Yoga Teacher

"A Baby Is A Yoga Teacher." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

A baby is a yoga teacher.
A flower is a yoga teacher,
the morning glory, here and gone.

A raindrop is a yoga teacher.
A teardrop is a yoga teacher.
The ocean and the moon. Why?

Because they achieve loveliness
through aloneness,
eternity through perishing.

Time is a yoga teacher if you watch it
because it is not really there.
So is a trout flashing between rocks
in a mountain stream
when it vanishes.

The electricity of a cat doing nothing
is your yoga teacher.
Or the current in a wire birds love
to perch on that would kill you.

Anger is a yoga teacher if you gently
stay with it in your belly
and watch the alchemy of bullet lead
dissolving into sorrow,
the mercury of tears
into peace.

Your mother's death is a yoga teacher.
When she is gone, she is
the soil itself and whatever
is green.

Now listen to the most
distant sound you can hear.
It is your yoga teacher,
bearing you away into silence
on a chariot of sighs
with one graceful gesture,
the posture of annihilation.

One breath is the price you pay
to enter this ashram.
It costs more than you could ever keep.
Give everything away
to the yoga teacher
who stands at the doorway
of your next inhalation.

The yoga teacher's studio
is the stillness
between heartbeats.
Formlessness is perfect asana.

A sip of fresh water is your yoga teacher,
a mouthful of bread
melting into a smile for no reason,
gratitude for dust,
a groundless falling through your chest
into the radiant emptiness
at the center
of all these swirling stars.

Dedicated to all who must do their yoga program alone in quarantine, this poem actually made it into my book, "Savor Eternity One Moment At A Time."


You are not a diamond. And I am not attracted by your faultless luster, or the jagged symmetry of fleshless asymptotes that touch no curve. It is the fall of your roundness, the dimpled shadows that draw me, the stumble and lilt of little flaws that make you utterly, uniquely beautiful. I see a new season in the darkness of your furrows. If God wanted your perfection, you would not have been created. You lure me to descend into the world of laughter and tears.


Be a thief.
Steal the butter.
What does it taste like?
Causeless golden joy.
Savor your own
magnificent infancy
and flower into your mischief,
the mirror-shattering kiss.
It's all you, all you, all you.
Now fall in love with every
perfect stranger.
Just murmur, "Mmm."
Be the little butter thief
in a world that is melting.

Gandharva Veda

The universe is no-thing but vibration. Vibration of what? Pure awareness. The first creation is Sound. The first healing is Music. The first science is Mantra. You and I are melodies entwined in one rhythm. I do not ask you to dance. We were dancing before there was light.


We must practice the spiritual discipline of social distancing until we realize that there is no distance at all.

Separation is only in the mind. Swallow vast distances, even the emptiness between the stars, with this breath. Enfold all friends and strangers in the spacious intimacy at the core of your heart. Practice this, even for one moment a day.
Osho said it so perfectly: "The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. Only those who are capable of being alone are capable of loving, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person - without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other.

"They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other."

Photo: Swallowtail Moth in Sunflower, by Aile Shebar


This must be
the answer.
The milky way
is your breath,
and your body
is made of starlight
from so far away
it only now arrives
in this world where
you are standing
with the whole night
inside your chest,
your thoughts
vanishing in
the bewilderment
of holy silence;
and having been
veiled, you unveil,
having dreamt, you
undream the past,
you open your palms
to let them hold
the sky with all
its invisible things
so weightlessly
uncertain, and now,
at last you have
something to give.

Andrew Studer photo, Milky Way & Mt. Hood


This is how I awake 
in thrush-pierced silence
at dawn.
For one gracious instant
just before the blunt
imaginary blade
of yesterday
plunges its old story
into my heart again,
I see clearly through
a sliver of eternity
that we're all drowning.
For countless eons
our bodies have floated
on this oceanic moment.
Each perishing breath
bows to another,
yet this very bow
is deathless.
And blue skies fill my chest.
But then I forget
because I remember...
O some first moment
on the very first day,
may I remember
how to awaken,
and how to forget.

