Scent of Emptiness

Can you smell the Void
in an apple blossom?
Emptiness is joy.
But it's fun to take shape
in a sunbeam.
Just for a moment be
a thing!
Then dissolve.
Do you have a problem with that?
Give up distinctions.
You are manifest
and unmanifest.
You can be the creature
and Creator.
Seed, sprout, blossom, fruit,
and seed again.
Yet no 'me' at all,
just a wild becoming.
The bud has no idea
what a petal is.
An apple is born from the grief
of a flower.
Loss is holy.
Let your juices bubble in the sun.
Let the worm appear.
Now all that remains is the hole.
But you need holes
to fill with breath and music.
Dear friend, through all your dying
flows the sweetest sap,
the nectar of eternity
in what perishes.
Call it sorrow.
Call it joy.


Esoteric Mathematics of the Shri 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.

What's Really Going On

Your mind paints
disaster scenes,
then wonders why
it gets so anxious.
Why not picture what's
really going on
at the center of your chest?
A moonlit garden,
audacious peacocks,
intoxicating poppies,
hundreds of misbehaving
cowherd boys and
gopi girls not quite
as ravishing as you,
all whirling wild with
the Lord of Love...
Dear one, I think 
you need more confidence
in the mad sweetness
of your soul.

Wild Again

Dance with yourself.
Fall in love with
the perfect stranger.
Let your kiss
shatter the mirror.
Silence will call
your name.
A captured lioness
in your rib cage.
The one who has been
longing for the forest
all these lovelorn lives.
Unlock that door.
Let her be
wild again.

Dark Spring

Dark Spring.
April is the cruelest month.
Eliot, thou shouldst be living
at this hour.
3 a.m.
Frog rain.
Too late for coffee.
Too early for sleep.
Listening to Blue Monk
live at the Five Spot
with Johnny Griffin.
Reading the Brothers
Karamatzov again.
First time I grokked
the whole novel in three days
lying beside a canal
in a French vineyard
because nobody would pick up
an American hitch hiker.
Viet Nam.
Eating nothing but
stolen grapes
and waving at Parisians
who drifted by on barges
toward the Riviera.
Children in a hut
set on fire by Cong.
Or was it I?
Sauntering along Medieval
pilgrimage routes with
Father Zosima.
No name back then
for PTSD.
Learning Gregorian chant
at the monastery of Solemnes.
Met Mary Magdalene
through a prayer at her tomb
in the church at Vezeley.
Odd.
Time present
no more real
than time past.
Bach concert
in Chartres cathedral.
Afterward, at the youth hostel,
falling silently in love
with a girl from Calais
who made French fries.
Really.
No name back then
for the void in my heart.
Time present.
Time past.
I'm just a hobo of wonder
bumming a ride
on the next breath.
Seeking refuge
in the ordinary.

Beneath


When you meditate,
stop all that reaching
upward for the sun.
Bodies of joy don't fly.
They are weighted down
with jewels of emptiness,
pearls of compassion.
Sink deeper than these ripples
where small fish swim and
thoughts nibble your toes.
I mean drown, drown
in the silence that swells
with waveless solitude,
and names are swallowed
by the Sea of Unknowing.
Don't worry about your breath.
There, one inhalation lasts
forever, one prayer sigh
brings you Home.
When you emerge from
those waters, dripping starlight,
waders on the shore will
whisper, "Who is that
gleaming creature of darkness?"

And you will sing to them
about the radiant
treasures of the deep.

The Shortest Distance

The shortest distance between two protons
is the void.
The shortest distance between two stars
is the void.
The shortest distance between
birth and death, God and the soul,
my heart and your heart
is the void.
'Distance' is the dream you keep
inside you like a family secret.
Apple blossoms burst from my lips.

Flowering corpses no longer sleep.
Raindrops each contain the sun.
The cat opens her eye and
the entire universe trembles.
Your soul and the boundless sky
are the same star-clustered
emptiness reflected in a forest pond
on a world that still lies hidden
in the ayin soph, the bindhu
of a quark.
It takes a millisecond for one atom
to sing the whole Koran.
Why go on pretending you're not
surrounded by improbabilities?

Only what is indecipherable
is worth tasting.

The bread of Jesus is not
on the menu, yet you
smell it baking in your sleep.

The fragrance slowly awakens you
to the feast of the ordinary.

If you don't say Yes to the world
this very moment, you are doomed
to another thousand years
of hesitation.

Fall

Fall so
deeply in love
with your own heart
that you discover
yourself blossoming
in every face,
name each
creature you meet
"Beloved,"
and see them all
as gods.
You are the Creator.
I learned this by
gazing into a rose.
It is so simple.

O!

