You Are That

O this rollicking stillness!
Can you feel the graceful jolt
of alignment with yourself,
the soft landing in groundlessness
that makes the earth spin?
You have explored the farthest
limits of consciousness
and discovered there is nowhere
to go, because you are always
already here, at the beginning.
Therefor, there is no return:
all the prophets were wrong.
Now you want to ask the Guru
for your money back?
You should be grateful for
the trick he played on you.
Wasn't he the first one to whisper,
Tat Tvam Asi?
You Are That.
Here's the drunkenness:
there is no one to become.



Photo by Kristy Thompson

Absolution

Rose, let me break your stem and offer your petals to my beloved. Earth, please don't mind if I walk on you, crushing the humble snail. Sun, allow me to use you up like a melting candle. Don't we all perish in sacrifice to each other's dark kisses? I absolve everyone from every sin the moment I forgive myself for ever having believed I could be separate.

Brahma Muhurta



When the swan
of your Name
descends on a breath
of dawn

to alight upon
the still lake

of this beating heart,
a golden mist
of unfathomable
softness goes up
to kiss the sky
and heal each
creature who comes
to bow at the edge
of these waters
and drink from
the mystery
of our love.
No need to
even whisper
'So'ham, So'ham,'
because lips
and wings will
soar to this place
without moving.

Corona

"O night, sweeter than sunrise!"
~St. John of the Cross


Wake up!
Even if you're still tired.
Wake up!
Yesterday's exhaustion
is a dream.
Wake now and
open all the eyes
in your body,
even the hidden one
that closed when
you were born.
The rising sun is
only a harbinger
of the glory that will
ravish your heart
with the never-ending
breath of stillness.
Wake up!
You must not miss
one precious instant
of this hour before dawn
when your dark mother
reveals the beauty
of the void
and shows you a Way

through the blackest center

in the whirling galaxy
of your flesh
to the radiance of who
you are.

Align

On a summer morning
all things fall
into themselves,
The sky faintly
brushing the stillness
of a forest pond,
the dragonfly caressing
a water lily
as sunlight settles
through trembling wings,

and the briefest alignment
of light, wing, water
reminds me of
the golden mystery
that falls through my own
translucent breath,
to settle in the softness
of my heart.
O how the purest gesture
of earth and sky
teaches remembrance
of the treasures inside.
I fall into myself
this morning
and am happy.

Eye of the Wound

In temple statues the Buddha has eyes
where Jesus had wounds.
Wound-eye opening thorn-crowned forehead,
wound-eye gashed in breast and belly,
wound-eye in one palm raised blessing,
in the other gazing downward
touching, healing the earth.
What if every atom in your body
is an organ of perception?
What if rivers change their courses
and continents tremble when you dance,
your navel fixed motionless at the center
of the vast suffering galaxy named Christ?

Ready

So many ways
we all keep saying
the same thing
over and over,
"I am ready to love.
Are you?"
But really, such words
only tell their truth
in silences.
Your eyes,
the way particles
of sunlight form waves
around the gesture
of your smile,

this melting of the earth
into honey
when the mind rests
in the heart.



Painting: from Renoir Galleries

Task

Even a flea follows
her dharma.
What is your task?
The lion's duty is to roar.
The deer spreads seeds,
gently munching, then
quietly relieving herself
in the poppies.
The cobra knows his mission,
waiting patiently
for the indefatigable mouse.
What is your task, friend,
so humble yet
essential to creation?
A cobbler repairs boots.
A farmer tills his field.
The blue moth kisses
the earth, a fleck of sky
carrying sweetness
from flower to flower
on sticky feet.
I reanimate the world
with wonder.


Photo by Laurent Berthier
whose task is beauty.

Cure


The healing
of the body
is the body.

One breath
is balm.

The elixir
is silence.

From the raw
green nectar

of the earth,
distil
l the medicine
of Presence.
What is the
secret cure?

I rest in
being
merely
as I Am.

