Anger is an energy
that attracts more anger.
Intelligence is inversely
proportional to crowd size.
A single animal behaves
than a multitude of men.
Therefor hold space
for the Alone,
curled up in the woods
around your own wound,
keeping your breast warm
to share your perfect milk
with one stranger
at a time.
The rock star guru
seated on a golden throne
sells glittering tricks
to stop your yuppie mind.
The yogi says, repeat
this mantra 12,000 times a day
til monkey mind is docile
as a lamb.
The roshi shouts, kill it!
Concentrate so hard
you burn a black hole
between your eyebrows!
But what does Fred say?
Oh dear one, what does Fred say?
Be a lover.
Let your mind run wild and free,
kissing every sweet spot
in the universe.
Just don't chase after it.
Renoir's 'Woman with Black Hair,' which I recently photographed at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Maybe my favorite Renoir. She is re-creating the world through the serene and positive energy of her gaze...
Plant seeds of beauty through your lips and eyes.
Name every creature with your love.
See the world you want to realize
lit from your face, not from above.
Now better dance than hesitate.
God waits to watch the wonders you create.
I give thanks for my daughter Liz, and for my beautiful wife Anna, for Abby and Willy and Finn, and all my relations. Ho! I give thanks for Philadelphia and Seattle and the vast rolling chaos of love between them. I give thanks for food. I eat whatever my host gives me, knowing that it is blessed by the grace of hospitality. I say, 'Yes please, I'll have seconds!' I hug my bad habits too, because the space of my hug is wider than the habit. I hug all ragged fractal untied threads of lack, all jagged angry edges of wanting. And when I hug them, I am free. Because the space of the hug is always wider, and I am the space of the hug.
Photo: My daughter and I after running up the steps to the Philadelphia Art Museum, like Rocky. 11/25/19
I used to believe in Nothingness. Sometimes I spelled it 'no-thingness' to be more metaphysical, or I Buddhacized it into 'emptiness,' which sounds kooler. But now I truly un-know that there is no such thing as nothing.
What appears as nothing, or vast emptiness, in deep meditation, is only the space around the jewel. My senses are too dull to perceive anything but this auricular shadow for awhile. But finally, after my perception has been refined in the fires of even deeper grace, I discover that this "nothing" is a cornucopia, the fruit of the seed of the fruit of the seed, divine causation spiraling ever inward toward a luminous and adamantine source, who is the very Eye that seems to be perceiving it.
This endlessly spilling source never empties but grows more full, more solid. The deeper I dive, the more Christalized the ocean of the un-created. The great seers were all gemologists: for Jesus the transcendent was not the heavenly sky but the "pearl." For alchemists, not the philosopher's space, but the philosopher's "stone." For Adi Shankara, not emptiness, but the "crest jewel of discrimination." For Yogis,"chitta mani," the "jewel" of pure consciousness. And for Tibetans, "Om mani padme hum": not the hollow but "the jewel in the heart lotus."
Penetrating the yoni of unbounded blackness, I enter a light so blinding it only appears to be dark. Krishna's dance vibrates at such an astronomical rate of energy that it only seems to be stillness.
There is finally no Void at the core of my Being. There is only the Goddess brilliantly drumming fierce throbs of diamond silence. For the sake of the fragrance of love, One ever bursts into Two. And Aphrodite, love herself, is born from sexual froth in the infinite sea of super-radiant chaos.
At this time in our culture, loss and uncertainty are arousing many old stories in re-action. Old stories of blame, betrayal, martyrdom, apocalyptic fear. Old tribal stories too: man vs. woman, race vs. race. These stories feel like they are happening now, but they are in the past, tending to tell themselves, taking on a life of their own. In my opinion, these stories are not who we really are.
I don't want my message to get in the way of people's suffering, if that is what they need to do for awhile. Who am I to tell people anything they don't like to hear? It will only make them angrier and more reactive. Because I choose not to be a part of these stories. I only have one simple message to tell. It is beautiful but it hurts.
You are not the old story. You are Love's radiant clarity now. You are Love's emptiness. And Love needs no story. This very moment you can be happy. No story of victimhood, no way of the cross, no path of penance you must follow to get here. Wouldn't you rather look FROM this place than FOR this place?
We are entering the season of Angeltide, when the joy of the Inner Light shines more and more from the hollow un-created center of all creatures, until it bursts through as the Solstice energy. Now is the time to let Breath cleanse mind. Let Silence make love to your heart.
No one is to blame. To realize this is freedom.
I blame others to absolve myself from the sins of the world, yet I as much as anyone am responsible for the appearance of creation in the shimmering bliss of pure consciousness.Now let me unbuckle the breast-plate of anger, lower the shield of political judgment, and drop the sword of blame.
For blame is just the way I deflect the pain of my anger and fear. But when I release judgment, I have no choice but to inhale the terror of the earth. Yet only then may I widen my embrace to feel her Beauty.
The Sorrow is profound, but the Beauty is breath-taking. The Sorrow I breathe in, the Beauty I breathe out. What I draw into my heart is cleansed and transmuted into a sapphire sky, emitting rays of gold. Self-luminous compassion is mine to release. Now let me breathe the dawn across the sea...
