Path To The Peak


let me live among you 
let me show you the essence of who I am 
let me uncover the depths of your life 
perhaps we will be able to hold one another 
discover what God has intended for us 
and figure out our place 
here in the great and growing universe

I stand in the midst of your noble ethos 
having devoured manuscripts and stapled packets 
I know a central truth lies sleeping in every faith 
and that when sitting on the head of a pin 
one may survey the divine landscape 
I see that history works like a ragged dog 
licking the wounds of our blood-soaked theology

I try to explain why I tremble for God 
why I choose to remain in the land of my mother 
I purchase my neighbor's danger 
I live out my menace in a poor context 
I am a white boy reading Sonny's Blues 
fighting back tears of communion 
because I do not want to stain the pages

I think about the Christian presence 
ripping to shreds the fabric of foreign culture 
seldom acknowledging history or pain 
yet even as the grand quilt unravels 
I can sense humility and imagine a second coming 
some of us are thousands of miles away from respect 
I take off my shoes and open the Bible...

I have no idea how much I am affected 
my friends laugh at God and worry about sex 
I try to entice them into fervent reflection 
to take a step back and then look out beyond 
past the dim picture of what has real meaning 
beyond what is empty and alien and spoken 
my friends point to me and whisper..."stranger"

I pray for the Christians in Buddha's land 
that there might be moments of dual transcendence 
that the void created by Romans and riches 
might collapse in bright flashes of over-abundance 
that God's circle might come spinning 
giving birth to new cycles of time and space 
that angles of geography might become angels

I ponder each myth we’ve been taught to believe 
we foolishly cut them and sever the truth 
carelessly dancing to a fruitless rhythm 
but those who slice with a delicate hand 
leave a sharp edge known as ritual 
and those who point with the remaining shards 
give to the world a gift we call symbol

I try to see meaning through the eyes of another 
I write down my visions and give them away 
the secret truth in what I am singing 
is lost and betrayed by interpretation 
it sings to me its singular song 
and three thousand people come singing and running 
we are alone with all of God's children...

I am living within life's tension and passion 
that space from which no myth can run 
God is at work in my non-comprehension 
heaven's patience cools my desires 
my intellect tempts me with familiar patterns 
my intuition tempts me to sell my possessions 
but I possess wisdom and I see my own patterns

I attempt to find meaningful movement and grace 
I try to evoke moods that reflect transcendence 
I review the great books I have read 
I find new teachers and listen intently 
another day comes and I forget the last 
so I rely on charisma to carry me through 
I play at becoming a magnanimous rascal

we are all archetypes, we are all Gilgamesh 
we are modern spirits in the midst of crisis 
our faith bends in submission to machinery 
as Muslims prostrate themselves towards Mecca 
we are god-fearing because we are primal 
and as long as we remain unrationalized beings 
we will continue to be deeply and absurdly religious

I try to be and become instead do and be done 
I shirk my tendency to practice shirk 
above the Lord there exists no other 
Jesus and Paul both uttered these words 
the prophet Mohammad shared their conviction 
and realized the messiah and apostle within him 
and became the most effectual teacher in history

I flee from my own persecution 
tradition, rebellion, and mysticism taunt me 
each providing me with alternatives 
my mind drifts to thoughts of India 
where I sense the subtle transcendence 
the surface of life, both water and oil 
allowing only for mixed visibility

I have lived with holy creators and destroyers 
with ones who personify their creations 
for the first time, I encounter one who is none of these 
one who cannot be captured or even named 
I am my own reflection 
I have discovered within myself 
a continuity with ancient civilizations

I am holding texts I cannot comprehend 
I am inspired to doubt my own existence 
I see how words are spread and digested 
and retain the mists of their essence 
various peoples lay claim to their voices 
and for centuries the resonance is heard 
the echo is born into the lowest caste

I am holding two volumes written in Sanskrit 
a finger is gently tapping on my shoulder 
"that one, tad ekam, that one" 
whose voice could possess such a whisper? 
whose voice could take my breath away? 
at my feet lay the Upanishads 
the newest fingerprints, the oldest dust

there is an apple with three cores 
the first of the cores is entirely liquid 
at the heart of the fruit is continuous change 
even the seeds are free flowing vessels 
bite into it and their rudders may be damaged 
still, they will sail beyond comprehension 
regardless of context, they reach their destination

the second of the cores is less fluid 
mobility is possible, but is seldom swift 
action and effort are seeds of their own 
bearing the fruits of their own performance 
dancers moving upon a volatile stage 
the audience silently heads for the exits 
withdrawn and disquieted but also connected

