Don't you long to return
before I was born.
pouring over the mountain.
of lymph node, bone,
gristle and tear
A center whose circle can't
quite catch its tail.
is my body.
Don't you long to return
to where you are?
The vagus nerve is a golden hand reaching through my body, holding my heart in its palm. When I feel jangled or worried, I don't think about anything, because all worry is about nothing. Worry is just an imbalance and a lack of energy in the nervous system, caused by too much outward focusing. Worry is a signal from the body that it's time to repose in the majesty of Being, which is never out there, but ever already here. So instead of thinking, instead of worrying, I rest in my vagus nerve. Simply feel it tingle deep in my flesh, bathed in the effortless resonance of the mantra, sound-current of the divine Name, until this miraculous glowing hand of neurology warms me from within, my every cell and bone singing in silence. Grateful for the mere gift of Being, the inestimable abundance of this breath, what is there to worry about? I Am.
If my little sharing of love for you this morning is helpful, just receive. Let it happen. If this seems like nonsense, don't worry. Forget about it.
Advaita is not a path. It is an experience. An experience of dropping the path. Those who have tried to turn non-duality into a "path" have created delusion and mental strain for many. I am discontented and I'd rather be somewhere else. I want to get to Oneness, I want to get "there," so I follow a "path" that I call advaita, leading me away from "here." But isn't it obvious that what separates here from there is the path? This is the joke-like structure of our seeking. So just drop advaita, drop non-duality: that's your only hope of experiencing it. Drown your senses in your heart, and your heart in a late summer rose. Drop the path and leap into the inexplicably entangled frolic of distant stars and protons on the tip of your nose. In the ever-dissolving quantum crystal of the present moment, nothing actually exists but the explosion of Grace.
Photo by Aile Shebar
You are having a secret love affair
with your Anger,
that ruby-fanged serpent,
that Autumn moon
coiled in your belly.
With the wand of immortality
and the prod of your conviction
that you cannot die
(admit it, yes, it's death
that is the outrage)
you coax her quivering tongue
to flick flames at steeples,
minarets, missile silos,
and topple the pyramids
Don't hide in that chamber
You're just like them,
filled with the wrath of your fathers.
Give up blaming.
on your funeral pyre and dance
naked in the foolishness of hell.
Hell was the name
of the Goddess once
when caverns were holy
and fungal, reptilian
love dropped her veil
and the sun melted
our bodies into ghee.
Painting by Anne Marie Zilberman
It's not complicated. Your body rooted to the earth, where it is, as it is, its very weight a sacrament, gravity the Mother's love, pressing you to her breast, and all around the flower of your flesh, the kiss of space. Invisible planets caress you. Inhalation rises through the hollow stem of your spine, effortlessly threading the soil to the center of the galaxy, while your exhalation pours stars into the loam. Dissolve the world into boundless blues. Now let it be recreated by a gentle kneading, the rise and fall of your chest. Your soul, this breathing body. Your body, awareness. You are the sacrament, you are the wedding. The bridal chamber is your heart. It's not complicated. This is the first and highest meditation: being as you Are.
They say the world is a mirage compared to the samadhi void. I say even the void is a mirage compared to Shyam, whose flesh is the sky-brilliance of a sapphire.
He ambles through lusher gardens than enlightenment, where you pundits and yogis cannot enter, for you must pass the flaming sword of the gate keeper, which lops off reason and makes you a fool.
His wine is love stored up in a hidden wine skin, the passion of emptiness, the breast from whose hollow scholars never drink, having forgotten how to weep transcendental tears of longing...
Which after all are the ordinary tears of a hyacinth in February, a crysalis congealed in dreamless bewilderment, a peacock wandering alone in a cage of zeroes, a weeping mirrored rainbow who cannot see its Self until the fan of knowledge closes.
Come now, be as human as you can. Through these ordinary tears, that which is more inward than "I Am" becomes visible, deeper in the seed than next Spring, sweet beyond tasting, flute of the deaf.