Ruthless

God is ruthlessly forgiving.
Can you stand in the fire?
Put away your weapon.
You are only the sheath.
Love is the sword.

See How They Grow

Wildflowers grow
without discipline,
rooted in the secret order
of quietness.
Nature draws no
straight lines or right angles.

Edges must get rounded.
Wouldn't you rather run
your fingers through black loam
than scroll the golden
books of the Law?

What you really seek
is the fragrance of chaos,

like a moth
at a purple aster,
feasting

on the intimate fragility
of a mountain meadow.

Surrender.
Grow light.
Strip off your armor
of should and shouldn't.
Then with all the earth
for a heart,
fight the valiant
battle for beauty.




Took this photo on Mt. Tahoma (Rainier)

Rootless

The rose of Presence
Blossoms with no root, no ground...
Fragrance of the past?

Nearer

You who seek love
have breathed love
since the earth
first kissed the sky.
When you repose
in your Self
the Master is full
like the moon.

God calls you
'My Beloved'
and the Goddess

calls you
'Dear'
just like newlyweds
whispering
,
since You and the Divine
are equals.
Everything has
three meanings:
outer, inner, and even
nearer than that.
What happens there
in the world
also happens
here inside.
But what happens
inside doesn't really
happen at all,
because the Witness
of the Dream
never fell asleep.

All that remains
to learn now, friend,
is to be more playful.

Breathed

The Goddess came to me
in the form of my own breath
and touched my chest
with unutterable softness
which was the light of creation.
She said, "I breathed you
before the world was made.
We were dancing
before you were born.
Your heart is the drum.
When it beats here, on earth,
there is whirling
and spinning there,
in eternity."




Dark Heart

Sometimes you just have to
shut your eyes and sink
into dark-hearted silence
where there is no news, no lie.

Drown in not even trying to love.
Dissolve in refreshing
splendors of emptiness
where so much is now
suddenly possible.
Graciously, out of that
inmost hollow,
where children have not
been murdered or born
by sadness,
flows the unpremeditated
river of compassion.

O wordless Presence,
create the world again
in my chest.

I'm sorry. I love you. Forgive me.
Did I say that yesterday?
I say it again today.

Seven billion times I
say it tonight in the tender
impeccable womb
of my luminous sorrow.

Cup (A Poem from 'Savor Eternity...')

Dogen saw stars in a dewdrop.
Ananda saw Buddha in a flower.
I saw Christ gazing back at me
from the bottom of the empty cup.
Some pour it all out to get here.
I got here by drinking
everything.


الكأس
شاهد دوغن النجوم في قطرة الندى.
وشاهد أناندا البوذا في زهرة.
ورأيت المسيح يحدّق بي
من أسفل الكأس.
بعضهم يفرغ كأسه ليصل إلى هنا.
أما أنا، فأصل حين أشرب
كل شيء. 



Arabic translation by Dana Chamseddine

Stem

Follow the peculiar
thread of sweetness
that draws you
to the Beloved's mouth
in a way no one has
ever been wooed.
Be honeysuckle satisfied
with its own frail
yet gushing stem.
Comparison with others
pinches off
the nectar of grace.

Shoal

Just now
there is nothing to know
but this inhalation
softly threading the bones,
tossing the soul like a sea stone
through wave-swirled boulder hollows
patiently carving ventricles
left and right, a figure
eight of doubled emptiness,
a sign of the infinite
for the old blood to follow
with its load of sky
down into the crevice
of your heart.

Grain by grain the flesh
is layered on this sandy shoal
of wind and water, salt and sun,
but just as gradually
taken again by the ocean
of breathing... Indeed
there is nothing to know
but endless life passing
through a body.


Photo by Charles Gurche

Vespers

Your body is wheat.
The harvest is ready.
Let this breath brush
the hollow of your throat,
your chest and belly,
as a blue moth delights
in the bearded kernel
fattened on its sun gold
curve of plenty.
Settle here, yet do not stay.
Dance, yet do not touch.
Don't even call it
meditation.
Discover how,
without a name,
without a practice,
you become a gesture of stillness.
Find an abundance
of miracles
in the small.




