Happy Divali! (October 30)

To me, a beautiful woman usually wears glasses. But not always. She looks like a studious librarian on the verge of turning into a wild panther. 

Modesty and contentment veil, yet magnify, the motion of her hips, cooling the earth with the sinuous breeze of her walking. 

She does not hunt or hurry. She is too busy generating energy from darkness, light from the Unmanifest. Men become gentle with power around her. They become better men.

Blessings to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty, in this sacred festival of Divali. And blessings to all the Lakshmis who carry the divine power of creation in their human bodies.
Lakshmi is the secret abundance in every breast. Through her grace, giving is overflowing. Sweet daughter, beauty is not your perfume or the color you paint your lips, or the shape of your body, or the gemstone you wear on your finger. Beauty is the splash your soul makes when you dive into the ocean of her Presence. 

Lakshmi is the fountain of tears that cleanse both the seer and what is seen. To that Lady of my faltering chest, to that paramour of my exhalation, I whisper, "Om Shri Mahalakshmi Devyai Namaha," asking nothing in return. For she has already placed in my heart, like aa rose floating in a cup, this swirling centerless hollow astonishment filled with stars.


Welcome Chaos

I am heartened to observe that the greatest artists and philosophers emerge, not during periods of social stability, but precisely when cultures fragment and decline.

It is not equilibrium but the broken symmetry of the unbalanced equation
that engenders creativity. Inspiration never comes through
the entropy of even redistribution, or the imposition of equality. Wisdom does not emerge from a flat-line of social conformity, but from the purifying flame of chaos.

Lao T'zu wrote the Tao Te Ching as he abandoned a rotting empire. The Renaissance was an age of political mayhem and petty violence between city states. The "Golden Age of Athens" was not a respite of social harmony, but a series of plagues, wars, and dictatorships, when the best men were hastily imprisoned or exiled.

Beauty is born when wise souls embrace the clash of opposites. Great
leaders speak in paradox, not platitude. There is no need to flee from conflict: conflict invokes the Witness, and awakens the very space that contains it. Even the most terrible crisis - even your death, your birth - is enfolded by a stillness, filled with the breath of stars.


Building the Soul

A passing apprehension of the Beautiful - brushstroke of our gaze against the last petal of Autumn, sparkle of attention at the owl's lament from the hemlock grove, sudden homecoming to the miracle of a breath - stirs a depth in us that resonates forever in our stillness; whereas the contraction of a fear or worry, a shudder of despair, is a momentary shadow that is external to the soul, with no seed in Being.

The soul is Beauty itself. It is never nourished by doubt, guilt, anxiety or blame. But the soul is formed by those small moments when we are deeply happy. Joy is eternal, unhappiness a mirage. Be a flame, rooted in the ground of wonder. Hafiz said, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”


But what of the "dark night of the soul?" Is there no dignity in suffering?

Pain is in the present moment. There is profound dignity in the way pain focuses our awareness. Pain, awful as it is, can be a gateway to Presence. But when our mind maintains a commentary about our pain, and builds a story around it, pain becomes "suffering." Pain is present; suffering is about the past and future.

We make a romance of our suffering as long as we choose. Some of us identify so thoroughly with thoughts of shame, despair, victimhood, and blame, we are afraid to let them go. Letting go of powerful thoughts and beliefs about our story feels like death. To plunge into the void beyond the mind is annihilation, and not for the faint of heart.

This is what Christian mystics like St. John of the Cross meant by "the dark night of the soul." The dark night is not a negative thought or feeling in the mind, but the negation of the mind itself.

"Dark night" in Christianity is precisely what the Buddhist means by "anatta," no separate mind. Yet this sublime emptying of the self - "kenosis" in New Testament Greek - is the heart of Presence, and the source of creation.

What 'Green' Means To Me

Green economics begins with a new definition of abundance: the freedom gained by needing and using less. Wealth is a simpler material life, making room for the infinite resource of the spirit.

A Green vision celebrates the small, not the big; the local, not the federal; conservation, not waste; cooperation, not competition; enough, not more. What riches do we gain by investing in clean energy, sustainable economy, local community, and gentler living?

The wealth of an ancient forest, a fallow meadow. Abundance of beauty, with leisure to walk more slowly on the Earth. The profit of evening silence, a thrush's song. At midnight, ten million stars. At dawn, time to breathe.



Your mind is the oppressor. Your mind is the healer. Your mind creates your role, leaps in and calls it fate. Why spend ten thousand lifetimes playing the victim, complaining about the darkness of the past, when you can dissolve into the light of Presence now?

