Radical Happiness

How easily we say "happy New Year," as if happiness were a piece of candy. 
Happiness is a radical proposition. But it is not a concept. Happiness dissolves concepts. Happiness is not an emotion. It is the gentle explosion of Being in the silence of your heart.

Once I asked the Master, “What can I do to serve you?” He answered, “Be happy.” It took me years to understand this. Our happiness is profound seva, service to humanity.

What happens to us in the presence of someone who is truly happy - not someone who pretends, and wears a fake smile - but someone who radiates warm, empty, thought-free stillness, melting all tension and fear? Our chattering mind stops. Deep silence awakens. We smile from our groundless core for no reason. Happiness has no cause.

One who is essentially joyful doesn't preach, argue, or convert, because happiness needs no religion, politics, or ideology. Yet meeting such a person is a world-changing event, shattering our bud, bursting us into blossom. The happiness they spread is blessed anarchy.

No words are required. The joyful one communicates Truth from heart to heart in a silent flash. Peace is in her eyes. Then a few words may arise, but only as celebration, as waves of quietness.

In the New Year, happiness is our first responsibility. Be responsible.

Winter Solstice Mountain Mother

At the wondrous woundressed hour of Solstice pause, drink from the stillness that washes all turnings in rebirth. Enter the briefest portal and fall into eternity. Listen to the unstruck gong of starry void, where every song of joy germinates in the boundless seed of silence.

Each of us can find blessings in our own back yard. How blessed we are in the Northwest to find this sacred mountain, 'Mother of White Streams,' so near us. This morning, December 21, my canine buddy Bowie and I gazed at her from a nearby hilltop at dawn. Thank you, Mountain Mother.

Lineage: Jai Guru Dev

I celebrate the birthday of Guru Dev, Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, holder of the lineage of Adi Shankaracharya. He passed away the year I was born, yet his light silently infuses millions of souls on earth. I bow to the lineage of the Holy Tradition.

I've noticed that New Age do-it-yourself spirituality often disdains the notion of "lineage." But this bow is pure gratitude, not mere submission to authority. And this bow contains a deep secret. It is a shield of protection, a pathless path of surrender.

Enlightenment is never solitary. Enlightenment is sanga, the beloved community, a continuum of consciousness through time and space.

Bowing to one's lineage can be a tender acknowledgment that "realization" is not an achievement of our American individualism. Lineage is a bulwark against the charismatic ego of the solitary self-appointed "spiritual teacher."

Lineage is the humility of tradition. The flame passed from candle to candle never belongs to one wick alone. When I bow to my teacher, I am swept down into my teacher's bow to his teacher, and my teacher's teacher's bow, unto the vast "cloud of witnesses" in the blue sky of eternal awareness, which is this ancient Now.

The great Master bows to the holy tradition, no matter how enlightened he or she may be. Jesus acknowledged his lineage of desert prophets through his forerunner, John the Baptist (Mat. 3:13-15). My teacher, Maharishi, never allowed devotees to bow to him, or to offer padma-namaskar to his feet. He only said, "Jai Guru Dev" to his Guru, Sri Brahmananda Saraswati.

All gratitude to the masters who have passed the wisdom down through the ages. Their consciousness vibrates in the living mantra, and in the silence of the breath inside the breath.

The Finished Jewel

Meditation is the crystallization of pure consciousness in a jewel more solid than any material object it could be conscious of.

The Self outshines creation, irradiates the cosmos, blessings the heavens and the earth, simply through its witnessing power. As Jesus' said, "I have overcome the world."

Then there is no more work to be done. The evanescent world arises as a many-faceted reflection in the diamond essence of awareness.
By what word may we describe this distillation of the stars into a gem of singularity, this dissolving of objective creation into the continuum of sparkling subjectivity?
The word is Love.

"Spiritual Bypass"

"Spiritual bypass" is a trendy new term used to describe self-delusion and avoidance of the shadow. But it is often used by people who have never tasted the boundlessness and bliss of transcendental consciousness. To transcend is not to bypass.

Transcendence is not avoidance, because transcendental absolute unchanging divine consciousness pervades every particle of this body, and every moment of pain and grief. The clear desert air does not avoid or repress the mirage: the mirage just happens as a tremor in the clarity.
Of course, if you want to spend a lifetime affirming the "spirituality" of your anger, your grief, you unhappy moods, your mirage, then go for it. When you have exhausted the fantasy that "spirituality" is just the ordinary pain of human life, then come to Transcendental Meditation and taste the peace that passes all understanding.

On this pathless path, nothing needs to be controlled, repressed, or surpassed. The transcendent embraces your pain and weariness, as the sky embraces the clouds. The sky does not deny the existence of clouds in order to remain clear, empty, and blue. The sky is simply at rest in its true nature.

To transcend is not to go elsewhere, but to repose in your Self through unconditional rest. This rest is absolute, infinite, and blissful, a rest not troubled by relativity, any more than the wholeness of the ocean is troubled by its own waves.

You are that whole awareness that contains the relative yet remains absolute, embraces the changing realm of phenomena yet remains unchanging, silent, and motionless. In fact, the reason you even see that the world is troubled, fleeting, uncertain, ever-changing, is because there is something unchangeable and eternal within you that sees. Motion is measured by the motionless.

That unchanging ever-restful seer is the Self. The flavor of the Self is peace. And it is a spice, not a soporific.

There Is Only One Conflict In The World

When we feel overwhelmed by so many conflicts in the world, we imagine that we cannot be happy until we solve them. But it is not our duty to solve the world's conflicts. Our duty is to solve just one conflict, the one that underlies them all: the conflict between who I think I am, and who I really am.

