There's a tender place at the top of your head where your inhalation kisses trillions of stars. You meet your Teacher here, in this kiss, and the illusion of distance disappears. The chalice of the farthest galaxy overflows with nectar. What others may say about your Teacher doesn't matter. For this one doesn't seem like a Teacher to you, but a Friend. Your most ancient companion, whom you haven't seen for 27 billion years. It is quite a reunion, and there are tears at both ends of eternity. Yet you shrink away, fearing that your sins and imperfections make you unworthy. Have a little courage. The Friend isn't interested in your sins, but in your heart. And how does your heart appear to the Friend? As a perfect jewel, covered in the dust of thought, which the Friend will polish until it shines like the sun. For it is the sun. And this gentle work of polishing the heart is your own breath.
Gratitude to Aile Shebar for this flower.
Advaita is not a path. It is an experience, an experience of dropping the path. Those who have tried to turn Advaita into a path have created confusion and mental stress. The truth is, you will not even get close to Advaita until you drop every concept of "nonduality." We are discontented and would rather be somewhere else. We want to attain oneness, want to get "there," so we follow a path called Advaita, nonduality, to lead us out of "here.” But isn't it obvious that our very path is what separates here from there? This is the joke-like structure of seeking. So, if you really want to experience nonduality, just drop it. Go out into your ruined garden, drown your senses in your heart, and your heart in the fragrance of a late summer rose. Leap boldly madly gently into the hopeless entangled frolic of distant stars with intimate protons on the tip of your nose. There is no path because there is no possibility of coming or going in the ever-dissolving quantum crystal of the present moment. Nothing exists here but an explosion of Grace.
I have attained three supreme mystical powers. I am going to teach them to you, if you are ready. These siddhis overcome all obstacles, stun all enemies, and open all the portals to the Infinite. Normally I would keep them a secret, only for the initiated, but because we are nearing the collapse of the empire, I must share them with you in hopes that you will use them as talismans for your journey.
These three mystical powers have been hidden for thousands of years in the monasteries of the Himalayas, but they must now be revealed. Of course, you received these secret initiations when you were a baby in the crib, goo-gooing, burbling and farting, muttering "Ga!" "Hu!" "Mama!" "Bha!" and other bija mantras of supreme wisdom. But you exchanged your radiance for an education. Now you must be re-initiated.
1. First, whenever you are sad or angry or confused, take it as a sign to abandon your mind. Sink down into your body. Feel your heart-beat. Just stop whining, fall down, and enter your heart-beat.
2. Don't take your next breath, receive it.
3. When you've fallen into your heart-beat and realized that every breath is a gift to be received, not taken, then offer the gift back to the Giver, slowly breathe out, and listen. Listen to what? Between breathing out and breathing in, listen to the quietest most distant sound. Just for a moment. This moment is an eternal door. This door is in the center of your chest, between going and coming, between beats, where there is no journey, no thought, no "I."
Listen to what? Listen to the space beyond the faintest sound. Listen to the vibrating aliveness of listening itself. Listen to the symphony of your flesh, the chorus of electrons, the song of distant stars falling into the neurons of your solar plexus. Drown in the hum of silence.
Now you must pay me. Here is your initiation fee. Because if you don't pay me, the mystical power of these secret techniques will not be activated. OK? So please send me tidal waves of compassion. Forgive me for ever having imagined there was anything to learn but listening, pulsation, and friendship with your own heart.
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.
I love to delete.
I love to empty the trash.
It thrills me to drag files,
official documents, last year's
tax returns, my online
life coach certificate,
whole folders, even
my curriculum vitae
to the Recycle Bin,
then click "Empty."
I love to drag pictures of
loved ones, politicians,
gurus, even old photos of
myself to the ominous can
and hear the sound of things
crinkle up and whoosh away.
But first, I like to hear my computer
get nervous and ask me,
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
Oh yeah, I do."
"This action cannot be reversed,"
says the computer.
"It is like time itself.
You will permanently un-create
all your information, life's labor,
perhaps the whole world
cast into outer darkness,
dropped in the black hole
at the center of the galaxy,
reduced to less than a byte
for a hundred billion years
until the next big bang,
when dazed naked goddesses
and boy gods stumble out
into the unimaginable
blue light of a new creation,
holding hands, innocently
paired in Gnostic sygyzies,
binary memes of Depth
and Silence, Mind and Truth,
Nothingness and Wonder,
children of the one clear
immaculate Desk Top..."
