Here

Friend,
why does your path
spiral upward
through seven heavens
beyond creation
to the outermost
emptiness of seeing,
only to curve
downward like a bow
and carry you
headfirst
to earth again?
So that you may become
round and whole,
the living seed
of all that flowers
from your longing.
In the beginning
God is light,
then God is darkness,
then She is green.

Morning of the Nativity

Cherubim wonder how it feels
to be a leaf kissing a sidewalk.
Stars pucker for a smack of green.


Your eyes are grails.

Dilute the light with tears.
Seraphs thirst for a taste of this seeing.

They yearn for a shadow, a body
like yours,
made of stars that vanished
eons ago.


The lonesome lord of hosts longs deeply
to pitch his tent in your cheeks.

The future Buddha knows
there are secrets learned only here,
on a mid-Winter morning.

A nest inside an egg, a mother's womb
encircling her savior,

or that, when you rest in your own
peculiar rhythm, motion is stillness.


Never underestimate the small, the fallen.
Let humbled triumphs of snow
repose in glistening impermanence.

Wherever the melting takes you,
friend, go there.
Just to be awake is Christ.

Hannukkah

Why does the flame
in the temple of the heart
need no oil?
Because it drinks
from the radiance
of the Self.


Painting: Elena Kotliarker

Journey of the Magi

Drop the reins of thought.
Let breath lead you, that
camel of rhythm.
The star is in your brow.
The desert is this yearning
between your ribs.
Find the dark quiet place.
Something unspeakable
is born there
among odors of beastly fur,
where a lady gazes
into the straw,
and sunbeams fall
upward to her face, a face
bemused and grateful,
not so much with a look 
of astonishment, as of certainty
that nothing could ever
surprise her again.
Here you could bow,
drink from the well
of glory gushing
out of the earth,
become the mother
of your own heart.

Where? Why?

If you cannot adore the Goddess
in the form of your own Breath,
where will you find Her,
where will you find Her?
If you cannot praise the Creator
as your mind's own clear
radiant silence
before a single thought arises,
why call his name,
why call his name?
'Allah,' 'Jesus,' 'Buddha,' 'Ram'
are not spoken when the ocean
of love pours into your chest
and garlands your heart with starlight.
Dear friend, your Beloved has
no plan, no commandment
but abundant joy,
no plan no commandment
but abundant joy.


Photo: entrance to our house

Anger


Anger is an energy
that attracts more anger.
But compassion
is inversely proportional
to crowd size.
A single animal
behaves more humanely
than a multitude of men.
Therefor keep faith
in the Alone, curled up
in the snowy woods
around your own wound,
sharing your blood,
your milk,
with one perfect stranger
at a time.

His Grace

Without the Master's grace,
it is only a word, a sound.
By the Master's grace,
it is an ocean of fire.
Without the Master's grace,
it is effort, control, concentration.
By the Master's grace,
it is whirling, expanding, falling,
being held.
Without the Master's grace,
it is only the mind
trapped in thoughts about "God."
By the Master's grace,
there is no thought, there is only
the physiology of starlight,
every neuron immersed
in the nectar of the sun.
Without the Master's grace,
an atom of this body is a particle,
weary with density and mass.
By the Master's grace,
this body is a wilderness
of love-waves,
that sea of fire, dancing,
that oceanic Name of Her
who sings us into being.
Therefor I bow down,
bow down, bow down.
Yet even bowing happens
by the Master's grace.

Pilgrim


There’s a golden temple in your wound.
What else did you come here to find?
No need for a journey to Jerusalem,
Mecca or Machu Picchu.
Just follow your pilgrim breath
from lips to womb. Go,
forgive yourself, then come home.
This is not to say you needn’t find
beauty in the constancy of perishing,
or celebrate the fragile balance
of particulars, dancing photons
in the golden singularity of chaos,
your body... But please observe,
young friend, a third of your life
is already gone. These moments
hurry toward some languorous now
when all the stars will pause
to let you dawdle a New Creation
on your knee. Choose this day
what kind of crone, what manner
of elder you would be, casting
here your circle of return,
Those who rest in the heart never die.
Tell me now, which is lovelier,
the deathless hollow in the seed,
or flax's delicate day-long flower?
This world is a flurry of petals
flying north to the buried bulb.
Which empties you more deeply,
the evening cry of the red tailed hawk,
or the silence just after?
How do you know that you were born?
Staying awake, that is the answer.


