the body is the breath of the universe

While it’s unarguable that any facet of our existence could ever be separate from Primordial Awareness, we are deeply conditioned to believe that the undesirable aspects of experience, and especially the mouldy contents of the compost heap called the unconscious, can’t possibly be valid components of Ultimate Reality.  It’s deeply heartening to see this illogical, fragmented view being explored and corrected sensitively and wisely by teachers like Ellen Emmet.

Ellen’s beautiful article was originally posted on, under the title The Sacred Body: Returning Our Experience to Its True Source and Substance of Awareness.


a child explores wild spaces...

She runs down a hill. Warm air caresses her skin, and the pounding of feet on earth bring an intoxicating counterpoint to the expanding of her heart. Her body unravels like threads of light into the the surrounding space, and in a moment out of time, she surrenders into its open embrace. The liquid dancing world anoints her vibrating body with its loving substance … 

We all remember blessed moments in which our true nature of pure undivided and universal Awareness echoes at the emotional, tactile and sensual levels of experience. Our body then is felt to be transparent, without borders, suffused with a subtle quality of vibrating sensitivity. It feels less personal yet shares itself intimately with all that is met.

For most of us however the body has been deeply and lastingly conditioned by the belief that “I” refers to an individual and limited person, located inside a body, separate from others and from the world out there. Thus the feeling of the body is rooted in a set of repetitive psychosomatic habits, creating feelings of solidity, density, emotional inertia and contraction designed to validate and perpetuate the projected image of the “I” that seems to live at its center, with one’s past and future on either side. Such a body’s inherited dynamism is ruled by the complex and restrictive impulses to protect, defend or affirm itself.

In this way, the body-mind seems to become the envelope or the cage in which “I” appear to live in and the stuff that “I” seem to be made of, whilst the real “I” of undivided Awareness seems to have shrunk itself into confinement, limitation and fragmentation.

When we awaken to our true nature of Awareness in the presence of a teacher or of a teaching, we submit our thinking rational mind to the pure light of intelligence that is its source and substance.

With open, limitless Awareness as our invisible reference, we hear and understand that the ordinary awareness that is perceiving whatever is perceived in this very moment, “I”, is not contained within a body or located in time and space. We hear and understand that “I” is the Open Awareness in which all experience arises unfolds and dissolves, including thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions (mind, body and world.) We hear and understand that this Awareness is not a perceived experience, yet is that which perceives all experience, and is not an object, yet is found at the heart of all experience as its only and invisible substance.

My identity fits not in any name or form. Nor am I held captive between birth and death.

I am not the blood that runs through my veins or the warm breath that flows through my nostrils or the mouth that breaths. I am not the memory of myself or the hopes that skips like stones into the future. Past and future ripple through me as the wind of time, whilst space is the echo of my infinity. I am not this I am not this I am not this, yet I am the lover of all things, and find myself at the heart of all that has a name and form.

However, it is important to further deepen our exploration to include the level of feelings, sensation, tactility and perception. Taking our stand as the field of open Awareness in which all experience arises, we listen to our experience of the body directly, as if for the first time, free of any labels, without any mediation from the past or any agenda for the future. We take our time, descending below the threshold of rational experience, allowing thought to relax in the background whilst opening to the flow of tactile sensation and subtle vibration that is our actual bodily experience. We are invited to see and feel that the body flows through myself, Awareness, as does all experience.

When the welcoming of the body is open, uninvolved and global, it is as if the body like a frightened animal feels an unconditional invitation to come out into the open space.

In this friendly loving field, the body stands naked and naturally begins to liberate what it had been holding in and as itself: the crystallized energy of separation that lives as layers of contraction and tension in the cellular, muscular skeletal and nervous systems of the body.

As the body unravels in this way, the “me” charge that lives embedded in its layers is returned to the openness of Awareness.

Gradually the body is left free to open to, relax into and reunite with the openness that surrounds it. It is as if each feeling and sensation like an offering, gives itself back to the invisible altar of Awareness, telling its true story on the way. In time this allows a gentle and natural realignment with the felt understanding that the body’s essential nature is this very openness.

When I make of my body a thousand paint brushes dipped in gold

Everything takes on the form of you

And buries itself in my heart to make it bigger and softer

So that the world can overflow from it endlessly and everywhere

Returning ordinary days to infinite life

Over and over in this exploration, for which we may use guided meditation, postures, visualisations movement and breath, we are led to see and feel that in truth we cannot say that a sensation appears in “my” body, just as a sound does not appear in the world out there and a thought is not to be found inside a head. We see rather that sensation, thought and sound all appear in myself, non-located open Awareness without any separate individual existence of a body mind or world.

