A Marriage

To fall in love
with the same sweet partner
all over again
is possible.
Not through discipline
but grace.
The years are a mirage,
yet they shimmer with
sweet memories.
Many lifetimes
of simple kindness
bear fruit.
Tears mean something.

Journey

You don't need to take
a journey into the wilderness.
You need to take a journey
into the back yard.
The mountaintop
is where you are.
Angels of dew.
Forests of moss.
Cathedrals of clover.
Galaxies whirling in black loam
for the eremitic visionary earthworm.
Now dig.

Honest To God

I finally got honest to God.
I said, "Everybody's either
begging or selling something:
what's your angle?"
God said, "I'm begging
for your next breath.
And I'm offering a deal:
Give me back the sound of rain.
Give me the touch of golden fur.
Give me the tweet of the flycatcher,
the blue sky in the chalice
of a morning glory.
Give me the fragrance of compost
when April finally arrives
with her chorus of worms.
Give me the scent that drives
you maddest, the memory
of her hair, or the brackish sea wind
guiding you back to the sand.
Give me the way the stars appeared
when you could still climb
like a goat into their emptiness.
The payment I'm asking
is every sensation
you ever felt
and its echo in your mind,
the story you've been
telling yourself for eons.
Offer it all and become
as hollow as an orchid's stem.
In return, I'll pour this breath
back into your heart
and tell you my name.
You will be the orchid.

Fall

To fall in love
with the same sweet partner
all over again
is possible.
The years are an illusion,
but they create sweet memories.
This is not discipline,
but grace.
Many lifetimes
of simple kindness
bear fruit.
Tears mean something.

Break


If your heart is broken,
it must have opened during the night.
If it is open, it is a portal.
Enter that darkness
through your deepest wound.
There is no other way to the light.
Stars know this.
They spin from furious maelstroms
of silence.
This blood flow heals.
If there's a flower surge of
yearning and belonging in your chest,
The Friend must have touched you there
while you were sleeping.


My dear friend Chani took this photo at the wilderness beach in Oregon this week.

Candlelight

You did not choose love.
Love chose You.
A candle cannot light itself.
Someone struck the match.
Someone passed the flame.
A ray of belonging
created you.
Now You must lean near,
whisper, and ignite someone.
Is the flame You impart
the same that lit You,
or is it a radiance utterly new?

This is a question
for wicks, not fire.

Just kindle friendship,
and burn
to nothing.

Pathless


In the pathless way
the sign of progress
is that you're not as perfect
as you were yesterday.
Make a sacrament
of every broken vow
and turn your wounds
into mouths that sing.
Are you not most full
where you are most hollow?
This smouldering
is unfathomably gentle,
yet it burns away your
strategies of self-protection.
Use the pollen love makes
out of scorched armor
to heal the smallest creature
curled beside you,
or the unborn
inside.
Renew the ocean, forest, sky.
Love is local,
but its breath
sweeps the stars.

Collage by Rashani Réa

The Great Teaching Is Hollow

Listen.
You say you have a Guru?
Your Guru is hollow, just ask him.
If he is real, he will tell you,
"I am Hollow, I am Nobody,
Nobody is your Guru,
Nobody will save you."
Waves of emptiness, the proton is hollow.
The atom is hollow.
Each cell of your body hollow.
Your belly hollow, your lungs hollow,
veins hollow, bones hollow.
Your mouth, your ears,
your nostrils, your eyeballs,
skull and vegus nerve
are all hollow.
A home is hollow, a dome is hollow,
a mosque is hollow.
The stem of a rose is hollow.
The tree of life is hollow.

A mountain is hollow.
A spring is hollow.
A valley is hollow.

The Great Mudra
of Supreme Compassion
is hollowness within hollowness.

The earth and moon hollow.
The solar system hollow.
The galaxy spinning
on hollow stillness.
Eternity an echoing hollow seed.
Transparent edges of your body,
the stuff a bubble is made of.
The pinprick of a single word
pops it into nothing.
That word is "Hollow!"
I am hollow.
You are hollow.
Listen.
Out of this vast hollow
are born the stars,
flowers and tears,
faces of babies,
food and laughter,
prayers...


