Maya

 

The illusion that we are

separate beings.

The illusion that we are all

one being.

The illusion that there is

any being at all

but this wild blue

forget-me-not

blossoming beside

the compost pile.

The terrible croak

of a tiny tree frog

shattering the illusion

of distant stars

floating on the stillness
of night.

Do they sparkle far
above you,

or inside your chest?

Take a long slow breath,

then pour it back
into this lovely ocean

of lies.

Sky

There is a blue sky in your heart. Before you take the next inhalation, before you have a single thought, gaze into your radiance. 

Not a cloud moves here, and no horizon limits the space of your purity. This sky is before the beginning. Some call it Christ-Consciousness. Some call it Krishna. Some call it Buddha Nature. It is vast compassion.


Deeper than silence, deeper than sin, more inward to I than Am, the sky of the heart forgives all, embraces all, witnesses even our birth and death with joyful equanimity.

This space is the infinitesimal bindhu between breathing out and breathing in. Yet worlds arise here, and dissolve without a sound, without a Word of creation. Here is your true home. You never really left.

To return, surrender this exhalation. Feel the silence for one vast instant. Be one, but no one, annihilated in an inconceivable stillness.

The same sky in every heart, you in I and I in you. Our lives enfold each other like azure petals on a single flower. This is the end of loneliness.

Before you leave this earth, please, at least for a moment, become aware of the blue sky within you. This moment will send waves of joy to all your ancestors, for seven generations past and all the unborn for seven generations to come.

Curl


Curl up in your own fur
until you feel your true nature
of immortal warmth.

To embody what you already are

may be the deepest prayer.

Beseeching God for strength
confesses weakness.
Making affirmations of abundance
expresses lack.

Asking for health resists dis-ease.
Why not just be sick?
Let the chaos of chameleon grace
have her way with your bones.
Isn't the universe mothered from a void?

Owning your poverty, expand
into the majesty of nothing.

Let your vacuum ripple with wealth.
All you ever wanted is nearer
than the throb of your jugular.

Refuse to change Suchness into Should.
Welcome bending.

Hug your flesh.

Nestled in that sinless crystal of
Original Warmth,
where words return to one
impeccable seed of silence,

these fragile sacraments

tremble from your body, the world.

A thrush egg in a hemlock nest.
A whispering brook of snow-melt
under a dry mountain meadow.
The pale moth of your grandmother's hand
released from your fingers.
All that seems to die,
then greens with nectar again,
all that murmurs and purrs
with uncreated light,
emerges 
from what Is.

Our Mother Who Art In Gaia



Our Mother
who art in Gaia,
brown as loam,
nameless as rain,
may your presence be a golden void,
the absence of the search.

Let your family dwell here as a circle,
not a kingdom,

where spirit and body, heaven and earth
mingle in small sacraments
of compost and compassion.

Be the breath we take,
the bread we make each day
with our own wrinkled hands.
Let our prayer word be “Enough.”
For you are the weaver of galaxies
into nests for young planets,
and you sing the whole sky in a robin’s egg.
In you we are always home.
Dissolve the veil of judgment,
dispel our illusion of impurity,

so that we may immerse one another
in your bodily fluid
of abounding goodness.
For thine is the roundness
and the brokenness
and the healing.

Amen.


A page from 'The Fire of Darkness'
with mandala by Rashani Réa: See books below.
The Arabic says, "Heaven lies under the feet of mothers."

Look


Look for imperfections, you'll find them everywhere. Now let a little astonishment in, it's all one trick of diamond light. Don't be deceived. Be a wet sparkling dogwood blossom. Be last night's moon in blue April morning. Be formless forest moss-mist risen into periwinkle crepuscule. Nearly distilled to aubergine, condense into a raindrop, fall again. Patter through a canopy of alders. Return to your cedar root birth wound. Lie down among virescent stretchmarks. Here. Of water the earthwise wheel ever turning, and the stillness through whom it rolls,  wonder be not fooled. You are always free.

