No matter where
all you will ever see
is the glow from
your own chest.
Is it covered with
the stain of yesterday,
the dust of
Polish the window
of the heart, dear friend.
Pour out the light
of your true nature.
The rose does not go
looking for a famished
honeybee to feed.
She simply rests
in her center.
Photo by my dear friend, Kristy Thompson
Photo: Broome Sunset Camel Rides, Australia
Through twilight's brief
false February warmth
your little green spirit
"thank you, farewell!"
as he makes his holy pilgrimage
from the dahlia pot on
your back porch
to a golden skunk cabbage
in the wetland
to join the amphibian chorus
in pure terraqueus delight,
one quaver in the emerald Sangha,
rehearsing their old favorite
for the April concert.
O Dharma seeker, do not form
a concept of True Emptiness,
but empty your mind
of all concepts
and just listen, just listen!
Then you might remember
the heart sutra, Earth's
original anthem of Spring:
"Love is Wiser than a Raindrop’s Kiss
and Sadder than Sunrise in a Mist of Roses
when You Are Nothing
but a Frog.”
Photo: Kunito Imai
The crisis is not covid, climate change, racism, sexism, or capitalism. Those are symptoms, not causes. We simply forgot how to connect the soul to the body. Mind got in the way. The radical act is being present. The revolution is to breathe. The goal is singing for no reason. I learned this from a thrush at six a.m.
The Self is not selfish. One seamless breath mothers the world. Awareness is a womb embracing pain and beauty, ever unborn. Nothing actually happens. And nothing actually exists or does not exist: it is simply dissolving. This moment, containing earth, moon and stars, is like the reflection of a flame in a mirror just as the flame goes out. Mirror and image don't cling to each other. Enfolding the entire past and future, your emptiness is like a mirage floating on the clear desert sky. In that vast space, some spider-wise intelligence spins a web of consciousness whose single thread has no beginning or end. Are you the space or the silk? Perhaps space itself is woven out of that silk, and the silk is woven out of space. There can only be one problem: resisting what Is. Whatever exists, right now, its very Is-ness is perfect freedom. You do the work of redeeming, healing, and re-creating the entire cosmos when you unconditionally welcome all that happens as your Self. This is Love.
say you are a "mystic," but mere silence is not enough. You say you are
an "activist," but mere action is not enough. You need to touch the
non-doing at the first moment of creation, the motionless source of all
that whirls. You need to feel the rhythm in the void, the wave-nature of
your emptiness. Let the Word arise where one breath dissolves into
another, so that you may speak God's radical authentic thunder, rooted
in seedlessness. Let every sweet atom of your lethal dance spin out of
the vacuum, beating the heart of the world.
Painting by Mahmoud Farshchian
It means to finally be You. To be what you love, and love what needs doing, and do it as no one else can.
No guru teaches you to selve, just as no parent taught you to walk. To selve, you must abandon the notion that the universe expects you to act in accord with somebody else's rules. Selvers follow no role model or mythic archetype. They abandon the words "as" and "like."
You cannot selve "as" anyone who came before you: neither Sakyamuni, nor Mohammad, nor the Guru, or Jesus. In fact, the great way-showers all selved. Then they taught, "If you want to know God, you too must selve. But you cannot selve as me. You must selve as you."
Only in the present moment can you selve, and only in a state of wonder. When you do something beautiful and say, "I have no idea how this happened! I didn't do it!" you have selved.
Selvers do not seek the "Self." If the verb of selving ever came to rest in the noun of Self, you would be dead. Selving is energy: Self is an abstraction. You are not here to attain a state of being: you are here to be.
Selve a chef, a carpenter, a yoga teacher, a janitor, a warrior, a nurse, or an investment banker. In the art of selving, there is no superior or inferior status, no better or worse. There is but authenticity.
No one selves cruelty. No one selves dishonesty. No one selves selfishness. Those are the malfunctions of the unselved. When you truly selve, you only love.
As for Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Guru: these are just names we give to people who have selved with wild abandonment. Every moment they lived, they were bewildered by themselves.
Here's another secret of quantum strangeness from the annals of the quark. All events, as to their quiddity, are equally significant.
The daring leap of a tree frog from the spigot of your garden hose, to her sanctuary in a pot of begonias, is as important as the birth of a new political party, or an earthquake in Brooklyn.The universe is not just as you see it, but as the frog sees it. Your attention magnifies a breath of August breeze into a hurricane; but for the frog, all human catastrophes are as weightless clouds in a distant sky. They pass soundlessly overhead.
Why do you assume that your chief concern should be mine? The liberal wants to convince me, the conservative wants to convert me. Neither allows me to create myself. But that is one task I can do better than anyone else. Let me follow the wondrous river of my own interest over all its rocks, through the rough waters of responsibility and consequence, and I will learn my lesson much better than you can teach me.
A Greek philosopher said, 'Be kind: everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.' A Jewish carpenter said, 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' Here's another piece of advice: if you want to see radical transformation in humanity, stop trying to change each other.
Have you ever walked the labyrinth? One who seems closest to the goal may suddenly find their way veering far off. When two pilgrims pass, they don't know who is nearing the center, and who is drifting further from it. Compassion is precisely this not knowing. All they can do is bow.
In truth, you are not a pilgrim in a maze. You are the labyrinth itself. You are the whole entanglement, with room in your lost heart for all who wander, pathless strangers, ancient friends.
May your evening meditation weave the stems of Chandra Nadi and Surya Nadi, the lunar nerve and solar nerve around your spine, into flower offerings for your Guru.
