Good Morning

Hi! How are you today? Isn't it a beautiful morning? The entire cosmos is happening in the boundless silence of space, and this space is awake; this space is pure awareness enjoying the bliss of its own nature, witnessing countless suns and galaxies that arise and dissolve within it. And this space is who you really are.

Let's meet here. In fact, we are already dancing at the center of the golden flower that has no circumference. This is the space of the Heart.

But please don't imagine we are talking about a belief or philosophy. We are talking about your direct experience of Being, at the simplest, most innocent level, before a single thought arises to cause separation. Jai Guru Dev.


Journey of Gazes

My spiritual path has been a journey of gazes, the eyes of the Other an infinity sign leading me back to the Self. Gaze of friend or perfect stranger, gaze of lover and teacher, gaze of the animal guide, gaze of my infant daughter, mother, wife, gaze of my gaze.

Yet through these sparkling corridors of darshan, there were three gazes above all others that took me to the highest peak, where Dante stood with Beatrice, sing the empyrean
through her eyes.

The first Great Gaze was the gaze of a fawn. My wife and I were just married, walking through a Maryland corn field. We came upon a newborn deer. We could only spend a moment there, for the mother doe was stamping the ground furiously at the edge of the forest.

Just for a moment we gazed into the bluest eyes I ever saw. Only my daughter's blue eyes come close to that bejeweled Shakti. The word that comes to mind is "familiar." The eyes of that fawn made the entire animal kingdom a clan of cousins. I felt welcomed and warmed into the planetary community. Ever since passing through those
faun blue eyes, I've seen one and the same Soul in animals, angels, and human beings, a single Spirit gazing out through myriad facets in the diamond of God-Consciousness.

The second Great Darshan was the gaze of a dolphin. My young family was spending a week at the Jersey Shore, in Avalon. It was late June, solstice time. Every morning I would go to the beach at dawn, practice Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, then swim a mile down the coast
in the rising sun, out beyond the breaking waves. Swimming quite a distance from shore, I suddenly saw an enormous shadow-form sweep silently beneath me. My heart shuddered with primordial fear of the deep, the unknown.

I stopped and looked around. I was completely alone. Then a face emerged from the water about three yards in front of me, with perhaps the most intelligent and benign expression I have ever beheld,  a smile of respect, parental care, and benediction. A gaze of unconditional love enfolded me, and filled me with the certainty that I am protected, both on earth and among the stars, by a much more advanced and ancient race of Friends.

The peak of my journey was the third Great Darshan Gaze: a meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at a meditation course in Nova Scotia, back in 1991. Courses were small and intimate in those days, and on the final night I managed to visit alone with Sri Sri in his room for an hour. At one point toward the end of our conversation, I asked, "There is so much chatter about who you are. Are you one of the great avatars, a world teacher from ages past, who has returned to us? I need to know who you REALLY Are!"

So he showed me. It was very simple. He said, "No, no, no. I am Nobody." And he meant it.

Then I saw pure
Presence unveiled, no name or story or expectation from the past superimposed by my mind. Truly, I looked into Nobody's eyes. Nobody is my teacher. Nobody is my supreme authority. Nobody is my Lord.

His gaze: twin galaxies spiraling toward the formless source of creation through billions of light-years. Wells of eternity where I fell inward and outward at once, like a thrown pebble, like a lost meteor, in the motionless explosion of a dark yet sparkling rose of infinite circumference. This was the flowering of divine love. Golden petals gently, silently exploding from the empty stillness of the Self we all share.

Jai Guru Dev.

(Photo of Sri Sri by Scott Hague)


Love Is Freedom From Images

Love arises when there is no self-image.

What is the image of yourself as you were yesterday? Is this what you are right now? What is the image of yourself as you were one year ago? Twenty years ago? One thousand years ago?

What is the image of yourself as you will be tomorrow? Is this who you are right now? What is the image of yourself as you will be one year from now?  A million years from now?

Who are you when you drop all images of yourself? The present moment has no image of itself. It simply Is. Images only exist in the mind as past or future.

