Evening Meditation

O trembling emptiness in waves of uncreated light, flowering prism of the void, I dare not sing you into form, lest this ecstasy die!

The peacock's tail spreads confusion like a rainbow through nameless tears. Gaze into this jewel and see your own kaleidoscopic face, O Trickster of Vrindivan, blue as the yearning sky!

Through me you have become the amethyst of your own desire, a mirror shattered into perfection. This is the lotus of 10,000 daggers that pierces the chest of the Alone.

O Shyama Sundara, the moon, hearing your cruel flute, strews her petals on the still forest pool,
a requiem for the heart. We are each other's madness, each other's inhalation.

Perhaps we are two syllables of one name, the voluptuous shimmering wings of So'ham. I listen to the
lustrous silence in the sound of this breath. If you let me call you Krishna, I will let you call me your own Self.

Just

I was weary with hearing
the sound of no.
I thirsted for the sound
of yes.
Then I fell into the pool
of Silence
and drowned.
Deep called to deep
and the music
of love arose.
Rooted in dark sap
my heart blossomed.
Each breath
became a golden ray
of the light I had
been seeking.
Sometimes it is enough
just to hurt awhile.

Transformed

Some say that the world is transformed
       through political action.
Some say that the world is transformed
       through anarchy.
Some say that the world is transformed
       through waves of silence
in a heart that has drowned
       in the ocean of God.
I say, there is no need
       to transform anything
because the world was annihilated
       and recreated
just now -
       a sparkle of light
on the wing of a dragonfly.

Photo by Laurent Berthier

Cliff

Don't stop leaping
into beauty.
Fall off the cliff
of what you already know.
Nobody will catch you
in His arms
the way air
catches wings.
He is the lover
who is everywhere,
soft as cotton down.
If you don't understand this,
jump.

Solar Storm

It is difficult for God
to let there be light
without your eyes.
Glory is YOUR work.
Now get busy burning
yourself to ashes.
Didn't you know?
Each photon of this flesh
is the whole sun,
and on a dendrite's tip
in your cortex
a proton's dark core
condenses the death
of a thousand galaxies
into diamond wonder.
It is not enough
to illuminate your mind
with knowledge.
Your body must dance,
a wickless flame,
jump off cliffs
into the void,
drown with frogs
in an emerald
forest pool,
tangled in the fetid delight
of mud-sprung
water lilies.
You need to starve
for forty nights,
then get drunk
on a buttercup.
Life is too furious
for the merely enlightened.
A wild one needs
nakedness and victory,
a storm to ride
back into her
heart-beaten stillness.

Holiday


In our sacred land there is one
true holy day each year,
holier than Christmas or Passover,
holier than Diwali or Eid,
holier than the Fourth of July
or the Birthday of Trump!
It's the day when every rule is broken,
the past is forgotten in forgiveness,
The difference between feast and meditation
gets washed away by laughter and tears.
It is the day when we gaze namelessly
into the eyes of perfect strangers
and fall in love with thieves on their crosses.
Every prison cell is opened this day.
On this day we smear our faces
with chocolate and drink wine.
On this day we close our ancient books,
dance with valor among the ruins,
distributing gold in the streets.

Clothing is optional.
Everything is optional.
There is only one rule, "Love,
and do whatever you like,"
but it's never enforced.
And "no"
is not spoken
from dawn to dawn.

But this too sounds like a rule,
so just
for fun, some folks stay awake
and sing "No!" all night.

All other days get drenched
in the milk of this day.
Gods walks on earth this day
because God is Man without fear,
and Goddess is Woman gone wild.
Now I'm sure you are asking,
"When will this day come?"
So I'll answer you, friend:
This day is today.
Are you ready?
Are you sure?


Painting: 'Tribal Dance' by K.C. Aryan

Never

Hear what the bee tells the rose
and the moon discloses
to the pond,
what snow conveys
to the mountaintop
and the fangs of the cougar
tenderly reveal inside
the antelope's throat,
what the school girl's lips impart
to her first awkward lover -
"We were never two."

