The Near

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 flesh
I needed someone’s
milk and tears.
Even the absence
that encircles the moon and stars
is curved by a Mother's
inscrutable care.
Aloneness created us
to love.
Before first light,
a thrush waits blindly to feel
that same pull:
the jasmine breath
of our listening.
Here's the mystery:
we do not thirst for the One,
but the Near.


"Layam vraja... Dissolve now!"

Love is just an excuse
to be ourselves.
When I am nothing
but me,
and you are nothing
but you,
we are crazy
about each other.
it can't be helped.
Then, remaining just
as they are,
the stars form necklaces,
a crown and
sparkling slippers
with which I adorn
the perfectly dark and
naked body
of your night.

A flower can feel it,
blossoming in silence.
A cloud knows it,
moving in the blues
of stillness.
A breath needs no path,
but softly follows itself
back to the Giver.
Then why should I linger
in prayers
and questions?
Why not dissolve now
into what I Am?

Clear Light

One clear light pervades each color of the rainbow. Pure sap suffuses the blossom and thorn. So God is intimately present in our sins. Grace flows through every failure and wound. Receive the gift of imperfection. It is an opportunity to breathe through boundaries, so that you too may become a Creator.


From the base of your spine
to the crown of your head,
She leads you up the path of diamonds
crushed fine as mist, as midnight breeze.
Each step is love, which means
you drop a veil.
Now She is nearer than your name.
Her fingertips are the silences
between heartbeats.
Can you feel her not touching your lungs,
as if, what has held your breath for aeons,
releases its grasp forever?
Why have you refused, until this moment,
to take the wedding walk from belly to brow
under a canopy so black
it is the color of stillness?
Because the most terrible journey is
from self to Self?
Because you thought you would find the Beloved
in an ashram, a temple,
a cathedral, a mosque, a book?
The Beloved does not wear sandals or a white robe.
The Beloved wears the soft cloth of your inhalation.
The Beloved is a vine of roses
on the trellis of your vegus nerve,
more inward than your lost rib.
When you were swimming like a minnow
in the womb of night,
the Beloved sang to you from every star.
Most of her light has not even reached this world,
but her song is still inside you,
as you were inside the Beloved.
If you stop looking for anything special,
it will all be on fire with that love.
Wherever you are, just listen and dance.

Wolf Moon

This is the night you
transcend the mess
by remaining inside it
with an open heart.
Be like the red
wolf moon
howling in the glory
of darkness.

I took this picture of the Jan 20
Wolf Moon just before the eclipse


The Way
to make peace
is to shift
your attention
from thinking
to Being.


The empty
blue sky
of pure awareness,
free from thought,
fulfills desires
they arise.

Do You Really Want To Dance?

Play and dance,
or fight if you like,
wearing the mask
of race and gender,
party and religion,
tribe and nation;
but don't forget who
is behind the mask -
bliss without form.
Awareness is like
water in a moonlit net.
The mind gets entangled,
but not the Self.
One who
knows how to sing
is both He and She,
Dark and Bright,
Silence on Fire.
Night gives birth
to billions of suns
yet remains all-mothering
Do you really want to dance?
Then don't mistake
names and forms
for the whirling stillness
inside you.


I gave up world sorrow
for the hidden pain of love.
Now I hear petals weeping,
seeds grieving their lost flowers.
I see mountains gliding home on clouds.
I follow the pilgrimage of a snail
across the hosta leaf.
I gave up charity and pity
to gaze into your face,
where I find everyone.
With a single inhalation
I bind and heal the wounds
of rich and poor.
My temple is the sky,
my altar the garden.
We hold satsang in the wetlands,
the frogs, blackbirds, and I.
The revolution is to breathe.
The radical act is being present.
Taste the wine between your thoughts.
When in doubt, take off your shoes.
Walk barefoot in wet grass at midnight,
un-naming the stars.
It’s not the earth
that makes you suffer, friend,
but your judgments about it.
And surely, the last judgment
is the silence of a white chrysanthemum
bursting under the Autumn moon.
This is the Gospel of Astonishment.

This poem was published on Jan. 16 in 'Braided Way: Faces and Voices of Spiritual Practice.' LINK A version of it also will appear in the new book, 'Fire of Silence.'

