Nate Loomis of New Renaissance Bookshop interviewed me and I loved the questions he asked. Here is the transcript from their e-news letter, which goes out to over 10,000 people. Thanks, Nate...
'May the pilgrim melt into her path,This Sunday, February 26th, Fred will lead "Poetry – Path to the Heart: A Guided Meditation & Interactive Poetry-Making Circle."
the path into the goal,
the goal into Presence,
the very first step
NATE: Tell us about how you discovered your love of poetry?
FRED: My earliest memory underlies every poem: it is a world of silence in blossom, an ocean of fragrant flowers without names, even before my mother started telling me: “lilac, magnolia, dogwood, wisteria.” If a poem can take you back into that silence, even for a moment, it is a poem.
In 7th grade I was searching for I knew not what in the school library. I saw a book whose author’s name refused capital letters: "e. e. cummings." It was a lightning bolt. I opened it and read words like “mudluscious.” I saw lines that ran like liquid down the page. In an intuitive vision, I saw creation through the Word. Words create our world, and words can carry us back to the source of creation.
Later, I was initiated into meditation and studied the science of mantra with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I saw how a single word sets fire to the soul. There is a profound connection between the creative power of the Word and the art of meditation. Mantra is the art of following the Word of creation back into the silence that was there before God said, 'let there be light.'
NATE: Reading poetry seems to be really different than reading non-poetry as it transports us to another world or a greater vision. What is your experience of this and can you please share with us a favorite poem of yours?
FRED: In ancient times language was sacred, people could heal and create through a mantric chant or a “God-spell.”
We need to recover this sacred shamanic power of language. Poetry is language imbued with the silence at creation’s source. The best poems guide our scattered minds back into that unity, which is love.
God meant to drop this mirror,
shattering into countless images
her perfect gaze.
This is why we meet in brokenness,
putting ourselves together again
through each other,
until we recognize one face
with eight billion
reasons for astonishment.
NATE: Lastly, what are you doing at this event and what can people expect to receive in coming?
FRED: We will gather a circle for “poetry-yoga” and meditation. We’ll not only hear poetry, but move to it, meditate in its waves, and create a collective poem with our own voices. Out of that gathered silence, we will speak the poem of our soul. It’s so important for each of us to recover the authentic voice of our own heart, from those whose language would fill our minds with chatter and propaganda. This is the politics of poetry.
I encourage participants to let their own Word of Creation embrace their brokenness, their darkness, and their loss, as well as their yearning for light. We cannot hope to create acts of power if we cannot speak our Word of power.
The world seems full of problems! But there is really only one problem, and it isn't in the world. It is our own mind. This mind can pollute the whole creation when it becomes bitter, judgmental, and polarized. What is the cure? To spend a few moments each day being astonished.
I breathe in darkness and breathe out light, but breath is not my Way. I savor the name of God, but the Word is not my Way. I honor the Guru, but my path has no master.
Without an ancient chant, an alter,or a puja, I walk in the forest, offering the silence of cedar, trillium, and fern. But nature is not my Way. My chest melts with love, yet neither is bhakti my Way.
Though I honor the songs and sutras of the wise, I follow not the Vedas, the Torah, the Qur'an. I give to those in need, but the path of seva is not for me. I surrender, Lord. But even You, even You, are not my Way.
My Way is not a journey. This bud opens in every direction at once. There are no steps, only fragrance and dissolving.
Each wisdom-tradition is one petal, but I would offer the whole flower. Each lineage of masters is one mote of pollen. But I have sticky feet. I visit the center, where the pollen is made in secret darkness.
My way is the shattering of every window between seer and seen, the sinking of all sacred vessels in an ocean of transparency. Presence gazes into the well of aloneness, where past and future drown. This is my eternal Way.
The annihilating kiss of light upon light in the bridal chamber of the single eye: this is my dark Way. It is the motionless explosion of a rose, containing the scent of all paths.
Being right or wrong doesn't interest me. My religion is astonishment. I want to be more careless. Open all my petals at once and wander like a fragrance
out beyond the borders of my body, into the ancient wilderness of this moment. Get lost in ecstatic un-knowing.
Down where the pistil and stamen touch in a throb of stillness, I make honey. Come, drink from my heart.
"Passing beyond the three Gunas of nature - purity, restlessness, delusion - repose in unity." ~Bhagavad Gita
Constantly driven to action by a restless mind, this same restlessness judges its own action to be superior to another's. But without any still and timeless center of reference, how could this mind judge whether the construction of the world's tallest building is more monumental than the silence of a trillium blossoming in forest shadows?
Whether a million marchers in the street are more significant than one healing touch on the forehead of a feverish infant?
Whether the overnight collapse of Wall Street is more meaningful than the imperceptible rise of one degree centigrade over a decade in desolate arctic ice fields?
Does the cry of a loon through mist on still water herald a transformation of the entire earth? Will you notice it when it happens?
