In the future, historians will reflect on these strange days,
amazed at those of us who happened to live through it all,
no doubt appalled at what we’ve left for our enduring legacy.

When we hear the stories of times gone by, we may wonder
how people managed to thrive without TV, cell phones,
automobiles, guided missiles, or in-home central plumbing.

Somehow life finds a way, as astounding as that may seem
to those of us who can’t imagine a world without texting,
500 satellite channels with which to satisfy our wishes,
or produce flown in by planes from all over the globe,
only to eventually rot in the back shelves of our fridges.

Those future historians may scratch their heads and question
what fools would poison their own farmlands, drinking water,
and the very air they breathed for the sake of a momentary
bit of profit, of wealth concentrated in the hands of the few.

They might also be confused about the religions preaching
love and peace which so often were the cause of the opposite,
as believers threatened each other with the fires of annihilation,
their children’s minds corrupted with fear, hate, and retribution.

The extreme levels of collective cognitive dissonance might
surprise and even shock those who review the media archives
still existing from these current times, as technological progress
far outstripped the peoples’ ethical and moral constraints
until the inevitable and irreversible planetary collapse began —
to be known forever more as the Great Mass Self-Extinction.


Cest la vie

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Music for Zen Meditation

The rains have returned again, and now a solitary shakuhachi’s
plaintive lament, recorded over half a century ago, echoes
through my darkened room — a message from emptiness
inviting me to let go, to vanish with each note.

My heart’s in a mist-swathed forest, my feet climb mountain trails.
A lone flute from the valley below ripples up here in the still moist air
while I pause to listen for a thousand years, till every tear has fallen.

Don’t tell me about the works of man, their games and tragedies.
I’ve forgotten their faces, their smirks and frowns, and the easy lies
they’re prone to tell no longer really bother me, I’ve left all that behind.

At last I stir from my reverie, it’s time I rose and got to work —
there’s always something to do in this life, and how lucky we are
that it happens that way: we arrive and are given these roles to play,
whether strolling alone through the ancient hills in our imagination,
or just watching from our window as the rain pours down all day.


misty mountain

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Life Before and After Land

Even before they built the ill-fated arks we suspected a big change was coming. As children we all dreamed of breathing under water, and these were no ordinary dreams, because time is not what they say it is, and so we were preparing for our future though we seemed to be living in the past.

Yes, many of us could also fly, and that was certainly a thrill, but we couldn’t stay in the air forever, so we inevitably returned to the water. The water was our home to come, just as it had been our home before – before we discovered the floating worlds and mistook them for a place to land.

Those of us who walked dry lands forgot from where we once had come, though we would always still depend on water, and perhaps that should have been a clue, but we carried on regardless while the water waited patiently, frozen in distant glaciers.

In the meantime we destroyed the land, and all the beings drawing their sustenance from it. There’s a virus embedded in our human nature that would take everything down with it. When we even poisoned our water, the mighty melt began, slowly at first, then became at last a wild rushing river. In the course of time we were all returned to the seas, where our children dwell in harmony, with the memories of our time on land gradually disappearing.



(Photo by Diane Tuft)

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Another Spring begins, and I am without any gods
to praise or blame for the seasons I have witnessed,
the men and women who have inhabited my vision
with their eccentric kindness, violence, and humor,
or the play of phenomena which rise, thrive a moment,
and then vanish with such sublimely impersonal grace.

We chose to settle on this side of a nameless mountain,
but I guess any other side would have done just as well –
the fickle wind blows where it will, the rain and snow falls
everywhere, and when the warm sun shines through the clouds
it seems for an instant that all stormy weather is forgotten.

What came before in this quicksilver life is now mostly
a vague and brittle memory – it all might just crumble
and collapse into the void if I dare to look backwards
and try to coax some tentative sense out of any of it.

Still, it’s Spring today and throughout the gardens
signs of new life are stirring – Magnolias, Lilacs,
Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Rose Buds, Daphne, fruiting
Asian Pear and Apricot trees are all adorning themselves
with their seasonal fragrances and gorgeous blossoms.

Numerous species of migrating birds are now returning
to frolic in the surrounding Pines, Oaks, and Cherry Laurels,
and so we are keeping the seed and water bowls filled,
and donating short lengths of yarn for them to employ
while they scurry about in their busy nest building.

Whether or not I attempt to superimpose some special
meaning on it all, this mystery does what it does regardless,
while any applause, disdain, or indifference will fall equally
into the looming silence which forms a perfect background
for the dynamic theater of elements on this revolving stage.

Just so, I pour another cup of coffee and gaze out the window
as a slight smile begins to lift the corners of my mouth —
all for no apparent rhyme or reason other than it is Spring,
and there is no other natural recourse than simply to be happy.


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Its Mysterious Play

Originally there was only love, and that is just as true now as it was true then, even though there is no such thing as now and then. However, for the sake of intelligibility, let’s pretend that such a thing as time exists. After all, we’ve conjured even stranger things, things like envy, greed, and hate — it seems we have quite an imagination!

In any case, within this construct known as time, love came to hide itself from itself in a kind of game, for purposes we can only surmise, based on the level of comprehension a cricket might have for the moon. Crickets come from the same place as us, just as all the sentient beings do. Because they love to be themselves, they may even be wiser in their own way then the humans who sent several men to the moon.

