From My Soul

 My soul said to me: "Why do you mistake the nature of the world for your own nature?
"The nature of the world is conflict. It has always been so, and always will be. It is a field of opposites in polarity. And this is the only place where you can awaken your Self to gain freedom, beyond the pairs of opposites.

"Gradually, you learn to see the conflict as a dance, an inevitable play of light and shadow, until the dream itself awakens you.

"Then you taste your true nature, not as philosophy but direct experience, and know that your nature is not the nature of the world.

"Be still, and know that your I Am is God. You are freedom. You are joy. You are the peace that passes all understanding.

"You are not here to perfect the world, or even to change it. For the nature of the world is change itself, imbalance, imperfection.

"You are here for a nobler task: to wake up the Changeless in the midst of change, the Boundless in the midst of boundaries, the Pure in the midst of impurity.

"Then perhaps you might shine some interior ray of the Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world, on your fellow pilgrims.

"Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!"

No Idea

New ideas don't come
from old ideas.
They spring from emptiness,
flowers of silence.
Therefor the wise confess,
'I have no idea,'
and become Masters
of Wonder.

How We Get There

We wonder why everyone is so stressed. But many of us would not know who we are without a conflict in our mind. This conflict is called "I."
Democrat against Republican, socialist against capitalist, woman vs. man, black vs. white, vegan vs. omnivore, the enlightened vs. the ignorant - many of the most conflicted claiming to be non-dualists.

Maybe the answer is never one side vs. the other. Maybe we could rest the mind in the heart. Maybe we could all go meet in Rumi's field, under the stars, beyond ideas of right and wrong. How do we get there? Listen to the silence. Trust this breath. Take off your shoes.

Photo: taken on my full moon walk

Samhain Meditation

    The veil between the worlds is thin.
    Bright to dark the seasons turn,
    Green Man's fire in the Jack O'Lantern,
    Light above now shines within.

   Come dance in the circle of Samhaim,*
   Buds of Beltane burnished in frost.
   Honor the Old Ones: nothing is lost.
   Whatever you offer is born again. 
   *Pronounced Sów'an
We have just ended Navratri, most sacred Goddess festival of India. We wish happiness to our Indian and Goddess-centered friends.

In the West we have Goddess festivals no less sacred. At the end of October is Samhain (pronounced Sów'an) the Pagan and Celtic New Year. Children know there's something holy about Halloween, and its not just divine Snickers bars and Red Hots. There's a tingling electric presence we feel in the ether of Autumn, the living womb of silence, nature's ineluctable Om.

Just as the Indian Goddess is three-fold - creative Sarasvati, abundant Lakshmi, and energetic Kalishakti - so Samhain honors the three-fold Goddess: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

At Samhain time, the fire that once was flower, fruit and harvest now burns inwardly, while outward forms wither, rest, and cool. The hollow of gourds and pumpkins symbolizes that inner space of Winter meditation. Now is the time to empty ourselves and prepare our hearts for the birth of new solstice light at Yule.

This is womb time. What outwardly fructified goes to seed, stores up its fire for Spring. The Christic energy of the male, the Green Man who triumphed last May, wanes in power now, returning to rest in the darkness of the Great Mother. Nature's light descends into the hollow places of the underworld. For underworld is sacred space too. Get down in mushroom silence, where Queen Mav mingles death and life at the core of every perennial bulb.

                   Our Samhain alter at Common Bread, Evergreen College
Gossamer October threads the veils of this world to the realm of the dead. But the realm of the dead is full of life. As the veils thin out, we feel so close to our ancestors, so intimate with those who have just departed. That is why, at Samhain, we build an alter to the dead, greeting those recently passed one last time before they move to the next cycle of their never-ending growth. The playful custom of Halloween ghosts belies this poignant time of fellowship with the other world. The Mexican tradition of Dios des Mortes comes much closer to the original spirit of Samhain.

When the veil between the worlds grows thin, it is time to embrace our loss and grief, to honor the husk of outworn relationships, then let them go. Time to pour the wine and apples of the old story onto the midnight "bonfire," culling the herd, offering old bones. Time to sink Earthward, feel our kinship with gnome and dryad, wood nymph and salamander. For as outward husks grow frail in shadows, yet the mysterious depths of matter glow, and we realize that the earth herself is lit with Spirit.

Western Form of the Three-Fold Goddess

We have many forms of the three-fold Goddess in the West. Prominent at Samhain is Hecate, witch-crone deity of moonlight, crossroads and wild animals. We also honor the harvest mother Demeter, who goes by many names such as Rhea or Ceres. Persephone is the maiden, who will usher in the Spring. Her Celtic version, Aericora, is the consort of Cernunnos the Green Man. She is also the Welsh Cerridwyn, keeper of the wiccan cauldron, feminine template for the holy grail.

