Shivaratri


I offer this hymn for Shivaratri, which means "Night of Shiva," most sacred of the Yogic calender. This night celebrates regeneration out of darkness, through the union of Lord Shiva and the Goddess, consciousness and its beloved body. Devotees stay up all night chanting the divine name to purify the mind, the nervous system, and the earth.

 

Calling this place your Heart does not make the way clear.
It is nearer than that, closer than our lips when they meet 

like an arrow of wine striking the vigilance of a ruby.


Every spark from this wound is a poem about our hidden fire. 

Remain awake in jasmine-scented darkness, sleeplessly singing 

Shiva's name, your very breath his paramour, the Goddess Shakti.


Evaporate your blood into the night, chanting "Shivo'ham!" 

Let this sound be a medicinal thorn to remove the deeper thorn 

of wanting. Shakti's sigh alone cannot find its alphabet. 

 

Jesus and Magdalene meet and touch, first gently 

in the garden, and later with flames in your solar plexus,
where love's only song is a sky of boundless listening. 

 

Above the moon-bathed neem and champa leaves, 

the kunj heavy with heart-mango, swirling supernovae pause 

like sudden intuitions in the mind of Shambu.

 

God is as shocked to awaken in You

as You are to awaken in God.

Stop pretending any of this is outside your body! 

 

All these galaxies, gardens, and lovers dissolve 

in the glittering blackness beyond your belly button.

Meditation begins when prayer becomes its own answer.

The diamond of breathlessness is both empty and full.
In prayer, you ask the Christ and all his heavenly hosts

to reveal your destiny, your duty, your work. 

 

But in meditation, Christ and his hosts entangle
their cilia with the neurons of your thalamus, 

weaving the hyphae of their soma through your flesh.

 

They ARE your destiny, and You are their anatomy.

This very breath is your mother tongue, 

more ancient than the Torah or the Vedas. 

 

Let your exhalation be a milk-offering, 

poured upon the lingam of your own spine.

Let your praises inebriate the Earth. 

 

You are the oblation, and You are the flame.
You are the ghee, You are the nectar,  

You are the green fire of Spring.

 

Don't stop pouring, don't stop perishing into love-sparks! 

At dawn, drink from the breasts of El Shaddai,
Who is both bride and bridegroom;

 

Who wields a lethal trident with three prongs,
Consciousness, Matter, and Bliss,

and whose five elements are the syllables,
Namah Shivaya!




LISTEN to a reading of this poem. Artwork: Ardhanarishvara, the male-female form of Shivashakti, from isha.sadhguru.org

Ancient Jar

Someone spilled the ancient jar of light.

It can never be stored in the temple again.

 

Don't try to keep your master's teaching in a can.

Bottled and sealed, even the freshest beans go limp.


If the Dharma gets packaged in plastic

and shelved at the ashram,


you'd better check the expiration date;

it has to say 'Now.'


Someone spilled the ancient jar of light.

It can never be stored in the temple again.


The vitamins of God dissolve in silence,

but they nourish your body in action.


For every breath you take,

give one to the poor.


And who are the poor? Look around you.

Everyone is poor.


Someone spilled the ancient jar of light.

It can never be stored in the temple again.


Each pair of eyes is thirsty for your gaze.

Your smile is nectar.


'Enough' has no meaning unless it is shared.

Fresh, with no container.


The Mother never gets hungry.

Her breasts are busy with lips and milk.


Someone spilled the ancient jar of light.

It can never be stored in the temple again.

A Single Gesture

 

"The one who descends is the very one who ascends higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe." ~Ephesians 4:10

Sophia, the Wisdom of the heart, cannot be known by knowledge. She is known by the power of intuition, the ecstasy that stills your breath. She alone is the unfathomable source of healing. Isn't it time for you to burst like a spore and take root in Her?

The glory of the heart swallows up the illusion of distance, exposing your intimacy with galaxies whose light is only now arriving as your body. The constellations, those animals of wild night, are your internal organs. Countless suns thread silken rays of love into the atoms of your flesh. Here is your miracle: the golden splendor descending from the stars is the very energy ascending from the womb of dark matter, nourished by your ancestors' bones, entangled in the sacred dance of mycelial loam.

