New Year's Blessing

I wish you the happiest New Year. My first spiritual teacher, Mahesh Yogi, taught us the sacredness of midnight on New Year's Eve. Not a time for noise making, but a profound turning point in the heart of silence.

He encouraged us to spend that midnight moment in deep meditation, giving an impulse of Sattva, purity, to the whole coming year. Of course, one could do this any moment, but the moment our culture values as the end or beginning of a cycle in time becomes a sacramental portal to transformation.

Maharishi himself always spent the first seven days of the New Year in silence, stirring the field of cosmic creative intelligence from the deepest level.

As a pinch of sugar sweetens the entire pitcher of cream before it is poured, so the bliss of one Samadhi-moment permeates eternity. A breath of deep meditation elevates time, before and after. Our heart only needs to capture a single God-particle. That divine spark ripples out through rings of stillness into past and future, healing our ancestors, blessing our unborn children.

When the clock ticks from old to new at midnight, be immersed in the timeless. Rest in the void between one second and the next. Tap into the gong of golden emptiness, immersing yesterday and tomorrow in That which has no beginning, from whose womb creation arises.

On this sacred occasion, may you drink from the cup of quietness, and in the coming year, grow rich with the wealth of an awakened heart.

Jai Guru Dev.


What is your keynote, your special word for the New Year? I think mine
will be "still." Today my soul said to me, "Don't confuse mere activity
with accomplishment. Look around at all these do-ers. Many activists think
they accomplish something just because they are busy. Often they are
simply restless. Do the inner work of stillness first, and find the cause
of your restlessness. Discover what Truth is, what Beauty is, what
Goodness is. Then only can your work make the world better, truer,
and more beautiful."


Gift of the Mantra

I am so grateful for the gift of the Mantra. Mantra is a word meaning "vehicle for the mind": combining "mannas" (Sanskrit root of the English "mind") and "tra," (root of the suffix, "tron"). As an electron is the vehicle for electricity, so the mantra is a vehicle to carry the mind inward, through subtler strata of energy, until awareness merges in its silent source, which is also the source of light.

A living mantra cannot be learned from a book or picked up in a casual conversation. Then it is just a hollow shell, an echo. The mantra must be ignited from the very spark of light to which it returns. It must be a "chaitanya" mantra, a live seed. This ignition happens at initiation. Westerners give little credence to initiation, as there is no correlate for initiation in modern culture. Once there was. References to initiation and mantra abound among both Christian and Jewish Gnostics. The Nag Hammadi library of the early Christians, and works such as the Sepher Yetsirah and the Book Bahir in Jewish Kabbala, testify to the ancient science of mantra. Christian and Jewish mystics practiced Mantra, "the way of the divine Name." But the basis of our present culture is mere information: words without consciousness.

Our media revel in words, with no attention to the energy that these words may carry. Very few of our words are charged with consciousness. Intellectuals write PHD theses and give lectures. Authors publish thousands of texts and articles. The news media churn out words by the millions. We spend much of our day in chatter and gossip. But how many of these words actually transform our awareness, or heal our bodies?

A mantra is a different kind of word, directly related to the Word of creation. A Vedic text declares, "Adau Bhagavan shabdha rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord first manifested the universe through a stream of sound." The Upanishads assert: "In the beginning was the syllable Om. All that was, is, or ever will be, is created through the sound of Om." The first verses of John's Gospel echo that Upanishadic teaching: "In the beginning was the Word... all things were created through the Word." Modern physics re-cognizes that the universe is vibration, the "music of the spheres," a resonance of fields emanating from the silence of the vacuum.

The science of mantra is the practical application of "creation through the Word." Through the effortless refinement of listening to a living mantra, our physiology is also refined. The mantra is a vibration as substantial to the body as to the mind. Through atunement to the mantra, the sparkling energies of every atom and nerve cell resonate in the harmony of a single inward star, which may illuminate the forehead, the crown, the throat, or the heart, wherever this radiant tuning fork is required for healing.

The supreme art of Mantra conducts the complex symphony of the body-mind into one luminous chord of samadhi. This music is ananda.

Gratitude to the Vedic rishis for the gift of Mantra! Jai Guru Dev.


To Serve

Once I asked the Guru,
"What can I do to serve?"
He answered, "Be happy."

Sparkling Awareness

Liberation is just sparkling awareness. Sparkling awareness is the first and last freedom. Sparkling awareness is pure subjectivity awake in itself, unalloyed with any object. 

