October 31, 2006


This morning I woke to a very dense fog, thick and pervasive, hanging low in the trees. And then I noticed something else... along the river steam was rising to meet the fog. Fog and steam... really they are the same thing - water vapor, rising, falling, meeting, blending. There is something very beautiful in this.

This is how we meet today - with love: pervasive, rising and meeting one another in openness.

October 30, 2006


Another aspect of openness is intimacy. The quickest access to Truth, and also to beauty, is when you are totally intimate with all of experience, the inner and the outer... When you are being intimate with the whole of experience, the divided mind has to let go of whatever its project is at the moment. In this intimacy, one becomes very open and discovers vastness. Whether the qualities of the experience are unpleasant or beautiful, as soon as you are intimate with the whole of experience, there is openness.


October 29, 2006

Tender Place

Today my prayer consisted in simply going to my heart and re-membering all the folks I've stored there. It is not cold storage. It is a quite warm and tender place.

-- Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB Tree Full of Angels

October 27, 2006

In Synch

The experience of vivid synchronicity operating in one's life is often joyful. You feel the deep relatedness you have with existence. Sometimes this can be a bit startling, and make us want to run for cover into the familiar, predictable world of ego-fixation where we are most often oblivious to the brightness of synchronicity. Sometimes synchronicity is downright unpleasant, but this does not mean it is absent of good information; does not mean that existence is giving us a bad time. On the contrary, it is love in a package that may be unpleasant but which nonetheless wakes us up. In these cases usually it is we who do not want that particular information because it does not line up with our wants, ideas or belief.
"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."


October 26, 2006

The Water Drop

A while back, Aki wrote of letting go, as a drop, slipping from the moist leaf hanging over the pond at sunrise…the point of no return… Such a vivid image - I could feel it. I could feel the slipperiness, the wet shininess of the leaf, the gleaming of the morning sun, the warmth, the movement… It reminded me of the droplets in the story Shunryu Suzuki Roshi wrote about in his book, Zen Mind Beginner Mind. Suzuki Roshi visited the 1,340-foot waterfall in Yosemite. In telling this story of the waterfall, Suzuki Roshi demonstrated his teaching of non-separation, and his capacity for compassion in the metaphor of the water drop:
"…the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be very difficult for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems to me, that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. …after we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling form the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling, you attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life."

October 25, 2006


With my folding fan
I measured the peony --
as it demanded

So many breezes
wander through my summer room:
but never enough

Before this autumn wind
even the shadows of mountains
shudder and tremble

I know everything
about the old householder,
even his shiver


October 24, 2006

My Eyes So Soft

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.


October 23, 2006

Impulse of Dismissal

To one who sees with pure eyes,
from you comes silence -
not the hot air of the pundit and scholar;
not the yadda-yadda of professors
and students endlessly debating
points of long-dead scripture.

Out of your mouth -
the mouth of Jesus
comes the freshness and purity
from which scripture may be written.

You may embrace your regal heritage
or dismiss this with smile or frown,
shuffling some papers or ...,
but let us look lovingly and deeply
into the impulse of dismissal,
from where it comes, and where it leads;
from inherent abundance
to obsessive rehabilitation and substantiation of the self
with its impoverishment and pauperistic pseudo-humility.
Let us draw useful distinctions
between arrogance and unconditioned confidence,
between conceit and the vast, natural
wisdom of the cosmic mirror -
wisdom and warmth that is not acquired,
never acquired, but which we are.

Unless you take the Via Reggia,
claim your royal inheritance, your inherent abundance -
whole, with nothing left out, whole -
how can you give the clear mirror
in which the beautiful ones fall in love with themselves?
If you do not hold up the mirror of groundlessness
as it has been held for you, how will they polish their souls
and kindle remembering in others?

Tommy said,
"To serve as a light for others to see requires that we hold up a mirror to the awakened self…"
Shine on you crazy diamond

Meredith: Amazing you should mention this today, as I have been reflecting on a branch of this same tree. The impulse of dismissal, as I am thinking about it, is an impulse of evasion of the experience of God. This is the topic of resistance – a retreat or hesitancy to open oneself to the light that is shining for us.

