from a heart broken place
where you've breathed out
everything you carried.
The next breath
is God's love...
What is the secret of this breath? Just infuse it with awareness. If you can dissolve a pinch of salt in a cup of water, surely you can dissolve your mind in this inhalation, then breathe out unspeakable gratitude.
Such innocent intention seems like nothing, yet awakens your destiny, nourishing tears, transforming an impersonal universe into sparkling intimacy. Just to breathe is the simplest prayer.
You and I share one breath. Men and women share one breath. All races share one breath. And it is given, not taken. The omnipotent All-Creator who scatters stars through the fields of night, and sets galaxies effortlessly spinning like milkweed on the faintest wind, deigns to enter our flesh with ease, sweeping away dis-ease, replenishing each tiny cell with the radiance of divine Life.
How foolish to look for miracles, to await a savior, to crave for wealth, when the love that breathes the cosmos pulsates in your chest.
Collage by Rashani Réa
The Music You Need
Just where the ripple starts to rise
just where the vacuum breaks
its perfectly symmetrical emptiness
into goose bump froth on your skin,
where the urge of your optic nerve
fashions this inscrutable chaos of flames
into a green-gold meadow,
and the mind of trembling silence
contracts black entropy into an 'I,'
here the singing begins.
You learn bewilderment from a sparrow.
Are you the voice, or the listener?
Imaginal wings effervesce
in the hollow of a cocoon.
Are you the flier, or the sky?
This is where the void bubbles over
and you become the juice:
root of Veda, bulb of Torah,
seed of Qu'ran.
You need a more fragrant language
to dissolve the difference
between Lover and Beloved,
and a muskier more pungent voice
to sing the sacred music
Embodiment Means Dissolving The Story
When I am telling and retelling my story, I give precedence and authority to the past. I am not really here, now. I drive the story deeper and deeper into my psyche, until it becomes my very 'I' itself. The wound does not heal by talking about. It heals through revealing its own energy to itself as pure sensation.
When I feel my story in the body, the past dissolves. The story erases itself like a line written on water. It's words and images melt into raw sensation, pure energy, kinetic awareness, a whirling Presence.
The past has no Being. It is a bundle of beautiful and troubling images, names, forms, players in a story - but they do not Exist. Life only lives in the present moment.
If I am willing to feel my story, however full of pain and trauma, as present energy in my body, then here I Am. And I Am free, as dynamic emptiness, with no predicate noun after the verb To Be. Not "I am an American, a White, a Christian, Advaitin, Republican, or Democrat." Those nouns are old stories. They are not who I Am.
If my story is really important, why bind its energy in words and memories? Why not break open the names and forms of the story and pour their nectar out as a living oblation? Why not directly sense this imageless electricity in the body, as the body, right now?
To tell your story, you only need one syllable, one cry, one upheaval of "Ah!" "Hum!" "So!" Then dance.
What Is Meditation?
What is meditation?
Don't focus or try
to keep the mind steady.
Surrender to entropy
This is the only way
to sink into emptiness
more solid than diamonds,
darkness brighter than the sun,
a groundless womb of grief
that bears pure beauty.
Whose death, finally,
are you grieving?
And what is death, after all?
The radiance of a heart
that has no time left
The bee has no words to express
It is not the description
of the honeysuckle's nectar
that guides you to entangled vines,
sparkling with dew on the ruined fence.
What entices your lips to the spilling
chalice of the heart's flower
is beyond thought, beyond story,
even quieter than music -
just a humming.
Follow that sound.
Backyard photo by my daughter Abby
This is how being awake
I meet you in the space
between my thoughts.
You meet me in the space
nothing to say,
only a gaze into what gazes.
Yet when the tremor
of our silence
of our silence
settles deep into the loam,
every seed on Earth
receives two wings.
Qigong With Master Gu
Written after today's Qigong movement
and meditation with Master Mingtong Gu.
Our trauma finally heals
not in words and images
of memory told
again and again;
but in the flesh, this moment,
pure energy released
from the name and form
of the story.
This mind, this tale of woe,
is the past.
Presence is the body.
There is only one location
and we are all here,
sparkling with beauty and pain -
the place where our galactic hips
swirl in slow circles,
sky sweeps brain
clear and empty,
breath brushes the tender sternum
and our barefoot thirsty soles
massage the mother soil
like infants' lips,
pressing forth the nectar.
Gather round the fire and do not try to teach one another. Do not try to change one another. Do not pass any laws against one another. Just listen to the stories. And after each story, do not clap, do not discuss. Just be silent. You can argue against an opinion, but you cannot argue against a story of the heart. You can only listen. And this is the true sat sang, the true congress, the real politics.
Photo by Aile Shebar
The Forgotten Stories
Last night when I went to bed, I was feeling dry and culturally malnourished. I thought about how obsessed our nation is with its illness, yet how spiritually empty our response has been.
The medical technology, the pharmaceutical jargon, the anxious fear, the confused state of our technocrats. Where are the wise ones? The ones who sing to us the meaning of what we endure, who inspire us to grow stronger and healthier?
Falling asleep, I had a powerful dream. I was a modern shaman, an interfaith chaplain, tasked with holding space for a large gathering. My job was to tell stories that would heal the people.
The vast audience was mostly little children, but interspersed among them were Tibetan monks, tribal shamans, rebbes, priestesses, and poets. I was joyously confident because I knew exactly what stories to tell. I felt them welling up inside me as stories I knew well and told often. In fact, they felt like my two favorites: a story about Friendship, and a story about the Four Elements - sun, air, water, and earth.
I had that wonderful feeling you have when you are about to speak in public, and you know what you are talking about, you know it is blesséd and nourishing, and you are just a hollow reed through which the wisdom music sings. So I opened my mouth to speak. But nothing came out.
