our arrow's flight. But there was a single task that these creatures could not do; a task which no mountain, or cloud, or star could accomplish: to be aware!

Only to be aware is the priestly function of the human creature. Humans are priests who perform the function of awareness on behalf of all creation. Only we, inept at every other task, become empty vessels of awareness, filled with gratitude for the gifts of God. To perceive things, just as they are, and offer them back in moments of thanksgiving: this is the task you have given me, O Lord. This is my purpose, O God, my only purpose.

The sudden sight of the moon slipping from a cloud, the glistening of a raindrop on the violet's tip, the bell of a wood-thrush, the silken touch of morning breeze: these are your offerings to me, that I may make them offerings to You, in the holy sacrament of perception. I gaze upon the violet, I enter the lingering echo of the thrush. In the fiery silence of my pure attention, the world is abstracted to its Maker, creatureliness dissolves, matter turns to Spirit, thingness of flower to no-thingness of God. Consciousness in me completes your creation, O Lord, returns your out-pouring Word as my word of praise. Were I not grateful, all creation would yet be still-born, a broken circle, a circuit shorted out.

Whatever else I do for work, my real vocation is looking, listening, touching the world, consuming its forms in the formless radiance of awareness.

This is the secret of your love, the secret of your humbleness, O God. I am not blessed without You: yet You are not blessed without Me! Breathing in, behold, I am blessed. Breathing out, behold, I bless You.


Soldier's Body



The bed is soft, gentle is her sleeping hand,
The old cat bundled and purring at our feet.
I had almost entered the memory, my soul
drifting toward another birth, forgetting how
far from home I fall, my face among small flowers
that worry down my cheek like child fingers, only
child of ours. A dark pool widens in the grass
under my belly. Cannon fire, numb and muffled
through the golden mist of equanimity
where past and present mingle in some final
chemistry of silence. Do not call it death:
it is too familiar, opening like her hand
asleep in mine. A voice, 'well done, rest now, soldier,'
speaks from the stillness that enfolds all battles,
calling me back to the field where I have fallen
so often before, refrain in a melody
of bones, soldier's body among blue flowers.

Peaks and Valleys



Are not the shadowed valleys of my soul permeated by the same bliss as the mountain top? I love to walk through misty lowlands as much as to sit in the sun. The relentless optimism of those who insist that I must always be happy is a subtle form of oppression.

Don't insist that every moment be a peak. Embrace dark valleys as legitimate spaces in the landscape of your wholeness. The best deal is to settle for who you are in this moment, with all your rough edges and unresolved emotions.

When happiness happens, be happy. When it doesn't, don't search. The moment you give up the search and allow yourself to be, just as you are, peace arises. Everything comes to rest in the present moment.

Your Own Love Affair

"Why should not we also enjoy an original relationship with the universe?" (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Nature,' 1836)

Spirituality is not imitation. If we pattern our soul on any other - whether Jesus, or the Guru, or our favorite hero - we may feel safe, but we will miss our own personal love-affair with the Infinite.

Love and Self

My love surrounds you. But that is no concern of yours. I love you for my own sake. Your love surrounds me. But that is no concern of mine. You love me for your own sake. Knowing this, our love remains unconditional. Forgetting this, our love slips into attachment.

Love is divinely Self-centered. Every wave of love arises in the ocean of the Self, and returns to the ocean of the Self, to delight the Self alone, who is both "me" and "other."

Many of us cling to the myth of "selflessness." But there is no selfless love. We only have two choices: love in passion, or love in dispassion. We either love the other as an other, or love the other as our Self.

This is why Jesus said the greatest commandment, equal with loving God, is "to love thy neighbor as thy Self." If we could handle this truth, we could avoid much pain in relationships.

8/29/2009

The Eye

O God, I looked for you there, and could not find you. I found you here, where the radiance of seeing outshines what is seen, where the mystery of loving dissolves what is loved, where Being drowns all beings, and joy springs up without a cause. As an Other I sought you, but I found you as my Self.

Milk


'Woman Pouring Milk': George Thiaru, Kenya, d. 1962

The Mother pours her milk, which is the self-effulgent glow of silence, into the chalice of my heart, where it spills into every cell of my body, into my senses, and through them into the world. I offer the chalice back up to her. This never ending stream of offering is my breath.

