Above Heaven, Below Earth

When you were rain, a part of you
returned to the sky in a steam
of glad evaporation.

As a cloud, you floated aimlessly,
imbued with a god-like perspective,
escorted by the atmospheric winds.

Another part of you soaked down
into the deep ground, enraptured
in the bliss of not knowing.

Once you roamed the sky heaven,
but where you are now exceeds
any pious religious allusion.

This dark and womb-like intimacy
is settled, solid, silent, profound.
In its depth, nothing is required.

Things begin and end above,
but here below time is different,
the present is more the future past.

At rest, at peace in subterranean trance,
stunning jewels are no different than
the humble rocks you seep around.

When at last you sift out into the sea,
how many watery clouds of yourself
will have appeared only to vanish?

As much as anything is true,
above heaven or below earth,
you alone are the Exalted One.


Green Genie



On the front windowsill, posed like a remarkably realistic
facsimile of itself, as motionless as a Buddha, sits a dead fly.
He is staring through the glass out into space in the same way
a child might gaze, captivated, at the vast starry night sky.

Prevented from going any further by a translucent barrier,
it is as if he simply lifted out of his small insect body
and proceeded on, unbound at last from any limiting
encasement of flesh, to explore the beckoning sky.

Those who remain may see only an empty shell
of what once so masterfully circled and soared
through the air, all the while professing in its own
idiosyncratic voice its intense wonder and amazement.

In the greater scheme of things its diminutive size
does not matter at all — what is the size of our planet
compared to that of the sun? Consciousness and life force
combined with matter to manifest a dynamic living marvel.

We all come from the sky, and to that open sky so shall
we all return. Within everything there resides a spark,
a fragment of a greater light. That greater light itself
is but a spark within an even more magnificent body.

Beyond all human imagining, there is light within light
to infinity. Even as it looks out through the tiny eyes
of an insect, it spins through the heavens as a grand
galactic wheel. Understand: there is only God.




Shaman’s Wind Song

I climb to the high rock plateau.
I stand out freely in the wind.
I raise my arms wide open.

Freely, I release my heart elements
into the limitless secret essence
of the wind. Spontaneous
self-liberation —
indivisible, sublime!

I mount the wind horse.
I am the very wind, galloping
through time and space, unbound.

I lean to scoop up the whole universe.
It rolls in bliss within my embrace.

This wind permeates all worlds
whether known or unknown,
penetrates all the way.

My lover, the wind!
I am that lover —
I, the wind.

Ah, I am that wild
rushing ecstasy.

I am that motionless sky,
moving, rushing, billowing.

As I am taken, I will take you,
gather you up. Feel me —
I am before and after,
now and then.

I whirl up to the high rock plateau.
I set you down in the midst
of time, I fold you gently
into flesh, breathe
life into you.

I, the wind.

I hear your first cry.
I feel your life.

We are alive,
the living wind.

We are here to wander, freely.
We are all riding the wind horse
through visible and invisible realms.

We’re already released into the limitless
secret self-essence of things, we roll
in the bliss of our own embrace!

In Memoriam

(For Charlie Gilbert)

Every body gets its own particular death which is meant solely for it, and no other body. Each body will endure its own intimate struggle, but finally exhale and then begin the return back to its atomic elements. Whatever inhabited that body — consciousness, life force — all of that invisible energy which saw through the eyes of the body, heard through it ears, tasted the world though the body’s mouth, its senses, all of that will have departed, so at last the body can enjoy its own disintegration. It is an impersonal process, ever so gradually flowing like a deathly river into the elemental dust ocean at last.

Regardless of the comforting beliefs offered by the human religions, those left behind may still wonder where the person has gone. It is natural to be confused. Here was a person, but now there is just a body that is suddenly and over time becoming less recognizable. Was there ever really a person, or just a cohesive bundle of thoughts, memories, perceptions, and physical components which seemed to amount to a person, but now no longer do?

In any case, this is not a question for the one who briefly hovers over the body. Whatever we may imagine it is, it has dropped off the body like last night’s dream and is now going to awaken into a new dream, a dream that is far more luminous than this dim one which we here take to be life, the world, ourselves.

We are all on the verge of walking through that door. We persist here for a while, occasionally wondering about death and the hereafter, but mostly occupying ourselves with the various arrangements we must make to navigate the relatively short interval we call “my life”. Such arrangements are no longer a concern for the voyager. They may look back fondly, in a way that we might look back on a scene from our childhood and savor its innocent poignancy, knowing what we discovered about the wounds and scars which the body will bear, just to finally arrive at this moment of liberation. Now the explorer is free of all of that, and it was a virtual adventure after all, like a movie in which we played the central character. While the credits are rolling, we drift slowly out of the theater and into the light. It is nothing like we might have imagined.