"Meaning" comes from the mind, not the world. We superimpose our own mental qualities onto our perceptions. The violent look for violence. The tranquil find tranquility. The restless seek meaning in restlessness.
When we take sides, we polarize. One side fuels the other in a vortex of negative energy that makes each of us smaller, not larger. The heart contracts. Our very center is injected with the "three poisons" of hatred, pride, and ignorance.
What we don't want to hear is this: there is a seed of truth on both sides. We need to listen for the seed of truth in our "enemy." Compassionate listening expands us. This is the power that dissolves violence before it arises.
Power is in synthesis, not conflict. Power is the wider awareness that integrates mutual and complimentary truths from both sides. We don't even begin to realize why we incarnated on this earth-plane until we celebrate the dance of opposites.
Painting: the three poisons at the center of the Mandala of Yama, Lord of Death. They are Pride (a cock), Hatred (a snake), and Ignorance (a pig). They chase each others tales. Their motion drives the entire wheel of karma and rebirth.
There is a blue sky in your heart. Before you take the next inhalation, before you have a single thought, gaze into your radiance.
Not a cloud moves here, and no horizon limits the space of your purity. This sky is before the beginning. Some call it Christ-Consciousness. Some call it Krishna. Some call it Buddha Nature. It is vast compassion.
Deeper than silence, deeper than sin, more inward to I than Am, the sky of the heart forgives all, embraces all, witnesses even our birth and death with joyful equanimity.
This space is the infinitesimal bindhu between breathing out and breathing in. Yet worlds arise here, and dissolve without a sound, without a Word of creation. Here is your true home. You never really left.
To return, surrender this exhalation. Feel the silence. For one vast instant, become no one. Be annihilated in an inconceivable stillness.
The same sky in every heart, you in I and I in you. Our lives enfold each other like azure petals on a single flower. This is the end of loneliness.
Before you leave this earth, please, at least for a moment, become aware of the blue sky within you. That moment will send waves of joy to all your ancestors for seven generations in the past, and all your unborn for seven generations to come.
One moment of pure meditation is worth more than a million good deeds or a hundred thousand years of study. If you do not taste it while you are here, you won't find it afterward.
Sometimes we fall in love with our anger - an exciting but dangerous romance. Anger tastes delicious for an instant, then turns sour with time. It flashes like lightning, then vanishes - wild, energizing, beautiful. But if we cling to the lightning bolt, we get burnt.
To last beyond a flash, anger needs a story. Drop yesterday's anger by dropping the story around it. What remains is love. Love needs no story.
In Tantric and Tibetan Buddhism, anger is actually a "wrathful deity" named Krodha, a matrix of potential energy that can be used for healing, and dissolving obstacles to evolution. The skill is to embrace the wrathful deity without grasping or resisting. Resistance is also a form of clinging.
Kiss the anger, then let it go: Krodha will transform into a mighty angel of creativity. Yes, the daemonic is but a constricted form of the divine.
For we honor not anger as anger, but the transformation of anger. What is useful and healing is the energy that anger becomes, when we do not hold on to it.
OM VAJRA KRODHA HAYAGRIVA HULU HULU HUM PHAT!
"May the lightning sword of anger pierce my heart, releasing the victorious energy of the Lord of Knowledge!"
Unthinkable that we might abandon the failed European concept of "the state." Unthinkable that we might let so-called "nations" and their borders dissolve. But in fact, it is already happening.
Unthinkable that we might witness the extinction of the dinosaur, "federal government," drowning in a tar pool of bureaucracy, corruption, and waste.
Unthinkable that we might dwell in harmony without national politicians and the oligarchs they serve, without world religions, without vast armies.
Unthinkable that our civilization might spiral back to its most stable and creative structure: the sustainable bio-regional economy. But after all, "economy" comes from the Greek words, ecos (home) and nomos (rule): the rule of the home. Thus economy by definition is LOCAL.
That we might trust in local shamans, elders, artists, entrepreneurs, perhaps even in ourselves; that with boundless compassion and infinite presence we might find our kingdom in a shovelful of rich black soil...
Unthinkable, but I have thunk it.
Painting: 'Tribal Dance' by K.C. Aryan
These words of Jesus are not symbolic. The spring he describes bubbles out of an open heart, the anahata chakra, flowing with an inward Light that is not figurative but substantial, an energy as real as any material object in the world of the senses.
Christian Gnostics called this heart chakra the Bridal Chamber. When the divine Spirit, or Shakti, of Mary Magdalene rises up the spine in the process of Yoga, through such practices as sudarshan kriya, pranayama, and meditation, She enters into the sacred marriage. This is the ancient hieros gamos: the union of Bridegroom and Bride, heaven and earth. Here She meets the Christ, the Shiva-tattva, who descends from the stars through the crown chakra, to unite with a rising current of planetary energy from the mother. The up-pointed triangular flame of ground-energy interpenetrates the star-energy of the descending down-pointed triangle, thus forming the "star of David," which is the ancient yogic symbol of the heart chakra. Mother Earth and Father Sky meet in the center of our own body. That is the purpose of our incarnation, to unite spirit and matter in a new creation.
