2/28/2010

Lost

There's no straight and narrow
in the labyrinth of love.
So leave the path and drink
from the grail of this breath.
Be where you were before you were named
right now.
Get drunk, get lost
and wander.

So'Ham Mantra


Each exhalation is humanity offering the world to Shiva: Ham'sah. Each inhalation is Shiva's energy, filling our humanity with Shakti: So'Ham. Each breath contains the Holy Spirit as milk contains butter. Our inner work is this ceaseless churning.

Wars End

Have you noticed that 'anti-war' movements don't seem to end wars?

Wars end when they exhaust the fuel of stress and anger. Then, after a period of exhaustion, the next one starts. Being 'anti-war' is like being 'anti-night.' It doesn't hasten the dawn. And after the day, another night comes. War is part of our messy, mysterious, absurdly human condition. A Utopian demand for perfect peace makes us all the more frustrated and tense, because it imposes what Should be on what Is. Hence 'anti-war' movements are often full of anger, preaching to their own choir and rejecting friendly dialog with the very people whom they wish to change.

Jesus never says, 'End the war!' He says, 'Love you enemy,' which is profoundly different. Arising in the non-duality of pure Presence, in which there is no future Utopia, the kingdom of Jesus is always here and now. He even praises the centurion, a soldier of the Imperial occupation, because the centurion helps the local Jews build their synagogue. Jesus is not 'anti.' His love, agape, is radical Being without conflict in a world of conflict.

Must war end before there is peace? Must war end in order for love to be? Or might love unfold its healing wings in the midst of conflict? What if I enter the heart of war, the heart of the warrior, and merely love without a demand for Utopia, without a Should?

Enviromental Buddhism 101












When you take a walk in mindfulness,

your feet performing one miracle after another,

your eyes filled with clouds and flowers of emptiness,

you will discover in sudden Satori a milkweed

trellised in spokes of a broken bicycle,

the gentle sea-sound of Interstate car-waves

washing your mind clear,

a garden snail's Diet Pepsi home,

a lanky condom looped over blossoming heather,

a plastic nalgene bottle perfectly thrown

in suchness next to a tulip.

Filled with sorrow, please remember:

this too is nature.

And when you pick it up, this too

is meditation.

2/16/2010

That

Poets ask me why I never write

about cigarettes, booze and suicide,

"the real stuff," they rasp,

dragging on their butts.

I must apologize.

I write about the ancient banality of stars.

I write about the vastness in one atom of breath.

Whose breath?

It doesn't matter, that's the point.

All of us have breathed that atom.

I write about the rhythm of rain on old roofs,

a small dog's gaze wholly bending toward the Master,

A plum blossom sparkled with dew

thrusting its marvelous fat whiskered jowls

into February sunlight.

And don't forget the sound of the silent bell

still ringing in your empty mind.

Somebody has to write

about That!

Don't Wait

Don't wait for the world to say,
'There she is!'
Create the universe
by spreading your wings.
Start flying and stars will appear
like droplets shaken from your feathers.
Unfolding spaces will yearn you
into that ancient heart of blackness
whose attention has been captured
by your willingness to fall,
your refusal to be named,
your divine impatience.
I too by outstretched wings
am a Creator of stars,
space and longing.
When our wings touch,
we create each other.

2/12/2010

No Creatures Left














I am no smarter than my dog.
He just thinks differently.
My cat is no smarter than I.
I just think differently.
If schools and teachers knew this
they would not give grades.
They would give food.
They would rub bellies
and run their fingers
through fur.
No creature would be left
behind.

2/10/2010

Ripples












We grow in circles, not steps. Nature knows no Level 1 or Level 2, no higher plane or lower plane, no straight line, no narrow path. Only circle & curve, gathering & return. We expand, we vibrate, we ripple. As warm sun opens us up, roots go down & tangled branches spread in all directions. Let's not stand in line: let's dance! Let's not join a movement: just move!

* When the spiritual family becomes 'the movement'...

