"One who clings to his life will lose it; one who loses his life will find it." (Luke 17:33)
I cannot surrender to my self. I can only surrender to the Other. 
Some time just before dawn, the wild plum blossomed. A green bud on a tip of forsythia. Sudden frog song from a still green pond, reminding me of my old friend, Basho. Through any ordinary sacrament of perception, dissolving into its moment, I may surrender, encountering the One who is ever more than I.
In chapter two of the Epistle to the Philippians, there is a hymn which may be the most ancient text embedded in the New Testament. It says that Christ emptied himself. "He did not cling to the status of being God, but emptied himself, and became a servant." The Greek word is kinosis, self-emptying.
In the Sufi tradition this is fanaa, self-annihilation; in Buddhist teachings, anatta, no self; in Yogic experience, nirbija samadhi, awareness without any seed of thought or I-concept.

To realize my self is no great wonder, even when I spell it with a capital S. But to lose my self there, in the vast Presence of the Other, even as the Other flowers here, in the center of my heart, is a wonder indeed, and the mystery of mysteries.

After sublime loss, if some remnant of a me exists, I exist only moment by moment by the grace of the Other, a flicker in God's fire, a wave that rises and falls by the whim of the divine sea, a breath breathed by the Beloved.

Even though God becomes my life, my core, my very breath, God is never I. Even though God is deeper inside me than me, God is ever Other. This is why, in the moment of innocence, one prays O Lord and not O Me.

I Love Money

I love money. Anyone who says they don't like money is full of saintly shit.

Someday we will live in a world without money, which will be beautiful. Until then, let us make peace with money. If you give me all that you have, I will give you all that I have. 

But do we have enough trust? Our attitude toward money tells us much about our trust: in the nation, in each other, in ourselves. 

When Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," he is teaching the law of abundance. When Jesus condemns the rich, he does not condemn their money but their lack of generosity.  In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus tells a rich young man to give everything away, not to make him poor but to make him happy.

Through the law of abundance, when the rich man's wealth flows to others, abundance increases for all. Abundance flows through, not to. As the hand receives, it remains open to give, and the hand that is open to give is open to receive even more, pressed out and overflowing. But a grasping fist closes, losing even the little that it clings to.

Neither the Gospel of Jesus nor the Dharma of Buddha teach us to be poor: they teach us to be generous. If we practice the law of generosity, money is a blessing. Money is only a curse when it is not shared.

Every dollar is a sanga, a human community, containing the work of the world. A dollar is sacred. And if it isn't, then we should consecrate it by the way we spend it. This is the economics of the Buddha.

So if you have some money and you really believe that it is evil, please send your money to me. I promise to share it.

Tibetan Bowls

What grace!
The sound of nothing.
What grace that this
already is.
All I can offer in return
is the empty bell 

of my smile,
the empty bowl of my heart
with the food of light.
Bowing to you,
my skull is also a bowl,
my chest a bowl,
my belly a bowl,
my mother's womb a bowl,
empty and full.
Who is the striker
of this music?
The world has no cause.
It simply happens
without end or beginning
for the sake of friendship.

Gratitude to the bowl-masters, Karl Black and David Erentrout, who performed this healing sound meditation at Common Bread, Olympia WA, on 1/26/12, for the students at Evergreen College.

Year of the Dragon

Who is the Dragon in you? Do you fear it, fight it, or dance with it? Is the Dragon a female or male? Dragons I have encountered are beautiful and dangerous, erotic and pure. Perhaps the dragon is simply the bliss we deny ourselves, rising like a fountain in the spine.

I wish there were more dragons swimming around inside me. I like it when a dragon sings. I like it when a dragon flies through the night in my heart like a breathful of stars. 

The Arrogance of American Exceptionalism

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “America is not good because it is great, America is great because it is good.”

The Newt Gingrich creed of “American Exceptionalism” twists this truth, making American greatness an entitlement. Gingrich assumes that, as God’s chosen people, our manifest destiny is world dominion.

But the self-insulating arrogance of this creed only makes us mediocre, isolating us from global dialog. Inferior schools, collapsing infrastructure, exhausted soldiers, corporate serfdom, a growing gap between rich and poor, and a vulture economy that thrives on debt instead of creating real jobs or products, all belie imperial failure rather than greatness. Paralyzed by political corruption and insatiable consumerism, ours is the fate of all puffed-up oligarchies that live beyond their means on the sweat of Third World labor.

But this isn’t the apocalypse. It’s only the collapse of empire, making way for a wiser, leaner lifestyle.

We are called not to restore our own exceptionalism, but to restore exceptional rivers, forests, soil and skies. Not to rebuild corporate military power, but to rebuild community, and the covenant of care between our rich and poor. Not to conquer the planet, but to walk gently as guests of this land, trusting the sustainable wealth of the local and the small.

What is the greatest country? Earth. Who are the greatest people? Human beings. When Americans replace a sense of superiority with a celebration of one world family, we will be more joyful, more relaxed, and not so fat.

Published in McClatchy Newspapers, Dec. 12, 2011, Tacoma News Tribune

'I Am' is the Way

"I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:16).
Say I Am with reverence and humility. I Am is both my name and God's. This name contains the human I, which is a momentary thought, and the divine Am, which is a boundless radiance in the heart. Speaking this name, I surrender to Am and become myself.

You Are Bliss Beyond Sorrow and Joy

The feeling of sadness arises and subsides in the space that is aware of it. If the feeling of sadness were not surrounded by a space, you would not be able to say, "I felt sad, then it subsided, now I feel sad again." Who was watching the sadness arise and depart?

Is this space ever sad?

The feeling of joy arises and subsides in the space that is aware of it. If the feeling of joy were not surrounded by a space, you would not be able to say, "I felt joyful, then it subsided, now I feel joyful again." Who was watching the joy arise and depart?

Is this space ever joyful?

There is a space in which sadness and joy come and go, yet which is neither joyful no sad. It is  eternally watching. It is everlasting life.

Your birth happens here, your death happens here, and here you are, before and after.

This space is ceaselessly expanding because it is unlimited by the phenomena that come and go within it. Therefor it is inconceivably blissful, with a bliss beyond sorrow and joy. This eternal space is who you are, right now.


2012. From now on, any resistance is resistance to love. Love is the space in which everything is happening. Pain and pleasure, violence and gentleness, your birth and even your death, all waves in the ocean of love. What is there to defend, to compete with, to struggle against, to vanquish? Resistance is futile. The tidal wave is your heartbeat.


The most beautiful name is not a name 'of,' but an unstruck sound in the bell of the heart. Resonating in eternal silence, this nameless vibration births the universe. Each particle of your body is one of its frequencies. 'Adau bhagavan shabdha rasahih,' says a Vedic verse: 'In the beginning, God manifested as sound.'

Because we are born from this beginningless Word, we can hear it in the intimacy of our center, when the mind stops chattering and the heart listens.

Holy names and mantras have one purpose: to lead our awareness inward, from the mind to the heart, so that we may bathe in this infinitely subtle, original sound-current and be re-created.

Let words of prayer dissolve into the song of silence. May the New Year bring you closer to the music of God.


The ancient goal of mystical mathematics was to circle the square, the enigma portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci's Vesuvian Man.

