Monday, December 20, 2010

Architecture of the Solstice

In darkness we stumble.
Confusion has no path,
unknowing, no arrival.

a glow
in blackness
a point.

spies a reflection
of its buried spark.

The hearth
of this ignition
is an alignment
of the eye

Due to earth's miraculous tilt
wherever you stand
at the solstice dawn
the glow emerges
due east.

Since the first dawn
the eye
framed this dawn
with stone
with timber

Framed it
with the mind
as if guiding
of heat
into the soul's
dark well.

As if
this elusive moment
could be grasped.

The architecture
of the solstice
is not
in the position
of the stars.
It's in
the alignment
the eye.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Turning Darkness to Light

We separate darkness from light. We avoid one and celebrate the other. Yet, year after year, nature carries us from radiant summer days through winter's dark nights. We fight the winter shadows by stringing lights on everything in sight. The glow is cheery, but it blinds us to the gifts darkness hides. If, however, we can rest within the shadows of winter for a while, we will be warmed there by secret fires.

Dividing darkness from light doesn't protect us through murky passages. It cuts us off from energies concealed by nature's mysteries. Only by entering darkness do we encounter the ever-renewing source of light. The secret we can discover there is the secret of creation—radiance is ignited by darkness moving within darkness. We are invited to participate in this hidden act of rebirth during these long winter nights. The inward turn of our minds and bodies reflects the circling of darkness upon itself. Darkness rubs against darkness, potential scrapes potential. What seems to be a cold abyss warms and bursts into light.

Don't try to understand this with your mind. It's logic doesn't reach into the unknowable. During these inward days, let your senses enjoy the magnificent displays of light. And, look beyond them into the shadows. There you can find the true magic of darkness moving within darkness, igniting the embers of the coming Spring.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Something Becomes Holy

Something becomes holy
by offering it to wholeness.

You offer it to wholeness
by burning it
in the fire
that does not separate
sacred from profane.

Each time you toss
a cherished object or belief
into the flames of life
your gesture weaves
your separate mind
into the memory
of its unified source.

What you offer to life
already belongs to life.

The more you prize
the objects you offer
the stronger the reawakening
of oneness.

Your most cherished object
is the illusion
you are separate.
Burning this illusion
does not diminish you.
It merely removes
false coverings and divisions.

In the rising flames
limitations become spirit
ashes become gems
all things become holy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Secret Gifts You Give

Look carefully at enough architecture around the globe and you will notice a pattern. There are patterns everywhere. Whether its this panel from a mosque in Paris, the curtain wall of a downtown skyscraper or your bathroom floor, architects and builders cover structures with geometric designs. It's as if a few thousand years ago someone started The Pattern Project and said, "Here's a circle, a square and a triangle. Go out there and see how many permutations you can make." It's as if countless artisans in all times and all places heeded the call and went mad with delight about what they could shape with only a compass and a straight edge. The results are magnificent and there's no end in sight. Without knowing it, each exploration of pattern added to the global treasury of knowledge and wonder. With each new permutation of design, every designer spontaneously enriched the world storehouse of wisdom.

These secret contributions aren't limited to geometric patterns. Whatever you do each day—cook, write, heal, inspire, facilitate, organize, or one of countless pursuits—you are participating in an ongoing project that is deepening and expanding human possibilities. What you discover as the years pass is forming and reforming the world in seen and unseen ways. It grows from knowledge unearthed by anonymous ancestors in the murky beginnings of time and extends through anonymous descendants in the unforeseeable future. Whatever you do, you are not alone in this. You are a member of a lineage that has been pursuing knowledge in your field for generations. No contribution you make, however small it seems, is lost. Every nuance of knowledge enhances the collective awareness of humanity making its way through the world.

As you go about your day, notice how the fruits of this global knowledge project pervade every place you go, every object you use and every person you meet. Notice the multitude of contributions of know how you have made and are making to your home, workplace and community. Notice how the world is made of the patterns interweaving with patterns and feel you connection to the unfolding creation.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finding Treasure Through Loss

Life has a funny way of nourishing us. In response to our desire to be more, do more and have more, it often yanks the rug from beneath our feet and leaves us with what appears to be less. We scramble to our feet and rush forward only to find ourselves racing toward what appears to be nowhere. Like children deprived of their cookies, we whine and wonder how life can be so mean.

