6/30/2011

The Power of Mantra


Some people say that our thoughts are powerful. It is not thoughts that are powerful, but the silence between them.

There is no need to repeat an affirmation or a mantra. Just brush it once with awareness, then drop it like a sprouted seed in the rich dark loam of silence. In that silence, attention effortlessly slips from the head into the heart. Rest there.

Real meditation has nothing to do with "repeating a mantra." Repetition is fruitless: it makes the mind dull, mechanical and small. Contrary to public misinformation, techniques like Transcendental Meditation or Sahaj Samadhi are not based on repetition. They utilize a much subtler science.

The fruitfulness of mantra consists not in its repetition but in its power to dissolve the mind. If the mantra does not dissolve the mind into silence, it is not a real mantra: it is just another thought rattling around in the skull.

Mantra fulfills the definition of Yoga as given in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: Yogas chitti-vritti nirodahah. "Yoga silences the vritti, the vibrations of consciousness." Mantra carries the mind to the silence that was there before God said, "Let there be light."

In Sanskrit, mantra means vehicle for the mind: manas - mind, tra - vehicle. Tra is the root of our English suffix, tron. Electrons carry electricity. Positrons carry positivity. Mantras carry mind to its source.

The Gospel of John reveals that "in the beginning was the Word." En archai ein ho logos. So the Vedas declare, "in the beginning, God manifested as sound. Adau bhagavan shabdha rasahi. But what is before the beginning, before the Word? Uncreated silence.

At the base of every wave is the still ocean. At the base of every energy-vibration is the emptiness of the vacuum. This whole creation is composed of energy-vibration, but these waves are waves of silence.

Silence is not inert. It is alive. Silence is alive with consciousness. As the still ocean empowers waves, the silent vacuum of pure consciousness empowers the vibrating universe.

The opening verse of the Bible describes this liveliness of uncreated silence. As in quantum physics, the Biblical creation story reveals a universe arising in vibrations of a "formless void": in Hebrew, tohu wa bohu. Before the Word, there are ripples in the ocean of silence, just as there are fluctuations in the vacuum of quantum physics. The Bible associates these ripples in the void with the power of breath, ruach. This word means both Breath and Spirit in Hebrew. It is the Spirit-Breath of God that stirs up waves in the primordial waters of the void (tehom). The Hebrew verb for stirring is rachaf, originally describing a mother bird sitting on her egg, warming it to life with constant vibration or quivering.
"In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void. Darkness was over the face of the deep. The Spirit of God rippled the waters." (Genesis 1:1)
From this vibrant sea of silence, the Word of creation is born: "And God said, Let there be light."

Now then, what is the mantra? The mantra is the Word in reverse. As the Word impels silence outward into creation, so the mantra draws creation back to its silent source, settling vibrations in primordial stillness. Through mantra, wave returns to sea, mind returns to God.

When the mantra has done its work in you, you won't be repeating anything. Your awareness will rest in God, floating in eternal silence, the silence before creation. Original innocence will irradiate your heart with the light of joy. This is real meditation.

Jai Guru Dev

6/28/2011

Prayer

How should I pray? Where I Am, You also possess an I. Where I disappear into Am, You also disappear. We are two I's who see one Am in the mirror of love. Can there be any prayer but to breathe and dissolve?

6/22/2011


"I Am. Thinking is optional." ~ Willy
I find it when I dissolve the "it." It finds me when "I" dissolve. When "I" and "it" are both dissolved, there is only the finding.

6/20/2011

Losing Weight


All through my long heavy life, angels whispered, "Lighten up!"

In each opening bud, each moth wing or burst of blueberry on my tongue, Mother Divine revealed my brevity: a thousand hints a day of wondrous impermanence!

But every playful message of mortality brought fear of disaster. This is the condition of my human mind. Instead of playfulness, I saw the weight of death everywhere.

Yet still in my fading, as I gazed through my window, I saw blossoms burst, birds sing and vanish, magnificent cloud shapes shift and dissolve, and I heard the ancient whisper.

Finally, the moment approaches. "I knew it, I knew death would come. There was every reason to be gloomy after all!" Yes, death, the dreaded doorway: I face the burden of judgment. What now?

