A Bow

There is a genuflection that ends at the feet of the master. But there's another bow that shatters your forehead and pours your soul into the ground, melting the distinction between I and Thou.
This bending pulls you through every maelstrom of loss, down to the abysmal wound of awakening.

More intimate than joy, death is only the sheath of a blue and wonderfully useless blade. Learn from the exquisite gesture of the new moon how to bow without purpose, slicing the darkness of your doubt into delicious silver minnows.

Now your Guru is a white-tailed fawn curled among the gnarled fingers of an ancient cedar. Your Guru is a dying coral reef, the sound of the plaintive frog who lives in your geranium pot, an endangered lioness.

Your Guru is a moth-wing settling on a lapis hydrangea, the muffled mourning of your daughter for her grandmother's soul.

Wander the earth, bidding 'Namaste' to whatever perishes. Genuflect to every weed along your path. Fertilize each flower with the sting of your gaze.


There is a grace
that burns
the edges of creatures,
gilding each
with the gold
of All.
We are selved
by dissolving,
and made whole
by a gaze
of the Friend.

Photo by Kristy Thompson

Uni-Verse: One Sound

"In the beginning was the Word... Through him all things were created."  ~Gospel of John

"Om is the primordial word. All that is, was, or will be is Om."
~Mandukya Upanishad

"Adau Bhagavan shabda rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord created the cosmos through a subtle stream of sound."
~Rig Veda

Creation is sound. The universe is sound. The subtle essence of light shines in darkness as sound. Each star has a sound. Every galaxy is a resolving chord, the harmony of a trillion worlds.

The atoms of your body are chimes. Each cell of your body is a carillon. Your music vibrates into my sound-body, mine into yours. Both are intermingled with that galactic harmony, the gong of planets. Our subatomic counterpoint trembles and dances over the scale of humanity, and humanity's music co-mingles in the cosmic chorus of angels.

You are a ringing bell. Who struck you? Even from a thousand miles away, I am touched by the song of your body. Each cell of my flesh feels and recognizes your key, your rhythmic signature. The memory of you brings a blue note, a minor seventh, a raga into my inward ear.

My heart is a receiver of your elegy, and a transmitter of my own love song. Inside the ribs of every man and woman, the hollows of a well-carved instrument resonate, softly playing notes deeply personal, yet pervading the universe.

With the vibrant sound of our minds, we contribute to the harmony of All, or we grind out dissonance. The most important question we can ask at any moment is, "Do my thoughts right now create harmony on earth, or disharmony?" Harmonious thoughts expand creation, bringing light out of darkness. Cynical or hateful thoughts unravel creation and contract our energy, preventing waves of music from manifesting as light.

We are each a unique resonance of grace notes. Are you a morning or an evening raga? Are you the music of wind or rain? A brook of Spring rain murmuring in the desert? The song of melting snow high above tree line, chanting under stones? Are you the sound of moonbeams falling softly on the petals of an amaranth hibiscus, changing their color to burgundy?

The day will come, and is now here, when you will wake in the morning stunned by a symphony of blossoms, polyphony of sun and dew. The day will come, and is now here, when medicine will be music, and songs will heal us. The day will come, and is now here, when listening to vibrations of mantra, O most silent melody in the ancient brain, will dissolve the mind of war into pure love.

The day will come, the day is here, when you long for the Beloved, O nakedness more intimate than form; you merely call the Beloved's most secret name, and the Beloved is with you, nearer than this breath!

The Times

"Shiva flares from the stars. Shakti surges from the earth, seeking his lips. Polar opposites kiss like lightning in your spine, swirling serpentine through your ancient brain, the brain before the thought, smelling like an almond tree sparkled with raindrops.

"The effervescent union of the Lover and Beloved may not feel so delightful, but rather like a dizzy opening of your skull, a radiant pressure in your brow, a tremulous fickle romance in your heart, a restless apprehension of catastrophe in your solar plexus, a stir and burn of Eros through your hips.

"In meditation, luminous golden supernovae, with the influx of celestial music, may distract you. In the body, heightened sensual attraction. In large crowds, exhilaration, loss of center, and possibly violence.

"These are signs of the times we live in, end times, beginning times. So essential now to have a stable regular meditation practice, grounding and channeling these energies of holy chaos, so that they remain creative, and do not dissipate or destroy.