Can I experience Am without putting any thought, any noun after the verb? Can I feel that joy bubbling up from the unfathomable well of pure Being in my core? It is a gushing spring of silence. When I taste it, then in a very spontaneous way I can pour healing waters over the earth.

Share that joy with others, in whatever unique way is most effortless and natural. This is the only solution to the world's conflicts. They cannot be solved until I am happy.


Devotion has many flavors: sweet, bitter, spicy, or tasteless and clear as sky. Sometimes it's the bouquet of divine love with passionate hints of the soul's pain; sometimes the dissolving of the two in one trembling scentless silence. We lose so much when our palate insists on one flavor only.

Photo: passiflora incarnata, or passion flower

Thoughts are Silence, Body the Stars

If you witness thoughts arising, just where they arise, before the power of maya converts them into words and pictures, you can see that thoughts are simply ripples of stillness, boundless vibrations of pure awareness at play. And in its ground-state, pure awareness is utterly silent. This means that there is no conflict between thoughts and silence. Thoughts are made of silence.

We have been told that, when we meditate, we must concentrate on a single thought, or repeat a single word, in order to silence the mind. Disciplinarians, posing as spiritual guides, have indoctrinated us to believe that the mind must not be allowed to wander. But whether they teach in the name of Buddha, Yoga, Christian prayer, or New Thought, their doctrine of concentration and mind-control only suppresses the lively nature of our awareness, and makes us dull.

When you see that thought is silence at play, why is there any need to control or concentrate? The mind automatically gets centered and calm when we allow it to wander throughout the cosmos, with no resistance, expanding to its natural condition of boundlessness. In fact, meditation is the opposite of concentration. It is simply witnessing this effortless expansion of mind into its original nature, without grasping at any particular thought or image.

Your mind is not inside your brain. It is the uncontainable abyss of awakened space. Your mind is filled with stars and galaxies. Your brain vibrates in the limitless field of your mind.

Every star in the heavens is connected to a spark of electricity in your nervous system. Each synapse flashes with a sun. When you meditate, why convert the chemical-electric activity of your brain into words and images when you can experience the entire cosmos scintillating in your neurons?

Effortlessly delight in the sensation of your brain. You use your brain every moment of the day, but have you ever taken a moment to appreciate the glittering electric cosmos in your skull, to feel it's luminous energy with gratitude, even sensual pleasure?

Meditation is a Sabbath from control. Just rest in radiant awareness of your own physiology.

This vacation from effort and thought-control will only make your thinking clearer after meditation. So instead of converting your brain's electricity into concepts and abstractions, feel the sensation of thought arising in sparks of neuro-luminosity.

It doesn't matter whether you have one thought or ten thousand. The more the better. Ten thousand thoughts don't limit your omnipresent silence any more than ten thousand stars limit the beauty of the night sky. In fact, those virtual photons of thought ARE the stars. Your awareness IS the sky.

Witness sensations in your brain as a single glowing field of energy, from the cerebral cortex back to the pineal gland, then down to the stem rooted in your spine. Feel electricity lighting up the hypothalamus and amygdala, flowing up from your spinal cord.

Don't conceptualize this experience, just sense it. Let concepts go as they arise and simply return to the sensation.

Your brain is the Tree of Life, burning with the cool fiery swirl of galaxies. The space between each dendrite and synapse is heavenly vastness. Space is awake, within you and without, and you are that awakened space. This is not mysticism. It is the birthright of your incarnation, the fact of your cosmic physiology.

Perhaps you need some evidence from physics? Try Bell's Theorum, 1962, later confirmed by high energy particle physicists at the Cern particle accelerator in Switzerland. Bell's theorum states in mathematical terms what was so poetically asserted decades before by Sir Arthur Eddington, founder of quantum field theory and president of the Royal Academy of Science: "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes."

Every sub-nuclear particle is a wave. And just as a wave at its base is the entire ocean, so every particle is the excitation of the whole field. The wave appears as particle simply because the vibration of the non-localized field is more ample at one point. This means that the particle-wave is connected, through the stillness of its ground-state, to every other particle.

At the sub-nuclear level, we contain each other. We resonate in and through each other. We are each other. Every nerve cell in your brain is a spiral of stardust. An electron sparking over your infinitesimal synapse is a message from distant galaxies, connected for its brief half-moment to every sun.

Your body is so sacred! Where else would you want to be but here? Why waste your attention on worry and regret, when in this very now your nervous system radiates the whole glory of creation? Why do you not drop to your knees and give thanks, then stand and whirl, or move on the earth with the grace of a mountain cloud, touching, healing the people?


We live in the perpetual irony that, what we most need to remember, can never be recalled because it is only alive in this moment.
So we use all manner of ritual and symbol, by hand and thought, to remind ourselves of what it is like: the bread and wine of Jesus's last supper; the fruit and flowers of puja; the alms we give to the poor and the service projects, which we often do, if we admit it, only to cleanse our guilty conscious, or acquire sufficient merit to bring our hearts a moment of peace.
Then we practice all sorts of meditation techniques, trying to still the mind, that we might behold the elusive transparency that is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.

And what are we trying to find? The very light through which it must be seen. Yet we cannot, no, can never retain or remember, by any vision or merit, that which we are seeking, because it is This....

This is the Fire that burns to ashes the age-old story of our search. We already stand in the midst of its burning. For that Fire is just who we are, the brilliant flashing gone gone ecstatic emptiness of Now.


I was eleven. My father and Dr. Jackson took their sons pheasant hunting.

