Everything is dissolving; therefor each particle of dust is infinitely precious. Nothing is important; therefor you are supremely beautiful.
No greater or less, no higher or lower, each creature the incomparable ideal of itself. Therefor I am free to give the same attention to your lips that Christ gives the soul.
The earth is not important. The sky is not important. Moon and stars are not important. The swirling galaxy is less than a water spider caught in a drain. The highest mountain is a ripple in a sea imagined at the final moment in the fading mind of one just dead.
How important are you? The hollow in a reed, an empty cocoon, the hole in a cheerio carried back to the forest in a crow's beak?
Tell me what thought you had precisely this time yesterday. Was it important? Where did it go? What happened to that thought is happening to our world this moment. We are dissolving. And all the information we have eve been, is stored nowhere.
Existence is loss - yet sacred loss opens space for wider existence. Friend, it isn't my intention to bring you down. What is weightless should not depress you.
I want you to dance on the sea like a bubble that just popped into oblivion. I want to give you wings, like the drop of last night's dew that disappeared into a sunbeam on the mouth of a blossoming iris.
Nothing is Important
What Is Meditation
To be astonished by the vast energy that arises from stillness, and dumbfounded by the beauty that resonates in silence. That is meditation. And it happens beyond thought.
Born A Shaman
Lots of talk about "shamanism" these days. People want to visit exotic countries and adopt the lore of indigenous tribes to turn themselves into shamans. But if you really want to be a shaman, you just need to return to your original nature.
You were a shaman when you were born, a master by the time your were six months old! Your throat was the rattle, your belly the drum. The sounds you heard in your body were sutras and godspells full of Earth-power. You uttered ecstatic bija mantras as you gurgled milk from your Mother's breast: "Bawa!" "Ma!" "Om!" "Ah!" Hum!"
As a fetus tumbling through the womb, you achieved every healing posture, embodying all the constellations of the zodiac. And in your crib, rolling, stretching, curling, bouncing, you performed the complete sequence of yoga asanas, your wrists and fingers ceaselessly playing in secret mudras of tantric blessing.
Through the soft spot in the crown of your head, star music poured into your body; and whichever way you turned, your vertebrae were aligned with the black hole at the center of the galaxy. In a cave at the core of your brain was a tiny altar, where you hid a medicine bundle called the amygdala.
Whenever you felt a thirst for light, you simply closed your eyes and turned inward, walking down the forest path from your eyeballs to the pineal gland. There, in a wilderness of dendrites, you drank sapphire streams of wisdom from a bottomless well.
Through the radiant field of Astonishment, you absorbed waves of prana from the empty space around you: it was the true ayahuasca. No need to squeeze the sacred soma juice from rare mushrooms: it was the nectar of your own neuro-peptides, streaming from heart to hypothalamus.
The glowing tendrils of your nervous system did not stop at the edge of your flesh, because your flesh had no edges. Your neurons rooted in loam through the soles of your feet; while your eyes, ears, nostrils and tongue entwined with the planets through filaments of radiation.
The vegus nerve, spiraling like a grapevine round your backbone, was the Tree of Life in the Garden of Paradise, your body, its branches sparkling up into the frontal cortex, bearing the fruit of your joy back to the Milky Way.
Thus your human form, streaming with currents of bio-energetic fire, was a Burning Bush that revealed the one and simple commandment, "Love!" And the symmetry of that commandment contained all the laws of nature in its vast singularity.
O yes, there was a Serpent in your Eden, wound at the base of the tree. But the Serpent was not evil, for no evil existed. How could there be original sin where there is only love? You were born to Original Innocence.
Now that serpent was Kundalini Shakti, who did not dispute with Eve, for the Serpent was Eve herself. They were one and the same Goddess.
Therefor, friend, your unfallen nature is pure wonder. And you may return to your nature now, in an instant, by taking this breath. Nay, by receiving this breath. For breath is not taken, but given. And every breath you breathe is the Spirit of the Creator.
The Sabbath happens when we give up seeking. What's important is not how brief it is, but how conscious it is. One moment of awareness-without-seeking is a precious diamond, a sparkling burst of stillness that annihilates time. Something even more wonderful than happiness dawns the instant we give up looking for it.
Wave of Presence
Mind creates duality between "time" and the "now," as if one is not the other. The seeker wants to stop the flow of "time" and enter the stillness of the present moment, as if "now" is a stasis, a stagnant pool of being, and not a stream of becoming.
But there is no "now" to be grasped and rested in, as if the present is a thing or a place. Because "now" is never an object of awareness, but the subject. I Am presence. Presence is a dynamic wave, moving without beginning or end. And all my suffering arises because "I" resist this wave-flow, which is only the flow of myself.
The paradox is that when I stop resisting the wave of presence, stillness dawns. A wave keeps moving across the ocean, yet at its base the wave is the ocean, and isn't moving at all. So my life endlessly flows through the tranquility of my own awareness, meeting apparent conflicts that arise and dissolve in the stillness I Am.