Over and over again we realize that like sounds and thoughts, the bodily feelings and sensations are subtle in nature. They are not solid or tangible cannot be held or measured. Rather they are like vibrating ripples appearing on the surface of myself, intimately one with myself, made of my own invisible substance. We feel and know that the body is the openness that “I” am.

Unlike most of the conventional approaches to the body that are taught in the world, this one is not a pragmatic endeavour intended towards the physical or energy body, to increase well-being, strength or flexibility, or even encourage expansive states of consciousness.

Rather it is a sacred and devotional practice that surrenders the body back towards into its source of Open Awareness: what we only and always are.

Every time the offering is made, the body is returned as it truly is, limitless, transparent, relaxed easeful and loving. It is realized as the very breath of the universe.

– Ellen Emmet

News about upcoming events, from Ellen’s newsletter:

The Awakening Body: A residential/non-residential weekend retreat in Mill Valley:
Friday 14th October to Sunday 16th October 2016.
A weekend in an intimate and peaceful setting during which we will share guided meditations, gentle explorations of the body in the tradition of the tantric path of Kashmir Shivaism, and conversations with the non-dual perspective as our shared ground.
There will be delicious lacto-vegetarian meals and time for rest and walk in nature.

Science and Non-Duality Conference, 2016:
Thursday October 20th to Sunday October 23d, 2016.
I will be offering a yoga meditation session and a talk entitled The Sacred Body and participate in a panel entitled Full Embrace of Life.

Image source

keeping quiet : keeping still

Mark Rothko - s/T, 1969


Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.


For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.


It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.


Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.


Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.


What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.


If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.


Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.


– Pablo Neruda


From Extravagaria, translated by Alastair Reid (pp. 27-29, 1974)

A steadying, thoughtful poem for today and everyday. I’m pairing it with Pico Iyer’s wonderful TED talk, The Art of Stillness. I feel that stillness, silence and solitude – attributes of whatever we take to be sanctity – are seriously endangered experiences. Will they become extinct in our lifetime?

I’m a committed activist in this area of concern. My experience has shown me that these ‘non-activities’ are the bedrock necessary for the unfolding of what matters to me – authenticity, right relationship, unfolding wisdom, and creative expression.



Painting by Mark Rothko – s/T, 1969

don’t be fooled. stand your ground

Pema Deane. What a light she is! This piece was posted on her blog – The Vibrant Heart – with the title Stand Your Ground. I’ve included the sentence “Don’t be fooled” in my title because my experience emphasises how pointless it is to try to stand my ground unless I’m deeply cognisant of the fact that an erroneous belief – as Pema reminds us – is constantly trying to fool us into believing we are separate from the “ground of Self, of Presence, of Light.”

stand your ground - Pema Deane


Scenes and circumstances continue to play out in front of us, their one seeming objective being to convince us there is something wrong with us – that we are unlovable or we lack, that the love is over there, not here.

Don’t be fooled. Stand your ground. It is time to blow this whole, bad dream apart. Recognize whatever you’re seeing and reacting to is coming straight out of your mind, a mind that believes it is separate and whose only function is to keep that belief alive.

The scenes are a set-up. They are out to suck you into misery and to prove to you you are NOT the incredible Beauty that You are. You made it all up. This recognition is your lifeline. It is your point of authority over this dream of pain.

I am not denying the incredible amount of self-nursing, holding and releasing of pain that has happened over many years but when you have reached the point of being able to simply witness the shenanigans of ego, it is to honor that with all your heart. And it is a wonderful thing. You have endured countless lifetimes to come to this point.

So stand your ground. The ground of Self, of Presence, of Light. And let the movie show of separation roll on by. It has no power to touch YOU. Ever.

– Pema Deane

The Vibrant Heart


your self-shining magnificence

This beautiful piece of wisdom was written by Michael A. Rodriguez, and published on his new website/blog at boundless under the title One Bright Pearl. Please check out Michael’s site – his approach honours “both radical non-duality and the paths that emphasize the evolution of consciousness.” There’s a refreshing inclusivity, authenticity and articulate clarity about his writing. Highly recommended.

One Bright Pearl -

One Bright Pearl

One of my favorite Zen sayings was by Hsuan-sha: “The whole universe is one bright pearl.” Another translation runs like this: “The entire world of the ten directions is a single shining [or ‘luminous’] jewel.” There are other versions, but I like these two variations the best.