Dad and Dr. Jackson were about forty yards away in the Autumn stubble of a corn field. A pheasant took flight. They aimed and fired and missed. The pheasant flew toward me. I led it a few feet ahead in my sight and pulled the trigger. The pheasant went limp in the air. I felt an ancient exultation.

But in the two seconds it took the shot pheasant to plummet earthward, then thud against the ground, dead, I experienced an inner transformation of 10,000 years. That feathered thing of air fell down, but I was falling too, from power to grief to shame...

Yes, I was only eleven. But I pledged to my secret heart that I would never use a gun again. I have not told this story until now.

I'm sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.

Painting: Dead Pheasant, J.M.W. Turner

November Evening

Why is it that so many of us always need to be right, always need to win? If we want to ripen and deepen our fragrance, we need to lose and be wrong sometimes.
Yoga - which really means ripeness, wholeness - doesn't mean constant victory. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna defines Yoga as "equanimity in loss or gain."

Loss is a great teacher. Only one who knows how to embrace loss learns how to be a mighty and humble warrior, how to fall down on the field in defeat, then arise to win. This is the sport of wisdom.
I have always learned more from my losses than my victories. Victory could create ego, but loss created a depth, a silence inside.

November evening. The moon is full, hanging from a leafless branch. Forms hollow out in the frost, holding space for the formless. They glow with the brilliant colors of their dying.


 You can be an activist by planting Winter squash, walking in a fern forest, listening to your children, or smiling from your heart at someone who is lonely.

True activism means gently immersing your whole astonished body in the river of Presence, moved by the breath of beauty like a golden leaf, falling right where you are.

True activism means drowning in the mystery of communion with the creature right before you: a disheveled crow, a boy in the rain with his shining basketball, the moon gazing through a spider's web, a crone at the grocery store, marveling at all the soup.

These are your tribe. They have no political party. This is your native country. It is all sacred land.

Earth is not transfigured by how much you do, but how wantonly and nakedly you plunge into the ocean of this perishing moment.


Why not return to basic sanity, the silent explosion of Grace at the center of your body - not just to please yourself, but to infuse the world with the nectar of Beauty? Let your mind repose in the heart. That is the simplest and most ancient meditation. Sink into the bubbling golden cauldron of your solar plexus. That is true alchemy. Rest in the space where you were never born, you are never one moment old, each breath is a gift from eternity, and the countless electrons of your flesh are all angels of Light.

Awareness of Awareness

Awareness of awareness is not a thought. It is pure bliss.

Awareness of awareness is the laser-like self-radiant silence where thought dissolves into its source: the subject alone, without an object.

Upon tasting even a moment of this diamond emptiness, intellectuals give up philosophy and become mystics.

But throughout the ages, after tasting this inmost refulgence, mystic minds could not accept the experience as their own consciousness. So they named it "God," imagining it to be an Other. It is not other. It is not even "it."

There is nothing in the universe but consciousness. In fact, there is no nothing, because the very vacuum of empty space is awake and vibrant with creativity.

Consciousness is Shiva, the pure, the Self-luminous, the beautiful, the good. Everything that exists is a permutation of Shiva.

Shiva is eternally silent, formless, unmanifest, and blissful. Yet the silence vibrates. The stillness dances. The vacuum fluctuates in itself, forming virtual particles of matter and virtual photons of light. The entire cosmos pre-exists in the void as the radiant Self-awareness of Shiva.

When vibrataing,
consciousness becomes love. And the vibrant energy of love yearns to create. This creative pulsation of love in the stillness of Shiva is Shakti, who is the Goddess and playmate of the Lord.

Shiva is the silent witness of creation, and She is the creator. The universe is the manifestation of their dance.

When Christian mystics experienced the pre-existent cosmos in the silence of the Godhead, they called it the Logos, the Word, for it manifests in silence just as a word appears in the mind. Figuratively, they regarded this divine Word as the "Son of God," the offspring of consciousness, who remains one and not other than the Father. And the vibrations of Shakti in the Godhead, which manifest the Logos as creation, they called the "Holy Spirit."

Thus the "Holy Trinity" is a family: Father, Mother Spirit, and their offspring the Christ, archetype of humanity. Silence pulsates as Love, and Love manifests as the Word made flesh.

You are the incarnation of Love, and you express the eternal Silence of God in your own unique variation of Christhood.

Icon, the Holy Trinity by Adrei Rublev, 1425

Never Thirst

"Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become in them a spring welling up to eternal life." ~John 4:14

These words of Jesus describe the Shakti of the divine mother, pouring from the silence of pure awareness, which is Shiva. True meditation means alignment with this wellspring in your chest, flowing from the groundless depth of your heart. You tap into the dynamic silence from which all energy is born.

Physicists call it the vacuum. Mystics call it the void. Meditators know that it is consciousness. But this boundless awakened space is not empty. It vibrates. The ocean of stillness in the heart's core is surging with mighty waves, in quantum science called "fluctuations of the vacuum." The silence bubbles with creative chaos beneath the limits of all measurement, "Planck's Constant." These waves of pure possibility spring out of the Un-created into creation as the subtlest particles of matter.

When you align your body, breath, mind and heart with this core of silence, rooting yourself in the heart-center, you become a vessel for the new creation, the new earth. For the earth is not born of politics, economics, or science: the earth is born of consciousness.

And when you come out of meditation, into activity, whatever you are called to do becomes a host, a channel, for the irradiation and recreation of the world. Your calling may be ever so humble. It doesn't have to be political activism. It doesn't require a PHD in chemistry, or the powers of a super-hero. Your vocation could be ironing your family's clothes, playing the flute, driving a school bus, operating a small restaurant, or working with autistic children. When you begin your day by tapping the Source, whatever you do is a vehicle for grace. When you open your awareness to the silent power of Shiva, every gesture of ordinary living is a channel for the outpouring of Shakti.

