Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Color Lines

Fractal-prism Bubbles by Tammy Wetzel


 COLOR LINES
 
If you can choose your gender 
Why can't I choose my race?
When asked about ethnicity
I''m everywhere in color space.
 
I'm just as red as any Russian
And sometimes, Miles, I'm kinda blue
My grandsire killed in Ohio coal mine
I'm just as anthracite as you.
 
My ancestor's the famous Green Man
Striding through some Irish bog
My uncle's the Jolly Green Giant
I'm cousin to Kermit the Frog.
 
No color is to me unbeautiful
I'm your rainbow troubadour
Call me Homo spectral  
Hear me roar!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Forty Memorable Fucks

Nick in his new bath pavilion

40 MEMORABLE FUCKS


Actually some of My Forty Fucks are not sexual at all but what they have in common is a strong and  instructive connection with The Mysterious Other -- in this particular list I define The Other to be a member of the opposite sex.

Sometimes on various mind-altering drugs. Sometimes completely straight.

Just for fun a while ago I made a list of (for me) Forty Memorable Fucks. Since then I have added more items, both through subsequent happenings plus reminiscences of ones I'd long forgotten.
It's more than forty now.

Are you the least bit interested in exploring what sexually astonishes you? I encourage you to put together your own list of memorable fucks. Since I was somewhat shy and ignorant in those days, your list will probably be much much longer than mine.

Here's one simple example of a (non-sexual) incident from my list. It may not mean that much to you but it seemed at the time profoundly important and insightful to me.

Your fuck memorable mileage may vary of course.


South of Esalen Institute in Big Sur a public campground is located near the beach at Lime Kiln Creek. There's also a restricted access private campground that extends into the hills and encompasses the actual lime kilns for paying customers only and (in our case) we were friends with the manager of the camp.

My future wife Betsy Rasumny and I car-camped at the private Lime Kiln park, spending a few days there, and decided to explore the premises on LSD. We wandered up to the famous lime kilns and viewed them in their ritualistic splendor.

Betsy was a dancer trained both in ballet and dance improv in New York City and at the late Ann Halprin's Dancer's Workshop in San Francisco. So I was surprised when we crossed Lime Kiln Creek barefoot (and probably naked as well) that she was stumbling over the smooth rocks that lay beneath the surface of the stream, while I (totally untrained in dance) had no problem in skillfully traversing this little Big Sur rivulet.

"Hey Betsy," I shouted. "I thought you were a dancer. What happened to your gracefulness?"

Betsy looked me straight in the eye and replied: "Nick dear, dance is not only about grace."

And in that moment I wordlessly realized that she with her seemingly clumsy movements was moving fully in the imperfect moment while I, who am accustomed to seeing life more as a problem to be solved rather than a miracle to be savored, was experiencing what was happening from a totally different perspective.

It's not that her way was better than mine. But her answer raised a question in my mind that persists to this day.

Betsy was expert in living in the present; Nick's monkey mind is usually somewhere else entirely .

Is being clumsily fully present better than being gracefully fully in charge?

In Esalen co-founder Mike Murphy's terms, what is the way to more deeply employ and enjoy  "this life we are given?"

And could your own Five or Five Hundred Memorable Fucks become useful clues for learning to live more fully this strange miracle of waking each morning inside a needy animal body?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Five Views of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, the "Old Master"

 FIVE VIEWS OF LAO TZU

In the late 60s I discovered the Tao Te Ching, a 2500-year-old Chinese text attributed to Lao Tzu, the "Old Master", which forms the basis of Taoist philosophy and is one of the world's most translated books. Over the years I've collected about a dozen versions of this Chinese classic and would like to share five of my favorites here.

"Tao Te Ching" literally means "Way Virtue Book"or "Book of the Virtue of The Way" and its 81 concise chapters concern themselves with eliciting the nature of The Way (Tao) and how and why one might best follow that Way. Tao might also be construed to mean "Nature", both physical nature and especially human nature. The Tao Te Ching tries to capture the unspeakable elusiveness, ambiguity and power of human and physical nature, The Chinese character "Tao" is also  the "-do" in Aikido, Tai Kwan Do and similar oriental martial arts. Spontaneous dance, jazz improv, surfing: each a splendid embodiment of the Tao. Especially surfing.

The popular philosopher Alan Watts never attempted a translation of this ancient Chinese text. But Watts did write a book on Taoism naming it "The Watercourse Way."

