6/30/2012

What's the Matter?

What 'matters' to me, I project into matter. What 'matters' becomes my world, either because I crave it or fear it intensely enough to manifest. But what if no-thing mattered? What would my world look like if nothing mattered but love?

Find Your Radiance


Total commitment to what I truly love dispels sadness. The question is not sadness, or depression, or lack. The question is, do I know what I truly love?

How to answer this question.... Dissolve the mind of other voices and descend into the heart. Find the diamond Radiance of Eternity, compared to which all adversities and temptations are dreams already fled. There is the bud of Beauty that the universe longs for me to burst into flower as no one else can. No one else!

Be selved by God.

Do You


You are not called to do something great or important. You are called to do You. The universe would not be the same without your smallest deed.

6/28/2012

Shatter

God meant to drop this mirror
shattering into countless images
his perfect gaze.
This is why we meet in brokenness,
putting ourselves together again

through each other
until we recognize one face
with eight billion reasons
for astonishment.

6/26/2012

Powerless Power

Love is powerless power. In love we surrender, and in surrender we relinquish our power. Yet that is precisely when Grace flows in to uphold us and strengthen us with a power beyond imagining. Nothing is easier, yet nothing is harder. Why? Because we cling to power.

6/24/2012

The Revolutionary Function of Mystical Art


The mystical poetry of all spiritual traditions shares a common language and purpose. The same thread runs through the Biblical Song of Songs and Medieval Christian mystics like Mechtilde of Magdeberg and St. Theresa of Avila; Rumi, Hafiz, Rabia and the Sufi poets of Islam; wandering poet-saints of India such as Mira and Laladev. Their purpose is not just to entertain and pacify, but to rebel against external hierarchies of religious power, to restore our own divine radiance, and to re-open the gates of the Heart.

Mystical poetry invites our nervous system, at the finest level of feeling, to reconnect the broken circuitry linking the cerebral cortex, through the hypothalamus and amygdula, to the cardiac plexus, which physiologists now know contains neurons and neuro-peptide transmitters as complex as the brain.

This neurological path from mind to heart was intentionally broken by the priesthoods of religion - from the pharaoic priests in Egypt, to the Brahmans of India, to the modern ecclesiastical hierarchy. Their fear-based, punitive dogmas kept human physiology in a constant fight-or-flight reaction, preventing our bodies from developing neural pathways that might conduct the subtler energy of infused divine radiance throughout the human form: the true meaning of 'resurrection.'

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the brain-stem branching up into the cerebral cortex. We are permitted to witness dualistic thinking in this brain-tree, but not to grasp it, lest we fall into a world of conflict created by our own minds. This dualistic thinking, in terms of 'I am right and you are wrong,' is the source of sectarian conflict and religious dogmatism. But our primary nourishment was intended to come from that other tree, the Tree of Life at the center of the body, which is the Heart.

The rebel poets invite us to leave the Tree of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong, along with our addiction to the dualistic fruit of Opposites, and eat from the living Tree in the Garden, where Lover and Beloved drink the Wine of bewilderment: be-wild-erment. Every religious tradition describes this Garden in the Heart. It is the neural center of our original innocence, the place where unity outshines duality. This Heart radiance is Eden. It is also garden where the Bridegroom meets the Bride in the Song of Solomon. Likewise, it is the garden of the Resurrection, where Mary Magdalene meets Jesus. It is also the garden of Vrindavan, where Radha meets Krishna in love's longing. And it is the garden of the Islamic Sufi mystics, where Rumi invites us to meet in "a field out beyond every concept of right and wrong."

In this Heart wilderness, creatures fulfill the real purpose of creation, merging back into the creator with fully individualized awareness. Then Lover and Beloved can be Two in One, and One in Two. We cannot celebrate this Wedding in the cerebral brain, which insists that one cannot be two, and two cannot be one. We only have this affair with God  in the awakened neurology of heart, a wilderness of love. That is why so many mystics and passages of scripture call us into the wilderness.