Simple innocent awareness activates a transformation at the subatomic level of your environment. Your world begins to evolve, to purify and harmonize, just because you are here as an awakened being. Jesus said it best: "You are the light of the world."

That's right. He didn't only say, "I am the light of the world." He said, "YOU are the light."

To radiate a new earth around you, tap the wellspring of creation in your heart through meditation. Then, when you emerge from the un-created silence, you can move joyfully over the world, light as a cloud yet grounding every step as a step of peace. Rooted in who you really are, pour out the nectar of healing.

Painting: Jesus, an ordinary man, by Rembrandt

To Exist Is Grace

Merely to exist is pure grace on a cosmic scale. But to exist in a body, with a chance to express this boundless wonder through individual form, is a gift beyond all miracles.

Yet some very "spiritual" people seem to regard this body as a prison, and devote themselves to getting out of it. What a waste to imagine that our precious flesh is bondage and ignorance, when it is really our opportunity to dance as incarnations of the sun, moon, and stars!

Once there was a seer whose gift was telling people how many lifetimes remained for them on earth. A long line of yogis, ascetics, and gloomy advaitists always waited to receive his wisdom.

"For you, 7 more lives... For you, 12 more... For you, only 3 more lives..." And they would all depart weeping and gnashing their teeth with disappointment.

A certain sinful man, holding a jug of wine in one hand, his other arm entwined in the arm of a gorgeous lady, came to visit that seer. With one look at him the mystic shook his head and said, "Hopeless! For you, more lives than the sands of the sea!"

When he heard this, the sinner leapt in the air, clicked his heels together and shouted, "Thank you, boss!"

At that instant he was liberated.


Random memories of ordinary places I once took for granted, now bathed in the Autumn twilight of my longing. Where has this life gone?

Roses in an alley. The gaze of a Gernsey cow in a meadow of violets. Abandoned doll on a park bench. Cobblestone sidewalk on a street down which I never walked.

Smell of old books in the attic, invoking the whisper of the grandfathers. Frozen cream pushing the tops off milk bottles on the back porch.

Barn owl in Winter moonlight. Tangled vine on a ruined fence post, suddenly rioting with berries. Saturday morning, the color of butter dripping over hot pancakes. Where has this life gone?

Can I not bathe the present moment with this same liquid sorrow, same transparent beauty, each moment of time immersed in eternity, eternity of my awareness? The dream of the past, the dream of now; does it not all sparkle with love?

Painting by Sam Timm

Change the World?

Why do we want to change the world? It is already changing every instant, in every particle and wave. The world we wanted to change a moment ago has already dissolved. If we want to change what is always already changing, then it must be our perception that is stuck.

Wealth of the Divine Name

"I have found, yes, I have found the wealth of the Divine Name’s gem. My true guru gave me a priceless thing. With his grace, I accepted it." ~Mirabai

"Breathe the name of God, empty of self and filled with love." ~Rumi

O mind, rest in the radiant Name. Sing the melody of the Goddess, O lips. Let these eyes witness all creatures take her form.

How can I ever be lost when I wander in the Word that created the world? Wherever I go, I have returned. Needing no vessel, I am the wine. Needing no lyre, I am the music.

This body is a filament for the glow of Kundalini Shakti, the electrical One who flows through wing and fur. I am just an animal filled with God. The anxious vanity of a human mind has dissolved into her radiance.

My rosary is a broken thread. It's scattered beads have become the stars, and "I" the silence between them. How? By dissolving a syllable of her name into my heartbeat.

With no more burden called a "path," I have become the goal. O soul, rest in the source. Your pilgrimage is over.

The acorn has fallen into the meadow. Now it springs without effort into a mighty tree. As the oak is already in the hollow of the seed, so the mantra given by your Guru contains the universe.

The sins of your past may be as sands of the sea, but they cannot find you! For the do-er who committed them has disappeared into the deep. Now a love song bears you far above the churning waves of the past and future.

Ride this wind! It is yearning without desire! It carries you where nameless soaring ones go to play with lightning!

Here's the secret: If you let the Goddess be your breath, you won't need any rules but Joy and Kindness.

The Beloved named you with an inhalation of darkness, so that you could name the Beloved with an exhalation of golden light.

Pour yourself into So'ham, giving all your tears to the golden void. Feel every tremor of pain in surrender, rolling the wheel of destiny neither here nor there, but inward, toward its own center.

God sang you, now sing back. It doesn't need to be pretty. It only needs to be You!


It requires some courage to live in the constant stream of destruction that is creation.

Can you remember what you were anxious about a year ago? A month ago? Or has your mind replaced that calamity with something even worse?

Yesterday's catastrophe was terrible. But you can't remember that either, because this morning's crisis is the worst of all. Until tomorrow. Why do you live like this, staggering from one apocalypse to the next?

You could be disaster-free, if only you would rest in boundless ambiguity, the Divine Uncertainty of this moment, this breath, this frail sweet ever-perishing body of chaos.

Why not embrace the end of the world right now? Today is Judgment Day, and you are the judge. Why not welcome the joyful presence of the great destroyer, Mother Kali, Mistress of Bewilderment?

Sabbath Breaths at 3 A.M.

If I had not once been smaller than a particle of dust, I could not look at dust and see God.

If I had not once been vaster than a galaxy, I could not look at the sun and see myself.

It is because the human soul passes through every element, every kingdom, every kind of creature, that she feels at home in the chaos of the universe.