How Could God

How could God
let there be light
without your eyes?
To spread a mantle of Glory
over all that you see
is your vocation.
Now get busy
yourself to ashes.
Didn't you know?
Each photon of your body
is the whole sun.
On a dendrite's tip
one proton of dark matter
condenses the death
of a thousand galaxies
into your wonder.
It is not enough
to illuminate the mind
with knowledge.
Your body must dance,
a wickless flame,
jump off cliffs
into the void,
drown with frogs
in an emerald forest pool,
tangled in the fetid
of mud-sprung
water lilies.
You need to starve
for forty nights,
then get drunk
on a buttercup.
Life is too furious
for the merely enlightened.
A wild one needs
nakedness and victory,
a storm to ride
back into her
heart-beaten stillness.

Listen Life Coach

Listen Life Coach,
listen Spiritual Teacher,
and all you
Ascended Masters up there:
I want you to know
I'm not as perfect
as I was yesterday,
and I love it.

I want you to know
I have a right to feel more
like an animal than a god,
a right to get my darshan
from an owl.
I have a right to feel
endangered, hurt, sad

and put my own arms around it,
not yours.
I have a right not to name
the big empty circle of my hug
And where are all the
DE-scended masters?

They're the ones I need to talk to.
Because I have a right to
sweep up my pain and darkness

in one mighty inhalation,
then shout, "Fuck it Ho!"

I don't need your guided
meditation to tell me what it
feels like to be a gnat
sizzling in a flame.

I don't need your $5000
week end yoga retreat in Bali
to tell me to let my belly out.
I got a right to shape-shift
into lust and crazy,
ferment my sweetness,
hunt stars at midnight
plucking them out of their
swirling nests and juicing
their beauty in the fangs of my

perpetual dissatisfaction.
When I'm pissed off,
I got a right not to call myself
"a spiritual being
having a physical experience,"
but just to be
the physical experience
dissolving into scarlet
atoms of erotic rapture
because at last I'm not striving
to be somebody.
Right now I just need to
become a lump of delectable mud

washed away by a brown stream
of melting slush into
asphalt caverns of groundlessness.

That's where seeds go
for happy hour.
Then golden daffodils
break through cement cracks -
sidewalk kintsugi.

No gap, no gold.
Sometimes I just need
to smoke a Cuban cigar
with Buddha,

have a belly laugh for no reason,
get the salty red taste

of a mouse in my beak.

Stuff (A Poem from the New Book, 'Fire of Darkness')

Underestimating your glory
is the only sin.
Give birth to the Christ
in your own body.
Drink up the rest of this day.
Bask in yourself
and squander the kingdom!
A fountain of something like starlight
will rise up your spine,
spilling over, showering the world
with burning seeds of wonder,
gold as the stuff in Mary's womb.


I cried, "Give me a spiritual practice! Something I can DO to attain enlightenment!"
The Friend answered, "You are already doing it."

"I don't understand."

"You're not supposed to understand," answered the Friend. "The mind has no part in this."

"Then what practice am I doing?"

"You are born in an earthly body. You wake up. That is the practice."

"What is the meaning of this birth?"

"Hang on a cross, crucified by a paradox, with no escape."

"Why this crucifixion?"

"To come to the wedding of opposites, which happens on no other world, and in no heaven. This is why gods incarnate on earth: to taste freedom."

"Where is the nail on the cross?"

"At the center, the vanishing point between the past and future, spirit and flesh, joy and sorrow, stillness and action: drive this nail through your heart."

"If I need to cry out, what Name do I call?"

"The Name is your breath."

"What mudra, what asana must I perform?"

"Hug your body, just as it is in this moment."

"What is the prayer?"

"A silent O! The beginning of all prayers in every language. Lose yourself in that zero."

"What ceremony?"

"What are you doing now?"

"My body is sitting, then standing, then walking, then lying down."

"That is the ceremony."

"To what goal will this path lead me?"

"To the laughter you are laughing, to the tears you are weeping, to ineluctable matter, anointed with the dew of astonishment."

Sabbath Worship

Won't you worship with me
this Sabbath morning?
Honoring your body,
you honor the entire earth,
the sun and moon.
Honoring your breath,
you honor the Divine Spirit
flowing through all creatures.
Honoring the space within your Heart,
you honor the stars, the galaxies,
and the vastness beyond them.
Honoring the present moment,
you dance in eternity.

