Activist

You can be an activist
by planting Winter squash,
walking in the ancient forest,
listening to your children,
or smiling from your heart
at someone who is lonely.
True "activism" means
gently yet wholly immersing
your astonished body
in the flow of Presence
and permitting the mystery
to breathe you deeper
into harmony with all creatures
wherever you are,
whatever you are doing.
The rest is just political
chatter in your skull.
Earth is not transfigured
by how much you do,
but how wantonly and
nakedly you plunge
into this moment.

To Remind You

Something infinite invented flowers
to remind you of the soft
explosion of your heart
containing the vulnerable
distance of moons, galaxies, aeons
pulsed by an intimate breath,
this motion of repose in
stillness, encircling the creature
as its wayward center,
as zero enfolds all numbers,
as this rose
spills from its precious cup
the fragrance that is all
around it... Now
it becomes so clear
that God is a drunken Bee
who keeps stumbling
back to the well of your body
for a drink.

Photo by Kristy Thompson

Return

We each have our own path to this temple.
From 10,000 directions we return
like sparks to the silent explosion,
the Beloved's face.
Every one of us cries, "O, it's You!"
and the Beloved answers, "O, it's You!"
in the mirror of annihilation.
Every language, every land,
has a word for this, and it is always
the word for the Heart.

October

Pay more attention
to the Ordinary.
It is the altar
where miracles descend
like Spirit into bread -
this breath,
or a deer trail
leading back to itself
in the little woods,
three unharvested tomatoes
glowing hollow
as lanterns,
or a spider flinging its
silken path homeward
from your old garden buddha
to a withered rose,
the last evening light
fondling small things
like the hand of the dying,
not with regret
but inextinguishable
gratitude.

50/50

Given the choice,
I'd rather be a fool
than a cynic,
sitting backward on my donkey
riding Westward and
gazing at the dawn,
shouting to the sun, "Old fellow,
follow me! I'll lead you
to Summer meadows at noonday
and Autumn afternoons,
to Winter evenings and I'll
show you where stars dwell
in the sacred dark."
You laugh?
Don't be a cynic, friend.
Let's just say there's a
fifty fifty chance
our eyes create the light they see.



Picture: Mulla Nasruddin on his donkey

Good Morning

Autumn morning fog.
Not listening to the news.
Coffee with Buddha.


Photo: My back porch

Beaten

Beat me, Heart.
I know who you are.
This is not about protection,
but wounding.
You are the river
spilling to the sea.
You are the furious torn
comb dripping
honey.
You are Radha
flowing into Krishna,
the pulse of stillness,
one breath
severed in two...

Within

Within emptiness
there is a deeper emptiness
full of love.
Go there
on the wings of
this breath...

Stroke

Cut death in half
with your exquisite sword,
one edge of the blade 
a stroke of poetry,
the other an ink gesture 
hardly touching vellum
as the executioner,
it seems, barely brushes
your throat, so deft
and lethal is that
merciful hand...
Cut death in two,
one half the mirage
of this world, the other
a void, mother-like
and playful.

Painting: 'Shrike' by Miyamoto Musashi, 1584 – 1645

Meadow


Strapped to the electric 
chair in your skull
you shout at bare
white walls.
Let me open the trap door
beneath you.
Trust me and fall.
You'll awake
in an alpine meadow
surrounded by Cascade lilies,
blue asters, flames
of Indian paint brush,
white plumed pampas 
grass gamey and pungent
as the buttocks of a bear.
Don’t ask how your ashes
got scattered at tree-line
in a snow-melt pond.
Death is your nature
commemorated by the tiny
double rainbow
of a hummingbird,
that sylphic crazed
devourer of flowers
who zings out of the valley
all summer to suck from
the mountain in your heart.
Moses tried to tell you
about this place.
His only commandment
was to soar.
He shattered the tablet
as he rose, preferring
to clutch his violin
with both hands.
Music is more crucial
than law. The sky is love.
Watch what happens
to your discipline when
wind gets in your wings.
You'll drop the scroll,
let slip the priestly chasuble, 
flash naked upward a dark
flame, your whole cathedral
crashing down into the dust
that breasts, penises, and
teeth are made of.
I know you’re confused
about the height and depth,
the crown and root, the map
to get home that was scrawled
on the soles of your feet
in the womb where
the serpent tasted its tail.
You were such a good
swimmer then, assuming
the posture of the frog,
the peacock, the cloud,
the dewdrop, the immortal
corpse, the larva beneath
the tire. But now you've
forgotten how each breath
strokes through an ocean
of wonder.
Those who twirl like
tadpoles made of star-stuff
in the Mother's belly know
neither up nor down,
but circle themselves
like primordial explosions
of roses in the bud.
Don’t imagine that
some weight pulled you here.
You began as space,
your wisdom path jagged,
a reversal of directions
with each inhalation.