When I Am pure existence, without forming an image of myself, I can embrace whatever arises in the moment, and I can welcome everyone I meet as a radiance of the same existence I am. This is the imageless embrace of love.

Scripture says that we are created in the image of God. I say that Love is uncreated, and has no image.

The power of Love is in direct proportion to the mind's capacity for dropping images. Love is the grace of a silent mind.


Esoteric Mathematics of the Sri Yantra

Silence  x  Grace  -  Time  =  Love.
I derived this equation by applying the science of tears to the field of yearning.

I raised God's name by the power of the Mother and rose into a shining exponential cloud where rocks, bones and prime numbers have no existence in pure space, yet appear as multiples of one.

I factored my thoughts into an empty denominator, by which I divided the tufted titmouse, the fern, the dog turd and diamond, which resulted, marvelously enough,

in a quotient of titmouse, fern, dog turd and diamond, all things remaining just as they are.

Then I stepped naked into a zero-energy mountain brook of melting snow and virtual photons, gurgling over Cartesian coordinates between a curve and its asymptote.

Thus I determined the square root of the void.

I became infinite, not through mantric repetitions of the name of the One, but a hyper-geometric progression of breaths, wings and inconceivable sexual epiphanies in the company of angels,

such that the One ascended into Many, empowered by a logarithm of Negative Zero.

But you would do better to solve this equation by entering the vacuum of your heart, where the answer was written before you were conceived in runes of black fire.

All this information, and more than I could ever write down, was channeled to me from Albert Einstein, who still wanders from star to star pulling his red wagon.

Courage of the Witness

"Yogastah karukarmani: Inwardly settled in the silence of yoga, perform action." ~Bhagavad Gita 2:48
To witness requires deep inner stillness, which is the state of Yoga. But to witness also requires courage. Not with judgment, but with humor and compassion, witness this tragicomedy of errors that somehow presents every person with perfect lessons of character sublimely choreographed by divine necessity so that all learn precisely what they need to learn each moment, and have a perfect right to without our interference.

The irony is that the silent force exerted by the consciousness of the witness is as healing as any part played by a do-er, since the actor is really a re-actor, spinning tangled karmic circles in the ever-thickening plot of an ever-repeating melodrama.

This is not to say that you shouldn't play your part. But play it with dispassion. Let it go moment by moment, your soul settled in the silence of the witness. And please, never suppose that your part is more important, or less important, than any other's.



This frond of iris is a miracle, not because it is an iris, but because it exists.

Its thingness is a flower, but its Being is divine. All things bathe in the nectar of Existence. The taste of that nectar is bliss. However fallen, broken, exhausted, or small, each creature floats in the invisible waters of perfection, the Being of the Creator.

We usually see the objects of the world as foreground; we are only aware of their Existence as background, like the blue of the sky. Now a subtler field of human awareness is emerging: we begin to perceive Existence itself as foreground.

The earth, a star, a weed in a chink of sidewalk, an old tire smothered in honeysuckle, a weeping wound, all shimmer through the formless sap of transcendental Beauty.

The miracle is merely To Be. Why not dwell in perpetual astonishment? Why not bow to a drop of dew or a cricket, not because it is a thing, but because it Is? Isness is God.

If you don't understand this, I'm sorry. I can't explain it. Just walk barefoot in wet grass at dawn, and watch a plum bud gently, silently explode...


Sacred Duty

Krishna, this hair-raising tickle of transcendental beauty, outraged the Brahmin priests when he danced with farm girls. Buddha felt the wrath of holy ascetics because he renounced renunciation, daring to savor a breath in his flesh, then a cupful of sweetened milk.

Jesus broke the purity code, condemned to death for hugging lepers and feasting with unclean women. Why were those women so unclean? Because they reminded men of their longing for what cannot be grasped by thought.

Let the radiance at the center of your body incinerate the books of law. Let your heart be a pot-still, your inner heat boiling the commandments into one transparent shot of pure forgiveness.

May the love that blossoms from the silence where looking begins, dissolve all faces of God into diamond emptiness. Your fragrance must escape the flower, your honey overflow the comb. This is your sacred duty: become an outlaw.