We circle the square when our mission is to be who we are, and our goal is authentic Presence.

I'm skeptical when I hear people gush about their goals for the New Year. And I'm really not interested when life coaches preach about the importance of goals and vision statements. What's your Three Year Vision Plan? Your Five Year Mission? Your Goal for Eternal Life?

I have no idea. What my needs, my dreams, my concerns will be three years from now, I have no way of telling. I don't even know what tomorrow will bring. When delight dawns, will I even notice it if I'm working on my Five Year Plan?

I am suspicious of goals. Goals separate me from who I am. They detach me from the felt texture of the life I am actually living. When I pursuing my ambition, am I present to you, to my own body, to the ground I walk on?

If goals are so important, what happens when I attain one? In that moment, does any goal remain? If that attainment is the truly important moment, then being goal-less must be the goal, for in that instant the goal dissolves. In that case, I should learn to feel that moment of bliss all the time.

But if that now of goal-attainment is not ultimately important, because the important thing is working toward the goal, then one really doesn't want to achieve any of one's goals: so why pretend to have them?

My goal is to be authentically present, which has nothing to do with time. 

"Time and space are infinite. Grains of sand are countless. Atoms in the universe are innumerable, as are the stars and galaxies. There is neither a beginning nor an end because everything is spherical. A sphere has no beginning or end, no goal or direction. 

"Truth has no direction, no goal. Truth itself is the goal, and truth is infinite. Experiencing infinity within this finite body, living timelessness within this time span, uncovering bliss even in misery: this is what you are here for." 

~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


When did I consent to play the victim? When did I consent to lack? When did I consent to the authority of my doubts? When did I consent to a government of memories? When did I consent to fear both pain and pleasure? When did I consent to this numbness in my chest? When did I consent to the proposition that my joy must be earned? When did I consent to regard this moment as less than a miracle? When did I consent to stop dancing? When did I consent to ignore the spring of sparkling beauty that bubbles up unbidden from my perfectly broken heart?

Mural: Roman garden, 1st century

Lance and Grail

The Lance

This is the lance that pierced his side,
these are the nails by which he died,
here a splinter of bloody wood,
and here the cup that caught the blood:
all idols, idols all.
Here is the shroud and the winding sheet,
these are his words, which priests repeat,
a loaf of bread, a cup of wine
to make a sacramental sign:
all idols, idols all.
Two thousand years have passed since he
gave timely birth to eternity:
this is the lance that pierced his side,
these are the nails by which he died,
here is the wedding, but where is the bride?
All idols, idols all.

The Grail

You've visited the sacred shrine,
and sipped the dizziness of wine.
You've known both worlds, and all is frail:
Within your heart's the holy grail.
Ten thousand sins cannot conceal
its pure and patient emptiness
from Him who comes simply to bless
your cup with nectar, not consign
to melting fire a glass so dim,
so fragile it's no more nor less
than your capacity for Him.

Only One of Us Burns in Hell

There seem to be two in each one of us: a lower self and a higher Self, the I and the Am.

I arise as a tiny wave on the ocean of Am. The peak of the wave is I, yet at its base, this wave is the whole ocean. As wave surrenders to sea, it becomes the sea. Yet the sea loves to play, and it becomes the wave. There is no conflict between the sea and the wave: they are one. Conflict arises only when the wave thinks that it is other than the sea. This thinking takes many forms, but no more deceptively than when it takes a "spiritual" form.

The wave maintains its separation from the sea through "spiritual practices", or through proclaiming its unworthiness and sinfulness. When God hears us repeating mantras, God giggles. When God hears us confessing sins, God laughs uproariously.

But when we are silent, God whispers from deep inside. Deep within, I hear the ocean murmur to the wave, "Just settle down." When the wave of I hearkens to the sea-voice, I rest and remember who I Am.

Yet the very moment my wave settles into the sea, I become agitated, sensing death. I fear annihilation in the sea of Am. Fear stirs me up again. I insist on doing something to maintain the illusion of separateness. "If I settle into the ocean, I will lose myself and drown!" So I tread water. I repeat mantras. I pray to be forgiven. I keep churning myself up into the infinitesimal peak of a tiny wave. I may call this rhythmic churning a "spiritual practice", but it is just the drowning ego's trick for survival.
On the verge of drowning, my last survival strategy is to inflate my unworthiness. "Who am I to become One with God? After all, I'm a sinner. I'm unworthy!" The sinner's ego never rises so high from the sea as when it proclaims its unworthiness!
God says, I Am. The soul says, I Am. There may be an infinite number of I's, but there cannot be more than one Am. My Am is God's Am. The Am cannot burn in hell. But I burn in hell whenever I feel unworthy, and by unworthiness maintain my separation from God. There are two of me: I and Am. But only one of us burns in hell.
Let the soul rest in God. Let the wave surrender to the sea. Let the sea play in eternally fresh, recreated waves of itself.

Let me rest, let me surrender. But what shall I surrender? Let me surrender my God-damned unworthiness!

Moses Yoga

"The knowledge of the Vedas is found in the scripture of every religion, in the do's and don'ts." (Maharshi Mahesh Yogi)
Many view the Ten Commandments as dusty moralistic platitudes. But the commandments are dynamic practices for connecting divine consciousness to the body. Closely related to the Yamas ("restraints") of Astanga Yoga, the Hebrew commandments are practiced in a holistic program that integrates social action, focussed breathing, and meditation.

The stops in a pipe organ govern the flow of air to make different tones. Likewise, the commandments direct the flow of consciousness through the body's chakras. These chakras are psycho-physical stops that transform the quality and tone of our awareness. The major chakras lie along the spinal path: in the base of the spine, genitals, solar plexus, heart, throat, forehead, and crown. At each chakra, the flow of energy in our body may be blocked or deflected as it rises. When this occurs, the positive emotional quality of that particular chakra expresses its opposite quality. That is why, for example, love quickly becomes angry, generosity is the mirror of greed, and sorrow is the shadow of joy.

1. "Thou shalt not murder" governs the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine, allowing energy to rise upward as heath-giving vitality. But when we entertain hateful thoughts without restraint, we fall into rage and aggression, and these bring sickness.

2. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" governs the svadisthana chakra behind the sexual organs, allowing consciousness to express creativity and communion, rather than lust and genital obsession.

3. "Thou shalt not steal" governs the manipura chakra at the solar plexus, preventing greed. The organ-stop of this commandment allows our consciousness to rise from a sense of lack and possessiveness to an experience of abundance and generosity.

4. "Thou shalt not covet" is the organ-stop for the heart chakra, anahata. It stops the expression of envy, transforming jealously into selfless love.

5. "Thou shalt have no other god but Me" governs the throat chakra, vishudha. When we proclaim our own achievement, we express arrogance. This commandment puts an organ-stop on our egotism, the little individual "me." It allows the energy bound up in self-worship to rise and expand as pure ego-less joy. We can feel true joy in the success of others. In real joy, God is the only Me. Our little "I" dissolves into God's "Am."

6. "Thou shalt make no graven image" governs the ajna chakra in the brow. This does not refer to religious idols so much as the idols of thought. We worship images of thought, graven in our minds, when we cling to memories of the past and fears about the future. The past and future are not real: they are graven images in the mind. They are only made of thought, though they glitter like silver and gold.

