6/29/2014

Sabbath


This morning, I take a Sabbath rest from the work of thinking. For I am not my thoughts. I have thoughts, they come and go, but my thoughts are never who I Am. I am the silent wonder that embraces the universe before a single thought arises.

Thoughts arise and dissolve like bubbles on the surface of the ocean of silence. To have thoughts is not a problem. To be contained by thoughts is suffering. 


The world can never make me unhappy. Only my judgments about the world make me unhappy. Perfect silence is the Last Judgment. It is always Now. When I take this Sabbath rest from judging the world, I finally see the peony blossoming in my garden.

6/28/2014

I Overlook


Every breath I receive from the Source contains one thousand times the joy I seek through my senses. But enamored of fleeting forms, I overlook the Gift.

The starry hollow in the core of my heart where the universe is born, contains one million times the joy in each breath. But enamored of fleeting pleasures, I overlook the miracle I Am.


See your own Beauty. Then give.

To Burn


There's a stillness where the poem begins. There's a silence where the song arises. There's a resting where the dance is born, a wonder where science starts its inquiry, a thirst only quenched by giving. 
There's a hollow core in your heart that flowers with radiance, spilling over as your world. 
Every breath wants to lead you there. Follow. Don't wait another day. Please remember, these places are the same place. One writes, one sings, another dances. One serves the poor, one studies the plants, and one is a scholar. All are inspired by the same fieriness, a single flame that wants to burn everything up in thanksgiving. Jesus pointed to this fire, Mohammed pointed to this fire, Krishna pointed to this fire, your Mother gave birth to this fire. The name doesn't matter at all. What matters is to burn.

Painting by Freydon Rassouli

6/27/2014

Confession




I confess, 
I have an ancient problem. 
My will is weak. 
It needs to be strengthened 
with divine grace. 
Therefor, in the evening, 
I listen to the thrush. 
In the morning, raindrops 
on ferns.

The Desert Cup


Sports gives us metaphors for politics. We're watching the real World Cup in the Middle East.

Follow this. We celebrate our loss to Germany as a win, saved by Portugal's defeat of Ghana, which enabled them to come in last, propelling us into second place. That should help you understand this:

USA sends arms to Sunni rebels to defeat Assad in Syria, who helps us defeat the same Sunni rebels on the border of Iraq. Meanwhile we send drones to defend Malaki, whom we actually want to overthrow because he is supported by Iran, who helps us defeat the army of ISIS, whom we funded and armed as 'Sons of Iraq' during the surge.

If you don't get this, wait till the Knockout Round, where it becomes very simple: Sudden Death. Maybe we're already in overtime and don't know it. Here's my prediction: the victory goes to the arms manufacturers, who don't care which team wins.
___________
 
Picture: ecstatic American fans celebrating their loss.

6/26/2014

Authority

Authority is an illusion. There is no authority. No authoritative teaching, no authoritative teacher, no authoritative text, no authoritative version of the text. There is only the assumption of power, and our agreement. Authority springs from the heart's consent. If any government or court of law, any bible, guru or savior has sovereignty over us, it is only because the heart agrees to give away its own ecstatic beat of power. The smallest weed, trembling under the weight of a butterfly, has as much authority for me as God, if I consent to this moment of impeccable beauty.

6/24/2014

In My Opinion

There are no opinions left to have. They've all been taken. We'll just have to get by without them.

What I learned too late in life was, my opinion really doesn't matter, even when it's 'right.' Only those who already agree will agree, and those of another opinion will just become more polarized, more defensive, which increases conflict. 

Nobody ever convinces anyone of anything they didn't already believe. Each of us arrive at truth in the freedom of our own awareness. Truth cannot be argued, only stumbled on.

6/23/2014

Just This

To end this madness, we need a revolution of Presence against the tyranny of the ideal. There is no more savage assault on the earth than to compare, to measure the sacrament of what Is against what Should be. Creativity arises through Presence. Fully awake to this moment, my smallest act has world-changing significance. Now is the time to settle my breath upon the ordinary, as a moth lands quietly on a mossy stone. My only goal: to develop a gentle abiding affection for things just as they are, hallowed in their fallenness by the heart-breaking beauty of imperfection.





