Ancient scriptures were meant to be HEARD as healing sound, NOT INTERPRETED as meaning.
Energizing the nervous system as pure vibration, the sound of Vedic Sanskrit, Biblical Hebrew, and Qu'ranic Arabic is an objective power. But the "meaning" of the words is subjective, always reflecting the relative conditions and karmas of individual minds. You and I can hear exactly the same word, yet give it two completely different interpretations.
However, if we simply listen to the vibration of the word in its ancient language, our bodies are healed, our intellects stunned into silent beauty. This is the power of the mantras, the sound impulses of ancient scripture.
When we lose that original language, and our fickle intellect translates or interprets the sounds into mental images, doctrines, beliefs, they can be very dangerous. The so-called laws and commandments derived from scripture are really superimposed by the interpreter's mind, and may be used to justify all manner of oppression, prejudice, and violence.
The sound of the scripture comes from the text, but the interpretation comes from the reader. The reader's mind is changeable. But the original text is the subtle, unwritten, eternal structure of creation in boundless space (akasha).
The scriptures were not composed, but heard in deep meditation by the ancient seers. Their verses and mantras are the fluctuations of silence in the quantum vacuum at the source of creation.
If, instead of arguing about the meaning of scripture, we spent half an hour every morning and evening simply listening to the sound, bathing in the music of the un-translatable un-interpretable Veda, Torah, and Qu'ran, wars would cease, and humanity would blossom.
I fell in love with Layla, the king's daughter, but she was betrothed to the Prince of Light. I did not yet know that she was my soul, cast up out of sea-foam, already lying unveiled in the shell of my heart. So I became a wanderer, and went mad in the forest. Every bursting bud was her mouth. Every bee, stinging the wildflower, drank from my kiss.
I spun seasons with my yearning, turned Winter to Spring with my desire, bled under a pine, praying to meet her in death.
Now listen, friend, when you thirst enough for the Gift of her face, you will comprehend a way of inebriation that imbibes nothing but the nectar of moonlight: a way to make love with the eternal Virgin.
I call this way "bewilderment," because it takes place in the wild, through the pathless discipline of the forest. But you may call it a gushing wound.
Yes, this practice of hopeless longing opens my chest, where a fountain of darkness effuses the great final sigh, signifying that I have surrendered to the purity of No Restraint.
I don't care if you are not understanding this! The gash in my heart encompasses your misunderstanding as well as perfect knowledge, sucking in the entire universe, and the space beyond, like a black maelstrom of un-created gravity.
Now I drop from my body, a swollen berry on a withered vine. Pan's feet press me through the sieve of the earth, into a barrel made of oak, rosewood, and other trees from the center of the Garden.
"You aren't juice any more!" says my crusher. "That was for children and pretenders. I turn you into wine, so that those who get drunk on your songs will remember everything."
This is my story, lovers and friends. This is how a drop of sorrow can sweeten the whole cup!
"You yourself are even another little world and have within you the sun and the moon and also the stars." ~Origen of Alexandria, 1st C.
The difference between creator and creation is important to the theologian, but lost on lovers. One proton contains the information in all the stars and galaxies. A dandelion contains its creator.
"Are you saying that this flower is God?"
Absolutely, I say that this flower is God.
"Blasphemy! The boundless transcendental Godhead cannot be contained in a dandelion!"
On the contrary, I say that a robin's egg contains the blue sky, and a dandelion fully embodies the boundless transcendental Godhead.
"What kind of religion is this?"
This is anu vrat, the ancient vow of an atom. Agree to find God in an atom. The Upanishads declare, Ano ranyan mahato mahyan: One atom of the smallest contains the greatest. Delight in discovering the infinite in the infinitesimal, for that is the holographic nature of creation.
"Then you are a Hindu?"
I am not a Hindu. I am not a Christian. I am not of the East or the West, the Bible or the Philosophers. My religion is wonder.
"Everything you say contradicts modern science."
On the contrary, wonder is not far from science.
"How can you speak of science when you believe in such nonsense?"
A physicist is not different from a lover. For physics, as for lovers, the world is immersed in the graceful process of melting, which means that there are no edges. In quantum physics, according to Bell's Theorum (1962), later confirmed by experiments with high energy particle collisions, each particle is a local manifestation of the non-local particle-field, and therefor contains the substratum of every other particle in the universe.
