12/31/2013

New Year's Prayer


Every morning, may a sparrow remind me that gratitude is the source of all blessings. May I gaze at the smallest creature and know how rich I am. May I bathe in continuous revelation among ferns, nests, berries. May my path ever end in wonder, and the answer arrive in silence. May I meet you in the only safe and sacred place, the present moment. Let us now and always look into each others eyes and see a Thou divine, who is our very Self.

12/28/2013

On Bhakti, Advaita, and Being a Person

Being a Person is the flower of evolution. The sap is formless and impersonal, but not the flower. The flower is a Personality.

A stone may be impersonal, but the nervous system of a human or a dolphin is personal. It is a triumph of cosmic engineering. Our physiology is so evolved in its molecular complexity that it sustains the radiance of a personal self-awareness. Yet this Person has no edges: she interpenetrates the forests, the oceans, the sunbeams, the stars.

We enter the unbounded ocean of the cosmos through a laughing sighing stream of Personality. The personal beautifies the boundless. Being a wave does not limit the ocean, because at its base each wave is nothing but the ocean, and each wave embodies all waves.

I am I and You are You. Yet we are waves of the One. There is no contradiction here. No one tastes like you. No one releases the fragrance of your pain, the spice of your tears, or trembles with the texture of your love. The whole universe celebrates its unity through your uniqueness.


And when you surrender your heart to the Beloved, the qualities of the Beloved enhance your own Personhood. You pass through their personal love as through a door, into the cosmos. A door has a shape, but the shape does not confine you; you simply pass through it.

So in devotion to Jesus, or to the Master, one passes through a door shaped like a human being into boundless divine space. And in that passage, one is enhanced by absorbing the personal qualities of the Master. This path of devotion to the personal God is called Bhakti. Merging with the boundless space is called Advaita. Advaita gives space to Bhakti, and Bhakti gives expression to Advaita. Advaita is the ground, Bhakti is the dance.

So the formless celebrates in form, while form rests in formlessness. These two impulses transpire through each other. They are simultaneous, not sequential. Bhakti does not lead to Advaita, and Advaita is not superior to Bhakti. Bhakti is Advaita. Advaita is Bhakti.

The notion that Bhakti and Advaita are two different paths is a fabrication of ignorance, posing as religious knowledge. The notion that you must abandon your relationship with the Beloved in order to experience non-dual awareness, destroys the very charm and purpose of human life. It is like saying that you must crush the flower into sap to enjoy it, because its shape and fragrance are obstacles. Only a psychopath would go around crushing flowers in order to "liberate" them.

Just as a fragrant blossom is the glory of its odorless and formless sap, so your personal incarnation on earth is the glory of God. You are the embodied flower of God. Your unique fragrance pervades the entire garden. Even the distant galaxies bend close to sense your beauty. You are crushed and resurrected with every breath.

12/25/2013

Holy Matter

"God hugs you; you are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God....
Good People, most royal greening verdancy, rooted in the sun, you shine with radiant light....
Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly."
~St. Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.

"All buddhas are wind and rain, water and fire... The immeasurable and boundless dharma-wheel turns even within a single particle..." ~Dogen, founder of Soto Zen

"All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness." ~Sir Arthur Eddington, founder of Quantum Theory

This is the Feast of the Incarnation. All matter is holy.


Scripture Is Mythos, Not History


One of the great tragedies of Western civilization was reducing the Biblical text to its literal/historical meaning, and abandoning the ancient language of mystical symbolism. The mystics breathed in the Bible's word as mantra, each phrase a gateway to silent meditation. This method of reading, called "Lectio Divina" or "divine reading," revealed the mythos of the scripture, the archetypal spiritual meaning, which is far more real and relevant than any historical record.

Clinging to literal history strengthens our ego's attachment to outmoded social structures, old stories full of conflict, and property claims on tribal lands. But reading scripture as a language of mystical symbols has a completely different effect: the promised land is the present moment, the temple is the heart, the Holy Spirit in our own breath.

May our divine innocence teach us how to hear the Word. May the light of Christ-Consciousness be born in the Virgin silence of our soul. The Nativity means nothing until it happens inside us.

12/23/2013

Forest Pool


Once there was a still forest pool. She gazed up at the sky and said to herself, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to travel with the clouds high above this world?"

So she evaporated into water vapor and became a cloud. The cloud said, "Wouldn't it be stimulating to take form and have a sparkling body, to dance and zing so fast, to glitter in the sunlight on a twig!" So the cloud condensed into a raindrop and she began to fall.

"I'm falling!" she cried. "I will crash on a leaf and splatter! Wouldn't it be lovely to be snow, to be a perfect crystal, light as air, fluttering silently in the breeze!" So the raindrop became a snowflake and gently settled on the mountainside.

