There should be a name for
the fleshiest of organs, the old
drunken pump, swilling blood
and oxygen, spilling it all over
my body to each globe of hunger,
churning this dark animal plasma
to bright hemoglobin, yet somehow
enfolding in its cave of bone, it's
gristle of night a throng of galaxies,
the rimless possibility and swirl
of a starless Beyond that, ah,
not even God has yet explored:
I call it my Heart. But really,
it's the portal to another thirst, a
yearning for the beaten and beatific
face of the unnameable. Still,
I call it my Heart.

Photo by Kristy Thompson

The Shift

The Shift is not a happening

in time.

It is not something
you need to wait for.

The Shift is a blessed and
perpetual fall 

from the chatter in your brain
to heart hollowed quietness.
From the abstract to the local,
the swollen repose

of a snow-bound crocus,
racket of flycatchers

over thawing bog water,
improbable worlds of pearl

condensed in the ordinary,
like the sweat of sweetness on a plum.
The Shift could be the fondle
of your own breath

kindling a flame of Presence
through the gray mirage of regret

in your abdomen, 

or the awakened caress
of moist burnt umber soil
on your barefoot soles.

Now why don’t you
soften your belly and shift 
into the place where you 

already are,

effervescing in your 
only certain warmth,
the body.


Photo: Western skunk cabbage from Bluebrightly, 'Signs of Spring in the Pacific Northwest' 

You Fall

"I have only one confidant, and that is the silence of night." ~Søren Kierkegaard
3 a.m. You fall into the groundless abyss of the heart. You are a wounded darkness gushing light. Winter invites you in, a breath of silence, whispering, "Don't mistake emptiness for lack. Emptiness is rich."

You are here to be a light stream. But a stream only flows when there is an opening, and opening is emptying. How can light stream through you if you are not dark and hollow, like a root going down into the earth?

Our culture has become clogged with its own desperate seeking for something, anything, a "thing" to fill our space. But our space is sacred in its hollowness, free of content.

We have turned our experience of "emptiness" and "loss" into negatives, associated with poverty and lack. But our inherent lightness, our essential freedom, bubbles out of what isn't there, not what is. Even physics points to this truth: matter is mothered by the vacuum. A particle arises from a wave of no-thing.

Jesus "Blessed are the poor in spirit." He was not speaking of material poverty, but the sparkling self-radiance of an inner joy that does not depend on having, but Being.

Embrace loss and generate wealth from the empty bowl of your heart. Embrace darkness and become a stream of light.

Shatter The Glass

If you're looking 

for a surrogate mommy

or daddy,

then get a manikin. 

Decorate the thing 

with rudhraksha beads,

a white dhoti, sandals,

long hair, and perhaps 

a wise beard.

Be sure to paint bright eyes 

 and set two jewels 

in the pupils.

Seat it on a couch 

surrounded by gladiolas and 

ten thousand chanting devotees.

When you're no longer

scared and lonely,

pack the thing up in a pile of sticks

and burn it.

Throw the ashes in the Ganges

with other dead bodies.

Or crucify it on a cross.

That was Jesus,

you're looking for the Christ.

If you meet the Buddha on the road,

kill him.

That was Gautama, your looking

for the Diamond Anatta.

Now breathe down into

the temple of your diaphragm. 

Shatter the looking glass

with all its idols, images, 

reflections of the "I" 

who isn't there

and become what you are, 

the "Am," 

shining without a mirror.

Don't worry,

you'll still have a self:

the ocean in a drop.

Why try to understand?

Just inhale.

Spread the crazy holographic 

rainbow wings of your heart,

and let this tiny drop

contain all the tears 

of the universe.

Breathe Allah


Let us breathe Allah instead of using the name of God to kill people.

In the Qu'ran, "Allah" is the same name of God found in the Jewish scriptures: "El'." For reasons never completely explained, the Biblical authors used the plural form, "Elohim." In fact, Elohim means "Gods." A Semitic Jew would pronounce the singular name for God in Hebrew as Allah is pronounced in Arabic. Jesus would not have recognized the Germanic word, "God."He would have recognized the Semitic word, "Allah."

