Shamanism 101

The essence of shamanism is to play 
with the gifts in your body. 
What is beyond is here.
What is here is beyond.
No priest or guru can show you.
Trust your nose.
The scent is everywhere.

Our shamanic alter on the floor of the Evergreen College Farm House, during a retreat in shape shifting into higher consciousness, and healing with stones and plants, led by Cedar Llyn Roberts of the Olympic Mountain EarthWisdom Circle. Thank you, Cedar.


Look for imperfections, you see them everywhere. Let a little astonishment in, it's all one diamond light. It's a trick, my friend. Don't be fooled. Be a wet sparkling dogwood blossom. Be last night's moon in blue April morning. Be formless forest moss mist risen into periwinkle crepiscule. Almost distilled into aubergine, condense into a raindrop, fall again. Patter through a canopy of alders. Get lost between cedar root birth wounds. Be where you came from. Here. Of water the earthwise wheel ever turning, and the stillness through whom it rolls. Say nothing of wonder. Don't be fooled. You are always free.


The limitless sky of awareness apparently emerges from sleep into waking, because a thin veil of cloud drifts away. After a deep blue moment of eternal radiance, the mind breathlessly rushes in, whispering, "I'm back. What shall we worry about today?" Dear friend, the past does not exist. Why not wake in the sweetness that is never one moment old, and pierce this dewdrop earth as a ray of God?

Historical Jesus & Mythic Christ: Never Not One

History is a post-Biblical concept. Biblical stories suggest something more important than "history": the living power of Christ-consciousness embodied in a human life. 

I always find it interesting that some people preach against the Bible as much as true believers preach in favor of it. But people who rant against the Bible must be attached to it on some level. If their unconscious were not entangled in the Bible, they wouldn't spend so much energy fighting it.

Preaching against the Bible is especially futile when one objects on the grounds that the Bible could not possibly be historically true. Ya' think? Of course the Bible isn't literal: it was never intended to be. 

Do we object to Shakespeare because his plays aren't accurate journalism? We find profound psychological symbolism in ancient myths and tribal stories: do we object that they aren't literal histories? How about Tibetan mandalas: do we reject them because they aren't accurate photographs?

Objecting to the Bible because it isn't historical is no less silly than believing that it is. The Bible was not written as objective fact, but as an archetypal mandala of the human psyche. Here I speak of the value of its stories, as stories.

Like Tibetan mandalas, filled with deities both wrathful and benign, the Bible is a glimpse into the depths of our psyche, with all our inner conflicts, self-contradictions, and paired opposites. The Bible is full of contradictions because you and I are. And if you think your rational, linear, historical mind is in charge, just observe your dreams at night. Then observe what happens to perfectly normal people who are prevented from dreaming: they become psychotic within 36 hours. Like the Vedas, initiatory tribal tales, and Tibetan art, the Bible never happened on this temporal plane of linear history. The Bible eternally happens in the place where dreams come from...

The "God" of the Bible is the human unconscious. It rules. If we do not make it conscious, it destroys us. If we make it conscious, it is our friend. Jung pointed this out. Atheist Thomas Hardy regarded the Bible as a novelist's greatest model: he stated that nothing was its equal in the art of narrative and story telling. Yale literary critic Harold Bloom is not a believer, but he studies the Bible intensely: he deems it our first complete study of human psychology. We cannot comprehend Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Faulkner, Steinbeck or Camus without reading the Bible. The existential German novelist,
Thomas Mann, author of Death In Venice, The Magic Mountain and Buddenbroocks, finally chose Biblical narrative as his model: he wrote seven novels based on the Joseph story in Genesis. No one can explore the development of Western art without encountering the psychological power of Biblical stories and symbols.