The prophet Hosea remembers a time before Israel adopted the pseudo-sophistication of city life. He recalls their sacred wandering in the wilderness, the divine intimacy of being lost. For when we are most lost in the wild of our original nature, we find ourselves most surrendered to the Spirit. So God calls with yearning to Israel:
"I will woo her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will restore her vineyards... On that day, she will call me My Husband, and will no longer call me My Master! (Hosea 2)
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God sighs:
"I remember the unfailing devotion of  your youth, the love of your bridal days, when you followed me into the wilderness, through a land unsown." (Jeremiah 1)
Jesus also called us back into the wilderness: "Come away by yourselves into the wilderness, and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31)

It is in this sense that later mystics spoke of "bewilderment." I love that word, be-wild-erment. It suggests not only a state of marvelous wonder, but being in the wild. The young Martin Luther wrote, "Bewilderment is the true comprehension." German Catholic mystic Johann Tauler used wilderness imagery to describe the realm of the transcendent Godhead, beyond dualistic thinking:
"In unity, all multiplicity is lost. This unity unites multiplicity in an incomprehensibly wild wilderness... the simple hidden wilderness beyond being." (Johann Tauler, Sermon 6)
These mystic poets do not call us to negate civilization, but to establish a new civilization of the Heart. In his essay On Poetry, Shelley wrote that "the poet is the unacknowledged legislator of reality." Or course, this is also true of the artist, dancer and musician. The revolution that will transmute our reality into "a new heaven and a new earth" does not begin with the programs of the political scientist, or the theories of the economist, or the protests of the activist. No political or economic reform can change the world until there is a transmutation of the Heart, a resurrection of matter itself in the physiological circuity of the human body. The transformation of our body's subtlest energy-pathways, empowers us to envision unity in the midst of conflict, to evolve competitiveness into cooperation, and reshape hierarchy into the circle of community. The opening of the Heart has profound sociopolitical meaning: it means that we can choose love over power. And this revolution begins with the effect of the artist's vision on our sensibility.

Full activation of the brain-heart complex is the necessary prerequisite to any meaningful social revolution. This is why the mystical artist is necessary for the revolution. Without the awakening of the Heart, mere political and economic reforms fall short, simply replacing one hierarchy of power with another. This is also why, throughout history, mystical poets were exiled, imprisoned, or executed as heretics.

Mystical poetry casts down the pomp of the over-educated mind, liberates the heart from duality of vision, and demolishes patriarchal authority systems. Patriarchal systems always use hierarchy, whereby he power-elite uses fear to subjugate the powerless. And this reign of fear is more efficiently accomplished through religious dogma than through armies or police states.

Despite the futile judgment of religious authorities, who would punish us for becoming whole again, mystical poetry reconnects the brain-heart Circle, leading us naturally to form circles of community rather than hierarchies of power. When the Circle is complete, the gates of Eden spontaneously open.

Mystical art does not accomplish this revolution through any form of violence, conflict, confrontation, or even argument. The poetry of the mystic may be ironic, iconoclastic, even shocking in its imagery, using the vocabulary of sensual love, wine cup and wine, and ecstatic dance to convey the union of God and the Soul. But the poem is never angry or demeaning. The poet of the Heart gives us invitations, not ultimatums; inspirations, not creeds; possibilities, not laws. For the endocrine and neural pathways to the Heart must be built with the subtlest and gentlest feelings, never violent ones. New protein tracks to the Garden cannot be laid down by the arousal of fear, or the rigidity of intellectual belief. These paths are soft wilderness trails through the neural landscape of the meditative body, entangled with blossoming weeds of tenderness, longing, and feelings of Grace.

The joyful voice of the Heart calls us, ever so gently, not to believe but to surrender:

"Who told you that you transgressed? Who told you that you sinned? Who told you that the Divine would punish you for becoming Divine again? Now inherit your birthright: you are God's love, flowing back to its Source.