The objective universe exists as a bridge from sparkling awareness to sparkling awareness. Consciousness projects the universe out of its own energy as an object to perceive. For what purpose? In order that through the act of perception, consciousness may reflect back from the object perceived, and become aware of itself as sparkling awareness. 

Awareness creates the world in order to perceive it, awaken its own light, and then experience liberation from the world it has created. 

This is a process of ecstasy. Literally ecstasy means "standing out from itself," ek-stasis in Greek.  Awareness stands outside itself as the world, in order to become aware of what it is not, and then collapse into what it is. Sparkling awareness dissolves the external world, its intimate lover, back into itself through love.  

Pure awareness is Shiva. The sparkling energy of Shiva's world-manifesting power is Shakti. The appearance of the material world in consciousness, and its dissolution back into consciousness, is their love-play.

The time is coming when the science of physics will verify this paradigm. The greatest quantum physicists of the 20th Century have already intimated that this "material" world is made out of nothing but consciousness:
"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness." ~Max Planck 

"Modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word; they are forms, or in Plato's sense, Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics." ~Werner Heisenberg

"All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness... The stuff of the world is mind-stuff." ~Sir Arthur Eddington 
Once realized as Self-radiance, awareness becomes free of the objective universe, its own creation. The liberation and detachment of consciousness from matter is Sankya, attained through the purifications of Yoga. This de-linking of sparkling awareness from its created universe is the beginning of freedom. 

Now awareness is free to make love to the creation from whom it has distilled itself. Sparkling awareness tastes and sees subtler aspects, finer veils of creation's beauty, until it beholds its Self in all. This process of refinement is Bhakti, devotion. It begins when we see God in the Master. Then our perception widens to experience God in the leaf, the raindrop, the face of the poor, the diamond in the dog turd.

Finally, we behold the invisible in the visible. We behold stillness in action. We see only consciousness in the object of matter. The Self as subject intimately unites with its Self as object. Shakti dissolves into Shiva through the union of supreme love, and this union is Vedanta. Thus Indian philosophy does not present rival schools of teaching, but stages in the evolution of consciousness, moving from Sankya, through Yoga, to Bhakti, to Advaita Vedanta.
This entire process depends on our ability to refine the experience of pure sparkling awareness, tasted through the silence of transcendental deep meditation. The practice of transcending is the beginning, and the daily stepping stone. In deep meditation we directly experience pure sparkling awareness as the absolute basis of both subject and object, which are merged in silence beyond dualistic thinking.

The state of pure awareness is neither waking, dreaming, nor deep sleep. It is called Turiya in Sanskrit. It is not awareness "of," but awareness of awareness, without an object. Objects cannot cling to sparkling awareness any more than muddy water clings to the golden lotus. Sparkling awareness needs no object other than its Self, because the subject reflects itself like the image of a mirror in a mirror. When this experience becomes stabilized through regular daily meditation, our awareness remains sparkling, changeless, taintlessly pure in the midst of activity, whatever the changing turmoil of the world around us may present.

There is no other liberation but the innate condition of sparkling awareness. Great souls from St. Paul to Gandhi, Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, realized perfect freedom even in a prison cell, because freedom is within consciousness, not in the politics of external circumstance. This is what is meant by dwelling "in the world but not of the world," and what St. Paul describes in Romans 12:2 - "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind."

Awareness sparkles when Wall Street crashes and you lose all the money in your portfolio. Awareness sparkles when your team loses by one point. Awareness sparkles in the midst of sudden violence or tragedy. Awareness sparkles among rain-drops on ferns. Awareness sparkles in a sensation of loss or disappointment in your breast. Sparkling awareness in the slowly dying sparrow on your porch, who just flew full-speed into your glass door. Sparkling awareness in the grief and beauty of your mother's last breath as you hold her hand, gazing at the finished grace of her lips through your own tears. Sparkling awareness that, no matter how tenderly you may have lived, you could not have prevented any pain, or tasted any deeper beauty.

Love is just a word we use: it is not enough to describe the sensuous all-embracing void in each sparkle of awareness. If there is any transformation, any revolution, any enlightenment to be gained, it is the sparkling awareness of things just as they are.

For awhile we may angrily rebel against the seeming injustices of the world, or desperately try to reform its fickle fleeting images. Our efforts feel heroic, but have nothing to do with real freedom. For we are not here to change the world: we are here to awaken...

And yet, the awakening of sparkling awareness transforms everything.

