November 30, 2006

This is The Hour

We have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

And there are things to be considered. Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in the right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth: Create your community. Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader: This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore, and push off into the river, keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.

See who is in there and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner... and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for...

The Great River - The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona

November 29, 2006

Broken Gong

Like a broken gong
Be still, be silent.
Know the stillness of freedom
Where there is no more striving.

- Buddha in the Dhammapada

It is touching that this awakened one used the brokenness of the gong to illustrate the stillness of absolute freedom. Such brilliance. At once it acknowledges the sad aspect of this human existence, so filled with brokenness: broken hearts, broken bodies, broken intellects and mental capacities, broken personalities and emotions, broken selves, and then leaps courageously and confidently to the joy of freedom found in silence and stillness, where there is no more striving. This is the sad/joyful heart that is awake.


November 27, 2006

Ancient Sound

"When I paint what you know, I bore you.

When I paint what I know, I bore me.

So I paint what I don't know."

Paul Klee

November 24, 2006

Gateway of Awe

The hidden stitch of light sewn into the fabric of all of life is part of who and what we are.

This teaching of the universality of creative sparks implies that whether we are answering the telephone, changing the baby, riding the subway, or writing a poem, we are in touch with the creative source of life itself. Everything we encounter provides the same opportunity for us to meet the creative source: the play of early morning sunlight on our eyelids, the smooth cloth of the pillowcase beneath our cheek, the cutting of carrots and celery. But we must remember that being in touch with the creative is not just a matter of what we come upon as we move though our day. It is right here, the teaching says, in ourselves. When we learn to see with the eyes of the creative itself, every moment is an opportunity for new expression. We are always standing at a gateway of awe.
~Peter Levine

November 23, 2006


For roses blooming on Thanksgiving

November 20, 2006

Silent Language

Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.

~Thomas Merton

Hear Me Calling

On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house
to the cemetery,
you'll hear me calling you from inside
the open grave, and you'll realize
how we've always been together.
I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in
ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.
That night, when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants, you'll hear
my familiar voice, see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprised meal fixed
by the lover inside all your other lovers.
This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don't fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.
Those get ripped open and washed away
in the music of our finally meeting.
And don't look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.
Beat the drum and let the poets speak.
This is the day of purification for those who
are already mature and initiated into what love is.
No need to wait until we die!
There's more to want here than money
and being famous and bites of roasted meat.
Now, what shall we call this new sort of gazing-house
that has opened in our town where people sit
quietly and pour out their glancing
like light, like answering?


November 18, 2006


Jack pines... are not lumber trees [and they] won't win many beauty contests, either. But to me this valiant old tree, solitary on its own rock point, is as beautiful as a living thing can be... In the calligraphy of its shape against the sky is written strength of character and perseverance, survival of wind, drought, cold, heat, disease... In its silence it speaks of wholeness...and integrity that comes from being what you are.

Douglas Wood, Fawn Island

November 16, 2006

Sonada Monastery

"Make of yourself a light,"
I used to hear
from Buddha's long-lost lips
each day as I woke before dawn
in this mountain hermitage.
The five-peaked jeweled mountain
towers over the Darjeeling horizon
as I start a fire for tea
and prepare my morning prayers.

Kalu Rinpoche, 1973
Painting: Monty & Cookie

November 15, 2006

Hidden Names

I was speaking with a rabbi friend some time ago about what mystical Judaism calls the hidden names of God. In this tradition it is said that the name of the Divine cannot truly be known. Oneness, the Divine Plenty, the Infinite, the Nameless One – these and many other names have been offered for what cannot be named. I told my friend that I loved that we try to say what can’t be said and hear what can’t be heard. It’s a good sign – a sign that in our species creativity is well and alive.

“But,” I said, “I am sometimes daunted by such grand names. I prefer a simpler name, one that rolls off the tongue. One I can say on a train.”

When my friend heard this he looked at me with great excitement. The love he feels for the world filled his eyes.

“But didn’t you know?” he said. “It’s the secret of secrets, the joy of joys: One of the hidden names is Yes! And another is Now!"

~Peter Levitt

November 13, 2006

The Ancient Masters

didn't try to educate the people,
but kindly taught them to not-know.

When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don't know,
people can find their own way.

The Tao Te Ching, 65
Stephen Mitchell

November 11, 2006

The Sacred Breath

The seasons have changed - burrr! As we move deeper into autumn, merging toward winter, I have been curling up near the woodstove with a good book in the evenings, enjoying warmth and candlelight near the sweet presence of my Beloved and my pets. These are simple moments, bathed in sacredness.

