On a Foggy Day You Can See Forever

Each morning, the gentle breeze of meditation clears my foggy mind.

For a moment, the haze of what I thought I knew


I remember Who I Am.

Freed from plans, expectations and my

house-of-cards identity,

a clarity emerges up my spine,

and I know eternity in my body.


Then my eternity collapses into an angst-ridden

list of to-do's, the end of which,

like a highway mirage,

is always two miles ahead.


Eternity doesn't abandon me when minutia becomes my idol.

Through hints and invitations,

I AM calls me to remember

That I Am.

No predicate. Simply I Am.


Then the dense cloud of my momentary concerns

vaporizes in the way that

all passing weather systems must.


Today's reminder comes as

as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge

into mystery.

A cotton candy blanket of fog envelops

the bridge with its velvety precipitation.

The road ahead, a soup of uncertainty,

offers no answers.


I surrender to the Unknowing.


In that surrender of

grasping for answers

and striving for perfection,

I am left with one thing I know:




The infinitude of possibility

opens before me

...in me

...as me.

Doggie Shadows

Sometimes I feel like I'm chasing my own tail, round and round and round,

like a whirling dervish unable

to find God at the axis of spinning.


Dizzy and confused, I look down.

The Always Shining Light

shows me I've really been chasing

my own shadow.


When the silhouette is still,

I realize I have a choice.

It has no independent existence.


I can make the shadow wax and wane,

flicker in and out,

simply by shifting my position in the Light.


Realizing the truth,

I no longer need to chase my own tail.

My own shadow

stares back at me.

I finally catch up with myself.


I Just Can't Keep Up Anymore

I just can’t keep up anymore.  

I don’t know the contestants on American Idol.

Unfinished projects multiply like swirling fractals.

I can’t even keep up with my emails.

Current count is 4,335 messages in the Inbox.

Should I feel guilty?

Am I failing the exam of modern living?


Every morning I begin my day quietly and slowly.

I read. I drink tea. I meditate.


For a nanosecond or two,

Eternity breathes me.

I remember who I am.

I’ve caught up with myself.

And all is well.

Then the whistle blows,

Jarring me from Life to making a living.

I’m already behind.


Throughout the day I catch a whiff of Life…

A laugh with a colleague

An unexpected kind word

A darting contentment fleeing the scene like a fugitive.

Mostly though I move faster and faster to the beat of a cyber-drummer,

Further and further from consciousness.

Where do I go during these hours?


Eventually the sun retreats, having burned itself out once again.

My ashen spirit mimics twilight’s shifting allegiance

From lusty tangerine to oatmeal to a monochromatic surrender.


And then, in the wan eventide, grace saturates the pallor…

A walk with a wire fox terrier

The simple luxury of tea and a book

My lover’s smile tucking me in the for evening…

My grasping, frantic, never-caught-up mind unclenches its fist

And releases my heart,

Which has known the truth all along:

What's most worthy of keeping up with

Keeps up with me

Without any effort on my part.

Jesus in My Latte

As I wait for a friend, a barista whisks steaming milk

like a stylist teases hair,

creating the perfect palette

with which to practice one's craft.


"Low fat latte for Scott…"

I look down at my brew.

Looking back at me?

Not vague impressions

of a leaf

or a heart,

but the unmistakable visage of

one who's face we've never laid eyes on

yet whom we immediately recognize.


Jesus is in my latte.

I chuckle. My friend arrives.

We admire the coffee artist's

temporary exhibit.

My heart, filled with concerns,

dozens for today,

a hundred for tomorrow,

smiles and melts.


Maybe that's all we need to know about Jesus.

The way he looks at us,

The way we hear his voice,

The way he touches us,

makes us melt, open and smile.


The barista's name is Daniel,

literally, "God is my judge."

In the Bible, Daniel is a shrewd

yet beloved interpreter of dreams,

whom even a hungry lion refuses to judge.


Why is my life so heavy

with a never ending list

of potential catastrophes,

a lion's den of worries,

any of which, if they came to pass,

would obviously

and without end

be my fault?

This gregarious, latte Jesus laughs through

my angst, silly projections and unconscious fears

of being judged. Whatever God is…Judge?

Unknowable Essence? Wishful Thinking?...

The face of Jesus brings the entire Notion

down to earth and

lightens it up.


I take a sip and watch Jesus

transfigure into Gandalf.

Soon my miraculous visitation is

just an amorphous, toasty beverage

that warms my entire being,

a gift no less divine.


Perhaps God is

nothing more than an

artsy barista, who whisks

each of us into an

ephemeral froth of

divine playfulness,

whom discerning connoisseurs

sip with glee.