This awakening is completely natural, requiring neither effort, control, nor concentration. How much effort is required to wake up in the morning? "Spiritual" techniques can short-circuit the mind, increasing the likelihood that awareness might fall back into itself. But ultimately, this process of awakening simply happens by Grace: the projection of matter from consciousness, the intercourse of consciousness and matter, the dissolution of matter back into consciousness, the dalliance of Lord Shiva and Mother Divine, playing through every breath, every love-act of sensory perception. Therefor, seeker, abandon the quest. Just repose in the Self, as you are. This very moment, this very breath, is the portal to transformation.

Sharanam, surrender now! Surrender awareness to awareness. For awareness itself is Shiva, creating all abundance through its own sparkling.

Jai Guru Dev



I was once an intellectual. Now I am not so smart. I find intellectuals way
too thoughtsy. For me, the deeper work of the intellect is to empty itself
and become a clear mirror, reflecting the brilliance of the heart.


The 'fall of man' is simply the shift from awareness to thinking.

Thought is a tool to use and let go of immediately; but clinging to thought is our 'Original Sin.' We were not created to become trapped in ideas and beliefs, a thought-world of conflicting opposites. This is eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We were created to eat from the Tree of Life, living awareness free of compulsive thinking.

To return to the Garden is to rest in the innocence of the still mind, empty like the blue sky, self-radiant, free from concepts. One root for the Hebrew word 'eden' means 'bliss.' Eden is the bliss consciousness of our original nature. It is what we are the moment we awaken in the morning, before the mind of yesterday returns.


Solstice Light

Solstice is a pause in time's turning, when we re-align our energies with the Sun in the Heart.
Peace on earth only comes as a reflection of our inner clarity. As long as humanity fails to touch the clear light of the Heart, there will be no peace in the world.

What keeps us from Heart alignment? Our own mind: this clouded lens, smeared with anger, fear, and blame.

If we look through a cloudy lens, everything we see is blurred and dark. The world appears to have many problems. But there is really only one problem: this mind. To a fearful mind, the whole world looks frightening. To a bitter mind, everyone seems to be wrong. Negative thinking tarnishes all creation.

Many of us work at polishing the lens. But can a lens polish itself? Light is not attained through any mental self-effort. Clarity is much more graceful and astonishing than anything the mind could manufacture through its own work. We don't have to labor at cleaning this lens. We can just drop it and start seeing through the 20/20 vision of the Heart.

We've all heard of the "third eye" in the head, but few know that there is a more powerful eye in the Heart. The Eye of the Heart doesn't need any other light to see by, because the Heart radiates its own light, effortlessly. This light is Awareness itself. It is Christ in You. Christ is the splendor of a fully awakened human heart.

We are invited to see all creatures bathed in the clarity of our inner Light. Yes, the Master said, "I am the Light of the world." But he also said, "You are the light of the world"? (Matthew 5:14)

May the solstice Light shine from within, and bring you a truly happy New Year!

Beyond Compare

 At any given moment, one can truly say, "Life doesn't get any better than this," because no other moment exists. There is no "better" future or past to which I can compare this now.

When I give up the business of comparison, my thoughts, desires, anxieties and regrets instantly collapse into wholeness - a continuum of silent awareness that pervades every detail of the moment, wherever I may be, regardless of the content of my experience, regardless of its circumstances.

The quality of wholeness is perfect simplicity, fullness, healing, and peace. Immersion in this ocean of wholeness imparts these same qualities to others in the environment, because there is only one field of awareness in which both "I" and "other" are waves of the continuum. To be a true peace-maker is to give up anxiety about the world, and become utterly present in this incomparable moment.

Once I surrender all comparison, and embrace the ineluctable fact that there is nothing "better" or "worse" than this moment, life unfolds seamlessly, without a problem, for I have removed the resistance to it.

Without a problem? Yes. A "problem" is just a situation perceived through the narrow mind of comparison. There are, in fact, no problems - only situations. More accurately, there is only one ever-evolving situation, which regardless of its form or circumstance is just the seamless, effortless, relaxed, spontaneous flow of Being unfolding its inherent joy and perfection.

The irony is, this unconditional surrender to Being, in untainted contentment, allows me to become truly creative. This is why the Bible portrays the creator as blessing the universe with Sabbath rest, and in the Vedic tradition, why Vishnu maintains the cosmos while in repose on the milk ocean. Repose is the secret seed of action.

