7/30/2016

Grace Notes: The Universe as Sound

 
"In the beginning was the Word... Through him all things were created."  
~Gospel of John

"Om is the primordial word. All that is, was, or will be is Om." 
~Mandukya Upanishad

"Adau Bhagavan shabda rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord created 
the cosmos through a subtle stream of sound." 
~Rig Veda
Creation is sound. The universe is sound. The subtle essence of light shines in darkness as sound. Each star has a sound. Every galaxy is a resolving chord, the harmony of a trillion worlds.

The atoms of your body are chimes. Each cell of your body is a carillon. Your music vibrates into my sound-body, mine into yours. Both are intermingled with that galactic harmony, the gong of planets. Our subatomic counterpoint trembles and dances over the scale of humanity, and humanity's music co-mingles in the cosmic chorus of angels.

You are a ringing bell. Who struck you? Even from a thousand miles away, I am touched by the song of your body. Each cell of my flesh feels and recognizes your key, your rhythmic signature. The memory of you brings a blue note, a minor seventh, a raga into my inward ear.

My heart is a receiver of your elegy, and a transmitter of my own love song. Inside the ribs of every man and woman, the hollows of a well-carved instrument resonate, softly playing notes deeply personal, yet pervading the universe.

With the vibrant sound of our minds, we contribute to the harmony of All, or we grind out dissonance. The most important question we can ask at any moment is, "Do my thoughts right now create harmony on earth, or disharmony?" Harmonious thoughts expand creation, bringing light out of darkness. Cynical or hateful thoughts unravel creation and contract our energy, preventing waves of music from manifesting as light.

We are each a unique resonance of grace notes. Are you a morning or an evening raga? Are you the music of wind or rain? A brook of Spring rain murmuring in the desert? The song of melting snow high above tree line, chanting under stones? Are you the sound of moonbeams falling softly on the petals of an amaranth hibiscus, changing their color to burgundy?

The day will come, and is now here, when you will wake in the morning stunned by a symphony of blossoms, polyphony of sun and dew. The day will come, and is now here, when medicine will be music, and songs will heal us. The day will come, and is now here, when listening to vibrations of mantra, O most silent melody in the ancient brain, will dissolve the mind of war into pure love. 

The day will come, the day is here, when you long for the Beloved, O nakedness more intimate than form; you merely call the Beloved's most secret name, and the Beloved is with you, nearer than this breath!

7/29/2016

Drop

Drop the pebble in the pool. Only then do ripples spread and fill the whole pond. Drop the thought in silence. Only then can waves of intention fill the universe.
Some assume that meditation is thinking: repeating a memorable, "spiritual," or delicious thought. But the deepest meditation happens when you drop even your most memorable, "spiritual," and delicious thought.
Become the radiant space beyond intellect. Become the rippling silence that resonates with the song of galaxies.

7/26/2016

Flower of Chaos

We seem to think that electing another president will change things. We assume that our political system brings significant transformation in our lives. And if there is something wrong with it, we just need to elect new politicians...
Maybe the problem is not the politician, but politics itself. The problem is our very assumption that we need a government to do the work of making our lives more livable, and human.

Is there a way to Be directly human in the world, without asking political representatives to negotiate our Being for us?
Let's be honest. "Politics" is based on ephemeral loyalties, masks of illusion, and subservience to the power of money. To survive, even the most idealistic politician becomes a docile servant of expediency and compromise. In 2008 Barack Obama said, "Hillary Clinton will say anything and change nothing." A year later, he made her Secretary of State. A few months ago, Bernie Sanders said, "Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president... She lacks the judgment." Now, at the Democratic Party convention, he places her name in nomination. Politics is smoke and mirrors. So are politicians.
Perhaps we need a new way to conceive of government. You Are the government. I Am the government. Now is our democracy. The only true politics is the way we live our lives this moment, together. Our politics is the authenticity and presence of our relationship.
I don't believe that Barack Obama will make my life better. I don't believe Bernie will make my life better. I don't believe Hillary will make my life better. I certainly don't believe the Donald will make my life better. Only I make my life better, as I work with you to make your life better, in the Now of relationship. In the coming age, this Now of relationship will be the only politics. O most blessed anarchy!