Sky Blue

The discovery that you are not your mind is the dawn of spirituality. You are not your thoughts, memories, beliefs, or desires.

You are boundless clarity untainted by concepts. You are the self-luminosity of pure awareness. But when your limitless Am contracts into a point of view, it becomes i. And this little i begins to think. 

Then it cries, "How did i become so small, so miserable, so lost? i need to be saved." So the little i looks for someone else to save it from itself. Yet what the little i really needs is simply to relax, expand, and dissolve back into Am.

A mirror remains spotless no matter what it reflects. Even reflecting a lump of dirt, the mirror is untainted. The most vile image, the most lovely image, are of equal disinterest to the mirror. Fleeting, dream-like insubstantial reflections, our thoughts leave no impression on the glass. Their appearance in the mirror does not alter its essential emptiness.

In the blue sky, clouds precipitate and evaporate; yet the sky remains ever the same space whether stormy or clear. When the clouds move, the sky does not move. So our thoughts precipitate and evaporate in pure awareness. "Right" and "wrong" points of view appear and disappear in the vast space of consciousness that contains all possible perspectives.

But no point of view contains awareness itself, just as no passing cloud contains the whole sky. Who we really are remains timeless, limitless and still, even when a thousand thoughts storm through the mind. Whether positive or negative, horrific or soothing, the thoughts that pass over this mirror have nothing to do with our fathomless clarity.

Therefor, why struggle to replace "bad" thoughts with "good" ones, or to change "wrong" viewpoints to "right" ones? Points of view are right or wrong only in relation to each other; but in relation to the pointless space that contains them, all points have equal weight. And that weight is zero.

Our real responsibility is not to be right or wrong, but to wake up as boundless space. The only instruction we will ever need in dealing with our own mind is: "Let thoughts think themselves and dissolve, without any i in them."

O mind, give yourself permission to rest as awareness. Rest as who you are when you aren't trying to be "right." Don't be a cloud, be the sky!

An Effortless Practice

Witness your thoughts without grasping or entering them. This shift from doing to witnessing is always delightful, life-giving, energizing, even if the thought you witness is disturbing or dreary. The falsest opinion or most negative image may be the graceful means of liberation, the moment you cease grasping it. And as Rumi wrote, "Your grief may be the garden of compassion."

Thinking a thought never provides energy. But dropping a thought provides instant energy, returning us to crystal-clear awareness. In letting go of a thought, the boundless void gushes back to fill itself with emptiness, bringing an explosion of ananda, bliss.

Dropping thoughts requires no energy because it is not doing. In fact, dropping thoughts restores energy. This is the immediate pathless path to liberation. And the content of the mind is irrelevant to success in the path. We can practice this non-practice with any thought, trivial or profound, at any moment of the day, by simply letting the thought go.

Right now, surrender this thought and watch the blissful surge of awareness from within, a round wave that rolls outward to encompass the stars. As thought, you are very small. As awareness, you encircle galaxies.

Actually, your thoughts constantly dissolve. You don't notice this because you grasp another thought as soon as this one passes. But when you just watch the death of that thought, the birth of this one, without expending the energy to hold one and grasp the other, you notice the truth: you are not your thoughts. You are the Witness, an ocean of awareness surging with ananda. And what is this ananda, this bliss made of? Waves of emptiness.

Every thought has an opposite and wants to contend against it. What has no opposite is the Great Space of awareness. The unchanging untainted clarity of this Great Space is not only within you, it is you. Enfolding your darkest fear, your hardest pain, your birth and your death, Great Space is pure compassion. All that is required to attain it is: to relinquish being right or wrong. There is no need even to believe this. Just rest.

"Become choiceless. Choiceless awareness is the only joyful state, a peaceful state, a state without confusion." ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar



Tonight in meditation, I entered the garden of Vrindavan, which is located just below the pituitary gland at the center of my brain.

There I met Krishna wandering among the poppies, eating a banana. When he learned that I was from 21st century earth, he said, "Whooh, not that crazy place! I was there a long time ago... or was it the future?"

