Earth is the pilgrim, not the sun,
whose radiance only seems
to come and go.
So the mind is turning,
not the heart,
whose glory is unchangeable.
Whirl inward and discover
what never takes a journey,
the star
at the center of breathing
where exhalation
and inhalation kiss,
and the soul surrenders
to the Other
who is her own
astonishing Beauty.
Then a hollow seed is
planted in the new moon
of your blood,
containing a blackness more vast
than the night which enfolds it.
This is the You
that needs becoming.
The lathe is your backbone,
the furnace your chest,
emptiness the workshop
for hammering gold.
These earthly turnings hone
your joy and sorrow
into one ruthless blade.
When all the brilliant
silver slivers of perfection
get ground away,
You can be the shimmering
silent flame
of darkness.

Mandala by Rashani Réa, used for
the cover of our new book


I once thought that silence was empty, and stillness was quiet. But by the grace of the Master's breath, I know now that silence is a billowing storm of joy, stillness a bursting flower.

The heart that touches the void boldly blossoms in a revolution of gentleness that turns the universe inside out, spreading golden pollen throughout the stars.

This happens in the Body, not the mind, For the lethal sweetness of grace annihilates thought. And when there are no concepts, what is the difference between soul and flesh, seer and seen, a moonbeam and a broken heart?

This is why, throughout the ages, souls bewildered by love gave up books of philosophy and gained enlightenment by smelling jasmine, touching a silken haired cat, or hearing the frog plop into a pond.

Now taste the wine of pure awareness.


Everyone here
has an opinion,
but who really tastes
the green leaves
they munch on?
Who takes one full
dumb empty breath
of love?

The End Of The World

Savor this breath.
Plunge your nose into clover.
Honor the silence
beyond the spiral song
of the Swainson's Thrush.
Why not admit it?
The end of the world has
already come.
The dragonfly
has left its blade of grass
trembling in a sunbeam,
a new earth cupped
in the rain drop.
You could knit some stars
into the black veil of a lady bug's wing
with the needle of your attention.
Little deeds require a vast heart.
Do the infinitesimal.
Put the sky in your chest.
Heal the planet.

Maunday Thursday

Though I am not a Catholic, I love the mysteries of Holy Week, especially the prayerful practice of Holy Hour on Maunday Thursday, the eve of Good Friday.

Stripped of decorations and flowers, icons shrouded, the church begins to mourn in a time of loss. We descend through the emptiness that always proceeds the bewildering grace of ananda, the gift of resurrection.

Creation, and our re-creation, arise "ex nihilo," out of nothing. This is no less true in the Biblical vision of the "formless void" (Genesis 1:2), than in the Heart Sutra of Buddhism.

Yet on Maunday Thursday, in one corner of the hollow church, the Blessed Sacrament remains in a monstrance on an alter, surrounded by Easter lilies and candlelight, to represent the abiding presence of Christ-Consciousness even in the midst of death's ravishing storm.

The Seed of the inward Christ remains buried like a star in the heart of loss, at the center of silence, awaiting the touch of the first full moon of Spring. Easter is fixed as the Sunday following the first full moon after the equinox.

This alter of Presence is a remembrance of the hour when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. It was after his Last Supper, and just before he would be arrested by the political authorities. They hated his revolutionary teaching of forgiveness and equality. They feared his radical vision of the Beloved Community, one planetary family, beyond racial, tribal, and religious division.

Tonight he implores his three closest disciples to stay awake with him as he prays. For the Master needs our companionship, no less than we need the Master's. Yet the three disciples fall asleep. They represent our thinking, dreaming, and slumbering minds, while Jesus is the silent witness, Turiya: the fourth state of consciousness, beyond waking, dreaming, and sleep (Mandukya Upanishad).

When Jesus finds them nodding off, he sadly asks, "Could you not stay and watch with me one hour?" This verse is the root of the practice of Holy Hour on Maunday Thursday. Sitting in deep meditation for one hour before that luminous alter, we bathe in the Master's presence, and he in ours, witnessing the power of love in the heart of loss.
Just for today
a Sabbath
from knowledge.
Who really knows?
Just for today
a Sabbath
from judgment.
Forgiveness is your nature.
Just for today
A Sabbath from politics,
a Sabbath
from being right.
If a day is too long
could you not watch with me
one hour?
If an hour is too long
then for one breath?
That is enough
to wash a thousand stars
in our love.
Just for now, friend,
stay with me.

