"My" Guru

Once one says, "my guru," one has a conflict. Solve it either by getting rid of "guru" or getting rid of "my."

A guru is a two-edged sword. One can cherish the guru as a spiritual friend, or use the guru as a surrogate mommy. The same guru may cause the liberation of one person and the bondage of another. The presence of the guru causes one ego to grow heavier, and another to become so soft and ripe it drops from the vine. As in every relationship, it depends on whether one says "You belong to me" or "I belong to you."

Jai Guru Dev.

I Don't Count

To stop counting is a spiritual practice.

At least for one day, take a Sabbath rest from counting. Stop counting abdominal crunches and stop counting breaths in Zazen. Stop counting beads. Stop counting laps. Stop counting vacation days and community service hours. Stop counting miles, pounds, sins, dividends, the days until, the years since. Don't even count your blessings.

Do all your normal daily activities: just don't count anything. Even if you're an accountant, do your work but don't count it. Whatever you accomplish, say, "I offer it up, I let it go, it doesn't count."

In the evening of this countless Sabbath, see how fresh you feel. Each moment of this day, you are in the beginning.

Lord of Breathing

The wind blows where it pleases. You hear the sound thereof, but know not where it comes from, or where it goes. So it is for all who are born of the Breath. ~John 3:8

Let everything that has Breath praise the Lord. ~Psalm 150

From the moment I was born I've been learning how to breathe.

I think I'm getting this: take it in, let it go.

Not quite; try again. Don't take; receive.

Float, soul, let breath breathe you; be tide.

Not exactly; this time, do even less.

I’m not sure what breath is; I'm not sure who’s breathing.

It starts somewhere beyond this world; when you give it back, you go there.

Between one breath and another, there's a shimmering whirlpool of silence.

Here no thought rises; no world has been created.

The beginning of every breath is the formless void.

Exhale old earth, inhale new heaven; let there be light.

Let there be a thousand suns in my body.

Let this world never be one moment old.

Back at the sunset, seeds shoot fire from black soil.

Evening flings her shawl of fog on mountain shoulders.

Trembling purple wings of awareness settle on the meadow.

Under the tree of yearning, you gaze into lit distances beyond prayer.

But your mind insists that the stars are hanging on the nearest branch.

The billowing moon is a reflection of something brighter; and that a reflection of something brighter still:

A radiance only known when you turn inside, crying, 'Who?'

Every night, the same moon; but This light always new.

A leaf floats where wind goes, flutter-falls where wind dies.

Everything moved by another, who move you?

Lord of Breathing, where do you come from?

I hear the mysterious sound; is it your name?

Or do your lips name me?


There is only one conspiracy theory you need to believe in. Your heart conspires with the universe to put a smile on your face, a smile from the Source of creation. The greatest contribution to world peace is your happiness.

Painting by Zhao Chang, Song Dynasty

American Exceptionalism

I believe in American Exceptionalism.
I believe no less in Palestinian Exceptionalism.
I believe in Lakota Exceptionalism.
I believe in Tibetan, Congolese, Cuban, Afghan,
Mbenga, Dravidian, Arawak Exeptionalism.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of the Wolverine
snarling against extinction.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of the Peregrine Falcon,
the Coral Reef, and the Amazon.
I believe in the Exceptionalism of every Four Legged Winged 

Creeping Swimming Seed-bearing Pollen-sweet 
Herbivorous Carnivorous Sentient Creature on earth,
whether Human or not,
American or not.
Read James Dickey's poem, 'For the Last Wolverine'

Taking Offense

Much of humanity's stress would vanish if we just learned to let offending words dissolve into the confusion from which they arose, without attributing motive. We can't judge the pain that gave rise to those words; and when we feel offended, the offense we feel arises from our own troubled hearts, not from the words that offend us.

40 Years of Meditation

I have meditated every day, twice a day, for forty years, and what do I have to show for it? Absolutely no thing! That's why I continue on the pathless path.

Again and again, I arrive at the goal shouting inane aphorisms like, "I got here first but I am lost. My entire religion disappears the moment I fall asleep. Sakyamuni won't sign my baseball. The sky doesn't need wings. Why seek improvement if everything is always just what it is?  The opposite of light isn't darkness, it's whining!"

