Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Of recent, I have been thinking, musing, meditating and reflecting,  a lot, upon truth.   I feel drawn towards what it is asking of me.   It seems that it is calling me moment by moment to a new kind of life, a new kind of adventure.  It is not one in which I understand much, but that is part of what makes it exciting and vibrant. 

 As a little boy, I always dreamed of being some kind of hero.  I dreamt of slaying dragons or flying deep into space and discovering new planets and species.   (Can we say science-fiction geek) I would be face to face with danger and fear and I would prevail.  I was thrilled by those who sacrificed themselves for all of humanity.  I admired  martyrs or savior archetypes.  I am still drawn to that kind of fiction.  Give me Frodo Baggins or Paul Atreides,   Katniss Everdeen, Commander Amelia Shepard any day.  I will always take them. What is interesting now though is that I can feel that adventure in life itself.  As truth’s voice becomes clearer not necessarily on any cosmic or grandly goal oriented scale but in the minutiae of heeding its moment to moment requests, I realize there is more than enough adventure in even the most simple of lives.  For me to align with truth in the moment requires a submission and staggering courage.  Standing  as who you are, unfettered and undaunted by the myriad ways the world tells you otherwise is thrilling.  This is the adventure.  

 It is easy to make truth a concept, a simple set of rules, prescriptions, ideas, commandments, laws, bargains, and  justifications but truth precedes them all.  Truth gives rise to them all.  They all try to capture truth, but fail because truth is ever moving even in its stillness.  It is quieter than all those concepts and yet much more powerful,  in part because it does not need anything else.  Truth is its own contentment; it is it own end.  As this silent voice is felt moment to moment to moment I recognize that I do not know anything.  I recognize that it could ask anything of me in the next moment.  It is anything but predictable.  This makes for a very exciting existence.  Anything in the world could show up and many things we have not even begun to imagine could appear too.  What could be more exciting than that?   What could be more exciting than answering that call?  The courage to truly be who I am with all my beauty and ugliness, perfection within my imperfection is mindblowing in its vibrancy. 

The call of truth to meet truth in all it manifestations in the world is exciting.  It is also terrifying.   Currently I can feel the schizophrenia.  On the one hand safety exists.  One can always do things the easy way.  One can always keep the status quo.  One does not need to rock the boat.  (And of course this is ultimately fine).   Truth has no need for judgment only our minds and ego’s do.  On the one hand it is not hard to say things like you have always said to people around you.  There is safety in saying I’m fine when really I’m really frustrated.  There is safety in telling the white lie about  someone’s outfit so as not to hurt their feelings.  There is convenience when we take the pens from the office but don’t believe  we will get caught.  There is ease in pretending  not to see that person as they approached elevator so that we could get to our floor more quickly.  There is safety in remaining  quiet and not saying hello to that person who passed us by because we were afraid they would think we were creepy.  There is safety in keeping quiet when our colleague gossips about another colleague.  There is convenience when we rapidly consume precious resources.  The path of safety always exists.  And in then end who ARE is more important than what we do.  But the calling is about embodying the perfection of our essence.   Safety becomes less appealing relative to truth.   
While there is safety as a choice,  for this body/mind currently,  the gap between truth and embodiment of it in the world is increasingly challenging.  It is becoming more painful  to act out of alignment. But its not even painful because I expect more of myself or have some idea of how I should behave exactly.  It’s painful because as I’ve realized more thoroughly  what I am, I  want to consciously be it all the time.   In the past,  I have been motivated by reward or by fear.  Believe me they still operate.  But they seem to be very juvenile forces for moving and action and it feels like they  take place in this much larger arena.  Terms like retribution, payback, reward, punishment  and even karma,  and  justice how they are sometimes used, rely upon the future.   They rely upon something being different than it is now and  depend on a notion that things are at some level wrong with this moment as a means of moving people to do act.  That feels less interesting.  How often  I have been motivated to do good for the promise of some cookie or sweet treat or to avoid something bad.   But actually there is a motivator that is beyond each of those and it is who we are in our core.  It is the essence of the world.