In the river of God's will, the goal is never in the future.When I separate myself from the flow of the Divine, and attempt to direct its current toward a future outcome, I alienate myself from Life. For God is the very Life from whom I separate myself in order to be in control.
Any goal that I desire is my will, not the Way of the Divine. But when I surrender to the Way, I am in a state of Grace. And this very surrender IS the goal, each moment, wherever the Way wanders.Does this sound passive? Of course it does, because our culture educates us to control, to manipulate outcomes, to grasp for the "ideal," and be ever discontented with what Is. Now just see where this culture of "goals" and "ideals," this addiction to thinking about the future, has taken us...
The real passivity, the real paralysis comes, not when I surrender, but when I attempt to rise above the stream of Now and focus on future rewards. Thus the Bhagavad Gita declares: "Focus on your work, not on its fruits... Established in the peace of Yoga, perform action" (2:47,48).
We do our best work in the present moment. Surrender is never passive. It is "wei wu wei," acting without doing. What disappears is the do-er, not the action.The instant one dives into the stream, Presence is electric, energizing the body with currents of Shakti that connect our atoms to the stars. Their majestic stillness is our dance. Their waltz of fire our stillness.And our "goal" for the future? Whatever it may be, it always comes down to joy, does it not? Yet that joy only thrives in the present moment. Take the stem of a flower out of the water, it wilts. Take love out of the present moment, it fades away.
You Are peace, you Are love, you Are joy...If you surrender to the current of the Goddess, wherever you are, the miracle of Presence arises. Yes, even in the midst of catastrophe.Become present. Let the vast silent clarity of this moment swallow your mind.
Negative Capability: Keats and Buddha
(This essay was published in 'Empty Mirror,' a journal of art and culture, on April 28, 2017.)
The relationship of Buddhism and the poetic process is a sublime yet unexplored topic among Western scholars. It’s about the silent space between the words, not just the word itself.
The poet John Keats writes: "At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when one is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason..." (Letter to his brother, 12/21/1817)
In a letter to Reynolds, 5/3/1818, Keats speaks of stepping into the "Thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think." This could mean nothing else but sunya, the Buddha-nature of thought-free emptiness. Keats describes his creativity in terms that Buddhists would recognize as anatta, no-self. In a letter to Richard Woodhouse (10/27/1818) he writes:
"As to the Poetic Character itself... it is not itself - it has no self - it is everything and nothing... A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence, because he has no Identity - he is continually in and filling some other Body... I have no nature. When I am in a room with People, then not myself goes home to myself, but the identity of everyone in the room begins to press upon me, so that I am in a very little time annihilated."
Jack Kerouac echoes Keats in his Scripture of the Golden Eternity. "Strictly speaking, there is no me, because all is emptiness. I am empty, I am non-existent. All is bliss."
What Keats calls “Negative Capability,” modern artists call “negative space.” Leonardo da Vinci wrote, "Of all the great things found among us, the Being of Nothingness is the greatest." Negative Space is the lesson of Japanese minimalism that influenced Matisse and Van Gogh at the fountainhead of modern European art.
Miles Davis filled his solos with negative space, creating by subtracting. "Don't play what's there," Miles said, "play what isn't there." (LINK)
Silence between notes. White sky between plum blossoms. Void that births creation. Darkness before God says, "Let there be light." The opening verses of the Bible describe the womb of creation in quite Buddhist terms, tohu wa bohu, in Hebrew meaning "formless and void." So the Heart Sutra, core of Zen, declares: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
What the artist discovers in negative space, the mystic finds in pure awareness, free from the clutter of thought. Emptiness between stars, hollow in our throat and belly, vacuum in an atom, black hole at the center of the galaxy: these are all the same space. This space is awake. It is who we truly are. It is Awareness.
If you fall through the crack between quarks, into the vacuum of infinite possibility at the core of a proton, you will hear the music of the spheres. A pointless bindhu contains the information of the whole universe. The ancient Upanishads proclaim: "Ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: One atom of the smallest is greater than the greatest."
And so affirms Neruda, the modern poet: "I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void."
When The World Is Out Of Control
People are so anxious these days, because the message they get from the world is that things are totally out of control - so out of control that no one can fix it.
This is exactly the right message for now. Settle down and receive it. Breathe it into your heart: the world is out of your control.
When we stop freaking out, we will get the next message, which is: "So what?" So what if everything is out of our control? Do you really want to control the world? Do you want an almighty leader to control the world? Which one?
Have you ever been in control? Are you in control right now? "Control is an illusion." That is the second message.
Finally, there's a third message for these times, one we can only accept when we surrender the illusion of control. The message is: "All we really have is our compassion, the brokenness of our heart."
We are here for compassion, not control. To love with every breath, to love with each small ordinary deed, even if the deed is merely listening.
You can spread the message of compassion. You must. The world is thirsty for it. You don't need to be a scientist, a politician, a guru, a social "activist," or a charismatic TED-talker. You only need to break open your heart and release the fragrance of love, in your own unique voice, your own royal gesture. With the generosity you are, breathe compassion.
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