I could not remember the stories. They were like names you know that you know, but cannot recall.
And I awoke like that, with the wordless stories on the tip of my tongue. I felt so disappointed I could not remember them in my dream that I decided to go back to sleep and finish it, and tell the stories. But then I realized with a terrible sorrow that even in waking I could not remember them. Can you?
They are two of my favorite stories, aren't they? Don't I know them? I am sure I do. They are right here. My lips are open, moist. But I cannot remember.
And now I am calling us all to remember. We know these stories. The Story of Friendship, and the Story of the Elements. They are two of our favorites. We must recite them to each other, to heal our culture. We must pass them to our children. Are they not buried here, in our chests, pulsing like hearts?
This is the time to fathom our inward silence, to listen more deeply inside. Use this quarantine to tap the well within the well, the whisper within the stillness. After all, the very word "quarantine" come from the Latin for "forty," referring to the forty days Jesus passed through his solitary vision quest in the desert. Silence can be the womb of stories.
When we meet again, let me hear the story of Friendship your heart tells. Let the children hear your heart's tale about Sunlight, Wind, Rivers and Loam. Perhaps these stories will boost our tribal immune system. Perhaps their telling will heal us as well as any drug or vaccine.
Mandala by DK. AG. Artwanted.com
soft and jagged
That's why we're here,
To taste opposites
and be wildered.
The mandible of the pit bull
in the throat of the kitten.
Gray mucous wings emerging
from Winter's cocoon
as a rainbow instantly
motionless in midair.
Your aching nipple
None of it is born
but for an instant.
Doesn't this make you glad?
Doesn't this make you
cherish what Is?
In the background of this moment, and every moment, is one eternal golden sun. Polish this sun with each breath, and feel it forward through all forms until the goal outshines the path, and you outshine the world. Namaste.
At the center of every proton in each atom of your body, hidden by the smoke and mirrors of the quark dance, is a black hole that contains, and Is, all the information in the cosmos.
This is exactly the same black hole that exists at the center of our galaxy, and every galaxy. Groundless Yin. Dark energy between the threads of creation. Trough of your mind between thoughts. Hollow in a seed. Virtual fragrance of an unblossomed bud. Sound of ocean in a conch.
To fall into this brilliant abysmal darkness is meditation, which happens, not through knowing, but un-knowing. Therefore scripture says, "The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men" (1 Cor 1:25).
The heart of stillness
Globed in quiddity,
we tremble and dissolve
like profligate dewdrops,
heirs of emptiness.
Each particle of sand,
star, breath, snow
is a little black vacuum
We are guests at the feast of loss.
Now ground yourself in one atom
of your left little toe,
as if it were the center
of the Milky Way,
or the axis of a greater whirling,
of the coming Buddha,
the very form
of sparkling compassion.
Ah, the gesture of falling
into who you already are!
Moths and morning glories
live eternally in one day
because they occupy
their own bodies
Photo: I found this jewel in the meadow yesterday. The Goddess must have dropped it. I often hear her walking there in the form of falling rain, stark naked, except for her earrings. I'm not giving it back!
Celebrate your oscillating emptiness in waves of “I” and “Thou.” Project the play of Lover and Beloved in the formless sea of pure awareness as the difference between subject and object in the green world around you. Only for the sake of love are you entangled in the moss of perception. Each beat or beatific epiphany of tongue, eye, skin, ear, nostril is the shadowed trough between these quantum fluctuations in your vacuum of aloneness. From infinitesimal wombs of no-thing worlds burst up like bubbles for the sake of gazing into an apple bud, smelling a lilac in the blues of your garden, or, if you play an angel, whirling just for fun six winged seraphic fire into the after-image of a new planet, yours, to feel the ancient touch of dancers dancing for no particular reason. Selah.
Image: 'Virtual Particles in the Quantum Vacuum' by Robert J. Tiess
Crisis of Breath
This is not just a pandemic and a reign of fear; it is a crisis of breath. Many are dying for one precious jewel of breath. The diamond that we do not value fully as our birthright on this earth, nature brings us to appreciate, and she can be a ruthless teacher.
It is time for humanity to remember that in every wisdom tradition the word for Spirit is also the word for Breath. Adam was only a biological organism, but not a living soul, until Elohim breathed into the dust. The Hebrew for dust is 'adamah'. Only with this divine breath did the dust become 'nephesh chayya,' a living person. The Hebrew for person or soul is 'nephesh,' rooted in the Hebrew verb, to breathe.
So in Genesis 2:7, 'The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils a breath of life, and the man became a living person,' that is, a living breath of the divine.
Honor your breath this morning. Your breath is healing. Your breath is grace. Your breath is the love of God made active, as You. It is the Shakti, the creative power of consciousness, Lord Shiva. Thus, in Biblical tradition, your breath is the Shekinah, the Spirit whom God sends to dwell in the tent of your flesh, so that you can sing, dance, and play the divine in human form. She who whirls the galaxies, and holds a trillion stars in the palm of her hand, has come to dwell in your body as this breath.
Painting by Elena Kotliarker
The oak takes a journey
without moving from its roots.
Branches, leaves and blossoms
all folded in the hollow of the seed.
These days, gnarled, wizened, oaky,
I stay more and more
in the place where I am going
instead of traveling there.
When they ask me, I answer,
'I don't know.'
When they say, 'How?'
I say, 'Slow and easy.'
So they pass me by,
intent on arriving at their goal
while I reach the end of the path
with every step.
You don't have to start
at the bottom, friend,
and you don't have to strive for the top.
You are the mountain.
Just pour one breath into another,
pausing to drink from the chalice
of your heart.
Photo: hiking Mt. Rainier wilderness area
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