Just keep pouring
the nectar of attention
in the bowl of your chest.
First you are the scent
of wine on parted lips,
then a night
of melted amethyst.
Then you are an atom
in a stone yearning
for milk.
______


Photo: My favorite place in the world, the meadow above Indian Henry's Cabin
, Mt. Rainier. I wanted to write a poem like falling down a well, but falling upward at the same time. As Jesus said, "The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above the heavens, in order to fill all things." ~Ephesians 4

A reading of this poem on SoundCloud: LINK

Gown

Earth tastes of marrow in your bones.
Wind is in love with your breath.
Ocean longs to drown in one
of your teardrops.
Sky seeks a hiding place
in the hollow of an atom
in your finger bone.
Gazing in your eye,
the Sun remembers home,
Moon drinks your luminous
nectar from pituitary grail...
The one who designed this garment
made no copy, weaving
from memory these star paths
and comet trails into your
sacred body.
Why not wear it
in royal leisure?
Why not let clusters
of galaxies slip into your loose
and shimmering veils,
then dance?


Art by Mahmoud Farschian

Gift


A rose doesn't look
for a flower to give you -
it gives you its Self.

Home

Each breath
is an invitation
to honor
your heart.
There's a vast blue sky
in your forehead,
a drop of honey
distilling 10,000 stars
that slides down the back
of your throat.
There's a meadow
of white flowers
sparkling with raindrops
in your chest,
and in your belly
a golden sunrise
over the ocean
of generosity.
Creatures of the wing
and fang, hoof and claw,
creatures of the water,
air, dune and forest
all roam free
in your body.
Death is safe here,
a gift.
You are not a guest.
This is
your home.

Mirror

When I know it is only a mirror,
the mirror is never unjust
or unkind.
No one has ever been wounded
by a reflection.
This world of terror and beauty,
demons, devas, beasts and flowers
is precisely, exquisitely
as I Am.
O friend, we created this rainbow,
unraveling all the glimmers we need
to awaken our fearlessness
and compassion.
The deepest giving is forgiving.
Whoever you meet, you are.
Be what you love to behold
in the mirror of God.

You Are That

Tat Tvam Asi.
You are That
which outshines the world.
You are the light
that darkness cannot overcome.

Your Guru's outward form,

the gesture of the Buddha,
the body of Christ,
is only a trellis
on which grows
the inward flower
of your radiance.


Love is not hard work.

Your task is to perish
in playfulness.

No exquisite dahlia
was ever pulled out of the ground
by tugging on its stem.
A seed must fall and
die into dark loam.
Follow the way of the weed.
Rest in the hollow core
of not needing
to be special.

Do you want to be
the greatest artist?
Do you want to create
an everlasting glory?

Become motiveless.
Let Beauty arise
from the grace of your heart's
repose.

Photo: Dahlia on my back porch

Goddess of Silence

Whether at rest or in action
the meditator knows,
"I am not my thoughts.
Like stars, they throng
the inner night sky
of unfathomable stillness.
I watch them sparkle
and dissolve,
their swirling spirals
the body of the Goddess
dancing before this quiet
eternal eye.
Bowing to her, the efflorescent
irrepressible Shakti,
this very bow releases me
from the bondage of desire.
Shivo'ham, Shivo'ham,
I am not this mind.
I am the cup of astonishment
filled with the wine of quietness.
I repose in the brilliant dark
where God has not yet said,
Let there be light."

Taste

When I tasted the vintage of So'ham
all other cravings were drowned
in a sweet inhalation. Since then,
the Beloved has never stopped pouring
this nectar into my empty cup...
I may be drunk, friend, but don't worry.
The wine is breathing.


Painting: Mary Magdalene by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1877

Tenor Solo

become the sound of Charlie Rouse
become the voice of morning's first fat robin
become the death song of the worm
become what Krishna breathes through seven
golden holes
soma sap dribbling upward
into the blossoming heart of
Anahat the unstruck sound
returning to you from you my love
in the perfectly liquid
bronze flower of your body

Live recording of Thelonious Monk Quarter at the peak of their synergy in the early 60's with Charlie Rouse on tenor sax.

Dandelion Guru

My guru is a blossoming weed.
My guru is a dandelion.
My guru is not the one who teaches me
how to do perfect wheel poses and headstands.
My guru is not the one who juices my spine
with the bliss of shaktipat
for a moment or two of darshan,
nor the one who invites me to a week's vacation
at his pricey ashram.
My guru is not even the Beloved
from whom I drink the wine of bhakti all night,
only to feel bereft in the dim light of day.
My guru is kinder than that.
My guru is the offering in every exhalation.
My guru is the awakening in every breath.
My guru shows me the miracle
of my own awareness,
then dissolves into it.
So ordinary, so ordinary,
my Guru is blossoming weed, a dandelion!

Where Are You Looking?

You met the Master once
and gazed into his face.
He whispered something,
and you awakened.
That was enough.
That was enough.
If you keep going back
to seek his countenance
and receive his touch
again and again,
you may be moving in
the wrong direction, caught
like a flame in the gust
of desire...
Seek him at an ashram
in Bangalore or Rishikesh,
hunt him on a pilgrimage
to Jerusalem or Rome,
and you will only find
a white robe, a pair of
sandals... O Pilgrim,
if he does not gently
touch you with the tip
of this breath,
if he does not repose
very near, very near
in the space between
your heartbeats, you have
never really met him at all...
Dear one, where is the Guru?
He is the softness of a rose
in the silence of your chest,
the fragrant hollow
at your core.
In his emptiness you
overflow with light.
In his stillness you're
a maelstrom of unborn stars.