The finite probability of a material particle is just an intensification of omnipresent possibility. Matter is a wave of the immaterial vacuum. In the sea, doesn't the whole ocean arise in the tiniest wave? The base of every ripple is the base of all other waves. This isn't mysticism. One of the founders of quantum physics, Sir Arthur Eddington, said, "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes."
Now I have a question. If a tiny particle contains the universe, then what do you contain? This question is my religion.
Gateh, Gateh, Para Gateh, Parasam Gateh, Bodhi Svaha!
"Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone Beyond the Beyond: Hail the Go-er!"
At some point, images get in the way, even our favorite image of God: so we pass beyond it. At some point, words get in the way, even the divine name: so we pass beyond it. At some point, we even stop clinging to the dearest feeling: we pass beyond it. And at some point, the soul itself gets in the way: so we pass beyond it. This is the meaning of Gateh in the great meditation mantra of Tibet.
But breath never gets in the way. Breath remains, even when there is no mind. Thinking dissolves into pure Presence, then there is only this breath: not the previous breath or the next one. And this breath is never my breath.
Where does this breath come from? Where does it go? Follow it and see. Breathing is constant rehearsal for the moment of liberation.
This breath expires into silence. But this silence is no mere absence of sound. It is the heart's silence, rich with creative energy, luminous with love, yet free from any image or thought. Amma Karunamayi tells us simply, "In meditation, silence is the Mother."
Do not assume that this is simply an Eastern teaching. It is also the age-old practice of Christian mystics. In the early Church, these mystics were called hesychasts, which means practitioners of silence. In the 7th Century, St. Hesychius of Jerusalem wrote that the core of Christian mysticism is, "The heart's silence, undisturbed by any thought." The light of Christ can only be born in the womb of the silent heart.
To silence the heart may at first seen like a negation, yet this is the most positive experience possible. This silence is the soul and source of creation: the silence that was here before God said, "Let there be light." Womb-silence generates the world, yet ever transcends what She gives birth to. This also is the meaning of Gateh, beyond. She is the Causeless in whom all chains of causation are rooted. She is the groundless from whom all seeds spring. The silence of the heart breathes forth all creatures yet abides un-created. This silence has no edges; it is ever-expanding joy.
If only for an instant, between out-breath and in-breath, if I surrender and die in this eternal silence, I truly Am.
What remains after surrender cannot be spoken. To describe it would be another image, another word, another thought. One might say, Surrender and all that is left is Buddha-mind. One might say, Be crucified with Jesus in the still-point at the center of the cross of opposites. One might say, Become sat-chit-ananda: Divine Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. Yet each of these affirmations only creates another little thinker to affirm it. One calls himself a Buddhist, one calls herself a Christian, one says, I'm a Hindu. Better just surrender, and drop thinking for awhile...
"Be still and know that I Am God," advises the Biblical Psalmist. This beautiful verse shows us that Bhakti and Vedanta, devotion and non-dualism, are just concepts. They point to exactly the same experience. When conceptual thinking is still, there is true knowledge, or Gnana, without thought. Then the I Am, and the God that I adore, are one and the same.
Who is this God? The answer comes not as a thought, but as the energy of grace in the next inhalation. This energy is Shakti. She is the living Spirit, the supreme Mother of creation. Breathing Her is the answer: not a belief or a concept, but Shakti herself, the scintillating star-stuff gushing from the heart. Therefor the classic Tantric scripture Vijnana Bhairava declares:
Exhalation goes out, inhalation comes in. At the place where they merge, one experiences the state from which Creation comes forth and into which it is absorbed....
The supreme Goddess, whose nature is to create, constantly expresses herself as exhalation and inhalation. By resting awareness in the space of the heart, between the descending and ascending breaths, one experiences Bhairava, the source of creation.We breathe the Goddess every moment of the day. We're just too busy to notice; too busy to notice the gift of this breath, and in the the stillness where the gift arises, the Giver.
Jesus said, "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there Am I." He didn't say, "two or three million."
Spirituality is not measured in numbers, but in depth of Presence. The 'movement' begins as a Family of the Heart, intimate, local, circular, rooted in the earth. Innocently, its vibration of love attracts others.
