On Bhakti, Advaita, and Being a Person

Being a Person is the flower of evolution. The sap is formless and impersonal, but not the flower. The flower is a Personality.

A stone may be impersonal, but the nervous system of a human or a dolphin is personal. It is a triumph of cosmic engineering. Our physiology is so evolved in its molecular complexity that it sustains the radiance of a personal self-awareness. Yet this Person has no edges: she interpenetrates the forests, the oceans, the sunbeams, the stars.

We enter the unbounded ocean of the cosmos through a laughing sighing stream of Personality. The personal beautifies the boundless. Being a wave does not limit the ocean, because at its base each wave is nothing but the ocean, and each wave embodies all waves.

I am I and You are You. Yet we are waves of the One. There is no contradiction here. No one tastes like you. No one releases the fragrance of your pain, the spice of your tears, or trembles with the texture of your love. The whole universe celebrates its unity through your uniqueness.

And when you surrender your heart to the Beloved, the qualities of the Beloved enhance your own Personhood. You pass through their personal love as through a door, into the cosmos. A door has a shape, but the shape does not confine you; you simply pass through it.

So in devotion to Jesus, or to the Master, one passes through a door shaped like a human being into boundless divine space. And in that passage, one is enhanced by absorbing the personal qualities of the Master. This path of devotion to the personal God is called Bhakti. Merging with the boundless space is called Advaita. Advaita gives space to Bhakti, and Bhakti gives expression to Advaita. Advaita is the ground, Bhakti is the dance.

So the formless celebrates in form, while form rests in formlessness. These two impulses transpire through each other. They are simultaneous, not sequential. Bhakti does not lead to Advaita, and Advaita is not superior to Bhakti. Bhakti is Advaita. Advaita is Bhakti.

The notion that Bhakti and Advaita are two different paths is a fabrication of ignorance, posing as religious knowledge. The notion that you must abandon your relationship with the Beloved in order to experience non-dual awareness, destroys the very charm and purpose of human life. It is like saying that you must crush the flower into sap to enjoy it, because its shape and fragrance are obstacles. Only a psychopath would go around crushing flowers in order to "liberate" them.

Just as a fragrant blossom is the glory of its odorless and formless sap, so your personal incarnation on earth is the glory of God. You are the embodied flower of God. Your unique fragrance pervades the entire garden. Even the distant galaxies bend close to sense your beauty. You are crushed and resurrected with every breath.

Holy Matter

"God hugs you; you are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God....
Good People, most royal greening verdancy, rooted in the sun, you shine with radiant light....
Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly."
~St. Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.

"All buddhas are wind and rain, water and fire... The immeasurable and boundless dharma-wheel turns even within a single particle..." ~Dogen, founder of Soto Zen

"All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness." ~Sir Arthur Eddington, founder of Quantum Theory

This is the Feast of the Incarnation. All matter is holy.

Scripture Is Mythos, Not History

One of the great tragedies of Western civilization was reducing the Biblical text to its literal/historical meaning, and abandoning the ancient language of mystical symbolism. The mystics breathed in the Bible's word as mantra, each phrase a gateway to silent meditation. This method of reading, called "Lectio Divina" or "divine reading," revealed the mythos of the scripture, the archetypal spiritual meaning, which is far more real and relevant than any historical record.

Clinging to literal history strengthens our ego's attachment to outmoded social structures, old stories full of conflict, and property claims on tribal lands. But reading scripture as a language of mystical symbols has a completely different effect: the promised land is the present moment, the temple is the heart, the Holy Spirit in our own breath.

May our divine innocence teach us how to hear the Word. May the light of Christ-Consciousness be born in the Virgin silence of our soul. The Nativity means nothing until it happens inside us.

Forest Pool

Once there was a still forest pool. She gazed up at the sky and said to herself, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to travel with the clouds high above this world?"

So she evaporated into water vapor and became a cloud. The cloud said, "Wouldn't it be stimulating to take form and have a sparkling body, to dance and zing so fast, to glitter in the sunlight on a twig!" So the cloud condensed into a raindrop and she began to fall.

"I'm falling!" she cried. "I will crash on a leaf and splatter! Wouldn't it be lovely to be snow, to be a perfect crystal, light as air, fluttering silently in the breeze!" So the raindrop became a snowflake and gently settled on the mountainside.

The snowflake sighed, "I'm stuck here, frozen in crystal silence. There isn't a green leaf or blue flower anywhere. Wouldn't it be exciting to melt into a mountain stream, and tumble down through alpine meadows!"

So the snowflake melted and dripped down an ice sickle, falling into a cold brook. Soon she was gurgling through a valley, past Cascade lilies, lupine, asters and columbine.

She cried, "Too fast! I'm getting exhausted, I can't catch my breath! Let me stop and rest awhile!" That is how she became a still forest pool, gazing up at the sky.

Bless All The People

For decades I've bitten my tongue about the fees charged for the Transcendental Meditation course. I  assumed that my understanding was not mature enough to get the real picture. But finally, after 45 years, I have decided to speak out.

Especially since I am able to discriminate between the Master and the movement. Maharishi himself suggested this when a small group of us were sitting at his feet back in 1970. He was so non-judgmental and sweet in pointing out that the karma of the Master and the karma of the movement are distinct, we had no idea he was warning us about those who would some day lead a world-wide organization in his name...

Would any of us confuse the person and work of Jesus with the Church of the Middle Ages that practiced such unspeakable corruption in his name? Likewise, let us not confuse the grace and wisdom of Mahesh Yogi with the TM movement that barnacled itself to his side, encrusted in a hierarchy of technocrats, pseudo-scientists, and even "Rajas" wearing golden crowns and calling themselves kings!