Day and night, O my body, pay attention to the luminous circle of inhalation and exhalation! Be nourished at the divine breast. Receiving this unbroken white stream of living silence, I can never lack. From the aperture at the crown of my head, through the hollow stem of my spine, to the golden bowl of my heart, what am I but an emptiness to be filled by the Mother's radiance? And how can the Mother bless the earth without my breathing?

Breathe in silence, breathe out compassion. Breathe in light, breathe out healing. Breathe in joy, breathe out creation.

Some call it Shakti. Some call it Holy Spirit. And some call it Chi. I call it the milk of the great Mother. Let this glittering current of eternity bear me away: it is my own breath. The more I embrace, breathing in, the more the Mother pours into the world, breathing out. Let the uncreated silence at my core be so open, that I welcome the pain of all creatures, and drown in the sacramental flood of ordinary things. A bee lands on a tiny blue flower: a gesture of impish delight on God's perfect face. A patch of sunlight illuminates the fur of a lounging cat: I am in love.

Pausing in the grocery store, I see the eyes of the woman at the cash register. She works two shifts, serving me day and night with no complaint, yet I've never asked her name. Now I look into her eyes. Breathing her weariness in, I dissolve and adore. Breathing out, I anoint her body with gratitude.

I see mourners at a funeral. and my breath passes over with the shadow of the dead. I go with him awhile into darkness, a wickless flame on his path.

I see the homeless lady who lives in a cardboard box. People give her money, but she always returns to her cardboard home in the street. What more can be done? Breathe the Mother's grace upon her. Breathe for her the peace she will not breathe. Breathe her clenched fist into a palm. Breathe her heart open.

I see the salmon leap the ladder at the weir. The struggling chum's last quiver of hope suspended against the stream, he falls back and is not seen on the surface again. There is a silence where my breath goes, before the next breath. In this silence I receive the dying, I gather the unborn.

The world is sacred, but only in potential. An offering laid upon an alter, earth awaits the blessing of human breath, consecrated by awareness. This is no romance. I evoke what Is, the prayer of the world already spoken, the exquisite ordinary. With each breath, I de-romanticize ideal to real, affirming the miracle of the commonplace. Thank you, Mother, for the dirt on the bottom of this shoe, its dark sweet molecules of the dead and the living, suspended in the radiance of Seeing.

God isn't Interested in Guilt



A woman I know went on retreat at a Catholic convent. After spending nearly an hour lamenting all her sins to a patient old nun named Margaret, Sister Margaret stood up, patted her on the shoulder and said, "Sweetie, God isn't interested in your guilt."

God is interested in our joy, not our sin. Real faith is delight. We approach our Creator the more we delight in the ordinary miracles of creation, and God is always nearer to us than we are to God. Fear of hell won't bring us one inch closer to heaven. How many more centuries will we spend in gloomy angst about this petty little thing, the soul? The soul is not eternal. At best, it only lasts an instant!

The soul, as an independent 'I', perpetuates itself through worry. As soon as I give up worrying about my own salvation, my soul dissolves.

Yet when I delight in God's presence, I am God's Self-delight, and I am eternal. One pure instant of delight burns up countless centuries of sin, like a spark in an attic full of old newspapers.

Why wait? Burn up now! Be the spark of delight who is never more that one moment old!

8/28/2009

Simple

I am simplistic. I can't imagine anything I'd rather be accused of than reducing life to great simplicities!

When modern astro-physics declares the origin of the cosmos to be a mathematical singularity, that is simplistic, but I get it. When Gandhi says, God has no religion, that is simplistic, but I get it. When Jesus says, Let your yes be yes and your no be no, that is simplistic, but I get it. When St. John writes, God is love, that is simplistic, but I get it. When the Upanishads affirm, Om Tat Sat: Everything is God, that is simplistic, but I get it.

What I don't get is why so many people hide behind complex arguments, and drape themselves in mind.

8/12/2009

Don't Worry



How can you see an angel in heaven if you don't know how to look at an apple blossom?


"Take no thought for your life, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall wear, or for your body; for who among you by worrying can add one inch to your stature?"

Jesus spoke the complete Gospel in these simple words from the Sermon on the Mount. The Greek imperative "mei merimnate" means "don't worry." The King James version of the Bible eloquently translates this as "take no thought." Not to worry is freedom from thought.

"Don't worry" is precisely what Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita: "ma suchoh" in Sanskrit. "Abandon all religious duties and simply surrender to Me. My grace will deliver you from all your sins. Don't worry."

At any moment of our life, we have two choices: this now, or a cloud of worries. We shroud the reality of this now in thoughts, a gray mental cloud containing the future and the past, regret and anxiety. Yes, our future and our past only exist as thoughts in our mind.

