Be An Arrow

Be an arrow floating back to the bow,
breath returning to the archer.

Whatever you inflicted in your enemy's flesh,
wash with your tears

until the wound mysteriously closes
like the bones in a baby's crown.

But keep it soft.
That's the door we leave by.

Like peonies unbursting,
we spiral inward toward the bud.

Only in appearance do we escape
the seed. When creatures repose

in themselves again, that is the healing.
This poem is an echo of the cry
of a stricken breast already whole.
Beads of gratitude fall from these eyes,
pearl worlds on a thread of silence.
I keep whispering, "Grace, grace..."


Gratitude Is A Subtle Thread

Gratitude is not a spiritual practice. It is not something you need to "do." Gratitude is a subtle thread of starlight that binds your pulse, through sensations of sweetness, to the heart of the galaxy. Just follow one faint breath of thanks until you dissolve.


Into what? There is no answer. You must find out for yourself, with the quietest kind of courage. Be grateful for the least most insignificant blessing: last petal on the autumn rose, a lock of golden fur from the dog who died, a tear without a cause, the sound of hummingbirds on a Winter afternoon.


You'll spiral down a dark stairwell to the wine cellar in your rib cage, where Jesus has patiently aged his blood in a cask of delicate unbroken bones. Don't look for his face. Such grapes as these were crushed long ago. Meet him in the pure bouquet of silence. Savor the hollow of not knowing. His poverty will make you rich.


The secret? One atom of the smallest is vaster than the vast. A photon the width of an angel's wing, inscribed with distant nebulae. The flavor of Mary in bee nectar. A particle of her grace on your tongue. A morsel of bread dipped in the Pleiades. You have everything, my friend, absolutely everything right here. Just follow one faint breath of thanks until you dissolve.


Face of Christ by Rembrandt

Light of the Body

Perhaps the saddest thing about our religious traditions is their failure to glorify the human body as the temple where God and Goddess meet to dance round the fruit-bearing tree of the spine, uniting in the bridal chamber of the heart.

Instead, Western religions have covered the body with a veil of shame, while the so-called "non-dualists" of the Eastern traditions insist that "I am not this body."

Oh yes I Am.

I Am the Body, I Am the Radiance around the body, and I Am the energy field of this beating bloody heart that extends beyond the stars, enfolding the farthest galaxies.

I Am the Body, located right here, and I Am the non-localized ocean of light into which each quantum particle of the body dissolves this instant. My body is a holographic matrix of resonant emptiness containing all the information in the cosmos, and the death of my body is but a return of these ripples in space-time to their stillness. Nothing is lost, nothing is added. When we cease clinging to what dissolves, the body no more limits the Spirit than a mirage limits the blue and boundless sky. Each electron in my flesh contains a charge of electricity, a charge of Shakti, a charge of bio-stellar Glory, greater than ten thousand suns.

This is no New Age talk. It is the teaching of ancient Yogis and the teaching of the primitive Church. Jesus declares that when your inner eye is one, "your whole body will be filled with light." (Mat 6:22)  "Glorify God in your body!" sings the Epistle to the Corinthians. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" (1 Cor. 6) In the 2nd Century, one of the first and greatest Christian theologians, Saint Athanasius, wrote: "God became human so that humans could become God."

The actual message of Jesus has nothing to do with shaming the body, and everything to do with celebrating the Incarnation. Jesus manifested a body to demonstrate that the Spirit expresses her divine breath through human form. On this planet, the Word is made flesh.

But after the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., theologians discovered they could control their congregations through shame and guilt. The fundamentalist movements that resulted from this distortion of the original message all manifest violence, based on repression of the body. They mutilate the myth of Adam and Eve to suggest that the "sin" was Eve's surrender to sexual temptation. However, there is nothing in the original story to suggest this at all. The so-called Fall was not sexuality or embodiment. It was our descent into dualistic mind, a mind conflicted by opposites, a mind that seeks its nourishment, not from the Tree of Life, but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The only "sin" is apparent separateness, magnified by shame. Sin is ignorance of the unity of being.

The rupture of our wholeness results in a chain reaction of illusions, all in the mind, generating actions that create a culture of conflict. We act from our perception that humanity is alienated from God, man from woman, soul from body, black from white, and heaven from earth. When these illusions dissolve, it becomes clear that there is only one "sin": to tear asunder our immediate spontaneous intuition of unity. Our original innocence in the Garden was the unity of spirit, breath, and body. Which is not only the wholeness of Christ incarnate, but the actual definition of "yoga."