Photo: Flax only blossoms for a day.

Belly

I cherish most of my body
very deeply,
but I am at war with
my belly.
Perhaps you are not getting
along with one of your
body parts?
If so, here's what to do.
Expand that one
small body part until
it fills the sky.
Let it encircle the moon
and all nine planets.
Perhaps it is your penis,
like a majestic tower
rising beyond the rim
of the galaxy.
Perhaps it is that trembling
golden water lily,
your clitoris, floating
on a lake of stars.
Or are you ashamed
of your little brain?
Let it become a cathedral
whose spires touch Andromeda,
lofty in the cosmic
dust clouds of the Rearing
Horse nebula
where new suns are
born from the womb
of Unknowing.
Now how could you be
troubled or bound
by a body-part?
For it is really a temple
of fiery intelligence,
a singing bowl whose
circumference embraces
all the silent stars?
I hope this works
for you, friend.
It worked for me.
Flesh is sacred!
Now I feel at home in
my Buddha belly.

Fountain

Before he was born,
Jesus was the silence
of your listening.
Then the stillness
between your breaths
put on a garment
of uncreated dust.
To see the face of the savior,
look deep into your body.
Underestimating your glory
is the first and only sin.
Now drink up the rest of this day:
bask in yourself
and squander the kingdom!
A fountain of something
like starlight will rise
up your spine,
spill over and shower
the world with burning
seeds of wonder,
gold as the stuff
in Mary's womb.

The Birthday Of Seeing

Lord I am here
for one reason:
to tell the world about
the birthday of seeing!
Once You were Jesus,
pressed out of the ordinary
in the season of our dust.
Now you are born in anyone
who tastes the nectar
of this moment.
You are the radiant embryo
floating in the dark abyss
at the end of my exhalation.
You are the Other
who takes my breath away
and gives it back,
filled with the whisper
of bewildered stars.
I think they shine because
You are the inward light
through which I look at them.
O Lord of Little Presences,
this morning
the wound I call my heart
conceives You.
I bathe the world in You
by merest beholding.
You are clustered berries
on a frosted vine,
kitten footprints
befuddled in snow,
a sunrise of scattered angels
flecked on the frozen pond.
O Lord of Little Presences,
this morning
the wombs of my eyes
give birth to your body.



Mural: Christ Child by Fra Angelico

Junk: A Sabbath Meditation


In meditation this morning
I breathed in stones
on which I could find no names,
only numbers marking the graves
of anonymous mental patients
who all died during an influenza epidemic
at Western State Hospital in 1916.
I breathed in a broken typewriter
from my neighbor's trash,
and a tangle of audio tape that was once
a Dharma talk by a now disgraced guru.
I do not believe in progress.
I return to my breath.
In meditation this morning
I breathed in the sorrows of Christmas,
three used hypodermic needles,
two discarded double-A batteries
and an empty ziplock bag
containing a trace of snow.
I breathed in the Sunday New York Times,
almost an entire tree of useless information,
and enough lead dust to poison 8.5 children.
I breathed the spilled shell casings
from a clip of hollow point bullets.
I breathed the odorless transparent fumes
from Commencement Bay
where according to John Muir
the fat spawning salmon crowded
thick enough to walk on,
and ten thousand elk bugled
on cedar-mazed cliffs subsequently
leveled by the Army Corps of Engineers.
I do not believe in progress.
I return to my beaten heart.
In meditation this morning I did not forget
to breathe in your tears of ruined hope
for a better country.
And what shall I breathe out?
Ah, that hasn't happened yet.
I still hold it in honor of your grieving.
I can only tell you that it won't be
stones or plastic, OxyContin,
or pelican wings dripping petroleum.
It will be something luminous,
something new, yet whispering
with ancient oceans of moonlight.
Something like a Goddess, yet not
with a Goddess form, but the shape
of dusty exhalations on pilgrim roads
that circle back to tribal fires
with songs of friendship.
And it will not be my breath only,
but yours.
Hear a reading of the poem: LINK