Photo: Zen Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment,
Wood carving, 16th C., Seattle Asian Art Museum

Secret

You say there's a secret
called enlightenment.
But you are the secret.
The sky got em-pearled in your zygote.
You were born so that distant galaxies
could see themselves.
Now waves of Presence crash
gently on the shores of your body
washing away the questions.
Each breath is the answer.

Field Theory

There is a field
between your thoughts
where love turns
particles into waves.
We are already
dancing there!

Bee Wild

My soul has nothing to do
with believing.
My essence is intensely
playful silence,
free of opinions
about anything.
I will meet you here
in a flash
of bewilderment.
I love that word:
it means to bee wild.

This tipsy troubadour
doesn't ask,
"What kind
of flower
are you?"
He is only interested
in the shock and sweetness
of connecting.

Lies

As soon as I speak your Name, I lie.
And if I call you Nameless, I lie.
If I say Thou I lie, if I say Me I lie.
If I say Two, it is almost the greatest lie.
But One is the mother of lies.
Let my lies reveal the truth.
Let my lies reveal the tiny blue violet of your face
blossoming through the dark fissure,
splitting the stone.
Let my lies reveal the warm brown hills
and valleys of your body.
Let my lies reveal the flash of your grin
in the warrior's sword,
the scent of milk in the bundled softness
of an infant's lips.
Let my lies be the songs God sings
gazing on the Truth.
Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, this world of lies!
This poem of lies!

Centers

I am a particle
of the unknown
without circumference.
When I breathe
stars tremble.
Friend, I think
we are in orbit
around each other.
You find your
center in me,
I mine in you.
And this majestic
turning of all
through all
is a great stillness.

Meeting

How can it be selfish to gaze
into the beauty of your own soul?
Countless raindrops contain the sun.
We all fall in love with one reflection.
This dragonfly has mirror wings.
Friend and foe alike see in your eyes
the same outrageous splendor.
Can you give a kiss that you have not
received
from your own breath?
Can you offer the flower
of the Imperishable
if you have not found its seed
in the furrow of your missing rib?
Let the grace of who you are
teach you what to look for
in every stranger.
Now be honest, friend.
There really are no strangers,
only You and I.

Against the Vertigo

Give up this vs. that
and repose in the incomparable
beauty of your heart.
Drink dark wine and spill
some drops into the furrow
between opposites.
Love is not a feeling
that comes and goes,
or a charitable deed.
Love is fierce and gentle.
Can you accomplish
your daily task
free and wild inside
like a roaring panther
in the midnight forest?
Be a sunbeam, ever
transparent and pure
even as you pass through tears
that shatter your light
into a rainbow?
Fall upward like a tree,
flinging out the stillness
of your seed
to fill the sky with
the hollow you came from?
Now let the scattered branches
of your past and future
find their sap in the root
of presence.

Against the vertigo, respond
from unfathomable stillness.
Sink even lower.
Be a wave that contains
the ocean in its silent bow.
Break open.
Love is the whole sky
in a robin's egg.

Prayer

By your grace my prayers
were not answered,
because I prayed only for things.
Now all my prayers are answered
because, by your grace,
I pray only for You.
This is how the hyacinth
gropes upward toward a warmth
it cannot see,
fed from below by streams
of darkness.
Everything is given to the one
who asks for nothing
but God.

A Safe Place

The Beloved whispered,
"I know the world hurts,
but there is a very safe place
right here where your breath
arises in this moment,
right here where your heartbeat
begins,
and the moon drinks
all the light she needs
from the stream of the un-created.
Rest here, don't be afraid.
And don't come alone.
Bring thousands with you."

The Guest Who Never Left

For thousands of years,
when you needed love,
you thought of Krishna,
you thought of Kwan Yin,
you thought of Amitaba,
you thought of Jesus.
And a brief cool breeze
whispered in the burning noon
of your separation.
But the Savior lingered
only for a moment,
the duration of his name.
Jesus came and departed,
ascending to a higher world.
The Guest did not stay.
O friend, there is
a more constant way.
There is a nourishing wind
that arises within you,
greening your forest soul,
seeding the meadows
of your flesh, wafting
soft light at dawn and
gentle evening rain, a Guest
who never leaves.
Now the love you need
will be the love you give.
Just think of the Christ
who is already You.
Repose in the grace of
your own heartbeat.
Receive eternal salvation
from this breath.

