Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This year, silent Christmas

Yes, I’m giving myself a different Christmas this year: a day of silence. Family members and friends are far away, and so I want to unite with the most illustrious guest I know: Jesus. According to all reports, He does well in silence. It’s His mother tongue.

I’m nowhere near as fluent in silence as Jesus, but I have a sneaking feeling He’ll forgive me. He’s probably tickled pink when any of us are willing to try communicating without words, given our obvious preference for out loud talking.

So even though my silence skills are middling at best, we’ll be sitting together, Jesus and I, and I’ll be listening to every word He doesn’t speak.

If all goes well, He’ll wrap me in a blanket of Peace and put some sweet nuggets of inspiration and awareness into my stocking. He’s good at that.

What do I have for Him? Not much, really. A huge box of gratitude. Awe. The willingness to spend time with the Peace Guru and let Him help me remember He is my brother. Oh, and He can have some of my Cherry Garcia ice cream if He wants.

Don’t get me wrong. I know most people picture Christmas as a scene of heart-softening music, multiple moving bodies and scads of harmonic food, more than you can ever possibly eat. That’s nice, too. I’ve done lots of those Christmases, the kind where you eat yourself silly and laugh at the jokes we tell while we’re cleaning up wrappings and washing up the pots and pans. I’ve never regretted any of those days: they’re just wonderful.

But this year, it’s Silence.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are You Here?

Right now, are you here?

Are you conscious of the ground beneath your feet, the in-and-outness of your breath, the beating of your heart? Do you notice the brilliance of your fingers that wrap perfectly around a pen? Are you aware of the brother or sister who sits next to you in your office or on the train?

Are you seeing the vast sky? Are you noticing the deep silence that underlies every sound? Are you clasping the hand of your own divine spirit?

Your spirit is the wealthiest asset you will ever possess.


Do not forsake it to dance with fear.

Come back to here. Come back to now.

Come back to You.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hats Off To Us

Look at us, everyone.

Look at the diamond we have discovered amid the mud of war, terror, lack and a gasping economy.

The diamond is our own True Self, arising to help us unstumble ourselves and our broken world. Together, we chose a blazing bright new President and in so doing we now have a reflection of our own soul, eager to inch us further into oneness, into unity, into wisdom.

As a result – in one blindingly wise and visceral moment - one of the deepest scars on our national consciousness has dissolved into near nothingness.

Hurray for us, hurray for our country, hurray for the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


One of the fascinating things about vision is that it falls by definition ahead of the curve; thus, at first, it can sound unfamiliar and alien.

Consider this. Gandhi’s notion of returning India to Indian rule by nonviolent action was initially perceived as eccentric, invalid and dangerous. Only after it worked did it become a heralded method of speaking truth to power.

Family and friends of the Wright Brothers ridiculed their insistence that a machine could –and would- fly. Their idea was thought to be dead wrong; yet how did it turn out? They were Wright.

And, centuries ago, Jesus’ revelation that God is within us, not outside us, was considered false and heretical; in fact, it was held frightening enough to get him prosecuted and killed. Then, as now, a new vision doesn’t land lightly on closed minds.

So when a young politician appears on our horizon carrying a fresh and transcendent approach to national and world affairs, how can we be surprised that there are loud, angry protests from minds rooted in unoriginal thoughts?

Obama, a man gifted with both brilliance and vision, is speaking out for governance by sanity rather than tribal rigidities. To those who cannot allow themselves to see the power of that concept, he is and will remain unacceptable.

Yet. Think how extraordinary and life-enhancing it could be if it turns out there are more of us who see his vision than those who don’t.


Monday, August 18, 2008

You Are Not Alone

Don’t go thinking
you’re just one leaf,
assailable and discrete.

Think rounder.

A leaf is part of the
branch is part of the
tree is part of the
soil is part of the
earth is part of the

You, too, are linked to
everything there is.
End of story.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finding Peace

Once, renowned spiritual healer Joel Goldsmith was on an airplane which was being buffeted and rocked by a violent storm. As trays rattled and nerves tightened, Joel closed his eyes and went into silent prayer. When he opened his eyes a few moments later, the plane had become stable.

What came to him during his silence was this realization: “I am not in this plane, this plane is within me.” And by ‘me’ he meant the vast, wordless I AM which resides in every breathing soul.

If, like Joel, we can remember that every material appearance in front of us, every incident, every occurrence is a passing appearance within the great I AM which is our very own lifespring, then perhaps we can ride more easily along the endlessly changing river of life.

Riding more easily doesn’t mean we cease to have feelings about whatever occurs; it simply means we have a secure compass point to guide us back to our center of Peace.