The snowflake sighed, "I'm stuck here, frozen in crystal silence. There isn't a green leaf or blue flower anywhere. Wouldn't it be exciting to melt into a mountain stream, and tumble down through alpine meadows!"

So the snowflake melted and dripped down an ice sickle, falling into a cold brook. Soon she was gurgling through a valley, past Cascade lilies, lupine, asters and columbine.

She cried, "Too fast! I'm getting exhausted, I can't catch my breath! Let me stop and rest awhile!" That is how she became a still forest pool, gazing up at the sky.

12/22/2013

Bless All The People


For decades I've bitten my tongue about the fees charged for the Transcendental Meditation course. I  assumed that my understanding was not mature enough to get the real picture. But finally, after 45 years, I have decided to speak out.

Especially since I am able to discriminate between the Master and the movement. Maharishi himself suggested this when a small group of us were sitting at his feet back in 1970. He was so non-judgmental and sweet in pointing out that the karma of the Master and the karma of the movement are distinct, we had no idea he was warning us about those who would some day lead a world-wide organization in his name...

Would any of us confuse the person and work of Jesus with the Church of the Middle Ages that practiced such unspeakable corruption in his name? Likewise, let us not confuse the grace and wisdom of Mahesh Yogi with the TM movement that barnacled itself to his side, encrusted in a hierarchy of technocrats, pseudo-scientists, and even "Rajas" wearing golden crowns and calling themselves kings!

When Maharishi personally made me a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, his head came close to mine and he whispered Wisdom in my ear. Then he said, "Bless all the people." He did not say, "Bless only the people who can afford four-figure prices for initiation." He did not say, "Bless only the Brahmin caste of film stars, over-educated intellectuals, and corporate moguls." He said, "Bless ALL the people."

It is time for TM teachers of integrity to give this precious wisdom to anyone who sincerely comes for initiation, regardless of their financial standing. Ask them for a contribution. Ask them to give from their hearts, from each according to their ability. The karmic debt, if any, should be on the initiate who gives payment, not on the teacher who receives it.

When Maharishi started to teach in the West, he decided that the most equitable way to support the growing movement was to ask each person to donate one week's pay. What happened? People of very limited means were willing, but the rich were not. So the movement had to set a course fee.

When I began to meditate in college, the course fee was $35 for a student, $45 for a working adult. Even in 1968, that was very minimal.

I became a teacher and shared TM through the early 70's. Any funds I took went to the movement. I did not receive a percentage of the income from my courses, but an extremely small and invariable stipend of $400 per month to live on. I was not paid by "the head." And I initiated hundreds of people.

I also enjoyed profound personal contact with the Master. Incidentally, Maharishi never said that he was a Guru. He taught us that the Guru was within, and that the technique of Transcendental Meditation operates on the same principle of Grace that connects the heart of the devotee to the Guru. Therefor it was not necessary to make him one's personal Guru. Devotion meant meditating regularly, and giving service to the world, not making an idol of the Master. I deeply revered Maharishi for his selflessness, for his refusal to become an idol, and I still revere him for it.

Then, in the mid-70's, the bureaucrats and business men took over the movement. They became TM teachers without any personal contact with Maharishi. Ah, the miracle of modern technology! The price of the teaching started climbing rapidly. I found it morally indefensible to ask such prices, so I continued to teach for the fee as it was in the mid 70's: $75 for a college student and $125 for a working adult. Eventually, the technocrats came after me and insisted that I stop teaching. They actually said that my teaching was "too spiritually oriented."

I have never held this betrayal of my trust against the Master, because I know that the karma of the Master and the karma of "the movement" are two different things. In the words of the working man's philosopher Eric Hoffer: "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."

It is time to end the racket and become a "cause" once again.

Maharishi remains the purest and most humble man I ever encountered - despite the lies and rumors that some tried to spread about him. Having experienced the radiance of Maharishi's heart, person to person, I am a bit like a lotus in muddy water. I don't care how muddy the water gets. I let the Grace blossom, and it remains unsoiled.

Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation technique is without a doubt the most pure, simple, innocent and natural practice I have ever encountered in a lifetime of studying the world's wisdom paths. And TM is so concrete, so practical in its effects, that I would call it "medicine" as much as "meditation." TM energizes every cell, illuminates every atom, and restores the body to health. Through the deep silence of this effortless practice, "spirit" and "matter" become one energy-field in the luminous physiology of our regenerated nervous system. This is not only a practice for enlightenment, but a practice for energy. I remember when Maharishi once told us: "Spirituality is infinite practicality."

If modern teachers of TM would be truly practical as well as spiritual, they would stop isolating themselves from the common man. They would renounce their outmoded Brahmin aristocracy of golden domes and Vedic mansions. They would bless all the people.

