Moonlight Breathing (Beltana)

April 29, Eve of Beltana, a full moon.

You are invited to join us in this meditation tonight, where ever you may be, balancing the elements, balancing Light and Darkness, balancing Spirit and Body, in the splendor of the full moon.

Some think that Beltana is simply a Pagan fertility rite: sex in the forest. This may be pleasant, but such fun doesn't last long, and only hints at the eternal union of Herne and Hecate, Isis and Osirus, Shiva and Shakti, Christos and Sophia, Sun and Earth in the human heart. This inward union is expressed by the light of the full moon, for it marries the heat of the sun to the coolness of the earth, brightness of day to darkness of night, active Word to creative Silence, power of God to wisdom of Goddess.

The inner marriage is ecstatically sung by Christian mystics and wandering troubadours of Medieval Europe, by poet saints of India like Jnaneshwar and Mira, Sufi masters like Rumi, and by the poet of the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus used this symbolism in his Wedding Parables. The same symbols describe the Rasa-Lila, ecstatic dance of Krishna with the Gopi girls, in the garden of Vrindavan.

The Church assimilated these 'Pagan' symbols of Spring. For example, the ritual of Holy Saturday on Easter Eve renews the mystery of baptism as rebirth from a divine womb. The priest dips a Paschal Candle, representing the masculine fire of Christ, into a cauldron of baptismal water, representing the womb of the Great Mother. For the Holy Spirit's waters were, in early Christianity, associated with Sophia-Wisdom, the mother aspect of God.

In early Gnostic Christianity, the sacraments reached fulfillment in the ritual of 'The Bridal Chamber.'  (See the Gnostic Gospel of Philip.) The Bridal Chamber is your own heart, where Jesus unites in devotional love with the soul, represented by Mary Magdalene.

Thus, physical sexuality is the outward signs of an inward mystical union. In the heart center, the Hridaya Chakra, masculine and feminine merge. The interpenetrating triangles of the 'Star of David' symbolize this union in the heart, illustrations of which can be found in Yogic texts of ancient India. A down-facing triangle, representing the sun, merges with an up-facing triangle representing the earth.

The postures of Hatha Yoga are ultimately intended to bring about this harmony of male and female forces in the nervous system. The solar force is 'Ha', the feminine force is 'Tha'. 'Yoga' means 'union': thus, 'Hatha Yoga.' These male and female forces twine around the spine (Ida and Pingala) and eventually unite as one in the central channel of the spine (Sushumna), making the human body a living Tree of Life that joins earth and sky in this garden of paradise. The original innocence of Adam and Eve are restored through Yoga.

The same is the goal of Chinese medicine: to harmonize feminine and masculine, Yin and Yang, in this human body.

Therefor on this sacred night, whatever religion we may follow, we can celebrate the mystical marriage of God and Humanity, giving birth to eternal life in the heart. Now we will meditate on the full moon, and unite the elements of Fire and Water.

Take a cool sip of water as you gaze at the full moon, or simply visualize the moon inwardly, floating in the space of your forehead. Now feel the coolness of the water element in your whole body.

As you breathe out, let your awareness sink all the way down into the dark earth, through the base of your spine. Know that you are grounded and centered and held by the gravity of the Great Mother...

Visualize a lake of deep purple light around your hips. Breathing out, sink into that nurturing sea. Surrender to the mystery of the Mother, giving thanks...

After a few minutes, as you breathe in, feel your attention rise into the heart. There, visualize green petals opening, holding a gleaming emerald. In this green jewel, golden light from heaven above mingles with purple light from the ocean below. This light is the cool healing vibration of green. Let beams of this emerald light irradiate each nerve of your sacred body. Breathing out, give thanks...

After a few minutes, as you breathe in, feel your attention rise through the throat into the head. Now starlight pours down through the opening at the crown of your head, pooling in your brow as a creamy glow of pearl. This light is the full moon in you. Welcome the full moon. Let it float between your eyebrows, bright yet soothing, radiant as the sun yet cool as water.