And here’s the thing.

Peace trumps choppy waters, every time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I try to imagine the most beautiful thing in the world, and it’s we. It’s we without fear painted over our eyes.

It’s we without the imaginary hard lines between us.

It’s we letting the wind blow us this way and that way, not resisting, just resting on its currents.

Things don’t look we very often, but that’s ok. I carry we in my heart.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Double Rainbow

The soft sounds of “Over the Rainbow” accompanied mourners as they filed slowly out of Tim Russert’s moving memorial last week. Emerging outside, they were stopped, stunned – by the inexplicable vision of a double rainbow splayed out across the Washington sky.

For those of us who are accepting of the subtle and overt symbols of God’s Hand, this kind of occurrence is not a surprise. For others, it may appear simply mysterious; an event to be remembered but not fathomed.

Either way, for me it was another one of those times when tears come to my eyes over the evidence of Divine Presence in our lives.

This double rainbow arose from Love, without which there would be no Tim Russerts, no rainbows, no smiles, no tears, no tenderness, no storms, no healings, no life whatsoever.

To the rainbow: thanks for letting us know Tim is OK.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hello, Tim

Yesterday Tim Russert was suddenly promoted to the next plane. And, wow, are we going to miss him.

Tim came to visit me –and millions more- each Sunday morning, bringing his gift of trenchant, intuitive and always fair probings into political consciousness. Rain or shine, he radiated authenticity, which is why we all accorded him our deepest trust. In a world rampant with personal agendas and tilted views, Tim was one of the rare beings who had acquired a doctorate in sanity.

I grieve our loss. Yet I take his moving on as a signal that now the challenge is ours. We, too, can emulate the grace, faith and sanity he came here to demonstrate.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Sound of Sacred

This morning I did a meditation while listening to a recording by Tibetan monks. They are chanting the word OM, but that simple statement in no way describes what these monks are creating. What they produce is a multi-level, multi-hued, multi-toned symphony using only the word OM as their instrument.

What entered my ears and reverberated through my soul was the sound of life itself; an intimation of all beginnings and all endings. I felt I was listening to the truest sound I will ever hear.

Someone once told me that these monks dedicate their entire life to learning how to sing the word OM in multiple chords simultaneously. When I hear the results of their training, I know exactly why they spent so many years learning this high art. They are chanting Godspeak.

Normally our view of life comes from being perched atop a handful of strands in the great carpet of human life. Listening to the sounds of these monks takes me further: it is like sitting in the lap of the Weaver.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Magic of Healing

Here in this amazing universe we all share there appears to be a broken ankle, and it is mine.

Sometimes there is pain present, and sometimes not. What is stunning to watch is how the human body mysteriously sends interior soldiers to heal itself; I can see their footsteps by way of a rainbow of vivid colors (blue, purple, ocher, yellow and plum.) They are painted across the skin around the fracture.

I am told there will be a period of weeks before the fracture has knitted itself together again. My assignment is to apply patience and commission myself to watch the sweet flower of order emerge bit by bit out of temporary chaos. I love watching order restore itself; it carries the scent of authority.

Another thing: I notice that people –both friends and strangers- are behaving with exceptional kindness towards me during this ankle adventure. God’s great Heart pops up everywhere.

Once again, I am carried by grace. Funny, isn’t it? Whatever the circumstance, whatever the event, whatever the experience: He is with me always. And you.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are You Listening?

Fear talks hard
in a loud rushing voice,
sometimes a roar.

Peace only whispers,
but when you lean in to hear it,
fear grows suddenly

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Small Victories

It's the little knots we trip over; big ones are so large we stay aware of them and watch our step. But the small, iggly kind catch us unawares and we find ourselves thrown before we know what happened.

You're in a store shopping for new towels. It's a simple adventure; you look at the colors, the thicknesses, the prices and make a decision. No problem.You gather up your choice and head for the checkout line. which for some reason is abnormally long.

The woman manning the cash register is taking an incessant amount of time to total things up; she's new, perhaps. Or distracted. Whatever it is, she's moving like a sailboat on a windless lake. The people in front and behind you are beginning to get rattled; they are whispering to each other about the slowness. You are commenting, too, silently, to yourself. It's hard to believe it could take so much time to check out a few items, but it is, and you don't like it. You look at your watch, you shift the towels irritably in your arms; you worry about making it home in time to finish cleaning the kitchen.

More long moments pass, and the line is still moving in slow motion; now you are beginning to feel actual heat rising behind your eyes. Your mouth is tense; your teeth are clenched in a gritty protest at the unseemly waiting period. The conversational hum is getting nastier; patience is evaporating like dew under August heat.