Bushido (Japanese): the way of the warrior.

In keeping with the quirky nature of this sacred Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching begins with a pun. The Chinese character "Tao" can mean both "the Way" and "to speak". So the first line of the watercourse way can be rendered "The tao that can be taoed is not the tao." From then on it just gets deeper.

Here I'm posting five different versions of Lao Tzu's first short chapter by five very different translators (including myself).

First up is Ursula Le Guin, a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, whose NAFAL (Nearly-As-Fast-As-Light) starships and her instant ansible communicator entered the sci-fi canon and has been adopted by other writers. Le Guin's stories, however, are not primarily about hardware but about people, and about cultures depicted in empathetic and imaginative prose. Of the five translators, Le Guin, because of her sympathetic treatment of so many of her fictional people,  seems best positioned to express the human nature of the Watercourse Way.

Taoing

The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
Isn't the real name.

Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Two things: one origin
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

US postage stamp honoring Ursula Le Guin

When I was working at Memorex in Silicon Valley, on my long drive home to Boulder Creek, I would sometimes stop for hot tub, tea and conversation at Stillpoint, a mountain top retreat center presided over by Gia-fu Feng, who taught Tai Chi and kept the books on his abacus in the early days of Esalen Institute. Gia-fu christened my son Khola at Stillpoint and gave him a Chinese middle name "Shou" which means 'long life". Gia-fu and his wife, physicist/photographer Jane English put together one of the most physically beautiful versions of the Tao Te Ching illustrated with Jane's evocative black-and-white photographs and Gia-fu's hand-drawn calligraphy. Of all five translators (including me) Gia-fu is the only one that spoke Chinese.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name:
     this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.


Gia-fu Feng at Stillpoint

 Next up is former Harvard professor and LSD advocate Timothy Leary. I interacted many times with Leary (never got stoned with him) in several different contexts. Leary holds the unusual distinction of being arrested and imprisoned for carrying (a tiny bit of) marijuana INTO MEXICO. Even after drugs Leary was an instinctive academic and wrote lots and lots of books about his experiences with these then-outlawed mind-altering substances. Leary's version of the Chinese classic, Psychedelic Prayers, imagines that the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching describe the perfect acid trip.

That Which is Called The Tao

Is Not The Tao

 

The flow of energy .  .  .  .  .  .

Here  .  .  .  .  
              It  .  .  .  .  .  .
              Is  .  .  .  .  .  .

Nameless  .  .  .  .  .
Timeless  .  .  .  .  .
Speed of light  .  .  .  .  .

Float  .  .  .  .  .  .  beyond fear  .  .  .  .  .
Float  .  .  .  .  .  .  beyond desire  .  .  .  .

Into  .  .  .  .  .  this Mystery of Mysteries
through this Gate  .  .  .  .  .  of All Wonder 

Dr. Timothy Leary, PhD

My first literary introduction to the Pathless Tao was via The Way of Life by Witter Bynner. Bynner was a Harvard graduate, a scholar and writer who divided his time between Sante Fe, NM and Chapala in Mexico. Bynner was a close friend of D. H. Lawrence with whom he explored Mexico and gathered experiences that inspired Lawrence's novel The Plumed Serpent. Bynner's version of the Tao appears a bit dated compared to Ursula Le Guin's splendid modern rendition, but I first fell under the spell of the Tao through his particular words. And first loves are often our most memorable.

Existence is beyond the power of words
To define:
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words.
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Or passionately
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
Existence opens.

Witter Bynner by Rockwell Kent

My own version of the Tao Te Ching is inspired by the crazy paradoxes of quantum theory. Here we have a perfect mathematical representation of the world. But not even the smartest physicist can explain to his kids "what Nature is actually doing" at the sub-atomic level. Nor can we really justify how this unvisualizable quantum reality turns into the ordinary reality we experience every day. I hoped eventually to devise a physics version of all 81 chapters of the Chinese classic, but only managed to compose the very first. To follow the tradition of beginning with a pun, I use the term "quantum state" as a physicist's customary way of representing the invisible quantum world. None of us really know what sort of "reality" corresponds to a quantum state, but a good deal of modern technology (this computer for instance) directly grew out of our increasing ability to manipulate these mysterious mathematical objects.

THE TAO OF PHYSICS

The state you can state is not things-as-they-are
Language, like highway, goes only so far
Unnamed is the Source from which everything springs
Naming gives rise to the "Ten Thousand Things"
Unlooked at: She exceeds what can possibly be
What you get when you look? No more than you see
Yet the world She is One whether looked at or not
Nature's own nature's not something that's taught
But reach out to feel Her invisible flesh
Hear, see and smell: everything fresh!