All the while, we miss the treasure being offered to us through loss. Caught in the belief that amassing stuff and attention benefits us, we overlook the wonders that more stuff and attention often hide. We resist the process of revealing gems by stripping away the outer covering.

Certainly loss exposes us to vulnerability and uncertainty. It can be terrifying and debilitating. Yet, if we can willingly enter the openings life brings and allow them to chip away at our preconceived ideas of what is gain, loss can make known a deeper wealth.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living in Matter As Energy

The world
is not made
of isolated objects.

Pushing matter
into the right arrangement
will never make you happy,
healthy, wealthy and wise.
Adjusting your thoughts,
words, actions, relationships and surroundings
won't reveal the magic constellation
that solves all problems.

Analyze, strategize and implement
all you want.
There's always some flaw,
some unaccounted for defect,
some unexpected side effect.
Trying harder,
thinking smarter,
loving more,
never finds
that perfect pattern.

The world
is not a collection
of isolated objects.
It's a unified ocean
of energy waves
constantly moving.

Attempting to freeze
the roiling sea
is doomed to failure.

see yourself
and the world
as a fluid energy.

Ride the already moving waves
of this situation
into the next
and the next.

with the shifting forces
through the one body
of life.

Swim in the never final
always fresh ocean
of ever unfolding wonder
of living
in matter
as energy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Encounters at the Edge

After life has tossed you to the edge and raw openness saturates your bones, there comes a moment when you look up and see others inhabiting that sketchy borderland. You realize the aloneness of staring into the abyss is a solitude that is shared by anyone exposed to the unprocessed energies of living. Meeting other eyes saturated with the earth-shattering no-thing-ness of the void is to encounter the mystery meeting the mystery through the masks of "you" and "me."

Such run-ins happen whenever we forget to raise the facades that protect our carefully crafted images. For an instant we lay down the armor of false separateness and acknowledge we are all out at sea paddling the same human canoe; we don't have a clue as to who we truly are, why the hell we are here and where on earth we are going. We admit that loving more, thinking deeper and trying harder doesn't really illuminate or mange the wild energies of the unknown. It actually takes us deeper into the unknowable; and this where the aliveness we truly seek dwells.

Far from being dangerous intrusions, encountering others at the brink opens the way to healing the primal wound that tears self from other, mind from body, body from earth and any one thing from all other things. This is the natural medicine of honest expressions in art, music, food, healing arts, architecture and other endeavors that aim to reveal rather than hide our shared humanity. When you hear such a raw voice in a song lyric, a line of movie dialogue, or a sentence on the page, you know you are not alone. You remember that there is something to be gained by engaging the confusion, frustration and struggle of this journey rather than straining to avoid it.

For the most part, these electric, healing moments of human connection are fleeting. As quickly as they appear, you conceal them with the fear that expressing vulnerability exposes you to ridicule, rejection and worse. Yet, having the courage to avoid averting your gaze and, instead, continue to meet the mystery of true life in another, you find that the so-called emptiness of existence is its fullness. You discover that the rawness of encounters at the brink is the raw material of Being forming into the richness of Becoming. What society promotes as the good life is actually the escape from life. You find that truly living is truly dying into the openness and vitality of the edge.

Every encounter you have today is an encounter at the brink, whether you acknowledge it or not. Behind the forced smile and the gleaming windshield, the holiday storefront and the bored,disdainful expression, a person facing the mystery is questioning the same things you question, dreading similar things you dread. That person is awed by many of the same things sparking wonder in you and moved by what inspires you. If you look through your mask to see the true human behind their mask, you may discover Life looking back at you. You may have a marvelous encounter at the brink.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Truth at the Edge

In the collective mind, the edge has an aura of romance. It's characterized by adrenaline-spiking special effects and a heart pounding soundtrack. The hero at the edge is portrayed as icy calm amidst a firestorm of destruction; or a radiant mind glows in the birth of an earth-shattering breakthrough. At the pop-culture edge, the hero finds the golden light and the golden statue. Its described calmly in the media Q&A and lovingly embraced by the teary-eyed family. This romantic fantasy couldn't be further from the truth of the edge.