6/21/2014

Be the Sun






Understanding is the beginning of action. I love the word "under-stand." Stand in the motionless place beneath the turmoil and disorder of the world. Resting my awareness there eliminates the need for much useless action, which is really just re-action. From there, established in the stillness of the Heart, I can perform the one perfect act that is required of me in this moment. At this divine summer solstice hour, why wait for sunrise? Be the Sun. Rest in the Heart. Under-stand.

The Fullness of Emptiness

"Father, what is the destination of this world-appearance or repetitive existence? When will it come to an end?

When will the delusion of the mind cease? Gaining what shall one attain total satisfaction, seeing what shall one seek naught else?

I see that it is impossible to attain this by means of experience of the worldly pleasures or actions. For, they only aggravate the delusion!

Pray, tell me the means by which I shall rest for ever in supreme peace."
 
~Yoga Vashista
 
 Religious intellectuals have presented traditions like Buddhism, with its essential meme of Sunya ("emptiness"), the Neti Neti practice in Indian Vedanta ("not this, not that"), the Via Negativa of the Christian mystics, as negative and even nihilistic philosophies, devoid of any positive joy. This has led to centuries of gloom and renunciation. But the actual taste of emptiness is the most positive experience a human being can have. Emptiness is precious because of what it is, not because of what it isn't. 

Emptiness is absolute bliss. The bliss of emptiness is the direct experience of its boundless, ever-expanding and undivided nature. What is boundless is delicate and soft, having no edges. What ever expands is dynamic. What is undivided is completely full. In contrast, any experience we have in the realm of thought, sensation, emotion, or physical form is bound, perishable, and separate. Hence there is no experience in the material world or in the mind that can rival the bliss of emptiness. 

We can taste the freedom of emptiness without the slightest expenditure of energy, work, or travel from here to there. In fact, by resting in emptiness, we actually gain energy, since emptiness is the source of all that is. This is proven by quantum physics: all energy arises from vibrant fluctuations in the vacuum of empty space. 

So by resting in emptiness, we merge with the ocean of potency at creation's source. We don't need to go anywhere or accomplish anything to taste this bliss, because it is the very nature of awareness before any thought, will or act arises to fill the void with content. Emptiness is who we are before we even have the thought of "I." Emptiness is supreme joy, and this joy permeates all other experiences of form, sensation, or thought, because emptiness is the all-pervading space in which any possible form, sensation, or thought could arise. Emptiness is the no-thing that contains all, without being contained by any of it. Not even the concept of "emptiness" contains true emptiness, for it is not a concept. It is the space beyond thought.

Why then do we keep fleeing from this space, the space of our true nature? Why do we believe we need to accumulate thoughts, feelings, sensations, and material forms when we are already full in our innate emptiness? Our need to accumulate experiences, as if they will make us wiser, or give us more merit, or edify our "soul," is ignorance. There is nothing permanent to accumulate; it all passes through us and dissolves. And there is no "soul" or "I" who could possibly accumulate anything anyway.
 

We think that by experiencing a mountain climb, tasting French cuisine, amassing graduate degrees, rubbing our body against another body, or putting paper in a bank, that we will be happier. Yet none of these phenomena contain any inherent pleasure, and as experiences, they only overshadow the inherent bliss of emptiness. They are disappearing forms, conglomerates of dissolving atoms. The only real happiness already exists as the prior empty space of our own being, before we engage in any of these encounters.

This "I" or "soul" attempts to accumulate experience, moral merit, and wisdom. But the "I" is just a bundle of sensations and memories that we desperately carry around with us. The accumulation of these illusions is not happiness, but weariness. There is nothing to acquire, and nothing to keep it in even if we acquire it. All there is, is a vast expanse of emptiness.

"Emptiness" may sound like death or negation. Yes, it is certainly death for the mind, the "I" that clings and accumulates. But when the "I" abandons its sense of gain, relinquishing even the thought that "I am," then there is a flowering in the void, like the burst of ten million suns out of nothing, into nothing. The death of "I" is energizing and rapturous. There is no deeper joy. 


Here is the paradox, yes, the joke! Our "positive" experience of the senses is actually quite negative, because it binds us to the illusion of a permanent separate soul that must be carried around with all its stories about the world. But the " negative" experience of emptiness is absolutely positive, because it gives the blissful taste of unconditional freedom.

We stuff ourselves with empty pleasure, when the emptiness we already are is the deepest fullness. The fulfillment that we seek is the empty space we were before we filled it with anything.


