You will be disappointed in
every Teacher you meet
until you meet the one inside.
The one who glows
from your hollow core
through broken places.
Then you will see your original
face reflected in the gaze
of strangers, countenance
of a withered rose,
a remnant of the moon
floating in a rainbow
of spilt motor oil,
last night’s mandala,
the frozen pizza thawed,
yet still untouched, a toothless
woman on the sidewalk,
gazing into her empty
MacDonald's coffee cup.
Now let the molten gold
of your own ineffable grace
fill in the cracks of the world.
* Kintsugi: the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by using beautiful seams of gold.
Wish I could tell you
about the ancient starlight
that pours into your body
through this breath.
Wish I could reveal
the power of your heartbeat,
how it turns the world.
I want to share the withered
Gospel of an alder leaf
but its whisper is too quiet.
The chime of raindrops after midnight
threading your dreams.
What wind and sky, the moon
in her gown of falling snow,
and what the white fox, binding
her arrow wound in fur,
would say if they could...
Who you strive to become
is not nearly so lovely
as who you are.
Abandon your vows.
is always needing to be born.” ~Meister Eckhart
Wise One, drop the reins
and let the camel lead you.
Follow the rising falling animal
in your chest.
To be wise is to be guided
across the wordless desert of prayer
to the birthplace in the valley
of your missing rib.
There the Unspeakable answers
in the odor of fur,
the gesture of a tiny hand
into the face of the lady
who gazes down into the straw
through the half-light of amazement.
Her silence is immaculate,
her heart is the fecundity
Her void is moist with stars.
Prior to conception
She gave birth to light,
joy and sorrow mingled
in the milk of her nipples.
Now the one who cradles
all the whirled
has become your breath.
What can you not say?
Now is the shortest day.
Still, I could not feel You.
I relinquished every veil of innocence, became more naked than the moon before the sun. I melted every photon to its wave of darkness, offered my flesh to the fire before wanting.
Still, I could not touch the Love of whom fools stammer.
So in your hiddenness I hid my face, tore off my wings and spiraled down into the rhythm of your stillness. I fell into the ocean of Unknowing, where each breath goes before it comes Om...
Knelt and stayed, an exile on the shore of my own ancient heart, where no white sail pulsates in one final exhalation, come to bear me away.
Then, in a wickless flame of chaos without root or stem, I unfolded, and became infinite. Longing blossomed in the crimson void. I became You.
A splash of the Sun that neither rises nor sets, and knows neither solstice nor dark: Photo by Kristy Thompson.
I understand there's a
Grand Alignment coming!
But if you don't align your
mind, breath and bones,
what use is a horoscope?
The new moon in your forehead,
the sun in your belly,
the total eclipse is a trough
between two heartbeats.
Your mind is night itself,
sparkling with silence.
The portal to the New Age
is your next inhalation.
Why wait for a conjunction
of Venus and Mars?
Those lovers have been waiting
for this very moment
in the bridal chamber of your chest.
Now ease into that bower.
Repose in your Self.
This is the shift that was prophesied.
Ascend to higher worlds
by hugging your own atoms,
practicing the asana
of a smile.
To be joyful for no reason
is to master all
the planets and stars.
or an affirmation
that rattles in your skull,
into the flower
through the whisper
Philosophers who asked, 'Why am I trapped in this body?' were not trapped in this body. They were trapped in the mind.
Your body is not a tomb, or a trap, or a punishment. Your body is the universe inviting you to wake up and dance.
Your body has no edges. It is an ocean of energy expanding in waves of breath, teeming with stars, swirling with galaxies, overflowing the very rim of time and space. And your dance can be as wild as a whirlwind, or as quiet as a heartbeat. You need not even move; your body is moving anyway, hosts of cells, countless atoms in the marvelous ballet of incarnation. Your body is filled with the same breath Jesus took, the same breath Buddha received to polish his spine and sparkle his emptiness.