Mandatum Novum: A Note on the Word 'Maundy'

Most scholars agree that the word "Maundy" derives through the Old French "mandé," from the Latin "mandatum: I give you," the first word of the verse, "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos." And what did Jesus give? "I give you a new commandment : Love one another, even as I have loved you."

Painting: from a 14th C. book of hours in the Morgan Library

Finespun (A Poem for Earth Day)

If you knew how
inconceivably near
the morning star is
to the pearl of silence
between your eyebrows,
bound by a
 of sparkling attention;
if you knew how
the greenest transformations
of your world are woven
by anonymous
sacraments of careful
if you knew how
many elixirs of love
you imbibed with your
last inhalation,
how many potions
of healing you'll pour
through your next astounded
sigh of praise -
you would awaken
before dawn
to spend the darkest hour
in radiant stillness simply
caressing the earth
and anointing
the moon with your breath.

Mt. Rainier: Seattle photographer Bryan Smith


Here is the secret
of gardening.
Dig holes.
Put small plants
root down
in loose dark loam.
Invoke the worm.
Make offerings.
Water, moonlight, breath.
Potato peels, coffee grounds,
withered celery,
anything that once
had life.
Bury it,
but only when it's good
and rotten
and smelly.
Now pat the earth back down
like a moist mare's flank
after a gallop.
Sun and rain will do the rest.
This is not your work,
not this
chaos of miracles.

Our Lady On Fire (4/15/19, the Destruction of Notre Dame)

I was feeling so peaceful yet so strangely sad on my walk this morning, as I discovered the apple blossoms in full bloom and took this simple photo of my favorite flower, my favorite tree, only to come home and discover that Notre Dame de Paris was burning down. So I wrote the poem below...

In 1972 I followed the pilgrimage routes throughout France, visiting all the great cathedrals and pilgrim churches, meditating deeply in each holy place. These cathedrals were built to honor the Divine Mother, and constructed according to sacred geometry, interpenetrating spheres of glass and stone all resonant with the Golden Mean, the most universal mathematical formula in creation.
If you have ever prayed in Notre Dame, or Chartres, or Mary Magdalene's shrine at Vezelay, or ever heard a Bach cantata or Gregorian chant in that space, you will understand what a loss this is, and how fragile our civilization. Let us remember what Christ said at the Last Supper on Good Friday eve: "A new commandment I give you: love one another."
Our Lady is on fire.
Our Lady is on fire.
And when the cathedral
comes home to the ash
of which cement is made,
the mosque and temple
return, time's rubble,
to their ground, I promise
that I will enter
the tympanum and long
deep nave
of an apple blossom
to pray and be whole
on an April morning,
on the first day of
Easter week perhaps,
when Our Lady is on fire.
I will enter this chapel
of indestructibly frail
white petals,
risen again
from its black seed.

Not Broken

The broken heart is not "broken." Breaking is its nature. Therefore, nothing needs mending. Just dissolve this thought, "I have a broken heart," in a breath of silence - the healing that has always already happened. Do you call the flower a broken bud? Do you call the gushing spring a gash in the earth? Or the door to the wine cellar, emptiness? The wine is love. Descend. Give your wound a new name.

3 O'clock

It's almost noon

on Good Friday.
Why do they call it Good?
Because Jesus is passing
through the center of the cross,
that infinitesimal bindhu
between the opposites.
Neutrons of bliss
in atoms of pain.
Plankton of stars
in the ocean of blood
feeding the behemoth
of the coming night.
Trembling drops of stillness
pressed from the rose
of her cheek upon the white
lily of death
in his bare foot.
This day I give you
a new law.
Just embrace the dark.
Don't wait until morning.
Meditate, receive the gift
of tears.
Because Jesus the dead poet
is passing
through the ayin soph,
transcending every thought
of left or right,
above or below,
and the I is dissolving
into Am.

