My spinal cord with
all its nerves and
twigs of fire
is a motionless
lightning bolt
that reaches into every
hollow of my flesh,
sweetening the juice
in each berry and cell.
This must have been
the burning bush that
Moses saw inside, 
inside, for the eye 
that sees itself
is God.
The sap in this tree
is silence.
If there must come
a thunder, it will be 
the world,
not the heart.

Painting by Jyoti Sahi

Warrior for Peace

Merely by resting in your heart
you soften one thousand miles
of space around you.
Those who come near you feel
a touch of wild cotton,
the radiance of seven pearls
threaded on a sunbeam.
Their souls begin to
orbit your belly button.
They enter the invisible garden
of Presence
and somehow taste the blood-red seeds
in the pomegranate's core
without gashing the husk.
This is why you learn to repose
in the golden shrine of your chest.
Let others make the haj
or fall upon the sword.
You just need to be more hollow.
Victorious the mind that no longer seeks
because it has dissolved into
the erotic splendor of the void.
Let your next exhalation be
what pours from the libation cup
offered by a dying warrior.
The triumph is surrender.
Now let a death-song swell
your throat, like his, in a voice
that is yours and not yours,
as smoke curls up from a wick
just blown out.
Return to the lips of the one
who says, “Well done!
Did no one ever tell you?
That breath was the name of God."

Sculpture: Dying Warrior, Temple of Aphaia

Awake (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.
Be Presence without a story.
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 own 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 today
or only wash the dishes
makes no difference at all.
What matters is to plunge
down the stem of this unfolding
meditation flower,
to follow the thunderbolt
in your backbone
all the way home
to silence,
to drop the terrible fairy tale
of last week's anger.
The mirage of sorrow
vanishes in clarity,
your heart the whole sky,
empty and blue.
Love doesn’t need a story.

Photo by Marney Ward

The Kiss

"There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body." ~Rumi

"O let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth... for your love is sweeter than wine, and your name is perfume poured out." ~The Bible, 'Song of Songs'

“Jesus loved Mary Magdalene more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth." ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip

Beloved, if you understood this mingling of mouths, you would not fear the spirit or the body. In pure meditation, they taste alike. After all, in kissing, one is two and two are one. The full moon is fierce sunlight, cooled in the mirror of a caress. Breaking foam is the dance of the immoveable and fathomless sea. Your heart on fire with me, my heart on fire with you, we need not grasp for form, we need no fuel to burn. These are not lust flames, but petals on a white peony. Just let it burn! Healing without destruction. What do you want, Friend, what do you really want? Moments of passionate forgetting, or one eternity of breathless splendor?

Don't mistake this for a love poem,
or an end of life poem,
or a poem about mouths of flesh.
This is a poem about a kind of prayer
in which darkness burns up our eyes, 
our faces forget themselves in mirrors of fire,
and the metaphor is death:
the touch of widening selves.
Unlike plum blossoms bursting in moonlight,
our opening never closes.
Knowing and unknowing, nakedness 
and the wearing of wine-stained garments,
secrets we whisper and secrets we keep:
all one kiss obliterating lips, body, spirit.
In this form of prayer, I am your wick, 
you are my flame, we are tongues tasting 
God, scorching the earth and sky with song, 
annihilating even annihilation...
Then we rest like weary knives, sheathed
in each others breathing.

Bridal Chamber

Blossoms don’t open themselves.
It takes a sunbeam to ignite the rose.

I was asleep until you placed
a ruby on my chest

awakening the expiration
of this gentle song, the whisper

of Spring in a Winter garden.
So’ham, So’ham, So’ham...

One breath pours wine into
the burnished cup of another.

Some say that this is just
a sound without meaning.

I say it means the Magdalene
has met Jesus

in the Bridal Chamber
of your heart.

