Willy and I welcome you into the New Year. But of course, there is no New Year, and no Old Year. There is no difference at all between 2017 and 2018, or 2018 BC for that matter. It's all one ancient stream of Presence, flowing into itself. Yet if I were to pray for our New Year, I would pray this prayer...
Every morning, may a sparrow remind me that gratitude is the source of all blessings. May I gaze at the smallest creature and know how rich I am. May I bathe in a continuous revelation of ferns, nests, and berries. May my path ever end in wonder, and my answer arise in silence. May I meet you in the only safe and sacred place, the present moment. Let us now and always look into each others eyes and see a divine Thou, who is our very Self.
How easily we say "happy New Year," as if happiness were a piece of candy.
Happiness is a radical proposition. But it is not a concept. Happiness dissolves concepts. Happiness is not an emotion. It is the gentle explosion of Being in the silence of your heart.
Once I asked the Master, “What can I do to serve you?” He answered, “Be happy.” It took me years to understand this. Our happiness is profound seva, service to humanity.
What happens to us in the presence of someone who is truly happy - not someone who pretends, and wears a fake smile - but someone who radiates warm, empty, thought-free stillness, melting all tension and fear? Our chattering mind stops. Deep silence awakens. We smile from our groundless core for no reason. Happiness has no cause.
One who is essentially joyful doesn't preach, argue, or convert, because happiness needs no religion, politics, or ideology. Yet meeting such a person is a world-changing event, shattering our bud, bursting us into blossom. The happiness they spread is blessed anarchy.
No words are required. The joyful one communicates Truth from heart to heart in a silent flash. Peace is in her eyes. Then a few words may arise, but only as celebration, as waves of quietness.
In the New Year, happiness is our first responsibility. Be responsible.
My prayer for 2018. Negativity cannot be conquered by negativity. Our tidal wave of hate for Donald Trump is as toxic to the American soul as Trump himself. I pray that in the new year we may transmute our bitterness into positive energy, and our fear into works of healing. Begin with a gift as humble and insignificant as this breath, and you will experience infinite gratitude. Share That.
The world is the flash of a lightning bolt. You witness the flash, but have no time for fear, worry, desire, or doubt, because there is no time at all. Only this perpetual moment of wonder, of the nature of a lightning flash which contains the entire past and future. You are the witness of That, and That arises and disappears in an instant with the space of your own wonder. Nothing more than this is happening or can ever happen.
Balthazar's legs were stiff. As his servant pressed the animal's powerful neck low to the moon-washed desert sand, the old philosopher slipped from his kneeling camel. More nimbly than their elder, Melchior and Gaspar dismounted without assistance. A porter led their camels to the palm grove for water as the three pilgrims spread their caftans for an hour's rest.
They reclined in silence, the respite of a long night's journey. While traveling had constrained them into an acquaintance not unlike friendship, the three maintained that mutual aloofness native to men of rank. Until now, the three had known each other only as fellow, nay, even rival masters at the Academy in Baghdad.
Old Balthazar was a Persian mathematician who had studied at the temple of Pythagoras in Italy. Having traveled the civilized world, even as far as Tibet, he was lauded as the great Magus of his generation. Leaving hundreds of disciples at the Academy, he had departed with two fellows and a handful of porters on this desolate desert crossing, which he insisted was "his final pilgrimage." Balthazar was chiefly famous for his mathematical description of angels, especially his Geometry of Hierarchies, which proved that the constellations were ordered by "a will toward beauty."Dealing as it did with the latest theories in science, Balthazar's work attracted Melchior, the princely young Egyptian alchemist, now his fellow traveler. Melchior had entered the Academy in Baghdad, not as a student of the old master, but as a rival philosopher. Their pilgrim party was completed by a prodigious Hindu Brahmin named Gaspar.Gaspar's journey began in a monastery at Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where he had studied with the greatest disciple of Shankara before secluding himself in a forest hermitage at the Ganges' source. There Gaspar wrote his astrological proof of Advaita Vedanta, devising a mathematical foundation for the Upanishadic sutra, "Ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: One atom of the smallest is greater than the greatest." Using the new science of calculus, Gaspar proved that atomic configurations of human anatomy reflected the patterns of heavenly constellations to form an inter-dimensional continuum from micro to macrocosm which ultimately defined the physiology of a single, cosmic, human body.
Melchior, the Egyptian, wrote a commentary on Gaspar's thesis, suggesting that Gaspar's "cosmic anthropology" implied a teleological end, the birth of a "star-atomed man," an event which would mark the attainment of Selfhood by the cosmos. Two years later, when Melchior's thesis finally reached India, Gaspar responded with astronomical calculations proving that such an event would, in fact, occur in the present generation. Their metaphysical dialogue across the continents, from Alexandria to Rishikesh, finally drew the Egyptian and the Indian together in Baghdad, at the school of their elder, Balthazar.
"I wondered if my scroll would reach the West in time to warn you that the Birth was immanent," said Gaspar, disturbing the stream of milky silence that poured like some etheric nectar from the glistening stars. Relieved at the opportunity to discharge what was smoldering in their breasts, the three fell into a soft but heated discussion.
"My calculations led to the same conclusion as yours, Gaspar!" said the Egyptian. "Your treatise was the finest addendum to Plato's Timaeus in a hundred years, truly! But, if I may say, your original argument failed to include the critical last step. You brilliantly demonstrated how the galactic macro-equations resolve into the mathematical image of a human body. But the Cosmic Man will not be a person, fully aware of himself, unless he experiences the limitations of a human birth, on a material planet. The principle is even stated by your philosopher, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras: Consciousness is fully awakened only by the taste of its opposite, through the contrast of boundless intelligence with a finite body. There must be an Incarnation!"
"That was implicit in my equations, Melchior! Not to imply that I was first, no," Gaspar thumped his Brahmin palm against the sand, "but I had already proved it!"
In Egypt," Melchior insisted icily, "we proved it too." He paused for Gaspar to imbibe these words. Then he continued, "Your theory, sir, belongs not to India alone, but to the planetary atmosphere. It is in the air. Elders at Alexandria speak of these mysteries. I hear the same from Corinth and Antioch. 'This is the hour!' they all whisper. Of course, the common people don't know anything about it: except these Jews, who expect to get some sort of king out of the affair to lead them in a civil war. But in the temples, in the academies, all agree. We dwell at the turning point of the ages. Isn't that right Balthazar?"
The quiet old Persian smiled. "Even in Rome there are such thoughts."
"Rome!" the Indian chuckled. "If they know it in the city of wine and roast pig, then the odor of revelation must be in the air!"
"That is true," Melchior continued seriously. "Thoughts like these do not arise in the personal mind, but are gleaned by the brain out of prevailing elements in the ether. Now, because more mercury than sulfur predominates, due to a lessening influence of Mars, and from Jupiter a greater degree of...."