Jai Guru Dev.

12/20/2013

God Is Simple Minded



The more we think, the less we are aware. The more we are aware, the less we need to think.

A mind perpetually thinking is dull, yet we define it as brilliant. A mind purely aware and empty of thoughts is brilliant. But we define it as simple.

God is quite simple-minded.

In the native state of human freedom, thinking is not necessary: there is only the radiance of awareness. Humanity relates to God directly through breath. "And God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul."

Then, greedy for the "knowledge of good and evil," the will begins to think. The intellect fragments into duality: better, worse; heaven, earth; spiritual, carnal. We eat from the tree of opposites: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The "Fall of Man" is our descent from awareness into thinking.

All religions that depend on theology, beliefs and doctrines, grow from the Tree of Knowledge. But the religion that requires no belief, but simply breathes with awareness in the present moment, grows from the Tree of Life.

The Agnostic's Path to God



"Life, like a many-colored dome of glass, stains the white radiance of eternity." ~Percy Shelly
 
"Thine own consciousness, shining, void, inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is itself the Immutable White Light of Buddha Amitābha." ~Tibetan Book of the Dead

Shelley claimed to be an atheist, though he is one of my favorite spiritual poets. Buddhism is often described as an agnostic religion: a religion that does not depend on dogma or belief.

Agnosticism is a path to God proceeding through doubt. An agnostic's question may be a deeper prayer than a believer's certainty.

There are remarkable similarities between the agnostic's path and the path of negation found in Indian and Christian mysticism. Vedanta calls this path, Neti Neti, "not this, not that." Christian mystics call it the Via Negativa, "the negative way." For example, Meister Eckhart declares, "O God, quit me of God!" To find true God, Eckhart rejected every intellectual concept of a "God." Likewise the medieval Christian classic, Cloud of Unknowing, teaches us to go beyond all knowledge, and to enter by means of "un-knowing" the pure silence beyond intellect. "Un-knowing" is the very meaning of "agnostic."

In the Via Negativa, God is neither an object nor a belief, not even a thought. For thoughts are but "graven images" made of mind instead of silver and gold. Transcending every name and form, the contemplative discovers that God is absolutely no-thing. Mute attention comes to rest in vast silence, the silence of unalloyed awareness naked of thought, image and word. Yet when fully embraced, this boundless negative awareness suddenly reverses its essence, revealing the infinite Yes beneath all no's. Self-luminous Being floods awareness, no longer over-shadowed by intellectual concepts. In Eckhart's words, "The Eye through which I see God is the Eye through which God sees me." It is when we behold no-thing that we see with the Eye of God.

Thus too the agnostic arrives at pure spiritual insight: distinguishing awareness from thoughts and beliefs. God is not an image fabricated by thinking: God is the clarity of the very space where thinking arises and dissolves.

In Buddhism, this conscious space prior to any image that it might contain, is called "Bodhichitta." In Christian mysticism, it is the "luminous darkness of the Godhead." In the lovely phrase of the King James Bible, it is called "the peace that passeth all understanding." For who could possibly hold the infinite in a finite concept? Truth comes not by knowing what God is, but un-knowing what God is not.

The ground of eternal Being is there from the beginning in the depths of the agnostic's soul, prompting the very questions which lead to this shattering of belief, the graceful and blessed catastrophe of enlightenment.

12/19/2013

Elemental Healing Meditation


    Mandala by Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.

I am made of Air, Air is my healing. Breathing fresh and deep and slow, from my feet rooted in the soil to the soft spot in my crown, my breath connects the earth and stars. "Thank you, Air, I love You."

I am made of Water, Water is my healing. Drinking fresh and deep and slow, tasting the rain in my food, singing the mountain brook in my loins, sensing the ocean's surge in every cell of my flesh, I speak to the Waters, "Thank you, Water, I love You."

I am made of Earth, Earth is my healing. Seated on a mossy forest stone, feeling my weight as grace, every ounce of me holy and hugged by the Mother, I surrender to gravity. "Thank you, Earth, I love You."

I am made of Fire, Fire is my healing. Standing in the Solstice sun, eyes closed, I see a sacred sparkling in the silent darkness. Drawing seven breaths of radiance through my forehead to my heart, I breathe light into my blood. "Thank you, Fire, I love You."

"Air, Water, Earth and Fire, You are medicine. I love You. As You anointed me, so I anoint You with gratitude."

"Thank you," I heal the Air. "Thank you," I heal the Water. "Thank you," I heal the Land. "Thank you," I heal the Stars. With gratitude I heal. With awareness I heal.  
___________

Shamanism is whatever activates the human body as a link between earth and stars. Shamanism is whatever awakens the body's elemental powers. Shamanism is anointing our bones, blood, tears and breath with sparkling awareness, I Am. Shamanism is simply the act of becoming aware, and holding the whole creation in our consciousness, as an offering, in gratitude.