So why not just be empty, embracing whatever comes without clinging to a single thought, feeling, sensation or material form? We don't even need to renounce anything, since there is nothing there to renounce, and no one here to renounce it. The world is just a mirage arising in the still, clear desert air. And this becomes obvious to anyone who honestly examines their experience of the past week, the past day, the past hour... Where did it go?

6/18/2014

Seeing Is Not Believing

I am the nameless continuum of experience, the seamless flow of wholeness. The waves of the world that dance in the sea of my silent awareness are not other than the "I" who perceives them. No separation between the universe and my awareness of it when no thoughts divide them: this is the pristine innocence of my original Edenic wildness before the Fall into thinking.

But the serpent of mind slithers into this garden and plays a trick that sabotages the wholeness. I 
super-impose labels onto the spontaneous flow of incomprehensible perfection: thus my mind imagines itself a do-er, an agent of free-will, standing over against the world that it others. 

Mind imposes beliefs onto the world like "mistaken," "imperfect," "not enough," "better," "worse," "right," "wrong," "more," "less" - eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the duality of opposites. And after I impose these thoughts onto the world of pure experience, I choose to believe in my thoughts more than I believe in the world.

My salvation lies in letting go of thoughts. What happens when this mind quits grasping beliefs? Awareness returns to the heart, where it rests as clear seeing: the diamond embrace of whatever arises without labeling it. 


In this sparkling effortless acceptance, awareness is the only discipline that remains. There is no possibility that anything could be other than whole and perfect, for it is the ineluctable arising of things just as they are in this moment, and they could not be any other way.  The universe unfolding in the present moment is absolutely perfect in every minute detail, because it cannot be other than what it is.
 

Now there is true response to the flow of creation as it arises. For there is no "I" external to the flow. Response emerges from within the flow itself. This is response-ability: the ability to respond as an integral part of the moment, instead of reacting against it in favor of a future imposed by thought.

My response does not arise as a reaction, labeling the world "imperfect," "unjust" or "wrong," then trying to fix it or reform it, according to an ideal created by thought. The ideal is a form of violence, a rejection of the world that actually is. This angry impatient reaction is really not a response to the world at all, but only a response to my thoughts about it.

We are like crazy people walking down the street, having conversations with voices in our own heads. Few of us actually respond to the exquisite living presence of the earth, because we are too busy responding to our thoughts and labels. 


Therefor, the solution to 99.9% of the world's problems is to see the world through the clarity of silence, rather than the dark window of thinking. Living the world as it is, is more responsible than believing our thoughts about it.

6/14/2014

Paradox of Presence


The paradox of Presence: When I let go of the past, I pass through the heart door, into the mystery of silence. Then I can hear the most ancient music, the singing of my ancestors, who are more present than time.

This is why, when one is initiated into meditation, the initiator performs the Puja ceremony to invoke the masters of the Holy Tradition. As the initiator, by the grace of the guru, becomes centered in absolute silence of the heart, all the masters from Lord Narayana to Padmapada, to Vashista, to Shankara, to Sri Brahmananda become intensely present, breathing divine grace into the vibrations of the mantra. Eternal consciousness in the fleeting now.

6/13/2014

The Lesson of Iraq

I do not deny the deep sadness of Iraq, or the bitter, angry, heartbroken feelings triggered by the current collapse of Iraq in the bodies of Iraq veterans, whether they are against the war, or simply confused about their relationship to this dark story in American life. I breathe this pain and confusion into my heart, bear it, and infuse my tears of light into the darkness. 

I confess that America is powerless. I confess that America is powerless. Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is simply to stop pretending power. Iraq, I'm sorry, forgive me, I love you.

U.S. "power" is the illusory power of the guns: they always come back to destroy us. "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword," Jesus said. Every surrogate army we train and load with weapons becomes a Frankenstein that turns on us to destroy its creator. Our CIA spawned Al Queda in Afghanistan when we thought we were fighting Russians. Saddam Hussein was our ally in the war against Iran. Malaki, who we banked on to be president of Iraq, is a gangster who divided the nation and turned against us. Now a new player comes on the stage, the Sunni army of ISIS; but like past armies, they are just the spawn of the "Sunni Awakening" that the U.S. engineered in the last desperate years of our war in Iraq. We have continued to arm and fund ISIS through Saudi Arabia, in a proxy war against Iran. We have taken sides with the Sunnis against the Shi'a, who are supported by Iran. Thus the U.S., though we consider ourselves so modern, so enlightened, has been sucked into a  medieval tribal feud between rival Muslim sects. How small our "power" makes us!

