In a civilization that has nearly exhausted itself, one sign of weariness is the denial of individuality. Please don't buy into the propaganda that says, to become whole, you must drown your person-hood in the collective.
Don't doubt your uniqueness, your voice as a free moral agent. Whether of the left or the right, authoritarian ideology wants to level you into the mean, to undermine your singularity. Levelers herd you into racial, gender, and tribal identity groups, the better to submerge you in their programs of bio- or socio-engineering. They even use new-age "spirituality," appropriating concepts of advaita (non-duality) or the device of the sangha, to dissolve the particular into the general good.
What they don't want you to know is this: good is never general, only particular. Your soul is a dancing hologram. You are a one-time-only turn of the kaleidoscope. You may reflect the cosmos, but the configuration is yours alone. You are this wave, enfolding the whole ocean. Speaking for innumerable winged, scaly, wounded and four legged things, trillions of microbes and spoors, you nevertheless speak in your own voice, unlike any other.
Incorporate ancestral genes, both human and non-human, host multitudes of the unborn in your body, irradiate the stars; yet you alone are the sparkling center of an infinite web of sparkling centers, each all-one. The universe could not be the same without you. So be eccentric as you can. Dance wildly on the rim of creation. The edge you explore with all your heart can only be the center, and the cosmos your comfort zone.
In proto-galactic clouds of nebulae, on numberless planets, through mineral vegetable animal eons, consciousness strove to embody your song. Now you sing for multitudes, but the voice is yours. Don't let the levelers drown your Word of creation in their ambiant white noise of politically sterilized speech. OM is not group-think. OM is the primal verb whose infinite declensions burst into a multiverse, a chorus of individual voices. Don't let them disperse your soul.
Painting by Mahmoud Farshchian
Of course the outraged are outraged that you are not outraged. But in truth, you are under no obligation to be angry. And though they are certain the world will not survive without their angry opinion, you are under no obligation to have an opinion about anything. Opinions arise and dissolve like clouds in the empty sky. You cannot grasp them, so why try? To realize that you are not under any obligation to believe in your thoughts is the dawning of freedom. Why should you insist that they are “your” thoughts or “my” thoughts? They just arise and dissolve in vast awareness. A thought is just dark energy, billowing out of the void in the axis of a neuron. You came here to be astonished. Bow your head and pour the ideology out of your skull. Your beliefs will compost next Spring’s kale. To be green and useful, the uncreated light of heaven must pass through the belly of an earthworm. You came to meet your friends in Rumi’s meadow, out beyond opinions. Bring an empty cup. In the field of the effortless, small miracles with blue petals spring up, smelling like the stars.
To meet your higher self
is to welcome the Christ.
To meet your higher self
is to hug the Buddha.
To meet your higher self
is to become the Guru.
This is liberation from God,
for the sake of God,
by the grace of God,
as when two mirrors face
one another, nothing between
but a gaze into the gazer,
igniting the formless radiance
of the sun in every cell
of your body, pouring
the milk of unborn stars
down your spine, setting
an amethyst of boundless sky
between your heartbeats.
Now shake off the illusion
of “higher” and “lower.”
The Gaze you long for
is not above, but deeper
inside your chest
than you are,
where wonder precedes thought,
and “I” falls away in the wild
effortless clarity of "Am."
What is your true name, friend?
This breath, gently given,
Photo by Barbara Vautier
Mineral people are plant food. Plant people are animal food. We animal people are food for worms. Worms and maggots are microbe food. Matter is divine. The top of the food chain is not man, but microbe. Microbes are embodied angels who merge into vast infernal networks of holy mycelia. The mycelium network is the soul of a living planet. The planet is an archon, a goddess. Her spirit is the breath of a mushroom. Irradiate the stars with your body. We're all food.
Breathing in, from the belly to the galaxies above you, breathing out, from your the spiraled emptiness on your crown to the groundless abyss of beneath your sacrum, where the world is born, one breath of wholeness boosts your immune system. Gratitude for a butterfly on a blossoming weed in your backyard boosts your immune system. Stroking animal fur, and savoring it's warm feral fragrance, boosts your immune system. Walking barefoot on wet moss at dawn, feeling joy at another's success, hugging this moment, just as it is, boosts your immune system. Now fall into your flesh, landing softly in each cell. This too is medicine. Vaccinate your blood with the blues of the sky, the song of a sparrow, the daily practice of amazement. Proclaim sovereignty over your own body.
Photo: Indeed, a butterfly on a weed-blossom in my backyard.
The Master became a Fool and started to babble. He was sitting on the edge of the well of joy. These are a few of the things he said before I slapped him on the back and knocked him in.
No one is to blame.
Perfection is a mistake.
Being right is an obstacle to truth.
To bow is liberation.
To feel the wound at the heart of joy is devotion.
Surrender is the only victory.
The goal is not to be independently wealthy, but to be independently happy.
What is happening now is never as important as what is happening now.
Be a cause, not an effect.
You were not created in the image of a beggar, but in the image of a creator.
The chaos around you is just your old skin sloughing off:
you are a rainbow serpent of wisdom.
Throw out the voice that loves to argue, meet the one who loves to sing.
God hears all prayer as music without words; the names don’t matter.
The Lord is ruthlessly forgiving; how much love can you endure?
Let every moment be consumed in apocalyptic fire; now is the end.
The only discipline you need is awareness.
If you would hasten the sunrise, dance in the dark.
The deepest form of humility is to become the master of your own gift.
There is no first or last place; it is better to create than to win.
Answers drown out the music singing from the heart of your question.
The purest religious act is to abandon your point of view.
If you could do it all over again, you would not do it differently;
so just do what you are doing, there is no alternative.
When you feel certain that the world is in the hands of evil forces,
consider the mother of all conspiracies: your own mind.
The opposite of light is not darkness, the opposite of light is whining.
If you need a reason to be happy, you have not attained perfect foolishness.
God never descends from heaven; God wells up in tears from your body.
Meditation is intimacy with every particle in creation.
When you know that you are space itself, all distances dissolve in love.
What is love? The nectar between your thoughts.
At the still center of the smallest act of kindness, creatures melt back
into their creator.
God is ruthlessly forgiving.
Can you stand her fire?
Let this burning have its way with you.
Ferment your ashes.
There is nothing that cannot be changed
Now drop these small weapons
of fear and resentment.
You are only a sheath.
Love is the sword.
Around every conflict is a stillness, a silence, an awakened space containing more energy than the conflict. Instead of contracting your identity and becoming part of the conflict, enfold it. Take a breath, expand a little, become the solution.
are not the earth. You are not the moon. You are not a star. You are
space. You are not the dolphin. You are not the shark. You are not
the tiny phosphorescent plankton. You are the ocean. You are not the terrible or lovely image in the mirror. You are the mirror.
All forms appear and dissolve in that mirror, yet leave no mark, no dust. That is your formless clarity. The mirror reflects all motion without being moved. You are that stillness. Even the heaviest object becomes lighter than air in a mirror. You are that weightless presence.
The emptiness of the mirror can embrace the most distressing forms, the most terrifying forms. This is Kali. She is not anger. She is the unconditional compassion that pervades even forms and feelings of anger, terror, violence. Kali is the triumph of clarity over dullness, the Self-radiance that outshines even the darkest image.
What reflection appears when a mirror faces a mirror? When you gaze at your Self? Nothing. As Shelley wrote, "The deep truth is imageless." So we look right through what we've been looking for.
The most beautiful face
of God, the darshan of the Guru's glance, the very gaze of the Beloved, is but a fading glimmer in our boundless transparency. Our own mirror-like essence is ananda, bliss.
No experience we could ever enjoy through our senses, our feelings, or our thoughts, could be more luminous, more luscious, or more fascinating, than to rest as the unimaginable radiance of the imageless Self.
Countless galaxies pour into the cup of eternity, spilling over the rim of time. Who is the wine steward? Where are the stars distilled? They gush from the core of your heart.
The emperor recited his own royal merits,
then asked the wanderer what merit he possessed.
Bodhidharma replied, "mu."
The emperor asked what knowledge he taught.
Bodhidharma replied, "mu."
The emperor asked what meditation he practiced.
Bodhidharma replied, "mu."
Mu means "nothing."
Therefore throw away your rosary of shoulds.
It is costume jewelry.
Have the courage to slice off thou-shalt-not,
right at the throat with a single stroke
of the blazing sword of emptiness.If you call the whirlpool of stars in your heart,
"the soul," it becomes the shadow of an echo.
If you call your oceanic succulence "the flesh,"
it turns to stone, dark gravity of otherness.
And the sky where our bodies evaporate
into each other’s bittersweet mist?
If you name it "love" we are riven in two.
Out of hoarse silence rains a voice of cinders.
Use your scriptures for kindling.
Toast the commandments in the fire of your chest.
Nothing is buried under these ashes but more ashes.
After the conflagration, fresh green gestures
of careless caring spring up
with a fragrance distilled from lost roses
that grow in the compost of
many people feel that the world's sorrow, magnified by the echo chamber
of the media, must prevent us from being happy. They feel guilty if
they are not weighed down by the suffering they see endlessly repeated
in the media. But the media never magnifies the billions of moments of
beauty, the billions of little acts of kindness, that happen all over
the planet right now. They only see momentary shocks of violence, and
repeat them over and over, creating the illusion that the violence is
constant. Yet in between those momentary noises are vast territories of
silence, of gentleness and creativity. Now, more than ever before, it is
important to be happy on earth.
A flower photo by Kristy Thompson
The journey is over at this end of the rainbow.
The distance from here to there is only hesitation.
You arrived before the pilgrimage began.
Erasing the thought, I am seeking, dissolves
at least three million light-years.
Andromeda floats on the jelly of your iris.
We're all star-clusters petaled in one calyx,
colors of the garden prism'd through a hollow seed.
We’re answers in the silence where
no question has yet arisen.
But if we don't take time to gaze deeply,
we just call it now,
this holographic quantum bijou
emitting rays of past and future.
Pay a little more attention to the bling of suns.
Yatha drishti, tatha srishti.
As you are to yourself, so your world appears.
Between pistil and stamen, a trillion
Between I and Thou, a musk
so gold and pungent it drowns the drone,
arousing the distant queen.
Don't be one or two.
Grounded in diamond uncertainty,
behold the earth undaunted, shouting flowers,
brewing, thickening her honey
in the cauldron of Zero
While inside your chest, breath kisses breath,
and a fragrance of Unknowing
calls the bees home.
Water color by Marney Ward
Photo by Laurent Berthier
Here in your garden
is a patient waiting.
Cool morning air,
caress of golden
sunlight, and a breath
of mist in-lit with pearl.
A presence patiently
enveloping the bud
of the peony,
an expectation in stillness,
awaiting the burst,
and the Beauty.
Does it happen in
a moment or a day?
Is it like the burst of
over countless eons seen
in an ever-present past?
Why would that even matter
if Beauty is always
If it happens, has happened,
continually waits for itself
And you can't make
it happen, whether in
a moment or a day,
because you are simply
the bewildered One
who, prior to thinking,
prior to feeling, prior
to knowing "I Am,"
is perfect stillness,
love unbudded and unbound,
enfolding what you
No the mind can't do
a damned thing
to make it happen,
despite all its efforts
to validate the "i"
as a do-er separate
from the world,
despite all the useless
chatter of belief and blame.
And if there is a "path"
it must be simply this:
letting go of the chatter,
because the silence
is already here.
What you will become
is already here.
Prior to seeking,
prior to the Way,
you are held, you are
encircled and sphered
by the sky, the mist,
the climate of Beauty,
who patiently waits
for you to burst,
to end, to begin,
'Light-Filled Peony' by Marney Ward
Why bow before a white
silk dhoti and a pair sandals,
to one who sits on a golden dais
garlanded with roses and gladiolas?
Thousands perform padanamaskar,
shattering their brains on his bare toes.
But that finite human form is only
the reflection of something
infinite inside you, something
that bursts open in your solar plexus
and flowers beyond light.
The one you worship out there
is not the Guru - not unless his gaze
awakens the music in your silence,
his whisper tastes of nectar
in the space where your breath stops,
his shape dissolves into the stillness
at the core of your heartbeat.
Guru is within.
The real Guru is within.
Let that one awaken this one.
Photo by Kristy Thompson
What makes you feel renewed when you're hurting?
Merging awareness with breath, and breath with sensation in the body, dissolving the mind into your wound 100%, without resistance, without even naming it "pain," whether the wound be anger, grief, or yearning. This is the alchemy
of Direct Touch, which transmutes hurting into free energy, into ananda.
swaying in a breeze of exhalation.
Let your body rise, fall,
Don't even listen
From the fountain in your crown
Kali will guide you.
They're all inside you of course,
Words like “You” and “I,”
It has actually been used as a guided movement meditation
in a poetryoga playshop. The photo is by Peter Lik.
Fierceness is not the only path.
Anger is just one flavor of fire.
There are other ways to become authentic,
as when a hummingbird loses herself
in a sip from the honeysuckle fountain,
or a barn owl drops the heart of a mouse
down her owlet's yearning gorge.
Or merging with spanda wherever you are,
that which expands and contracts
yet remains like the sky,
the breath of boundless space delighting
in the gasp of an atom,
If you would become a lord among fools,
penetrate the flame.
Immolate your lungs in the divine shadow.
Darkness is not the opposite of light
but the womb of light.
It is good for those who get lost in colors
to hear this again and again.
Pierce the black hole of un-knowing
and mother your own nebula.
Both sun and moon ascend through infinite night.
Stars are brilliant, yet savory
is the blackness between them.
Her rays cast a sparkling path
across the waters of your mind,
and his golden beam, through morning mist,
caresses the bud beneath your bruises.
Who can say a woman is more gentle than a man?
Tremors of Shakti in Shiva's stillness,
throbbings of Tamuz in the uterus of Ishtar,
all of Christ in a single tear of Mary.
Your mother and father are sacred serpents
entangled in the tree of your spine.
They tempt you with their fruit,
yet the fruit is you, the whole garden is you.
Take, eat, this is your body,
that which expands and contracts
yet remains like the sky.
Why make war between woman and man?
Perhaps there are eight billion sexes: what then?
Conflict is a choice, one ripple
in the ocean of choicelessness.
You could choose dancing.
You could dance for no reason.
You could dance because one becomes two,
waltzing with the dragon of your own rainbow.
Now spin and whirl.
There's a ballroom at the center of your brain.
Your pineal gland is a chandelier
containing the stars you thought were above you.
For the sake of the children,
please don't go back to sleep.
Self-luminous your Being, clear and empty,
whether you wake or dream.
Penetrate the flame.
In the cloudless sky of now, be the lord of fools.
Drown all other pronouns in "Thou."
You have a rendezvous with someone
prior to light, earlier than darkness.
Friend, your whole life pulses
from this joy.
Art by Pooja Bhapkar