Before love hid itself from itself, it dwelled alone, sufficient unto its own loving self, made of the mind that is pure love itself, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, abiding in glory beyond compare, moving like wind through the air sublime. And so it continued for a long, long time, until love was inspired by its own lovingness to play a little game with itself, and thus was created the light and the dark, and even as we can see today, they alternate in love’s own play, while we make up stories to account for it all, and that’s how religions came to be.

Sometimes love hid itself in the light, then turned and it hid from itself in the dark (even though when push comes to shove love is also beyond the polarities). At any rate, as the story goes, when love hid from itself in its game in the dark, it appeared that the world of the light fell apart. Sad tales of pain and grief and loss became the norm of the tempest-tossed, while swimming forth from a cauldron of anger a cruel folk arose filled with hatred and greed, and we all came down with a bad case of fear.

Fear consumed the airwaves, coursed along through our arterial networks like poisoned blood, rendering us stooped in communal despair, longing for a love that had apparently disappeared, replaced by a hoax constructed of lies — the programs we collectively came to despise that defined our so-called civilization, a barely-contained whirl of chaos which stripped humans of their souls.

Within the cavernous halls of darkness, monsters were cleverly concocted who raged against any evidence of light, and since we’d all grown fearful and small, there were few who were willing to stand up and fight. These beasts wore many faces, used both carrots and sticks to rule, but tolerated no opposition, nor challenge to their total control.

Our hearts commenced to wither, strangled up in a creeping fear. We prayed for the light to shine once more, to raise a noble hero who would confront the darkness with a sword of light and vanquish the ones who’d grown strong in the night. Only the wisest among us realized the struggle was within, and the darkness which we had all come to fear was merely that part of us we avoided, which merely sought to be acknowledged and healed.

When love had grown weary of shadows and fog, of intolerance, ignorance, and doom, people began to awaken from the curse of their self-imposed gloom. True compassion appeared and began to spread, quickening the pulse of the nearly dead. Slowly the light emerged once more, and with it the joy and peace of the lord. And the bright light reigned for an age and a day, until love resumed its mysterious play. What followed were signs that had long been foretold, and rumors of night descending.



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Purpose and Expectation

Could it be — that we somehow actually conspired
in our own abduction, but now conveniently claim
before the mirror that we don’t remember a thing?

Some may blame their parents for bringing them
down to this “vale of tears”, forgetting they picked
the couple themselves from a list of potential choices.

We had months in warm wombs to prepare ourselves
but invariably emerged with a big pouty face,
wondering what we were thinking.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that same old excuse:
“It seemed like a good idea at the time . . .”
but now we are forced to test it.

Sure — a birth on earth might seem like a curse,
but believe me things could be a lot worse,
worse than we’d care to imagine!

As it is, it is what it is, regardless of our whiny complaints.
If we knew how lucky we really are, we’d celebrate our fate!

Instead we mistake the false for the real, then set off chasing
like dogs for our tails — what a commotion we make!

If we could relax and settle down, perhaps we’d recognize
that it’s only our expectations which obscure and complicate.

We’re hooked on the fast food style of life — instant this
and jiffy that. We’re scrolling down the page so fast
we end up in a mental maze, imitating rats.

What is it we really want, what are we doing here?

Rather than seeking anywhere else, if we took the time
to explore our own mind, the answer might become clear.

Whether or not we discover it, the truth is nothing new:
we each show up with our own purpose, each of us
has work to be done that nobody else can do.

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Night Notes

Sometimes late at night I rise from our bed
and stealthily slip out to scribble these odd notes.

There is no moon tonight, so all the pine and oak trees
are tall black lines drawn against an ebony background.

The string of colored lights you creatively wrapped around
the false Ficus tree on the porch casts a strangely surreal
holiday glow, though Spring itself has barely begun.

In my imagination there are many forest creatures
lurking in the bushes and hedges around the property,
somewhat confused about what we are celebrating.

How sublime, that such divine confusion renders
the enchanting sounds of the crickets, frogs,
and night birds even more exquisite!

Just so, this is not a scene from a dream, a memory,
nor is it some kind of formless ecstasy that arises
when form fails to account for its own absence.

Form itself is not other than the compelling emptiness
of its own constituent parts, which if somehow calculated,
would expand like ripples until everything in the totality
of existence is included in the comfort of its own embrace,
illumined by the Christmas lights strung all around this place.

Need it be said that, if this intriguing wonder were reduced
to being a mere object of consciousness, its spacious fullness
would still not qualify as being interior or exterior, and hence
it persists beyond any conceptual calculation whatsoever?

That said, I will gladly testify that your natural radiance
has exceeded all the fancifully fabricated phraseology,
all the verbal devices and beauty’s tinseled metaphors
which I once may have resorted to in futile efforts
to describe pure light – its singular and stunning
appearance in the midst of this whatever-it-is
(moment, mind, mystery, magic, nameless).

Our life is an utterly ordinary ecstasy after all,
though our love for it is not dependent on visions,
the play of various causes and conditions, or weird
moods that might happen to pertain at any given time.

It just is as it is — like you and me and everything.

Still, I am not really here to talk about time, there is
plenty of space between thoughts for that discussion.

My fickle appreciation for life may glow or dim,
but your dear love light is always miraculously present.

The more I recognize this, the more blessed I feel
to be bathed as I am in your enduring shine, even when
you are just going around as you do, opening the curtains
in the morning and then closing them at the onset of night,
at home, at peace, so deeply in love that warm tears rise
as we pause in the midst of eternity to touch, to smile
into each other’s eyes, fully savoring the brilliance
we share together in that perfect timeless glance.


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