"My fellow pilgrim," Balthazar interjected as graciously as possible, "Just look up at these stars! It is more than chemistry that descends upon this world. Surely, you remember why we are here."
They looked up into the color of silence, deeper than black, where clustered stars pulsed like a candelabra over a banquet table. These stars appeared unnaturally close and intimate. A shudder passed through their three bodies, a strangely familiar tremor: as if this very night, the silver outspread sand, the almost tangible anticipation of secret mysteries about to be revealed, had been waiting for them in this place for ten thousand years. Their hearts were absorbed in an intensely serious joy.
"An angel has come upon us," Balthazar whispered.
"These atoms of air," muttered the Egyptian, "salts, crystals, don't you see?"
For a radius of nearly five meters around them, some ethereal pressure created a mellifluous golden cloud in the cold desert air. Within this sphere, the substance of space itself seemed thicker, rippling in violet undulations. Sparkles infinitesimal as photons danced around their faces, throbbing against their brains with a subliminal ringing. Melchior trembled because he thought they had discovered some fantastic new chemical in the desert wind, while Gaspar kept glancing nervously at the crescent moon, fearing an un-calculated eclipse.
"What are you looking at Balthazar?" whispered the Egyptian.
"I'm listening," answered the old man. "I think it is speaking to us."
As if the infinitesimal atoms of air were tiny crystal bells, the silence chimed. Shivers of moonlight precipitated into viscous strands, using every ambiguity of flickering star, every strain on human attention, to seduce the senses to a vision of celestial lineaments: two eyes, floating jewels of moonlight; brow of liquid silver spilling down to pearly cheeks, nose, and lips; now the whole human countenance crystallized from transparency at that verge where consciousness consents with space to manifest a burning violet flame that is both matter and spirit, circumscribed by golden streams of hair, falling on a purple robe of luminous pulsation, revealing the whole stature of a warrior with diamond gaze over six feet tall, arms outstretched where he, or was it she?, descends upon the desert sand.
From the dreamy suspension of his intellect, where the weary monologue of thought had ceased awhile, Gaspar was startled by the sting of sand in a gust of wind. It was not at all clear to him how long he had been gazing into the angel's face, which now evaporated into the usual, though somehow more intimate, resonance of starlight. "Balthazar," he whispered, "did it speak with you?" There was no answer.
Melchior, meanwhile, mumbled about some conjunction of Venus and Neptune, "Or Saturn perhaps, yes, I think it was Saturn," until his logic trickled off into luminous silence. The other two stood up, wrapping their caftans against the breeze, and hastened toward the camels that waited among the palms.
Gaspar asked the Persian again, "What did it say? I know that it spoke to you."
Balthazar sighed, "I fear, young friend, my reputation exceeds me. I have not grown pure enough to attune to their sound."
"Was there any sort of.... word?"
"It is not a hearing as we know it, Gaspar, but a resonance of the nerves in our bodies with very small waves of light."
Melchior, with tears in his eyes, caught up to them, pulling on their sleeves. "Forgive me. I have not wept since I was a child. I have never... It was so new... Was it real?"
Balthazar laughed heartily. "My brilliant alchemist, is the gift of tears not proof enough?"
"But certain conjunctions could cause..."
"Yes, Melchior, certain conjunctions are necessary to shape the occasion, the chemistry of the air through which it manifests a body. But have no doubt: it was God's messenger."
Melchior was quiet for the next hour, having discovered a more important element in his own tears. Balthazar led the way, searching the sky, then pointing over the land, until it seemed they were crossing not only the desert of sand but a mirror of stars. The Persian explained that, though he could not hear the angel's voice, he could feel its will: not as thought in his mind, but as pure sensation in the heart.
"Where is it leading?" Gaspar asked.
"To the place of the Birth," the old man answered. "The angel has infused into my heart the image of a valley. We must leave the plateau and descend."
At the last caravansary, Balthazar asked a local porter who had joined them for this leg of the journey, "Is there a valley near?"
"Yes, master. A few furlongs to the southwest the desert descends into a fertile valley."
"Then we shall go southwest," said Balthazar.
"If I remember," added Gaspar, who loved maps and studied them at every stop, "it is toward the town which locals call The House of Bread."
"Beth-Lechem," said the porter.
"Then we go to Beth-Lechem," said Balthazar.
Their modest caravan journeyed on in silence, camels rolling gracefully across the dunes like boats on a moonlit sea. Eventually, Melchior spoke. "I suppose your disciples thought you mad to come on this journey. What did you tell them?"
"I told them it was a family matter," answered the Persian.
Then the Indian said to Balthazar, "Sir, you surely reached the same understanding as Melchior and I. When did you conclude that there must be a Birth?"
Balthazar measured his thoughts quietly, stroked his majestic silver whiskers, then spoke. "I have not published a treatise on these mysteries, as you have. I decided to keep them to myself. My research, like yours, indicated that the cosmos was approaching its moment of Self-Knowledge, to express and infuse the Spirit of Wisdom into all creation, from the furthest galaxy to the tiniest particle of dust on the bottom of my sandal. This world, every speck of it, must be soaked in pure Love.
"I concluded that the cosmic intelligence of the Creator could finally know its Self only in becoming one of its own creatures, confined in mortal matter, vulnerable and human as any of us. There was the mathematical necessity for a fusion of opposites at the center of an infinite cross. That center must be an actual place in time."
Gaspar nodded and Melchior said, "Go on."
"My calculus proved that the vectors of probability would converge in a mathematical singularity, whose symmetry must find reflection in every finite particle of matter. Evolution wills that each creature, great or small, must finally recapitulate the One. Please excuse this language. It's too dry, too technical to convey the elegance, the astonishment!"
"O continue, sir," whispered Gaspar.
"I mean to say then, when such an event occurs in God, it occurs in a human child: first in one, then in every human child. In each of us, there will be a kind of birth, the birth of a new faculty in the soul, something beyond knowledge, beyond reason and thought. A splendor, yes, a splendor will shine in our hearts."
"The Light Within!" Melchior interjected. "Our masters have hinted at it, though dimly."
"Exactly, Melchior. Until now, only a few have experienced that light: some Arhats, and Gautama known as Buddha, in my land; perhaps Plato and Master Pythagoras among the Greeks; and Hermes among your Egyptians. Ah, but now! When the Birth occurs, that divine spark will ignite all of us, both teacher and disciple equally, master and slave alike. Hierarchies will vanish.
"The change will not be instantaneous. After the Birth, it could take two thousand years for that event in time and space to ripple through all human souls. And yet, a thousand years are but a breath. One thing is certain tonight. We are about to step into an immense transformation. We are beginning the second half of eternity."
"But why here? Why now?" marveled the Egyptian.
"Why not?" the Persian answered.
"The design is intelligible, after all," said Melchior.
"Intelligible, yes," repeated Gaspar. "And yet, there is something very wonderful about it."
