3/31/2012

"My" Guru

Once one says, "my guru," one has a conflict. Solve it either by getting rid of "guru" or getting rid of "my."

A guru is a two-edged sword. One can cherish the guru as a spiritual friend, or use the guru as a surrogate mommy. The same guru may cause the liberation of one person and the bondage of another. The presence of the guru causes one ego to grow heavier, and another to become so soft and ripe it drops from the vine. As in every relationship, it depends on whether one says "You belong to me" or "I belong to you."

Jai Guru Dev.

3/30/2012

I Don't Count


To stop counting is a spiritual practice.

At least for one day, take a Sabbath rest from counting. Stop counting abdominal crunches and stop counting breaths in Zazen. Stop counting beads. Stop counting laps. Stop counting vacation days and community service hours. Stop counting miles, pounds, sins, dividends, the days until, the years since. Don't even count your blessings.

Do all your normal daily activities: just don't count anything. Even if you're an accountant, do your work but don't count it. Whatever you accomplish, say, "I offer it up, I let it go, it doesn't count."

In the evening of this countless Sabbath, see how fresh you feel. Each moment of this day, you are in the beginning.

3/28/2012

Flowers of Darkness


Embracing heartache without resistance, I see that deep disappointment is the best time to discriminate between dream and reality. 

What did not survive was not real. What survives, is. The body and its tears, the voice and its laughter, the passing sensations, all dissolve to primal atoms and the void. What remains? 

Love.

Peel away another layer of the dream. Penetrate the darkness to its deathless seed. In the heart of loss, find the luminous crystal essence.

3/27/2012

Lord of Breathing



The wind blows where it pleases. You hear the sound thereof, but know not where it comes from, or where it goes. So it is for all who are born of the Breath. ~John 3:8

Let everything that has Breath praise the Lord. ~Psalm 150

From the moment I was born I've been learning how to breathe.

I think I'm getting this: take it in, let it go.

Not quite; try again. Don't take; receive.

Float, soul, let breath breathe you; be tide.

Not exactly; this time, do even less.

I’m not sure what breath is; I'm not sure who’s breathing.

It starts somewhere beyond this world; when you give it back, you go there.

Between one breath and another, there's a shimmering whirlpool of silence.

Here no thought rises; no world has been created.

The beginning of every breath is the formless void.

Exhale old earth, inhale new heaven; let there be light.

Let there be a thousand suns in my body.

Let this world never be one moment old.

Back at the sunset, seeds shoot fire from black soil.

Evening flings her shawl of fog on mountain shoulders.

Trembling purple wings of awareness settle on the meadow.

Under the tree of yearning, you gaze into lit distances beyond prayer.

But your mind insists that the stars are hanging on the nearest branch.

The billowing moon is a reflection of something brighter; and that a reflection of something brighter still:

A radiance only known when you turn inside, crying, 'Who?'

Every night, the same moon; but This light always new.

A leaf floats where wind goes, flutter-falls where wind dies.

Everything moved by another, who move you?

Lord of Breathing, where do you come from?

I hear the mysterious sound; is it your name?

Or do your lips name me?

Conspire


There is only one conspiracy theory you need to believe in. Your heart conspires with the universe to put a smile on your face, a smile from the Source of creation. The greatest contribution to world peace is your happiness.

Painting by Zhao Chang, Song Dynasty

American Exceptionalism

I believe in American Exceptionalism.
I believe no less in Palestinian Exceptionalism.
I believe in Lakota Exceptionalism.
I believe in Tibetan, Congolese, Cuban, Afghan,
Mbenga, Dravidian, Arawak Exeptionalism.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of the Wolverine
snarling against extinction.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of the Peregrine Falcon,
the Coral Reef, and the Amazon.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of every Four Legged Winged 

Creeping Swimming Seed-bearing Pollen-sweet 
Herbivorous Carnivorous Sentient Creature on earth,
whether Human or not,
American or not.
Read James Dickey's poem, 'For the Last Wolverine'

3/26/2012

Taking Offense

Much of humanity's stress would vanish if we just learned to let offending words dissolve into the confusion from which they arose, without attributing motive. We can't judge the pain that gave rise to those words; and when we feel offended, the offense we feel arises from our own troubled hearts, not from the words that offend us.

Are You An Alien?


The great modern American myth is our expectation of alien visitors. Like all religious myths, it is symbolic. To quote Richard Dreyfus as he played with a pile of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters, "This means something."