Yet not being any one creature in particular, she interprets her cosmic longing as its opposite: a sense of alienation.

Let your loneliness embrace the night. Search not for a star. You are the womb of constellations. You are the breath that turns them all.

No need to cling to your tiny point in this vast wheel. Be the stillness through whom the pleroma dances, ever coming Om.

Photo: Milky Way over Mt. Tahoma. Not my photo, but my mountain.


Earth is in her birth pang. It is a long and difficult labor, because so much blame, so much anger, so much compulsive 'taking sides' distracts her from breathing. Breathing is more important than being right. Breathing is more important than taking sides. Breathing Life is more important than ideology, left or right. Give up the blame. If you cannot offer a solution, offer a prayer. Offer your next exhalation. Let the rhythms of the cosmos be the rhythms of your breath. Relax. Dilate. Give birth.


The planets and stars are singing. Every cell of your body is singing. Atoms ring infinitesimal round hollow bells of energy all night. Silence cannot contain itself. Your marrow never sleeps. Trees and stones must hum the melody. The sky's emptiness echos the praises of your flesh. You are music beyond words. Your breath is the drum of creation. Who needs a national anthem? Just kneel for no reason. Flower in quietness.


To taste each inhalation as a gift from the Divine, and each exhalation as your offering, is to enter the holy of holies in the temple of your body, and take part in the highest worship.

If you studied all the Vedas, the Torah, the Gospel and Qu'ran, you would learn no more. Each religion began with breathing: grace and gratitude, gift and return.

All other rites are images, rehearsals for this astonishing kiss in the silence of your heart. How do I know? I gave up theology, and became a lover.

Heaven and Hell: Your Choice

Back in 1970 a group of us were sitting with Maharishi, and one person asked if civilization would end soon, because there was such violence and injustice. Of course, when the mind is wavering, whatever time we are in feels like the apocalypse.
Maharishi smiled and replied, "Heaven and hell are all around you. Your choice." Then he said something I've often heard quoted since, and attributed to many teachers: "What you focus on is what grows in your life. And whatever you resist will persist." Jai Guru Dev.
The world ended today.
A new one was just created.
Did you notice?
If you pay attention,
this happens with
every breath.
You won't regret the past
or fear the future
when you can rest
this wavering mind
in the heart of presence.
Learn from the rose
surrounded by thorns.
Now is
the silent fragrance
that bathes the whole garden
in beauty.

Navaratri, Night 3

O Kali, I vow never to use You as a meme to focus my negative energy around my trauma and political anger. Rather, I will let You use me, to melt the boundaries of outrage, until I can behold the dazzling amethyst of your face at the heart of catastrophe.

On this third night of Navaratri I worship You, O Goddess, in the form of Kali Shakti, the power of inner and outer transformation, who destroys what is old in order to dance as the grace of the new.
Certainly, now is your time. You are in control. But pure devotion to You does not include Western cultural appropriation of your ancient serpent power. You are not a political icon, a symbol of our resistance to fascism, a channel for apocalyptic anxieties, a bandage for sexual wounding, or an embodiment of our trauma. In fact, dear Mother Kali, you are liberation from all such fears and obsessions.

In the Vedic tradition, blessed Goddess, you are pure ecstasy, pure freedom, and pure beauty, disguised in the most obdurate and troubling forms of the external world. You are Sat-Chit-Ananda - truth, awareness, bliss -veiled in tumultuous maya. Yet as you purify our vision through yoga, kriya, and meditation, the heart is empowered to behold You even in the enemy, the obstacle, the catastrophe.

Only then are we liberated from the binding habit-chains of blame and resentment, as You crush the demon of the little mind, and liberate in us the breath of the infinite. Wider wilder vision comes, not through moral or political struggle, but by naturally seeing God in the Other. This is your grace, Mother Kali.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches that, when the "equal vision" of yoga is cultivated in the nervous system through regular meditation, non-violence, seva, and devotion, we begin to see the beauty of the Divine even in the most troubling disguise. No longer bound by the tyranny of form, through every form we see Her. Then prejudice is impossible.

Every day on earth, trauma happens. And so does beauty. To focus our energy around the trauma, rather than the beauty, is our choice, not our destiny. May the grace of the Goddess gently breathe through our will, that we may choose beauty.

Om Shrim Hrim Krim Kalikayeh Namah!

First Day of Autumn

Mushroom scent of Goddess on the first Fall afternoon; rhyme of the happening apple, worm and all; sky within the sky, cloudless, blue, infinity self-evident; gift of the world to itself, unnoticed... In this ashram with spider-web windows and no roof, there's only one rule: don't fall asleep. Tomorrow will be even more wonderful. Virgo gives birth to Jupiter. Have a blessed Autumn!


It's going to be OK.

But not out there. That will never be OK. That is the world of ever-changing forms. What will be OK is deep within you, where there is no passing form, but eternal Being.
Your eternal Being has never not been OK. In Being, no problem ever arose. And no solution is necessary, because nothing was ever wrong.

Even if you 'die,' it will be OK, because Being never dies. Out there is what dies. The world dies and dissolves each moment, so why worry about it?

You don't need to look for happiness, because you Are happiness. So why not welcome this fear, this uncertainty, this pang of outrage, this wave of disaster-fatigue, without resistance? These reactions to the world are part of the world: they too are just waves of form out there. They have no Being.

You have Being. You are Being. The nature of Being is ever-expanding joy. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." The Being you Are is unassailable peace.