The wise men swayed to the rhythm of their animals. Theories spent, minds weary, they allowed a leading to emerge from the earth beneath them, from sand to hoof to scent on desert breezes. Their metaphysics had threshed out the limits of the possible. Now they humbly intuited the truth, and let their genius bow to their hearts. Perhaps for the first time in their lives they tasted the sweetness of inner silence, the silence of a mind that has plunged beyond its capacity to know. They let the camels lead them.
Behind them, the eastern horizon was a turquoise brush stroke. Cooling to a royal purple, the sky arched westward where bright stars still shimmered in the night. The camels descended over the crest of a valley. There, a tiny village nestled in palm clusters. Then a meteor sliced out of the dawn and disappeared on the dark horizon ahead.
"That was a finger pointing the way!" whispered Melchior.
"We don't need maps any more," Gaspar added, speaking mainly to himself. "This is the place."
The younger men looked to Balthazar for confirmation. He pulled at his beard and gazed upon the valley. "It is certain," he said.
"How can you be certain?" asked Melchior.
Balthazar stared at him, then turned and swept his arm over the valley. "Look!" he commanded. Their eyes gazed more deeply, though their minds could not comprehend.
At first glance, the haze enveloping the village appeared like any lowland mist at dawn. While each foggy patch seemed placid, a more patient look revealed strange vibrancy in the limpid air. Incandescent swirls precipitated into vanishing human shapes. When viewed directly, these aerial creatures were nearly invisible, dissolving into the very consciousness of the observer; but when suspended in peripheral vision, they lasted as luminous outlines, and conveyed more than light. They had emotion. Though many of them smiled with a vacuous, not quite human beatitude, others seemed grave, even anxious, with pursed lips and contracted brows; and some were wringing their hands, weeping.
The three men felt as if they had stumbled into a great catastrophe in another world, a world suspended in the nimbus of this one, whose ethereal inhabitants desperately awaited the outcome of some terrible trial.
The village of Bethlehem slept on under this cloud of celestial turmoil, only a few lights flickering where a mother sat up with a feverish child, or a watchman dozed at the gate of a Sadducee's home. The camels led their riders quietly through the streets, descending to an inn at the far edge of the town, where the valley gently spilled into its vineyards. They ambled around to the back of the building, where a courtyard opened to an unkempt pasture, at the end of which was a stable: hardly a true stable, but a lop-sided shed built at the entrance of a shallow cave in vine-clustered boulders. A few sheep and one ox huddled nearby, sleeping through the frigid hour before dawn.
By now, Gaspar and Melchior were convinced they had come to the wrong house. They believed that the camels were drawn there by the animal scent, and were simply looking for a feeding trough, which of course was perfectly true. But Balthazar seemed certain, so the others followed.
They dismounted. Gaspar whispered, "Are we meeting someone in this garden?"
Pointing to the cave, Balthazar unceremoniously stepped over the vines, parted the blanket that veiled the entrance from the chill night, and disappeared within. Melchior just stood there, marveling at the utter commonplace: a sheep fold in a thicket of grapes. Yet he sensed that, here at last, ineffable dignity imbued the ordinary. A holiness too simple to comprehend infused the timber and the nails. He bowed and entered.
Gaspar, the Indian astrologer, hesitated. He drew the blanket aside, but paused to look back across the rooftops of the village, gently lifting their weight of sleeping humanity eastward, upward, toward the desert plateau whence he had descended, and which already gleamed in dawn's light. "Perhaps this dusty blanket conceals a hidden temple," he mused. "When I part this veil, a new mystery will flood the world. My wisdom will be old." Involuntary trembling shook his body, but only for a moment. "What becomes of knowledge when the heart is free?"
Inside, Gaspar bumped into a donkey, its breath misting the silence of cold stone. Bleating in the dark, two sheep glanced restlessly at him, then settled back into their reverie. Gaspar stopped, puzzled by a golden gleam spilling onto the hay from the feeding trough, where someone must have piled fiery coals.
He saw his two friends kneeling in the straw among the animals. Melchior was staring with astonishment into the trough. But Balthazar was gazing at the woman, a great smile lighting his beard. She huddled in a faded blue gown, her eyes cast downward. She was at ease in the presence of such a renowned philosopher, unashamed by his adulation, her eyes bemused and slightly unfocused, with a weary yet contented glow, as if nothing in the world could ever surprise her again.
Gaspar crept up to warm himself, still uncertain what they were supposed to be doing there. Only then did he notice, in some straw at the bottom of the manger, a child's face gazing from impossible flames.
Originally published in 'The Friends Journal', Philadelphia,
December 15, 1986.
At the wondrous woundressed hour of Solstice pause, drink from the stillness that washes all turnings in rebirth. Enter the briefest portal and fall into eternity. Listen to the unstruck gong of starry void, where every song of joy germinates in the boundless seed of silence.
Each of us can find blessings in our own back yard. How blessed we are in the Northwest to find this sacred mountain, 'Mother of White Streams,' so near us. This morning, December 21, my canine buddy Bowie and I gazed at her from a nearby hilltop at dawn. Thank you, Mountain Mother.
I celebrate the birthday of Guru Dev, Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, holder of the lineage of Adi Shankaracharya. He passed away the year I was born, yet his light silently infuses millions of souls on earth. I bow to the lineage of the Holy Tradition.
I've noticed that New Age do-it-yourself spirituality often disdains the notion of "lineage." But this bow is pure gratitude, not mere submission to authority. And this bow contains a deep secret. It is a shield of protection, a pathless path of surrender.
Enlightenment is never solitary. Enlightenment is sanga, the beloved community, a continuum of consciousness through time and space.
Bowing to one's lineage can be a tender acknowledgment that "realization" is not an achievement of our American individualism. Lineage is a bulwark against the charismatic ego of the solitary self-appointed "spiritual teacher."
Lineage is the humility of tradition. The flame passed from candle to candle never belongs to one wick alone. When I bow to my teacher, I am swept down into my teacher's bow to his teacher, and my teacher's teacher's bow, unto the vast "cloud of witnesses" in the blue sky of eternal awareness, which is this ancient Now.
The great Master bows to the holy tradition, no matter how enlightened he or she may be. Jesus acknowledged his lineage of desert prophets through his forerunner, John the Baptist (Mat. 3:13-15). My teacher, Maharishi, never allowed devotees to bow to him, or to offer padma-namaskar to his feet. He only said, "Jai Guru Dev" to his Guru, Sri Brahmananda Saraswati.
All gratitude to the masters who have passed the wisdom down through the ages. Their consciousness vibrates in the living mantra, and in the silence of the breath inside the breath.
"I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem."
~Song of Solomon 1:5
There is an early Christian hymn - some scholars believe the earliest known to us - 'Phos Hiláron,' O Joyful Light. But my hymn shall be called 'Skotós Hiláron,' O Joyful Dark.