To settle this weird mind down, I mainline pure air into my veins with a breath of compassion. Then I bow.

Bowing feels good. My head hits the earth like an egg dropped into unfathomable emptiness, making a sound like a gong in every seed and every supernova, bursting plum blossoms and birthing rabbits in the blackberry bramble.


Occupy the tip of your nose.

Become boundlessly aware in this moment. Then act to heal the whole universe in the one place action is possible: right where you are.

To a stressed unhappy mind, this is a world crisis. To an expanded mind, it's just a situation. Why not deal with the situation before it becomes a problem?

This insane world needs only more ingredient to become perfect: your awareness.

No matter how conflicted and divided it may look, this world-phenomenon appears in the seamless unity of your own awareness. No conflict you could possibly experience ever occurs outside the transparent clarity and wholeness of the Self.

Noticing this is the first solution to every problem. It is so obvious, we overlook it - like the tip of our nose.

Spring Equinox

It's 4 AM on the Spring Equinox. Can't sleep, so I go out with Willy, my golden poodle, to pee in the garden. It is so quiet I hear seeds arguing in the chilly loam. The rose says to the dahlia, "Be a rose!" The dahlia says to the chrysanthemum, "Only dahlias here!" Camellia buds jostle each other, whispering, "I'm the blossom on this twig!" A newborn crocus bursts from the frosty soil, its purple lips sucking at old snow. Even flowers are frail trembling bodies with enormous egos, yearning for the stars. But don't worry. The sun is inside. Every seed contains more than enough Light to feeds us all.

Jupiter and Venus

Venus and Jupiter, March 12, 2012: never so near, so intimate, yet hundreds of millions of miles apart. Distance and nearness have no meaning in the seamless clarity of consciousness. No one is far from you; yet can you be near your Self? Rest tonight in the radiant space of who you Are, bursting with stars.

Be Honest with your Pain

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." Is this not a constant choice we make every day?

When I choose suffering, I identify with the labels and beliefs that I superimpose on my pain. Then I need to talk about it, even if there is no actual pain at this moment.

But when I carry pain gracefully, I do not make a concept or belief about it. I don't identify my pain as "me" or "mine." There is no compulsion to tell a story about my pain. Therefor, no suffering. For suffering is not pain: suffering is a story we make up about pain, creating the past and future.

I am not liberated from pain. I am liberated from my story about it. I am liberated from identifying pain as who I am.

Then I can embrace pain as part of the seamless whole of energy, the energy-field of  body, earth, and stars. This brief pain, just as it is in this moment, mingles with the pain of other creatures, just as this joy mingles with the joy of other creatures. "No man is an island," no particle is separate from the field.

Do feelings have boundaries? Do bodies have edges? Pain and pleasure are waves of one ocean, made of one water. By grace, we allow both pain and pleasure to dissolve into particles of bliss, waves of bliss. Into ananda, the labels "pain" and "pleasure" disappear.

This only happens when I am fully Present, with the melting away of past and future, the dissolution of beliefs about "me." No, it is not a philosophy for intellectuals, but a survival technique for those who choose life instead of suffering.


On a shamanic journey I met my spirit guide, the Owl. 

If you call him a "totem animal," he flies away. He insists on "Spirit Guide, Great Horned Owl." Name him meticulously, he deigns to stay awhile, though he refuses to answer questions or give advice, preferring to hang out in silence. We sit together on an old oak limb, scouting for delicious mice.

Owl is the sign of infinite aloneness, the harbinger of boundless solitude. This is what he teaches, if I am permitted to put it into words:

"To be one is your birthright. But you are so afraid of unity, you create conflict, then complain about it, just to pretend there are two.

"The world may look chaotic, conflicted, divided and broken, but nothing you perceive could possibly appear outside the silent wholeness and seamless unity of your own awareness. If you would heal the world, become aware of your awareness.
Whoooo.... Shhhhh."

Paradox & Reason

What the intellect rejects as a contradiction, the soul embraces as a paradox.

One who remains on the level of the intellect, insisting on logically consistent arguments, cannot enter the heart of reality, for the deeper we plunge into the heart, the closer we come to the realm where every truth may be equally expressed by its opposite.