Graven images of thought are much more seductive than idols on an alter. This commandment puts an organ-stop on the mind's restlessness. It prevents us from giving ultimate importance to ghosts and illusions: our regrets about the past and our plans for the future. This commandment allows us to focus on the task of the present moment, where true success begins.

7. "Keep the Sabbath" governs the crown chakra, the sahashrara. Sabbath does not mean a day of the week. The Hebrew word literally means stop. Sabbath happens whenever thought stops and our awareness rests in the present moment. Sabbath is inner silence, even in the midst of outer action. Keeping Sabbath means never breaking our connection with God's stillness. This perpetual sabbath is described in the Bhagavad Gita: "He who sees stillness in action and action in stillness, truly sees." The enlightened are those who experience the sabbath rest in the midst of the market place.

At the crown of the head, awareness opens like a many-petaled flower to the boundless sky of God-Consciousness. In that space, the self in the body is co-extensive with the Self of the cosmos. When we enter this chakra, through this commandment, the stream of individual self flows into the calm ocean of divine Self.

Original stillness is the silence before God says, "Let there be light." This silence not only precedes creation in history, it underlies creation in this moment. We can practice Sabbath anywhere, at any moment of the day, simply by letting the stream of our individual consciousness, which rises up the spine, complete its course, flowing through the crown into the blue sky of God. This final at-onement rests on the foundation of the other commandments, which stop the loss of energy at the lower chakras. Then we are not diverted by any other concern but Oneness. We nourish Oneness through an ancient meditation practice: uniting the breath with God's name. This practice is the next commandment.

8. "Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH God in vain." This command really means: "Don't take your breath for granted". The divine name is the sound of the breath. This sound is YHWH. The divine name is the practice of meditation, taught at the root of every great religion. By breathing God's name, we come to rest in the all-pervading silence of the Sabbath.

Breathing without awareness is a wasted opportunity for union with God. We breathe all day and night, but are we conscious of the secret energy, the divine name, in each breath? If we take a breath unconsciously, we take the Lord's name in vain.

YHWH is the meditation mantra of the Hebrew tradition. YHWH is the sound of breathing. This Name is called tetragrammaton, or "four letter Name." The ignorant have speculated about its pronunciation, some saying "Yahweh" and others "Jehovah." But this mantra is never pronounced aloud by the wise. How could it be, since it is the very energy of silence? In the words of Orthdox Saint Theophan the Recluse, "the most sacred name is the soul of silence."

The Talmud records the use of this mantra: "Why is it that the children of Israel pray in this age and are not answered? It is because they no longer know the ineffable name." (Midrash on Psalm 91) Some of the most sacred books of Jewish mysticism are devoted to the divine name and is uses: the Book Bahir and the Sepher Yetsirah. The very Hebrew word for meditation used in the Bible comes from a root meaning to silently repeat a word. "The secret pronunciation of the divine name of four letters the sages confided to their disciples once every seven years" (Talmud, Kiddushan 71a).

We need no longer make this practice a secret. In secret merely means in silence. Jesus uses this expression for prayer in his Sermon on the Mount: "When you pray, go into your inner chamber and pray in secret." The chamber is the heart and prayer is breathing God's name, until it is hallowed in silence. "Hallowed be thy Name."

God's silence is the boundless space between our breaths. At the end of the exhalation, before the next inhalation, awareness merges for an instant with divine silence. The space of this silence is eternal, measureless and still. It is the source of existence, consciousness, and joy. In this silence, breath and Spirit are one. That is why the Bible uses exactly the same word for breath and Spirit: Ruach. Inhaling breath, we incarnate Spirit. Exhaling, we offer Spirit back to its Giver. This is our central purpose, our central function on earth. All other work is secondary.

The syllables of YHWH are Yah and Hu. We find these two seed-mantras in other ancient traditions of meditation: Indian Yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, Islamic Sufism. Breathing in, we hear Yah flowing down through the crown into the heart as a stream of living Spirit ,born of the infinite sky. Breathing out, we hear Hum vibrating from the heart into every cell, every atom of our body. With each breath, we incarnate God's name in humanity. "In the beginning was the Word... and the Word became flesh."

The commandment, "Thou shalt not take the Lord's Name in vain," is an invitation to conscious breathing. When I practice the gift of conscious breath, then I discover the secret: I do not breathe God. God breathes me.

Two More Commandments?
How then do we interpret the other two commandments, "Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie) " and "Honor thy father and mother'? These two commandments describe the effects of our practice in human society, and in the environment.

9. "Thou shalt not lie." When the chakras are purified, breath flows directly to and from the divine source. There is
no deviation in the path of energy rising and descending through the spine. Thus, there is no crookedness in our path of daily living. When the inner flow of energy in the spine is straight, outward behavior is also "straight." We are straight with our neighbor because we are straight with God.

Then we no longer live a lie. Our smile is a true smile. If someone asks us how we're doing, we don't say one thing and feel another. Our deeds are aligned with our words, our words are aligned with our intentions, and our intentions come straight from the silence, the purity, in the core of the heart. Truth flowers in us.

10. "Honor your Father and Mother." Like Eden's Tree of Life, the straight truth-teller stands upright. The flowering tree of this human body unites Earth to Heaven, Creation to Creator. Earth is our Mother and heaven is our Father. Father and Mother in the commandment refer not just to our biological parents, but to the Mother and Father aspects of God, Heaven and Earth. In Yogic science, these are known as Shiva and Shakti. In Chinese medicine, they are Yang and Yin. In the Biblical tradition, they are called the Lord and his Shekinah.

The Hebrew verb
Shakan means "to dwell". Shekinah is the energy expressing God in creation. She is Spirit in-dwelling nature and humanity. Hebrew tradition regards this aspect of God as feminine wisdom. The book of Proverbs, chapter 8, reveals that She is with God at the creation of the world. Shekinah is the divine spark in every human heart, longing to return to its source. This longing of the heart for God is fulfilled in the mystical marriage, the wedding of matter and consciousness. You can hear the love song of Lord and Shekinah in the Biblical book, Song of Songs.______________

Having expounded the Ten Commandments through the science of Yoga, we are left with one question. Why are the Biblical commandments not given in the precise order of the chakras, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head?

We can presume that, once upon a time, they were. But emotional disturbance corrupts the flow of energy and shatters the proper alignment of the chakras. This is why scripture places such emphasis on Moses' anger, an anger which prevented him from finally entering the Promised Land. Moses, you will recall, was filled with anger, judgment, and righteous indignation when, descending from the mountain with the tablets of the Law, he beheld the Israelites in revelry, practicing sensual idol-worship. In his wrath, he threw down the tablets and shattered them.

Don't we all engage in idol-worship and sensuality, even when we are on the spiritual path? Our awareness gets distracted and absorbed by the charms and fears of material living. We cannot always practice conscious breathing. We cannot always "pray without ceasing." Should we therefor feel guilty and sinful?

Feelings of guilt and fear of punishment makes us project our "sinfulness" onto others. Then we judge them.
Then we are lost! For nothing blocks the flow of spiritual energy like self-righteous judgment of others. Our chakras are no longer aligned in a straight and narrow path. Like Moses, we have "broken the tablets."

This is why Jesus declares, "Judge not, lest ye be judged!"