The diamond of radiance that gushes from their union transforms both soul and body into one substance, where the old duality of spirit and matter is dissolved. In the Hebrew Bible, this self-luminous substance is called "Kavoth: Glory." When he came down from his vision on Mount Sinai, Moses was glowing with this Glory. Christian mystics called it "the Taboric splendor," for on Mount Tabor the three disciples saw Jesus clothed in this same divine aura. It is the stuff of the Resurrection Body described by Paul in First Corinthians. It is also the subtle Bliss Body of the Buddha, the sambhoga-kaya.
We do not need to wait for death to inhabit this body of radiance. Right now we can begin the yogic-shamanic practices to transform our mind, our breath, and our flesh into one vibrant luminous energy, both human and divine.
The radiance of the Resurrection Body was always dormant in our physical body. The physical is the external trellis on which the subtle flower takes shape. With the opening of the fountain of our hearts in meditation, this inward blossom becomes conscious energy. Then, through the practice of the healing breath, Prana-Shakti infuses our physiology, raising the vibration of every atom.
This ecstatic energy is like the sap in a stem that makes the blossom appear. This process is really a natural evolution that could take thousands of lifetimes. But with the practices of meditation, yoga, and healing breath, there is a quickening. The inner alchemy becomes conscious, and once the transmutation begins, the soul is driven by a passion for the infinite.
There are human beings who have completed the alchemical transformation into a body of Glory. They are sometimes called the "ascended masters." They are our guides. A body of Glory like theirs can function in heavenly worlds or on earth. They can illuminate, inspire, and heal, either from a distance or in touch. The day will come when each of us will function in such a body. Then we can be of service.
Some people imagine that there is a conflict between seva, service to society, and sadhana, inner spiritual practice. But this is a meaningless distinction since you will be of vastly greater service in your divine Glory.
At this moment in our history, the time is ripe for an evolutionary leap, raising humanity's collective vibration. Many feel this quickening.
Masters like Jesus, Mother Mary, Saint-Germaine, and Babaji, already function in the body of Glory. Jesus spoke of this body when he invited us all to infuse our physical form with spiritual radiance. In the Gospel of John he said, "These things which I do, you shall do also." In the Gospel of Matthew he taught, "The inner eye (pure consciousness) is the lamp of the body. If your eye is one, then your whole body will be filled with light." Jesus, as "the Word made flesh," saw no distinction between spirit and matter.
The Masters do not come among us to be worshiped. They come as our Elder Brothers and Sisters to teach the Yogic/Shamanic processes that will transform us into beings just like them.
Therefor, the greatest service one could perform for humanity is to awaken the heart and open its fountain. When we begin this process of transformation, it resonates through all of humanity, raising the vibration of others. It is not the imposition of a political or economic system that will transform the earth, but the quickening of our energy vibration. Economic and political changes will simply be the outward effects of the inward transformation.
To the materially-minded, this sounds like a narcissistic delusion. But the materially-minded have created a civilization so deranged, so violent, so full of falsehood and injustice, that their opinion can hardly be taken seriously.
As for the economic and political crisis they claim they would solve, these problems arise from lack of awareness. People chose self-destructive pleasures. Unbridled greed for wealth , sensation, and power drives our economy, and these delusions sicken both the rich and poor. The craving for wealth, sensation, and power is a misdirected quest for what we truly want. What do we all want? the stream of Glory that flows from the fountain of the heart.
This radiance of the heart is our inheritance, our true wealth. When we find it, craving dissolves in gratitude, and this is the solution for humanity's problems.
The root of our addiction, crime, exploitation, corruption, and war is our delusion. And what is our delusion? We think that we can fill our inner void with the stuff of the material world: property, money, fame, sexual pleasure, and political power. But our true crisis is not economic, and its solution has nothing to do with changing our system of government. The problem is our ignorance about what we really want.
We are searching for the light in our hearts. We need to turn this outward search 180 degrees, and point our attention within. Then we need to embrace the very lack we feel at our core. We need to hug our emptiness as an intentional spiritual practice, to lift up our hollowness like a sacred cup. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," Jesus said. Blessed are the empty, for they shall be filled.
We look for what is looking.
When we see the truth, the wine steward will come. He will fill the grail of the heart with a sparkling vintage. The Magdalene is the empty cup. Christ is the wine that pours into her. Divine light, overflowing the heart, is the only thing that really fulfills a human soul.
Establishing contentment in the heart, we can simplify our lives, reducing wants to needs, until the most ordinary things become sacramental. This is the real economy.