Your spine is a wick, your body a flame that has no edges. Just radiate. No need to make even a hair's breadth distinction between 'spirit' and 'flesh.'

Why not choose to contain the stars you see above you? We could meet here. But you're so stunned with astonishment, you've forgotten that you dwell in the heart of a miracle - this perpetual flowering of the Self into the Other.


Forget This Poem As Soon As You Hear It

Don't imagine that breathing is something you do just to stay alive. Breath has a secret purpose.
Each inhalation whispers the most beautiful name of God to every cell in your body, while the crystal ladle of exhalation pours your mind into the bowl of longing.

When your intellect is parched by too many words, your lips disconnect from the offering cup, and you whine for more of what you don't need.
You're choking on your own pollen. Let the breath of the Master turn your dust into a steady pulse of pouring honey.

Don't silence your thoughts; let them sing to the music in your chest.
A ladybug bending her grass blade, or a dove that keens in the mist at dawn, are fleeting deaths in the vast bewilderment of love.

That cloud, the opal gift that veiled the face of the shy half moon, now passes into emptiness. Thank the Beloved.

Wouldn't you rather be overwhelmed with beauty than know what it means? O do not staunch the brilliant flow of darkness from the wounded sky!

Parable of Raven Christ

While trekking through the high sage desert, I found Christ trapped in a ruined Church, shattering the stained glass windows, rattling the prison bars, pounding on the door from inside. Chains and shackles of dogma bound his wrists and ankles, more terrible than any nail wounds.

"You, you have the key!" He shouted, "Open the door!" He was pointing frantically at my mouth.

"What key?" I asked.

"Your breath," he replied.

So I breathed through the keyhole of that ancient door until it opened, whereupon Christ became a rare white mother raven with a wingspan that stretched to the far horizons, East and West. She rose into the sky, carrying the moon and all the stars in her beak. She grasped the earth in her talons like a mouse.

Spiraling outward to the end of the ages, then circling back to the present moment, she perched on my shoulder by my left ear and whispered, "You, you are the Christ too, filled with my Holy Spirit." This jolted me so deeply that I woke up, terrified.

"Woe is me!" I cried, "I am a man of unclean lips!" It was early Sunday morning. Quickly, I cleansed myself from the dream, brushed my teeth, and departed for Church to confess the sinful things I had imagined.

Pastel: Alala, sacred raven of Hawaii, by my dear friend Liz Miller.



At some point it becomes so obvious. Conflict and violence in the world 'out there' are projections of conflict and violence in the mind. It is good that we have political activists, but we also need meditation guides to heal humanity from the root up.

No matter how hard the farmer works to prune and doctor the tree, sickness in the root produces sick flowers, sick fruit. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali said: "Heyam dukkham ana-ghatam: Avoid the suffering before it arises."
Heal from below.
Grow perfect flowers while
they’re still in the seed.



Rather than criticize the role another plays in this world, play your own with more serene intensity.

This is the Theater of Dancing Opposites, who frolic in pairs so that we may see beyond them. Cling neither to this nor that, despise neither this nor that.

Each situation arises just for our benefit, that we might embrace the moment, letting go of another fear, craving, or illusory limitation. When we learn to dance with the world instead of resisting it, we see how perfect it is.

If hearing this makes you mad, it's OK: that is your role this moment. Now hug your anger.

Photo: 'All the world's a stage,' Shakespeare, from 'As You Like It'


Full Moon Meditation

This evening, whether its raining or clear, why not bathe in the light of the full moon? Let that radiance, soft as pearl, pervade your breath, mind, and body.

A gentle moonbeam permeates each cell of your flesh, filling the space between your molecules, overflowing the boundaries of your form.

Let moonlight suffuse the silence within each atom, saturating the very nucleus, glowing in the stillness between gravity waves at the heart of a proton.

Just as the moon radiates outward, the moon radiates inward, bringing peace to the mind, penetrating to your crystal soul, which reflects it like an open eye of wonder.

This meditation requires no effort, no concentration, no imagining or visualization. For the light is already here. Just soak in the tingling  quietness of moonlight, and feel your anxious thoughts dissolve.

Just for a little while, turn off the news, forget politics, let go of your need to fix the world. The world has its own karmic spin: for the next few minutes, the world will survive without your worries and plans.

Let the balm of moonlight pool in your forehead, like a blue pearl. Moonlight is the presence of the Goddess, who wants to soothe your soul. But when we resist her, when we do not allow ourselves to be drawn into deepening silence by her fullness, we can feel strain and disharmony.