And we honor Mary Magdalene, consort of Jesus. In Palestine, the town of Magdala Nunayya on the Sea of Galilee was known for its pagan temple of the moon goddess, whose priestess may have been called Magdalena. Some believe that, in Biblical symbolism, Mary Magdalene represents the moon, the dark lunar energy that balances the bright solar Christ.

However you honor the divine Feminine, do it now. For in the Northern hemisphere, the earth is bending back toward the Mother, the divine blackness of origins, the loam of the hidden seed. Now we remember that darkness is not absence of light, but womb of light.

O Breath of emptiness, season of dew-jewel and corn stalk, spider's web and nugatory gourd, bless the starlight above us, the fallen garden around us, the hidden rainbow in the cocoon, the mycelium darkness below.

Painting by Wendy Andrews


The universe has an infinite sexual attraction to itself, and this magnetic crush is Shakti, creation's secret bliss, ecstatically pulsing from hollow awareness into the dance of countless relative forms, then sighing back into stillness. So Shiva dances with the Goddess in the eternal silence of the Self, yet this ever-ripening void is, paradoxically, the perpetual orgasm of the cosmos. The wedding is just getting started, I'll have another cup of emptiness!

Let Us Be

When I was in seminary, a "famous theologian" gave a big speech. During the question and answer period, I raised a point. "If God is absolute Being, and I Am, then my being is God, isn't it? Not just me, but a flower. God is the being of every flower. And God is being a fly on the window."
Everyone in the lecture hall was shocked and silent. I guess we weren't allowed to say stuff like that. Then the theologian explained, while God's Being is absolute, our being is only "contingent being." I just stared at him, saying to myself,  'WTF is contingent being?' I sat down.

People wouldn't join me in the dining hall. They thought I was a heretic. They whispered, "universalist." I asked, "What is a universalist?" They said it was someone who believes that God's grace pours equally upon all, no matter what their religion, whether they confess the name of Jesus or not. I said, "Yes, that is exactly what I believe."

So I decided I could never be ordained as a Christian minister, because everyone is already ordained by their first breath, which is the breath of God.

You and I are Being. A stone is Being. I am not sure the stone is aware of it, maybe so. But You and I certainly have the marvelous chance to become aware of our Being, who is God. To be aware of our Being is worship. To enjoy our Being in each other is love.

Let us each take responsibility for who we really Are, and begin treating one another as a human Being.

Gift of the Mantra

Be grateful for the gift of Mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit term meaning, "vehicle for the mind." The term combines "mannas" (Sanskrit for mind) and "tra," (Sanskrit root of the suffix, "tron"). As an electron is the vehicle for electricity, so the mantra is a vehicle to carry the mind inward, through subtler strata of energy, until awareness merges in its silent source, which is unbounded universal consciousness.
A living mantra cannot be learned from a book or picked up in a casual conversation. Then it is just a hollow shell, an echo. The mantra must be ignited from that very inner source to which it guides the mind. It must be a "chaitanya" mantra, a living seed. This ignition happens at initiation, under the auspice of a guru.

Westerners give little credence to initiation, as there is no correlate for initiation in modern culture. But once there was. References to mantra initiation abound among both Christian and Jewish Gnosticism. The Nag Hammadi library of the early Christians, and classics of Jewish Kabbala such as the Sepher Yetsirah and the Book Bahir, expound the ancient science of mantra. Christian and Jewish mystics practiced Mantra, "the way of the divine Name." But in our modern culture, words have lost their mantric quality, and have become mere information: abstractions without energy.

Our media revel in mere words, with no attention to the energy that words may carry. Very few of our words are charged with consciousness.

Intellectuals write PHD theses and give lectures. Authors publish thousands of texts and articles. The news media churn out words by the millions. We spend much of our day in chatter and gossip. But how many of these words actually transform our awareness, or heal our bodies?

A mantra is a different kind of word, directly related to the Word of creation. A Vedic text declares, "Adau Bhagavan shabdha rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord first manifested the universe through a stream of sound." The Upanishads assert: "In the beginning was the syllable Om. All that was, is, or ever will be, is created through the sound of Om." The first verses of John's Gospel echo the Upanishads: "In the beginning was the Word... all things were created through the Word." Modern physics also recognizes that the universe is all vibrating energy, in a resonance of fields emanating from the silence of the vacuum.

The practical application of "creation through the Word" is the science of mantra. Through the effortless mental refinement that happens when we meditate with a chaitanya mantra, our physiology is also refined. The mantra is a vibration as substantial to the body as to the mind. Attuned to the healing resonance of the mantra, every nerve and atom in this body resonates to a singularity, which is like an inward star. This luminous vibration may be experienced in the forehead, the crown, the throat, the abdomen, or the heart, wherever in the body healing is needed.

