Abide in the Question

question

Schrodinger, Kierkegaard, Gandhi, Tagore; Jesus and Buddha, Whitman and Rumi; philosophers, poets and prophets through the ages… what are they driving at?

What is the common theme, the unifying Truth espoused by the greatest minds of every time culture, embraced by an ever-increasing number of people today, in an unprecedented techno-spiritual Renaissance?

Wait a second—don’t offer up some quick and easy answer. Sit with the question. Take it in.

It’s tempting to respond with “We are one,” or “God is Love,” or some other catchy little gem of wisdom. But I’m not fishing for words or slogans. I want to go deeper.

What weaves us together?

I don’t care whether you call it God or Buddha nature. Call it Spirit; call it Consciousness or Love, or ‘the quantum source field’ or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Don’t be content with a label.

Forget the names—what are they pointing at?

Whatever it is, we’re immersed in it. Touch it, taste it, breathe it in.

Don’t refer back to the books you’ve read, or what some wise man may have told you. Forget what Patanjali said, and Oprah and Chopra too. Don’t let anyone tell you what is real. See for yourself.

Who are you? What is “I” made of? Where does thought come from? Is there anything you can really know for sure?

The questions are a doorway into the mystery—dive in.

Feel after God.

Seek out the elusive edge between “self” and “other.” Is it really there?

Seek out the essence, the core of your being, the source of your awareness and your will to choose. No more second-hand descriptions—experience it directly. Or does it experience you?

Abide in the question, not knowing… Go deeper.

No more words.

~ Ben

empty hands

Loss

empty hands

Loss is my greatest teacher

And my truest friend.

 

Every time I find myself

Grasping at phantoms

That appear to be forms,

 

Saying, “I am this!

This is mine!”

 

Loss comes round again,

Reminding me of the peace and freedom

Found in the endless letting go…

 

I should be so lucky as to lose,

Everything and everyone

And nothing spared!

 

For loss is my greatest teacher,

And the highest form of Grace.

 

It is when my heart is broken open

That it becomes the gushing fountain

Of compassion;

 

The abode of the bodhisattva.

 

It is when my hands are empty

That they hold the open sky…

 

~ Ben

A Warrior’s Song

Have you ever stood beneath the stars

In silence, in solitude

Drinking in the mystery

And the loneliness of existence?

 

Have you ever been humbled

By the endless vastness of the universe

And keenly felt

Your insignificance?

 

Have you ever been face to face

With death?

Do you know in your bones

That the grave awaits?

 

That one day your name

And even your greatest deeds

Will be washed away without a trace?

 

Warrior – tomorrow is not guaranteed

Oblivion is all that’s sure

This moment just may be your last.

 

Waste not another second

Remembering the failures of your past!

 

Seize this day

And don’t ask why

This life was never yours to keep.

 

Embrace your fate

With head held high!

 

Stand at the edge of the great unknown…

 

And leap!

 

~ Ben

For Curtis

When I heard the news, I nearly wept.

It rained all night and all day;

For you, brother, for you.

 

I wish I could have spoken these words a little sooner,

That they might have reached you in the flesh.

 

Why does it take a tragedy to make us stop and think?

 

I cannot know your reasons,

I cannot know your private thoughts and struggles.

But I do know this – that all of the pain and confusion

Has passed from you now.

 

I know that your family and friends, too

Will in time be healed, find peace and acceptance.

 

I know that all pain and suffering serves its purpose and passes away

Like shadows before the advancing sun;

While the love that we share shines on.

 

I know that joy is eternal, all else fades away.

 

So today does not find me grieving.

This is not a song of loss and mourning,

But a celebration of who you are, and the life that you lived.

 

I loved you, and I love you still.

I was a friend to you, a brother to you.

We worked alongside one another,

We shared a roof for many months, and never quarreled.

We laughed and sang and drank together.

We roamed the countryside together,

Shared follies and adventures together,

And experienced more in a few short years

Than many do in a lifetime.

 

I know there was always more to you than was apparent –

That you thought deeply, felt deeply –

That beneath your tough and cool persona

Was a sensitive soul, and a heart of gold.

 

I know that you have loved, and loved intensely,

You have touched the lives of others,

And your love shines on.

 

These things I celebrate – these memories linger in my heart.

I will always smile when I think of you.

If I have any regret, it would be this:

 

I wish I had spoken these words a little sooner.

Patience

There’s a hunger in your eyes tonight,

A quiet desperation.

 

You’ve grown tired of all the clever games you used to play.

You’ve tasted the wine of Truth

Now nothing else can satisfy!

 

I know that feeling – I know it well.