When I no longer compare myself to any man, or to any ideal from the past and future, I relax into my original. I rest in the ever-unfolding creativity of God. For at the very heart of creation is a dynamically relaxed condition of non-resistance, non-struggle, and non-violence.


There Is Only One Problem

What we fear most is not conflict, but the absence of conflict. We fear the singularity of wholeness, where duality disappears.

Therefor, we seek conflict. Conflict and duality are useful distractions, allowing us to avoid the fundamental reality of our solitude.

Conflict is imagined: it is a product of our thoughts. Then we project this inner conflict into the world. We spend our energy passionately struggling to resolve it, but the apparent conflict is only the ghost of thought - which explains why everyone sees the conflict differently. In actuality, the conflict isn't really out "there." It is in the mind.

The world presents us with situations, not conflicts. Every is illuminated by the stillness of Presence. Situations are always manageable, because they arise one at a time, in the present moment. A "problem" is a situation perceived through the haze of thinking, which always carries images of the past, distorting and catastrophizing the situation.

Conflict "out there" in the world is not the fundamental problem of our existence. The fundamental problem of our existence is our own mind.

Do we really believe that our fundamental problem is an economic conflict between capitalism and the working class? A political conflict between patriarchy and the feminine? A cultural conflict between indigenous tribes and the Western state? A moral conflict between good and evil? A metaphysical conflict between spirit and matter?

All such dualities are superficial mental constructs, projected onto the world by thought. And by this constant conflicted thinking we distract ourselves, so that we never have to stare into the abyss of our real predicament, which is our aloneness.

The fundamental problem is that there is no conflict, no duality to resolve, no power against which we must contend, and nothing to be reformed, because there is no other. I alone Am.

It is said that men and women are essentially social. This illusion comes from an incomplete analysis of our experience. In fact, our life begins and ends in solitude. We were not born with a partner, and we were not born as a community. We will not die with a partner, and we will not die as a community. We were born alone. We will die alone. This is the truth. Human life is a parenthesis in eternal solitude.

Have you dared to confront your essential aloneness? Do you really want to postpone this affair until the moment of your death?

The real solution to our predicament is simple, but not easy. We must embrace the truth of our aloneness, unconditionally.

I say this to each and every one: You are the Self alone. No matter who else you encounter, your experience of the other arises in you, through you, as you. What you experience in the world appears as multiplicity, but is one, for it all arises in the seamless continuum of your own awareness. And no matter how hard you try to distract yourself by imagining conflict, you will never escape your all-pervading solitude.

You are majestically alone. Your task is to transform this aloneness into all-oneness.  This is your real vocation. The rest is theater. When you have done this work of transformation, you will joyfully embrace every conflict and every other as your own Self.

Please ask yourself, "If I surrendered to my essential and primordial aloneness, would I survive? If I saw the entire world with all its conflicts arising in myself, through myself, as myself, what would I do? Would my life have any edges?"

If this at first sound like a view that is antithetical to the "Western tradition," just remember the first and most fundamental commandment of the Judeo-Christian heritage: "Love thy neighbor as thy Self." Seen in its true depth, this commandment implies unity-consciousness. I love the other as my Self because the other is my Self.

We might also remember the final prayer of Jesus, the night before he died (John 17: 21): "Father, I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me and I am in you."

And I close with the words of a modern master: "Conflict is the nature of the world; comfort is the nature of the Self. In the midst of conflict, find the comfort. Trying to end conflict prolongs it. The moment you agree to be with the conflict, the conflict disappears. Face the conflict by resting in the comfort of the Self." 
~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


O Magnum Mysterium

Despite all the failures of humanity on this earth, we are redeemed by one small possibility, a thread so frail and thin we may forget that it is even there, but once we take it up and follow it home, we've begun the weaving of a new earth, a new creation. That infinitesimal thread is simply the capacity of our heart for giving birth to Beauty.

'O Magnum Mysterium' is a Latin chant from the office of Matins for Christmas morning.
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
English translation:
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Song of a Christian Pagan

As a Christian Pagan, I want to thank all the shamans of field and forest for decking my halls.

Christ means "anointed." The chrism is pressed from the olive tree, healing oil. Jesus was a shaman too. He opened blind eyes with balm of mud and saliva, made a vision quest in the Wilderness, spoke to trees, turned well water into wine, practiced elemental magic with bread and fishes, uttered spells from his groaning bowels to raise the dead, slept in stone tombs, dialogued with demons and corpse people, just like a Shaivite sunyasi. 