Mental Health is Collective

We're all having mental health issues. Any American who says they're not having mental health issues is insane.
If you are even half awake, you will admit you are having mental health issues. Just look at the people you, we, select as political candidates. They are all about power and control. Just look at the Congress we elect. They are all about serving their financial masters, who give us perpetual war and the arms industry. Yet we say that we are a peaceful nation, that we have a religion of peace, that our candidate is going to make everything all right. Is this not deep mental illness?
Look at what we do to our green mother. Look at how we "other" people because of the color of their skin. Look at our fascination with violence. We project this from our own energy and call it "the world out there." Then we pretend its not us. But each and every one of us have created this world. It's ours, not "theirs."
So let's stop claiming that we're OK, and that someone else is the problem. "Else" doesn't work anymore. Our mind is the problem. We need to confess our confusion and give up being "right" - politically, religiously, racially, economically. Because the people who are "right" are destroying the earth.
Maybe we need the courage to say, "I don't know." "I don't know" is a sacred mantra for us right now. It lets us fall down. Falling is sacred too.
We can sink from the mind to the heart, and repose in the ground of wonder, where compassion flowers. We can bathe in the breath of the divine Friend.

Ink Painting: Crazy tipsy zen monks being none other.

7/23/2016

Billie Holiday & Mary Magdalene


"Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion."
~James Joyce

It’s you, Billie. You are the Magdalene, pouring sweet pangs of sensuality like crystals of frankincense into the fire of Presence, effusing sighs and gazes too fine and mellow for words. You transcend, not by escaping this knotted earthen labyrinth, but by entering its center. You are She who falls so deeply into your own humanity that God becomes your servant. 

It's you, Billie, the Paraclete. Regardless of the impurities you committed in a life of addiction and sexual sorrow, your unadulterated devotion to Beauty uplifts you on spirit wings, and enfolds you in the Bridal Chamber of Christ's sacred heart.

Enough of holy icons and ecclesiastic symbols! This love is real, stretched out in troubled fallen bodies. Addicted to heroine and alcohol, in love with men who abused you, you beat up white sailors with your fists when they mocked your music in a Manhatten bar. You scalded racist hecklers with your gutter-ripened tongue. These were the disciplines that made you pure. And how could such impurities make you pure? Because you endured. You endured the suffering that redounded from each misdeed and offered that suffering to Art. 

In 1957, you and Lester Young performed for the last time together. You had been estranged, in fact, for a few years prior to that date: you could no longer stand to confront your own pain in each other's faces. On that day, you sang “Fine and Mellow” live on a CBS TV special called, "The Sound of Jazz." There is a moment in that performance which captures the entire history of Nuptial Mysticism, the tradition of the Lover and Beloved. For that brief moment in 1957, your eyes gazed back thousands of years through Christian, Jewish, Sufi and Hindu devotional poetry. The tearful radiance in your eye was the glance of Rumi toward the mystical Friend, the glance of Lalla Dev toward Krishna. It was the glance of the repentent harlot Israel, gazing at Lord Adonai, who accepted her back into his heart, according to the prophet Isaiah. It was the glance of the Magdalene toward her spiritual lover, Jesus. 

This is the glance that passes eternally from the Spirit to the Son in the secret embrace of the Holy Trinity. This glance streams from the Shekinah to Yahweh in mystical darkness before the first verse of Genesis is written in flames of black fire on the whiteness of an uncreated scroll. This glance binds creation back to Creator. Yet it is no more, and no less, than the gaze of Billie Holliday toward Lester Young. 

It's you, Billie. You bestowed this glance on Pres, your oldest friend, one-time lover, and spiritual companion in the terrors of dissolution, as he offered a solo during your song. That solo was a one-chorus blues prayer which jazz critics have called "the purest blues ever recorded": the aching heart redeemed through art, the deepest sins distilled, transfigured into unspeakable beauty. Through such secret alchemy, artist and saint have much in common, and we discover the religious quality of jazz. 

In love's glance, you redeemed your oldest friend. In Art, he redeemed you. And in that instant, the two of you were Radha-Krishna, Shekinah-Yahweh, Mary and Christ. 

Even God longs to receive such a glance from one human being brave enough to offer love in spite of pain. In spite of pain! Is that not why we are here? Would our love have substance in the unremitting happiness of heaven? In paradise our love would be a candle at noon. But a candle is only significant in the dark. 