If you've found yourself at the edge, you know there's no glamour there. Actually being at the edge is clinging to the lip of the known and staring in the unknowable. It's realizing that the beliefs, love, possessions, physical stamina and whatever else stabilizes the center no long applies to emerging circumstances; new energies and insights must be accessed. The edge doesn't glorify the ego; that is the work of the center.

The edge is not a vacation choice or a thrilling distraction from the tedium of living. No rational person willingly ventures there. Uncontrollable forces sweep you to edge where everything cherished by the rational mind is challenged. It rips away illusions, yanks the rug from beneath your feet and dissolves apart the world you inhabit. The edge is not the glowing horizon between heaven and earth. It's the faint border crossing between the wasteland and the unknown land.

At the edge, there's no turning back. Behind is the corpse of a life that no longer breathes. Ahead is the fear of annihilation in the abyss. Yet, the opportunity of being at the edge is dying to the known to discover revitalizing energies in the unknowable. To ego, mind and body, the edge is a place of dark nothingness. To the soul, the edge rims the well of life. At the edge hovers the elusive elixir of life. It the time/space moment/place where you encounter the no-thing that cannot be described or explained while it powers the steps of your life journey. The edge is not a dividing line separating hope from fear. It's the mixture of hope and fear that ignites the strange sparks of new creation.

You may be thrown to the edge by divorce, disease or debt. You may find yourself there staring that the blank page or the blank canvas. You may not know how the hell you got there. At the edge, your heart may pound, your knees may shake, your throat may be parched, your eyes may be blinded by tears, you legs may feel unable to take the next step. At the edge you may feel alone and confused. Yet, if you are lucky enough to be opened this far by life, please remember: the edge is a moment of fierce grace; you are at a vital threshold on your life journey; as you passed through birth into this world, you are being birthed into important new dimensions of this world; though its seems like you are losing your life you are in the process of gaining; hang in there.

The truth of the edge is described in an old Zen story: A man, being chased by a tiger, ran to the edge of a cliff. As the tiger bore down on him, the man spotted a vine growing down the side of the precipice and climbed down it. At the bottom of the cliff, another tiger roared and licked his lips. Clinging to the vine, the man saw two mice, one black and one white, gnawing the vine at the point it sprung from the rock face. Two feet to his left grew a single strawberry. The man plucked the red fruit and popped it into his mouth, how sweet and fresh it tasted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rebirth From the Belly of the Whale

As the Chilean miners emerged one by one from a narrow tube in the earth, the Belly of the Whale came to mind. This mythic image depicts the archetypal passage of being swallowed into the unknown, appearing to have died and re-emerging in a newer, more expanded identity. This is certainly the case with the 33 men who were trapped 2,000 feet underground. For 17 days after the mine cave-in, the miners were believed to be dead. Miraculously, rescuers found them alive and engaged the odyssey of returning them to the surface. During the 69 day ordeal, the entire world watched nervously and breathed a collective sigh of relief as the miners emerged from the darkness and finally breathed fresh air on the surface.

Why did this drama resonate so deeply in the collective psyche? Perhaps it's because each of us has personal experience with the Belly of the Whale. At some point in our lives, we are swallowed into the unknown. It may be the unknown of a blank page, blank canvas or blank checkbook. We may be swallowed into the belly of disease, divorce, or a loved-one's death. Whatever tips us over the lip the predictable into the unpredictable, we find ourselves engulfed in forces beyond our control. We are walled in with no clear path to escape. Everything in us screams to eject from the crushing circumstances, but the only way out is through.

Often, the passage through the Belly of Whale demands that we wait. With nowhere to go, we hang in limbo, not dead and not alive. That in-between state can be excruciating to mind and body. In that intense pressure and heat, however, profound alchemy can occur. The dense, opaque stone of our self-centered, selfish frameworks for living can be squeezed into shimmering gems reflecting the wider light of the world. The confinement of our soaring fantasies can force us to see the treasures sparkling in the dirt beneath our feet.