Literal/historical interpretation of the Bible is a recent phenomenon. Only within the last century have the uneducated and their ministers insisted on interpreting the Bible as historical fact. The early Church followed a much richer method of reading: the interpretive method of the Jewish Rabbis. They recognized multiple levels of meaning in each verse of scripture. While there are certainly archeological and historical facts embedded in Biblical narratives, just as there are factual details embedded in great novels, when a Biblical story is obviously not making historical sense, it is a sign to look deeper into the moral, allegorical, or mystical sense. Christian mystics call this method of reading "Lectio Divina": meditation on the word of scripture as mantra. The Biblical image or symbol becomes a doorway into unconscious and super-conscious realms.

It is fashionable these days to separate the "historical Jesus" from the mythic "Christ of faith," imagining that we can then find the man Jesus in history. But this is a futile quest. Dividing Jesus from Christ creates a false dichotomy. The Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are inexorably entangled, just as the particle cannot be disentangled from the wave-field. The mistaken dualism stems from our misconception that the historical Jesus preceded the Church. In fact, we only know Jesus through faith stories and symbolic myths handed down by the early Christian community, and eventually committed to writing a generation or two after Jesus died. 

People who believe that the Gospel account of Jesus came before the Church have it backward. Faith in the mystical Presence of Christ came before the writings; then faith gave rise to the Gospels. This form of literature is completely alien to modern concepts of "objectivity," "history" and "journalism." In Gospel literature, each passage offers not a historical fact, but a moral and spiritual message. The same "event" may have different versions in different Gospels, depending on the faith-context intended. One version of the event may center on the theme of healing, another on a wisdom-proverb of Jesus, another on initiation into the spiritual life. Yet all three versions are variations of one archetypal scene. Only the ignorant call them contradictions, failing to comprehend their changing contexts.

History is a post-Biblical concept. Biblical stories suggest something more important than "history": the living power of Christ-consciousness embodied in a human life.

In truth, we have no eyewitness history of Jesus, and no original version of the Gospels. We don't even have copies, or copies of copies. We have hundreds of fragments of re-copied scribal texts, in which there are as many variants as there are words in the Gospels themselves. And non-Christian chroniclers of the Roman empire and Jewish kingdom evidently thought Jesus not important enough to record anything about him. There is simply no "historical Jesus" available to us.

Any attempt to present "the Jesus of history" will reflect the sociopolitical bias of the scholar, posing as objectivity. The Marxist scholar presents a political and revolutionary Jesus. The apocalyptic preacher presents an apocalyptic Jesus. The Catholic sees a sacramental Jesus. Those with Jewish interests see Jesus the liberal rabbi. Those interested in shamanism see Jesus the desert shaman and healer. A reader with lively sex energy gladly accepts the possibility that Jesus was married; one with repressed sex energy insists that he was single. Never underestimate the power of the ego to disguise its prejudice in the garment of scholarship.

Isn't our modern concept of history itself a myth? Who has ever written pure history? The oligarchs currently in power rewrite textbooks to reflect their economic advantage. The progressives answer them with reactionary polemics. "History" is just political diatribe, polished by academia. Surely, contemporary journalism gives the lie to our quest for "the facts." The same news item will appear differently on MSNBC, Fox and RT. We cannot determine what happened to a commercial jetliner that disappeared over a crowded nation one month ago, or what happened yesterday in the streets of Kiev. How can we possibly know what happened two thousand years in the past? 

"History" does not exist. But story-telling is a perennial art, and a marvelous craft of consciousness.

No, we will never know the historical Jesus by studying ancient manuscripts, because those manuscripts are written by
mystics of faith, not historians. We will only know Jesus by reposing in the depths of our hearts, dissolving this restless quest in pure consciousness, and meeting his subtle form in the Akashic space. There, as Christ-Consciousness, Jesus dwells eternally. And so do we.