When you come Om to the body, you are already where you need to be, and your heart opens like a morning glory to contain the blue empyrean. The axis of infinity runs up your hollow spine, a silver thread of silk to tether your skull to the most distant star, and your belly to the fire of darkness in the center of the planet.
Your body is the lightning bolt that grounds God, connecting heaven and earth. When you spread your arms, you embrace all your ancestors and unborn children. When you sense the rain, the wind, the sun upon your skin, you are covered not just by the grace of angels, but by the fur of every four-legged creature. In truth, it is only the limited mind that insists on distinguishing the spiritual from the physical, the animal from the angelic. Celestial dolphins leaping and playing in the waves of the vacuum, far beyond the Milky Way, are leaping and playing in the waves of your body.
You can wear this little brass trinket of mind around your throat and use it to carry precious pictures, a lock of your grandmother's hair, a prayer, a map, a tiny key. Or you can take off your mind like a woolen shirt. Lay it aside when you want to refresh your Being, bathe in the sea of God's breath, or dance naked with the Goddess. Then when you need it again, you can put the mind back on, use it as an instrument to deconstruct a problem, or as a box to hold important memories. Whenever you need space, you can empty the mind again, sweeping it clear with an exhalation.
But please, don't mistake this mind for your Self. You are not your mind. You are more vast. You are the cosmos. You are the universal body of Christ.
The breath in your body is the very form of the Goddess, who is the Holy Spirit. And a single breath, flowing in gratitude through the energy of your flesh, dissolves your mind into the infinite sky. Be bold. Leap into the unfathomable ocean of your body. Live in the silent grace beyond thought.
I am sure that Jesus was born in a human body just to show us who we really are, and reveal the diamonds in every handful of dust.
There are good teachers
and there are great teachers.
They enter this world
through your body.
They come from some eternity
beyond night and day,
beyond Winter and Spring.
The good teacher brings light
and speaks of light.
The great teacher says,
Do not fear, do not resist
The great teacher says,
Become the darkness
so that you may give birth
to what is radiant.
O Mother, O Child,
teach us to breathe in
and breathe out
This is how it must be.
Teach us how Christ is born
again in the breath
again in the womb
of my chest.
This mystery, this recreation
of the sun
on the darkest night.
Photo: Mt. Rainier by Sveta Imnadze
Balthazar's legs were stiff. As his servant pressed the animal's powerful neck low to the moon-washed desert sand, the old philosopher slipped from his kneeling camel. More nimbly than their elder, Melchior and Gaspar dismounted without assistance. A porter led their camels to the palm grove for water as the three pilgrims spread their caftans for an hour's rest.
They reclined in silence, the respite of a long night's journey. While traveling had constrained them into an acquaintance not unlike friendship, the three maintained that mutual aloofness native to men of rank. Until now, the three had known each other only as fellow, nay, even rival masters at the Academy in Baghdad.
Old Balthazar was a Persian mathematician who had studied at the temple of Pythagoras in Italy. Having traveled the civilized world, even as far as Tibet, he was lauded as the great Magus of his generation. Leaving hundreds of disciples at the Academy, he had departed with two fellows and a handful of porters on this desolate desert crossing, which he insisted was "his final pilgrimage." Balthazar was chiefly famous for his mathematical description of angels, especially his Geometry of Hierarchies, which proved that the constellations were ordered by "a will toward beauty."Dealing as it did with the latest theories in science, Balthazar's work attracted Melchior, the princely young Egyptian alchemist, now his fellow traveler. Melchior had entered the Academy in Baghdad, not as a student of the old master, but as a rival philosopher. Their pilgrim party was completed by a prodigious Hindu Brahmin named Gaspar.Gaspar's journey began in a monastery at Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where he had studied with the greatest disciple of Shankara before secluding himself in a forest hermitage at the Ganges' source. There Gaspar wrote his astrological proof of Advaita Vedanta, devising a mathematical foundation for the Upanishadic sutra, "Ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: One atom of the smallest is greater than the greatest." Using the new science of calculus, Gaspar proved that atomic configurations of human anatomy reflected the patterns of heavenly constellations to form an inter-dimensional continuum from micro to macrocosm which ultimately defined the physiology of a single, cosmic, human body.
