Gently allow
the silent stream
of breathing
to replace the chatter
of your thoughts.
Worry and argument
only mislead you
to the tangled wasteland
of past and future.
But breath flows down
from the mountain of wonder
to the ocean
of Presence.
There's a place where
this melting
and flowing began.
We met there, friend,
and now we meet here
as waves
in the wild green chaos
of the heart.

Photo: I took this on Gobbler's Nob
looking toward Mt. Rainier


The petals have fallen.
Now, a swollen berry.
Sorrow and sweetness are one.
Truth is not a point of view.
It's the vast space of listening,
the bliss of
dropping judgment.

A Poppy

A poppy opens,
creating the sky.
The lie of causation.
Don't keep your bewilderment
a secret.
Flower in Silence.
Breathe the Goddess.
Wherever you wander
is the heart.
Keep drowning.
There's a groundless well
inside you.
Death comes out of there,
and laughter.
The turquoise egg
plummets through stillness
yet the whisper of night
wordlessly weaves
a nest around it.
The blossom is born
from its fragrance.
There was never a beginning.
The lie of time.
Emptiness before creation.
Blackness before grace.
Now feel in your body
how love reveals
her wave in every particle.
Don't keep your bewilderment
a secret.

Photo by Laurent Berthier


Why Mecca?
No haj
but Allah's swirling gaze
in the golden motion
of a rose.
Why Jerusalem?
No pilgrimage
but the gesture of a mothwing
on a fallen dahlia,
Christ coming
gently again
before you go anywhere.
Why Benares?
The flutesong of a tanager
passing through these woods
will take you South
to Shyam's intoxicating garden.
Just wander
where a breath goes
to perish in amazement.
Love is not a journey
but an opening.
Is there a single
infinitesimal dot
in all of space or time
that does not overflow
with the nectar
you've been thirsting for?


A drop of silence
dissolves the world
into night.
Out of emptiness
geese cry,
meaning nothing
but their ineffable sound.
This poem
continues as a shudder
of aloneness
in your bedroom.
Unwilling pilgrim,
you keep returning
to the paroxysm of your
unendurable stillness.
Finally you fling the half
eaten carcass of your heart
into the dark promise
of the next breath,
the davening of the moon
a welcome distraction
from the prayer of dying,
the yearning of birth.
Pilgrim, didn't you know?
You can breathe in the womb.
Satisfy all hungers
with hollowness.

The fact that you survived
until this moment
proves that you are not alone.
Existence is a vast community
of tears.

Photo: Ansel Adams, Leaves, Mt. Rainier National Park

Frail Wings


Awareness of a thistle
is a thistle,
awareness of a mountain,
a mountain,
awareness of your lovely eyes,
your lovely eyes.
But awareness of awareness
is no thing, just
the infinite sky
that fills all creatures
with the azure ecstasy
of Being.
Isn't it time for us to spin
around like dancers,
to catch and see
the radiance
of the seer?

Don't rely on
other people's money.
Rely on your
next breath.
Don't rely on
the Guru.
Rely on your
next breath.
Don't rely on
your beauty,
your eloquent mind,
your weighty education,
your body's prowess.
Just rely on
the string of priceless
magical emeralds,
the liquid diamonds
threaded through you,
the inward sea
that sweeps creation away
like a leaf.
Become poor.
Receive true wealth.
Rely only
on this breath.

Don't Wait

Don't wait for the light.
Breathe in darkness
until it becomes the glow
inside you.
Have faith in the power
of hollow things
to bear fruit.
This is the work
of Autumn, the work
of Grace.
Learn from the withering
sunflower how
to empty your self
and scatter a thousand
Spring mornings.

Painting: Gustav Klimpt, Country Garden with Sunflowers

Poem for the Fourth Night of Navaratri

I don’t believe in wine.
I taste it.
I don’t believe in breath.
I savor the bouquet of white roses,
ocean-crushed pearls.
I welcome the Goddess Shakti
into the electric marrow
of my nerves.
But I do not believe in her.
She is too near
for the mind to know.
What spirals up my backbone
out of black sod,
spilling delectable sap
from the stamen in my crown,
fountaining toward the hungry stars,
is not an idea
but a serpent, burning her way
through every wound.