When Maharishi personally made me a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, his head came close to mine and he whispered Wisdom in my ear. Then he said, "Bless all the people." He did not say, "Bless only the people who can afford four-figure prices for initiation." He did not say, "Bless only the Brahmin caste of film stars, over-educated intellectuals, and corporate moguls." He said, "Bless ALL the people."

It is time for TM teachers of integrity to give this precious wisdom to anyone who sincerely comes for initiation, regardless of their financial standing. Ask them for a contribution. Ask them to give from their hearts, from each according to their ability. The karmic debt, if any, should be on the initiate who gives payment, not on the teacher who receives it.

When Maharishi started to teach in the West, he decided that the most equitable way to support the growing movement was to ask each person to donate one week's pay. What happened? People of very limited means were willing, but the rich were not. So the movement had to set a course fee.

When I began to meditate in college, the course fee was $35 for a student, $45 for a working adult. Even in 1968, that was very minimal.

I became a teacher and shared TM through the early 70's. Any funds I took went to the movement. I did not receive a percentage of the income from my courses, but an extremely small and invariable stipend of $400 per month to live on. I was not paid by "the head." And I initiated hundreds of people.

I also enjoyed profound personal contact with the Master. Incidentally, Maharishi never said that he was a Guru. He taught us that the Guru was within, and that the technique of Transcendental Meditation operates on the same principle of Grace that connects the heart of the devotee to the Guru. Therefor it was not necessary to make him one's personal Guru. Devotion meant meditating regularly, and giving service to the world, not making an idol of the Master. I deeply revered Maharishi for his selflessness, for his refusal to become an idol, and I still revere him for it.

Then, in the mid-70's, the bureaucrats and business men took over the movement. They became TM teachers without any personal contact with Maharishi. Ah, the miracle of modern technology! The price of the teaching started climbing rapidly. I found it morally indefensible to ask such prices, so I continued to teach for the fee as it was in the mid 70's: $75 for a college student and $125 for a working adult. Eventually, the technocrats came after me and insisted that I stop teaching. They actually said that my teaching was "too spiritually oriented."

I have never held this betrayal of my trust against the Master, because I know that the karma of the Master and the karma of "the movement" are two different things. In the words of the working man's philosopher Eric Hoffer: "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."

It is time to end the racket and become a "cause" once again.

Maharishi remains the purest and most humble man I ever encountered - despite the lies and rumors that some tried to spread about him. Having experienced the radiance of Maharishi's heart, person to person, I am a bit like a lotus in muddy water. I don't care how muddy the water gets. I let the Grace blossom, and it remains unsoiled.

Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation technique is without a doubt the most pure, simple, innocent and natural practice I have ever encountered in a lifetime of studying the world's wisdom paths. And TM is so concrete, so practical in its effects, that I would call it "medicine" as much as "meditation." TM energizes every cell, illuminates every atom, and restores the body to health. Through the deep silence of this effortless practice, "spirit" and "matter" become one energy-field in the luminous physiology of our regenerated nervous system. This is not only a practice for enlightenment, but a practice for energy. I remember when Maharishi once told us: "Spirituality is infinite practicality."

If modern teachers of TM would be truly practical as well as spiritual, they would stop isolating themselves from the common man. They would renounce their outmoded Brahmin aristocracy of golden domes and Vedic mansions. They would bless all the people.

Jai Guru Dev.

God Is Simple Minded

The more we think, the less we are aware. The more we are aware, the less we need to think.

A mind perpetually thinking is dull, yet we define it as brilliant. A mind purely aware and empty of thoughts is brilliant. But we define it as simple.

God is quite simple-minded.

In the native state of human freedom, thinking is not necessary: there is only the radiance of awareness. Humanity relates to God directly through breath. "And God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul."

Then, greedy for the "knowledge of good and evil," the will begins to think. The intellect fragments into duality: better, worse; heaven, earth; spiritual, carnal. We eat from the tree of opposites: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The "Fall of Man" is our descent from awareness into thinking.

All religions that depend on theology, beliefs and doctrines, grow from the Tree of Knowledge. But the religion that requires no belief, but simply breathes with awareness in the present moment, grows from the Tree of Life.

The Agnostic's Path to God

"Life, like a many-colored dome of glass, stains the white radiance of eternity." ~Percy Shelly
"Thine own consciousness, shining, void, inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is itself the Immutable White Light of Buddha Amitābha." ~Tibetan Book of the Dead

Shelley claimed to be an atheist, though he is one of my favorite spiritual poets. Buddhism is often described as an agnostic religion: a religion that does not depend on dogma or belief.

Agnosticism is a path to God proceeding through doubt. An agnostic's question may be a deeper prayer than a believer's certainty.

There are remarkable similarities between the agnostic's path and the path of negation found in Indian and Christian mysticism. Vedanta calls this path, Neti Neti, "not this, not that." Christian mystics call it the Via Negativa, "the negative way." For example, Meister Eckhart declares, "O God, quit me of God!" To find true God, Eckhart rejected every intellectual concept of a "God." Likewise the medieval Christian classic, Cloud of Unknowing, teaches us to go beyond all knowledge, and to enter by means of "un-knowing" the pure silence beyond intellect. "Un-knowing" is the very meaning of "agnostic."

In the Via Negativa, God is neither an object nor a belief, not even a thought. For thoughts are but "graven images" made of mind instead of silver and gold. Transcending every name and form, the contemplative discovers that God is absolutely no-thing. Mute attention comes to rest in vast silence, the silence of unalloyed awareness naked of thought, image and word. Yet when fully embraced, this boundless negative awareness suddenly reverses its essence, revealing the infinite Yes beneath all no's. Self-luminous Being floods awareness, no longer over-shadowed by intellectual concepts. In Eckhart's words, "The Eye through which I see God is the Eye through which God sees me." It is when we behold no-thing that we see with the Eye of God.