Color

I am not white.
I have never seen a "white" man.
"White" is an abstraction,
the color of nothingness.
I am oak and honey,
applewood and dandelion.
Make a barrel of my bones
to flavor your wine,
but don't call me white.

And you are not black.
I have never seen a "black" woman.
"Black" is an abstraction,
the color of emptiness.
You are banyan and mahogany,
mango and olive.
You are cocoa bean,
kinnikinnick and kola nut.
Both of us are dipped in honey.
We are tangled in the same
dark places, born upward
toward one star by
love's voluptuous hope.
In sweetness, in loam,
in manure of the dragon,
we share common roots.

What Will

Thoughts won't enlighten you.
Beliefs won't save you.
The past won't nourish you.
The future won't happen.
Love is only possible
in this breath,
this moment,
this body.

Sunset

Lord of Creation,
Really!
Thank you for this bounty,
Mid-August on the Salish Sea,
the final song of the sparrow,
sacred salmon, white wine,
these last few golden
butter-slathered kernels
of corn on the cob,
and nameless shades of mauve
in the Western sky.
I have a thousand tiny reasons
to be happy.
Among these countless blessings
I dare to ask one more:
let the American people
give up their weighty
ancient story of the past
and step lightly
into the present moment.
Photo: sunset over my little town on Puget Sound.

Janmasthami

"The personality of Krishna is hard to understand.
Wherever he went, he brought inner peace,
yet outer turbulence." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (8/14/17)

It is the birthday of Krishna,
where chaos and creation kiss.
This means, there is a garden
in your heart, wild and green,
at the meeting of two rivers,
the streams of breathing out and in.
This means that Love, whose face
is the bluest sky, embraces Yearning,
whose tears smear Tulsi flavored lips.
This means that your soul is a young
farm girl glowing with a secret
as she wanders back from the forest.
Who did she encounter in that dark
bewilderment, by a hidden spring?
It is the birthday of Krishna.
This means that somewhere inside you
is a pond covered with red lilies.
It means that laws and commandments
disappear like stars when the moon rises.
It means that the sorrow of this world
has drowned in the ocean of your
hurt, surrendering, astonished heart.

Hymn To Imperfection

"Imperfection is beauty." ~Marilyn Monroe

"O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam!"

~Exultet, Easter Vigil


On this pathless way, the sign of progress is that I'm not as perfect as I was yesterday. Here I fall, a sloppy fractal ceaselessly spilling from on high, into the dark blessed chaos of humanity.

I make sacraments of my mistakes, and let God breathe through my broken places. I let my wounds stay open: that is the best healing, eyes of the Buddha where Jesus had gashes.

After ten thousand lifetimes, this seeker's heart knows what the robin knows at sunrise. I don't look for diamonds: even my jagged edges are made from infinitesimal love-sparks.

"I vow to be healed by the next person I meet. I will bathe in the radiance of humanity" : this is the rule of my lineage, a long tradition of failed monks.

I insist that the blind Guatemalan woman selling rutabagas in the open-air market be my guru. Here is my secret strength: long ago I threw away my measuring cup, and dove into the sea of wonder.

Why be caught in names? We all seek the same caress. There are thousands of reports, but only one breath, many hungers but a single wanting.

The king of the universe seeks my friendship: it's as simple as that. The one who created me broke my wings, so that I could dance on earth. How can I thank Her?

Love follows sadness, Autumn follows summer; I keep scattering myself like golden leaves to learn this.

A mother taught me to breathe, and with each breath I return to where I was before conception.

Saints, angels, and Bodhisattvas hover over me in a white cloud, all thirsty, all longing to get into the tavern of my heart. But you get in first, friend; they're not here for serious drinking like us.

