Dharma Wonderland

Kennedy, King and Lennon.  Public squalor, private wealth.  What is this strange country, the United States of America?  It is the dog that – when left unattended – discovers everything on the table is within reach, the pleasure and the poison, and devours both.

There are times I feel socially homeless among some of my fellow citizens.  No wonder my heart struggles to not become an old battle-axe, rust-worn shield, divided realm.

Watch out for the prison guards you yourself have employed, steer clear of the wartime radio news editors who work overtime inside your mind and never take a vacation.  Beliefs are roads to the ultimate nowhere, and are always under construction.

I wish I could get up on my soapbox all mighty and righteous, and urge us all to renounce gain and loss, pleasure and pain, but they are the characters who inhabit our landscape.  And none could exist without the other – they’re like political parties.  There is no “side” with One. You need two, or more.  Without villains, what’s the point of the existence of heroes, and vice versa?

It’s comforting to remember that beyond the horizon of all our drama there’s an ocean.  Beyond the anatomy of all our choices there’s an open sky.

Our addiction to fear has sent us careening into wonderland, and we’ve elected the queen of hearts as our president.  We’ve closed ourselves in with defibrillators, fire extinguishers, medications, and an obsession with life expectancy, youth preservation.  We are addicted to comfort, its creation, replication, perpetuation.  How do we find a way out of our house of smoke and mirrors?

It’s comforting to know we will breathe in and out until we no longer breathe in and out.  We, a passing rain, a prairie wind.

How much peace might we experience if the glowing lanterns of our hearts could learn to not be afraid to change, to flicker, to fade.  The shifting of stones can alter the course of a river’s current.

 

Pilgrimage

All day long, I see things a painter would paint. What is there to complain about? Even my own pain has been endured by thousands before me, and depicted by master sculptors.

Pilgrimage, penance, failure, learning to hold one’s self tenderly, in friendship – all these have relevance to my experience of life. Honoring the earth, or a Saint, or a God, a parent, a personal hero, the wind, rain dripping from trees.

Turning to look into one’s own heart, seeing what’s there. It is a brave thing to search your own soul. You will endure accusations of selfishness from others, and from your own mind.

We all just want a door to open and let the light in, but what if we are the door? What if we are the light?

To the world, I say I’m sorry for so many things. To the world, I also say thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Merlyn

The mountains are alive with fire,

transcendent breath, vigorous and endless.

Though they have been given a name,

a part of them will always be nameless,

and I could say the same about myself.

I heed the call, after all, of mist-laden glades.

I walk among stones with broken blades.

I come to you, mountains of fire,

full of so many things that matter,

yet they will not matter to you.

I come to you as a whittler of days,

a world-worshipper who knows he cannot fool you.

I come to you as a man who has a boy still looking

out from behind the bars of his rib cage.

I come to you with an owl on my shoulder

who comes and goes as she pleases.

I come to you as a failed magician,

with iron, ash, light, dust, rain

on either side of my skin.

I come to you as a failure, but at least I am a great one.

I come to you with the meaning of my name,

do with it what you will.

I come to you as the recorder

of my small life, pockets filled

with scribbled notes

of little use.

 

Obituary

Will it only be a list of information, a collection of the external?

Born in so-and-so, to these parents of this descent, lived here and then here, and then here.  Worked as a nurse, a cook, an accountant, managed a dry cleaning business, taught fifth graders or at the university, produced movies.  (Your name here) loved dogs/cats, was notorious for having ice cream for dinner.

Or maybe include a little something more.  How you used colorful expressions – I need a  little alcohol in my radiator.  I’d rather see the devil come.  He’s dumb as a fencepost.  

How you instilled in others a sense of curiosity, wonder.  What your passion was, what made you feel most alive, what sustained you in difficult times?  What drove your courage, your work, your will?  What was the nature of your heart, your spirit?

In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to the preservation of nature or the arts.

 

 

Refugees Welcome

There are the small crystals you left as blessings, tucked just beneath the earth.

There is the love you have for everyone you feel separated from.

And there are the invisible arrows that keep you on the path, your path, all your life, so that when other people try to yoke you with their doubts and question what you’re doing, you know enough not to listen.

The learning seems to come geologically slow, but you do eventually learn when to forget them and pay attention to the voice emanating from your center.  Through deep listening, through the acknowledgement of that voice, you come to know your center, and you come to hold it.  And the things you expect from yourself begin to change.