Thus too the agnostic arrives at pure spiritual insight: distinguishing awareness from thoughts and beliefs. God is not an image fabricated by thinking: God is the clarity of the very space where thinking arises and dissolves.

In Buddhism, this conscious space prior to any image that it might contain, is called "Bodhichitta." In Christian mysticism, it is the "luminous darkness of the Godhead." In the lovely phrase of the King James Bible, it is called "the peace that passeth all understanding." For who could possibly hold the infinite in a finite concept? Truth comes not by knowing what God is, but un-knowing what God is not.

The ground of eternal Being is there from the beginning in the depths of the agnostic's soul, prompting the very questions which lead to this shattering of belief, the graceful and blessed catastrophe of enlightenment.

Elemental Healing Meditation

    Mandala by Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.

I am made of Air, Air is my healing. Breathing fresh and deep and slow, from my feet rooted in the soil to the soft spot in my crown, my breath connects the earth and stars. "Thank you, Air, I love You."

I am made of Water, Water is my healing. Drinking fresh and deep and slow, tasting the rain in my food, singing the mountain brook in my loins, sensing the ocean's surge in every cell of my flesh, I speak to the Waters, "Thank you, Water, I love You."

I am made of Earth, Earth is my healing. Seated on a mossy forest stone, feeling my weight as grace, every ounce of me holy and hugged by the Mother, I surrender to gravity. "Thank you, Earth, I love You."

I am made of Fire, Fire is my healing. Standing in the Solstice sun, eyes closed, I see a sacred sparkling in the silent darkness. Drawing seven breaths of radiance through my forehead to my heart, I breathe light into my blood. "Thank you, Fire, I love You."

"Air, Water, Earth and Fire, You are medicine. I love You. As You anointed me, so I anoint You with gratitude."

"Thank you," I heal the Air. "Thank you," I heal the Water. "Thank you," I heal the Land. "Thank you," I heal the Stars. With gratitude I heal. With awareness I heal.  

Shamanism is whatever activates the human body as a link between earth and stars. Shamanism is whatever awakens the body's elemental powers. Shamanism is anointing our bones, blood, tears and breath with sparkling awareness, I Am. Shamanism is simply the act of becoming aware, and holding the whole creation in our consciousness, as an offering, in gratitude.

With Your Own Heart

"Commune with your own heart and be still." ~Psalm 4.

I love this verse. Why do preachers and Sunday school teachers never mention it? I guess they'd go out of business if they did. No heavenly vision, no transcendence, no esoteric worship or devotion to the master can compare to the stillness, the peace that blossoms in the heart, when you just rest as who you are. To repose as your Self in this moment is the only portal to transformation...

Commune with your own heart and be still.
Do not make a mystery of this.

The source that draws you home is who you are.
How could it be otherwise?

Let the one who remembers, whisper to the sun,

All living creatures hear that music, just a little,
a rippling of the stillness,

here, in the chest, a warmth
where breath begins.

Elohim: Ye Are All Gods

Neither Moses, Jesus nor Muhammad would recognize the Germanic word "God." They called the deity by the same Semitic name, All'ah. Allah is El' in Hebrew. Jesus used the beautiful name, "Al'ava," Divine Papa.

From the very first verse of the Bible, the Hebrew text heightens the ambiguity of the Divine by using the name Elohim rather than El'. Elohim is the plural. The first verse does not say that God created the heavens and the earth, but Gods.

What are we to make of this ambiguity? Is it not the ambiguity of consciousness itself? A separate Lord God did not create the earth in distant ages past. It is We who continue to create the earth now, or destroy it. We are the Elohim. We are all Gods.

Lest this sound blasphemous, please read the scripture. Psalm 82:6 declares, "Ye are all gods," a verse repeated by Jesus in John 10:34. yes, we are each others creators, each others saviors. I belong to you.

Does "privacy" have any edges? The earth is not a system of corporate exploitation based on the survival of the fittest. Earth is a cooperative. Our world is the mutual enterprise of consciousness, projected from the ocean of I AM through waves of WE.

Not Knowing

"Is it the solstice?"
"No, full moon."
"What's the difference?"
"None really. It's a human thing."
"Why do they make such a big deal about this stuff?"
"Is it because they don't have tails?"


"Namaste" we say when we greet each other. "I honor that of God in you." Most people assume this means to honor some golden spark of transcendental beauty hidden behind the outer form. But I think "Namaste" means something more radical, disturbing, and wonderful. It means that even the outer form is pervaded by divine Shakti. We honor God-energy in every face, each wrinkle and tear, grimace and wound, right down to the phlegm, the urine, the cancer in the bone, the devouring worm... the homeless child born in a garage at the back of the motel.


Slow down, walk softly. When we spend a little while walking softly, going nowhere,
each footstep makes the earth more sacred, and we enter a new dimension, the dimension
of the Ordinary, where miracles are possible.

Picture: Old New Castle, DE, where my lovely wife grew up, by Dennis Strong


What is formless, dimensionless, transparent, lighter than space itself, yet more solid than a diamond and more brilliant than 10 thousand suns? What contains, in a dissolving point that is finer than a photon, all the information, all the forms, and all the actions that could ever exist on all possible worlds, like a dream before it is dreamed, in a mind that has not fallen asleep?

On Robben Island

On Robben Island
he said
what he missed the most
was hearing childrens' laughter...
Friend, remember this
beyond all politics
when you need healing.


Photo: Former prisoner 46664 revisits the place 

of his imprisonment and spiritual transformation.

The Moon is always still and radiant. Though her lovely reflection is sometimes whole, sometimes broken, in these waters, she has no need to keep repeating, "I am not the pond, I am not the pond." She just gazes.