We were meant to breathe the name of God, not to use it as an argument or a weapon. Like all divine names, "Allah" flows through our body with the breath, as a mantra. "Mantra" in Sanskrit means "mind-vehicle." The Indo-European roots are "mannas" (mind) and "tra" (vehicle), from which we have the English "mind" and the suffix "tron." As an electron is a vehicle for electricity, so a mantra is a vehicle for awareness: an impulse of sound that carries awareness back to the source of energy in divine silence.

All mantras arise through the breath from specific neural centers in our body. When breathed gracefully, a mantra settles back into the silence whence creation was first breathed forth. As the mantra vibrates into silence, it heals the nervous system, and enlivens the specific quality of consciousness governed by the neural center in the body where that particular sound arose.

When we use the Word of creation to make war, and fight over God's name, we demonstrate complete ignorance. May each of us breathe the divine name we love best. May we cease to dishonor God's name. May we taste the name of God on our lips for no other purpose but healing, blessing, and returning to Source.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم : "In the name of Allah the All-Merciful and Compassionate."


When I was a merchant marine seaman during my young roving years, I was in Lagos Nigeria one night after curfew, during the Ibo War of 1968. All lights out, no boats running, my ship a mile and a half away in the vast harbor, a lightless shadow barely visible: I had no way to return. A police officer in the dark street told me to go down under the pier and hire a "bum boat." I went down a rickety stairs to the beach, where there was offal and garbage strewn about the sand, tiny grass huts up along the embankment. There lived the men with their "bum boats," thin log canoes, mere tree trunks hollowed out for sitting.

I called out, "Bum boat?" and a thin middle aged man who spoke no English came out of the darkness, pushing his boat into the water. I pointed to the shadow in the distance and said, "Take me to that ship?" He nodded, "Ya ya, two buck." I gave him three American dollars and he started paddling me out into the choppy bay. The situation was precarious. No one in the world knew where I was. This fellow could have knocked me out with his paddle, thrown me overboard, and kept my wallet. What else could I do but trust, like a little child? There was no alternative but surrender. I leaned back and embraced the night, the stars, the water, the face of the man in the stern and welcomed this moment.

Being a little nuts, I often make up chants. In that surrendered now-ness, I suddenly felt so ecstatic that I spontaneously started singing with a big grin on my face, "La la la la la la la!" Spreading my arms, I shouted to the darkness. The boatman broke out in a wide grin, so bright it seemed to illuminate our way. Nodding and pointing up to heaven, he shouted, "Ya, OK, sing God like that: Ala' Ala' Ala." Recognizing this sound as the name of his God, he chanted along with me. He was Muslim. We both delighted in the sound of our divine innocence. That was a wild ride.


Nursery rhyme melodies often contain the refrain "la la la," one of the first sounds a child makes. Yet in Yoga tradition, the sound of "la" is the primordial bija-mantra for the root chakra, connecting the spine to the earth. And the sound of "Ahh" flows down from the throat chakra as the fountain of all alphabets, resonating with the Divine Mother's creative shakti. "Ahh" is the seed of language. So in the Muslim mystical tradition, Sufi's
practice "Zikre," singing the name of Allah over and over for hours, not with pious heaviness, but with the energy of whirling children. This same sound vibrates through the central affirmation of Muslim faith, the Shahada: "La ila'ha il'allah," which means, "no God but God."

What a tragedy that the three Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - have transformed the primordial energy of childhood into the heaviest, most warlike God ever invented by man.

Let us return to the breath of delight!

Never Multitasking



weaving and unweaving,

creating and dissolving

countless bodies in her dream,

on innumerable worlds

in untold trillions of galaxies

floating through the ever

expanding golden void,

each precious thread

of her sentience, every nerve,

entangled in the hollow

of that dark bell

without edges
ringing with no sound,
the roar of silence
before creation,

She only does

one thing and always
right now.
She is never multitasking.
How do I know?
I too am held

in that breath.

Painting: Apotheosis of the Rose
by Joseph Stella, 1877-1946

What To Do When You Can't Sleep

 Are you awake? Are you dreaming? Who is the dreamer?