Ironically, in the present age, those who recall us to our original innocence are not so often the ministers, imams and rabbis of religion, but the poets, musicians, and artists of the world. In the words of the sublime under-appreciated novelist, E. M. Forster, "The Garden of Eden, which you place in the past, is really yet to come. We shall enter it when we no longer despise our bodies."* 

*A Room With A View, chapter 12.
Picture: a scene from the the film version of Forster's novel.

Not Beyond


Meditation is not beyond

the body.

Meditation awakens the soil

in your bones,

the flame in every synapse,

springs, rivers, tributaries

of lymph and blood,

the ocean of awareness

in a stem cell.

Each atom overflows

with clear and starry space


Walk like a mountain.

Sit like a cloud.

Breathe like the sky.

What pleases God most

is Being

what God is.

A Poem that Spilled Out of Meditation this Sunday Morning

Rest the mind in the heart.
She will guide you there,
Our Lady of this Breath.
To the manger, the birthplace.
She will guide you there.
You can refresh the whole creation
by going to the place
where the world arises
as a wave
of your perceiving it.
This wave of joy
in the ocean of love.
If you think these are
just words, friend,
you haven't been there,
to the silence.
You're just reading.
Now rest
the mind in the heart.
She will guide you there,
Our Lady of this Breath.

Image: Mary Magdalene by Cassandra Barney

The Master's Glance

One of the greatest obstacles on our spiritual journey is the illusion that the Master is outside us. In truth, from the beginning of time, the Master has always dwelt within.

The Master is the luminosity of our own consciousness, drawing us intimately into relationship with the heart, and through the heart, into intimacy with all sentient beings. The external Master meets us one day and gazes into our eyes for no other reason but to ignite the fire of the Guru within. The Mother hugs us until we hug ourselves. Then we are free. Then the Master is free.

Meditation is simply a direct step to the Master's inner presence. I once heard beloved Mahesh Yogi say: "The impulse of the mantra that draws awareness to its source in transcendental silence, is precisely the same impulse that draws the disciple to the Master."

The true Master is formless love. Formless, but not impersonal. If I cling to the form of the Master in my mind, I lose the deeper intimacy, for I create a distance between subject and object. This is why, when Mary Magdalene reached out to touch Jesus on Easter morning, the Master said, "Noli me tangere: Don't cling to me!"

Let the breath of angels move the great stone away from the entrance to your heart. Let your mind be empty as the tomb of Christ. The gardener comes, calling your name. You are the garden, the Master is Spring.

Why then await the "second coming?" The Master never left. Why travel to India seeking a divine Presence that already Is? The Master is always already here as the very space of this moment - not the content but the awakened space that contains it.

I had a talk with Sri Sri Guruji in his room one evening, just the two of us. I was tired of the silly Ashram talk about his identity, whether he was Krishna or Jesus or Shankara come back, all that nonsense that bubbles up in the hothouse of an ashram. So I expressed my concern about this and then asked him point blank, "Who are you, really? Are you a deva, an avatar? Are you one of the great Masters from ages past?"

This question reminds me of a story at the heart of Buddhism. A disciple asked Gautama, "Are you a God, an angel, a savior?" Gautama merely smiled and said, "I am no different than you, except I am Awake." Therefore they called him simply, "Awakened One," which in Pali is "Buddha."

So I asked Guruji this question, and he silently gazed at me with eyes like black holes of empty radiance, twin voids where galaxies are born. His gaze seemed simultaneously to dissolve yet re-create me. He shook his head slowly and whispered, "No, no, not any of those things. I am Nobody." And he meant it.

This took me years to comprehend. But at that moment, I knew that Nobody is my Guru.

Longing for the Master's glance is an exquisite drama, a play that thickens the plot of devotion. Yet even as you play your role and the Guru plays his, don't get stuck in the melodrama. Know that the Master dwells between your heartbeats, nearer than your next breath. In St. Augustine's words, "Intimeor intimo meo: More inward to me than I am to myself."

A true Guru is neither lord nor lawgiver, but mirror. Look deeply into the Master's eyes, yet deeper still, until you see the boundless expanse of your own Being. Then you are free to worship Nobody, the divine Creator in every creature.