Make This Your Last Judgment

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Jesus of Nazareth)

Jesus' statement has usually been taken as a claim to Christian superiority and exclusivism. Yet this statement is not only the essence of Christianity: it is the essence of Vedanta, and Buddhism, and all great spiritual paths.

I Am IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to God except through the I Am. The I Am is the portal to God at the center of the soul.

Then what is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? The Way is the spiritual practice taught by the Guru's initiation. The Truth is our own Being. The Life embodies that Being's fullest potential in the form of the Avatar for our inspiration and encouragement. The Avatar, the Guru and the Self are not three different paths. The Avatar, the Guru and the Self are three aspects of the same consciousness. We can practice service to the Guru and his method of meditation, while worshiping our chosen form of God's embodiment - our Ishta-devata - such as Sakyamuni Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, or Sai Baba. As we cultivate our heart's with devotion and our hands with service, we grow in Self-realization. The Way, the Truth and the Life are Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yoga, and they are one path.

So what is the source of religious conflict that creates so much suffering and warfare in the world?


Karma comes through judgment, liberation through non-judgment. Millions are enlightened by following Christ. No one is enlightened by condemning Christians. Millions are enlightened by following Mohammad. No one is enlightened by condemning Muslims.
Millions are enlightened by following following Sai Baba. No one is enlightened by condemning him. Millions are enlightened by practicing TM, Vipassana, Kundalini Yoga, Art of Living. No one is enlightened by claiming one way superior or another false. Let this be our last judgment.

"I worship Christ as Lord," one says. Another: "I worship Krishna." "I merge my awareness with the Formless Divine,' says another. "I serve my Guru and practice his path." "My political activism is my path." "I honor Buddha-nature in all sentient creatures." Where is the conflict between these statements? There is no conflict at all.

Now compare these statements with the following. What is the difference?

"My way is the right way. Your way is the wrong way." "The form of God you worship is not the true God." "Your both wrong, God has no form." "I am a Christian and those who practice any other religion go to hell." "Activism is superior to Meditation." "My Guru is better than your Guru!"

Notice how childish the second set of statements sound. Why? Because religious conflict arises when we make comparison. To judge another person's spiritual path in relation to our own is the root of a great deal of the world's suffering. When we are comparing objective results in a laboratory experiment, when we are choosing which kind of mushrooms are edible, when we are selecting a college suitable for our learning style, we must practice discrimination and comparison. But in the spiritual life, comparison between ourselves and another is unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit, for it denies the sanctity of the others' Personhood.

The first sign that a man has lost his way is when he says, "My way is the only way." In saying this, an evangelical may even feel that he or she is doing us a favor, by informing us of the truth. But real Truth is not to judge.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Jesus of Nazareth)

Christmas Presence

Being truly present to your child is greater than any gift in a box under a tree. Even if you have nothing else to give, you can give Christmas presence.

In hard economic times, especially if unemployed, parents can feel a sense of lack at Christmas time. The idea that we lack something is just that, an idea. We don't need to get rid of the idea, 'I lack.' We don't need to replace it with positive thinking, because the effort to think positively is just a reaction to lack, a subtler form of it. It is more graceful and simple just to see 'lack' as an idea, coming and going in the vast Presence that you are.

This sense of 'lack' can be a Guru! It can challenge us to see through it. When we fearlessly see through the mirage of lack, material emptiness becomes spiritual emptiness: spacious, luminous, rich and full.

So, Why Celebrate Christmas?

I celebrate Christmas to celebrate the incarnation of God in every human child.

I celebrate Christmas because each of us is the Light that shines in darkness.

I celebrate Christmas because Mary's child reminds me that there is no "original sin." There is only original innocence.

I celebrate the Good News of the Gospel where Jesus not only said, "I am the light of the world" but "You are the light of the world;" where Jesus not only revealed God to us but revealed us to us. Did he not say, "Ye are all Gods"? In the words of St. Athanasius, who lived before the Council of Nicea forged chains of creed and dogma: "God is humanity fully alive."

Holy Spirit and Holy Matter get married. Christmas is the fruit of their wedding. I am their only-begotten child. So are you. Let's feast!

Not a particle of dust lacks the sparkle of God's wine. God's dough is rising in each seed of Winter wheat. Your body is the blessed sacrament. Each electron of you bathes in a photon-cloud whose energy is literally infinite. That's not religion: it's physics. Each atom contains the vastness of interstellar space. When I look at my hand, I see the birth of galaxies. When I look at your face, I see God's image in the mirror of all-pervading consciousness. I celebrate Christmas because earth itself is a miracle.

Christmas reminds me to discover the green God resurrected in a pine needle, the blood of God's body in a holly berry, the Mother of God in the darkness of midnight, the manger of God in my heart.

I celebrate Christmas because all God's children are saved the moment they are born, because God feels no wrath, because the divine plan does not include hell. (Some of us use the gift of freewill to invent hell for ourselves, but that is none of God's business.)

God is love and nothing but love, pressed out and overflowing. God's Love enfolds the earth with healing wings. The love of Christ anoints each creature, infusing every heart with Grace free for the taking, like breath. I breathe God. This is why I celebrate. I can't help it.

And when I meet a True Believer who tells me that I must get saved, I reply, "From what?"

Then the True Believer quotes Jesus: "You must be born again, born of the Spirit." Yes, I agree, and I am. In the Bible, the word for Spirit and Breath are precisely the same word: "ruach" in Hebrew, "pneuma" in Greek. When I breathe with conscious gratitude, each breath baptizes me with the Holy Spirit.

If I am truly awake, just to breathe is worship. Just to breathe is to be born again and again.  Jesus was not telling me to perform a ritual, but to wake up.

O miraculous birth of God in me, who is never one moment old! 

Christ and Nature

To A Born Again Christian Who Thinks
I Am Headed for Hell...

"The Kingdom of the Father is spread all over the earth
and men do not see it." (Gospel of Thomas, 113)

My dear friend, as you are concerned about my soul, I offer this reply. I offer it to all Evangelical Christians across this land who believe that religion can only take one form, a strictly limited one for sure, and intend to impose it upon the whole nation. I speak as a fellow Christian from a faith that grew right along side of yours, though you may not know much about it since the patriarchs of your tradition tried with great fervor and some success to stamp it out. I am a Quaker. The Quakers were one of the Non-Conformist churches of 17th century Europe who refused to embrace the creeds and confessions of Protestant orthodoxy.

Quakers have no written creed. They profess that Christ is an Inward Light who dwells in every human heart, and the revelation of his Spirit is continuous. For Quakers, revelation is not limited to the Bible, for it pours forth wherever we have eyes to see it. In every star and every green leaf, in the sparkling of raindrops or the eyes of a hungry child, there is revelation and the word of God incarnate. The book of nature is as sacred as any scripture.

This last point is the reason for naming my epistle, Logos and Nature. I find myself too theologically clumsy to separate the genius of one from the other, and I experience such an essential relation between them, that I am forced to consider ecology the moment I mention Christ the Word. For Christ is the Logos personified, the supreme blueprint of creation, "through whom all things were made" (Jn. 1). Christ the Logos is the cosmic mind at rest, whose very thought is natural law.