The Christianity I Know

The only Christianity I know:
At the end of each breath,
the death of Jesus.
At the beginning of each breath,
his resurrection.
What happened 2000 years ago
does not concern me.
The sound of the wood thrush
is the last judgment.
Because I am awake,
a dogwood blossom
is the end of time.
Just let me plummet into grace,
a fallen creature.
From what should I be saved?
My soul was never lost.
The Mother who bears this
pang of Christ-fire in her heart

can never let me go!

Photo: Trillium Trinity on my forest walk


You were not sentenced
to this planet, remember?
You volunteered.
In fact, you waited in line
for ten thousand years,
a weeping angel.

Her Voice (with Arabic translation)

Her voice contains the snow

falling through darkness

like frozen tears and
stars that have not
yet been born.
Her name is Silence.
The tears melt
and worlds appear,
greening, whirling, whole.
But why say "her"?
Because creation has a womb
that heals and makes
all things new again
without a Word.

في صوتها ثلج 
يتساقط في الظلام
كدموع متجمدة
ونجوم لم تولد بعد.
اسمها الصمت.
تذوب الدموع
وتظهر العوالم،
تخضوضر، تدور في دوّامة، تكتمل.
ولكن لماذا نخاطبها كأنثى؟
لأن الخليقة لها رحَم
يشفي ويخلق
الأشياء من جديد
من دون الكلمة.

Arabic translation by Dana Chamseddine.
Milky Way Over the Sea by Wolongshan Photography

Noisy Haiku

Spring blossoms say, "Please,
please be quiet," but I just
keep singing to them.

Their lives are so short,
the flowers in my garden.
But they don't complain.

Photos: Apple trees in bloom all over my little town, flowers in my backyard.

Behold the Lilies

"We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice." ~Hildegard of Bingen, 11th C.
Jesus, the wild poet of the Galilean meadows, pointed to this flower and said, "Behold the lilies of the field! They neither labor nor toil, yet even King Solomon is all his glory was not arrayed like one of these!" He wanted his disciples to learn everything they needed to know about God by looking at a flower.

Just so, in his final gathering, Buddha held up a little blossom, twirling it in his fingers but saying nothing. Ananda smiled. He understood the complete Dharma through one little anemone. 

William Blake, the poet of perception, wrote: "See a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower!" The Kingdom of God is not a theological abstraction, but the break-through of this trillium, one white three-petaled explosion nestled in oceanic furrows of green.

Do not look at this flower through your concept of it. Look at the flower itself, what James Joyce called "the ineluctable modality of the visible."

The flower has no name. It is no-thing, unrestricted by its outline, a gush of revelation breaking into three dimensions from beyond space and time. The flower flows from God, from unfathomable depths of uncreated Silence, through the mediation of Mother Earth, into your eyes. The flower is a gift from the river of Grace. In this sacrament of perception, consciousness awakens consciousness through the mystery of matter.

In essence, consciousness is Shiva, matter is Mother Shakti. Both are divine. They make love through our act of perception. Their orgasm is the world. This is how they discover, again and again throughout eternity, that they are one and the same energy.

So we take a walk in the forest and discover this trillium gleaming in the fern shadows. Now, if you are like me and other "educated" Westerners, you do something remarkable at this point on your forest walk. You flee from revelation into thinking. Turning to your hiking partner, you ask, "What is that flower's name?" The other replies, "a trillium." She may even nail it down with Latin: "trillium grandiflorum."

What has just happened? You have settled for a concept, a verbal description of reality, rather than suffering the nameless onslaught of Radiance.

You closed your eyes to the incarnation of the Wordless, the silent offspring of Father Consciousness and Mother Matter. You replaced the living Christ with a ghost of thought. Sometimes names kill. Sometimes we need to un-name the world.

Creation is a Mystery. In the primitive Church, a Mysterion was a transforming encounter with the Divine as experienced but not named. True understanding transcends the intellect. For those early Christian philosophers, the greatest Mysteries were: Creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), the incarnation of God in a human body, and the Mystery of Sin: how humans could, in their free will, so thoroughly ruin such a perfect world.

They wisely taught us not to merely think about these Mysteries, but respond to them with all our heart. But in the Middle Ages, Christianity lost much of its power and grace when scholastic intellectuals attempted to define, as dogma, what is really only available to the intuition in the silence of Mystery.

