GREAT GOOD GLADNESS

As I get older, the world appears to be getting worse –
But this is a mistake
Because things are actually getting better
The younger you are.

The young can’t remember anything they haven’t yet experienced –
So, to the young, now is always now,
The sun’s usually out,
And they’re certain love is on the way.

The young cherish clutter and rubbish –
Because it gives them plenty of “stuff” to clear away
When, eventually, they go out to make the world a better place.

There’re far fewer tragedies in the world of the young
Because everything is constantly getting better –
The Beatles knew this – singing: “Here comes the sun!”

The young are fresh, original,
With perfect skin and glistening eyes –
So they don’t need to pay attention to shadows
In their elders’ eyes.

Perhaps we got it all wrong –
That God was never an “old man”
Sitting on an emerald throne – dispensing iron justice –
But, always, simply, a beautiful child
Radiating life and joy
And, in general, great good gladness.

IT’S THE LIFE IN THE EYE THAT COUNTS

Where is beauty?

In a passing person’s face
Especially her eyes –   

Sparkling!

It’s the life in the eye that counts
Whether love, joy, or ecstasy –
The look that sees you as the center of the universe –
And as a manifestation of God –
You remember that passing-by look
For the rest of your life.

Tragedy, on the other hand, is when an actor isn’t aware he’s acting
Doesn’t know he’s in a play
And follows a script without the sense that he’s reading one.

He hears a smattering of applause, starts to bow –
And then
And then –

Wakes up.

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!

“You must die before you die.”
                                    Rumi

It’s a race against time –
Like a river filling up,
Drowning you, and then leaving you behind.

We begin life swimming upstream –
Towards birth, towards an unfolding life, and, then, towards death –
Which comes like a wave –
Or an unfinished song.

There is physical life
And spiritual life –
But they don’t start at the same time
Or travel in the same direction.

The physical life starts out strong but over time winds down
Spiritual life may also get old quickly –
However, “dying” to discover the next life
Sometimes can be useful –
Getting born a second time before dying the first time –
Entering a spiritual world –
Eyes wide open –
Prepared for a birth into love and joy.

Life is such a surprise –
So unexpected –

Who would have guessed!

GOD LOOKS THROUGH A WINDOW

Joy is so un-American, it can’t be expressed out loud
Because saying that word in mixed company
Would compel many people to look away.

Joy never developed much in Western tradition –
Except a few flakes – never more.

Joy comes with a dance
But there’re no “dancers” in neo-colonial wars.

Joy can’t be taught – it’s always a surprise –
Nor can it be earned because, essentially, it’s a gift.

Joy is usually found in the face of beauty
Especially that of blue green Nature.

Joy (first level) is who I want to be –
As the key to happiness (second level).

Joy is the name God proudly shows upon entering the world.

God looks through a window
To see if you’re “awake” –
To see if you’re “born again” –

To see if you’ve decided to become your “true self.”

NOBODY

             One trump card used by “enlightenment masters,” when meeting prospective new followers, is asking: “who are you?,” knowing in advance they can’t answer that – because, in actuality, at the deepest levels underneath their “ego,” they’re “no one” and “nobody.”

            Recognizing the need to rid myself of ego before taking up the search for my “true self,” I started studying Western medieval mystics like Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart, as well as more modern writers, like Emily Dickinson and Simone Weill, all of whom wrote about becoming “nobody” or “no one,” as being necessary to approach God directly. Marguerite Porete wrote: True freedom is when we “become love.” This reaches far beyond simple humility (because, obviously, a lot of pride can be hidden behind a show of humility). Going all the way – to zero – and then experiencing the world – is what they seemed to be recommending. At first, this approach seemed meaningless to me, even nonsensical, yet they repeatedly kept saying it.

            Eventually, I came to accept their approach as being centered on freedom. That in order to escape one’s ego, one first had to free oneself of one’s “old” self – along with all the wrong ideas and assumptions about one’s “life” and “the world.” Apparently, becoming nobody does the trick! As Marguerite says: “The soul swims in a sea of joy!”

            We need to go to the place where we stand alone – waiting for the promised meeting with God –and then just wait. As Meister Eckhart says: “To be empty of all created things is to be full of God, and to be full of created things is to be empty of God.”

            The promise is that God arrives out of “nothing,” That by accepting loneliness – even depression – and waiting patiently, God will eventually “come home” – into your heart.

            Immediately upon “waking up,” you’ll be seeing through fresh eyes – a newborn’s eyes – and what you’ll see and experience is what God sees and experiences – through you – just as if you’re God and God is you.

            This is the easiest, as well as the hardest, thing in the world to accomplish – to give up your ego in order to find your “true self” – to become the individual you were born to be. It’s what Jesus understood – that one’s old self has to “die” for one’s “true self” to come to life.