Here in the North it is the first of December, only 21 days until the longest night. I am plunged in the dark, even as I wake in the morning. Yet at no other time of year do I resonate with such a glowing inwardness. The mystery is, this secret ray does not descend from above, but percolates up from my hollowest core.
The outward Christic flame that illumined the green world of summer, ripening fruit and grain, has now withdrawn to the bowels of creation, to rest in a night of luminous possibility, awaiting rebirth at the Winter Solstice.
Darkness is holy, and pregnant with noon. The mystics of the Church spoke of "divine darkness": Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius the Aereopogyte, Meister Eckhart, Jan Ruysbroek, Hildegard of Bingen, Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross. Yet they were not speaking of a depressed emotional state.
For the divine darkness is not unhappiness or despair. Despair requires a "me." But the dark night of the soul is far more interior than any emotion, any "me" who could even say, "I am unhappy."
This dark night is groundless, centerless, un-created, the heart hollowed out to make room for God. With no root in any-thing, it is an inward fall toward no bottom, no soil. Yet the bitter herb that grows in the dark ferments into the only lasting sweetness.
This dark night is the silence inside the bell, never knelled, never touched by external hand. Yet the sound of awakening comes from here. The unstruck silence trembles, and its fluctuation in the vacuum swells into a photon, the photon into a star.
The poem of the cosmos is a never-ending series of similies for emptiness. I am a berry at the tip of a naked twig tonight. Or is it morning? I cannot tell. I am sap dreaming in the reed sheathed in ice. I am the sunken fire that plummeted to seed, raptured downward. I am not the absence, but the womb of light.
Why do we call this season "Advent"? Because we hear in abysmal night the herald of rebirth. We devote each expectant sunrise, each fading vesper, to the pregnant Mother Mary. Her very name is a bell. Mary, Maris, Ocean, Sea of Night who bears the Morning Star. Mother, Mater, Matter's dark energy, mystery of our flesh. Antipodes of Spirit? No. Unknow. Unveil duality as one. The body contained in the Spirit it contains. Selah.
"Breath" and "Spirit" the same word in both Biblical Hebrew and Greek: "Ruach," "Pneuma." Inspiration of sod, for "Adam" means "dust." What could be filled if not a hollow? And what could be hollow that has no rind or husk? And how would I ever know light if I had not become darkness?
Lungs are empty, heart is empty, belly empty, dark and empty sacred organs of procreation. Dark and empty atom of my body. Dark and empty to be filled with Prana, Holy Spirit, gift of the morning. Dark and hollow the seed, to unfold its secret embryo, the Sun.
One proton of my flesh a chaos of quarks, an infinitesimal galaxy of bright worlds. Every sub-nuclear particle of Mother's dark matter an ineluctable weightlessness of gravity waves, singing filaments of fire from no-thing.
O unutterable negation, O fortune of emptiness, O divine womb where "I" am drowned in Christ, nurtured in the ocean of blackness, and reborn in silence, the very silence of this ancient Now, before creation, when dawn awakens the brave song of a wing-wounded soul: "Let there be light!"
Within me, or just beyond my window? Or both? That stricken creature, who could not fly Southward toward warmth, but lingered in the night, to greet this Winter dawn. All the more beautiful to hear, because she has a wounded wing. My very listening is God.
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
Life is not an achievement but a gift. Each instant, pure existence bursts with unfathomable energy and bliss. All that ever stands between us and this miracle is our mind, the wall we build with thought and belief. Christmas is just a reminder that every morning is grace, the Sun rapt in blue ribbon and glittering crystal. The gift is all around us: the boundless dancing in boundaries. What more do we want? If we are truly awake, this very breath is the incarnation of God on earth.
Meditation is the crystallization of pure consciousness in a jewel more solid than any material object it could be conscious of.
The Self outshines creation, irradiates the cosmos, blessings the heavens and the earth, simply through its witnessing power. As Jesus' said, "I have overcome the world."
Then there is no more work to be done. The evanescent world arises as a many-faceted reflection in the diamond essence of awareness.
By what word may we describe this distillation of the stars into a gem of singularity, this dissolving of objective creation into the continuum of sparkling subjectivity?
The word is Love.
"Spiritual bypass" is a trendy new term used to describe self-delusion and avoidance of the shadow. But it is often used by people who have never tasted the boundlessness and bliss of transcendental consciousness. To transcend is not to bypass.
Transcendence is not avoidance, because transcendental absolute unchanging divine consciousness pervades every particle of this body, and every moment of pain and grief. The clear desert air does not avoid or repress the mirage: the mirage just happens as a tremor in the clarity.
Of course, if you want to spend a lifetime affirming the "spirituality" of your anger, your grief, you unhappy moods, your mirage, then go for it. When you have exhausted the fantasy that "spirituality" is just the ordinary pain of human life, then come to Transcendental Meditation and taste the peace that passes all understanding.
On this pathless path, nothing needs to be controlled, repressed, or surpassed. The transcendent embraces your pain and weariness, as the sky embraces the clouds. The sky does not deny the existence of clouds in order to remain clear, empty, and blue. The sky is simply at rest in its true nature.
To transcend is not to go elsewhere, but to repose in your Self through unconditional rest. This rest is absolute, infinite, and blissful, a rest not troubled by relativity, any more than the wholeness of the ocean is troubled by its own waves.
You are that whole awareness that contains the relative yet remains absolute, embraces the changing realm of phenomena yet remains unchanging, silent, and motionless. In fact, the reason you even see that the world is troubled, fleeting, uncertain, ever-changing, is because there is something unchangeable and eternal within you that sees. Motion is measured by the motionless.
That unchanging ever-restful seer is the Self. The flavor of the Self is peace. And it is a spice, not a soporific.
Some people feel more relevant when they share horrific and disturbing news. But you don't need to remind me that there is misery and pain in this world. I already know it. I also know that there are quiet moments of heart-rending kindness and exquisite beauty happening everywhere. Instead of shouting about all that darkness, why not light a small candle?
We choose where to place our attention, and the qualities we focus on are the qualities that grow in our life. Earth is the realm of opposites, the only realm where we have freedom to choose. Choice empowers us until we eventually develop the choiceless awareness that transcends polarity. This awareness is Love. Love embraces all, forgives all, and gently transforms all. Love has no opposite.
When we feel overwhelmed by so many conflicts in the world, we imagine that we cannot be happy until we solve them. But it is not our duty to solve the world's conflicts. Our duty is to solve just one conflict, the one that underlies them all: the conflict between who I think I am, and who I really am.
Can I experience Am without putting any thought, any noun after the verb? Can I feel that joy bubbling up from the unfathomable well of pure Being in my core? It is a gushing spring of silence. When I taste it, then in a very spontaneous way I can pour healing waters over the earth.
Share that joy with others, in whatever unique way is most effortless and natural. This is the only solution to the world's conflicts. They cannot be solved until I am happy.