* When the circle becomes a hierarchy...

* When relationships of power replace friendships of care...

* When bubbling springs of truth are pasteurized & canned in dogma...

* When those who claim to know speak code, & words of the heart must be proven by science...

* When a bow replaces a smile, and you say 'Master' instead of 'Friend'...

* When the Companion who walked beside you becomes a glittering celebrity on a distant stage...

* When you can no longer enter the guru's presence without a title, or the sanction of lieutenants...

* When the natural breath of a simple practice becomes a ladder of initiations...

* When the living room wherever you happen to be is not enough, & you need a temple, a mansion, an institution...

* When increasing membership is more important than deepening community...

* When fund-raising replaces consciousness-raising...

* When it no longer feels like a home...

THEN DANCE!

2/07/2010

Many Eyes With One Heart












I don't know when this shift occurred. I know I used to think of my mind as separate. But after many years of meditation, the notion of separation just withered away. When did it happen? Was it a gradual thinning of veils, or did I wake up one morning, a wave of transparency in an ocean of Being, and didn't even notice?

Somewhere along the years I dropped the 'my' from awareness. Now, when 'I' become aware of awareness, it is no long 'mine.' Awareness is a sea where every human mind is a wave. At its peak, a wave is individualized; but at its base, every wave is every other wave. Every wave is the whole sea.

This is true both in wave physics and metaphysics. Founder of quantum mechanics, Sir Arthur Eddington, said: 'When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes.' St. Paul wrote, 'We all have the mind of Christ.' (1 Cor. 2:16) We are both individual and All in the same moment. If an electron can do it, we can.

The notion of a separation between 'your' awareness and 'mine' seems false to me now. Certainly we each have our own thoughts. And we each have separate egos constructed out of our most cherished thoughts. But underlying our thought-waves is one oceanic Self. This is not my 'belief,' for that would be a thought. This is the experience of my core silence.

We're all thinking ourselves into separate islands of brain. But if we gather together in meditation, in sat-sang, or in Quaker meeting for worship, and our 'minds' become silent together even for an instant, are there many silences? How can there be more than one silence?

When I was in seminary, I was impressed by the Islamic philosopher, Averroes, in Moorish Spain. He debated St. Thomas Aquinas over the nature of the intellect. Thomas argued that we all have separate intellectual souls. He defined the soul as 'the form of the body.' For Averroes, on the other hand, beneath our separate 'active intellects' we share a single 'passive intellect': the ever silent boundless witness, whose pure unmoving awareness watches all the fury and folly of thought.

St. Thomas went home to Paris and founded a university based on the Islamic model. His followers assumed (I guess because they were white European Christians) that they had won the debate with Averroes. From then on, Western culture was saddled with the notion of a separate soul bound to the form of its body. Thomas' view derived from Aristotle, while Averroes was a Platonist. If we had followed Plato and Averroes, rather than Aristotle and Thomas, how different the trajectory of Western culture would look! We would become the Na'vi of Pandora instead of military technocrats who invade oil-rich Third World nations. Each citizen would feel like 'we the people' instead of 'me the owner.'

The Chinese character for virtue is 'teh', as in the Tao Teh Ching. 'Teh' consists of several pictograms: 'many people,' 'ten eyes' and 'one,' all resting on 'heart.' A sublime picture of Virtue, isn't it? Many of us, with our collective visions, all at rest in a single heart.

Let America be many eyes with one heart. This was the vision of Lakota chief Crazy Horse, which he shared four days before U.S. soldiers murdered him: 'I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center in you and I am in that place in me, we shall be as one.'

Can Americans stop arguing about beliefs, ideologies and religions? Can we begin every project, great or small, by meditating together? Can we begin each day with the wondrous rediscovery that there is only one silence, the silence of the heart? Then truth will set us free: ideas may conflict with ideas, and egos with egos, but awareness is never in conflict with itself.