Lying in your bed after midnight, unable to sleep, why worry about the difference between dreaming and waking? Just assume that your body is getting the rest it needs. Don't try to sleep, any more than you would try to stay awake. You don't need more sleep. You need more Being.

Feel the stars pouring their rays into every cell of your body. Even the marrow of your bones is sparkling with their distant light. Can you feel the moon pulse soft pearls into your pineal gland, deep in the back of your head, streaming them out into your forehead, and tumbling quantum particles down into your ancient brain, bathing your hypothalamus with soft healing fingers. Feel the intergalactic golden swirl of the Milky Way in your vagus nerve, those long bright filaments twisting through the arbor of your rib cage, a spidering energy that is both consciousness and matter, mind and body. Now just lie here, no longer feeling restless, because you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing right this moment: Being. Is this not this holy work, the work of merely lying here, awake? How many other creatures at this moment are doing this work, uniting heaven and earth, threading the most distant suns into anatom in a neuron? Feel your flesh irradiated with Spirit. Your body glow with awareness. Is this not better than sleep?

What pervades your dream? Consciousness. What pervades yourwaking world? Consciousness. Why do you insist that waking is so different from dreaming? A dream arises and dissolves, the world arises and dissolves. When you lie here in your bed, unsleeping, who are you? One single Am takes the momentary form of a thought called "I." Sometimes this I appears in a dream, and sometimes in the busy marketplace of the waking world. Yet it is the same I.  You are the witness of the body, you are the witness of the dream. You are the witness of the mind having this thought. And you are the witness of sleep.

The same witness dips in and out of sleep like a dolphin playing in the phosphorescent waves of night. Phantoms appear and dissolve on the edge of sleep, the world appears and dissolves on the edge of waking. These phantoms are both solid and not solid, both real and unreal, depending on how much energy and consciousness you vest in them. Remember this past day, where you went and what you saw. Where are they now? Did your day not have the nature of a dream? The dream has dissolved, and each moment of it was gone as soon as it arose. 

Stay in the heart. Repose in the Self. Let the frolic of the world dream its dance around you, whether you are lying down or sitting up or walking majestically through the city. Welcome everything. Let everything go. Kiss each form you encounter without asking its name. Be the promiscuous Self who makes love with All, yet remains untouched, transparent as blue sky in a swirl of clouds. Thus the great Gnostic hymn, "Thunder Perfect Mind," declares: "I am the Virgin and I am the Whore."

Are you awake? Are you dreaming? Who is the dreamer?

A Slight Poem for Earth Day

Times like these

make me glad 

that I share 65% 

of my DNA

with a banana

and 70%

with a fruit fly.

The banana blackens

in sugary bruises.

The fruit fly is happy.
Even if I don't,
Earth survives.

We all become food. 

Entropy is grace.

Her Body

"When the spiritual power of the Kundalini Shakti enters the heart center, the self-begotten unstruck music of God begins to be heard." ~Jnaneshwar

Her body is the form of this breath; She dances as dawn in the fading of sleep: the dream was never real.

You need no mala beads to invoke her; darkness sparkles, night itself your rosary of pearls, each moment rounded, gleaming with eternity.

The Guru is her silence, respiration of the unchangeable; O breath, what do you teach us this morning? That stillness is pulsation, hollow and full, hollow and full, the way of the moon.

Kernel, blossom, wheat, a withered husk; flavor, scat, and in the scat, a seed: the ordinary of the seasons.

On this planet, all is explained by pigment, pungency, and musk; everything verified by excruciating sweetness, and what rattles in the zero of a gourd.

Unsettled weather is the mother of ceremony, both rain and sun the daughters of the sky; blackness a cup for the elixir of stars, this body a cask where ancient distances ferment into the wine of Presence.

Whatever you suffer is a womb; enter it and be born, expanded not by knowledge but sensation, each atom more spacious than Andromeda.

Spring up like a weed rooted in the groundless; there is only one dimension: being awake.

Make a tincture of yourself; be last year’s leaf suffused with the eros of emptiness, the final tonic of loam, savored in the space between thoughts.

Resist nothing and taste a secret; the void is ripe with bittersweet red gems, the vacuum gushes: learn from the pomegranate, cipher the fig.