Melchior, the Egyptian, wrote a commentary on Gaspar's thesis, suggesting that Gaspar's "cosmic anthropology" implied a teleological end, the birth of a "star-atomed man," an event which would mark the attainment of Selfhood by the cosmos. Two years later, when Melchior's thesis finally reached India, Gaspar responded with astronomical calculations proving that such an event would, in fact, occur in the present generation. Their metaphysical dialogue across the continents, from Alexandria to Rishikesh, finally drew the Egyptian and the Indian together in Baghdad, at the school of their elder, Balthazar.
"I wondered if my scroll would reach the West in time to warn you that the Birth was immanent," said Gaspar, disturbing the stream of milky silence that poured like some etheric nectar from the glistening stars. Relieved at the opportunity to discharge what was smoldering in their breasts, the three fell into a soft but heated discussion.
"My calculations led to the same conclusion as yours, Gaspar!" said the Egyptian. "Your treatise was the finest addendum to Plato's Timaeus in a hundred years, truly! But, if I may say, your original argument failed to include the critical last step. You brilliantly demonstrated how the galactic macro-equations resolve into the mathematical image of a human body. But the Cosmic Man will not be a person, fully aware of himself, unless he experiences the limitations of a human birth, on a material planet. The principle is even stated by your philosopher, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras: Consciousness is fully awakened only by the taste of its opposite, through the contrast of boundless intelligence with a finite body. There must be an Incarnation!"
"That was implicit in my equations, Melchior! Not to imply that I was first, no," Gaspar thumped his Brahmin palm against the sand, "but I had already proved it!"
In Egypt," Melchior insisted icily, "we proved it too." He paused for Gaspar to imbibe these words. Then he continued, "Your theory, sir, belongs not to India alone, but to the planetary atmosphere. It is in the air. Elders at Alexandria speak of these mysteries. I hear the same from Corinth and Antioch. 'This is the hour!' they all whisper. Of course, the common people don't know anything about it: except these Jews, who expect to get some sort of king out of the affair to lead them in a civil war. But in the temples, in the academies, all agree. We dwell at the turning point of the ages. Isn't that right Balthazar?"
The quiet old Persian smiled. "Even in Rome there are such thoughts."
"Rome!" the Indian chuckled. "If they know it in the city of wine and roast pig, then the odor of revelation must be in the air!"
"That is true," Melchior continued seriously. "Thoughts like these do not arise in the personal mind, but are gleaned by the brain out of prevailing elements in the ether. Now, because more mercury than sulfur predominates, due to a lessening influence of Mars, and from Jupiter a greater degree of...."
"My fellow pilgrim," Balthazar interjected as graciously as possible, "Just look up at these stars! It is more than chemistry that descends upon this world. Surely, you remember why we are here."
They looked up into the color of silence, deeper than black, where clustered stars pulsed like a candelabra over a banquet table. These stars appeared unnaturally close and intimate. A shudder passed through their three bodies, a strangely familiar tremor: as if this very night, the silver outspread sand, the almost tangible anticipation of secret mysteries about to be revealed, had been waiting for them in this place for ten thousand years. Their hearts were absorbed in an intensely serious joy.
"An angel has come upon us," Balthazar whispered.
"These atoms of air," muttered the Egyptian, "salts, crystals, don't you see?"
For a radius of nearly five meters around them, some ethereal pressure created a mellifluous golden cloud in the cold desert air. Within this sphere, the substance of space itself seemed thicker, rippling in violet undulations. Sparkles infinitesimal as photons danced around their faces, throbbing against their brains with a subliminal ringing. Melchior trembled because he thought they had discovered some fantastic new chemical in the desert wind, while Gaspar kept glancing nervously at the crescent moon, fearing an un-calculated eclipse.