 

Nick Herbert composed this post

 

 

 

Friday, May 7, 2021

De Gustibus #2


 
TASTES LIKE COPPER PENNIES

Tastes like copper pennies
Tastes like the Seven Seas
Tastes like egg white
Tastes like Mephistopheles.
Tastes like a bit of bleach
Tastes like Bolinas Beach.

Tastes like zinc
Tastes like something peachy
Tastes like deep-sea bladder kelp
Tastes like Frederick Nietzsche.
Tastes like Big Sur hot spring
Tastes like a living thing.

Tastes like a gush of wisdom
Tastes like something French
Tastes like mozzarella
Tastes like the Übermensch.
Tastes like cream of tartar
Tastes like holy water.

Tastes like pulque
Tastes like a Valentine
Tastes like marijuana butter
Tastes like the Gegenschein.
Tastes like folded silk
Tastes like malted milk.

Tastes like Holy Communion
Tastes like water mixed with rum
Tastes like goat’s milk
Tastes like Götterdämmerung.
Tastes like a gush of grace
Tastes like outer space.

Tastes like soy sauce
Tastes like the Wild West
Tastes like tapioca
Tastes like Oktoberfest.
Tastes like the night sky
Tastes like the right guy.

De Gustibus #1


 TASTES LIKE VINEGAR
 
Tastes like vinegar
Tastes like Chardonnay
Tastes like salt lick
Tastes like s’il vous plait.
Tastes like lemon rind
Tastes like a silver mine.

Tastes like butterscotch pudding
Tastes like sushi raw
Tastes like Turkish Taffy
Tastes like je ne sais quoi.
Tastes like valerian tea
Tastes like Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Tastes like oyster
Tastes like champagne
Tastes like vanilla
Tastes like je t’aime.
Tastes like creme de mushroom
Tastes like tablespoon of moon.

Tastes like Yosemite
Tastes like Irish stew
Tastes like hijiki seaweed
Tastes like deja vu.
Tastes like hazel-nut honey
Tastes like stolen money.

Tastes like fish.
Like fish, I say
And, honey, you know
How much I like fish.

Tastes like feminine mystery
Tastes like the Irish Sea.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

TIBET: A New Superluminal Signaling Scheme

  • The Way to Shambhala by Nicholas Roerich

     Near the First of April of this year I received an eMail from my physicist friend Demetrios Kalamidas proposing an original new way to use quantum entanglement to send signals faster-than-light. Kalamidas and I have a long history in which he proposes such a scheme, I try to understand, clarify, simplify it, give it a cute acronym and then work together with him to eventually refute it. Previous Kalamidas FTL proposals have included KISS (Kalamidas Instant Signaling System), TKO (The Kalamidas Option) and KHAN (Kalamidas-Herbert Augmented Nearness)

    Kalamidas's latest scheme I call TIBET for "TIme-Bin-Entangled Telegraphy".

    All of these schemes involve Alice and Bob receiving a series of photon pairs--one photon going to Alice, the other to Bob. These two photons are emitted from a source S located somewhere between Alice and Bob and are characterized by one or more of their properties P being "quantum-entangled". Entanglement means that, before measurement, neither Bob's property P, nor Alice's property P possesses a definite value but, in the quantum representation at least, the value of Bob's property P appears to depend on how Alice choses to measure her property P, and vice versa. Seemingly then, quantum entanglement appears to permit superluminal signaling resulting from, say, Alice's choice of how she measures P.
     
    However, a proof due to Philippe Eberhard (no-signaling theorem) shows that no way of making measurements on an entangled system can produce such distant instantaneous effects. The gist of Eberhard's Proof is that the intrinsic randomness that characterizes every quantum measurement destroys any coded pattern Alice attempts to impose. Another limit to Entanglement Telegraphy is the Holevo Bound which limits the amount of classical information one can extract from a quantum system. The polarization state of a single photon, for instance, encodes an infinite amount of quantum information, corresponding to the infinite number of directions an arrow can point on the Bloch sphere. The amount of classical information that can be extracted from a polarized photon, however, is exactly one classical bit. The most you can learn about the polarization of a single photon is the answer to a single yes/no question. You can pick the question, the photon provides the answer but is irreversibly changed in the process of measurement.
     