Ecology means
knowledge of home: oikia-logos in Greek. Oikia means home. Logos means knowledge or word. Knowing our home is knowing our ground, our earthly habitat.

We cannot live ecologically until we feel at home here on earth, and in this body. Do we feel at home on planet earth? Do we know our home? Do we know our bodies? Is our mind ever at rest in its ground, this earthly flesh? Or are we estranged from the very planet we walk on, conflicted about bodily processes like eating and sex and growing old?

We eat too much then starve ourselves. We obsess over sex and then over guilt about sex. We pump our muscles into "iron" because we can't stand the natural softness of our bellies. We treat th planet as we treat our bodies, exploiting land, forests, and streams to turn raw materials into cash. Why do we regard nature as
raw until she's been man-handled?

We hide birth, old age, and death in clean, white clinical rooms. And if we are religious, we can't wait to get off this planet into the clean white rooms of heaven. Why do we not feel at home in nature's lap, like our brothers and sisters in more primal earth-centered cultures?

During the Endarkenment of the 17th century (some call it the Enlightenment), Western culture divorced itself from mother earth. Science and Protestantism, the two major trends of this period, joined forces to separate the rational soul from nature. Of course the estrangement of nature from the soul began with Plato in ancient Greece, but the divorce was finalized in modern Europe's mechanistic world view, where the universe was regarded as a vast machine; and God, through the agency of reason, was its mechanic. Thus the title of the book that inaugurated the age, Kepler's
Celestial Mechanics.

The new paradigm for describing reality was scientific method: the process of attaining perfect objectivity by reducing nature to an inanimate object under laboratory conditions. What are
lab conditions? They are conditions where the only intelligence is the mind of the observer, for the object observed has become inanimate. We must kill the object and lay it on a table before the mind. No wonder that, until recently, most of what we know about health and medicine has been gleaned from corpses!

Francis Bacon, father of this scientific method, wrote in his
Novum Organum that we should "torture mother nature for her secrets". Descartes declared in his Discourse On Method #6, "We shall be masters and owners of nature." Thus they distorted the commandment of God to Adam, "Take dominion over the earth." Nature was no longer an animate mystery to be revered but a thing, only useful when dead, dissected, and dispirited. Once dead, nature could be lain on conveyor belts in factories, the raw material for industry. Celebrating the absolute schism between subject and object, between spirit and nature, Descartes concluded that Truth is only found in "clear and distinct ideas," not in the external material world. The beauty in the woods and streams was worthless to him.

Following the new paradigm of science, Protestant theology also divorced nature from the soul. It accomplished this gloomy exorcism by denying the mysteries of a more holistic Christianity. Medieval mystics had found God not only in the second person of the Trinity but in the first: as absolute Being, the very ground of Creation. St. Bernard told his monks, the settlers of Western Europe, "You will find more laboring in the woods than you ever will among books: trees and stones will teach you what you can never learn from any master!" Hildegaard of Bingen (12th C.) praised every particle of dust as a "glittering glistening mirror" of divinity. Meister Eckhart wrote, "Every creature is a word of God and a book about God."

But with the Protestant mainstream, defined by Calvin and Luther, mystical communion with nature was lost. The awe of experiencing God as cosmos, "all in all" to use St. Paul's phrase, was suppressed. Mystics were burned as witches. God was reduced to an abstract and rational belief. The Word of God was no longer written in the green sap of creation, but in dogma.

Protestantism disenchanted the earth, neutered its creative energy, and caged the Spirit in creeds. As the earth was diminished by Protestant dogma, so was the human brain. Theology confined Truth to the left frontal cortex where the world could be clinically distilled into verbal abstractions. Since then, without even realizing it, Christians have lived in a cerebral ghetto, cut off from the richness of the ancestral brain, and from other modes of intelligence like intuition, imagination, the self-healing wisdom of the body, and the wonder of communion with nature. With such an intellectualized spirituality, no wonder many Christians are more concerned with heaven and hell than with life on earth.

Enough of heaven and hell! It's time to re-enchant this world with divinity, and put the soul back into nature. The re-enchantment has already begun in twentieth century science, leaving theology far behind. The new physics poses fundamental questions about the relation of subject and object, consciousness and matter, similar to the questions of ancient mystics. Einstein wrote, "The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research." Sir James Jeans, a founder of modern physics, stated that "the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine." Nobel physicist Arthur Eddington heralded the reunion of matter and consciousness: "The stuff of the universe is mind-stuff!"

Then what is the task of theology in the age of the new physics? Cease preaching dogma and start listening to mystics! We Christians must ripen. We must evolve. We must expand our mission: from being born-again Christians to being cosmic Christians. Born-again Christians are born again once. Cosmic Christians are born again each moment, each breath! "God is creating the entire cosmos fully and totally in this present now," said Meister Eckhart. Said Paul the Apostile: "Behold, all is made new!"

To become a cosmic Christian is to grow out of the need to define our lives through dogma, into a need to marvel without words. In pure marvel, our prayers change from petitions to meditations. Human words grow quiet, and we begin to hear the Word of God. The Logos.

The Word of God does not address us in theological concepts: those are human words. The Word is not a thought but a presence. Its truth is not in the intellect, but in the unity of body, mind and environment, harmonized in the radiance of the present moment. We'll need to study, not the Christian philosophers, but the Christian mystics: Meister Eckhart, Hildegaard of Bingen, Theresa of Avila, Teilhard de Chardin -- great but obscure names waiting to be written in our childrens' textbooks -- names like Howard Thurman, the black Quaker-educated Christian who made a profound impression on Martin Luther King. In his biography, Thurman wrote: "As a child, the boundaries of my life spilled over into the mystery of the ocean and the wonder of the dark nights and the wooing of the wind, until the breath of nature and my own breath seemed to be one."

When we see God newly revealed each moment, in sea wave and salt breeze, we'll realize that revelation didn't end at the Council of Nicea, or in the last page of the Bible. We won't be limited by creeds, which are always someone else's descriptions of God. We'll be free to learn from Asian and Third World religions the meditative, artistic, ritual processes that connect our souls directly with the Spirit of nature. We'll see that God reveals herself in non-Western and non-masculine forms just to keep us humble. She will goad and trouble us to move from judgment to celebration, from sect to community. And then we'll discover the truth: Other religions remind us of wisdom once known in the early Church.

Prior to the Nicene Council of 325 AD, Christianity was a diverse, experimental, progressive movement, sparkling with mystical experience, rich with visionary practices of meditation which liberated the spirit and celebrated creation. Christians were inspired by Wisdom, and not yet fettered by creed. This golden age ended when the Roman emperor, Constantine, convened the Bishops at Nicea to suppress all forms of worship that were not useful in gaining political control. They closed the
canon of scriptures. They condemned as heretics those who did not conform to their new Trinitarian doctrine. In the three years following this council, the Roman Church slaughtered more Christians than the Roman Empire had killed in the previous 300 years.

Let a new golden age begin now! Proclaim an age for cosmic Christians. They shall no longer confine themselves to books and pews, but burst open old doors and traipse through forests, learning to re-enchant the earth. The Christ Spirit is
green. She calls to us, "Come away into the wilderness by yourselves and rest awhile" (Mk 6:31). In wilderness Jesus fasted, and like a Lakato warrior wandered on his vision quest for forty days and nights. Led by Her, the Spirit, Jesus pointed to lilies of the field, birds of the air, stones that shout. Like a tribal shaman, Jesus heard the voice of the elements, the praise-song of creation.