"Practices of concentration or mind-control may only cause headache, repression, and frustration. In the words of one great meditation teacher: 'If a technique is not effortless, it won't allow you to transcend.'

"Practices of visualization may over-stimulate the imagination, confusing you even more than the dream of the world.

"Find dynamic surrender in a practice that welcomes and settles all your energies, both dark and bright, without denying them. To embrace is to transcend. A sadhana that channels heat upward from the abdominal earth, breathes starlight downward from the solar crown. For you are the ground, and you are the sky.

"Let Shiva unite with Shakti, Christ with Magdalene, in the Bridal Chamber of the heart. These are the antipodes, the syzygies, of one You. Consummate their divine marriage with your own human Radiance. Give birth to acts of compassion."


Before there was light,
before there was dark,
there was the sensuous
touch of nothingness.
You need no more than
who you already are
to be perfect.
Find that in your heart
which rests so deeply
it never sleeps.
Breathe stars.
Kiss the night.

To Accept Is To Transcend

Accept and transcend. Embrace and dissolve.
Ten thousand thoughts in the mind become instantly silent, not by concentrating against them, or replacing bad ones with good ones, but by feeling them all without resistance as a single sensation tingling in the brain.

Let this breath penetrate your body, pervading every cell, revealing that matter is made of consciousness. "Mind" has absolutely nothing to do with it.

The weight of your bones is incorporeal fire. Anyone who imagines the slightest difference between darkness and light, flesh and soul, has not tasted honey in the bee sting.

Only when your form melts into space can you dance as the appearance of a solid body.

Seek sweetness, and bitterness must be your spice. Make an idol of sorrow, and your rainbow stays unfurled in its gray cocoon. Better to rest where neither joy nor sorrow have yet arisen, the golden void you already are.

If you were truly the enlightened one, you would not wear a dhoti or monk's gown. That was in a previous life, when you were only rehearsing. Now you must work in the back of a shoe shop, stitching soles. Sometimes, at night, you wait tables for small tips, trying not to be sassy.

Perplexed and embarrassed by the irrepressible babble of your own lips. flowing in a stream of drunken flames, you finally shout, "I don't know where these songs come from!"

Admit it, you are swirled by something terrible, vast, and lovely. "Free will" is only an appearance of the mind to itself.

Galaxies explode in your chest when you collapse into a grace that breathes you out of the emptiness at the center of this moment.

You did nothing to deserve this.

Painting: Messiah by Rassouli

All Indigenous

We are all indigenous. All come from the same land and return there to water our roots, touch our seeds. The land under the furrows of your brow, behind the ridges of your all too outward gaze. Green darkness containing the wellspring of this breath, ancient forest of your body mantling vast silence before any color is seen, before any concept of self or other arises. Here dwells the human tribe, which includes the angels, star beings, daemons of loam and firelight, undines of the waterfall, dragonflies of the sunbeam, maggots of the tomb. My sister is a lady bug. My brother lies in his cocoon of gelatinous expectancy. We are each other's prayers. Our eyes and ears emit the same rainbow. There is no path, only the pungent unfolding of what Is. We are not strangers and pilgrims. We are natives in the wilderness of the heart. We meet here, and share food.

La Pudizia

A poem dedicated to 'La Pudizia,' also known as 'Veiled Truth,' by Antonio Corradini, 1750, completely carved out of marble, even the veil.

O dear one, let our love
divide the difference
into the difference
until the remainder is zero.
Move beyond oneness.
Become the light of beauty
in my eyes.
In this calculus of devotion
you are the curve,
I am the asymptote.
Now cover your face with the veil
of a secret joy.
Know what to share and
what to hide.
Wait for the kiss
of the lover who brings a rose
from a garden whose colors
have never been seen in this world.
One breath releases a fragrance
called 'Death.'
In your chest the petals fall away.
Flirt with that nameless inhalation
who leads you inward
toward the bridal chamber.
Everything will be explained
in an ecstasy.
This is where Christ met Mary,
not the mother, not the friend,
but the paramour.
Moons ripen here.
Suns drown in the chaos
of the ordinary.
Between her breasts, a valley
running with tears.
Believe me when I tell you,
she understood it all,
The discipline of nakedness.
How you must wait and wait
until stars touch.
Until distance awakens
as a single eye.
Until darkness catches fire.