Passion, Passion, Passion!

This is a photo of our passiflora loefgrenii, also know as the garlic passion fruit, which is known for its otherworldly beauty, lusciously hued petals and fruit with a translucent pulp that is proven to ward off vampires with hints of garlic midst the sweetness. Geeky gardeners like us are quite smitten with this rare perennial vine from Brazil. What are you passionate about? Faced with insurmountable mountains of work that never reach completion, intractable geopolitical crises seemingly beyond our ability to impact, and the exhausting challenges of mere day to day survival, it's easy for our passion to wilt. Yet without that spark, responsibilities become burdens and generosity degrades into resentment. So how do we reclaim our passion?

I recommend a blast from the past. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (or just Rumi to those of us who feel like old friends through his unsurpassed Sufi poetry) injected an unstoppable torrent of vivacity into ordinary script. His urgent plea was for everyone to connect with the divine essence beyond words. Yet even that is a limp description of his charismatic fervor. He urged us to forsake everything that does not drip, saturate and overflow with the Beloved juice that makes the universe run.

What's required to do so? Merely a single-minded dedication to pursue it wholeheartedly, and in the process discover that the heart...and everything else...becomes whole. That dedication says an emphatic "no" to extraneous wastes of energy (fool's gold) and "yes" to all that vibrates with the fierceness of being alive (pure gold). It's not about forsaking responsibilities but rediscovering them from a gut-emanating, all-embracing compassion. It is consciously living from our most root Essence until we are once again swept up in the passion of existence itself.

Whether you find that passion in your partner's smile, busting a dance move, singing off-key with every fiber of your being in the car, or exuberantly cultivating a passion flower, the invitation is always toward more life, more expression, more of the real stuff that makes everything else worthwhile. As Rumi said in a poem translated by the nearly-always-spontaneously-combusting Andrew Harvey:

Passion burns down every branch of exhaustion.

Passion is the supreme alchemical elixir, and renews all things.

No-one can grow exhausted when passion is born,

so don’t sigh heavily, your brows bleak with boredom and cynicism and despair—

look for passion! passion! passion! passion!

Futile solutions deceive the force of passion.

They are banded to extort money through lies.

Marshy and stagnant water is no cure for thirst.

No matter how limpid and delicious it might look,

it will only stop and prevent you from looking for fresh rivers

that could feed and make flourish a hundred gardens,

just as each piece of false gold prevents you 

from recognizing real gold and where to find it.

False gold will only cut your feet and bind your wings, 

saying “I will remove your difficulties”

when in fact it is only dregs and defeat in the robes of victory.

So run, my friends, run fast and furious from all false solutions.

Let divine passion triumph, and rebirth you in yourself.

P.S. Happy Birthday Rumi! Last week was your 806 birthday, and you never looked so good!

'Tis a Bliss to Be Simple

"Our countries don't like each other", I think as I stare at the photo of a

Middle Eastern woman, head covered in royal blue,

standing outside her one-hundred-square-foot mansion.


"Blessed are the poor." Blessed indeed! For

such a look of unadulterated bliss I have

never seen - certainly not on the face of

anyone in a top tax bracket.


What reason has she to be so deliriously happy?

What reason has she not to be so deliriously happy?

As she holds a fragrant leaf to her nose, her brain

sends waves of pleasure throughout her being. As the

sun massages her epidermis, a lilting breeze

mothers her aching bones. Beyond words

she senses the Universe loves her because she is

able to register this moment of pure, simple bliss.


Why does happiness have to be complicated?


The Buddha was asked, "Are you a god?

A reincarnation of a god? A wizard?"

He said, "No."

"What are you then?"

The Buddha replied, "Awake."


In the unlikely event I am ever asked similar questions,

I hope to simply reply: "Happy."

Elegy for a Fir Tree


Douglas Fir

in our backyard

has died.

Its picture perfect


drew the eye heavenward

through needles and cones

up its narrowing spine

Toward Infinity.

The grandfather of the homestead

made the blue sky coy as it played peek-a-boo

through thin as angel wing foliage.

Now the tree is dead and gone.

Beetles made a weakened old man their target.

Boring through layers of skin, the invaders left behind

ravenous offspring who feasted on the old man's vascular system

until the fatal stroke occurred. His complexion faded from green to yellow to brown

to ashen gray.

This death does not go down easily, yet is the way of things.


He had a long life.

He shaded and

inspired. Avian

families nested

in his steadfast

arms. A stump


where he lived

and died and

will live again.

