Wishing You A New Year

Wishing you all a New Year. Not a happy new year, just a new one.

Because if you allow time to be new each moment, you cannot help but be happy, filled with the energy of re-creation. In the coming year, let us resolve never to be more than one moment old!

But if we carry the old year into the new one, if we carry our old stories, doubts, angers, politics and belief systems, we cannot possibly be happy. The mind the past can never bring joy. No thought, no belief, no content carried over in the mind can provide living energy, living Presence.

Happiness arises when the mind doesn't cling to its content. That is when we taste the wine of silence between our thoughts. We soar into the empty blue sky of sparkling awareness, without clinging to the clouds. Then no-thing makes our mind happy: our mind IS happiness.

I pray that in the coming year, every moment, you will breathe out the old, and breathe in the new. Have a very New Year!

Behold the Lilies

"Behold the lilies of the field, how they grow." ~Jesus
Keep falling and falling until you finally feel the gentle jolt of landing squarely in your own wild groundless heart.

You are suddenly unbounded, because boundaries only appeared when you tried to be someone else, someone 'better.'

Here you don't need to follow any path, because you are your path. You've become the answer to your spiritual questions. Your mind has what it really wanted: silence.

Now the mind doesn't need to condemn or criticize others. It has a much more important task: to rest in the silence of the heart. From this rest, tremendous vitality and creative action spontaneously arise, driven not by ideology but love.

This is freedom: simply radiating your own truth without wasting an instant comparing yourself to others.

Truth, radiance and bliss do not come from another, from heaven above, or  from the world outside. Truth, radiance, and bliss only come from one place: alignment with your own heart.

Photo from incolors.club

The Vast Distinction

Do you understand
the vast distinction
between a Master
and a Teacher?
If you hear about a Guru
please don't ask,
'What does he teach?'
The Master assigns
no lessons.
He is a professor
of Nothing.
His lectures consist
of silence
between the words.
Passion in the tremor
of stillness.
When a secret admirer
leaves a fragrant blossom
at your bedside,
Do you learn anything?
Or is there simply
a storm of sweetness
in your chest,
a deepening hollow in the
trough between heartbeats?
The Master has come too near
to be known.
Presence is a gift.
He is the gift
buried in the gift.

How They Grow

"Behold the lilies of the field, how they grow." ~Mat. 6:28

Jesus wants you to look at a wild poppy.

Really see
the lake, the mountain,
the silent explosion of stars, the eye
orgasmic torrent of pixels charging your dark
amazement with waves of sparkling probability.
Avoid names.
Un-thing the creature
with pure naked beholding.
Watch boundaries dissolve into bliss particles
of the void.
Enter the wilderness of your lungs
where out and in breath merge.
Where the world and your soul
meet like lovers in a kiss.
Where Bodhisattva mind evaporates
in sky blues, no cloud.
Walk in the meadow of groundlessness.
Let each bare stinging footstep awaken
sleeping seeds.
Have the patience of Winter,
the body of Spring.
Because the dead poet Jesus wants you
to really see.
His gift a wild poppy
throbbing in the moonlight
of vast awareness.

~Photo from incolors.club

Parable of Raven Christ

While trekking through the high sage desert, I found Christ trapped in a ruined Church, shattering the stained glass windows, rattling the prison bars, pounding on the door from inside. Chains and shackles of dogma bound his wrists and ankles, more terrible than any nail wounds.

"You, you have the key!" He shouted, "Open the door!" He was pointing frantically at my mouth.

"What key?" I asked.

"Your breath," he replied.

So I breathed through the keyhole of that ancient door until it opened, whereupon Christ became a rare white mother raven with a wingspan that stretched to the far horizons, East and West. She rose into the sky, carrying the moon and all the stars in her beak. She grasped the earth in her talons like a mouse.

Spiraling outward to the end of the ages, then circling back to the present moment, she perched on my shoulder by my left ear and whispered, "You, you are the Christ too, filled with my Holy Spirit." This jolted me so deeply that I woke up, terrified.

"Woe is me!" I cried, "I am a man of unclean lips!" It was early Sunday morning. Quickly, I cleansed myself from the dream, brushed my teeth, and departed for Church to confess the sinful things I had imagined.

Pastel: Alala, sacred raven of Hawaii, by my dear friend Liz Miller.