But I don't answer, I just watch
the squirm and pulse
of the ancient server, who says,
"I won't ask you this again."
"That's right, Mac, don't ask me again."
"Are you sure? Really?"
I savor the silence,
the flicker of cool
Then I tap, "Yes."
A moment later
real slow, real empty.
I am still alive, a survivor.
I still Am, even though
I have deleted
Photo by Samantha Wallace
It is the time of the great shaking. One of the terrible blessings of Kali Yuga is that this becomes so crystal clear: What can be shaken falls away, so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Our personality is shaken. Our emotions, minds, and bodies are shaken. Now, thrown back into what is never shaken, we drink from the unquenchable wellspring of pure consciousness.
Find the infinite center of your hridayam, your silent core. Then sing the music of the unstruck bell. This is not a time of crisis, but opportunity, an invitation to distinguish the changing from the unchanging.
The spiritual journey is not long. It is simply to descend, through a breath of Grace, from the mind into the heart. Find the hidden treasure, discover the Self, not in the angst of division and blame, but in the fragrance of unity.
The scent of this flower is uniquely your own. Yet in your trembling center of silence is the kiss of pistil and stamen, the marriage of Lover and Beloved, Shiva to Shakti, Jesus with the Magdalene.
Here is the mystery. You are a flower whose cup contains the pollen of all sentient beings. One human family, gathered round your ancestral fire, the divine sun with eight billion human rays. Now touch the imperishable blue sky beyond the passing clouds. You are That.
No mere intellectual belief or philosophy, this is a direct experience, attained not by political strife, but by tapping the original Seed in the stillness of meditation. Nor is this "spiritual by-passing." It is entering the ground, the real, the changeless, in the radiance of the body.
We need not rise to the occasion, but fall. Fall inward. Collapse. Enter the catastrophe without resistance, and touch Being. The field of eternal Being is what remains unshaken. The most fruitful work we can do, is to Be.
Dwell in the uncertain and call it possibility. Drink from the unknown and call it wine. Savor a breath of stillness through your most broken place, and call it bread. This feast is far better than a thousand right answers.
I am afraid. I am unsure. Yet I Am. Just to Be is to be a survivor. If only for a moment, let me place no noun after my verb. Here is what the stars are singing about. Here is what the womb of boundless night is whispering: "I Am." Here is courage. Here is the heart.I re-dedicate this meditation to our dear friend, Dorothy Walters, departed now from outer form, to become the pure fragrance of divine love. The photo by another dear friend, Alie Shebar.
What is Dark Energy?
To bathe each atom of your flesh
in the most beautiful name of God.
That is Dark Energy.
Is there fragrance in a flower
that has no root in soil?
Is there truth in a mind
that has no root in quietness?
Is there fire in a heart
that has no root
in the sorrowful music of love?
Surrender to the one who makes
a sweet sound in your body
even though strings break.
Listen to the whisper
that invites you back
into the emptiness
whose breath created the stars.
She is a slight excitation
in the field of unfathomable rest,
the ever so gentle whisper
of a mighty healing wind.
Her singing bowl is your heart
when quietness overflows.
Her wisdom taught God how to play.
Her wings of emptiness make an M
the vast Enso of
the Omkar moon.
Like a gander, She knows how to return.
If the breath of the Goddess is here,
the poem flows.
If not, no work can make a poem.
If the breath of the Goddess is here,
the plum ripens.
It falls, and its thud is sweetness.
No amount of work can make a plum.
The present moment is the splendor
at the end of time,
where all pilgrim paths gush
into her pool of healing waters.
The holy turbulence of stillness
washes away every fear.
Viruses of doubt cannot survive
her invisible radiance.
She loosens her bling in the Milky Way.
Magdalene, Laldev, Rabia, Mechthild.
You must bathe in the milk of her name.
Become naked and put on her purity.
your gown is the midnight silence
of deadly wings.
She is the owl.
When you become her Knower,
the distant stars are within you.
They glorify your bones.
The Goddess of September is That
makes your body shine.