"The voice you heard, proclaiming original sin, was the voice of the false priest, the wielder of the staff of Religion. It was not the voice of the Beloved. For your inheritance is not original sin, but original innocence. The only God worthy of your worship is the God who calls you 'Lover,' not 'sinner,' the Lord who invites you to be One, not two. Spirit created you in the image of Spirit; why would Spirit anoint you with any oil less precious than your own divinity?

"Come! Give up fear. Do not build barriers of separation, hiding shamefully from the Lord who walks in the cool of the evening with you, in the Garden of your Heart. Listen not to the voice of judgment, but to the flute of divine longing. Then, when your silence overflows, speak to the Beloved as the Bride spoke, in the Song of Songs:
O let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth... for your love is sweeter than wine, and your name is perfume poured out! (Song of Songs, 1)

6/21/2012

Motherground


Behind most versions of "spirituality" is a flight from the Ordinary. Do I live from one High Feast to the next, fleeing from the Ordinary in between? From one appointment to the next, fleeing from dis-appointment?

Disappointment is also revelation: a chance to return to the glowing heart of the commonplace, where I am always "in the beginning" with the Creator. All that is fresh rises from the ashes of disappointment, motherground of the commonplace. The Ordinary is the womb of creation.

6/20/2012

Beam

Photo: "The sun shines for you today yes" ~James Joyce, 'Ulysses'

You were created as a sunbeam  -
have you forgotten? -
not to be lost in the dark
but to spread light.
Why not tell your story This way?
The path of loss is the path of returning.
What sends you out draws you home.
The whole dawn in a dewdrop, 
the star that settles on a snail's back,
the world in your eye:
separateness is just the shimmer.
Why argue whether the sun and its ray
are two or one?
You will just keep coming back here
until it all melts
like butter.
"The sun shines for you today yes" ~James Joyce, 'Ulysses'
 
You were created as a sunbeam -
have you forgotten? -
not to dissipate in darkness
but to spread light.
Why not tell your story THAT way?
The path of loss is the path of return.
What sends you out draws you home.
The whole dawn in a dewdrop,
the stars that settle on a snail's back,
the world in your retina:
separateness is just the shimmering.
Why argue whether the sun and its ray
are one or two?
You will just keep coming back here
until it all melts
like butter.

(Summer Solstice, June 20, 2012) 

6/17/2012

The Future is a Pain in the Now


"Take no thought for tomorrow." ~Master Jesus.

Worrying never relieves anxiety about the future, because the future only exists as a sensation in the body, arising in the present moment.

Hypnotic mental images about the non-existent future spring unconsciously from tension in the solar plexus. By simply resting awareness in this sensation, as sensation, without converting it into the hypnotism of thought, we can awaken the freedom of Presence.

All worry is basically delusional. When lost in the insanity of the future, just re-member the body. Sure enough, you will discover that the future is a pain in the now.

6/15/2012

Confession

Our deepest and most intimate confession is not that we have sinned, but that we have been secretly longing, at the root of our existence, from the beginning of time, to serve the Master.

6/14/2012

Drop the Pebble

In an instant, by the grace of Awareness, the "I" with all its beliefs, desires, regrets and stories dissolves in boundless luminosity, and a thrill of bliss vibrates the entire cosmos, like a ripple filling a pond after the dropped pebble disappears.

Have I been saved? "I" cannot be saved. Do I strive to save humanity? Humanity cannot be saved. Will we save the earth? The earth cannot be saved. Whether it dissolves in a moment or in ten million years, what is impermanent cannot be saved.

All that is saved is Awareness, and Awareness is the savior. Dissolve everything into That, and bless creation.

6/13/2012

Your Beauty

 

It's not enough for me to tell you that you have a beautiful soul. You are beauty. Every atom of your flesh is an awakening universe. Your breath, your secret smile in sleep, the tilt and sway of your ambling, the tingle of wet grass on your bare feet, your wrinkles and soft spots, the skip of your mortal heart, your moments of silence, your shadow, the mistakes you make, the things you leave unfinished settling just where eternity intended them, your sacraments of bathing and eating dessert, the landscape of your body rising and falling under the close and distant stars: beauty that can't be helped.