Veiled


Veiled in silence,
O thinnest only bridal gown,
you suffuse my body
with your body
.
Black as granulated diamonds
dancing inside me,
moving like a serpent
who has just shed her skin,
you are this very breath.
Whoever said your Kali-form
was terrible
has not
really seen you,
or fallen victim to your

love-honed sword-wings.
Catastrophe of grace, you burn
and tear the wedding garment.
Your name means,

“Ruthless Lightning
in the Hollow of My Spine.”
Your name means,
“She Who Takes No Captives.”
But who among the living
knows your true name?
I pray in the language of the egg
where nothing has yet been born.
Let my flesh grow still as Shiva
that the night inside me
might comprehend your radiance.
Let my blood ferment into the wine
of Christ
’s desire,
that I might murmur,
“Miryam, Miryam.”



Icon of Mary Magdalene by Lentz, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Scale

            Vatican mural by Raphael, Lady Justice, 1512

I decided to weigh my imperfections in a scale against any faint perfection I might find in my soul, expecting my sins to outweigh my goodness substantially.

So I set on one side all that is imperfect in me, which I soon found to be everything that has form. For all forms shift and perish. My body and its deeds, every cell and molecule down to the least photon of light is insubstantial, impermanent, and therefore tainted with mutability.

Then, determined to set on the other tray what little perfection I could find, I looked into myself. And I beheld nothing perfect. Yet this perfect no-thing was everywhere!

Perfection, I saw, must be unchangeable, motionless, unbounded Being. Only vast emptiness is perfect: only the void, the vacuum of space. Yet quantum physics shows us that this vacuum is the womb of every form. All creatures are unbalanced equations that decline and fall from the null set of pure mathematical symmetry, each composed of vibrant abstract probability-waves, desperately seeking to re-balance themselves into that perfect zero...

I beheld the unfallen diamond-hearted emptiness of this perfect zero filled with galaxies, yet pervading every cell and each particle of my body. For the space that outdistances the stars is the same space stretched out between each atom, yes, between the electrons in the atom, between the shimmering quarks inside a proton!

And I saw, at the very source of my seeing, a Void awake with Self-delight: the boundless Being of my own pure consciousness. I understood, beyond knowledge, that this alone is perfect.

Then I turned to my imperfections, that riot of changeable forms and deeds, and I condensed them into a thimbleful of stuff. But what stuff? I condensed these forms even further into a mote of dust. But what was the dust mote made of? Further I distilled it down, until my imperfections occupied only a dimensionless point, a bindu, אין סוף, utterly weightless!*

I compared this infinitesimal no-thing on one side of the scale to the infinite perfection of empty space on the other, and I perceived that they were equally weightless, and in fact identical. 


Imperfection is less than a pinprick in the fabric of the universe. Perfection is omnipresent and eternal. Imperfection dances as a mirage of mere form in the stillness of perfection, without conflict or difference. 

Therefore, a pure blue sky pervades the fabric of my flesh, down to the least photon. I am pure. I am stainless. I am eternal. I can find no imperfection. And if this is true for a hopeless sinner like me, dear friend, how much more true is it of Thee?
______

* אין סוף: "ain soph," in Hebrew Kabbala, the point of infinite No-thing from which  יהוה generates the light of the universe.

* Bindu: In Sanskrit, the dimensionless and silent point from which Om emerges to create the universe as a stream of sound. 

Beautiful Lie

Non-duality is a lie. Duality is a lie. Creation is a beautiful lie, for the sake of love. There is neither one nor two. There is only zero. This. Only zero, empty and bubbling over with infinite selves, atoms, worlds, for the sake of play. The brilliant light of astonishment is all there is. This instant, the cosmos bursts into flower and dissolves in the brilliant light of astonishment, and the brilliant light of astonishment is the Beloved. Surrender and be held. This breath is enough. The bridal chamber of the Beloved is the very form of this moment.

Blessings of Kali Yuga

1.
A dream becomes more and more absurd until I realize, "this must be a dream," and wake up.

Because the darkness of Kali Yuga is my most ferocious, surreal and absurd dream, it is also the most auspicious time for waking! The Kali age is ideal for finding out who I really am. As things get weirder and weirder out there, I can more clearly see that this dream is so weird, it could not possibly be me.

The world of the senses is a projection of consciousness into density. For thousands of millennia, this projected dream has been so pleasant, I was perfectly willing to remain asleep, my consciousness absorbed in the dream. But in the age of Kali, the sense-projection ripens into its grossest expression, dancing wild, frenetic, as images of terror and beauty create a jarring contrast to the inherent tranquility of consciousness itself. It is the age of extreme contrast. Contrast is the key to enlightenment.