It opens. But day does not shut down in darkness. The shadow lifts. My body does not grow heavier. A single breath releases the entire weight. And the silence that once whispered now sings: radiant dew of interlacing voices, domed harmony of transparent spheres, rising vortex of joy. What happens to "me"?

I lighten up.

6/19/2011

God Wants You To Overflow

There is no greater beauty, no greater wealth, no greater creativity, no greater fountain of love or service to others, than attunement to your own heart.
Dare to love your Self. Bathe in tears of devotion to your own radiance. Know that you are peace, you are beauty, you are eternal. Taste sukadeva, the sweet nectar of inner silence. You are a cell full of honey in the comb of God. You cannot find such primal sweetness in another. Only when your heart makes its own honey will you nourish others.   
This is Divine Mother's plan for you. By her grace, become ananda, pure joy. Return to your Self. Make honey. Then overflow. 
Photo by Sabrina Ryan

6/18/2011

Authority


The boundless light that shines from the smallest atom in this body is my God. Love is my religion. The present moment is my place of worship. Breath is my sacrament. And with this breath, I gently sweep away every creed, every hierarchy, every priestly power that would bind the sacred freedom of my heart. How can I possess such authority? Because I have been born on earth as a human being.

6/16/2011

Unchosen


Blessed be the unchosen:
this is where the miracle is.
Do apple trees prefer Autumn or Spring?
Would brook water rather be a cloud?
Does a golden photon get to choose
which sunbeam it falls through,
which leaf it turns green?
When does a larva decide
to put on its rainbow wings?
Which star is night's favorite?
From a cattail reed at dawn,
the liquid bell of a red winged blackbird:
how long did she worry whether or not to sing?
Which nipple does the infant prefer?
Why does earth keep turning herself?
Do you think she's choosing night or day?
Nature is neither for nor against.
Why should you like anything more
than the brilliant crimson summer moth
just settling on this peony?

Painting by Peter Nahum

6/15/2011

Peace Cannot Be Made


I cannot make peace because I am peace. Peace is not made, it is awakened.

How did Jesus bring peace to the world? He did not preach an ideology, or organize a protest movement. "He breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit." True peace is a living breath, a radiant energy. It overflows from the Being deep in the silent core of our hearts. Tense angry people don't need our politics or our protest: they need our presence.

Peace is not anti-war. Anti doesn't work. Being against Israel will not bring justice to Palestinians. Being against Islam will not make Christians safe. Being against the Right will not make the Left more convincing. Being against the rich will not prosper the poor. Being anti-war will not bring peace. Anti only polarizes our energy and fuels our conflict.

I don't need to be for or against anybody. I need to transform my own Being so that I can breathe love, I need to expand my own awareness so that I can embrace both side of the conflict.

My way to peace is not marching in the streets, but diving into the heart's silence, where a new kind of energy awakens. Peace begins when the inner power of shakti is ignited, releasing a fountain of divine light. Then, when my own cup runs over, I can pour peace into the world.

It matters not whether I call this energy agape, Christ's forgiveness; metta, Buddha's compassion; prema, Krishna's grace. The name of love doesn't matter. Love is not an ideology or a political point of view. Love is the power of creation. Love enlightens consciousness, infuses the nervous system, and streams into the world. The power of this all-embracing love is very subtle, because it is not a doing, it is a being.

When a mother watches over children in the sandbox, she doesn't take sides when they fight. She doesn't call one child good and the other child evil. She enfolds them both in her love, patiently waiting, whispering, "Fight as long as you must. When you're finished, I will make you lunch." If we want peace in our community, we must develop the compassionate neutrality of a mother.

When the star beings gaze upon humanity on earth, upon our endless wars and political disputes, they are not for or against, and they don't interfere. They watch with all-encompassing wisdom, and wait for us to grow up. If we want peace on earth, we must develop the patient awareness of a star being.

Be Broken

A broken heart lets in light. If the heart breaks wide open, the stream has no end. It flows through to other hearts. Wounds connect us. Wounds are our windows into each other. Don't be hasty to heal and close. Don't be a knower. Be a window.

6/14/2011

Talking to Myself Dancing on My Tail

 

I spoke to my soul, "You must strive to solve the great political problems of this world: war, poverty, injustice, environmental catastrophe. This is your duty!"

My soul replied, "Each of us learns precisely the lesson we need at this moment. The world must be just as it is. If you've come to fix it, we're not interested. Why deprive others of the opportunity to learn from the fruit of their actions? Why interfere in the exercise and consequence of their free will?"