Learn to be at Om
with poverty.
Now spread your
empty circle
over town and forest,
distant hills dissolving
into clouds that
veil the moon.
Enfold Her
in your zero of grace.
Let the unfathomable
hollow of your bones
un-star the night.
Kiss two horizons in
a center-less exclamatory
"O," of which all things
that shimmer in this
earthly chaos are
the echos... stone and
flower, grazing elk,
alfalfa meadow,
road unraveling refugees,
cities spiraling to iron
dust in slow motion.
Hear the weeping
deep in silence
and become intimate
with the splendor of
the golden void.

Earth Night

Now is the great night
   
     of the heart.

You sense the huddled

      mother's pelt

nestling seven coyote pups

      under dripping ferns.

                   You yelp and howl,

      then listen

to owl wings slice through silence,

      gong of raven's throat,

                    raindrops...

not the music

      you wished for

but the music you hear

     far after midnight,

                    long before dawn.

Keep vigil by the breathing river

      of your blood,

                    sheltered under

cedar spine,

      leaves of alveoli,

                     your flesh

a woolen warmth

       around its own bones.

Now let the hollowest

       space inside

be your other,

       your Comforter.

                     Rest here.

        Wait.

If you cannot hug

        the darkness

how can you bear the stars?

Christian

This is the only Christianity I know:
At the end of each breath,
the death of Jesus.
At the beginning of each breath,
the resurrection.
What happened 2000 years ago,
what will happen at the
last judgment,
doesn't concern me.
The sound of the wood thrush
is the end of time.
Because I am awake,
a dogwood blossom
is the coming of Christ.
Let me be a fallen creature
plummeting into grace.
From what should I be saved?
My soul was never lost.
The One who bears
this pang of fire
in her own heart
can never let me go!

Pebble

Breath of the sea,
tears of the moon,
tumble of pebbles
in a mountain stream.
Blessed synesthesia,
wine of the body.
Let the bitter
sweet edges
of this world's holy
confusion
polish your heart
until you are round
and hollow, a cup
overflowing with
darkness and stars.

Lila

Playfully the world danced into being,
playfully dissolved a moment ago,
playfully the world on my tongue tip
worded into form again and singing
into sky into raindrop rhymes into fire
into drums of glittering sod into
compost and the embryo of god.
Playfully animals fly and burrow and kill,
eating one another very gently with
eyes open to death sweet tears their
next birth on their last breath,
playfully naked babies boy and girl
do pudgy little asanas and bija mantra
farting sounds the suck of black holes
drinking stars and there is only one
thing in all the universe that isn't
playful: a believer's mind.

Wander



'Be a wanderer.'
~Jesus, Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
Ten thousand ardent pilgrims
follow the temple way.
But I wander off-trail.
Getting lost is my journey.
I don't seem to arrive
anywhere but here.
I am like mist in a forest.
Tell me when you get there, friend:
Is anything more lovely than a pear blossom
falling on a stream that weaves
among mossy boulders, liquid
mirror mirroring the liquid soul
and whispering,
'you Are the path...'


Wanderers Welcome (from 'Wounded Bud')

"We seldom notice how each day is a holy place where the
Eucharist of the ordinary happens." ~John O'Donahue

Out beyond Christianity
Magdalene and Jesus are dancing

in a garden where things grow wild,
where things grow into what they are.

Many paths lead here, not one,
and the gates are always open.

Over each gate there's a sign:
'Wanderers Welcome.'

Mary thinks Jesus is the gardener,
and he is.

They drink the wine that turns
temples into bodies again.

She reaches out to take his hand:
he lets her.

There are three rules here:
Yearn, Risk Everything, Connect.
_____

Translated into Arabic by Dana Chamseddine

أهلاً بالمتجولين
"نادرا ما نلاحظ كيف يكون كل يوم مكانا مقدسا نتناول فيه قربان الأشياء العادية المقدس". جون أودوناهو
بعيدا ما وراء المسيحية
ترقص المجدلية ويسوع
في حديقة تنمو فيها الأشياء بريّةً،
تنمو لتصبح كما تكون.
مسارات كثيرة تؤدي إلى هنا،
والبوابات مفتوحة أبدا.
وفوق كل باب توجد إشارة:
‘أهلا بالمتجولين.’
تظن مريم أن يسوع هو البستاني،
وهو يكون كما تظن.
يشربان الخمر التي تحوّل
ثانيةً المعابد إلى أجساد.
تنحني نحوه لتأخذ بيده:
يسمح لها.
هناك ثلاثة قوانين هنا:
توقي، خاطري بكل شيء، إتصلي.

Zone

People keep saying, bust
out of your comfort zone!
Why?
I love my comfort zone.
And the more I love,
the wider the space
between heartbeats
until my comfort zone
encircles the stars.
On this April morning
why not follow the honeybee
who drowns in the center
of a rose,
in the center of a love
without circumference?
Dissolve into a pure
fragrance that overwhelms
the garden entirely.
_____
Note: this poem is corny, but I don't care. Nothing describes my experience of the heart's infinite portal better than the image of the bee drowning at the center of the flower. We burst our comfort zone not by striking out against boundaries, but by entering the center of a sphere that has no circumference. The tiny point at the center of the cross IS the resurrection.