I said, "You were there 14,000 years ago, just before Kali Yuga began, dear friend, and I would like you to give me a message to take back to my friends, the poor troubled earthlings."

The cosmic lord thought for a moment, then said, "Stop improving yourselves."

"What?" I said.

"Why do you impose your religious beliefs and political ideas on each other, then call it 'improvement'? Does this make your lives better? There is no such thing as 'better.' You're just creating conflict. Stop improving."

Totally confused, I replied, "If we don't try to improve, then what should we do?"

Shyama Sundara, the Blue Sky of Boundless Beauty, smiled very gently, but the sparkle in his eye burned a diamond wound in my forehead. He said:

"Just relax. Become who you already are. Let the nectar of perfection bubble up from the ancient well in your solar plexus. When you scent the music of the inner light, start dancing."

I couldn't make any sense of his words. In fact, now that I think of it, there were no words, just some flute sounds that my vain little mind tried to translate into speech.

So the Lord and I abandoned words. We just frolicked with peacocks, whirled with Gopi girls, sipped blue wine from the sky in a tulip cup, laughed at the moon in a mud puddle. And when the misty sun came up, we offered lotus petals and coconut milk to the Mother of Gardens.



This blossom covered with dewdrops, is it right or wrong?
The mind's first need is to be 'right.' The heart's first need is to be connected. I can survive being wrong. I cannot survive being disconnected at the root.

Here is a beautiful meditation: spend a few minutes every day assuming that you are wrong about almost everything. Rest there. It is very comforting. Why?

Because we discover that being 'right' or 'wrong' isn't very important. Even when our mind is 'wrong,' our heart can connect to other hearts, to the moon and rain, the sound of wind and a robin at dawn. In fact, it's easier to be connected when we're 'wrong,' because then the mind quiets down. We just shut up and listen.

Joy has nothing to do with righteousness, but with connection through the radiance of the heart. I may be wrong about this...


Veil of Impurity

Our ego's most ancient veil is the illusion of impurity. "This food is impure. This act is impure. This body is impure. This thought is impure." Close your Eye and let it descend from the mind to the heart. Now open it and see. Nothing is impure. Every form is composed of inviolable light.
Thus a Vedic text declares: "Whether pure or impure, whether filled with purities or impurities, whoever remembers the lotus-eyed Lord gains inner and outer purity."

Collage by Rashani Réa


The Next World?

On this exquisite day in the North West, not a cloud in the sky, 63 degrees, blossoms unfolding. I prayed to beloved Lakshmi when I awoke this morning: "O Mother, let me share your beauty and abundance with others today." Just came back from a five mile walk with Bowie, pictured here, already asleep in my arms. On the walk, I had a very simple conversation with my heart. So that is what I am sharing.
~Where do we go when we die?
~The next world.
~Where is the next world?
~Is it a higher world than this one?
~It is the light this one is made of.
~How can I see it?
~Feel the luminous throb of a humming photon cloud around an electron in one flowering atom of your body. Un-whirl yourself to the bindhu star at the heart of the nucleus.
~This could be a dance.
~It is a dance.
~This sounds like music.
~It is music.
~It seems that when we die, we don't go anywhere. What do we do?
~Dissolve into Who You Are.
~Is it hard?
~How hard could it be to drop what you are not?

I Awoke

When I awoke this morning, before the mind of yesterday returned, I floated for a moment in eternity. It was so obvious that the truth about our universe was "educated" out of us and replaced by a false story of separateness, distance, competition, struggle; a story drilled into us at an early age and re-confirmed by our religion, our politics, our history and science classes, the literature they forced us to read...

But the truth is not this story at all. Truth is the boundless radiance of the silent Heart, the Anahata center, which in Sanskrit means "the unstruck sound." This truth is our immediate non-conceptual sensation, before we even begin to think. It is the total Self-perception of the body. And if the truth requires to be spoken, it might sound something like this...

Let go of your thoughts, regrets about the past, anxieties about the future, and simply feel their underlying sensations in your brain. Even a powerful memory, an event you believe really happened in some place you call "the past," actually happens in the present moment, as a flicker of light leaping an axon into the dendrite of a neighboring cell. The mental image created by this flare is secondary, like smoke.

