Scholars say, "context is everything!" But what if the context is eternity? What if the context is boundlessness? What if the context is spacious compassion, where all points of view are equally insignificant?

Doesn't everything then become lighter than air, all boundaries as webs of dew? And these golden beams, rising neither in East nor West, nor falling from above: do they not emanate from your own heart?

Within the Within

There is a space within space
where darkness hides its wealth
of brilliant light.
That is where the world comes from,
and many other things too beautiful for the world
until we imagine them
in ourselves.
I know there is only One, but
God loves mirrors.
What is within the within
mirrors itself through countless faces,
all singing the name
of a hidden splendor.
That is where you and I met
before we were born,
and Christ was in Mary
like an eternal seed.

One Thing Left to Do

When I no longer need to be right
and no longer need to be sure,
no longer need to perfect myself
and no longer need to be pure,
no longer need to be smarter than fools
for knowing is not to be wise,
when I no longer need to ascend
for to fall is as good as to rise,
when I no longer need to seek heaven
or search for a place beyond earth,
or tighten my belly, or armor my heart
or wash off this afterbirth,
then I need to do nothing more
but one and only one thing:
to open my heart to your radiant Grace,
and laugh, and cry, and sing.


Sing in uncertainty. Smile in the dark.

Some think this smile is artificial. But really, it is profound. When we smile, thousands of neuro-muscular signals move from our face into our body, into the body of the universe. When a teacher like Nhat Hanh or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tells us to smile as a meditation practice, they honor the grace of nature' body above the pride of the intellect. We don't need a reason to smile. We don't need to explain why. If we do, we are lost.

When you are in darkness, what is artificial is pretending that it is light. But to embrace uncertainty, to relax into the night, to fill the void with your smile from one corner of the universe to another, transforms everything from the deep source where Being begins. That is the teaching of his Holiness, Nhat King Cole.

Peace between Israel and Palestine will not come through negotiation: that is just a ruse of perpetual postponement. Peace will not come through protest or resistance: that is just more angry polarization. When enough people are really ready, peace will come so simply, so clearly, through a mere shift of awareness: from old stories in the mind, to a radiant Presence in the heart.

Healing the Warrior's Wounded Heart

Most Americans deal with war simply by ignoring our troops. Lamenting the price of groceries, we forget the pain of military families. We were the first American generation to send soldiers into battle without paying a war tax.

Our troops bear more than the physical trauma for us: they bear the moral weight of war. With no luxury for easy judgments, like the Left’s “Peace now!” or the Right’s “America right or wrong,” they shoulder burdens of decision-making and psychic ambiguity unknown to civilians: burdens that wound the soul.

When is war justified? Am I defending the innocent or taking revenge? Who am I fighting for: the civilian who forgot me? The politicians whom everyone disdains? My commanding officer? My buddy beside me? Is this war really about freedom and democracy? Is anything worth killing for?

In a college distance learning program, I teach soldiers deployed to combat zones. They are as morally thoughtful as any students I’ve ever known. One wrote: “Americans regard soldiers with respect or disdain, but how does God see us? What will we say at our judgment? I took a life because someone told me to? Deep inside, I think about this so often it makes me sick.”

Whether you are liberal or conservative, please embrace our soldiers when they return. Help them heal from sorrows we can’t even imagine. The government won’t do it. You and I must care for the warrior’s wounded heart.

(Published in the Olympian, Olympia WA, Sept 21, 2011)

God's Opinion

God is the only person I ever met who has no opinion about anything.

I asked God how she gets away with it. She shrugged and said, "I just love. Whatever you've got to do, go ahead, I love you anyway. But if you treat somebody bad and shit happens, don't blame me."

Think Small

Big oil, big government, big guns, big shots, big deal. What's so great about Big? What's wrong with small?

Big things are made out of infinitesimally small particles. Big achievements consist of ten thousand momentary tasks. Big discoveries happen, not because discoverers think big, but because they pay careful attention to little details. Carl Sagan once said that Einstein made monumental breakthroughs in physics because he asked very very simple questions.

The world can't afford Big any more. When we all do our small chosen tasks with devotion, greatness will happen by itself.
The empiricist's work is to see the object clearly. The meditator's work is to see the seer. Both practice a science, and science is incomplete without both.

New Paradigm Politics

Give up the politics of anger, the politics of polarization.

Give up left and right. Form a circle.

Stop shouting. Start listening.

Listen first to your own body. Then you can listen to others.

Own your anger. Your anger doesn't belong to "them," it belongs to you.

Instead of projecting anger onto the "enemy," feel anger as a nameless sensation in the gut, brain, boiling blood and bone marrow, pure blue flame, sacred and guiltless as any other energy.

Let anger burn itself away to silence. This is the inner work.

Now the circle is truly gathered. Centered presence, listening silence. Not closed silence, but open silence. Not the silence of suppression, but the silence of pure possibility.

Only in the silence of possibility can the heart speak.

The voice of the heart is not your old voice. It is utterly new. Without shouting, without defensiveness, without taking "a stand," the voice of the heart speaks healing and vision.

The voice of the heart reveals the solution, and the solution is simpler than you think. What is the solution?

Form a circle, listen, find out.

Of Two Minds

I confess, I am of two minds on almost every issue. As soon as I pronounce a judgment, a voice in my conscience says, "Of course, the opposite may be equally true." I consider this a blessing. It cures me from the pathology of always being right.

First Principle

"Do not let the mind cast its shadow over the moon of your heart: let go of thinking." ~Rumi
All the transformational teachings of our time may be summarized in one principle: I am not my thoughts.

Whatever may be the content of this mind, it is not who I am. From the trauma or the nightmare, from the memory or the old story, from the craving or the passion I carry within me, I am instantly free, simply by virtue of observing that the one who watches this mental content cannot possibly be this mental content.

The I who perceives an object is self-liberated in the very act of perceiving. Any object or thought, however insignificant, can be our liberator, by drawing us into a perception that awakens the one who perceives. This is so obvious that we constantly overlook the opportunity for enlightenment, an opportunity inherent in each waking moment when the subject perceives an object.

Just as one who says, "this is my body," must be other than the body, so one who says, "this is my mind," must be other than the mind. Such an utterly simple act of self-recognition bestows immediate spiritual dignity and freedom, whether I am rich or poor, healthy or sick, in a prison cell or a seaside villa. We can accomplish liberating self-recognition instantly and without effort: this is the essential spiritual practice of the coming age.

I am the sparkling clarity of the one who watches my thoughts, regardless of whether those thoughts are pleasant or painful. I am the brilliant empty sky; my thoughts are only the clouds that pass through it. I am free now, and I know it without thinking or believing it.

I am the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to enlightenment except through the Self who is free from thinking.

What other grace, what other salvation does one require?