To take a breath is to sip the sweetest nectar. To behold a wildflower is to stand before the emperor's throne. To be merely present is to possess the stars. To walk on earth is to dwell in heaven.
Your body is the most beautiful garment ever woven. Sit down gracefully, stand up mindfully, walk lovingly with bare feet on wet grass. This is the royal Way. Gaze into each others eyes: this is incalculable wealth.
Vide Domine afflictionem: 'Behold, O Lord, our affliction.'
In the observation of pain is healing - not through resisting, trying to change, or labeling our pain with thoughts, but through witnessing the affliction as energy, swept by breath.
Let your silence invoke the Witness, the hollow glowing core who neither thinks, nor dreams, nor sleeps, but simply sees. Your very Being is a vigil.
In awareness is compassion; in compassion, transformation. And what if this is the end, your death? Then yes, yes, even then! Embrace affliction with a pure naked beholding, and beholding itself will become the infinite light.
By the English composer, William Byrd, this music is for deep meditation.
"Mantra" is a term often misused and misunderstood in our culture. Mantra means, literally, mind ("manas") vehicle ("tra"). Many think that a mantra is just a word repeated over and over in the mind, and that any word will do.
But when we receive a living mantra from a Master, it is not just a word. It is an impulse from the boundless field of pure consciousness, the silent potency at the source of creation. The mantra carries our awareness back to the Creator.
A living mantra contains, in seed form, the cumulative power of countless enlightened beings, extending far back into the ancient now. A living mantra is a lineage.
The art of mantra is not repetition or concentration. Repeating a word that we get from a book, or hear in the spiritual marketplace, makes the mind drowsy, and this drowsiness can be mistaken for "meditation." But a living mantra is imbued with shakti, awakened power, at the moment of initiation, under the auspices of the Master.
The mind does not need to concentrate on a living mantra, or repeat it. Quite the contrary, a living mantra de-concentrates the mind. The mantra does not repeat, but dissolves into infinity. Effortlessly, the mantra settles from the mind into the heart, finding its root as a pulsation of silence. And that is not the silence of absence, but the silence of fullness, the ocean of silence from which waves of creation arise.
A Vedic text declares, "Adau Bhagavan shabda rasahih: In the beginning the Lord created the universe through a stream of sound." The mantra vibrates in our consciousness at the finest level of energy, right between creation and the un-created, where silence becomes music. Thus the scriptures of all traditions declare that creation is born from silence through the Word.
"In the beginning was the Word," says the Gospel of John, almost a verbatim repetition of what the Mandukya Upanishad pronounced in a previous age: "In the beginning was the sacred syllable Om; all that ever was, is, or shall be is created through the sound of Om."
The mantra's vibration permeates, purifies, and energizes every atom, every photon in our body, with the subtle essence of the cosmos, which is bliss. Meditation is re-creation. There is no deeper grace than to receive a mantra from a living Master. That is why our hearts are filled with gratitude and we say, "Jai Guru Dev."
Picture: Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, d. 1948, who passed the timeless Vedic lineage of the Shankarcharya to the teachers of our time. Jai Guru Dev.
All anger is really directed toward the self, a cry for our lost wholeness. We are only outraged by one thing: that Life ever became separate from itself.
Anger is an intensified form of love, seeking restoration. The end of anger is not to attack the enemy, but to melt into that wholeness which was always here, underlying the appearances, the cracks on the mirror.
Moving reflection of moon on forest pool. The ripples are not deep. They give texture to the stillness. Moon is full, even if the image seems broken.
Full moon helps us return to our nature, which is peace. Feel fresh cool beams of moonlight permeate each cell of your body, calming the agitated intellect, melting away past and future, softening intuition beyond thought.
In Vedic science, there is a connection between the moon and the mind. The moon's fullness re-minds us, we are waves of beauty playing in the womb of silence. Om Shantih Shantih Shantih.
"When all your desires are distilled, you will cast just two votes: to love more, and be happy." ~Hafiz
"Laugh, sing, dance, and meditate," says an ancient Sanskrit proverb, which is not only my spiritual path but my politics. "That," one might say, "is highly irresponsible!"
But lasting political change is the fruit of love, not resistance. It is our joy, not our anger, that changes our adversary's heart.
Instead of street marches, hold street dances! Don't gather to protest, gather to sing! Create thunder through the silence of your meditation. Collect your softest breaths into honey; drip it upon lips parched by curses.
In these disturbing times, so many do not believe they have permission to be joyful. They think they must save the whole earth, and wash the nation clean, before they can even smile.
But the deepest sign of Spirit is repose, innocence centered in the midst of turmoil, offering the radiance of a new creation rather than a cloud of ancient doom. Friend, this is a planet that is only transformed through happiness.
To dance lightly in dark times is not irresponsible. Joy is true response ability. Can you respond, can you give anything at all, without a well of beauty, a fountain of delight, bursting in your chest?