This little poem is from from my book, 'Wounded Bud' (see below). I offer it for morning meditation on the sacrament of the Bridal Chamber. What is the sacrament of 'the Bridal Chamber'? For early Christian Gnostics it was the final initiation into the mystery of the Heart. It is in our own heart that Shiva and Shakti, Christ and the Magdalene, Divine Masculine and Feminine, unite as the Self, wedding the lunar and solar currents of prana that wind around the spine, called Ida and Pingala, in one radiant choral silence. That is why the heart chakra is called 'anahata,' the 'unstruck sound.' It is in that depth of meditation that the mantra, the divine name, dissolves into a vibration of continuous luminous creative energy bubbling up from divine silence. This is the sound, the Logos, that creates the universe. As a Vedic text declares, 'Adau Bhagavan Shabda Rasahi': in the beginning the Lord manifested the whole universe out of a current of sound,' which echoes the first verse of the Fourth Gospel, 'In the beginning was the Word.' This experience of union in divine love, not out of body, but in the very physiology of the heart, is the essence of Yoga.

The 3rd Century 'Gnostic Gospel of Phillip,' found in the Nag Hammadi scrolls, declares:
"In the Breath of Christ's Spirit,
we experience a new embrace:
we are no longer in duality, but in unity....
All will be clothed in light when they
enter into the mystery of this sacred embrace....
What is the Bridal Chamber,
if not the place of trust
and consciousness of the embrace?"

Painting: 'The Bride' by Dante Rossetti



The racoon pauses
before my statue of Kwan Yin.

Still, near, barefoot, I smell
the musk, and know by the
scent in Autumn air
that Earth was just created
a moment ago.
Nothing that is real ever strives
to be other than it is.

Under the weight of grace

I lower my gaze, noticing
the color of the fallen,
how they forget their trees,
to bleed and surrender
the soul of gold to living loam.
There is no greater miracle
than becoming ordinary.

It give wings to your tears.

Painting by Rebecca Latham, collage by Rashani Réa


Dwell In Uniqueness

The false prophet proclaims a general truth, but God whispers the fragrance of a rose: this rose. A honey bee isn't interested in genus or species: the madding sweetness of this blossom is what he desires. Nor is the artist inspired by flowers in general: she must paint this incomparable azalea. 
With general truth our minds swell up, assuming the abstraction to expand us and make us smarter. But a mind turgid with beliefs is neither clear nor useful. It is a gray intellectual thicket that prevents real empathy, real presence. The general truth, in fact, may make us smaller, because it confines awareness to a conceptual box which our ego must argue and defend.
We do not live in general, we live in particular. When we taste this sensation, this perception, this very breath with sparkling awareness, it may be a portal to the infinite, a singularity unbounded. Which is why saints, Zen masters, and fools have attainted liberation by the flash of a plum blossom in the moonlight, or the sound of a frog.  


Enlightenment is
a divine joke.
Which is why
the wise fall down
in uproarious laughter.
Yearn for who you are.
Beg for what you have.
The whole path dances
in the stillness of
the final step.
Waylessness plays
with your death.
And if your teacher
is not a trickster,
you've been tricked!
Now let her lead you
far off trail,
into the wilderness
of your heart.

Art by Susan Sedon-Boulet

Wonder Why

Wonder why
the Prophet always descends
from a mountain peak,
brandishing stone tablets of Law.
Wonder why
the Prophet can't meander
out of the valley like a stream,
holding ripened berries in her hand.
Wonder why the Prophet
doesn’t say, “Thou shalt”
instead of “Thou shalt not.”
Wonder why we carve
our names on pillars, steeples,
sky-scrapers, states,
and why we can’t forget them
in the hum of returning bees,
the undulating curve
of wine-stained hills at dawn,
at least a little while.
Wonder why
nations don't gather
in a circle called Earth,
blending the roll of their hips
in a harvest dance, melting
into one rainbow serpent.
Wonder why we need
pyramids and politicians.
Wonder why we get so mad
we must defeat each other,
even ourselves,
when the berries taste so sweet
just as they are,
and better when we share them
crushed, fermented in one cup,
as lovers share their
secret selves
after the wedding.

Stock photo, Mt. Sinai

Rest Step

Don’t take a walk,
give one.
Barefoot or shod,
pause ever
so briefly as you press
your sole’s soft center
to the ground.
Hikers of switch-back trails
call it the rest-step,
which is a kind of meditation
at the heart of going.
The planet can feel
this lost harmony
of the body and its breath,
pathlessly meandering
through trillium silence
in the dangled gaze
of columbine
over glowing moss,
careful not to tread
on cream drops of
paschal flower,
caressing the loam
yet never quite arriving.
This way,
you won’t disturb the marmot
at his prayers.