Good Things

All the good we want for others
begins with compassion
for ourselves.
We would never know this
if we didn't fuck up quite often.
If you believe that you are
"realized,"
you become stiff, lonely,
haunted by the secret despair
of isolation from your tears.
Ever so gently remember
that you're always a beginner
on the path.
Like a pilgrim at rest -
for the places where we stop
to rest along the way
are the portals that bring us home -
dump your sack of laundry
and garbage in a steaming pile.
Gaze into it, whispering,
"I have not arrived, after all,
and this is what I am:
entangled collapse, illuminated
by some eye of forgiveness."
Don't ask whether it's the eye
of Buddha, Jesus, or your Mother
who is still awake somewhere.
Just keep gazing until golden mushrooms
grow from your dark parts,
the hidden meat between your joints,
the tendons holding back pain.
Please don't meditate
on your subtle body of bliss.
Meditate on the tumble-down succulence
of your soup body.
Meditate on the round ripe sprouting
pungent uselessness of your mind,
the savor of disappointment,
your fury and sadness.
Meditate on falling.
Stop trying to catch yourself.
Allow your own grace to rapture you,
not upward toward empty sky,
but downward into teeming sod
where good things die and grow.


A reading on SoundCloud: LINK

Hard Work

It takes hard work to become
someone else,
but no doing at all
to be who you are.
Why not save that energy
and use it for delight?
We could meet deep down
in the sea of effortlessness,
Selved as luminous waves
of that fresh honey we have
always already just made.
Only by drowning
in who I Am
can I give you real peace,
the freedom to be You.
The Star of Bethlehem
is between your eyebrows,
pointing its ray downward
through your body,
yes your body,
through that thickening cloud
of glory, your flesh,
through that good news
of night,
to the dark ground where
fallen angels sing,
"Wander. Enter. Gaze.
Be no one else!"

Too Much, Not Enough

Too much self care,
not enough earth care.
Too much earth care,
not enough self care.
The balance?
Rest in the black center
of your golden flower,
where care arises
like clear sap, flowing
neither inward nor out.
Then do what you love.

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.

Winter Forest Haiku

Standing ovation.
I bow to their green silence.
Pines in the forest.

Haiku Collection



Standing ovation.
I bow to their green silence.
Pines in the forest.

            *
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?

Creation Story

In the beginning
God said
'Listen!'
and never spoke
another Word.
Look around, friend.

No creator
but your wakefulness.
Let the world be born
by the croak of a frog,
the scrape of a twig
against the window,
the breathing
of your baby in the dark.
Do not squander this
gift of silence.

Silence Between

Thoughts contract
our wave-nature
into particles.
But the silence
between thoughts
softens space and
bathes the world
in amazement.
Rest in a clear
ecstatic moment
of imageless Being
and you will pervade
creation like a healing
mist that quickens
the soul in every stone.
Learn this not by
looking directly
at the apple blossom
but by peripheral
gazing into luminous
beauty at the edges
of thingness.
Don't take the hollow
for granted.
The air between us
is awake, the vacuum
vibrant with compassion.
Just spend a little more
time where exhalation
breaks over the sands
of your body and
merges with the sound
of the next breath.
Worlds are created
by listening.



Photo: Laurent Berthier

The Names: A Chant for Voice and Drum

Om Tamuz Shambu Ra!
Eloi Shiva Christus Ma!

O Nameless Tao Eternal Name
Thousand-Petaled Thousand-Hearted
Name with a Thousand Eyes, a Thousand Tongues of Flame!