6/12/2012

Look 20?


"It is shameful not to look 20." When did you start hearing this voice? When you were 25? When will you stop listening to it? When you're 85?

This is not your voice. It is the voice of someone trying to sell you something. And what they're always selling is an ancient myth: the Fountain of Youth. It may take the form of a diet, an anti-wrinkle cream, a yoga CD, or a spiritual practice to "reverse the aging process." Whatever it is, please don't be shamed into buying.

"I want you to feel good about yourself. Buy my product: it will improve your self-esteem." This is a subtle form of shaming. You cannot feel self-harmony when you itch for a new product, another diet, one more technique for your spiritual repertoire. You can only feel self-harmony in the present moment, by relinquishing the shame of needing to be someone else.

Only a demon Barbie from the stars is without spots, wrinkles or body-fat. Look at a baby: pinch it! You too have a right to softness.

Honor your age. Bathe in the ripples of your body's stream. You are of earth, you have hills and valleys. 

The play of transformation begins by loving your flesh exactly as it is.

Meditate On Your Body
Close your eyes and let all those tempting new products scroll before your inner sight. Let them go as they arise, with a smile on your face. See the ads for perfect bodies, see the yoga models, see the media images of perfect happiness as you broaden your grin and let it all run out like a cartoon. You are smiling because you know that none of these images is who you are.

With a long relaxed exhalation, let go these pictures go. Then breathe in the fresh clear air of the present moment, free of all images.

After a few breathes of release and presence, release and presence, become aware of your body.

Occupy your body, every molecule of your flesh, just as it is. Let your awareness bathe each age spot and wrinkle: not to remove it, but to welcome it as part of you. Become aware of your weight, the force of gravity that hugs you to the earth. Surrender your weight to gravity. Experience gravity as the Mother's embrace.

Be aware of your body's softness. Welcome its waves, belly, hips and thighs. Saturate your whole body with awareness. Rest in your flesh, without changing a thing.

Sense the glow of your body's electromagnetic field. You don't need to imagine or visualize: the field of energy pervading your body is very real and measurable. It emanates from your heart. Feel this glow within every cell of bone, muscle, fat, and skin; then feel it extend around your form, like an aureole around a candle's flame, the light that shines beyond the bulb.

Your mind is at harmony with your body now.

6/10/2012

Zest

If you truly felt a zest for living, would you care so much about what you eat? About whether you get "liberated"? About what your astrologer says, or your life coach, or even your scripture?

These obsessions arise from a sense of lack somewhere inside us. The lack cannot be filled by food, starry alignments, religious rules, or any remedy from outside. 
Lack only dissolves when we observe it from deep inside, and hug it with awareness, filling our wound with compassion. This is the work of the Guru: not the external Guru, but the Guru-principle within. A true Master does not impose rules and injunctions from above. A true Master awakens the Guru inside, the bubbling spring that wells up in tears of gratitude, filling our emptiness with perfect Joy, which in the final discernment, is our own awareness.

Grandmother's Bicycle


I fell asleep doing the headstand last night.

When I awoke this morning, the neurons in my brain had rooted down synaptic fingers, clutching seeds and grubs in the black soil. I was stuck. Meanwhile, the nerve endings in the soles of my feet had drifted upward like a net to catch seven stars of prophecy.

I stretched out my arms in an upside-down crucifix, touching East and West to complete some kind of crazy circuit from Yale to Rishikesh. Love flowed into my heart, the terrible crossroad of human blood.

Then I started whirling until I snapped my neural internet and freed myself from thought. I took a morning walk through the moaning purple forest of reversed trees, their roots in the sky, their blossoms changed to lips, labia, nipples, penises and other ganglia yet uncharted by human experience. Each  plant sang a song, revealing what our ancestors were too shy to speak about when they were two-leggeds.

