Through the Forest of Shadows

Our healing, our freedom and our awakening
Are all found when we have journeyed
Through the dark forest of shadows
We must be willing to enter this forest
And place one foot in front of the other
Meeting demons and ghosts, sent from the past
We must face what Buddha faced,
The maras of deception, illusion and temptation
We must meet what we have not met
And, with great stealth and softness
With the steel of a samurai
And the tenderness of an innocent,
Walk on, and on,
Until we even meet our death
Our inevitable departure,
And we must keep on walking
Embracing all, denying nothing,
Until we come to the light at the edge of the forest
This is the cleansing of the mind and emotion
This is our ‘valley of the shadow of death,’
This is the transformation from wounded
To wounded healer
From broken adult to wise elder
This is our inner calling
And all our existential crises point to this.

Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash

If We Should Ever Meet

Friend, if we should ever meet
Let it be like this
Do not feel awkward
But look me in the eye
I will meet you wherever you are
Fear not our intimacy
This is the path of the warrior
The way of openness
It has no need of false defense
No need for the mask
That covers insecurity
Just meet me, openly,
Without any covering, no story
Nothing that pollutes
Our sensitive relating

It doesn’t have to be special
It just has to be real
If it can’t be real
If you can’t show me your true face
Please, don’t show up,
I will be quite happy
To just sit in this emptiness.

Blaze Like a Warm Fire

Be no one
Fantastically
Don’t worry about fame
Or fortune
Just be yourself
Fantastically
Be ordinarily amazing
Don’t diminish yourself
Neither aggrandize yourself
But blaze like a warm fire
Drawing others toward you
For no reason
Other than love’s
Unconditional benevolence.

Photo by Peter John Maridable on Unsplash

The Garden in Your Heart

Inside you is a garden
It could be eden
Or it could be a wasteland

What grows in the garden
Is not dependent on experience
But on the depth of being
Learned through experience

The seeds are already planted
In each of us, they lie dormant
Our freedom is the choice
Which seeds we water
And which flowers we grow

Even though life is cruel
And we suffer tremendous hardship
Some will still choose
To grow love and kindness
Yet others, some from privilege and power
Choose to grow meanness and division

Our power is on the inside
We get to decide what we water and grow
I choose beauty, tenderness
And the kind of love that heals

Using the choice of what we tend to
What we grow, and what we banish
From our garden
Is a revolutionary act
And no matter what happens
It cannot be taken away

Make the choice wisely
Make it often, every day
Every interaction, every choice
Every time you are triggered
Every time you are insulted
When anger rages
When vengeance rears its head
In difficult times
And easy times
Remember your power to choose.

Photo by Veronica Reverse on Unsplash

Follow Your Deepest

It is there, inside,
Like a light
Hidden by clouds
It is your inner guidance
The task is not to find it
But to remove all that obscures it

Follow your deepest calling
Dear heart
It’s the only thing
That will lead you to true love

At first we play on the surface
But over time we yearn for more
That yearning is for the deepest
It’s your soul calling
Listen quietly and softly
And follow it
Even if it scares you
Or seems crazy
Still follow your deepest
It is calling you home.

It Is All Borrowed

I got a ride with Ernie
A driver of Spanish origin
In New Mexico
He recently lost his son
And previously his daughter
He had a beautiful attitude to life
Taught to him by his grandmother
She told all the children
‘Nothing here is yours
It’s all borrowed
And it will all have to be given back
We arrive empty and we leave empty
Remember this always.’

This elder teaching has allowed Ernie
To stay true even in the midst
Of emotional pain and suffering
And has brought him to great equanimity
He was free to love without attachment

It was quite a ride.