Then the movement grows into a corporate hierarchy. Technocrats take over, with glossy websites and busy words, advertising everything BUT the silent Presence. They measure their success in numbers, and the depth is lost. I have seen this happen in more than a few spiritual movements and it makes me sad.
If you want to get back to Presence, stop counting. You don't need to repeat the mantra a million times, just once or twice, for it to dissolve in the silence of infinite Being. In the same way, you don't need a million people, just a hug.
"Ano-raniyan Mahato-mahiyan." ~Upanishads
("The smallest of the small is greater than the greatest.")
God is awareness itself,
resting as mirror-like effulgence.
We don't need words to pray because God is already present
as the space in whom prayer arises.
Awareness requires no thought to know itself,
and is the answer to its own prayer.
Pure meditation is not suppression of thoughts,
but effortless repose in the space
where thoughts are not yet born.
She who sinks deeper than thought receives a new language
whose words are waves of boundless silence.
Listen to that song with your whole body -
this is the real meditation.
The deepest prayer does not ask for anything,
but celebrates the prior condition of non-arising.
At first, the space of awareness free from thought
seems like deep sleep;
but its self-luminosity awakens in proximity
to the Witness who is already awake.
This is the role of the Guru.
The Master enters your life for one reason: to awaken space.
The Guru is not our financial advisor or marriage counselor,
and does not deserve to be burdened by silly questions.
The Guru is there to awaken the boundless radiance
you actually are.
When the Master's grace awakens that space in you,
every atom of your body abounds with infinite light,
which is precisely the same expanse that contains
all the galaxies.
The veil between the microcosm
and macrocosm melts away.
Inner and outer are one seamless continuum.
The universe is your own consciousness,
and the farthest inter-stellar distance
is as near as the surface of your eye.
Now you are prepared to meet another human being,
to gaze into that face of fire and say, without a single word,
"I see you..."
This is how little children meet on the playground.
Listening engenders silence, and silence is the mother of creation. The problem is, we only pretend to listen. While others are speaking, we're already talking back inside our heads.
The art of listening begins with a mourning dove at dawn, or a peeper in evening mist, and the depth of sacred emptiness between their songs.
Listening makes the whole planet fresh and green. Your very very quietness gives birth to a new creation.
Never Send an 8 Year Old to Sunday School
I haven't really learned anything new since that radiant Spring afternoon when I was eight years old. After a beastly morning in Sunday school, I ripped off the stifling necktie and suit my parents made me wear to church, and put on musty jeans with a ragged tee-shirt, running barefoot into May weather. The sky was an immense robin's egg. Giant puffs of cloud tumbled slowly in the sunbeams, shimmering green on the grass, then gold in the wheat field all the way to the woods dotted white and pink with dogwood blossoms.
I gazed up into endless blue and, in the same instant, felt my feet rooted on the cool earth. I saw the essence of every religion from the dawn of history in that epiphany of earth and sky. And I knew it. I've studied them all for half a century since that moment, yet I've never found anything but a variation on that vision of ineluctable suchness in a schoolboy's heart.
"So this is what those old men in suits were trying to teach me in Sunday school!" I thought. "The sky is the Father. The Earth is the Mother. Standing between them, joining them like a lightning rod, I am their Son. This must be the Holy Trinity! But it only works when you run outside in your bare feet and put your body into it."
Here is how the universe taught me to breathe that day. At the crown of my head, where the baby has a soft spot, I visualize a bud unfolding into white petals, opening to the infinite sky. Blue sky is not a symbol or a day-dream, but the essential nature of consciousness: ever-expanding sapphire clarity of emptiness, where passing clouds of thought come and go lightly, without resistance. Breathing in from the crown of my head to my heart, every cell and every atom of my body fill up with that boundless blue. Christ became incarnate just to demonstrate this. I am here to experience the sky in each atom of flesh. Won't you join me in the universal body?
My spine is the stem of the flower. Having breathed the blue sky into my heart, I exhale. Awareness flows down the stem, out through the soles of my feet. I let all the chatter of yesterday, all the resistance of old thoughts, discharge their static into the ground. My root extends deep into the mothering darkness, to the center of the earth. When I need to release anxiety and fear, I can use this simple grounding breath. The key is not to make it esoteric, or technical. No one has to teach us how to breathe.