Father's name and mother's name conceiving the name of the Son,
Mother vowel and father sibilant twining flames of black
Calligraphy in white fire suckling verbs of virgin birth,
Their Word made flesh in merest neuron and synaptic flash!

Do not forget the name of their daughter Lilith
Laughter of violent Titans dwelling in the hypothalamus
Of galaxy Andromeda naming enormity from the chaos
Of the tiniest seashell Opalescent Nudibrank.

And do not forget the name of her hands that hold
The squirting nipple in our mouths the name of her fingers
the pseudo-zygo-dactylous gesture of Mary!

Or warrior-eyed and wrathful dance of twin names
Jesus Sophia wisdom necklaced with skulls their terrible
Gazes turning anger into names of tribes on the Upper Ganges.

Remember the glorious armies of names in white cells
devouring viruses who are the sworn and curséd names
Of outcast angels Briarius, Allecto, Hecate muttered
Ancient and abysmal in unfrocked priestly prayer of heretics

Learned from a singing tree in the Garden of Names
Each fig wombed bija-ripe with countless uncreated
Planetary surnames of husbands seeds ancestors all
Through chaos swimming straight into the name of the egg.

Hebrew names, Mormon names, Celtic wailing Druid names
Pouring from cairns, mounds, nipples of Appalachia;
Names of creeks trickling into names of rivers into the name
Of the Great Pacific name hidden in stones or whispered
In prairie winds forlorn through swamps Arapaho
Shoshone dreams of Meriweather lying close to Sacajewaya's
Name wandering back to the place of emergence
In secret desert canyons named for a mother's parched labia.

Prayer names holding blossoms folding names in hands
Each breath a new name in bright venous blood
Dying names changing color in October names falling
From withered vines names flying south for winter
Names rising from the dead and burning in the solstice
Names glistening in rings of ice around Saturn.

Half names quarter names new names full names
That cry dance naked touching the sun, crawl creep or swim
On worlds newly-created names that go on all fours
In forests and slouch upward toward the frightening name
Of Homo Erectus names limp names buxom anorexic names
Vomiting older names until they are nameless and empty.

Buddha remembering names he was given before birth
The name of one hand naming thunder the other name
Dropping from clouds to nourish the names of wheat and wine
The names of rice the brain-damaged names of Viet Nam
Who cannot connect names to things and ask "what is the name?"
When you show them a box that says "Wheaties" or the name
of the rice-paddy flower Kashyapa could not name but only
smile at when Siddhartha twirled its silent Name in his fingers
A final nameless sermon.

Spoken over food names spoken over the dead names
Of body parts with no dog tags and long arterial blue names
Like rooted orchids disappearing into the thigh of a corpse
Trickling Latin names secret names that blossom under the skin
Like "carcinoma" names that smell that families do not speak
But doctors name in gnostic circles of power names of stainless
Steel instruments hanging in operating rooms with names of eyes

Of hands of unknown organs on the floor of brains dreaming still
Of battle names of beautiful silent birds who carry our bones
Like bleeding severed names of Orpheus washed up softly
Singing on the shores of Methymna scarlet tanagers keening
Names of soldiers fallen in their lovers' name who wander 
Like the mythic Er awaking from his spindled sleep 
Under the Pole Star in the meadows of Asphodel.

Naming fog and sea dream somnolent and muffled
Mumbled whispered barely remembered newborn name
Recalling gardens of wisteria hemlock and poppy
Frigid names of leaping spotted pink Chinook into the sound
of waterfalls toward spawning pools milky from names
threatened with extinction names of forgotten species calling
From old stories of firelight full chanting drum names carved
On the tooth of a whale.