Today we cheer and cry for the heroic passage of the Chilean miners. In the process, let's include those closer home. Let's honor the dark journey each of takes through the Belly of the Whale.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Trust Beneath Trust

When fear swirls through our minds, we look for something to trust. We reach into our backpack of inspirational quotes, phone calls to reassuring friends, the stillness of meditation, faith in the soul, and many other things. All of them are meant to soothe the turmoil of facing the great unknowns—food, shelter, love, disease, death, the survival of the planet. Sometimes it works and sometimes the fear rages on.

While the mind searches for trust amidst a whirlpool of dread, there's another trust that doesn't come and go at the whim of the thought-stream. This trust permeates the cells of the body and the fibers of trees. It rests within rocks and glows through sunlight. It doesn't look for evidence to believe or facts to prove. It doesn't rely on words in a book or a posture on a yoga mat. This trust doesn't depend on your faith in it or the consensus of a community.

So what it this trust beneath trust? It is life being what it is beyond any human preference. It's water tumbling down a mountain to the sea without worrying if its the right thing to do or the right way to go. It's your body swallowing food and digesting it as best it can without fretting over whether or not it is on your diet. This trust runs through every grain of existence. It is the earth breathing incomprehensible totality without scurrying about to make sure everything is in order and everybody is happy about it. It's life sticking with its miraculous process of birth, growth, decay, death and renewal no matter what.

So, when your mind swirls with anxiety, panic, or some vague distress, reach for your favorite Rumi quote or your version of rosary beads and soothe your aching thoughts. Also remember, beneath the thunderstorms of your aching heart, the entire earth is permeated with a trust that does not change and is always firm. It's life being life, existence existing, no matter what.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wrestling With Impermanence

Living with impermanence is one of my greatest challenges. I accept the idea that all forms that are born must die. Seeds must break for plants to grow and plants must decay for new plants to sprout. The circle of life is a palatable image that depicts continuation through change. It offers a certain level of peace and connection.

What boggles my mind and rattles my bones is the direct, sensory experience of impermanence. It started a number of years ago when formless silence became the backdrop and essence of every thought, word, gesture and environment. What I had encountered as solid and separate, I now experienced as transparent and unified. The world that had been firm ground supporting isolated objects and beings became a vast fluid space. Objects and beings flowed within it like waves within an ocean. This ocean had no substance, yet the waves of form rising and falling within it were actually more vivid than they had been in the old solid ground world.

Within this fluid cosmos, impermanence became the tangible experience of transparency within formlessness. Impermanence was no longer the process of a seed, becoming a tree, producing fruit that became a seed. It became all things dissolving into transparent formlessness as soon as they appeared. My thoughts, words and actions became the equivalent of writing on water. They certainly had their effects, but they disappeared into formlessness as soon they were born.

Strangely, my mind was and is unable to understand or fully accept this impossible paradox. It clings to its notions that there is cause and effect, that individual lives have an understandable meaning and purpose. My mind knows the spiritual explanations for the type of impermanence I have described, but it doesn't buy them. It still looks for ways to resolve the puzzle of formless forms.

Living this contradiction has turned my work from goal oriented tasks to being the conduit through which life makes offerings to itself through me. This is not my choice. It's just what is happening and it feels better to acknowledge it and willingly participate.

Still, my mind clings, like a dog to its bone, to a shred of hope that it can figure this thing out. On good days, it seems like an organic process that will eventually burn through this resistance. On other days, my body-mind rage against the formless-forms it finds itself inhabiting. It battles a futile war to establish solid ground in infinite formlessness. On yet other days, my body-mind knows that formlessness will eventually bleach transparency through its bones and thoughts and another unimaginable reality will dawn. Impermanence will have its way beyond what the body-mind thinks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sacred Space in the Digital Age

I'm giving at webinar called Sacred Space in the Digital Age on October 20th.

Here's the description:
Digital technology is transforming our encounters with every aspect of life. It’s also revolutionizing our relationship with the primal mysteries of dwelling in this world. For thousands of years, people in all parts of the world set aside sanctuaries to inspire their minds and heals their hearts. Each sacred site expressed the needs and dreams of its specific location and culture. Meeting the needs and aspirations of the emerging digital culture requires new forms of sacred space and fresh ways of engaging them.

Sacred Space in the Digital Age offers you knowledge and methods for finding, creating and experiencing sacred space within the new global society. During this insightful and inspiring webinar you will:

• Discover the practical power of sacred space as an ally on your human journey
• Learn where to experience digital age sacred space in daily life
• Gain tools for creating your personal sacred space in at home or in the garden
• Increase the sacredness and meaning of your travels around the globe.