I often think the entire dharma – and perhaps drama – is contained in this expression. It speaks to me. That statement could only have arisen from the awakened state, and in fact, most people are asleep precisely to the reality to which this statement points. If you could wake up to this one truth, you would wake up altogether.

Somehow, by the mysterious mechanism of memory, the unknowable self-luminous jewel of awareness seems to become shrouded by what we take to be the known. We essentially come to live in a claustrophobic prison of the known and do not see the absurdly obvious fact that the reality of boundless experience could not possibly be shining more luminously. As the writer Samuel Beckett once wrote, “habit is a great deadener.” Because of habit, which functions by way of the veiling power of memory, we start to live within the narrow confines of our routines and fall asleep to the radiance of Mind. Actually, Mind falls asleep and dreams within itself a limited world made of habit. It’s not personal. This falling asleep happens slowly over many years, and it begins to happen before we are conscious of the fact. Because of conditioning and education from the moment we’re born (and even before that in terms of cell memory), it creeps up on us below the threshold of conscious awareness and solidifies as cognitive structures of experience in exactly the same way that hypnotic suggestion works.

The other main problem is that you, boundless awareness, have been conditioned to dwell with your attention in the human world of limited concepts. To wake up to the fact that you are already limitlessly shining in all directions as one bright pearl, try taking your attention off the human realm and contemplate, instead, the fact that “the universe” literally has no beginning or end. Ever since I was a child, this contemplation has always produced in me a rapturous wonder. Just think about it. Right now, human beings are running around as though they know what this whole thing is, as though we exist in a limited world that has boundaries and borders and edges. But it doesn’t! I’m not speaking mystically or poetically here. It’s literal. How could there possibly be more freedom? The universe (from which your body-mind is not separate) does not begin or end somewhere. It’s immensurable in exactly the same way that a nighttime dream is immeasurable. How much “space” does a nighttime dream take up? I hope you got the point with my rhetorical question!

Now, whatever this is obviously has a self-aware quality that shines as the fact of conscious knowing. I say “self-aware” because since it does not have any limits, there can’t be anything “outside” it to be aware of it. The limitless totality, therefore, is simply self-aware and shining as the limitless totality of experience. In other words, it’s a limitless subjective experience to awareness itself that does not contain a single object. Not one. Why? Because “objects” have to have limits (otherwise they would not be knowable), but objects are inseparable from the limitless environment. “Objects” are illusions of memory.

The fact is that you only ever experience yourself as one bright pearl. You as boundless awareness are the most precious jewel that could ever be. Try contemplating this fact over and over again until you wake up to your self-shining magnificence. To say that “it’s not far from you” is a severe understatement; it is you.

– Michael A. Rodriguez

Image and text from



you are a holy compost pile

Chameli Ardagh’s poetic letter dropped into my inbox a few days ago. Perhaps some of you received it as well. It’s too powerful not to be shared, especially at a time when so many of us are experiencing rumblings in the depths of our own unique [cosmic] compost heap. Let us be nourished and supported by this wisdom as we push again and again, and yet again at the “edge of evolution”.

Remember: whatever may be arising for us – it isn’t our little drama. It’s all for the sake of Creation Itself. She is restless and she is singing our song.


Benzaiten - Japanese Saraswati

The new world grows out of this fertile brew made of our outgrown clothes, our errors and awakenings, our dreams and prayers, and the luminous horizon we sense there — in the pause between the breath, in the gap between thoughts, in the softening of the heart. You are a holy compost pile at the very edge of evolution.
Brewing on this edge is an alive intelligence beyond anything you can grasp with thoughts and concepts. In your willingness to hang out in the pregnant unknown, you become the poet, the artist, the mother birthing her holy medicine into our world.
The thought you never have thought before …
The possibility you have never seen …
The song you have not yet heard …
It is uncomfortable to stay in the not knowing. We want so quickly to fill the void, eagerly grasping for the solutions dangling within immediate reach. Like a radio receiver with shortcut buttons to our favourite programs — even if the sounds torture us, distract us and zap our energy — we stubbornly tune into the familiar stations of consciousness, insisting that that’s all there is.
Tune into the subtler frequencies: the shadows dancing; the harmonies in music and rain; the silent sounds; the open spaces; the throbbing rhythms of growth; the open landscapes within that only poetry can take you to.
Tune into Radio Leela, the frequency of Divine Play and infinite possibilities. Our Goddess of creativity — Saraswati Ma — is the DJ here, and rumor has it that She is playing your song.