Then you catch a quick glimpse of the cashier; you notice she is pale with uneasiness. Faint droplets of sweat glisten from her cheek; she knows she is performing below standards and is frightened. The more she becomes frightened, the more she fumbles. She looks up furtively at the customers, now hostile, and you can almost hear her heart beating fast.

With this one glimpse, you soften completely. She's afraid! you say to yourself, and your instinct now is to put her at ease. Although you're three people back in line, you call out some cheerful remark to her, something funny. She looks up gratefully, smiles, and returns to her labors.

And when it's your turn, you smile and say, "Must be crazy today, all these people." and she nods. You tell her you like her blouse. She smiles, bites her lip. She totals you up, you give her the money, and thank her for helping you. "You have a nice day," she says, and she is smiling.

Inside this rare moment the two of you are suddenly friends, and as you leave you notice the previous anger has disappeared as surely as the moon vanishes at dawn.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Choosing Awareness

Here it is dawn,
My eyes have just opened,
and the sun is watching me
with untroubled love, waiting.

What will I paint on this day?
It is a fresh canvas spread before
my brand new eyes.
Only the sun and the silence
are watching, waiting.

I have so many colors I can use:
vials of pale blue peace,
the almost pearl whiteness of love,
pure energy, green as grass.
Rust memories, opal tinted dreams,
Hard skills, all orange and cobalt.

But that’s not all.
I also have storm gray doubt,
Acid lemon judgment, bitter olive envy,
And blood red anger.

They are all here, unopened tubes,
Lined up in front of my hours.

What will I paint on this day?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


It is one of life’s great paradoxes that becoming aware of our spiritual nature is as important as breath itself; yet there is nothing easy about a spiritual practice. In fact, it is possibly the most difficult discipline known to man. And why is that? Partly because, unlike piano lessons and weight-lifting, the results are often subtle and private rather than open and obvious. And, most importantly, because while worldly disciplines enhance our ego image, a spiritual inquiry leads -oh no!- to the ego’s gradual disappearance.

None of us, at the start of our work, greet that fact with much joy. Think for a moment how you feel about waking up at dawn for a meeting at the office – and now you know how most of us sleeping angels feel about being prodded Awake.

And yet, sooner or later, many of us come to realize that the investigation into our spiritual nature is not only vital, but urgent. After all, the Truth is True: we ARE spirit, we ARE angels – and to point our minds in line with Truth is our only door to freedom. A grasshopper can pretend to be a daffodil for as long as it wants, but it cannot grow petals or live a happy life standing still in the grass. Equally, we can go about pretending we are small, weak, vulnerable creatures – but it will never become true. Because, in fact, we are something else, something much more: we are Spirit.

We are the fingers of God.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moving Towards Peace

You’ve heard it before, many times. We see through a lens darkly.

None of us come to our spiritual search by accident. Most of us are pulled by pain, during those repellent, rock hard times when there is simply nowhere else to go but inside.

Impelling us forward is a question. We want to know is if there really is an abiding Friend hidden behind the appearances of lack, struggle, conflict and pain. Is Something there? Or am I deluded?

So we proceed, dragging our ego’s desire to be separate and special along with us. When, bit by bit, we discover that Oneness by definition cannot recognize a “separate and special” status, we balk. We balk, but still we must face the fact that we want both Peace and Separation simultaneously. To discover the two are eternally incompatible is a indisputably hard moment. Our path becomes jagged, and we find ourselves dragging our feet in one moment, surrendering to prayer in another. As many of you know, this juggling of our mind states can go on for what appears to be a very long time.

Then, to our great amazement, we suddenly make the deepest discovery of all: the fact that the Peace Within is larger and more luminous than all the world around us. It is at this point that our ego barriers start tumbling down, and we begin to dance with happiness.

And of course, since Peace has been within us forever, that dance can begin for us now. In this very moment. When else could it possibly happen?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


So many of the deepest treasures in this world are hidden.

The big, splashy, overt kind we already know about. Warm spring rain whispering across your face as you walk through the woods. The scrunch & rub of fresh grass under your toes. Rolling in the snow, safely protected by scarf bundlings and mittenery. Hearing Mozart. Hearing Sinatra. Hearing the voice of an old friend you've been missing for months. A great, taut, well-written movie. Good hot tea. Good hot coffee. Sitting with friends near a fireplace blazing with life. Reading a great book. A discreet taste of gourmet chocolate. A child laughing. You laughing. Anyone laughing.

These are our obvious treasures.