12/18/2013

With Your Own Heart


"Commune with your own heart and be still." ~Psalm 4.

I love this verse. Why do preachers and Sunday school teachers never mention it? I guess they'd go out of business if they did. No heavenly vision, no transcendence, no esoteric worship or devotion to the master can compare to the stillness, the peace that blossoms in the heart, when you just rest as who you are. To repose as your Self in this moment is the only portal to transformation...

Commune with your own heart and be still.
Do not make a mystery of this.

The source that draws you home is who you are.
How could it be otherwise?

Let the one who remembers, whisper to the sun,
"Awake!"

All living creatures hear that music, just a little,
a rippling of the stillness,

here, in the chest, a warmth
where breath begins.

12/17/2013

Elohim: Ye Are All Gods

Neither Moses, Jesus nor Muhammad would recognize the Germanic word "God." They called the deity by the same Semitic name, All'ah. Allah is El' in Hebrew. Jesus used the beautiful name, "Al'ava," Divine Papa.

From the very first verse of the Bible, the Hebrew text heightens the ambiguity of the Divine by using the name Elohim rather than El'. Elohim is the plural. The first verse does not say that God created the heavens and the earth, but Gods.

What are we to make of this ambiguity? Is it not the ambiguity of consciousness itself? A separate Lord God did not create the earth in distant ages past. It is We who continue to create the earth now, or destroy it. We are the Elohim. We are all Gods.

Lest this sound blasphemous, please read the scripture. Psalm 82:6 declares, "Ye are all gods," a verse repeated by Jesus in John 10:34. yes, we are each others creators, each others saviors. I belong to you.

Does "privacy" have any edges? The earth is not a system of corporate exploitation based on the survival of the fittest. Earth is a cooperative. Our world is the mutual enterprise of consciousness, projected from the ocean of I AM through waves of WE.

Shamanic Yoga & Self-Awakening

      Ancient Celtic figure of Cernunos, showing him as Shaman, Yogi, 
     and Prajapati, the original tribal Shiva, 'Lord of the Creatures.'

I.
Two words much bandied about these days are "Shamanism" and "Yoga." When we demystify their vocabulary, what they mean is very simple: Self-empowerment. These are really one wisdom with different cultural roots. Shamanic Yoga provides us with techniques to derive life-force from our own embodiment, so that we no longer seek life from an external hierarchy, institution, or religious authority.

In finding this inner empowerment, the Shaman or Guru is the guide who ignites us, but we ourselves are the source, the fuel for the journey, and the goal. This is completely antithetical to all systems of religion that demand our dependency on the mediation of priests and ministers. The goal of Shamanic Yoga is not to find a savior or mediator, but to awaken im-mediate contact with the Divine.

The techniques of Shamanism and Yoga are essential to the birth of a new humanistic spirituality, freed forever from priestly authority. The techniques given by Yogis and Shamans empower us from within, reconnect us with our sacred bodies, and make us each an authority over our own spirit.

The great Yogis of India and Tantric Masters of Tibet were Shamans. The Shamans of ancient Ireland were Yogis, as are the Shamans of Siberia and Native America today. Shamanism is simply the science of Yoga in its indigenous earth-centered form.

The essence of Shamanic Yoga is the divine Mother-Energy or Shakti. Fully awakened, this energy is rooted in the earth, rises through the sacred tree of our spine, and blossoms among the stars. Our human body is created to be the conductor of this sacred electricity, a lightning rod connecting earth and sky.

But just as misguided teachers of religion divide East from West with an imaginary line, they also divide heaven from earth with an artificial boundary. So-called scholars teach us to see an opposition between the patriarchal Sky God and the earthen Mother Goddess below. Some feminist scholars have constructed a view of history in which the patriarchal Sky God, representing transcendental consciousness, invaded and repressed the original culture of the Earth Mother, representing human embodiment. In this dualistic telling of religious history, we must choose between oppressive patriarchal religion and liberating earth-centered religion. Yet this dualistic approach only drives a deeper wedge between our spirit and our body.

Through the practices of Shamanic Yoga, the polar forces of male and female are united within each individual, as spirit is integrated with matter. Whether we speak of Yin and Yang, Shiva and Shakti, Yahweh and Shekinah, Isis and Osirus, or Christ and the Magdalene, we are really seeking harmonious realignment with our own hearts.