– Chameli Ardagh

The image is a portrayal of Benzaiten, the Japanese Saraswati. It comes from here.
The artist writes, “Benzaiten, or sometimes called Benten-sama, is the goddess of everything that flows: water, words, speech, eloquence, music and knowledge. She’s also the goddess of art and beauty. In my drawing she wears a kimono that flows out as a river and holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute. I decided to not draw her face, but instead show her from the back. The reason why I didn’t draw her face, is because I didn’t want to portray her with a specific face.”


are you on fire?

Sages have often spoken of the necessity of bringing an urgency to our inquiry into the Real – as though we were literally on fire with earnestness. The insinuation is that many inquire from mere intellectual curiosity, or an appetite for philosophical entertainment. Sometimes spiritual seeking becomes a type of insatiable addiction; Trungpa cautioned about that, Krishnamurti too. Dorothy Hunt’s words remind me of the compassionate severity of their words. What drives our inquiry? To what degree are we ready to “get Real”?

This Unlit Light - How serious is your inquiry?

How deeply do you want to go in your spiritual life? Are you satisfied with a glimpse now and then of your true nature? A retreat now and then to remind you of the power of Silence? An intellectual knowing of a path, a teaching, or a memory of a past awakened moment – then it’s back to “life as usual”?

How much do you want to live from truth rather than think about it? How much do you want to open your heart and let its love and compassion flow to yourself and to a suffering world? How much energy do you expend trying to “pull the weeds” of your suspected egoic deficiencies, or holding onto the “flowers” of lovely, desired experiences rather than returning to the Ground from which the seeing and being of all moments spring?

What do we DO to keep alive our remembering?

We stop relying on memory of the known, and return again and again to being awake NOW, opening to the moment as it is now, paying attention to the undivided Ground more than weeds or flowers, and being willing to see more and more deeply the subtle ways our conditioned mind attaches, sometimes with great emotion, to its belief in a separate “self.”

Our home ground, our source, is always available. We do not have to import it. We do not create it, and we cannot hold onto it. It is present in every experience. It is in the smile on your face, the frustration of a mind that cannot “get” what it is seeking. It is here now in the taste of morning tea, the challenging boss at work, the beauty of a sunset. It is here seeing, awaring, loving, being all moments, all experiences. As you no doubt have discovered, it is easy to remain awake in heaven. But what is awake is awake in the hellish moments as well. And beyond any experience, there is our true source, “making everything shine.”

© Dorothy Hunt, 2016

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine.
Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling.
Unthinkable, it causes thought.
Non-being gives birth to being.
It is the immovable background of motion.
Once you are there, you are at home everywhere.
–Nisargadatta Maharaj


Also see:

2016 – what I wish for you

continuous awakening – Dorothy Hunt

Dorothy’s words were originally posted at Science and Nonduality – gratitude!

Image source: the incomparable Bob O’Hearn

grief is a shower of grace

This Unlit Light - well of grief - image by Smith Eliot


On October 23, 2009, I wrote a post called the gift of grief:

Seven months since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life.

What a cruel lie it is to believe that those we love have gone; what an ignorant denial of Life’s infinity of guises and disguises; what a limiting perspective on the vastness of Life’s Play.

She is missed, yes.  But I find that if I simply allow ‘missingness’ to be its unadorned energetic self and ignore the siren-call of memory’s stories, she is there, in that movement of energy.  Missingness holds the blessing of mutual gratitude – a two-way appreciation of love known and cherished.

Who would want to miss such a blessing?  Who would want to “move on from it”?  Who would want to heal it, transform it, transmute or transcend it?

Who would want to deny the gift of grief’s solidarity, the diamond sharp sorrow shared with the mother whose child disappeared a decade ago at the school bus stop, the father whose son has just been shot dead practicing maneuvers for a dubious war in a distant land, the lover whose beloved has passed away before she was ready?

Grief is a great gift.  I love the way it keeps my heart soft.  I love the way I see it in your eyes, in the eyes of all ‘I’s walking this Earth.  It is a hallmark of the unclouded Light of human-being-ness.

Please don’t tell me to get over it.

April 3, 2016 – an update.

Only one word to change: “months”, to years.

Seven years since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life…

I still slip  – delightedly – beneath the still surface to “the secret water, cold and clear”.  I still marvel that these eyes spill tears of gratitude.  Love blesses me with grief.  I make no movement away, rather, I turn to meet it, gladly.

Grief is – for me – a shower of Grace.

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

~ David Whyte

Where Many Rivers Meet
©2007 Many Rivers Press

The original post was inspired by an email exchange with Vicki Woodyard shortly after my mother’s death and the beginning of this blog.  Thank you dear Vicki.

Image by Smith Eliot