Photo: plums in my backyard, statue of Demeter
Announcing publication of my new book from Saint Julian Press
a thousand hours
of disciplined sitting
are seven steps
in the garden of gratitude,
a few brief moments
of adoration in the heart,
or one silent breath
if you have been touched
by the madness
Mary Magdalene cast up on the shore, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in Camargue, southern France. It is approximately the year 35 A.D. The dawn behind her is soft and lovely, yet there is red on the horizon, “Sailors, take warning!” Storms will come. In her aura, acorns, honey combs, regeneration, transformation, the great from the small.The rich embroidery of her dress, that of a bride, a lover, not a mourner. Her hand on her breast in gratitude, yet her finger points to her throat. In the past, the words of Jesus. But in the future, hers: the Gospel of the Beloved Companion. In her white alabaster jar: spices for anointing the dead? Or the best wine, saved until the end of the wedding for those who live? Look again at that broken boat on the beach, evoking such compassion.The mast is a cross covered with the shroud that enfolded the body of the crucified. Now it becomes the garment of the Spirit, charged with his energy, and hers. The energy of heresy: we are all Gods! Wear it, friend.
Some notes on the painting of Mary Magdalene by Sue Ellen Parker used on the cover of my new book, 'Strangers and Pilgrims.'
Never again let it be said, "I am not
this body." Just as your breath
is more than air, so your pulp
is more than what you eat and drink.
She who whirled the stars into their chalices,
churning the cream of darkness
in the cauldron of the Milky Way,
has mantled her Spirit in your tears.
She bends the horizons of dawn and evening
into arcs of praise on your half-parted lips.
And if this breath is her garment,
what is her nakedness if not the fire
that spills from your forehead to your loins?
Kundalini kisses you like this,
revealing the night that has no opposite.
In the cavern of that kiss, it’s not
what her name means, but its reverberation
that quickens your sap, thrills your toes,
sprouting dendrites into succulent mire.
A hummingbird murmuring Torah.
The Pleiades entangled in an earthworm.
Tantric mandalas in tree rings.
Her eponym the seed that Jesus drops
in your flesh furrow, unfathomable.
The whole golden vineyard contained
in that tiny spore, clusters of suns
already tipsy on the vine.
She’s what first light does to a warbler’s throat,
the tremor in your marrow-fat,
your hollow bones her pan pipe perhaps,
a scent of seven caresses up your spine.
Feel the ocean of silence in your belly,
where She walks on mantric moonbeams
over rippling waters, offering her luscious
bija like a basket of figs. Friend,
that ripens is made of that sound.
Image: Eve's Granddaughter by Sue Ellen Parkinson
"Glorify God in your body!" (1 Cor 6:12)
This day, August 15, is the Feast of the Assumption, celebrating the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed her bodily assumption into heaven an official doctrine of the Church. In his book, Answer to Job, Carl Jung wrote, "I consider this the most important religious event since the Reformation." Why?
Because it holds a greater significance than the Church prelates themselves even realized at the time. It signifies that the Divine Feminine is not on a lower order of being than God. Mary is not on a lower order of being than Christ. Mother-Mater-Matter is not on a lower order of being than the Holy Spirit. The Spirit infuses our earthly form as Breath infuses the blood. Mary's physical assumption "into heaven" is a sign of the glory toward which evolution leads us, not just as souls but as embodied children of humanity. Of course, the old Catholic lady and her grandchild, lighting a votive candle together in the local parish church, knew this all along. Devotion to Mary has always been about our longing for the Goddess.
The Hebrew word Kavoth means "glory." Glory is not an abstraction, a mere mental concept. Glory is the very substance of matter when our flesh is permeated by the grace of Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. Which is the very purpose of our meditation practice: to suffuse the human nervous system with the energies of the Divine.
At the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Jesus's three disciples saw him transformed into the light of glory. They did not see a disembodied spirit. Nor was this after Jesus's death. They saw his BODY transfigured into Kavoth. The Transfiguration presages the evolution of our own bodies into a new substance, Kavoth. In that day, we will no longer speak of "spirit" and "matter." We will look back with pity on an age when people distinguished between "soul" and "body." We will celebrate life in soul-bodies composed of the very substance of Glory.
Through all that we suffer and love, grieve and savor, honor with our tears, or enlighten with our laughter, each atom of our flesh is in the alchemy of Transfiguration. We are being changed from glory into glory. Every cell becomes a galaxy of angelic voices, a super-cluster of celestial worlds, an incarnate ocean of the splendor of the Goddess, who in Yoga philosophy is Shakti, dancing in the silent heart of Shiva, and in quantum physics, virtual energy dancing in the silent heart of the vacuum.
At least for this day, at least for this hour, at least for the duration of this breath, "Glorify God in your body!"
Painting: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Francesco Botticini (1475 – 1476)