Some pride themselves on being 'activists,' believing that their actions are more significant than what others do. But who can judge the value of an act?The old Bulgarian cobbler - some say he is one of only seven Tzaddiks left on earth - sews a new sole to a grizzled boot. He is so present, and so deep in merry silence, he doesn't realize that he stitches heaven to earth, allowing us to survive another day.
The pole star seems to rest in stillness all night. Yet it streaks at inconceivable speed through the heavens.
A tiny emerald moth alights on the lupine in a mountain meadow, folding its wings in repose. It's faint pulse sends out a thread of causation that will finally bring a tempest to the other side of the planet.
The child falls and scrapes her knee. The mother who treats her wound, not only with ointment but with immeasurable tenderness, lightens the burden of all who suffer, though we never know quite why we sigh and sense such nameless elevation.
If you take - no, receive - a breath with infinite gratitude - for we are not capable of doing infinite works, but we are capable of being infinitely grateful - this breath may feel like the faintest caress on your breastbone. But can you be sure it isn't a mighty wind from the Creator, sweeping the world, renewing mountains, forests, and rivers, restoring the Spirit to every heart that beats?
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, "Drink your tea slowly, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves."
Painting: 'The Old Village Cobbler," 1903, John Brown, American Realist
This Flower Is God
"You yourself are even another little world and have within you the sun and the moon and also the stars."
~Origen of Alexandria, 1st C.
The difference between creator and creation is important to the theologian, but lost on lovers. One proton of your dear one's body contains the information of all the galaxies. The cry of a sparrow keeps a black hole from engulfing the sun.
"Are you saying that this flower is God?"
Absolutely, I say that this flower is God.
"Blasphemy! The boundless transcendental Godhead cannot be contained in your lover's flesh!"
On the contrary, I say that a robin's egg encircles the blue sky, and a daffodil is the body of God.
"What kind of religion is this?"
This is anu vrat, the ancient yogis' vow of an atom. Agree to find God in the tiniest particle of creation. That is why the Upanishads declare, Ano raniyan mahato mahyan: One atom of the smallest contains the greatest. Delight in discovering the infinite in the infinitesimal, for that is the holographic nature of creation.
"Then you are a Hindu?"
I am not a Hindu. I am not a Christian. I am not of the East or the West, the Bible or the Philosophers. My religion is wonder.
"Everything you say contradicts modern science."
On the contrary, wonder is not far from science.
"How can you speak of science when you believe in the primacy of bewilderment?"
A physicist is not different from a lover. For physics, as for lovers, the world is immersed in the graceful process of melting in perpetual chaos, which means that there are no edges.
In quantum physics, according to Bell's Theorum (1962), later confirmed by experiments with high energy particle collisions, each particle is a local manifestation of the non-local particle-field, and therefor contains the substratum of every other particle.
The finite probability of a material particle is just an intensification of omnipresent possibility. Matter is a wave of the immaterial vacuum. The whole ocean arises in the tiniest wave, does it not? Every ripple shares its base with all other waves.
This isn't mysticism. One of the founders of quantum physics, Sir Arthur Eddington, wrote, "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes."
Now I have a question. If the tiniest particle contains the universe, then what do you contain? This question is my religion.
have I made?"
The world was transformed
the moment you were born,
just by your being
here and holding
the planet in the palm
of awareness, the warmth
of your chest before
you gently laid it down in
the nest of darkness again.
What did you whisper
to the forest?
What did you breathe
to stir the sea
and cause the earth to
grow such star-drenched
Photo: first depiction of a human hand,
40,000 year old cave painting in Indonesia
O my weary soul, listen! The pearl you seek is buried in the mud of seeking. Bliss is the pulse of your own existence, before you give it a Sanskrit name.
As soon as you turn the grace of this breath, the vibration of this silence, into a technique, it is lost for another thousand years.
Why is every one else your 'life coach' but you? Can you turn off the new age news, shut down your computer, go app-less for an hour, and gaze into the only webnar that can ever teach you wisdom: the tiny blue forget-me-not that grows by the bird bath, where you forgot to mow the weeds?
When will you realize that this clutter of 'spiritual teachers,' online meditations, enlightenment workshops, and yoga cures are just more of the dis-ease: information overload?
Have a little courage: grok the source of all dharmas, sadhanas, chants and mantras, asanas, pranayams and darshans in the luminous clarity of your own Eye. Stop looking and melt. Melt into the Beauty of the one who looks.
