Poem: The Stinking Buddha

drun

I am a stinky, stinky Buddha

A real ‘no-gooder!’

My terrible stench

Extends in all directions

Delighting and destroying

All those who smell it

My three bodes –

Whilst divine –

Are all thoroughly unbathed

Exuding the kind of fetor

Even a farmhand

Or abattoir connoisseur

Would find hard to comprehend

Why do I smell so bad?

You ask

What is the secret of

My foul effluvia?

I would love to tell you

But,

Like a great magician

I have not the dignity to reveal

The originations of

My untold odoriferous secretions

 

 

Poem: Shrine Room Blues

shrine

Oh lawd!

I got them

Sayin’ goodbye

To the shrine room blues

All those beautiful thangkas

Of deities and protectors

I carry in my mind

As iridescent gateways

To the pungency of

Ineffable worlds

The great golden Buddha

So placid and inspiring

I’ve had to, reluctantly,

Close the door upon

Until we meet again

But these palaces are always built

Inside my mind

As the emanations of the dharmakaya

Manifesting everywhere

Shrine room,

Shrine room,

What isn’t a shrine room?

A wrathful realm

Of placenta and corpses

Glows more dreaded

Than the deafening diffusion

Of death’s thirsty applause

I’ll span the realms

In a single step

Without ever exerting a muscle

Before the charitable kleptomaniacs

Steal my obscurations

And cast those blues away

 

 

Meditation: The Thingsness of Things

Thing, The

After finishing my meditation lesson yesterday, one of my students noted how they always felt they experienced reality differently after a deep meditation. While reality usually felt quite bland or flat to them, after a good meditation, he said everything felt richer, deeper, more three-dimensional and solid. As we had just done a meditation on the nature of emptiness, I was quite surprised to hear him use the word ‘solid,’ until I realized he was talking about The Thingness of Things: a phrase I use which describes experiencing each thing and phenomena exactly as it is, at its utmost blistering intensity.

Most of the time, we only relate to things and phenomena in a very half-assed and dispirited way. We pass a tree we walked past yesterday; we greet a person we see every morning; we unknowingly hear a birdsong that follows us everywhere we go. Because these things have become habitual for us, we treat each of these things – the tree, the friend, the birdsong – as though it is something static, stuck in time, that can never satisfy or delight us. Because we have seen it a thousand times, it has become dull, mundane, and humdrum according to our benumbed senses, always looking for new pleasures, new experiences, new desires.

The tragic thing about this view is that it is incorrect. Every moment is new, every moment is unique, every moment has its own special character that well never be repeated ever again, not even if infinity were to bend over, poke its head between its legs, and eat its own scrotum. Newness is the fundamental nature of each experience – always new, always shocking, always vibrant.

So why don’t most us feel that vividity and uniqueness? It is because of our habituations, and how we have allowed our insecurities to mute the palette of these rich, vibrant moments. We claim we want new, exciting experiences. But most of us are terrified of change, and of anything that threatens the illusory security of our habitual routines. To really experience the uniqueness and freshness of each moment would mean being open, vulnerable, receptive, insecure – it would mean letting down the barrier of our cold comforts, erroneous certainties, and beliefs, and instead just letting things be as they are.

Shine/shamatha meditation teaches us to do this. By mindfully resting in the uniqueness of each moment, without weighing it, analyzing it, or assessing it, we no longer fear being afraid of the startling shock of every moment. This, in turn, effects how we experience reality, post meditation. Each moment, each second becomes like a new century, a new epoch, which disturbs and delights us with its instantaneously known unknownness. Colours become more colourful. Every touch becomes more erotic. Sounds become more soundy. Even things that usually annoy us suddenly become palaces of wealthy delight that cause us to loosen with fertile appreciation.

All this spell-binding depth and luxury can be returned to your reality, just by learning to be still, and rest with all of your feelings and thoughts.

Poem: The Graciousness of All Things

king

You’re not truly in a position

To learn anything at all

Until you start living like a tramp

And can wears rags like robes

Piss out in the open

And expose yourself to the sky

Without any shame

To castrate your sense of freedom

That’s the mistake

Adam and Eve made

They plucked a stinking apple

From the twisted tree of intellect

And ingested the first neurosis

Creating the false sin of being naked

The false sin of being yourself

I’d like to slap them in the face

With a long thorny branch

And make them bleed out their stupidity

Incensing them to revel

In the peculiarities of their sex

While you may have a home

The princely tramp

Knows it could go at any moment

So he makes each moment his palace

His place of kingly refuge

In which he can knight his royal subjects:

The Graciousness of All Things

He knows caution to be a killer

And recklessness to be just as dangerous

All of life is a gamble

There’s nowhere that you’re safe!