First Spring Day

To understand that there is nothing to attain
is the Great Attainment.
To understand that there is nothing to renounce
is renunciation.
To feel the ecstatic overflow of emptiness
is fulfillment.
To apprehend the radiance of nothing
is Knowledge.
These are not principles of mystical philosophy.
They are tremors of my amazement
as I gaze into an apple blossom
on the first Spring day.



Photo: blossoms on a hillside near my home

Another Kind Of Love

This is another kind of love,
made from the same grapes
but aged in a darker place, longer,
in barrels of oak from woods
more wild than the garden,
too strong for Jesus to serve Peter
and the twelve. He saves it for Mary,
his Nadeema, to celebrate the death
of every law but one:
"Become your longing."
With this wine he casts out demons
and makes her drunk with prayer.
The garland he hangs on her shoulders
breaks with the whirl of their dancing.
Enormous blossoms spill from her throat
to her loins, like heaven worlds
whose devas, now free to descend,
fill her countless unborn children
with glory.


نوع آخر من الحب

هو نوع آخر من الحب،
مصنوع من العناقيد نفسها
لكنه معتق في مكان أعتم، لفترة أطول،
في براميل من خشب البلوط من غابة
بَرِّية أكثر من الحديقة.
أقوى من أن يقدمه يسوع لبطرس
والاثني عشر، فهو يحفظه لمريم،
نديمته، ليحتفل وإياها بموت كل القوانين
عدا واحداً:
"صِرْ توقك."
بهذا النبيذ كان يطرد الشياطين
ويجعلها سكرى بالصلاة.
والإكليل الذي علقه على كتفيها
سقط بدوران رقصتهما.
أزهار هائلة فاضت من حنجرتها
إلى حقويها، مثل عوالم السماء،
حيث الملائكة اللاتي غدون الآن أحراراً للنزول،
ملأن بالمجد أولادها
أولادها الذين لا يعدوا ولا يحصوا
أولادها الذين لم يولدوا بعد.



~Arabic translation by Dana Chamseddine

Moodswing


I took a leap of faith
and fell into your waves
of acid bliss.
You, the hopeless depth
between boats.
In a single breath,
from the rim of your lip
I tumbled toward
the burgundy stillness
at the bottom of the earth cup.

In the sparkling of death
when that sigh ended
precisely where there were
no words to pray,
I became your child,
resurrected by the next
inhalation.

This happens to us all
moment by moment,
but we hardly notice
because we are drunk
with answers.

So I allow your flowers
of contentment to grow
from the ground of my despair.
This is faith.
I can't make a mistake
without your grace.
This is devotion.

To be uncertain
is to choose your presence,

The beginning and end
of your mystery a clod,
sepulchering an earthworm
as a flame conceals the wick.

Now I doubt everything
in order to become the darkness
through which you carry
un-created planets to the place
where they may be spoken.
Yes, there are other, more
secret names for love:
havoc, flux, unraveling...

Return

Life after life, I returned to you
wearing veils of illusion.
Our song was longing
and separation.
But I am naked now
like the moon before the sun,
removing the veils that divided
personal from impersonal,
form from the formless,
the seer from the seen.
We are one gaze
breaking into laughter.
We wear one golden
veil of joy
with no one inside!

Surveillance

All this looking! All this being beheld!
My microwave, my alarm clock and my
vacuum cleaner are watching me!
My Cuisinart, my Sonicare toothbrush,
and my eye-phone are bugged,
even the planets and stars,
buzzing with my private information.
I think I've been wire-tapped
by my own nervous system,
and the cosmos spies on itself
through the black pupil in the empty core
of every galaxy.
It's a universe of surveillance,
a mad darshan, a feedback loop
to trigger awakening
in the pineal gland of a daffodil!
There's only one way to get free:
Hide nothing!
Make your mind a bedroom window
with no thought curtains!
Transparency is your only protection
from the sky blue lover's Glance.
Don't resist the electricity
of the Witness.
You can't fight the juice.
"Concealment" is not the name
of your fragrance.
Flower through the glow of being seen.
"The eye is the light of the body,"
said Jesus.
He looked upon the Magdalene
and saw himself in one of her tears.
Like that, our wonder anoints us.
We each become Christ
in the mirror of another's gaze.