There is absolutely no conflict between our Being of perfect peace and  feelings of fear, pain, or weariness. These are feelings that we HAVE, but they are not who we ARE. Conflict only arises when we obscure Being by holding on to these feelings as our identity. Then we imagine that we must resist the fear, pain, and weariness, attempting to change them into something better and more enlightened.

We don't need to resist, change, or manipulate any feeling or experience at all. Just dissolve the form of that energy by welcoming it completely into the repose of Being.

This is the Way of no way, the practice of no practice, the discipline of no discipline, the dissolution of the imperfect into perfection without attempting to perfect anything.

It does not require great knowledge or enlightenment. It is what babies do.

Blessed Navarati (9/21-10/1)

The light of the sun, the moon, the stars and planets has a Source. That Source is the radiance of the stamen in the lotus of your heart. You irradiate the universe. You are joy. You are creativity. You are love.

But due to the dazzling confusion of creation's panoply, we think that the Source is outside and above us. The grace of Mother Divine, through the vibrating energy of her bija mantras, can dispel the clouds of this confusion, so that we realign with the light of the Heart.

And the most auspicious time for this realignment, through the practice of meditation, is Navaratti, the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Navarati begins on September 21 this year, which is just the time of the Autumn equinox.

We in the West are just re-discovering the Goddess, who was essential to ancient Judaism and Christianity. The feminine aspect of the divine was associated with Hochma (Wisdom) in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek. We mostly think of her as a vague intuited feeling. But her work is very specific: she is the animating power, the Shakti, behind the mantras that liberate the naras, the nerve-currents in our bodies, from the stress that causes ignorance, so that an open-hearted conscious body can bathe in the all-pervading grace of the Atman. Peace.

How To Go To Sleep

I have no idea what's going on in the world. But I do know how to go to sleep. I learned from my cat, who always naps on my shirt, so she can slumber in the kindness and protection of her master's scent!

When you fall asleep tonight, just assume that your head is lain at the feet of your Beloved, and rest in the miracle of this breath. Know that each inhalation is the Master's gift, and each exhalation is your flower of gratitude, offered back.

Drift off into the ocean of Grace. And when you wake up, you will radiate peace. Good night.


I notice with ironic surprise that those of us who obsess over our spirituality - perfecting our yoga postures, getting the right meditation technique, practicing meticulous purity of diet - are often more anxious than people who just do daily work and play without any pretense of gaining enlightenment.

In fact, the romance of sadhana, especially among those of us with a compulsion to hang out in ashrams, or frequent weekend retreats with "spiritual teachers," can be the mask for a neurosis: the avoidance of the ordinary.

What if the path of awakening lies, not through ashrams, non-duality workshops, health food stores and yoga studios, but through the small-time sacraments of the commonplace? What if the most profound mystical practices are these:

* Give up the search.
* Be grateful for this breath.
* Just rest your mind in the heart.

In fact, this is the surest instruction of the wise, found in the ancient yoga text, Vijnana Bhairava, and the original Christian treatise on meditation, The Philokalia. Precisely the same teaching, whether in Sanskrit or Greek: "Rest your mind in the heart."

Even for the mystical thrill-seeker, the ordinary is the highest path, because giving up the search is the ultimate rush. The very instant we give up the search, the universe blossoms around us like the motionless explosion of a golden rose.

Ever returning on the journey of this breath, nowhere to go but here, no higher plane than the present moment, sink deeply into who you are, and feel your body begin to dance.


When I come home to the place where I am broken, then I can be whole.

If I am willing to confess the weakness of my will, I open like a wound to strength. If I have the courage to say, "My deepest ability is vulnerability," the Gift comes, like a whisper of wind from deep within. Yet I cannot will this mystery, for my will is a broken wing.

How could the weak will, will its own strength? All I can will is confession. Confession is my native land, my homecoming. This is metanoia.

Only in confession am I free. Only then may the Other approach me, touch me, heal me. Here is wholeness: that my heart only finds healing in a Friend.

I was created to be broken. I was broken for communion. I yearn, yet not to be One, but Near...

Jesus took bread in his hands, broke it, and gave it to the disciples saying, "Take, eat, this is my body." So we break bread as a sacrament. Yet we pay so much attention to the bread, we forget the power of the breaking. It's the brokenness that heals.

What the clod of soil cries to the plow, the grape sings to the barefoot crusher; what the pomegranate whispers under the knife, the breaking heart implores the lover; the prayer of the loaf to the hand of the Master.

Knead me, bake me, tear me in two. I was not made for me, but for you.

Are Flowers Inevitable?

""Beauty will save the world." ~Dostoyevsky

"Objective" science seems to be skewed toward a utilitarian view of nature: nature as machine without a subject, without a taste for beauty. Are we so sure that beauty is a by-product, and not the motive, the beginning and end, of evolution?

A biosphere could have evolved without blossoms. Are flowers inevitable? The job of cradling seeds and distributing pollen might have gotten accomplished in a more mechanical and economic fashion. Whatever the work of fragrance is, from rose to musk, we might sense it as a thread of vibration, a ray of gray light, without a scent. Yet we, and perhaps the bees also, sense the garden as sweetness, with shade upon shade of subtle textures, flavors, aftertastes. Why do birds sing? Another form of communication might have been evolved, an electrical buzz too quiet for humans to hear, and more mathematically accurate for the birds.

I suggest that beauty is a driving force, and you reply that natural selection needs no motivation, for nature's mechanisms run on a simple will to survive. But is that not a motive? And what is so great about survival for its own sake? Without the possibility of savoring, mere survival is just work, a losing struggle against entropy. Without appreciation of the Beautiful, we give up hope, and don't live at all.