What it means is: the aliens are us.

We used to inhabit a planet called Ore: Old Real Earth. But we've been abducted by laptops, iPhones and Mapfinders. When was the last time you unplugged and came down from cyberspace, plunging your nose in a green fountain of chive, kneeling in a patch of snowdrops, or listening to a raven over still evening water?

If you love to multi-task, using several electronic gadgets at once, you may be an alien. And you probably have ADD. If you walk alone in the park on a beautiful Spring day chattering on your Bluetooth to people who aren't really there, you may be an alien. And you're obviously a lunatic. But because most of us participate in this culture of electronic distraction, we don't realize how insane we've become. We don't understand how completely we've alienated ourselves from our own planet.

To get a sense of how uprooted from the Ore you might be, try focusing on one simple physical task for five minutes, without music, news or entertainment to divide your attention. Or go for a walk in the forest and be a deer, ears perked, nostrils quivering. Attend silently to dogwood buds, notice shifting shades of green, listen to bee-ringing honeysuckle, pick up an aluminum can in the trillium, touching the metallic sadness of humanity. Without wandering into the past or future, stay with the sacrament of sensation in the present moment.

For a few minutes a day, can you unplug the mind and follow the link from your brain to your heart? Can you dwell on the Ore for 10 minutes? For 1 minute? For a single breath?

Even for the duration of a heartbeat, bring your mind home. Touch the ground, bare feet in wet grass at midnight, un-naming the stars. Such humble disciplines of reconnection could save our planet.

Watch and Pray


Jesus said, "Watch and pray." (Mat. 26:41) Simply to watch is perfect stillness. Just to listen is marvelous silence.

Without effort or concentration, let this restless mind rove wildly through the universe. Give it infinite space to roam. Just watch.

Awareness is the only discipline. No resistance, no control. When the mind has its fill of wandering, it returns like a swan, folds its wings, and settles on the still waters of the heart. Meditation happens naturally.

All Winter long, the plum branch reaches through the broken fence, toward the white blossom it always held.

Painting by Toinette

40 Years of Meditation


I have meditated every day, twice a day, for forty years, and what do I have to show for it? Absolutely no thing! That's why I continue on the pathless path.

Again and again, I arrive at the goal shouting inane aphorisms like, "I got here first but I am lost. My entire religion disappears the moment I fall asleep. Sakyamuni won't sign my baseball. The sky doesn't need wings. Why seek improvement if everything is always just what it is?  The opposite of light isn't darkness, it's whining!"

To settle this weird mind down, I mainline pure air into my veins with a breath of compassion. Then I bow.

Bowing feels good. My head hits the earth like an egg dropped into unfathomable emptiness, making a sound like a gong in every seed and every supernova, bursting plum blossoms and birthing rabbits in the blackberry bramble.

Nose


Occupy the tip of your nose.

Become boundlessly aware in this moment. Then act to heal the whole universe in the one place action is possible: right where you are.

To a stressed unhappy mind, this is a world crisis. To an expanded mind, it's just a situation. Why not deal with the situation before it becomes a problem?

This insane world needs only more ingredient to become perfect: your awareness.

No matter how conflicted and divided it may look, this world-phenomenon appears in the seamless unity of your own awareness. No conflict you could possibly experience ever occurs outside the transparent clarity and wholeness of the Self.

Noticing this is the first solution to every problem. It is so obvious, we overlook it - like the tip of our nose.

3/20/2012

Equinox


It's 4 AM on the Spring Equinox. I am peeing in my garden with Willy, the golden poodle. It is so quiet I hear seeds arguing in the chilly loam. The rose says to the dahlia, "Be a rose!" The dahlia says to the chrysanthemum, "Only dahlias here!" Camellia buds jostle each other, whispering, "I'm the blossom on this bush!" A newborn crocus bursts from the frosty soil, its purple lips sucking at darkness. Even the flowers are frail trembling bodies with enormous egos, yearning for a star.

Don't worry. The sun is inside. Every seed contains the Light that feeds us all.

3/19/2012

Wings of the Ordinary


The miracles we do not notice fly back to the Creator on disappointed wings. But the ones we notice fold their wings and settle into the ordinary.

Each moment Creator says, "Let there be light." The act of creation cannot be fulfilled without the light of our awareness.

We seldom hear the most important commandment, because it is so quiet: "Thou shalt notice the mushroom and the web of dew, the pebble and the bud."