When we see What Is through this drab haze of worry, we call it the world. But if we could see What Is without the superimposition of thought, we would call it paradise. The Kingdom of Heaven is always right here. When we surrender to this presence, we are nourished by the Tree of Life. But instead, we choose, like Eve and Adam, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Then we fall into exile in the world of mind, endlessly judging what is good and evil, better or worse. "Oh I'm tired of this. I'd rather have that!" This constant thinking throws us out of the garden of Presence, into the realm of time.

Many spiritual seekers express this exile as a division between "the material plane" and "higher planes of consciousness." We are fascinated by angels, celestial visions, and ascended masters who channel wisdom from other worlds. We'd rather be up there, with them. But the truth is, angels dwell right here. Angels and devas are not above the earth, but deep inside it. Heavenly lokas and Buddha fields manifest on the same spectrum of energy as our own bodies. They just vibrate at a different frequency, a little less dense than we. Angels, archangels, powers, princedoms and dominions, all dwell in an apple bud.

Have you truly looked at a flower? Have you noticed the subtler textures within it, the refined energy around its edges? Physical matter is permeated by interior worlds. They are seen in more relaxed layers of consciousness, just as cells and molecules are seen in deeper layers of magnification. How can you see an angel in heaven if you don't know how to look into an apple blossom?

There is no higher world than this one. There is no heaven beyond the tip of your nose. The whole breadth of the cosmos is between your eyebrows. The kingdom of the Gods is hidden in the dust on your sneaker. Then why do you suffer? Simply because of your restless desire to be elsewhere.

The Greek word for "judgment" is "crisis." Jesus the Liberator teaches us to live the crisis of Judgment Day right now. The crisis is a starkly simple decision. Do we choose to be here, or to be elsewhere? Do we live in the present moment, or in the gray haze of the past and future?

If you experience a sense of crisis, rejoice! A crisis is an opportunity to choose liberation, to choose What Is and awaken to Now.

Faith is the constant choice to be here now. Don't confuse Faith with belief, for belief is only a defense against worry about the past and future. Belief is made out of thoughts and words. Faith is made out of silence.

Faith is opening to the grace of Presence, allowing Presence to have its way with us, unrestricted by memory and expectation. The people around us need our Presence, not our past and our future. Acting in Presence, we create a new heaven and a new earth.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also said, "Take no thought for tomorrow." Eternal life doesn't begin when we die. It could not be eternal if it hasn't started yet! Eternal life begins for us whenever we choose to let it happen.

So relax, drop your worries, look into a bud. Make it blossom with your looking.

8/11/2009

Ego

Consciousness is both playful and dangerous. It is the one phenomenon with the curious ability to form its own background and sneak up on itself from behind, just to thicken the plot.

Therefor, it is wiser to dance with your ego than try to destroy it, because the most vulnerable ego of all is the person who thinks he doesn't have one.

Losing Our Minds

A woman said to me, "Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind!" We all feel this way from time to time. So what if we lose our minds? Don't we lose them every night when we fall asleep? Go ahead, lose your mind. You'll get another one.

When we say, "I'm losing my mind," who is the "I" who sees the mind being lost? That seer is completely separate from the mind. We are not our minds. We are the silent golden space of awareness, more vast than any mind we could lose.

8/10/2009

Don't Know



"True faith is bewilderment." (Martin Luther)

"Which of you by taking thought can add one inch to his stature?" (Mattew 6:27)


When the Patriarch Bodhidharma brought Buddhism to China, the Emperor Wu demanded an audience with him. A court-official recited the list of the emperor's meritorious deeds: from the founding of universities and hospitals to charities for the poor. After the long recitation, the Emperor asked Bodhidharma what merits he had achieved.

Bodhidharma answered, "Don't know."

"Then what is your authority as a teacher?" asked the emperor.

Bodhidharma replied, "Don't know."

"So," huffed the emperor, "what is it that you teach?"

"Don't know."

All the suffering that humans inflict on one another - whether in the name of "god" or scientific "progress," whether in the name of national defense, moral righteousness or political reform, all such suffering whatsoever comes from believing that we know. Based on our knowledge, we attempt to improve the world. And because we know, we permit ourselves to invade, inject, possess, convert, repress and exploit other human beings.