According to the Gnostic Gospels of the Nag Hammadi library, Jesus taught Shamanic Yoga. His partner may have been Mary Magdalene. These early Christians practiced the realignment of the male and female energies in the sacrament of the Bridal Chamber, an interior union in the chamber of the heart.
"Then the bridegroom came down to the bride.... But that marriage is not like the carnal marriage... They unite and become one life, for they were originally joined to one another when they were in the Father... This marriage has brought them back together again, and the soul has been joined to her true love." ~Exegisis of the Soul
"Jesus said to them, When you make the two into one, making the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner and the upper like the lower, and you make male and female into a single one... then you shall enter the kingdom." ~Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
"In the Breath of Christ, we experience a new embrace: we are no longer in duality, but in unity." ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip 
The same union of male and female energies is the real purpose of Hatha Yoga. "Ha" refers to the solar force, the symbolic male; "Tha" refers to the lunar force, the symbolic female, as they intertwine around the spine in two channels, "Ida" and "Pingala." When these forces are united, they flow as one divine nectar up the central channel of the spine, the "Sushumna."

Shamanic Yoga is holistic spirituality, embracing the human body as the nexus of God-Consciousness. Yogic and Shamanic techniques return our wandering spirit to our flesh, sanctify our senses, and make our bodies temples again. In Shamanic Yoga we do not have to choose between spirit and matter: we simply dye the garment of the flesh with the radiance of God...
Every act an offering, every breath a prayer,
Every home a temple, every heart a priest:
So in each shall be increased
The Mystery that is everywhere...
Shamanic Yoga gives us time-tested techniques for breaking the shell of illusion and awakening the Radiant Self. We honor ancient traditions that hand these techniques down to us, but we don't need to "believe" in them. We can taste and see for ourselves whether they work. We honor our teachers, shamans and gurus, but we don't need to forfeit our spiritual power to any savior or religious authority. In the final words of the Buddha, "Be a light unto yourself."

Shamanic Yoga is a way of liberation for the coming age. And the whole point of it is simply this: authority comes from within.

II.
 

Prior to awakening, the energy of the Goddess Shakti lies in embryonic sleep at the base of our spine. She is the coiled serpent of wisdom signified in ancient myths - the dragon in China, the Kundalini in India, the Snake Goddess Hecate in Asia Minor, the twined snakes on the Cadeucus of Hermes, which became the sign of Western medicine. We also see this potent serpentine force in the Staff of Moses, and Jesus referred to her when he told his disciples, "Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves." In the Wisdom literature of the late Old Testament, and in Jewish mystical tradition, she is Hochma, which is a feminine power, associated with both the Holy Spirit and the Shekinah, the feminine aspect of God.

Originally associated with the earth Goddess, the serpent wisdom was often depicted as coiled about the Tree of Life, a symbol of the human spine. Or the serpent was held in the hands of the Goddess, as in the figure of Hecate above. In the Genesis myth, the author distorts this ancient symbolism, turning the "pagan" serpent of wisdom into a dangerous seductive power. This portrayal of the serpent not only contradicts the wisdom literature of the world, but other images of the serpent in the Bible. The association of the serpent with evil in the Garden of Eden is only a brief digression in the history of religious symbolism.

Why are such ambivalent feelings associated with this serpent force? Why does she invoke a sense  of danger as well as wisdom? Note even in the Biblical story of Eden, how Eve's "temptation" is not a temptation to sensuality, but to Knowledge! I would suggest that this is not a conspiracy to suppress the feminine, but a legitimate wariness about awakening a force that we may not be able to handle.

In our embryonic consciousness, neither our mind nor our nervous system are ready to be conductors of such divine electricity. For, as the Bible says, “the divine is a consuming fire,” and “it is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God.” Or Goddess!

Awakening the Kundaline Shakti prematurely, we could be overcome with confusion or even mental illness . The divine Shakti is a form of Kali. When she uncoils her wild dance and rises up the tree of our spine, we had better be ready for the shattering. 

Thus she lies coiled and latent in the root chakra at the base of the spine. And the whole field of Maya, or illusion, is actually created by our own mind as a protective shield, or shell, so that we are not overwhelmed by her.

Yes, we create the shell of Mayic illusion as a sheath of protection. We create this Maya out of our storehouse of mental images, our memory. We project these thoughts through our senses into what we perceive as our "world." 

But the shell of Maya is not the living world of divine energy, the radiant green earth which is our true Garden of Eden. Maya is only the world that our mind super-imposes on the radiance of creation. This act of mental projection has dominated our culture for thousands of years, making us slaves of our own minds, suppressing our intuition, and keeping us in exile from the dazzling revelations of the living earth.

We use our mental images like sunglasses to protect ourselves from the overwhelming beauty and fire of nature. And where our native Shamanic awareness would see the living gods in herbs and trees, the “civilized” mind sees dead lumber, paper, commodity and profit to be made in the market.