Perceiving the difference between the gross external world and my own pure consciousness, the Self awakens and is free. This is precisely why Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36)

Like a juicy gourd snapping effortlessly from the vine, I experience by Kali's grace the eternally joyful, inherently self-liberated radiance of my own true nature, distinct from the imagery of the projected dream. Then I cry with triumph and relief, "Neti, neti! I am not that, not that! I am this!"

2.
In today's New Age market place, I hear a cacophony of muttering about non-dualism. Auditoriums fill up with devotees listening all day long to "non-duality teachers," who keep repeating exactly the same thing. We all know who they are, and share their videos constantly on Facebook. But at the end of the day, what we have is a concept of non-duality, rather than a living vibrant experience. Why?

These non-duality teachers proudly assert that there is no method of meditation. Hence they are incapable of directing our attention to experience the light of the Self. They can only talk about their own experience. Thus all we get is abstract second-hand advaita, which is no advaita at all.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna clearly teaches a path of development and a method of meditation: two things that are anathema to the non-duality movement. Krishna directs Arjuna's awareness from sankya, to yoga, to bhakti, and finally to advaita. Self-realization must be the basis of God-realization (or Goddess-realization) and God-realization must be the basis of Unity. This sequence is not a matter of preference; it is inherent in the very structure of consciousness. The purusha must be realized as separate from prakriti before the two can be ultimately known as one divine energy in two polarized functions.

Krishna first gives Arjuna the teaching of sankya: the atmic self is eternal and imperishable, distinct from the ever-changing and perishable world. This realization of absolute duality is the only possible basis for the eventual realization of non-duality. There can be no fruition before the seed. The fuel must be refined before it is consumed.

Next, Krishna gives the warrior the practice of yoga. Yogic practice culminates in dhyana, transcendental deep meditation. In meditation, attention transcends the turbulent external world to experience the changeless inner Self. Only when Arjuna's awareness is distinct, self-evident, resplendent in its own diamond brilliance, can he begin to progress to the ultimate reality of advaita.

3.
When the transcendental light of the Self is realized, there is no further development of consciousness. All further development is on the level of perception.

Advaita unfolds in the subtle realm of perception, not in the realm of the perceiver. The celestial glow of pure consciousness enfolds, illuminates, and glorifies the object, until the perceiver beholds the object as none other than her Self. When she clearly perceives that the object is composed of her own Self-luminosity, the world dissolves into diamond-like awareness.

This is not a philosophy, not a concept to be grasped by listening to a video. One cannot suddenly get non-duality. It is a perception whose mechanism must be developed like any other perception: through subtle energizing and re-ordering of the nervous system, glandular system, and chakras.

Non-duality is not a practice. It simply happens when the time is ripe. But one can practice the yoga of meditation to ripen the fruit of advaita. If I plant the seed of sankya, and water it with the discipline of yoga, the fruit of advaita will eventually fall from the tree by itself.

Suppose this sequence of development is not followed. Suppose that, without first realizing the Self as eternally separate from the world, we could instantly leap into non-separateness? Then the images of the world, both violent and seductive, would overwhelm us, reabsorb our dim awareness, and we would get lost in the dream all over again!

This is why the lineage of the Guru exists, and why the path has been carefully expounded in the Gita, the Yoga-Sutras, and the Vedic shrutis. Only by practicing the path does one arrive at the place where it becomes pathless.

4.
Om Tryambakam yajah mahey
Sugandhim pushti vardhanam
Urdva rukamivah bandhanat
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat
e

"I worship One Lord in Three Persons (Creator, Sustainer, and Liberator), who presses out the nectar that sweetens creation and makes all creatures ripe. Just as the fattened gourd snaps effortlessly from the vine, so may my clinging mind, by grace, be freed from things that pass away, even as my heart rests in eternity."

I honor my ever-graceful teachers, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and Shri Shri Ravi Shankar. I hope you will honor your teachers too.

