Driftwood Music

Water running over stones
makes a subtle kind of music
as it wears the hardness down.

Recognizing my own casual
heartlessness in the face of Love
made me suddenly stop and weep.

The sound of these tears
running freely down my cheeks
is Your music, and why death
is beautiful, and not because
it does not exist, it does —
just not as we imagine.

It is the softly piercing music
within an ancient length of driftwood
once washed up on the shore, and now
become a bone-white log that reaches up
from its bed of sand to support my weight
as I swing in the euphoric beach bliss
of this polymorphous moment.

When I finally come to rest
I press my lips to its smooth skin,
as if it were You, as if it were God,
and somehow then it kisses back,
as if to say, “I am.”


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No one knows
the reason for any of this –
why even make it a question?

Death doesn’t.

The unleashed wonder
of that moment is sufficient
to still any speculation.

This is not a metaphor –
it will be the same door opening
inward that once opened out.

I am that swinging door,
not knowing in from out,
death from life, me from you.

What is surrender?

The surrender that can be done
is not true surrender.

Who surrenders to what?
Who surrenders what?

What do I possess –
what is there to call mine –
that I can actually let go of?

Where can I find any portion of myself
that is ever divisible from itself,
except in hallucinations
of self and other?

My desire to surrender is not mine,
my hopes and dreams are not even mine,
my living, loving, dying is not mine,
nor is any surrender mine.

Being nothing myself,
I am already everything.

To whom shall I surrender?

I do not rise in the morning
by my own will, nor do I
sleep by my own power.

What appears before me
as world and other is never
at any distance from myself.

On what altar then
shall I place this pretense
of relinquishment and submission?

Even the motive to surrender
at last must be seen as arising
from a subtle sense of separation.

What has been given, what
received, other than oneself?

The one who would surrender
is the very one who keeps surrender
at arm’s distance, safely out of reach.

In the midst of the stream, I, water,
bend to cup water, then offer it
back to the river.

The river itself flows on and on,
mindless of all concepts, all
gestures of surrender.

water offering

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It Just Burns

Fire goes where there’s fuel.

We claim the truth is what we want,
but resist the burning away of the false.

We seek consolation in borrowed beliefs
and are quick to defend our own self-images,
even though none of them are actually true
but just a bundle of thoughts and moods.

Truth is never a consolation –

all that seeks to be consoled
is just more fuel for the waiting fire.

All that cries out to be soothed, relieved, redeemed,
reborn, patched, patted, or pillowed just right is
never going to be just right, is going down
despite the clown whose yearning prayer
for the flames to spare this part or that
of its smoldering hair is answered
with even more fire.

Love is a furious flame.

All positions are positions in mind,
yet love has no fixed position
to assert, deny, or defend.

It just burns.

Without being refined in the furnace of love,
truth itself becomes a mental abstraction,
so love ushers the mind into silence,
the silence of coals and ashes.

Call love a fire — whatever says so
will also be consumed by it.

The caterpillar cannot understand
the butterfly, nor kindling the flame.

There’s nothing to understand but this:
fire goes where there’s fuel.

hairfire 1

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More About That Leaf

Mountain pines draped in early morning mists
hazily shift and hover around my small campfire,
while looming phantoms of blurry curiosity haunt
the foggy hillsides — the invisible hunting vibrations
of the inconceivable — felt as the ineluctable feeling
of being itself by everything simultaneously.

Though nothing is ever as it appears,
everything steeps in blessing.

Later, fresh tree scenes stream through my vision
adrift on a honeycombed breeze, aimlessly cluttered
with loose light limbs, jewel-birds, glittering grace
hymns, struck root chords resonant with dawn,
the beauty of a single anonymous falling leaf,
and the absence of any distance between
the morning light, the breeze, and that
which it so tenderly caresses.

Can you feel yourself
lifted on that wind right now?

Who has the dynamic presence of mind
to contemplate the mutual permeation
of heaven and earth in the form
of a leaf in the breeze?

The sense of dreamy identity at the matrix
of perception floats on the breeze of thoughts
and sensations that seem to amount to a somebody,
though it’s only a smoke-like echo trailing nowhere
in particular, perhaps over a nameless mirroring pond
where, mysteriously spawned from the inexhaustible
absolute, the relative emerges and everything
splashes happily about in pure delight,
at home in the land of the free.