We are here on earth to pay attention, to perceive the miraculous wings of the ordinary. Our wonder completes the design.

3/18/2012

Jupiter and Venus

Venus and Jupiter, March 12, 2012: never so near, so intimate, yet hundreds of millions of miles apart. Distance and nearness have no meaning in the seamless clarity of consciousness. No one is far from you; yet can you be near your Self? Rest tonight in the radiant space of who you Are, bursting with stars.

Be Honest with your Pain

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." Is this not a constant choice we make every day?

When I choose suffering, I identify with the labels and beliefs that I superimpose on my pain. Then I need to talk about it, even if there is no actual pain at this moment.

But when I carry pain gracefully, I do not make a concept or belief about it. I don't identify my pain as "me" or "mine." There is no compulsion to tell a story about my pain. Therefor, no suffering. For suffering is not pain: suffering is a story we make up about pain, creating the past and future.

I am not liberated from pain. I am liberated from my story about it. I am liberated from identifying pain as who I am.

Then I can embrace pain as part of the seamless whole of energy, the energy-field of  body, earth, and stars. This brief pain, just as it is in this moment, mingles with the pain of other creatures, just as this joy mingles with the joy of other creatures. "No man is an island," no particle is separate from the field.

Do feelings have boundaries? Do bodies have edges? Pain and pleasure are waves of one ocean, made of one water. By grace, we allow both pain and pleasure to dissolve into particles of bliss, waves of bliss. Into ananda, the labels "pain" and "pleasure" disappear.

This only happens when I am fully Present, with the melting away of past and future, the dissolution of beliefs about "me." No, it is not a philosophy for intellectuals, but a survival technique for those who choose life instead of suffering.

3/14/2012

Owl


On a shamanic journey I met my spirit guide, the Owl. 

If you call him a "totem animal," he flies away. He insists on "Spirit Guide, Great Horned Owl." Name him meticulously, he deigns to stay awhile, though he refuses to answer questions or give advice, preferring to hang out in silence. We sit together on an old oak limb, scouting for delicious mice.

Owl is the sign of infinite aloneness, the harbinger of boundless solitude. This is what he teaches, if I am permitted to put it into words:


"To be one is your birthright. But you are so afraid of unity, you create conflict, then complain about it, just to pretend there are two.

"The world may look chaotic, conflicted, divided and broken, but nothing you perceive could possibly appear outside the silent wholeness and seamless unity of your own awareness. If you would heal the world, become aware of your awareness.
Whoooo.... Shhhhh."

Paradox & Reason


What the intellect rejects as a contradiction, the soul embraces as a paradox.

One who remains on the level of the intellect, insisting on logically consistent arguments, cannot enter the heart of reality, for the deeper we plunge into the heart, the closer we come to the realm where every truth may be equally expressed by its opposite.

This is why the way to truth is opened, not by the logical arguments of European philosophy, but the sutras of India. Sutra is the Indo-European root of the English suture: a thread. A sutra is not a link in a logical argument, but a self-contained paradox through which awareness transcends the boundaries of intellect and passes through the portal of the heart into the fire of God, where thought is consumed by love.

Remembering, "the opposite is also true," stops the mind.

3/12/2012

The Golden Rose

When I taste longing for God, I enter the path of devotion. But when I taste God's longing for me,  I wander into the garden of astonishment.

Every weed is a kingdom, every fragrance a rendezvous. Here I am lost. I don't  know whether to cry, O Christ! O Krishna! or O Raheem!

The Beloved walks beside me in the wilderness of self-abandonment. We have both strayed far from the path. God is lost too. The silence is alive, the sound of a boundless bell, struck ten billion years ago, still ringing in each atom.

Placing two fingers to my lips, the Beloved whispers, "Shhh! Don't pray like that. No need to cry, O Christ! O Krishna! O Raheem! Just O! is enough. That is my eternal name, the sound of your dissolving."  

Now the Beloved's lips touch my brow. A golden rose blossoms there, made of starlight. But this is the starlight that is already inside us, before the making of stars. 

O Rose of countless petals, shimmering doorways that lead to mansions of amethyst and ruby, where numberless souls return at the end of every exhalation, and go forth with each new breath!

O golden thousand-tiered Radiance that toys with the eye of my heart! I am troubled and dizzy with the fragrance of your light. In you I behold the lineaments of a Face gazing back, or is it the intricate design of a heavenly City, our true home, where all humanity, atoned by harmonious living, dwells in a shimmer, blurring I and We, Self and Other, into one, yet resolving them into distinction?