"What are you looking at Balthazar?" whispered the Egyptian.
"I'm listening," answered the old man. "I think it is speaking to us."
As if the infinitesimal atoms of air were tiny crystal bells, the silence chimed. Shivers of moonlight precipitated into viscous strands, using every ambiguity of flickering star, every strain on human attention, to seduce the senses to a vision of celestial lineaments: two eyes, floating jewels of moonlight; brow of liquid silver spilling down to pearly cheeks, nose, and lips; now the whole human countenance crystallized from transparency at that verge where consciousness consents with space to manifest a burning violet flame that is both matter and spirit, circumscribed by golden streams of hair, falling on a purple robe of luminous pulsation, revealing the whole stature of a warrior with diamond gaze over six feet tall, arms outstretched where he, or was it she?, descends upon the desert sand.
From the dreamy suspension of his intellect, where the weary monologue of thought had ceased awhile, Gaspar was startled by the sting of sand in a gust of wind. It was not at all clear to him how long he had been gazing into the angel's face, which now evaporated into the usual, though somehow more intimate, resonance of starlight. "Balthazar," he whispered, "did it speak with you?" There was no answer.
Melchior, meanwhile, mumbled about some conjunction of Venus and Neptune, "Or Saturn perhaps, yes, I think it was Saturn," until his logic trickled off into luminous silence. The other two stood up, wrapping their caftans against the breeze, and hastened toward the camels that waited among the palms.
Gaspar asked the Persian again, "What did it say? I know that it spoke to you."
Balthazar sighed, "I fear, young friend, my reputation exceeds me. I have not grown pure enough to attune to their sound."
"Was there any sort of.... word?"
"It is not a hearing as we know it, Gaspar, but a resonance of the nerves in our bodies with very small waves of light."
Melchior, with tears in his eyes, caught up to them, pulling on their sleeves. "Forgive me. I have not wept since I was a child. I have never... It was so new... Was it real?"
Balthazar laughed heartily. "My brilliant alchemist, is the gift of tears not proof enough?"
"But certain conjunctions could cause..."
"Yes, Melchior, certain conjunctions are necessary to shape the occasion, the chemistry of the air through which it manifests a body. But have no doubt: it was God's messenger."
Melchior was quiet for the next hour, having discovered a more important element in his own tears. Balthazar led the way, searching the sky, then pointing over the land, until it seemed they were crossing not only the desert of sand but a mirror of stars. The Persian explained that, though he could not hear the angel's voice, he could feel its will: not as thought in his mind, but as pure sensation in the heart.
"Where is it leading?" Gaspar asked.
"To the place of the Birth," the old man answered. "The angel has infused into my heart the image of a valley. We must leave the plateau and descend."
At the last caravansary, Balthazar asked a local porter who had joined them for this leg of the journey, "Is there a valley near?"
"Yes, master. A few furlongs to the southwest the desert descends into a fertile valley."
"Then we shall go southwest," said Balthazar.
"If I remember," added Gaspar, who loved maps and studied them at every stop, "it is toward the town which locals call The House of Bread."
"Beth-Lechem," said the porter.
"Then we go to Beth-Lechem," said Balthazar.
Their modest caravan journeyed on in silence, camels rolling gracefully across the dunes like boats on a moonlit sea. Eventually, Melchior spoke. "I suppose your disciples thought you mad to come on this journey. What did you tell them?"
"I told them it was a family matter," answered the Persian.
Then the Indian said to Balthazar, "Sir, you surely reached the same understanding as Melchior and I. When did you conclude that there must be a Birth?"