Webinar Leader
Anthony Lawlor is author of The Temple in the House and A Home for the Soul. During more than 30 years of architectural practice Tony has received awards for excellence in design from the American Institute of Architects and Interior Design Magazine. His work has been featured on Oprah, National Public Radio and numerous other national media. He lives and works in Marin County, California. For more information on Tony’s work, visit his website and blog

Date: Wednesday, 20 October 20, 2010
Time: 9:00 — 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, 6:00 — 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time
Place: Your Computer
Price: $25.00
Click Here to Register
"Your sacred place is where you find yourself again and again.” Joseph Campbell

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Whole Foods Hunter-Gatherer's Awakening

Standing in Whole Foods, I remembered my animal body. My senses ignited with the overwhelming abundance surrounding me. My cells recalled the thousands of years my ancestors had foraged and hunted to survive. I imagined what it would be for one of them to happen upon these overflowing aisles and behold the profusion of vegetables, fruits and meat. Maybe, she would have fallen to the ground, bowing low to whatever goddess had carried her to this heaven. Perhaps he would have grabbed a shopping cart and run through the store, piling it high with viands for a legendary feast that would extolled around campfires for generations. Most likely, my hunter gatherer ancestors would set up camp at the entrance guarding this treasure from invaders and eaten whatever was at hand until their stomachs ached with satisfaction.

We, however, wander casually passed the mounds of apples, the cases filled with milk and the shelves stacked with honey. We act as if whatever we need to fill our bellies has always been and will always be available. So, I thank my animal body for reminding me it hasn't always been this way. I send gratitude to my ancestors' eyes for showing me the astonishment that would have overtaken them at such a sight. And, I marvel at the bounty of the earth and the consciousness that has allowed us to bring forth such copious wonder.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Earth Speaks Its Secrets in Textures

Earth has secrets to reveal, but you have to know how to read the signs. The language of nature doesn't fit into human text. It uses countless varieties of texture to express the subtle, shifting dialect of the land, water, sun and wind. Wisps of fog and thunderheads describe the journey of the wind. A shimmering palette of colors relate witty repartee between water, surrounding hills, plants and light. The grain of tree bark narrates decades of encounters with storms and heat, insects and animals.

The miracle of Earth's language is that each being can only understand what is being said through a one-to-one relationship. Nature doesn't make universal pronouncements. That would be too simple-minded and disconnected from the immediate needs of billions of humans, trillions of birds, mammals, snakes, lizards, flies, trees, grasses and flowers. Instead, Earth's language—the gurgling of a brook, the arc of a branch, or the redness of a berry—simultaneously says what is relevant to the bird, bug or bear that is engaging it at any given moment.

So, the next time you walk out your door, even if you're in Manhattan, notice the textures you encounter. What patterns of light and shadow are the trees casting on the ground? How are the ridges and valleys forming a visual brail in the sky? Sense the expansion and contraction of space as your animal body passes down streets, through doorways into rooms. Ignore the story your mind spins. With your whole being, listen to what is being said. At first, it may make no sense. In time, you can open beyond human words and understand the Earth's poetic song.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What We Dream Today

Once we weren't here. There was only the rolling earth, the shimmering waters, the waving grasses, the stretching oaks, the soaring hawks, the dancing deer, the industrious ants, the rain, the clouds, the sun and moon. There was a day the first humans came, standing upright, carrying tools, sparking cooking fires, shaping clay into pots, weaving grasses into baskets. There was a day when each street, building, park and car first appeared.