O personal Gaze of the All, you are the mathematical symmetry of the Logos, transcending reason and order, containing perfect knowledge in a fractal chaos of tangled asymptotes that draw the eye beyond silence, into the vanishing point of bliss, the emptiness of this very O!

Perhaps you are only a mirage, gleaming out of the infinite yet nearer than my next breath. Perhaps your golden glance at me is the image of my yearning for you, reflected by the eternal solitude of consciousness itself. Perhaps the holy city shimmering in your depth is the likeness of the space within my many-mansioned heart. Perhaps this whole creation finally dissolves into Presence, without form or content, and I am simply in the moment between one breath and another.

O sacred confusion! I cannot tell if I rest in God, or God rests in me!

Love Your Enemy



Jesus did not say, "Love your enemies" for their sake, but for our sake, to prevent us from becoming the very people we hate.

Because we did not listen to him, we have become the terrorists. That's what hate does: it turns us into our enemies. But when we love, it turns our enemies into us.

I grieve not only for the Afghan people, but for the broken families of the U.S. military community who live all around me. When I look out my back window, there is a house with a little boy who never knew his father, killed in Afghanistan seven years ago. When I look out my front window I see the home of a Congressional Medal of Honor winner with his hands blown off. He has an American flag over his door and never comes out. When I walk down the street, just past his house, I meet another little boy, from another home, who is huddled in the rain, trembling and crying. He wants to borrow my cell phone to call 911. I ask him why. He says, "Because my step dad kicked me in the jaw and threw me against the wall of the garage." His step dad just came back from his fourth tour of combat.
Now 16 civilians have been murdered by a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, a soldier from this military base, one mile away. 


We have lost all credibility to condemn the atrocities of dictators and terrorists, because our own soldiers commit acts of terrorism. We destroy the souls of our men and women in uniform with a foreign policy whose mission drifts further and further away from national defense, into arrogant imperialism, claiming the right to occupy and bully other countries into serving our will.

This is not the fault of the soldiers, but the fault of a civilian population too long myopic and disengaged from its duty. Our Constitution makes it clear that the military is governed by the civilian authorities, and the civilian authorities are elected by the people. 


We the people must now rise up, not only in defense of Afghan families, but in defense of our own abused military families, and demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Middle East.

Self-Control is a Hoax


"Control is an illusion, a temporary exertion of energy in the mind. Shiva is the opposite. Shiva is the permanent source of Energy. Shiva is harmonious innocence which knows no control." ~Sri Sri Gurudev

If I am controlled by my 'self,' then who controls the 'self' who controls me? 'I' cannot control or eliminate 'I.' The religious and moral 'self-control' industry that has existed for thousands of years is a hoax. It never worked and it never will. What the mind needs is not self-control, but surrender to the divine innocence.

3/10/2012


I keep seeing silly ads that say, 'Meditate Like a Monk.' Where did we get the notion that monks are the real meditators?

I don't want to meditate like a monk. I want to meditate like a wild shamanic poet with toes planted in loam, brain blossoming streaked lightning to the stars, voluptuous Shakti serpent-Goddess entwined around the tree of life, my spine. Won't you meet me in this dance?

Living in a Post-Intelligent World



Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
- William Blake

The world is whole beyond human knowing. - Wendell Berry


1. Animals Are More Conscious Than Men

Animals experience the flow of immediate alertness without thought. They are highly conscious, but unaware of consciousness. Animals are radiant, but not self-radiant.

Humans are the most beautiful and most dangerous animals. We have intelligence. But because we are intelligent, we have forgotten the graceful alertness of our animal nature. We live by thinking. We are guided, not by spontaneous alertness, but by predetermination, which is belief. This is why we are unhappy and insensate much of the time, and we kill each other with a cruelty animals cannot fathom.


2. Ideas Are Not Conscious
An idea is not conscious. An idea is a frozen point of view in the vast ocean of consciousness. The idea itself is not aware. Ideas are nouns. Consciousness is a verb.

When awareness implodes into a point of view, belief replaces sentience, the ideal replaces the real, and the thinker is born as a disembodied being. As thinkers, we lose the capacity to participate in animal alertness. Our point of view - whether Christian or Muslim, Republican or Democrat, Western or Eastern - is true only in relation to another point of view, which is equally true relative to ours. All points of view are equal and, in relation to the actual momentous world of Now, equally meaningless.