No point in space is not the Ayin Soph, an infinitesimal whirling door to that crystal path that spirals ever inward through fractals of your plasma, entangled with fragments of DNA from the wing of a dragon fly.

Your lymph and marrow woven from star stuff, your body the bread of God, your flesh an effervescence containing all suns; the wonder of unknowing is the beginning of all heavenly and infernal journeys.

Now sip the nectar of the next inhalation; let your exhalation consecrate this green and holy confusion.

For one world only exists, thirsty pilgrim, the great circle of your breathing.


Listen to this poem read aloud: LINK
Photo by Soumen Tarafder



Up and down the spine

breath flows, poured out

through your sacrum,

spilling distant suns

into the green well

of your planet,

then filling your axis mundi

to the crown, charging

heavenly spheres with new light,

each ray of inhalation ever

so gently held, a glittering

filament of ecstasy

piercing the furthest world

where you came from

and where you will return,

bearing the wisdom-fruit

life after life, breath after breath;

for isn't each lifetime a breath

on a rosary of globes,

Sushumna beads

spiraling up your backbone,

healings that only happen

because each precious drop

of dew, of what is possible,

pearl moment, swirl of worlds,

is hollow at its core?

And all their hollows make you whole.

The stars are not as far off as you thought.

It was your thinking that

distanced them, these ancient friends,

fellow pilgrims on the rising falling path

of awakening.

Meet them with a holy kiss.

Pass right through their bodies,

pearl moments, swirl of worlds...

You are the thread.

You are the path

through every tear.

And all their hollows make you whole.

Art from Quanta Magazine


Here's the secret:
just stop thinking.
Take no thought, Jesus said,
for which of you by taking thought
can add one cubit to your stature?
The Goddess has given you
this breath for guidance.
The Guru has given you
the nectar of silence.
Be still.
Be still and know.
Be still and know that I Am.
The hum of pure Being
resonates in each cell of your body.
You move to the music of intuition.
You dance in a realm beyond concepts,
in a land of foolish wisdom
where few will go because
there is no path
and all the flowers
are filled with the wine of grace.

Tarot card by Brigid Ashwood


Olive skinned Semitic Jesus. Black Jesus from the source of the Nile. Red-haired bumpkin Jesus, nature poet of cedar'd hills and waterfalls. Jesus the king. Jesus the slave. Jesus the Rabbi who studies with Essenes in Egypt. Jesus the Yogi who visits Kashmir. Jesus the illiterate fisherman. Jesus the mystic fasting for a vision in the wilderness. Jesus the Marxist shouting at the rich. Jesus the High Priest offering blood sacrifice. Shaman Jesus mixing his spittle with mud as a healing balm for the eyes of the blind. Jesus the Lion of Judah. Jesus the Paschal Lamb. Jesus dove. Jesus serpent. Jesus hummingbird who visits the Chóco rain forest of Equador. Non-binary Jesus. Infant Jesus with a tiny penis. Jesus who proclaims, "I Am," awakening I Am in you. Jesus the Christ, whose color doesn't matter. Whose gender doesn't matter. Who pervades all forms with pure compassion. Who pervades the cosmos. Who pervades every neuron in your brain, every cell of your beaten heart with Consciousness, with Being, with Bliss.

Face of Jesus by Rembrandt

As You Awaken

A poem from 'The Nectar Of This Breath'

As you awaken,
just before the mind
of yesterday falls
like a net of stones
behind your eye,
be weightless.
No story of the past
survives the ecstasy
of Presence.
How your soul looks in that mirror
when it sees itself!
What gets you out of bed,
dancing like a wild purple iris
in the breeze of your
next inhalation!
It doesn't matter at all
what you will do for a living today.
The priceless jewel is just living.
It doesn't matter at all
how much money
you will make today.
Your body is more precious
than sunlight.
Your sternum is beaten from finer gold.
Whether you feed the multitudes
or only wash the dishes
makes no difference at all.
What matters is to plunge
down the stem of
the meditation flower,
to follow the thunderbolt
in your backbone all
the way Om to silence,
and drop the terrible fairy tale
of last week's anger.
The mirage of sorrow vanishes
in the sky of your chest,
empty and blue.
Love doesn’t need a story.