From star-beings to mushrooms, countless messengers illuminate you, weaving themselves into your beauty. Does it matter what you call them: Devas, Heavenly Hosts, Totem Animals, Anunnaki, Chanterelles? Is the archangel Gabriel more glorious than a hummingbird? They bathe you in an infinite caress, both heavenly and infernal. Ascent and descent are a single gesture of respiration. You embody the sky. You are the song of dust. Breathe as one, not two.

What is not real must be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may be revealed. Now is the time to inherit your glory, and depart from the kingdom of fear.


Photo by Amy Gallagher

Mission

 


You have a mission of green
on a thirsty planet.
Don't become a cynic.
Your task is the grace
of a fallen raindrop,
an opening bud,
a thrush at dawn.
Be a fragrance in the breeze.
Don't waste time becoming anyone
but a Lover.
Do beauty with your hands.
Breathe peace.
Give people hope
by insisting that this moment
is enough.
These are simple words, friend,
but they were born of many tears.


Water color by my friend, Marney Ward, who illustrated the cover of my new book.

Mountain Stream

 

There is a stream flowing down from the mountain. It flows from your crown to your sacrum, where it spills into the earth, tasting of snow-melt and wonder. It's sound is the pine-needle breeze. It flows through the wilderness of your body, through the core of your soul. Inside you is a place where you are always outside, in a fresh mountain sky. Naked and deliciously lost in the wild, dive into the stream. It will cleanse and carry you. It is this breath.

Given

 

Tonight I am telling you

10,000 secrets

in a single word:

Surrender....


All right, friend,

now that all the others

have put "surrender"

in their scented box

and run away to sell it

at the Ashram of Perpetual Hope,

I'll share the true secret...


There was never any need

to surrender.

You were already

given up

the moment this Breath

created you.

 

Now She returns to swim

through your marrow

like a dolphin

in a wave of stars.

 

The earth bows down

to press her mouth

on the clear blue sky

between your eyebrows.
The sun gazes up into your face.

 

Grace


Existence is grace.

Breath is gratitude.

When Jesus said,

'I have overcome the world,'

he meant,
'I have surrendered.'

The night is about to pour

her swirling chalice of stars

into your chest.

There is no radiance, no joy
not
already bottled
 in your tears.

A raindrop shakes the earth

and a ray of morning sun

pierces the Winter sky,

an annunciation

to the virgin silence

of your heart.

O friend, just being aware

is abundance.

All you need to do

is stop complaining

and say thank you.


The Secret

 

The secret
of meditation
could not be hidden.
A seamless succession
of gurus,
an army of monks,
the unbroken lineage
of a hundred popes
and a thousand lamas
could not keep it.
Inaccessible ashrams
and distant mountain caves
could not contain it.
The secret of meditation
could not be obscured
by esoteric doctrines,
hidden beneath
extinct languages
in advanced initiations,
decontextualized
by theologians
in urban universities.
The secret of meditation
is out now, revealed
by the first kiss
of the morning breeze,
and the indiscretion
of a tree frog
in the vanishing mist
of a golden dawn.
It is revealed
by the scent of rain
in hay grass, the outburst
of a purple crocus.
The secret of meditation
has been given away
by the gaze of a baby
in a shopping cart
as you stand in line
at Bartell Drugs.
The hidden face of a god unknown.
A mouth that could not speak.
A spell that needed breaking.
That silence is over.
Now is the time to take off the mask
and sing.


Lithograph: The Clown by Pablo Picasso

Aphrodite Ourania: Divine Love

St. Theresa in Ecstasy, by Bernini, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

"Often I had been bewildered and inebriated in this love, and never was I able to understand its nature... for the faculties are almost totally united with God... The intellect is worth nothing here!" ~Saint Theresa of Avila



There is a love that has no object, and no opposite. This love is not a relationship. It is beyond relativity, beyond two, for this love annihilates both lover and beloved. This love falls in love with love itself. This love whispers a new commandment: "Love no one else." But this love is not far above. It is intimate, and very present. It is Presence alone. All creatures are burning up in this love without knowing. But don't be afraid. In this love you are not alone. You are held.
This is the feast of Aphrodite, Valentine's Day. From Plato's Symposium we learn that there are two Aphrodites, two aspects of love: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos, that is, the Love Goddess of the heavens and the Love Goddess of the world.