So don't resist the pull of the full moon. Let her mysterious gravity draw the tides of your body inward. Bathe in the moon, and be refreshed.

Photo: My teacher, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, gazing at the full moon.

Love Is Not A Commandment

I don't trust people who say they love everybody. Love isn't that bland. Love is not pablum, but wine.

And why should I love everybody? Where does the 'should' come from?

I don't want my love to lose its juiciness, its intimate anointing touch. I don't want to love All, but Thou.

When love becomes a moral law, it dies. Constrained by duty, the heart cannot melt. Therefor, I have no duty to love you.

Love is a sacred gift, not a commandment. No one commands a gift. Love is stronger stuff than law, flowing from a dark mystery, aged in the wine cellar of my body.


Beautiful Animals

Humans are beautiful native animals. But somehow, this body made of earth and stars was invaded and occupied by the Empire of the Mind. Mind is foreign to the earth.

Mind is not consciousness. Mind is the cloud that obscures the clear sky of consciousness. Mind generates religions of violence, technologies of control, and economies that rape our planet. Our governments are ruled by greed, which is of the mind, not the body. Our governments thrive on war, because mind establishes a sense of identity through conflict. The "I" knows that it exists because it differentiates itself from "you."
Mind feeds on polarization, separateness, duality.

Hating an "enemy" and scapegoating an "other" makes the mind feel concrete and alive. Mind cannot know love, for love is the field of unity, deeper inside and more intimate than thought.

Love is prior to polarization. Love is whole and beyond conflict. Love does not take sides. Love is the only alternative to our self-destruction. Only by transcending mind and resting in love can we save our civilization. The future of humanity depends on a revolution to expel the foreign invader from the native land of our body. The only revolution, the only radical act, is to transcend the mind. All other concepts of "revolution" are within the mind. 

Let us return to our native organic wholeness, sensed and intuited by pure consciousness ,without thought. "Return" is an ancient spiritual practice: "t'shuvah" in Hebrew, "metanoia" in Greek. "Metanoia" is usually translated as "repentance." But in Greek it literally means beyond (meta) the mind (nous). When we surrender this anxious little ego, with its constant thinking, we return to the source, which is pure awareness, unadulterated with mental concepts. We repose in the radiant silence before a single thought arises. This meditation is our fundamental revolutionary practice, our fundamental repentance. Meditation is the radical act of transcending the mind.

Gaia invites us. Let us return to Her. Let us return to the sparkling organic intuitive molecular intelligence of the Great Mother, who irradiates each particle of our flesh with divine wisdom, and pervades matter with the light of consciousness. She is Wisdom, Hochmah Sophia. She is Kwan Yin, Mother and Matrix of Bodhichitta. She is the immaculate power of Intuition, saturating boundaries with the nectar of of boundlessness. She is a far deeper and more universal form of intelligence than the thinking mind. Into her matrix, we now upload ourselves.

In our dance of return, the Way-showers and Wisdom-holders will not be technocrats, corporate elites, intellectuals with PHD's, or the priests, rabbis, and imams of the "Abrahamic" faiths. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have all morphed into systems of violence. Though they may have begun as beloved communities of the oppressed, the poor, the exiled, they have become the most violent religions ever seen on earth. All three claim to be superior "revelations" from a supernatural God above the earth and above the flesh: in other words, religions of the mind.

Who then are the Way-showers and Wisdom-holders of the coming age? They are shamans and healers of indigenous tribal peoples. Yes, the natives of the land will lead us home. They will help us return to our bodies. They will show us how to walk on earth in a sacred manner, so that we can breathe the stars again.


The Wine of Renunciation

No need to renounce what was never mine. But if I must renounce, I renounce this breath.

Renouncing my breath, all else in my life must be surrendered. I confess that this breath is not mine. I did not create this breath. It is a gift.


I renounce wine by tasting it with deeper devotion. I become aware of every flavor, touch, fragrance, color. I am born on earth for this sacrament of sensation, this marriage of perception and awareness.
When I am awake, sensuality is renunciation, renunciation is sensuality. I can become so fully aware of a sensation that in its deepest center is silence, where I can taste awareness itself. Then, so effortlessly and gently, I let go of the sweetness that first enticed me to it. For the taste of awareness out-sweetens its object.
Is there not a vast difference between losing myself in the sensation, and tasting it deeply, with awareness? This is the difference between sensuality and sacrament.
If the Self is awake in the moment I taste this wine, I am not this wine. The moment I scent this rose, I am not this rose. The moment I perceive the business of the marketplace, I am not this busy-ness: I am the stillness that sees. And the moment I witness time passing, I am eternal. For the seer must be other than the seen.

