The Practice of Winter
No more mountain tops.
I yearn for a valley that smells of rain.
I like to touch the sky in dark springs.
So I wander Winter woods,
a lover's breath warming my solitude.
This is my weather, my way
ever vanishing in wolf-gray mist,
a path chosen by deer for its stillness.
Whatever is delicious,
whatever is astounding,
whatever brings tears,
ripens and dies this moment.
I like to touch fern
and hemlock silences,
bejeweled and wildering.
I like to hear the vireo break them
like frail ice.
The practice of Winter requires
Simply do not fear the hollow places.
Give thanks for what's left in the gourd,
the gift of withering,
your persimmon cheeks,
your open palms so full of stars
that you must find
Photo: Took this hiking in the rain at Mt. Rainier
burst open like
and let all
They are your seeds.
Don’t mind the
of the bruise.
The juice is more
everything, the sour
and the ripe,
the bloody and
Don't you know
that every breath
is full of grace
because it ischoiceless?
into its own hollow.
Photo by Kristy Thompson
Message From Finn
'Mindfulness? I prefer Mind-Emptiness. Mind is the problem, not the solution.
'We look at the earth through the gray dusty window of the mind and wonder why the world is gray and dusty. We do not see the ineffable radiance that shines from every atom. We do not smell the musk of the present moment.
'Mind invents religion. Then it invents politics. Then it invents the "news." The mind's greatest invention is time. Out of the past and future, which only exist in the mind, fear is woven.
'The great insights, inventions and breakthroughs in science, technology, and art do not come from the mind. They come from your intuition, the timeless sky of wonder beyond the mind. Geniuses of all ages are those who knew how to tap into wonder, into the silent field of intuition, where solutions flash out like lightning.
'Mind is a useful tool to carry in your pocket for solving logical or mathematical problems, but don't take it to bed with you, and don't try to eat or make love with it, and please don't let it ruin your life with constant whining. You humans are always whining instead of living. Whining is the supreme triumph of your mind: whining about who is to blame for your situation, why you are always the victim, and how much you lack.
'Above all, don't mistake your mind for the world. To see the world as it truly is, to touch the world and feel its electric fur, you must go out of your mind. I recommend going out of your mind several times a day." ~Finn
workshops must you attend,
how many ashrams and institutes
of spiritual healing must you visit
before you learn the truth?
Every dimensionless point in space
is filled with 10 thousand suns
that you just don't see
because you're living on
all of them at once.
This is called 'consciousness.'
Now here is the final spiritual practice.
You won't need any other.
I learned it from a fat golden poodle.
When anyone approaches, friend or foe,
throw yourself on
the ground before them.
Lie on your back with a vast
empty smile and invite them
to rub your belly.
This is the only way.
Don't Underestimate Your Birth
The Savior was pure silence.
Then he put on flesh, like yours.
To touch the Christ, look deep
into your body.
Underestimating your glory
is the only sin.
Now drink up the rest of this day:
bask in yourself and squander the kingdom!
A fountain of something like starlight
will rise up your spine,
spilling over, showering the world
with burning seeds of wonder,
gold as the stuff in Mary's womb...
The 2nd Century Gnostic, Valentinus, defined the Virgin Mother of God as “mystical eternal silence.” St. Hesychius of Jerusalem called this mystery, “The heart’s silence, unbroken by any thought.” Inward silence is the untainted virgin who dwells at the center of your soul. Resting there, you give birth to Light.
Of this archetypal event, St. Bonaventure wrote, "You too must become a Mary if you would give birth to the Light of God's Son in your soul." The 12th century mystic, Meister Eckhart, said, "The birth which happened two thousand years ago is meaningless until it happens in me."
There is a spacious silence in the depths of your awareness. This silent space is untouched, unsullied by any thought, sense impression, memory or desire. This is the space of meditation. When your mind is full of thoughts, and you become frustrated because, "I am having too many thoughts!" how do you know that you are thinking? There must be a witness who sees your thoughts. But the witness cannot be a thought. The witness is pure silence. Behind all your thoughts, the silence just watches. The witness is pure awareness. She is the Virgin.