Who will savor, in your next breath, the nectar that angels thirst for? Who will taste the pomegranate of God that has just split open in your heart, gushing ten thousand seeds of love?
Here's the secret, friend: Nobody reveals anything to you but your Self. Your real Guru is the one who whispers this secret, like a lover at midnight.
O Student of Astonishment
O Student of Astonishment, you are not your intellect, you are not your memory, you are not your will. These are but three veils on a paper lantern. You shine beyond within.
Truth is not a concept. Truth is not an answer. Truth is the Seed whose hollow is unbounded. No thought will lead you there, only a surrender in your chest.
Don't be a star, be night itself. Darkness mothers everything bright. Be that womb.
The dignity of your mind is not the accumulation of knowledge, but the sparkling of emptiness. Instead of being certain, be a window.
Polish your intellect like crystal with the soft cloth of this inhalation, this exhalation, until you can see through the transparency that once was clouded by concepts.
The sun of your heart appears in the awakened sky.
O Student of Beauty, nothing is attained by seeking. If you want to find what you were looking for, get lost in the wild garden of amazement.
In heaven you were filled with a terrible longing. On earth your longing is fulfilled.
By the grace of the one whose fragrance allures you to a most auspicious drowning, suffer the sweet catastrophe of Now.
Carry her secret name on the wings of breathing. Make honey from the nectar of invisible love.
Angels cling to themselves, jealous of your courage. They yearn for this birth, where everything pulsates with life and death, and the rhythms of your annihilation feed the world.
The Gospel According To Advaita
"Love thy neighbor as thy Self" is Judeo-Christian Advaita. Jesus tells us to love even our enemies. His social ethic is rooted in uncompromising non-duality. We do not love our enemy because our enemy is akin to our Self, but because our enemy is our Self.
In Jesus' parable of the last judgment, the Lord says, "In so much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me." This vision too is born of Advaita. What "Me" appears in the judgment at the end of time? A man with a beard and sandals walking the dusty paths of first century Galilee? Of course not.
Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus identifies not with his biological parents or tribe, but with the eternal I Am. I Am is the Christ-Self in each of us. And when we meet one another as the radiant I Am, judgment is over. It is the end of time. What Jesus means by the parable is: "In so far as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto your Self."
Advaita is the essence of the social Gospel. Non-duality is the soul of Christian peace-making. Conflict dissolves when we see that there is no other.
Painting by Rembrandt
Only One Space
There is only one space, which contains this and all other worlds - the stillness after exhalation, before the inhalation arises.
There is only one dimension, which includes all other dimensions - awakened emptiness.
And there is only one possibility, the infinitesimal seed of creation, enfolding all possible universes in the bindhu at the center of your chest.
It is an ever-dissolving diamond on the tip of a lightning bolt containing the echo of the cataclysm that has already destroyed the cosmos, yet holds the memory of all that ever was in soundless bewilderment.
The cosmic womb is the wild abundance of Uncertainty, but we fear it.
To assuage our terror, we fixate on a belief-system: astrology, the science of yoga, the seven chakras, a strict vegan diet, the eight-fold path, fundamentalist theology, or the perfectly regulated socialist state, which are all precisely the same phenomenon: the mind attempting to staunch its flow in an illusion of certainty.
Afraid of our own infinite possibility, we refuse to see the chaos and beauty of the world through the simple eye of the astonished heart.
The supreme adventure is a journey into silence, a pilgrimage of one breath.
Drown in the stream of the Wayless. Repose in the groundless space of anahata, just beneath your breast bone. Listen to the vibrant hollow of the unstruck bell, the sound before creation.
Beyond conceptual thought, dissolve the past and future. For one who dwells in the incomprehensible radiance of the heart, it is always Sat Yuga.
Painting, 'Hiranyagharba' by Seema Kohli.
'Keep Noble Silence'
'Keep noble silence.' This was Buddha's teaching. Is there a difference between ordinary silence and noble silence?
Ordinary silence is mindless. Noble silence is mindful. Alert as the listening doe between a taste of dandelions and a munch of violets. Yet relaxed as an otter on its back in a wave.
Ordinary silence is the absence of noise. Noble silence is the fullness of Being. It is pure awareness, free from the chatter of conceptual thought.
Jesus asked, "Who of you by taking thought can add one inch to your stature?" Peace comes through Being, not through argument.
When thought melts away, past and future dissolve into Presence.