Let your awareness fall back into neurological fire. Don't worry; you won't lose your mind. Your mind will be nourished at its roots. Then, when you need to think, your thinking will be useful.
Feel the subtle energy of your nervous system not only in the brain, but throughout the body. Become one field of sensation permeated by awareness, without any words, labels, or thoughts.

Now see if you can feel the boundaries of this sensation. Does your flesh have an outline? Does your body have any edges?
Feel the air around you. Bathe in the warmth of other living creatures around you. Do they have edges? Where does your territory end and their bodies begin? Sense the forest, the mountains, the ocean, the clouds, as extensions of your skin.

Now become aware of space itself, not as an impersonal abyss of frightening distances, but as the intimacy of your own attention. For space is awake. Space is awareness itself. It is not an abstraction you need to move through in order to get somewhere else. Space is an ocean of nourishment in whose waves you play.

Imagine how different our society would be if the people moving down the street, intent on getting somewhere else, would simply enjoy swimming, dancing through space. How would our body language change. How would we greet one another?
When you grasp the total field of your body, the stars are very near you. Galaxies that seemed to be "out there" now waltz inside you as the radiance of your own flesh. Separateness is an illusion. Just for a moment, give up the falsehood you were taught in school: the myth of distance. Let go of the story about the universe as an enormous machine far beyond you, in whose steely gears you are an infinitesimally lonely speck of grit, ground up between chill inanimate absences. This is the lie.

Dare to soak in the glory you really are. Your aura is not contained in the universe: your aura is the universe. You are not merely made of star-stuff: you scatter suns. Transcendence is mutual causation. Participate in the creation of whatever you behold.
Macrocosm and microcosm are simultaneously inter-active and mutually dependent. Be intimately connected to all sentient beings, as to your own nerves, wherever they are rooted on earth, in other worlds, or in the realm of the ancestors. Wash them with each heartbeat. Enjoy the inestimable honor of healing them with every breath. This is the truth.
Our sun is very active right now. It is your heart, after all. Let solar flares wash your body in cosmic particles, and don't freak out as your vibrations throttle up. Allow all sensations to happen in the knowledge that the cosmos wants to transform your DNA, evolving you into a gentle munching wingéd gorilla of unfathomable intelligence.

Illustration from 'Grandfather Twilight' by Barbara Berger


Ex Nihilo

"Of all the great things to be discovered, the being of nothingness is the greatest." ~Leonardo da Vinci

The great theologians of the Western tradition understood wisely that this creation comes out of nothing: 'ex nihilo.' They found this in the first verse of the Bible, where the earth is created out of 'tohu w'bohu: a formless void.'

But they assumed that a Creator must be necessary to make creation happen. This invention of a creator is an act of the mind, not an immediate perception of what Is. When our mind super-imposes its concept of 'God' onto the ineluctable suchness of the world, we lose the capacity for wonder. We cannot see the dazzling paradox that gives the universe its juiciness: the world is un-created.

No Creator makes it happen. There is no process of creation in time. Neither is there any thing-ness to give weight to no-thing. Every moment,
for no purpose, the world simply flowers out of emptiness.

Just as a mirage shimmers in still desert air, so creation shimmers in the void. This is the vibrant playfulness, the dance-nature, of no-thing.

Thinking that it's all something makes us heavy. Knowing it's all nothing makes us light.

Here is a good little article on 'The Physics of Nothing' from the New York Times: LINK

Also recommended is the book, 'Nothingness: the Science of Empty Space,' by Henning Genz, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Heidelburg: LINK



All week, this pinball mind was pinging around this pin ball world, distracted by the news. But if we can just observe the way things really are, the madness of the world becomes a perfect meditation on the nature of awareness and the non-existence of distraction. 