"But I see crisis everywhere I look!"

"Then the crisis is your seeing."

"But is there nothing WRONG?" I cried. "Is there no SIN?"

To which my soul replied, "The original sin is forgetting how to be happy."

I was dumbfounded by these answers from my own soul. I had one more question. "Which voice is I, yours or mine?"

At this, my soul rose dancing on its tail, transformed into a rainbow-colored dove-winged serpent with two faces gazing in opposite directions. One was the face of Jesus, the other the face of Lucifer, both glowing with inscrutable splendor. The beautiful terrifying Serpent of Wisdom flew upward, yet inward, and disappeared into the clear blue sky of my speechlessness, but not before it spoke these final words:

"Throw away the voice that wants to argue: meet the one who loves to sing."
_____________

Picture: Aboriginal art by Walangari Karntawarrax

6/13/2011

Leaf


How are "self-help" and "self-control" working out for you? For me, they are illusions. "I" am not very helpful to "me." I can no more control my life than a falling leaf controls the breeze. But I can surrender. I can surrender to the Grace of Mother Divine.

Education Without Meditation



Does creativity arise from my thoughts, or from the spacious crystal silence between them?

If I observe very deeply, I see that my creativity manifests in silent waves of Being, not concepts. Only after the creative impulse wells up like a tear of joy from the a priori silence deeper than mind, only then do I quantify those waves of infinite stillness into finite thoughts.

The images that form my thoughts come from memory. Thoughts are images of the past. But the creative power that energizes thoughts is image-less. If past images are not empowered by the image-less vibration of Presence, my thoughts are not creative.

Every wave of creation is connected to the ocean of quietness beneath it. Every great work of art or dance incorporates stillness, every great work of music or literature incorporates silence, and in every true poem what remains unspoken makes it poetry. We feel the "greatness" in art because we feel, through its forms, the awe of the formless.

In American culture today, we have compulsive thinking without silence, frantic action without stillness, education without meditation. That is why our institutions seem paralyzed with dissension and stress. We Americans will never recover our greatness by hastening our thoughts and actions, but by deepening our silence.

"In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)

Blessed

To bless others, be grateful for your blessings: this breath, this touch of breeze on your flesh, this call of the thrush in a nearby oak. No ordination into ministry or priesthood is necessary. That was all in a past age. Simply be aware of how blessed you are right now, and blessing will flow through your heart, your hand, your word.

The Only Problem

I get absorbed in a thought. It has world-shaking significance. An hour later, that thought seems so small. By then, of course, I have been taken in by another thought.

Awareness is not thought. Awareness is the great mother, watching thoughts play and roughhouse in the sandbox of this mind. She watches over my thoughts, but is not among them. She does not take sides in their tussle.

Yes, the world appears to have innumerable problems. But getting stuck in my thoughts is the only real problem. Lost in the whirl of thoughts, I lose the still warm core of Self-nourishment that is the first step in solving any problem.

I am not my thoughts. I am Awareness. My true nature is motherhood for all beings. Om shantih, shantih, shantih.

The Mystery of the Guru

Do not judge the mirror.

We label the purest mirror 'impure' when we see our own doubts reflected in it. The Guru is here simply to be a mirror. That is why judging the Guru is futile.

Those who are obsessed with money see the Guru as a swindler. Those who are obsessed with sex see the Guru as a seducer. Those who have a big ego see the Guru as an egomaniac. Those who are full of shadows see the Guru as a demon. Jesus himself was accused of all these things.

If you don't experience the mystery of attraction to a particular Guru, then just ignore him. You are not required to be a disciple. But judging the Guru is worthless: it lowers your energy, not the Guru's.

One seeker gives away his inner authority to any so-called Guru who comes through town. Another declares all Gurus false. These are just two poles of one ignorance. The first lacks a center: the slightest breeze of glamor will knock him over. The other is too centered, too fixed in a separate self, incapable of surrender. Between these extremes is a middle way: a state of subtle balance, softly poised in one's center yet open to expansion.

The most precious gift is finding a real Guru. The Guru is Grace made active and practical. But how does one discriminate without becoming petty or judgmental?