Mind sinks into the groundless, journeys deep into the virgin forest of the heart. There, in noble silence, one sees all causes entangled in causelessness. One sees golden emptiness pervading all creatures. One sees sparkling stillness in all action.
A silent heart irradiates the world with compassion.
The Miraculous Being Of Ordinary Things
A thing is ordinary. But its Being is miraculous. Even though Being is no-thing and no-mind, nothing is more substantial. When your mind is empty of all concepts, you perceives the diamond radiance of your own pure Being, the Self who is free from subject or object. This is perfect contentment.
Possession of things without the fragrance of their Being, is poverty. But the Being of things is boundless wealth. Now the richness of Being overflows from every point in the vacuum of space.
If people tasted the Being in things, they would be forever satisfied without clinging to the things, and no more wars would arise. How could anyone practice exploitation or greed when the mind is saturated with the fullness of Being?
Everything that you encounter is impermanent, like a wisp of dissolving mist. But when you encounter the Being of a thing, you touch eternity with all the cells of your flesh.
If your heart merges with the Being of a gnat or a pebble, you know the Being of God. For the Being of a gnat is the Being of God. And knowing the ecstasy of God's Being will expand your body to the rim of the cosmos.
How much greater, then, is your bewilderment when you gaze into the Being of a human face? I am not talking about the sorrow or the joy, the youth or the age, the pain or the beauty of the form, but its Being.
Even the Being of a melting dewdrop radiates eternity. This is why Jesus communicated his infinite existence in a morsel of bread, and Buddha transmitted the whole Dharma by holding up a little wild flower.
Essentially, am I not who I was when I was 18 years old?
Lord have mercy on me.
Truly, am I not who I was when I was 12?
God be with me on my journey.
If truth be told, am I not just who I was when I was 7?
God bless me.
Come, let's be honest. Am I not who I was when I was 2?
Drop the inmost veil. I Am who I Am before I was born.
Now be still and know that I Am God.
"In his own image, male and female, God created them." ~Genesis 1:27
"Make the male and female into a single one... then you will enter the kingdom.” ~Gnostic Sayings of Jesus, Gospel of Thomas 22
You are the male, and you are the female. Follow an inhalation deep into your chest. Let it puncture you. This is Zaqar, the work of the male: remember your heart.
Pour your exhalation into the womb of stars, emptiness impaled by light. Comfort those who reveal their tears before strangers. This is Naqaba, the work of the female: be pierced.
Where inbreath and outbreath merge, here is the bridal chamber, the beauty of annihilation, Bride and Bridegroom aimed in the hollow curve of the arrow-less rainbow.
Feel the ventricles kiss, vacuums of fullness. Here our juices mingled before creation, before wind stirred the sea, before the blood moon clotted.
Even before lightning became your spine, thrilling the sky with blues, you were the transparency of sudden awakening. You were a fountain of bewilderment spewing galaxies from marble lips in the mind of the void.
Is there not an infinitesimal bindhu between your heartbeats, a dark eternal moment of reckoning, just before God says, "Let there be light"? At last, the beginning.
Everything outside is inside. One breath fills the night. The Spirit weds the Soul, the Soul ravishes the Body. If you attend the wedding feast in your heart, what enemy can appear on earth? All sentient creatures will bear your grandmother's name. The Judgment will be yesterday.
Sing now, the wounding and the yearning, the stream of wine and the polished cup, the garden dark with fragrance and the sound of the flute, each leaf fluttered by the stillness of dawn.
Love shatters unity like a mirror, every glittering shard a pang in your liver. Not even the Savior snuffs out the flame of your thirst. The mind of Jesus melts into nothing when He whispers, Thou! You hear it as your given name. He comes to you smelling of scullions and turned earth.
His body is so pungent, so tumid with wounds of pearl, a thin green gladiola gashed with portals to another world, deeper inside this one, you wonder if he is the Gardener.
He is. You are the Garden.
Sculpture: Mary Magdalene looking up to see the figure of Jesus, whom she mistakes as the gardener, near his empty tomb; from the Mission Church in Santa Barbara CA.
It is no coincidence that the Abrahamic faiths of the so-called 'holy land' are more violent and aggressive than any other religions on earth, because they offer their followers no access to a Mother Goddess.Christianity will not become whole or bring true peace through the archetype of Jesus alone, but must surely expand its vision of Mary - not just as Mother of God and Lady of Sorrows, but as the Magdalene, who holds an alabaster jar of sweet ointment, and an egg filled with fire.
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