Nest

What you've been seeking
made her nest
in your heart's breath
before you were born.

Metaphysics of Rose

"No other light, no other guide
than the one burning in my heart."
~St. John of the Cross


Between the stamen and the sky,
between the diamond dust-mote
where pollen is conceived
and the bright abyss of
mirageless wonder, you live
in layered crimson distances,
concentric shadows of presence.
I climb the foothills and peaks
of your fragrance
into the lashes and parries
of your wine-dark gaze,
those locks and lips, your
burgundy curves, petaled in air.
Yet only a fractal of myself, dear,
remains entangled in your beauty,
a fingertip swept through
long strands of blackness,
working the essence of cinnamon in.
Just a part of me follows
the musk of your unveiling,
your fall into the midnight
of illumination, swimming
with the motions of a rose
ever outward, ever inward
toward moonseeds of emptiness,
where the greater part of
what I long for is already
who I Am.

Grace


The Master's glance
is solidified grace

which was nothing but theology
until I felt the Beloved's touch,

fingertips ever so gently pressing
my chest, only for a moment,

yet that ripeness split open forever,
spilling golden fruit.

In the beginning, Grace seems
abstract, silent as the night sky,

until the whisper comes, a syllable
filling the heart with star music.

Here's the simple truth:
we've already drowned in love.

Let’s be honest, friend, I only
became free when I surrendered.

Kelp

Giant tubes and bladders
of sea kelp
on the wilderness beach,
Olympic Peninsula,
softy looped and
hopelessly knotted
in the beauty of chaos,
like our fractal paths
that don't all lead
to the same goal,
or anywhere, exactly.
If you want to get
untangled, embrace
entanglement.



My photo, sea kelp, Olympic Peninsula, 7/19/17

Thorn



The thorn is as much
a part of the rose
as the petal.
The ocean of ananda
is wholeness.
Waves of bliss
bring pleasure
and pain.
Fleeing darkness only
lengthens the night.
Friend, our suffering
is our resistance
to what Is.

Painting of the Magdalene
by Domenico Fetti


In the Skin

Hang with those who
allow you to ripen.
Become the golden sky
in the grape skin,
but don't forget the
gnarled wounded vine
that rounded your
brilliant pain
into juice.

Awaken

As you awaken, just before
the mind of yesterday
falls back like a net of stones

behind your eye,
be weightless.
Be Presence without telling.
How your soul looks
in that mirror
when it sees itself!
What gets you out of bed,
dancing like a wild
purple iris in the breeze
of your own inhalation!
It doesn't matter at all
what you will do for
a living today.
The priceless jewel
is just living.
It doesn't matter at all
how much money
you will make today.
Your body is more
precious than sunlight.
Your sternum is beaten
from finer gold.
Whether you feed
the multitudes today
or only wash the dishes
makes no difference at all.
What matters is to plunge
down the stem of this
unfolding meditation flower,

to follow the thunderbolt
in your backbone all
the way home to silence,
and drop the echo of
last night's anger.
It's morning.
Love doesn’t need

a story.
Let the
mirage of sorrow
vanish in the clarity
of this breath,
your heart the whole sky,
empty and blue.



Photo by Kristy Thompson

Dream

Last night I dreamed
of my mother's room.
Don't resist the colors,
the pearl and lapis
of vast space
just before dawn.
Some waves of awareness
can be sad.
Let them.
At the heart of joy
a silent tear,
and in each tear
the crystal sky.
Childhood long
forgotten, bathed
in sacred memory.
0n her dresser, sunlight
the gold of longing,
Schubert's Rosemund
on her radio.
A porcelain clock
from Vienna, silver
hand-mirror with initials
like transparent lilies,
here an M, there a K.
The China figurine
of a lady in sun hat
and blue gown
that somehow flows still
in a summer breeze
forever.
____
Painting, Joaquín Sorolla, 1909

Victim

If you desire a bitter
and fruitless life
just keep choosing the role
of the victim.
Just keep blaming others
for your circumstance.
But if you want your
heart to melt into
the impeccable splendor
of the golden sun
and to illuminate the earth
with courage,
take off the cloak
of your old story.
Step naked
through the portal
of the present moment
into a kingdom
where darkness sparkles
and silence sings,
because there is
no judgment
and fear is swallowed up
in Love.