There was a day when I rediscovered the land beneath the concrete. I remembered that everything humans make springs from a dream within the mind. The dream mixes into the earth, generating computers, smart phones, sneakers and T-shirts. That day, I saw that what was dreamed into one form can be re-dreamed into other forms. That day, my bones recalled that the beliefs separating humans from the land can be re-shaped to weave humans back into the land. That day, my flesh and blood and brain shimmered as currents within the shimmering energy and wisdom of the earth. That day, I moved from living on the land to living from the land. And that day, I sensed the earth's desires becoming human desires; that what humans had formed from division will be reformed from integration. I saw that what is here will be forgotten and what will be here will be the result of what we dream today.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Piercing the Media's Fearful Illusions

Our belief in the media is driving us crazy. Every hour the electronic buzz crackles us another outrage to get worked up about. But the view of the world presented by the screens and the radio is only a pinhole view of a vast reality. The wider world is much more sane, peaceful and loving. The narrow scope of the media view has one purpose—sell advertising time. For that, it needs a big audience. Conflict stirs our biological reaction to danger. It gets our attention and keeps us glued to the latest drama waiting to be told on the other side of the commercials.

What I see and hear on the media screen doesn't match what I encounter every day. Does it reflect what happens in your day? There are countless realities at this moment. The fearful horror put forth by the mainstream media is only one version. There is a universe of other stories to follow and live.

Reports of book burnings, war, and environmental disaster wound our collective soul again and again. How we react determines whether these are flesh wounds or deep gashes that cripple our psyches. Responding with dread and hatred to what we see only deepens the wounds. Speaking wisdom to this ignorance helps awaken the collective mind and heal its pains of duality.

The fearful story put forth by the media is not a conspiracy by any one group. It's the universal archetype of Illusion, the play of Maya enacting the same mind-deluding tricks it has played throughout time. Our task is to see through this primal pattern and find the light of consciousness shining behind the trickster veil. This Illusion is not dispelled with another Illusion, but with unconditioned, silent awareness seeing its unity shimmering on the other side of Illusion.

Those caught in the media's illusion making machine are conflict addicts, hooked on duality. They get off on the adrenaline rush of crisis. They fly high on savior fantasies of swooping in to rescue the world with actual solutions or insightful commentary. These conflict addicts thrive on the belief that the dramatic divisions weakening us are real. As long as the collective body appears to be in the trauma unit, they have a purpose an a way to make a living.

Notice how the media puts forth the same stories everyday with different names filling in the blanks—war, poverty, disease, chaos... You know the rest. Yet, the public buys the same dramas again and again. The core media illusion is the belief that we are safer in familiar limitations and conflict than in freedom and dynamic harmony. This core illusion speaks to the ancient, reptilian part of our brains. As long as that little lizard is threatened with the illusion of danger, it will keep running back to its hole in the rocks. Expanding beyond this controlling force is the true evolution that will allow us to survive in this age of global community.

The media is mostly a circus that entertains our reptilian brains for the sake of income. Beck, Limbaugh et al don't believe what they say. They are entertainers out for ratings. Allowing their words to shape our worldview is like believing that distorted funhouse mirrors are giving us a clear picture of the world.

Certainly there are dangers to deal with, but the greatest danger is selling illusion for income. How we see the world shapes the world. Seeing through the illusions of conflict & fear to unity and compassion shapes the world toward greater health and abundance.

In this regard, the power of art is its ability to show us how forms of illusion can be used to liberate consciousness from illusion. The art of being a patriot is not to reinforce illusions of fear and conflict, but to dispel illusions with understanding and insight. The art of leadership points the way through illusions of division and hatred to unity and love. The art of living dispels illusions by living your truth.

So, when the next news alert flashes across your screen telling you the world is falling apart, remember the voice that hums in the hollow of your heart. Listen to its timeless reminder—what appears to be divided is one life flowing on its mysterious course through illusions of itself on its long journey home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911—Let the Wound Become a Womb

Living carves a space in the soul, an ache longing to be filled. The mind races to restore what was lost. But the loved ones, the youthful spark, the glowing hope that were so real and suddenly disappeared cannot be retrieved. So the mind tries to pack the yearning cavity in the soul with explanations and stories. They fall short and leave gaps where hunger still throbs. Finally the mind searches for distractions, schemes to numb the pain. In its desperation, the mind insanely believes that the greater, self-inflicted pain of war, political conflict, economic domination, social hatred, brutal entertainments and other forms of violence will somehow soothe the wound. The mind rages through this nightmare until, exhausted, it surrenders to that space life has sculpted from the soul and gazes into its mystery.

