Showing posts from March, 2007


There are two worlds, that of form and that of emptiness. But the emptiness is never stagnant, nothing is every hollow. Everything in it, rather, is constantly filling with every shifting spirit. The more we can surrender to the world of emptiness, the less stressful and anxious we become. We become attuned to Vidya, the sanskrit Ultimate Reality, and the world that, as Paul writes in "Epistle to the Thessalonians," God hides from the unrighteous. Many of us in the "West" know this world--the world of mindblowing coincidence and flagrant interconnectedness. This is the world alluded to page after page in the Holy Bible as well as in Buddhism. Many of us are already living in Ultimate Reality and doing our level best to put up with the nitpickiness of the delusional world. Many of those whose lives "we," meaning the progress starved West, never made the mistake of leaving it. Many still know all the bullshit we call progress is totally delusional and is the


Compassion itself is seen to be The Seed of a rich harvest, water for growth, And the ripened state of long enjoyment. Therefore at the start, I praise compassion. --CHANDRAKIRTI Compassion draws the world into us. When we reach out with the light streaming from under our fingernails, as Chekhov says, we can touch the world, something it is impossible to do "literally." Imaginatively, though, we can do this, and the Vidya world, the Ultimate Reality, is reached only through imagination. Therefore, compassion is a doorway, every expanding into it, until ultimately the door is all it opens into and we no longer need it. Compassion becomes our natural state and we are thereby fused to and of the world completely. In this state, we become, as Paul writes in "Hebrews" "authors of life." Our compassion shapes the world in its own image. What we think, is. First, though we must overcome our perception of ourselves as separate from


Seeing with the mind and seeing with the heart reveal two very different worlds. One of these is what Paul calls "delusion" in "Epistle to the Thessalonians" and one of these is "the way, the truth, and the light." None of this anything to do with anything beyond the human mind, which in Buddhism is the exact same thing as the world. Looking through the eyes, we can only perceive delusional reality. Poetry and visual art reveal the sight of the heart. Sages can see both worlds. To merge them, reason and emotion must become one. The only way to accomplish this, develop both. Create communication between the heart and the mind through a commitment to art, poetry and developing intuition. This is how to access what the Hindi call Vidya, Ultimate Reality.


I am teaching my students T.S. Eliot's "Waste Land." I have been teaching British Literature, Beowulf to Ted Hughes, for almost ten years. I think having the words of the master English poets wash over me, through me, around me all this time has played a role in opening me up. Now that I'm open, I can't help but see how many of them--all of them--"practiced" poetry rather than just wrote it. They were all affiliated--ALL--with some aspect of Rosicrucianism or Masonry. And I am more and more convinced that these societies based on Alchemy have been the keepers of the True Religion all this time. There is in "The Waste Land" a perfect journey through the boundary "between worlds." As I taught it, I described this journey as it is found in the poem and this sparked a whole discussion about what the poet means by "dead." Dead is Avidya. Dead is all of this stuff . But what I want to impress upon them is that the spiritual path


Avidya is the Sanskrit word for the delusion of separateness. The purpose of life is to overcome it. It is used repletely through Hindu texts and also forms the basis of Buddhist Sutras and teachings. Adi Shankara says in his Introduction to his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, "Owing to an absence of discrimination, there continues a natural human behaviour in the form of 'I am this' or 'This is mine'; this is avidya. It is a superimposition of the attributes of one thing on another. The ascertainment of the nature of the real entity by separating the superimposed thing from it is avidya (knowledge, illumination)". In Shankara's philosophy avidya cannot be categorized either as 'absolutely existent' or as 'absolutely non-existent'. Once we commit to overcoming avidya, the realization of the true Self begins. This search finds expression in the universal metaphor of the snake and the rope. Avidya, our delusional attachment to the material


Setting the correct wind-to-music ratio driving home today I thought of how looking back on the world must feel for monks who, having sung the sanskrit right, walked the prayer wheel one last turn, maybe had the wind jam a seed of luminescent lapis shaded sand in an eye where it lodged and blossomed into a vision so complete it blinded him forever, and as it did how small it must have seemed then, the world, not the sand, suddenly, how insubstantial to have deserved so many believers in it, walking their heavy steps that should have, were it not for so much faith in nothing, fallen through and yet driving their stupid cars, windows half way up, down, no, up, no, down, moon roof moonlessly open on an open wide lashless cold March sky and the music for today was U2’s Achtung! Baby, the song, “You’re So Cruel.”


What is it in us that makes us go absolutely crazy for a person, to fall head over in heels, to reach levels of emotional ecstasy just by thinking about them, by soaring out of our bodies and minds just by touching them? I have this in my life. Just the thought of him nourishes me when I am in my darkest places. In fact, thoughts of him have actually lifted me out of these dark places. Hearing from him when I was in the depths of a depression magically reminded me what happiness feels like, and its contrast to where I was slowly guided me upward. Love is a ladder out of darkness. It is a healer. And I think it is why "God" is "Love." God is the name given to this state of enlightenment, (That hardly demystifies it since enlightenment is the deepest mystical state.) this corridor of wisdom wherein one interacts with the world and the world interacts back, as though no separation existed, epidermal or intellectual. I am increasingly aware that it has everything to do


At its very heart, this is about connecting with the heart of the world with our own hearts. We do this through feeling passionately, through taking risks and finding where our path is. The only way to find where one's path is by bumping into walls, especially invisible ones. The labyrinth is therefore a powerful symbol for Alchemists, for whom the process is not at all really about laboratories and bunsen burners but about everything that goes on within and around us. Our life is a labyrinth. And the life of the planet is a labyrinth. Our personal labyrinths are microcosmic of the whole. How passionately we live determines how deeply our path merges with the path of the world. It is so indefinably beautiful we can only turn to the poets through the ages to find reflections of the experience. The emotional daredevils of history draw us closer to the path we should be on. The fools who had the audacity to wander far from safety--they should be our guides.