With inhalation, feel the full moon's light intensify between your brows. With exhalation, moon-beans disperse and fall into every cell of your sacred body...

Finally, let the full moon rest where ever in your body it naturally settles. Let it happen: don't concentrate. The full moon may rest naturally in your crown, forehead, throat, heart, or belly. Continue to breathe moonlight in and through your body...

When you have rested in the full moon as long as you like, open your eyes and light a candle. Look into the flame and visualize a playful picture of yourself doing what thrills you, in a way that brings service and joy to others. Let this be your innocent intention. Then offer the candle, placing it in the earth, or throw it in the greater Beltana bonfire.

If you are at such a bonfire, leap over the fire, offering your intention to serve joyfully in the flowering of paradise on earth. You can hold hands with a partner as you leap over the fire, or you can simply be partnered within: it matters not. For you are the union of Earth and Sky. You are One and Complete. This is the mystical marriage, the meaning of Beltana.


"O Mother Wisdom, you are the womb of night who gives birth to day.

You are ever-virgin intuition, deeper than thought.

From your unmanifest creativity, all creation is born.

Without your radiant Darkness, there would be no Sun of God.

Without your inner Silence, there would be no Word.

You are the Full Moon, reflection of the burning Sun in cool night.

In you, Flesh meets Spirit.

In your Waters, Earth is wedded with Fire.

From the Hollow of your mystery, the Garden blooms.

You nourish all seeds.

You have countless beautiful names:

Shakti, Hochma, Yin;

Hecate, Isis, Maria.

You are Sophia, Wisdom,

Theatokos, Mother of God.

But your greatest name is our breath,

the breath we take in compassion,

the breath we give in thanksgiving.

Tonight, we welcome the fullness of your grace

into every atom of our flesh

as the still mirror of ten thousand lakes

welcomes the one Moon.

You make our bodies sacred.

We are grateful.

You make our bodies sacred.

We are grateful.

We sing to the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water,


the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water,




From Dream Time

"Most happenings exist where a word has never intruded." (Ranier Marie Rilke)

Didn't we all just dream this?
isn't it how we came here?

I awoke, drawn beyond midnight
by the Self-Luminous.

Walked naked into mist that clothed me
with the pelt of every deer.

The ground was covered with new nipples
quivering virescent out of loam.

Down from stars floated mouths
winged with lips making thirsty sounds.

I saw through everything into the milk
that yearns up cedar roots toward sky.

Saw You, gleaming with inward cream, inebriated.
We awoke into each other's dream, again and again,

more real with each relinquishing
of breath. That astonishment

Was this: nowhere
was there a Word, a Name for anything!



"Do not oppress the alien in your land, for you also have the heart of an alien: you were once aliens in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23:9)

Three Mexicans are repairing my roof. They work hard from dawn to dusk. When they arrived in their old truck, I didn’t check their visas.

Across the wetland, other Spanish voices, men building new homes for middle class Americans: they send their daily earnings back to wives, parents and children in Mexico.

Driving to the airport, I see Latinos caddying for pastel-sweatered golfers. Others manicure the fairway, or deliver truckloads of beauty bark.

I fly over America, gazing down on farmlands where countless Chicanos harvest our food. We eat from their hands, and never think of them.

In Pennsylvania, my family home, I drive through the little town called “mushroom capital of the world.” In dank bunkers, low-wage immigrant workers pick mushrooms, sustaining the whole local economy.

Nearby, in the lovely horse farms and steeple-chase fields of Chester County, immigrants are ubiquitous, exercising thoroughbreds, mucking out stables, pampering lawns. In old Colonial homes, they wash, iron, make beds, and baby-sit the children of privilege.

