Vasudhaiva Kutumbkakam

A Sanskrit verse declares, "Vasúdhaivá kutúmbhakam." The world is one family.

Now is the time for each of us to be the whole. Every color of the rainbow is made of the same light. When God looks at us, God sees the super-radiance of one Self reflected in the mirror of her consciousness, yet scintillating in particular faces, exquisitely unique souls.

This is the very purpose of evolution. Myriad vigintillion sparks condense into the mineral kingdom, entangle their cilia through the vegetable, embed their expanding soulfulness among the wingéd, reptilian and four-leggéd creatures, then Christ-all-eyes in fiery neurons of a human brain, solidifying consciousness as angel-pearl. Who knows? Each of us may one day selve our own earth as a personal planetary spirit, just as Gaia did, She who once was a protozoan monad of wonder.

"Vasúdhaivá kutúmbhakam." The world is one family. Now is the time to return to our family with a sense of planetary belonging, a sense of intimacy with the earth. And how shall we return? Not by drowning our individuality in the collective, the tribe, the racial identity group: but by self-awareness, as holographic souls, each a facet that reflects the diamond of God-consciousness.

Yet to take the next step in evolution, we must stop catastrophizing. Catastrophic thinking feeds the mind, not the soul. In fact, mind is the catastrophe. Everything else is an act of God.

Why keep polarizing, dividing our humanity into tribes, colors, genders, parties, when the real opportunity is to become a Person? There is room in the light of the Christic hologram for each of us. We sing our diversity, yet in the only context that makes our song a uni-verse: the astounding oneness of our Spirit.

Are we not human beings: both Human and Being? We celebrate sacraments of the finite in earthen vessels; yet through each breath our consciousness roots down in cosmic existence. We dance as independent bodies; yet we also meditate, tapping the stillness of the Source, and it is the stillness of each other's Source. In the words of Ernest Holmes: "The wick of your individual life runs deep into the oil of pure Being." (This Thing Called You, 1948)

Yes, we're all made of the same light in this rainbow-arc of evolution. But we awaken through the miracle of ensoulment. The glory is not to lose our personhood in the collective, but to embrace multitudes, to embody galaxies, in the arms of this soulful heart.

The collective remains vague and unrealized until it is grokked, until it is celebrated, by a unique sibling-citizen. Is this not creation's paradox, its playfulness, its lila? We are here for the hologram. We are here so that All may become Each, and Each become All. The cosmos cannot sing Herself without your voice. The ocean only awakens in a drop, and only a drop can return to the depth, with awareness.

Tree of Life, painting by Heather Watts



You bent the golden bow
into an empty circle,
pulled the arrow
of darkness back
to your eye.
Now hold the target
over your own breast
and pierce
the heart of the void.
Your shaft has no quarry.
It flies in all directions at once.
Aim aimlessly, warrior,
and you will bring down
the Lord of blue skies.
Draw your straight path
into a sphere.
Become the womb
of your intent.
Let all be born
without a purpose.
You are the bow,
the taught and hollow curve
of possibility.
Rest between breaths,
where the victory
is already won,
and the arrow releases itself.

Version of a poem in my book, 'The Fire of Darkness'

Poetry Is Not Advice


Poetry is not advice.
A poet only makes humming sounds,

never tells you

what not to do,

because poetry is uncertain

about everything,

like God slinging electrons

in all directions at once,

hoping to hit something real.

A poet never says,

"Listen! I sound like Hafez.

Maybe I AM Hafez!"

A poet only makes humming sounds,

echos in an empty confessional,

whispered to the priest who 

isn't there: "You are entangled 

in me, I am entangled in you.

I can't tell who's who any more.

We're loam-drunk fungus strands,

self-luminous cilia, Chanterelle blue,

double-helixed in musk gloom. 

Missing the essential sequences 

that might finally explain something,

our thorny chromosomes 

of dubious ancestry root 

in the death of reptiles,

a vague recurrent dream

of scaly wings."

I can't understand this poem.

That is why it is a poem.

All I can share is a circle

of arms, of tears, a mirror 

of the Witness shattered 

into 14 billion eyes each

searching for its image in the void.  

Here are the verses I know.

I beat out their rhythm with my bones 

against flesh, until I glow 

with bruises of wisdom, 

of faith that has no analog, 

no story, no likeness. 

A poet only makes humming sounds,

this one from the guru of quantum vedanta,

"Matter is overrated." 