Read "Man's Search For Meaning," by psychiatrist Victor Frank, who not only survived the concentration camp at Auschwitz, but concluded from his study that the people who survived there did so, not because they had a hardier physical constitution, but because they nurtured a transcendent purpose, and cherished some beauty to live for.

We don't know how deeply mute creatures like bees and hummingbirds appreciate fragrance, color, song, or if they do at all, for they are mute. All we know is that men and women have evolved a capacity for wonder, and for singing about it. Is this capacity for wonder a random by-product of natural selection, or is it the reason we are here?

I don't know. But I do know that naked men with bare hands cannot do nature's tasks nearly as well as animal and vegetable species do, whether running, or swimming, or flying, or hunting, or cross-pollinating. We had to invent tools simply because we were inept without them. Comparing a man to a panther or an ant, it is obvious that the man is inferior at particular tasks, whether large or small. But at the general task of being astonished, and singing about it, humans do better than others, and were probably created for nothing else.

The words of Rabbi Heschel, "To be spiritual is to be amazed," I would paraphrase by making an even simpler claim: "To be human is to be amazed: this is our chief work."

Photo by Laurent Berthier

A Breath Is Richer Than A Thought

A breath is so much richer than a thought, so much more interesting in texture and luminous with vitality. A thought is an abstraction, a mere sign of something else. But a breath is itself, the very energy of Presence.

Our civilization has vastly over-rated the power of thought, but under-rated the power of breath. We replace one thought with another and call it "thinking," or "reasoning," but what does it lead to? The next thought. There is no end to the trap of thinking. But superimposing these thoughts onto our energy-state and our body does not penetrate our anxiety or heal us.

If we are anxiously thinking of some problem right now, we can be sure that a week from now we will replace this problem with another one and think about that with the same level of anxiety, because our thoughts do not change our energy. And next week, we won't remember what we were worried about this week. We'll just replace it with another catastrophic thought.

Yet all the while, our breath is silently pulsing beneath our thoughts, an untapped resavoir of transformation.

A breath is much richer, much deep, much more real than a thought. Why not let this breath be your prayer? Let this breath penetrate the anxiety you feel and transform it. Let this breath irradiate the world with healing greening power. This breath needs no name. Let it be your silent blessing, and your inward guide.

A silent breath will lead you to the bottomless well of stillness.

Wedding Feast

Jesus doesn't want to "save" you; he wants you to become what he is.

Crucify the opposites nailed to your mind: past and future, heaven and hell, matter and spirit, ignorance, enlightenment.

Your flesh is the rose, your soul is the fragrance; resurrection is the pollen at the heart of the flower.

Feel your heavenly body entangled in this earthly one; the mother bird has woven a strand of pearls into your nest of twigs: her eggs are blue because they contain the sky.

Why does your emptiness glow with compassion? Why is your darkest night the womb of morning?

Because death is the Kingdom of Presence: as soon you think that the Garden is elsewhere, you have fallen into exile.

Don't take two thousand years to remember this moment; turn your pilgrimage into a labyrinthine fire dance.

You were a guest at this wedding before you were born; therefor unveil the smile of wonder, recline at the bountiful table of your own breast.

Sip the wine of silence, crushed from love and aged in your chest.

The Groom gave his invitation standing on a mountain; over and over he said, Don't worry!* But no one heard him; they weren't drunk enough.

Strip off every garment and stand in your body of fire; you were created to whirl and sing: all else is hesitation.

* In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeats five times, 'mei phobei,' or a similar construction, meaning 'don't worry.' The King James translate it as, 'take no thought.'

Icon: St. Gregory Orthodox Church, Washington DC; Jesus at the Wedding Feast in Cana, turning water to wine for his Mother.


You don't need priests or politicians, you make peace on earth simply by being awake.

The kingdom is not a nation of laws and borders, a heavenly city descending from the sky, or a utopia designed by economists and college professors.
The kingdom is not invoked by shouting magic slogans in the streets, just as food is not created by banging pots.

Justice spills into the world from a blossom inside you, overflowing after the shower of grace, tasting blue, like the sky.

The kingdom comes a thousand times a day, when you nourish a thirsty stranger with your smile, when your mind is suddenly empty and your heart is filled with nectar.

Friend, don't wait for a prince. You are the royalty. Your palace is the present moment.

The throne is in your chest. Silence from a golden cup anoints you with astonishment.

The pulse of your blood commands the galaxies to shine. Your nakedness is the sun.

The gesture of your merest breath absolves all creatures from a colossal and primordial Sin that never happened.

The Void Is Not Devoid

The integral silence of pure awareness is oceanic, containing waves of sorrow and waves of joy, both of which are waves of ananda.
The Void is not devoid of passion. What physicists call "fluctuations in the vacuum" fill empty space. Transcendental feelings permeate unbounded silence.

The great Jewish theologian Joshua Abraham Heschel called this paradox The Divine Pathos: Godhead empathizes with human suffering. Spirituality is not the transcendence of feeling. Indeed, human feeling is but the reflection of transcendent passion.
The Godhead is not passivity. Christian mystic Jan Ruysbroeck wrote about "the wildness of God," and "the wilderness in the Godhead." Entering transcendental consciousness is an ever unfolding relationship of Lover and Beloved in the very silence of the Self. Thus the 4th Century Christian father St. Gregory of Nyssa coined the term "epictisis": eternal becoming in the groundless depths of God.
To enter the wild inward life of the Divine is to enter the Garden of Vrindavan, and to participate in the passion of Radha for Krishna, full of longing, ecstasy, and the pain of separation. Yet this longing, even this divine feeling of separation, is the play of God and Goddess in the absolute Unity of Brahman. The flowering of non-duality is the lovers' "lila."
In Buddhism, the divine emotions are called the Four Immeasurables: omnipresent compassion (Metta), joy in the happiness of others (Mudita), sadness in the sorrow of others (Karuna), and dispassion (Upeksha). It is dispassion that holds space for passion. The spacious heart of dispassion remains clear as the sky, even while embracing the clouds of human experience.
Our graceful task is not to reject human feeling, but to infuse it with the radiance of the Infinite. If I use "awareness" as a shield to protect myself from the wounded, angry, jagged, uncertain shadows of my soul, it is not awareness at all, but flight.