Jai Guru Dev

Photo by my dear friend Scott Hague

Is Anything Wrong?

Who first convinced you that "something is wrong?" And who were You before you believed them? When we get this notion that, "something's wrong with me," we start looking for something wrong with others. Then something is wrong with the world. But before "original sin," there is original innocence. And That is who you really are. Your innocence permeates every particle of dust, every star, dissolving all distances in the silence between thoughts, the intimacy of pure Being. All is That, You are That. Om Tat Sat, Tat Tvam Asi. Where is the failure in your existence? The only failure is in trying to be somebody else. Where is the lack? You only lack awareness. But awareness awakens, pressed out and overflowing, in an instant of gratitude. Do you want to heal the world? Do you want to heal others? Then heal yourself by being You. That is the shift from illusion to reality, from darkness to light, from bondage to unboundedness.

Asaatoma sat gamaya,
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya,
mrityorma amritam gamaya,
Om shantih shantih shantih.

Mum photo by Kristy Thompson

You Must Dance Naked (from 'Nectar Of This Breath')

You wear your silence
as a black silk gown,
woven infinitesimal,
every thread a letter
of your lover's name.
And your stillness is
a trembling at the touch
of those invisible lips.
The motion of that kiss
has no first cause,
but a stirring in the groin
of loss.

You must dance naked
as a flame without a wick
to entice the dawn.
It is not enough
to be quiet and empty,
because there is honey
in each cell of darkness
and the tomb is full of wine.

If your meditation
does not consume the moon,
the stars, the pit
in the swirl of yearning
with a tongue of fire that
tastes the subtle, ruthless,
delicate blade of love
between heartbeats,
then you are not singing
from the center
of your desolation.

It is not enough
to be quiet and empty.

You are still waiting
for some God to say,
"Let there be light."
You must burn off
all these veils
and dance naked
in the moment before
you were born.”

Photo by Peter Shefler


In the birth canal
you were anointed

with the microbiome,

smeared and smudged
with the mighty host

of earth's bacteria.

Your first breath hugged
atoms of all races, all tribes
into your blood,
the flesh of stars,
particles of the ancestors,
atoms from the body of Jesus,

the body of Muhammad,
the subtle body of Kwan Yin,

body of the first murderer

and the murdered one.

Every angel is jealous

for that breath.
75% of your DNA
you share
with a fruit fly.

And now you only need

one more thing:

to touch the silence

of your Being.

Descend into the uncreated
intergalactic vastness
beating at the core of your heart.
Rest in the hollow seed
of stillness that contains
all right doing.

A mere most humble
and eternal gratitude.
A quietness that does not
make you a cosmic being,
or a luminous
ascended being,

but a human being
at last.

Image from The Scientist magazine

Poems To Deepen Your Meditation (A Listening Link)

I like to explore the liminal space between poetry and guided meditation, word and silence. LINK


Why not let Jesus beat and trample you with naked feet in the barrel of your heart, dancing to the un-struck music, sometimes a sea, sometimes a serpent's hiss, the sound a flame makes in a lamp, the dark body inside the bright one?

Let an unknown angel be your breath, and you need no rule but amazement. Let joy and sorrow savor the same cup, just for an instant, and the taste lingers forever.

You've been
polishing the grail too carefully, the one you hid under a thorn bush in your rib cage. Sipping and sampling the wine of truth is not enough. You have to become what you thirst for.

Once fermented, a grape can't return to its circle of perfection. Your wounds must trickle to a single pulse, and all your pronouns get crushed in "Thou." 

The sparkling particles of your body suffer a burgundy annihilation, mingling with dust between the vintner’s toes. Nectar won't do, Jesus loves wine.

Now rinse out the chalice with yours tears and let a bolder sweetness overflow the swirling splendor of your emptiness. Who can name this flavor? Call it Loss.

Drip patiently, then pour yourself. Be the sacrament on someone’s tongue. Make her drunk in a holy way, and her parted lips will be a well, a portal to the Uncreated.

Photo from Wine & Spirit Education Trust

10,000 Ways

(Listening Link)

Consciousness has the structure of a joke. The joke is that I Am what I've been seeking. The unfathomable beauty of Being is so self-evident that the mind overlooks it in the very effort to see. The question is not who am I, but how can I give up the search?

