Ascetic Abundance and the Law of Subtraction

Abundance flows not only by the Law of Attraction, but the Law of Subtraction. Wealth is letting go of what we don't need.

Instead of deepening our desire for what we haven't got, let us deepen our gratitude for each need fulfilled, each tiny sacrament of the ordinary.

Abundance is never enough. What our soul really wants is not abundance, but enough. The wealth of simplicity and uncluttered spaciousness.

The problem is, we define abundance through desire, and desire is insatiable. A national economy based on desire harrows the earth. - even when we disguise our desire in new-age terms like "The Law of Attraction."

It is time for Americans to practice discrimination between desires and needs. When the intellect distinguishes need from desire, the heart rejoices in the ordinary. The simplest taste, sound and touch become sacraments. Dwell in perpetual gratitude for needs fulfilled, and experience the sustainable abundance of simplicity. True asceticism does not suppress life energy, but makes ordinary things sparkle. To be truly disciplined is not to deny oneself, but to listen gently as one asks the heart, "What do I really need?"

Here are some wealth-producing principles for sustainable ascetic abundance:
1. Breathe out, all the way down to the buried seeds: touch the earth with gratitude.
2. Breathe in: let every cell be filled with the blue sky.
3. Upon awakening, listen to the first bird at dawn.
4. Sniff the present moment like a hunting lioness.
5. Eat like an elk on arctic tundra, where each precious sprout contains a beam of sunlight.
6. Hug yourself like a sleeping cat.
7. Learn to say, "enough," as you would say a prayer.
8. Every now and then, take a break from your task to drown in pure love for yourself. 

Loving yourself dissolves desire and attracts the power of the universe to help you accomplish your work. Loving yourself is the shortcut to abundance.

No Reform

No re-form really works, because the creative solution lies in the form-less.
Just dissolve thinking into sparkling awareness, and stop worrying about it.
To welcome the task of the present moment, no matter how humble it may be,
with a light heart lightly surrendered to the infinite: this is the revolution.


Though it sounds like a stereotype, I've come to realize it is nevertheless true,
that most men I know tend to conceptualize their pain before they even feel it;
whereas most women I know do not put on the armor of thought to protect
themselves: they feel directly, being led by the Spirit of the Wound to a deeper
understanding never gained by leading with the intellect. And this is why,
presently, most of my true teachers are women. They don't even know it.
But I bow my heart to them.

Beyond Compare

You are complete. You are the crown jewel of creation. You are absolutely perfect this very moment. You have eaten from the Tree of Life and you are full - that is, until you compare yourself to anyone else.

The instant you engage in comparison, you eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Us and Them. You have fallen into Sin.

What is Sin? To believe that any creature in heaven or earth could possibly be better, worse, or in any way comparable to You.


I can only anticipate the past. I can only expect the repetition of an old story. All I can plan is the safety of bygone images, not the Presence that animates them. That is why, to live in faith, I renounce hope.

No instance of creativity, no shock of ecstasy, no awakening of love, was ever planned. The living breath that floods my flesh comes from eternity, not from time. I learned this by watching the patient perennial explosion of apple buds, none of them ever one moment old, in the ancient ritual of inexorable surprise.

Take Refuge Here

Take refuge in this moment. One lightning bolt of wonder through the heart of a child incinerates ten thousand books of philosophy. All the speeches of politicians burn to tasteless ash in the diamond eye of a lover. A wild hyacinth springs from the manure pile, fragrant as the breath of an angel. There is no war in this meadow. Gods yearn to be born on earth for one cool April morning.

Two Long

Two long to be One, One longs to be Two. There is ebb and flow in the ocean of the void. Stillness is a dynamo. Silence resonates. Subject and Object are born of each other, particles of Matter emitted from waves of emptiness. You can rest as activity, you can act as rest. The worm under the stone in your garden is coiled like a galaxy, because it too is filled with stars. "Oh," cries the robin at dawn, "this is going to be tasty!" Don't overlook the message in the finest follicle of fur. Every pore in your skin is a doorway to the higher worlds.

Laus Trinitati

Every act of our perception is God's Self-delight.

When I pause to look at this apple bud, I manifest the Holy Trinity: the eye, the blossom, and the delight of perception.

This is God's sacrifice for me. God miniaturizes the Holy Trinity in my most limited and incarnate sensation. My perception of a tiny bud is a hologram that contains all of God's knowledge about Herself.

In apprehending this apple bud, I crucify God into subject and object, so that duality may dance in the wonder of perception, even as the two dissolve back into One through my delight. This is God's passion.

The West calls the divine Self-sacrifice the Holy Trinity. Indian philosophy calls it Sat-Chit-Ananda: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. Pure Being remains transcendently one, yet is simultaneously a self-relation: aware of itself. Being pulsates with an inner subject-object duality, prior to the creation of the universe. Yet the eternal subject and the eternal object (Christ-child) are eternally united in Self-delight. Pure consciousness is God the Father. The object of consciousness is Christ the Child. The delight through which God beholds Christ in himself is the energy of the Spirit, who is the Mother.

Each act of human perception, bathed is Awareness, is divine conception, the Father and Mother rejoicing in their Child, the created universe.

How could creation not be born of this throbbing love within the stillness of the One? Every photon of light, every sub-atomic particle of matter, is composed of pure bliss, a sparkle of delight thrown out of the churning void, struck off by the joy of Being beholding its Self.

My every taste and touch participates in the hidden ecstasy of God's own delight. I see a white blossom, a star, an infant's eyes, a homeless woman's hand. In each act of perception, the universe is created again, expressly for the purpose of perceiving itself.

And when we gaze into each others eyes, how can we not see God gazing into herself?

The sexual ecstasy of lovers is but the clue to a more essential bliss, available to awakened awareness in every moment of earthly perception, this breath, this touch, this apple bud.

It is incomprehensible that anyone could ever be bored or dissatisfied. Simply to open these eyes, to hear the sound of a robin at first light, to gaze at the stillness of peaches lying on a wooden table, is to be the triune God in the act of Self-creation.

O ocean of souls, O communion of one, O solitude of all!
In the beginning,
the Father gazed
into the mirror of the Spirit
and saw Christ.
That mirror was the womb
of eternal silence,
for even God is mothered
by a mystery.
Then Christ gazed in the mirror
and saw You.
You too were born
of that joy!

(A poem from 'Wounded Bud')


The purpose of religion is to connect the earth and stars, microcosm and macrocosm, through the cruciform matrix of this human body, a holigram of energy-transformation whose cardinal points, the crown, soles of the feet and hands, embrace the four directions, four winds, four elements, integrating time and space into cosmic beauty at the center of the heart.

The crucifix, displaying the tortured body of a man in grief and pain, did not appear in Christian iconography until the fourth century. The cross is a pre-Christian symbol expressing the dignity of regeneration and divine embodiment. Of course there is no transformation and no birth without pain: but we do not need to make a cult of suffering. The second century theologian, St. Athanasius, wrote, "God became human so that humanity could become God." Have a blessed and peaceful Easter.

(Mandala by St. Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.)

Remembering the Heart

When you are anxious or unhappy, remember your heart. Don't wait until you feel peaceful and content. At any time, particularly in the midst of stress, just rest your attention silently in the hridaya, the heart space. It's a practice as easy as a sigh, too simple for the intellect; yet it cuts through illusion with devastating power, awakening the breath of wholeness. Ancient masters of both Yoga and Christian traditions said, "Let the mind be in the heart." Resting the mind in the heart is the beginning and end of spiritual practice.