Awareness is not a method or a practice. There are many yogic methods for removing stress from the system, removing blockages from the physical, pranic, emotional, and mental bodies. But these techniques can only cleanse the channels of consciousness; they cannot create, enhance, or "raise" consciousness itself. Awareness gently, silently explodes from pure existence, self-luminous, ever-expanding, boundless, perfectly whole and blissful. Awareness has no cause. No effort is made to acquire it. You may need to unblock your system here and there, but don't let anyone ever tell you that you need to get to a higher or more advanced level of consciousness.

If you are awake, and aware that you are awake, you hold infinity in your fingertips. Even nearer than that. Nearer than this breath, nearer than the next thought, nearer than the I of Am. The moment you awaken, you are infinite, you are pure, you are the divine Being. No matter who you have been in the past, no matter what you have done, no matter how impoverished or humble your status in the eyes of society, if you are aware this very moment, you possess the Pearl of great price, you have everything, your hold the entire cosmos in the sparkle of your eye. Repose in awareness.

Earth Day, 2014

The pinnacle of evolution's complexity is the experience of simplicity. Our flesh 
was raveled up with galaxies before we were born. To connect the earth and stars 
requires no science or magic. Simply awaken to what you are.


If there is a God in heaven who seeks an accounting when we get there, She will not ask whether we were 'right' in our beliefs, but whether we loved. And what is the measure of our love? Not how much we changed the world - for if truth be known, the world changes hardly at all - but how much of ourselves we poured out, expecting nothing in return.

What's Happening?

Our minds get so anxious about the world, about vast and tiny circles turning round their eternal centers, when in fact hardly anything is actually happening but the mind's own self-agitation. Take a clear look at this phenomenon called "the world": constant repetition of the same patterns and karmic cycles, the same stories furiously told again and again, with only slight variation in names and faces.

What changes? What actually happens? Atoms and galaxies swirling in the void, keeping very much to their orbits and cycles in a great waltz. What changes is mind, superimposing its fickle chaos onto the screen of energy. If we want to bring the world some peace, settle down the mind. If we want to save the earth, save it from this mind.

Easter Morning

 In Orthodox Christian iconography, Mary Magdalene always holds an egg. Whose egg? Has it been fertilized? By whom? 

According to the Vedas, the cosmos springs from Hiranyagharba, the Golden Egg. In the book of Genesis, the egg is implicit in the Hebrew word roots. Earth is born from the primal sea of "Tohu Bohu: formless and void." Over the oceanic abyss breathes "Ruach elohim": literally "breath of gods." The Spirit-breath is described as "moving over the face of the waters: m'rekapheth al pane h'yom." The verbal root for "moving" is "rekaph," which originally depicted the ruffling feathers of a mother bird brooding on her egg. Thus the Spirit of God stirring the waters is an image of motherhood.

Who stirs the void like a hen warming her egg? Quantum physicists call these ripples in formlessness "fluctuations of the vacuum." Pulses of pure intelligence, waves of mathematical probability, vibrate into virtual photons of light, virtual electrons of matter, hidden within the veil of Plank's Constant: 6.626 × 10-34 Joules.

O mysterious Mater, Mother of Matter! O Mere of Mary, Sea of Light-Bearing Darkness! You are not only Mother of Sorrows and Queen of Heaven, you are the Bride of the Beloved. 

Every good pagan knows that the Goddess is three-fold: Crone, Mother, Maiden. Just so, in the story of Jesus, she takes three forms: Mother of Sorrows, Madonna, and Magdalene. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip tells us, "There were three Mary's." And one of them was Jesus' dearest disciple, whom the Gnostic Gospel calls his "companion."

We know that Mary Magdalene is Jesus' partner because, by Easter morning, she is the only disciple who hasn't fled into hiding! Alone she comes to the tomb in the garden of Joseph of Arimethea, the wealthy mystic who sponsored Jesus and his disciples. This same Joseph would soon travel with Magdalene to the coast of France and on to Britain, transporting the grail used at the Last Supper. Mary would stay in Province, living in a forest cave, to become the first Christian mystic in Europe, planting the seed of prayer in the West. Joseph would travel on to Avalon and Glastonbury, founding the order of Grail Knights, planting the seed of service. This is as good as any history, all history being myth, since the past does not exist...