Then the heart awakes. It's wise enough to know the cavity in the soul is not a wound. It's a womb longing to give birth. The heart knows new life is spawned from opposites, not separated, but joined in the joyous love dance that sends hot light shooting through every cell of the body. Within the soul womb, the mind sees emptiness wailing. The heart embraces its fullness of possibilities calling for opportunities to spring forth. Sparks of new life fly. Fresh forms of being and becoming take shape. New worlds dawn.

What appeared to be lost—the loved ones, youth and hope—were never gone. They merely changed forms. From individuals we could caress, they became forces too subtle for the aching mind to see. Through the opening in the heart, they long to take new forms and patterns of renewal. Make the simple gesture. Open your fists and let new life flow out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ground Zero & Sacred Space

It’s natural to think politics and sacred space don’t mix. The political arena roils with power plays, backroom deals and grandiose egos. Sacred space, on the other hand is often viewed as a sanctuary from such earthly turmoil. Yet, visit a temple in Varanasi, a church in Rome, or any one of the other countless holy places around the world and you will encounter profound stillness mixed with all manner of human activity, including politics.

The controversy about Ground Zero and a nearby Islamic community center expresses the modern viewpoint of separating the world into definable categories—spirit/matter, mind/body, human/natural, religion/science. This worldview helps our minds find order within the tides of change. It also causes us to feel isolated and endangered by those different from ourselves. This lens of separateness and peril distorts the world into a battleground of us against them conflicts. It increases fear and shatters hopes for a society that supports individuality while strengthening unity.

Traveling to world sacred places for decades and designing them in my architectural practice has taught me these lessons about how sacred space can heal the divides that wound us:

1. Sacred space is all encompassing. It receives all the impulses of life—creative, destructive and renewing. It invites all the characters in the play of life to gather—heaven & earth; human, animal, plant; the humble & the tyrants and everyone in between.

2. Sacred Space is enlivened by seemingly opposing forces. The gathering of all impulses in sacred space stirs stillness into flows of life that regenerate society.

3. Sacred Space embodies the archetypal human journey. The design and decoration of sacred places depict the questions every thinking person asks: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” Built in the dialect of the era they were crafted, they offer insight about navigating the challenges of this world.

4. Sacred Space points beyond itself to the silent source of all creation. Temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, kivas and other sacred structures are physical portals that guide attention to the nonphysical realm of the spirit. These structures can be owned by one group or another, but the spirit they access is shared by all.

5. Each generation creates sacred spaces. Wherever human beings have settled they establish sacred places. Each one honors those who have come before and offers life wisdom to those come after.

If Ground Zero is a national sacred place, let’s make it one that embodies these principles of archetypal sacred space. It will transform the site of wounding into a space of 1) all-inclusive compassion, 2) enlivened by diverse faiths and opinions, 3) supporting our individual and collective human journey, 4) pointing us beyond self-centeredness to our shared spirit, and 5) leave an example for future generations of how to live together in this world.

All Creative Work Builds on What Came Before

Loved this video. The energy and wisdom of the creative impulse connects us from the past, through the present and into the future. None of us are separate authors. It's not that we derive our create work from others, its what we do with it that counts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

THE LIVING TEMPLE: A Sacred Places Film

From 2004 to 2005 I traveled to many world sacred places and made a 30-minute film you can see by clicking the links below.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Map of Awakening

• Mind, hoping to understand and survive the terrain of Life, maps the world.

• It divides the soupy oneness it finds in two: me/you, light/dark, body/soul.

• Mind expands its dual vision into a gird of beliefs. It gives everything a name and appropriate place.

• Mind perceives these categories and locations as solid and fixed.

• A catastrophic event such as illness, divorce or death dissolves the grid the mind used to map the world.

• The solid world now appears to be in constant flux.

• Mind attempts to understand the fluid world and re-maps it as an interconnected spiral.

• The fluid spiral world map becomes transparent to all encompassing spaciousness.

• Mind attempts to map spaciousness, but it's stillness and silence are undefinable.

• Mind continues to map the world not to define it, but to frame indescribable spaciousness.
• Mind delights in the mystery play of boundaries and boundless.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cracking Obstacles to Renewal

It's time again,
to break the carefully built walls,
to peer into the familiar unknown.
It's that moment
to squeeze through the crack and fall
into the other side that is me.