Cocoon

Knowing makes you small.
Not knowing opens
all your windows and doors
letting the wind blow
seeds in.
Some see the Master
and suddenly start building
earthworks of suspicion,
walls of mind chatter
to defend the little i.
Others see the Master
and let their breath go
as if it were the last!
They fall into a dazzled silence
and from that moment on
are breathed by an Other,
who is deeper inside
than I Am…
The Sun always floods us
with yellow, sending down
the perfect beam for every bulb.
It all depends on
how ready we are to burst open
and fill the air
with the fragrance of Unknowing.
Listen, friend, this world
is a dry cocoon.
Soon it will crack and shatter,
spilling up into gold morning air
the crinkled rainbows
you've kept holding too long
in your chest.
Give up certainty.
Just unfurl.


Butterfly wing art by Lucy Arnold, lucyarnold.com

Woman

Can you pour the ocean into a thimble?
Can you honor Woman in one Day?
The whole lifespan of Lord Shiva
is just a breath in her eternity.
Earth spins on the spine of her stillness.
Planets circle their stars because
her darkness is awake.
The sun drips from the edge of her bowl
that is always overflowing.
We drank from her before we were born,
trillions of galaxies suspended like dust
in the golden beam of her gaze.
When She closes her eyes,
there is fullness.
When she opens them, we dance.

Soften Your Space

Merely by resting in your heart
you soften the space around you.

Those who come near you feel
the touch of wild cotton,
the radiance of seven pearls
threaded on a sunbeam.


Their souls begin to orbit
your belly button.
They enter your invisible
garden of Presence

and somehow eat blood-red seeds
from the pomegranate's core
without gashing the husk.

This is why you must repose
in the golden shrine of your chest.
Let others make the haj.
You just need to be more hollow.

Supreme attainment is a mind
that no longer seeks
because it has dissolved
into the erotic splendor
of the void.

Let this exhalation be what pours
from the libation cup,
a sacrament of surrender.
Let this inhalation be
the Beloved's sparkling kiss.

Friend, did no one tell you?
Your breath is the name of God.

Tell

Before the invention of writing
we sang ourselves to sleep.
Words melted into humming,
humming into silence.
Silence melted into the whisper
of the Beloved.
Lay your head on my shoulder.
Listen, friend.
I will tell you Nothing.

There There

Think small.
Be the infinitesimal center
of all possible worlds.
Ask a thistle seed.
Do you have a plan for the wind?
Once you've become the night
there's no going back to stardom.
Once you've become wine
you can't return to the grape.
Give up this journey.
Dance where you are.
If there were any 'there' there,
wouldn't you have arrived by now?

Now

Dogwood blossom
of the present moment
unfolding four
petals of stillness,
generosity, silence
and wonder, four signs
of your impeccable heart,

and at the core
an infinitesimal pistil
exuding the secret fragrance
of adoration,
which is not ours
to give or receive,
but the tincture of immediacy
known only to the drunken one,
the little troubadour
who visits on wings that hum
at the source of song.
Evening now,
and April after all,
but any moment will do
if you are truly here.

After

what if the afterlife is starbucks
but the coffee not so bitter
coltrane's ballad album playing
in a never-ending loop no one
looks up from their iPad when
you drift in sighing sinking down
on firm black leatherette your
laptop already there logged-in
your grandé steaming in its mug
as you repose in the certainty
of free and perpetual refills
discovering there is no difference
between closing and opening
your eyes thinking I'll be fine
in a minute I'll remember what
happened the pause between
you don't know what love is and
too young to go steady gets longer
with each repetition thinking I'll be
fine in a minute I'll remember
how I got here but you never do

To My Muse

All that matters is the kiss of pistil and stamen.
All that matters is the wave nature of the moon
.
All that matters is the sexual caress
of listener and silence, thrill in stillness
where the music is conceived.
All that matters is the death of distance,
the sapphire yearning-pool
where the sky in your forehead drowns
my dark embryo again and again.
Are we not born in each others sorrow
as tears of joy?
This is the gift of emptiness,
and all that matters is the touch
of your breath pouring in
from the desert night across the sea,
where stars arrange themselves tenderly
over your slumber,
and my breath ebbing
into the diamond blackness
that is always awake.

Crave

You crave sensations
of earth, air, fire, water,
touch, smell, hearing, sight -
yet the only sensation
that can ever fulfill you
is the motionless unscented
invisible opening
of the rose in your chest.