Very Near

The amethyst of pure attention
shines in no-mind,
lit by its own grace.
Without a thought
breathe forth galaxies
in distance that appears
to be outside you.
The gift of the One:
two lovers in a single jewel,
twin chambers in your heart,
pulsing empty, full.
Surely you must weep,
for this is the purest prayer.
But doesn't each tear encircle
a mysterious otherness?
No intimacy is deeper
than solitude.
God draws very near
to those who are alone.

Secret of Stars

Stars have a secret.
They are always falling
into their orbits of glory.
They do not attempt to fly.
Darkness itself is their wing.
If you don't believe me
you are still trying
not to sink.
Plunge more deeply
into the womb of night
and you will draw very near
to the radiance
of your Birth.


Clinging to light is not the Way.
Clinging to darkness is not the Way.
Winter is not an absence.
Spring is not a destination.
Lose your Way
in the bardo between seasons
and wake up wherever you are.

Painting by Sue Wookey

Introduction to 'The Fire of Darkness'

My Introduction to the new book of poems and collages by Rashani Réa and me, which is available this Spring. It is entitled, 'The Fire of Darkness: What Burned Me Away Completely, I Became.'

Art, like beauty itself, is a cauldron of opposites: light and darkness, Winter and Spring, the Warrior and the Mother, the political and the contemplative, the swirl of chaos and the stillness of the center. Only in vain do we seek victory against our antipodes. For that very battle feeds the polarity and divides the One. The answer is always wholeness.

My poems are a cauldron of opposites too. I cannot speak of the triumph of light, for that would disdain the creative potency of the dark. I cannot deny the spiritual power of the Warrior, even though he is born of the Mother’s womb. The best Mother is also a Warrior, and the best Warrior is also a mother.

And just as my poems refuse to divide the wholeness, so the art of Rashani Réa embraces divine paradox, and gives birth to syzygies —the ancient Gnostic term for mated pairs of opposites held in the harmony of God’s pleroma, the All. Her collages are still-points of contemplative silence spiraling out into the play, the dance, and the politics of creation. She is deeply influenced by Chinese aesthetics in her heroic refusal to give in to the cliché, the stereotype, the false victory of the half.

I hope, then, that her art and my poetry tend toward beauty, rather than sentiment. For is not sentimentality the false victory of the half—light over the dark, gentle over strong, a perpetual Spring that would deny the poignancy of Autumn?

Rashani’s dharma art can make us dizzy and disoriented, yet it energize the heart. Her images challenge us to leap into the “the Bardo.”

In Tibetan Buddhism, the Bardo is the period between death and rebirth. But it is really any liminal state, any passage in-between. In truth, we experience the Bardo all through our lives. We spend almost all our time there without knowing it! Yet we imagine that there is some ideal destination in the future, some Edenic beginning in the past. Past and future are not, only the transition between them— This! We are actually, as one of the poems in this book says, “the grey stuff in the cocoon, neither wing nor worm.”

The Bardo between death and birth could be one moment or a trillion years: between dissolution of the cosmos and the next big bang, between out-breath and in-breath, between two lovers’ mouths about to kiss, or a day between Winter and Spring, Imbolc. The Bardo could be the brave adventure of the Trans, passing from male and female. The Bardo is your moment of choice. Let that moment expand. Rest there awhile. Be alive in not-knowing…

The Bardo in Rashani’s art is an alchemy where one state is ever transmuting into its opposite. Yin is never quite Yang, Yang never quite Yin, without the seed of the antipodes already planted at its core. The groundlessness of the Bardo is not Hamlet-like indecision, but immense energy, creative power, the Shakti of the womb.

Physicists tell us that the source of creation is something like the Bardo: a quantum void, vibrant with a chaos of virtual particles, ever about to Be. I think the Bardo is also the dynamic that compels true mystics to become artists. Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, Zen Master Haquin, Thomas Merton were not only contemplatives, but poets and painters. Their silence was energetic, their darkness on fire. I think the art and poetry in this book might come from the Bardo.

A note on the poems: they do not ‘interpret’ the collages, but are rather whole worlds springing out of visual seeds. And just as there are recurring motifs in the collages, so in the poems, all linked by one cosmic pulsation, the Breath. These are all breath-poems. For it is the breath that links the body to the soul, the individual to the cosmic rhythm. Therefore, I hope you will find these poems aids in meditation. Peace.


