Follow Ariadne's Thread

Follow the thread of joy out of the mind's labyrinth. Follow Ariadne's thread.

When the mind turns sour, it finds fault with everyone. At each twist and turn of thought, mind becomes more skeptical, more critical, until finally devoured by the minotaur of cynicism. We are so easily lost in negative thinking, especially in this internet age. We can follow the labyrinthine links to entire websites of negation, dedicated to trashing any subject or any public figure we choose.

No one is spared: Presidents, Gurus, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, even Mr. Rogers! Let's not forget that popular opinion, which is negative mind, has always been obsessed with three things: money, sex, and fear of the dark. Thus the people even turned on Jesus, accusing him of conspiring with tax collectors, illicit affairs with "fallen" women, and demonic possession.

Yet in every mind, there is a trace of beauty, a thread of joy, the call of Dharma, to lead one out of dark thinking, into radiant unbounded awareness. It is the still quiet voice of what you love.

However tangent, insignificant or incidental, find your thread of Grace, glistening there at your feet like melting dew, or like the tatter of some spider's moon-work. Don't hesitate! That silk may soon vanish. Ignore the voices of mind that tempt you down gloomy paths of fearful speculation.

Follow your innocence. This is the Way of the Goddess, the weaver of paths, She who was abandoned by the haughty Theseus, but wedded to Dionysius, the ecstatic dancer. She became the mother of the vine!

Act in Freedom

When my action is a re-action to someone else's action, that is bondage. When my action arises from my heart, simply because it is who I am, that is freedom.  I do what I do. You do what you do. Life is very simple. But if I do because of what you do, and you do because of what I do, life is very complicated. This is the difference between spirituality and politics. A mother's milk flows not from a sense of duty, but the mystery of love. The thrush does not sing to make me happy, yet it does... Act in freedom, and you cannot help but be of service.


Instead of saying, 'I am uncertain,' why not say, 'I am an ocean of possibility'? Instead of saying, 'I am confused,' why not say, 'I am open and I welcome it all'?

You Are Here To Give Peace, Not To Lose It

Don't let the world rob you of your inner beauty. You are here to give peace, not to lose it to robbers.

What is the secret to protecting your peace? Always remember, you do not reflect the world, the world reflects you. As you Are, so is the world you perceive. Allowing outer circumstance to overshadow your inward light is the beginning of tragedy. 

The most radical act is to rest in the heart.

In the Bhagavad Gita, in the midst of life's battle, Krishna says to the warrior Arjuna, "Yogastah karu-karmani: Perform action with your heart established in the Yoga of peace."

No one can measure the value of another's work. Noble deeds may exhaust great quantities of activism, yet be erased in a short time by other events. But a quiet shoemaker with a radiant heart, sitting alone in his shop and stitching on a boot sole, may thread heaven and earth together, and save the planet. Through the warp and woof of this unfathomable karmic web, the movement of a moth's wing could collapse an empire. Who are we to judge?

Therefor, in the most mundane of tasks, let us be energy fields for peace. Whether we scrub out the bathtub, make big business in the marketplace, march in the streets with the Occupy movement, or walk quietly alone in the forest, what matters is not the outward form of action, but the quality of consciousness.

With the breath of your heart, wherever you are, infuse peace into every atom of the earth. This is the deeper work.

Jai Guru Dev

One World Family

I have never seen a white person. I have never seen a black person. I see one human race, and only one tribe, earth-colored, in an infinite variety of tones - olive, ochre, russet, burnt rose, umber and mahogany. Under this full moon of Guru Purnima, may we all reflect one Radiance, and walk barefoot in the wet grass at midnight, un-naming the stars.

The Other Within

As we approach Guru Purnima, I am moved to share my love for the Guru Shakti, the power of the Guru Within. It is a mysterious relationship, as expressed by the ancient poet of Israel: "Depth calleth unto depth" (Psalm 42). A relationship of depth with depth in a realm without boundaries.

A real Master is neither a teacher nor a lawgiver. A Master simply radiates. A Master draws you to the Light, until you discover that the Light is you. The outward Master simply ignites a relationship with the Master inside you.

Here is the irony: in the Guru's grace, you experience how free you really are, and that is precisely when you bow down. It is a bow of gratitude.

