In the Boundless Space that is
Great Love
We affirm our intention
To practice

The muddy water
To become

A space

Allowing yourself
To relax
More fully
On the out-breath

Veil after veil

Your True Nature
To shine forth
Like the Great Eastern Sun
Allowing, Allowing, Simply Allowing

Word Into Silence

Word into silence into word into
into word into
silence into word
and back again
into silence
day after day after day
is the contemplative way

Word into silence into word
is the way Merton did it

It’s the fast track into the slow lane
of a life lived
at the speed of soul—
an ancient alternative to
our culture’s bullet train to nowhere

Word into silence into word
is the contemplative short cut
to the long road that leads all the way home

Enlightenment at Gunpoint

What really matters and what doesn’t matter at all?

Why wait ’till you have six months to live
to ask this question? Or six weeks?
Or six days? Or six hours?

Enlightenment at gunpoint can happen—
but it’s like drawing to an inside straight
in poker—serious players don’t like the odds.

Both Buddha and Jesus, in their wisdom,
were never tempted to go to Vegas.
They asked the big question in their early thirties.

So don’t bet on enlightenment at gunpoint.
Enough already with the waiting!
Ask the big question now—

What really matters and what doesn’t matter at all?

Confessions of a Merton Catholic

Eying my Tibetan wrist-mala she asked,
“Are you a Roman Catholic?”
“Oh no,” I responded proudly, “I’m a Merton Catholic.”

“A Merton Catholic—what’s that?”

“Well, presence and openness are the primary sacraments.
And our theology amounts to nothing more than
unconditional friendliness
and respect for all of the world’s great religions—
though we claim none of them exclusively as our own.”

“Merton believed that?” she asked. “Oh, hell no,” I said. “He lived it!”


One hundred and eight beads,
One hundred and eight prayers,
One hundred and eight
Divine invitations to rend the veil

One hundred and eight poems,
One hundred and eight ways to see,
One hundred and eight ways
To simply be

The Light of the World

In Sanskrit, "mala" means a “garland of flowers.”
The Buddhists use a mala in the recitation of
mantras, or simply as a aid to mindfulness.

Poem du Jour

It’s a really simple process—I get up about
four in the morning, have a cup of coffee,
and then go to the zendo and sit.
And after sitting, I write.
Just bringing forth whatever’s within.
And later, I listen to what I wrote
with the ear of the heart.

The only way I know how to “true” a poem
is by ear, and by heart.
The heart knows what’s true—
and I listen with it.
And then I just whittle away everything
that isn’t true.
Whatever’s left on the page—is the poem du jour.

Then somehow, mysteriously, the poem “trues” me.

A Gentlewoman's Surprise

Getting up early this morning to sit, 
she caught herself wondering— 
Why the hell do I do this?  Am I crazy?
What do I have to show 
for the years & years
of meditating nearly every morning? 
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of 
personal injury lawyers on crack 
were at it again—chanting their bad advice 
& she was tempted to dial their 800-number 
When to her infinite suprise, 
the hellfire & brimstone preacher
who had kept this little girl on her knees 
repenting, all these years 
Gave way to the smiling presence 
of the gentlewoman 
who had always been 
sitting silently in the center of her heart.


As I entered the straw-bale chapel at Penuel Ridge,
A tall young man, in Tibetan garb, greeted me.
He was going to lead a session in chanting
the Heart Sutra. His head was shaved, and he had
an altar set up with pictures of his teacher, and his
teacher’s teacher, on either side of a golden statue
of the Buddha.

As I entered, he saw the Tibetan mala on my wrist
and asked, “Are you a practicioner?”

“Oh yes,” I replied.
“What lineage?” he asked.
“DaVinci,” I said.

He looked puzzled, “Tibetan Buddhist?” he asked.
“Italian Artist,” I replied.

A faint smile rose to his lips as we bowed to each other.

In the Secret Garden

One minute dreaming in bed
And the next wide awake
Looking straight into
Three hundred billion galaxies
Shimmering in your eyes

Sure, old Neil walked on the moon
But I feel like the first man
Ever to gaze into a woman’s eyes—
Before that damn serpent and
All the rest of that mess went down

Beneath the Knowledge
Of Good & Evil
Are the roots of Presence,
Entwining your Heart to mine
In the secret garden of the Holy One

Walking the Woods

Like a zombie searching for a sip of water,
I ramble through the old forest in winter.
The trees all look quite dead,
but always, beneath the surface
resurrection patiently awaits its turn.

The trees have always known
how to "winter over." The trees have
no word for hope. They just winter
the cold and ice, snow and darkness,
ripening in the knowledge of spring.

When, when has spring ever failed to come?
Hoping leads to depression; knowledge
leads to patience, wisdom and compassion.
I walk in the woods to forget myself,
and to remember, all of this.

A Gentle Proposal

Go gently into the streets to protest the war.
Go gently into discussions with your neighbor
about the price of oil and human life.
Go gently into your own kitchens and living rooms.
into your schools and workplaces.
Go gently into your houses of worship.
into your hospitals and prisons.
Go gently into your opinions of world leaders.
And go gently, ever so gently, into your own mind.
Otherwise, what have you really accomplished?
If you go with aggression, you may win the battle
but you won’t stop the war—for aggression is war.
All wars are lost as soon as they’re begun.
So go gently into the very thick and heat of battle.
Go gently, and even if your cause does not prevail,
there will be more peace, in the world, than before.


Enlightenment in the river Jordan is all well and good
with the sky opening and doves and voices and all
but 40 days in the desert is another thing entirely.

To go into the desert with the wild beasts
and the angels. Not just one, but both.
Even just the wild beasts
would have been easier, simpler.

After enlightenment, the complexity.
Living your dream isn't easier than living
someone else's nightmare. It is more
fun, but it isn't easier, it isn't simpler.

Living someone else's dream,
which is a real nightmare,
is often the simplest thing you can do.

Lent is a call to dream your own dream again.
To let the golden hair of the angel
and the rough black fur of the beast
be woven into a tapestry of what your life means to be.


(plus 3.00 S&H)