My Workshop Happening Now!

Join my workshop, it's happening now, and it's free!
Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad,
all took this weekend intensive: that's how they got certified!
You've been on the waiting list thousands of years,
but initiation only takes the blink of an eye.
In fact, just reading this invitation is enough:
Even though you haven't begun, you've mastered the practice. 
Hear the secret that was never hidden:
how to use three talismans that you received at birth,
your inhalation, your exhalation, and your heartbeat.
OK, that's it, you're authorized to teach!
Now go out and get some disciples.
Instruct them how to bow and gaze at each other.
It's all remembered in a flash of emptiness.
Accept the truth, you are unfathomable.
I'm just reminding you about your ancient wonder,
the gentle light that melts the edges around all creatures,
then solidifies into a blinding sun, then burns
a widening ring of voidness from the center of your heart,
outward, to the rimless limits of our fractaled galaxy.
How great is the wisdom you don't know you already have?
Angels get so tipsy singing your name,
they have to hum every sound in the alphabet to remember it!
Don't send me any money for this.
I get plenty of reward just thinking about you
waking up tomorrow morning and saying to yourself,
"Nothing! Nothing! I learned absolutely nothing!"

Workshop Link: HERE IT IS!

Co-Existence of One and Many

How silent, crystal pure and still the Self! How wondrous, wild, chaotic and ephemeral the world projected as a veil, a mirage, a playful reflection of the Self in a mirror of emptiness!

Where is the conflict? Where is the need to choose between Oneness within and duality without? That ever-dissolving world-aura clothes this naked changeless Radiance in shimmering garments. It is a charming paradox to be danced, not a problem to be solved.

The Self is basso continuo in a Gregorian hymn, chanting tone beneath melodic variation. We meditate to ground our music in the under Om, then joyfully dance with a chorus of voices.
And because This already pervades That, there is no compulsion to impose One on the Many. As the prior condition, before one breath is taken, unity back-lights and illuminates diversity. The Om that oscillates into every other note is the unstruck sound, the mother of harmony. Therefor nothing needs to be united. Nothing needs to be harmonized. Where is the work to perform?

Yoga may be the art of seeing unity in diversity, but it begins with the science of not confounding the One with the Many. Space is formless and does not move. The mirage takes many shapes and undulates. They appear to be one, but are distinctly different in their essence. One is real. The other is illusion.

Any attempt to impose consistency on the ever-changing world, to impose order onto chaos, to impose the one onto the many, or reality upon illusion, is ignorance. All ideologies of the left or the right, and all institutions of religion, which attempt to change the nature of the world, result in fascism or fundamentalism, and simply increase the nescience of human sorrow. 

The Self need not inform the world, because the Self is the formless essence of every form already. Those who live its sparkling clarity do not impose the Self on others, any more than the sky imposes its weight on hills and forests. The sky is weightless, embracing every storm or ray of sun, remaining untouched.

Is effort required to project one's image in a mirror?


Sometimes Hatha Yoga feels more like a performance, an effort frozen in form. We might kindle new life into Hatha Yoga by letting it dissolve back into the art of its origin: just lying on the ground, effortlessly breathing.

As we did when we were babies, self-discover the miracle of embodiment. Allow breath to melt matter into streams. Let bone and flesh undulate in subtlest micro-movements. Bathe each exquisite pearl of body in a wave of awareness. Be leaves in warm breeze. Observe sensations arise and dissolve in dance of unfolding presence. No right way, no wrong way.

Stillness gently spirals outward from our center. Graceful silence in-spires hips, ribs, neckbones, crown. No "asana" to be attained. No posture to be held. No "technique" downloaded from memory.

Living asana means effortless movement arising in the heart, unfolding through the spine, expanding and contracting with the breath. Living Yoga means that mind is not separate from the primal Shakti, the energy itself.


This old body has its aches and pains,
but even they have blossoms
like pea weeds among poppy billows.

All in all, it's worthwhile having bones
to give light a foundation,
having ligaments to give the stars

a place where they can fall and lodge
their smaller selves; it's not so bad,
this blood mire of swollen umber

like a peach with edible fuzz.
I can caress your belly, I can run my finger
down to the fur, smell hay just after rain

and watch the willow-armed valley
with its creek whispers invite the mist
into her shaded bed. All in all,

it is good to have a body. It is not a burden.
There is nothing illusory about it.
Even an old one, especially an old one,

makes prayer possible: not in petition
for some wider space, but in thanksgiving
for the place where I am.


       Orion Nebula, Hubble 2006

Why seek the Formless? Just don't cling to forms.

Peel the onion, layer upon layer without a core, without a center. Beyond all these layers, atoms dancing in the void. Yet every atom also an onion. Selah.

Behind every political or economic reality, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. Behind every scientific reality, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. Behind every material form, the meaningless play of atoms dancing in the void. All forms, just layers of hollowness: that was Buddha's teaching, and that is the revelation of contemporary physics.

Then why take it all so seriously? Why reject or grasp anything when there is no essence, no soul of Creation? The heart is just its layered-ness.

If you say, "I believe in God," you have fallen out of the dance. If you say, "I am an atheist," you have fallen out of the dance. This dance is charming and playful precisely because it is free from the tyranny of "meaning," a voluptuous layering of the quantum vacuum, entirely meaningless. How wonderful!

Neither to reject nor to grasp is surrender. And surrender is not the end of the path, but the prior condition where no path arises. This a priori condition of surrender is the nature of the void. Merely to see this, without a single thought about it, is bliss.

Bliss dances and celebrates in infinite layers of itself, the exquisite complexity of emptiness.

To A Neo-Advaitist

The universe does not rejoice in the impersonal, but in the communion.