There are the great vertical stones you have glimpsed in dreams, and also the smaller, more rounded ones along the shore.

There are the bells on the necks of all the ponies, the raindrops, fall as they may.  There are the trees, connected – like all of us – in unseen ways by unseen roots.  There is the road, the path, your shoes, yellow rice, steam rising from a bowl of soup.

All the prayers you hold inside are on display in the world around you, before you.  You don’t need anyone’s advice to learn how to see.  You only need the courage and will it takes to look – that which you already possess, but do not always choose.  Its only requirement is that you choose it above all else.

There are places to rest along the miles of all your days, if you will only sit.  There are ferries to take you across all the rivers, if you will only board them.

There are ways to remember you are not your body, if you will only forget about your clothes and your appearance.

Allow yourself to sleep.  When you wake it will still be there: this yearning to bring all knowledge inward, this thirst to move on, out, through, up, into, from all the trials you’ve undergone.

Take your time, that’s what it’s there for.

Love returns to your heart as you walk to the ends of the earth.

Now, choose something to burn.  What will it be?

 

There Is So Much I Want To Tell You (Part Two)

There is so much I want to tell you about the middle way, about evenness, neither embracing nor rejecting.  This idea that everything just shape-shifts, and nothing is ever really gained or lost in the sense of how we define gain and loss, out of our profound longing for the security that absolutes appear to give us.  It turns out security is an illusion, so we might as well begin making choices aligned with our inner voice and dare to discover the truth of who we really are.

The world never stops sending us messages, if we might only find the courage and clear sight to receive them.

There is so much I want to tell you about wild horses, bows and arrows, primordial warriors, the retracting claws of mountain lions, about locks and pulleys, windmills, Tasmania, the alphabet, Maoris, archaeological discoveries, lost cities beneath overgrown jungles, the jaguar (he who kills with one leap) moving through the world alone except to mate.

It doesn’t matter what the song is, or if it’s even playing at all: it’s always there inside you, dormant yet vibrantly alive with the vastness you contain, the spaciousness around your heart that you often forget is there but then notice again, reminded when you sit quietly and take a long, slow breath.

I want to tell you about the marches of ants and the fiestas of rats, though you already know.  The unseen houses of cottontail rabbits born naked and blind, the smoky jungle frog and the violet orchid, the harpy eagle waiting high up in a ceiba tree for eleven hours to snatch his prey, like some avian samurai of the rainforest.  The love I have for so many people, and the brokenness I feel at having lost so many.  The visions I have of roads that wind through the countryside.  I see a rucksack, a hat, a walking stick.

Strange, how there’s no money in bending spoons, walking through walls, eating fire, poetry.

 

 

What is Possible

That moment when all the world is before you, vast, undiscovered.  When nothing about you has been decided, identified or known yet, by you or anyone else.  When your capabilities simply tear through the atmosphere, uncontainable, an afterburner of possibility.  When you may as well have been the one who first discovered fire. 

That moment when you come up over the horizon and ride the edge between this realm of forms and the realms of the formless, shedding the cloak of duality to receive the light of Oneness, transcendent of the sphere of human thought.  The energy of your cells burning – individually and collectively – like meteors across the cosmos of you, on a journey toward decomposition, only to be structured again by rebirth, transformed by incineration, alchemized by the whole cycle.        

Where is your sense of adventure, of possibility?  Why do you fear the things you fear?  Civilization is a blip on the radar of timeless eternity, humanity will rise and fall, and every condition existing within it will come and go, but what are we supposed to do with this information?  It borders on the unfathomable.  A meteorite collided with the Earth and formed this crater 60 million years ago.  Okay, well, let’s have dinner and go to bed, I have to get up early and go to work.    

So what might be a worthy use of your energy and focus during the flash of your sweeping microcosm of an arc of a few little decades here?  Do you endeavor to blow the doors off your life, throw open the windows of the heart?  Or do you turn away, forgetting that – beneath the clothing of your identity – you are the Earth, you are an expression of Eternity, you are one with the transcendent.

The challenges of working with fear, what is possible, and the ever-changing shapes of things masquerading as truth, never fail to astound, astonish.  For the love of all things holy, work on it now, because later you will be tired and clarity will not burn so bright.