Balthazar measured his thoughts quietly, stroked his majestic silver whiskers, then spoke. "I have not published a treatise on these mysteries, as you have. I decided to keep them to myself. My research, like yours, indicated that the cosmos was approaching its moment of Self-Knowledge, to express and infuse the Spirit of Wisdom into all creation, from the furthest galaxy to the tiniest particle of dust on the bottom of my sandal. This world, every speck of it, must be soaked in pure Love.
"I concluded that the cosmic intelligence of the Creator could finally know its Self only in becoming one of its own creatures, confined in mortal matter, vulnerable and human as any of us. There was the mathematical necessity for a fusion of opposites at the center of an infinite cross. That center must be an actual place in time."
Gaspar nodded and Melchior said, "Go on."
"My calculus proved that the vectors of probability would converge in a mathematical singularity, whose symmetry must find reflection in every finite particle of matter. Evolution wills that each creature, great or small, must finally recapitulate the One. Please excuse this language. It's too dry, too technical to convey the elegance, the astonishment!"
"O continue, sir," whispered Gaspar.
"I mean to say then, when such an event occurs in God, it occurs in a human child: first in one, then in every human child. In each of us, there will be a kind of birth, the birth of a new faculty in the soul, something beyond knowledge, beyond reason and thought. A splendor, yes, a splendor will shine in our hearts."
"The Light Within!" Melchior interjected. "Our masters have hinted at it, though dimly."
"Exactly, Melchior. Until now, only a few have experienced that light: some Arhats, and Gautama known as Buddha, in my land; perhaps Plato and Master Pythagoras among the Greeks; and Hermes among your Egyptians. Ah, but now! When the Birth occurs, that divine spark will ignite all of us, both teacher and disciple equally, master and slave alike. Hierarchies will vanish.
"The change will not be instantaneous. After the Birth, it could take two thousand years for that event in time and space to ripple through all human souls. And yet, a thousand years are but a breath. One thing is certain tonight. We are about to step into an immense transformation. We are beginning the second half of eternity."
"But why here? Why now?" marveled the Egyptian.
"Why not?" the Persian answered.
"The design is intelligible, after all," said Melchior.
"Intelligible, yes," repeated Gaspar. "And yet, there is something very wonderful about it."
The wise men swayed to the rhythm of their animals. Theories spent, minds weary, they allowed a leading to emerge from the earth beneath them, from sand to hoof to scent on desert breezes. Their metaphysics had threshed out the limits of the possible. Now they humbly intuited the truth, and let their genius bow to their hearts. Perhaps for the first time in their lives they tasted the sweetness of inner silence, the silence of a mind that has plunged beyond its capacity to know. They let the camels lead them.
Behind them, the eastern horizon was a turquoise brush stroke. Cooling to a royal purple, the sky arched westward where bright stars still shimmered in the night. The camels descended over the crest of a valley. There, a tiny village nestled in palm clusters. Then a meteor sliced out of the dawn and disappeared on the dark horizon ahead.
"That was a finger pointing the way!" whispered Melchior.
"We don't need maps any more," Gaspar added, speaking mainly to himself. "This is the place."
The younger men looked to Balthazar for confirmation. He pulled at his beard and gazed upon the valley. "It is certain," he said.
"How can you be certain?" asked Melchior.
Balthazar stared at him, then turned and swept his arm over the valley. "Look!" he commanded. Their eyes gazed more deeply, though their minds could not comprehend.
At first glance, the haze enveloping the village appeared like any lowland mist at dawn. While each foggy patch seemed placid, a more patient look revealed strange vibrancy in the limpid air. Incandescent swirls precipitated into vanishing human shapes. When viewed directly, these aerial creatures were nearly invisible, dissolving into the very consciousness of the observer; but when suspended in peripheral vision, they lasted as luminous outlines, and conveyed more than light. They had emotion. Though many of them smiled with a vacuous, not quite human beatitude, others seemed grave, even anxious, with pursed lips and contracted brows; and some were wringing their hands, weeping.