This is why the way to truth is opened, not by the logical arguments of European philosophy, but the sutras of India. Sutra is the Indo-European root of the English suture: a thread. A sutra is not a link in a logical argument, but a self-contained paradox through which awareness transcends the boundaries of intellect and passes through the portal of the heart into the fire of God, where thought is consumed by love.

Remembering, "the opposite is also true," stops the mind.

The Golden Rose

When I taste longing for God, I enter the path of devotion. But when I taste God's longing for me,  I wander into the garden of astonishment.

Every weed is a kingdom, every fragrance a rendezvous. Here I am lost. I don't  know whether to cry, O Christ! O Krishna! or O Raheem!

The Beloved walks beside me in the wilderness of self-abandonment. We have both strayed far from the path. God is lost too. The silence is alive, the sound of a boundless bell, struck ten billion years ago, still ringing in each atom.

Placing two fingers to my lips, the Beloved whispers, "Shhh! Don't pray like that. No need to cry, O Christ! O Krishna! O Raheem! Just O! is enough. That is my eternal name, the sound of your dissolving."  

Now the Beloved's lips touch my brow. A golden rose blossoms there, made of starlight. But this is the starlight that is already inside us, before the making of stars. 

O Rose of countless petals, shimmering doorways that lead to mansions of amethyst and ruby, where numberless souls return at the end of every exhalation, and go forth with each new breath!

O golden thousand-tiered Radiance that toys with the eye of my heart! I am troubled and dizzy with the fragrance of your light. In you I behold the lineaments of a Face gazing back, or is it the intricate design of a heavenly City, our true home, where all humanity, atoned by harmonious living, dwells in a shimmer, blurring I and We, Self and Other, into one, yet resolving them into distinction?

O personal Gaze of the All, you are the mathematical symmetry of the Logos, transcending reason and order, containing perfect knowledge in a fractal chaos of tangled asymptotes that draw the eye beyond silence, into the vanishing point of bliss, the emptiness of this very O!

Perhaps you are only a mirage, gleaming out of the infinite yet nearer than my next breath. Perhaps your golden glance at me is the image of my yearning for you, reflected by the eternal solitude of consciousness itself. Perhaps the holy city shimmering in your depth is the likeness of the space within my many-mansioned heart. Perhaps this whole creation finally dissolves into Presence, without form or content, and I am simply in the moment between one breath and another.

O sacred confusion! I cannot tell if I rest in God, or God rests in me!

Love Your Enemy

Jesus did not say, "Love your enemies" for their sake, but for our sake, to prevent us from becoming the very people we hate.

Because we did not listen to him, we have become the terrorists. That's what hate does: it turns us into our enemies. But when we love, it turns our enemies into us.

I grieve not only for the Afghan people, but for the broken families of the U.S. military community who live all around me. When I look out my back window, there is a house with a little boy who never knew his father, killed in Afghanistan seven years ago. When I look out my front window I see the home of a Congressional Medal of Honor winner with his hands blown off. He has an American flag over his door and never comes out. When I walk down the street, just past his house, I meet another little boy, from another home, who is huddled in the rain, trembling and crying. He wants to borrow my cell phone to call 911. I ask him why. He says, "Because my step dad kicked me in the jaw and threw me against the wall of the garage." His step dad just came back from his fourth tour of combat.
Now 16 civilians have been murdered by a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, a soldier from this military base, one mile away. 

We have lost all credibility to condemn the atrocities of dictators and terrorists, because our own soldiers commit acts of terrorism. We destroy the souls of our men and women in uniform with a foreign policy whose mission drifts further and further away from national defense, into arrogant imperialism, claiming the right to occupy and bully other countries into serving our will.

This is not the fault of the soldiers, but the fault of a civilian population too long myopic and disengaged from its duty. Our Constitution makes it clear that the military is governed by the civilian authorities, and the civilian authorities are elected by the people. 

We the people must now rise up, not only in defense of Afghan families, but in defense of our own abused military families, and demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Middle East.

Self-Control is a Hoax

"Control is an illusion, a temporary exertion of energy in the mind. Shiva is the opposite. Shiva is the permanent source of Energy. Shiva is harmonious innocence which knows no control." ~Sri Sri Gurudev

If I am controlled by my 'self,' then who controls the 'self' who controls me? 'I' cannot control or eliminate 'I.' The religious and moral 'self-control' industry that has existed for thousands of years is a hoax. It never worked and it never will. What the mind needs is not self-control, but surrender to the divine innocence.