 In some religions people are afraid of some grand judgment from God that will banish us from “his” presence or that we will suffer at some later time.  I say Baaah.  In truth, we suffer more than enough for anything that isn’t aligned with truth.  Love is all forgiving.  In fact, in a way, for love, forgiveness does not even exist because from love’s perspective whatever it is that would “need forgiving” is ultimately just another manifestation of love itself.  It is just love showing up in some other way.   There is no grand judgment that one fails and is punished or rewarded for.  Not being aligned with truth IS its own suffering.  It is its own hell.   And if there is the notion that something is too big or “evil” for forgiveness that is not true either.  Truth is all embracing, the end.   God is ALL forgiving the end. There is not anything anyone could do that would ever move them out of the divine’s grace.  At the same time, I don’t wonder if most, if not all of any current pain (that isn’t purely physical) doesn’t come from unresolved past moments in which we were not aligned with truth.   It’s like the shape that shows up, who I take myself to be are all the places where I am not transparent.  It is all the places where pain has latched on to some kind of framework and I am creating a somebody out of it.   Yes, the pain happens.  It is absolutely real.  Yes, it hurts.  But who hurts?   Who is it actually happening to?  In fact, exactly who am I?  Am I this body?  Am I my thoughts?  This projection into the future? Am I my past experiences?  

Increasingly I can hear and feel something that wants to be expressed and I can tell that to be true to it I must let go (even amidst uncertainty and fear). Again this letting go is not on some grand scale.  This is not splendor on display.  It is again meeting truth moment to moment to moment and who knows what it will request.  If up to this point in my life I had clear plans for what needed to be done and what needed to be saved, and what  theories of action in the world might bring about lasting change,  it feels as though they are about to be subsumed in a silence driven by the heart.  Silence animates all regardless of whether or not we have paid attention to it.   It is this silence whose drumbeat continues to  resonate more clearly.  I will keep you posted as it all develops.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Do I Call You On This Day?



God is brokenhearted today.

I see it in the eyes of people all around me.

A monk immolates himself in protest against the regime

Another gunned down as his brothers watch in horror.

A woman cries “why not me” as her lover rends her heart

by choosing another.

A mother wraps her bald head in a scarf pretending it is

winter’s grip which is icy.

A child cries as she is kicked in the head by her friend on the swings.

Her friend cries too.

So many tears, such incredible suffering

And yet in the space of the story so much is left unsaid.




The girl now committed to justice in a far away land.

In the spaces.

A father toiling to change gun laws.

In the spaces.

Lovers gazing into the silence of each other’s eyes.

In the spaces.

Researchers mapping complex molecules and genes in a puzzle of

Dazzling and cosmic proportions. At stake the soul of existence.

In the spaces.



One could say that it's the ying and yang

Black and white, the give and take.

And this too would be right.

But even these are too neat and shiny a ribbon for

A package of infinite beauty.

Today, I will call you life.

on the lines and in the spaces.

All of it everywhere

So rich, so simple, so bittersweet.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dangerous Truth

Before they put him to rest they sang songs that called him nice.

And celebrated him with accolades.

He was always diplomatic, sweet,  careful.

words weighed to balance equations as he spoke.

Angling  pictures perfectly on the wall.

But even colorful, flat two-dimensional portraits can only represent depth.

And what is emerging now is no longer nice.

Instead it speaks of bare honesty.

honesty that will let nothing hide.

honesty of a searing glare.

honesty  willing to

sacrifice all because it is all.

Truth will set you free.

It will strip away more than you bargained for.

It will ask everything of you.

It will take everything.

If it did anything less, it would not be truth.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Uncle Baba

Certainty, quietude, unearthly confidence
grounded not in a body or a mind
but in timelessness that continues.
A boisterous bellow.
We all share your laugh; a signature of sorts
an echo in those you leave behind.
My grandfather runs through your veins
as it does through my own and my son's.
Piercing eyes and a shock of white hair
set against rich, mahoghany skin.
A community Moses bridging troubled waters
to liberate and carry the shackled to the shores of freedom.

