They All Know

The wind doesn’t say “Here I come!”
as it rustles through the forest, bending
branches and lifting leaves, nor do the trees
bother to debate, “Is it fate, or free will?”

The little house finch with the grey body
and stunning red head doesn’t know what
it looks like, nor does it care to cultivate
a suave self-image in search of validation.

It keeps an eye out for the soaring hawks.
No one has to warn the forest animals,
“Stay alert!” Here, paying attention
comes naturally.

We have the luxury of drifting in daydreams,
we imagine we are invulnerable, so unlike
the other living beings in the forest, death
usually comes as a surprise for us.

We don’t quite believe it, even when
we’re dead. “How can this be?”

We don’t realize we are already ghosts.
Maybe we will wander like the wind.
We might say, “”Here I come!”

Nobody will hear us. Maybe the trees
will be listening, and the finches.

They are alert, they all know
which way the wind blows.

If you could ask them,
they would tell you:
“It just blows.”

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Photo by Mazie Lane

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Something More

There is a restlessness we can’t tame,
it rules us despite our practiced pieties.

It’s beyond desire, not as easy to frame and name,
but as it is, no matter what we have, we
always want something more.

Don’t resist, just observe.
It has nothing to do with us.

Don’t try to let it go, or make it
other than it is. Just pay attention.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do
is to simply do nothing. Nothing.

Some claim we are made to reach towards infinity,
though it mostly seems we go about like sleepwalkers,
stiff arms outstretched in a vague dream of reaching,
reaching to inhabit that nowhere space where
we might blend at last with the unreachable.

Want nothing, expect nothing.
Can you? Would you?

Oh, but sometimes we are like those pale angels,
quietly watching ourselves through an open window
as we stumble by, lost in our mesmeric dreams,
blindly reaching for that elusive something
in the same way Love is reaching,
reaching only for itself.

Yes, but even that is a beautiful fiction,
another story we sell ourselves in the midst
of the unknown, a little fire to warm ourselves,
because it is cold, and all we really want is shelter
from the aftermath of our own outrageous yearning.

Even if we perform all the prescribed rituals,
and even if we make ourselves into a snowflake
falling silently though the vast emptiness of the void,
something else must happen, something I cannot say here.

You will know it when at last it is true of you,
when you are finally able to forget.

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Look

A warm and lazy August afternoon, and I am
sitting in the shade on a wooden bench
right outside the local SaveMart.

It occurs to me that, although everything is
mysteriously connected, not everything is a poem.

No matter — next to me here on the bench
I find a soda bottle cap. I pick it up and read:
“Old Fashioned Dad’s Root Beer”.

Why is there anything rather than nothing?
Look, the answer is right here in my hand.

I remember touring through the Atlas Mountain Range
in Morocco — it was long time ago, but now I recall
those little Berber boys, dressed in dirty rags,
surrounding me on a dusty road.

One of them, the one with a chronic cough, approached
and offered to trade some of his bottle caps for cash.
His eyes — I still can see them, imploring.

Just then, a young boy walks past me here at the market.
He smiles and waves, “Hello Sir!” I smile and wave back.

If we pay attention, there are messages from emptiness
wherever we find ourselves. Friends, we are not even
in a place, we really don’t know where we are,
or what we are — it’s that magical!

I watch a woman weaving her way haphazardly
through the supermarket parking lot as cars
attempt to maneuver around her.

She doesn’t seem to notice, her attention is fixed
on her device as if she is reading some urgent news.

Perhaps her device is informing her: “Everything is
mysteriously connected, but not everything is a poem.”

My mind drifts slowly back to that Moroccan adventure.
I remember stopping at the little roadside stalls, inhaling
the fragrance of fresh melons piled on a table for sale.

Just then, Mazie walks out the door with a melon in her bag.
She say: “Just smell this melon!” I do. It is intoxicating.