To get to the secret ones, you have to move very carefully and quietly, preferably with your shoes off. You must be looking without haste, without greed, without anxiety. You must have made at least a primitive alliance with meditation. Then, as the poets say, the world can unfold itself at your feet.

The tick of a clock on your shelf can start sounding like the heartbeat of God.

Washing a cup can become art: watching its stains slide away with the soap is as thrilling as a stab of lightning. Everything: floors, ceiling, windows, furniture, seem to shift gently into benign objects which are here to help.

Listening grows multi-dimensional. Someone brags, and you can hear the pleading underneath the boast; it moves you to enormous tenderness. Another giggles, and you can hear each note of laughter fly through the air like birds on holiday.

New hints, new clues appear in unexpected places. Exit signs on the subway read like messages about oneness. A pet, always your delight, is now even more: your teacher. You open the kitchen cupboard and withdraw a can of food; instantly you understand how the can and the peas within it are related. Small revelations, perhaps, but thunderous in their impact.

This network of insights occurs because you are in a state of extreme openness, one in which your eye can see far deeper into each object than it normally does, and your mind now floods you with new awareness about the nature of life. Some call it the voice of the Self.

It's an extraordinary discovery, really: finding the exquisite intelligence that lies within our own mind, waiting for permission to emerge. In the beginning, it's hard to fathom that magic can occur from withdrawing attention from the outside world, because we are so used to seeking outside ourselves for drama and movement and color. But hard to fathom or not, the fact is that the universe within us is far, far larger and richer than the universe without.

And becoming still is what opens the door.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Life Review

So here we are, sitting at one of Heaven's coolest delis, enjoying a latte and grilled cheese. We're busy exchanging earth stories, which from this vantage point seem almost like --well, black comedy.

“Can you believe how stupid I was to spend ten years in love with alcohol?” I say.

My friend grins. “You call that stupid?” he says. “I spent 20 years thinking it was cool to avoid commitment.”

“I remember being absolutely convinced I was worthless.” I add, shaking my head.

“Me, I thought I was deprived,” replied my friend, “even after I was making a half a million a year.”

We’re both weak from laughter. “I thought I was just a body.” I remember.

“Oh, me, too,” chuckles my friend. “Who the hell didn’t?”

We pause for a moment. “Well, there were a few who knew better,” I murmur.

“Sure, but I thought they were idiots.”

“And then it turned out..” I reply.

“That the idiots were us.” We both sink into laughter.

“Well,” I continue, “if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have sleepwalked through my whole life.”

My friend nods ruefully. “Right,” he agreed, “we’d have discovered the secret of material life.”

We both nod.

“Which is,” he concluded, “the chance to taste God through a human straw.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Self Imprisonment

Probably you've all witnessed a skilled stage hypnotist turning subjects into opera singers or roosters at the snap of a finger. But have you noticed how often you hypnotize yourself?

We do it all the time. Unwittingly, we hypnotize ourselves into believing a given set of untrue thoughts. To be fair, most of us were already hypnotized by our parents. “You’ll never get anywhere.” “You don’t deserve love.” “You’ll never succeed in life.” Having heard this over and over and over again, our program is set; inevitably, the effects show themselves in our life patterns.

Past conditioning is inescapable, but the truth is we don’t have to remain at the mercy of ancient training. The part we play in this sad process is to remain hypnotized by our unhappy concepts, instead of questioning their validity -- even when their fingerprints manifest repeatedly in our lives. So as a heartbreak or disappointment occurs, we think: “I knew I couldn’t succeed.” “I knew he’d leave me.” After years of blindly following our beliefs, we become, just like the subject on stage, a person acting out our own inner commands: “I am not lovable.” “I have no value.”

Instead of looking hard and close at these shabby premises, we agree with them, and let ourselves shrink into a self-made prison of unchallenged beliefs.

That’s our mistake.

Unquestioned, our mind will float endlessly on its original conditioning. Day after day we will continue in a hypnotic state, and wonder: “Why doesn’t anything ever change?” The real question should be: “How could I fall for this?” If we feel unhappy, now is the time to search out and question the false premise upon which we are riding.

“Is it true I don’t deserve love?” “Is it true I can’t have a life of fulfillment?”

Is it really, really true? Who said? Were these notions generated in me by an unhappy parent? An early trauma? And if so-- why give them credence?

Do you deserve happiness? Are you worth loving? You, who are the offspring of Love Itself, are by nature valuable and deserving. Human flaws do not alter this fact.

You don’t believe me? Good – don’t believe anything I tell you. Are you worth loving? Find out for yourself: ask your heart.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dealing with Darkness

Depression can grab you like an angry dog, leaving you limp, worn and devoid of spirit. Most of us have experienced this life-spoiler at times. I know I have. The question is: how do we work our way out of it? Trapped in fear or angst or despair, is it possible for us to reset our emotional barometer?