The you in me bows to the me in you, and we melt into who we are; this is called "laughing eyes."

Why did God become flesh, walking down dusty village roads, touching, blessing the children?

So that we might say, "Thank you for being born, Jesus. "

Why do we return to the fur?

So that we might say, "Thank you for being born, little golden poodle."

And when there are no words for wonder, why does the Self-luminous choose to gaze and hug?

Don't underestimate the glory of otherness; thank you, whoever you are, for being born into this voluptuous mud!

A neo-advaitist said to me, "You need no guru because you are already perfect."

So I went there and became vast, proud, boundless, lonely and dry.

But still, some primal yearning of the heart for the heart tugged at the stars, and I heard the moon weeping for the sun...

and besides, his workshops were more expensive than Church.

The fallacy of that teaching lies in the word "need;" I do not surrender to my master out of lack, but overflowing fullness,

every cell of this body like a silver cup filled to the brim with the stuff Christ served at the wedding.

The master has turned what for you might just be water into something that makes me drunk

because my freedom is love, my freedom is love...

Now, Gurudev, let our twoness be a single spiraling stream of nectar, pouring from that cup into this one.


The word "God" does not offend me. The word "Should" offends me. "Should" is the idol of authority, created by a mind that cannot taste divine freedom. It is not in the experience of the Divine, but in the absence of the Divine as direct experience, that "Should" arises.

What is 'Spirituality'?

Spirituality is abandoning the compulsion to do any of the things you were ever taught you needed to do to become "spiritual"; then simply resting in the heart, literally in the heart, laying each breath down as an offering, needing to be no one but who you are this moment, because your Self is the golden sun who illuminates the entire cosmos.

This dissolution into Light is so mundane, so ordinary, you don't even name it "spirituality," or "enlightenment," or "God," because you are the Self of every sentient creature, from a lady bug to a blade of grass to a roaring lion to the galaxy whirling in boundless silence.
Be Brave, Don't know!

The Sled Deal: A Noir Short Story

So I threw my customized '67 wood-paneled toboggan into reverse and started back up the hill. It was getting real icy now under the purpling 5 o'clock sky. Sure enough, she was sitting all alone on that cold white crystal blanket, sniffling.

She wore a pink one-piece Gimbels snow-suit with bright red Buster Brown boots, and she wiped her eyes with Sky King and Penny mittens. Her Flexible Flyer had flipped on its side, her Howdy Doody lunchbox spilling Mary Janes and Necco Wafers into the glittering snow. "Just my ticket," I thought.

Shifting the wad of Bazooka bubble gum into my left cheek, and swishing back the coon tail on my Davey Crockett cap, I said, "Climb in, Sweetheart, I'm taking you down the hill for some hot Ovaltine."

She hunkered her knees around my rib cage, snug as a bug in my toboggan, and we swooshed down fast. Soon we were in my kitchen, the windows steamy, the hot water radiators clanking up a cozy storm. My Mom made us drinks in Walt Disney mugs with melting marshmallows on top. Mine was Pluto, a dog who was not too bright. Hers was a waltzing hippo from Fantasia, a movie that was in Technicolor.

Mom left the kitchen. She had to go into the den to turn on Popeye Theater for my little brother David, who didn't even know how to work the TV. Meanwhile, those red boots were sagging in a puddle by the radiator, the girl rubbing one wet white sock against another with her feet. I didn't even know her name, but I told her I loved her: and if she'd give me half her candy, I'd take her back up to fetch the sled. That was the deal.

It was my first date. In those days, there was snow by Thanksgiving. Real cold outside. But real warm in the kitchen.



* The revolution is to breathe.
* The radical act is to be present.
* The world is nourished by the secret joy of your heartbeat.
* Walking on the earth, 

   this foot soft, that foot solid, 
   pouring the sky from one leg into the other.
* Mountain, cloud, river, prayer.

The Sri Chakra of Universal Healthcare

My cancer is yours. Your breath is mine. 

We eat from one bowl and drink from one stream, because we choose the same planet. 

Remarkable isn't it, how so many citizens imagine they inhabit separate biospheres, guests in private rooms of a luxury hotel, while the rest of us clean their toilets and take out the trash? 

Independence is the deepest illusion. There are no islands of private choice, private property, or private health. We belong to each another.

All health is public. Whatever I do to soil, river, cloud, whatever I burn in fire, enters your physiology. Whatever you eat becomes my land and food. Jesus said what we all must come to say, "Take this and eat it, for this is my body."

Individuality and freedom of choice are dissolving threads, interwoven in the Sri Chakra, the Great Mother's earthweb. If there is such a thing as "privacy," it has no edges.

No one is healthy or unhealthy by their own choice. No one is immune to the mutuality of the biochemical collective. Darwin wrote, "We are all netted together."

Do you truly believe that, just because you are a yogi, a vegan, a pacifist, or live off the grid, that you are immune to all disease, every tornado, or the next 9/11? That you will never wake up to discover you are old, infirm, and afraid? So God-like you will never ask anyone for help, never need emergency medical assistance, triage or transportation? Of course you will. And when you do, who will pay for it?

In the enlightened society, which is human society, we see that "health" is interdependence: therefor healthcare is cooperative. It must be part of the ancient "commons." The web of healthcare, if it is to have any moral foundation at all, cannot profit the few; it must be administered by public servants on public salaries, in a system where each citizen contributes to the good of all. I am entitled to this public good because I buy into it. I make an offering, a yagya to the Sri Chakra of universal healthcare. 

There is no "entitlement" without sacrifice, no "private" choice that does not cost the whole tribe. It takes a village to treat a cancer, to feed a child, and to abort a fetus. As in biological life, or in the life of a subatomic particle, or a supernova, so in the life of human community, we are all waves of one sea, oscillations of one field; we feed each other, breathe each other, bear each other's flesh.