To the observer outside this relationship, the bow may look like dependency. But from within the relationship, it is a bow of absolute freedom. The more you are grateful, the more you are free.

Non-dualists insist that the true Self transcends Master and Disciple. They do not understand that Master and Disciple are both within the Self. Their apparent duality reflects the relationship of Self with Self in the unity of Self-Awareness.

In my own experience, after years in the lonely quest for "self-realization," I found it more graceful to surrender. Surrender means, there is an infinite other who is deeper within me than I. The other is my inward open-endedness. My depth keeps opening to him who is more than my mind could ever conceive as "me."

Why should I keep trying to get my mind around God? It is simpler just to fall in love. To fall into the love that beckons from an abyss where I can never touch bottom. That abyss is my Guru.

To call it Self does not express the juice, the sweetness of the relationship. And I always seem to bump up against some indefatigable outpost of my ego. Therefor, my deepest center I call Master. Yes, there is relationship in unity, dialog in the Infinite, sweetness in the crushing of grapes into nectar.

But one grape must be pressed against an other. How can I speak of such a mystery? I love what I cannot understand. God forbid that I understand! I taste my life as a gift. I cannot even call it mine. Every breath, every heartbeat is given. I surrender to the giver, even if the giver is he whom I endlessly become.

Lord, I know that you are my purest Self, yet I also call you Friend. When you are my Self, I am a capacity for infinite Being. When you are my Friend, I am a capacity for infinite Love.

Jai Guru Dev

History or Nostory?

The problem is never the way the world is: the problem is our story about it. Immersed in the heart, we need no story at all. But if there must be a story, here's the one I like to tell...

Every particle of the earth is beautiful. The entire creation is precisely as it needs to be in this moment, to provide each of us with precisely the task we need to perform right now, in order to learn the lesson required by our soul. There is no reason not to do this moment's task in complete happiness, even if the task is feeling pain or grieving loss.  

To embrace this momentary task completely, without expectation, without comparison to any other moment, is surrender. This is the only real freedom, and this freedom is perfect joy.


The present moment is boundless. Yesterday is a tiny speck. If I do not see the boundless beauty of the Earth, it's not the Earth's fault or the Creator's fault. It's because there's a speck in my eye.

There is one simple truth that humans seem incapable of facing, yet it is the first truth, the complete truth: the past is over now.


You follow the Ray back to the Source. The Ray becomes more densely radiant and lazer-like the nearer you come to the origin of Light. Finally, in a flash of blinding brilliance, you transcend Light itself and discover Sourcelessness - the divine bewilderment of the knowledge that there is no origin at all, only a spacious unbounded resting as awareness, awareness that has forever finished outward or inward searching for anything. One can only imagine how, in that moment, tea will taste.

Hug Your Outrage

    Hibiscus on my porch.

Hug your outrage. Useful energy bound in toxic blame, caged in skull and ribs. Before we send it out, stalking into the world as word or action, we can hug our outrage. Let it blossom into another form of energy. The seed of anger, planted in the loam of the Self, becomes a flower of giving.

Bhakti is the Mother of Jnana

"Leave it to God. Surrender unreservedly. One of two things must be done. Either surrender because you admit your inability and require a higher power to help you, or investigate the cause of misery by going to the source and merging into the Self. Either way you will be free. God never forsakes one who has surrendered....

"You say you offer your body, soul and all possessions to God. Were they yours to offer? At best, you can only say, 'I falsely imaged till now that all these which are Yours were mine. Now I realize they are Yours.' This realization that there is nothing but God, or the Self, and that 'I' and 'mine' don't exist, is Jnana. Thus there is no difference between Bhakti (devotional surrender) and Jnana (non-dualist realization). Bkakti is Jnana Mata, the Mother of Jnana...."

"Leave everything entirely to Him. His is the burden, you have no loner any cares. All your cares are His. Such is surrender. This is Bhakti. Or, enquire as to whom these questions arise. Divine deep into the Heart and remain as the Self. One of these two ways is open the the aspirant."

~Sri Ramana Maharshi


 There is no need to worship the Guru once you have been introduced to your Self. The Guru, the Avatar, the Goddess, the Savior, are just petals on your blossoming Heart, brothers and sisters in your Family.