Tonight is Guru Purnima, full moon of July, full moon of the Guru. And who is the Guru? Not the one with 10 million devotees, or only 10. Not the one with a beard and white robe, or the one in blue genes. Not the one who is brown or the one who is white. Not the one who gives you a mantra, or the one who gives you a kiss.
And it is to this Guru who awakens the diamond Self that I bow down, offering my silent gentle teacher a garland of braided blossoms, flowers of moonlight and sunlight, spiraling up the trellis of my vegus nerve. This Guru does not draw me to some distant ashram or exotic garden, but turns my own body into a garden, my mind into the clear blue sky, my breath into the name of God. Jai Guru Dev.
Begin the day
with three miracles.
Savor your first inhalation.
Honor your heartbeat.
Let pure attention crystalize
the diamond silence
between your eyebrows.
You will break open
like a ripe seed, and the earth
will flower out of you.
Raindrops, wind, and pebbles
will do the rest.
Your feet will skip like leaves
on the asphalt
because no path is needed.
When you hear a sparrow sing
your heart will fall in love again,
Very well then, don’t choose.
You have eight billion lovers.
The faces of strangers will look
so familiar, because they repose
in the one who is looking,
like reflections resting
on a clear mirror.
Something like braided sunbeams
will twirl up your spine,
spilling over, amber as the stuff
in Mary’s womb.
Now drink up the rest of this day
and squander the Kingdom!
Nothing can be ordinary
if you start your morning
with the miracle
of this breath.
and out of hoarse silence rains
Photo: Manjushri Buddha
While I was asleep last night,
seven billion homeless wanderers
came to my door (I know you
were one of them) wanting a mug
of yesterday's coffee and some
taught me how to bake.
This is why I keep my heart ajar
all through the night, a sliver of me
unlocked to hear the shuffling socks
of humanity come down the hall
of my breath (I know you took off
your shoes when you came in) to rest
a little while in my kitchen by the
candle’s flickering pool of loneliness
where at last we all gather again,
vacantly staring through widening rings
of embryonic darkness, not yet
shaped by uncertainties into ourselves.
I need not say to you who wander
uninvited here, "Welcome, rest, eat.”
One night may I find such leftovers
warmed up and ready for me
in the small but generous kitchen
of your own broken heart
(have you baked them yet?)
because I know our sleeplessness
out-spirals the stars, wending
the circumference of a hug
( I in you, you in me) to arrive
beyond darkness, where deathcomes home to breathe.
As you awaken, just before
the mind of yesterday comes down
like a net of stones behind your eye,
be weightless, be presence
without the fairytale about your fall
into this world.
Be how your soul looks in its own
mirror, what gets you out of bed,
trembling like a wild purple iris
in the breath of dawn.
It doesn’t matter at all
what you will do for a living today.
The priceless jewel is just living.
It doesn’t matter at all how much
money you will make today.
Your body is more precious
than sunlight, your sternum
beaten from finer gold.
Whether you feed the multitudes
today, or only wash the dishes
makes no difference at all.
What matters is to plunge
down the stem of this unfolding
flower, and follow the moonlight
in your backbone
all the way Om to silence,
melting your stone wound,
dispelling the mirage of sorrow
in the desert clarity, the empty sky
of your heart.
Don’t you know that you can save the planetjust by being awake?
Love doesn’t need a story.
When I was eight years old
I bought five pet turtles
with soft green shells,
each of them no bigger
than my thumb,
from the basemen of J. J.
Newberry's Department Store
before it went out of business.
One morning in early March,
when I thought it was Spring,
I tried to do something good.
I did not know what good is then,
nor do I now,
but I wanted to perform
a secret sacrament
and return them to
the heart of nature.
So I took my five
green turtles down
to the creek in the woods
behind my friend Wendy's house
and let them go.
I remember I could hold them
all in the palm of my hand.
I watched them swim away
in the freezing water
and thought they would be free.
But I felt strange,
I still feel strange,
I still don’t know what good is,
what nature is.
Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
have mercy on me.
Holy Spirit, Breath of God,
yet breathe me
Photo: Hubble, 'Mystic Mountain' Nebula from Astronomy Now
It is the fragrance of a silent rose.
The bold become themselves. There is a point in meditation, if it is true meditation, when you fall off the precipice of practice, into the groundlessness of your flesh. You can no longer resist your subtle sorrow, that which Buddha called Dukkha, the spittle mixed with matter that formed your embryo again and again.
You've been carrying it for years, for centuries, the stuff made of stories about a suffering 'me.' It is buried deep in the rind of your body, but neatly packaged in the sterile cellophane called 'spirituality.'
Now the time has come to crumple up the wrapper of conceptual thought and throw it away. Be vulnerable to yourself. Be a ruptured pomegranate with 10,000 soft sweet seeds. Allow your every distant ache, the brittle anguish of a trillion nerves, the secrets of grief, the worms of rage, the clogging undigested waste of blame, this whole discomfort you are, to erupt in one magnificent purple blossom of pain, fragrant with the gift of tears. Let it flower from the subtle into the gross, gushing without name, and without distinctions between good or bad, beautiful or ugly.
It is just Dark Energy, percolating wordlessly out of your molecules, yet pulsing with photons of fire and swirling suns. It is holy destruction and healing, cosmic in scale yet intimate with every cell of your body. It is the chaos of possibility. It is the cleansing smile of No Burden Any More, No Secret Me, vast as the horizon. It is pure love, the matter of your bones.
Be bold. There is no one else in all the universe for you to become.