Here's a little bit about Alchemy. For deeper stuff look at Lyndy Abrahams' Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery--or just cruise online. But you won't find anyone saying the Bible is written by Alchemists. That's new. What's very, very cool and what makes this whole thing so striking is that Alchemy (Masonry, basically) is forbidden in Christianity. Also, Hebrew Scholars scorn Kabbalist insistence of a connection between the "divine influx" and a "hierogamos," a heavenly union of God and the Divine Feminine of Knowledge (Shekinah) to produce the sacred seed that grows into infinite wisdom. This hierogamos is one of the key symbols and concepts of Alchemy. Here's Wikipedia, a sort of a primer since I know I go off on this stuff. . . and forget to ground out the basics. In the history of science, alchemy (Arabic: الخيمياء, al-khimia) refers to both an early form of the investigation of nature and an early philosophical and spiritual discipline, bot


If one's God(s) and one's spirituality don't match, it is a sign that things are terribly misaligned. My experiences with the Divine have been playful and generous much more than stern and frightening. Most people I know who "know God" and have a working relationship with some form of the Mystery do not speak in terms of "going to hell" and "getting into heaven." Rather they borrow the language of the Buddhist path, which more and more people are turning to. The lifeblood of teh Judeo Christian faith has been, it seems, cut off from us. Needing this source so we may follow our hearts into the sacred, it only makes perfect sense that we would need to turn to other fountains. I was reading the Dalai Lama's Little Book of Inner Peace the other day. I was deeply saddened by his suggestion that Judeo Christianity is a harmful religion. I agree that the way that it is practiced--with its patriarchal misinterpretation of Alchemy's deep symbols

An Email to Father Tom at St. George's Episcopal Church

Dear Tom, Thank you so much for the honor of presenting the alchemical reading of the passion narrative at St. George's. I read the Mark narrative last night in McDonalds while Andaluna played. And I just wept, Tom. Wept. Christ was so real to me, and the story, which I have read before, just resonated not with fear and terror and the anger I've been taught to feel against the priests, some righteous indignation which has blocked me from the meaning I received last night. What I saw was Christ's isolation at his darkest hour. In the Peshitta Bible Mark says, "and he began to be sorrowful and depressed. . . and he went aside a little and fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him." This "sorrowful and depressed" part and the desire to let an event pass without our being in it is so beautiful. It fits in with what I mentioned about Jonah yesterday, that there comes a time when we can't "think" t

The Heaven Game

In The Alchemist we read this tale. A boy enters a great house. He is told he may venture throughout the whole house. The trick is he is to hold a spoon with two drops of oil in it. He may venture throughout the whole house but he is not to spill the oil. This is the state of the mind of the master, or the adept. Chaim, the root of alchemy, is life. But it is more than life, it is, as the Vedas say, the very life of life. There is a way to do it right. It is about living wisely but never dully, living wholesomely but without deprivation. In all things, a balance between their opposites exists. Between the farthest room in the house and the entire bulb of oil, there is a secret. The masters live in this zone and life, as a result of their doing so, unfolds for them magically. I don't exagerrate. It's magic. There is magic. It is wizardry, light side, dark side, so very crouching tiger, hidden dragon-type magic. Plato said, "Life is a game." And this is what he meant.

The Want of Ages

Gladys Reichard wrote the seminal work on Navaho belief system in Navaho Religion. I bought this book 10 years ago when I was experiencing mysticism for the first time. I was reading everything I could about any belief system other than my own. This time, though, I am convinced that this magical mystery stuff is embedded in my own religion, Christianity. I can read every line of the Holy Bible and connect it to the simple structure of the Alchemical process. But I know it would not have meaning for me if I had not lived this alchemical life which I have--a live rich with nature and beauty, passion and disaster--then read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, the book that gave a name to what I've been doing forever. To what many of us have been doing forever, I gather. How could we not--for the alchemical process is ingrained in us, literally, emerging as we do from the earth, itself an ongoing alchemy. But it has been hidden from us in the West and from our counterparts in the Near Eas

The Strawberry Field

At some point, a truth is simply a truth, a fact a fact. Whatever deafness took away from me, it has given me much more. I'm at the beach. This is, I suppose, my eighth week in this state of mind and every day brings a new lesson, a new penetration of what I used to call the world. Last night I prayed on the sand, just as I used to during my first initiation ten years ago. I used the prayer name I was given then, the one I don't say out loud to anyone. And I asked for a lesson. Lessons come in dreams and in day to day events. Once establised, as Mircea Eliade teaches, the dialectic of the hierophanies is a fluid interchange between invisible and visible worlds. My dream was this: an enormous strawberry. The biggest strawberry--as tall as a person, as wide as a couch, and inside it were all these other great big strawberries. I opened one of them took a bite and it was just the perfect strawberry, bite after bite. I can still taste it now. Later, the lesson came when I withdrew