Allow your heart
to be drawn ever deeper
into the self-luminous
unbearably beautiful jewel
of Silence.
Something glows here
softer than any touch,
more enticing
than any lover.
Playful and birthless,
a joy without cause,
this light makes us free.
Before there was the Word
of God,
there was the Silence
of the Mother.

* Photo by Aile Shebar

Elder Song

For the first day of Autumn...

I'm older now,
I travel the stem,
sink seedward,
returning to sap.
Then I explode into scarlet petals of death,
the ones you see on the last rose in your garden.

I am the musk of eldering wine 
scented from the two oak barrels in your heart.
I am the worn letters of blood
on your stone tablets of breathing.
I make medicine drip from the berry
in your pineal gland.
It runs down a string of pearls
into the place your songs come from.
What kisses happen in the jasmine pistil
of your hypothalamus?
I have felt them.
They set off thunder under your breast bone.

I know what the sounds of unseen wings
in your lungs mean,
and how often stars make wishes on your fingertips.
I hear the chime of darkness, translate it
into your eyes as sunrise.
I smell what inebriates the midnight wind
that rummages through the garden in your hips.

If you knew what I know, which is only one
very small thing, like a black worm
in a bright apple, yet more succulent
than the knowledge of philosophers,
you would keep your tongue naked
and wordless for the taste of the next inhalation.
You would surely understand that though
the journey seems long, when you walk
slowly with the Truth,
you polish the earth, each step
the planting of a rainbow.

Remove your graduation gown,
your belt, your socks and underwear,
your memory, your name.
Now enter the forest, glistening,
slow-reeling through rings of mushrooms.
Don't do it in this poem,
do it tonight in the real forest.
If you don't have a wild place nearby,
you are living in the wrong world.

To dance alone in the exposure of old trees,
bare feet dew-stung, ankles
gathering spider silk and threads
of tomorrow's morning glory,
may be the one solution to many problems
we have not yet tried.

Now let the golden moon make honey
of your silence.
When you return, don't tell.


I stay Om.
My lineage is the ancient
silence of Now.
My journey is deepening stillness.
My path is the distance of one breath
from the crown of the head to the molten core
of my fierce frail heart.
My teacher is the Serpent.
I am the beast who becomes God.
I will bring my body with me,
all its musky scent and savor.
I pray for ruin.
O Lord of radiant desolation,
tear down the wall between "higher" and "lower,"
the dike that walls off the sea
of pain and beauty below.
Let my path be tangled
in the wilderness of my spleen.
Let this trail descend
into the diamond cavern of yearning in my loins.
Come, seeker, stay in my ashram for free.
Look for a dilapidated barn,
odorous with horse and doggy dander.
Cowherd lasses enter and leave in the moonlight
with steaming pails of raw milk,
wrinkled saris, smeared lipstick.
Angry peacocks will wake you at 4 a.m.
The one thing you can never do here
is sleep.
Otherwise, no rules.
On the gate is a sign that says,
"Animals Only!"
That means you.


The world is scary
and I'm scared.
That's the Truth.
The world is in chaos
and I refuse to pretend
that I know what to do.
Do you hear me?
I'm scared
and I don't know.
Yet when I tell
the Truth
a sacred
white buffalo
wanders into my heart
and I feel a peace
that the world
cannot give
or take away.
Do you hear me?
Perhaps this
is what we can
all do together:
Be scared.
Don't know.
Tell the truth.

What Is Dry


Out of the sand
so much beauty.
From what is dry
the luscious.
Seeker, you crave
pleasures with your
eyes and ears,
nostrils, tongue
and skin,
yet the only
sensation that
fulfill you is

the scentless
invisible opening
of the cactus
at night

in the desert
of your chest.

Photo: cactus flower, Kristy Thompson


You want me to
give up my story
so that you can
tell yours.
I want you to
give up your story
so that I can tell mine.
What if we both
give up our stories
To hear the waves
of silence
grinding our sculls
into sparkling sand?
To hear the glassy chime
of seven trillion stars
in the boundless heart?
What if we drown together
in the catastrophic emptiness
of love?
What if we truly listen?