"Privacy" is the aura of individualism that shimmers like a mirage over the great continuum of bio-spiritual Life.

These truths are inconvenient, but liberating. To embrace them is to be response-able.


 A projector sends a beam of light through lifeless plastic images on a film, and they seem to be alive. So we project our own Consciousness through the lifeless stories of the past, and play them over and over again, imagining that the story is "sacred." But the life we derive from any ancient story or "sacred" text is the light of our own Presence, misidentified with the hollow image it illuminates. The light comes from the Self, not from the story. The life is always present, the past is dead.


At every moment, I am surrounded by very very small but infinitely beautiful things. It is not some ancient mystery of "Sin," nor some metaphysical descent into "ignorance," that causes my fall from the grace of true seeing: it is simply this argumentative fault-finding mind, ever insistent on being "right," that prevents my beholding miracles through the eye of my heart. This is why masters of both Yoga and Christian prayer advise, "Let your mind descend into the heart by means of breathing."

The Story of Earth and Paradise

In the beginning, there was no difference between this Earth and Paradise. All of us were Elohim, just ordinary Gods. We lived in pure light. Then we composed bodies out of the light so that we might touch and dance. For all eternity we touched and danced in the light. Was this an inward uncreated Light, or the light of creation? Again, a meaningless distinction...

But at some point in eternity, one of the Light Bearers conceived of "something better." He started whining, "Is this all there is? We can improve things around here." The notion of "something better" spread quickly until there were two groups of Gods, the Angels of the Ordinary and the Whiners for Perfection.

The Council of Elohim met to discuss what to do. I need to remind you that the word used for "God" in your Bible is Elohim, the plural, which means "Gods;" not El, the singular. There is no "God," there are just we Gods. So we Gods met in council and decided it would be best to separate the Angels of the Ordinary from the Whiners for Perfection before this rebellion went any further. So we created this Earth, as you know it, for the Whiners. Or rather, you were allowed to create it for yourselves, out of whining.

But these two realms are really not so separate as they may seem, because as soon as your thoughts become silent and you stop whining, you awaken to Beauty. Immediately you have moved beyond light-speed through a warp in space-time, back to the realm of Paradise.

But if you become petulant and argumentative when you hear this, and you're thinking, "Who is this stupid story-teller? Doesn't he realize that our world is full of pain and imperfection? We have to change everything to make this place decent!" it means that you still live among the Whiners for Perfection, and have not yet returned to the Ordinary.

Now both the Angels and the Whiners are busy doing good. The difference is this: when a Whiner desires to do a good work, the Whiner sees lack and imperfection needing to be fixed. When an Ordinary Angel desires to do a good work, she sees only fullness overflowing into deeper fullness.
  पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णश्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Painting, Aura Rosenburg, 'Bird of Paradise'

4 A.M.


4 AM, awareness tastes and sees the night, mind disappears. How many of us are there ever, really? Only Perception, frost forming on blades of grass in the starry hollow of your forehead, drum of silence, chest dissolving with mysterious compassion, the moon flame curled in delicious blackness.

I reach out to You with this breath. I touch You with this breath. Lovers must untangle, not darkness and light. We are a star and its eternal ocean, the void, that Yearning where inhalation begins - here, my love, between the eyes; and that Union where it pours into the heart's cup - here, my love, the pain that keeps us on earth.

What overflows is dripping into groundlessness. Stay awake all night with me, planting untold secrets in the garden of your body!

Painting, Chagall, Moonlit Lovers

Dancing In Darkness and Light

Earth is the realm where opposites dance. We are here to realize truth by embracing polarity. It is in the deepest darkness that the moon is most radiant.

Because there is pain, there is pleasure. Because there is happiness, there is sorrow. Because there are thick clouds, there is clear sky. The Buddha said, "Because this is, that is." Padikka-Samupaddha, the central doctrine of Buddhism, is not just interdependence, but interdependence of opposites.

To claim that one who knows bliss cannot feel sorrow, is false spirituality. To claim that, as long as others are in pain, I am not entitled to be happy, is delusion.

If you insist that by adding your own sorrow to the world's sorrow you will alleviate it, then by all means choose unhappiness. But know that your unhappiness is a choice. And so is your happiness.

Voltaire wrote, "I choose to be happy because it is good for my health." Yet when we cling to the notion that we must be happy, we create more suffering. In the Sutra on Mindfulness of Breathing (Satipatana Sutta), Buddha taught that the final practice is letting go of ideas, even the idea of happiness.

This world is a mystery that will never be solved until we embrace both left and right, above and below, with open arms and open palms, not clinging to one or the other. We are here to surrender at the center of the Cross.

Now dance under the full moon, bathing in darkness and light!

Scripture and Presence

There is no time, only this trembling Presence, ever-expanding and silencing the murmur of memory, the anxiety of the future. Awareness of Presence dissolves time, because time only exists as thought, and thought cannot endure wonder.

Since no time exists but the incomprehensible moment, there is no beginning, no end, no creation, no final judgment.

Therefor 98% of the world's scripture is worthless speculation, old stories and fruitless prophecies, concerning a past and future that do not existence. Such writings, even when we adorn them in gold leaf, bind them in sacred scrolls, and place them on an alter, have no more value than last week's newspapers.

The only religious writings of any value are words that point our attention to Now. Forget all scripture and doctrine except what awakens your Presence.

What's the Time?

When you're doing what you love, you never ask, "What's the time?" You never look at your watch and say, "Honey, it's time to go." That is a lie and you know it.

It's never time to go when you're being You. Time only happens on clocks and cell phones; it's just an excuse to leave the places you never wanted to go. You're always too late or too early when you don't know what you love.