This from the haruspex of quivering

sibilant entrails: "Mind is overrated."

And this from Lady Ayahuasca:

"Neither mind nor matter exist.

Only the voices of the jungle

carried like shreds of sacred text

in the beaks of man-eating parrots.

Now flare your nostrils, drink this song

through every orifice of the body."

Painting of Peruvian artist Pablo Amaringo

Countless Sins

Yes, I’ve committed
countless sins.
Fireflies over a meadow
just before sunrise.
Tea candles on a veranda at noon.
Milkweed in the ocean wind.
Here's the secret:
God has no interest in guilt.
Abandon penance and forgiveness
because the heart is an empty sky
full of amazement
whose dawning outshines
every circumstance
as honey overflows the comb.
When the dandelion is ready,
the frailest breath blows it away.
In the richest vineyard,
nothing takes root
but the ancient grapes of pain
bursting sweetly on the tongue
today, today, 
with the taste of love.
When I understood this,
I fell down and sang
to the worm, to the ladybug,
to the earth's least wanted child,
"Walk on me!"



A teacher fills you.
A guru empties you.
A teacher gives knowledge.
A guru awakens
the knower.
One transmits information.
The other transmits wonder
without words.
Your mind thirsts
for certainty.
Your heart yearns for
breaking open.
If the yearning is intense enough,
the guru could be a cricket.



Collage by Rashani Réa, who used it in a grief workshop. Thank you Rashani.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

This is a sacred text, from the central chapter of Kenneth Graham's 'The Wind In The Willows,' wherein Mole and Ratty search for baby Otter, and find him nestled at the feet of the Great God ... Illustration by Michael Hague, brother of our dear friend, Scott.
Then a change began slowly to declare itself. The horizon became clearer, field and tree came more into sight, and somehow with a different look; the mystery began to drop away from them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up suddenly and listened with a passionate intentness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just keeping the boat moving while he scanned the banks with care, looked at him with curiosity.
"It's gone!" sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. "So beautiful and strange and new! Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!" he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.

"Now it passes on and I begin to lose it," he said presently. "O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us."

The Mole, greatly wondering, obeyed. "I hear nothing myself," he said, "but the wind playing in the reeds and rushes and osiers."

The Rat never answered, if indeed he heard. Rapt, transported, trembling, he was possessed in all his senses by this new divine thing that caught up his helpless soul and swung and dandled it, a powerless but happy infant in a strong sustaining grasp.

In silence Mole rowed steadily, and soon they came to a point where the river divided, a long backwater branching off to one side. With a slight movement of his head Rat, who had long dropped the rudder-lines, directed the rower to take the backwater. The creeping tide of light gained and gained, and now they could see the colour of the flowers that gemmed the water's edge.

"Clearer and nearer still," cried the Rat joyously. "Now you must surely hear it! Ah—at last—I see you do!"

Breathless and transfixed, the Mole stopped rowing as the liquid run of that glad piping broke on him like a wave, caught him up, and possessed him utterly. He saw the tears on his comrade's cheeks, and bowed his head and understood. For a space they hung there, brushed by the purple loosestrife that fringed the bank; then the clear imperious summons that marched hand-in-hand with the intoxicating melody imposed its will on Mole, and mechanically he bent to his oars again. And the light grew steadily stronger, but no birds sang as they were wont to do at the approach of dawn; and but for the heavenly music all was marvellously still.

On either side of them, as they glided onwards, the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so odorous and pervading. Then the murmur of the approaching weir began to hold the air, and they felt a consciousness that they were nearing the end, whatever it might be, that surely awaited their expedition.

A wide half-circle of foam and glinting lights and shining shoulders of green water, the great weir closed the backwater from bank to bank, troubled all the quiet surface with twirling eddies and floating foam-streaks, and deadened all other sounds with its solemn and soothing rumble. In midmost of the stream, embraced in the weir's shimmering arm-spread, a small island lay anchored, fringed close with willow and silver birch and alder. Reserved, shy, but full of significance, it hid whatever it might hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour should come, and, with the hour, those who were called and chosen.

Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation whatever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, the two animals passed through the broken, tumultuous water and moored their boat at the flowery margin of the island. In silence they landed, and pushed through the blossom and scented herbage and undergrowth that led up to the level ground, till they stood on a little lawn of a marvellous green, set round with Nature's own orchard-trees—crab-apple, wild cherry, and sloe.