A diamond orator voice blending hues of light
in the crucible of your existence,
sourced from an ebony heart, pumped by an infinite
and almighty hand.
Smiles close the distance between
our of existences
your smile will be missed most.
Its fiery warmth a black ashen coal ready
to inflagrate and reduce us all to to the glorious
essence of our sacred and illumined core.

Let us each grieve in our own ways;
tears, fierce recommitement to action, surreal confusion,
a candle lit in a far away place, a stoic and soundless
perserverance, a prayer offered on a dark and beatuiful continent.
the shouts of children in quiet places.
All embraced.
Your important lesson; the myriad expressions of divinity
that come through us; evident even now in the grief that grips the room.
I will see you wherever soulfullness blossoms,
the shifting shapes of the candles flicker
the space between thoughts
the place where earth and sky eternally embrace.


How does the world look when you don’t need anything from it? So much of so many of our lives is spent pursuing. There are more ways to pursue happiness than there are people. Most never find. Perhaps they find moments of happiness or a break from the drum of stress, but daily life asserts itself once again and the constant stress and threat that many live with rises to the foreground. I once had a friend describe his capacity to worry like the law of the vacuum wherein empty space is abhorred. In her life it seemed like the moment she let go of one worry another popped in. She even noticed that the character of her worries had changed over the years as her situation improved and stability increased . But despite the character change they were no less frequent or aggravating. I think her situation is similar to many. We worry about things because we believe it will give us an manner in which to control that which Is beyond us. Its as if worrying enough we believe we will affect the outcome.

But if I don’t worry how will I change the situation I am in? Doesn’t worry enable me to produce solutions? Besides I do not know how to stop worrying?

I might differentiate here between worry and analysis and action. Worry keeps one in a loop of fear hyped up on potential outcomes none of which you can know in advance. Analysis looks at the same data and says at the moment I can do a, b, and c and after that I will do 1, 2, and 3. Analysis can even look to the future to say if a, b, or c happens I will do 1, 2, or 3. But notice that in each case there is not really a problem. There is simply stimulus and response, a cause and a map of potential courses. We are so conditioned to analyzing within the context of our worry that we lose sight of how to separate them. With analysis the mind is not spinning and the body is not contracted around what might come to be. The truth is we never really know what is going to come to be yet we delude ourselves into thinking we know all the time. Perhaps if the sense of no control pervaded the mundane more clearly it would not be so acute during crises. The not knowing, the uncertainty could make its all so much more of an exciting adventure but usually people stress. It is a mistaken sense of self that turns everything into a problem. It is a mistaken sense of who we are that obscures our ability to simply act in concert with what the situation asks. The heart does not worry about pumping? And as for stopping worrying you don’t. It too is a magical part of the fabric of life. You simply notice it when it appears and get curious and kind towards what the worry thinks it will accomplish. It will either go away then or not, in either case it is again , no problem.

Worry is incredibly well meaning, it thinks it can protect you. It thinks it can help you resolve something out there in the future that is the source of anxiety. It cannot. It does not realize that it IS the cause of anxiety. But rather than make worry an enemy and try to rid oneself of it sidle up next to it and take it into your heart. What happens then?

Why do we go to the movies? What kind of movies do you like? Do you read fiction?  Movies come in all shades, shapes, colors, themes, topics and perspectives. It is the same with books. Do we watch movies to escape? Maybe, but often movies are just depicting slices of life. It is the same with books. Even if the situation is fantastical or completely imagined it still depicts some aspect of existence otherwise it couldn’t be written. In these movies or books we often experience a range of emotions and thoughts  from sadness to elation to fear, happiness, righteousness, anger or anxiety. In the context of the movie or book it is part of what we actually pay for. When we go see a romantic comedy we understand that at some point two people will meet. At some point there will be difficulty in their relationship and usually they will get back together at the end. In the horror film we go to be scared or to see if the movie is capable of scaring us. In many ways life is not much different except that we come to believe that the story is solid and real. In a movie or book at the end no matter how enchanted we were , we are able to separate the movie from who is watching the movie. What capacity allows you to identify with the characters in the movie or book? Who/what is it that identifies with characters in the book or movies? What capacity is it that enables you to identify with your own story? Who or what identifies with your own story? I have often said that with the right editing a compelling movie could be made of anyone’s life. So if we go to the movies or read books and enjoy them are we not paying for the emotions and experiences that in another context we are often trying to rid ourselves of? In  its essence there is nothing wrong with any emotion. They simply are and they are not  wrong or problematic for being there. We only struggle when we see the emotions as something that we need to overcome. As the movie demonstrates they are part of the wondrous fabric that keeps life real, beautiful, engaging and dynamic.