    There is a sense in which my own FTL FLASH proposal was an unsuccessful attempt to violate the Holevo bound on the amount of classical information one is able to extract about the polarization state of a single photon. 

    Kalimidas's previous proposals involved either path-entangled or polarization-entangled photon pairs. His newest proposal uses time-bin-entangled photon pairs, which I had never heard of but which apparently have the potential to play an important role in future quantum communication systems.


    The source S emits a pair of photons, one to Alice, one to Bob. In the peculiar quantum manner, each photon is uncertain into which time bin it was emitted. Was it a Late Photon L or an Early Photon E? Until measurement, neither Alice, nor Bob knows the answer to this question. But one thing is certain (the essence of entanglement) whatever time bin Bob's photon is measured to be in, Alice's photon will be the same. In the pictured situation, both photons possess the same (Horizontal) polarization, symbolized by H.

    It must be understood that although there are two time bins in each pulse, there is only one photon which occupies both bins in a manner only possible in quantum mechanics before a measurement happens. If one could bring the two time bins together in some way, it would be possible to make the photon interfere with itself in a wavelike manner. The conventional way of achieving this superposition uses a pair of beam splitters to split the beam in two, delay one beam by a time equal to the pulse separation and then recombine the two beams.  I call this the Detour Method.
    Detour Method of combining time bins 
     
    The Detour Method takes in two input pulses Early (E) and Late (L) and transforms them into three output pulses, one of which is the desired Late pulse superposed with the delayed Early pulse (L/dE) The other two pulses are an undelayed Early pulse (E) and a delayed Late pulse (dL)

    Kalamidas could not find any way of using this Detour Method as an FTL signaling scheme so he devised another way of mixing the two time bins. 

    To keep the time bins separate, the coherence time of each pulse must be smaller than the pulse separation. But if one could increase the coherence times the pulses could be made to overlap. To achieve this kind of superposition, Kalamidas inserts a narrow-band interference filter in both Alice and Bob's photon channel. This I call the Expand Method because it mixes the two time bins by expanding their coherence length
    The Expand Method of combining time bins 

    Kalamidas calculates that when his Expand Method unites the L and E packets, that because they are now indistinguishable, Bob's entanglement with Alice is lost. And that what was once an entangled state is transformed into a product state.

    The Detour Method adds the L and E states and outputs the result into TWO MODES, the two outputs of the final beam splitter. Kalamidas's narrow-band filter unites the L and E states into ONE MODE, call it |C>, traveling in the same direction as the original L and E states but now coherently overlapping over a portion of their path.
     
    The action of Filter F applied to both Alice's and Bob's photon can be written:
     
              |EH(a)> + |LH(a)> --- F- --> |CH(a)> Alice's Photon     1)

              |EH(b)> + |LH(b)> --- F ---> |CH(b)>   Bob's Photon    2)

    As a result of filter F, at least part of the entangled wave function turns into an unentangled product state:

         |EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LH(a)> |LH(b)> --- F --->
                                                            |CH(a)> |CH(b)>    3)
     
    In what follows we will consider only this part of the total wave function, regarding the non-overlapping portion of the filter-induced superposition as "noise".  Eq 3) describes the essence of the Kalamidas scheme: when both E and L photons have the same polarization (Horizontal in this case), the Filter transforms entangled states into an unentangled product state.

    The next stage in the Kalamidas scheme is to change the polarization of the Late photons from Horizontal to Vertical by quickly inserting a Late rotator H -->V in both Alice and Bob's beam. This Late rotation takes place before the filter, at a place in the system where the time bins are still cleanly separated.

    The main consequence of the Late rotation is that now the Early state and the Late state are no longer identical, so even after the Filter they remain entangled:
     
    |EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LV(a)> |LV(b)> --- F --->
                                  |CH(a)>|CH(b)> + |CV(a)> |CV(b)>  4)
     
    The combination of a Late rotator plus a narrow-band filter has transformed the original time-bin entangled state into a polarization-entangled state. 

    Now comes the clever part. What happens to the superposition if Alice decides to turn off her late rotator but Bob continues to rotate his late state?
     
    |EH(a)>|EH(b)> + |LH(a)> |LV(b)> --- F --->
      |CH(a)>|CH(b)> + |CH(a)> |CV(b)> =
                |CH(a)> [|CH(b)> + |CV(b)>] =
                     |CH(a)> [ |(H + V) C(b)> ]                     5)

    The final state is again a product state and Bob's photon seems to be in a pure polarization state H + V which we call Diagonal polarization.