I have nothing to teach, and nothing to give you. That is why you must sit with me on a park bench overlooking the city. Rest your head on my shoulder; listen to the oaks trembling around us in the fading sunlight.

We are unbalanced equations, we are bright quarks spinning out of the void, discovering our loveliness in uncertainty.

We are awkward braids of honeyed wine, splashing into a dark chalice. We don't even know the name of the host who pours us out as an offering.

Fall, Be Caught

Fragrant and sparkling
you spring up
from your own heart
as a blossom from its seed.
Because you are rooted
in groundlessness
it is impossible for you
to be anyone else.
Repose beyond compare.
Taste the scintillating
splendor of your sap.
The present moment
is inevitable.
There is no should.
Fall and be caught
on the sweet updraft
of emptiness!|

Late Summer Gifts

It took a whole lifetime
to become a simpleton.
At last I understand
that in this moment
there is no greater
or smaller, no more
or less, and nothing
to compare, only
the gift of presence.
Each creature sparkles
from the grace
of its own center.
If you're ready to lose
every story about
how you got here,
then receive the late
summer fragrance
of this rose, these
plums falling
small and sweet
into the birdbath.

Photo by Kristy Thompson


Can You Bow?

Can you bow so completely
that your crown spills its stars
into the earth?
To bow is the supreme
yoga posture.
All other asanas
just remove the stiffness
so that you may bow.
Don't simply bow to the Master,
but to each grain of pollen
like a bee.
Topple with the burden
of sweetness.
Fall down to the stream
that trickles from the precious
mountain snow.
Prostrate to the frog
singing in your garden at midnight.
Genuflect
to the silence of the deer.
Bow to the wail
of the newborn American
whose mother crossed over
the border last night.
Bow to your breath
and fill your body
with the sky.
Can you bend this way,
and pour out a river
of peace?

Power

Resting your breath
in the heart
centers the world:
This is your power.


Photo: old cedar out my window

Breath of the Lotus

Here's a secret: friction of breath on flesh
ignites the grace of the Beloved in your body.
You were meant to be born.

A Goddess of inconceivable beauty
yearns to nurse you with streams of wild joy.
There has never been a more perfect time
to breathe.

When grace overflows your soul,
it takes the form of gristle and bone.
Why not savor the salty taste?

There’s a reason why pain shapes you
into a dark chalice; why you have such
hollow roots and empty places inside you;

why a green syllable spirals up your stem,
forming a cry of two petals;
why mother coyote sighs, birthing her pups
among ferns, and a chant of fire
bursts from the lungs of the dying soldier.

Now fall into the grail of pollen between
outgoing and incoming prayers.
Repose in the silent kiss of breath on breath,
the touch of 'So’ham' against your chest.

Ashtavakra says, 'Layam vraja: dissolve now!'
When the inner sky of love
annihilates this dream of clouds,
your skin will contain both heaven and earth.

Sheathe a warrior’s blade in your softest inhalation,
a blue flame of dispassion inside
the golden flame of yearning.
God is the aura within the aura: this wickless blaze.

Feel the nerve of lightning in your spine's hollow
where the earth dangles from the sun.
Exhale and slay ten thousand fears.
Your surrender heals oceans and forests.

With the breath of the moon in your gaze,
turn every stranger's wounded eye
into a cave of diamonds.


Photo by Aile Shebar 

Sacred Dust

Why not let your body
be your spiritual teacher?
One photon of this sacred dust
contains the light of a trillion suns.
God said, 'I yearn to dance!'
Then you were born, all
brown and wet, wiggling
your toes.

It's no fun being God
unless you can spread these
elbows and get dizzy
circling your own heart.

Follow

Follow the one who leaves
no footprint.
Let your next inhalation
be the Teacher.
Those who quit seeking
are anointed by Presence.
I give you a solemn promise:
if you follow this pathless way,
a golden flower will softly
silently explode
in the center of your body,
its form the very stillness
between heartbeats.
How can I be so sure?
I have tasted the honey
of grace.
I know where it is stored.
Friend, your inward gaze
will lead you there.