Devotion has many flavors: sweet, bitter, spicy, or tasteless and clear as sky. Sometimes it's the bouquet of divine love with passionate hints of the soul's pain; sometimes the dissolving of the two in one trembling scentless silence. We lose so much when our palate insists on one flavor only.
Photo: passiflora incarnata, or passion flower
It's popular to talk about Kali Yuga these days in the West. Yes, according to the ancient Vedic teachings, this is the age of increasing injustice, chaos, and political corruption: the dregs of time, when impurities rise to the surface of creation, so that they can be emptied in the trash.
Most Western authors get off on identifying with the trauma, outrage, and chaos of this age, but they are only embracing a half-truth. Kali Yuga is also the age when the secrets are open, the temple veil is rent, and the "highest" teachings are given away in the street. The age of Kali makes spiritual liberation easier, not more difficult, because it is not granted through human effort, but through surrender to the grace of the Divine. Grace is the operative word in this age, not achievement.
And grace becomes concrete, substantial in the human nervous system, through the vibration of the divine Name, the mantra. This is why we find that we tend toward liberation when we hear beautiful music, whe we chant together in satsang, and especially when we merge our heart of devotion with the bija mantra, infused with the Shakti of the Goddess - She who is the very vibration of the supreme Lord's silence.
Harer nama harer nama“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, Kali Yuga, the only means of liberation is the divine Name. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” ~Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, 15th C.
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
Kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann"Dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by delighting in Krishna's name, one can enter the communion of the free, the divine kingdom. ~Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.3.51
asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya
mukta-sańgaḥ paraḿ vrajet
"Though the evil is thickest in this Kali Age, the remedy is the simplest... This Kali Yuga is praised in the scriptures as incomparably conducive to the salvation of humanity, for we can now attain the Highest through the mere remembrance of God's Name. So of all the Yugas, this Yuga is described as the most holy, the most beneficent.
"Concentration and contemplation were prescribed as the means of liberation for Kritha Yuga, Ascetism as the means for Tretha Yuga, and ritual worship for Dwapara Yuga. But for people of this age, the simple remedy prescribed is just Namasmarana, constant awareness of the Name. In spite of this, it is a pity that men do not care for this path and so render their lives barren wastes." ~Satya Sai Baba
I was a heavenly being. But that wasn't enough. I wanted more. I wanted everything. I wanted it all right now.
So, because I was a heavenly being, my desire was instantly granted. I imploded into human birth. This is why we gods are here: to taste all possibilities, adamant as grains of sugar, and crush them on our lips, and taste them all at once, in combined opposites, every moment.
This is how we learn to welcome the chaos of one.
God's can't do that. They are too busy sorting out the one from the many, the rational from the random. They're always fussing over order, and cleaning up their desktops.
But here, well, it's seven pandemoniums of singularity: eyes, nostrils, ears, and tongue. Though who am I to say what's happening? I am too stunned, too drunk and amazed. I follow the simplest covenant: keep surrendering until otherness dissolves.
I taste the beauty of pain, the pain of beauty. I fall in love with dying flowers. I weep over deer droppings, knowing how silently they came to devour my garden. I walk barefoot in wet grass before dawn, un-naming the stars.
I am the space beyond the rim of all galaxies, globed in a tear drop. I am crucified at the center of a cross where six directions kiss, pathways for angels to descend into flesh.
I have abandoned the asymptotes of eternity to curve my bewilderment around a moth wing on a lupine petal in an alpine meadow. The gush of snow-melt under the moss makes me thirsty. I drink straight blues, the sky.
When the mountain turns into mist, awareness solidifies into diamond. True wealth is whatever disappears.
I have come to annihilate you with my gaze, and you me. I abandoned the name and form of God to be awakened by a gnat. Embracing midnight, I became fire. I am the spark that destroys the world when past and future strike like flint against stone.
The darkest child of the golden void, I abash the sun, my fallen body molded from melted pinions of Icarus. If in your search for desolation you stumble on my bones, still warm, rub my ashes on your face, friend. Then go naked.
If you witness thoughts arising, just where they arise, before the power of maya converts them into words and pictures, you can see that thoughts are simply ripples of stillness, boundless vibrations of pure awareness at play. And in its ground-state, pure awareness is utterly silent. This means that there is no conflict between thoughts and silence. Thoughts are made of silence.
We have been told that, when we meditate, we must concentrate on a single thought, or repeat a single word, in order to silence the mind. Disciplinarians, posing as spiritual guides, have indoctrinated us to believe that the mind must not be allowed to wander. But whether they teach in the name of Buddha, Yoga, Christian prayer, or New Thought, their doctrine of concentration and mind-control only suppresses the lively nature of our awareness, and makes us dull.
When you see that thought is silence at play, why is there any need to control or concentrate? The mind automatically gets centered and calm when we allow it to wander throughout the cosmos, with no resistance, expanding to its natural condition of boundlessness. In fact, meditation is the opposite of concentration. It is simply witnessing this effortless expansion of mind into its original nature, without grasping at any particular thought or image.
Your mind is not inside your brain. It is the uncontainable abyss of awakened space. Your mind is filled with stars and galaxies. Your brain vibrates in the limitless field of your mind.
Every star in the heavens is connected to a spark of electricity in your nervous system. Each synapse flashes with a sun. When you meditate, why convert the chemical-electric activity of your brain into words and images when you can experience the entire cosmos scintillating in your neurons?
Effortlessly delight in the sensation of your brain. You use your brain every moment of the day, but have you ever taken a moment to appreciate the glittering electric cosmos in your skull, to feel it's luminous energy with gratitude, even sensual pleasure?
Meditation is a Sabbath from control. Just rest in radiant awareness of your own physiology.
This vacation from effort and thought-control will only make your thinking clearer after meditation. So instead of converting your brain's electricity into concepts and abstractions, feel the sensation of thought arising in sparks of neuro-luminosity.
It doesn't matter whether you have one thought or ten thousand. The more the better. Ten thousand thoughts don't limit your omnipresent silence any more than ten thousand stars limit the beauty of the night sky. In fact, those virtual photons of thought ARE the stars. Your awareness IS the sky.
Witness sensations in your brain as a single glowing field of energy, from the cerebral cortex back to the pineal gland, then down to the stem rooted in your spine. Feel electricity lighting up the hypothalamus and amygdala, flowing up from your spinal cord.
Don't conceptualize this experience, just sense it. Let concepts go as they arise and simply return to the sensation.
Your brain is the Tree of Life, burning with the cool fiery swirl of galaxies. The space between each dendrite and synapse is heavenly vastness. Space is awake, within you and without, and you are that awakened space. This is not mysticism. It is the birthright of your incarnation, the fact of your cosmic physiology.
Perhaps you need some evidence from physics? Try Bell's Theorum, 1962, later confirmed by high energy particle physicists at the Cern particle accelerator in Switzerland. Bell's theorum states in mathematical terms what was so poetically asserted decades before by Sir Arthur Eddington, founder of quantum field theory and president of the Royal Academy of Science: "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes."