In the breath of dawn, Mary's grief and loss deepen when she finds the tomb empty. Yet out of emptiness, waves of life are born, and in April, the sepulcher becomes a womb. She hears footsteps. She turns, and there in the sunrise, she sees a man approaching. The gardener? 

She thinks he is the gardener because his hands are stained with dandelion wine, the mead of earthworm and dahlia bulb. He's been weeding fermented valleys, running his fingers through the loam, stirring up the pale virescent nipples of the earth.

Old men with long beards tell the story like this... The stranger says, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Mary asks, "Where have you laid his body?" Then he speaks her name, "Mary." Immediately she recognizes him. This is no gardener, but Jesus in his divine form, about to ascend to heaven. Reaching out to touch him, she cries, "Rabboni!" which means, "my Master!" But he admonishes her, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended...."

Now there is another account handed down by wanderers, mad lovers, and mystics pregnant with astonishment... Mary asks, "Where have you laid his body?" He steps from the shadows into the light of dawn. Immediately she recognizes the truth about Jesus. He is a gardener, and earth is the sacred garden. She reaches out to him, crying, "My Beloved!" He whispers, "Mary, Mary," tenderly repeating her name, and puts his arms around her. "This is the first day," he says, "this is the last day, and this is eternal life." They touch, they hold each others warm and perfectly human bodies.

Friend, the garden is within you, blossoming through every cell of your flesh. Each breath you breathe is the path that leads you there. Meet the Beloved in your sacred humanity.

Particle or Wave? Choose Your Heart

I choose to let my heart become a wave and not a particle. Engaged in simple acts of kindness, filled with the silence of love, I feel my heart melt and expand into the ocean of love. Entangled in criticism and judgment, even when I am 'right,' I feel my heart contract and condense into a separate particle. My heart cannot contract and expand, judge and love, at the same time. I get to choose my heart.


This is the only Christianity I know.
At the end of each breath,
the death of Jesus.
At the beginning of each breath,
the resurrection.
What happened 2000 year ago,
what will happen at the last judgment,
does not concern me.
The sound of the wood thrush
is the end of time.
Because I am awake,
now is the coming of Christ.
I fall perpetually
into grace.
From what should I be saved?
My soul was never lost.
Could God lose a spark
of her own heart?

Maundy Thursday

You worship the Master as if he wasn't
just like you.
But why did the Master come?
Only to remind you, friend,
that you and the Lord of Love
were born of one mother.
His breath is the same air.
His soles are covered with the same dust.
Both of you say, "I Am," yet the Am is one.
You bow and wash his feet in your tears,
but a real Master will not accept such behavior.
He lifts you up into his smile
and whispers the true name of Light in your ear.
Then he bows to you, you bow to me,
I bow to the poorest flower.
In the ocean of grace, from crown to toes,
we wash each others perfect bodies.

Pass Over

The pharaoh represents the stubbornness of our mind, refusing to surrender and let evolution flow. The "firstborn" that must be sacrificed is the ego's most cherished opinion or attachment, blocking the evolutionary flow. Israel symbolizes the impulse of evolving consciousness, yearning to journey from bondage to liberation, back to the garden of the Heart. This journey leads her over the space of purification (the desert), through the stream of enlightenment (the river Jordon), and into into the state of union (the promised land) flowing with shakti and ananda (milk and honey). Unfortunately, when we take the Bible literally instead of reading its sublime allegory, we start fighting over land.

Let the chariots of your mind be drowned in the sea of grace. Have a blessed Passover.

Things Fall Apart

Yeats wrote, "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold..." The poet may have more wisely said, "Let things fall apart. Why cling to a center?"

At times of dissolution and change, rest a few moments, sit quietly, and just let everything fall apart... That's right. Don't try to hold it together. Let it fall apart completely.