    An alternative way of considering this scheme due to Nick Herbert yields the same general result. Bob's photon is unpolarized when Alice inserts her rotator; Bob's photon is polarized when Alice withholds her Late rotation. Voila! An apparent viable and robust  superluminal signaling scheme!

    In Nick's version, Bob's photon is polarized when Alice withholds her Late rotation, but Bob's polarization depends on the phase of the Filter-induced Early/Late overlap:

    Bob's Polarization = H cosine (z) + i V sine (z) where z is some phase angle that depends on the nature of the filter but is constant for any given experimental run. Note  that Diagonal polarization does not appear in this derivation but when z = 45 degrees, Bob's photon is Right-circularly polarized (RCP).
     
    It took me some time and many false steps to understand this scheme and now that I do, I find that I cannot refute it, I will leave that task to others.
     
    Congratulations, Demetrios! They said it couldn't be done. And you did it! (At least provisionally)
     
     
    Kalamidas's handwritten notes on TIBET


    Demetrios Kalamidas emerging from the sea

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919 - 2021)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti


 I first came to San Francisco from Ohio in the early sixties and was immediately attracted to the wonders of North Beach, dining upstairs family-style at the Basque Hotel or at the old Spaghetti Factory on Grant Avenue, witnessing the antics of would-be beatniks at the Coexistence Bagel Shop and especially browsing and buying books at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore which was, and still is, the epicenter of San Francisco's vibrant literary scene. Scanning my bookshelf, I spot half a dozen or so of the City Lights published Pocket Poets paperbacks including Allen Ginsberg's Howl, of course, which anyone who wanted to seem cool had to flaunt, but also other Pocket Poet books, Kaddish, Planet News and The Fall of America by the same woolly-bearded prophet. Other of my Pocket Poets include Kenneth Patchen's Love Poems and Kora in Hell by William Carlos Williams. Somewhere in my piles of books is buried Ferlinghetti's own A Coney Island of the Mind, Pocket Poet book #1, which has sold more than one million copies. Eat your hearts out, poets!

[Erratum: Actually, Nick, Pictures of the Gone World was Pocket Poets #1. Coney Island was published by New Directions.]

Despite many visits to City Lights and other Bay Area poetry venues I never met Ferlinghetti but yesterday on Facebook I received an elegy from Neeli Cherkovski who knew him quite well, which I am taking the liberty of posting here. Farewell, grand old soul.


MY FRIEND LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI (1919 - 2021)

Ferlinghetti and I
Would go to the Surf Theater
Way out by Yokohama
He was an aggressive
Driver, his old Volkswagen
Bug had several dents.

Driving through the Stockton
Tunnel he'd proclaim,
"We're leaving the Casbah"
And he would chuckle
As he turned left on Van Ness
Leaving North Beach
And City Lights Books.

We saw a movie set in Paris.
The title escapes me, but
Lawrences's excitement
Over the sights, Notre Dame
In a side view, the Seine
Head-on, Apollinaire's shadow
On Boulevard St. Germaine.

"I should go for a visit," he said
"Like Henry Miller did."

Two days later we headed
To Bixby Canyon, he said
I could carve my name on
The outhouse wall alongside
Kerouac and Ginsberg.

We read from "Leaves
Of Grass" that night by
A campfire. "He's like
An older brother."
Lawrence said of Whitman.

A year later
He wrote from
Paris, "I'm bringing you
A new beret, made right
Here."

San Francisco, Paris,
Big Sur, an open
Heart who would
Never grow old,
Who would be an
Ancient bard, who
Would hold a lantern
In the dark.

He wrote
The dog
Trots freely
In the street" and
Told anyone
Who would listen
The secret meaning
Of Goya's greatest scenes.

Neeli Cherkovski

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Quantum Cat Nap

 

 QUANTUM CAT NAP

(For August's Birthday)

 
 
Tonight when we're in the mood to explore
I'd like to superpose my body with yours:
Schrödinger-Cat style.
Aligning both our buzzing possibility waves
Till each cell of mine's
In tight quantum connection
With each cell of thine.

Our hearts aligned, our pulses
Our lungs aligned, our breathings
Our brainwaves, pelvic twitches
Each capillary's motion
Completely in sync.

I'd like to merge with you fully, love,
In a way no other man has ever imagined.