So I’ll stay at the croupier’s table

And give him a royal kiss

I’m done entertaining illusions

I think I’ll give that show a miss

 

Squeezing the Breast of Death

dea

In a world where death is an absolute certainty, we will all inevitably have to face what we fear the most. This certainty and fear lurks behind just about all our neuroses, delusions, and obsessions in this life.

We are obsessed with fulfilling our desires as quickly as possible, because we know we might die at any moment, and are afraid that, if we don’t seize them now, we will never get a chance to again. Because desires such as these are born of fear, they generally do little but generate more fear in the process, by making us obsessed with reaching for things that are beyond our current experiences.

The same can also be said of all our ambitions. We know our lifespan is limited, and so we want to do something meaningful with our lives, even though we’re often seldom certain of what shape such meaningfulness should take.

Even though we know we will all die, we still act as though we will not, and put it as far outside our perception as possible, coddled by comforting articles about how everyone will live to one hundred, and cryogenic freezing will make it possible for us all to live forever.

When someone dies, or something comes to an end, we often remark on what a ‘shock’ it is. But given the statistical certainty of it, how shocking can it be? Really, the truly shocking, miraculous thing is to wake up every morning and discover that anything is still here –that anything still vaguely possesses the same form! That is the miracle! That is the fragile delight we should celebrate and be amazed by!

Instead of ignoring death, the Buddhist approach is to embrace death and impermanence, and to factor that awareness into everything we experience. However lovely or painful something is, we remind ourselves that it too will pass, and so we cherish and appreciate it, whilst not making things more difficult for ourselves by foolishly clinging onto it, thinking it will last forever.

In this sense, meditation is very much like practising for death.

In meditation, we rest our attention in nothingness, and dissolve all our senses and perceptions into one. Unlike in our day to day activities, when our mind is usually focused on a set of specific sensory experiences, in meditation our consciousness rests nowhere in particular.

Because our consciousness rests in emptiness, it is experientially closer to death. This is why The Tibetan Book of the Dead is praised as a manual for both living and dying. By teaching us to prepare for and experience death whilst still living, it fundamentally enriches our sensitivity to life.

With enough experience, death and life no longer appear to be starkly contrasted poles, but instead a seamless continuity. We see death in life and life in death. We are aware that we are already dead whilst living, because we were never truly born to begin with.

When such an awareness becomes crystalline and informs our daily life, death truly loses its sting, and becomes something to rejoice in.

 

 

Poem: Suit of Yearning

heart-chakra-shaman

I pierce my heart with a spear

To let the sky come in

Perhaps if I tried hard enough

I could make your body my own

I could wear your being

Like a suit of yearning

To denude all my sorrow

I think it would drive me mad

With both ecstasy and despair

My tears would run riot

Over my smiling teeth

Which would become the crystal caverns

Dead geologists like to haunt

The past is an impossible nymph

A choice we don’t have the luxury to make

I look for the truth behind these hallucinations

And my heart begins to quake

 

Poem: Kurukulla

kurukulla-red.jpg

My beautiful lady, Kurukulla,

Dancing through the clouds

From your Himalayan vantage point

You see all the suffering of the world

Ever poised, with your flower-tipped bow

You fire off shots incessantly

Without ever seeming to move

You know just as well as I

That in

This samsaric abyss

When devotional love

Is so far from people’s hearts

Sometimes, the only way

To get them to embrace it

Is to use the non-violence of violence

To savagely inseminate them with it

Incense clouds become cumuli

As realizor and realized

Meld into one

Sashaying through the ether

In satin pants

Who wouldn’t think

You’re the loveliest of them all?

Victim and lover

Are always indivisible

The coemergent bastard of nirvana

And cyclic existence

Troubled water flowing

Through untroubled times

Who knows which atrium

Will be the first to burst?

Realizor and realized

Merging into one

As the knot of delusion

Is finally undone

 

Poem: The Devil of Meekness

many

I am meek and mild

Yet also unbelievably devilish

My rage can encapsulate

Even the most fearsome of titans

I slice through the prudish

And feed them to the poor

Dicing up steaks of ignorance

And seasoning them with awareness

Until that putrid shit

Starts to taste like wisdom

The MSG of the spirit

I am the blood-dripping nipple of truth

And the creamy discharge of The Way

You cannot escape this

It is a horrendous vision

That will assault your every orifice

Your every sensorium

With or without your permission

Your numbness has to go

I will burn your nerves anew

And force you to be raw in your sensitivity

Until you can stand it no more

I will violently inject life

Into moribund habits

And make the jaded and dead

Alive and gasping for touch

Better to be wet behind the ears

Than dry around the crotch

Here’s a little shock for you:

YOU ARE RIGHT HERE

 

Groundlessness

WDF_884803

One of the most important teachings in Buddhism is the Mahayana doctrine of Shunyata. This doctrine teaches us that everything we experience – right down to the senses we use to experience – is nothing more than pure, radiant, empty space.