This Is My Body

That Master was a Fool who said, 'I am not this body.'
I Am this body and what is beyond it.
I Am this body and the cosmos, its glow.

I am this body and the womb who bears me.
I am this body and the seed who ignites me.

My soul is foam, my sorrow rain, my sexual longing the sun.
My breath is the vast blue stillness that watches me dance.
I am the golden beams that shower my bones with muscle.
I am the night infusing my atoms of marrow and fat.


My brain I am, my tears I am, my belly, my buttocks I am.
My foot I am, taking responsibility for the footprint
among the ferns and cedars of unborn childhood.

I am the food and the excrement, the salty God-ocean
in a sperm, the galaxy of numberless worlds in the pupil of my eye,

I am the herd of caribou wandering through
the desolate winter of a teardrop.

I am the swan of Hamsa settling on the membrane of a memory
in the lobe of my cerebrum that traps moonbeams in dew.

I am the eye of the tiger watching a vein pulse in my throat,
the wind over the rose-lit desert of my left ventricle
in the evening between two heartbeats,

the broken covenant of work and fruit
in the withered garden of my palm,
the dust bowl of the hypothalamus,

the cry of wolves before dawn in the frozen valley of my ribs,
one of them already stolen by the god of absences
to make a woman out of me.


I am the heron standing all morning in the wetland
where rainbows of petroleum dazzle the mind of the frog.
I am wheeling flocks of returning geese who cannot find their pond.

I am the golden eagle over Mount Ranier
caught in the mysterious updraft of heat vents
about to spew upon Seattle the dismal retribution of my mud.


I am the gnarled three-legged toad of my own hand,
my shoulder a stranded sea-lion wounded by propellers,
my heart a Winter cocoon that opens too soon for wings.

My liver is a beached gray whale where the tide
is too warm and too high.

My allergic coughs are confounded dolphins
who can't get back to the sea.
My groin is a bonfire
surrounded by carnivorous eyes.

Tribes drink war-mad juices from my thyroid groves,
dancing naked for visions in my adrenal cortex.

I am this body's negative as well as its fair flesh:
I am the hollow in all my bones, the tunnel for blood,
the cavern death explores as food, moving back to its planet.

I am widening lips smeared with delicious silt from the garden,
my long intestine packed with seed-laden soil,
fragrant as a murdered god to fertilize both rose and thistle.


I am the beckoning of the tide in the neuron of desire,
the eye a vacuum for seeing, the nostril quivering
for the scent of meat,taste bud and follicle,
hollow as trees for ancient sap.


I am the forked tongue of the hungry dendrite,
unfathomable black hole of the old reptilian brain
flickering with galaxies of cortisone that stream toward the pituitary.

I am the patient glistening dragon of the whole body,
both male and female, neither yours nor mine
to possess or define, whose tail is heavenly Andromeda,
whose belly is Arcturus.


I am the core of the warm Earth, whose beautiful name is Hell.
I am the crown of stars on the Goddess of darkness.
My wings are purple nebulae in measureless curves of her distance.


Deva lokas are but photons in a single inhalation of my prana.
Thousands of Indras I exhale, my breath the milk ocean of Vishnu,
Mount Meru an electron, spun from a capillary of these lungs.


What Master of fools ever said I am not this body?
Only sinners believe that matter cannot become God.

I celebrate the chaos of skin, and what is beyond
the fractal horizon of skin.
I celebrate my body as Adam unfallen,
and God in your body as Eve.

I celebrate wine and its thirst, food and its hunger.
I celebrate the morsel and the crumb. I digest suns.

I celebrate what is ordinary, and it sparkles. I consume all.
I celebrate the whole electric scandal of the formless in this form.
I celebrate common bread.