In Jewish mysticism, the Star of David depicts this breath: a down-pointing triangular flame from the sky meets the upturned triangle from the earth. They merge into a star at the heart. In the Yoga texts of India, this same symbol represents the heart center, hridaya, where Shiva and Shakti unite as Lover and Beloved. Mother Shakti rises up from the base of the spine, Lord Shiva descends from the crown. In early Christianity, the heart was the Bridal Chamber where Christos, the masculine energy of God, united with Sophia, the divine feminine. This is the mystery of Jesus and the Magdalene. It sounds quite esoteric in the Gnostic Gospels, but it's only the wild wisdom of a child running barefoot on the sunlit world.
The Garden is Now...
When my crown is open to the sky and my feet are rooted in the earth, I reclaim the innocence of Eden. I recover what St. Paul called the full stature of Christ, my birthright. No one can tell me this only happens in heaven, after we die! The Garden is Now. Creation is new each moment, and this human body is the Tree of Life. In the second century, St. Athanasius wrote, "God is humanity fully alive!"
When I practice this breath, I don't let the serpentine twists of the mind's doubt lure me to that other tree, the Tree of Thinking, clustered with opposites: good and evil, past and future, male and female. I rest in a silence free from the myriad polarities of the mind, at the center of the Garden of Now.
I breathe in blue radiance, crown to heart, then exhale into earth. I recognize who I AM, blossoming in stars, my roots clustered at the core of the planet.
The Church Is Here...I AM grateful. Breathing unites earth and heaven. Just to breathe is worship. I AM grateful. This is a good place to build my church: right here, right now. The body is my temple, its alter my heart. Sink the foundations in dark soil, my bare feet. Open the ceiling to the sky, crown chakra. There is no priest but me, offering creation back to Creator, distilled in the fragrant incense of one breath. I AM grateful.
A beautiful soul-friend said to me with longing, "I miss the silence!
How can I find it again?"
This touched me so deeply, I cried. It is the most important question,
the most mature question, yet the question of a child yearning for Mother,
the question of one who could not ask it unless every particle of her body
was already pervaded by the answer!
Dearest one, do not look for silence in the mind. The mind is never silent.
Instead, find silence through the body. Don't pay attention to New Age
voices that say, "You are not this body." Your body is sacred. Of course
you are this body, and much much more.
The body, not the mind, is the gate of meditation. We no longer need to
separate spirit from matter, heaven from earth.
Let mind dissolve into sensation, sensation into energy, energy into emptiness:
the path to Holy Spirit through Holy Matter - mother "mater."
Descend into the cells of your body. Feel all your molecules vibrating as
one sensation. Nature's intelligence carries out the astonishing complexity
of cell physiology without any planning, without any thinking. Let your
mind repose in bewilderment, be wildered and witness the primal Radiance
of your flesh.
Listen to the bell-bowl of each cell. Feel the hollow places in you, the caverns
in matter. Rest in the cavity of the mid-brain, the no-thing at the center of
the eyeball, the emptiness in the nostrils, ears, throat, chest, heart, belly,
abdomen, bone marrow. How spacious is your body!
Now be aware of the vacuum in a single atom. At any point in your flesh,
enter the silent sub-nuclear vastness beyond the stars.
Tumble down through the center of the densest proton. Fall into That.
Feel the silence...
The total information about every galaxy that ever whirled or will ever
spin forth, is contained in the nameless point, the infinitesimal bindu at
the center of a quark, where all the gravity-waves in creation bring you
home to the singularity of your Self.
Let the particles of your body dissolve into the void, the emptiness that
hums and sparkles with virtual photons and electrons of pure consciousness.
This is the womb of creation, where spirit and matter have not yet divided
into subject and object. Return to your source. You are Silence. Mind struck
dumb with beauty.
Layam vraja, says the sage Ashtavakra: "Dissolve now!"
Be awakened space. Use thought when a specific problem needs solving, then settle back into dynamic silence, the wonder and emptiness of a vast blue sky.
People who are always thinking, but not aware, search for peace. People who are aware, but not always thinking, are peace.
Meditation is not thinking. Meditation is the choice to quit the search and repose in the primordial clarity of awakened space.