Here we must understand that the problems of "worldliness" and "materialism" do not arise from the material nature. Matter is holy energy. It is "Mater," the Mother. All that religions call “worldliness” arises in the mind, as insatiable and restless desire. We super-impose our internal world of desire onto the earth, often with devastating consequences.

But because the world that we see is only the projection of our past karma, worldy problems can never be solved in the world. Their cause can never be located. These apparent problems - whether social, political or economic - form a circular web of cause and effect without beginning or end. The web of karma never changes its patterns, because objects perceived are all made of thought, and thought is the repetition of past perception. And so it goes, ad infinitum.

III.

At some point in this karmic morass of cause and effect, which circles on through many lifetimes, we start to feel a bit hopeless. But what is hopelessness? It is disillusionment. And what is disillusionment? Awakening from illusion. We begin to experience a healthy dissatisfaction with Maya. A crucial insight dawns in us: the future will never be anything but a repetition of the past. 

Thus we give up hope. And there is no greater step toward wisdom than to give up hope in the future, since this empowers us to dwell in the present.

Dwelling in Presence gives us courage, courage to behold the truth that sets us free: this outer shell of our perceived world is just a thin crust of sensory and social attraction, whose glamor we have created out of our own past desires. The world is an old movie on a screen, and we are so absorbed in the moving pictures we cannot even see the screen.

Now, like the author of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, we sigh to ourselves: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The Hebrew word for "vanity" is "hebel," which literally means "empty." Ecclesiastes is saying, "All forms of the world are emptiness." Is this not precisely the teaching of Buddha, whose central Heart Sutra tells us, "form is emptiness, and emptiness is form"?

At this stage, we are not only disillusioned with external forms; we also develop a healthy distrust of every political or religious system of authority. We find the honesty to admit that such institutions never really change, no matter how many “reformations” they go through, and they never actually solve the problems they claim to. Now we may turn from politics to spiritual transformation, for if the world will be changed, it must be changed from within the field of consciousness itself. 

The "unified field" at the source of all energy (to borrow a term from modern physics) is pure awareness. Our own ground-state of awareness is the seamless continuum where there is no gap between subject and object. Pure awareness is the silence of the creative void, where all forms arise and dance as a mirage in stillness. We are the field. The change we seek is us.

Note here that the outer shell of Maya is neither "good" nor "evil," but simply unsatisfying. We need not make value judgments about the world which our minds have created - about its parties, its religions, its institutions. They are all just forms, ever-changing circles of cause and effect, creating each other in patterns of polarity, pairs of opposites. One form is not "better" than another. And none hold the solution. 

The solution to all our problems is simply to shatter the shell of Maya.This seems like a stunning stroke - at once too easy and too radical. Yet it happens quite naturally, quite gently, when the time is ripe for the shell to crack and the serpent to awaken, dance, and connect us to the heavenly green radiance of the earth. 

When the shell breaks, Shakti within emerges to dance with Shakti outside. The inner and the outer are no longer two, but one continuum of divine energy. Heaven and earth, male and female, spirit and matter, no longer two but one dance. Our egoic mind has exaggerated these polarized opposites in order to develop its analytic function. But we went too far: we became stuck, fixated in arguing for differences. And our entire educational system was based on this divisive activity.

The mind-bound ego felt more alive when it argued for separation and division. But now is the time in human evolution when we can reintegrate as whole persons, merging intellect into the harmony of intuition. Time to see the all and not the parts. Intellect will continue to serve as a useful tool, but will no longer dominate as ego

When we transcend intellect through shamanic yoga, we can witness reality through the sparkling transparency of pure awareness, our vision no longer bound in a point. That means, we are no longer stuck in a "point of view," a judgment. Our vision expands like the blue sky, all-inclusive. Then real listening is possible, real love is possible.

In the sky of loving-kindness, we witness the pairs of opposites as vibrating strings in unbounded stillness. Each "pair" is really a unity, a continuum where no opposition can be found, just poles dancing with each other, arising and dissolving each moment. Now we may stop exaggerating differences between the sexes, between the political left and right, between religions, between East and West, between I and Thou, between a venison steak and a bowl of vegetables.

Clear seeing beyond opposites is the true revolution. In this revolution, no violence is ever required, only the clearing of the blue sky. 

In clear seeing, we need not be against anything. We can be for. Neither need we judge or compete: for in an energy field whose circumference is boundless, any point can be the center. The sky of love encircles all points. In the words of St. Hildegard of Bingen, "You are hugged by the mystery of God."

Friend, awaken your sacred presence. Not in a kingdom above, but here in your body. Every atom is divine. You are the light of the world, born to overflow. You have no edges. You no longer need to re-act, but to act. Don't be the effect of your world: be the cause.