Photo by Kristy Thompson.

The temple bell stops
but I still hear the sound come
out of a flower...
~Basho

Wåy

Follow the Way of Jesus.
Invite not only the Friend
but the Stranger
into your heart,
not because your heart is pure
or even good,
but because it is broken,
ruptured like a pomegranate
spilling countless
scarlet seeds
of listening.
Hear the wandering poet
from the Galilean poppy fields
call your name.
Become the wound
that heals you.
Be ripe and juicy.
Hug your sins and sorrows,
the failures that hone your soul
into a singularity
that must be perfect because
it is like no other...
This is what God sees.
Be humble as a circle,
a zero of space
around the earth.
Let your widening embrace
be the night itself,
until your very breath
is a stream of stars.


Painting by Rembrandt, who like Jesus knew
that light can only do its work when we embrace
the darkness too.

Fill

Why fill you mind
with all the things
you are against
when you could
fill your heart with
the one you love?


Picasso, 'Mother and Child'

Secret Word


Here is your secret
prayer word...
'Enough.'

It is what bees say
to honeysuckle,
milkweed to wind,
the lover to the one
who is unveiled.

It is what gleams
through the cloudy
infant's eye
already asleep
while her tiny lips
keep savoring the nipple,

The warrior's last
exhalation. It is
the unborn sky
at death...

I have been a pear I have been
a chestnut I have been
the worm…

What the unrisen moon
conveys to impending
darkness, "Enough.”

Don't even say it.
Just breathe. Now
don't even breathe.

Haiku


Here in the back yard,
hundreds of ripe purple plums
for my guests, the deer.

 *
 
Lavender moth wing,
Dissolving things into verbs,
Kiss the world with light.
         *

What honeysuckle
Whispers to the hummingbird
Teach your heart to pray

              *





Mother, Father, though
your bodies are ashes now,
the fire still burns here.

(June 8, 1940, Happy Anniversary)

         *
It's what's in between
the stars that kindles shining.
Fall in love with night.
             *
 
Be your own color.
Grow wild and nameless among
Eight billion flowers.
             *
I spent my whole life
becoming a beginner.
And now, my first step.

              *

Hanging from a twig
on the bare March apple tree,
a ripening moon...

             *
I swallowed the sun.
My bliss embraces sorrow.
Darkness gleams for me.
~Raven
             *

The flow of stillness.
Gentle song of rain at dawn.
Persistence of night.

             *

Where are you going?
Slow down and take it easy.
Maybe you're there now.

             *
First snowfall, my cat
Marveling at the paw prints
That followed her home.

                 *

Haiku to Saint Anselm

Aware of vast space,

this space is my awareness.

I am infinite.
       
        *
Something succulent
purple and swollen bursts through
ice crystals - Imbolc!

               *
                                        (A Haiku and a question)
The sea between us,
yet still one gaze, one longing,
sharing the full moon.

What is distance?


المسافة
محيط يفصل بيننا،
ولكن، نبقى نتتقاسم هذا البدر
بشخوص واحد، وتوق واحد! 

ما المسافة عندها ؟
    (Translation to Arabic by Dana Chamseddine)                  
    *
A rose doesn't look
for a flower to give you -
it gives you its Self.
 
          
    *
Autumn morning fog.
Not listening to the news.
Coffee with Buddha.


    *
Heal from below.
Grow perfect tulips while
they’re still in the seed.

    *
Splashed with morning sun,
Nothing is ordinary.
Bees in lavender...

   *
Green Tea: A Haiku Mala
New Age getting old,
whole earth frayed at the edges,
but green tea still works...

The world doesn't need
your mind in ceaseless revolt.
It needs you to breathe.

In a sip of tea,
politics do not exist.
Here, just you and me... 

Smell the world conflict
dissolve in green aroma
this very moment.

If you think you are
oppressed, then you are oppressed
by your thought: just stop.