This is how I came into this world.
It's how I passed from stage to stage,
breaking through,
exploring and savoring a new realm,
watching the vital land lose its glow,
settling into uncomfortable comfort,
sensing a tide of renewal,
resisting until it couldn't be resisted,
cracking the wall,
stepping through.

It's time again,
and now the momentum
of squeezing through previous cracks
moves toward a greater unknown
with greater strength to heed the call,
greater willingness to engage the trials of the road,
and greater trust to dwell in mystery.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

THE LIVING TEMPLE: A Global Sacred Place

Each day, billions of people visit sacred places. These settings offer profound peace and inspiration. Yet, they can also be places of intense conflict. With this paradox in mind, I traveled to sacred sites around the globe. Moving from culture to culture, I saw global communication offering a new way of experiencing sacred places. The countless structures that had been separated by geography and belief for thousands of years could now be seen as many doorways to a common storehouse of human experience. Here is a vision of what I encountered in the world treasury of knowledge and wonder.

Something compels us to draw designs. It carries us out of the world we know to a place where darkness contains a pulsating seed of light. The pulsating light breaks into stars. The stars gather into a hub of radiance and a wheel of time. The hub and wheel become a wondrous dwelling place where consciousness and energy stream into the world.

This combination of awareness and forces shape the world in subtle and mysterious ways. I want to understand what these these powers are and how they work. So I search for places that reveal the secrets of energy and matter.

I encountered a stone gateway set against the sky. Through this gateway, I saw consciousness and energy rolling through an ocean of raw forces. They teemed with possibilities and primal power. These elemental forces rose through human beings. They animated our relationships and endeavors. Some people warned that contact with primal power was dangerous. They cautioned that expressing it too opening brought rejection and shame. Yet, battling elemental forces led to struggle and madness.

Another gateway revealed new insights about the primal powers. When they appeared to be destroying, they were providing unseen protection. When they looked as though they were causing chaos, they were organizing wise designs. When primal powers appeared to be separate from us, they were flowing through every cell of our being.

Because they provided knowledge and energy, I called the primal powers Wisdom Currents. Wherever human lived, they built structures to honor and protect the alchemy of these forces. Some honored the Wisdom Currents too tightly. They developed an obsession to posses them and trap the Wisdom Currents' flowing wonder in fixed objects.

Yet, the forces of life used this obsession to control life to take us deeper into life. It moved ancient designers to draw Wisdom Currents into circles. Builders passed these arcs into stone and filled it with life. They widened the arcs, tracing the expansion of Wisdom Currents from seeds of form into multidimensional circuits of regenerating energy. The regenerating cycles morphed into spirals. Spirals whirled into labyrinths. The winding path led deeper into the twist and turns of matter and energy.

When the path straightened, it pierced the physical world and passed through spiritual realms of shadow and light, contraction and expansion and other pairs of opposites. On their way, the Wisdom Currents charged physical spaces with vitality.

The charged passages led to places where the varied qualities of the Wisdom Currents took the forms of plants, animals and humans. The myriad personalities of the Wisdom Currents found sanctuary beneath vast domes of all-encompassing space. Within the all-encompassing spaces, the Wisdom Currents were born as individual being. Each being passed through archetypal stages of gaining identity.

Strangely, individual beings dreamed the Wisdom Currents into a maze of limitations, fear and violence. Caught within this self-created nightmare, they looked for a way out. They sacrificed all they had, imploring Life for release them. With nothing left to offer, they feared decay and death.

Instead, each being found that he or she was not alone, but connected to all beings in the past, present and future. Each personality discovered her or his role in weaving threads of life into the whole. The interweaving pattens they generated rose into magnificent architecture, unfolding possibility after possibility of the play between energy and matter. The beauty and mystery they created moved them to bow in gratitude.

Now the Wisdom Currents shimmer through digital screens. Ancient holy places shine through monitors around the globe. The sacred places, separated by geography and belief for thousands of years, can now be seen as many doorways to one living temple of shared human experience.

The Wisdom Currents that flowed through ancient builders to create the Living Temple also flows through our time. It will flow into the future, reshaping the Living Temple in new and unexpected ways. As it did in the beginning, darkness will contain a seed of pulsating light. The pulsating light will carry us into an unknown world. Something within us, will compel us to draw designs.