Poem: Poppies and Scrolls


Do you remember when you and I

Used to build the sky?

We were not star-crossed lovers;

We were the stars themselves


I love you

Although I don’t know why

You should be singled out

As the object of my attention

What hidden history

Is it I see

In the frozen genesis of your eyes?

What ancestral force is it

That makes me see you as my child?

I love you, and yet I don’t know why;

But I do know that

We both built the sky

And we both filled the sky

Masters of the Universe

Great creators of gossamer gentleness

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

Can you see that I am your brother?

Just hold me

And put your mouth to mine

It does not matter

Who you are now

Because what we are together

Is eternal


I hold no images of you

For images repulse me

Holding onto them

Sunders you from truth

But there is something in your eyes

The sacred geometry of your face

That resonates beyond mere form


What was your body like

Before you had a body?

Are you an emanation of Tara

Now disguised as a human

Hatched in the Nirmanakaya?

A craving to be close to you

Occupies my heart

Almost as intensely as the Buddha

I do not feel it keeps me

From The Way

But allows me to behold

Parts of it I have not yet fathomed

Or begun to explore

Did you watch me die?

Did you see me filled with tubes?

Or on the grass of a forgotten field?

I was just out for a walk

Out for a reflection

And you found me lying there

In my scholar’s robes

My corpse buried under

Poppies and scrolls

 I was a Master Calligrapher

Adept in ancient Chinese

So it’s no wonder that my use of English

Handwriting makes no sense!

I don’t know what become of you

After that

As your tears watered my body

Fertilizing its future existence

And I’m back in the swamp again

Besotted with the notion of

Universal Fatherhood

Allowing all beings

To become interlocked

In the labyrinthine tendrils

Of my hoary beard

All beings embraced

In my all-embracing robe

Don’t you know I’ve always been here

Holding every single one of you?

I cannot tell you how much

I want to thank you

For the way you have opened my heart

Without even intending it

It has given me a glimpse

Into the godhead

Into the remembering

Of my fully-realized being

I am not becoming a Buddha

Because I already am a Buddha

Safely carrying all of you

In my cosmic rucksack

My satchel of poetry and dreams

Pacing the void

I span the universe

Literally taking eternity in my stride

There’s so many things

I want to tell you;

So many things that I want to teach you,

Instruct you

I want to reawaken your eternal being

So please become my disciple!

We’ll live together in a pine forest

Hidden from civilized concerns

I will teach you The Way

All the while

Kowtowing to you

And holding you as my superior

Bowing to you in deference

Scarcely able to look at you

But never wanting to look at anything else

Ah, to be a madman in a world

That has forgotten their usefulness!

Come live and love with me

And I will show you:

How the ivy grows

How the river bleaches bones

How nature butters her scones

The atrocities eternity condones

Love is not gentle

It is vicious and ferocious

Eating me alive

Chewing up my guts

And doing unfathomable things

With my secret heart

Things I have never felt before

Which we feel so very familiar

And so very certain

I want to howl, cry, laugh, weep,

Walk slowly through the morning fields

And lap up the sunlight

That you always exude

I can’t believe this

 I feel like fucking

Walt Whitman

As though I’m rewriting

Leaves of Grass

Without knowing why

Who am I really?

Who am I really?

Who is this marvellous imposter

Deceiving the world

With his gentle and exaggerated face?

Still, the poetry hurtles out of me

As I cannot stem the tide

Though half-starved and sleep-deprived

Caught up in a different tide altogether

Exultation above exultation!

You are the goddess Tara

I know you are

I know it in my cells

And other places

Where the truth of everything is hidden

This pen is going beyond me

This mind is hurtling away from me

But love keeps on attacking me

Assailing me from every direction

A mutant, I am

So it must tear me apart

It seems quite absurd

If looked at quite plainly

As a corporeal being

You just are as your are

Meaning no less to me

Than the rest

But beyond that symbol you’re wearing

I feel something deeper

I feel something ten trillion poems

Could not begin to relate

Though there is nothing that is not poetry

As none of us will negate


So, now my unknowing lover

What do we do

Now we’re at this crossroads?

But I just talk foolishness

There is no crossing;

We are just beginning to converge

I don’t want to scare you away anymore

But this hermit crab

Must destroy his shell

And hide his secrets in the cave

Where the pearl of honesty grows

Where the pearl of integrity grows

POEM: Past Life Love Song


The lowest of the low

And the highest of the high

Are sitting in the shining gutter

This seductive swamp of stars

I no longer deny my own feelings –

They simply are as they are

As I am myself

Ridiculous though we both may seem

Though I am but a void

I still want to merge with you

To find silence in your eyes

Why should I feel this way?