Yes, let it be repeated: the un-created arising of the whirled is only a mirage in blue stillness. Amidst this hurricane of sorrows, I Am the unbounded seer, the Eye of the storm. Pain has no beginning, beauty no end. There never was any Sin, nor ever a Fall, because all creatures are forever falling from Grace, through Grace, into Grace.
This is not a belief, a philosophy, or a practice. It must be tasted to be known, and the knower must dissolve into the taste.
Dear Friend, won't you join me in this breath?
Today I honor the Warrior who wields the sword of his own breath to sever the illusory knot that binds every effect to its cause, once and for all liberating the earth from any creator, liberating the body from any soul, the dance from the dancer, the song from the troubadour, and the full moon's beauty from the sun. I honor that mighty one who achieves victory without war, empowering the world to dance in the void without creation or first cause. Again and again I bow down to that Warrior, offering priceless golden petals from the seedless rose that was never planted in any ground, yet springs from my loins and blossoms through my crown for no other reason but the frolic of stillness.
Madness has taken its toll.
Where once there were opinions,
now there is laughter.
Where once there were rare gemstones
Now there are waves of sparkling uncertainty.
The earth tilts toward the womb.
The sun cries, thirsting for black milk.
Silence cannot contain its own emptiness
and fills our bones with dust.
We must listen to the gong of the raven
that unties the vagus nerve
from it root in the anus
and it’s needle eye in the forehead.
Lost in the desert between
those firmly nippled opposites
we may still find some chalice
buried in the pulverized cathedrals
First offer a drink of sand
to the ancestor who betrayed you.
Then taste the magnificent ashes
of your own fire.
I do not know what these words mean,
but I know they will carry me like raptor wings
into the tropical depression of your breast,
which is just another caesura
in the rhythmic echo
of a world without voices.
Now let us open eight billion mouths
to the diamond cave of zero.
Painting: Marc Chagall
"She raised her eyes to the bright stars, looking down so mildly from the wide worlds of air, and, gazing on them, found new stars burst upon her view, and more beyond, and more beyond again, until the whole great expanse sparkled with shining spheres, rising higher and higher in immeasurable space, eternal in their numbers as in their changeless and incorruptible existence.
"She bent over the calm river, and saw them shining in the same majestic order as when the dove beheld them gleaming through the swollen waters, upon the mountain tops down far below, and dead mankind, a million fathoms deep.
"The child sat silently beneath a tree, hushed in her very breath by the stillness of the night, and all its attendant wonders. The time and place awoke reflection, and she thought with a quiet hope-- less hope, perhaps, than resignation--on the past, and present, and what was yet before her." ~Charles Dickens, 'Old Curiosity Shop,' 42
Big hearts carry pain
that others won't feel.
Boundless ones weep
without knowing why.
Yet at the heart's core
is a hollow that
cannot be touched
by joy or sorrow.
Stars yearn to rest here.
The moon takes off
her veil of light in vain
to know this stillness.
How may you enter the
shrine of holy absence?
Follow your breath.
Painting: The Bohemian, by Renoir
We are not here to carry the pain, the grief, the blood-guilt of our ancestors. We are here to free them. Our life is not an act of penance, but an act of bold forgiveness.At the root of our literature and our politics is the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus. The Furies drive Orestes mad with their infernal history of unreleased trauma, through the relentless cycle of retaliation. But the new Goddess of civilization, Athena, descends to cast the deciding vote in the Assembly of Athens, the original rite of democracy. Our freedom is a choice, and it frees others as well as ourselves. Orestes awakens from the dark stupor of the past.
I am Orestes. I am the punishing Furies. I am Athena. I descend into the Assembly of my own heart, where all are gathered. I cast my vote for absolution, and pure joy.
The fool never gets tired
of three things:
drinking strong wine
from his own heart,
reaching the goal
on the first step
of an infinite journey,
and running his fingers
through the wise fur
of a brown four-legged earthling.
Now get good and lost
until you find yourself
beating at the door
of this fool’s hut.
Knock and he'll cry,
'It's me!' you'll reply.
And he'll answer,
'There's no room in here for me!'
So you'll spend a thousand
more lifetimes praying,
fasting, giving alms
until one day, weary
of all your goodness,
you'll wander to that hut
and knock again.
'Who's there?' he'll cry.
'Nobody,' you'll answer.
Then he'll open the door
and hug you with fierce joy,
uncorking your heart
so that you too can taste
the dark vintage of wisdom
that's been aging in your chest
since the day before
there was light.
Things that make me sad.
I cannot stop sipping whisky.
I pour it down the sink.
Then I buy more.
Even though I got a new dog
I miss my old one.
This makes me cry sometimes.
When my wife is away
I wish she could be here.
I dream of her.
But when she’s here
In the store I can’t find things
they sold when I was growing up.
The junket pudding, the ginger snaps,
the little mary janes.
The world is a wound that will not heal.
Now here's a list of things
that make me happy.
This breath too.
Stars in the dark.
A robin in November.
Thank you thank you thank you.
The void is not even void.
It gushes like a wound in your food.
Your grandmother knew,
nestling your brown voice
in her quilt of bones.
Now pay attention to what pays attention.
Secrets will reveal themselves,
atoms of pain instantly swollen
into galaxies the size of tears.
Your gaze circling the earth
like a shapeless moon.
The eye of space itself awakening.
And your own breath will heal you.