Painting by J.M.W. Turner, b. 1775


What is the sign of the Friend?
When you forget him he does not
forget you.
When you crucify him
he keeps returning as a
gentle inhalation
piercing your chest like a ray
of finely ground emeralds.
He empties himself of form
to reveal his whisper as
your very silence.
He becomes nothing
but the window through which trees,
mountains, ruined temples
and clouds appear.
Human faces, especially
strangers and enemies,
are his masks.
You think he is not there
because he is between your eyebrows
before seeing arises.
Your heart is a cup
polished clear as the morning sky,
and in this chalice of wonder
he is the sunrise.
You imagine that such inward light
reflects the glory above you.
This is your only mistake,
yet it throws the whole world
into confusion.
Be precise.
Don't pour the wine in
just yet.
First drink the pure water
of So'ham: He I Am.
The day star in the heavens
is just an image of the golden joy
that destroys you and
creates you with
each breath.


If you sink deeply
into who you already are
you will feel your body
beginning to dance.
This is the practice
of not doing
for those who have
the courage to be hopeless:
rest your mind in the heart,
give up the search,
be grateful for this breath.
Now watch the universe
blossom around you
like a golden
chrysanthemum rooted
in the fertile waste
of all that you surrender.

Non Sequitur

It is self-evident that all other creatures conspire in moving my breath to keep the weight of a mantis from breaking a stalk of thistle.

The mother of the smiling lady who works the cash register at Super Fresh died of cancer this morning; therefor all of us must toil by the sweat of our brows for another 10,000 years.

The nipple that stiffens for a baby stiffens for a lover too; this is why hibiscus bloom late in September.

Sniffing at the trash compactor, a stray brown mongrel looks at me with the eyes of a high school teammate killed in 1968 at the Battle of Khe Sanh; therefor Autumn rain.

When I ask the Master who he is, he answers, "Nobody," and he means it; therefor I press my forehead to his little brown toes.

Falling alder leaves scratch the window pane at midnight; or is it the glassy chime of distant stars? Obviously both, proving that waves and particles are complimentary.

Mountains, forests, wheat fields, sky, and countless worlds I cannot know, are ripples in the purple prayer flag, tattered by a constant wind; hence this moment dawns causelessly out of the vacuum.
Without thinking, "I must bow," I bow; therefor bending is destiny.


Flowers of emptiness
in a garden of tears.
Gather them, they are real,
they have the fragrance
of awakening.
You chose this world,
but that doesn't mean
there was any other.
Wanting to be elsewhere
is more painful than the bruise
of embracing sacred sorrow.
Friend, here's the question:
how will you make
golden honey of it?
How will you walk
upon the one essential earth?
As a Victim
or a Lover?

Photo by Laurent Berthier


To rest the mind
in the heart
is the most
ancient journey,
the distance of
one breath,

a pilgrimage
into stillness.

Photo: Laurent Berthier


There has never been a day
when the world was not filled
with sorrow.
There has never been a day
when the world was not filled
with joy.
By means of this breath
return to the ordinary.
Find perfect sanity in a dandelion.
Let the immaculate sun
shine at the center
of every tear.

Don't Know

What do I mean when I say
it is a journey into stillness,
it is the story of ancient silence?
Or when I say that breath
is richer and more luminous
than thought?
I don't know.
What do I mean when I say
the meditation of my body
moves cloud-like over the trees,
wolf-like through the tundra
beyond desolation and hunger?
Or when I say my body tumbles
like a fierce white stream
from the mountain of my soul?
I don't know.
Not knowing is my prayer.
The power of un-resistance
ceases duration through time
because nothing is grasped
and nothing is renounced.
What does this mean?

What does it mean when I ask
whether stones and stars and
memories are made

of effervescent emptiness
I don't know.
Or when
I say,
"Don't exist, just sparkle..."

Ink painting: one of the classics of Zen,
Daruna, the 6th Patriach, sitting in meditation.
The caligraphy means, 'Don't Know.'


I Insist

Flesh is music.
If you insist,
"I am not this body,"
I will insist that
you dance and sing.

Fires and Floods

We burn, we drown.
We oppose, we blame.
But love has no opposite.
Balance fire and water.
Balance anger and grief.
Balance brain and heart,
north and south.
Whatever brings you burning,
whatever brings you tears,
let them kiss.
Then the fires and floods will cease.
You are the weather.


