cannot be taught
or practiced,
but the breath of Grace
may be poured
into a grateful heart.
One calls herself 
a 'teacher,'
one calls himself
but who planted
the doing-seed?
In what dark loam?
Being is the teacher,
no other.
Being is the practice,
wu wei.
From depth unto depth
flows one ancient breath.
Between my chest
and yours
flows one ancient river
of Joy.

Photo by Laurent Berthier


It doesn't matter
how many of your planets
are in retrograde.
Who cares whether
your sun, moon and pole star
crash into each other,
annihilating time,
pulverizing your diamond
destiny into the eye
opening emptiness
of now?
So what if your
constellations are in rut,
entangling their horns
and talons in mortal combat?
Let the Lion and Bear,
the Ram and Archer
come down at dawn to drink
from the pool of silence
between your heartbeats.
You are not this riot of stars.
You are the largesse
of immemorial darkness
through which they wheel
and clash, stagger back,
and wander on.

Photo: NASA/SOPHIA/Lynette Cook

Ten Thousand Ways To Pray


Smiling we know
is a form of meditation.
Weeping is also a prayer.
Worry is beseeching
the Whirler of All
for the things you don't want.
When you are angry or bitter,

the purest devotion is to feel
the sensation in your belly
without naming it.
Let the fire of outrage
burn a hole through your forehead.
This is profound samadhi.
Be the hole.
Yes, there are ten thousand
ways to pray.
Today is sacred
because the planets are ajar.
Your horoscope looks like
the web of a spider
who fell into a plastic
Starbuck's cup
and imbibed caffeine.
The little dipper spills
mad lukewarm light,
making your plans collapse.
Your mind says, "everything
is going wrong,"
but your gut just savors
the bitter, the salt, the sweet,
the flavor of a rainy sidewalk,
thrown-out alter flowers
on Monday morning,
the compost of your mother's
many lonely faces
in the blossom of your own
daydream gaze.
Be patient with indigestion, friend.
It is the sum of all prime numbers
dissolving in the taste
of silence.
Angels of dust sprinkle themselves
over your cauldron of moon-blood.
Your mind gives up its pasquinade,
the falsetto soliloquy of reason
which is only the echo
of a voice that stopped speaking
before you were born.
Finally you can fall
into this breath,
the breath of grieving,
sighing, murmuring "yes"
to the dark.

Painting by Susan Sedon Boulet

Bump Into You

If you're tired of who you have been, just be who you are. But don't try to become who you will be, or you'll be right back where you were. At each bend in the road, meet yourself as a perfect stranger. Bump into You at every corner, astounded by the beauty of your face. Never throw mud at the mirror of the world. True friends don't just frolic on each other's shore, sticking their toes in. After all, each dissolving bubble of foam is another universe. The sparkling music of creation dances on an ocean of silence. True friends take off all their clothes, dive in with their whole body, and drown in ancient waves of grace.

Age Quod Agis

Agé quod agis. This was the favorite teaching of St. Ignatius. But I learned it from my cat. "Do what you are doing." Amazing how many of us do not choose to live the very life we are living, especially since this is the life we chose before we were born. Yet more amazing how much stress dissolves, how smoothly life flows, when we agree to live the life we chose. Only then do we begin to blossom, transform, and discover the vast energy waiting to grace our eyes, our fingers, our breath, our footsteps. There is only one possible life for each of us: the one we are living. Yet we resist almost every moment of it, preferring to be somewhere else. We would rather conform to an "ideal" preached by saviors, prophets, life-coaches, self-help books, media stars. We want to be like them, when the highest good is to be like ourselves. Don't assume that surrendering to the current of your own life is passive and spineless. In truth, it is Radiance, the unimpeded vibration of spontaneous creativity. The current of your own life expresses a unique and incomparable form, never before seen, never to be seen again. Why not melt effortlessly into your own existence, and simply live? But the mind says, that's too simple. Yes, it's even simpler than that, simpler than the mind itself. Agé quod agis. Do what you are doing.