To defend our point of view, we must be in conflict with another. Intelligent human beings live in perpetual conflict with one other. Only conflict can define and sustain their relative viewpoints. This is why peace is never achieved through ideas or beliefs.

Our belief is an abstract image of the world, not the world itself. As soon as we form this image, the world has already passed by, transformed into something new, something we will never know by thinking about it. By thinking, we are always a gray disembodied step behind the radiant and sensuous flow of the world. A thought is the snapshot of what has already vanished. Our beliefs abstract us into a ghostly parallel universe that never quite touches the animal energy of the earth.

Humanity now wanders in an evolutionary cul de sac, exiled from the electrical animal Now. Is it any wonder that we are destroying the earth, since we no longer touch it, see it, taste its inconceivable sensuality?

If we would survive, we must leap out of this cul de sac. Thinking will not lead us out. We must transcend thinking, spreading wings of intuition. Waking to the wind's touch, we must learn to fly. A new stage of evolution dawns. If we don't leap, we destroy our planet.


3. Leap Into Animal Self-Radiance
What are the options?

(A) We can sink back into animal awareness. We do this when we have a few glasses of wine in the evening. We do it when we seek sexual release. We do it when we drown our days in rituals of work. War also provides the comfort of animal awareness, a horrible kind of comfort. We know it so well. Through war, we return to familiar reptilian sensations of rage and fear.

(B) We can continue to be intelligent. That is, we can continue to live as ghosts worshiping idols of thought. But this, as we have seen, is not life on earth.

(C) Leap. Leap into awareness without thought. Leap into animal self-radiance.

Animal self-radiance is the spontaneous flow of awakening, unobstructed by points of view. I live in the wave, not the particle. But I am not just an animal. I am an animal aware of its awareness. Nostrils twitching like a deer in the forest, muscles quivering like a salmon in a waterfall, eyes fiercely bright as an eagle's on the hare, feet alive to the ground like the silent paws of a stalking tiger, awareness ripples through the body of the animal. But self-awareness ripples through the body of the most beautiful animal.


4. Post-Intelligent Awareness in the Wisdom Traditions
Has post-intelligent awareness been recorded before? Of course it has.

The ancient Hebrew psalmist wrote: "Taste and see that YHWH is good." At the source of Japanese Zen, Dogen taught: "Those who gained enlightenment by seeing blossoms or hearing sounds, achieved it through the body." In the Sufi tradition, Rumi sang, "Forget every touch and every sound that did not teach you how to dance!"

The Medieval Christian mystic, Bernard of Clairvaux, taught his monks: "You will find something greater laboring in the woods than in any book. Trees and stones will teach you what you can never learn from schoolmasters." The 20th Century Catholic philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, wrote: "All around us, to right and left, above and below, we have only to go a little beyond the frontier of sensible appearances to see the divine welling up and showing through.... Matter is Spirit moving slowly enough to be seen." After Charles Darwin walked through a tropical rain forest, he wrote: "Twiners entwining twiners, beautiful Lepidoptera, silence, hosannah!"

Who in today's world knows this heightened consciousness of the body? Do not consult theologians or philosophers, scholars and PHD's. Learn it from hyper-vigilant Army Rangers and Navy Seals gathering intelligence behind the lines in enemy territory. They know beyond knowing.

We need the wisdom of the warrior. But we will use it to make peace.


5. The Most Beautiful Animal
Once we were animals eating in the forest, living through instinct. But instinct is no longer the way.

Once we were animals lost in thought, abstracted in libraries and computers. But intelligence is no longer the way.

Now we are the most beautiful animals, endowed with something like instinct but augmented, infinitized by self-reference, free to choose and to proclaim: I Am.

Call it intuition. Like instinct, intuition operates in a field beyond thought. But instinct is pre-intelligent, while intuition is post-intelligent. Instinct is radiance, while intuition is self-radiance.

I am the most beautiful animal. I live in a post-intelligent world. Earth, not heaven, is my sacred destination. No longer do I waste my world as an expendable resource in a desperate quest for the abstract ghost of what I believe. No longer do I believe in anything. I am free of ideas. I have no point of view, because no point can contain the boundless self-effulgent space of awareness. Thoughts may arise, presenting me with information I need in a particular moment, but I am independent of my thoughts.