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Though one may experience the idea of freedom,
lingering in such daydreams is mistaking
imagination for the real thing.

I may have wasted the wise instructions
of my teachers, but any regret now
merely feeds the barking dogs
of self-absorbed delusion –

true freedom is found in non-dwelling.

Just so, I haven’t visited any abattoirs of late,
but I’ve rarely seen anything more disturbing
than the attitudes generated from entrenched
political and religious beliefs, nor anything
more appalling than dispositions spawned
from the furnace of emotional reactivity.

To these, I apply the healing balm
of heart-felt service in the same manner
raindrops funnel down spring’s green leaves
to moisten the ground of compassion
and nourish the tender roots
of loving kindness.

Undone from the distraction of purposefulness,
I carefully mix and meld subtle hints from the wise,
stirring cool clear water in a bowl with no sides.

Everything that appears conducts a current
of various energies, expressing itself as
the dance of complementary chaos
and order, implicating nobody.

Abandoning victimhood is a crucial
preliminary to appreciating life
for all that it is and can be.

In the poignant ballet of impermanence,
there is no independent person,
cause, or condition.

Relax – we’re all in this together!

Still, who can say anything meaningful
about loving kindness these days,
or maybe more to the point:

who can explain why we’re
so easily offended by each other?

Whether on the killing floor of envy and loathing,
or in blissful repose at the crown of the lotus,
the clown who discerns the transparent and
luminous nature of their very own mind
sports a suave and sizzling sombrero
filled with the divine molecules
of a vast and empty sky.

Such an utterly useless fool
waltzes through the market place
with nothing to buy or sell, perhaps
pausing along the way to tell children
stories, amusing them with a delightful
nonsense that they will forever remember.

Hey Friends, isn’t this how it goes:

those who are grateful get more to be
grateful about, while those who complain
will get more to complain about?

No nonsense there –

whatever we’re given,
we can always say
“Thank you!”

Likewise, no matter what may appear,
recognizing our own chronic resistance
is more than enough to keep us humble.

If we’re here to revel
and marvel in the Mystery,
then what are we still seeking for,
and what are we always trying to hide?

And what’s the big deal with just
being still in the light of this
staggering Shine?

If I really paid attention, I would
realize that everything — yin and yang,
light and dark, existence and non-existence —
is an innocent play of the natural Great Perfection.

How amazing that there is anything at all!

A timeless and radiant Presence
to which no fanciful human concept
could apply, is standing in your shoes,
beating your heart, breathing your breath,
looking out in awe through your own eyes!

Isn’t that simply astonishing?

In any case, in every place,
may everything I do in body,
speech, and mind serve others.

When we’re seeing clearly,
there are no others.

That’s what I call service!

Some may call it love.

Whatever it’s called,
don’t think twice –

just be it!

And while we’re at it,
let’s try not to do
any harm!

Clinging to nothing,
astounded by everything,
I humor myself with glad songs
of Yes to life’s breathtaking majesty,
occasionally whistling Zippity Doo Dah
as I wander along on this infinite way.


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Beyond beliefs and notions,
let the lilt and waft of suchness
sift through the spacious sky of mind
without any restriction, filling the hollow
flute of existence with the exquisite notes
of a music no words can possibly explain.

Wordless and wondrous, innocent and free —
such music has never been the problem,
only the effort to name and claim
spawns the futile game
of “me and mine”.

with a seamless smear
of sunset light emblazoned on
a blue and burgundy background,
the dusk sky paints itself with the lyrical
poetry of evanescence — my beginning
and end in one effortless flash,
one elegantly crafted streak:

a tapestry of timelessness,
light out of mind, the subtle wisp
of a still-breathing something,
gently exhaling . . .

sunset sit

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The Natural State

The natural state
is no special achievement.

Just find the place
where you already are.

You won’t have to look too far!

That place reaches everywhere,
even beyond birth and death!

Fish swim in water,
birds fly through the air.

Why complicate?
Just live.

Life itself is enough,
if one has the heart for it.

Tonight I swing naked
in the shine of the moon.

My heart is racing
like a hummingbird’s.

My hands are wrapped
like a happy monkey’s paws
around a pliant branch of pine.

My feet sway wildly back and forth
above the ebony lake below, waiting
for just the right moment, then —

that thrilling shout when I let go!

swing 2

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