None of the elms had earlobes. None of the willows had brains. Mammograms on the wild rose and dogwood came back negative. That was a good sign. But I still don't get why my grandmother's bicycle was overgrown by roots of red cedar, rusted with poppies, dripping with wine.

6/09/2012

Self-Limiting


How limited we are in believing that we must do something new, something edgy, something extreme to experience a glorious adventure. If we are awake, a glass of water is breathtaking, a dandelion miraculous, the eyes of a friend an infinite journey.

6/07/2012

No Answer

Our most important questions all arise from the same place and have the same answer. It's just the words that change.

Yes creates no and no creates yes, so what's the point of asking? Just rest in the itch where the question arises, before it forms a word.

There's a subtle pain deeper inside us than any question we can put into words. It's the nameless itch of  "I" (ahamkara). From this subliminal itch comes every spiritual question.

It's always the same itch, no matter what words we hang over it. And any answer that comes from someone outside us is just a temporary salve. The old itch always returns.

There is only one permanent answer that ends the pain. This answer never comes from outside. It arises from a place deeper inside than the question, deeper than the itch.

Awareness never has any questions. Embrace the itch with simple awareness, which is your core silence, and simply continue to feel it without scratching, without asking, without forming words. Then the itch begins to subside.

On the level of the question, there is no answer. On the level of the answer, there is no question. Dynamic resting in the source of the inquiry, before the question arises, is the only answer. 

This is why a true teacher never answers questions. A true teacher listens, then tells you to rest in the silence before the question arises, until this throbbing fades away. When the pain subsides, there is no question, and you are the answer.

Cast Down


Those who have dwelt in heaven, as we all have, know that there comes a time in the life of every angel when God calls you aside, sits you down in a little office, and says, "We need to talk."

You say to yourself, "I knew this was too good to last."

"How is everything?" God asks.

"Well, fine," you answer. "just like always."

"I'm referring to this... this perfection business. How's it been working out for you?"

"Is there something wrong?" you ask.

"Of course not," God laughs. "How could there be? I was just wondering if... you might need a change."

You knew this was coming. You gulp.

"I was just thinking," God continues, "it might be time for...."

You feel yourself turn pale. "Are you talking about... that place?"

"I think you know what I'm talking about," God says gently. "You're ready."

"Please, no. Not ready, no."

"Admit it," God says. "You've been getting a little bored here."

"Well, maybe a little. Because, of course, everything is perfect. But I haven't complained, have I? I've learned to put up, I mean keep up, quite well with perfection."

"But maybe its getting a little old?" God suggests.

"My work has gotten an A-rating, hasn't it, just like everyone else's? Haven't veered from you will for an instant, have I?"

"All that is quite irrelevant," God replies.

"But how could I survive in that place?"

"You couldn't."

Desperate now, your voice is quivering. Something new and salty drips from your eyes. "I wouldn't last a moment there, God, 70, 80 years at the most!"

"About right," God says.

"And I'd have to endure.... imperfections!"

God gravely nods. "Every imperfection in the universe, all bundled into one planet, one lifetime, one body."

You cease to struggle. Your shoulders droop as with heavy wet wings. "Why would you ask this of me?"

"Because you're ready."

"Ready for what, Lord?"

"If I could tell you the answer, you wouldn't need the experience."

Your white light dims. Soon, you are so dark you begin to take on color.

"Please, God, I'm afraid. I'm not strong enough. I think I might fail."

"You might," God replies.

Gazing at God in surrender, you see a softness in those eyes you never noticed before. God whispers,"It's already begun, hasn't it?"

"Yes... it feels... so afraid, but so alive inside. What's happening?"

"It's called humanity."

"Will I return, or will I die?"

"Yes," God says.

Though you try to speak, now no sound comes from your agonized lips. Light fades from your countenance. God reaches out graceful fingers and closes the lids of your eyes. Then, lifting you up in arms that offer no more solace, God hurls you through the window, through the portal that opens wide into the vast and terrible glare of birth.