The core of the reed is nothingness, but that's what makes it sing. Just so, He is the love which has no object, consuming lover and beloved. The Lord of this garden is not a symbol of anything else.
Don't look for a meaning in it. Just have the affair. Take the journey of one heart-beat across the ocean of your blood, to the shadow at the pit of the galaxy.
Collapse, return to the brilliant vacuum between one breath and another, transmuting your flesh into dark matter like his, sweet as a rain-laden cloud exhausted by kirtan weeping.
I only give you glimpses of Krishna's vastness, the trembling emptiness of an eye that sees itself. I only leave clues about the scented bower toward whose entrance sinlessly naked you wander, crazy enough to be invited IN.
He meets us all here, even the party crashers. Who is He, really, this outrageous lapis-throated paramour you imagined to be your own, who whispered the secret name only your betrothed could know?
You thought it would just be the two of you, fool! His gaze contains us all. His body is space itself, infused with the unstruck ringing of sub-atomic chimes. What are these bells if not the infinitesimal gods of every probability-wave in the golden ocean of stillness?
Govinda twines his limbs with yours; there are countless ways to make love. He is the madness of the Possible. How could one finger of his hand not fondle all our hearts? How could the intimate glance of his omniscient eye not torment every soul into dissolving?
The one who asked you to this dance invited every beggar. Don't RSVP: just fall on your belly, lower than a serpent, sinking in reptilian holiness. That is how your pinions unfold, poppies unfolding from loam.
Bhakti is the pulse of one perfect darkness at the center of every whirling soul. Leave petty jealousy behind. Real ecstasy is out of control. Let etiquette return to chaos.
Enter the jasmine-scented grove at pavonine midnight. Eternity imagines time just so that you can have this darshan moment, stunned by the beauty of Madhava, winged with the past and the future.
To each He is the bridegroom. Yet you must be faithful to One alone. This is the sweet injustice of the affair, purity and impurity pervaded by the same bliss.
Don't say, "I walk through deep night, searching for the smokeless blue flame of his grace." That is the way of the Way.
Why not be a disappearing cloud, melting into the blackness you move through? All at once, you are filled with stars. That is the way of the Wayless.
Can you tell the difference
between the liberated
and the bound?
They have the same fringe,
the same shadow,
but those who dwell in
can feel their edges melting,
other hearts beating in the dark,
the granular nature of time
suddenly caramelized like
petals crushed to their fragrance,
breath returning to the sky.
They rest between stars
in the boundless power of doubt
without fleeing toward an answer.
Through the glow
around the body
their work of bewilderment
Don't call it “dying.”
Just let Autumn come,
whispering "yes" to what is.
The cult of outrage is very popular these days, and Kali has become the chosen deity of the angry, who often disdain people who are blissful.
Yet anger is just an ardent and intensified form of bliss, and quite addictive. Sometimes we prefer honey, and sometimes we like to crack our teeth on rock candy.
In the wisdom of Tibetan art, the Goddess of Wrath holds a golden dorje, or lightning bolt. What is the nature of lightning? Overwhelmingly intense, yet lasting but a fraction of a second.
Use the golden dorje of your fury to energize, cauterize, and heal. But let the lightning bolt pass all the way through you, from heaven to earth, from the sky in your crown to the dust on your soles. Finish your anger. Let it vanish.
When we let anger flash completely through us like a blue flame, it leaves us lighter, ready to soar in the breeze. It doesn't leave us more angry. The right use of anger is to free us from anger. Anger is not our true home.
If I linger in the lightning, and try to grasp the bolt, I do not understand the alchemy of rage. If I mistake my anger for a permanent and more authentic 'state' of spirituality, it becomes heavier than lead, and I cannot fly.
The dorje of the Goddess is a consuming fire, instantly transmuting, then liberating. Our goal is not to be furious, but to be free.