The three men felt as if they had stumbled into a great catastrophe in another world, a world suspended in the nimbus of this one, whose ethereal inhabitants desperately awaited the outcome of some terrible trial.
The village of Bethlehem slept on under this cloud of celestial turmoil, only a few lights flickering where a mother sat up with a feverish child, or a watchman dozed at the gate of a Sadducee's home. The camels led their riders quietly through the streets, descending to an inn at the far edge of the town, where the valley gently spilled into its vineyards. They ambled around to the back of the building, where a courtyard opened to an unkempt pasture, at the end of which was a stable: hardly a true stable, but a lop-sided shed built at the entrance of a shallow cave in vine-clustered boulders. A few sheep and one ox huddled nearby, sleeping through the frigid hour before dawn.
By now, Gaspar and Melchior were convinced they had come to the wrong house. They believed that the camels were drawn there by the animal scent, and were simply looking for a feeding trough, which of course was perfectly true. But Balthazar seemed certain, so the others followed.
They dismounted. Gaspar whispered, "Are we meeting someone in this garden?"
Pointing to the cave, Balthazar unceremoniously stepped over the vines, parted the blanket that veiled the entrance from the chill night, and disappeared within. Melchior just stood there, marveling at the utter commonplace: a sheep fold in a thicket of grapes. Yet he sensed that, here at last, ineffable dignity imbued the ordinary. A holiness too simple to comprehend infused the timber and the nails. He bowed and entered.
Gaspar, the Indian astrologer, hesitated. He drew the blanket aside, but paused to look back across the rooftops of the village, gently bearing its freight of sleeping humanity eastward, toward the desert plateau whence he had descended, and which already gleamed in dawn's light. "Perhaps this dusty blanket conceals a hidden temple," he mused. "When I part this veil, a new mystery will flood the world. My wisdom will be old." Involuntary trembling shook his body, but only for a moment. "What becomes of knowledge when the heart is free?"
Inside, Gaspar bumped into a donkey, its breath misting the silence of cold stone. Bleating in the dark, two sheep glanced restlessly at him, then settled back into their reverie. Gaspar stopped, puzzled by a golden gleam spilling onto the hay from the feeding trough, where someone must have piled fiery coals.
He saw his two friends kneeling in the straw among the animals. Melchior was staring with astonishment into the trough. But Balthazar was gazing at the woman, a great smile lighting his beard. She huddled in a faded blue gown, her eyes cast downward. She was at ease in the presence of such a renowned philosopher, unashamed by his adulation, her eyes bemused and slightly unfocused, with a weary yet contented glow, as if nothing in the world could ever surprise her again.
Gaspar crept up to warm himself, still uncertain what they were supposed to be doing there. Only then did he notice, at the bottom of the manger, a tiny face gazing from impossible flames.
Originally published in 'The Friends Journal', Philadelphia,
December 15, 1986.
and I am addicted to light.
I am addicted to my angel guides.
I am addicted to the ashram diet.
I am addicted to Jesus, puppies, and vitamins.
I am addicted to Christmas
and Tibetan sound healing.
I am addicted to the golden arches of my heart
and the ever expanding cosmos of hope.
I am addicted to old Joan Baez videos.
I am addicted to love.
Hello my name is Fred
and I am addicted to my shadow.
I am addicted to trauma.
I am addicted to Bernie,
midnight and the menstrual moon.
I am addicted to the numb throb
of digital post-modern hip hop sociology.
I am addicted to my skin.
I am addicted to hot flashbacks of ayahuaska.
I am addicted to the violent eternal recurrence
of a big bang in the balls.
I am addicted to You are addicted to Me.
I pretend to be nobody but my name is Legion.
Addicted to gazing into your eye voids
at a weekend workshop where the teacher
says there is nothing to teach
and nothing to learn, then charges us
each a thousand dollars.
Addicted to competing with you for attention
from our surrogate mommy guru.
Addicted to being your rainbow dragon
slain by lances of envy.
Hello I changed my name to Ananda.