Billie, it's you. Your gaze teaches us that our sufferings mean something, our sensual extravagance is but our first yearning for redemption, and our impurities are hidden prayers for transformation. When we are ready, when we are ripe as you, no matter what shames we carry in our breast, a single glance into the eye of the Beloved heals everything. The Church will never make you a saint, Billie. That's OK. Its none of their business. This affair is between you and God and earth's most fallen lovers.... 

Therefor, I who am most fallen pronounce you a saint. I declare your songs to be a new book in the canon of the Bible, which can never be closed until the heart is closed! And I say that if the Song of Songs is worthy of a place in scripture, then so are your songs.


Scripture says, "What ascends must first descend." You descended, Billie. You and Pres got down so low! It was the secret of your Grace. If God so loves a fallen sparrow, how much more God loves the blues! Your blue gospel-gita-koan teaches us three secrets: falling is our resurrection; empty, we are filled; surrendering unconditionally to our human limits, we transcend them.

 

Reader: this secret gospel has only one commandment. You must listen to the performance of “Fine and Mellow” by Billie Holliday, from the ambrosial live '57 CBS program, TV’s finest hour. Listen to Lady Day's blue bhajan. Listen to Pres’s Gregorian tenor chant. See this jazz darshan, last meeting of estranged lovers in their moment of reconciliation. (Two years, and they would both be dead.) Pay attention to Billie’s beat sacramental eyes as she listens to Pres's aching naked eulogy to their lost love. The grace in his music is reflected in the icon of her face. Then you will receive the Gnosis of divine union in a secret transmission beyond words and thoughts. Through the blues, you will know the eternal Love that pulses in the broken heart of Mary Magdalene.

____________________

Lester Young's solo is the second tenor sax solo in the following classic film.

7/22/2016

Kenosis: Entering Loss

       Magdalene Chapel, Bedoin, France
To meditate is to enter the centerless convergence of every pair of opposites. This is the Cross, a black hole where polarities collapse in a burst of self-annihilation, which is at once the supreme loss and the supreme luminosity. 

To be crucified with Christ is the infinite negation at the heart of the world, where creation explodes from emptiness, light from darkness, life from death, particles from the quantum vacuum. Only naked consciousness can enter the needle's eye at the empty center of the Cross. Thought, memory and desire must be abandoned, along with the "me" who thinks, remembers and wants.

 In transcendental deep meditation, emptiness is absolute. No-thing remains. "Absolute" comes from the Latin ab - away - and  solvere - to loosen.  "Absolute" and "lose" share the same Indo-European root - leu - meaning to loosen, divide, cut apart. 

Meditation is not meditation if I cling to any concept of meditation. Meditation is not meditation if I name it "yoga," "advaita," "zen," "christian," "jewish" or "muslim." When I transcend, all names and forms are cut away. Meditation is the fullness of unconditional loss.
Is this not what Jesus means when he says, "Whoever clings to his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it"? (Luke 17.33)

The Epistle to the Philippians declares that "Jesus emptied himself." (2.7) The rarely used Greek word kenosis lies at the heart of Christianity. It means "self-emptying." Self-emptiness is the hollow at the center of the Cross. Kenosis is precisely what the Buddha called anatta, "no-self," and what yogis call nirbija samadhi, "seedless meditation." 

In the depths, no "I" can encounter the void. But meditation itself becomes the void when "I" disappear. To merely encounter the void makes me empty, like a dumb-founded hiker staring into the Grand Canyon. But to become the void is quite different. There is no observer, no hiker. The one who was standing on the edge leaps in.

To become the void engenders compassion. Because I am no-thing, I get entangled with every electron in the universe. That entanglement is the only "I."
My own awareness is the quantum vacuum, where particles vibrate out of the Uncreated into creation. My surrender is the stillness between the heartbeats of a mouse. My silence envelopes the trillium growing in virgin forest shadows where no one has ever walked. I am thousands of fathoms beneath light.

Surrendering to this process of self-annihilation is passing through the center of the Cross. "I" am crucified.