On Saturdays, I become a 'weekend warrior' with my studies. Most weekends this past month I have been to trainings and to school in Portland, which is three hours from my home. This weekend, it feels so good to just be home. One recent weekend I was away for a five-day silent meditation retreat. It was, in a word, a blissful experience. To have the luxury to take five days from the busy-ness of my life was so refreshing to my soul. I really was able to calm, quiet, and touch that within me that begs to be listened to.

One of the things the meditation teacher Frank Ostaseski offered was an instruction on listening deeply to our bodies. What is our body telling us? He had us tune in to what ever was most present in our awareness in this moment - an ache in the knee, a burning in the throat, a sensation of tears in the eyes, an itch, etc. And then, we watched the sensations move through us, changing from this moment to the next. This is the way truth is revealed, he said. It was amazing the depth of experience that just this noticing was able to offer. We touched not only the feeling in our bodies, but the sadness that rose up with it, or the longing, the gratitude, or warmth and love - all these qualities that just seemed to emerge clearly in these moments of listening in silence. Whenever this felt destabilizing, or passed on naturally, without manipulating, we returned our focus to our own breath.

Of our breath my teacher said, "We touch the sacred with each breath. With each breath, we just keep dipping into the sacred." I thought that was so beautiful! My teacher reminded us that breath animates all of life - and this is surely a sacred quality. He reminded us of the scriptures in Genesis, which all begin with the word. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and there was light… and God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters…” and there was...." My teacher said, this was true until it came to man. “God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” So, he said, “Breath is the vehicle to return to God. This is the ground of all being. Breath is the vehicle that takes us beyond thought, form, and into direct experience. The breath takes us beyond words, beyond our ideas, into our deepest, truest nature."

This teaching has been settling within me, quieting me, joining me - when I am mindful, with God's presence right here, right now, with each and every breath.

~With gratitude to Frank Ostaseski

November 10, 2006

Langston Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom
turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

~Langston Hughes

The picture above is of the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon, where I grew up. When I read this poem by Langston Hughes many years ago, it touched something within me.

I, too, have known rivers - ancient and dusky rivers.

My native ancestors in Alaska fished on the Bering Sea and on inlets off the Aleutian chain. My father went to sea as a teenager, and later worked on the Columbia River as a bar pilot. My brother was a commercial fisherman and is now a tugboat operator on this river.

Every morning when I woke as a child I turned to the window to check the weather on the Columbia. I remember clearly the sound of foghorns when visibility was low, and the sounds of ships sounding their horns, signaling for pilots. I remember the fishy fragrance of river water, especially when our dogs would come back from swimming in the river. I remember riding the ferry across the Columbia, and later, watching the big bridge being built. I remember going to work with my dad, and can clearly imagine the sounds of water lapping, and the smell of cigar smoke in the cabin of the pilot boat. I remember people - friends and family - who died on the Columbia River. The memory of scattering my dad's ashes from the pilot boat on the Columbia River sand bar a few years ago is still very vivid.

I now live near a smaller river, the Umpqua, that ambles through the county near my home. I love my daily drive along the Umpqua, and I love standing on its shores, skipping stones, inhaling the fragrance, and watching the waters flow. With my family I have loved hiking alongside rivers, and swimming, fishing, and rafting in the waters.

Today I am mesmerized by the reflections of autumn trees on the Umpqua river, and by sunlight sparkling on its jade colored current in the late afternoon.

My connection to rivers is primordial - older than the flow of blood in my human veins.
My soul, too, has grown deep like the rivers.

November 9, 2006

Pouring Light

pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.

The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink

while God pours light

and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.

Hafiz, seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips

as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.

~ Hafiz ~

November 8, 2006

Where do we find Buddha?

Sentient beings are primarily all Buddhas:
It is like ice and water,
Apart from water no ice can exist;
Outside sentient beings, where do we find the Buddhas?
Not knowing how near the Truth is,
People seek it far away, what a pity!
- Hakuin (1685–1768)

November 7, 2006

On the Move

One of my friends, Trev Diesel, has moved his blog, The Sound of Diesel Musing, to a new web address:

Tea Time

The iris pond has flowered
Before the old temple;
I sell tea this evening
By the water's edge.
It is steeped in the cups
With the moon and stars;
Drink and wake forever
From your worldly sleep.