Even when discontent shows up do not fret. It does not mean you have done anything wrong or that you are less spiritual or that something is wrong or fill in whatever sweet treat one’s ego is feeding itself on at the moment. They are all ways of strengthening a self if you bite. That which is capable of noticing the discontent, your true essence, is capable of holding it all, the contentment and the discontent. If there is discontent, ask if you are identified with the person/body/mind whose life-circumstance does not have everything lined up perfectly or are you aligned with that tender and compassionate “space” which can see that discontent and offers up its heart to it. It offers its heart not to necessarily change it or eliminate it but simply because that is its nature; tender, caring, kind.

How would it feel if you knew in your deepest depths that everything is ok. Not that it would be ok when you got to heaven or that it would be ok in 10 minutes or in two days or after you accomplished this or read that book or finished this meditation,  but now. Actually it is more than ok it is absolutely beautiful and perfect. It does not mean that there won’t be be pain and dread, difficulty, sadness, hardship, grief, and sorrow but in a way does that matter. It means that there is less of need for it to be different than the way it is. It means that when change needs to happen it happens and is not a source of worry or anxiety. Unless of course it is a source of worry and anxiety in which case it still is ok.  :-)

There is nothing to get, nowhere to go.  All you ever needed is right here. They say home is where the heart is. Well, we live in the Kingdom of Heaven. We just forget our address sometimes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Crime festered hoods, drug overlords, poverty punished ghettos,
HIV/AIDS ravaged cadavers, down-low deceivers, violent thug gangs ,
misogynistic populism, health disparities run amok, fissuring educational gaps, skyrocketing unemployment.
When that loud group of boys got on the bus how I recoiled in judgement.
The distance I tried to place between myself and that shadow
earned me a lifetime of imprisonment, stuck in my own foul reflection.

But now as I look, I see an primal energy, raw and irrepressible, a sacred strength
passed on through decades of hardship, in song, food, and fellowship
and the ability to endure the most nightmarish tempests
such will erase and transmute the jim crows and apartheids
because nothing less than love and truth are the alchemical agents
working to free us all at last.

I used to be afraid of the dark
but now I embrace it in wholeness.
When you sit alone in the true depths of darkness
you begin to be breathed by it and you realize
that chasing the light can be a distraction.
I celebrate the mystery of darkness
I surrender myself to the unknown
to discover in each shadowy moment
the inherent beauty of the night.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Adrienne’s Song

There is a cruel voice in everyone’s head.
Today mine is lip syncing that I should not
weep for the loss of a hero.
After all, technically, I did not know her.
We shared no heritage, we barely ever met.
But since when was it true that the only way
to know someone was by blood or proximity?

Some souls courageously write their lives in words
And thus teach us all how to be.
Their life is their art, as much as art is their life.
This is how we come to know them and ourselves.
a resonance of souls, connecting, harmonizing
a common language beyond words and form.
It is no dream.
They speak of something deep and dear
And when you are still enough or quiet enough
Their rhythm becomes a part of you and you joyfully dance.

My beloved Adrienne,
I wonder if you know how many souls you set in motion
How many bodies sway, gyrate, tap, swirl, and swing
to the music you elevated. The music you gifted us.
Though for many years your own crooked and pained frame
hobbled on hard paths, you set the world free,
indeed you birthed us all
and allowed us to begin dancing.
I owe you my world and for this I am eternally grateful.
This is why I weep for this loss.