Originally published in the Quaker journal, 'What Canst Thou Say,' May 2006, and reprinted in the Quaker journal, 'The Carillon,' February 2017.
Despite the beautiful sadhanas I have learned from masters of the yogic tradition, and from mystics I have met in Cistercian monasteries, the great contemplative experiences of my life have come in moments of grace, when I had no intention to meditate. Only then did I truly understand what those traditions were teaching. I realized something so liberating, yet somewhat threatening to spiritual "practitioners." Grace requires no practice.
Our bodies were initiated into the deepest path the moment we were born. Right here, in the anonymous sacrament of the commonplace, through ear and eye and skin and tongue, we may taste and see that the Lord is good. Mere existence is cause for unbridled celebration. But are we ready to live lives of wonder?
I awake at dawn. For a few moments before this mind, like the rustle of yesterday's newspaper, begins its habit of chatter, I am simply awake without thinking... I listen to the faintest sounds, and beyond them, to the throbbing depths of pure silence. I follow that throb to the horizon of hearing. When I truly listen, there is no place but the present moment, and therefor no time. Then a robin trembles the universe...
Dawn's gray-lit silence,Nothing prevents me from doing this meditation each morning but one thing: the concept of "doing meditation."
changed by the first robin's song
to deeper silence.
On a work day afternoon, amidst several busy projects, I take a short walk in the park. I glance up at the cloudless blue sky. How often have I looked at the sky: so available, costing nothing! Yet now, in this momentary window of grace, blue-sky-gazing is profound sadhana.
Usually the sky is the background of my thoughts. This time, thoughts fade into the background and blue clarity springs forward. I don't suppress thoughts, I just attend to the marvel of emptiness. The common gift of sight is my spiritual practice.
Looking into hollow blue radiance, I pass through the vanishing point, these eyes completely untangled from objects. I am intensely aware but unfocused. Hundreds of tiny muscles relax in my face. The gentle smile I felt when I was a sleeping infant returns to this old body. Then I close my eyes to discover.... the same vastness inside.
Gaze into my heartAll my life I've been climbing: higher grades, higher status, pay raise, upward mobility, uplifting thoughts, up-scale neighborhood, higher tax bracket, higher standards, higher state of consciousness, cloud nine, the risen life! No wonder I'm weary. I'm always fighting gravity...
and touch the deepest sky of
But tonight I'll lie down, spreadeagled in the cool grass of my back yard, gazing at nameless, near and distant stars. I won't take thought for tomorrow, what time I have to get up. I’ll just get down, stay low, commit the great American sin: doing nothing...
Thoughts fade as I shift attention to my breath, my flesh. Weight on ground, skin to sod... Suddenly, a revelation of the commonplace. Why did I never understand this before? I don't need to fight “weight,” or call it “gravity”! I call it earth's prayer for my body. She holds me to her breast.
My body is a ripple in the vast swell of force that rolls out through the cosmic sea. I am awash in star-waves; they too are part of my flesh, part of the same current that connects me to my planet. Where does this body end and hers begin? Who needs to ascend? I am already in the heavens. Earth's vast billow embraces the space beyond the galaxy, then gathers all, enfolding me in the infinite curve of here-ness.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust... How strange that we save these words of life until our funeral.
I stood up so long.
Now, star-dazed in dewy grass,
I am so fallen!
~ "But how will meditation and the development of "consciousness" help us solve the critical problems that face our society, our economy, our environment?"
~ The real solution to our economic, social, and environmental problems is not a new government or a new economic system, but a new state of consciousness.
When people enliven their perceptions through meditation and yoga, they begin to experience how happy they can be just taking a breath, just opening an eye to the stars, just hearing a sparrow at dawn, just smelling the hyacinth in April. Not through amassing wealth, but through enlivening perception, we become rich, owning little. We become content, desiring less. We are at peace with ourselves, and so with others.
Through this transformation of the heart, cravings vanish, and with them the need to exploit, to do violence, to steal, to acquire in a large house, an energy-guzzling car, or an elaborate wardrobe, to seek constant sexual stimulation, or to build vast armies for protecting all that we hoard.
It is in the simplest sacraments of the ordinary that the world is healed. It is in the exquisitely small and delightfully local that we invite waves of bliss, waves of God, waves of love into this word.
But if we do not develop this inward joy, no political program either of the Left or the Right will redeem us. Friend, if you want to save the planet, save your awareness.
"One who expects nothing enjoys everything." (Francis of Assisi)
What is Salvation if I cannot save my own awareness? What is Prayer if I cannot meet the Spirit in this breath? Where is Heaven if I cannot feel it in the soles of my feet?
The present moment is not a vanishing point between the past and the future. The present moment is a vast and radiant kingdom, where the boundaries of past and future dissolve like shadows at dawn. Can you rest in the bounty of not-seeking? This wealth is always available. Let your breathing be the gesture of Grace. Let your mind be the flowering of Now. This is the new way to solve every problem...