There is a link here to intention – that when we articulate our longing, and when our longing appears to come into view, sometimes we react with fear, or resistance, a feeling of being swallowed whole or something like that.

"God gently lures us into intimacy and unexpectedly explodes us into mystery." ~Janet Ruffing

This may cause our opening to close up again - perhaps only briefly, perhaps for a longer time. We affectively distance ourselves from the open door. This mystery is felt to be simply too much until our capacity expands and our tolerance increases. I don't see this as arrogance or obsessive substantiation of self – but rather simply a retreat born of our natural inclinations.

A dear author, Gerald May, wrote,
"The human mind is an endless source of inventiveness when it comes to avoiding the implications of the spiritual experience."
Resistance is quite likely an unconscious response that is part of all normal growth in which a person avoids some issue, some experience, or some insight by a form of avoiding behavior. We willingly stop intimate connections; we turn our heads and eyes and hearts away from communion when it feels like just too much. This response to intimacy is mirrored in our early relationships with 'other'. This is a dynamic of fear of and flight from intimacy. Likely this is an unconscious fear. When it emerges, we see ourselves or see in another a retreating from closeness that was right at hand. This is an important, perhaps pivotal point of process in awakening.

To be with a friend at this time, to open our hearts, to listen, be with, and gently inquire, to nudge another to further open rather than retreat is the gift of spiritual friendship. This is midwifery, yes? This is holding the mirror.

October 22, 2006

Meditation on Mirrors

Give the beautiful ones mirrors of groundlessness.
Looking in such a mirror they begin to re-member;
with it they polish their souls.

When an empty mirror is held up to ego-fixation,
an alchemical melting occurs. Polishing:

a wheat grain sprouts, grows, is ground in the mill,
baked, crushed again between teeth, and digested
to become a persons deepest understanding.

With this understanding a person falls in love
with themselves; unconditioned love blossoms.
With this blossoming, they become a mirror
of groundlessness.

By offering this mirror to another
they kindle re-membering in the other.

(Inspired by Childhood Friends by Rumi

October 18, 2006

Silence of Listening

In the silence

of listening,

you can know yourself

in everyone,

the unseen

singing softly

to itself and to you.

Rachel Naomi Remen

October 16, 2006

The Dash

The Dash is a beautiful short movie with some simple truths to ponder.

This is like a sweet love letter. When something like this touches us, we are moved. We have a temporary glimpse of unconditioned love, of joy without an opposite, of freshness, tenderness, intimacy and authenticity. For a moment we are present and emotion fills us; a tear may fall. But after the passing tears, the real challenge is to live this now, moment to moment for as long as this dash lasts; to hear the message that this human life is but a brief candle and we have the opportunity to love, radically and unconventionally, to take great risks with love and tenderness and generosity, to make a non-rational leap into genuineness, at the risk of appearing foolish.

I recall a scene in Brother Sun Sister Moon, a beautiful movie where a young St. Francis is standing in the village square among a gathering of all the citizens and elders of Assisi, and he realizes all-at-once the meaning of "The Dash," at which point he sheds his clothing and walks out of the village gate - his nakedness matching the beauty and innocence of the open Tuscan countryside. In order to experience and live the truth he had realized, he had to shed all of the conditioning of church and state, all of the coverings that obscured the unconditioned love bursting from his heart. We are no different from young Francis, and our challenge is exactly the same today, now, as it was in Assisi during his day. Are we willing to live this love, or will The Dash be just another pretty experience on our memory shelf.?

This little jewel reminds me of living love, living it as fully as possible while we still have this beautiful earth in our arms.


October 13, 2006


Twenty years ago I met a man from Montana who watched the news on television and read the newspapers because he said that doing so awakened his heart of compassion. Although not particularly interested in the news itself, he found these two forms of media rich sources for cultivating his growing sense of care for and connection to people, animals, landmasses, oceans, forests, and countries all over the planet. He went on to say that he would sit down in his living room, watch or read about some atrocity occurring in some part of the world, and feel his pain, his impulse to turn away, and, in turn, his sense of connection with all of these beings.

Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine
by Saki Santorelli

October 12, 2006

Dancing with the Divine

There are those who have dared
to dance with the divine

their poetry and words
are merely pointers

symbols and sounds
inspired by silence

each word a sutra
longing to be cradled
in the holiness of your heart

savor each one slowly
that you may truly taste
its sweet nectar

for yourself
from yourself

for the divine
is waiting patiently within you
to be asked to dance

The Dance, art by Rassouli
Poem: Dancing with the Divine

October 10, 2006

The Gift

Childhood Friends

You may have heard, it's the custom for kings
to let warriors stand on the left, the side of the heart,
and courage. On the right they put the chancellor,
and various secretaries, because the practice
of bookkeeping and writing usually belongs
to the right hand. In the center,
the Sufis,
because in meditation they become mirrors.
The king can look at their faces
and see his original state.

Give the beautiful ones mirrors,
and let them fall in love with themselves.

That way they polish their souls
and kindle remembering in others.

A close childhood friend once came to visit Joseph.
They had shared the secrets that children tell each other
when they're lying on their pillows at night
before they go to sleep. These two
were completely truthful
with each other.

The friend asked, "What was it like when you realized
your brothers were jealous and what they planned to do?"

"I felt like a lion with a chain around its neck.
Not degraded by the chain, and not complaining,
but just waiting for my power to be recognized."

"How about down in the well, and in prison?
How was it then?"
"Like the moon when it's geting
smaller, yet knowing the fullness to come.
Like a seed pearl ground in the mortar for medicine,
that knows it will now be the light in a human eye.

Like a wheat grain that breaks open in the ground,
then grows, then gets harvested, then crushed in the mill
for flour, then baked, then crushed again between teeth
to become a person's deepest understanding.
Lost in love, like the songs the planters sing
the night after they sow the seed."
There is no end to any of this.

Back to something else the good man
and Joseph talked about.
"Ah my friend, what have you
brought me? You know a traveler should not arrive
empty handed at the door of a friend like me.
That's going to the grinding stone without your wheat.

God will ask at the resurrection, 'Did you bring me
a present? Did you forget? Did you think
you wouldn't see me?'"
Joseph kept teasing,
"Let's have it. I want my gift!"

The guest began, "You can't imagine how I've looked
for something for you. Nothing seemed appropriate.
You don't take gold down into a gold mine,
or a drop of water to the sea of Oman!
Everything I thought of was like bringing cumin seed
to Kirmanshah where cumin comes from.

You have all seeds in your barn. You even have my love
and my soul, so I can't even bring those.

I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself,
and remember me."
He took the mirror out from his robe
where he was hiding it.
What is the mirror of being?
Non-being. Always bring a mirror of non-existence
as a gift. Any other present is foolish.

Let the poor man look deep into generosity.
Let bread see a hungry man.
Let kindling behold a spark from the flint.

An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits,
when they are held up to each other,
that's when the real making begins.
That's what art and crafting are.

A tailor needs a torn garment to practice his expertise.
The trunks of trees must be cut and cut again
so they can be used for fine carpentry.

You doctor must have a broken leg to doctor.
Your defects are the ways that glory gets manifested.
Whoever sees clearly what's diseased in himself
begins to gallop on the way.


"Give the beautiful ones mirrors, and let them fall in love with themselves...and kindle remembering in others..." Always bring a mirror of non-existence as a gift."

With this gift of your "non-existence," your radiant formless consciousness, your groundlessness that is nonetheless awake, in this mirror the other sees their Being. But you realize they will first see what is covering this Being, what is diseased in themselves. With what they see in your mirror of emptiness, hear in your mirror of deep listening, experience in your mirror of witnessing consciousness, they begin "to gallop on the way." Unconditioned love emerges in the mirror and this love has an infinite capacity to envelop and hold any measure of disease. As the mirror increasingly reflects their Being they "fall in love with themselves," and then begin to sense their non-being, their own silent, still, vast and empty consciousness within. They realize that they now are this mirror of non-existence, and they bring this mirror as a gift to others. With this radiant gift beyond price, they "kindle remembering in others."

October 5, 2006


The moon is most happy
When it is full.

And the sun always looks
Like a perfectly minted gold coin

That was just Polished
And placed in flight
By God's playful Kiss.