My photo:
a marmot praying, Mt. Rainier

Sonnet: Time and Spring

Sister, Mother, Friend, O Paramour!
What passes is not time, but attention
to the wedded graces we came for:
freedom to mark or not to mention
unkept promises; without a word
to glance like steel, or choose forgetting;
share the wonder of a hummingbird,
or passion kindled by the setting
sun over low gold distant hills;
this azalea from a thoughtful daughter
bursting purple plenty, how it spills
its loving cup of Lethe-water;
how we drink of it, grow young at last -
not by regret for all that is stillborn,
nor yearning for a scent of rose in thorn -
but tasting full the Presence of the past.

Photo from All About Gardening

Beyond Light and Darkness


We’ve spent a great deal of our spiritual life denying, bypassing, suppressing the night inside us. Now we need to return to the black hole, the dark heart inside the bright one. Are there not two chambers, one empty, one full? Learn from the moon.

In the bleakest midnight of the soul, as C.S. Lewis found, we can be “surprised by joy.” Suddenly we rediscover the sun in the heart of grief, we relax into grace, the gift of mysterious unbidden happiness. We savor a warmth which is the very nature of our blood, the good smell of fresh baked Bread in the midst of Winter. Be forewarned,  when you bypass the darkness, you bypass the light!

Each breath received contains dark energy. Each breath offered contains more starlight than the Milky Way. Why favor one or the other?

Have we vested so much energy in our trauma that it became our identity? Night the new hero, light the new villain. “Holier than thou” replaced with “darker than thou.” “Happier than thou” replaced with “more traumatized than thou." Yet both may be forms of spiritual pride.

The gift of true vulnerability is given in a groundless place beyond light and darkness: the radiance of the void. These stumbling words come from one who has felt thunder bolts of agony, piercing, yet illuminating, the unfathomable bliss of night.

Photo by lfaesthetic on Tumblr

The Hologram of Bio-genic Individuality

We are each a hologram of all, containing the microbiome of earth, stars, galaxies, the DNA of butterflies and pomegranates, in a uniquely personal configuration. The hologram called You and the hologram called I are infinitesimal turnings of one kaleidoscope, each expressing the whole rainbow mandala as no other ever has, or ever will. The universe "groans in travail" to bear us as ineffable singularities.

The exquisite beauty of the individual person is the jewel of evolution. Those who deny it have allowed their politics to lead them into the Cult of the Collective. But the collective and the personal are two aspects of one hologram. Individuality does not deny the collective, but embodies it. An individual is the personal song that rises from the chorus of the fungi, bacteria, and elementals of the biosphere. The Person does not stand apart from the Whole, but is rather the fulfillment, the very soul, of our cosmic collective purpose.

Mandala by Caryn Babaian

Light of the Body

The mind sees a world in crisis. But the crisis is the mind. If we see through a shattered lens, everything appears shattered. Let us heal our sight.
Have you ever meditated on your eyes?

We are always streaming through our eyes. But do we ever take a few moments to rest in our eyes: not flowing outward toward the world, nor inward toward the mind, but resting in the liminal space, where seeing is empty, without seer or seen?
Through the portal of the eye, the energy outside presses in as a dancing chaos of light. Simultaneously, through that same gateway, we project our mind outward, organizing the light we see, superimposing onto its radiant chaos the forms that correspond to our desires, anxieties, and old stories.

The mind exits. The world enters. Yet we never notice the space of the doorway, the transparency of our own eye. We don't linger to look at what is looking.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "The eye is the light of the body. If your eye is single, at one, your whole body will be filled with light." We like to abstract Jesus' sayings as moral concepts. We make mind-trips out of his words, instead of experiencing their roots in the spiritual heart of matter. But what if we took Jesus' words as instructions for meditation on the body, in the body? What if we became "single and at one" with our own eye?

Now, instead of streaming through your eyes, stop and rest in them. Remain in the space of pure beholding, without beholding any-thing. Sink deeper and deeper into the hollow cavern of your eyeball, neither going outside to form a world, nor upstairs to process light into thought. Let your eye be "single," resting in the clear emptiness of its own window.