Something Fiercer

If the fire inside you
is nothing but anger,
you haven't really begun
to burn.
Rage is just kindling.
Transmute it into something
fiercer and more sweet,
not by struggle and resistance,
nor gathering blood red grief poppies
with their motherload of dreams
for the dying,
but a plunge beyond hope, a Way
that bursts open when you
water it with loss.
Let your fallen body
strike a spark against
the very darkness.
Then you can sing.

(Painting: Orpheus and Eurydice
by George Frederick Watts)


Breathe through
your forehead and smell
the stars.
See through your chest
and listen with
the ear in your
belly button.
That ocean
of moonlight,
that ululatant emptiness.

Cradled in your cortex
a cave
where your pituitary
a lit

Whirl here
falling asleep.
Gaze down
at the mouth of your

reptilian brain.
It is a portal,
your amygdala,
the swinging door,

almond-flavored hinge
between galaxies.
Gently push it open
this spell:
'Ameen, Ameen,
and so it is.'
Now walk into
whatever world

you wish.

Just Silence

'Spirit' is unbounded silence. 'Matter' is solidified silence. Mind is an anxious flight back and forth, between Spirit and Matter, desperately attempting to comprehend the paradox, until there is surrender, and then... just silence.

Black Silk

You wear your silence
as a black silk gown,
woven infinitesimal,
every thread a letter
of your lover's name.
And your stillness is
a trembling at the touch
of those invisible lips.

The motion of that kiss
has no first cause,
but a stirring
in the groin
of loss.
One must dance naked
as a flame without a wick
to entice the dawn.

It is not enough
to be quiet and empty,
because there is honey
in each cell of darkness
and the tomb is full of wine.

If your meditation
does not consume the moon,
the stars, the pit
in the swirl of yearning
with a tongue of fire that
tastes the subtle, ruthless,
delicate blade of love
between heartbeats,
then you are not singing
from the center
of your desolation.
You are just being quiet
and empty,
which is not enough.
You are still waiting
for a God to say,
"Let there be light."
You must burn off
all these veils
and dance naked
in the moment before
you were born.

Art by Digital Blasphemy

Our Only Enemy is Fear of Expanding the Heart

We protect our hearts by transforming fear into an arrow of hate, so that we can project it onto a scapegoat "out there." This vicious art of projection is what has become of our "politics."

Two dueling parties mirror each other, reflecting the same toxic energy back and forth. I meet people on "the left" every day who hate and stereotype the other as much as anyone does on "the right." The far right stereotypes Muslims, socialists, and immigrants. The far left stereotypes Christians, capitalists, and "white" people. What's the difference? Same energy.

Our hatred is fear that won't turn around to face its own heart. But when it does, we discover that fear is simply love not daring enough.

Daring to embrace the other as one's self.

What would happen if we discovered that capitalists and socialists, Christians and Muslims, people of "color" and "white" people, men and women, LGBTQ people and straight people, are all ourselves, all grappling with a frightful and complicated world, all carrying the same broken heart? What if we discovered that we are one human family, one chaos of DNA, one shared breath?

Our only enemy is fear of expanding the heart.

I have no idea what the Big Fix is going to be. But I'm pretty sure it won't be a single ideology, or a single political system, or a single legislative policy from one party that "wins" by conquering the other. I'm pretty sure it's going to happen when each of us discovers, through an organic cardiac sensation of expansion, that we are all drowning in the chaos of love. We each have our own part to play. We are called to perform our own unique duty with joyful integrity, and without wasting our energy judging others.

"Better to do your own work, though humble and imperfect, than try to do the work of another, though great and sublime." (Bhagavad Gita, 18:47)

I once heard my teacher say: "Blessed are you when you are confused, for that is when you sink from the mind into the heart." I don't mind being confused. I don't mind falling into the heart. Because that is where the action is, and the action is love.

Photo by John Arrowood


In my love mirror,
your heart sees itself.
Then thousands of petals
fall from your eye.
"What fragrance is this?" you ask.
You bow to me, I bow to you,
yet we bow to the light
in our own hearts.
There is no other.
This is my answer.
O friend, O friend,
You are the beauty
you yearn for.