Still, the body knows nothing about any of that. It is engrossed in its own mystery. There is no sense of distance any longer from the earth it once walked upon, the cool green grass, the minute movements of the small dirt creatures who blindly feel their way through the unknown expanse, seeking only the modest nourishment necessary to persist a little longer in the forms they momentarily inhabit. The body has become food. In reality, it has always been food, but now it has become a complete meal, offered to the other parts of itself which constitute the world, life, ourselves.

We cannot account for any of this with our confined human sentiment. It is too awesome, too wild and terrible — that everything revolves beyond conception, beyond our willfulness, beyond our control. That everything turns into something else, and that we break into parts of what we thought we were, and that everything goes its own way. Perhaps we would like to have an answer, even though we are not quite sure what question to ask. Really, there are no questions. That is the answer.


Fullness of wind, of water,
of earth, of sky, of clouds,
heat, cold, of rain, shine,
light, dark, of day, night,
of birth, life, of death, of all.

Fullness of war, of peace, truth,
of wisdom, ignorance, of pain,
love, hate, purity, indifference,
sound, silence, despair, of faith,
of self, of others, of giving, divinity.

Fullness of vision, of perfection,
of surrender, resistance, of sex,
of movement, of rest, attainment,
desire, satiation, of confusion,
of joy, grief, of victory, loss.

Fullness of time, eternity, of feeling,
devotion, worship, of compassion,
of acceptance, fear, of suffering,
smiles, tears, laughter, disdain,
of intent, of effort, of imagination.

Fullness of breath, sensation, of hope,
of emptiness, dreaming, blindness,
of knowing, forgetting, of forgiveness,
of meaning, humor, secrets, appearances,
experience, strife, affection, of nothing.



Once You Fell Silent

Once you fell silent, like an old soldier
who sits staring out a window, eyes glazing
at the sight of nothing in particular, just
the movement of wind in broken fences.

Memories of fearsome long-ago battles replay
over and over within him in an endless loop,
while the caged animal of his feeling paces
back and forth, and his heart is wounded
again and again, and it is for this reason
that he says nothing, only briefly sighs.

All the while, invisible creatures gather near,
comforting beings who brush the air around you
with their luminous phantom hands, and leaning closer
whisper softly in some ancient healing language
your ears cannot hear, but your heart can.

When the night dissolves in light, you stand
and stretch, and something you can’t explain
ripples through you, a subtle pulse of presence
pervading everything — it’s all conscious,
you have never been alone, separate.

Because we are so often like mad children,
we tend to turn against each other in our anger
and ignorance, our fear, and thus need to be reminded
repeatedly of this simple truth: that whatever appears
is our own mirror, that whatever we do makes echoes,
that we ourselves are an echo of an incomprehensible
energy which travels on like one beam of pure light
through those far worlds our dreaming carries us —
vast magical displays of our own shining mind —
where there is nothing that can truly harm us,
and where we won’t be turned away.

The Sound

The cities were infested. It was long past time to go. I drove as far as my car could take me, walked the rest of the way on foot. At a certain point (I don’t know when, I don’t know how) memory and I parted company. Now everything would be itself — empty and marvelous. Ordinary is not other than mystery, mystery is not other than ordinary.

I wrapped myself in mountain skin. Sparkling streams flowed through me. I wrapped myself in blue sky. White clouds sailed through me. I wrapped myself in green forests. Leaves and branches glittered in the filtered light. I wrapped myself in vision. Birds, four-leggeds, crawlers and insects — all had intriguing secrets to share. I wrapped myself in every season, day and night, moment to moment — magic!

In my dreams, wondrous flowers emerged from solid rock, grew sinewy arms and legs, took my hand, we all had wings, the breeze was beckoning, the gods were smiling, we were rising up and up. We were feeling to infinity.

By the grace of time, in the play of time, I kept appearing and vanishing, appearing and vanishing. Each time, I became a little less visible. Who knows how long it took, but eventually there was nobody there, no one remained except for a small humming noise. It was barely audible. This is how it sounded: “Huuuuuu . . .”

When I returned to forever, the animals came out to greet me. They appeared in their angelic forms as small fluttering insects. They were the heartbroken woman, they gathered all around me. Each one was softly whispering. They were all whispering as one. They made the humming sound.

They were taller than I could tell. One was on my left, one on my right. One before me, one behind me. They were glorious, radiating a light sublime. Now they were pointing graciously in every direction. I was listening. They said: “This is you.”