2/06/2010

Be At Home












Just be at home with your self. When you're utterly at Om, others are healed by your presence. The radiant hospitality of your centered heart draws them to their own inner light. Love is an attracting power. That is love's secret, Krishna's secret. The Sanskrit root of 'Krishna' means 'all-attracting.'

2/03/2010

Truth

Truth took off her robe and showed me the scars. 

Truth took off her smile and showed me the tears. 

Truth dropped her words into the bottomless well of silence

and they became pure shining.

Truth removed the I, and there was only Seeing.

2/02/2010

Another Secret

No messiah, pope, priest, rabbi, imam or guru has any religious authority over you whatsoever, until you project your inward Light on them to create a surrogate parent. The only religious authority is the Light within you. To reclaim your Light is the true revolution, the real freedom.

Dearest friend, do not conceal yourself in false humility, making an external idol of your luminous inner birthright. There is no hiding from the fierce radiance of God, who fashioned your heart as an opening, a door, to divine splendor. Why should you be separate from That to which you are merely the doorway?

Mother's Mantra Wisdom



In the West, there is much misunderstanding about the science of mantra. A mantra is not a "nonsense syllable." Nor is it simply a "prayer word," self-selected by the devotee because it means something nice. A prayer word may be a perfectly fine prayer, but it is not a mantra. Mantra literally means "vehicle" (tra) to carry the "mind" (manas). To what goal does a mantra carry the mind? To the divine source. And on the way, it cleanses and energizes every nerve in your body.

Mantras are bestowed under the auspices of a Guru and charged with divine Grace. Only then is the mantra alive (chaitanya). Otherwise, its just a word. The most ancient and powerful mantras are in the Sanskrit language, and there is a reason for this. At the sub-nuclear level of quantum intelligence, Sanskrit is the sound of creation. At this level, thought and matter arise as waves of the same abstract energy. Mantric syllables each have a precise and known effect on body and mind. Vedic Rishis and Gurus, in a lineage far older than Western civilization, transmit the precise pronunciation of the mantras, and the knowledge of their effects.

True mantras do not operate on the level of intellectual meaning. That is why their translations are not very important and have multiple versions. A mantra actually operates as subtle sound-vibration. Its seed-syllables (bijas) emanate from the unified field of Om, which is indivisible and absolute silence. Karunamayi teaches, "The language of God is silence." The emanation of mantras from silence corresponds to the view of creation propounded by quantum physics, which teaches us that all material particles vibrate from a silent and unmanifest vacuum.

Here is what makes Sanskrit unique. In Sanskrit, there is a direct correlation between these two paradigms: language and physics. The Upanishads of ancient India declare: "In the beginning was the sacred syllable Om. All that ever was, all that is, and all that ever will be, is created through Om." Centuries later, the Christian Gospel of John echoed the same theme: "In the beginning was the Word... all things were created through the Word." The primordial sound of mantra is the finest level of physical creation. When Sanskrit mantras vibrate through our nervous systems, they restore the harmonious design intended by the creator. In fact, divine creative intelligence pervades the cosmos as mantra, the Word of God, or what Greek philosopher's called the Logos. This original Word is Om, the very energy of silence.

When we meditate upon the sound of a Sanskrit mantra, we attune to the primordial Word of creation on a molecular and atomic level. We participate in the incarnation of the Logos. In our own bodies, "the Word is made flesh." Thus the grace of mantra fulfills the promise of Christian theology every bit as much as Vedic wisdom.

Mantra Is Not Repetition
Mantra is not repetition, but vibration. What is crucial is that the mantra vibrates through our nerves, not the number of times we count it. In the longer Vedic mantras there are bijas, "seed syllables" for meditation. When we meditate, these syllables effortlessly dissolve into transcendental consciousness, leaving us in the bliss of living silence at creation's source.

Even when mantras are chanted aloud, as are the longer ones, counting the repetitions should never become a rigid formality. One pronunciation of a true mantra, with joy and devotion, is worth a thousand mechanical repetitions!