What karmic adventures

Have we previously been entangled in?

Were you my daughter?

My secret lover?

Or a relation

No earthly word can designate?

I just want to feel no difference

Between me and you

I find vast, all-embracingness

In this fathomless heart

So addicted to being a fool

A wandering madman

Making friends with jackdaws

And twisted branches

Still a child underneath

Confused by the world

Eaten alive by loneliness

And alien-ness

That cannot be quenched

All the same

I seek out a name for us

Some forgotten sound to justify

This opaque lens of longing

I feel for you

Could I call you my daughter?

Could I hold you in my arms

And always protect you?

I guess it’s easier to be

A father to things

When they come from your spirit

And not from your bones

But things are different now

You are in that body

And I am in this

Do you remember when we used to

Swim together through the stars?

Carving canyons in space

And mesa plains

We built many planets

We built many worlds

Worshipped by more beings

Than could ever be counted

But now we’re clotted in flesh

But somehow brought back together

I know I cannot tell you any of this

Until you are ready

I am good at keeping secrets

They are the very fabric of my body

You can’t accuse me

Of being deceitful

It is only compassion

That keeps me so quiet

So I do not scare off those

I wish to keep close

But, I hope one day

You will remember as well as I

We will always hold one another

Through creation and destruction

And you need never worry,

That I,

You father

Your husband

Your brother

Need ever leave your side

Tao Te Ching: 14


Perceiving what cannot be seen

We call it invisible

Hearing what cannot be heard

We call it silent

Grasping what cannot be grasped

We call it formless

These three qualities

Cannot be further scrutinized

Therefore they merge

And become one

Above it is not clear

Below it is not obscure

Infinite and boundless

It’s indescribable

Returned and reverted to its original state

It becomes the substance of nothingness

This is called formlessness’s own form

The image of non-existence

It is called the unimaginable obscurity

Encountering it

You do not discover its face

Following it

You do not discover its end

Hold fast to the Way of the Ancients

To master your present existence

Able to comprehend the primordial origin

This is called the Heritage of the Way


So my legs won’t walk –

What matter!

And my joints won’t join –

What matter!

And my lungs won’t fill –

What matter!

And my brain won’t talk –

What matter!

And my lungs won’t fill –

What matter!

And my chest won’t heave –

What matter!

And you won’t be able

To tell my bones

From the soil they’ve become –

What matter!

Always walking upon people’s bones

It’s become the earth we walk on

Having no matter –

Is that what matters?

My voice will no longer speak

My arms no longer swing

And I will never sing

Another syllable

Or another song

But I will still be the embrace

Of time and space

Hugging everything that lives

And everything that does not

Why feel sad about the touchless tomorrow?

My ashes will be my only haircut

Tao Te Ching Commentary: Empty the Mind, Fill the Spirit


“Therefore, the sage’s way of life

Empties the mind and fills the spirit”

So, the sage empties minds, because he knows that a mind full of thoughts, delusions, and dross can only bring about disaster. As emptiness is one of the basic characteristics of the universe, a being needs to thoroughly empty his own mind if he wants to comprehend existence. We need to be empty in order to draw on the infinite energy of that emptiness. We cannot hope to fill our minds with the spirit, if the gateways to our mind are already obstructed with ignorant beliefs and erroneous perceptions. Thus, the sage empties and cleanses our minds, so that we are ready embrace a new state of awareness – complete unity with the spirit.

This simple phrase is also a basic formula for meditation and internal alchemy. Once our hearts and minds are settled – (for the Chinese ideogram for ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ is the same) – we make ourselves receptive to the primordial energy of the Way. This is something that has to be experienced to be understood. The primordial energy of The Way is simply not able to take up residence in a busy mind. The Tao is never forceful, and is yielding by nature. We need to yield to it, in mimicry, before it will ever yield to us.

Once we realize the bliss of a thought-free mind, we begin to realize just how draining thinking is. Thinking robs of us of energy. It exhausts us. When we don’t think, we conserve energy, which we redirect towards higher-functions. So, learning not to think really does help us to fill the spirit.

‘Fill the spirit’ can also be translated as ‘reinforce the centre.’ Not thinking enables us to stay centred, as we have no wily thoughts to lead us off track. The more we practice emptiness, the more reinforced the centre becomes, bequeathing us with an energy, power and self control we could never have previously fathomed.

Tao Te Ching: 13


Praise and blame

Bring about fear

Great prestige is an affliction

The same as the self

Why say praise and blame

Bring about fear?