Then notice what remains. Vast imperishable Existence. An Existence that has nothing to do with this mind, an Existence that sustains all with invincible simplicity. This ground of Existence needs no thought, no worry, no little self for its silent work. This imperishable Existence is who we actually are.

Everything Now

Kwan Yin, April Moon, whisper to me... 
"You deserve everything, now. And so it is. 
Repose in golden awareness, without a thought, 
without a desire. Are you not boundless, 
encompassing all? You have everything already."

Let the Mind Repose

Our minds become so weary and hopeless because they are always at work creating referents, images, thoughts pointing elsewhere. We waste our days in constant thinking, referring to other than what simply IS. At day's end, the exhausted mind finally shuts down and goes to sleep.

We live in a constant drain of worry, because we entertain a perpetual illusion that something is wrong. Therefor, we conclude that we need something "else" to make us happy. And the dis-ease of this ceaseless search for something else is thinking.

What can heal us of the dis-ease of thinking? Simply allow the mind to repose in its own nature. As the mind continues to generate thoughts, images, referents to something "else," have enough compassion to let it alone, neither grasping at thoughts nor attempting to stop them. Rest in the silent space of who you are, without reference to anyone or anything else. After a while, there is background-foreground shift. The silent space of Being emerges as the foreground of reality; the rustle of thinking fades into the background, like last nights dream. We can dwell in Presence, the imageless blue sky of awareness, prior to a single thought arising.

Hence, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asked,"Which of you by taking thought can add one inch to your statue? Take no thought for what you shall eat or what you shall wear... Take no thought for tomorrow."

Jesus taught meditation: the art of settling into pure awareness, free from thought.


The Hubble Telescope probes the space between my sternum and my throat, gazing into light years of luminous darkness, the distance of my yearning, filled with so many unknown galaxies and virtual suns, not even God knows how to contain them.

Deep in the empyrean of my chest, beyond the rim of wonder, astronomers perceive an infinitesimal pearl of brilliant bliss, its gravity waves sucking in and annihilating red dwarfs, old stars.

I will carry you there, over the eleven dimensions of quantum science, on the starship of my breath, through an ether of pure love. You will not survive.

Don't prepare yourself, you'll never get ready. Don't fast, it doesn't matter how much you've drunk, or how your knees are shaking.

Just climb through this mouth, dive into me, dissolve your name in the rapture of my glittering silence.

When the journey is over, I will ask, "Have you awakened? Who are you?" If you recount a story in time, full of deeds and accomplishments, you will be sent back.

For anyone whose ship lands on the surface of my heart has already died the perfect death. They know who they are, and they have no past to remember.

Now sleep. We will be there in 26 thousand years.

Yet for you, my beloved, whom I kiss and breathe and change into uncreated light, the journey lasts only as long as it takes to open your lips in astonishment.

The Red Wing's Secret

"My work is loving the world,
here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird...
Let me keep my mind on what matters...
standing still and learning to be
astonished..... " ~Mary Oliver

Stand by the edge of any American wet-land. You'll see on some naked branch a black hole in the sky. From that dense tiny darkness, a carillon on scarlet wings, scalding-bright as liquid brass, calls you back to the original moment. The world was made of such molten dark and jubilation from the bell of emptiness. Across the marsh, other glorious ringing towers condense in dots of singular wildness. What is your role, man, in such a perfect world? Learn the secret of the red-wing blackbird: from emptiness, music...

Only the human intellect, ever-restless and unsatisfied, could conceive that we were born for any higher purpose than this: to listen, to awaken and be grateful, to become a silence for the song.


Among the tangled white branches of blossoming plum this morning, eleven chickadees, seven sparrows, five rust-bellied phoebes, and one little wren. Feathered, small, exquisitely vulnerable, none of them are singing, "I am a victim," for that is not a song. All of them are singing, "I am privileged to be alive."