This requires the heart of a dancer! When such a heart recognizes the Master, it is quickened. Energized with the courage to surrender, it leaps into the abyss of love! Truth sets the heart free. Utterly freed from the vine of doubt, this ripe heart falls at the feet of the Master's feet. Such a paradox! When I no longer need the Master, that is precisely when I go back to him, and fall down in gratitude. 

Such surrender doesn't look like freedom to the observer, yet this leap into love, this fall into the abyss of devotion, is the deepest freedom, and the most centered balance. One has fallen into one's own true center, and awakened the Master Within.

Choose your Guru wisely. Yet when the moment comes, there will be no other choice, for the Guru has chosen you. 

"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

6/12/2011

A Peony


Thinking is a useful tool when we need to solve a problem. But in between problems, we have plenty of time to set thinking aside and simply be aware, bathing each object in sparkling subjectivity, without forming an idea about it.

Unnecessary compulsive thinking is "anxiety": braincells gone wild. Many use prescription drugs or alcohol to temporarily suppress the over-thinking mind. Anxious thinking is like taking snapshots of the empty sky. Why not just be that emptiness, without taking pictures? Why not become present, without thought?

The cultivation of Presence is meditation. Meditation does not take us to a mystical and "higher" world, which would just be another thought. Meditation brings us back to this world, this breath, this body. Here in the only world there is, we can relax into our innate energy, not the frenetic energy of thinking what should be, but the graceful energy of what is, the ocean of nature flowing around and through us like sap in the roots, branches and leaves of a tree.

Thus the Buddha taught, "See things as they are and you will be comforted. He who has recognized the nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent, ceases to tremble."

To meditate is to become real and alive, planted in fertile ground, abundance pressed out and overflowing from the very Isness. The forms that are happening in this sacred moment make little difference. Abundance lies not in the content of the now, but in the radiant transparency of pure Presence.

Now here is the work of redemption: one who is established in Presence makes others more present, just by being with them.

Meditation is no longer a fringe activity for an alternate lifestyle, but a survival technique for civilization. The practice of cultivating Presence solves 95% of our problems - medical, emotional, even political. It brings clarity, objectivity, and peace - especially when we practice with another person, face to face, embracing our partner in the space of compassion, which is the space of empty awareness, free from thought.

We think we need more money, more vacation, more clothes and jewelry, more sex, another job, a new house in a safer, more serene setting, and of course a new lover to live with. Extraneous thinking carries us away with desire for more and fear of less. For the mind, what is is never enough. Collectively, this insatiable craving produces a culture of consumerism, destroying our environment.

But each of us can solve these problems, including the world's environmental catastrophe, at their source. Where is the source? Our own mind.

Return to the sparkling ocean of Presence. Return to awareness free from thought. See how one peony in your back yard makes you perfectly rich. Solve problems here and now by being nowhere else.

Simplistic?

No, Simplicity.

6/11/2011

M.O.J.O.

 I met an all-too-precious True Believer wearing an enormous yellow button inscribed with the letters J.O.Y.

I took the bait and asked him what the letters stood for. He said, "Jesus, Others, Yourself. Put Jesus first, then others, and finally yourself. That is the way to joy!"

I tried it for several years but it didn't work. So I took a different path. I put my Self first.

It's hard to admit this in a culture where the righteous pretend that "self" is a dirty four-letter word, when in fact Self is the unconscious legislator of everything they experience.

Here is what I discovered: If I try to put Jesus before myself, I don't have anywhere to put him. The radiant heart of my Self-awareness is the only place where my Lord can find a dwelling.

If I put Others before myself, I don't have anything to offer them, because I don't know who is making the offering.

But if I start by nourishing the Light Within, and I meditate in the vast luminosity of my true Self, I awaken a warm and generous space that welcomes all, including Jesus. Then I can give everything, because I am everything.

My button says M.O.J.O. It stands for Me, Others, Jesus, One.

6/09/2011

Dryad

The Tree of Life at the center of the world is the golden-chain lobelia in my back yard - as is the tree in your yard.

Adore the dryad of this particular tree. All Gods are clustered inside her, as ripe seeds in the core of the pomegranate.

Some will yet insist, "There is only one way, and God is above you." They do not know that a berry is holy, an egg echoes with stars, a galaxy swirls in the hologram of a snail. My heart windows your heart. All hearts open to an inner sky.
Photo: My back yard lobelia in blossom.