Such aligned
Let's experience quantum entanglement
Warm and first-handedly
Not like equation in a book.

Let's both deeply feel
Naked quantum superposition 

Of head, shoulder, knees and toes
Fingers, pelvis, both elbows.
Which part is me and which is not?
Neither one of us on top.

Then when we've learned what we can
From our first playful superposition
Let's fall asleep inside one another
Going to sleep me added to you.
Could both of us then experience
The world's first two-person dream?

Then waking up together
From our first quantum Cat Nap
Slowly breaking the superposition
Experiencing our mutual possibilities
Gently re-scrambling themselves
Like tangled bed clothing.

Alone now in my bed
I recall what I've read
About non-locality of the quantum kind:
No space between us, no time
So the physicists say.

So for billions of years, dear,
We've slept together this way.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Goat Cheese Tantra

 

GOAT CHEESE TANTRA 

 

Thin-sliced mushroom marjoram

Goat cheese omelette:

Bacon, corn chips, cold beer

Hot coffee, dark chocolate.


The joy of taste is a blessing

Each bite an overflowing purse

Whatever part I choose to feed on

I'm eating out the Universe.


Now experience the eating completely

Send the chattering mind down South

As you wholeheartedly sip this liquid, friend,

The Universe cums in your mouth.

 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Body

 
 
This year's New Year's gift from my Buddhist masseuse was a new poet, Alfred K. LaMotte, whom I had never heard of. She sent me his poem My Ancestry DNA Results and a link to his website Uradiance where I found this poem Body. Someone once said that poetry is the art of expressing in words what cannot be said in words. LaMotte has taken up this challenge from a particularly Buddhist perspective: poetry as a finger pointing to the moon. Once you glimpse the moon, ignore the finger. I like what this guy is trying to do.
 

BODY


'We awaken in Christ's body as Christ awakens our bodies, and my poor hand is Christ. He enters my foot, and is infinitely me. I move my hand, and wonderfully my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him, for God is indivisibly whole, seamless in His Godhood. I move my foot, and at once He appears like a flash of lightning.' ~St. Symeon the New Theologian, b.949

Philosophers who asked, 'Why am I trapped in this body?' were not trapped in this body. They were trapped in the mind.

Your body is not a tomb, or a trap, or a punishment. Your body is the universe inviting you to wake up and dance.

Your body has no edges. It is an ocean of energy expanding in waves of breath, teeming with stars, swirling with galaxies, overflowing the very rim of time and space. And your dance can be as wild as a whirlwind, or as quiet as a heartbeat. You need not even move; your body is moving anyway, hosts of cells, countless atoms in the marvelous ballet of incarnation. Your body is filled with the same breath Jesus took, the same breath Buddha received to polish his spine and sparkle his emptiness.

When you come Om to the body, you are already where you need to be, and your heart opens like a morning glory to contain the blue empyrean. The axis of infinity runs up your hollow spine, a silver thread of silk to tether your skull to the most distant star, and your belly to the fire of darkness in the center of the planet.

Your body is the lightning bolt that grounds God, connecting heaven and earth. When you spread your arms, you embrace all your ancestors and unborn children. When you sense the rain, the wind, the sun upon your skin, you are covered not just by the grace of angels, but by the fur of every four-legged creature. In truth, it is only the limited mind that insists on distinguishing the spiritual from the physical, the animal from the angelic. Celestial dolphins leaping and playing in the waves of the vacuum, far beyond the Milky Way, are leaping and playing in the waves of your body.

You can wear this little brass trinket of mind around your throat and use it to carry precious pictures, a lock of your grandmother's hair, a prayer, a map, a tiny key. Or you can take off your mind like a woolen shirt. Lay it aside when you want to refresh your Being, bathe in the sea of God's breath, or dance naked with the Goddess. Then when you need it again, you can put the mind back on, use it as an instrument to deconstruct a problem, or as a box to hold important memories. Whenever you need space, you can empty the mind again, sweeping it clear with an exhalation.

But please, don't mistake this mind for your Self. You are not your mind. You are more vast. You are the cosmos. You are the universal body of Christ.

The breath in your body is the very form of the Goddess, who is the Holy Spirit. And a single breath, flowing in gratitude through the energy of your flesh, dissolves your mind into the infinite sky. Be bold. Leap into the unfathomable ocean of your body. Live in the silent grace beyond thought.

I am sure that Jesus was born in a human body just to show us who we really are, and reveal the diamonds in every handful of dust.