Now, perhaps you complain that I don't distinguish between legals and illegals. Neither do you, my friend! Whether you admit it or not, we all participate in a Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell immigration policy. Our economy depends on it! We desperately need these immigrant workers them for agribusiness, hotels, meat-packing plants, and all manner of labor that pays very low wages, with no benefits, for what the rest of us won't do.

If the U.S. government expelled undocumented immigrants (I prefer to call them that, because no person is "illegal" and "aliens" are from outer space), our lifestyle would collapse. Nearly every apple or French-fry passes through their fingers, in orchards and bean-fields, in meat-packing plants and stock yards and steaming restaurant kitchens. Invisible hands feed us - the hands of strangers, the hands of the poor.

Gracias to our Latino families! I pray that they may share our dreams, for we all share one Spirit, the Spirit of the real America.


Share What Matters

If you convince me to believe what you believe, it won't do either of us any good. Your opinions interest me even less than my own. Your concerns don't concern me: I already have enough to carry. But if you can share some hint of your Wonder, some moment of your Joy, some whisper of your Love, my heart will expand, my awareness awaken, my whole world change in an instant.


Silence Is Already Here

Why do we try to silence the mind? The kingdom of divine silence is already here. Silence has nothing to do with the mind's ceaseless thinking.

To be silent is not the mind's nature, any more than it is the nature of a songbird not to sing.

Silence is happening quite independently of thoughts. Silence is happening all around and between thoughts. Boundless blue sky contains a gray cloud: so silent awareness contains the mind, with all its chattering.

One experiences profound inward silence this very instant when awareness rests in its own luminous clarity, prior to thought. In other words, when one does nothing at all. Awareness can watch thoughts arise and vanish without being them.

There is no greater discovery than this: "I am not my thoughts! I am awareness! I am free!" Free to let thoughts play as they please. Free to let time past and time future come and go without worry, for time is nothing but thought. As waves of water don't disturb the sea, so thoughts of past and future can't disturb the eternal Presence in which they arise and subside.

Christianity is hunkered down in the notion of history, vested in stories of the past and prophecies of the future. What happened 2000 years ago, what will happen at the last judgment, and when Jesus might return, are bulwarks of Christian thinking. And there is all that anxious speculation about what will happen when I die, and whether my soul will get into heaven.

But what did Jesus actually teach about the nature of thinking, which is the nature of time?

"Take no thought," he said again and again. "Take no thought for your life... Which of you by taking thought can add one inch to your stature? ...Why take thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin... Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat or what shall we drink or how shall we be clothed?" (Matthew 6). The whole force of Jesus' teaching awakens us from the dream of thought and the anxiety of time, into the eternal kingdom of the present moment. This is why he concludes the sermon with the words, "Take no thought for tomorrow." Like most of us, Jesus' followers constantly worried about the future, but were dead to the miracle of Now. The Kingdom of God was not yet, not yet, and still not yet. But Jesus says in no uncertain terms,"The kingdom of heaven is right here in the midst of you!" (Luke 17:21)

He calls us not to heavy spiritual practice, but to ecstatic self-abandonment. Jesus says of his yoga: "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." (Mathew 11:30) The Sanskrit "yoga" and English "yoke" have the same linguistic root. Jesus invites you to live in fulfillment now: "that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).

Like Gautama Buddha, and contemporary Buddhas such as Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nath Hanh, Jesus revealed the eternal kingdom of Now, a kingdom that can never be known by thought. We believe in the future and the past, but we cannot believe in the present moment. We cannot think Presence: we must be aware of it.

Let us come home to the kingdom by resting our awareness in its own radiant emptiness. Homecoming happens any moment, any place, with the utterly simple resting of awareness in awareness.

Then wave after wave of joy arises from the mysterious stillness that is deeper than thought: causeless waves of effortless silence, flowing out, breaking on the world as an ocean of love. For love is not a practice. Love is what happens when there is no practitioner.

At morning's light, through April mist in still green caverns of forest silence, the day's first ordinary miracles:  a pink apple bud bursting into its diamond-white self, a robin startled by its own song.