Every sub-nuclear particle is a wave. And just as a wave at its base is the entire ocean, so every particle is the excitation of the whole field. The wave appears as particle simply because the vibration of the non-localized field is more ample at one point. This means that the particle-wave is connected, through the stillness of its ground-state, to every other particle.
At the sub-nuclear level, we contain each other. We resonate in and through each other. We are each other. Every nerve cell in your brain is a spiral of stardust. An electron sparking over your infinitesimal synapse is a message from distant galaxies, connected for its brief half-moment to every sun.
Your body is so sacred! Where else would you want to be but here? Why waste your attention on worry and regret, when in this very now your nervous system radiates the whole glory of creation? Why do you not drop to your knees and give thanks, then stand and whirl, or move on the earth with the grace of a mountain cloud, touching, healing the people?
We live in the perpetual irony that, what we most need to remember, can never be recalled because it is only alive in this moment.
So we use all manner of ritual and symbol, by hand and thought, to remind ourselves of what it is like: the bread and wine of Jesus's last supper; the fruit and flowers of puja; the alms we give to the poor and the service projects, which we often do, if we admit it, only to cleanse our guilty conscious, or acquire sufficient merit to bring our hearts a moment of peace.
Then we practice all sorts of meditation techniques, trying to still the mind, that we might behold the elusive transparency that is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.
And what are we trying to find? The very light through which it must be seen. Yet we cannot, no, can never retain or remember, by any vision or merit, that which we are seeking, because it is This....
This is the Fire that burns to ashes the age-old story of our search. We already stand in the midst of its burning. For that Fire is just who we are, the brilliant flashing gone gone ecstatic emptiness of Now.
The gates of paradise are the portals of my body. I shall not transcend my flesh, but journey through it to the stars. There are angel worlds in every atom; at the center of a proton, the boundless Christ. I need not be washed in the blood of the Lamb. I was washed in the blood of my mother's womb. That was my salvation.
The sacred practices of all great wisdom traditions are techniques of incarnation. They do not erase the human body, they glorify it. The bread of the Christian Eucharist is the body of Christ. The tribal shaman draws divine energy from plants, animals, stones. Chi flows not down from heaven, but up through the soles of the Qi Gong master's feet. The whirling of the Sufi is a body-prayer. Our chakras blossom on the Tree of Life, which is the spine. And the breath of the Buddha is here, in the Hara, just below the belly.
A lantern's light spreads beyond the lantern, yet the candle is its source. Without the candle, there is no center from which radiation can flow. The body is our wick, the mind is the flame, the Spirit is the luminous aura that expands beyond this brief candle.
Don't snuff out the wick of your body, light it! Breathe the halo of your flesh into the galaxies. Revel in this secret of divine humanity: The journey up is a journey down. The journey beyond is a journey in: to the heart, the groin, the sacred dust beneath your feet. That dust contains the stars.
Your human form is the axis of creation, connecting earth to sky, water to fire, Shakti to Shiva, Mary to Christ, the smallest pebble to the Creator. Your body is the nexus of North, South, East, West, the holy cross on which God crucifies hers Self for the sake of love. In that love act, One becomes many, so that each may know the pain and beauty of return.
Your body is the temple where angels meet their animal familiars, celestial gandharvas learn plant songs, and Holy Spirit gleams through the wish-granting jewel of matter. Therefor, let your body have its way, and become God.
The eye is holy. The nose is holy. The lips and tongue are holy. Holy the skin and belly and buttocks. Holy the clitoris, the sole of your foot. And because your body is holy, the "I" who effervesces out of your body is holy too. The "I" is as much a part of your sacred body as a finger or a nose. And you no more need to destroy it than you need to annihilate your big toe. Anyone who tells you to get rid of your "I" is a lonesome fool, posing as a wise man. Don't get rid of your "I": hug your "I" with the whole cosmos.
For "I" am a vehicle to express the body's radiance, and negotiate its relationship to other forms. "I" direct and coordinate the flow of divine energy through the senses. "I" am the body's antenna. A human becomes truly happy, intimate, and selfless not through denying the "I", but through cherishing the "I" in each moment. For in truth, we have thousands of "I's" every day, arising and dissolving like bubbles on the ocean of conscious. Each perception, each sensation, each inhalation is realized and savored as an "I," and the real purpose of this"I" is to say "thank you."
Cherishing the "I" of this body, in this moment, means embracing limitations. Embracing my own impermanence, this "I" can cherish the "I" of another, with all her impermanence too. Have we not both taken embodiment here, now, just to savor the Formless in perishing lovely forms?
Yes, "I" may be flawed and fallen, but because of this, "I" can feel what others feel, breathe the sigh of a stranger, resonate your rhythms of pain and joy. Because "I" am a wave in the ocean of awareness, "I" can dance.
It is through the "I" that we enjoy the charm of creation, and allow the Creator to become personal. Because my body has an "I," the "I" of God takes shape as my reflection in the mirror of consciousness. Then "I" enjoy the ecstasy of devotion to my Beloved in every finite perception. The One Transcendent Absolute Being is glorified by the "I-Thou" relation beating in its very heart and core.
Engraving: The Sun at his Eastern Gate by William Blake
I was eleven. My father and Dr. Jackson took their sons pheasant hunting.
Dad and Dr. Jackson were about forty yards away in the Autumn stubble of a corn field. A pheasant took flight. They aimed and fired and missed. The pheasant flew toward me. I led it a few feet ahead in my sight and pulled the trigger. The pheasant went limp in the air. I felt an ancient exultation.
But in the two seconds it took the shot pheasant to plummet earthward, then thud against the ground, dead, I experienced an inner transformation of 10,000 years. That feathered thing of air fell down, but I was falling too, from power to grief to shame...
Yes, I was only eleven. But I pledged to my secret heart that I would never use a gun again. I have not told this story until now.
I'm sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.
Painting: Dead Pheasant, J.M.W. Turner
Why is it that so many of us always need to be right, always need to win? If we want to ripen and deepen our fragrance, we need to lose and be wrong sometimes.Yoga - which really means ripeness, wholeness - doesn't mean constant victory. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna defines Yoga as "equanimity in loss or gain."
Loss is a great teacher. Only one who knows how to embrace loss learns how to be a mighty and humble warrior, how to fall down on the field in defeat, then arise to win. This is the sport of wisdom.
I have always learned more from my losses than my victories. Victory could create ego, but loss created a depth, a silence inside.
November evening. The moon is full, hanging from a leafless branch. Forms hollow out in the frost, holding space for the formless. They glow with the brilliant colors of their dying.
You can be an activist by planting Winter squash, walking in a fern forest, listening to your children, or smiling from your heart at someone who is lonely.
True activism means gently immersing your whole astonished body in the river of Presence, moved by the breath of beauty like a golden leaf, falling right where you are.