But what do we know? Every morning we wake up assuming that we know our world. Furiously, all day long, we manipulate this world, making the future conform to our knowledge. But do we even know the most basic substance of our world, what it's made of? Do we know what the simplest flower, or speck of dust, or a single atom, or an electron actually is? And failing to know the essence of the world, how can our knowledge of anything have any basis?

Do we know the world, or the mind's description of the world? Do we know any thing, or only our thought about it? Are we not perpetually cut off from the green and sensuous mystery of things as they truly are, because we dwell as exiles in our knowledge?

Perhaps reality is finally encountered, not by knowing, but by surrendering to the Unknown, and dissolving into this, which is more immediate than any thought you can think about it....

Until now, we have assumed that "religion" is a form of knowledge, and a set of commandments. But the word comes from the Latin, re-ligare, which means to bind back, to return to the source. Perhaps real religion has more to do with a process of unknowing than with gaining knowledge.

Those who seek to know need many commandments.

Those who think they know need ten.

Those who know they cannot know need only one:

"Don't Know."

8/09/2009

Look At The Looker



Name

"The most sacred Name is the soul of silence." (St. Theophan the Recluse)

All religions originate in the direct experience of consciousness itself. Aware of awareness, the luminous content of my seeing is the seer. My silence becomes the voice of God, saying, I Am who Am (Exodus 3). The abstract subject solidifies into its own object, like a diamond shining into its center. Self-radiance is born, who is the Christ. Or Krishna. They are twin names for the same original beauty through whom all beautiful things are beautiful, because the beauty in all forms is a projection from the "I" of the beholder.

When I perceive a glimmer of my own radiance leaking out upon some sense-object, I recoil from the intensity that would collapse and consume subject and object in the fire of unity. I protect myself from my Self by naming the living fire of perception as an object. Moses insisted on knowing God's name to gain some control over an Inward Light that would implode all creation into the beatific singularity from which it arises at the center of the soul.

As Moses' own Self, God refused to take any other name except I Am. But Moses refused to accept the revelation on Mount Sinai as Self-realization, and turned God into an Other. Western religion has suffered the division of God and Humanity ever since.

Through names, we shield ourselves from the blinding brilliance of our own Inner Light. Yet whether we name this radiance Yahweh or Brahman, Buddha-nature or Allah, these are but names. The enlightened are those with the courage to dissolve the name of God into the silence within.

Don't worry. When this happens, God does not disappear from your mind. Your mind disappears into God.

Form
"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." (Meister Eckhart)

When the first glimmer of the measureless clarity of the sky that is deeper within me than my thoughts, flashes through the chinks of my thinking mind, I cannot believe this vastness is who I really Am. I assume This to be some Other. Then I super-impose upon the cloudless sky of my own awareness the shape of some familiar religious hero such as Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, or my Guru. All such saviors are projections of form upon the formless radiance within. Their sacred stories from the past are the stories of our own journey to Self-Awareness. The past, with all its stories, is a mirage, rippling the eternal stillness of the present moment. As I wake to now, I see that all of history is a dissolving dream whose duration was no longer than this moment of awakening.

How many thousands of life-times will I worship my reflection in the form of a savior, who appears in the mirror of my own consciousness? How long will I settle for a ghostly avatar who is perpetually past, or ever almost about to return, but never present now?


Any God worth his salt must be present. Therefor, I abolish belief and accept only what is. To see God now, I reverse my gaze and revolve my search 180 degrees, from the object of my longing to its source. I look where my looking begins.

Some in the Western religious quest might be shocked to hear such words. But in fact, this revolution is true Biblical repentance: turning back to God. "Return unto the Lord, O Israel," declares Hosea. Biblical prophets constantly called Israel to turn: "T'shuva" in Hebrew. The real revolution is returning, returning to the Light Within.

I turn my world-scattered awareness back to its nameless formless source. Refracted through the prism of my mind, the Inner Light diffuses into multiple shapes and colors. This makes a fine dance, but dissipates my power. From time to time I need to take a Sabbath rest and recharge the light. When my energy is depleted, I turn the rays of refracted awareness back to their source. T'shuva: returning to who I Am.

When I gaze at the face of the Master, the Master gazes at Me, until We meet in one eye, one I. I may begin by gazing at the Master's form. But I follow the ray of my gaze into raylessness. My gaze returns to the radiance where Disciple, Master and Path all merge in one I who delights in seeing its Self.