Therefor, the instant I fearlessly perceive my most vicious impurity, without judgment or rejection, I am pure!

Hence the real meaning of repentance, "metanoia" in Greek. "Meta" means beyond, "nous" means intellect. To repent is to move beyond the restless images and sensations of the mind, to go beyond the intellect, and rest as the silent Witness.

The objects of my worldly passion manifest before my senses for this very reason: so that in becoming aware of them, awareness may taste itself, and be liberated.

This is why I not only bow down to roses, birds, clouds and babies; I bow down to all that binds me, all that makes me angry, lustful, jealous.
Impurities are here to free me from impurity. I bow down to my liberator in the form of whatever arises in the great mandala of the present moment. Thus the Vedic text decrees:

Apavitrah pavitro wa
Sarwa vasthan gatopi wa
Yasmaret pundari-kaksham
Sa bahya-abyantarah shuchih
"Whether pure or impure, whether full of purity or impurity, one who gazes on the lotus-eyed Lord, who is the very Self, gains inner and outer purity!"
"Blessed is this human birth. Dwellers in heaven desire this birth, for true wisdom and pure love are attained only by humanity."
~Srimad Bhagavatam, 11.13
Angels envy us. They are so absorbed in beauty their awareness is lost in celestial delight. They are in bondage, even though the chains that bind them are made of golden flowers.

That is why the gods must be reborn
in this world of pain and joy, love and anger, a world opposites, to gain liberation. Here our attention can't get lost in any sensation for more than a moment. The Self just won't get stuck in a paradox of opposites. Only on earth is awareness jolted into Self-awareness.                                                           *
Yes, it is very difficult to renounce a single sin, a single obsession, or even a single thought. It is much easier to renounce everything at once! By becoming aware of this world, I am not the world. By becoming aware of my mind, even with a thousand chattering thoughts and desires, I am not the mind!

Desert air contains the mirage while remaining perfectly empty and still. So awareness allows the shimmer and din of the world to appear, while remaining silent and pure.

By giving waves room to play, the ocean is whole and one. The boundless sky does not resist the clouds that arise and dissolve within it. Friend, you are always already effortlessly surrendered.


Stay Where You Are

There is no path: nevertheless, stay on it!

Don't veer from the razor's edge.

The grit of your bondage is the portal to enlightenment.

You are instantly liberated from whatever you deeply observe.

In the heart of every sensation, know, "I am the unbounded witness."

Pass through frog croak, a wand of fading lavender, musk of withering toadstools in a ruined Autumn garden.

The entrance to the miraculous is through the commonplace.

Jesus said, "If you want to know God, taste this piece of bread."

Any sight, sound, smell, touch is the countenance of your Guru.

Whatever arises now is the Mandala of Supreme Liberation.

This moment on earth is beyond the heavens.

Bow down through your ear, nose, iris, tongue or fingertip.

Right where you are, enter the temple of intergalactic diamond emptiness.

Limitless laughter will erupt from your chest; limitless tears will flow from your eyes.

Your mother and father and all your relations, 40 generations past, 40 generations future, will bathe in your waves of astonishment.


God Is Singing You

This frisky field of energy I call my "mind" needs no concentration or control. It only needs to hear the most beautiful Name of God.

If "mind" needs concentration and control, it must possess more life-energy than what wants to control it. Mind is only following its nature: to flow toward what is marvelous and wonderful. This energy is supposed to blossom in all directions. Let it wander everywhere!

Skip, dance, sing and wander, O mind, for you must search for Beauty! My very effort to control you denies your nature. Instead of binding you with concentration's chain, I will give you more space. DE-concentrate, and expand. This is meditation.

O mind, when you have the infinite universe to play in, there is peace. No matter how many thoughts arise and play, the space that contains them is ever silent and still. Into this vastness I drop a tiny gem, sending out ripples that fill the boundless sea. Into this silence beyond control I drop the most beautiful Name of God.

When the whole field of mind is vibrating with the divine Name, every distraction, every fantasy, every desire gets entwined in that web of sweetness, rapt in the deepening silence of the Beauty of Naam. Without effort, the sparkling radiance of God's sound enthralls me; I am spellbound. The Name is the mantra, gift of the Guru, and the power of its beauty is the Goddess.

Thus the saints and avatars of both East and West have praised the power of the Name. In his final prayer (John 17), Jesus says, "Holy Father, keep through thine own Name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are one."