True activism means drowning in the mystery of communion with the creature right before you: a disheveled crow, a boy in the rain with his shining basketball, the moon gazing through a spider's web, a crone at the grocery store, marveling at all the soup.
These are your tribe. They have no political party. This is your native country. It is all sacred land.
Earth is not transfigured by how much you do, but how wantonly and nakedly you plunge into the ocean of this perishing moment.
Chinese character for 'one.'
I have been found innocent and sentenced to the bliss of eternal solitude.
No matter how far I travel, no matter how deeply I fall in love or how violently I fall into conflict, I can never meet anyone outside the seamless continuity of my awareness.
Ignorance is believing that there is another.
Ignorance insists that the world is divided and conflicted, when in fact the world is one indivisible whole, at rest in the shimmering simplicity of its Self.
My problem is not conflict, for there is no conflict. My problem is embracing boundless solitude.
I can never transcend the unity of the Self, no matter how multifarious and diverse my experience, for all that I perceive arises in the continuum of my own awareness, and any "other" whom I encounter, I must necessarily encounter through the lens of my Self.
If I do not know my Self, I have no basis for knowing anyone. Bit if I know my Self, I know that everyone is I.
When I fall asleep at night, I take no one with me, not even the person lying beside me. When I wake in the morning, it is only my Self who awakens: the dream of others vanishes. I was not born as a community. I will not die as a community. I was born alone and I will die my own unique death.
God give me the courage to confront this primordial aloneness. There is great pain in throwing off the bonds of illusion, the illusion of a separate "I" that has plagued me since birth, when in terror I sought to return to the womb and could not. That is when I create an abstract womb, a little bubble of thought where I could withdraw from a world that was marvelously and terrifying in its immediacy. This thought was "ahankara," the very thought of "I."
"I" was a device for pretending that there is an "other" who can come to the rescue. But when "I" am ready for the truth, "I" shatter and dissolve into Am, who is the universe.
The demonstration of this process is Jesus on the cross. In his moment of shattering, Jesus called, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" But the moment of shattering was also the moment of liberation. Jesus rent the temple veil that separated the divine from the human, and thus ended the illusion of separation. He entered the great solitude of the All, becoming in St. Paul's words, panta hen panta: "All in All."
Realizing that there was no other, no one to call to, and no one coming down to save him, Jesus spread his arms and embraced the world, even his enemies, as his own Self. The arm-opening mudra from the center of the cross is not a gesture of forgiveness, but a gesture of unity, a gesture of at-one-ment.
Like Jesus, I am not saved by another. I am saved by being my Self.I am you, friend. And neither of us can ever know anyone outside the seamless transparency of the Self. We have the same fate. Transforming alone-ness into all-oneness is our task. It was Christ's task and he showed us the way. But he does not do it for us. No one can open your arms on the cross but you.
When the transformation is complete, we can joyfully embrace all creatures, whether lovers or strangers, as the play of our own consciousness. We can each "love our neighbor as our Self," fulfilling the Great Commandment - because our neighbor IS our Self. This is the one real solution to world conflict.
"How can you advocate such a solipsistic vision? There are so many problems in the world! We must become activists to solve the global crisis!"
There is no global crisis. "Global crisis" is a generalization, an abstract mental concept that we super-impose on a world of particulars, where each particular arises in the present moment as the projection of our own consciousness. We superimpose the concept of "global crisis" onto the field of experience in order to avoid ever having to face our true predicament: boundless solitude.
Certainly challenges arise, but never in general. Deal with a situation before it becomes a problem, Solve problems as local events, not global catastrophes. Act in the one place where action is possible: here and now. When I solve the problem on the tip of my nose, it never becomes a "world crisis."
"Is it possible to get rid of the "I"? Isn't getting rid of "I" a greater illusion than the "I" itself?
Yes, precisely! The problem is not having an "I"; the problem is identifying with it.
No practice of concentration or self-denial can eliminate the "I." Such practices only divide the personality, for the effort to concentrate against the "I" will only make it stronger and more devious. Then how does one deal with the separate "I"?
Dance with the "I." Hug the "I." Accept the "I" for what it is: an organ of your body, like your nose or tongue, a useful tool for negotiating with the chaos, beauty, and pathos of this shimmering creation that you have projected. Just as you don't need to eliminate your little finger, so you don't need to eliminate your "I"?
In fact, "I" arise and dissolve each moment, a ripple on the ocean of consciousness, a tremor in the continuum of One. Why regard it as a problem?
Even a Bodhisattva has an "I." But she does not identify with or cling to it. She sees it as something she has, not something she is. The "I" of the enlightened arises as a useful tool for self-expression when the body needs an advocate in the material world. "I" am your negotiator in the great mediation. But while "I" negotiate, Awareness rests in the background, uninvolved in the negotiation, just witnessing. Awareness signs the final contract, after "I" negotiate the deal.
"I" am a useful but finite container, floating like a transparent cup in the groundless ocean of Am.
* What vanishes like a mist when you stop fleeing from aloneness?
* When you embrace aloneness without resistance, who survives?
* Is there anyone separate from this aloneness, anyone to call it 'my' aloneness, or complain about feeling 'lonely'?
* Does your aloneness have any edges?
* When you encounter another person in this unbounded aloneness, how does it feel to regard them as your self?
*You might also like the essay, 'God, Body, I'
The veil between the worlds is thin,
Bright to dark the seasons turn,
Green Man's fire in the Jack O'Lantern,
Light above now shines within.
Come dance in the circle of Samhain,
Buds of Beltane burnished in frost.
Honor the Old Ones: nothing is lost.
Whatever you offer is born again.
Pictured here - a Samhain alter from our annual celebration of the Celtic New Year (our Halloween party) at Common Bread. Samhain (pronounced Sow'en) is my favorite yearly festival. It is a sacred turning.
What we call Halloween was the ancient Irish and Celtic New Year, the liminal time when the veil between worlds thins like a brittle golden leaf. Once juicy gourds hollow out, we touch the cobweb realm, sacred Emptiness glows. The Formless One outshines the husk of all her forms.
As Northern hemisphere tips into the kingdom of evening, we lighten our load, grieve and let go. Farewell to summer's cloy and cling. Allow the night to burn away too heavy-laden relationships, and burdens of spent memory.
Green Man elders and grows frail, touching his original seed in Her. Yang fruit-energy withers and withdraws from leaves and flowers, graciously allowing Wiccan Yin to resume her inward weaving. Spider mandalas in moonlight.
Let branches caress their root and earth exhale, sinking down to Winter's belly. Welcome the shadow. Your emptiness must sparkle with inner stars. Rejoice in the pregnancy of Mary, the season of Advent: breath of Spirit glows in heart of Mother-Matter, preparing for Solstice rebirth.