Realizing that 'I' am no-thing but awareness, the clouds of the past dissolve, the clouds of the future don't arise, and the clarity of Presence outshines every form.
No matter how many stories the world tries to impose, they are like a mirage in awakened space. They find no little "me" to cling to. I am not a victim, and I am not to blame.
Free to be born with this inhalation, free to die with this exhalation, I am available right now. I can respond. There is no other response-ability.
When space awakens, simply To Be overflows with bliss. The Master ignites it. And thus we say, "Jai Guru Dev."
LINK. This is one of Rashani Réa's exquisite coffee table books of contemplative art, using lines from my poems. I am honored by Rashani's gifts! It is the companion to my new book, Savor Eternity.
About my poetry books, 'Wounded Bud' & 'Savor Eternity'
The poet Shelley wrote: “Every original language near to its source is the chaos of a cyclic poem… A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one.” Ancient cultures recognized that the mystery of creation is the mystery of “original language.” So John’s Gospel declares, “In the beginning was the Word.” And India’s Mandukya Upanishad says, “All that ever was, is, or will be is created through the syllable Om.”
The poems in these volumes reflect this ancient science of mantra. Poetry is a means of taking us home, taking us Om.
These poems also reflect the tradition of the mystical marriage. Poets of Eastern and Western wisdom traditions understood the intimate play of soul and spirit as the whispering of Lover and Beloved. These ecstatic singers created a common poetic iconography, a love-language both sensuous and mystical, which we find in Sufis, Hafiz and Rumi, Hindu poets like Mirabai and Laladev, the Biblical Song of Songs, the Medieval troubadours, and the parables of Jesus. Mystical poetry can dissolve religious conflict.
These books offer us a revival of atavistic poetics: poetry as meditation, poetry as devotion, poetry as love-song in the Bridal Chamber of the heart. As Rumi wrote, “The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire!”
“This book is a tavern. Enter it from any direction and drink. Each cup is a treasure, hand-crafted, unique, yet all contain the wine of astonishment and one full jigger of God’s freshest glory. O, so delicious! I drank too many and reeled off my barstool into the evening. There I saw Whitman sail past the moon, old Khayyam was singing, and the Girl whom I’m planning on marrying whispered: Lo, these pages express what can never be seen, in words that describe what can never be said.” ~Peter Hayes, Author of The Supreme Adventure and My Lady of the Bog: An Archeo-Forensic Mystery
“Fred LaMotte’s poems come from the depth of silence. They are nourishment for the starving spirit, and spring water for the thirsty. They encourage the reader to leave worry and fear behind and return to the origin, the root of all roots. This is the kind of reminder we need in this troubled world that has forgotten how to smile.” ~Guthema Roba, poet, author of Wake Up and Roar and Please Come Home
“A modern Rumi? Fred’s poetry is rich with love, sensual and timeless, an exploration of what comes out of the stillness and silence of awakening. I have not read a book of contemporary poetry this wise and delightful in decades. As I do with the poetry of the masters, I will return to Fred's poetry again and again. It's a bit like reading Kabir for the first time but in your own language, and your own time. You read it and you know: this is a man who understands poetry, who understands spirit, who understands you." ~George Kinder, Buddhist meditation teacher, author of Transforming Suffering into Wisdom
“Discovering Fred LaMotte's poetry has been a true gift to me. His poems are beautifully-written portals to a high consciousness and, like all great poetry, expand the reader.” ~Donna Baier Stein, Author of Sympathetic People and publisher of Tiferet Journal
"Fred LaMotte's poems are passionate and rich, yet unusually spare, sewn together with fine mystical thread into beautiful creatures that breathe and live inside us long after we have met them. Reading his poetry is like drowning in nectar and seeing through liquid gold: we are immersed in the sweet taste of Truth.” ~Aile Shebar, founder of Writing from the Heart™, and One Heart Productions.
“Like a Rumi or Hafez, Fred has the rare and illumined skill of using words to unlock an inner door to the Divine Presence. His poems are not just language, but vibrational medicine that help us remember home. His humor, sincerity, depth, compassion, and challenge are threads that weave a tapestry of transformational writing. We don't read the words of Fred LaMotte, we breathe them in as prayer, and let them melt our hearts open.” ~Dr. Matt Lyon, Founder of Network Wellness Center and author of Radical Healing.