Pour out your anger,
dear desperate protester,
into this warm mug.

Surrender your greed
and busy-ness, wealthy one,
into this warm mug.

Come, sit together,
sipping some bitter green tea.
No past and no blame.

War is inside you.
You brought it here with you, friend.
Leave it with your shoes...

Sit on this cushion.

Drop injustice at the door.
Presence is your work.

The now of this cup

drowns all yesterdays - may I
serve you more green tea?

Lady of the Sky (with Arabic translation)


A poem from my book, 'Wounded Bud,' translated
into Arabic by Dana Chamseddine.


We all want to see the smile of our first parents
when they fell in love.

The sun is waiting, she will not breathe out
 until she sees That on your face!

Then she will become your partner,
the Lady of the Sky.

You have a certain work to offer her,
the work of your joy.

No one but you can do it.
That is how you support her.

Where else would the Lady find light?
Discover your task, do only That.

Speak only That, love only That.
You will never weary of saying

Thank You, and the Lady of the Sky
will bear you children, countless seeds

in every blossom, countless flowers
in every seed, ten thousand gold

and blue petals from one hollow root.
Surely the stem of your smile

undulates through still green waters
in muddy secret forest pools,

the lotus ponds of your flesh.
This kind of radiance comes from the belly.

Where one breath pours into another,
offer all your darkness.



سيدة السماء

كلنا نتمنى لو أننا نرى ابتسامة والدينا
حين وقعا في الحب.

تقف الشمس أيضاً تنتظر: لن تزفرَ
حتى ترى ذلك على وجهكِ!

حينها تصبح شريكتَكِ،
سيدةُ السماء.

وإذ ذاك يتوجب عليكِ أن تقدمي لها عملاً،
هذا العمل هو فرحكِ.

لا أحد غيركِ يستطيع القيام به.
وهي الطريقة الوحيدة التي يمكنكِ أن تدعميها بها.

لولا ذلك أين ستجد السيدةُ النور؟
اكتشفي مهمَّتكِ، افعلي ذلك فقط.

تكلمي عن ذلك فقط. أحبّي ذلك فقط.
عندها لن يُرهقكِ قول

 الشكر، وسيدة السماء
سوف تحمل لك الأطفال، وبذوراً لا تعد ولا تحصى

في كل برعم، عدد لا يحصى من الزهور
وفي كل بذرة، عشرة آلاف بتلة

ذهبية زرقاء من جذر واحد أجوف.
هو بالتأكيد جذع ابتسامتك

تتموج خلال مياه خضراء ساكنة
في برك الغابات السرية الموحلة،

برك اللوتس من لحمكِ.
هذا النوع من الإشعاع يأتي من البطن.

حيث ينصب نفَس في آخر،
قدّمي هناك كل ظلمتكِ.

Potluck

I threw a potluck for the gods.
Jesus brought wine.
Buddha brought an empty cup.
Krishna made sweet flute sounds.
What would Shiva bring?
The moon, a polished bowl
full of blackberries.
Their mother came too,
playing her vina, breaking
pomegranates and coconuts open.
Having nothing to offer
but my heart, I held space
for the party, where the path
of this breath ends in a pavilion
garlanded with scarlet blossoms.
If you can find the place,
you're invited too.
What will you bring?

You Will Not Survive


A poem from 'Savor Eternity One Moment At A Time,'
with French translation by Francine Gaulin


When I hug you,
you will not survive.

Then my arms will release
You as from cocoon
and two rainbows will
fly out, one brushing
the heavens, the other
touching the earth,
all that remain of your
laughter and tears.
people will whisper,
“ Love destroys everything
but these wings!”


Quand Je vais vous embrasser
Vous ne survivrez pas.
Mes bras vous libéreront alors du cocon
et deux arcs-en-ciel
Se mettront à voler,
l’un peignant le ciel
l'autre touchant la terre,
tout ce qui reste
de vos rires et de vos larmes.
Les gens vont murmurer,
«L’Amour détruit tout
mais ces ailes!"

