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.