There is only Yes.

Not Knowing


"Bright."
"Yup."
"Is it the solstice?"
"No, full moon."
"What's the difference?"
"None really. It's a human thing."
"Why do they make such a big deal about this stuff?"
"Dunno."
"Is it because they don't have tails?"
"Dunno."

12/16/2013

Namasteh


"Namaste" we say when we greet each other. "I honor that of God in you." Most people assume this means to honor some golden spark of transcendental beauty hidden behind the outer form. But I think "Namaste" means something more radical, disturbing, and wonderful. It means that even the outer form is pervaded by divine Shakti. We honor God-energy in every face, each wrinkle and tear, grimace and wound, right down to the phlegm, the urine, the cancer in the bone, the devouring worm... the homeless child born in a garage at the back of the motel.

12/14/2013

Walk


Slow down, walk softly. When we spend a little while walking softly, going nowhere,
each footstep makes the earth more sacred, and we enter a new dimension, the dimension
of the Ordinary, where miracles are possible.

Picture: Old New Castle, DE, where my lovely wife grew up, by Dennis Strong

12/11/2013

Seeing


The edges of our bodies only exist in our minds. The difference between the space inside us and the space outside us is only a thought. I contain you, you contain me. Together, we breathe the earth. Consciousness is the world. Clearly seeing this is the only solution. Merry Christmas.

Painting: George Durrie, 'Farmyard in Winter,' 1860

12/10/2013

Riddle

What is formless, dimensionless, transparent, lighter than space itself, yet more solid than a diamond and more brilliant than 10 thousand suns? What contains, in a dissolving point that is finer than a photon, all the information, all the forms, and all the actions that could ever exist on all possible worlds, like a dream before it is dreamed, in a mind that has not fallen asleep?

On Robben Island


On Robben Island
he said
what he missed the most
was hearing childrens' laughter...
Friend, remember this
beyond all politics
when you need healing.

____________

Photo: Former prisoner 46664 revisits the place 

of his imprisonment and spiritual transformation.

12/09/2013


The Moon is always still and radiant. Though her lovely reflection is sometimes whole, sometimes broken, in these waters, she has no need to keep repeating, "I am not the pond, I am not the pond." She just gazes.

12/08/2013

My Workshop Happening Now!

Join my workshop, it's happening now, and it's free!
Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad,
all took this weekend intensive: that's how they got certified!
You've been on the waiting list thousands of years,
but initiation only takes the blink of an eye.
In fact, just reading this invitation is enough:
Even though you haven't begun, you've mastered the practice. 
Hear the secret that was never hidden:
how to use three talismans that you received at birth,
your inhalation, your exhalation, and your heartbeat.
OK, that's it, you're authorized to teach!
Now go out and get some disciples.
Instruct them how to bow and gaze at each other.
It's all remembered in a flash of emptiness.
Accept the truth, you are unfathomable.
I'm just reminding you about your ancient wonder,
the gentle light that melts the edges around all creatures,
then solidifies into a blinding sun, then burns
a widening ring of voidness from the center of your heart,
outward, to the rimless limits of our fractaled galaxy.
How great is the wisdom you don't know you already have?
Angels get so tipsy singing your name,
they have to hum every sound in the alphabet to remember it!
Don't send me any money for this.
I get plenty of reward just thinking about you
waking up tomorrow morning and saying to yourself,
"Nothing! Nothing! I learned absolutely nothing!"

Workshop Link: HERE IT IS!

12/07/2013

Co-Existence of One and Many

How silent, crystal pure and still the Self! How wondrous, wild, chaotic and ephemeral the world projected as a veil, a mirage, a playful reflection of the Self in a mirror of emptiness!

Where is the conflict? Where is the need to choose between Oneness within and duality without? That ever-dissolving world-aura clothes this naked changeless Radiance in shimmering garments. It is a charming paradox to be danced, not a problem to be solved.

The Self is basso continuo in a Gregorian hymn, chanting tone beneath melodic variation. We meditate to ground our music in the under Om, then joyfully dance with a chorus of voices.
And because This already pervades That, there is no compulsion to impose One on the Many. As the prior condition, before one breath is taken, unity back-lights and illuminates diversity. The Om that oscillates into every other note is the unstruck sound, the mother of harmony. Therefor nothing needs to be united. Nothing needs to be harmonized. Where is the work to perform?

Yoga may be the art of seeing unity in diversity, but it begins with the science of not confounding the One with the Many. Space is formless and does not move. The mirage takes many shapes and undulates. They appear to be one, but are distinctly different in their essence. One is real. The other is illusion.