"This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me," whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. "Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!"

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror—indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy—but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend, and saw him at his side, cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.

Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fulness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humorously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

"Rat!" he found breath to whisper, shaking. "Are you afraid?"

"Afraid?" murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. "Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet—and yet—O, Mole, I am afraid!"

Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

Sudden and magnificent, the sun's broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.

As they stared blankly, in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses, and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and light-hearted as before.

Mole rubbed his eyes and stared at Rat, who was looking about him in a puzzled sort of way. "I beg your pardon; what did you say, Rat?" he asked.

"I think I was only remarking," said Rat slowly, "that this was the right sort of place, and that here, if anywhere, we should find him. And look! Why, there he is, the little fellow!" And with a cry of delight he ran towards the slumbering Portly.

But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, and can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty of it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties; so Mole, after struggling with his memory for a brief space, shook his head sadly and followed the Rat.



Learned this lying on the belly

of a big wise sleepy poodle.

I don't need any more information.

No more explanations of Being.

Just Being without the labels,

without the descriptions,

without the astrologer guru scientist

life coach priestess channeling

ascended master's pleiadean

seventh chakra hochma ayahuasca

jaguar shaman jive talk.

Because Truth is not informed

but in formlessness,

far beneath the tic-toc tide,

the twitter-waves of

man-splaining woman-splaining

left-splaining right-splaining

rap-splaining preacher-splaining

esoteric tantric bebop.

Let me drown O let me live

in the waters of the Unknown,

far beneath the waves of knowledge,

because un-knowing is the space 

of compassion.

Because that's where “I” dissolve

in pollen-sweet Ameen,

the bee hum amrit "Am."

That's where tears are born,

where laughter springs up

from wonder-loam, refreshing 

the parched body of the earth.

That's where my old beaten heart 

just keeps polishing 

diamond silence

with this breath.

Stillness In Action (Gita 4:18)


 The notion that some of us are activists and others are contemplatives is a false distinction. We are all activists, and all contemplatives. 

In the most dynamic action, we plunge 101% into our peak performance, and precisely then we find a boundless stillness at our core, an infinite silence within. Physiologists call this state "flow." At their best moments of creative energy, great athletes and great artists alike experience inner repose at the core of action. Some of us have experienced this paradox at times of maximum challenge. So the Bhagavad Gita declares: "One who sees silence in the midst of action, and action in the midst of silence, truly sees (4:18)." 

When you act, leap 101% into action. When you meditate, sink 101% into silence at your heart's core. Eventually the ocean of silence will pervade the waves of activity in a very natural way. This integration of stillness and action does not come from dividing the mind, trying to detach from life-energy, in a vain attempt to remain half silent and half active at the same time. That will only makes us weak and confused. Seekers have been making this mistake for centuries.

The state of integration comes from alternating dynamic action with dynamic silence, 100% silence, and 100% action, gradually culturing the nervous system to function with infinite flexibility, until we are naturally living 200% of life. Then the experience of vast stillness simply flowers in the midst of action, without self-detachment. This is cosmic consciousness, the fruit of Transcendental Meditation, the fruit of regular morning and evening practice, combined with daily work in the market place of the world.

When you go to work, forget about meditation. Just chop wood and carry water. When you meditate, forget about work. Just immerse in the grace of no-thing.


Photo from Stillness Retreat at Mount Madonna Center



Blessed be the Unchosen.
Does the apple tree
prefer Autumn or Spring?

Would brook water rather be a cloud?
Does a sunbeam choose
which leaf to turn green?

When does a larva decide
to put on twin rainbows?
Which star gets the deepest night?

At dawn, a liquid bell
of red winged blackbird on a cattail:
who chose the moment to sing?

Which nipple does the infant love best?
Why does the earth keep turning?
Is she's choosing night or day?

Nature selects all
and prefers nothing.
Only the mind is "for" or "against."

Blessed be the Unchosen.
The miracle happens here,
a brilliant golden summer moth

just now settling on the peony.
This choice was made
before the sun and moon were born.

Wesak (Buddha's Enlightenment, Full Moon In May)



Don't worry, restless cricket.

Don't worry, dragonfly

who can't get quite still

on your sunlit cattail.

Don't worry, implacable

circling hawk, skittish rabbit,

obsessed politician.