I am addicted to recovery.
Addicted to emptiness.
Addicted to spelling "am" with a capital A.
Addicted to non-duality,
to not needing a teacher or method.
Addicted to march in the streets for whatever.
Addicted to the boundless no-thing of now.
Still searching for any escape from the ordinary,
from hearing my own sweet name in the silence.
I don't know what a "guru" is, such mysteries are beyond me. But I know how to say thank you. I don't know what a "master" is, and don't really like the word.
But I know what "Friend" means, and surely my best Friend must be the one who introduced me to God in the most intimate and personal form of my own breath.
And I'm not sure what a "prophet" is. The only prophecy I trust is the whisper of my next inhalation.
This is the open secret I would most want to share if this were my last day on earth. Your breath is not just a likeness, a metaphor, for the Divine. Your breath is the very form of God, and God's nearest most intimate name. The one who created the galaxies and all this world descends into your body as this breath. Each inhalation is his second coming, and with each exhalation you ascend. For every breath is a new creation, and every breath is the end of time.
Yet there is a vast difference between mere unconscious respiration, and a breath infused with the grace of awareness. In the first case, breathing is an autonomic biological reaction. In the second, breathing is a sacrament.
God the Father, who in Vedic culture is Lord Shiva, is breathless silence, the stillness before creation. God the Mother is the Holy Spirit, in Vedic culture, the Shakti. In the Bible, Spirit and Breath are the same word. When the silence hums and the stillness vibrates, Lord Shiva manifests in waves of creation: this is the dance of Mother Shakti, the Holy Spirit. Her dance begins as breath, then it becomes a song, then the song solidifies into matter. Matter is the Mater, the Mother, giving you an opportunity to dance, to breathe, and to glorify your creator. Don't miss one instant of this chance to worship!
And the simplest form of worship is to breathe. Each humble inhalation embodies communion with the Holy Spirit herself, the luminous nectar of grace descending into the heart. Each exhalation embodies surrender, a precious chance to return the gift as a thank offering. Eucharist happens in every breath: the descent of God into the breath of this body, the offering of this body back to our creator. Why else are we here?
The Friend awakened this play of love, this music of bhakti in my chest. Therefore to him I bow down. Yet my bow is not bondage. It is a bow of freedom. Gratitude is the deepest freedom.
The Guru comes not to bind you but to free you. And the Guru frees you by introducing you to your Self. My Teacher, Maharishi, awakened the Guru-tattva in the silence of my own heart. When he left this world, his disciple Sri Sri took up the further work of teaching me to breathe: to breathe Divine Love. Therefor, to both of them I sing, "Jai Guru Dev." All praise to the Divine in the form of the Guru!
But when I sing my praise, am I really worshiping anyone in particular? Or am I simply playing in the waves of the ocean of worship-fulness? For the fragrance of our worship pervades the cosmos. The Creator, the Goddess, the Guru and the Soul are all petals on the blossom of our Heart.
Photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar by my friend, Scott Hague
"The real Virgin Mother is mystical eternal silence."
~The Gnostic Valentinus, 2nd C.
Why not have a merry Christmas? You can't complain the season is too busy or too commercial this year. Stay Om. Listen to Darkness. Feel inward Light. Bathe in the Mystery.
take night for granted. Especially at this season. Let Night have
her way with you. Turn off every light in your mind of names and images. Just hear the silence and gaze beyond seeing. When you can taste pure night and not jusst what it
contains your wonder will give birth to the stars.
This radiant darkness is God asking, Who am I?
When you opened your eyes this morning,
you broke every law that made yesterday real.
Why insist on being who you were
before you took this breath?
Can you withdraw your kiss, or send the ocean
flowing back to mountain snow?
Do bees bring honey to flowers, murmuring
"Here's the pollen I borrowed"?
Breasts of honeysuckle express nectar
for the hummingbird, then wither with contentment.