Art: Metamorphosis by Stephanie Law

Portal

Between the rising
and falling
of your chest
is the portal
to marvelous worlds.
What blossoms
from that furrow
is the kiss
of heaven and earth.


Photo by Aile Shebar

Edges

What ever happened to gentleness?
What ever happened to courtship?
To pause and fraught silence,
flirtation of one breath with another,
parted lips, patient veils,
fragrant petals of seduction?
If you cannot endure the soft,
you will be ground to dust
in the gears of despair.
The soft, not the hard,
is the portal to the Infinite.
Those who truly dwell on the edge
don't need to be edgy,
but are permeable,
embrace osmosis, dissolve.
Examine the limits of your steel.
There is nothing hard at the boundary.
Sharpness is defined by honing,
by what is not there.
Is there an edge to compassion?
Does space end in a blade?
Let your grief be the water
that wears away the stone.
Weep, and breathe again
the porous musk of Being.
The edge of the dagger
is the edge of the flower,
a fractal of gravitons dispersing
into ripples of emptiness.

Walk

Some seem to be
behind you
and some ahead,
but there is no
competition in
the labyrinth.
Walk lightly.
Where?
The only way
is the step you have
just taken.
Notice a moth on a thistle.
Slow down.
The path is just
a circle after all.
The center is love.
Your contentment
turns the world.



Photo: I took this on Mt. Rainier

Beyond Compare

You are incomparable.
Your pain is incomparable.
Your pleasure incomparable.
Your presence unsurpassed.
The flow of your attention
a continuum of
ineluctable pulsation
in the ocean of eternal wonder,
unrivaled precisely
because it is One.
But comparison shatters
your now into time
and breaks your stream in two,
turning not only your pain
but even your joy
into suffering...
Please don't ruin the mystery
of your incomparable life.
(I learned this from
the stillness of a flower.)



Photo by Laurent Berthier

This Bow Pulls You Down




The deepest bow is not the bow
that ends at the Master's feet,
but the bow that created you.
This bow pulls you down
through maelstroms of loss
into the grievous wound of awakening,
more intimate than joy,
where death is the sheath
of a blue and beautiful blade.
Inside the ground,
there is groundlessness.
Bury your forehead there.
The beloved's form spills
out of perfect emptiness.
Become the exquisite gesture
of the new moon,
that unspoken gratitude
for a nameless generosity.
You can be sure that your Master
is a tree, an endangered panther,
a dying coral reef, the raven's cry.
Your Guru is a butterfly wing,
the muffled mourning of a girl
for her grandmother's soul.
Why not genuflect to dandelions
until your path ends wherever you are?
Make the smallest creature blossom
with the comfort of your
unwavering attention.
The pure self has no name.
Your hollow places are full of light.
Don't take a breath, receive it.
The answer is the silence where
no question arises.
Be what ripens on a jagged branch,
still hard and bitter.
When you grow soft and sweet,
a doe will nuzzle you and you will fall.
Her fawn will crush you on its tongue.
Now be the burgundy pulp of a glistening heart.
Drop even deeper into green meditation.
Agree to become one atom of a plum.

Collage by Rashani Réa

Poem for a Wedding

On this sacred day, let a woman marry a man.
Let the blue sky kiss the golden meadow.
Let the sun caress the full moon with pure light.
May the Salish Sea offer ancient stones for blessing.
May gentle winds play among fir and maple trees.
Heaven and earth might touch today.
Christ meets Magdalene in the garden.
Krishna calls Radha with the flute.
Two families return to one.
Let our hearts rejoice in the feast.
The fruit is full, the nectar is sweet.
Let this woman and this man be married today.
Let the blue sky kiss the golden meadow.


At Nicholas' & Kailan's wedding, each table with her water color of a bird. My poem at the ceremony.