There are 10,000 ways. They are all effortless. Here are just a few... Evaporate your eyes in the blue sky. Get lost in the silence between thoughts. At noonday, breathe sunlight through your forehead, down into your chest, out through your belly. Fearlessly become the circle of transcendental embodiment.

Run your fingers through the fur. Rest in the heart, the warm beating creature at the bottom of your well. No mind, no flesh, only Radiance. Listen to a faint sound vanish in stillness, then keep listening to That. Gaze into the gaze of another, your lover, your friend, your dearest stranger, until otherness melts away. Wide awake before dawn, dissolve into sparkling photons of darkness.

Photo by Michele Burt

Why Say Beloved?


Why say "Beloved"
to your own existence?
Why bow to the glory
of the radiance
You are?
Surely, for the sake of love.
Your chest is filled
with countless stars,
therefore you name
your own beauty

the Lord of Hosts.
Your cosmos witnesses
and humbly adores
her own
You long to Other your Self.

Therefore serpents and angels,
oaks and meadows,
rocks, streams, creatures
who run, or swim, or fly
all shout a single pronoun:
Do you want to understand
why 1 + 1 = 0?
Why emptiness overflows
with dancing gods,
voluptuous demons?

Why silence roars
like a
hungry lion?
Then you must burn
to nothing
in the fire
of your own heart,

until nothing remains
but the heart
of the Friend.


Perhaps you didn't notice how,
when you awoke this morning,
you took your first breath
in the next dimension,
having shifted to another world
where atoms vibrate to a different Law.
It doesn't matter anymore
if you are on the Left or Right,
Christian or Muslim, a do-er
or non-doer, of the North or the South.
It doesn't matter anymore
whether you see One or Two.
You need not wear a veil here
in the softer daylight where
the only authority is Presence.
The tribe you once belonged to
leaves no scent.
The glow of your essential oil
anoints the meadows now,
greening branches, thickening fur,
the hungry ones who need a touch, a tear,
no longer drawn by your beliefs,
but by your musk and radiance.
It matters not what movement you join
or which master you follow,
as long as she is the one who descends
through your breath, blossoming
in the splendor of your chest,
and you rest in your hollow,
in your core of healing silence,
this formless flower that keeps
opening its golden cup
of overwhelming fragrances,
distilled from the dark furrow
that runs down your body.
Arise and come, begin your task.
The whole earth thirsts for your light,
dear love, the way it rainbows
through your face like no other.
Hear the new song flowing out of you:
“Chitananda Rupam, Shivoham, Shivoham:
I am the divine, I am the divine,
the very form of consciousness and bliss.”
Don't ask what work you will do.
Just keep listening for this music
in the heart of every stranger.

Photograph: 'Inward Beauty' by Kristy Thompson

Hiranyagarbha: the Golden Egg

"On mighty waters floated the universal egg of the Golden Womb, Hiranyagarbha, which gave birth to the flame of life, the One Spirit of all the Gods." ~Rig Veda (X.121)

And now I tell you this: the golden egg is the center of your soul.

As the Vedic scriptures speak of Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Egg, so many of the world's creation myths contain the image of a primal egg floating on the waters of absolute Being, floating on the waters of consciousness prior to the creation of matter. Yet this Golden Egg is floating inside you now.

The image is even embedded in the Bible's creation story. In Genesis 1, "the Spirit-Breath of God was stirring the deep." The word for "stirring" is a Hebrew root, "rakaf," describing the ruffling movement of a mother bird sitting on its egg in the nest: a very feminine image of the Biblical Creator.

The Golden Egg is a very real experience in deep meditation. Hiranyagarbha is made of pure ineffable Light: the Light that witnesses its Self, and by witnessing its Self generates two where is only One, and in the space between the Self and its own Self-awareness is born the possiblity of all worlds and all creation. This is how the non-local field of Self-reference creates a space for localized particles to bubble up from the spaceless timeless singularity of the quantum vacuum.

On the shell of the egg are runes and letters, scriptures made of the same golden Light as the egg they dance upon. Light writes on Light in vibrant pulsations of its own purity. This is the pregnancy of the egg, the fertility of light, the sheer exuberance of the void, yearning to express itself. And this script contains all the names of Allah, all the mantras of the Veda, all the letters of the Torah, all the songs of the Forest: the silent hieroglyphs of uncreated Light before creation.