Just because some 12th Century monk decided to ring a bell every hour, you don't have to keep nervously glancing at your I-Phone, or get trapped in you day-timer.

How can you be late when you're already here, where bliss led you slowly to the center of the galaxy by a string of heartbeats?

Seconds, hours and days dissolve in this big empty zero of Presence. Those electric digits and dots on your clock all melt into the stars accelerating through the cobalt distance, smothered in oceans of downy silence.

Just repose right here in the moment before creation, doing what you love without haste, while everyone rushes in circles around you, trying to keep up with your stillness.

Let your eyes tell them what time it really is, now.


No one is to blame.

Let me not protect my heart from its own beaten Beauty by blaming you.

Let me not absolve myself from my part in this world, by blaming others.

May I breathe both Pain and Beauty into my chest. May I breathe in the suffering of the Philippines, the Congo, Afghanistan and Syria.

I unbuckle the breast-plate of anger and drop the shield of political judgment. I do not blame capitalism for the terrible power of the Storm. I do not blame Republicans or Democrats for the mystery of human suffering. I do not blame Obama or Cheney, Christianity or Islam, for the world's apparent injustices. I do not blame the rich. I do not blame the poor. I do not blame God.

Who can I blame? I see so clearly now that blame is just the way I deflect my anger and fear. But when I release all blame, I have no choice but to inhale the world's terror. And only then can I widen my embrace to feel its Beauty.

Yes, the Sorrow is profound, but the Beauty is breath-taking, astonishing, miraculous. The Sorrow I breathe in, the Beauty I breathe out. What I draw into my heart is cleansed, dissolved, transformed into a sapphire sky that flows with golden rays of dawn. This perfect clarity of compassion and joy is mine to release. I breathe the morning sky of love across the sea...

This world of sorrow and beauty had no creation.
The sky is always blue and pure in the midst of the clouds, behind the typhoon. Therefor I am free to marvel and worship beyond thought. 

The whirled has no cause, its pain has no beginning, its beauty no end. Therefor I am absolved of sin, and I absolve others of blame.

Dear Friend, won't you join me in this breath?


Dear missionary who left your pamphlet in my door knocker today, telling me that I will go to hell if I don't take Jesus as my personal savior: I am sorry I wasn't here to greet you, to smile at you with love, to look deeply into your eyes and tell you this:

"My breath is the Holy Spirit. My body is the Church.
Jesus already lives in my heart - along with Krishna, Buddha, Goddess Saraswati, and approximately 296,000,000 other gods. The only scripture I need is the letter "O!" inscribed on my breastbone, a big fat empty circle that begins every prayer to any God you choose, a Zero of divine astonishment. Have a good day. I have to go. My soup is boiling."

Creativity is Grace

Have you noticed? When we accomplish a task and feel that "I" have accomplished this, the work is dry. It lacks juice, life-energy, and freshness. "My" work is a repetition of the past, a re-modeling of what I already knew and did before.

But when we do sometime that truly feels fresh, and people say, "Wow! That is amazing!" - no matter how much energy we expended, we feel like the work was a gift. It happened through us, not from us. We don't feel comfortable taking credit and saying, "I did that." In fact, we find the work as wonderful as others do.

The human mind does not create. The mind is a repository of old patterns and memories, useful for storage. The New is never the Knew. Fresh energy comes from a wellspring deeper than thought, ancient yet ever reborn from the silent womb of Shakti, the power of the Mother. Creativity is a gift of Grace.

Do our schools and colleges educate students to tap the well of creativity? Or do they only educate the mind?

"Merged in unity, there was nothing to do. So Shakti, the bringer of good fortune, created this world for the sake of divine play... Out of His great love to see Her, He becomes the Seer of the universe. If He could not watch Her play, He would have no reason to exist." 
~Jnanadev, 'Amṛta Anubhāva: The Experience of Bliss-Nectar’

The Fall

I was falling slowly, gracefully into groundlessness. The Guru was my parachute. Then I unbuckled and slipped out.

I dropped headlong into groundlessness, but my body was a stone causing friction in the sky, a meteor burning with separateness. So I slipped out.

Then I was plummeting into groundlessness beyond the speed of sound, but the concept of 'I' was a comet in the vacuum, shining with reflected light. So I unbuckled the light and slipped out.

Now my velocity, beyond the speed of light, has become a stillness. The groundless reposes in the groundless. Everything is falling into Me.

Return to the Garden

Mind dissolves in the heart, but we don't lose the qualities of reason and discrimination. They are like sugar crystals dissolved in water, one with our liquid being. Conflict between thinking and feeling disappears. Adam and Eve, Christ and Magdalene, Krishna and Radha, unite in the Bridal Chamber of the Hridaya chakra at the center of this human form. The serpent of Wisdom coils sweetly around our spine, the Tree of Life, as a luminous breath of Spirit. With every inhalation, awareness touches the sky, and with every exhalation Shakti roots down in the dark soil, entwining heaven and earth in the radiance of our divine flesh. The soul no longer wanders in exile from the sacred garden of the body. We dwell under the blossoming bower of Presence, by a nourishing stream of luscious green intuition.

Painting by Jan Breughel

Rose Window

 "The eye is the light of the body. If your eye be single, 
your whole body will be filled with light." ~Luke 11:34

What if your heart were a rose window in the Notre Dame of your body, tinted with morning or evening light, and you were the glazier?

Would you choose for its center that violet Lady dawdling the child on her knee? That golden Master stretching out his hand to touch and heal the poor?

Or a formless emerald flowering, wings of the dragonfly, amethyst and ruby? And now your most blessed choice of all: which way the rays of light will fall...

Does brilliance filter down from stars through a world of troubled shadows, pouring heaven into our unilluminated thirst?

Or does that glory spring from Within, flared by very looking?