The practice of transcendental meditation and the way of Christ are exactly the same. This was revealed to me at the Prioré de la Madeleine, a small 9th Century monastery in the village of Bedoin, France, while offering my heart before a single candle on a primitive stone alter, carved with the figure of Mary Magdalene. LINK
 Magdalene Alter, Bedoin, France

7/18/2016

Doesn't Matter

It doesn't matter what you think. It doesn't matter which candidate you prefer. It doesn't matter how many wonderful acts of merit you have accomplished, or how many times you have failed. All that matters is where your awareness rests right now. Let it repose in the magnificent Silence of your own heart. Dissolve the world into love.

7/10/2016

Vespers

Merging into the stillness of the Self is the deepest form of activism, stimulating the breast of Divine Mother to express the milk of Shakti, her creative healing power, through every atom in creation.
One of the subtlest forms of ego is to pride ourselves on how much grief or anger we feel, for then we get stuck in our grief, fixated in our anger, and they become our identity. We are so much more than our anger, so much more than our sorrow!

Your grief and anger are not to be denied. They are sacred energies. But grief is not a temple, and anger is not a palace. They are impermanent, empty as wind moving through the stillness of vast space. You are that space. There is room in you for the storm, and for the sun.
But if you let the pain and chaos of the world become your identity, the world will rob you of your smile, your birthright happiness. You will lose everything, for you will completely misunderstand the nature of reality.
The world is a mirror of your consciousness, reflecting your golden sun or your grayest cloud. The world mirrors the full moon of your compassion, rising over an ocean of peace, or the troubled waves of your anxiety. You have the freedom to project whatever mental state you feel onto the mirror of the world.

Life flows toward greater happiness. If I embrace my grief and anger, giving them the time they need, without force or resistance, nature will spontaneously move me toward joy. The energy of grief and anger will dissolve into clarity and peace. But if I cling to grief and anger, identifying them as "me," I cause unnatural suffering in myself and others.
When we practice meditation, our great discovery is that we can embrace our grief and our anger, breathe through them, transform them into free energy...

Now it is time for Vespers. Let the ocean of peace include our waves of grief and anger, until every wave settles down in the stillness of All-Mothering Awareness, whose nature is pure love.

Peace Prayer

Why do we wear outer garments of race, religion, and nationality? Simply to dance in a planetary multicultural interfaith festival. Differences are for celebration, not conflict. And these human waves of individuality all sparkle from one Inward Light, one center of divine consciousness, whose nature is love.

On this Sabbath morning, repose a little while in the silence of the heart. Rest in the healing breath of deep meditation. To taste your divine Radiance, even for a moment, is to end human violence. When we see violence, our anger and grief are sacred energies. But they can finally be breathed through, embraced, and transformed by a much wider space. For in the unified field of the all-pervading Self, it becomes so clear that wishing others harm is wishing harm to ourselves.

We are called by Christ to "love our enemies," not as a moral commandment, but as an awakening of our true nature. The "Other" and the "I" wear different costumes, but we are beams of the same Light.
I pray that you may be happy today, resting in your natural dignity, whether you are dressed in "white" or "black," "Christian" or "Muslim," "East" or "West." Meditate, radiate, and dance.

7/08/2016

Happiness

Happiness shines from the Self. Happiness does not come from what we accomplish, what we believe, what we attain, what we think. Happiness bubbles up from the Self, as the very essence of who we already are. Nothing created it. Nothing can remove it. Happiness is not superficial: everything else is superficial compared to the radiant elixir of our happiness. To awaken the pure happiness of the Self is the only sure end of human violence.

7/07/2016

Immersed

Even if you are 70 miles from the nearest toilet, squatting in stillness among the wild ferns, the swirling stars above you, the only sound a yelp of coyote cubs in the next valley, the sigh of pine needles in the gentle wind, you are passionately immersed in the world, and you are involved in profound social change.
Took this photo of Mount Rainier from Gobler's Nob

7/01/2016

Book Release: 'Savor Eternity...'


I invite you to enjoy my new book, 'Savor Eternity One Moment At A Time.' which attained #1 New Release in Nature Poetry and #1 New Release in Inspirational Poetry in its first two days of publication. I encourage you to go to the Amazon site and write a review.

A review does not have to be long, or scholarly. just express honest feeling. You need only read a sample of my poems, not the whole book. Yet every review helps in establishing the book on Amazon and the publisher's site. And its good to support small presses. Thank you, friends, and Saint Julian Press!

To write a review, just scroll down the site to the bottom and click on 'Write Your Own Review.' Here are LINKS for :