The egg floats as upon a sea of onyx, the divine blackness of the womb void. The music of the Light will not be contained. It shines out in the darkness, singing golden rays into the silence of no-thing. As these streams of the light song shine out of the Golden Egg, their infinite vibration of oneness slows down, becomes increasingly opaque, and mingles with the dark, eventually condensing into atoms of matter. First as sub-nuclear nutrinos and quarks, their energy is so subtle that these virtual particles exist only in vergency, on the verge of creation, still songs in the heart of Light. They are both wave and particle, both consciousness and matter. And these vibrations are the seeds of the Veda: they are both sacred language and physical science. In the luminous aura emanating from the Golden Egg, heaven and earth, subject and object, spirituality and science, are as yet undivided.

As this Music of Light continues to stream forth, its rays coalesce into the elements, the elements into the dust of galaxies and stars, dragon-fly wings, sand, mist, flowers. This is how every plant in the forest contains a song. For the indigenous peoples of the earth need no written scriptures. They can hear the Music of Light in the trees and herbs around them. Walk in the woods, listen to the singing of a seed as you hold it your hand. Hear the voice of a leaf, even when there is no breeze. Nestle the curves of your flesh among the roots of an old cedar. The singing of forest silence is green energy: what St.Hildegard of Bingen called "the greening power of the Spirit in creation."

Hearing the Music of Light in silence is meditation. To the physical senses, the chanting of mantra may seem like a mere physical vibration against the ear drum. But this sound is but the material pole of a living spectrum, a beam of energy that extends inward, through subtler fields of creation, toward the Golden Egg at creation's source. And this source is nowhere else but in the center of your heart.

Let the sound of the mantra carry you effortlessly within, by the grace of the Creator who loves you and draws you to Herself. To follow this golden beam of sound inward is the Word of creation in reverse. In Biblical terms, this practice is Tshuva, "Returning." Follow the golden song down into sweet brilliant darkness. Touch the egg, where the Mother is always stirring, warming, and bringing your radiance to birth.

Painting: St. Hildegard of Bingen, 12th C.

Drop The Veil

Drop the veil of hope and wanting.
Watch the sun pluck harps of frost
fretted between oak leaves.
Are you not surrounded by wise
ancient beings of immense stature:
cedars, stones, Scarlet Elf Cups,

You can hear the infinitesimal chime
of stars in sparkling silence.
Call it a moment of grace if you like,
but grace is all there is here,
where things are made of
tinier and tinier miracles.

And really, it's true, love overflows
the rim of a dust mote.

O mind, expect nothing.
Plunge naked into the sacraments
of ordinary time, this season
between epiphanies.
Of course the voice within
goes on muttering "More!"
But a fiercer listening, inside within,
seeps like fresh water from an abandoned well.
One breath bows to another,
and you remember how to stand here
amazed, then how to walk.

No Word

True lovers abandon this word, love.
It is no substitute for a thud of plums
dropping in the mist before dawn.
Cocoons where leaves were.
Invisible pulse in the furrow
of November twilight
where geese beat Southward.
Scarlet moon-swell of berries.
The elegiac coyote, the pine breeze,
fallow sweetness of a naked garden,
the grace of a whole afternoon
without speech: no Word
but what things are.

A Breath Of Thou Art


A breath of Thou Art sweeps I Am away, and the heart becomes clear. A breath of I Am sweeps Thou Art away, and the heart becomes clear. Beloved, you are the clarity within clarity. So my breath is one, yet two, ever departing, ever returning. And so my heart is whole, yet containing twin chambers. O sparkling emptiness, who tastes the Self as Other! The moth folds her wings perfectly on a petal of blue lupine. The raven complains perfectly about nothing from a misty pine. A tear perfectly kisses my cheek for no reason. If you do not heal your own awareness, how can you heal anything you are aware of? The earth will be purified, not by politics, but astonishment. It isn't more work, but less wanting, that cleanses our water, wind, and soil. Thus we return to the crystal of no-thought. Our ambitions dissolve like clouds in a sky that was never not already blue. Look! The entangled filaments of creation pour out of your eyes, and the gold that glistens in that silk is your own light. See nothing but seeing in the seen, and your chrysalis untangles all by itself. You become, not what soars, but the vastness you soar through. I Am a breath of Thou ArtThou Art a breath of I Am, sweeping the heart clear, O sparkling emptiness!

Photo by Wang Wusheng, 1984