Mantras Charged with Amma's Grace
At darshan in Seattle WA on March 22, 2009, Shri Amma Karunamayi expounded these ancient mantras.

1. To Saraswati, who blesses artists, students, and homes with wisdom and love... This mantra is comprehensive, containing the bijas for all three aspects of the divine Mother: Ayim for the creative power of Saraswati, Shrim for the abundance and beauty of Lakshmi, Hrim for the Shakti of Mother Kali.

Om Ayim Shrim Hrim Saraswati Devyai Namaha


2. To Lakshmi, who nourishes and sustains creation with abundance, light and beauty.

Om Shrim Hrim Shrim
Kamale Kamala Layam
Prasida Prasidam
Shrim Hrim Shrim
Om Shri Mahalakshmi
Devyai Namaha

3. Amma also gives the great redeeming Shiva mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. But this version is more whole. It includes Hrim, mother Shakti's bija, to balance the divine feminine and masculine in our health, relationships, and spiritual awareness. Shiva is the purifying power of consciousness at rest in its own self as boundless silence. Shakti is the creative power that flows from that silence to dance in, through, and as the manifest universe.

Om Hrim Namah Shivaya



4. The mantra of Ganesh removes blocks - physical, emotional and spiritual - from our nervous system and aura. This in turn removes obstacles from our path in the manifest world, since the world is a projection of consciousness.

Om Gam Ganapatayeh Namaha

5. We can chant the great healing mantra, known as Shri Mrutyunjaya, to root out physical, mental and spiritual sickness. Emanating directly from Om, these syllables are charged with the purifying silence of Shiva and the nourishing energy of Mother Divine.

Om trayambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pushti vardhanam
Urdvaruka miva bandhanat
Mrutyur mukshiya mamrutat



This mantra could be translated in countless ways, for it contains layer upon layer of meaning. In the first line, the mantra attunes our awareness to the Triune God (Trayambakam): Creator, Sustainer, and Purifyer. Westerners often assume that these powers are different gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. But this is a false view. They are really three aspects, three faces of one God, precisely like the Christian Trinity.

"Green" power fills the second line of this mantra! It speaks of sweet healing nectar, the continuous outpouring of nutrients to sustain us in perfect health. We can penetrate this biological image to discover a spiritual level underlying the physical. The Mother's energy, Kundalini Shakti, pours through these syllables into in our nadis, or subtle nerve currents. Just as we have a physical nervous system, we also have a spiritual body in which subtle channels of Shakti flow to sustain consciousness. This mantra heals both systems: stimulating the flow of healing nutrients in the physical body, and Shakti in the spiritual body.

The third line of the mantra sustains the organic nature imagery, describing a cucumber or gourd so fully ripe that it drops from the vine without being picked. The mantra evokes fullness, completion of life's purpose, and perfect health. On a more spiritual level, the mantra implores the grace of God to liberate us from the vine of Samsara, the endless tangle of desire, birth and death. Through this prayer, our consciousness becomes pure, untarnished by worldly desire, free of illusions and fears.

The final line of the mantra explicitly requests moksha: liberation. As the ripe fruit drops from a vine, so may God's grace finally free us from every attachment to this transient death-ridden world. May we be rooted in the true ground of Eternal Life.

Shi Karunamayi pronounces and expounds such chants on CD's available from her website. Link here. But first, go see her and receive her grace!

If you are fortunate enough to practice such an exquisitely powerful mantra technique as Transcendental Meditation or Sahaj Samadhi, then Shi Karunamayi's wisdom will multiply your understanding of the path you already follow a thousandfold. You will feel the love and grace of Mother Divine vibrating through your mantra into mind and body. If you don't feel that, what is your path for? Amma says, "My little babies, I love you millions and gillions of times more than anything!"



A Bija Mantra

The most direct way to dissolve the "I" is to return to silence through the grace of a bija mantra. A bija is a "seed" sound. It is like a tiny little doorway at the center of awareness: but it leads to infinity.

