December 12, 2005

Crowned with the Stars

Meditation V on Thomas Traherne's "Your enjoyment of the world..." Quoted in Huxley's Perennial Philosophy

The bride of a monarch in her husband's chamber, hath no such cause of delight as you.

What is it that has us feel so fundamentally impoverished? What has us experience ourselves as unworthy? On her wedding night, resting on her bed, filled with excitement and bubbling enthusiasm, having the boundless affection and commitment of her king and lover, the world her playground, showered in riches and vast power, this bride's delight cannot compare with the unconditioned bliss in your own heart. This bride's freedom is incomparable to the unbounded freedom that is your birthright. She is a beggar compared with the bounty that is inherent in your original nature; a bounty that is already and always present. She may now own the kingdom and subjects, but as a nobody you have dissolved into the herenow, a mystic freshness of vastly greater worth. As an identity it is natural to feel impoverishment. As a nobody you are an unfathomable abundance.

You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars;

Here is Kabir, the drop slipping from the lotus leaf into the ocean. Here is Rumi merging with the beloved, where one looks inside, down into infinite space and finds no center, and looks out into eternity and finds no center, and sees himself as the swinging door of Suzuki Roshi, just a swinging door between the in breath and the out breath. Suddenly you're not there, and all of existence is. Tortoise Mountain has awakened. The great big blue pancake of sky has fallen on your head. You reach into your heart and feel only stars in vast space. You fall within and find yourself falling in outer space. Inner space merges with outer space, the stars are in you and the sea flows in your veins. You are the emerald green of trees and the gold of sun. The purple mountains sit solidly in your vast body; birds sing and flowers bloom in you. Galaxies spin slowly in your vastness.

Nietzsche and Sartre and all the existentialist's created a clearing, and pointed the way to a clear, empty sky. They cleared away all the gods and angels, cleared the thickets of dead religion; blessedly cleared out the stinking corpse of the one and only God, declared him dead, a projection, a fantasy; extinguished every strategy of salvation and redemption; burned the seeds of hope and fear to white ash, and then burned the ash; burned us down to bare ground, to naked, scorched earth; burned the skin from our flesh and left us exposed to the elements, to sun, wind and rain; left us excruciatingly sensitive; tore our security blanket, pulled the rug out from under us, pitching us into despair, depression, anxiety and angst, darkness, fear, sadness, and such a lack of meaning that drew us toward the dark relief of suicide. But we did not stop, we kept moving, "slouching toward Bethlehem." We trembled in utter darkness but kept walking, crawling out of the artificial womb of security, refusing to escape into the twilight sleep, the trance of self, the hypnotic slumber of distraction, preoccupation and entertainment, into the numbness of unconsciousness. We remained sensitive, exposed, exposing our skinless flesh to the raw elements; unprotected, undefended. We were grateful to those who cleared the ground before us, who shattered all the vessels of religion and superstition to which we had clung, leaving us shockingly naked under the stars at night. On the distant horizon was a campfire. Around it we found Rumi, Kabir and Mirabai. They were completely uninterested in our stories, how Kirkegaard and Sartre had left us so alone, fearful, unbearably sad, sick with self-loathing, contemplating our death. Mirabai shouted the cry of liberation, "Let go! Let go!" And we walked on. In the desert night we forgot about the priests of rationality, these geniuses who were stuck in thought, who were stuck in a hall of mental mirrors, a house of horror, moving in a death circle of mind identified despair and negativity. We walked past every answer, touching and letting go of each anchor, past every longing for comfort and security. Again and again we opened our fists of control, loosened our grip, and moved into the beyond. We opened, trusted, what? we did not know. The night sky was too vast, too free to wrap ourselves around. Instead we let go of ourselves, leaving only naked trust, basic trust. Eventually even that dissolved -- who trusts? At that, we laughed. We were so hollow we did not know even who was laughing or where this laughing was coming from. Yet here was laughter echoing through the desert night, through eternity. The center had dissolved, disappeared and laughter was echoing in empty space. The whole seemed to be laughing, dancing and singing but there was no laugher, dancer or singer present.

The river dissolved into the ocean, into freedom. Now it is clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. Now it is no longer able to identify itself as a river, or even as water, and the sea flows in its veins. In this absence of identity it perceives itself to be the sole heir of the whole world. It has inherited the kingdom of God, and this God has disappeared along with the river. And now only this... the shimmering Milky Way, bird song bubbling out of the silence, yellow buttercups splattered across an emerald meadow, the sweet fragrance of a flowering tree, the nearly imperceptible progression of a white cloud drifting in the blue sky, the balmy smell of rain. This freedom cannot be captured in words. Yet we try. It pierces us and we can do no other than share our sweet pain imperfectly, incompletely. Ecstasy is an inadequate word. It misses the ordinariness, the subtlety and the imperfection that transports this experience into the unknowable, into the ungraspable, into the unnameable, into the beyond. In this way it is self secret. Until you pull the cover of desert stars over you at night, until you drink so deeply at the spring that you drown yourself in its crystal waters, until you fan the flames with your own tailfeathers in the pyre of the phoenix, not knowing if you will emerge, with no thought of emergence, of salvation, and singing into death, the last songs of trust, songs which call all of the 10,000 things to their death, the blessed death, the death of the river flowing into the ocean; not until all is burned will resurrection occur. And even then, you do not know. In the myth of the phoenix a tiny ember brings rebirth. But in this fire all embers fade away and the ground grows cold. A frigid wind blows the ashes far across a frozen lake; far over white, crystal mountains, over swirling galaxies glittering, into space so empty, days no longer pass, time no longer passes, we pass, laughing with a joy known only to the mad. On the empty space that clothes Heaven, red dust gathers, and from this dust, coalescing in timeless emptiness, a new star is born, a celestial jewel ignites.

Post by Akilesh

1 comment:

Steven Crisp said...


Both your message and your words are such a pleasure to read - so inspirational - both gravitas and gossamer.

They bring a joy to my heart and make my mind run wild, like a wayward snow hare, caught too far from its den by the lynx of destiny. Trembling to its fate – at first frozen by fear – it tries racing back and forth hoping to distract the truth long enough to find comfort in its earthly abode, and give suckle to its young. But my heart sees the beauty even in this death dance — its inevitability — the natural design. The lynx has to eat, and if not this one, another; if not today, tomorrow. It is not a bad deal. Both will be able to rest then, but while the lynx will yet again hunger, the hare will be at peace. Die in the jaws of the truth, and set yourself free.

I had my own little experience with understanding all that is available to me, right here, right now. My description is pedestrian, but the experience no less intoxicating. If you are interested you will find it at, and the post is called “The Epiphany”.

Thanks for the meditations,