Jesus embodied shamanic Breath: in the Bible, Breath and Spirit are the same word and power.

I thank my Pagan friends, for no religion worth its blood and salt rejects its predecessors. Rather, it weaves their wisdom into a fresh new body. I thank my Druid ancestors for this sparkling Yuletide tree, for holly and mistletoe woven over my lintel, entwining my carvings of Green Man and elephant-headed Ganesh. I thank my Tantric brethren and sisters for the Yoni of the pine-cone wreath, the Lingam of the candle piercing its void.

I say "Namaste" to my Hindu cousins who brought three gifts of the Wise Men, laid them humbly at the manger. For it was Eastern, not Western sages, who first recognized the birth of the Avatar, the Prince of Peace. What do gold, frankincense and myrrh signify? The gift of Yoga, the gift of Vedanta, and the gift of Meditation.

I am grateful to Druids and Wiccans, Deer Antlered Priests, the Elven tribes, the Sylphs of sacred tree medicine, Yarrow and Cedar sprites, the berry and salmon people of the Northwest, the Raven cry, the deep drum of the milk-spilling teat of Mount Tahoma.

I thank Wolf Mother for keeping Mary warm all night by the creche. I bow down to the Goat, who gave Father Joseph his beard and Baby Jesus his little toes. I honor the barley malt. I sip holy whiskey from the alter of oak, lifted in a stone grail, crying "slainte" to the spirit wind, the rain-bearing breath of the hoary virgin Genetrix of divine Matter. O dip the wick of my body in the fire of the Winter sea, and sing to the mer-silkies, angels of the under-deep. For I hold Darkness sacred as the Star!


Said My Flesh To My Soul

And so after thousands of years of religious struggle, the body and the soul were wedded in this magnum mysterium: the Incarnation.

With the humblest simplicity, the footsteps of the Master on earth demonstrated that humanity can no more be separated from divinity than the warmth of the fire from its radiance, or the color blue from the sky. Matter is pure awareness christallized in form to radiate light.

"Yes, it is true," said my body to my soul, "every particle is made of Mater, the Mother. Each atom is a cathedral where pilgrims arrive from the stars to celebrate the miracle of flesh. You irradiate the world through me. I am your dance. Let there be no more talk of our difference." Then my soul knelt down in the radiant darkness between heart beats, and my spirit poured back into its body, one breath offered to another.


Never Alone

'Loneliness' is only a thought. You are never alone. Your breath connects you to the universe, and the universe whirls in your heart as a radiant Cloud of Witnesses: angels, Buddhas, all your ancestors, all your friends. Every inhalation is a wave of the omnipresent Creator's breath, and this Shakti animates each atom of flesh. A single photon is the communion of countless saints. Your body is made out of love. Believe this with your bones.


The Only Christianity I Know

Here is the only Christianity I know. At the end of each breath, 
the death of Jesus. At the beginning of each breath, the resurrection. 
What happened 2000 year ago, what will happen at the last judgment, 
does not concern me. The sound of the wood thrush is the end of time. 
Because I am awake, now is the coming of Christ. I fall perpetually into 
Grace, and Grace is the only ground. From what should I be saved? 
My soul was never lost. Could God lose a spark of her own heart?


Womb of Darkness

“Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.” ~Meister Eckhart

Many people get depressed in this holiday season because they feel so much pressure to be all about Light. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is not to cheer them up or preach about happiness; but remind them that darkness is the womb of all that is radiant, and only when we welcome the void into our hearts can a truly luminous humanity be born - born not from any effort to 'enlighten' ourselves, but from our very non-resistance against the oceanic waves of the mystery of this holy Night.


The problem with the mind is that it is everywhere else but here. The problem with the heart is that it thinks it is here, but it is everywhere. If you don't understand, look at the beehive. The whole comb overflows with honey, yet each cell does its work. Now your little mind is one cell of this comb, but you are the honey. If you still don't understand, notice the rose. Its scent begins in the bud, but when it opens, it fills the whole bridal chamber. If you still don't see what's happening, you are just like me, a perfect fool married to the universe.


Beware of One

Beware of the One.
It may become the oppressor.
Let a thousand bees
make this honey.
All is not One.
All is All.

 "Non-duality" is just a word. The fact that we have to say "non" means that the duality is naturally there as a part of consciousness.