            And this is what he accomplished – and why people either spontaneously followed him or desired to kill him. The former filled with a joy they’d never experienced before, while the latter became angry that any human being would dare to become that kind of person.

            As Meister Eckhart says: “God’s ground and the soul’s ground are one ground.” That is, God’s essence and the soul’s essence are the same – at least in the eyes of great mystics

CLOUD IN FRONT OF THE SUN

Who is God, anyway?
Is God a spiritual entity encouraging us to be our best
Intellectually, morally, and spiritually?
Is God someone pointing us in the right direction?

My main problem with God involves the influence of certain people
Who also are pointing us in one direction or the other –
People from whom we think we need permission,
Or who provide us with identity,
Or even the permission to be?

When these people merge with God, we get “Religion” –
Like a cloud in front of the sun –
Especially when we’re not able to distinguish one from the other.

All human beings are born with the capacity to experience joy –
And so, from birth, potentially we can embody it –
But then, almost immediately, we find we aren’t seeing beyond our family
(Unless our family’s exceptionally transparent to God) –
So, when we perceive family instead of God –
That is, when we experience a world largely of related people instead of a world of God –
This becomes one of the main sources of our anxiety.

We know God is there – right behind them– just over their shoulders –
As spiritual “light” –
And when we fall in love with that light –
It frequently occurs to us to “hit the road.”
If we do that, we’ll have to leave family, society, and world –
And risk dying for God.

But, if we follow through on this, eventually we’ll get everything back –
God and the world –
Even family.

If we become a “God” person
We’ll be able to “see” God in others –
In all others.

Then, when we’re able to distinguish what’s not God from God –
That won’t upset us –
Because it’s reality
And God is reality.

When we start seeing reality through God’s eyes –
Feeling with God’s heart –
We’ll fall deeper and deeper in love with Love
So that everything turns out alright –

You might even say, we’ll have been “Saved!”

DANCE

The supreme physical expression of human joy
Is dance.

God (including all earlier gods) requested dance first
Before images, ideas, and all other expressions of worship.

First was the foot
Then the hand
And, finally, the head.

Dance expresses joy in life
And the immanence of God in our hearts,
Along with a strong desire for physically moving with others.

Dance is how children express their happiness
With spontaneous movements.

I think it’s important to become aware of dance going on all around us –
Especially that of our sky neighbors – the birds.

Also, watch patterns of waves forming over large bodies of water –
Watch wind as it touches, and then re-touches, forest leaves.

Notice the small shy smile appearing on your lover’s face
And your joy, in response, when you give your feelings permission to shine.

Why not give that permission right now
After all, the entire world depends upon it!

 

THE SECRET WE ALL KNOW

Where does joy come from?
From God, of course.

That’s why it’s so fresh –
Ocean breezes without a hint of stale air.

So open up your life and permit God’s joy to flow in
Even if your mind’s on something else –
Something past.

Joy really is a form of beauty, isn’t it? –
Often waiting in dreams
Like a flower that opens early in the morning.

Even if you’re not paying much attention
You’ll discover that joy is a bit like a car horn –
Beauty blaring you awake!

This is a secret we all know – and have always known –
Joy is the invisible name of the person you married
But almost overlooked in the crowd.

Joy is the kind of beauty that comes home –
Like the first person you kissed upon falling in love –
Like the brand-new baby that’s still you –
Newborn for the first and last time.

A REAL GOD

I feel a kind of joy exploding inside me
When I discover that Kevin and LeBron
Have put their money and status behind bright ambitions for minority children

In this time of political darkness.

I feel ecstatic looking at an infinity of stars sprinkled across the night sky
Similar to the numberless women “stars” elected to political office across our land –
Muslims, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics –
Americans all – to the bone

In this time of political darkness.

I want to dance up and down the room, across the street,
And up to the corner and back –
When discovering how many people accept integrity and a hunger for truth
As a way of life
Upon finding the real God who resides outside most churches and religious institutions

In this time of political darkness.

BEAUTY (for Mary)

Isn’t it true that capitalism has been the death of beauty
Since as soon as anyone tries to buy beauty –
It crumbles, turns to dust, and slips out of one’s grasp.

Beauty must always be a gift, acquired solely through thoughts of love –
The kind of gift you hold onto until the end –
First, in your room, then in your chest of jewels,
And, finally, clasped in your dying hand.

This gift is one of pure joy, made solely for you.

A great deal of thought, patience, and passion went into this gift –
No one else in the world has anything like it.
It’s the first and last thought of an invisible American poet
Who nobody knows the name of.

Beauty is a spiritual light that makes the eyes shine –
Beauty is falling in love by accident – that is, “out of the blue” –
Beauty is holy lovemaking that, one night, created you, you, you!

Dear heart, only one,
You’re my beautiful true life-partner!