All One?

Painting by Liz LaMotte
It takes powerfully individualized persons to become "we." Otherwise, "we" just degenerates into group-think, which is not consciousness at all. Before any of us become "we," each is called, chosen, gloriously anointed, to be no one else.

Only the Alone becomes All-One. There is no cosmos without solitude. The night sky appears so whole and beautiful because light-years of alone-ness encompass every star.


Happy Earth Day

Said the Orthodox Rabbi, "God created Earth 6 thousand years ago."

The Geologist replied, "6 billion, without God."

Said the Buddhist, "There was no beginning."

The Hindu replied, "This earth is but one in an endless cycle."

Said the Fundamentalist, "Earth is doomed: look to heaven."

The Environmentalist replied, "We have already destroyed the earth."

Then Earth spoke. She said, "See this apple blossom, this morning glory, this jasmine flower? It only lasts a day. Why don't you all just shut up and smell it?


Enlightened Doubt

On a clear morning, each dewdrop may feel,
'I contain the Sun!'
But is it true?

An hour from now, both borrowed light and dew,
mirror and reflection,
were never real.


An Old Serpent

An old serpent, that ancient cleverness, lures me out of my core, seduces me with phantasms frightening and delightful. For thousands of years, I personalized this inner wizardry, this centrifugal mind that tends away from center. I imagined this trickster-power to be other than myself. And the more I othered him, the more I empowered him.

In ancient Greece I called him Erinye, Fury, the chthonic punisher of my past deeds. In Buddhist India I called him Maya, the Tempter. In the Middle Ages I called him Satan, who seemed to have been clinging to my umbilicus when I was born, dragging me back into Original Sin. In the 20th Century I called him Depression, the gloomy twin descended from my parents and ancestors right along beside me. But in truth, there was no other there: only the deluding playfulness of my mind.

Awareness becomes mind, hypnotized by projecting its Self-delight outward into the garden. The small joys I suck from outer flowers are faint rays of a Sun that shines from within. Yet the Sun reflected in a trillion dewdrops does not have to fall into its image and become a dewdrop. It remains beyond the earth, beyond the rain clouds. So true renunciation means delighting in objects without becoming one of them.

I need not reject the world. I need only to delight in the world without losing my Self. I learn to witness the entropy of my mind as it disperses awareness into objects. I enjoy this process for what it is, honoring sensations without forgetting the one who senses. So it is possible to be liberated right in the midst of this world, beholding the place where I am as Eden.

If, however, I bite into the apple of illusion, I become entangled in the centrifuge of desire. "Tasting the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil" means that I lose my Self in the object of perception. Then I am cast out of the garden, exiled in duality.

Exiled in the realm of duality, "the knowledge of good and evil," I imagine that the deluding potency of my own mind is someone separate on whom I can blame my loss and disappoint. Thus I create the scapegoat, the enemy, and the devil. I can spend my life projecting my own shadow on other men and women, or on the imaginary Satan. I become a pawn in the mythological warfare of light and darkness, a dust mote blown about by enormous winds that seem beyond my control, but actually arise within me.

Yes, the storms of temptation and fall, attachment and karma, delight and depression, arise in this mind and subside in this mind. Neither sin nor Satan, neither parents nor genes, neither ego nor maya, are responsible for my joys and sorrows. I am my joy, I am my sorrow.

A child outgrows its fear of monsters in the dark. So ripening awareness returns to itself again and again in meditation, and gradually outgrows its daemonic projections, outgrows the haunting sense of something wrong in creation, outgrows the fear of some malignant curse out there, brooding over the world. Gradually, the universe reveals itself to be quite friendly, because the universe is as I am. It is the barometer of my consciousness.

A glow of morning disperses the mists. The golden sun, centripetal, dispels surrounding gloom with all those night-empowered dreams. The business of a new day begins: taking responsibility for my own delights and delusions. I am the wizard. I am God and Lucifer. The whole drama, the whole theater, is my Self.