Say Yes

"Ano-raniyan, Mahato-mahiyan
One atom of the smallest, greater than the greatest"

Say yes because the small
is more powerful than the great.
The gentle overcomes the strong.
A spinning quark contains the galaxy,
a formless fragrance the death
of a thousand flowers.
Twelve soft voices singing in firelight
shake the planet more than an army.
The clan is wiser than the nation,
and your mother’s nipple
gathers all the ancestors
in a taste of cream.
See how a rainbow engulfs the sky,
flashing from a droplet?
Every language speaks
from the silent bindhu,
every book from the tittle
of the ayin soph.
One breath taken, given back,
recapitulates the fall
and ascent of your species.
This soft inhalation is fraught
with the weightless burden
of ten billion suns.
Oh the small, the local,
is more lovely than any idea!
The boundless joy of the coming day
in a sparrow's chirp,
the beat of moth wings in a moonbeam
opening imperishable worlds
of darkness.

One Inhalation

One breath is a deeper revelation than the Bible, the Qur'an, and all the Vedas.

Savor every inch of this inhalation, from the bottom of your belly to the space above your crown, and you will possess incalculable abundance. Your breath is the river of wonder that leads to the ocean of God.

In truth, every inspired scripture came from the silence where your inhalation arises. Can you be so present that the supreme adventure is your next breath?

To delight in this breath is the end of war. To be grateful for the wealth of this breath is the end of craving and blind consumerism. When you are truly awake, just to breathe is the purest form of worship. Every conscious breath brings peace on earth.

A breath is given, not taken. Rest in this revelation and be grateful. Just noticing this turns breathing into Grace.

Let this breath free you from images and thoughts in the mind, which are of the past and future. Only people who are present can be response-able.

In Presence there is neither left nor right, liberal or conservative, Christian or Muslim. There is simply listening, and response.

Your breath is the Om-coming of sustainable economics. "Economy" comes from the Greek words "ecos" (home) and "nomos" (law). "Eco-nomy" means government of the home. When we feel completely at home in this breath, what can we crave? How can we harm another? When we descend into the heart by means of this breath, where is the angry restless mind?

Merged in the sacred space between exhalation and inhalation, the mind is governed by the heart. And when the whole community practices this art of heart-centered breathing, society will be spontaneously ordered, simplified, efficient, and just.

Astonished by a breath, your needs are few. When your needs are few, you exploit no one. You can walk gently, tasting the green grass with your bare feet, discovering the miracle of the smallest bud, the riches of a pebble.

This Sabbath morning, why not let the unconscious miracle of breathing become conscious, and awaken Adam from the dust?

Let your breath thread your back to the source of creation. In Hebrew, "adamah" means dust. The Biblical story is full of puns, and these puns contain the secrets of Yoga. Creator breathes divine breath, "nafesh," into the dust-body of Adam. But this word also means "living soul." Breath turns dust into soul.


A butterfly
has two wings,
a Left wing
and a Right wing.
They do not fear each other.
They lift each other.
Our names
are written on both
in hieroglyphs of fire
and blackness.
This how opposites
dance into the sky.


One law:
Love yourself.
This covers everything,
even the darkness,
with a breath of fire.

Photo by Aile Shebar

Polish and Break

Polish the hollow
of your spine
with the soft cloth
of breathing.
Cleanse the bowl
in your chest
where drop by drop
the nectar ferments.
What is this wine,
secret and dark,
distilled from silence,
containing the sun,
the moon and stars?
Break open your heart
and see.

Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany happens
in your body.
Friend, think of Christ
as this breath
and the Virgin Mother
as a living silence
where this inhalation is born.
Or just breathe
and be grateful.
No thought is required.
Mannas, Buddhi, Atma,
Memory, Intellect, and Will,
follow a star that shines
from the clear night
in your crown
to the valley below,
the dark feeding trough
between the falling
and rising
of your chest.
Even the wisest
kneel here, stilled
by wonder.


The Feast of Epiphany, January 6, coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Christmas. In the West, Yuletide was a 12-day festival of light and evergreen at the darkest time of the year. The adoration of the newborn Christ by the three Magi, called the Epiphany, is the culmination of the 12 days of Christmas. The painting is by Edward Burnes-Jones.

So Much News

Why do you listen
to so much news?
It isn’t new.
Wisdom comes
from a pulsing well
of silence.
Remember where
your root goes in Winter
to get sap.
A great Simplicity
warms the earth
from inside.
What’s really new

flowers here.
Listen in the dark
to the throb of your body
and the breaking
of your heart.
This is the sound
of the seed.


virgin whore

maiden-crone enchantress
slips amorously out
of her own skin,
bears her own infant body,
suckles her death.