In the remainder of this essay, I will capitalize the word,
Creation. For every berry on a twig is full of God, the artist shining through her art. Whether you are a Christian mystic, a Buddhist meditator, a Hindu Yogi, or a Native American shaman, if you enter deeply into a single syllable sung by the thrush, a single dew drop on a violet, a moment of stillness at the end of your own breath, you will fall at the feet of one and the same Creator, feel the pulse of one Spirit, and grow intoxicated with the love of Christ, the Logos.

In such ordinary sacraments, near any country road, Christ touches and heals your heart through nature. You encounter his Lordship in the loam when you plant a tulip bulb. You hear his name in the gentle stir of ten thousand pine needles. If you live in a Christian culture, you hear your breath sighing his name,
Jesus. In India, you hear the same breath, Shiva. In Thailand, Buddho. In the silence of the sage brush in South Dakota, you hear Wakan Tanka. One Lord whispers the divine name in all these voices. That name is the Logos.

When we pray, God does not listen to our words at all. God hears only the amplitude and frequency of our love. The cosmic Christian of the coming age will never limit God to a single name and form. We shall not fossilize the Spirit in a single moment of history. The image of the white-robed first-century Rabbi touching and healing the people, lovely as that image may be, is but a single frame, a cross-section, of revelation's eternal continuum. Jesus himself promised, "Lo I AM with you, even until the end of the ages." In what form is he with us? In that white-robed Palestinian form? Or in tongues of formless fire that fall upon us after the Ascension of his body? (Acts 2:3)

The distinctive quality of the Holy Spirit, Christ's post-Ascension form, is its formlessness. Thus Spirit pervades all nature as the breath of the Logos. The Spirit is here in the dust of the down-town streets, and in the furthest star-clouded nebula; here in a photon of light, or in a neuro-peptide molecule of your brain as you think this very thought. This intimate continuum of Divine Personhood awakens at each point in time and space. Space itself is spiritually awake! Nowhere is Christ not born, and never is Christ more than one moment old!

This is no fantasy, my friend, but a fact of physics. Your own body is a cloud of electromagnetism that is as spiritual as it is physical. Your human flesh is an electrical surge, an ocean of abstract waves rising from the silent vacuum at creation's source. Every particle of your body rings with the music of the spheres, echoing throughout the cosmos. You are made of immaterial intelligence, pure mathematics incarnate as matter. Thus writes Freeman Dyson, one of our great astro-physicists:
Even to a hardened theoretical physicist it remains perpetually astonishing that our solid world of trees and stones can be built of quantum fields and nothing else. The quantum field seems far too fluid and insubstantial to be the basic stuff of the universe. Yet we have learned gradually to accept the fact.

Founding quantum physicist, Sir James Jeans, marvels that we live in "a world created out of pure intelligence." That intelligence, as we have noted above, the early Christians called the Logos. Modern physics is a but commentary on the prologue to The Fourth Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word." In fact, the relationship between John's Gospel and quantum physics was explicitly stated by one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, Werner Heisenburg. In a lecture delivered on September 4, 1958, he said:
For modern natural science there is no longer, in the beginning, the material object: but form, mathematical symmetry. And since mathematical structure is by definition an intellectual content, we could say, 'In the beginning was the word' - the Logos.

Even as the Word becomes incarnate in a particle of matter, it remains a wave, connected to the boundless sea of universal intelligence. Thus, the flesh as flesh does not lose its spiritual essence: it remains, quite literally, an infinite radiance. The electrons of your body are particles, but they are also waves of something far more vast than your physical frame. Here is the British physicist, Paul Davies, describing "the infinite self-energy of the electron" in his book,
The Matter Myth:
Picture, then, the electron immersed in a shimmering bath of evanescent quantum energy, intense near the electron but dwindling steadily with distance. This restless, seething ferment of virtual photons is, in fact, precisely the electron's electric field described in quantum language... The energy of this photon activity surrounding an electron can be computed. The answer proves, unnervingly, to be infinite.

Your body is myriad electrons, countless infinities of light! Jesus was not the only incarnation of the Logos. He was simply showing you who you really are. Yes, he said, "I am the light of the world." But he also said, "
You are the light of the world."

A hundred years ago, if I declared, "Every particle of my body is unlimited, resonating throughout the cosmos," I would be called a mystic or a madman. Today we know that this is an accurate statement of the quantum physical world. According to
Bell's Theorem (1964), each local particle is an excited wave of an all-pervading field. The non-local field, of which this particle is an excitation, gives rise to every other particle in space. This local particle cannot be separated in essence from particles in far distant galaxies. They are all vibrations of one continuum. In a simple but accurate analogy: each wave of the sea is, at its base, the entire ocean, and is therefor every other wave. Thus the great physicist Arthur Eddington declared, "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes!"

Your body
is this universal dance. Right here on this sacred earth, you are the all in all. Why don't you get intimate with the divine source of the cosmos, which is in fact the deep center of each particle in every atom of your flesh? It is an incontestable truth of astronomy that every one of your protons was once inside a star. If you are at home in your body, if you know who you really are, you can reach out and move those galaxies. This may sound presumptuous, so we'll let Jesus say it: "If you have faith as a mustard seed you shall say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you."(Mt 17:20)

Quantum physics calls creation's source the unified field. Greek philosophy called it the Logos. The Bible called it I AM. I AM is the most precise name because the energy at creation's source is consciousness itself.

The universe springs from the silent depths of I AM. For those whose hearts are open, there will come a sea-change in Christianity, a transformation of perspective that will frighten some, delight others. In the new faith-paradigm, cosmic Christians will know in themselves the source of creation, the very I AM who spoke through Jesus. We will taste and see that I AM living today. We will no longer feel estranged from nature, for I AM the very essence of the earth, pulsating in each atom. I AM all and in all.

When Jesus said, I AM, was he referring to a localized human form, or to the God in every one of us? Was He not a wave referring to the sea? Was the I AM in Jesus not the I AM in you? And was this not the same I AM revealed to Moses in the fire of Mount Sinai? "I AM THAT I AM!" (Ex. 3:14)

When fully awake, we can only say: "I AM Jesus, and Jesus is I," even if they crucify us for heresy. But when asleep, I mis-identify my infinite AM with finite concepts and transient moods. True prayer happens when I sink deep into AM, entering the baptismal golden stream of the Logos. In the courage of prayer, I refuse to end the sentence, "I AM....." I refuse to predicate a finite noun upon my infinite being. I refuse to say, "I am a doctor, I am an American, I am a Christian." My life is transubstantiated from the weight of a noun to a weightless verb: I refuse to turn myself into a thing. Immersed in AM, I return like a radiant river to the ocean of Christ: Christ in me, who is also Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

Meeting Jesus at the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene reached out to grasp him. But he said, "Do not touch me!" Have you ever wondered why?