I don’t believe.
I don't believe in my heart,
yet it keeps beating.
I don’t believe in my hand,
yet it stirs honey into tea
and washes my grandmother's cup.
I don’t believe in the taste
of an heirloom pear
from a tree my father planted,
it is so sweet.
I gristle my fist around his original hoe,
and learn silent bending
from a gracious willow
without believing anything.

I don't believe in the hummingbird
asleep on a lilac twig, head cradled
on her own emerald breast.
Or in the silken cat slipping
through her element of moonbeams.
I don't believe in your eyes,
yet their gaze obliterates my confusion.
Empty, empty of every belief,
I can listen to the sound 
of falling stars in my body,
like snow, God’s breath
brushing my breastbone

'Invincible' (A Poem from 'Wounded Bud')

I don't want to be invincible.
I want to be astonished by loss.
I want to be stunned
and defeated by wonder,
shocked into a new creation
where only dancing is allowed.
I want to fall down again and again.
How close can my head come to your toes
before it shatters into spirals of gold?
Lift me up, I'll do
what a fountain does to sunbeams.
Step on me, I'll be the sky.


Someone Said

Someone said,
"You need no other."
But I do.
I cannot light
the wick within me.
I am lit.
From the instant I was
planted in the flesh
I needed someone
for my milk and tears.
Even the absence
that encircles the moon, the stars,
is curved by a Mother's
inscrutable care.
Aloneness created us
to love.
Before first light,
the thrush waits blindly to feel
that same pull:
the jasmine breath
of my listening.
Here's the mystery:
we do not thirst for the One,
but the Near.


In the Beloved there is no "should,"
no rule to obey, and no one to follow
down any path.
There is only melting.
I was butter, now I am ghee.
The pain was deep,
but all that was burned away

was not me.
Can the earth leave its orbit around the sun?
So I cannot take my gaze from your face.
Who would call this bondage?
The formless sky of love has become
a crown of thorns and a garland of roses
while remaining empty and blue.
Invisible sap looks crimson 
in the drunken poppy.
You are the hollow of a baby's palm
holding me like a ruthless talon.
Of course I could endure the Spring
without looking at a single flower,
then boast, "I have liberated myself
from Beauty."
But I would rather drown
in your blossoming eyes
because they drown in me.
We are dead bees
in each other's goblet of raindrops,
slaves of the pain of sweetness.
I gladly wear the chains of my Beloved
which are made of pure light,
because the Beloved wears my body
like a veil around each breath.
If you don't understand this,
you have never breathed.
Now make mischief, drop your burdens.
Discipleship is for donkeys and ants.
The Beloved is for those who leap
like dolphin warriors
through monsoon waves
of Unknowing.


Breathe in
everything at once
and be the royal master
of creation.
Then become poor
in spirit
when you breathe out.
If you won't let loss
play with abundance
you will never be a lover.
A blood-red poppy
drops its petals,
dives back into the seed,
meets the spark
of frozen solstice
in the blackest loam.
Take root in your grief
where the Sun is born.
Dark energy encircles us all
like the womb.
Spring up
through a bolder falling.
Who knows if, tonight,
you might not finally embrace
the fierce beauty of your own
beaten heart?

Painting by Father J. Battista Giuliani


Please make mistakes.
In your latticework of wounds
you look more broken and beautiful.
A trellis of cracks on the mirror
gives intricate wings to your reflection.
One appears as many there
because we dare to stumble
and drop the crystal trinkets
of ourselves.
Surely, love grows vines
on the arbor of our shattering,
and we make wine of sorrow.
That's why we listen in rapture
to those who have been crushed.
The secret is to soften the gaze
until the splay of your fault lines
becomes a rose.
How falling becomes you,
and turns you gold!
When you think you are whole,
you wander like a hungry ghost
far from the marrow
of your breastbone, where
the elixir is hidden, unpressed.
But when you've been torn
beyond repair,
the breath that was too soft to take
comes home to heal you.


 Originally the word "courage" meant love, from the Old French, based on the Latin word for "heart." But our hyper-aggressive culture of insecurity has separated love from courage. Keeping the heart open without judgment is love. Keeping the heart open to the pain, without shielding ourselves through judgment, requires very great courage. Love is the highest form of courage.