The Longest Night

Now listen to your broken heart.
Fall into the wound and bathe
in the balm of midnight.

Don't follow a star.
Let your root find sap
in the blackest loam.
What are countless golden petals
or the fragrance of myrrh
compared to the yearning
of the shadow for its cause?

Birthless seeds are singing
beneath all that rises and falls.
When you are truly silent
you will hear them bursting
through the long good night,
until you are healed
by your loss.
In the North we enter the darkest days, the longest nights. For many these holidays are not bright with Christall radiance of newborn Solstice sun, but truly dark with inward midnight.

Yet the mystics of all great religions have a message for us about these depths. If we have the courage to embrace our darkest places with absolutely no resistance, they deepen into boundlessness, soften, and glow. Grace gongs from such bell-hollows. And Darkness herself becomes the path.

Hindu devotees called Krishna "the dark Lord." His beloved Radha only found him after her long night of yearning. The mystical path in Islam is patterned after Mohammad's "night journey" (Isra) which leads to his mystical ascent (Miraj). The New Testament tells us that Jesus did not become Christ by claiming any status, but by "emptying himself" - in Greek, "kinosis."

The Christian Gnostic Valentinus wrote: "Who is the real Virgin Mother? Mystical eternal silence." Medieval Christian contemplatives spoke of the deepest union as "divine darkness." Dionysius the Areopagite said the mysteries of God "are veiled in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their Darkness." Jan Ruysbroeck wrote, "The unfathomable waylessness of God is so dark and wayless that it encompasses within itself all divine ways."

Hebrew Psalm 139 declares, "Even the darkness is not dark to Thee... the light and the darkness are one." Thus I dedicate this poem to those who are in darkness, whether it be night or day.

Painting: Toshiyuki Enoki


You Also

Dear friend, why belabor
this petty distinction
between darkness and light?
Find the Beloved
whose joy was yours
before evening or morning
of the first day.
Sun, moon, and pole star
rise and set in her silence.
She is nearer than flesh.
Can you not taste
the whole sky in a breath?
Her sea of emptiness
pulsates with love-pangs,
brilliant moon-threads
of compassion spinning
this entangled earth
out of the space in your heart.
Consider that you,
you also,
could mother creation
just through the work
of being still...

Lineage: Jai Guru Dev

Enlightenment is never solitary. Enlightenment is a community, a lineage, the continuum of consciousness through space and time.

Lineage is the humility of tradition. Bowing to one's lineage can be a tender acknowledgment that enlightenment is not an "achievement" of American individualism, but a sanga of cooperative grace.

Therefor, I bow down again and again to the Shankaracharya tradition of North India, the tradition of my Teachers, especially on this birthday of Guru Dev (12/20), Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Guru of my Teacher and my Teacher's Teacher.

This bow is pure gratitude, not mere submission to authority. There is a deep secret behind it. A bow is an energy field. Bowing to the lineage of teachers is a shield of protection, preventing the ego from assuming a solitary, self-appointed "spiritual" status. For the blaze of charismatic ego in such solitary teachers often radiates a glamorous faux-shakti, mesmerizing audiences, but distracting them from their true Source.

In a lineage, no single ego proclaims their own private enlightenment. Each bows to her predecessors. Even the greatest Masters bowed to their lineage. Jesus acknowledged the lineage of desert prophets through his forerunner,  John the Baptist.

My first Teacher, Maharishi, never allowed devotees to bow to him, or to offer him padma-namaskar. He only said, "Jai Guru Dev" to his Guru De. All gratitude to the Holy Tradition of teachers who have passed this wisdom down through the ages.