Friend, consider this: we bathe one another in a single dazzling eye of love, muted through a kind of gracious glass;

each of us rose-centered, translucent, a cathedral of promise upon the dark world's purpling intimations of dawn.

Photo: rose window, Notre Dame de Paris


I have proven in the laboratory of bewilderment that every proton, forged in the cauldron of a star, is actually molded out of my own consciousness. Now let the naked mud wrestling match between Plato and Aristotle begin!


Every morning, the illiterate peasant woman visited the burial shrine of a great saint. There she surrendered her heart. And for the rest of each day and night she remained in that state of perfect surrender, caring for her children and husband, sweeping the dust from people's doorways, offering every deed of her humble work into the fire that burned in her heart.

Surrendering all karma as devotional sacrifice, she became enlightened. Others saw her as a poor working woman, but in her own perception, each action she performed was suspended in the radiant stillness of the Divine, like a stream of ghee poured into a sea of gold.

Eventually the whole countryside recognized her saintliness, though she paid no attention to the world's opinion. Bathing each deed in the light of God, she exhausted herself with humble work. Her days were monuments of spiritual beauty... until the shocking discovery.

A group of village Brahmins came to break the terrible news. Some of them were secretly jealous of her and had to suppress their delight beneath false tears. They had discovered something that would destroy the old woman's enlightenment: they showed her the bone. "This is conclusive proof," they declared, "that it is not a saint who is buried in that shrine, but a donkey."

The old woman closed her eyes and sank into deep silence. The Brahmins stole away without another word. Then the old lady began to laugh. Tears of bliss poured from her eyes. Uproariously she laughed, wild as a lioness.

For her, the Brahmins' message was mahavakya, the final word of liberation. Thus spent the rest of her days in even deeper sweetness. She was living proof that divine Light shines in the quality of the heart's surrender, not in the object...

When the old woman entered her final samadhi, they buried her in a grave which became a shrine of devotion even more popular than the one she used to visit. But after all, who really knows whether she is buried there, or a donkey?


"Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it in ourselves. It is a daily practice." ~Thich Nhat Hanh

We can acquire the wealth and power of the State, yet live in bondage. But if we acquire knowledge of the Self, we can be liberated even in a prison cell. Gandhi, Bonhoeffer, Mandela, King, Thoreau, Jeremiah, Paul the Apostle, all attained the vision of perfect freedom while incarcerated. True freedom lies in boundless awareness, not in the presence or absence of material limits that arise and dissolve in the mist of this uncertain world.

Mystical Bride

Ten thousand voices murmuring inside you, declaiming, insisting, some angry, some full of tears, all falling silent at the Christ-whisper:

"Come rest in Me. I Am the mereness of your Being. I Am the Abundance that overflows when simply existing is enough. I Am your Christ-Self, more You than who you think you are. I am your long-patient lover, the Am who waits for I in the bridal chamber of the heart. Come, drink of my long-aged Wine. Recline at the feast of who you really are.

"The canopy I built for this wedding is the sky. The galaxies are chandeliers, hung low to glitter like a diamond tiara for you. Stars pour my light into your cup, singing, "Just as you are, just as you are!" Haven't you understood their language? Light comes from inside.

Now is the time to shatter your cup. Let me pour this transforming sweetness on your head, your brow, your lips, your chest. My ecstasy is that you are anointed as I am anointed, in the same stream, pour from the same Breath.

"What part of you will not gather under the Chuppah? Your blood, your breath, your desire? Your old story of being alone and apart from Me? I invite all of you to the wedding, the stumbling unmarried uncle of your doubt, the muttering spinster of your hesitation, the children of your uncertainty. Let them whirl with the best dancers and call for more wine!

"At this wedding, One becomes Two. That is the real Mystery. Oneness is too easy! This confusion of lips, hearts and names is divine inebriation, wildness of the best vintage. I have saved it for last, our twoness!

"Therefor, for the last time, shout this invitation to your shadow, lingering outside, afraid to pass through the door into light. Plead again just once to all the members of the court of your body who imagined themselves rejected and despised:

Come! You were betrothed to this Joy before your mother conceived you. There is no time to wonder how worthy you are. The music has begun. Your Beloved is mad with longing. Come this instant, or do not bother to exist!"

The Three Mary's

"There were three Mary's who traveled with Jesus..." ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip

In relation to Christ-Consciousness, every human soul is a Mary. The three Mary's of the Gospel represent three stages in our relationship with Divine Consciousness.

First, we nurture the infant Light within, like Mary the Mother of Jesus. We must tenderly care for the Light lest it be snuffed out by the cynicism and hopelessness of the world. 

Maturing in our  relationship with the Inner Light, we discover that the Christ is our personal Friend. Like Mary of Bethany, our soul is God's companion on the way. Hand in hand, we walk with God. 

Finally, friendship blossoms into divine yearning. The soul is now a Magdalene, transmuting all her energies and passions into Love.

The Light within us, as Lover, invites us to union in the Bridal Chamber of the heart. 

"In his Breath, we experience a new embrace; we are no longer in duality, but in unity.... All will be clothed in light when they enter into the mystery of this sacred embrace.... What is the Bridal Chamber, if not the place of trust and consciousness in the embrace?" ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip
The divine bathes not only the mind but the senses in the radiant nectar of Love. More and more, we perceive the spiritual potency in matter. Mother matter, "Mater," gives birth to the luminescence of the Christ. We see the earth lit from within, like a bride adorned. She is Shakti, Sophia, Shekinah, the energy of consciousness itself.

Let us offer not only every prayer, but every sensation, to the Light within. Let us immolate the world in the fire of Love, until this whole creation burns to no-thing in the flame that was kindled by a tiny spark from the center of the heart.