You know it is, because almost every human being alive has done it. And we’ve done it more than once, because dark feelings are like molasses on the kitchen floor: our feet can get stuck there in an instant.

You may already know some of the steps we use to transcend dark times. They are always counter-intuitive; meaning they seem, in the midst of sad feelings, like false movements. It’s important to remember, however, that they are not false movements – they just seem like it. The bottom line? Do them anyway.

The healing principle is simple: our task is to help our mind shift out of its temporarily diminished view of life. To do that, we need to take a stride in a different direction – towards thoughts that are larger than the small self in which we lie, curled and spent.

Simple Step #1: Cry it out. Let your tears fall, and listen to their story with compassion.

Simple Step #2: Exercise. Because it releases endorphins that pour healing energy onto our constricted thinking.

Simple Step #3: Do a kindness for another person. There is no way to do a kindness without it reverberating back onto yourself. No matter how sodden we feel, doing a kindness cauterizes suffering.

Simple Step #4: Monitor your thoughts. When we catch ourself licking our wounds for too long, we can pause and simply decide to change the subject. Yes, you can do this.

Play some music; listen to a standup comic, read a poem by the great mystic Rumi. In other words, enlarge your universe. The instant you become willing to do that you begin to realize –much like our astronauts did when they viewed our tiny beautiful earthstar from thousands of miles away- that life is larger than one small self. In that light, our tiny, individual pool of suffering is seen as a slight matter compared to the simple majesty and mystery of life itself. Expand your thinking, and any answers you need in your life will come toward you, like a kitten tiptoeing up to you on soft paws.

Tears. Exercise. Kindness. Music. Laughter. Change the topic.

Try it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another day, another lesson

Teachers are everywhere.

Here comes our friend Eliot Spitzer, offering to remind us what happens when we suppress our dark side, while simultaneously pouring our energy into being righteous.

Not pretty, right? But how many times have we all followed this same pattern in dealing with some undesirable (though less newsworthy) habit of our own? We object strenuously to this or that trait or behavior in others, and remain blind to the fact that we carry some germ of that trait ourselves. Thus, the more I cry out against Behavior X in someone else, the more I remain imprisoned by that same urge in my own life.

It is for this very reason that centuries of wise men have urged us to examine without judgment that which we despise in others. Observing without judgment is, in fact, the basis of all forgiveness. And forgiveness, as so many have told us, is the road to peace. The road to God. Spitzer, alas, was unwilling to drop his rigid judgment of others. Thus, he could not do other than remain imprisoned himself.

The very presence of feelings of disgust or antagonism that arise in me is a clue that I contain seeds of whatever it is I am roiling against. And they are seeds that I have not yet forgiven in myself, which is why I lash out when I see it in others.

This does not mean that we do not take action in response to cruel or unkind behaviors we encounter in this world. It means only that how we take that action is critical. If we take action in a state of condemnation and heat, we solidify our own mistakes. If we take action in a state of peace, we remain unscarred.

Here’s to forgiveness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Fountain

I was outside one day,
watching a fountain at work.
Maybe work is the wrong word.
It was laughing: hurling itself
wrong-side up into the sky,
then splashing down again
on the back of gravity.

A small child wandered by
waving a curiously bent stick
which he heaved into the froth.
Instantly the water wrapped itself
tightly around that stick
and kept on moving, curling, jumping,
singing, without missing a beat.

Then the child found a stone
and threw that, too, into the fountain,
using all his eight year old strength.
As soon as the stone fell splat
into the quick shivering waterstreams
they kindly made way for it,
not even pausing to say ouch.

If that stone had landed
on my slow dense body,
I would own a purple bruise now
as evidence that my cells
are a hard band of soldiers,
trained to resist blows.

But not water. Not water.
Water simply splices open its arms
and lets everything tumble by
in a wash of forgiveness:
rocks, branches, people, fish,
even soda cans,
and keeps rushing onward
as if life were all about joy
and that's that.
Don't bother trying to stop me,
says each little waterdrop,
I'm too busy dancing.

Divine Love is like that.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Saying thanks

Gratitude is a perfect flower.
I carry it in the vase of my mind,
tending it with simple care.

How verdant its leaves,
and how subtly persistent
its sly fragrance.
Is there anything it can't heal?
So far, the answer is no.

Nothing escapes its unseen fingers.
Gratitude heals as surely
as sunshine melts ice.
A perfect flower, gratitude.
Go on: pick some.