Breathe in darkness until it becomes
the glow inside you.
Have faith in the power
of hollow things to bear fruit.
This is the season of Grace.
Learn from the withering
Autumn sunflower how
to empty yourself, and scatter
a thousand Spring mornings.
Your work is grace,my work is opening.Light doesn't care where it shines.
Your work is radiance,my work is polishing the mirror.You pour, I overflow.
Breath-milk spilling on the lingam,awakening stone.Seeds of desire have been offered and cooked
but the nectar of yearning still gushesfrom the broken stem.Famished, naked, Spring wanders
into the garden.I listen to melting snow.Windsong in plum bud twigs.
Feral rose among thorns, this
empty grail, patiently awaiting the bee knight.I pay attention
to the least and smallest who burst free,because that is what happenedto my heart.
Austrian Copper Roses by Georgia O'Keefe
spiritual path has been a journey of gazes, the eyes of the Other an infinity
sign leading me back to the Self. Gaze of friend or perfect stranger, gaze of
lover and teacher, gaze of the animal guide, gaze of my infant daughter,
mother, wife, gaze of my gaze.
Yet through these sparkling corridors of darshan, there were three gazes above all others that took me to the highest peak, where Dante stood with Beatrice, to see the empyrean through her eyes.
The first Great Gaze was the gaze of a fawn. My wife and I were just married, walking through a Maryland corn field. We came upon a newborn deer. We could only spend a moment there, for the mother doe was stamping the ground furiously at the edge of the forest.
Just for a moment we gazed into the bluest eyes I ever saw. Only my daughter's blue eyes come close to that bejeweled Shakti. The word that comes to mind is "familiar." The eyes of that fawn made the entire animal kingdom a clan of cousins. I felt welcomed and warmed into the planetary community. Ever since passing through those faun eyes, I've seen one and the same Soul in animals, angels, and human beings, a single Spirit gazing out through myriad facets in the diamond of God-Consciousness.
The second Great Darshan was the gaze of a dolphin. My young family was spending a week at the Jersey Shore, in Avalon. It was late June, solstice time. Every morning I would go to the beach at dawn, practice Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, then swim a mile down the coast in the rising sun, out beyond the breaking waves. Swimming quite a distance from shore, I suddenly saw an enormous shadow-form sweep silently beneath me. My heart shuddered with primordial fear of the deep, the unknown.
I stopped and looked around. I was completely alone. Then a face emerged from the water about three yards in front of me, with perhaps the most intelligent and benign expression I have ever beheld, a smile of respect, parental care, and benediction. A gaze of unconditional love enfolded me, and filled me with the certainty that I am protected, both on earth and among the stars, by a much more advanced and ancient race of Friends.
The third Great Gaze of my journey came at a meeting with my Teacher at a meditation course in Nova Scotia, more than twenty years ago. That was the moment when I knew I really had a "guru," because Nobody is my guru. Let me explain.
Courses were small and intimate in those days, and on the final night I managed to visit alone with him in his room for more than an hour. At one point toward the end of our conversation, I asked, "There is so much chatter about who you are, that you are one of the great avatars or world teachers from a by-gone age who has returned to us. I need to know who you REALLY are!"
So he showed me. It was very simple. He said, "No, no, no. I am Nobody." And he meant it. Then I gazed into his eyes and saw pure Presence unveiled, no name, no story, no expectation from the past superimposed by the mind. Truly, I looked into Nobody's eyes. Nobody is my teacher. Nobody is my supreme authority. Nobody is my Lord.
That gaze: twin galaxies in-spiraling toward the formless source of creation through billions of light-years. Wells of eternity where I fell inward and outward at once, like a thrown pebble, like a lost meteor, in the motionless explosion of a dark sparkling rose of infinite circumference. This was the flowering of divine love. Golden petals gently, silently exploding from the empty stillness of the Self we all share. And gazing into each other this way, we make peace.
Jai Guru Dev.
Photo by NASA, Helix Nebula
Do you look for the source? Perhaps you Are the source. A blue sky radiates from your chest, clear and boundless, where shines a brilliant sun, about three inches in front of your heart, the size of your thumb tip, yet containing all the light and energy in creation. This is the sun of pure love, effortlessly, infinitely concentrated in a bindhu, one drop of devotion. Invisible threads of quantum entanglement connect this transcendental jewel to every star, every intron yet to be expressed in the DNA of the unborn, every mushroom spore in the cosmos. These silken love-threads are the strings of the vina that Sarasvati plays in her lap as She sings the names of God. But what is your name, friend? Your name is listening... listening... while your breath ever so gently rises and falls, polishing the emerald at the center of all Flesh. This is the true work of breathing.
When God speaks to us, God uses everything - plants, animals, humans, dust. God uses all creation to kiss us daily. Spirituality is not the renunciation of the senses, but their refinement to the subtlest of all sensations: God herself. God is the most sensuous of delights.