Raven's wing demurs
to grasp the night,
slices through emptiness
without a sound.
Mist won't cling
to the volcano,
yet somehow floats it away
like a pale blossom.

What shines beyond the play
of joy and sorrow,
darkness and fire;
what pervades the dream,
the waking,
and the deepest sleep;
what is like the space
between moonlit threads
of the spider's web,
is the Mother
whose womb has no opposite.

All paths become circles
in the Unborn.
Rest here
beyond the search

amidst the swirl
of brawling zyzygies
entangled in her ripe placenta.

She is the chaos of love
and the fullness
of perfect loss.
Use her
to breathe.

'Ouroborus,' Metal
repoussé by
dear friend and artist, Liz Miller

50th Anniversay of Initiation

Hard to believe. Today is the 50th Anniversary of the most important event in my life. If I were to pass away tomorrow, I would kick myself for never sharing these thoughts. So here is my testament. Fifty years ago this day, I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation.

My heart is filled with love today. I bow down, touch the earth with my forehead, and shatter my mind into stars. This is not a bow of servitude, but freedom. What is freedom? Freedom is infinite gratitude.

It is quite easy to rant about fake gurus and false teachers; it is far more difficult to find a true one. And what is the sign of the true one? S/he is the one who awakens the Guru Tattva, the Teacher within you.

Guru Tattva is a seed that has slumbered deep in your heart for a thousand lifetimes. A dark well of melted lightning waits to dance through your spine, flooding every cell of your flesh. Yet this seed must be ignited, this wellspring aroused, by the Beloved.

Awakening the Guru Tattva, a real Teacher frees you from the search. You know you have come Om.

On this day fifty years ago, I sensed that initiation was an important moment, but now I know that learning Transcendental Meditation was the central event of my life, indeed, of many lives.

Sometimes this pathless way was difficult, because it was so ruthlessly simple. No consolation of emotional rapture, no devotional melodrama, no surrogate mommy or daddy: just a razor's edge of naked Being.

Not even the consolation of effort! How our intellectual egos love effort, especially when it involves studying some esoteric philosophy. No such luck:
Transcendental Meditation deflates the ego because it is effortless. Intellectuals disdain the wayless.

Sometimes meditation was a lonely trackless wasteland. Sometimes it was like drilling through a mountain of stone - my karma. But because I am both a stubborn Capricorn and a desolate child, I never veered from the razor's edge of daily morning and evening sadhana.

Eventually, on the dark wings of a bare intent, my awareness broke through the clouds, and I soared into my true nature, the clear blue sky of Sat-Chit-Ananda: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.

In this meditation, without control or concentration, awareness flows deeper and deeper inside, following the ever-dissolving bell of the bija-mantra, until it merges with the boundless ocean of transcendental silence. This silence is not a withdrawal from creation, but the source of creation, the womb-dark before God says, "Let there be light."

The flow of awareness back to the source is impelled purely by grace, not by thinking. What a gift the masters of the holy Shankaracharya tradition have bequeathed to us!

Transcendental Meditation is Shiva's sword, so piercing and powerful that only half an hour is necessary for a complete immersion in Source.
Through regular dawn and sunset practice, tempered and tested in daily service to the world, the pure awareness which once seemed like no-thing, gradually solidifies into a diamond. But this jewel is weightless, floating in the azure space of eternity at the center of the heart.

And as the radiance of bejeweled awareness reflects off the ephemeral mist of the world, one begins to see God in a dragonfly's wing, the gaze of a baby at the supermarket, the eyes of the mad woman camped on the sidewalk under the Virgin's statue. One sees the Imperishable in the perishing colors of the evening sky. The Guru's voice is the chirp of a cricket, the din of the market, the coyote's howl. Yet for me, this blossoming had a seed: the feather-breath of the Master's touch on my heart at initiation.

When a secret paramour leaves a fragrant blossom at your bedside, is your mind filled with philosophy, with esoteric knowledge, with a set of beliefs and commandments? Or is there just a storm of sweetness in your chest, a groundless hollow between heartbeats?

I plunge into the radiant darkness of that abysmal love, the living silence beyond word and thought, deeper inside me than my soul. And though I know less and less, I Am more and more.

The Beloved has come too near to be known, too close to be separate. Knowledge has dissolved into Presence. Every breath is a gift. And the Guru is the gift inside the gift.

Photo: With Maharishi in 1970, and my college classmate / meditation mentor, Eric.