Summer Wine

Hang with the people
who ripen you.
Become a golden sky
in your grape skin.
But don't forget
the wounded vine
that rounded your bouquet
with tannins of sorrow,
dark tears of petrichor.
True sweetness
has body.

Wild Portals Of Unknowing

"God leads every soul by a separate path." ~John of the Cross

I cannot possibly know what is most important: that which will transform me. If I already know what it is I will never be free, because I have packaged "liberation" as knowledge, in the tight wrapper of a concept. This means that spiritual transformation can never become a program, a technique, or a course that I take.

The moments that liberate me are wild portals of unknowing, when the blue sky of wonder outshines any cloud it contains; vast emptiness shifts into the foreground; techniques, traditions, concepts cultivated in the past, dissolve. Thus the sage Ashtavakra taught the first and last spiritual practice : "Layam vraja - dissolve now."

The best meditation evaporates into amazement. The best mantra melts into silence. The best guru dances in mist at the edge of the meadow, and disappears into your longing heart, where true path has no beginning.*

No, I cannot possibly tell what is most important - how a blue moth disguises herself in a petal of lupine, why cascade lilies frolic in a rainy mountain meadow, what the hermit thrush means to silence. I cannot know when the golden sun will burst my chest wide open, turning the small dark chamber of self-doubt into a boundless empyrean.

*Not a metaphor. I actually saw this happen one Guru Purnima, my Guru dancing, disappearing and reappearing in a meadow lit with fireflies as we chanted and drummed. In this playful lila, he did something quite profound, though we didn't realize it at the time: he was erasing the difference between bija and nirbija, form and formlessness. It was the moment when my outer Guru gracefully became Guru-tattva, the Guru within. This is a true Guru's only goal.

Took this photo on a hike during Guru Purnima, the full moon of the Guru.

Have a Blessed Guru Purnima

Be like the full moon.
Reflect and overflow
until you understand
that the light of
the Beloved shines
from your own heart.

His whisper awakened the jewel of Infinity in the core of my heart, and it was No Thing, just groundless clarity, like the blue sky. Yet nothing is more real.

The drop and the ocean are the same water. The water is called Parousia. What is its essence? The fullness and completeness and boundlessness of Being.

Take a drop of the Infinite out of the infinite sea, then pour it back as an offering. That's what we're doing here. We do it just for play, for the sake of love, because the drop and the ocean were never two. Separateness is impossible. Each drop is Infinite, the ocean is Infinite. How could there be more than one Infinity?

When you get the punchline, it won't spoil the joke. It just makes longing and union, longing and union, longing and union, more sublime. The punchline? Shhhh... Your Soul, your Beloved, and the Longing that breathes you into each other, are one Self.


Great action is filled with silence.
Silence is filled with great action.
What thread of stars unites them?
This breath.
How do I know?
I learned it from a sparrow.


"Awake, my dear, be kind to your sleeping heart.
Take it out into the vast fields of Light and let it breathe."

Am I the trembling mirage,
or the desert air?
Diaphane of dragonfly wing,
or the light passing through it?
Am I the stained glass mind,
tinted with old stories,
or the golden beam
from beyond the window?
All I know is
I have fallen into this world
as a radiance to pierce prisms
and die in your gaze.

Even God


A Divine Breath
created all this
for your wonder,
and through wonder
you breathe it back
to your Creator.
That is why
even God says,
'Thank You.'

A Lunch Box of Memories

Let us honor the insignificant
unholy sacraments
in the seasons of the ordinary
because they slow us down
in a world that moves too fast
for us to notice anything.
I miss my Davy Crockett lunch box,
dark sepulchral wombs of food,
bologna and cheese sandwiches on
Bond Bread
with Tastykake
Chocolate Juniors.

Forget the carrot slices, mom.
I suffer unutterable longing
for my Donald Duck Pez Dispenser.
My health is fine, so are my teeth,
despite all the Fizzies and Flavor Straws
for which I feel a nimbus of
impenetrable nostalgia,

cloud-like mysteries of devotion
to ancestral comic books,
'Sylvester and Tweety Bird' or

'Tales from the Crypt.'
My favorite Saturday morning shows
are still 'Ramar of the Jungle' and 'Sky King,'
my heart yet haunted by the valiant German
Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin,
especially the episode
when he and Rusty got lost
on the prairie
and saved from a stampede 

by White Buffalo Woman.