Nor does meditation reject sensation. Meditation refines sensation through silence. Our spiritual practice cultivates finer perception until taste and smell may sense the flavor and fragrance of pure Being; sight may gaze at the light shining from Divine Darkness; touch may feel the inner caress of this Breath, the hug of earth's great breathing upon the skin; and hearing may listen to the hum of Silence, which contains the music of the galaxies.
The sixth sense organ is the mind. Meditation refines the mind just as it refines the other organs of perception. When the restless mind settles into stillness, thought is transcended, no image limits awareness, the bliss of emptiness becomes full, and the mind relishes Infinity.
The seventh and deepest sense organ is the soul. The soul, "I Am," is not the opposite of matter, it is simply at the other end of the spectrum. Matter and spirit are one continuum of divine energy, from the dense to the subtle. The dense is the incarnate glory of the subtle, and the subtle is the healing nectar within the dense outer form. The "soul" is the fine end of this continuum, the subtlest of the senses.
When, through meditation, the soul becomes "poor in spirit," it inherits boundless wealth. In the heart of silence, the soul transcends its soulness, flows beyond the root of its individuality, and enters the seed, Christ. This loss is rich indeed. For when the droplet becomes the sea, the sea becomes the droplet. Now Christ is the Self of the soul.
In ancient India, this exquisite affair was represented by the love-making of Radha and Krishna in the garden of Vridavan. In the Biblical tradition, it is the union of the Bride and the Royal Bridegroom in the Song of Songs, which is why the Song of Songs has always been the favorite Biblical book of Western mystics. It is at once the most sensuous and spiritual of poems.
When we enter into this marriage, all our senses feel the transcendental kiss of God, who has created the body and its neural pathways just to lead us back to this wild garden in the heart, where the seed is born.
God is the cosmic sensation, the passion of a soul so voluptuously in love that her sensibility transcends all boundaries. God whispers to this soul, "You are the garden, I am the Spring." And the soul sings, as the Bride in the poem, "My beloved is mine, and I am my beloved's. Come into your garden, and feed among the lilies."
Art by Rene Bull, 1913
Inside your shell,
something soft surrenders
to the dark moon pull.
You are the pearl
formed by infinitesimal
gashes of sand.
One last sharp stab
pries open the mollusk
of your consciousness.
In an inky stream
all the sorrows of the world
stream out of your chest.
Now you can bathe
in the ocean of joy.
It is 3 o'clock on Good Friday. My density is made of emptiness. At the center of each photon is the ayin soph, a black hole that recycles all the light in the universe. And at the center of this cross is the Being that has no opposite. There is no higher or lower, left or right. Where past and future kiss in sweet annihilation, the self is crucified, silence solidified into diamond no-thing-ness. 'O Lord, why have you forsaken me?' This is the prayer of the One who finds no other.
When you meditate,
stop all this reaching
for the sun.
Bodies of joy don't fly.
They are weighted down
with jewels of emptiness,
pearls of compassion.
Gravity is the prayer
of the fallen,
who rise through surrender,
sinking deeper than the ripples
where small fish feed
and thoughts nibble
I mean to say, you must drown
in groundless silence
swelling with waves of solitude,
all names swallowed up
in the ocean of Unknowing.
Don't count your breaths.
Here, one inhalation
lasts forever, one sigh
brings you Om.
When you emerge from
these waters, dripping starlight,
waders on the shore will whisper,
"Who is that
of unalloyed night?"
Then you must sing to them
about the treasures
of the deep.
Image by Stephanie Laird
are 196 verses in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
Only three of them deal with asanas.
No one teaches yoga to a flower.
Learn bending from her stem,
the supple power of green no hurricane can crush.
Breathe from the seed.
Abandon every sequence and routine.
Your body is a river of postures
flowing toward the ocean of repose.
The petals of your flesh unfold.
The sparkling zephyr of this breath
come to rest like a feather on your belly.
After all these years of practice, can you
give up your poses and move merely
to the rhythm of begonias in October?
Rooted like a weathered oak, valiantly sway
to the seasons of inpouring and outpouring.
A starry wheel rolls out of your chest, the axis
of our galaxy poised between your nipples;
your muscles bathed in the ghee of attention,
ligaments dissolving in the golden void.
Can you dance with the Beloved
even when you are alone, your spine
Kali’s wand, your pelvis her boat,
laden with its cargo of moonbeams?
From the baby’s soft spot in your crown
to the sap-dripping sacrum, runs a nerve,
down whose hollow liquid lightning hums,
a silken thunderbolt all the way Om
to your toes.
What Goddess spins your flesh from threads
of pure perception on her glistening whorl
of stillness? Keep it soft, friend, like
the mystery of gristle in a fontanelle.