For even death

is ultimately



in the form of

compost for

whipper snappers

who barely got to

know him in his final

year. In their roots,

stems, leaves, flowers

and fruit, the old man

will find a new lease on life.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World: A Haiku

Here is a photo I took of our fox terrier, Cowboy, reigning as top pet in the house. Below is a haiku inspired by the photo. Please share a haiku that comes to you as you view the photo. (A traditional haiku is 3 lines: 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables.)

I rule this house. Snarl

At dogs; bite cats; it's hard work!

You can pet me now.

P.S. If you or someone you know has lost a pet, please join us for a night to remember and celebrate the lives of our animal companions this Wednesday, April 3 in San Rafael, California. For more details, go to the Classes webpage.

Mountain Labyrinth: A Haiku

Here is a photo I took of a labyrinth in Fairfax, California with a view of Mount Tamalpais ("The Sleeping Lady") in the distance. Below is a haiku inspired by the photo. Please share a haiku that comes to you as you view the photo. (A traditional haiku is 3 lines: 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables.)

Mountain calls: "Higher!"

"More!" But I come full circle

And find heights within.  

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

`Twas the night before Christmas, when all through God’s houseNot a creature was stirring, not a wife, not her spouse;

The children were restless, all crammed in their pews, The thought of their presents they could not refuse;

The stockings were waiting, hung at home with great care, In hopes that some people soon would be there.

The pastor in vestments for obvious reason, Had just settled her brain after a long Advent Season.

When out from the lectern there arose the old story, Of a Child in a manger, born in such glory.

Yet none sprang from his seat, nor gasped in great wonder. All had heard the story, both hither and yonder

Of how God came to earth, in form of a boy, To bring peace to earth, and life and joy.

The pastor she spoke, in voice strong and bold, The story of Christmas, that she retold.

Had it all become trite now; did it still matter? For life’s full of problems, much sorrow, and clatter.

The bills, they were mounting; the jobs, full of stress, And all folks were dealing with demands and duress.

And sickness, no stranger to God's people on earth, Suff’ring and death had robbed many of mirth.

Problems and mem'ries which live in the mind, Guilt, fear and vices, the heart they do bind.

When all of these troubles fine people do ponder, Their minds fill with dread; they start then to wonder:

"How could a Baby born years ago past, Bring balm for our sorrows, hope that will last?

How can that story heard so many a time Bring any more help than an old children's rhyme?"

So knowing what fear and worry can do, The pastor spoke thusly on Luke chapter two:

"I read you this evening of peace come to earth, So familiar the story, this one of Christ's birth.

Born to a maiden, in a stable so bare, Some shepherds, they came, to worship Him there.

Then angels appeared in garments so hoary, ‘Peace to all men, and to God be the glory’.

This baby grew up, like you and like me, He even would work by carving a tree.

He taught for three years in old Israel land, And proclaimed a deep peace that could never be banned.

But much more than teaching and preaching did he, He became love incarnate, exuding pure chi.

For this baby was born for one purpose only, A purpose so noble, yet painful and lonely.

To become fully human, divine light reveal Till the darkest of hearts would with hope learn to squeal.

And the outcasts he greeted with a grace not conceited. Till meekest among us rejoiced undefeated.

For his goal was no less than to free up the world From the fear, greed and meanness in which it had whirled.

Not surprisingly big wigs began to decry How he mirrored divine love with twinkling eye

Infusing great faith in the powerless masses Till they trusted their own Light, both lads and lasses.

With trees He did work, and on a tree He did die, Then buried by some friends in a grave site nearby.

An innocent man had died for a reason; Liberation from hate that was so in season.

Then inside the tomb there arose such a clatter, Guards rose from their slumber to see what was the matter.

An angel appeared, tossed aside that great rock, The guards all stood frozen, amazed and in shock.

`Fear not', the beginning of all angel message, `Life has returned to remove every vestige

Of small hearts, separation and all fear of hell, Till you see God in each face, wherever you dwell.'

That God is in us is a truth elementary, That reaches down into this twenty-first century.

So on this night before Christmas, to all in God's house, Bless you, all creatures, even if you're a louse.

For a Child has been born for me and for you, To rekindle Inner Light and give us a clue

Of a joy all around us, a hope and a cheer That connects ev'ry person throughout the new year.

Whatever your problem with me now take heart, Divine Life is within us, let’s make a fresh start."

Then the pastor concluded with an unusual plea, She called out their names, and did so with glee.

"Now, Scottie! Now, Herbie! Now, Miss Jane and Val'rie! On Omar! On Sarah! On  Anya and Mall'ry!

A Child was born that first Christmas night, Let hope be reborn, no matter your plight.