If you could feel
beneath your ribs one beat
of the caged falcon's wings
the rich would give their wealth away,
the angry surrender despair,
the violent melt bullets into tears.
The thief would repay what is stolen,
yet the victim would insist,
Please keep it, you need it more than I.
Isn’t this why you sing,
Om mani padme hum?
The jewel at the center of the lotus.
Isn't this why you pray,
La ilaha il'Allah?
No God but God.
Isn't this the mirror kiss
of the soundless swan
who settles on your heart lake?
Touched by the effortless
breath of dawn
a blossom springs from mud.
Call it the flower of emptiness
because the seed is hollow.
Unfathomable to philosophers
how shadows shine,
and when you don't resist the dark
some secret splendor
bursts inside you,
healing the world.
You are not here
to do penance.
You are not here
to justify your being.
You are not here to earn
your own way.
You are here to lose your way.
You are here to
soak up our tears,
wander and trip
over unsought treasures.
You are here to
be thrown and caught,
captivated by the Lord
You are here to make
a mosaic of mistakes
that, when you finally
step back and see,
looks just like the face
Photo: detail, Mary Magdalene by Caravagio
My very act of seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, penetrates the object of perception and permeates it with consciousness, until it is no longer an it, but a Thou. Even a mossy stone, a whisper of hummingbird wing, the musk of late September tomatoes, this fierce hibiscus blossom on my back porch. My senses awaken her Thou. Her beauty awakens my Thou.
To behold is an ancient art, beyond mere seeing. To behold is to be held. As we entangle our gazes, this scarlet blossom curves toward consciousness, and I bend closer to Me. Together we approach the asymptote of the Self. Together we melt the mind-made distances between seer and seen, humanity and sap. She is my soul, and I am her body. Our holy confusion makes everything clear. In one beholding, each be held.
Photo: hibiscus on my back porch.
Here is the birth of sorrow: to perceive the world as solid, and the chatter of your mind as something real, while your Silence is reduced to an abstract nothing. Here is the birth of peace: to witness both your mind and its world as an ever-dissolving mist, while your Silence solidifies into a jewel, a diamond of utmost reality. Ask any teardrop, any star.
Image from unsplash.com
It's taken me a lifetime to become a simpleton. I'm committed now, having understood at last that at this very instant the oldest starlight in the universe is spinning through a proton in my toe. There is no big or little, distant or near, no sunya-silence not filled with the chimes of divine chaos. "Ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: the smallest of the small is greater than the greatest." Every creature sparkles with its own feral singularity, polished by the breath of the Witness, the boundless One who whispers, "Dearest, you are incomparable! I want you to bathe in the swamp of my Presence. I have squeezed a fistful of pungent mud to make a form for your infinity. I love you as much as a late August plum, plopping sweet into the birdbath at midnight. How could any creature be loved more than this? You are."
Photo: first plums in my back yard.
No need to maintain any state of mind. Simply cease to grasp the concept held at this moment, and the mind springs back into its natural buoyancy, an explosion of silence.
Many seekers try to hold onto awareness. But awareness cannot be held or grasped. Awareness is not a "state," and the very effort to maintain it only generates the chatter of more thinking. Who is the maintainer and what is being maintained? This duality of the do-er and the object of doing simply re-creates the endless cycle of samsara.
Eternity has no duration; it is the instantaneous pulsation of the boundless. Freedom is gained this instant, moment by moment, not by maintaining awareness but by releasing the effort to think any concept.
What happens when we unclasp a thought? Awareness returns to awareness in a blast of Self-recognition. The energy that was bound up in the thought becomes available as bliss: pure consciousness devoid of concepts. This instant of eternity cannot be maintained over time. Any effort to perpetuate it as a "state," is ego.