"The Master is not a relationship. The Master is the Presence. What is necessary is to feel the Presence of the Master, not to make a relationship." (Shri Shri Ravi Shankar)

Drinking Again


I've been drinking
this wine again
all night with you.
Not the wine in
beautiful new jars,
but the stuff at the bottom
of ancient hearts.
Now my cellar is empty
as sunlight in moon beams.
But this poem
has nothing to do
with what happened last night.
Not even God
remembers that.
This is about your wedding:
the party God throws
today
in the garden where laughter
was never banished
and true nakedness awaits you
like a gown.

Willy the Poodle's Hymns


1. O Master, when I throw myself on the ground before your sneakers, and turn over so cravenly on my back, do not think that I fear your anger. I just want you to rub my belly.

2. O Master, I gaze up at you all night, snuggling between your elbow and you chest. When will you awaken, so I can lick you in the face? You do not seem to mind when my flea escapes into your sheets. It is such a small thing, I do not even think you know it.



3. Beloved Master, for three days I waited, pining away for you, staring at your empty parking spot with my chin resting on the window sill, every golden hair on my body wired for the sound of your Birkenstocks. Rick the plumber gave me a rawhide chewer, but I could not chew. Mom and the girls tried to stroke me, but I only moaned and sighed, and growled when they tried to touch the chewer I could not chew.

My heart is so full of you, Master, I weep dark tears whose stains will never be washed away. No one loves you as I, no one in the universe. So why did you have to go to Pets-Mart and get a fucking cat?!



4. Master, I am a Watch Dog. Does any other animal have "Watch" in front of its name? I bark rationally at suspicious noises. I don't wander around the house at 3 AM yowling like a neuro with ADHD. When you call, I come. I point my ears and tail abjectly downward to signify, "Not my will, but thine!"

Some animals are so moody you can't depend on them to do anything but eat. You need not waste your time figuring out MY moods. I have no moods. I am pure submission, the incarnation of a singular passion, which is what every human secretly longs to be. And when nature calls, I go outside - unlike the little Siamese asshole who needs a litter box.



5. Master, I must confess something. I am starting to tolerate Chester, our new lavender-eyed Siamese kitten - not just because he runs away, like the coward he is, when I fake the slightest lunge or nip the long and useless tail that he himself, evidently too stupid to recognize the rudiments of his own body, chases in circles on Mother's precious oriental rug, which is showing many signs of cat-wear - but because he enjoys wrestling, often ambushing me unfairly from his perch on a dining room chair, hidden under the gable of the table top, and sinking his kitteny teeth into my throat. I flip him easily with my superior strength (we poodles were bread for war, and people should not forget it). I pin him on his back. I bite his neck in self-defense. Then he slithers out of my paws as only a cat can slither. Poodles never slither.

But what's fun is, we don't hurt each other. Somehow, Chester retracts his claws so they barely get tangled in my beautiful golden fur. I can't do that with my claws. To be honest, I really
don't have any claws to speak of. When Chester bites, he doesn't bite ferociously. It's only a hickey love-bite, which is how I bite.

Then we get tired and relax in each others arms and rest awhile. When I bury my head in the warm fur of another animal, I start to remember something mysterious from long ago, too simple to comprehend. I can't quite figure it out, but it's even better than sucking on my blanket.

After we nap awhile, I chase him in a huge circle through five rooms, until he recedes back into chaos, burrowing amongst the seven hundred pair-less shoes in our weird family closet.

Master,
I must admit that when you're gone I don't spend whole days sighing by the window any more. I wrestle and chase my new brother, Chester. I am losing weight. Thank you for getting me a friend.

8/06/2009

Drop The Veil


A veil of one thought separates me from perfect happiness: "I must do something to deserve it."

No deed is ever good enough to deserve perfect happiness. It cannot be acquired by achievement.

Perfect happiness is not achieved because it's already here! It is our birthright: the gift ever given before we do anything to deserve it. That is why little children experience moments of perfect happiness: they have yet to be indoctrinated out of it.

A Vedic text declares, Antar mukhi sada sukhi. "One who perceives the Divinity within is happy." The happiness we are, before we do anything, makes love possible. When Jesus spoke the great commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thy self," he clearly taught that caring for others is rooted in self-care. Why then did so many of his followers turn S-E-L-F into a four letter word?

To love others, I must love me. I love me, not for what I achieve, but for what I Am. I love me because I was loved by God before I did anything, when God first poured the nectar of delight into the hollow core of my soul.

How many more lifetimes will I hide my perfect happiness beneath the veil of one thought, "I must do something to deserve it"?