Now I can discard centuries of mythological and religious baggage. So can you. How much more energy we have when we no longer need to create and sustain an enemy, a devil, and no longer project half our mind into an illusion!_____________________

(Pictured: Adam and Eve with Satan, half-snake, half naked-breasted maiden, carved in relief on the front of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.)

Buddha Manjusri's Message

There is no enemy in the present moment. Wars never start now. They start in the past and future, with the armies of regret, fear and anticipation.

Be a warrior of peace. With one swing of Wisdom's vajra sword, drop past and future now. This is true victory.



A whole man is not gentle and timid. A whole man is not bold and aggressive. A whole man is bold and gentle. Plato said, 'Have compassion: every man you meet is fighting a great battle inside.' It' the battle to balance bold and gentle.


Quiting 'God'

"O God, quit me of 'God'!" (Meister Eckhart)

Cast these idols into the fire:

* the God who takes sides in war, any war;

* the God who chooses one tribe over another, the God who chooses one nation over another, the God who chooses one religion over another;

* the God who destroyed the World Trade Center and the God who invaded Iraq;

* the God who orders Arab youths to martyr themselves and the God of Apache helicopters who turns war into a video game;

* the God who tells Mohammad's army to murder the unbelievers and the God who tells Joshua's army to conquer the tribes of Canaan, slaughtering "everything that breathes";

* the God who fires North Korean missiles at Israel and the God who slaughters the children of Gaza with American-made white-phosphorus bombs;

* the God who murders the innocent and calls it holy war and the God who murders the innocent and calls it collateral damage;

* God of the Vatican, God of Jerusalem, God of the Pentagon, God of Powers and Princedoms not one of whom shall survive the withering crossfire of their own jealousy, for they are worse than idols of silver and gold: they are idols of belief;

* God of the cult of Al Qaeda, God of the cult of Zion, God of the Ku Klux Klan and the Patriot militia;

* God who circumcises little girls in central Africa and God who abuses little boys in the archdiocese of Boston;

*God who tells widows in India to throw themselves on their husbands' pyres and God who teaches white children in Mississippi that brown children in Benares must go to hell;

* Mammon of the mega-church who claims that His invisible hand is the free market, Mammon of Wall Street who suckles the pension plans of laborers until they are dry, Mammon of Massey Energy whose stockholders drink the blood of dead coal miners;

* Mammon who divides the rich from the poor, who poisons the milk of the Great Mother, who dwells above the planet but not in it;

* Mammon who elevates man over woman, scientist over shaman, white over color, invader over native, people of the Book over people of the Forest;

* Impostor-God who has never been anything but the shadow of our fear! Be gone! Be gone now!

Let all your churches and temples dissolve like morning mist at the portal of 2012,

that the meek may walk through the gates of peace into the dawn of the earthly paradise,

where the poor in spirit find manna, a dew of compassion on the green earth,

and every garden and forest glade is holy,

and the heart's shrine opens its inmost veil to the radiance of divine Humanity,

and the splendor of Truth shines not from above, like a distant sun,

but wells up like a tear from within the Within,

which is the radiant Am in every I,

the Friend who dwells as one Self

in all our glorious, gentle, bold, most innocent bodies.


    Sacred Humanity

    Rembrandt's face of Christ

    Our humanity is sacred. Our senses are divine gifts. Our body is the garden of breathing. Our flesh is the radiance of God. Only this, only this he was dying to reveal.



    Naked attention to
    Naked being in
    Naked silence:
    The only requirement
    To walk this path
    Is that you touch the ground
    With the soul
    Of your foot.