The thrill is gone, your food tastes stale;

Even the most beautiful lover

Barely raises your pulse…

 

You want the Beloved, not some slab of meat!

You cannot bear another moment apart.

 

But listen, my friend – this path requires patience.

 

Watch how the wind and rain can wither away the hardest stone…

That’s how it is with us, somehow.

 

Who watches the stars and planets take shape?

Who dissolves them back into dust?

 

With infinite patience He watches

As we build up our fortresses of grief and isolation.

With infinite tenderness,

He washes them away

without a trace.

 

They say that time is but an illusion, a plaything of the mind.

But the mind itself is a plaything!

 

Who is behind that?

 

Don’t you see?

The longing that you feel for God,

The fire that burns within you,

Is God itself!

 

Don’t you see?

There is only one destination.

And no matter what we believe, or what we do –

That’s where we all wind up!

 

So relax, my friend –

Enjoy the ride!

 

~ Ben

Autumn Reveries

The sun is setting earlier each day; the cold is slowly setting in.

The colors of fall are daily shifting –

Pink and purple, russet red

Greens and yellows, blending, merging

Glorious shades of gold and orange and brown –

It’s as though the whole countryside were a canvas

That you revisit each night, while I sleep.

In an old camp chair overlooking the creek,

I spend long hours smoking cigarettes

And admiring your handiwork.

I watch as the colors slowly fade,

The leaves are withered, one by one,

Abandoning the branches which gave them birth

To decay, and return to the earth.

There’s an oak tree on the hillside

That is the frequent focus of my meditations;

My mandala, my candle flame.

Having gracefully undergone the changes of the season,

This beautiful tree-spirit-being now stands naked to the elements,

Silhouetted against the sky

Like the exposed nerve endings of the night.

O architect – let thy seasons move in me!

Strip me bare like the old oak tree!

Spirit guide these autumn reveries –

Teach me to surrender myself entirely.

For surrounded as I am by change, and loss, and decay,

What permanence have I?

When I have let go of all that is not Real,

I am nowhere to be found –

The wind and leaves and barren trees

The earth, the sky, the sun and moon

This body, this moment, this poem –

All thought and form is just dancing,

like leaves

On the wind of your breath.

A Little While

This is one of my more recent poems, some of you might have heard it read in person at the last Soul Sharing (lucky you). I hope you enjoy!

A Little While-

I sit in the cold and dark, tired but unable to sleep;
Somewhere it’s morning, someone is rising to start the day.

I am writing by the dim light of a small lamp;
Somewhere, someone is lighting a fire
Someone with no lights, no barrier against the heat and cold
Someone preparing a meager meal for a large family…

I am alone, with just these restless thoughts to keep me company;
Somewhere, two lovers are sharing passionate kisses, lost in the throes of longing
and abandon
Somewhere, old friends are sharing a bottle
Feeling the fullness of the years they have shared together
Content with twenty dollars worth of distilled pleasure.

I am broke, but I want for nothing;
Somewhere, someone is hungry, homeless, desperate for a fix
Someone is examining his portfolio, scheming on how to make his next million
Someone is admiring his original Rembrandt.

My walls are hung with crayola portraits, drawn by my darling son;
Somewhere a woman is weeping
All she ever wanted is denied her by her barren womb.
Somewhere, someone is giving birth
Amid cries of agony, and a mixture of blood and fluid, someone is being born.

I sip from the cup of perfect health;
My limbs are young and strong, my fibers full and flowing
Somewhere, someone is suffering, someone is crippled or sick
Someone is gasping for a breath that will never come.

I look out at the vast dark sky and smile – seeing it’s starlit magic and majesty;
Somewhere, someone is hopeless, somewhere a heart is painfully breaking
Somewhere depression, somewhere grief, fear, despair…
Strange how this moment could contain such wonders, such tragic beauty
An eternity of possibilities, so soon to pass away.

In a little while, sleep will find me
And somewhere, someone else will burn the midnight oil.
The man now waking will be working
And morning will creep through the shutters of another.

In a little while, the smile will fade from my lips, the magic vanish from my skies
My heart will crack and bleed, as sorrow comes round to collect it’s due.
Lovers will betray one another, friends will exchange harsh words, move away…
The lonely will find comfort, those now weeping will laugh once more.

In a little while, the vigor will drain from my flesh
I will grow gray and weary, I will one day expire
And the rosy flush of youth will fall upon another face, in some other place…
For a little while.

So to you, dear reader, wherever you may be
(is it late? are you all alone?)
Savor this moment, be it bitter, be it sweet
For this moment is your life
And it is only yours
For a little while.

~ Ben