When we define the Mysterion through our intellect, we super-impose an ashen gray world of our own creation upon God's miracle. We impose our parallel world of thoughts, our incessant mental commentary, on the nameless radiance of creation. 

Frightened by the ever-changing fluidity of experience, we try to solidify the world with labels, freezing the Divine Verb into a noun. This is the real Fall: to dwell not in the actual world but in our description of it.

In God's revelation to Moses, Exodus 3, Moses asks for God's name. But the Divine Verb refuses to become a noun. God reveals only the name, I AM. Perhaps this is the lost commandment written on the tablet of the law that Moses shattered: "Thou shalt not name the world, for creation is ceaseless Being."

A stream of Radiance flows toward us from created things, yearning to touch our hearts through the sacramental power of our eyes, ears, tongues, nostrils, fingertips. And a luminous stream also flows from within us, outward to the world through these same gates of perception, yearning to touch the incarnate breasts of matter. (In the Hebrew Bible, one of the names of God is "El Shaddai": God of Breasts.)

The Radiance flowing toward us and the Radiance flowing out of us meet in sensation, for they are one and the same Light. In the beginning, the Light appears to be divided in two, the dualism of subject and object, Shiva and Shakti. But this is only a trick of perception, inviting us to celebrate their wedding.

The divine One pulsates as the play of Two. Shakti dances as matter to delight Shiva, who is pure consciousness. She returns the offering of his own creative fire to him through every created form.

So we wed the light within us to the light outside by the sacrament of sensation - shudder of leaf, glimmer of dragonfly wing, eye of the homeless child. Through our merest wonder at the world, Shiva and Shakti, Yahweh and Shekinah, Christ and Magdalene marry again and again in the bridal chamber of our perception.

To be incarnate in a human body is the highest honor. Angels long to be born on earth and gain liberation by perceiving it.
What is courage? Courage is love. Courage means that when we look into the eyes of another, we settle for nothing less than the face of God.


"It is finished." ~John 19:30
The blossom bursts
the bud,
and it seems to be
the end of time.
But the perfect flower
with all its fragrance
was always here,
at every moment,
in every drop
of unseen sap
that permeated leaf,
petal, stem, root,
and the dark tenderness
curled in the hollow
of the seed.

Grow In Circles

We grow in circles, not steps. Nature knows no Level 1 or Level 2, no higher plane or lower plane, no sequence from points A to B on strands of logic in the air. All points are simultaneous, all threads of cause and effect entangled. At the level of the quark, there is no hierarchy. The biosphere is not a kingdom, ruled from above, but a riot of microbes.
Vainly does the mind of the surveyor, with plum and compass, impose straight lines, right angles, upon earth's swell and trough. Nature needs no map. She is all hill and valley, circle and curve. Therefor we expand, we vibrate, we ripple outward and inward at once. But no one actually knows whence or where, or WTF is going on. Thank God.

A warm sun opens our buds, roots us down, branches our Now in all directions at once. Where is any "Way"? "Way" only exists in the ghost-world of thought, super-imposing concepts of "progress," "path," and "ascent" onto the breathing chaos of Holy Matter. Don't stand in line: just dance! Don't join a movement: just move! Be created and destroyed each instant, the embodied explosion of cosmic amazement.

Photo by Hubble, the Rosetta nebula, which blossoms on the trellis of our Milky Way

For Now

Just for today,
a Sabbath
from knowledge.
Who knows?
Just for today,
a Sabbath from judgment.
Is forgiveness
not your nature?
Just for today,
A Sabbath from
being right or wrong.
If a day is too long
then just for an hour?
If an hour is too long
then isn't it enough
to bathe a thousand stars
in one breath
of love?
Just for now, friend,
stay with me.


This is Maunday Thursday, the day Christ held the Last Supper, and prayed alone in the garden of Gethsemane, imploring God to "take this cup of suffering from me." He asked his three closest disciples to stay awake, to watch and pray with him. But they fell asleep. When he came upon them sleeping he said, "Couldn't you stay awake with me one hour?" (Mat 26:40). That is why, on this night in Catholic churches all over the world, or in the temple of our own heart, we have "holy hour," a time to meditate in silence with the divine Friend, being simply present, simply awake.