You can never really be distracted in meditation because your mind is the Goddess and your consciousness is Lord Shiva, watching her wild and lovely dance.
Lord Shiva is pure awareness, stunned into silence by Shakti's creative power, the sinuous undulation of your own mind. The Lord is not stunned into unconsciousness, but into higher, clearer, more radiant consciousness. And the more he has to witness, the more conscious he becomes!
The object only enlivens the subject, and the object has been projected into form, out of the ocean of pure consciousness, just so that consciousness can witness, be amazed, and through amazement become conscious of its Self. That is the purpose of prakriti, creation.
Shakti, the very play of your thoughts, irradiates space and time with her splendor, cleansing, healing, re-creating earth and stars, not through your will but hers alone. You are just the wonder, the Keeper of the Space where her dance unfolds.
So let your mind dance as wildly as she pleases. Let her wander throughout creation, caressing and kissing the furthest galaxies. Simply remember the secret: this dancing mind is Shakti and this awareness of the dance is Shiva. Awareness abides as silent witness, wherever the mind goes. Then there is no conflict, no distraction in meditation.
Satyam, Sivam, Subham,
Sundaram, Kantam;
Sampurna, Sukha, Santam;
Sivoham, Sivoham!
"The true, the auspicious, the good,
the beautiful, the radiant;
existence, awareness, bliss;
fullness, joy, and peace:
the very form of bliss-consciousness,
I am Shiva, I am Shiva!"


Rest In The Shadow

By Josquin Deprez, one of the most cosmic musicians of all time, here is a canon for 24 voices, a setting of Psalm 91: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty..."
Mystics are not afraid of the night. Christian contemplatives named God, "the divine darkness," inviting us to find truth in the "cloud of unknowing." St. John of the Cross proclaimed that illumination only happens after "the dark night of the soul." They called this path to God the "via negativa," just as the Vedantists of India called it, "neti neti: not this, not that."
Indian poet-saint Lalladev cried, "Give me the strength to take hold of the darkness!" In Chinese spirituality the Yin principle of darkness is as fertile and healing as the Yang of light.
The Jewish psalmist wrote, "Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to thee are both alike" (Psalm 139). In the creation hymn of Genesis, chapter 1, we discover that God's Word of light emerges from a living sea of pulsating darkness, which is "tohu wa bohu: formless and void." Yet this is a vibrant Void where "the breath of the Spirit stirred the waters of the abyss."
These profound opening verses of the Hebrew Bible encapsulate the wisdom of modern physics: particles emerging from energy into matter as "fluctuations of the vacuum," waves of pure mathematical intelligence arising from the Uncertain yet infinitely Possible.
Throughout Eastern Europe, in the most ancient centers of Christianity, the sacred Dark was embodied in the figure of the "Black Madonna." It is she who gives birth to the Light.*
What a tragedy that Western religion came to impose its moral dualism, Good and Evil, onto the mysterious dance of Light and Dark! Let us return to the fierce sweet naked sheltering shadow, and find rest. Darkness is not the opposite of light, but the womb of light.

Read a profound exposition on the Dark Goddess by mystic and scholar Vera de Chalambert at her website: LINK

Yama Mandala

   Yama, All-Devouring Time, and the Six Realms
Pure consciousness generates the material world out of its Self as the appearance of the non-self.

Why would I want to appear to myself as the non-self? So that by experiencing what I am not, I may awaken ,through contrast, a clear experience of what I Am.

I get lost in the forms of maya to realize the formless essence of who is getting lost. This is the very purpose of the game of creation.

Divine Consciousness projects worlds of desire out of its own energy and then perceives them for only one reason: to awaken the perceiver. This is why the Biblical creation story proclaims, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light: and God saw that the light was good." The divine Self was liberated by seeing.

What awakens the taste that dissolves all craving and attachment? Only the Self-reflection of consciousness. Consciousness must taste her own Self-luminosity, unalloyed with any object of perception, to repose in her essence, and enjoy liberation. Yet this awakening from bondage is only possible through bondage, in a world of forms paired in opposites that both attract and repel her awareness.

In perceiving, "I am not that, not that, not that," consciousness awakens and declares, "So-Ham: I Am This!" In Western scriptures (Exodus 3) this awakening is represented through the story of Moses, where consciousness reveals itself as "I Am that I Am." I Am is the very name of God, the self-awakening of awareness in the burning tree of Moses' own nervous system.