We call her “Ever” Virgin because the witness is timeless. Thinking creates time. Past and future are nothing but thoughts. When thought is silent, time is not. The silence of pure awareness is eternity.
Christian mystics speak of the "divine darkness." This all-mothering dark is the "formless void" of Genesis 1, "the deep" where the Word of creation is born. St. Paul wrote: "The same God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts..." So the inner Virgin is not only a Mystery of contemplative prayer, but a cosmic Mystery. When we touch her silence, we have touched the source of creation.
It is good to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, or the birth of Buddha at the full moon of May: but please do not underestimate your own birth. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God, shining in the face of Christ, is born this very moment in the center of your soul!
Who is my teacher?
A small golden dog.
I love the dusty footprints
on clean sheets and pillows.
I love the furry scent
of unwashed Presence.
The way he runs in his sleep
and yelps at dream rabbits
reminds me of people who
think they are awake.
I love his disobedience.
a small golden dog,
I learn how God loves me.
I have not learned so much
from any school.
When I laugh I have no chakras.The sun is my heart.When I cry the moon comes downto caress my foreheadbut finds no lotus to kiss open.Breathing the Beloved's scentclears my horoscopeof every planet and sign.The astrologer is bewildered.All he sees in me is an empty pagefull of light.Don't give me any more of youresoteric books.Grace has made me too stupidto understand.
Photo by dear friend Kristy Thompson
A Good Place
Earth is a good placeto keep returninguntil you become a horse,a tree, the wind.Let's say a horse for now,ambling through alfalfa,swishing flies.Then, after a long time,dare to be a willow,or carry the rainin your breath.Whatever lone and lovelyperishing creature you become,practice the fourImmeasurables:Sit like a mountain.Walk like a cloud.Stand like a lightning flash.Repose like a spring in the forest.Even if you’re simplywhisking bugs awaywith your deft magisterial tail,you are here,rooted by gracein your luminous bonesto honor the darknessof loam.
I took this photo from my brothers porch in Chester County PA.
Give yourself permission
to be human.
Polish your heart
Only you have
Your beauty pervades
the sky, mountain brooks,
meadows and loam,
all wings like the breath
Today is the day the earth
bows up to touch
your face, and stars
confess that the longing
of their light for you
Wiki image of Ruffled Grouse
All I Can Do
All I can do for you is
take your hand and softly
lure you to the stillness
that surrounds your wound,
cradle your clotted memory,
enfolding the remnant of your breath
in what is so hollow it glows.
No sorrow survives this silence.
It is like a mirror.
Look, I am holding it up for you.
Now slip into the insouciant beauty
of your gossamer Witness.
If you have no faith, use mine,
this shattered beaker of bone
that trickles arterial pathways
from sepulcher to sea.
Fling your heart into orbit around emptiness.
Be the un-tethered gaze that sees from every star.
Encirclw your loss with wider loss.
Let desolation be the illuminated door.
What if your path does not lead
to the next moment, but deeper into this one,
where each photon of your body
bathes in the glory of its origin,
and every electron collides with the dark
particle of its other self?
Hush now, the eloquent don't cry.
They catch the full moon
in their quivering web of silence.
One who fathers fire must fall in love with night.
Be the Winter sun in a white seed,
offering your shadow back
to what has never been created.
Even That is you.
Now taste a scarlet berry in the void.
Photo: Christmas cactus from Zazzle.com
The essential problem is that we have identified our minds with the world. Projecting the mind into the world, as the world, we mistake the mind for the world.
Then we wonder why the world is so disturbed, and such a puzzle. But the world is ineluctably simple, clear, and radiant. It is the mind that is disturbed. It is the mind that is a puzzle to itself. The mind is like a spider entangled in its own web.
You are the spider, not the web. You are the vast night, not a star. Knowing that you are not your mind is the solution to the nation's problems.