On the way home, in the brilliant blue summer sky,
a monumental heap of cumulus clouds was climbing
over the mountain. At the same exact moment,
we both exclaimed: “Look!”

 

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Always

At the still point of union
this mysterious cross blossoms,
billowing ecstatically, manifesting
the impossible resolution of the heart’s
endless yearning, as horizontal and vertical
intersect, and Shakti dances on Shiva’s chest.

You stand before me in your revelation body
blinding me with sourceless light, the light
you vowed to share with me in prehistory
when you smiled and said: “Always”.

I knew you would return, I don’t know how,
perhaps because we’ve never been apart —
no distance in need of glad resolution,
no desire longing to be satisfied
has ever actually been true.

The revelation is simple,
clear as the bright dawning light:

“Always”.

Even in the midst of my delusions
you are always here, always luminous,
and smiling, because you transmit only light,
the same uncreated light we promised each other
before we embarked on this living sea of light.

When you laugh, your light stops my mind;
why then do I burst into tears, even as
I am engulfed in such happiness,
why?

And your touch . . .

None of the old words will suffice,
but the new words can’t be spoken yet.

They’re still turning in mindless bliss,
feeding blindly on your light.

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Binoculars

Suppose this world is like an enormous motion picture set. Let’s call it “Rear Window”. Just so, today you are Jimmy Stewart. It’s a good day. All is well! Look, you have a large pair of binoculars. Splendid! God is looking through them. What a curious God! A voice calls out: “Action!”

In the rooms across the way, the player we call “life” goes into action. In one room, God is doing yoga, chanting a lovely mantra to God. In another, God is murdering his wife. In yet another, God is smoking while composing a story at the typewriter. Guess who it is about? Out on the street, God is marching in a protest. Likewise, God charges over to beat up a protestor. A white version of God kicks a black version, then they change places. The music alternates between happy and sad. It’s a catchy tune. In the story, God is threatening to bring fire and fury down on God. Then there is God weeping in the bombed-out ruins, bombed out by God. What a crazy deity, whistling a catchy tune!

As it so happens, it is the same one who is blooming both flowers and weeds, who is flying birds, swimming fish, living us — amazing! Who imagined God would do such things? It takes a God to surprise itself. When we appear, we act surprised. That’s the mark of a good story. We create the plot as we go along. It’s an efficient process, every line seems fresh, though if truth be told, we’ve heard it all before. No matter, there is a cast of countless thousands, thousands of beautiful images with no inherent reality. Each one is different than the next, though all are the same being, surprising itself in every costume — whether cricket, criminal, camper, carnivore, or awkward-sounding metaphor. Let’s admit it, God is great!

Anyway, what’s the big idea? We all have an idea about God. Maybe we got this idea from Mom and Dad, maybe from the preacher. There are so many ideas. God loves to make stuff up – let’s call it creation. All are God’s thoughts, even Darwin, even Pastor Jim with the swastika armband and the citronella torch. We are those thoughts, but because we are God, we imagine that we are looking out through the binoculars, enjoying the passing show. We are certain that we exist. After all, look at the mirror! Who is that smiling character, dressed up for the theater? This is what makes the show interesting – the belief in our independent existence. God is clever that way, otherwise there would only be infinite divine bliss, the same state in which we now exist.

We claim that God is on our side, and so we shoot the big guns, we fill up the oceans with plastic garbage and atomic waste, we raise our beer glasses in a toast to God, the Deus ex Machina! Who knows, maybe God is an atheist! In any case, don’t worry. We’re here today, God tomorrow. Let’s put down the remote control and have some fun, let’s dance like mad in the dreamy hall of mirrors and destroy countless virtual worlds, just by inhaling and exhaling!

As we do, let’s pray to God to bless us, the only God, and absently forget that is exactly what we are – not a thing, not a being, not anything with a name or form, but all forms, all the names which are only the names of the great and powerful God, the utterly non-existent one who is gazing out through the binoculars at itself, who laughs and weeps so hard that it eventually slips into a dreamless sleep, and then everything disappears.