I keep seeing silly ads that say, 'Meditate Like a Monk.' Where did we get the notion that monks are the real meditators?

I don't want to meditate like a monk. I want to meditate like a wild shamanic poet with toes planted in loam, brain blossoming streaked lightning to the stars, voluptuous Shakti serpent-Goddess entwined around the tree of life, my spine. Won't you meet me in this dance?

Full Moon Meditation

Fill your mind with moonlight,
pearl it in a breath,
descend into the mystery of the Heart.
Become the place where restless lovers
touch and find quietness.
Become the Bridal Chamber
where two lights mingle, fiery and cool,
Parvati and Shiva, Christ and the Bride,
where breath marries breath,
and the pearl melts into golden stillness.
The passion of the Sun and Moon
is your heartbeat,
The passion of two in one.
Bear their love, and their love
will give birth to you.

Pointless Love

Love is not a point of view. Love is pointless.

When I react to another person's narrow point of view, my reaction creates an equally narrow point of view. Now both points sustain each other through their polarization, fed by anger and fear. Equally valid as reactions to one other, they are equally meaningless in relation to the Great Space of love that contains and dissolves all possible points.

Is it possible simply to remain spacious, and listen to the other without contracting? This is precisely what Jesus meant by "loving your enemy" and "praying for those who persecute you." It takes great courage to remain spacious while gazing into the face of hostile self-righteousness. Yet this spaciousness is the Kingdom of Heaven: it saves me from condemning myself to the hell-world of a narrow point. There is no more bitter hell than the narrow little hell of being "right."

Remaining pointless in the center of conflict redeems my "enemy" as well as me, enveloping both self and other in the vast emptiness of compassion. Ultimately, I can "love my neighbor as my self" because I see that we are both breaths of the same space.

Nothing is gained by arguing with an angry person. But real transformation flowers when I enfold the other in the unified field of pure listening.

Be Ordinary

Have the courage to be ordinary.

It's Zen-trendy to embrace the ordinary in objects. But we are desperately afraid to be ordinary in ourselves. We must wear an invisible designer dress to keep up with everybody else on the red carpet of enlightenment. We must be 'amazing,' 'perfect,' in 'higher consciousness.' Higher than who? When you get there, are you higher than you are?

The ordinary sparkles with uniqueness. Why dress it up? Let your naked ordinary ripen from within. Just as you are, be sweet and full of juice.
There is a deeply political point to being ordinary. Some politicians insist on American Exceptionalism. They think Americans are extra-ordinary. We aren't bound by the etiquette of the ordinary. This permits us to abuse the environment, invade the Third World, and engage in corporate pillage. Our exceptionalism destroys the earth.
Let us practice the politics of the ordinary, the etiquette of nature. When we practice environmental etiquette, the earth shares her the ancient solutions of her Grace with us. Grace shines not above nature, but through nature, and to be graceful is to be ordinary. To be ordinary is not to be static, but to grow and transcend oneself greenly. Blossom like a vine, ferment like a grape, swell with green spirit, be naturally super-natural.
Then, when we become ordinary, we can see our environment as a miracle. Not in guilty anxious self-restraint, but in spontaneous gratitude, we will stop ruining our streams, our forests, our coral, soil and sky. 

Night Walk

Walk in the midnight woods at Winter's end. The scimitar moon hangs on a cedar. Venus blossoms from a naked branch. Underfoot, wrapped in soft fir-needled comforters, restless seeds roll over, touching their partners in a dream of roots. Emptiness whispers from tree to tree. Daylight has withdrawn, but not far: it vibrates in the dark. They call this "nature." I can't find nature anywhere. Everything on earth is supernatural.


Men who support women. Men who care for women in pain. Men who listen to women, even when they repeat themselves. Men who say yes to women. Men who praise women when their bodies become old. Men who embrace women on earth and not pictures of women in their heads. Men who linger by forest ponds and gaze into still water, speaking to the great Mother. Men who travel deep into the wilderness, not to hunt and kill, not to climb the highest peak, but just to be there. Men who know valleys, observing the etiquette of cedar and willow. Men who understand that the fire in their belly is the Goddess.