We have come to the end of a phase in human evolution. This phase brought us the scientific method, deductive reasoning, the teleological theology of Christianity: all attempts to impose an ideal future on the present moment, to change the world according to a plan. We need not abandon these tools when they are useful for specific immediate problems, but we desperately need to transcend the world-view which gave rise to these modes of problem-solving. It is time to step into the new way.
At first, this way seems irresponsible. But if we have the faith to try it, we discover that Radical Presence is the ultimate response-ability. In Presence, we can respond to what is, not reacting from thought-patterns of our past conditioning, but acting from our core-silence. We no longer need to impose pre-conceived ideals about how things should be. We no longer argue from an entrenched position, inattentive to the needs of others. We see clearly that any "ideal" is an attack on the real, and "improving" the world is an attack against Being.
Honestly examine your plans and see which ones were successful and which ones were not. In every case, you will see that the plan failed unless it changed. Your creativity, responsibility and life-energy were in the moments of change, not in the plan. The moments when you responded to the Now and modified your plan were moments when you were truly living. For life is all in the present moment. Creativity never arises from the past. The only plans that work are the plans that change.
Before we devastate our economy, our environment, and our spirit with one more plan for the future, let us live! Give up hope. Give up idealism. Give up the future. This is real responsibility, and real courage. "Courage" derives from the Latin word for "heart." Courage means living from the heart, which is only possible when we are present.
The truth is, all our plans have been based on an illusion: the future does not exist. That is why Jesus said: "Take no thought for tomorrow." And in the Bedda Karatta Sutta, the Buddha taught: "The past no longer is. The future is ever unborn. But deeply observe the present moment, just as it is, and you shall attain the peace and unity of the ancient masters."
In the heart of the present moment, there is a timeless core of silence that is the ultimate power in creation. It cannot be attained by thought: only by resting in the source of attention, before any seeking arises. In practical terms, this means declining the temptation to conceptualize anything.
The Western scripture calls this "sabbath rest." The literal meaning of the Hebrew word Sabbath is "stop." Stop the mind. The real Sabbath is the resting of the will to think.
All contemplative techniques are simply tricks to short-circuit thinking and stop the mind. Do we have the courage to stop? Can we listen deeply together, dwelling in the hermitage at the center of the soul, deep in the wilderness prior to any concept? Only then and there does the graceful energy of Love re-create the cosmos through our silence.
This is the new way to transform the world. In the past, it was a way for the forest monk, the contemplative. But we will do it in household, market place, and community, as we open to divine silence in the midst of action. Our community will be an unfolding of Presences, rather than a competition of egos.
We look around our culture with a sense of desolation and loss. We sometimes think we need to escape into the ancient forest, or go live in an indigenous tribal village, which of course lasts about as long as a nice vacation; then we drag ourselves back to the suburbs.
We long for the miraculous, the luminous, the pure, the spontaneous, the wild... sometimes so much so that we drown our longing in temporary addictive fixes and highs.
Yet the glory of the miraculous is all around us. The radiance of the miraculous is within us. The substance of the miraculous is what we're made of. We just don't get down into the Small enough to see it.
Get down into the Small. Then you find that a single electron is surrounded by a photon-cloud where every particle has an energy charge of infinity. This is literally true, the real truth about Mater, Mother-Matter.
Her dance dissolves and re-creates itself each instant, virtual particles vibrating out of the vacuum. You can't capture that energy: it runs through the fingers of Now. And since you can't hold it, you just have to Be it.
According to Bell's Theorum (1962) now experimentally verified by high energy particle colliders, every sub-nuclear particle is, at the base of its wave, the same silent zero-point energy as every other particle in the field. As Darwin said, "We are all netted together," but this is true at the quantum level in a profounder way than he realized. One of the first quantum physicists, Sir Arthur Eddington wrote, "When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes." So isn't every subtle particle, every tiny building block of matter, a miracle?
You don't have to travel out of your body or attain "higher worlds" to find the infinity of your being. Just sink into what you already are, repose in your atoms, dissolve into the continuum of wholeness where a difference between mind and matter, what you want and who you are, does not arise.
Simply be aware of your body as the glory of countless photons. Infinitesimal divine sparks overflow from every point in your flesh. You are made of pure golden light bubbling out of unbounded silence. That is a fact. Be inebriated with your natural abundance, and be filled with gratitude. This state of wonder is the real Yoga, the real wealth. Human culture could be so just and joyful if people would simply rest in the grace and prosperity of their own bodies.
No political or economic system will end our greed and exploitation of one another. The system changes when people change - when we change into ourselves!
Being the energy we are is so innately blissful that it reduces wants to needs, spontaneously unfolding a simple sustainable lifestyle. Therefor, the political solution is a spiritual solution, and the spirit is the body. Selah.