Jesus's Wife

Did Jesus have a wife? Who cares? Who cares whether the historical Jesus was married, or whether the historical Krishna made love to a thousand Gopis? The scriptures were written as mystical parable, not literal history. What matters is that the grail of your own Magdalenic heart overflows with the wine of Christ-consciousness, and that Radha, who is your yearning, blossoms to the inner sound of Madhva's flute, 'So'ham, God and I are one.'

I Become Light

I become light, I become free, not by ridding my experience of hurt and loss, but by embracing them without resistance. The hurt still aches, the grief yet stings, but the pain is clothed in a new element that is liquid, even luminous, rather than solid. Pain can be a transforming current rather than a fixed weight, when I become its conductor rather than its obstacle. Whoever said that divine energy would never flow through us as hurt, as sorrow, on its way to the ocean of the heart?

Detail: The Lamentation by Botticelli

Tavern in my Heart (A Poem from 'Wounded Bud')

All drinking stories are parables of divine love, which is why Jesus 
turned water into wine at the wedding; and all drunks, like madmen
 and lovers, have an affinity with the saints. 

At the tavern in my heart there's a name on the door
that turns all other words to laughter,
but I can't pronounce it when I get this way.

I just dance in the street and shout at people
who pretend to ignore me.
But now and then when I’m sober, I start howling,

“Don't go to work today, don’t pay off those debts!
Your sins are too vast! Just step in here 
and taste some bewilderment.

The inn keeper won't bill you till the end of time.
Then you can tell him, It's all your fault,
your hospitality made me tipsy!"

Friend, this wine is better than breast milk.
When nothing's left, you'll see 
the Beloved's face gazing

from the bottom of your cup.
Then you'll sing like me:
“This is the emptiness we all adore!"

حانة قلبي

هناك اسم على باب حانة قلبي
يحول كل الكلمات إلى ضحكات،
غير أنه لا يمكنني النطق به  وأنا في هذه الحال.
جُلّ ما أستطيعه أن أرقص في الشارع وأصرخ
بوجه من يتظاهرون عادة بتجاهلي.
لكنني، بين حين وآخر، أغدو رزيناً، فأهتف قائلاً:
لا تذهبوا إلى العمل اليوم؟! لا تسددوا كل هذه الديون!
فإن ذنوبكم شاسعة جدا!
بل ادخلوا إلى هنا قليلاً وتذوقوا بعض الانذهال.
فصاحب الحانة لن يحاسبكم حتى نهاية الزمن.
قولوا له أن الخطأ خطأه،
وأن حسن ضيافته قد أودت بكم إلى السكر!
نديمتي، إن هذا النبيذ لأفضل من حليب الثدي.
عندما تنفد الخمرة، سترين وجه الحبيب
يحدق بكِ من أسفل الكأس.
عندها ستغنين مثلي:
"هذا هو الفراغ الذي كلنا نعبده !"

 Arabic Version by Dana Chamseddine
Sign: Bill's Tavern in Cannon Beach OR

Innocent and Powerful

Whatever else "liberation" is, surely it is the freedom from needing to be "right." We gain abundant energy when freed from the compulsion to defend a point of view. The self-luminous blue sky of the heart is never "right" or "wrong," and has no viewpoint. That pointlessness is ananda.

As pure consciousness, the sky of the heart pervades every point and particle in the universe. When we act in the world from this pointless, omnipresent unbounded field of simple awareness, rather than from a "right" belief, weperform a thousand momentary acts of kindness without accumulating any merit whatsoever, thank god, and without any repository called "me." We are not only more happy, but our actions are more innocent and powerful.

I learned this from a peony in my back yard.