Jai Guru Dev

Poem for Earth Day (April 22)

 

Everything in this world
is a message from that one.
And where is that world?
Deep inside your chest.
The song of the towhee.
The first scent of lilac.
The very slow pulse
of ancient stones.
How the wings of a hummingbird
churn this blinding sunbeam
into billions of love atoms.
When you breathe in,
breathe the Beloved.
When you breathe out,
breathe forests, meadows,
mountains, clouds.
Is it not your duty
to create a new earth
from infinitesimal sparks
of bewilderment?

The Work Within


Let Silence be the work within your work. For only what is immovable makes waves.
"Sitting quietly,
doing nothing, Spring comes.
Grass grows by itself."
This classic Zen poem is not about inaction. It reveals the dynamic secret of success.

Human "activism" has failed as much as human thought has failed to save the earth. So where is the solution? The solution must lie in a field that is deeper than either thought or action. The solution lies in the silent field of Being. Earth's healing comes from here, a source of power prior to any do-er, any "I."

Dive into the bottomless wellspring of Being. This very un-doing stirs waves of harmony. Here where the Uncreated pulsates as pure love, Silence re-creates the world. This is why we meditate. And when we come out of meditation, we can act boldly, because the infusion of Silence into the world continues through every word and action we perform.

It is such an exquisite paradox. Diving into a field that completely transcends mind and body spontaneously energizes thought and action. Awareness in the state of infinite transcendental Silence moves mountains.

May there be peace, on Earth as it is in heaven.

The Only Christianity I Know


"Meditate like Christ. He lost himself in love."

~Neem Karoli Baba


This is the only Christianity I know:

At the end of each breath,

the death of Jesus.

At the rise of each breath,

the resurrection.

What happened 2000 years ago,

what will happen at the last judgment,

doesn't concern me now.

The sound of a wood thrush

is the end of time.

I am a fallen creature

plummeting into grace.

From what should I be saved?

I was never lost.

Because I am awake

every dogwood blossom
is the Parousia,
the second coming of wonder.

My teacher is the one

who fills my bones with silence.

She who treasures my soul

as a pang of fire in her heart

will never let me go.
A womb that could enfold

the burning of Christ
can bear me.

The Sensuality of God

 "Glorify God in your Body." ~1 Corinthians 6:20

Spirituality is not the renunciation of the senses, but their refinement to the subtlest of all sensations: God. God is the most sensuous of delights.

Meditation refines sensation through silence. Our spiritual practice cultivates finer perception until taste and smell may sense the flavor and fragrance of pure Being; sight may gaze at the light shining from Divine Darkness; touch may feel the inner caress of this breath, or the hug of earth's respiration through the skin; and hearing may listen to the hum of silence, which contains the music of galaxies.

Subtler than these five sense organs is the sixth, the mind. Meditation refines the mind just as it refines the other organs of perception. When the restless mind settles into stillness, we transcend thought, no image limits awareness, the bliss of emptiness becomes full, and the mind can relish infinity.

Subtler than mind is the seventh sense organ, the soul. The soul is I Am, but it is not the opposite of matter; it is simply at the other end of the spectrum. Matter and spirit are one continuum of divine energy, from the dense to the subtle. The dense is the incarnate glory of the subtle, and the subtle is the healing nectar within the dense outer form. Soul is the fine end of this continuum, the most refined organ of sensation.

When, through meditation, the soul becomes "poor in spirit," it inherits boundless wealth. In the heart of silence, the soul transcends soulness, flows beyond the root of individuality, and enters the seed of Christ-Consciousness. This loss is rich indeed. For when the droplet becomes the sea, the sea becomes the droplet. Now Christ is the Self of the soul. So the scripture says, "No longer I, but Christ who lives in me." (Galations 2:20)

The Christian mystics spoke of the exquisitely subtle relationship of the soul and Christ as a love affair. Just so, in ancient Indian poets expressed this affair as the love-tryst of Radha and Krishna in the garden of Vridavan. In the Hebrew Bible, ancient Canaanite marriage hymns are gathered into the Song of Songs to represent the union of the bride and the royal bridegroom, which is why the Song of Songs has always been the favorite Biblical book of Western mystics, at once the most sensuous and spiritual of poems. Those who interpret the Song of Songs as mere sensuality, and those who interpret the book as mere mysticism, both miss the exquisite paradox. It is not one or the other. It is a book about the mystical sensuality of God.