Radicalize with Positive Energy

Be positive down to the core of your heart, positive right through the marrow of your silence. Then when it all falls apart, you won't even notice, because you'll live in what is already arising to take its place. This is a real choice.
  Our choice to be positive is most effective when we operate at the cellular level, through the breath, and at the atomic level, through meditation, rather than on the macro level of mere "positive thinking" and "affirmation." So before we begin any other work, however noble, we can meditate, energizing every cell and atom with radiant life-giving vibration, Meditation is radical action. 
 "Radical" comes from the latin, "radix," meaning "root." Meditation is the most radical act because it nourishes the root of all other action, deep in the ground of Silence, where sub-atomic particles are formed out of the void.

Time Is Imaginary

Time is imaginary, a mirage in eternal stillness. Past and future arise and dissolve in a space that is always now, always clear, self-luminous and tranquil. What ever appears, changes, and dissolves cannot be called real and is not you. The space alone is real where it appears, changes and dissolves. This space is pure awareness. 

The space of awareness is so vast that it contains even your birth, your death. Untroubled by the need to be a self, its nature is effortless compassion. How can problems exist when phenomena have no substance? 

Ever returning to the one solution, rest as awareness. Trust in spaciousness. Don't seek, just find.

A Soft Sweet Sabbath

       Vincent Van Gogh, 'Green Vineyard.' 

Have a soft sweet Sunday. Perceive how the edges of things dissolve. The smallest leaf is infinite today.

Politics will not solve our political problems. That is pretty obvious by now. The solution to a problem is never on the level of the problem, but on the level of the cause, which is an entirely different dimension. The causal dimension of political and economic problems is the personal awareness of the individual citizen.

When a large enough number of Americans choose a simpler life, not out of political ideology, but out of personal delight in the sacrament of the present moment, the wealth of the ordinary, then the political problems of our civilization will dissolve spontaneously, because Americans will no longer need to exploit the world's poor for the burden of unnecessary riches, or devastate the earth to sate our appetite. To occupy the present moment, and delight in the small and the beautiful - the motionless explosion of a rose, the thrush's song, the taste of a homegrown raspberry - is the supreme political movement.

My politics is poetry. The radical act is to be fully present. The revolution is to breathe.

Bono: An Inspiration

The sign of humility, as well as genius, is the willingness to embrace our opposite. One of the greatest interviews I have ever heard: the meeting of spirituality and politics, left and right.

Sit with Sadness

Can you tell the difference between the weeds and the flowers in my back yard? The weeds are blossoming along with hydrangia, tiger lilies, and salvia.

Rumi wrote:

"Don't sit with a sad person,
Only sit with those who are sweet and kind-hearted.
When you've entered a beautiful garden
Why spend your time with the weeds ? 
Stay with the jasmine and the jonquil. "

I reply:

Sit with sadness.
Sit among shadows and weeds.
Sit with the abandoned kitten
so that you become sunlight, 
you become the rose, 
you become milk.

It's not About the Vision but the Seer

        Adi Shankara and his disciples: the Holy Tradition

Any vision or state that comes and goes, however exalted, is not the Self.

What becomes lost in taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch, is not the Self.

Anything "more" beautiful, anything "most" beautiful, is not the Self. For whatever may be compared is not the Self.

What is known as an object of experience is not the Self. What is grasped as a concept, belief, or image in memory, is not the Self. What is imagined is not the Self. What is felt as emotion, mood, or even ecstasy, is not the Self.

What goes to sleep when the body sleeps, what dreams when the mind dreams, is not the Self. What says, "I slept, but now I am awake," is not the Self. For the Self never sleeps.

The sign of the Self is boundless Radiance, shining from inside out. It outshines every perception of the external world. Its splendor remains when the body sleeps. It watches dreams unfold, yet is not part of the dream. Self-effulgent awareness, even in the dark oblivion of dreamless slumber, it witnesses sleep.

The Self is formless. Because it is formless, it is unlimited. Because it is unlimited, it is ever-expanding. Because it is ever-expanding, it is bliss. Painful to call the Self "it," but how can the Self be called "he" or "she"? The Self is beyond gender.