Praise lowers us

Afraid when we get it

Afraid when we lose it

Meaning praise and blame

Are the same as fear

Why say great prestige

Afflicts us like the self?

Our suffering is great

When we claim to have a self

Having no self

What trouble can we have?


Treasure your duty to the world

And the world will be entrusted to you

Love your duty to the world

And you’ll be a guardian

To all below Heaven

POEM: Anarchy and Enlightenment


Crawling back to The Original State

The obsessive mind dominates

Truly, ignorance and enlightenment

Are inseparable

Enlightenment keeps ignorance from ruling

Ignorance keeps enlightenment from ruling

Having no ruler at all

What could possibly constrain you?

Sitting down to a meal

When asked what you want to eat,

You say:

“Give me the child of fire and water;

Feed me the ancestor of light and darkness

And I’ll see you get a good tip!”

Needless to say,

We both starved together

But our starvation

Was our salvation

For in our emptiness

We could be reabsorbed

Reabsorbed, we could be restored

As Heaven spoon-fed us both

Flies and honey

Why do I say:

Crawling back The Original State”?

Because you won’t get there

If you hold your head up

Where nothingness should be

The only crown

Of torrential sanity

So turn that frown upside-down

And every other direction

And then we’ll begin to see

How far insanity stretches


Tao Te Ching Commentary: Not Disturbing the Heart


“Do not display what arouses desire

And people’s hearts will not be disturbed.”

Forget about monkey see, monkey do. The human mentality is very much monkey see, monkey want! Wanting is deleterious to the spirit, because it makes tsunamis out of a placid pool. If we keep away from temptations, then we will have nothing to tempt us, and our placid pool will have no need to generate waves.

But, it is not just enough to keep ourselves away from things that arouse selfish desires. We must uproot the very delusions that allow such desires to keep arising within us. The most basic of these delusions is the unspoken belief that sensual gratification is the greatest pleasure or happiness that one can experience. Once we experience the untold delights that spiritual practice has to offer, however, such feeble desires are unable to take root. They taste sickly and unsatisfying when compared to drinking the universal nectar of formless experience. So, we eradicate attachment to base pleasure by whetting our appetite for higher pleasures. Though, in the long-run, if we want to attain the ultimate, we must liberate ourselves of our perception of the duality of pleasure and pain altogether.

Tao Te Ching: 12


Too much colour blinds the eyes

Too much noise deafens the ears

Too many flavours spoil one’s taste

Hunting and racing in the field

Derange heart and mind to extreme

Rare goods that are hard to come by

Impair good conduct and action

Therefore, the Sage

Follows his spirit

Not his senses

Rejecting one

Abiding in the other

Tao Te Ching Commentary: Possessing Nothingness


“Do not treasure luxury items

And people will not become robbers”

The notion of possessions of any kind is poisonous to the human spirit. But, most pernicious of all, is when people fetishize luxury items or rare goods. When we treasure such things, we often treasure them at the expense of the soul. If we place value on what is outside of us, rather than with what is within us, then we have already succumbed to delusion. It is also puts us at risk of falling into the negative feedback loop of always wanting the next best thing. Like a person who always needs the latest iPhone or designer handbag, we fail to appreciate what we have already, once again postponing contentment irreparably into the future.

Of course, there are always things in our life that we will cherish and hold dear. There are many books and instruments that are very dear to me. But, were I to lose them, my life would be no different. I was happy before them, I am happy with them, and I am happy without them. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the vagaries and colorations of life, provided we remember it is all ephemeral and transient. Far beyond the supposed ‘value’ of material things, many of my favourite things in life can never be possessed: the warmth of the sun, the majesty of mountains, the singing of birds, the tranquillity of meditation. When man does not have his vision obscured by notions of his own wealth, it gives him greater insight into the abundance within him.

If people do not regard any object as being worth more than the human soul, then how can thieves prosper? People steal what they feel they deserve, but cannot have. In a natural society, such delusions do not arise. Everyone being equal, and making no difference between self and other, the concept of possessions cannot exist. Everyone shares with everyone else. They know nothing is their own – just an illusion temporarily conjured up for them by the universe.

The secondary implication of this line concerns the way in which wealth corrupts people and turns them into villains. The wealthiest people on this planet are the politicians and businessmen who control and ruin it. They are the biggest possible thieves. They rob the earth, rob their fellow men of their rights, rob our landscapes of their natural beauty and health, and transform them into miscarried goldmines. Their obsession with wealth, of having more than others, has made them thieves on a global scale. Imperialism is nothing less than politically-sanctioned robbery.

But the follower of Tao robs no one. He just gives and gives. His only possession is a limitless source, which no one can ever take away.