For Neo-Platonists, these two Aphrodites became two distinct goddesses, and their distinction had a profound influence on Christian mystics. In fact, Jesus himself made this distinction when he used the Greek word "agape" for love, as distinct from "eros." Eros is passion for an object or person, emanating from the second chakra. Jesus pointed to another kind of love, Agape, distinct from the fleeting sensations of the body, emanating from the sixth chakra as pure compassion.

Most humans have no conception of the divine Aphrodite, though we're quite familiar with the ordinary Goddess of love who smites us with Cupid's arrows. The common Goddess is a love that always has an object. Therefor she is always a subject, and possesses the subject. Her love is a form of madness, of possession. This romantic erotic love is short-lived, and all too easily reverses its polarity, turning into the very opposite kind of energy: jealousy, envy, grief, loneliness, and even hatred. She is not only the Goddess of blind lovers, but the Goddess of divorce lawyers.

That other heavenly Aphrodite is quite different. Botticelli portrayed her in Birth of Venus, alone-born from Zeus's oceanic power (Greek, monogenase, "of one parent") The Greek word monogenase occurs in the Nicaean Creed, 325 CE, because Jesus, like Venus, is alone-born of God. Botticelli was a mystic artist who intended to portray her as the feminine aspect of Christ. Here he evoked an ancient Gnostic tradition: the Holy Spirit as the Goddess.

The early Christian Gnostic, Valentinus, described the real Virgin Mother as "mystical eternal silence." She is the silence prior to creation. Therefor she is neither creator nor creation, neither I nor It. Yet from the mystery of her Womb-Void worlds arise. The modern analogy is quantum physics, where matter emanates as vibrating energy from a vacuum devoid of any inherent substance. Thus the Virgin generates all creatures and souls, subjects and objects, without herself being either. She is uncreated creativity, the Ever Virgin.

In his sublime Birth of Venus, Botticelli aimed to present the feminine Christ, harmonizing the Greek myth with Christian mysticism. This was the inner intent in much of his art. Venus is sensuously beautiful, the object of Eros. Yet this is the very form of innocence, the all-pervading subject, awareness herself, and pure Agape.

For in the end, Venus and the breath of the Holy Spirit are one. Zephyr and his consort, gods of wind, blow flower petals over her, perhaps to cover her nakedness. Just as the goddess of Spring tries to veil her in a red garment. But Venus is not ashamed of her sensuality. For she knows that in the final analysis, both loves, heavenly and earthly, must permeate each other. Transcendental awareness pervades the flesh and the senses, yet the yearning of Eros finds fulfillment in the ecstasy of samadhi, the bliss of meditation.

Most spiritual practices remain enmeshed in the duality of subject and object. Even the sweetest devotional experience of Lover and Beloved remains trapped in the dualistic structure of relative creation. Our tenderest devotion to the Guru is still a relationship: I and Thou. Such a relationship is the subtlest form of Aphrodite Pandemos: sweet as it may be, it does not transcend relativity to taste the Absolute Being of the One at creation's source. Even as we are inebriated with the bliss of devotion, we remain caught in the sticky subject-object web, albeit in its subtlest threads.

This is why the practice of Transcendental Deep Meditation is so unique, and so ruthlessly loving! Truth holds not only the lotus of Krishna, but the scimitar of Shiva; not only the rose of Christ, but the sword of the Spirit. Eventually sweet devotional love, like a web of dew, dissolves in the blinding formless sun of Truth, and we are soar into the heavens of Aphrodite Ourania. As daylight transcends the glow of a single candle, pervading the whole landscape, so divine love transcends the particular relationship of lover and beloved.