Partially seen in meditation swift as thought names misted
On the breath of Radhamanthys and the tongues of maiden
Oestraes riding names of white horses in the waves of dawn
Where clustered effervescent songs of stars recorded
In hieroglyphs on walls of lost cities name the temple rising
Out of jungle silence like the rib cage of once rainbow pinioned
Quetzlcotle drowned in the rune of a green and gloomy
Name of living water

Covered with sand in coral names untarnished golden
Names adorned with cat's eye and onyx rediscovered
By children without names playing by the ocean of their birth
Where one ever-expanding name moans singing breathes
Through pale shuddering lips of a father just dead....
Translucent coruscation of chthonic names
Barnacled to new names on voluptuous heavenly boats
That ferry one name to another across the crimson river
Of voices pulsing in your throat where a nameless hand
Presses, pardons, heals all your ancestors kneeling
At the throne of a terrible atavistic name in the amygdala.

Lost names of tribes still thriving in tiny aneurysms
Of the cerebellum fissures smoldering in the colon
Names of future generations freaking in bolts
Of dopamine across the lightning dendrite of this moment
Dance of limbo names of stillborn sons the hobo and aborted
Names of cretin faces in their drunken mothers' brains.

Names of mastodons now crushed to coal and diamonds dug
By black thirsty miners in the Transvaal names
Throbbing for centuries through families in a sacred djembe
Dwelling ten thousand years in one house named for the father
Whose anger is the name of fire the name of a whole
Incinerated goat offered to the name of sperm.

The Name that cannot be spoken oh magnificent
Name whose blinding gaseous trails explode
In radiant clusters of suns with names like dust
In solar wind on measureless and desert slopes
Of God's one wild and violet-petaled echo

This! My fragrant prayer whose secret smoke
Of rising ululation now distills the burning syllables
Of vanished angels lost in silence
Ending thus, the telling of their Names.

What If You Are Not A Moth?

What if you are not a moth
fluttering around a candle,
flirting with annihilation,
but a beam of your own bright source
gone forth in a kind of holy
forgetting? And if the beam
turns utterly around to shine
back on itself in holy
remembrance, restoring its
infinite native splendor,
what then? This is meditation.
No separate soul, no ego
to obliterate, no 'lower'
striving to ascend, but just
a fall, a tide unto its sea
of fire returning, light refreshed
by very light, the well that drinks
itself awake each morning. Now
be a crysalis of rainbows
cocooned on a Winter twig.
Repose, and then go forth again,
to shine in the sacred dark.

Why We Come

We have not come here
for information.
We have come
to be touched.
You only learn the name
of the flower
when its fragrance
fills your heart.
Your first and last teacher
is the breath
of silence.

Serious

Seekers are too serious.
And those who laugh
are too loud.
I say the goal
is silent ecstasy.
Look serene, like a scholar,
but be empty
and foolish inside.
Knowing nothing radiates
a gentle smile.

Weary

World-weary?
Perhaps what wearies you
is not the world
but your own mind.
It's time to make
a pilgrimage
from the furrow
in your brow
to the temple
in your chest.
The distance isn't far,
merely an exhalation,
yet many lose their way
and turn back.
No voice will lead you.
Voices come from the past.
You're not going there.
You're moving
into the ancient now.
Just follow the song
of the next bird.
Travel light.
Abandon names.
Always choose the path
that leads downward
into deeper green,
the valley, not the mountain.
Rooted in loss,
find the place
where there is no ground.
return to your first breath.
Take it again
and again.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not
just a holiday.
It is sadhana.
Practice a Happy
Thanksgiving
wherever you are,
even if, at this moment,
you are not happy.

Though there be ten
thousand people
to blame, including
yourself, just find
the tiniest glimmer
of blessing in your life,
the faintest impulse
of delight.
The heart cannot
blame and be grateful
at the same time.
It shrinks into frost
or flowers
into golden warmth.
Trust the invisible sun.
Rest your mind in
that barely discernible
tremor of contentment,
the touch of electric
fur on your cat,
the stillness of a camellia
blossoming through
November raindrops,
love's sadness
in a stranger's gaze.
Feel the pulse of that
sensation threading
down into your chest,
one nerve in your
precious body
of entangled pathways,
all quickening,
suddenly catching fire,
like filaments of cotton
lit from a single
infinitesimal spark
of gratitude.
The whisper of 'thank you'
is the holiest scripture,
a sutra that awakens
trillions of stars
above and within.