And so many varieties of fruit
Hang plump and round

From branches that seem like a Sculptor's hands.

I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly
Shaped by a soul within,

And the Earth itself,
And the planets and the Spheres –

I have gotten the hint:

There is something about circles
The Beloved likes.

Within the Circle of a Perfect One

There is an Infinite Community
Of Light.


Circles translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Art by Nat Krate

October 1, 2006

Keepin' Busy

After awakening, it is necessary to always observe and examine yourself. When errant thoughts suddenly arise, do not go along with them at all; reduce them, until you reach the point of non-contrivance, which alone is the ultimate end. This is the ox-herding practice carried on by all illuminates after their enlightenment. Even though there is subsequent cultivation, they have already realized sudden enlightenment.
Master Chinul (1158-1210)

This is like Adya saying, "Cut the root first, then prune the branches; wake up first, then work on your stuff."

Although one has realized their true nature, there is still "subsequent cultivation." There is much to clean up, refine, and learn to articulate and express with ever-increasing elegance and grace.


I often hear the following words in casual conversations, "Keepin busy? Oh yeah, I'm keepin busy." It's like a mantra, the importance of keeping busy; almost like a matter of life and death. It is said by retired folks as well as non-retired. Much of this is about being occupied and preoccupied. These are considered good things, and seems to me much of the time to involve an active resistance to exposure to groundlessness.

Occupation, an occupied or preoccupied state of mind, thinking, planning etc, seems to substantiate and confirm that we "are." Occupied, we feel we exist. Groundlessness is the absence of occupation, and something one might be exposed to in meditation.

Way back when I was exposed involuntarily to groundlessness during a time of despair, I felt crushed and terrified, as if I were dying. Only much later did I realize the freedom of a cloudless sky in groundlessness. While lost and drowning in existential terror I was advised to keep busy, keep occupied. I followed that advice and eventually my fear began to subside as I did all I could to avoid the excruciating suffering I experienced with exposure to groundlessness. While exposed I was sensitive, naked, raw, and vulnerable. I occupied my "self" intensely to avoid the pain and thicken my skin - kind of like building a better suit of armor to protect and defend my self. Over the years I used this suit of armor to avoid any further exposure to groundlessness, and to regain composure and appear functional during times of crisis or a challenge to the integrity of my "self."

Rehabilitating and strengthening my self-identity has been facilitated by keeping occupied. There seems to be a symbiosis here between occupation and ego-fixation. It fends off the encroachment of existential anxiety. It protects the integrity of self-identity with a constant stream of thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams, ideas and memories which can serve as a kind of functional fog preventing a clear picture of the ego-fixation process at work. So the process remains underground, unconscious, and the illusion remains intact. But if groundless is given any opening, if it is allowed to be, then existential anxiety often comes in as the self-identity feels its insubstantiality. Waking up from the dream of self-identity necessarily involves a letting go into this insubstantiality with its initial attendant anxiety.

While we are suffering, we use occupation to avoid looking at the root cause of suffering. Being aware and unoccupied, even for a brief period, can be a meditation that exposes us to groundlessness, primordial emptiness, and formlessness. This exposure can unconceal ego-fixation and cut it at the root, allowing our true nature to emerge.

If ego-fixation and its story in time are the source of our meaning in life then it takes on an enormous significance, and becomes something we would not like to let go of. If our reward and fulfillment in life are perceived to come from self-identity and its story, then it would appear to be something we would want to hold onto tightly. This may account for the desire for awakening on the one hand and the persistent clinging to self-identity that prevents it on the other hand. Realizing the root cause of this mechanism of suffering, bringing it into the light of conscious awareness, allows for the possibility of it being dropped instantly in the now.

Cutting the root of suffering, exposing the process of ego-fixation, opens the way to realizing our true nature. With this realization that you are not the personality, relegates it to the role of functional servant, not who you are. Then we can work with much greater effectiveness on our "stuff" - the pain, wounds, trauma, the dysfunction and dis-ease of personality, in the historical /psychological dimension. Much, but not all, of this is found to clear up on its own with awakening. After awakening there remains the work/play of integrating and articulating the expression of wakefulness in our humanity.

Keepin’ busy... smiling,