The grace of deep meditation gently snaps that silken thread and frees our awareness completely from the field of subject-object duality. We transcend the exquisite two-ness of Master and Devotee, yes, even the Magdalene's love for Jesus, or Radha's love of Krishna, and we are drawn beyond two into One. We sink into the abysmal unity of Absolute Being, the luminous darkness before God said, "Let there be light."

Do not suppose that the formless invisible power of this unitary divine love is far away. It is near, more intimate than a kiss! When lover and beloved kiss, they lose sight of each other and fall for a moment into exquisite unity, closing their eyes and dissolving their forms, do they not? When we are lost in a kiss, it may only be for an instant, and we are so lost that we do not even notice our complete annihilation.

This kiss is an important symbol in the literature of mystical love. In the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, we are told that "Jesus loved Mary Magdalene most of all, and used to kiss her on the mouth." Those who worship only Aphrodite Pandemos take this passage literally. But the kiss described here is not the momentary kiss of sensuality; it is the spiritual kiss of which true troubadours sing. Hafiz, Mirabai, St. Theresa, and Rumi all sang of this kiss. "There is some kiss we want with our whole lives," Rumi whispers, "the kiss of Spirit on the body." So the Song of Solomon yearns, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!" Where this kiss is given, lover and beloved dissolve into one.

Yet transcendence is not a dream. It is solid as a diamond. We must ever return to embodiment as the field where the jewel is mined. Divine love irradiates the universe, even while clinging to nought. Aphrodite Ourania tenderly enfolds all sentient creatures in the wings of Presence, yet knows no single one as lover. Her love is both impartial and promiscuous. She cares for a blade of grass as much as a king; infuses a photon with light as bright as a supernova; regards the distance from earth to the center of the galaxy as no greater than the distance from your forehead to your chest.

All distances are her exhalation. The greatest journey is not to the stars, but to the heart. Both the ancient Yogic text, Vishnana Bhairava, and the Philokalia of the early Christian mystics, whisper the same sublime travel instructions for this journey: "Let the mind descend into the heart."

The cosmic expanse, clustered with galaxies, is the intimate space just above your sternum, traversed by a gentle breath. Here you will encounter Her, as nowhere else, in your beating heart's core! O lover, breathe in, breathe out; surrender to the mystery of your own rhythm; sink from your mind into the abyss of love.

Now one might ask, Could this experience actually be part of the Christian tradition? Indeed. We might assume this is Indian non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta. Few Westerners have any idea that such an experience is essential to the Christian mystics.

Meister Eckhart, in the 14th Century, called this loving union, "the Godhead beyond God." Cistercian mystic, William of St. Thierry, a contemporary of St. Bernard in the 12th Century, wrote, "Not that we become God, but what God is." Saint Catherine of Genoa declared in the late 15th Century, "My me is God, nor do I recognize any other me but my God."

For St. Theresa of Avila, this experience is "the prayer of union." Her autobiography, The Book of Her Life, offers many examples of unitary divine love, where the subjectivity of God-Consciousness becomes its own jewel-like object. This is the self-luminosity of the I Am.
"Often I had been bewildered and inebriated in this love, and never was I able to understand its nature... for the faculties are almost totally united with God... The intellect is worth nothing here!" ~Autobiography, Chapter 16
"Once while in prayer I was shown in a flash, without seeing any form, how all things are in God and how He holds them all in Himself. How to put this in writing I don't know... The Divinity is like a very clear diamond, greater than all the world... Everything we do is visible within this diamond, which contains all things within itself; there is nothing that escapes its magnitude." ~Chapter 40
St. Theresa sees all eternity in an instant of crystalline stillness. She calls it the "diamond." Indian scripture also uses this image for unitary love: "chittamani," the jewel of pure consciousness. "Chit" means consciousness,"mani" means jewel. This is also the "jewel at the center of the heart-lotus" in the great Tibetan chant, "Om mani padme hum." In an instantaneous flash of silence, Theresa's bejeweled awareness holds the eternal past and future, all possible selves, every lover and beloved, essentialized in a sparkling singularity beyond relationship. This diamond singularity is the One who loves all without a lover - a love so intimate that it merely Is its Self. Love in love with love alone, burning up the All.