This is the door you leave by, made whole
by lost drops. Your eyes tell beads of gratitude.
And the fierce silence of your breathing
is the Mother's name, protecting you
from shadows of false light.
Dear one, there are intricate miracles
of awakening woven in the sinews
of your quivering heart, each neuron
tangled to a certain ache of sweetness
in the meadows and the woods, each proton
twined by love's silk to its native star.
Let your body happen. The dance is yours.
Learn bending from her stem, the supple
power of green no hurricane can crush.
Micro-movements invent themselves,
majestic spirals of molten grace.
Breathe from the seed. No one
teaches Yoga to a flower.
This poem has been used at poetryoga workshops as a guided movement meditation.
Happiness has nothing to do with the modern cult of the smile. It comes with an unconditional embrace of sorrow, revealing that even our shadows are woven of light, with threads so subtle they can only be seen through the eye of a broken heart. Have you embraced your tears? Have you honored your grief? Have you entered your wound? Upon the sand grain's grit and chafe is rounded the pearl of joy.
Painting: Mixed media, Marie Laparco
The Unborn call me.
Come! they sing.
"How shall I come?"
Follow this breath.
Walk barefoot in the night
until you find a mushroom,
the toe of Dionysius
buried upside-down in loam
where He suckles
at the planetary teat.
"But where shall I, who am no God,
find this nipple?"
Return on a breath
to the center of each proton
in your body.
The milk of the underworld
is black and sweet.
And the jolt of arriving
right here! in your own flesh!
is the electric flower
of the universe.
Now the Ancestors call me
from the bruise of dawn
on the first day.
Come! they sing.
"How shall I come?"
Follow your inhalation.
Yes, I hear angels of fire,
air, water, and stone.
Come, they sing,
fall into your diaphragm,
your abdomen, your loin.
Sink into the blossom
through the gravity
of this breath.
Somewhere even deeper
inside me than I am,
stars extinguished long before
their light has reached this world
whisper my electrons
out of emptiness.
Galaxies whose distant
the sun in my sacrum
call me to taste
a timeless respiration that evaporates
the dream of distances.
Ascend on this breath!
This is why I sink, I drown
in the wilderness of the interior.
Where the soul cannot go,
I rise by uncloaking.
Within my rind is the ocean
of what, once rotted, ripens again.
Within this ocean is the fragrance
of mind, flavored with the silence
And within this darkness is the fire
of eternal chaos,
the bliss storm.
"And what is within that nectar?"
Go there to be born.
Go there each morning,
and every sunset.
Follow this breath.
Stay, endure, embrace the pain
of your hollow places
and be whole.
Gather the flames
of numbness from your marrow
Harvest the seed of tears.
Crush your unbearable disappointments
to an umber chrism the color of skin.
Spread it all over.
Spread it all over the earth and moon.
Bathe in the secret musk of what
you already are.
Chalk mandala by biology teacher Caryn Babaian
Real meditation id not a 'spiritual by-pass.' It does not by-pass our pain. Meditation penetrates into the nectar of pain. Meditators don't rise above pain, they surrender to its core. At the center of pain is the flowering of boundless energy. The same sap pervades both rose and thorn. The rose is happiness, the thorn is sorrow, the sap is bliss. Ananda isn't a passing mood or a temporary emotional state. Ananda is the juice of pure existence. It glows in the dark. Transcendence is not above, it is the hollow in the seed.
Stars dissolve into a rose. A rose dissolves into stars. Ask Danté.
The solution is dissolution. What dissolves? Separateness.
I am not my skin color. I am not my tribe. I am not even my gender. I wear these veils and garments, just as I have a red shirt or a Yankees cap on: but they are not my Self.
Nor am I my political party, my nation, or my religion. And I am not my ancestors. These are my marvelous incidents, but not my essence. The core of my existence is prior to labels, identifications, masks. Yes, I enjoy wearing them, dancing in them, playing in their forms. I need not renounce them, because they were never really "mine" to begin with. In deep meditation, these forms dissolve like the dreams they are. Then I Am.
In deep meditation, the core of
existence reveals itself as the One who cannot be divided into races,
tribes, religions, parties, yet who plays in them all as light playing in a kaleidoscope. The revelation transcends thought and imagination. It is the Self-image of the Imageless. Groundless, brilliant, empty, it is nowhere and everywhere. It is the Holy of Holies.
Emerging from meditation, I need no longer look for that place. I look from that place. Then it is impossible to identify any color or creed, any political or spiritual movement, as "me." I am simply who Am.
verb "Am" is solid as a diamond, boundless as the sky. Who needs to say, "I Am a man, I Am a liberal, I Am a buddhist, I Am a white or a black? Not I. Just Am. Those labels of identity make the mind small. No noun, no-thing, ever really follows the verb To Be.
Image: taken by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) showing the Rosette nebula located within the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn.