Don't Let Them Disperse Your Soul


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

No Obligation

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 Self

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

clarity of "Am."
What is your true name, friend?
This breath, gently given,
softly received
in silence.

Photo by Barbara Vautier

Food (Dedicated to the Late James Lovelock)

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.  

James Lovelock, author of the Gaia Theory, dies at 103
Chalk mandala by biology teach Caryn Babaian LINK

Letting Go


The teacher said,
"Let go."
So I let go
of the teacher.
Now there is no one
letting go and nothing
to let go of,
morning sky
empty and blue,
the teacher a chickadee
in the cedar by my window.


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.

Secret Work



Collage by Rashani Réa, my co-author on several books, see below

The Fool at the Edge of the Well

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.

Do Something Great: Be


"They also serve who only stand and wait.” ~Milton

I remember how my first teacher, Maharishi, loved and quoted this line from Milton's sonnet. There are some whose lives seem very humble, apparently not too "productive" or "successful" in a material sense: yet upon the invisible stability of their inner silence the world depends.

Are you one of these keepers of the vigil? (Ah, I write these words at 3 A.M. on a Sabbath morning!) Without your unfathomable silence, your offering of breath to the breathless, the getting and spending of the world would spin out of control. Indeed, this is happening, and we need you these days more than ever, friend.

Never before has it been so important for contemplatives to dwell among us, though their lives be quiet, obscure and unremarkable. If you are one of them, thank you. You walk softly on the earth, yet stay awake. You play an important role, the role of Being.

Some of you will understand that the greatest work you can "do" in this world is just to radiate the light of the heart. The light of the heart springs from groundlessness, when no mind, no belief, no "me" gets in its way. The contemplative is the one who knows that light overflows from the darkness of Unknowing. So there is no need to flee the dark or seek the light.

Radiant darkness cannot be sought or found, it just is. And if You just are, the light already shines in your heart. The pure impulse of existence is vibrant with love, loving for no reason, no purpose, no end. Is this not who you really are?

This radiant Being is not an angel, a savior, or the white-robed guru on a flower-bedecked stage. This radiant Being is simply what gushes out of the Deep, through your chest. Nor is it a "spiritual practice." Your radiance happens very naturally, because it is your very nature. No one needs to pick the camellia blossom. When it is full, it just drops from the twig.


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
into wine.

Now drop these small weapons

of fear and resentment.
You are only a sheath.

Love is the sword.

Around The Conflict

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.

You 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.


Searching for the Magdalene (Her Feast, July 22)

A true story of grace and transformation, originally published in the Quaker journal, 'What Canst Thou Say.' I share it again for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, which begins at Vespers on July 21.

In all wisdom traditions, she is here in the anahatta chakra. Her secret name is the Unstruck Sound. She is the archetype of our yearning for divine Beauty. Longing and Beauty ceaselessly merge, separate, and merge again. This is the eternal pulse in the whirling heart of the void, the "spanda" that creates a photon, a soul, a universe. Radha yearning for Krishna, a Sufi's ecstatic dance with Ruuh, Magdalene longing for Christ: creation is a likeness of their lila, the divine play of "bhedabheda," which in Sanskrit means, "two, not-two." Dear friend, do not be troubled by this resonant play of reflections. Just rest between two breaths, and become the mirror... I know there are many of you who embody this same rhythm of longing and union, who yearn for Divine Beauty. So I share this story of my quest with you.
  In 1972, I was a pilgrim. Not to India, but to the Medieval shrines of Europe, seeking the heart of Christian prayer. I'd spent several years exploring the wisdom of India with my guru, Maharishi Mahesh. I told him that I longed to know the mystery of Christ. I was not a Hindu.

"Be a Christian," he said. "Take this meditation into the Church."

On my pilgrimage, I visited Vezeley in central France. In the crypt beneath the church is the pilgrim's shrine to the Magdalene: there I discovered that her tomb was nearby. I had no idea she was buried in France. For the first time in my life, I prayed through a saint. "O Mary, mother of devotion, guide me to the heart of Christ!" I wasn't even Catholic.

Much later, I learned her mythic story. After the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene boarded a ship bound for Britain with Joseph of Aramethea. On the coast of Provence, where now is the port of Marseilles, Mary disembarked while Joseph continued to Britain with the holy grail. Secluded in a cave in the hills of Provence, Mary became the first Christian mystic.

But as I wandered on, I forgot about my prayer to her. Several weeks later, in the pilgrim church of Conques, I met an old priest with whom I shared my quest. We did not discuss Mary Magdalene. We spoke of Gregorian Chant and the old traditions. I asked him if he knew of a monastery where the old way of Gregorian chant was still practiced. Mumbling about a tiny Benedictine priory in the south, he scribbled a note which said, "Bedouin, near Carpentras." I stuck it in my wallet.

A month later, bound for Italy, I got off the train in Marseilles by a sudden intuition. I took another train to Avignon, where I reached for the crumpled note in my wallet. "Bedouin, near Carpentras." Carpentras was a three-hour bus ride into Provence. In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "Be a wanderer." I had no idea where I was going. I had truly become a wanderer.

In Carpentras, I hitched a ride toward Bedouin, which was fifteen miles further into the countryside and not even on the map. No bus, no train stopped there, few cars. I had to walk the last few miles. The village dozed in golden light. Poppies and lavender danced in the fields. Granite hills shimmered in waves of noon-day heat. Everyone in Bedouin was napping: not a soul about town! Was there a priory near-by? A single old man I met didn't know. I started to hike.
Covered with dust and sweat, I walked for hours past meadows baking in the drone of crickets. I came upon a run-down farm where a young British couple leaped through the long grass with butterfly nets. They told me there was no priory near-by and they said that everyone in the region was as crazy as they were. By evening, I was back in Bedouin. With desperate faith, I tried one more country lane at the far end of the village. The sun was an orange candle on the purple hills. I ambled another mile, through apricot groves and a flock of goats without a herder. Then, around a bend, I saw a dome.

It was an ancient Romanesque dome of well-fitted stones, near a farm house and cinder-block dormitory, tidy gardens, no sign at the gate. From the domed chapel came a sound as timeless as the longing in my heart: Gregorian chant.

I knelt in gathering darkness where nine young monks chanted Vespers. An oil lamp flickered from a niche in the granite alter. Carved in relief upon that stone was a woman, wild and naked, long hair covering her breasts. She held the oil lamp in her stone hand and gazed at me.
After Vespers, the monks greeted me in silence and beckoned me to supper: vegetables, cheese, lentil soup and bread without words. Then the prior, a young priest named Father Gerard, returned with me to the chapel, where we could whisper despite the rule of silence. In stumbling French I told Pére Gerard of my quest and he invited me to stay.

"I don't even know the name of this place," I said.

"C'est Le Prieuré de la Madeleine."

Pointing to the woman in the alter I asked, "Who is she?"

"La Madeleine." It was Mary, and this place was hers. Only then, after weeks of wandering, did I recall my prayer at her tomb. "Her cave was in these hills," said Gerard. "This shrine was built for her in the ninth century. She was the first Christian monk. And you are just in time."

"For what?" I asked.

"Her feast."

A Catholic feast begins with Vespers at sundown. My saint had guided me to Magdalene Priory precisely at Vespers on July 21. The next day, July 22, was The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. As Tolkein wrote, "Not every wanderer is lost."


For months I worked in the apricot groves, sang the daily Latin Hours, rose for Vigils at 3 AM. There was hard work in the gardens, but the real work was prayer. In that ancient dome, before the soft granite gaze of the Magdalene, I prayed for hours each day, using the meditation technique with which my guru had graced me. The stillness inside me grew boundless, then vibrant, then dazzling. I tasted the light at the center of the soul, where the tiny bud of "I" dissolves into the blossoming "Am" of God. Yet I still longed for a personal connection to the Infinite.
Suddenly, doubt shattered my devotion. Can I unite with Christ through a meditation practice from India? Impossible, impure, even adulterous! I vowed to give up meditation and adopt the Jesus Prayer. I would only use the name of Jesus as my mantra. I tried several forms of Christian practice, but none united me with Christ like my guru's subtle sadhana.

Then came the breakthrough. With a single breath I sighed into realization. I saw that the conflict was not about East vs. West, but intellect vs. experience. God cannot be thought, for God is. I must surrender my intellect, and plunge into a darkness without concepts, a silence without thoughts. From this emptiness, love is born: light from darkness, Christ from the Virgin's womb.

Meditation deepened and softened, softened and deepened, until my longing was fulfilled. I realized that my bija mantra, the subtle Sanskrit sound heard in meditation, was really an echo of the one divine Word, the Logos "through whom all things were made" (John 1).

This Word pulses through every ancient language of prayer: Sanskrit, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, the chants of the Amazonian rain forest. For the Logos is the resonant field of silence: pure consciousness vibrating in a singularity, a seed syllable at the root of creation, before sound condenses into matter. As one Spirit-Breath gives birth to all material creatures, so all languages are born of one Logos, and all prayers return to one God.

Gazing into the abysmal intimacy at the heart of creation, I beheld the face of the Beloved. Yet I saw no form, for Christ's features are dissolved in light, and that light is the fruit of darkness. When two kiss, they are one. They no longer see, but the Beloved is nearer than the lover's own heartbeat. One, yet two, we fall in love with Love.

Then I understood the Song of Songs, "For your lips are sweeter than wine, and your name is perfume poured out!" I tasted the vintage beyond perception, sweetness beyond naming. The person of Christ was essentialized in the sapphire radiance at the center of my soul.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good!" cries the Psalmist. O seeker, trust in the authority of your own experience. For we are led by the heart to understanding, not by understanding to the heart.

LINK: on 'Kenosis,' to read along with this memoir.

Painting: 'Mary Magdalene' by Cassandra Barney

Sword Of Manjusri


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 your bones.

Billions Of Moments Of Beauty


So 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

Journey's End


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
pollinated nebulae.
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

To Rest In The Heart

Bewilderment is a form of grace. When you are bewildered, your mind gives up and sinks into the heart.

To rest the mind in the heart is the beginning and end of spiritual practice. This practice is very subtle, but not in the least esoteric. And no one should have to pay for it. The only price is your whole Being.

Feel the warmth in the chest, like the memory of a first kiss. Let your breath arise there. Ever so softly, your inhalation flows up as a cooling flame through the back of your throat, behind your eyes, into your crown - that tender fontanelle that made you so vulnerable and open when you were a baby.

This breath is permeated with awareness. Therefor it is completely awakened, yet there is only breath, and no thought. When the breath of wonder is full, it radiates into the stars above you.

And just as softly now, you breathe out. A glittering mist of Shakti pours down through each cell of your flesh, from your crown to your toes. One inhalation, one exhalation, observed in the astonishment of grace, cleanses the mind of stress and wakes up every particle of your sacred physiology with healing light. The moon makes love to every chromosome.

Why are you here on earth? To incarnate the breath of the Holy Spirit. She who was the playmate of God at the dawn of creation (Proverbs 8:22ff), She who sent galaxies whirling in their circle-dance, has come to dwell among your atoms as this very Breath.
Be infinitely gentle with each particle of your existence. Be wild. Be wildered. Miracles transpire in the realm of the Effortless.

Photo by Laurent Berthier

Patiently Waiting


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, 

the annihilation,

and the Beauty.

Does it happen in 

a moment or a day?

Is it like the burst of

clustered galaxies

over countless eons seen

in an ever-present past?

Why would that even matter

if Beauty is always 

already here?

If it happens, has happened, 

continually waits for itself 

to happen?

And you can't make

it happen, whether in 

a moment or a day,  

because you are simply

the witness, 

the bewildered One 

who, prior to thinking, 

prior to feeling, prior 

to knowing "I Am," 

is perfect stillness,

radiant silence,

love unbudded and unbound, 

patiently waiting

beyond duration,  

enfolding what you

must become?

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,

to happen.

'Light-Filled Peony' by Marney Ward