There is only one
for the science of yoga,
the art of living:


Scattering thoughts,
uprooting the past,
the mighty wind
is this breath.


A spiral of chaos,
a center of joy,
this devastation
is You
(no wilder storm,
no quieter eye)



Between your thoughts
is a portal that never closes.
There is no path, no stairway
to this door,
no need to go forth or return.
Step for just an instant
into the wild meadow
where particles dissolve
into waves of eternity.
Find the buried jewel
more precious than your birth,
the radiant inheritance
you've been carrying so near
this breath
you imagined it was merely
your body.
O no, wanderer of melted places!
Abandon this logic.
What you've been calling
'flesh and bone'
is a robe of woven serpents,
dragons of entanglement,
each on fire with
danger and sweetness,
enticing you to drink
the nectar and the ferment
of annihilation.
Journey into stillness.
Let your silence turn to wine
in the diamond chalice of the void.
Have faith in bewilderment.

In Silence

In silence
is community
where countless voices sing
about the fragrance of the moon,
the majesty of a thistle,
the taste of your eyes.
In solitude
we are nearer
than half a breath,
our naked chests pressing memories
into nectar.
Words slither away like newts
into a cool silver stream of surrender,
where the current of yearning drowns us
in the pavonine democracy of the rainbow.
Jesus called it the kingdom.
Someone wrote down his thoughts,
which were very very few,
but no one recorded his silences.
What is the meaning of your heart beat?
Therefor Autumn comes.
You slip out of your grief,
naked and fierce as a berry.
In a gaze of withering trust I
unveil your fragile moth-like body.
We join hands, bravely depart
this garden of roses older than stories,
step so lightly into the present moment.

Photo by Laurent Berthier - deep gratitude


No need to break out
of your comfort zone.
Just let it expand
until you encircle the night.
You are the wild iris,
not the drowning bee.
Rest your mind in the heart.
This is the mother
of all sadhanas.

The greatest journey
is growing still.

The supreme adventure

is becoming silent.

Begin at the horizon.
Ride the circumference
of light.

Photo by Laurent Berthier


Red sun, burnt forest.
Put out the fire with your tears.
Weather is inside.

Photo: Took this from my porch, red sun in smoke filled sky over Puget Sound, Sept. 4, 2017. Forest fires all over the West.

Like Mary

The Magdalene had countless lovers
and never sinned
because she was true to the One
whose tomb was in the garden
between her breasts.
As the planter takes up the hoe
and the minstrel his lyre,
the guest at the wedding an empty cup
when the wine steward approaches,
as Shyama lifts to his lips
the hollow flute to fill with breath,
so let your soul take up the fine
tuned instrument of your body
with its seven flowering silences.
You must become the music
you long to hear.

Mary Magdalene by Carlo Sellitto, 1610


I used to make love to one partner.
Now I am blessed with
perfect promiscuity,
shamelessly plucking the bliss
from every creature.

I seduce a bursting jasmine bud.
I ravish a passing cloud, a raindrop.
I am intimate with a dew-teared freesia
and each little honey-thief who
pillages the secret of her golden petals.

I fall in love with a robin's nest
and its new blue egg,

and kiss reflections of the moon
in every mud puddle.
With the breath of night,
with millions of eyes,
with myriad lips and tongues
in all the cells of my body,
I part the veil of stars
and drink from the Milky Way.
In the morning
I woo dust.


All is given
to the one who asks
for nothing but a breath
of the Giver.

Give In

If you are not drunk
with the miracle
of the present moment
you have been on
the wagon too long.
Give up the discipline
of a good future.
Give in to the ecstasy
that kills you.
Staying alive
for more than an instant
is no fun at all!


Love is not enough.
One must overflow
with the presence of
no Other.
If you don't
understand this
you are probably

Golden Flower

Remember the golden
flower of emptiness
that burst open
in the furrow of your
missing rib
before you were born.
There is nothing
more present than
this ancient silence.
Let your breath go there
to drink sap
and heal the world
with a fragrance
softer than jasmine.


Please don't tell me
whose fault this is.
My heart is fasting
from blame.
There are too many
to praise and comfort,
and not enough tears.
Break my heart, waters,
but not my fast.