Collage by Rashani Réa



April doesn't wait to see how you feel about it.
Nature is joy.
Your body is a farm
where the earth raises her favorite bacteria.
The sky keeps changing her cloudy mind.
Stars wriggle their way like worms
through the loam of darkness
without the slightest interest in your destiny.
Portals open, planetary alignments
happen every moment.
You pass through them unaware.
A new age begins with each breath.
Before becoming you,
Being was already perfect.

So rip out your stitches and let laughter
pour from your wound.

Painting by Carol Cavalaris


The music that drove
you mad

was coming
from your heart.

Rumi says, a lute
plays there.

I say it has two strings.
My darling,
I have
always been
inside you.

Everything depends
precisely on how whirling
kisses stillness...

An Easter Message From Issa


Savor your own breath as my Holy Spirit; this is the anointing of the Christ.

While still on earth, taste each photon of your flesh as infinite light; this is my Resurrection.

Welcome all into the radiance shining from your chest; this is my Kingdom.

Crucify my otherness, glorify me as your Self; to suffer is to cling to an ever-perishing outward form.

Be risen from the tomb of the past into the garden of this moment.

I taught this simple Gospel before entering eternal samadhi as your very Presence.

What does it mean to say that I am risen, ascended to the right hand of God? It means, I have become the silent Witness within you.

Now feel my compassion as your own true nature. Have a joyful feast, share everything.

Billions of years ago, this Easter feast began, when the Breath of Creation offered the stars, the galaxies, garlands of galaxies, to her Beloved.

He witnessed her whirling in silent wonder; for he is the wonder and she is the dance. You were her offering too, a trembling flame in the mirror of his love.

Who said that you sinned before you were born? I say you were whole, you were divine, you were a perfect offering, when the stars first sang.

I say, you are washed in beauty with each inhalation.

Then why did our Mother, the Breath of Creation, make offerings? A hyacinth, the moon, your embryo, this tear?

So that God may taste God in every creature; for the cosmos is not an atonement, but a celebration.

Have a joyful feast. Share everything.

Face of Jesus by Rembrandt.

The Day After Easter

When the feast is over, what do we do with the leftovers? It seems strange, but I find a fierce eternal Easter in the compost. Be not offended. The spoilage of the stinking past becomes a new rose, springing from the ceaseless regeneration of Christ's loam body. In the Risen Lord of the Compost Pile, our own bones will surely participate.

Wonder is the way down, the way into the color brown, where we get an audience with Grandfather Earthworm, a darshan for moles. Don't let your spiritual teacher turn it into a practice - The Wonder Technique. "Do this for 15 minutes, morning and evening," the teacher says. "Wonder will take you higher."

But a virtual-satsang Zoom-meditation only shows the flickering upper half of this body, bright mirrors of ambition called "the higher chakras." So listen to the pixelated guru if you like, who has no more concrete reality than an emoji on your iPad, but please unplug for awhile. Go out in your backyard. Walk barefoot in a muddy field. Hear the songs of clover, tree frogs, cocoons. Listen to the Ground. Let Grandfather Earthworm speak to your belly.

"The way up is the way down. Why do you feel the need to get higher? Gravity is prayer. Feel the pull of things that fall, the seeds, the creatures that perish and decompose into dark energy. Black is the color of silence, the food of eternal light."

Grandfather Earthworm says, "Wonder is not a morning and evening practice. Wonder can't be done. You must descend into Sheol, where morning IS evening, and shadows are wings."

Grandfather Earthworm says, "The miracle bubbles out of itself, fermented by fungal opposites. Gratitude is not a guided meditation, but a belch."

Grandfather Earthworm says, "Time doesn't count underground. 15 minutes is a thousand years, one thousand years a burst of 10 million puffball spores. Mix them with spider’s web and baneberry root, to make a soothing poultice for the wound of your impermanence.”

Grandfather Earthworm says, "Get down. Compost your heart. Eat yesterday salad, leaf mold, mulled wine of resurrection lettuce. With a tummy full of wonder, you're too dumb to count 15. You only count to one."

Image from a CNN feature on compost art.