Nor you, sleepless seed,

smoldering all Winter 

with desire.

I have surrendered on your behalf.

I have immersed you in the beauty

of this breath.


A bud cannot imagine what a petal is.

The apple was the pain inside a flower.

Neither stamen nor pistil, leaf nor pollen

have any "I" who can say, "I am a rose."

Therefor enjoy your voice, O you 

who have been selved!


Your ego is beautiful.

It speaks for those who cannot.

You are the song of a wanderer 

heard in a dream.

Let there be no outrage 

in the space between your thoughts,

only a well of compassion

healing the darkness around you

for a thousand light-years.


Now listen to the stream

of nectar oozing up your root.

Be a scarlet poppy royally adorned,

dancing in the meadow of your body 

with a troubadour whose lips

are parted, but whose name

is never quite spoken.


The time will come when gazing is fire.

When you see beyond the night

and burn away the most intimate veil,

the gossamer difference 

between inside and out.

Then the moon is only the moon.

The cricket delights in rubbing its wings.

Your silence outshines singing. 


The time of the fallen apple will come,

sweet juices bubbling in the sun.

That was the pain inside the flower.

Now the worm appears.

All that remains is a hole.

Yet we need holes to fill with music.

Dear friend, in all that vanishes, still,

you can taste the one clear sap.

Call it sorrow. Call it joy.


Plunging, Drowning


Meditation is not doing, but plunging, drowning in the space of the heart. Here the mind gets saturated with pure Being, so luscious, so succulent, there is no room for thought. Why visualize a golden lotus? I Am the golden lotus. Why seek an Other? I am the ground, the seed, the root, and the blossom.

My silence is a diamond more solid than God. And pure Being is my very nature. I shall not even call this "meditation." I shall call it, "polishing the crystal of existence with one soft breath." 

After meditation, I discover this very same inner jewel at the center of a raindrop, at the petal tip of an iris on a May morning. I see the same unbounded inner sky on the curve of a robin's egg. Ah, tender blue, the color of astonishment in an empty mind! 

If there is a "spiritual path," it must be just this gentle dissolving of the difference, the borderline, between inner and outer.

So Many Perceptions

So many perceptions
How can anything impermanent
be right or wrong?
Words like yours and mine,
better and worse,
what do they mean?
They are moths teased and sizzled
by flame.
When did you forget that you 
are the burning itself?
A flash of silent summer 
midnight lightning
is neither fact nor fiction.
The fat old fly
trapped all Winter between 
inner and outer windows.
Shreds of a used cocoon.
Burnish on an evening cloud.
Do we call this life or death?
Billions of points of view
float like dust in a golden ray
leading you back to the sun
inside your breath,
this thing-less light
reflected in every raindrop,
every tear.
And from the soft spot on your crown
a silken thread tethered
to the distant star 
of your otherness.
You could dissolve
this estrangement forever
just by being silent.
Now is the time to decide
whether you are the dust 
or the sunbeam.
This story of our love
needs no telling, friend.
The past tense vanishes
into a darker fire.
Fill up with the wonder
we must all breathe,
many moist lips on the verge
of a single kiss.

Gustave Klimpt, 'The Kiss,' detail

Without The Night (From 'The Fire Of Darkness' *)


We cannot live without the night,
gossamer veils of emptiness.
The Goddess is black,
but each pore of her body
emits a rainbow.
Motionless, she watches
beyond care, yet flows
like a river of healing.
Doesn’t dark energy circle us all
like Mother Raven?
Take root in your grief.
That is where the sun is born.
Ascend through a bolder falling.

Her womb is immaculate silence.
Her void is moist with stars.
Yet she who cradles them all
has become your breath.
Haven’t I told you there is wine
in the void between thoughts,
Joy and sorrow mingled in one cup?
Now taste, and who knows
if tonight
you might not finally
the fierce beauty
of your beaten heart?



 *The Fire Of Darkness: What Burned Me Away Completely, I Became LINK

Photo: I took this a few years ago, I think its the same moon as the one up there now.

'Mother' Is A Verb

Mother is a verb
that anyone may do.
Mother me.
Mother them.
Mother yourself.
Cherish the womb
of a deeper silence.
Give birth
to your own heart.