The inward tuning fork of mantra harmonies the complex symphony of our physiology into one luminous chord, which we experience as samadhi, the bliss of pure consciousness. 

Gratitude to Guru Dev for the gift of the mantra!

Painting: Jagat-Guru Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, who is just one drop in the river of divine grace flowing down to us through the ages, from Lord Narayana to Veda Vyasa to Adi Shankara and his disciples, to the present time. Guru Dev was the inspiration of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Gift

Jesus, You taught no religion, no politics.
You abolished every commandment but love,
which is the ruthless law of softening
the borders, melting the boundaries
between the eye, the gaze and the other.
When you live like this they arrest you
because you are an anarchist
of joy with tears of fire.
They crush your heart like a dark red poppy
until your fragrance fills their garden.
Their own children forget them,
yet remember You.
Their children's children become wanderers,
searching for that flower
whose savor still makes them tremble.
Finally You return, not as the other
who is seen, but the one who dwells
in the dark before knowing,
where in-breath and out-breath merge.
Now the crushing is complete.
It was You who ground us and You
who were ground -
the gift of the winemaker
to the grapes.

Photo of blessed Assisi by Ingrid Henzler


"The path to the Self is subtle as the edge of a razor."
~Katha Upanishad
Let perception take you to the edge. What happens where the blade is sharpest and thinnest? The blade becomes the very space it cuts through. Edge is emptiness, emptiness is edgy. Sharpen yourself until you become edgeless. When the mind is so concentrated it wanders throughout the cosmos, the wanderer arrives at home with every step. What is the significance of this? Focus purely on what you love, even if it is a tiny blue violet, and you fill the entire universe.


Melt into your longing.
Longing is Guru.
Longing is Shakti.
Longing is the very breath
of the Goddess.
Longing is made
of what it longs for.

Photo by Aile Shebar




Darkness is not
the absence of light.
Darkness is
the womb of light.

If You Pray

If you pray because
you believe it will
change the earth,
don't waste this
precious breath.
If you pray because
your mind is at war
with the way things are,
then solve your mind,
not the world.
But if you pray because
a bruised defiant bud
breaks open inside you,
these razor-sweet petals,
this mad fragrance
unquenchable, then pray
for me, friend.
I exist because
you are here.
In all this green lovely
wounded world,
you have entered my
I need you from afar.

Photo: Ricardo Dacunha


4:30 a.m.
Why am I awake?
My thoughts are smoke.
The flame is awareness.
The wick is my spine.
Let me burn blue,
steady and pure,
pouring warmth
into the dark.
Let me love
for no reason.


I have never found true peace in a memory, a desire, or a thought. That is why no ideology will ever bring peace. I have only found peace in the space between thoughts. At first, this space is not even found, because the mind is so cluttered. But with meditation, this space is not only found, it is found to be eternal, unbounded, all-nourishing silence. And though this field of silence is groundless, the entire creation arises from it. Om Shantih Shantih Shantih.

What We Breathe

Why exhale the toxins
of moral outrage
and burning judgment?
Friends and trees don't need
to breathe in more of that!
Just take one
silent moment
to open the softer petals
in your chest.
Release the fragrance
of the inward light
this earth is thirsting for.

Exquisite photo by friend Kristy Thompson

A Guru Purinima Story

One Guru Purnima, 1991, we were in Nova Scotia. The last night of the course, before he left for India, he danced in the mist by the edge of a meadow under the full moon, while we chanted and played drums. It was definitely where we had been thousands of years ago, in the garden of Vrindivan. His form kept dissolving into white mist, then reappearing. He was dancing on the edge of formlessness, and he was teaching us that it doesn't matter whether his form is with us or not. The Guru-tattva is always with you, dancing at the core of your heart.


A silent stream of breathing
sweeps away the chatter
of the argument.
Snow melt cleansing joy
spills down to the valley
of Presence.
We first met in the place
where this melting and
spilling began.
Now we have bodies,
nourished by the grace
of dust and tears
in the wild tangled greening
of the broken heart.
We meet here now.

Photo: I took this of Mt. Rainier from Gobler's Nob


Men who believe women.
Men who honor women in pain.

Men who praise women when their bodies grow old.

Men who listen to women even when they repeat themselves.

Men who hear women when they do not speak.

Men who grasp women whole with their hearts, not parts of women with their hands.

Men who hug women long, breathing radiance.

Men who linger by forest ponds and gaze into green stillness, speaking to the great Mother.

Men who travel deep into the wilderness, not to hunt or kill, not to climb the highest peak, but just to be still.

Men who know valleys, observing the etiquette of mist, the customs of cedar and willow.

Men who understand that the fire in their belly is the Goddess.