Bijas of the Great Mother are seeds of meditation. We can chant them in slokas like those above. But for the deepest meditation, we use the bija in silence as a one-word prayer, a prayer of surrender. The fruit of this meditation does not come from repetition of the bija, but from the effortless dissolving of the bija in the space of the heart. Repetition (japa) is superficial compared to dissolving (laya).

Names of the divine Mother end in "i": the sound of eee. Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali, Mary. This eee is the sound of Shakti: an energizing, empowering and cleansing stream that flows into our nerves, emotions, and chakras through the Mother's grace. The Mother has three forms: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali. These forms personify creativity, sustenance and purification. Here I discuss the bija of Saraswati, the first of all bijas, the Mother's creative power.

The entire cosmos cries Amma, Mamma, before it takes form as the universe. The sound of aaa begins every alphabet, the vibration of primordial beginning. Mmm is the sound of silence - "Om" - the absolute silence whence the aaa of creation arises. Aaa emerging from Mmm is "Mah". This sound becomes a pulsating wave, Mammaamaaammaa. And this energy-wave is Prakriti arisng from Purusha, creation from creator. The wave vibrates out in Aaa, and returns to stillness as Mmm.

Yet these pulsations of Amma are only "virtual particles," to use the term from quantum physics. Their bubbling energy "fluctuates in the vacuum." Such waves of mother-love abide in the unmanifest, echoing in the void of Shiva's pure consciousness. To create an actual universe, an additional force must whip these Amma-waves into manifestation. Otherwise, Prakriti remains embedded as a flickering dream in the stillness of the Purusha.

The necessary awakening occurs through Shakti. Shiva cannot remain quiescent forever. Periodically his cosmic silence, which is the blissful yet conscious sleep of Pralaya, is aroused by his own feminine power, Kundalini Shakti. In Eastern theology, she is Shiva's yearning to dance. In Western theology, she is the Holy Spirit of the Father, yearning to express his Word in creation.

Shakti springs up through the heart of Amma as "i" between "Ah" and "Om." Hence the bija of creative motherhood is aaa-eee-mmm: "Ayim."

When we receive such a bija from the Guru, we receive the very creativity of God into our heart. And as we surrender our heart to the stream of Amma's love, her wisdom, abundance, and purity sustain us. The inner life of the Divine Mother vibrates through every atom of our being.

Prayer Flag


'Only the holder the flag fits into, and wind. No flag.' (Rumi)

On a sky-blue prayer flag
the color of one who watches
dreamless sleep,
I write this name.
At evening I plant the flag in stones.
Wind rises.
At the first watch of night
the name is gone.
Wind.
At second watch
the flag is gone.
Toward dawn, the flagpole,
the stone, the ground itself,
gone in wind.
The world in free fall,
lovely without hope,
blown through groundless silence
falling and from everywhere
this nameless cry,
"Shiva, Shiva!"

2/01/2010

Self-Discipline

Self-Discipline? Who can discipline the Self? Can 'I' change 'Am'?

In the vast graceful space of Presence, without any 'I' at all, change blossoms spontaneously, according to Nature's invisible hand, whose design is never foreseen by logic or language.

Therefor, the only discipline is Awareness.

The artist knows this. Luciano Pavarotti said, "People think I am disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference." Picasso wrote, "You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea." He knew how to enter the still space of Presence, and allow the hand of God to dance.

But Then, Who?

You gazed back at me
before I started looking.

You were inside me
before I thought of You.

When I looked my looking
was your gesture toward me.

When I thought of You your name
was a finger pressed against these lips.

Candle, wick, and flame, all You
burning Me away.

Branches, trunk, and root, all You
implicit in seeds.

But then, whose longing causes Spring?
Who bleeds from twig tips of forsythia,

plum branches and first thistles?
You or I, yearning new roots?

Pressing through whatever royal smallness,
green and pungent,

quivers up from darkness
and bursts from loam?