We can see this tragedy as a lesson about the ego's quest for power, whether political and spiritual. Gurus and life-coaches often promise "self-empowerment." Yet their teaching may just reinforce this ego's craving to be the do-er. Real spirituality has nothing to do with winning power. Spirituality has more to do with loss than gain. It is the courage to embrace our powerlessness.

The oldest Christian hymn, in Philippians chapter 2, tells us that Jesus "emptied himself" of power. The Greek word for this "self-emptying"is Kinosis. Buddhists know this practice of Kinosis, but few modern Christians remember any such practice in the Western tradition.

It is time to recover the spirituality of divine loss. Loss teaches us everything. When I embrace true emptiness, and confess my powerlessness, I touch the unbounded power of compassion. "When I am weak, thn I am strong." (2 Cor 12:10)

Friend, don't seek power. Become the power-vacuum.

6/12/2014

Big Small


Little things are huge, big things are small.
Lets get some perspective, friend.
When you taught that little girl to tie a bow
on her glittering sneaker this morning,
galaxies made a figure eight,
swimming through eternity.
When you carefully clean out your
hummingbird feeder,
the forest sighs and gives breath
to our whole tribe.
If you teach your heart to say 'yes'
as softly as a raindrop on a fern,
millions hear music falling
out of the bright hopeful darkness.

6/11/2014

Where Does Our Love Go?




Does the sun fall into its reflection on the water? There is no falling in love. Love is not a relationship, but an effulgence. The heart overflows, bathing whoever enters its radiance. Love has no object. The radiant heart blesses both friend and stranger, not for the sake of the other, but for the sake of love its Self.


Some say this sounds very selfish. Yes, love is divinely Self-centered. And the centered heart is the heart that truly gives, for it wants nothing in return.

How could we fall in love when love is where we already always are? We fall into love's reflections, but reflections fade. If I love a Master, a Savior, an Avatar, even this love will fade in the course of time. If I fall in love with the most delightful paramour or spouse, the charm will fade some day. If I give my heart to charity, in the most loving service of humanity, this selfless passion will burn out and fade away.

Weary petals fall; the energy of the blossom sinks back into the seed. It appears to be a loss, a death. But this is renewal. The energy of a thousand suns is hidden in the seed. And the inviolable seed is buried in the core of the heart, deeper than light, more inward than any relationship.

Let this loss be holy. Let us sink back to the seed a little while. The true purpose of meditation is to restore the seed of love in our heart. Let us rekindle love at its source. The source is not the guru, the savior, or the lover, but the light within the heart.


Waves of love spill from the heart into the eyes, the hands, the earth, blessing and healing the people. Yet all the while, the ocean stays still inside. Love is an ocean without a shore.  

I heard Maharishi say these words over forty years ago. I am finally beginning to experience their truth:

"Every wave of love arises from the Self and returns to the Self. No one really loves anyone but the Self. This is the secret of love." ~Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 

6/09/2014

Grace as Alignment

I have never felt that the traditional understanding of Grace quite captures the profundity of it. Both Christianity and theistic Hinduism describe Grace descending from above, or from the blessing of another: the saint, the savior, or the avatar. This is a nice description of "blessing," but a blessing is only temporary and external. Grace is innate. The juice of Being, the marrow of breathing, Grace flows ceaselessly, never withheld by the Divine. We just need to get out of its way, and settle effortlessly into alignment. God rewards alignment.

Grace is the power that percolates through the still axis of every harmony, spilling from divine Consciousness into the center of the galaxy, overflowing to the sun, to the earth, and from the earth into my body. Here, Grace is the radiance of my heart center: it illuminates every cell of my flesh and sets my atoms spinning.

Grace is not super-natural, it is natural. The grand alignment of the universal and particular happens spontaneously when I accept myself as I Am, this moment, without the slightest added effort to be anything more. Then gracious creativity breathes inspiration, the exhalation of the stars through the bones of matter. Grace does not descend, it wells up like a tear from within, from the silence at the core of harmony, which can never be known by the mind. Grace has nothing to do with thinking or believing. The first condition for Grace is an intellect stunned by wonder.

Grace and forgiveness are one. For-give means "give before." What is needed pours out in the instant before doing. So by Grace, actions arises not from anxious effort, but from stillness.