He did not want her to mistake what I AM for his body. For the same reason, he told his disciples, "Before Abraham was, I AM." He was telling us not to worship a particular form, a robe and beard and sandals, in a finite moment of history. He was telling us not to turn him into a thing, an idol. He was urging us to enter the consuming fire, I AM: a formless fire that never destroys, but gives birth continually.
Then Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire: you heard the sound of words but you saw no form... So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure! (Dt. 4:12-16)

The central passage in all of Western scripture, these words of Moses teach the Christian never to worship an image of Jesus, whether that image is on an alter or in the mind. For even a mental picture of Jesus is a form and a thing. St. Paul reminds us, "Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him
now."(2 Cor. 5:16). The thought of Jesus is the last idol to be thrown into the fire!

Then how can we know Jesus
now? His flesh was crucified: now know him in your flesh. His Spirit poured out: now know him in your spirit. His blood soaked the ground: now know him in the earth at your feet. An old Celtic blessing invokes "Christ before you, Christ behind you, Christ above you and beneath you, to the left and right of you, Christ in all."

This stick of wood, this acre of earth, this planet, galaxy, every un-miracle of the commonplace, is filled with divine radiance, the glory of the Logos: Christ in the smallest seed, in the eye of the homeless child, in the motionless explosion of a rose, Christ at your fingertips, here, in a piece of bread.

Scripture is not History but Symbol

What impoverished soul would read an exalted hymn like Genesis 1 as a science project from a biology lab? What desperation leads men to regard the profound psychological symbols of Adam and Eve as actual events? How did we mistake those sublime allegories of the mystical journey, the stories of Joseph and Moses, for history?

Reading the Bible as history leads to war. Reading the Bible as symbol leads to wisdom. Some criticize the Bible as 'mere mythology.' That is no criticism. Scripture was intended as mythology. It may utilize some historical places and events, just as Shakespeare used bits of history in his plays; but Shakespeare's plays make no claim to be historically accurate, nor are they discredited because they didn't really happen. As the Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, wrote: 'All great stories are true. Some actually happen, and some don't.' Creative authors have always transformed historical events into symbols of the soul, and physical landscapes into landscapes of the inner journey.

Myths are truer than facts. Facts happen once and vanish. Myths are the eternally recurring patterns of consciousness, expressed as stories. In mythical stories, each of us is hero and villain, savior and devil. The journey from Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land is our journey from the bondage of ignorence to the freedom of enlightenment. The central event in this journey is the mountain top, where we see divine fire and hear the Name revealed. This is no earthly mountain to be claimed with a national flag, but the peak experience of transcendental awareness, where Inward Light arises, and we hear the 'I Am' of Spirit as the 'So'Ham' of our own breath.

Yes, there may have been a desert shaman named Moses, a seer named Elijah, a tribal chieftain named Jacob. But what are they now? They are symbols. 'Isra-el' means, 'He has wrestled with God.' Originally, Israel was not a nation state but a state of consciousness, the state of one who wrestled with God and awakened to the Presence.

The name Israel was first given to Jacob, a dishonest, conniving, intensely selfish figure, after he wrestled with Spirit at the fording of the river Jordon. At first, this spirit seemed a dark and frightening energy, like one of the fierce water demons believed to inhabit such places. But with the dawn the spirit revealed itself to be the angel of God. Jacob won, but not before he received a wound from which he must limp forever.

What do we do with such a story? There really is a river Jordon. But we don't know if there ever was a Jacob, or if he had such an experience. As historical event, all we can say about this story, or any Bible story, is not that it is true or false, but that it is impossible to verify. How relevant can 'history' be if it cannot be verified? And besides, it's over.

Yet as spiritual allegory, the story of Jacob is profound. Whether or not it actually happened is irrelevant. It is the story of each deeply-flawed ordinary person who confronts the shadow, enters the stream of awakening, and crosses over to the land of Presence, forever changed, carrying his wounded humanity toward divine awareness with a new name, Israel, 'he has wrestled with God.'

Another story - Elijah - is hardly historical, yet profoundly true. Fleeing to a mountain cave, deeply dejected, Elijah encounters Presence, not through external experiences of fire or wind or earthquake, but through a 'still small voice' within. The Hebrew here is eloquent: 'Qol d'mama daqa,' literally 'the whisper of finely ground-up silence.' This is a description of the quantum field, where the finest particles of our reality arise from the inner silence of creative intelligence. Elijah, like the Buddha, the first Quaker, George Fox, and modern teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, went through a period of depression, and came out the other side fully awake.

Doubtless there was a real Mary, mother of a real rabbi named Jesus. But the 'Virgin Birth,' both here and in the story of Buddha, is allegorical. It represents the pure silence within us, where the Christ-light, or Buddhic Prajna, is born.

The myths of ancient scripture represent, in stunning dramatic detail, those subtle conflicts and ambiguities of our evolving soul that are so perplexing to talk about in the abstract. Therefor, we talk about them in signs. Scripture makes these Mysteries more concrete. Through the stark imagery of the Bible, we get something chewy, something salty, to flavor our dialog on the spiritual journey, so we don't have to bore each other with tedious over-intellectualizing. We live our lives  as stories, not essays.

May you cross the desert and the waters, to find the land that flows with milk and honey inside you. May you climb the mountain at the center of your soul, and find peace. Enjoy the journey, especially when its plot gets spicy.

Jesus Is a Yogi

"Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians, chapter 6) This is the essence of Yoga. 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and mind." (Luke 10:27)  Jesus declared this law from the Jewish Torah to be the great commandment. But it is also the definition of Yoga.

Yoga is the alignment of body, breath, mind and soul (Atman) in divine wholeness. Jesus declares that Yoga is the essence of God's law.

Jesus is not only a Buddha. He is a Master Yogi.

The Divine Humility

I am astonished at the divine humility!

Buddha said, "I am just an ordinary man who is awake." Jesus said, "These things which I do, you shall do also, yes, even greater things than these!" Mohammad was known for his humble patience and declared that no man, not even the greatest prophet, could be equated with the Divine. Krishna removed his royal crown and became a playmate to the cow herders of Vrindavan.

Because of this divine humility, modern seekers are tempted to say, "See, they are just like us!" But where would we be without them? I would be lost without the love of Christ, the compassion of the Buddha, the grace-filled music of Lord Krishna's flute.

On the other hand, it is undeniable that these avatars came to show us who we really are, revealing the divinity that illuminates the human heart. Saint Athanasius, one of the earliest Christian theologians, said, "God became human so that humanity could become divine."

How can we realize this Truth, yet maintain our humility?

The answer is, I AM. God and humanity both declare, I AM. This most sacred name of God (Exodus 3) is the very name we give ourselves in our most innocent moments of self-awareness.

Let us say I AM with reverence and humility, for this is a two-fold name, containing not only the temporal I of humanity, but the AM of eternal Being. Speaking this name, surrender to the radiance of AM, and become myself.

The Rapture Is Now

Many people today are buzzing about the "Rapture" and the "Second Coming" of Christ. When will these events happen? 2012? Tomorrow? We need to get clear about what these symbols of the "End Time" really mean.

The "End Time" comes whenever we wake up.

"Rapture" is not an event in time and space. It is the expansion of individual mind into Christ-Mind: "For we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). When this expansion of awareness happens collectively, to a sufficient threshold of the population, then a planetary transformation can occur in historical time.