For so long I mistook oneness for wholeness. Oneness ruthlessly annihilates relationship. But wholeness is the harmony of others and selves, drawing intimately near through love. I seek nearness, not annihilation. I seek intimacy, not submersion.

Virtual particles dance in the void, each part of the flower enfolded in the seed, all bija mantras vibrant in Om, many notes singing in the beauty of a single chord, each with its own distinct voice. We are all too wonderful to be annihilated in God: that is not why She breathes us into creation.

The Face of What Is

Consider the possibility that pure empty space is already conscious, creative, self- effulgent with healing light, overflowing with love, before you are even born into it! Therefor, all you need do is surrender to what is.

The first verse of the Bible explains in poetic Hebrew what physicists have discovered through science: this universe pours forth from a vacuum. Every moment the world is spoken like a Word from the silence of the void. "The earth was formless and void... Then God said, Let there be light." Empty space is spontaneously creative. All you have to do is not get in the way.

We realize the highest truth Now. In fact, we can only realize it in this Now. The beatific vision is always a revelation of what is already here in the present moment. And what is so wonderful about this present moment is not its content, but its Presence. This means that revelation can happen anywhere.

When we unconditionally surrender to the pure Presence that pervades everything, from the farthest galaxy to the atom at the tip of our eye lash, the essence of empty space reveals itself as the breathtakingly beautiful face of Christ, whose transcendental form radiates from the formless void like a sparkling sapphire. "The same God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, shining in the face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4) A secret personal splendor dances in the fluctuations of the vacuum. The Indian devotee will recognize him as Krishna, the Westerner as Christ.

His countenance flashes forth in a silence no name can hold. It makes absolutely no difference what name you call him. What matters is to melt into the face of beauty, from whom the universe pours in a whisper, and toward whom our hearts are drawn as to a long-lost home.

No belief or practice is required. In fact, belief is what gets in our way, and doing separates us from Him whose gaze already burns from the heart of Now. "Abandon all your religious practices and just surrender to Me. I will deliver you. Don't worry!" (Bhagavad Gita, 18:66)

Too radically simple, isn't it? Humans can't stand this much simplicity. Our life is a ceaseless rebellion of the doer against the unendurable simplicity of what is. We want to do something to attain spirituality. The last thing we want is surrender, for surrender is letting go of all our efforts. Surrender cannot be done. It is a happening, and it usually happens when we have exhausted ourselves after several lifetimes of trying to achieve what always already is.

That is why Jesus prayed,"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."


The Tragicomedy of I AM

What do I mean when I say, I AM? Why two words and not one? Is the 'I' distinct from AM?

'I' am the crucified martyred hero of this melodrama. But AM is the chorus of life itself. In classical drama, the chorus observes the action, reflecting wisdom from the experience of the separate 'I.' For 'I,' the story is usually a tragedy. But for AM, the same story is a divine comedy.

Classic tragedies end in destruction and death. So for the separate 'I,' each moment seems shadowed with foreboding. Comedy, on the other hand, turns out well, despite occasional moments of darkness and despair. The tragic little 'I's' usually end up at a wedding, dancing, a circle of communion.

When 'I' experience the story as 'mine,' there is an undercurrent of feeling that 'this may not end well: something bad could happen.' But the comic AM continually senses the abiding Presence of love. Love knows without rationalizing, 'All will be well.' Some of Shakespeare's greatest comedies are filled with tragic plot elements, yet all's well that ends well. Dante called his dark awful journey to God through hell and purgatory, 'The Divine Comedy.' Agatha Christy expressed the comic spirit when she wrote: 'I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.'

Is your life comic or tragic? Are your days pervaded by a brooding sense that something is wrong? Or do you sense through it all the hidden message that Christ whispered to the 14th Century English mystic, Dame Julian of Norwich: 'Sin is necessary. But all will be well, and all will be well, and every manner of thing will be well'?

Einstein said there is one fundamental question for humanity: 'Is the universe a friendly place?'
And Martin Luther King believed, despite all the tragedy of being black in America, 'The arc of the moral universe tends toward justice.'

Of course there are moments when, 'something is wrong' and we need to act. Those moments arise, not as curses, not as obstacles, but as situations that evoke our creativity and care. But if our life is pervaded with the sense that something is wrong, then even when we have much for which to be thankful, the 'I' will abscond with the blessing of life, turning into a melodrama.