    Invoking the Body

    "Nothing ill can dwell in such a temple." (Shakespeare) 
    "Therefor, glorify God in your body." (1 Cor. 6:20)

    Ah, fruit of flesh, sweet Spirit swell.
    Strum the soundless hollow of heart's cell.
    Tremble seed and hallow core.
    Cluster atom-emptiness with store
    of honeyed stars. Sweep thought away,
    O breath: dissolve abstraction and delay.
    Let earth's generous gleams express
    the body's bolder human holiness.
    Unfallen Eve, fair cosmos of the small,
    reveal in every photon, all.

    I invoke the Holy Trinity of Breath, Sensation, and Awareness. Christ is incarnate here and now when my awareness - a living silence free from thought - meets sensation in a breath.

    Breath sweeps thought from the brain, charging every neuron with self-radiant emptiness. I  energize the brain, the nervous system, not through intellectual analysis, but quiet observation of the most infinitesimal sensations arising and dissolving in the body. This body is bestowed upon me for this purpose, as a consecrated object for meditation.

    Buddha called this practice Vippasana. Jesus called it Metanoia. Vippasana means just sitting and observing. Metanoia means going beyond the mind. (In Greek: meta - beyond or beside; nous - intellect.)

    Nothing could be more mundane, yet there is no deeper spiritual practice. In this practice, I discover what a human body really is: shoreless ocean of luminosity. Every inhalation connects the heart to a vast sky, every exhalation to the world's center. This body is Eden, its spine the Tree of Life.

    Why wait for a master to initiate me into an esoteric technique? At birth, I was initiated into the highest spiritual path. I received three sacred talismans to guide my journey home: this breath for a prayer, this body for a temple, and the present moment for a teacher.

    At any instant when I wish to touch God, I can rest my attention in a breath, then merge with the least sensation. Here, however dimly, I witness the astonishing process of the Incarnation. Radiance explodes from a photon of flesh. Each atom in my body is the Holy of Holies. 

    This is the sacrament of the ordinary. In this earthen chalice of human flesh, I mingle the Trinity: Breath, Sensation, and Awareness. Here the faintest perception, consecrated by the Holy Spirit of my own breath, simultaneously embodies God and liberates my soul. What else am I here for?  

    In this age, every home's a temple, every man a priest, every taste an offering, every breath a prayer: so in each shall be increased the mystery that is everywhere. Let us expunge from healthy religion any doctrine that would seek God in theological abstractions, in heavenly places, or in the future. Let us abolish every concept of sin that would devalue the sacred energy of our sensations.  

    My only sin is disembodiment. Whatever separates me from Presence is sin. Whatever carries me off into the past or future is sin. Thinking too much is sin: it alienates awareness from its radiance, the body.  

    On may ask, is the consecration of the senses not just hedonism? Absolutely not! To hold the body sacred is not hedonism but response-ability. It is the mind, not the senses, that creates our addiction, consumerism and hedonism. It is the immaterial image of thought, not the innocent creature of the earth, that becomes our obsession.

    Only when I am lost in the gray purgatory of thought do I need powerful addictive sensations. But when mind is swept clear by meditation, the humblest sacrament of the ordinary - a sip of tea, a sparrow's song, the scent of an opening lilac - redeems my wandering heart. Through the finest perception, I return to the sinless Eden of this earth. 

    My body is the garden of breathing. It flowers with divine sensations. Ears, nostrils, eyes and tongue are God's gracious gifts. Shakespeare wrote, "eternity was in our lips and eyes," but we knew it not.

    Let us celebrate the radiance of our own bodies as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. For he made a great sacrifice to demonstrate our sacred humanity.

    The Chance of a Lifetime

    Why do you seek the blessing of a guru?
    The moment of birth was your initiation
    into the highest spiritual path
    when you received three sacred jewels,
    talismans to guide you home:
    this breath for a prayer,
    this body for a temple,
    the present moment for a teacher.
    Angels and Devas wait countless ages
    to receive what you have been given.
    Don't waste the precious honor
    of a human birth!


    One made itself
    and got lost loving
    that longing
    could breathe
    and holiness
    could touch
    Tell no
    we were ever
    not two.