Photo of dahlia on my back porch

She

Silent as an owl's wing,
be a lethal blade
severing the skull
from its dangling bones,
the night from the dream,
the hollow from its skeleton.
Find the rose that
blossomed inside you
before you were a seed.
Even in the deepest grief
those petals do not close,
but release the sweet fragrance
of eternal pain.
This cup holds a raindrop
that contains the sun.
The dead drink here
to remain unborn.
To the goddess of the dark
bow down.
Let her be this breath.

Gift


Between your eyebrows, a blue sky.
In the hollow of your nostril,
a pulverized infinitesimal grain
of diamond.
At the back of your throat, a drop
of honey charged with healing songs
of gratitude.
You lungs a meadow
of tiny white flowers
bathed by Spring rain.
From the ground of your thorax
a golden holographic dahlia,
the hundred thousand smiles
of the unborn dead.
Sink breath into belly.
Root down in coral sunrise
of solar plexus
on the ocean of your boundless
generosity.
Glut every nerve
with the dark glory
beyond the galaxies
and sheathe your sword
of uncreated light
in a kiss of invisible wonder.
Your body dissolves
in the next exhalation.
Where are you now?
Fallen into the Mother’s well
where countless furry creatures
drink you like nectar.
Friend, you will always be lonely
until you learn to celebrate
the silent secret
of breathing.

Discernment

What produces a sensation
of expansion in my heart
is good.
What contracts my heart
is not worth following.
This simple means
of discernment
leads me more surely
than all the classics
ever written
by moral, political,
or religious scholars.
Trust in the guidance
of this breath.


Painting: 'Pilgrim in the Garden of the Heart of the Rose'
by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Two Ways

Two ways to be hollow:
lack and pour.
Where there was sand,
now there is pearl.
Where there were bones and ashes,
now there is gold.
Where there was a body,
now there is loam,
a richer darker body,
of death unafraid.

Where there was a journey,
now there is stillness.
Where there were tears,
now there are diamonds
stolen from God.
Blood follows its own scent
back to the Mother
bearing the treasures of night.
Where there was merely the sun,
now there is food.
Where wealth was a burden,
now there is only your Name,
the breath of emptiness.
My cask of sorrows has become wine.
I trickle its libation
into the lips of your wound.
Where there was one alone,
now there are two for love's sake.
We became hollow by pouring.
Where there was love,
now there is burning,
rising.
My song returns to the sky.

Rumi's Birthday (September 30)

Mevlana, dear friend,
I would give you birthday greetings
but you have not been born
until now,
and your death already sparkles
in these Autumn raindrops.
Were you ever not here?
We met on an endless journey
Into stillness.
Every atom of my body, an oasis,
every atom of yours, a well.
When we gazed at each other
we could not speak, for our mouths
were filled with the same sky.
And even now we have hearts
that break with one sound,
the scratch of brittle leaves
against the prison windows,
the way their terrible
iron bars imperceptibly ring
with sweet songs of exile
and bondage...
O but if we did not grow old
in these bodies,
what beauty could seep through
our cracked and jagged bones?
This flute makes music
because it has been torn
from a living branch
with seven wounds left open
to bleed poems.
I will say it anyway, Jalaladin,
so that we can play this tragic
comedy of twoness:
you, me - past, future -
two eyes - two lips - two hands -
two natures, human and divine -
two nostrils, one breath -
two wings, one famished rib cage...
I wish you Happy Birthday,
old boy!

Beggar


Don't guide me, please.
Just watch over
this spiraling pilgrimage,
ever returning
to the steps of the temple
in my ribs,
where I hold out my empty
cup for you
to replenish with the next
breath.
Have you not poured gold
into the hollow bowl
of the sun?
How much easier for you
to fill me!
Just let me journey
from longing to longing.
Let me fall
through your stillness
like a star.
For wherever I wander
I come home,
and even when I'm lost
I am in You.


Photo: 'Holy Beggar' by Rebecca Wineberg

Touch


There is a temple inside emptiness,
a space within space where
darkness hides its secret wealth
of brilliant light.

That is where the world comes from,
and many other things
too beautiful for the world
until we imagine them
in ourselves.

I know, I know,
there is only One,
but God loves reflection.

What's inside within-ness
mirrors itself
through countless faces,
all singing the name
of a hidden splendor.


You must be very quiet
to hear that conversation
in your heart.


We first met
in the Unborn.

We touched, and I think

the green earth tumbled
from our burning fingers.



Miracle

The miracle is our delusion.
How the clear sky forgets herself
in a raindrop.
How the ocean gets lost
in a ripple.
How space imagines distances.
How 'here' longs for 'there.'
How the seamless nectar
of our one golden soul
dreams this 'I'
and feels alone.
O my dear, when wondrous night
with all its stars
enters your body
in a breath of prayer,
do not forget, do not forget
why the great descends
into the small:
so that flesh might sparkle
with thanksgiving.