Why not drop the veil and be happy now?

How to Take A Walk


My dear friend Ricker Winsor's 'Sedge and Forest,' (www.RickerWinsor.com)

"Few men know how to take a walk." (Emerson)

Buddha taught that there are Four Dignities in human life. One of them is walking. The others are lying down, sitting, and standing up. Zen Master Thich Nath Hanh said, "The miracle is to walk on the green earth." I don't know what they were talking about, but I think I have learned how to walk.

If you asked most Western intellectuals, "What are the four dignities of man?" they would say things like, "Courage," "Wisdom," "Kindness." They would answer in moral abstractions, those invisible bludgeons with which the better angels of our nature are always starting wars against their inferiors. Few would answer, "Lying, sitting, standing, walking:" too concrete, too organic. St. Augustine, Western Europe's first intellectual, has it wrong when he writes, "Solvitur ambulando: It is solved by walking." If we take a walk to think about a problem, we may solve the problem, but we will miss the walk.

What's in your head is a problem, even when you think its a solution. When you take a walk, put your attention in the bottom of your feet. You gain better spiritual traction with the sole of your shoe than the soul of your head.

The Lakota Sioux prophet, Black Elk, advises, "Let every step you take upon the earth be as a prayer." He does not tell us to pray while we walk, which would take us back to Augustine's cloister. He suggests that we embody a sacred relationship with the earth, a direct connection of ground and flesh. Words, even words of prayer, too often shatter that relationship. Words unground the flesh.

Just walk to walk. If you want to find the promised land, be sure to have no goal. I love Thoreau's essay, "Walking," as an essay. But it fails to take me for a walk. Henry David's mind is too busy to notice a single blade of grass. Instead, he spends his time analyzing the etimology of the word, "saunter," from the Latin and Old French, which I admit is quite fascinating: sancte terre = saunte terre = holy land. Sauntering describes the amble of Medieval pilgrims toward Jerusalem, relaxed, yet focussed and grounded. If you want to saunter, you can't be thinking about word etimologies.

Be a pilgrim to a land so strange you know you will never arrive by traveling, only by being here. When you're really here, you're already there. Your path is made of crushed jewels from the walls of Zion.

Walk to walk, eat to eat, breathe to breathe, work to work. Ignatius Loyola made this the motto for his whole army of Jesuits: "Age quod agis: Do what you are doing." If the Church had understood it, we'd have a different civilization all together: a culture of Presence. We'd celebrate where we are instead of struggling to get somewhere.

When you're headed somewhere else, you don't notice the beer cans by the roadside. You probably aren't even touching the ground, because you're in a car, grinding the cremated bones of dinosaurs into carbon monoxide. But when you're sauntering through a landscape of Presence, the beer can by the roadside is your destiny. The entire future of humanity depends on what you will do in this moment: ignore it, or bend over and pick it up?

Most of us think our destiny is too important for the task of this moment. Afterall, destiny is destination, which is not yet, not yet. Hence our civilization of distraction and contempt: we contemplate the brotherhood of man but won't pick up each other's trash.

The only civilization that works is one where people pick up each other's trash. Space itself is the village Commons, the earth our Commonwealth. If everybody just got out of their cars and started sauntering through this Holy Land, discovering our destiny in every beer can and candy wrapper, we would need no Congress, and certainly no President.

Walking heals. It changes your perception of time, space and destiny. Changing you, it changes your society. Your steps transform the people walking beside you. They entrain to your pace. The world is a labyrinth of perpetually entangled pilgrimages: we all walk on behalf of others.

In April, Chaucer tells us, "Men long to go on pilgrimage." Longing for pilgrimage is the deepest impulse of our spiritual life. It's what our souls are made of. Chaucer doesn't say, "Men long to arrive in Jerusalem." He simply says, we long to be on the way.

You need not walk far. As soon as you take your first step, you are on the way. Your longing finds respite in the ground at your feet: Eliot's words, "To return to where you started, and know the place for the first time." Pilgrimage is returning...

Walking barefoot through the wet grass in any old cemetary will do. Or circling the fallow corn field beyond the ruined tractor, looking at a few crows and listening for the screech of the red-tailed hawk who lives in the top of a whithering elm where the wetlands meet the next farm over: then turning homeward along the pond, to move in a haze of afternoon sun whose humid stillness glues your body to each puff of cloud and stick of golden straw, while even as your feet fall soft and silent, every step to its destiny, the mindful frogs can hear you coming and grow quiet.