I sometimes forget that the third core exists 
the rarest in life, its taste is the sweetest 
some believe that to savor its nectar 
is to liberate oneself from the ego 
that in resisting false urges 
one might bite into it again and again 
but only when guided by disciplined gurus

my goal is to be alone in my bliss 
to know the truth in solitude standing 
yo lose myself completely in Brahman 
to experience duality not through being 
but by tempting myself to sample life's secrets 
and when I see God, I'll know that it's you 
because what I am seeking is looking for me

I am living in sin with my own knowledge 
I have reached the end of the Veda 
I have accidentally named the divine 
and have stumbled upon three great truths 
the first is that I have always been 
the second is that I have been too loud 
the third is that I have always been you

I realize it's all been said before 
that belief sleeps silently in my hands 
so I devote myself to ritual vision 
I cut myself on the sharp edges of transcendence 
startled, I awake from a vivid dream 
the landscape is clouded by dusk's fingers 
the Buddha lies sleeping under a tree

Chinese children invite me into their circle 
to even accept is an act of defiance 
but I am a member of many communities 
one of the children fingers a broken twig 
and asks me where my chariot is 
I tell her that my driver is on holiday 
and has left me to ponder the meaning of suffering

nothing is permanent other than awareness 
condition and context are lighting and sound 
I think of my life and surrender to a smile 
I think of my friends and deem them essential 
as darkness sweeps over my sleeping head 
I think about time and its power to erase 
and about how little being somebody matters...

these currents create a false sense of rhythm 
from out of life's springs we are brought up 
we ease cautiously toward the suffering of the sea 
illusion masks our ignorance until it is exaggerated 
our murders are turned into theatrical pieces 
we stare at our mirrored reflections 
and see many things at once

I come upon three paths in the woods 
the first is the path of morality 
it is straight but on both sides are deep ravines 
the second is the path of mental discipline 
it is straight but on both sides grow thorn bushes 
the third is the path of wisdom 
I look but cannot see where it leads

the right understanding is in my left hand 
my thoughts are dimly mirrored by my speech 
my actions seem to ignore my commands 
all my efforts are focused on livelihood 
I am mindful not to walk too quickly 
but each step requires much concentration 
being conscious, I seldom feel full

I awaken from a dream and find myself surrounded 
by those who are the roots in their own systems 
they speak with the tongues of angels 
and spend their lives standing in a forest 
they are encouraged to grow just as tall as each other 
but if any one of them grows even one inch taller 
they are brought to the earth and cut into pieces...

some of them escape persecution 
long enough to share what they feel is true 
some of them reach their potential through God 
while others journey without ever arriving 
and live in harmony along the way 
each of these persons has somehow known truth 
none of them avoid the scrutiny of their neighbors

I try to use nature to effect its own change 
my environment has grown both friendly and cold 
the people of this land need to send me home 
they understand what I am trying to do 
they have been trying themselves for all of their lives 
I thank them for sharing the universe with me 
I shall see them again in the world beyond

a mountain grows in my hometown 
I am standing at the foot of it now 
I wonder how I might reach its peak 
and that if in choosing different paths 
I will alter the vantage point of my destiny 
seven people are standing next to me 
we each choose a path and begin to climb

I am one quarter of the way into my ascent 
the early climbing is the easiest 
the forest is thick and the ground is soft 
I can see nothing but the green of the leaves 
many hands help pull me upward 
and soon the woods begin to clear 
just as quickly, the hands have all vanished

I am unsettled by the present terrain 
I live in constant fear of death and falling 
I turn my head to absorb the view 
my chest is tight, it hurts to breathe 
I long for the valley, the river and forests 
I decide to let myself fall 
but seven hands are holding me and pulling me upward

I can see the icy perfection of the peak 
the winds are singing songs of endless beauty 
I do not know where my friends have gone 
my strength seems to be giving out and I let go 
I feel as though I am spiraling downward 
after what seems like years of rapid descent 
I open my eyes and look out from atop the mountain…



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