All gone now, along with the smell
of the typewriter, the tick of mahogany
clocks, the shine of new Buster Brown Shoes,
and the shadowy stains on my tongue
after chewing
Beeman's Black Jack gum.
No one preached to me then about gluten,
not even my family minister.
There was less outrage, more fun.
Now, where condominiums hustle
their boxed glass dreams, there once was
a wheat field in summer wind
where you and your father could run half
naked, sun shouldered, sweaty and loud
through rippling
golden waves
of timelessness.

Sing the Water Song

Sing the Water Song in your own body every day, the mother song of the waters echoed in all wisdom traditions. This water song is Algonquin.

We find it in the Bible too: "And the breath of the Divine was stirring over the waters." ~Genesis 1 The Hebrew, "Ruach Elohim m'rachafeth al'panei tachom." Ruach means Spirit but also means Breath. She is the Shakti, the creative feminine energy of God. The Hebrew word for "stirring" comes from a Sumerian root that describes the motion of a mother bird sitting on her egg, constantly ruffling to warm and quicken its inner life.

May the breath of the divine stir the waters of life in you, and may your own breath stir the earth to new birth.



Grace dawns
in the realm of the Effortless,
beyond what you can choose
to do or not to do.
Don't dance, be danced,
your wings so weighted
with sweetness
that you drown in the flower.
Now your fragrance
is the sky.
If you understand this,
you must be starving.

Dog Nature Buddha Nature

Strange and wonderful how "opposite" emotions are layered in emptiness, without the slightest conflict, repression, or confusion. One does not "by-pass" grief or pain to enter the Transcendent, for immeasurable empathy and compassion are already there. I learned this teaching of the Buddha, concerning The Four Immeasurables, from my dogs.

My heart still reverberates with tears of grief after the loss of Bowie on a beautiful golden evening in May. Today I go into the woods, near the place where he chased a rabbit, instantly leaping into the realm of souls through the neck-snapping portal of a coyote's jaws. I build him a shrine, write his name on a stone, bury a clump of his unforgettable hair, chant the liberating Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra, and wish him farewell. Again and again...

I will never get over this grief. And yet, precisely in the heart of mourning, I sparkle with joy, because on a golden Father's Day in June, we picked up our new 8 week old puppy, Finn, a squirming red medicine bundle of love.

And yet through these seemingly opposite textures of emotion, there is all-pervading silence, the dispassionate Witness. He is Willy, Dogen of my original nature, Pooh-like companion night and day, in cloud or sunbeam, the gentle, wise, cantankerous smile on a mossy ancient Buddha stone. Willy reminds me that, in the blossoming or withering of the flower, I remain who I already Am: the hollow in the seed.
Buddha taught The Four Immeasurables to answer the question, "Does a Buddha feel emotions?" The answer was, "Yes, infinitely."

Vast love (Metta), boundless sorrow (Karuna), limitless joy (Mudita) all cohabit groundless dispassion (Upeksha). Cosmic yet intensely personal, these emotions dissolve into Bodhichitta, the essential space of awareness.

Just as sugar, salt, and yarrow dissolve in clear water, yet sweet, alkaline and bitter tastes are still there. Just as the rainbow's vivid red, blue, and yellow are suspended invisibly in a beam of white light. Just as, in quantum physics, the multifarious universe apparently springs from the emptiness of the vacuum; although "emptiness" is also a mere appearance, for the Void is cornucopia, a chaos of abundance, where stillness vibrates into virtual particles of matter, pre-existent photons of un-created light.

Similarly, joy and pain co-exist in the transcendental clarity of the Witness. No feeling is ever "bypassed" in the lucidity of true meditation. All layers of emotion are available in the empty brilliance of sat-chit-ananda. I Am both full and hollow.

To touch these feelings, which are the threads of silence itself, is not a withdrawal from the world, but a treasuring up of love.

I write this at 3 A.M., grieving for my lost friend, Bowie, yet stroking the deep red fur of my new companion, Finn, while Willy lies snoring on the floor.