We do not meditate to attain a vision, we meditate to transcend vision. Meditation is not about the seen, but the Seer.

I may have visions of the highest lokas, the heaven worlds. I may sip ayahuasca, seeing into the subtle properties of herbs and healing plants. Yet if my own awareness lacks Self-luminosity, these visions are just fantasy, hallucination, with no foundation, for their Seer is lost in the seen.

If, on the other hand, awareness is grounded in the unshakable yoga of samadhi, unwavering pure consciousness, I could gaze at a potato, growing in the ruins of an urban lot, and there see infinite beauty, gain deepest wisdom, and behold the glorious architecture of the cosmic design.

Therefor we meditate not to see, but to establish the ground of the Seer. And when the Seer is seen, there is no object, no content, no vision. There is no "I," but only the blue sky of "Am," unlimited by the slightest boundary of thought. There is not even ahamkara, the "I"-thought.

Through meditation, we realized the Seer, and through right action we establish the Seer permanently in the midst of sensory experience. We meditate beyond the world, then act in the world. This dynamic cycle of opposites, meditation and action, meditation and action, day after day, continues until the two are blended as one. Then we see action in silence, silence in action, and the Self irradiating the entire world with bliss.

In the Upanishads, the experience of the Seer-Self is called turiya, the fourth state of consciousness, because it is distinct from waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. The waking world, the dream world, and the blackness of sleep arise and disappear, arise and disappear, super-imposed on the mirror of the Self, just as scenes in a movie are projected on a white screen, or as clouds move across an empty sky.

At first, our own Self-Radiance is unknown to us, buried beneath the experience of the senses and the dreams of the mind. Consciousness seems abstract, because it is not perceived by itself. The Upanishads define this condition as ignorance, when we identify not with awareness, but with the objects of awareness. Our sense of satisfaction and worthiness rises and falls with the changing perceptions of the world around us: the sky mistakes itself for a cloud.

But through the deepening practice of meditation, awareness solidifies. Awareness itself becomes concrete as diamond, compared to which the external world is passing mist, a mirage that dances in still air.

The spiritual path has nothing to do with seeking higher worlds, planes or states of mystical rapture. The Self is not a plane or a state. Higher consciousness has no more solidity or permanence than the hallucination of a madman, or the drug trip from which a tripper must always come down.

Any consciousness that is "higher" or "lower" is not the Self.

Realize the Seer, and you will gracefully quit clinging to the seen, whether the seen is the material world or a vision of God. This is why, after the resurrection, Jesus told Mary Magdalene, "Do not cling to me."

When the Seer realizes the purity and solidity and eternity of her own Self, then "soul" and "god" are not different. How could there be two infinities?

Then there is nothing that need be seen, and nothing more to seek.

Liberated from the world, the Seer quite naturally begins to perceive the environment as her very own Self. This is real "environmentalism." The irony is, that to see the world as oneself, one first needs to realize one's Self as distinct from the world. Then, even the non-self begins dissolving into pure consciousness.

To see the environment as one's Self is not vanity, but intimacy. The bliss of the Self pervades the world, composes the world, vibrates as the world, yet there is nothing but the Self, just as the ocean's waves are nothing but the ocean.

To see the other as one's Self is love, the very fulfillment of all scripture (Mat. 22:39).

When this process of liberation has completely unfolded, and the Seer not only realizes the Self, but perceives all that is seen as the Self, then she understands that there was never actually anything from which to be liberated.

It was all theater, play, lila-shakti: the power of consciousness delighting in consciousness. This entire fantastic universe is simply God, experiencing liberation of Self, again and again, through soul after soul, in perpetual celebration of the One who is awakening.

Nothing could be more real, as direct experience. Yet nothing could be more delusional than adopting this teaching as mere philosophy. All that is described here is founded on the direct experience of the transcendental deep meditation. To make a mere philosophy or belief of "non-dualism," without the direct experience, results in mere mood and mere words that disappear with sleep at night. The Radiance of the Self is either real or it isn't. You will know it is real when the Self is experienced, without any need to think about it, not only in waking but in the midst of dreams and deep sleep.

All glory to Guru Dev, whose grace bestows upon us the simple and graceful practice of meditation!