Ishq

Because your sighs
have fermented my blood
I need no wine.
My name on your lips is the longest Sura.
I begin the Night Journey in your eyes
toward the wild desert fragrance
I longed for all day.
The only revelation is my face
reflected in your gaze.
Lest you profane the Prophet,
keep your window open,
do not close it even 
with the clearest glass.
No image, no reflection!
Ignore the picture in your mind:
like a Lover's map,
it was sketched by trembling.
Look to the hollow seeds,
to the emptiness before conception.
We are a mirror leaning on a mirror,
reflecting a wilderness of purity,
you, the last veil of my desire,
and I, the veil within that;
I, the last veil of your desire,
and you, translucent, blue,
the color of yearning itself.
We are each others' search
for the fiercest clarity
where not one, but nothing
becomes Two...
Spin quickly now, before
the other vanishes,
so that we may catch God
at the center of whirling.
On the wick of your eye, you lit me,
I danced forth as seeing.
From the golden oil in my bones
I kindled you.
A soul for my soul,
you gushed through my hollow places.
Anoint me now!
Drip down this broken necklace
of seven dangling pearls.
From throat to thigh, unite the sea
and setting sun.
Of purple curtains
in the King's chamber we may speak,
but never of what happens
on the other side.
When dawn comes, we'll whisper
which of us was stillness,
which the dancer.

*******

عش

لأنّ آهاتك قد خمّرت دمي،
لا أحتاج إلى نبيذ...
اسمي على شفتيك هو السورة الأكبر.
وفي عينيك أبدأ رحلة الليل
نحو صحراء بريّة الرحيق.
لا وحي إلا صورة وجهي
منعكسة في شخوص عينيك.
دعيهما نافذة مفتوحة،
ولا تحوّلي فراغك إلى زجاج
حتى لا تدنّسي النبوة
وتعودي بعينيك من البصيرة إلى البصر.
عندما لا أرنو إليك،
تصير عيني وثناً.
حتى فكرة ‘المحبوب’ تصبح وثناً
إذا ما لم تُقرن بقبلته.
لذا تجاهلي الصور التي تكوّنت في رأسك:
فهي، كخرائط العشاق، قد رُسمت بارتعاش.
وانظري بدلاً منها إلى البذور الراسخة،
إلى الفراغ فيها قبل اللقاح
حيث يصبح الصفر اثنين
في فضاء اللامعرفة المشرق (الساطع).
نبحث معاً عمّا بين مرآتين،
عن ذلك النقاء البريّ،
فتصيرين بحثي وأصير بحثك.
أنت، حجاب لذّتي الأخير
وأنا، حجاب الحجاب،
شفّاف، أزرق، بلون السماوات التوّاقة.
اغزلي الآن سريعاً قبل أن يزول الآخر
فقد نلتقي واللهَ في مركز الدوران.
أشعلتني على فتيل عينيك:
فرقصت هناك في النظر.
ومن الزيت الذهبيّ في عظامي، أضأتُكِ،
روحاً لروحي، تتدفق في أماكني الجوفاء،
وفي جروحي.
امسحي رأسي بالزيت الآن! قطّريه على هذا العقد المنثور
من سبع لآلئ معلّقة.
من أعلى الرأس إلى أسفل الحوض، وحّدي البحر بالشمس إذ تغيب.
يمكننا الحديث عن ستائر ليلكيّة في غرفة الملك،
لكننا لا نتحدّث أبداً عمّا يحدث في الضفّة الأخرى!
وعندما ينبلج الفجر، سوف نهمس:
مَن منّا كان السكون، ومن كان الراقص.
____________


A version of this poem appears in 'Wounded Bud.'
Translated into Arabic by Dana Chamseddine.

Illustration, 'Hour of Grace,' by Edmund Dulac.


KIss

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

Here


Here you are!
At the beginning
and the end
of every path.
Let the mind rest
in the heart.
Let your breath
move the stars.


Photo by Laurent Berthier