The ego accomplishes this dark magic through one simple device: thinking. The very thought that the wholeness of Existence happens to an 'I,' and that this totality is 'my' existence, creates separation from being itself. And this separateness generates a sense of alienation - which we once called 'sin' - a sense of something terribly wrong that 'I' have done. But the only actual 'sin' is that 'I' have separated myself from existence through a thought.

At any moment, no matter how dire the occasion, 'I' have the freedom to rest as AM, to become the wholeness of Being again, whose nature is pure love. And this in the end is my only freedom. I choose whether to regard the arc of my story as tragedy or comedy.

The great testimonies of spiritual liberation often come from prisons rather than mansions and meadows. In prison, the prisoner loses every freedom, every choice, except awareness of the Am. The prophet Jeremiah, St. Paul, George Fox (the first Quaker), Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Gandhi, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King: all realized freedom in the prison cell, communicating their expanded vision from a physical confinement that drove them beyond the little 'I.' This is the meaning of the Cross: the 'I' crossed by the horizon of Christ-Consciousness.

Radical as it may sound, there is no other freedom. All relative freedoms - political, economic, psychological - are conditioned and temporal. Conditional freedom can disappear in the twinkling of an eye. The earthquake, the terrorist bomb, the cancer, may befall me any time. But despite the terror of 'I,' even at the hour of my death, AM is possible....

The reader may protest. The reader may be quite angry: 'Don't intellectualize human suffering with such metaphysics!'

But the choice to rest as Awareness, is not an act of the intellect or a metaphysical luxury, because it is an act of Being, not thought. To rest as Awareness, even in the moment of terror, is our final defense against terrorism. It is the soul's ultimate survival skill: liberating us from fear, into the ever-expanding power of AM.

Joyful Atonement

We usually associate atonement with pain. But true atonement is joyful. In fact, atonement is joy itself. To understand this, we need to be clear about the original sin which demands atonement, the two-ness that requires at-0ne-ment through Joy.

Our original sin is a violent act of division at the heart of creation. We commit this violence in our very conception of reality. We divide subject from object, making two out of one. The atonement for this sin is Joy. Only Joy can at-one.

The violence is in the division, not the appearance, of subject and object. The appearance of two in one is delightful. Appearance of two is the dance of one. Duality is lila, playfulness of God. In each moment, even as the dance of subject and object appears, the two collapse into each others arms and dissolve into bliss, ananda. This perpetual dissolving of appearance into the reality can recharge our consciousness in every perception, regardless of its relative beauty or ugliness. What generates bliss is not the metaphysical meaning that our mind super-imposes on the event, but the physics of perception itself. For subject and object are both permeated by one continuum, which is pure consciousness. To experience this continuum in the midst of the dance is bliss.

Sir Arthur Eddington, founder of quantum physics, wrote: All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our own consciousness. To make this an actual experience, we must focus the blur of two into one, dissolving the duality of soul-body, spirit-matter, creator-creation.
Less mind, more awareness. The problem is not the world, but the superimposition of our mind upon the world: our fears, beliefs and expectations. The art of perception lies in clearing the double-vision that separates the seer from the seen, so that we may experience the radiance of the ordinary. One needs no belief who sees God at the tip of a fern, incandescing the dewdrop.

An objection may occur: "Isn't it rather passive to dwell in pure perception without desiring change?" No, pure perception is a transformational sacrament, the sacrament of the commonplace. Nothing changes the world like seeing it as it is.
If two waves dance on the sea, we do not conclude that there are two oceans. Yet that is precisely how most of us interpret our perception of the world. We insist on a Self and a Not-Self. But our creator never intended the playful appearance of two to overshadow God's underlying unity. Failure to perceive the ocean beneath the waves is our fall into original sin, and the source of our sorrows. And our tenacious assumptions about this duality become the dogmas of our religion. True believers fight and kill to defend their double-vision. So the vertical double-vision of Self and Not-Self underlies all horizontal dualities that divide race, class, religion and nationality.
Once we insist that the division of subject and object is real, that primordial fault-line ripples through the mirror of our consciousness in an ever-widening fracture that blurs every relationship with division. The world's problems can never be solved by political action, but only by an act of consciousness. For the world's problems arise through a rupture in consciousness itself.
The eye is the light of the body. If your eye is single, your whole body will be filled with light. Thus Jesus confirmed that the solution to our world's suffering lies in restoring our vision. The healing of ruptured reality is Joy. Joy is the atonement for the sin of double-vision. Joy restores unity by collapsing subject and object, through every perception, into a moment of bliss.
Joy is the marriage of spirit and matter. Joy releases the tension in creation's heart, where world-conflict first begins. Joy is the reunion of the Seer and the Seen in that radiance where they both arise as waves of pure awareness.