Be utterly effortless. Notice the relaxation in the facial muscles, which we unconsciously strain by our seeking. We have been translating this strain into the world we see. Now, resting the eye in its own luminosity, the strain melts away, because no outer form need be imagined. This relaxation spreads through our whole face, creating a natural smile, and then through all the muscles of the body. Are we relaxing our world too?

As we feel this relaxation in our muscles, we feel peace in the mind, because there is no need to form concepts and mental images. As the "single eye," mind melts into its original nature, the pure blue sky of awareness without thought.

On the subtlest level of sensation, where light-waves become photons of flesh, we feel the bliss of an edge-less expansion, permeating the body, vibrating beyond the body. For when light rests in itself, new light is created, sparkling through the vacuum of awakened space.

At the sub-nuclear level of energy, finer than the quark, what is our body actually made of? Particles of bliss. And what are these particles of bliss made of? Pure awareness, ever expanding in stillness.

Awareness itself is the substratum, the continuum, that permeates the cosmos. And awareness effortlessly, ceaselessly expands because, at the finest level, it encounters no boundary or resistance. We are here, and we are everywhere. It is this paradox of dynamic expansion in stillness that we experience as ananda.

A few minutes of meditation relieves much stress, and transforms the way we see the world.

Very light of very light, vast cathedral dome of sight, self-illuminated mosque, starry empyrean of the eyeball: kneel here. Rest awhile. Venture neither out nor in, and every cell of flesh will bow down with you.

Repose in the bliss where seeing blossoms before anything is seen, and your whole body will be filled with light.

If you prefer to listen rather than read, you are invited to hear this on SoundCloud: LINK


Grandmother Spider created the universe. She wove her web and when it was laced with dew, she flung it into the air and the dew became the stars. Each day as she re-weaves her web, she re-weaves life and creation. Grandmother Spider is also known as the Keeper of Words. As she wove her web, she brought language to the people. ~Crystalwind

I am Tawa the Sun.
But who created me?
Spider Woman did.
She is the darkness inside light.
These are her instructions....
Untangled from your
silken theater,
play the weaver's game.
I will teach you.
Let beggars and presidents,
anarchists and kings,
cling to threads of desire
while you simply witness
the glistening.
Don't be a bead, a diamond,
a tear on a gossamer net.
Be the black between.
Fling your heart into orbit
around stillness and become
the untethered gaze
that sees from every star.
Find a naked lover beneath
The veil of your breathing,
The musk of your flesh
anointing her emptiness.
Your body becomes her.
She looks lovely in you.
Let every photon of your bone
bathe in the glory of its origin,
and each electron collide
with the darkest particle
of its other self.
What if the path doesn't lead
to the next moment,
but deeper into this one?
Let loss be the illuminated door.
The eloquent don't speak.
They catch the full moon
in their quivering web
of silence.

Painting by Susan Sedon-Boulet

Hacker (To All My Friends On Social Media)


If you get a friend request 

from God,
don't accept it.
She is a hacker.
She will infect your cell phone,
your iPad, your camera
and everything it sees,
including your own reptilian brain
with a viral buzz,
a neuroplastic musk that

melts all boundaries and

fine philosophical distinctions,
even the molecular membranes
that guard your bureaucracy
of punctilious neurons
the amphibious tongues
of fire

that tease up from your
steaming amygdala, yes,

dissolving even the firewall
between "inner" and "outer,"
as the algorithms of
your heart

force you to surrender,
to collapse in the cyber-void
at the center of the iris
with no eye, erasing

all your files, all

the documentation

of your misdeeds,
until you simply gaze
into what gazes.

Photo: Kristy Thompson

Love Frees Us From The Truth


Locate the jagged fractal softness

of your body in mine, mine in yours,

atoms honed to silence by the blade

of our gaze. Be the same emptiness

I Am, but muskier. Not the absence

of desire, but a wanting with no I,

an ever-expanding erotic hologram,

copulating with myriad liquid likenesses.

We are ripples and fragments of fire,

frolicking on still dark water. The moon

is doing it, but even she is the reflection

of some other light. Love frees us

from the truth. Let's be dolphins,

green chimeras smiling, beat, beatific,

playful in a sea of lies. Even the name
of God is a lie, poised in the parenthesis

of zero. Which is why we must be fearless

petals in a hurricane. You yet believe

in roots, in stems? Halfway through

this indecipherable life, this poem,

you yet believe there might be something

called its “meaning”? Are you sure 

it's not some atavistic hieroglyph, the seal
on a temple door that no one can open

but a priestess with the face of a cobra,

black belly of a famished panther,

rune-veined dragonfly wings that,

like the poem itself, tell nothing, eyes

like broken vases spilling emeralds

into the beams of your shadow?