Out to the world, we go with the story, Of a Cosmos that loves us and gives us such glory."

They sprang to their cars, to their friends they gave greeting, And away they all flew, for time, it was fleeting.

But I heard them exclaim, ere they drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all.  And to all a good night."

Starfish: A Haiku

Here is a photo I took last week of a starfish washed up on Tennessee Beach just after high tide here in Marin County, California. After spending a few moments admiring its shape, solidity, color, and texture, I tossed it back into the ocean, wishing life and renewal for us both. Below is a haiku inspired by the photo. Please feel free to share any haiku that comes to you as you sit with the photo. (A traditional haiku is 3 lines: 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables.)

Fallen from the sea,

A starfish rhumbas across

sand, yearning for home. 

P.S. Join us on Saturday, December 1 for a day retreat in which we will focus on the following question: “What is the divine to me now, how has that changed and how is this meaningful to my life today?” For more information and to register, visit the Classes page.

Pet Alley

The Chasm Between Us by Scott Quinn

Each night

My partner and I plop into bed,


Ready for comfort in each other’s arms.

Such a blissful notion,

And a naïve one,

For we are not alone.


There arises between us

A chasm

A breach

An interloping space

That cannot be broached,

At least not with any lasting effect.


It begins with a bounce,

Then a poke,

Then a demanding look

As the Fox Terrier

Reclaims his daytime territory

From misguided humans

Who mistakenly believe it to be their sleeping nest.

Inserting himself horizontally in the bed

So that minimal space remains for

Either human,

He then allows them,

With both insistence and feigned apathy,

The right to stroke his fur

As payment for squatting down for the night.


Soon he is joined by his nemesis,

The mistress of the night,

Whose wide whiskers

And pitch black fur

Portend of dark omens.

With her inboard motor

At full throttle

She treads with deliberate pace

Across each human,

Kneading all soft tissue with

Her Siamese technique.



The Fox Terrier begrudgingly

Allows her admittance

While forbidding the Airedale,

Three times his size

Yet with only one-third the temper,

From entering the entering room.

With teeth bared from a narrow snout,

His alien grimace and growl

(The likes of which have not been seen

Since Sigourney Weaver saved humanity in space)

Cause all critters to flee except for the black cat,

Whose path he dare not cross.


And so,

They lay between us.

Twenty-five pounds of snoring dog,

Miraculously claiming over half the bed,

Until, with no assistance from His Majesty,

Who lies rigid like a wheelbarrow full of bricks,

He is turned vertically for the night.

And two feet away,

Our masseur also settles in for the night.

Two balls of fur

Set aside their enmity for a few hours

To share the bed

Nuzzled up against their human companions.


And thus,

A chasm

Between my partner and me,

A space known as “Pet Alley”.



Each night,

A miracle of Biblical proportions occurs

As the fox and the feline lay down together.


The Sweetness of Dogs

In memory of Jimmy (pictured with me), who was a sweet dog if ever there was one, I offer this poem that Mary Oliver wrote about her dog Percy. Jimmy left this world two weeks ago, but those of us who knew him carry his gentle sweetness in our hearts. Jimmy, you looked at each of us like we were your perfect moon, when, in truth, you were ours.

The Sweetness of Dogs

What do you say Percy? I am thinking

of sitting out on the sand to watch

the moon rise. Full moon.

So we go

And the moon rises, so beautiful it

makes me shudder, makes me think about

time and space, makes me take

measure of myself; one iota

pondering heaven. Thus we sit,

I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s

perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich

it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,

leans against me and gazes up into

my face, as though I were

his perfect moon.

- by Mary Oliver in Evidence -


Silly dogs! I watch these Olympians

Hurl themselves into

Dust, water, air,

Scurrying after their favorite toy:



The lure of a KONG about to be thrown

Or pinned in the mouth of your brother

Is simply irresistible.

The KONG that you don’t have is always more enticing

Than the KONG between your paws.


The secret of life is

To wag your tail like a propeller for

The KONG you already have

With one eye cast midair for

The KONG that is yet to arise.

Two poems for the dog days of summer

The Sweetness of Dogs by Mary Oliver in Evidence

What do you say Percy? I am thinking of sitting out on the sand to watch the moon rise. Full moon. So we go

And the moon rises, so beautiful it makes me shudder, makes me think about time and space, makes me take measure of myself; one iota pondering heaven. Thus we sit,

I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile, leans against me and gazes up into my face, as though I were his perfect moon.

I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog "God."

First he looked 

then he started smiling, then he even 

I kept at it: now he doesn't even 

I am wondering if this 
might work on 

-      Tukaram -