Any attempt to impose consistency on the ever-changing world, to impose order onto chaos, to impose the one onto the many, or reality upon illusion, is ignorance. All ideologies of the left or the right, and all institutions of religion, which attempt to change the nature of the world, result in fascism or fundamentalism, and simply increase the nescience of human sorrow. 

The Self need not inform the world, because the Self is the formless essence of every form already. Those who live its sparkling clarity do not impose the Self on others, any more than the sky imposes its weight on hills and forests. The sky is weightless, embracing every storm or ray of sun, remaining untouched.

Is effort required to project one's image in a mirror?

12/06/2013

Asana

Sometimes Hatha Yoga feels more like a performance, an effort frozen in form. We might kindle new life into Hatha Yoga by letting it dissolve back into the art of its origin: just lying on the ground, effortlessly breathing.

As we did when we were babies, self-discover the miracle of embodiment. Allow breath to melt matter into streams. Let bone and flesh undulate in subtlest micro-movements. Bathe each exquisite pearl of body in a wave of awareness. Be leaves in warm breeze. Observe sensations arise and dissolve in dance of unfolding presence. No right way, no wrong way.

Stillness gently spirals outward from our center. Graceful silence in-spires hips, ribs, neckbones, crown. No "asana" to be attained. No posture to be held. No "technique" downloaded from memory.

Living asana means effortless movement arising in the heart, unfolding through the spine, expanding and contracting with the breath. Living Yoga means that mind is not separate from the primal Shakti, the energy itself.

Bodyhaving


This old body has its aches and pains,
but even they have blossoms
like pea weeds among poppy billows.

All in all, it's worthwhile having bones
to give light a foundation,
having ligaments to give the stars

a place where they can fall and lodge
their smaller selves; it's not so bad,
this blood mire of swollen umber

like a peach with edible fuzz.
I can caress your belly, I can run my finger
down to the fur, smell hay just after rain

and watch the willow-armed valley
with its creek whispers invite the mist
into her shaded bed. All in all,

it is good to have a body. It is not a burden.
There is nothing illusory about it.
Even an old one, especially an old one,

makes prayer possible: not in petition
for some wider space, but in thanksgiving
for the place where I am.

12/03/2013

Dance

       Orion Nebula, Hubble 2006

Why seek the Formless? Just don't cling to forms.

Peel the onion, layer upon layer without a core, without a center. Beyond all these layers, atoms dancing in the void. Yet every atom also an onion. Selah.

Behind every political or economic reality, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. Behind every scientific reality, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. Behind every material form, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. All forms, just layers of hollowness: that was Buddha's teaching, and that is the revelation of contemporary physics.

Then why take it all so seriously? Why reject or grasp anything when there is no essence, no soul of Creation? The heart is just its layered-ness.

If you say, "I believe in God," you have fallen out of the dance. If you say, "I am an atheist," you have fallen out of the dance. This dance is charming and playful precisely because it is free from the tyranny of "meaning," a voluptuous layering of the quantum vacuum, entirely meaningless. How wonderful!

Neither to reject nor to grasp is surrender. And surrender is not the end of the path, but the prior condition where no path arises. This a priori condition of surrender is the nature of the void. Merely to see this, without a single thought about it, is bliss.

Bliss dances and celebrates in infinite layers of itself, the exquisite complexity of emptiness.

To A Neo-Advaitist

The universe does not rejoice in the impersonal, but in the communion.

The you in me bows to the me in you, and we melt into who we are; this is called "laughing eyes."

Why did God become flesh, walking down dusty village roads, touching, blessing the children?

So that we might say, "Thank you for being born, Jesus. "

Why do we return to the fur?

So that we might say, "Thank you for being born, little golden poodle."

And when there are no words for wonder, why does the Self-luminous choose to gaze and hug?

Don't underestimate the glory of otherness; thank you, whoever you are, for being born into this voluptuous mud!

A neo-advaitist said to me, "You need no guru because you are already perfect."

So I went there and became vast, proud, boundless, lonely and dry.

But still, some primal yearning of the heart for the heart tugged at the stars, and I heard the moon weeping for the sun...

and besides, his workshops were more expensive than Church.

The fallacy of that teaching lies in the word "need;" I do not surrender to my master out of lack, but overflowing fullness,

every cell of this body like a silver cup filled to the brim with the stuff Christ served at the wedding.

The master has turned what for you might just be water into something that makes me drunk

because my freedom is love, my freedom is love...

Now, Gurudev, let our twoness be a single spiraling stream of nectar, pouring from that cup into this one.


12/01/2013

Should

The word "God" does not offend me. The word "Should" offends me. "Should" is the idol of authority, created by a mind that cannot taste divine freedom. It is not in the experience of the Divine, but in the absence of the Divine as direct experience, that "Should" arises.