This is not literature, it's a seduction,

one thread in my ode to untruth,

this web of terror and beauty, the lies

that make the world possible.

Surrender and Dissolve

You never claimed the title of Guru. You had a more important mission: to initiate seekers into the most intimate relationship of all, betrothal to the Beloved Within. Therefore I can only surrender and dissolve.

When anyone tried to worship you as Guru, you turned away and bowed to your own Guru, who represented the timeless lineage of the Shankaracharya tradition, the stream of wisdom flowing down from Lord Narayana and the sage Vashishta at the dawn of history. You did not call me to worship a form, but to drink the formless nectar of bliss poured through the ages, into the grail of my own heart.

When you initiated me
, you gave me a gift much more profound than a personal guru. You gave me an immediate effortless connection with Being, the source of creation. A personal guru may be a comfort, a soothing consolation, but your gift was more precious by far: the practice, the Sadhana, to taste the Divine as direct experience, without an intermediary.

You personally introduced me to the Creator of All, who became in a single fiery drop of silence, falling into the ocean of love with the whisper of this breath. You bathed me in the all-pervading luminous foam of Ananda, softer than space, gentler than emptiness. And somehow the vastness of heaven crystalized into a diamond more solid than the earth. I can only surrender and dissolve.

Where is this Chittamani jewel, this diamond hologram of unbounded consciousness?
On an alter, in an ashram, in the red dot on the forehead of a saint? No, it glows in the hollow of my yearning heart. It is you, it is I, it is God.

In your gift I fall asleep, witnessing the birth and death of a trillion stars. They swirl around my stillness all through the night. In your gift I wake at dawn, witnessing the dream of the world. Morning gleams through vanishing mist. But I am no longer the mist, I am the sun, a teardrop of devotion without circumference. In your gift of graceful meditation, I no longer look for this place, I look from this place. I can only surrender and dissolve: in you, beloved Friend, in you.

Therefore I do not worship a white robe, a pair of sandals, a string of rudhraksha beads, seated on a dais surrounded by thousands of chanting devotees. Such guru-worship may be a pleasant distraction, but it is like trying to warm yourself with a melting candle, instead of central heating. The One whom I adore is unspeakably more intimate: the Guru-Tattva, the Beloved Teacher who dwells in the very core of my soul.

And because you dwell here, in this small hut, in this secret cell of prayer, which is my own frail human body, I meet you in the glance of every stranger, every face etched with tears, the eyes of a hungry child, the sound of a cricket, the golden fur of a shelter pup, lips of a lover, petals of a wild poppy, green shadows of the ancient forest, cry of the owl at 3 a.m., ever one yet never lonely.

O Master of my rising falling chest, you gave me so much more than a personal guru. You gave me the ineffable eternal radiance of my own Self. That is why I can only surrender and dissolve, only bow and whisper, "Jai Guru Dev."

On Certain Afternoons


On certain afternoons

     the radiance of things

          just as they are, requires

no politics, no ideology.

     First it rains,

          then the sun comes out,

the warming and cooling

     of the globe, the rising

          and falling of my diaphragm.

Both Winter and Summer

     I am free, no more important

          than a morning glory.

Most of my DNA

     I share with a mouse,

          infinitude with gnats.

Endangered herds stampeding

     through earth’s wounded valleys

          I gather into my marrow,

protecting vast swaths of rain forest

          with a single breath.
I'm certain that a weed

     in its stillness is awake,

          a blossoming forget-me-not.

Rooted in listening, I also flower

     with no seed of thought.

The loam is my Being.

     Wonder is the incense of my heart.

          May my fragrance expand

               beyond all gardens.

Come, you lovers of late Spring,

          the gates are never closed.

The rain-disheveled azalea

     will not begrudge your insouciance,

          nor the rose your burning fingers.

Let each dare to whisper

     in your own tongue,

          "Smell me, I am wild!"

Water color by Marney Ward.