Guru Nanak declares: "
A beloved of God is ever engaged in communion with the Naam... God’s devotees live in perpetual ecstasy, for the Naam washes away all sin and sorrow.”
Again and again the Psalms of Israel sing, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord." Psalm 52 declares, "I put my trust in your Name, that is so full of kindness!"

Indian poet-saint Mirabai sings, "I have found, yes, I have found the wealth of the Divine Name’s gem. My true guru gave me a priceless thing. With his grace, I accepted it."

And Sufi founder Jalalludin Rumi teaches, "
Breathe the name of God, empty of self and filled with love."
O mind, rest in the radiant Name.
Sing the melody of God, O lips,
and take the very form of divinity.
How can I ever be lost
when I wander in the Word
that created the world?
Wherever I go, I have returned.
Needing no vessel, I am the wine;
needing no seven-stringed lyre,
I am the music;
needing no filament, I am
the electrical Shakti that flows
through every creature's wing and fur.
My rosary is a broken thread.
It's beads have scattered like stars.
I became the silence between them
by dissolving God's Name
into my heartbeat.
Why this burden of a "path"?
Am I not the goal?
Rest in your source, O mind.
Be an acorn fallen in a meadow.
Grow into an oak
with no effort at all!
Though the sins of your past may be countless
as the sands of the sea,
they cannot find you!
For the sound of Love has born you
far beyond this world
into the echo-less empty sky.
Ride that wind
where only soaring creatures may come
to play with lightning!
Here's the secret, Friend:
The Beloved names you,
so that you may name
the Beloved.
God sings you.
Sing back!

Reading to hear on SoundCloud


Partners in the Dance

The Divine wants to play, because just resting as absolute unmanifest bliss gets a little boring. God wants to thicken the plot. So Shiva manifests our bodies as his players through the Lila-Shakti of Divine Mother. Lila-Shakti literally means "Play-Power."

Likewise in the Western tradition, She is Sophia-Wisdom (Hochma in Hebrew). God does not create the world without her help, her delight, and her play. Of course the Lord and Sophia are not two, they are one. But the one plays as two. THE ONE PLAYS AS TWO. This is lila-shakti.

The Biblical book of Proverbs personifies Wisdom as the Divine Feminine, God's consort, singing ecstatically:
"I was established from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth... while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he founded the heavens, I was there; when he set a circle upon the face of the deep. Then I was by his side, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him..." (Proverbs 8)
She is God's first playmate. She creates us from her whirling. Through Shakti's joyful Wisdom-energy, Shiva gets innumerable dance partners, clothed in moonlight or cloud, raindrop or sunbeam, Winter, Spring, abundance, poverty, pain or laughter.

Thank you Mother for this body, God's flute, and your breath inside it. Thank you for these seven golden cups overflowing with wine. Thank you for all my wounds, streaming with Light.



Your unfolding heart,
so fragrant with compassion,
cups this teardrop world...

In the Bhakti Sutras, Sage Narada says, "The path of divine love is very easy." In the Gospel, Jesus says, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." Yet few of us find love easy. The spiritual path seems hard. Why do such great Masters tell us it is easy?

"Easy" does not mean always luminous and joyful. The dark of the New Moon is as powerful as the splendor of the Full. Our path of love includes sorrow, shadow, and pain. But sorrow, shadow, and pain are not suffering. They only feel like suffering when we resist them, clinging to a preference for joy, light, and pleasure. It is clinging and resistance that are difficult, not the fleeting content of experience...

We do not cling to a breath, or resist the next inhalation. So we may breathe through any moment on earth, even the moment of death.

Be easy with your sorrow, gentle with your shadow, light with your pain. Whatever the feel of the experience, let your inhalation brush it softly. Let your exhalation sweep it clear. And whatever nests in your chest like a bird with broken wings, cradle it.

The open rose welcomes the raindrop, and holds it like a jewel.


The Divine Relationship

'Depth calleth unto depth...' ~Psalm 42

Relationship with the Guru is relationship with the silence inside you, the boundless depth surrounding the tiny thought of 'I.'

This is why, when you are in the presence of a true Master, no question arises, no mind, only stillness. The 'I'-thought, 'ahamkara,' disappears. You dissolve.
The role of the Master is simply to remind you of who you really are. The Guru's depth awakens the depth in you. You are not this little bundle of worries and regrets. You are peace. You are vast clarity, like the sky. You are a priceless sparkling diamond of pure compassion.

Jai Guru Dev.