So your chest shows hospitality to a wandering heart.
Is there an angel in your next inhalation?
You must die of sweetness, like a pilgrim
who never comes home. This is the Law.
Don’t ask the vineyard’s forgiveness.
Grapes can't understand why you crush them.
Bold naked feet also dance on your bones.
Ferment yourself and drink from the grail
of your own body. Once the madness starts,
be choiceless. Mingle and discard your skin.
The bubbling stuff you must become
will never be nectar again.
Can you withdraw your kiss?
Juice is for children. Jesus loves wine.
Photo: Stan Schaap
Hold the offering
on your tongue.
Leave the sweetest
Try not to say, "I love you,"
That will store up the flame
in your eyes.
It glimmers from your shatterings,
the mirror shards around you.
Keep your Word,
it will warm the meadows,
Learn silent bending
from a gracious willow.
Let hidden love lift your hand
in ordinary gestures -
the way you stir honey into tea,
the way you wash your
or hold an heirloom pear
from a tree your father planted,
gristling your fist
around his original hoe.
Be sure to keep intimate distances
in the otherness of your gaze,
and walk barefoot
through midnight clover,
your body tingling with stars.
This morning I sense the subterranean
Lethe of pain that surges through each
earthly atom. My tears are monuments
of emptiness, through which I see
the radiance of un-knowing:
that this is not my pain alone
but the ancient lash all humans share;
the wise arterial bloodstream of our ancestors;
the vomiting gasp of the newborn amazed
by betrayals; the oozing laceration of what
we've done to one another without taking time
for scar tissue; the redounding ache
of unnecessary blame, this throb of wanting
to forgive but not understanding how.
I surrender to uncertainty this morning,
the faith that I will surely taste a wellspring
of darkness gushing out of my chest
where the piercing is deepest, and will follow
this river of affliction to its source.
I will enter the blackest hole in every
uncreated star, which is the temple
of the wound in the smallest creature.
I will keen the uterine pang of primal
separation from the One. I am here
not for joy or sorrow, but possession.
Let me possess and be possessed by abundance,
by the sum, by the whole and not any part.
Let me give it all away with every heartbeat.
I am here to say Yes, this must surely be a world
where pain and beauty are inconsolable lovers.
Yes, all our bodies are suspended in the stillness
between breaths, like dust in a sourceless
golden beam. To each I say, “You are the sun!”
I am here to dissolve my photons in the void
and make my body solid as a lightning bolt.
To drink sweet tea brewed from thorns.
To finally see that the petals of the rose
won't slice my flesh like whirling crimson knives,
because there are no edges.
You’re all wrong.
Every damn one of you.
How do I know? I’m wrong too.
I’m better at being wrong than you are.
I’ve been wrong since the Big Bang.
Even that is wrong. There was no beginning.
We are ever-evolving mistakes in the boundless
green microbial slime of Beauty.
When you add and subtract all the Buddha’s
good deeds and little blunders over thousands
of Bodhisattva lives, the sum is neither greater
nor less than one. Without tripping,
there’s no dance. We eternally miscalculate
ourselves: that's how we survive.
Any slip-up might be the serendipitous
mutation that ensures our immortality.
O necessary sin of Adam!
How could we marvel at a butterfly
without the grisly mishap inside the cocoon?
Could we enjoy our popcorn were it not
for the grace of the hunchbacked caveman
with a fistful of kernels by the fire,
who bungled over his own enormous feet?
Stumbling is sacred, better than a tarantelle!
Where would you be without your mother’s
carelessness concerning the moon?
O sing, O praise propitious indiscretions!
Or would you prefer the impeccable symmetry
of Zero, the fat frozen mouth of a silent God
yearning to say ‘O!’ through the dense
white hole where no Word escapes?
As for me, I lie awake in the dark, surrounded
by snoring animals. I’m always wrong.
The people you need to watch out for
are the ones who are right.
Originally published in 'Braided Way' journal.