'Dalit Madonna' by Jyoti Sahi

The Fragrance


"Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you. Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others." ~Maharishi
The ego does not want to hear this. The mind prefers conflict, because conflict makes it feel alive. The ego-mind loves to star in its own melodrama, imagining itself the victim in a heroic struggle against the oppressor. Of course, the real oppressor is the mind itself. But eventually it wearies of the struggle, surrenders, and sinks into the heart. Then a flowering happens, a transformation.

The blossom doesn't need to take a journey, and search for bees. The blossom remains still, releasing a scent that lures the bees toward its center. So, in deep meditation, the heart breathes without effort, pulsing in repose. Let dynamic stillness exude waves of love, drawing all good things into the domain of your heart.

Photo by Kristy Thompson

A Diamond With Ten Thousand Eyes

Freedom is never a reaction. To be stuck in reaction is bondage, bondage to the one against whom we re-act. Freedom is observing our reactions. In that seeing, reaction dissolves. Then we can act from stillness, the silence of the Seer. Stillness is a lightning bolt. Silence is a diamond with ten thousand eyes. Why not act like a mountain floating on a sea of blossoms?

Mt. Fuji. Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

A Hymn To Silence


Silence is substance. The material world is made out of vibrating energy. But what is the energy that vibrates? No-thing. The empty vacuum of perfect silence. 
St. John of the Cross said, "Silence is the first language of God." The 2nd Century Gnostic Valentinus wrote, "The real Virgin Mother is mystical eternal silence." Rumi tells us, "When I am silent, I fall into the place where everything is music." Ammaji adds, "In meditation, silence is the Mother." And Anias Ninn: "I love your silences, they are like mine."
Silence cannot be thought. Thinking a thought about silence is not silence. Of course our silence should not suppress or negate thinking. But in the radiant quietness of Truth, the veil of thought becomes transparent, and silence outshines the mind. Then silence is freedom from thought.

And if you are an activist, do not doubt that your action is empowered from a place of silence. Plunge into action 101%, and you will feel at the peak of action a depth inside you that is utterly still, utterly silent.
I don't need freedom of speech nearly so much as I need freedom of silence. Let me liberate silence from every shackle of shame, from every self-image that mutes me through the words of others. True silence is not the repression commanded by authority and fear. That is not silence at all, but only a stifled scream. True silence is the music of repose, which flows through all my apparent boundaries, suffuses every particle of this body, the cell walls, the breeze in the meadow, rivers and streams, forests, mountains, clouds, the space about the moon, the aura of the day star. My intimate silence overflows the rim of the Milky Way. 
Silence is the fertile womb of darkness, the causeless astonishment that bubbles at the root of the cosmos. The silence of the invisible sap, odorless yet permeating stem, leaf, petal and pollen with a fragrance of ecstasy. The soft silence of divine love, soaking through the edges of things, melting, uniting them in Wholeness, without destroying their forms. Each form is but a wave on the ocean of the Ineffable, yet silence is the depth.
When I am truly awake, my flesh is the comb, silence is the honey in every cell. I can taste it, taste the golden void in each atom. Silence is the glory of night, the luminous nectar of blackness, in whom the effervescent stars are suspended like the sparkle in wine. Most abysmal of all is the silence between my thoughts, my true home, "intereor intimo mea," more intimate to me than I am to myself.
Silence is the oil pressed out and overflowing from matter. And matter is solidified silence. Silence is never anywhere else but here, the eternity in each moment. Silence is the soul of this breath, the muse of the universe, essence of presence prior to the Word. In the groundless caverns of meditation, silence crystalizes into diamond, more adamant than any fleeting quark or neutrino composing the stuff of the physical world. For at the quantum level of the cosmos, this world is a mist, ever vanishing in the dawn of silence. 
No need to seek or attain it. Just sink deeper into your heart, the center that has no circumference, the Being that has no opposite. Here, in unutterable vastness beyond the mind - or rather, not beyond but before, even before the thought of "I" - here in bewildered beauty, dissolve into Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
What is Truth? This is exactly what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus at his trial. How did Jesus answer? He was silent. Silence is Truth. I cannot know the truth: I Am the truth. Vibrations of silence do the speaking. All things are made of silence, "Om Tat Sat." And that thou art, "Tat Tvam Asi."
Now, a meditation from 7th Century Syrian Saint, Isaac of Nineveh:

"Above all things,
love silence.
Out of your silence
will arise something
that will draw you
into deeper silence.
If you practice this,
inexpressible light
will dawn upon you."

Hubble space photo, Sombrero Galaxy