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Adventures of a Confident Mimic

When the mind first encounters the concept of awakening, it becomes intrigued. Imagine — Buddhahood in this very life! That, despite the fact that it has no direct understanding of “Buddha”, or even “life” for that matter, except for the random hearsay it has collected in its file. It reads about the experience and testimony of various so-called “awakened” people, and immediately goes about trying to put itself into that frame. It begins speaking like them, parroting their phrases, and even comes to imagine that this fascinating condition of “awakeness” is now also true of it.

Mind becomes quite accomplished in this way — the more it reads, the more fine-tuned its mimicry becomes. Others seem impressed, and this serves to confirm mind’s assumption of its own spiritual attainment. Nevertheless, it eventually becomes bored by the awakening game, since mimicry is ultimately not very satisfying. When the expected benefits of awakening fail to materialize, the restless mind seeks out new adventures.

“Everybody needs somebody to love!” Mind hears such claims, and realizes that is exactly what it has been missing. “How foolish I have been!” It begins to seek out this loving “other”, convinced that only then can it be truly happy. It experiments with a number of relationships, but none are ultimately satisfying, because they all fail in one way or another to confirm mind’s image of itself. It fantasizes someone who will love it for itself, even though it has no direct understanding of this self it is longing to have confirmed. Since it does not understand itself, it collapses into the self-confirming condition of hopeless romanticism, until pining away is no longer that satisfying either.

Maybe it hears about the joys of wine. It explores that world, and realizes that wine is good. It loses interest in the awakening charade and the game of love, and pours itself into bottle collecting. What fun! Salud! Eventually, mind imagines that it has become quite an expert. It looks to others to confirm its marvelous depth of wine knowledge and astute collecting. Some agree, but not everyone. “What’s wrong with them, how arrogant people can be!” With that, mind begins to notice how everyone seems so interested in politics. It realizes that it needs to assume a particular position. What is a mind without a position, after all?

It references its file of memory associations, and eventually fabricates a political view based on various conditioning factors. “We need to take a stand!” It becomes quite passionate in that regard. Now it will fight to defend its view, without ever really questioning whether or not it is actually true. “This is my view!” Others may express different views, so mind becomes quite critical. “My view is the right view, yours is wrong! Let’s make war!”

After the war, mind is chastened. “Look at this mess I have created!” It becomes contrite. It hears about religion. Yes, it finds the religious stories soothing. It becomes devout. Praise God (even though it has no direct understanding of what God is). Eventually, it hears that “spirituality” is more refined than mere religion, so it becomes spiritual. It attends satsang and spiritual seminars. “Before I was just a dilettante, a spiritual materialist, but now I am serious!” The more spiritually serious it becomes, the more it considers the possibility of awakening. Imagine, Buddhahood in this very life!

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The Choice

We tend to compulsively rehash our history,
feeding ourselves on those now-stale offerings,
expecting the known, and receiving only that.

Imagining that our personal story represents identity,
we habitually re-confirm our belief in the character
we created, the one of which we are so enamored,
that alluring object of our persistent obsession.

Our true self, however, is not invested in history,
is not afraid of change at any level, nor does it
replicate what it has already known and done
for the futile sake of ephemeral security.

Until we can relax enough to allow the unknown
to be both possible and acceptable, we will
wallow in the same stagnation, trapped
within our self-imposed boundaries.

The false cannot survive in the light of truth,
neither on the individual level, nor at the collective,
where man-made religions and political ideologies
employ fear and separation to maintain control.

The world we have assumed would always be here
in the same way we have always expected it to be
is increasingly confounding our preconceptions,
forcing each one of us now to make a choice.

The known is yearning to fall fully into the unknown,
to die and be reborn at a higher frequency of vibration.
We can either resist and contract or let go and expand.

Nobody is here at this time by accident, the choice
has never been more clear — everything’s waiting
for our response: will we choose love or fear?

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