"Second Coming" is not a physical re-appearance of Jesus. It is the awakening of Christ-Consciousness in humanity: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27)

If we are to solve conflicts on this planet, we must move from the literal interpretation of these mythic symbols, to an understanding of their spiritual meaning. As rational adults, are we really to suppose that a white-robed sandal-footed savior will float from the sky, while an elite corps of "saved" Christians levitate into his arms? Such infantile literalism is really an insult to the profound intent of the inspired scriptural authors, who used symbol, story, allegory to describe the expansion of consciousness.

The scriptural symbol of pure consciousness is the Air element. The great transformation of humanity will occur "in the Air." According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Christ will appear "in the clouds" and "we will be caught up to meet him in the air."

The term "second coming" does not appear at all in scripture. This phrase was invented by Justin Martyr two hundred years after Jesus' earthly life. The Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians is parousia, usually translated as "the coming of the Lord." In Greek, parousia literally means "fullness of being" (para - full, complete; ousia - being). Ousia is not the participle of the verb "to come" but "to be."

This "parousia" happens inside us as the flowering of our spaciousness. It can happen now, if we let it.

As for the so-called "rapture" - another term that does not appear in scripture - our bodies need not float up in the sky to meet God. The real rapture is the expansion of individual mind into "the mind of Christ": the boundless self-luminosity of pure consciousness.

Understanding the spiritual science behind these mythic symbols, we can put away childish religious disputes and participate in the flowering of Christ-Consciousness, which is precisely the same spacious compassion that Buddhists call Bodhichitta and Yogis call Chittakasha. Then we can use our religious practice to heal conflict rather than to cause it!

The decisive practice for healing conflict in the coming age will not be a political movement, an economic policy, or a physical task. Political, economic, and cultural reform will be effects, not causes, of our inward transformation. There is already abundant food on earth, if we knew how to cooperate in its supply, unfettered by greed and political corruption. Medical science already has the means to heal the world's diseases. The physical resources for planetary health and sustainability are not lacking. What is lacking is the consciousness to make the work flow. What is lacking is cooperative, non-competitive, compassionate, non-violent, creative intelligence. This creative intelligence is our true nature: it is abundant, it is the source of abundance, and it is already here, if we would but tap into it.

We simply need to practice Christ-Consciousness now, instead of waiting for a savior to fall from the sky. How then do we practice?

The decisive discovery of this age is that space is awake. The vacuum of pure space is consciousness itself, and its nature is compassion.

The decisive practice for our time is simply this: Allow attention to soften and expand, so that you embrace not only the local content of your experience, but the silent all-pervading stillness that contains it.

This practice is the exclusive property of no religion or guru, but the birthright of all humanity for this age. How can such a simple seemingly insignificant practice heal our planetary conflicts?

Every conflict arises and dissolves in space. There's a stillness around every battle. No matter how violent the conflict, the space around it is always silent, whole and undivided. That space is awake. It is full of compassion.

The solution to a conflict is never within the conflict, but in the spaciousness around it. Why identify with a conflict when you can simply be that space? No effort or esoteric knowledge is required: just a shift of attention from the conflict to the vast expanse in which conflict arises and dissolves.

To soften our attention into healing spaciousness is the rapture. The self-luminosity of that awakened space is the anointing power of Christ.

John 14:6

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." ~John 14:6

I Am is the ancient name of God revealed to Moses in Exodus, chapter 3, when God called from the burning bush. Moses asked God for the most personal and intimate name of the divine. God said, "I Am I Am. That is my eternal name."

When Jesus spoke of the I Am, he was not glorifying his own unique personality. He was glorifying the I Am, the divine spark, in each of us.

Your I Am is the way. Your I Am is the truth. Your I Am is the life. Enter the kingdom of God through the portal I Am at the center of your heart.

Jesus said. "I Am the light" (John 8:12). But he also said, "You are the light" (Matthew 5:14). You and Jesus each have your own I, but the I in Jesus and the I in you are luminous out-flowings of one Am.

Am is Christ Consciousness, anointing you and Jesus together. That is what the Greek word, chrism, means: anointing. But Christ does not anoint you from above. Christ wells up and gushes from your heart. Jesus said, "The water I give will become a fountain within you, bubbling up with eternal life" (John 4:14).

Christ is the wellspring of inward light from which flow both Jesus and you. The stream of Jesus became a mighty river. Will you remain a little brook?

"These things which I do, you shall do also," he said (John 14:12).

In his final discourse, Jesus prayed for all who love him, "that they may be one, Father, as we are one, I in them and you in me: may they be brought to complete unity" (John 17:22).

In first century Palestine, the Christ I AM poured through Jesus. Now, the Christ I Am pours through you: irradiating your uniqueness, expressing your incomparable beauty, personalizing divine splendor as your very own I

Your I is not something to be rejected, but glorified as a vessel of Christ Consciousness. That is why scripture speaks not only of Christ in Jesus, but  "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

If any transition is happening on this earth, it is simply the awakening of the knowledge of who you really are.

Storming the Kingdom with Kriya

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent carry it away by force! (Matthew 11:12) These are the words of Jesus. The kingdom must be taken violently, by storm. What could this possibly mean?

We can understand Jesus' words in the context of the practice of Yoga, especially the practice of Sudarshan Kriya.*

Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is within you (Luke 17). Therefor, we know that when the violent carry it away, Jesus depicts no physical pillage, no conquest of an earthly kingdom. The verse must describe an inward passion, a movement of attention to seize a new state of consciousness.

Jesus uses the Greek verb harpazzo: to carry away by force. It means to seize, rob, even to sexually seduce. This verb also describes a mighty wind transporting objects utterly helpless to resist. The Old Testament uses the same image of whirlwind (in Hebrew, galgal) to describe how the Lord carries away prophets like Ezekiel and Elijah in a breath of divine inspiration.

In the Bible's highly charged language, a rapture seizes our soul and has its way with us. We are like chaff in the wind, like lovers seduced by the beloved. This is how we enter the kingdom of God: not by intellectual reasoning, not by repeating prayers of conventional piety, but through a wild movement, a bewildering force, a kriya.

In Sanskrit, kriya literally means creative movement. It is the root of the English word, create. When the grace of the guru stirs in us the transforming wind of kriya, the rhythm and power of this creative breath transports each cell of our body to a higher state of vibration, and carries the mind up into a silence beyond thought.

If we want to be re-created, we must be destroyed, for God is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). The fiery breath that destroys what is old creates what is new. Meditation is knowing how to surrender to the wind. In Jesus' language, spirit, wind, and breath are exactly the same word, pneuma. When we surrender to the movement of kriya, we surrender to the divine Spirit through our breath.

In the science of Yoga, this ever destroying and creative storm of the Spirit is called Shakti. Shakti is the creative fire of the Goddess within us. Her movement spirals up our spine, lifting our soul to divine love through the transforming whirlwind of kriya.

To practice the kriya, we need courage. The word courage is from a Latin root meaning the heart. In Old French and Old English, courage meant love. True courage is not resistance but surrender. The Master's Kriya seizes our heart, overpowers our mind, burns away what binds us to the past, and refines our karmic dross until all that remains, by grace, is the radiant eternal jewel of awareness, glistening in the now.

Do not resist the wild wind of the Master's grace!
* Sudarshan Kriya is the specific healing breath practice taught by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the Art of Living program. LINK (