In southwestern Siberia, along Russia’s border with China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, the Altai or “Golden” Mountains are home to the semi-nomadic Altai people and to many endangered species, including the totemic snow leopard and argali mountain sheep. The Golden Mountains are sacred to the Altaians and to Buddhists and Burkhanists around the world. Siberia’s highest peak, Mount Belukha, is especially revered. - See more at:
In southwestern Siberia, along Russia’s border with China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, the Altai or “Golden” Mountains are home to the semi-nomadic Altai people and to many endangered species, including the totemic snow leopard and argali mountain sheep. The Golden Mountains are sacred to the Altaians and to Buddhists and Burkhanists around the world. Siberia’s highest peak, Mount Belukha, is especially revered. - See more at:

In about 35 years, 2050, the heart chakra of the earth will not be in India or South America, but in Siberia. Climate change will produce a green temperate home there for humans, flora, fauna, and angels. A civilization will develop that integrates sustainable technology, perma-culture, local free enterprise, and shamanism.

Freed forever from the dualism of "left" and "right," citizens will nourish the values of the Local, the Creative, and the Collective. Small business will thrive in cooperatives, helping, not competing: arts collectives, energy collectives, agricultural collectives, artisans collectives. People from diverse races and cultures will find a center of pilgrimage there, to study with shamans and to learn bio-dynamic sacred agriculture. Many will stay to build a new life, which will have nothing to do with global organizations or nation states: simply networks of local circles, vibrant with green energy and shamanic power.

How do I know this? I don't. I don't really know anything. It just came up today in consciousness. I have the flu real bad.

Photo: In southwestern Siberia, along Russia’s border with China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, the Altai or “Golden” Mountains are home to the semi-nomadic Altai people and to many endangered species, including the totemic snow leopard and argali mountain sheep. The Golden Mountains are sacred to the Altaians and to Buddhists and Burkhanists around the world.

Meditate With Your Dog


People ask if its all right to do yoga, kriya, and meditation with pets in the room.

The official answer of the "pure" who teach these courses is, "no." They tell you all sorts of scary reasons why you shouldn't meditate with pets. Pets will steal your spiritual energy and drag you back on your evolutionary path, sort of like vampires. Or your vibrations will make them crazy; their spines can't handle the kundalini energy. Right. My cat's spine is a lot more flexible that mine, rippling with wisdom.

So here's what I do: I ALWAYS meditate with my pets - a cat named Basquiat, a dog named Willy, and a stray named Bowie. My blessed little Sanga. I could never shut the door on them because I love them too much. Maybe they'll drag me back to earth for an extra lifetime. So what? Maybe they're helping me relax and open my heart.

Close the doors of compassion: what kind of meditation is that? I cannot call shutting out the beings who dwell in my heart, or my bedroom,  a "spiritual practice." Such fussiness leads to ominous rules of religious purity, found in many ancient cultures - Vedic culture of India, and many tribal cultures  too - which, though New Age seekers romanticize them, are deeply conservative, imbued with class-ism, authoritarianism, and patriarchal hierarchy.

You begin by shutting out pets. Then you shut out the homeless and the poor, the untouchables. Then you shut out the other gender, race and religious sect. How's that been working out for humanity?

My body is a dark ember, with a hidden fire inside. All I need is the breath of the Mantra to fan the ember into flame. The flame is love. Love expands around the ember and consumes it. The warmth of love enfolds the room, the dogs and the cat, the forest beyond the window, every white-tailed deer and bob cat, the raven wheeling and calling over the wetland, all my ancestors.

As awareness settles into its natural relaxed omnipresence, the flame of my aura keeps expanding, until I have become a perfect zero encircling the earth. From the Cascade Mountains on one side, to the Olympic range on the other, I am a hollow bowl, holding the Salish sea (known to white folk as the Puget Sound).

Breathing in, I surrender, and in my infinite loss, the vacuum in my throat, chest and belly fills up with stars. Each proton in my body is an abysmal chaos of divine information, gently sucking in the galaxies, reordering them in spontaneous harmony, breathing them forth as constellations. The cosmic archetypes in the heavens are also my animal guides - the honey-pawed Black Bear Orion, Mountain Goat Capricorn, Salmon Pisces, the Northwest Cougar Leo.