I flow in a graceful tide of sensation with no need for the dikes and levies of ideology. No past or future, doctrine or conclusion locate who I Am. My habitat: the ever-widening wildness of Now. The tiger licks its jaws. But this tiger licks its jaws and gives thanks.

May you live again and taste it. May the taste break over your senses in un-abstracted waves of delight. Strangely, you remember the taste from long ago, by forest pools or soaring on hawk feathers. You often taste it in dreams, but awaking, it seems forever lost. Your myths and religions are all about returning to it. Now, that future has dawned. You return to yourself. You taste your own terrible lips. You are the tiger. Yet the one who watches the tiger is also awake.

Never Leave Your Comfort Zone


Why all this need to "get out of your comfort zone"? It's impossible. The whole cosmos is a comfort zone. Stars and planets never veer from their changeless orbits and spheres. The daffodil returns to seed, only to flower again. Humans are the only creatures who complain about "routine." To the other creatures, its all a perfect ceremony.

Galaxies and flowers are always in the zone, and so are you. Don't expand your comfort zone: expand your awareness. Your comfort zone is already amazing - full of miracles.

Be comfortable in the grace of your life, just as it is.
Let the Comforter enfold you.

3/09/2012

Full Moon Meditation


Fill your mind with moonlight,
pearl it in a breath,
descend into the mystery of the Heart.
Become the place where restless lovers
touch and find quietness.
Become the Bridal Chamber
where two lights mingle, fiery and cool,
Parvati and Shiva, Christ and the Bride,
where breath marries breath,
and the pearl melts into golden stillness.
The passion of the Sun and Moon
is your heartbeat,
The passion of two in one.
Bear their love, and their love
will give birth to you.

3/05/2012

Pointless Love


Love is not a point of view. Love is pointless.

When I react to another person's narrow point of view, my reaction creates an equally narrow point of view. Now both points sustain each other through their polarization, fed by anger and fear. Equally valid as reactions to one other, they are equally meaningless in relation to the Great Space of love that contains and dissolves all possible points.

Is it possible simply to remain spacious, and listen to the other without contracting? This is precisely what Jesus meant by "loving your enemy" and "praying for those who persecute you." It takes great courage to remain spacious while gazing into the face of hostile self-righteousness. Yet this spaciousness is the Kingdom of Heaven: it saves me from condemning myself to the hell-world of a narrow point. There is no more bitter hell than the narrow little hell of being "right."

Remaining pointless in the center of conflict redeems my "enemy" as well as me, enveloping both self and other in the vast emptiness of compassion. Ultimately, I can "love my neighbor as my self" because I see that we are both breaths of the same space.

Nothing is gained by arguing with an angry person. But real transformation flowers when I enfold the other in the unified field of pure listening.

God, Body & I


The gates to the stars are the portals of my body. I shall not transcend my flesh. I shall journey through it into deeper holiness. There are worlds of angels in each atom. At the center of a proton, the boundless Christ. I need not be washed in the blood of the Lamb. I was washed in the blood of my mother's womb. That is my salvation.

The sacred practices of all great wisdom traditions are techniques of incarnation. They do not erase the human body, they glorify it: the bread of the Christian Eucharist is the body of Christ; the tribal shaman draws divine energy from plants, animals and stones; Chi flows through the soles of the martial artist's feet; the whirling dance of the Sufi is a body-prayer; Chakras blossom on the tree of the yogini's spine; and the breath of Zen meditation is here, in the Hara, the belly.

A lantern's light spreads beyond the lantern, yet the candle is essential. Without it, there is no center from which radiation can flow. The body is our wick, the mind is the flame around it, the spirit is the luminous aura that expands far beyond this brief candle.

Don't snuff out the wick of your body. Light it! Breathe the aura of your body into the galaxies. Revel in the secret of divine humanity: The journey up is a journey down. The journey out to the heavens is a journey in to the heart, to the groin, to the soles of your feet, to the sacred dust. And the dust is made of stars!

This human form is the axis of creation, connecting earth and sky, water and light, Shiva and Shakti, Mary and Christ, Creator and the smallest pebble. Your body is the nexus of North, South, East, West, the cross on which God centers herself.

Be the temple where angels meet their animal guides, where celestial devas learn plant songs, where the Holy Spirit gleams through wish-granting gems from the heart of matter. Let your body be God.