In release of thought, awareness spontaneously reveals the always-already-enlightened condition of unlimited space. The space of our own awareness envelopes the universe, as the sky envelopes a floating dust mote. The spacious now of Sabbath rest, repeated often throughout the day, expands until it pervades the hours, the seasons. And this expanded awareness, the groundless background of all experience, gradually moves into the foreground. It is not a practice in time, but a timeless gift of grace.
Simply look into the nearest eye, caressing your infinite Self with light through the gaze of the other. Or learn from a fading blossom at your window sill, from the purple in a passing evening cloud, from the sound of raindrops and the silence between them, how to crystalize the diamond of awareness, how to embrace the mist-like impermanence of the world.
Every creature is a trembling gesture of breath on the pool of your own unfathomable Being. Whether filled with joy or sorrow, your fleeting day is just a poem that silence inscribes in the air with your heartbeat.
This just about covers everything I've ever learned. Thank you, Robert, wherever you are... Oh wait, you're right here!"Always remember, the true teacher is in your heart. The real teacher is within you. A person who has gone within for many years and become silent within, will be attracted to the same silence without. They will come to the place that agrees with the within. When you have attained a degree of spiritual knowledge within, you will meet the Sage or the teacher without. It's the same difference. There's no difference whatsoever. But those of you who shop for teachers, who shop for gurus, who go shopping for spiritual life, will always be disappointed, for you will find some fault wherever you go. And again, the fault that you find, is also within yourself...
"So we begin to feel that there's a living Presence within us. As we work with this feeling, that Presence turns out to be us. It turns out that we are not merely the body, or the mind, or the do-er. We are this living Presence. There's no name for it. It's beyond words and thoughts. But it is there, shining in all its glory. You feel the freedom, the love, the joy of it."~Robert Adams
For Lord Krishna's Birthday, Krishna Janmashtami, 8/18/22The foreplay of Lover and Beloved is the path to annihilation.
This is where we get the concept of Zero.
One is not enough, two is too many.
Exhalation and inhalation consummate their marriage in stillness.
Whoever said "I do" has disappeared.
When the golden dahlia bursts, who counts the petals?
When the Friend appears at the door of your chest,
who notices brown feet like withered roses,
eyes nested in wrinkles of laughter and sorrow?
You see an abysmal darkness standing at the center of the sun,
and you become the gaze who gazes at you.
Grace is a dagger, not an abstraction,
the first breath ignited by a final heartbeat.
But now, a miracle. This cup overflows with wine
because the sommelier himself is drunk.
Just so, otherness tops off the self, and you become a fragrance.
Not an image in the attic mirror, but a blossom
rooted in the mud of kisses and tears.
The wanderer cannot find her way Home,
so Home returns to the wanderer.
Countless lifetimes she imagined free will,
then she meets the Friend, and surrenders.
Discretion drowns in the sea of bewilderment,
thinking climaxed in silence.
No island to swim to, no breath.
Merely a fin slicing through wavelessness.Someone cries through these lips: "Let me be lost in your love!"
The Friend replies, "You have no choice."
This moment has been floating on ten thousand births and deaths,
the glitter of a teardrop in eternity.
All that matters is the kissof pistil and stamen.All that matters is the wave nature of the moon.All that matters is the sexual caressof listener and silence, thrillin stillness where the music is conceived.All that matters is the death of distances,the sapphire yearning-poolwhere the sky in your forehead drownsmy darkest embryo again and again.Are we not born inside eachother as tears?Here is the gift of emptiness.All that matters is the touchof your breath – pouring infrom its desert night across the seawhere stars arrange themselves tenderlyover your slumber –and my breathebbing into the diamond blacknessthat is always awake.
Originally published in the journal Empty Mirror.
Photo: Shi Shi Beach, Matthew Nichols Photography
A friction of breath on breath
ignites the fire of the Beloved in your body.
If you need a reason to be born, this is good enough.
A Goddess of inconceivable beauty longs to nurse you
with braided streams of wild starlight.
There has never been a more perfect time than this to breathe.