The bliss of being the energy you are, is not an esoteric technique. It requires no effort or faith, no affirmation or visualization: just an awakened surrender to Isness.
Surrounded by miracles, composed of miracles, you dance with the miraculous now, whether you sleep or wake, whether you know it or not. So why not just KNOW IT?
Chaos is descending into chaos. So what? Let Mother Kali boogie and don't worry. She whirls in harmony, her harmony is your embodiment, and even when you experience her dance as a stumble or a Fall, you free-fall through the space where everything is always all right, the space of Shiva, the pure space of boundless compassion. There is no need for the mind to create duality by putting a concept around its astonishment. Why do you need a concept?
The Divine wears you, adorns the dance in sparkling beads of your own flesh, and loves to show you off. You are God's bling.
Through the alchemy of meditation, consciousness crystallizes until it is more solid than the object of consciousness. Then the subject outshines the object and the radiance of the Self is not lost in the experience of the world. The truth is, my world is only known through my state of consciousness. If I want to change the world I see, I must begin by changing the seer.
More than any other agent of change, it is the quality of our awareness that changes the world. Christallize your consciousness.
Ask-me-Answers is a social media interview conducted by Marion Nasser, from Germany. I was honored to be asked to participate in one of her interviews...
- Marion: How is true greatness characterized in a human being?
Fred: When we sense that something is 'great,' we cannot define it, but we feel it in our marrow. Even if that music, that painting, or that person who walks into the room is not well-known, we still feel the 'greatness.' It has nothing to do with fame or technical skill. It is a quality of depth. Depth of what? Depth of time, depth of stillness, and depth of silence. A great painting by Leonardo carries a subtle void between its particles, and that void is alive with ancient peace, stillness, the thunder of silence. And that same depth we feel in the silence between the words of Rumi, Basho, or Milton; or between the notes of great music. We feel the depth of 'greatness' not in what is there, but in what is not there. In a human being, the 'greatness' is the ancient silence they carry with them. It emanates out of their very atoms.
- Marion: Is true greatness a result from the connection with the Divine?
Fred: True greatness is therefor a connection with the formless Void. That infinite silence sings through every word. That infinite stillness vibrates through every action. The great one walks like a mountain, stands like a cloud, disappears into action like the sky. The connection is to Being itself.
- Marion: Is there still a process of development in true greatness?
Fred: True greatness keeps dissolving into the next moment with the innocence of a child. The great is ever evolving into its own wonder, and since wonder has no limit, it is ever expanding.
- Marion: Can a person of true greatness learn better, love more and be more present?
Fred: A great person sins boldly and makes beautiful mistakes, turning each "wrong" note into a new harmony, a more expressive melody. There are no mistakes because everything is a mistake. Creativity is a continuous revelation, and that is only possible because nothing is ever finished.
- Marion: Does a human with true greatness deal differently with problems?
Fred: A person of true greatness does not see "problems," only situations. Every "problem" is really an infinite possibility. If our circumstances were perfect, we would be frozen in the ice of a diamond, flawless, but hard and cold. Physics shows us that the universe is made out of vibrations that are waves of pure mathematical probability in a vast ocean of possibility. Yet the mathematical equations of quantum science, through which the universe is created, are never perfectly solved, never pure symmetries. They are broken symmetries, unbalanced equations. And that tottering of the universe, like a spinning top just off its axis, from imperfection to imperfection, is what creates particles of matter, bodies, stars, galaxies.
The cosmos spins just off-center, not quite fixed, blessedly imperfect. The "great" person sees the imperfections of the universe as a perfect opportunity to dance, each moment. She stumbles great-fully, each stumble a new step of the dance. She dances with chaos instead of reacting against it. And that is how she turns what we call disaster into a constant act of creation, through service. She knows that at the axis, the center of her whirling, is stillness. For her, every mistake, every stumble, every wound, leads inward to the ancient silence of love.
There's a fountain inside you
where the water is ever fresh and clear.
I've been pointing to it,
but you must do the easy work
of turning, and following the sound.
Just as your soul is in your body,
this gushing spring is in your body,
We can only feel sorry for those
who wander above themselves,
who search in the sky or
look for another world,
because the light they seek is
shining from their flesh.
When you become so silent
even your name disappears
you will hear the music of this
Ah, that terrible word again,
O Friend, there's nothing
to be inside of!
This is our little open secret.
You are made of the space
that you travel through
to find yourself.
The outpouring is your stillness.
Now drink here, and become fierce!
"When the spiritual power of the Kundalini Shakti enters the heart center, the self-begotten unstruck music of God begins to be heard." ~Jnaneshwar, b. 1275 a.d.
Ameen. The heart is not just a physical pump of blood and oxygen. It is a receiver and amplifier of Shabda, the stream of mantric sound-energy that creates the universe, vibrating sub-nuclear particles of "matter" from fluctuations of infinite possibility in the stillness of the void.