Your eye is holy. Your nose is holy. Your lips and your tongue are holy. Your skin is holy. Your belly is holy. Your penis is holy. Your clitoris is holy. The sole of your foot is holy. And because your body is holy, the "I" tethered to it as the flame to a wick is holy too. Your "I" is as much a part of your incarnation as a finger or a nose. You no more need to destroy your ego than you need to annihilate your big toe. Don't get rid of your "I". Hug your "I". Hug your "I" with divine love.

"I" is a vehicle for expressing the body's radiance and negotiating its relationship to other forms. "I" directs and coordinates the flow of divine energy through your senses. "I" is your body's antenna. You become truly happy, intimate and selfless not through denial of the "I", but through cherishing the "I." Cherishing the "I" of your body means embracing its limitations. As you embrace and forgive your own "I," you can freely cherish the "I" of your beloved.

Yes, your "I" may be flawed and fallen, but because of this it can feel what others feel, breathe with a sighing stranger, resonate with rhythms of pain and joy. Because your "I" is a little wave in the ocean of awareness, it can dance with men and angels.

Your "I" finally understands that, in this ocean, all waves are the same water. "I" is a ripple in the vastness it cannot name. But this doesn't mean your "I" must disappear! It means that "I" become a translucent cup floating in the sea of consciousness. "I" do not try to contain the sea, but allow myself to be useful, a tool for creative expression.

It is through the "I" that we enjoy the charm of creation, the charm of one becoming many for the sake of play.

Therefor rejoice in your body, delight in your "I," so that you may rejoice in everybody, and delight in the Beloved. Selah.

Be Ordinary

Have the courage to be ordinary.

It's Zen-trendy to embrace the ordinary in objects. But we are desperately afraid to be ordinary in ourselves. We must wear an invisible designer dress to keep up with everybody else on the red carpet of enlightenment. We must be 'amazing,' 'perfect,' in 'higher consciousness.' Higher than who? When you get there, are you higher than you are?

The ordinary sparkles with uniqueness. Why dress it up? Let your naked ordinary ripen from within. Just as you are, be sweet and full of juice.
There is a deeply political point to being ordinary. Some politicians insist on American Exceptionalism. They think Americans are extra-ordinary. We aren't bound by the etiquette of the ordinary. This permits us to abuse the environment, invade the Third World, and engage in corporate pillage. Our exceptionalism destroys the earth.
Let us practice the politics of the ordinary, the etiquette of nature. When we practice environmental etiquette, the earth shares her the ancient solutions of her Grace with us. Grace shines not above nature, but through nature, and to be graceful is to be ordinary. To be ordinary is not to be static, but to grow and transcend oneself greenly. Blossom like a vine, ferment like a grape, swell with green spirit, be naturally super-natural.
Then, when we become ordinary, we can see our environment as a miracle. Not in guilty anxious self-restraint, but in spontaneous gratitude, we will stop ruining our streams, our forests, our coral, soil and sky. 

Night Walk


Walk in the midnight woods at Winter's end. The scimitar moon hangs on a cedar. Venus blossoms from a naked branch. Underfoot, wrapped in soft fir-needled comforters, restless seeds roll over, touching their partners in a dream of roots. Emptiness whispers from tree to tree. Daylight has withdrawn, but not far: it vibrates in the dark. They call this "nature." I can't find nature anywhere. Everything on earth is supernatural.

Sunday Morning

By dawn, the wind had fled, the Canada geese had returned to the wetlands. Shapes of Light seeped through my eyes and took their places, pearls of tulip and narcissus. No crisis to be averted in the tangled plum. No burden of knowledge demanding a question. Only the textured stillness of melting shadows, and the green unfolding Now that we call time. The world does not need our ideas. It needs our amazement.

Welcome Solitude


 Chinese character for 'one.'

"First realize your world is only a reflection of yourself and then stop finding fault with the reflection." ~Nisargadatta Mahraj

I have been found innocent and sentenced to the bliss of eternal solitude.

No matter how far I travel, no matter how deeply I fall in love or how violently I fall into conflict, I can never meet anyone outside the seamless continuity of my awareness.

Ignorance is believing that there is another. Ignorance insists that the world is divided and conflicted, when in fact the world is one indivisible whole, at rest in a great simplicity. That great simplicity is my own consciousness.

My problem is not conflict, for there is no conflict. My problem is embracing boundless solitude. I can never transcend the unity of my Self, no matter how multifarious and diverse my experiences may be, for everything I perceive arises in the simple wholeness of my own awareness. I must necessarily experience my Self before I can experience any other.