Because you have lost the way to the palace of your thalamus,
your pineal minaret, the cavern where your pituitary hangs
like a luminous spider in a web of moonbeams,
you must live in a world of blood-stained shadows.
But when grace overflows your soul,
taking the form of gristle and bone,
the corpse of God turns back into bread and rosé.
There’s a reason why pain has shaped you into a dark chalice.
Repose in the silent kiss of inhalation and sighing,
the touch of So’ham inside your chest.
This is the sound of returning, again and again, to your Self.
When the dream of the cloud evaporates in love's sky,
the double vision of inner and outer disappears.
Your spirit reposes in your body like a hand
slapping a newborn infant.
Your flesh becomes diaphanous, blown sand
caramelized in the furnace of heaven.
You sheathe a warrior’s blade
in the softest rise and fall of your belly.
What you called your soul is a dark blue yoni
inside the silver flame of your backbone,
this smokeless wick of yearning where
earth dangles from the sun by a nerve of lightning.
Exhale, expel a phalanx of demons.
Inhale, welcome hosts of angels
under the lintel of your missing rib.
You are just a doorkeeper; why did you think you were here?
Your willingness to surrender and do nothing,
even for a moment in this royal house of dust,
heals oceans and forests, loam and stone
for a thousand feet down, ancestors and the unborn
for seven generations, future and past.You have no business understanding this.
Just practice Being in your body.
With the sun and moon in your eyes,
turn every stranger's wounded gaze into a cave of diamonds.
Yet if your intellect must crunch numbers, chaw on this.
In the beginning, Zero was empty.
Then earth and her creatures multiplied Zero by 10 trillion.
Of course, 0 x 107 = 0.
But now, Zero is full.
Photo by Aile Shebar
Why do you assume
that you are rising,
that you are on a journey,
that you move upon the world,
among the stars,
when in fact the stars move
on their journey through your breath,
time falls through your stillness,
the world is born each instant and dies
in the silence of the one who watches
but refuses to name it?
Why do you assume
there needs to be a knower
when things happen quite as they are
without being known or unknown?
Why not abandon
what was never yours to carry?
Be the field, not the photon.
Be the meadow, not the poppy.
float through us.
at the core of this heart.
There never was an "inside"
or an "outside,"
but plentiful vastness in quietude
for all that ever was
or will be to happen
in a single unending moment.
We’re always here, You and I,
nestled in the weaving
of this prayer before dawn.
Photo by Muhammad Rehan
"Layam vraja: dissolve now." ~Ashtavakra Gita
They say that dissolving the "I" is enlightenment, and this is an extraordinary event. But really, isn't it quite ordinary? Didn't it happen when you were a child, in every-day moments of wonder? Marveling at a lightning bug, marveling at the eyes of a new friend on the playground, marveling at a shooting star.Doesn't it happen now, when you give yourself completely to your grief, and dissolve into a tear? When you give yourself to joy, and dissolve into a smile? Give yourself to the sound of Miles, a Monet water lily, a sonnet of Keats, and dissolve into silence. Give yourself to the Friend in your heart, through a touch of divine inhalation, and dissolve into thanksgiving.At such an ordinary moment, is there anyone left? Doesn't enlightenment, the dissolution of the ego, happen ten thousand times a day?What is all this talk about getting rid of "I"? The problem is not having an ego, the problem is clinging to it. When "I" am a fixed structure, with weight and mass in time, suffering happens. When "I" let Source create and dissolve me for each new moment of our amazing dance, beauty happens. We are slivers of sunbeam sparkling on the waves. We each have a trillion momentary selves.Little children have lots of egos, an ocean of bubbles, playfully expanding, popping into nothing, every now. The arising of "I" is for expression, the dissolving of "I" is for wonder. This is the pulse, the breath of creation.Sometimes I think even the moon and stars are whispering this. In fact, there is not a single solid thing in all the universe that is not made of infinitesimal love-sparks, ever dissolving into waves of ananda.