Whether full of purity or impurity, one who gazes into the shamanic Eye of the supreme Lord, the diamond clarity of consciousness itself, gains inner and outer purity in this instant, even with a fuzzy golden poodle in your lap.

Many Wicks, One Flame

There is no "do-it-yourself" meditation. "Do it yourself" is a very American concept with no root in the ancient breath of the stars. Meditation is collective. It envelopes the earth, embraces the distant past with forgiveness, and enfolds generations of the unborn.  

A candle cannot light itself. It receives the flame from another. Only then can it burn on its own. A vast grid of energy beyond this small individual bulb empowers the lamp. Only then can it give light.

When I was initiated into meditation, I received the flame of the master's grace, and through him an ancient lineage of masters. I cannot "do" meditation. I can set aside the time and place, every morning and evening. And after meditation, I can express the light through my words and actions, any way I choose. But during that precious meditation time, which is an immersion in eternity, I do nothing. It is a gift of Grace. Many wicks, one flame.


Ouroborus (Greek) Jörmungandr (Norse) Mehen (Egyptian), Quetzecotyl (Aztec), also portrayed in Christian Gnosticism, Medieval alchemy, Taoist alchemy, Freemasonry, and the structure of the Benzine molecule, which was discovered in a dream about a serpent biting its tail by the German chemist Kekule. Why this ancient and all-pervasive symbol of the circular tail-biting serpent?


The serpent is the Goddess Kundalini Shakti, the energy of Consciousness. The serpent in the Garden of Eden should never have been interpreted as evil, but as the very inner force that propels the evolution of human awakening, however painful it may sometimes be. The serpent is always associated with the divine Feminine, who is the intuitive power, deeper than the rational. 

The "enso" or empty circle, in Zen sumi ink-painting, is another form of the Ouroborus. It is not just a circle but a stroke of living energy with a beginning and end, a head and tail. Yet the beginning bends to the end, the mouth consuming the tail. Not an geometric abstraction, but a singular dynamic action endlessly regenerated, like the breath. Yes, in the final analysis, every breath, exhalation meeting inhalation, is the Ouroborus in our body.

When the serpent bites its tail, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, are united. This signifies Consciousness meeting itself, reflecting upon itself, and awakening itself. The sacred process of energy awakening to Self-Awareness.

The serpent is the one body who can live beyond the body while embodied. The serpent constantly sheds its old skin and re-emerges - formless information in form. 

Sleepers Awake

                          Resurrected Christ, by William Blake

Why spend 10,000 lifetimes struggling to turn a nightmare into a sweet dream, when it only takes a single moment to awaken?

The only real option for changing the dream is to wake up. Lost in a dream, I cannot change the dream, especially because I am every other character in the dream as well. Just so, one who is lost in the world cannot change the world.

We cannot change the dream of the world, but we can wake up inside and become the Witness, whose clarity is the Self, whose bliss is effortless repose. The is the grace of deep meditation: to awaken the Witness.

Though ever-changing in its appearances, the essentially dreamlike nature of the world remains the same. The old dream story just puts on new garments, but it is the same old melodrama, filled with magical beauty and horrific violence, angels and demons, monarchs and slaves, warriors and peacemaker. And the dreamer is all of it.

Jesus spoke of a heavenly Kingdom; yet clearly, he did prescribe a new economic or political order, for that would simply be reforming the dream. Jesus was talking about waking up.

He said, "My Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you" (Luke 17:21).

The Kingdom is Christ-Consciousness, the space of Awakening, the Witness within. The dream of the world is an endless turning circle, the Wheel of Samsara. We cannot change the world's dream, but we can wake up, and we can help others wake up.

The luminosity of the Witness outshines the forms of the turning world. For one who is awake, there is no more birth or death. Waking up is the Resurrection.