Photo of our landlady, Basquiat

September Morning

My home is suspended in mandalas of dew, spider webs at every window, weaving corners of rooms and mother's Chippendale to the bushes and late summer flowers, bundling up slumbering daughters like stunned bugs into maple leaves at the edge of the forest, calling us on silk pathways of radiant return to the rooted portals where elves and butterflies enter the world. Who is awake? Who is not still woven into this realm of dreams?

Ma Ma

Without even moving its lips the baby murmurs, "Ma ma, ma ma, ma ma," then "La la, la la, la la," so effortlessly, so playfully! Does the baby simply cry ma ma, or is this a technique of meditation with the mantra, Amma, a name of the Goddess? Does the baby merely chortle la la la, or is this the practice of ziqr, repeating the name of Allah?

What's the difference? Whether you're a bhakta or jnani, you are an infant resting on your mother's breast. A baby needs no instruction, because a baby is filled with grace-milk. The infant already floats on the ocean of music between sound and silence, between breathing out and in, between waking and dreamless sleep.

What is the difference between the bliss of Bhakti and the technique of Vedanta? Only a pure translucent thread of awareness. But our egoic mind loves to entangle itself in distinctions. We can't wait to argue about devotion
vs. non-duality, and separate the bliss of surrender from the formal daily practice.

So let me share them both with you, and you can choose which you prefer. For some honor technique, and some reject technique. Here is an ancient technique from the secret annals of tantra:
~ Sink effortlessly on this breath into the space around your heart. Feel every cell, every neuron, every molecule of your body resonate with the silent syllable of the Mother's name.
Now here is a meditation for those who want to practice with no technique at all:
~ Sink effortlessly on this breath into the space around your heart. Feel every cell, every neuron, every molecule of your body resonate with the silent syllable of the Mother's name.



Photo from Sleeptastic



We've been in love before.
This kind of passion precedes breathing.
Where inhalation begins
and every sigh comes home,
we were united prior to the egg.
This is where motherhood was born.
Before there was earth and rain
we childed the father
from seedlessness.
Beautiful one, what more can I say?
When you gaze at me, I am created.
We were lovers before anyone whispered,
"Let there be light."
When darkness shattered into stars
and the pulse of your wound
became a heart,
we taught God to sing.
Our touching creates His hand.

Don't Try

Don't try not to try.
Effort is a faint breath
dismantling the chrysanthemum,
whirling the slivers away
to stem nakedness, 
hollow as gold.
What sort of practice is that?
Who was trying?
The bright doomed petals?
The September breeze?
Let your effort flower,
fail and fall
into laughter and tears,
a compost of calamities
where you might discover priceless
ancient jewels of imperfection
sprouting from your
grandmother's bones.
The way morning glories
entangle a gravestone.
The way an abandoned quarry
becomes the rookery of a thousand herons.
Ask a mushroom why
it grows in the dark.
Use grief mulch for orchids of joy.
Let chaos sting you awake
and decay caress you
with mycelium fingers
of unanticipated beauty.
Dance in the ruins of your discipline.
Don't try not to try.


Photo by Steve Axford

One Gentle Breath

One gentle breath
is a pilgrimage to the heart,
a caravan across the void.
Though the desert inside you
is wider than the absence of stars
between the Moon and Aldebaran,

yet one exhalation sweeps
away the ineffable past,
with all its untold stories
of Me.
One inhalation stirs
the buried seed, releasing
the sap, bathing the earth
in soundless flower songs.
The blues of the sky pour through
the crystal window of your body
because you have wounded your chest
with this invitation:
"Come fill me, empty me,
drown me in the silence of your Name!"
O pilgrim, bandalero,
of cleansing transformations,
wield this breath wisely.
It is the burning sword of love.

Painting: Rossetti, St. Joan