"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.