Three Questions



I petted Schrödinger's cat.
But it was dead.
Would it be dead
if I never petted it?
You cannot answer this question
until you turn
the particle of you heart
into a wave.
Breathe both cats,
living and deceased.
The iron Buddha in my garden,
is it half covered with snow
or half empty?
The question doesn't even arise
in silence.
Nor does any other.
Now answer this one.
Did the race of reptilian shape-shifters
that controls both political parties
descend with the Anunnaki
from an alien star-system,
or did they arise from the hollow earth
in the sporification of
eight billion angry opinions
about nothing?
Discuss.

Here is an article from Scientific American on the implications of Shrodinger's cat for quantum theory: LINK

February 2, Valentine's Day

 

Yet the ultimate valentine on this very Western feast of Aphrodite is the Yin-Yang sign from ancient China. It is the sign of transcendental fecundity, the scent of God's embodiment. All light emanates from an infinitesimal point of darkness, the male born out of the female. All darkness emanates from an infinitesimal point of light, the female born out of the male. How futile, how petty, to place one above or before the other! They dance in circled stillness and contain each other, the fertile tilt of opposites toward and away from themselves, neither One nor Two. Transcendental love of Krishna permeates Radha's musky longing. Mary Sophia is both mother and lover of Christ. Shakti the hollow in the seed, pungent with spores of possibility, the honey of spiritual sweetness in all matter. Today, dear friend, I promise you this: the void is a juicy pomegranate.

Collapse

 

Overnight they collapse - facebook, twitter, instagram. Replaced by the next technology, making our cell phones and computers irrelevant, just as the walkman and boombox, the record player, the am-fm radio, and the typewriter attained holy obsolescence in a day and a night.

The new social media requires no hand held, lap top, or electronic device at all. Neither does it require fiber-optic cables or satellites to create the illusion of an immaterial cyberspace. The new social media consists of micro-holographic quantum time crystals, scintillating out of the void.

These infinitesimal holograms enter our bodies through the breath. We imprint them with our genetic signature, then breathe them out again. Others breathe us just as we breathe them. In three days, everyone on earth has inhaled the quantum signatures of all humanity. In the words of the Veda, "Vasudaiva kutumbakam: the world is one family." Thus we imprint each other. There is no independent self. As the Christian scripture says, "Panta 'hen Pasin," All is in All.

Which means that, sinking our awareness into a single atomic crystal through a single neuron of our brain, we can enter a holographic chamber as real as any three dimensional ballroom in Atlantic City, or Bali, or Buenos Ares. We can meet whomever we chose, enjoy a glass of wine with them, or chant kirtan in a three-dimensional sat-sang. All we need to do is 'tag' the people we want to be with by calling their names, very quietly, praying them into manifestation. Instantly, if they accept our telepathic call, we are utterly real to one another, without moving or leaving our bodies. As Lao T'zu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, "Without leaving my hut, I know the whole universe."

When I call on my friends this way, I don't choose to meet in a restaurant, an ashram, or a beach-side resort. I invite them on a walk in the misty fern forest, right here in the valley where my sternum dips beneath the curved hills of my diaphragm. We step softly on the earth, or whatever soil is made of in a hologram. For after all, matter is just waves of pure mathematical probability in the dark delicious night of the soul. 

We press our naked feet into green giving quivering moss, and pause in a ring of moonbeams. It doesn't take our axons long to root down through the loam, regenerating our neuroplastic buds, grafting our butterscotch flagella to the tangled mycellium of the chocolate underworld, until we forget that we were ever men or women. For we become mushrooms again, annihilated, unselved in a Tartarean landscape of chromatolytic kisses, springing up as nipples, penises, tongues, frolicking in starlit meadows of schizophyllum commune, covered in the spooge of amethyst deceiver and synaptic milk sap.

Will we ever get out of this place? Are we actually here? Is there anywhere else but this embrace, that has always already happened?