The Vedas declare: "Adau Bhagavan shabdha rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord created all things through a stream of sound." Our hearts are always emitting the Word of creation. May we rest our attention in the heart, and return to the moment when God says, "Let there be light."
Dare to rest in the living silence of possibility, before a single thought is born. This is the space where wonder may discover how to love.
It is not the dumb silence of sleep, nor the brutal silence of self-control, nor the silence of any "mindfulness" practice. The innocence of true silence cannot be practiced. It simply is.
Living silence is the rippling surface of eternity, where time arises as an afterthought. This silence is the threshold between form and the formless, between creature and Creator. It is held at the center of every pulsation, whether of a galaxy or a photon, the axial momentous eternal ayin-soph between day and night, Winter and Spring, exhalation and inhalation, the slicing scimitar of now.
Medieval Christian philosophers called this living silence "synderesis," or "pure intellectual soul." Thomas Aquinas told us that the synderesis dwells "on the borderline between time and eternity."
Indian philosophers called it "ritam bara pragyam," the luminous field of intuition where all knowledge is condensed, and all history is available in this present moment. "Ritam" is not a thought, but the field whence intellect arises, prior to thinking. It is our inmost seed, where pure consciousness ceaselessly breathes forth the soul.
In the field of "ritam" we can apprehend anything in the universe, knowing all "about" it without knowing the details, because the diversity and duration of the entire cosmos exists here as a timeless singularity, a point within our pure awareness.
The poet Emily Dickenson wrote, "Dwell in possibility." She was inviting us to repose in "ritam."
Quantum physics also describes this silent field of infinite potential, where no-thing may become anything. The "quantum vacuum" pulsates with virtual photons of light and virtual electrons of energy, particles that are and are not. These "fluctuations of the vacuum" are stirrings of pure possibility, defined in mathematical terms as "probability-waves." What we call "matter" is made of nothing else but these vibrations of possibility in the silence of pure consciousness.
At any instant, one of these immaterial waves may burst out of emptiness as the finest particle, or as a new universe. The brilliant and barely understood philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, called them "monads." They are the "sparks of creation" described by Jewish Kabbala; the original "atoms" (amatu) defined by the Vedic philosophy of India. Our bodies contain countless hosts of these sparks as photons of light. Yet because they are holographic, each spark contains all the information of the universe.
The total sum energy of the possibility-field is zero, but at any infinitesimal point within it, the energy is infinite. That is why the nothingness at the center of a black hole is simultaneously the densest "thing" in creation, a monad containing cosmic information. This omnisciently dense point of no-thing at the center of a black hole, is also the center of every proton. Which means that each infinitesimal point in space contains the knowledge of the universe.
All ancient creation stories explain, in symbolic imagery, how something comes from nothing, what the Church fathers called "creation ex nihilo." The first verses of the Hebrew Bible declare that, when God creates the heavens and the earth, the earth is tohu wa bohu, "formless and void." The same vocabulary we find in Buddhism: "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form." Whether the religion is Biblical or Buddhist, the truth always comes back to the void, and this same void in the creation stories of the world's religions is the "vacuum state" of energy in the creation story of modern physics.
Is the primordial void, the "vacuum state" of quantum physics, synonymous with consciousness?
We can answer this question with a logical argument. Can there be two voids, an inner void and an outer void? Can there be two entities that are infinitely abstract? Of course not. Pure abstraction contains no duality. Voidness must be an indivisible singularity. Emptiness is absolutely empty. Therefor what Buddhists call "sunya," the emptiness of no-mind; what Yogis call "samadhi," thought-free awareness; must be precisely the same void as the vacuum of quantum physics. Mind and matter both arise from one matrix: an insight not only shared by all the ancient mystics, but by today's most brilliant physicists.
"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." ~Max PlanckWhen, through transcendental deep meditation, we allow our awareness to settle into this primordial matrix of no-thing, we return to the source of creation. Here in the ripples of awakened silence we feel the whole cosmos forming, as pure intelligence. This is not only the thrill felt by God "in the beginning," but by every meditator, and by every artist or poet at the moment of creation. The world on the tip of our tongue!
Those who pretend to rule over us try to keep our minds in a constant state of political shock, economic anxiety, and fear of war, because when we are outraged, we are easy to manipulate.
The best resistance is to remain centered in the joy of inner freedom, without projecting despair onto the mirror of the future. The revolution is to rest in the heart. The radical act is to be present.
Feel the nearness of the Beloved in the warmth of anahata, the space in your chest where music arises from a silent unstruck bell. Where you are most hollow, you are most full.
That warmth is unfathomably gentle, yet its power is mightier than all the mind's strategies for self-protection.
Use this tenderness to heal some small creature right beside you, and you will heal the earth. Love is local, but its breath sweeps the stars.
(Collage with my words by Rashani Réa)