 "Race does not exist. Rac-ism is a social construct." ~Toni Morrison

This world desperately needs people who refuse to call themselves black or white, Eastern or Western, Aryan, Arab or Semite. Call us one earth family instead. Be a muddy rainbow, a ribbon dangled from the bridal gown of stars. Mix, friends. Let your colors run. Share the raw dark noble places in your bodies of grace, where honey mingles with musk. Nurture the blossom of astonishment. Touch the button under Mary's veil. Then have babies and babies, like brown olives ripened by the light that shines from their pits.

Painting: 'Olive Trees' by Van Gogh


Made of Emptiness

I am space. 
You are happening in me. 
You are space. 
I am happening in you. 
We've been getting it on like this 
for sixty billion years. 
It all started 
when we relaxed.

We are made of emptiness. That statement is physical, not metaphysical. Every particle of matter, even the densest and most stable proton, is made of no-thing. They say the protons in our bodies were forged in ancient stars. The more accurate statement would be, "formed", not "forged." The structure of the proton has been handed down as an impression, a memory in space itself, over billions of years. But the actual content is emptiness: the proton is hollow.

Most scientists confuse form and substance. The pure intelligence of space ("akasha" in Sanskrit) sustains an impression of the form, but that form has no content. It is made out of consciousness, not matter. The structural identity of a proton, a molecule of DNA, a cell, or a body, is an impression in akasha, not a chemical memory in the brain.

Then what is the "stuff" that fills the form? Even the most "stable" building block of matter, the proton, is made of subtler "particles," quarks and anti-quarks, which themselves are made of mesons, baryons and gluons, that are nothing but vibrations of an abstract field. The field has no location. Therefor the most solid material point is composed of pointless, non-local, abstract energy. The proton is a ghost of akashic memory ceaselessly filled and emptied of its ever-dissolving content.

Even the blow of a machete, the puncture of a bullet, is emptiness striking emptiness. The world is a mirage happening in the wondrous clarity of pure awareness. For space is awake. Space is the consciousness of the universe, witnessing the play of creation within itself.

When you realize this primordial empty wisdom, you have nothing to prove, nothing to regret, and nothing to attain. You will flow like a river, rest like a cloud in your own sky, and hold every mountain like a feather.



There are people dwelling in mansions, with multi-million dollar bank accounts, who live in bondage, while great souls like St. Paul, Gandhi, Bonhoeffer and Mandela discovered freedom in a prison cell. Freedom is not a condition granted to me by my government, my economic status, or my political action. Freedom is a covenant with my own consciousness, renewed by a continual revolution of the breath.

(Photo: Skellig Celtic monk's cells, Ireland)



Every spiritual tradition honors the vajra sword. Even Jesus said, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Do not mistake it for the sword of war. It is the sword of Buddhi, discriminating intelligence.

Much suffering arises from the idea that some past cause is to blame for my present situation. My restless unhoned mind invents and superimposes the notion of a "cause." No cause, no blame...

The present moment, in all its ruin and splendor, is a flower of light without a seed, a rainbow in the sky, a fatal enticement, a mirage.

The elegant dagger of awareness is whetted by a breath. This blade sparkles, not because of what exists, but because of what does not exist - because of what has been honed and polished away in the sharpening.

If there is not a cause, then who is responsible?

Responsibility is ability to respond. When I am disabled by the past, shackled by imaginary causes, I cannot respond. But when I sever the cause, disconnect the blame, cut off the storyline, I am free to be fully present. I am free to respond. I am free to love.

The sword is compassion.

Parable of the Bee

Are you the bee who approaches a rose bush and sees only thorns? Then you will never settle on a flower long enough to taste its nectar.

Are you the bee who tiptoes past the thorn to penetrate the blossom, and drinks and drinks the nectar of devotion, and never leaves the rim of the rose's cup? Then you will cling to the Guru, but you will never make your own honey.

Are you the bee who drinks all the nectar you can, until you are perfectly wisely drunk, then staggers out of the rose to leap into the sun? You will fly home, your wings and feet so clustered with pollen you barely lift yourself. But flying strengthens you. You will turn that pollen into honey for your friends, the way a crushed grape turns itself to wine. The world will drink you. New buds spring up wherever you alight.

Now which bee does the rose love best?