Meditation Notes 1: Witnessing

To "witness" does not mean detaching the observer from the observed. Rather, I embrace the whole continuum of my mind, with all its thoughts, as one dynamic emptiness. There is no "I" who witnesses thoughts. Rather, there is just this trackless ocean of vibrant stillness, thoughts arising and dissolving as waves of silence.

Thoughts are not other than the stillness of the witness. Thoughts are not other than emptiness. But this stillness, this emptiness, is playful and dynamic. Enjoy thoughts as the ecstatic play of the formless.

Detachment is just another version of duality: "witness" vs. "thoughts." And such detachment is a subtle form of violence, division.

The condition of witnessing is simply to refrain from grasping or rejecting. Do not grasp one thought out of the stream as more significant. Do not reject another thought as less. Whether pure or impure, whether positive or negative, all thoughts are one continuum, the playful wave-nature of the void.

We may think that we are rational, but the truth is, thought happens for no reason.

Therefor we don't have to turn thought-waves into thought-particles: that is, into points of view that are separate from the continuum of emptiness. Rippling bubbling thought is the texture of stillness, the soundless echo of a gong never struck.

Just as the ocean can be whole in the midst of its waves, I can be still in the dance of thoughts, because there actually is no "I." There is only boundless awakened space where the dance happens. This space is self-luminous and delightful whether thoughts happen or not, because, as long as it is not grasped, a thought is just a tremor of that emptiness.

Song of Kabir

"The sun and the moon can be seen in that place.
When looking at that,
bring your mind down to silence.
I will tell you the truth:
the one who has drunk from this liquid
wanders around like someone insane."
Kabir is not speaking of outer sun and moon in the sky, but Shiva-Shakti in vast blue awareness, the solar and lunar energies that spiral your spine, bursting as one light through your pineal gland, igniting the burning bush of your cerebrum.

The liquid Kabir speaks of is the neuro-peptide Soma juice fermented in your dendrites as your meditating physiology bathes in transcendental consciousness. Illuminated body is the Self, and Self is not other than the body. Only the intellect makes them two. But the intellect is a dull sword compared to the diamond penis of Shiva, who wanders around naked and crazy, somehow performing the ordinary tasks of the clerk in an Ace Hardware store.

So you must do the commonplace work of your life, and don’t let on that you are the creator of worlds, the destroyer of worlds, who embodies the megaton brilliance of eight galaxies. Without any calculation, numbers silently fall into place, and all your debts are paid. The archangels in your brain conduct the business, while you dance as a Witness in the silence between thoughts.

If you understand this, it must be after midnight. While others toss in black and white dreams, you and I make love in living color, wide awake.

Painting by Mahmoud Farshchian

Word and Silence

Word and Silence are not opposites. Together they co-nourish creation.

The womb of the Untold ululates in fluctuations of the vacuum. She is the mother of physics, Genesis 1, a feathery hen of breath ruffling darkness into waves of fire, oceanic night-singer of infinite possibility. She was here before God said, "Let there be light," and is still here, beneath all that we can say, the resonant field of eternal Silence, where Words of creation are conceived.
We used to savor the Logos on our own tongues. We could talk the elements into doing anything, inspire the wind, instruct the waters, still the storm, ignite a garden with song, move colossal stones with a whisper. Our language vibrated with mantras, Godspells, healing shamanic gutterals. Even our Hum was an unstruck gong in the heart.

We named each other. And respecting the power of names, we were creators.
But we lost the science of magical speech when we dissipated Word-energy through gossip, vulgarity, and derision. We allowed talking heads and technocrats, politicians and the media, to infect our language with the virus of babble. Now, instead of empowering us, language exhausts us. Our minds are full of chatter we hardly understand, because it is not our true name...

How shall we speak Truth again? How shall we recover the Godspell? How shall we awaken from ancient sleep the inner Bard? And how root down in Divine Silence, to tap our Words of Creation?

"En archai æn ho Logos: In the beginning was the Word." ~John 1:1

"Adau Bhagavan shabdha rasahih: In the beginning, the Lord created the universe through a stream of Sound." ~Rig Veda

"Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts as a sound, ends in a deed." ~Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Don't ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs." ~Hamza Yusuf

"Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds." ~Eli Wiesel

"Words are also actions." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"But our words from loose using have lost their edge." ~Ernest Hemingway

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace." ~Gautama Buddha

Picture: Tibetan mantra wheel. In the ancient traditions, mandalas that mapped the cosmos were made of letters and their sounds.


All phenomena dissolve like mist. Therefor all deeds are forgiven. Every stranger is your only child. Relax and do what you like because compassion is your nature. Now pour another cup of whatever kindled this friendship. The candle is so small, and the desert is vast. Don't ask why we met here in this oasis of the heart. As long as we can smile for no reason, we know that we are destined for happiness.

Photo: On a wilderness hike at the sacred Mt. Tahoma, I met this little friend sitting just under the surface of the water in a clear mountain stream.