6/06/2012

Original Grace


It began as a gift, innocent and spontaneous. Then we tried to repeat it, and it became a technique. Then we tried to sell it, and it became a religion. Then we forgot the radiant simplicity we started with. Let us each dance to our own heartbeat, and remember the gift, the Radiance of original grace.

Depth

From the emptiness that traps us in darkness, to the emptiness of the boundless sky, there is just a breath. That is why those who taste the depths of depression are often able to surrender through it to that other depth, and find unspeakable peace: Gautama Buddha, Mary Magdalene, St. Theresa, George Fox, John Keats, Eckhart Tolle.... "Depth calleth unto depth." (Psalm 42)

The Moment


This is the moment when your life turned around. This is the magic moment when everything became clear. This is judgment day and you have risen from the dead. There is a new heaven and a new earth. Did you notice? Christ has returned in glory.

How do I know? Because an apple bud just burst open at the end of a twig hanging over the corner of the porch where the old tabby cat sleeps on her dirty pillow.

Van Gogh, Apple Blossoms

Occupy Gently


Before we invented the myth of mine and yours, we lived in the Sacred Garden. We were stewards of beauty, not owners of property. To occupy is not to own.

Let us return to the garden. Occupy the Earth. Plant it well. But do not say, "This belongs to me." How can I own the ground or what springs from it? How can you own a tree, or a single kernel of corn? Did I create the soil? Did you create the seed? Did our schools teach the buds how to blossom?

I plant here, and half a world away, you taste the fruit. You sow there, and I enjoy the harvest. We eat each others labor. No one can tell who planted this, and where the flower will blossom. Under the loam is a tangle of roots and indecipherable causes, known only by gratitude. Walk gently on the earth, for wherever we walk, we step on each others hearthstones.

At the harvest, leave the edges of your field ragged, unplucked, bending with fruit for the poor. Were you not a wanderer once too?

Occupy gently: the earth is a Sacred Garden.

6/05/2012

Transit of Venus


To make flame, ancients struck stone
against stone, worshiping a star.
I brush my heart with breath, just one:
the whole earth catches fire.
I birth the moon, I touch the sun
inside, a deeper light, and higher.
O Goddess of desire,
transit me: I am empyrean.


Painting by Tara: LINK

6/04/2012

Relaxation Is Power

Relaxation is power. Total relaxation is cosmic power. In total relaxation, a heart beat incorporates all-pervading silence; each pulse musters the universe.
To relax in meditation is bliss. To relax in action is dance. To relax in work is success. Successful action is without tension.
Ego is nothing but tension in the system. To the degree that tension is reduced, ego dissolves. When there is no extraneous tension, there is no ego, and action arises from silence. The silence of the universe sings through every heartbeat to perform action. Then action is successful, free from the sense of a do-er.
relax into your work, act in freedom, dance, and the universe will breathe your success. You cannot accumulate karma when you relax in the midst of action, because you are not doing it.
 Of course, this is easier said than undone.

6/03/2012

Sacred Garden


All around us, in tiny farms, forests, villages and valleys, a new economy humbly emerges, where the market is the heart, the politics is equality, debts are forgiven, and not one handful of soil is owned by any man. Earth belongs to Herself, and we are only pilgrims here, working and dancing in the Sacred Garden.

The Present is not Modern


I am learning that the present is not modern.

Presence echoes with ancestral voices. The very depth of the present is the past. Too often, the "modern" rejects the past, attempting to blossom without roots, mistaking individualism for enlightenment, and cynicism for profundity.

There is nothing "modern" about the well of Presence. The deeper you go down into it, the more ancient wisdom you draw up. The silence of that well is the chant of your grandmothers - never cynical, always tender, yet enduring as stone.

I think of Forster's lovely lines from 'Howard's End,' when sisters reconcile by rediscovering their family's furniture in an old house...

'And all the time their salvation was lying round them, the past sanctifying the present; the present, with wild heart-throb, declaring that there would after all be a future with laughter and the voices of children.'
The way is neither to reject the past, nor cling to the past, but to honor the past as it resonates in this moment.