If we just realized this, on both "sides" of the conflict, we could meet in the space at the center, where there is no ideology of the left or the right, no past to repair, no future to be anxious about. We could take the next step gently, in peace, because that step is where we walk right now. We could act not out of the mind, which is ever tangled up in time, but out of the body, which is ever present.
Let the nation turn away from whining, blaming, shouting, burning, and return to its center, to its body, to its beating heart. The act of returning is meditation. Meditation is letting go of the mind to repose in the Self. This is not an escape from action: it is action. Meditation is the act of centering that liberates the energy of presence.
Photo by Aile Shebar
Some Kind Of Flower
There's some kind of blossom
tangled in my ribs.
Who knows where it sprouted?
This dizzy wheel of splendor
didn't spring out of my subtle body:
I don't have one.
I'm all dark matter with a bittersweet
fermented chocolate tang
of my mother's placenta.
But it’s right here in my chest
between breathing out and in -
a radiance without a name.
I’m just a speck of pollen
on a flaming stamen’s tip
at the center of this
Listen to evening fall.
Listen to darkness come.
Listen to the stars.
Beyond the farthest faintest sound,
listen to silence.
the mind of thought,
awakens the sparkling grace
of the present moment...
What was that troubled dream
of the world
by this breath?
This must be why we have "service animals." In the depths of night, when I wake in despair of the world, I reach out and touch the warmth of this little dog. As soon as I feel the golden softness, my negative energy discharges into some ancient ground beyond the ken of human intellect, and I fall back to sleep in peace. Once again I have been blessed by the Kingdom of the Fur, and redeemed by a Grace that flows, not from above, but from below. Thank you, Willy.
Standard Red Poodle
I am the first line in the poem from hell.
I am the wicked orchid of the id.
I have no ideology,
therefore I love you.
I am an existential threat.
WTF does that mean?
It means I eat Christmas cards.
My borders are fractals of fur
dissolving in the sparkles of your shadow.
You have been Me and will return.
One stroke of my tongue on your palm
erases all thought,
settling your awareness
in unfathomable silence.
Breathe me if your dare.
I am the flurry of popcorn galaxies
exploding from the golden pistil
between your chest and belly button.
I am the butter you crave.
I love you, did I say that?
I eat Christmas cards.
I am the enormous puppy of amour.
My thirst for companionship
is your thirst for companionship.
The saintly sinner you wanted to be.
The ineluctable quiddity of suchness
devouring fuzz off moldering tennis balls.
Yes, I transcend cleanliness.
I am the herald of an age without plastic.
I digest it all.
I will teach you to leap unwashed
into the peril of the next moment.
Leave the afterbirth behind.
Just pray to Me, your animal guru,
the gingerbread poodle of No Mind.
Photo: My giant seven month old poodle, Finn
You never left the egg. There was never a shell. The yolk of that moment embodied the eternal future, your ancestors, and your children’s children. The Embryo is All. A wise man follows the star in the eye of his own heart to the manger of the infant who was never born. The laughter of that baby is the dying exhalation of the crone. All these mysterious initiations transpire in the Ayin Soph, the Bindhu of that infinitesimal now. But what do I know?
Thought is futile in love's fiery amazement, the vast wilderness between breathing out and in. Here, at the last tremor of the bee glutted in the golden rose's cup, no trying, no discipline, no secret tantra bring the mystery to pass, for it has always already happened. Just repose in the annihilation of every effort. Drown your mind in the heart. Surrender to the catastrophe that ejaculates the universe. The next inhalation not taken, but given. Be grateful. This is the most naked prayer.
that leads nowhere
and I'll follow.
Give me the straight and narrow
that leads right to the goal,
I'll veer off-trail
where heather and woodbine
thicken, and a thrush
babbles no instruction.
Now is the first day of the year,
oh so cold I'll follow my roots
down into the hollow
where fur and larvae dream
of flowers, and seeds
lie awake in the dark,
witnessing the long
quiet luminous breath