Once liberation is gained, consciousness continues to dwell in the world of objects without attachment, craving, or fear. Every perception is an enlightenment, a refresher in awakening. The poetry of William Blake so clearly describes this all-important difference between experience in bondage and freedom:
"He who binds to himself a joy
doth the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
dwells in eternity's sunrise."
In the Yama Mandala, there are six realms where our awareness may be reincarnated, depending of course on our karma. Yet these very forms of bondage become doors of liberation. We may take this mandala literally, or we may take it as a symbol of our present experience: the way our attention gets drawn into various limitations through desire.

It is important to note that this paradigm of limitation and bondage is not "world denying" or "nihilistic." It does not make value judgments. Heaven is just as binding as hell. And earth is the school of liberation! The mandala just describes the world as it is, giving it meaning and purpose.

The six realms portrayed in the mandala are: (1) heaven of the gods, (2) heaven of the demi-gods, (3) earth, (4) animal realm, (5) realm of Pitris, or "hungry ghosts," (6) and hell of the demons. All are realms of bondage, where consciousness limits itself through absorption in the forms of the non-Self.

Even the gods are in a delicious dream, enjoying heavenly delights of the subtle senses. And the demi-gods dwell in a delirium of envy and competition. The animals are completely absorbed in sensation, with little or no self-awareness. While the hungry ghosts are lost in craving and addiction. Like figures in Dante's purgatory, their forms embody their karma: they are conceived as having huge heads and bellies, with thin delicate necks, constantly straining to take it what their senses crave.
At the center of the mandala we see the curious image of a cock pursuing a snake pursuing the tail of a pig, in a perpetual circle. These are the "three poisons" that drive us from lifetime to lifetime in the endless cycle of karma. The three animals symbolize craving, anger, and dullness, the mental states that cloud pure consciousness and lead to bondage in the six realms.

Outside the wheel is a clear blue sky: the boundless realm of liberation, the clarity of pure awareness grasping no form. The mandala depicts the figure of Buddha floating in this sky. The path out of the circle rises like a wispy trail from the earthly realm.

Why can the path to liberation not arise from one of the other six realms? No, not even from the heaven of the Gods! For it is only possible to gain liberation through human incarnation. Only here can we experience life in combined opposites, awakening Self-awareness. The Gods are too absorbed in pleasure, without pain, to gain liberation from both.

According to Buddhist teaching about this great Yama Mandala of all-devouring Time, even gods and angels must be reborn on earth to gain liberation. "Why would the heaven of the gods be a realm of bondage?" one might ask. Because soft chains of gold are still chains. The chains of limited experience bind consciousness to form, even when the form is the seductively sweet experience of paradise. In heaven, a god may delight in the fragrance of a celestial rose for ten thousand years, absorbed in sensory delight. Yet this experience still binds consciousness to form, and distracts the Self from the taste of its formless essence, the bliss of boundlessness. The Gods are those who have yet to learn the deepest lesson of all: bliss and pleasure are completely distinct.
Detail from the Yama mandala, the realm of demi-gods, 
who are still caught in subtle desire, envy and pride.
The rishis who devised this mandala remind us that even heavenly beings eventually grow restless, yearning for they know not what, because their awareness is still bound by craving the pleasures of the non-self. Eventually, an intuition arises in them, whispering, "There must be something more, more than even this paradise!" Then that god is reborn on earth, where liberation is possible.

In the human realm, the contrast between the Self and non-Self is greater than in heaven, but not so great as in the other realms. To put it simply, only in the human realm is there an equilibrium between spirit and matter. In the "lower" realms, the bondage of matter prevails. In the heaven realms, matter is too subtle and dreamlike to provide contrast with the Self. But on earth, there is neither constant pain nor constant pleasure. Opposites are balanced in such equilibrium that a Path opens up in the axis between them. Treading that delicate razor's edge between antipodes liberates the experiencer from the experience.