Baisao 1675-1763


Tea Tasting

I like to sip sweet tea

a mix of peppermint and licorice –

amber gold and smooth as silk.

I have a silk shirt that feels like

that tea tastes.

It sits on my shoulders like a warm breeze.

That tea tasts like Ramana's soft eyes

like Buddha's serene face.

People go looking far and wide

for the Buddha's enlightenment

but I just sip my tea

and my tea swallows me.

The Buddha breaks into a grin

and Ramana winks one eye

like my grandfather did

when he knew that I knew

what he knew.

I like green tea too.

Strong and bitter

like the taste of grass.

Like tasting sure defeat –

the kind that you can

taste on the tip of your tongue

the kind that can change

your life on a dime


With each bitter sip

Manjushri's sword

cuts the mind to pieces

cuts it awake

and cuts awakeness

into emptiness.

People come here

and listen to my dharma words

when all I really want to do

is sell them a little tea.



Wakefully, we drink tea
sipping from simple cups
holding the moon
and galaxies of stars.

We sip this priceless tea
smiling as a Buddha

freely warming ourselves
of life and of love.


November 6, 2006

Through Your Eyes

~Another nugget from Adyashanti:

Being your true self, being your true nature, is different than experiencing it with thought. Realize that you are the mystery, and that you can’t really look at the mystery because you are only capable of looking from the mystery. There is a very awake, alive, and loving mystery, and that’s what is seeing though your eyes at this moment. That’s what is hearing through your ears at this moment. Instead of trying to figure it all out, which is impossible, I suggest you ask, “What’s ultimately behind this set of eyes?” Turn around to see what is looking. Encounter pure mystery, which is pure spirit, and wake up to what you are.

November 5, 2006

November 4, 2006

Thyme on her Hands

she was eighty six

when she turned to dance

some say it was dementia

yet to see her in the garden
moving above the fall crocus
grace among the late roses
swaying with the cool wind

to see her smile
light as the white fingered
clouds of autumn

you found the way in
lightly through a bed of thyme
speckled with delicate petals
remembering her graceful turning


So beautiful, imagining this Being, on an autumn afternoon. The sun is coming through her white hair, reminiscing soft clouds, as she is turning through the late summer roses. I detect the fragrance of lemon thyme on her hands. ~M

November 3, 2006

Draw Closer into the Dance of Life

Recently Isaiah shared this:
"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."
In this realization we can become more humane and compassionate rather than less and draw closer into the dance of life. We can become free to embrace our human element, while at the same time be the witness too. As we witness, we also rest in the words of Maharshi:

"The realized person weeps with the weeping,
laughs with the laughing,
plays with the playful,
sings with those who sing,
keeping time with the song...
What does he lose?"

Thank you, dear friend. You are a tremendous inspiration to many.

November 2, 2006

What We Need Is Here

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry

November 1, 2006

Mr. Duffy

I love this line by James Joyce from one of his short stories in Dubliners:
Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.
This made me laugh when I heard it recently. Then I realized that sometimes I have lived a short distance from my body, too, and I felt sad about that. Sometimes I am just disconnected, and I don't realize it. My head spins off in rational thought, or I may become immersed in an emotion that envelops me, separating me from my cognitive reason and my bodily sensations.

In meditation recently, I began to grok that I am able to listen, and inhabit my whole body when I stabilize my attention. This involves turning the lens of attention to my experience in this moment, and then to concentric circles of my moment-to-moment experience, without pushing any of it away. In this, when listening deeply and fully, I begin to discern a unique and full expression of who I am.

I can listen from my head - and find clarity and discernment. I can listen from my heart, and delve into a full range of emotions that arise within me, including my inherent warmth, love, and compassion. And also, I can listen from my body. Here I am able to really feel my chest and my gut, to detect tension in my shoulder, or a restriction in my throat. Further, I am able to (sometimes only subtly) detect a 'felt sense', and tune into my intuition. My awareness of the truth of this moment deepens when I am listening carefully to my body. It is with this fullness that I sense the openness of Presence.

I know that my ego alone can never fully know the forces of my unfolding - I have to listen to and with my whole being. When listening fully, a larger guidance emerges, a kind of complete intelligence that is inherent within me. This is available in the context of my very ordinary life. As I learn to discern this guidance, which is always already available, it naturally helps me in my functioning, in a very connected, integrated manner.