The irony is, I activate this power by allowing my heart to bestow it on others. The final alignment that completes the circuit of dynamic Grace is my relationship with you. When I embrace you just as you are in this moment, without needing you to be anything more, I allow the circle of God's plenitude to overflow. As the universe accepts me, I accept the other, without judgment. This is what Jesus meant in the Lord's Prayer when he said, "Forgive us, AS we forgive others." So much of Jesus' teaching hinges on that sacred little word, "as."

6/08/2014

Are You Ready To Be Born?



After 10 million years in the realm of the gods, reclining in majesty, dressed in royal golden armor, and delighting in the scent of a celestial rose that never fades, I grew restless. I whispered to the gandharva who played the same sweet song, every note a thousand years, "Is there nothing more?"

The music stopped. A voice said, "Ah, you have asked The Question." Then the voice told me of a place where one tastes birth and death, moments of intensity instantly dissolved, the bittersweet scent of eternity grown fragile and passing away, each Now a treasury of loss, of mingled pain and pleasure, longing and union, the rose, the thorn, your eyes, my tears, the salt wind, and so by a circle of opposites expanding the dream until it is unendurable to sleep, and one awakens, never to be held again by any form...

"Are you ready?" the voice said.

"I am afraid," I murmured.

"Then you are ready, child, you are ready."

6/07/2014

Stone Song


I am the echo in the stone
          off trail in the old growth forest.
     Sit here awhile by a bend in the stream
          whose irrational angle secretly fits
     with all other bending streams
          into a hidden circle
     that flows into and out of itself,
          nourishing eternity with one drink.
     Sit awhile in cathedral green.
Hasten not,
          for you are an elder now,
     and after you drink of this circle
          listen deeply (I am the echo
     in the stone)
          and you will hear the beginning.
You will enter the small
          miracle of the perishing
     immediate.
          And if you look well,
     your look will become a gaze.
You will see how we mingle
          yet distil each element of ourselves
     to its particle of clarity,
          like this moth of scattered sunbeam
     flitting over sunken brook pebbles
          in a space between breezes
     which is the space between your breaths,
          fire on water,
     earth in air.
I am the bright echo
          in the breathing stone
     submerged, off trail, the pause,
          the listening, the glance become
     a gaze.
Taste and see.
         Hasten nowhere.
     The sweetest gift of elder age
         is not needing to arrive.
     It is enough
          just being on the Way.
__________

LINK to hear a reading of this poem. Took the photo 
on a hike to Green Lake, Mount Rainier.

Invitation

"I did not invite you here to save me, but to walk barefoot on my wet sand, feel my breath in your hair, hear the sound of waves and seagulls. I am the sigh of pines and the sparkle of streams, I am the silence of an ancient stone. You need no pleasure but my elements mingling with your soul. The pleasures you think you receive by exploiting my body are not pleasant at all: they are painful addictions to illusory power. When you were a child, every leaf was a mystery, the raindrop's touch a sacrament, to wander nowhere on my shores a sacred pilgrimage. It is because you have forgotten how to be astonished by the littlest creatures that you became desperate, and exchanged delight for ownership.You don't need to own me. You don't need to save me. I invited you here to love me. Save yourselves through this love." ~The Mother

Surrender

 

"My only suffering from this day forth will be your divine beauty." 
~St. John of the Cross

"The Love that You are worthy of is your tearing of my veils so that I can see You." 
~Rabi'a

See, in the path of love there is no East or West, no Christian or Muslim: just 700 billion kinds of surrender.

Angels are created in the state of surrender. But humans pass through many lives of anxiety and regret, yearning and sorrow, before surrender happens, by grace. And this is why surrender in a human being is ten thousand times more full of wonder and gratitude. 

6/04/2014

Open



Which way does the magnolia bud unfold?
To the East or the West?
To the Right or the Left?
Please touch the whole world now.
Awaken in every direction at once.
Be the radiance you seek.

6/03/2014

Miracle of the Ordinary

Rest this breath in the miracle of the ordinary, with no concept of ‘miracle' or ‘ordinary.’ Virescent gaze of sun through leafy fern or any tessellated peck of downy on a worm-worn oak will do. Faith is knowing there is nothing to seek. If tutelary voices persist, embrace them like gongs in the empty sky: breathe in ‘miracle,’ breathe out ‘ordinary'... 'miracle,' 'ordinary'... until, without effort, any intention to be somebody dissolves in the luminous charm between words.