And to the hardened voice that would disparage this feeling,
I offer this space, this dulcet silence,
this stillness, these salty tears
Whose phrasing you shaped AR, with your own powerful breath and
which can easily hold all, the cacophony, the immense depth of
my gratitude and my raw grief for losing a soul whose beautiful, haunting
and rousing music helped conduct the tempo and sweet melody of this life here.

An Ode to Adrienne Rich, Poet, Feminist, Author, Essayist – and one of my supreme heroes who died March 27, 2012

Suffering - Part One

Some days my heart breaks. It simply breaks for all the suffering that exists. Even when I was young and still very mired in a fire and brimstone concept of hell, there was always a part of me that thought -- "Can there really be a hell?" What could be worse than what we have done to each other as humans? We have waged unspeakable horrors against each other. It saddens and breaks me. But the brokenness is like being broken open.

These days the existential questions of suffering, hell, heaven, etc. enter differently still. Who is this “other” that we perpetrate our crimes against? It is not so much -- what could be worse than what we have done to each other as what could be worse than what we do to ourselves? Taking the question in rather than holding at arm’s length makes it so much more tender and raw. It is easier to think that it’s those people over there who commit the crimes or horrors and thus feel better about myself. But who are they? What if we truly lived no separation? That question would at once rend us permanently. It feels like it would cut one wide open. It would break us open. Upon hearing of some horror in the world, (and most nightly newscasts can fulfill this role), one of the first thoughts that enters many people's minds at some level is “how could they” or “that cannot be” Our conditioning immediately tries to push away what is real and painful. We get angry or try to find a way to shut it out and escape. But all of these are ways of clothing the naked and beautiful. Those methods put a layer over reality. Listen carefully and with your whole heart. Find out for yourelf. Frequently those questions begin an argument. At some level there is a movement of “this should not be” or "those people are different than these people or I am different from them". They are all ways of trying to control that which feels beyond us. They are escapes. What if we did not escape? Freedom lies in the ever increasing ability to simply sit with what is.

Stay with the news story that you just heard about a teenage African- American boy fatally shot or the soldier gunned down, or grandmother who has just been beaten up. What if you truly believed you were the one who harmed these people? What happens if you are the one who harmed the "other" person? Who are you? What are you? Do you find yourself moving to justify, blame, deny, distance, excuse? Are you set on proving what I am saying is wrong? Why do you think that is? What would happen if you didn’t? Do you find yourself doling out love and compassion to some parts of the story and some characters but not others; perhaps the boy or the elderly woman, or the situation but not “yourself”/the perpetrator who committed the crime? Do you find yourself a little saddened, angered, or numbed, grieved?

Regardless of whether or not you believe what I am saying is true, about you being the perpetrator is there an inclination to move away? The mind will argue that it's not true. That you did not commit that act. (And of course on a certain relative level that is absolutely true) But what is going on? What is going on when we encounter something and want to move away? Even if from the above example you do not believe it is you, can you can you hold that notion without judging it? When are we inclined to separate? Often we are inclined to separate when "too much" pain is encountered. We often move to create an “us” and “them” We start to blame. It is in part, a way of feeling better about ourselves. It is a way of salving our wounds. But what if we didn’t seek the band aid or traverse the blame path? What would we have to feel if we did not move towards resolving the enormity of that hurt? What if on a cellular and molecular level we understood that "they" are us.

I think we would feel immense heartbreak but it would be a pure and complete heartbreak undistorted by a need to protect. What would we be protecting against? Rather than being a life-sucking heartbreak born of the dream state and yeilding paralysis and depression it might be the kind of heartbreak that is life-affirming and action inspiring. Compassion always opens to alleviate suffering. Pure love, like water, always moves towards the rough spots, the unawakened, the opaque parts. And if action occurs its signature need not be grandiose. Our existence itself is action of a supreme kind and the more we are aware of that the more we realize that that which we bring to action is more important in many ways than the actual action. Ideologies, governments, religions, science, none of these will “save” the world. Indeed it is our obsession that the world needs saving which creates the “problem” in the first place.