If I do not know my Self, I have no basis for knowing anyone. If I know my Self, I know that everyone is I.

When I fall asleep at night, I take no one with me, not even the person lying beside me. When I wake in the morning, it is only my Self who awakens: the dream of others vanishes. I was not born as a community. I will not die as a community. I was born alone and I will die my own unique death.

God give me the courage to confront this primordial aloneness. There is great pain in throwing off the bonds of illusion. I have been clinging to my separate "I" ever since birth, when in terror I sought to return to the womb and could not. So I created an abstract womb, a little bubble of thought where I could withdraw from an alien world: this thought was none other than my very "I."

"I" is a device for pretending there is an "other" who can come to the rescue.  But when "I" am ready for the truth, "I" shatter and dissolve into the universe.

The demonstration of this process is Jesus on the cross. In his moment of shattering, Jesus called, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" But the moment of shattering was also the moment of liberation. Jesus rent the temple veil that separated the divine and the human, and thus ended the duality of separateness. He entered the great solitude of the All, becoming in St. Paul's words, panta hen panta: "All in All." Realizing that there was no one else, no one to call to, and no one to come down and save him, Jesus spread his arms and embraced the world, even his enemies, as himself. The gesture that opens its arms from the center of the cross is not a gesture of forgiveness only, but a gesture of unity, a gesture of at-one-ment.

Like Jesus, I am not saved by another. I am saved by being one.

I am you. I can never know anyone outside the seamless transparency of my Self. Nor can you. We have the same fate. We have the same Self. Transforming alone-ness into all-oneness is our task. It was Christ's task and he showed us the way. But he does not do it for us. No one can open your arms on your cross but you.

When the transformation is complete, we can joyfully embrace all creatures, whether lovers or strangers, as the play of our own consciousness. This is the real solution to world conflict. 

Objection
"How can you advocate such a solipsistic vision? There are so many problems in the world! We must become activists to solve the global crisis!"

Reply
There is no global crisis. "Global crisis" is a generalization, an abstract mental concept that we super-impose on a world of particulars, so that we may avoid ever having to face our true predicament, which is boundless solitude.

Certainly challenges arise, but never in general. Deal with a situation before it becomes a problem, Solve problems as local events, not global catastrophes. Act in the one place where action is possible: here and now. When I solve the problem on the tip of my nose, it never becomes a world crisis.

Objection
"Is it possible to get rid of the I? Isn't getting rid the I a greater illusion than the I itself?

Reply
Yes, precisely! The problem is not having an I; the problem is identifying with it.

No practice of concentration or self-denial can eliminate the I. Such practices make the personality divided and deluded, for the effort to concentrate against the I will only make it stronger, more devious, and more subconscious. Then what to do?

Dance with your I. Hug your I with divine love. Accept your I for what it actually is: an organ of your body, like your nose or tongue.

Even a Bodhisattva has an I. But she does not identify with it. She sees it as something she has, not something she is. The I of the enlightened one arises as a useful tool for self-expression when the body needs an advocate in this material world. Your I is your negotiator, your advocate in the relative world. But while the I negotiates, you are Awareness beyond I, uninvolved in the negotiations. Just as a powerful business owner leaves the details of the contract up to his lawyer, so Awareness leaves the negotiations of the world up to the I.

When not needed for business, the I sinks back into the bliss of unity. Don't annihilate the I. See it as a useful but finite container, floating like a transparent cup in the infinite sea of Awareness. You are not the I: you are the ocean in whom the I is floating. (See the essay: 'God, Body, I')

***
Aloneness Meditation

What does it feel like when you stop fleeing from aloneness? 

When you embrace aloneness without resistance, who survives? 

Is there anyone separate from this aloneness, anyone who calls it 'my' aloneness, or complains about feeling 'lonely'? 

Does your aloneness have any edges

When you encounter another person in your unbounded aloneness, how does it feel to regard them as part of your self?

3/01/2012

Men


Men who support women. Men who care for women in pain. Men who listen to women, even when they repeat themselves. Men who say yes to women. Men who praise women when their bodies become old. Men who embrace women on earth and not pictures of women in their heads. Men who linger by forest ponds and gaze into still water, speaking to the great Mother. Men who travel deep into the wilderness, not to hunt and kill, not to climb the highest peak, but just to be there. Men who know valleys, observing the etiquette of cedar and willow. Men who understand that the fire in their belly is the Goddess.