(Photo by Kristy Thompson)

Listener


True listeners live in the heart.
They love the gossip of raindrops

at dawn, the breaking news
of Spring peepers.
The trembling crystal
of a chickadee
proclaims the whole Godspell.

Say less than you mean.

Grace is the gift of subtraction.

Tell as little as a willow by a pond

where
the heron glides away
on the first breath
of twilight.

And if you must speak, leave

a rippled stillness
between words,
the kind of mirror where
that
long-beaked huntress
might
stand on one leg
all a golden afternoon.

Be more like
the moon
between clouds,
until your
silences
say everything.

Don't Tell

Don't tell.
Hold as an offering
on your tongue
the sweetest secret
left unspoken.
Try not to say, "I love you,"
too often.
Let it glow through your eyes.
Let it glimmer from the things
they see, mirrors of
cedar bark and fern frond.
If you keep your Word
it will warm the meadows,
arousing Spring flowers.
Don't tell.
Let love's hiding lift your hand
in the most ordinary gesture,
the way you stir honey
into tea, the way you
wash your grandmother's cup,
take up your father's hoe,
hold an heirloom pear
from the tree he planted,
walk barefoot through
the clover at night,
your body tingling
with stars.

Song of the Sweet Unmanifest

The Void is perfect happiness.
But manifesting is fun.
Is there a problem here?

Just don't confuse
What never changes
With what ever dissolves.

The bud has no idea
What a petal is.
The apple is born

From the tears of a flower.
Seed, blossom, fruit,
Yet no little "me..."

Just a wild becoming.
Now the juices bubble
In the sun.

The worm appears.
Then all that remains
Is the hole.

Yet we need holes to fill
With breath and music.
Dear friend, through all

These perishing forms
Flows the sweetest sap.
Taste That

In what vanishes.
Call it sorrow.
Call it joy.

Master

What remains when Yes and No
dissolve?  Only the Master.

Sometimes you are the moon among pearls
on the golden string of my astonished breath,

sometimes lips and sapphire galaxies
that gaze me to the womb, whispering

"Don't be afraid, numberless angels
await their turn for this birth."

Sometimes you are the ancient forest,
din of the rainbow, silence of flowers,

those open mouths of wonder...
Sometimes the perfume of forgetfulness,

nothing more than a razor wave
of Presence, a lingering exhalation

in my bamboo spine, your fingers
playing over me, the night wind.

No, I am a penny whistle.
Yes, you honor my empty places.
Every form is a veil of love.
Therefor I am fearless.

Fall

Take refuge in this moment.
One lightning bolt of wonder
through the heart of a child
incinerates ten thousand
books of philosophy.
All the speeches of politicians
burn to tasteless ash
in the diamond eye of a lover.
A wild mushroom springs
from the manure pile, pungent
as the breath of a dark angel.
There is no war in this meadow.
Stars yearn to fall here
and become wild poppies
on an April morning.

Beat Itude

blessed are the poor
blessed are the rich
earth is the domain of opposites

blessed are those who mourn

for they shall be comforted
blessed are those who laugh
for they shall mourn

blessed are the meek
they shall inherit the earth
blessed are the bold
they shall take it by force

blessed are those who hunger for truth

blessed are those who thirst for illusion
blessed are those whose single eye
sees no difference

blessed are the merciful
blessed are the severe


blessed are the peacemakers
blessed are the warriors
who protect your children


blessed are you when you are cursed
yours is the kingdom of heaven
blessed are you when you curse
yours is the mirror of sincerity

blessed are the pure in heart

for they shall see god
blessed are your impurities
for they are made of god's light

whose rain falls on the just

and the unjust alike
which is perfect justice

the only sin she will not forgive

is sleep


Painting: 'Christmas,' available at artmajeur.com

Bow

Don't forget
how we got here.
Yearning to kiss
the dark sweet soil,
we bowed too deeply.
What shall we do?
Some say, arise.
I say there's an even
deeper bow
inside this one
that will carry us home.

No Idea

What's happening?
I have no idea.
Those who claim to know
can never make peace.
Why not give each other
permission to rest
in the eternal wisdom
of "I don't know"?
Thirst for peace so deeply
that it bursts
beyond knowledge

like a hidden spring
out of your own
breathless

broken heart.

A Sunday In April

Who knows?
Just for today
let's take a Sabbath
from knowledge.
Just for today
a Sabbath from the mind.
You are forgiveness.
Just for today
A Sabbath from judgment.
You are peace.
A Sabbath from being right.
If that is not possible then
just for an hour?
If that is not possible then
just for a breath?
One breath is enough
to wash a thousand stars
with love.
O friend,
can't You stay with Me,
just for a moment?