It requires a hefty and unbridled arrogance to believe we must be savioiurs. Perhaps this is what is meant when in Christianity the fall of Lucifer is spoken about. In thistory, one of God’s angels, his “top” angel in fact, becomes so prideful that he is banished from heaven. Is that not us? Perhaps in a sense it is pride which keeps us in hell? Pride in a sense says "I am special" which implies that someone else is not and thus creates tension and separation amidst wholeness. It creates that which is special and that which is not. Yet it is a flimsy house of cards, for at any moment, who we think we are can crumble when someone else comes along who is more "special" We cast ourselves out of heaven when we lock into self that is built upon others behavior or even our own behaviour. We set ourselves up for the fall when our self worth is hitched to being more than someone or something else. To do that is to miss who they essentially are and who we essentially are. We do not need anything to be whole. What if the world were perfect in its imperfection as were you?

Does this then mean that we should not be proud of accomplishments or that we become inactive. Does it mean that we avoid the homeless man on the street ? Does it mean that we should not work on solutions to our environmental crisis? Does it mean that we should not give to charities? Does it mean that we stop voting? Does it mean that we do not volunteer at the animal shelter or participate in that walkathon? What do you think? What does your heart say? What is it that would try to avoid the grittiness of life?

It seems to me that only a delusion would try to avoid anything. Love/truth/reality does not need or want to avoid anything so why would it avoid helping people or even having pride.

Interestingly, are we even inclined to call it "pride" in the same way if the accomplishment belongs to all. Similarly is it really “helping” when the hand scratches the itch on the leg or the ears hear something beautiful? If we are truly “helping” ourselves is it really helping in the conventional sense of the word? Perhaps it is just something that happens in that moment. Perhaps that is what surrender looks like. Part of how love can be seen is as that which embraces all and avoids nothing. That is love. Egos and minds believe that somehow an absolutist position such as do not do this or do not do that can contain the possibility of resolution. At a certain level some kinds of dictums do help mitigate the most egregious behaviours temporarily and they may even have been necessary in our past but today it is increasingly possible to be directed by a moment to moment flow that is outside our traditional prescriptions of good/evil, warm/cold, polite/rude. happy /sad dualism. It is the way of the Tao. Lest you think it is simply an eastern philosophy it really has different names in different times and cultures and religions but essentially they all point to the same thing and that "thing" is more close to you than anything you could ever imagine. It is able to hold all the suffering and like a beautifully discordant chord from a Mahler symphony transform it into magical music. In some ways that is the potential transformational power in suffering.

(Sta tuned for more on Suffering)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Have You Done with Your Whole Heart Today?

What have you done today with your whole heart?
Was there even a brief moment
when your entire existence rode on some action or state of being,
as if you would be blinked out of existence afterwards.
Not that it mattered whether you succeeded or not,
but just simply that all of you was at hand in every fiber.
A pen stroke like this vs the routine mechanical glide
Is the difference between heaven and hell.

Too often desire gets a bad rap.
Desiring is mistaken for “unspiritual”
A cancer on our souls.
So we seek to eradicate it like
caked mud on the boots of our sacred spiritual journey.
But desire is gorgeous, it is beautiful.
It is a smile so wide it swallows the universe.

Our trouble is we close compassion’s door on desire
to let it rot and fester outside supposedly.
We even think our satisfaction lies in obtaining our object of desire
And sometimes it does for a little while
But if we look closely enough the desire and desired aren’t separate.
Truly what we are looking for is what is looking.

Follow desire down the rabbit hole and see what it wants.
What if it simply seeks to be acknowledged to its depth
Perhap you are afraid you will never climb back up.
You do not see that desire has wings and you will soar when you befriend it.

Is it not exquisite to want something with the entirety of your being?
Why then would we get rid of this?
The aching sweetness of yearning, longing.
It does not matter at all whether you get your desire.

Fall deeply into it.
Trouble emerges not
because you yearn

But because you
fault yourself for wanting it