Photo by Kristy Thompson

Sleep Well

Listen carefully.
This could make you rich.
Your breath,
I mean the breath you
take this moment
just before you fall
is a gift from the stars,
a brook of crushed diamonds
flowing out of darkness
into light.
Receive your inheritance
and become
the radiance
you are.

Be Carried

No need to take a leap of faith.
You have already drowned
in the Grace ocean.

Each tumble and trough is Jesus
rising and falling in the waves
of Mary's womb.

From the edge of heaven
to the center of a belly-atom,
one breath.

I'll wait for you here
where death sparkles
at the nadir of a sigh.

Then you'll be a child again,
resurrected by the next inhalation.
There is no such thing as silence.

The void is a sea of infinitesimal bells,
the deepest emptiness a song
pressed from nothing by an inward gaze.

Descend into the chorus of your heart.
Nearly imperceptible, that sound
of bliss creating the world.

If you become the least of these,
my little ones, you'll hear it.
You can't even make a mistake

without Me.
In the brief abyss of hesitation,
or the missed heartbeat of doubt,

You choose my presence.
I carry you in the arms
of astonishing love.

The Breath You Give

The breath you give
is the breath you receive
is the breath that whispered
this planet into atoms,
blew spirals of night
into galaxies like glass
and spindled out the flesh
of your ancestors.

Yes, we were connected
by a dark sigh
before we had names.
Our lungs are the bellows
of the Maker.
Don't waste a single exhalation
complaining about this world.
Choose beauty.
The gift will not appear
until you are grateful.
Under the snow, seeds listen.
Are you singing to them?
Why not?
The softer your voice of praise
the more they reach up,
unfurl their golden cups
of thirst and yearning.
This is the secret:
Creation happens quietly.
Stillness swirls from
inside out.
You could be the cause
of Spring.

Stay Om

Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614), Meditating Daruna, in which the calligraphy means, “Quietness and emptiness are enough to pass through life without error.”

When Bhodidharma, known as Daruna, brought Buddhism to the West, the emperor demanded an audience with him. An imperial scribe read a list of the emperor's merits. Then he asked Bhodidharma what merits he had achieved. Bhodidharma said, "I don't know."

In the bindhu between your breaths, just for an instant, be held in the gentle palm of desolation. Let your next inhalation be a wing of desirelessness  gliding up your spine, ringing the starry bell of night in each vertebra, turning the cells of your body into chalices of golden fire.

Then the imperial magistrate read Bhodidharma the royal laws and statutes, after which the emperor asked him,"What law do you follow?" Bhodidharma answered, "I don't know."
Gaze into the mirror of Seeing itself. Let radiant beams of emptiness hallow the face of the Invisible. Let your eyes be yantras that precede creation, opening a way to the darkness of love.

The exasperated emperor commanded the high priest to recite the central verses of holy scripture. Then he ordered Bhodidharma to reveal the most essential precepts of his own religion. Daruna said, "I don't know."

Words and phrases congeal out of pure silence to torture your mind with worry. Let them disperse into letters and syllables of delightfully meaningless but inspired phonemic vibration, the sounds a baby makes after drinking pearls of breast milk. Let this garland of angelic burps and giggles enfold your body with a fragrant circle of protection, each unfading petal a bija, sacred name of the Unknowable.

The emperor banished Bhodidharma from the capital and prohibited him from teaching anything whatsoever to the people. So Daruna wandered to a forest cave, where he sat quietly, staring at an empty limestone wall that seeped droplets of fresh water somehow sparkling in the dark.

Now listen down and undo the world. Listen to the hum where hearing arises. Let pure listening re-calibrate the wobble of each atom, healing the bodies of all sentient creatures.

In the solitude of his cave, Daruna said nothing, thought nothing, dreamed nothing. Yet he was wide awake. Thus the teaching of the Dharma spread rapidly throughout the land.
Can you breathe out everything you ever thought you were against, and surrender the argument? Cherish the subtle luminous flavor of silence. Resist not. If your restless mind must mutter some words, then whispef the great liberating maha-mantra: "I Don't Know."