It seems to me that a materialist view of the universe is reductionist. It makes every kind of experience subservient to the laws of matter. It applies the tenets of the known to the mystery of why we are here at all. It chases away not only the old gods and spirits and half heard whispers [...]
In 2008 I was walking through the woods near my home thinking of nothing in particular when out of nowhere, the words came into my mind, "the other Iran." Nothing, however, is ever really out of nowhere. Even now, whenever I think of the color blue, I think first, not of the sea or the [...]
When I let myself feel the loss of you, it all floods back in and I can locate the very corner in my heart where I store all that love, and all that loss, related to you. It’s a place I have learnt to protectively lock up, to tidy neatly away, because when I don’t [...]
Angel of Mercy see me standing in the kitchen cutting carrots or grating cheese. It is five o’clock, five thirty perhaps, my sons come and sit on the bar stools. They ask what is for dinner, one tells me he doesn’t like onions which lie waiting in line for my knife, the other asks when [...]
Susannah Southgate wrote this wise and tender piece on love and loss in my Monday ongoing writing class. "Better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all," the poet Tennyson wrote. Susannah explores this idea in a brave and beautiful fusion of her own personal experience with wider reflections on this [...]
Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
asks Mary Oliver in her poem, A Summer Day. She does not ask casually. Her question arises from a genuine sense of unknowing; from sheer wonder. The questioning that emerges from unknowing differs from conventional inquiry, Stephen Batchelor notes in his book, Confessions of a [...]
When I write I fall by the wayside and pick myself up and stumble and bumble along the line hoping that any moment, this moment, I'll find my way home and there is a moment and then another moment when I almost catch the inexpressible by the tail and it slips away again just out [...]
Beauty lifts my gaze. It does. It did this morning. I’m puffing up the side of Mount Tam, my heart blowing and clanking like an old steam engine, thinking I can’t have much more to go, in life I mean, if a small incline reduces me to a shadow of myself like this, but then [...]
I gave a poetry recitation at Gate 3 transformational entertainment conference in Hollywood this past weekend and for me the best speaker on spirituality all day was Jim Carrey http://www.examiner.com/video/jim-carrey-talks-fool-s-gold-at-gate-3-super-bowl-lance-armstrong-ray-lewis " I am about as far away from spiritual as you can possibly get right now," he started. "Women are a problem, I'm lonely" [...]
Day and night torrents of words cascade through every building down every telephone line and out of all our wireless paraphernalia. Every public space - elevators, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, restaurants, airports –is plastered with some variety of musical wallpaper. In her novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeannette Winterson comes up with an [...]
Imagine a world in which everything is known and under control. It would be a flatland. There would be no amazement, no wonder, no edge. I believe that just under our skin, we intuit that we know next to nothing about our lives at all – where we came from, who we are, where we [...]
What was opening the door
Those years ago to let our four kids
One by one followed by the dog
Into the backseat of the old compact car
We’d parked in the driveway
Next to the down hill road because
The battery went dead the day before—
What, but a prayer?
What were our arguments
As we tried to time my pushing
The family down [...]
The room was white, as though snow had dropped on everything. It entered me like a cool breath and floated down inside of me like a cloud. I could breathe here. Be empty.
I would put nothing here that was mine. Not even a seashell. Nothing to remind me I existed. Here my brain would be [...]
I heard the sound of wheels on the wooden floor before I saw him. We turned to gaze at the open door and down through the corridor. He swung into our line of vision, swiveling his wheelchair around finally to face us in his spacious living room, his back toward a large window with a [...]
The man and his dog
are street entrenched;
sometimes safer here.
No such thing as
falling out of favor.
You can’t really
fall off the street.
I pass them in the same spot
even the street has
rules of engagement.
The man hugs his dog
with unabashed affection,
that softly says,
“love is a [...]
No I don’t mean in the vein of Jack Kerouac, who you can see portrayed with Neal Cassady ( Dean Moriarty) in the movie On The Road, just out now, a sad, even tragic display of adolescent narcissism, even though it resulted finally in a groundbreaking, brilliant book. But was Kerouac’s book worth all those [...]
Suddenly, after the quarrel, while we waited,
Disheartened, silent, with downcast looks, nor stirred
Eyelid nor finger, hopeless both, yet hoping
Against all hope to unsay the sundering word:
While all the room’s stillness deepened, deepened about us
And each of us crept his thought’s way to discover
How, with as little sound as the fall of a leaf,
The shadow had [...]
Just sixty years ago, Tibetan Buddhism was the most secretive religious tradition in the world. It reserved its initiations exclusively for monastics, who had to prove themselves worthy of higher teachings with decades of intensive practice locked way behind the world's highest mountains. Now you can sign up in any small Western city for a [...]
I was mesmerized by her leopard skin hat. It was shaped like a pill box and sat snugly on her dark curls. She was walking down the aisle checking our seat belts.
Moments later the plane hit the dry Kenyan soil with a bump. I craned my neck to get my first glimpse of East Africa. [...]
There had been no color for me that year. I walked from and to the bus on ash gray sidewalks enveloped in colorless fog. I became used to seeing the sleeping humps of bodies in doorways, contorted legs covered in matted tweed overcoats, newspaper blankets, the drift of boozy, unwashed humanity. I no longer looked [...]
The purple waistcoat, straining more than a little toward the bottom buttons, was fashioned of fine gleaming silk. The red cravat hung loosely down from his neck. The hat, a beaver skin without the tail, from Minnesota he told me, the city he called home, perched on a flock of white curls that fell loosely [...]
I dare you, Take one little peek under her office veneer.
I dare you, Take in the stray, ...
I dare you, Be home,
Mel and I are sitting on a bench in Russell Square. There’s a bouquet of roses tied to one of the slats. We read the dedication on the bench and the card attached to the roses.
“Her name was Shelly,” I say. Mel nods. The wind is strong, roaring in the boughs of the plane trees, [...]
The selfish gene is not only the name of a best-selling book by Richard Dawkins; it is the prevailing meme of the new atheism and of much of science. It is also, in America, one half of the language of popular political parlance. Ayn Rand, herself an anti-religious atheist ( she called religion a psychological [...]