Photo: a rainy Sabbath daffodil by Kristy Thompson

Amygdala

Breathe through your forehead
and smell the stars.
See through your chest.
Listen with the ear
in your belly button.
That ocean of moonlight.
Cradled in your cortex
is an empty cave
where your pituitary dangles,
a lit chandelier.
Whirl there without
falling asleep.
Down below, at the mouth
of your reptilian brain
there is a portal called
amygdala, the swinging door,
almond-flavored hinge
of galaxies.
Gently push it open with
these magic words,
'Ameen, Ameen,
and so it is.'
Now walk into whatever world
you wish.

Fuck Up

Make a delicious mistake.
Fuck up once in awhile.
After all, I invented
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
by spilling a jar of strawberry jam
when I was seven years old.
Yes I did.
I invented the frisbee
when I threw a plateful of broccoli
that my mom wanted me to eat
out the window.
Yes I did.
I invented S'mores when a really
stupid camp counselor told me
I could only have a single dessert:
so I smashed three into one.
What did you invent by stumbling,
by spilling, by your glorious lack
of impulse control?
Go ahead, tell me everything.
Or tell an exquisite lie that is so
outrageous it could be true.
"I invented the way light shatters
in the prism of a raindrop
twenty billion times to create
the first rainbow."
I believe you, Friend.
Now listen to me:
Whoever God is,
She embraces the mess.
She gracefully gives us Life, more Life,
and a host of Second Chances
by permitting impeccable blunders,
from the uncertain location of an electron
to mutations in a molecule of cytosine
right up the crazy chain of non-causation
to the way black chaos engenders stars
in the hole at the heart of a galaxy.
So if you were never sentenced
to the time-out chair in kindergarten
or sent to the principle's office in grade school,
if you never cut class to explore
the wilderness in your soul
or skipped church to attend the carnival
in your body,
if you never got tear-gassed in the street
when you were in college,
never got fired from a job,
never spent a single night in jail, dear one,
you might not actually
be alive.

Color Of Wine

3 a.m.
In the history of night
nothing like this splendor
has ever fallen
on a human face.
As a crystal chalice becomes
the color of the wine,
so I take the form of the dark
beauty I behold.
What blackness could be
more radiant
than the gaze of Shakti,
Goddess of dissolving?

Map

Find the address of your mind.
It's a busy intersection.
Go there and don't turn left or right.
Just keep driving around the traffic circle
until your tires melt.
Notice the sign at the center,
an arrow pointing upward and downward.
See?
All these streets have been leading you
in the wrong direction,
like arguments that end in 'right' or 'wrong.'
Winning arguments is for people who live
on the flat earth.
What matters is to get out of your car,
stand barefoot in the center,
and either jump up into the empty sky,
or sink down into the living mud.
Just don't follow any more roads!

Walk

After all, it's Sunday.
Time for a walk
with no destination.
Amble just to taste what
it means to be a body,
sipping the milk of space.
Today is enough.
To live and to be
a pilgrim, ever-arriving
at the temple of Presence.
Once I would climb. Now,
bowing to the mountain,
I am the mountain.


Photo: Mount Tahoma seen on a walk
near my home.

Birthday Card

You cannot reverse
the aging process,
but you can turn
your breath into light,
pouring it through
the vacant places
in your body,
filling every atom like
a chalice to the brim
with the invisible sap
of eternity.
Now, dear one,
let the Master
drink from you.
You are never one
moment old!


(A poem from 'Savor Eternity...')

Look

No matter where you look,
all you will ever see
is a reflection of the glow
from your own chest.
Is it covered with the stain
of yesterday,
the dust of tomorrow?
What does this world
really need?
Your first response ability
is to polish the window
of the heart, dear friend.
Pour out peace, joy
and kindness, the attributes
of your true nature.
The rose does not go looking
for the famished bee.
She simply rests
in her center.
That fragrance
accomplishes everything.



Painting, 'Yellow Flower',
Georgia O'Keefe

Plop

 
I once thought that silence
was empty
and stillness was quiet.
But by the grace of
the Master's breath,
I know now that silence is
a billowing storm of joy,
stillness a bursting flower.
The heart that touches the void
violently blossoms
in a revolution of gentleness
that turns the universe inside out,
spreading golden pollen
throughout the stars.
This happens in the Body,
not the mind,
because primordial wonder
annihilates thought.
When no mind exists,
the Body is the Spirit.
This is why, throughout the ages,
souls bewildered by love
gave up books of philosophy
and gained enlightenment
by smelling jasmine,
touching a silken haired cat,
or hearing a frog plop
into a pond. Now taste the wine
of pure awareness.