Here on earth, pain holds hands with pleasure, sorrow accompanies joy. It is easier to get un-stuck from the world of sensation when one has a hangover the morning, after a pleasant party, than to live in a world where the feast goes on for a thousand years with no adverse side effects!

A "Son of God" incarnates here to be liberated on the cross of paradox. His liberation spills a radiant force-field that blesses multitudes. It is only in this human form that we realize formlessness. It is only here, at the center of the cross, that we learn to repose in the Self, tasting that which is beyond gain or loss.
Reposing on the milk ocean of pure consciousness, Vishnu witnesses worlds arise and dissolve like bubbles, just as you may witness your own dreams yet know, "I am awake inside." Vishnu is merely a representation of the Witness within us, who is "in the world but not of the world." Vishnu is our own awareness liberated from bondage to form, yet ever flowing in the midst of form, enjoying what arises and dissolves without attachment. Such a liberated awareness has no personal craving or fear, but wills only what heals and awakens others.

Western intellectuals often misunderstand this teaching as "world denying." It bears repeating that this teaching does not deny the world, but celebrates a world awakened! A world awakened to the Self, through perceiving the non-Self. This teaching describes the real purpose of creation.

In liberated consciousness, wherever we are in this world, we are at home. We experience the best lesson possible for us at each moment. Consciousness invites us to participate in the manifestation of its wholeness through seeing and acting. The Self has constructed this dream for one reason: our awakening. Each moment arises just as it should be to give us the next step in letting go of something we were grasping.

This teaching honors the Creator, a Creator who pervades yet out-shines her creation. And that Creator is each one of us. In awakened Self-repose, we enjoy the world without projecting into it those limiting fears and desires that debase our creation into a culture of addiction, violence and greed. As the Awakened, we truly "love our neighbor as our Self," seeing clearly that our neighbor is our Self. For we penetrate the veil of the non-Self, and it dissolves, letting pure Awareness shine through as the essence of all creation.

Therefor, it is really only through Self-realization that our political and economic conflicts will be resolved. One can do no greater service to humanity than to touch one's own heart and awaken the bliss of the Self. Then our actions are spontaneously directed to helping others awaken. Only in a world of awakened beings, who see their neighbors as their own Self, is peace possible.

Friend, no object is more radiantly beautiful than the subject. Taste the diamond at the center of your heart. This is cessation of desire, the end of bondage.

Jai Guru Dev.

Rest In the Sheltering Shadow

By Josquin Deprez, one of the most cosmic musicians of all time, here is a setting of Psalm 91: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty..."

Mystics are not afraid of the night. Christian contemplatives named God, "the divine darkness," inviting us to find truth in the "cloud of unknowing." St. John of the Cross proclaimed that illumination only happens after "the dark night of the soul." They called this path to God the "via negativa," just as the Vedantists of India called it, "neti neti: not this, not that."

Indian poet-saint Lalladev cried, "Give me the strength to take hold of the darkness!" In Chinese spirituality the Yin principle of darkness is as fertile and healing as the Yang of light.
The Jewish psalmist wrote, "Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to thee are both alike" (Psalm 139). In the creation hymn of Genesis, chapter 1, we discover that God's Word of light emerges from a living sea of pulsating darkness, which is "tohu wa bohu: formless and void." Yet this is a vibrant Void where "the breath of the Spirit stirred the waters of the abyss."

These profound opening verses of the Hebrew Bible encapsulate the wisdom of modern physics: particles emerging from energy into matter as "fluctuations of the vacuum," waves of pure mathematical probability arising from the uncertain and infinitely Possible.

Throughout Eastern Europe, in the most ancient centers of Christianity, the sacred Dark was embodied in the figure of the "Black Madonna." It is she who gives birth to the Light.*

What a tragedy that Western religion came to impose its moral dualism, Good and Evil, onto the mysterious dance of Light and Dark! Let us return to the fierce sweet naked sheltering shadow, and "rest in the shadow of the Almighty. For darkness is not the opposite of light, but the womb of light. Selah.


A profound exposition of the Dark Goddess principle is given by mystic and scholar Vera de Chambelet at her website: LINK