Important to remember now that darkness is not the opposite of light: darkness is the womb of light. You can restore a healthy relationship with your hollow places, your black silences. You can embrace the mystery of Kinosis, self-emptying. Give up clinging to husks. Fall inward. Meet your Ancestor in the bone-fire. Treasure the night.
He said, "Our only duty is annihilation. What leaps in to fill the vacuum is none of our business."
I said, "Don't preach to me about injustice. Preach the fragrance of a rose."
He said, "I want the sap, not the flower."
I said, "When you are awake, every myth is true, every ritual is efficacious. When you are asleep, none of them work."
He said, "All utopias are founded on revenge."
I said, "The only revolution is to breathe."
He said, "To each according to their need, from each according to their ability."
I said, "The Dharma Wheel does not turn when everyone is disabled."
He said, "We are all victims."
I said, "Teach that to the horse, not to the fly."
He said, "Socialism is vast and gray, the Commune is local and green."
I said, "Yes, the radical act is to be present."
He said, "There is no time for the check to arrive."
I said, "Investing in Silence will not exploit the labor of others, yet it provides a secure retirement."
He said, "This sounds like a turning without center."
I said, "Inhale, there is no worker. Exhale, there is no owner."
He said, "If everything has a cost, who will pay?"
I said, "After the money is gone, you will eat the bankers."
He said, "We have mistaken our Awareness for God."
I said, "Therein lies the play of the universe."
He said, "I have no religion."
I said, "My religion is to walk barefoot at midnight in wet grass, un-naming the stars."
Painting: 'Moses' by Frida Kahlo
Why not return to basic sanity, the silent explosion of Grace at the center of your body - not just to please yourself, but to infuse the world with the nectar of Beauty? Let your mind repose in the heart. That is the simplest and most ancient meditation. Sink into the bubbling golden cauldron of your solar plexus. That is true alchemy. Rest in the space where you were never born, you are never one moment old, each breath is a gift from eternity, and the countless electrons of your flesh are all angels of Light.
Awareness of awareness is not a thought. It is pure bliss.
Awareness of awareness is the laser-like self-radiant silence where thought dissolves into its source: the subject alone, without an object.
Upon tasting even a moment of this diamond emptiness, intellectuals give up philosophy and become mystics.
But throughout the ages, after tasting this inmost refulgence, mystic minds could not accept the experience as their own consciousness. So they named it "God," imagining it to be an Other. It is not other. It is not even "it."
There is nothing in the universe but consciousness. In fact, there is no nothing, because the very vacuum of empty space is awake and vibrant with creativity.
Consciousness is Shiva, the pure, the Self-luminous, the beautiful, the good. Everything that exists is a permutation of Shiva.
Shiva is eternally silent, formless, unmanifest, and blissful. Yet the silence vibrates. The stillness dances. The vacuum fluctuates in itself, forming virtual particles of matter and virtual photons of light. The entire cosmos pre-exists in the void as the radiant Self-awareness of Shiva.
When vibrataing, consciousness becomes love. And the vibrant energy of love yearns to create. This creative pulsation of love in the stillness of Shiva is Shakti, who is the Goddess and playmate of the Lord.
Shiva is the silent witness of creation, and She is the creator. The universe is the manifestation of their dance.
When Christian mystics experienced the pre-existent cosmos in the silence of the Godhead, they called it the Logos, the Word, for it manifests in silence just as a word appears in the mind. Figuratively, they regarded this divine Word as the "Son of God," the offspring of consciousness, who remains one and not other than the Father. And the vibrations of Shakti in the Godhead, which manifest the Logos as creation, they called the "Holy Spirit."
Thus the "Holy Trinity" is a family: Father, Mother Spirit, and their offspring the Christ, archetype of humanity. Silence pulsates as Love, and Love manifests as the Word made flesh.
You are the incarnation of Love, and you express the eternal Silence of God in your own unique variation of Christhood.
Icon, the Holy Trinity by Adrei Rublev, 1425
"Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become in them a spring welling up to eternal life." ~John 4:14
These words of Jesus describe the Shakti of the divine mother, pouring from the silence of pure awareness, which is Shiva. True meditation means alignment with this wellspring in your chest, flowing from the groundless depth of your heart. You tap into the dynamic silence from which all energy is born.
Physicists call it the vacuum. Mystics call it the void. Meditators know that it is consciousness. But this boundless awakened space is not empty. It vibrates. The ocean of stillness in the heart's core is surging with mighty waves, in quantum science called "fluctuations of the vacuum." The silence bubbles with creative chaos beneath the limits of all measurement, "Planck's Constant." These waves of pure possibility spring out of the Un-created into creation as the subtlest particles of matter.
When you align your body, breath, mind and heart with this core of silence, rooting yourself in the heart-center, you become a vessel for the new creation, the new earth. For the earth is not born of politics, economics, or science: the earth is born of consciousness.
And when you come out of meditation, into activity, whatever you are called to do becomes a host, a channel, for the irradiation and recreation of the world. Your calling may be ever so humble. It doesn't have to be political activism. It doesn't require a PHD in chemistry, or the powers of a super-hero. Your vocation could be ironing your family's clothes, playing the flute, driving a school bus, operating a small restaurant, or working with autistic children. When you begin your day by tapping the Source, whatever you do is a vehicle for grace. When you open your awareness to the silent power of Shiva, every gesture of ordinary living is a channel for the outpouring of Shakti.
Simple innocent awareness activates a transformation at the subatomic level of your environment. Your world begins to evolve, to purify and harmonize, just because you are here as an awakened being. Jesus said it best: "You are the light of the world."
That's right. He didn't only say, "I am the light of the world." He said, "YOU are the light."
To radiate a new earth around you, tap the wellspring of creation in your heart through meditation. Then, when you emerge from the un-created silence, you can move joyfully over the world, light as a cloud yet grounding every step as a step of peace. Rooted in who you really are, pour out the nectar of healing.
Painting: Jesus, an ordinary man, by Rembrandt
Merely to exist is pure grace on a cosmic scale. But to exist in a body, with a chance to express this boundless wonder through individual form, is a gift beyond all miracles.
Yet some very "spiritual" people seem to regard this body as a prison, and devote themselves to getting out of it. What a waste to imagine that our precious flesh is bondage and ignorance, when it is really our opportunity to dance as incarnations of the sun, moon, and stars!
Once there was a seer whose gift was telling people how many lifetimes remained for them on earth. A long line of yogis, ascetics, and gloomy advaitists always waited to receive his wisdom.
"For you, 7 more lives... For you, 12 more... For you, only 3 more lives..." And they would all depart weeping and gnashing their teeth with disappointment.
A certain sinful man, holding a jug of wine in one hand, his other arm entwined in the arm of a gorgeous lady, came to visit that seer. With one look at him the mystic shook his head and said, "Hopeless! For you, more lives than the sands of the sea!"
When he heard this, the sinner leapt in the air, clicked his heels together and shouted, "Thank you, boss!"
At that instant he was liberated.