So thankful for the flower photos of Kristy Thompson!

Miniature

I am looking at Anna's
French fashion doll,
vintage 1860, with her
original silk underwear,
muffler and gown,
standing as if about to
sing a Schubert lieder,
"Du Bist die Ruh,"
before the two miniature
portraits of dandy Englishmen
smoking pipes in their original
18th Century gold leaf frames,
which Anna, my wife,
found on eBay for a startling
bid of $99, with free shipping,
so naively, ineptly described
by the sweet gay man in
Mexico who had just lost
his partner to cancer, and had
never been on eBay before,
that no one made a bid at all.
Thus she of impeccable taste,
"taste" meaning merely
the grace and wonder
of appreciation, felt
so sorry when the shipping
alone ran that "widower"
three times more than his
asking price, she insisted
on splitting the cost even
before the masterpieces arrived.
But what if that French doll
is too modest to sing?
Perhaps she will turn and play
Handel on the Queen Anne
clavichord surmounted by
a miniature of Marie Antoinette
which my daughter gave
to her mother last Christmas.
Another possibility: the lady
demurs to her left, reposes
on the scarlet upholstered chair
next to the Chippendale table
with its single silver candlestick.
What will she recite to us?
Not anything so timely
as Shakespeare's Sonnet
Number 73, about
an eldering poet in love,
but a passage from Dickens,
capturing the moment
when Copperfield confesses
finally to himself, and then
to her,  Agnes Wikfield,
that until now
he has lived in
a torment of incessant hesitation,

and that she who was his
tenderest friend from childhood
is now and has ever been
the only passion of his heart,
the burning darkness where 
he yearns to plunge, to drown,
to immolate his manhood in
a wild and pure self-offering,
eternally exploring the night.


Photo: a table top in our living room

Truth Cannot Be Known

Truth cannot be known
because then there would
have to be a knower.
But the duality of a knower
knowing the truth
is the fundamental ignorance,
the illusion that causes
our separation
and our suffering.
The real possibility
is not to know the truth
but to dissolve the knower.
Then Truth shines
brilliantly by itself.
I learned this by
gazing into the eyes
of my cat.


Photo: My cat, Basquiat

Gray Scale

If my joy
does not include
my sorrow,
it is not ananda.
it is only a flight,
a "state" of mind,
that must perish.
Relentless blue
of the desert sky?
No, give me a cloud
and a drop of pearl.
Sunbeams are more lovely
through the veil.

Photo: Mount Rainier on my walk this morning.

Remains

That in you which
cannot endure
the ordinary
is all that ever dies.
This is good news.
A flower sparkles
all by itself,
without description.
A blue moth alights
on a bobbing twig
in golden sunlight.
Let this exhalation
caresses the hollow
behind your eye.
Settle here,
yet do not stay.
Please don't
call it meditation.
Just discover,
without a name,
without a practice,
how your life has become
the gesture of stillness.



Sadhana


The only
"spiritual practice"
of any value
is one that
erases itself
in silence.


Photo: Laurent Berthier

Purpose


Don't imagine that breathing
is something you do
just to stay alive.
Breath has a secret purpose.
Each inhalation whispers
the most beautiful name
to every cell in your body.
The ladle of exhalation
pours crystal mind
into the bowl of wanting.
But if you forget 
how to be thirsty,
this cup is just an offering
of dust,
your ribs ruined chariots
in desert sand.
There is no milk
in your sighing,
no honey in your skull
dripping lyrics to the melody
in your chest.
You won't notice the lacy cloud
that veils the shy moon,

the keening of doves
in golden mist at dawn
among first apple buds,
or the glistening pilgrimage
of a snail across the hosta leaf.
Dear one, there are intricate
miracles of pure attention
woven into the muscular
quivering of your ancient heart,
each nerve threaded to a certain
ache of sweetness in the earth.
You are not called
to understand, but merely
to be awake.
Now celebrate unknowing
with the wine between your thoughts.