This notion is very difficult for most people to grasp. To us, experientially, most things appear to be physical, tangible, graspable, almost fixed in their solidity. But, even quantum physicists proved that reality is fundamentally empty – that the atoms and particulates that seem to comprise reality are largely constituted from empty space.

In this regard, reality is no more than empty space masquerading as solidity. It is like watching a film at the cinema. The figures on screen may look very real, as though you are literally watching this scene unfolding in the flesh in front of you. But, on investigation, we find that it is nothing more than an arrangement of lights being projected onto an empty screen.

Empty light.

And a blank screen.

So, behind all displays of multiplicity, color, and movement, there is always that primal, simple, changeless empty awareness lurking beneath.

Physicists were very disturbed when they discovered this about reality, because it seems to go against our most basic experiences of the world.

However, Shunyata is not just an esoteric doctrine – it is something we can directly apprehend and experience through meditation.

But, Shunyata is no less troubling when we experience it, than when we merely conceptualize it. In the same way that Quantum Physics troubled scientists and caused them to question everything they knew about reality, Shunyata has very much the same effect on the meditator who experiences it directly.

Realizing there is nothing but empty space, we become profoundly uprooted. Everything that we had relied upon, thinking it to be solid, fixed, and permanent, we soon discover to be fluid, impermanent, and ever-changing. There is nothing for us to grasp or take refuge in any more.

Everything become groundless.

Even though this groundless empty space is so essentially healing, loving, nourishing, relaxing and aware, it is such a shock to the system to discover it is everywhere, that it can actually trigger a sense of terror and panic in us. Where can I go? What can I cling to? Where is the safe house I can hold onto to keep me safe from the vagaries of the world?

The answer is nothing, nowhere, and no one.

Life is dangerous, perilous, and can be extinguished at any possible moment.

This knowledge should not be a cause for sadness – rather it should be something we rejoice in, and take delight in. Instead of fleeing the fear, we should embrace it, and learn to feel grounded in groundlessness.

This groundedness is not based on anything we are attached to or reliant upon – instead, it is grounded in the confidence of our awareness of the indestructible nature of ultimate reality.

For that ultimate reality is emptiness, and it is indestructible.

It is this groundlessness which we should be grounded in.

Knowing this can give us a great sense of bravery and pride at living at all. Even the solid earth beneath us is like shifting sand that could break or give way at any moment. And yet, here we are, courageously still living, defiantly still living and experiencing in a house filled with traps and beauty.

Through embracing this impermanence and uncertainty, we find that all things we love and cherish in life are also the most fragile. The flowers we love to see and smell die after they’ve barely bloomed; all our love affairs, friendships, and relationships could end at any moment, whether from death, distance, an ill-timed argument, or any number of other circumstances. A baby can be born from a sexual union so brief, it couldn’t even be measured as a wink in the fullness of infinity.

Everything is always coming together, falling apart, and then coming back together again.

It all comes and goes from that emptiness.

So what is there to be afraid of?

Ground yourself in groundlessness – face everything you fear to fear – and your fears will go away.

 

Poem: The Power of Lust

newarvajra1-4

These Dakinis

Are truly insatiable

I can’t look

At anything red

Without Vajrayogini

In her manifold forms

Lunging at me

With atomic sensuality

My legs are actually shaking

With concentrated lust

A Kundalini rising

That encircles the golden ambiguity

Of my androgynous face

The soles of my feet

Are like pools of diamonds

Suctions pumps

Accumulating desire

Straight from the ground

I guess I can only

Make of myself a Heruka

And heroically forge

The burning union

That transcendental confusion emits

I am the madness of bliss

And the hunger of enlightenment

The ever-waiting tiger

Ready to pounce on you with pleasure

The more exactingly you control yourselves

The more us yoginis

Will tear you in two

Ripening you into a ferocious storm

That demands incessant satisfaction

Crimson clouds,

Crimsons burst

Crimson all the way

To lose yourself

Is a maestro’s culmination

Such a joyous frenzy

Seizes us all

Through the power of lust