Photo: beautiful schizophyllum commune, from Boredpanda.com

Don't Give Away Your Power

Don't give away your power to the pharmaceutical corporation. Don't give away your power to the officer of the law. Don't give away your power to the politician or the party. Don't give away your power to the priest, the shaman, or the life coach. Don't give away your power to the angel guide or the animal familiar. Don't give away your power to the temple or the ashram. Don't give away your power to a white robe, a pair of sandals, or those lotus feet. Don't give away your power to the avatar, the savior, or the ascended master. Don't give away your power to the holy book, the sacrament, or the spiritual technique. Don't give away your power to the lover or the beloved. Don't give away your power to your race or tribe. Don't give away your power to your ancestor. Bow down to each of them, bow down to all. Bow down, bow down, bow down, then let them go. Don't give away your power to the Other, or the tyranny of the One. The number you are seeking is Zero, it is neither one nor two. It's fullness is empty, an overflowing chalice, a swirling galaxy of stars, an atom containing the earth, the center everywhere, circumference infinite. Don't give away your power to the world, which is only a mirror. Don't give away your power to the mind, which is only a mirror. Bow down to each of them, bow down to all. Bow down, then let them go. Don't give away your power to the fruit, though it is sweet. Return to the seed. Return to the Self. This is the Guru. This is the Friend. This is the radiance you Are. Let your bow blossom in creation. Let your bow give power to all creatures. Let your breath be theirs. Now open your eyes and gaze into the eyes of the perfect stranger. Love your neighbor as your Self.


Podcast: The Poetry of Astonishment

Well now I know what a "podcast" is because I was on one, talking about poetry and sharing some from my new book. These two guys, 'The Philosopher & the Monk" are such delightfully unpretentious down-to-earth wisemen from Long Island. They were so much fun to talk to!

 

Between


To me, Imbolc is such a powerful mystery of time because it is like the space between thoughts. If there's nothing I need to think about right now, then I just stop thinking. Start listening. Listen to the music of awakening seeds, the whisper of creation bubbling out of silence all around me. The wordless breath of the Creator is a subtle thunder, more healing than any thought I could possibly think in this moment.

The Writing Process

My sister asked me to describe my "process" for writing. I had never thought I had one. But on thinking about it, I decided to share these words, which I will also share here...

On this beautiful feast of Imbolc and Saint Brigid's Day, I am finally getting to reply to your thoughtful inquiry. It is hard to answer because I do not trust any process or formula for writers. Each must find their own way to the grail by entering the thickest, wildest, most pathless part of the forest.

For me it would be a sacrilege to "discipline" myself to sit at a regular hour and make myself write, for that would mean I depended on my own will, and my own mind. But poems flow from the divine Otheress, and She taps your heart in unexpected moments, usually between waking and sleeping, which is the space of meditation.

My poems, those that have any kind of energy at all, begin with the faintest impulse in the heart (not in the head) at the end of a meditation period, or in the middle of the night, 3 a.m., or just upon waking in the morning, the moment before the mind of yesterday falls back into the brain like a sack of ashes. It feels like a gentle flame, pre-cognitive and pre-verbal, just a compulsion that says, "Write this!" Then it forms itself into a few words, a phrase, and that is the first line. And then it springs from that seed.

A verse of the Veda declares, "In the beginning, the Lord created the universe through a stream of Sound" (Adau Bhagavan shabda rasahi.) Which is to say, "In the beginning was the Word." Too bad we in the West have intellectualized the meaning of Logos, because as quantum physics shows us, the universe really is a condensation of waves in the vacuum, vibrations out of silence, it is all music, it is all sound. So poems begin in the heart-chakra (which in Sanskrit is called the "Anahatta" or "Unstruck Sound") as waves of silence imbued with love. And as you keep listening, the waves become words.

But then the work begins. Sometimes I will take that seed and turn it into something much longer, with a lot of work in it. But sometimes the best should be left as it falls, as it occasions, right out of the heart onto the page. Sometimes it is left as it is for a longtime, a year or more, then rediscovered and worked into a poem. Sometimes it is overworked and I wish I had held onto that first draft, which was the best. In the words of French poet, Paul Verlain, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned."

All I can finally say is that poetry comes from the breath of the Creator, which is his Holy Spirit, his creative Mother-principle, the Shekinah, or Goddess Shakti. I can attribute poetry to no other source.