When we enter into this marriage, all our senses feel the transcendental kiss of the Divine, who has created the earth and its sensory pathways just to lead us back to this place: the wild garden in the heart, where the seed is stored.
For when God speaks to us, God uses everything - plants, animals, human faces, dust. God uses all creatures to kiss us daily.

Everything in this world is a message from God. And where is God? Deep inside your chest. That is why we must not hesitate to let the world radiate from the heart as
the cosmic sensation of God, the passion of a soul so voluptuously in love that she transcends all boundaries.

God whispers to our soul, "You are the garden, I am the Spring." And the soul sings, as the bride in the poem, "My beloved is mine, and I am my beloved's. Come into your garden, and feed among the lilies."



Painting by Rene Bull, 1913

Election




I voted.


I voted for the rainbow.

I voted for the cry of a loon.


I voted for my grandfather’s bones

that feed beetles now.


I voted for a singing brook that sparkles

under a North Dakota bean field.


I voted for salty air through which the whimbrel flies

South along the shores of two continents.


I voted for melting snow that returns to the wellspring

of darkness, where the sky is born from the earth.

I voted for daemonic mushrooms in the loam,

and the old democracy of worms.


I voted for the wordless treaty that cannot be broken

by white men or brown, because it is written in star semen,
new moons,
thistle sap and weevil hieroglyphs on prairie oak.

I voted for the ancestral bison scrawled on the seeping
limestone cavern of your heart.


I voted to erase maps, straight lines, right angles of the surveyor
and the conquistador, I voted for the sacred curve of rivers and hills.

I voted
to wash away both white and black in a rainbow of tears.
I voted to
keep the edges of the vineyard ragged and ungleaned
for the hungry stranger.


I voted for lonely pilgrims who wander in
the ambiguous land between male and female.

I voted for open borders between death and birth.


I voted for the commonwealth of the ancient forest,

a larva for every beak, a wing-tinted flower for every

moth’s disguise, a well-fed mammal’s corpse

for every colony of maggots!


I voted for the mule that Jesus rode into the city,
proclaiming forgiveness of all debts,
who is the same mule Rumi rode backwards
into exile, gazing Eastward toward eternal loss -
that mule, I tell you, will be president!

I voted to compost and manure the floor of the Senate,
entangling
politicians in hemp moss and honeysuckle,
turning the dome of Congress into an enormous
hummingbird feeder!


I voted for a motherland where politics dissolves
into folk music, story-telling, fermented cabbage,
totem-carved hoes handed down from mother to son
in the fire-side quietness of heroic listening.


I voted on the ballot of a fallen leaf of sycamore

that cannot be erased, for it becomes the dust and rain,

and then a tree again.

I voted for the local, the small, the brim

that does not spill over, the abolition of waste,

the luxury of enough.


I voted for more fallow time to cultivate wild flowers,

more recess to cultivate play, more leisure, tax free,
more space between our days.


I voted to increase the profit of evening silence

and the price of a thrush song.

I voted for ten million stars in your next inhalation.

________________


A poem from my book, The Nectar Of This Breath
Chalk mandala by biology teacher Karyn Babaian.

Solitaire

"'From this moment on, now and for all seasons, I am released into silent restfulness, where time rests in eternity.' After saying these things, Mary settled into silence, for it was in silence the Teacher had spoken to her.”
~Gospel of Mary Magdalene


Silence in the spiral song
of the Townsend’s Solitaire,

axis that pierces all creatures
before the Word.

Silence between piano notes
drifting over the roses
from the house next door.
Silence of my hardly having spoken
to the lady who lives there
since the death of her mother.
Silence of mist over the bay

where sea lions bask and bark

on a buoy three miles out.
Black silence cleaved
by owl wings at midnight.
Silence over the battlefield

just after the battle,

where a hand rises, then falls,

a leg twitches in a dream of running.

Is there not a great silence,

a great stillness all around the battle,

even while it rages?

And here, whatever the hour,

a great silence in the cloister of stars,

the vast listening that awaits
your prayer?


Photo: Townsend's Solitaire, eBird

Rubric

 

Eat butter.

Go naked.

Break the rules.

Soften your belly,

soften your gaze.

Confuse left and right.

Hear the inconceivable concerto

of a white-throated sparrow.

Make one sip of wine last forever.

Stay drunk.

Don't explain.