The Undefended Self

I found my voice
in an era of assassinations
And in the midst
of all these tragedies
I have a dream that still survives

I found my voice early
but it was an angry voice
for the most part
So I put it away
because, even I didn’t like
the shrill sound
the terrible mutilations
the shock and grief
caused by bitter arrows
that always hit their mark

And inside, always
that tender place
that longed to speak
of mystery and love
of wisdom and ineffable beauty
the sheer joy of living

A profound tenderness
protected from the vagaries of the world
and almost lost,
but sometimes taken out
and gazed at lovingly,
luminous and beautiful
like a pearl

while grieving at my loss
my long separation

And in the search for
I thought I would conquer my demons
unfold an elaborate revelation
I did not think I would simply
reveal the undefended self
uncover the tenderness of love
the soothing balm
of a spacious heart
so long sought for in a lover,
(the Perfect Lover
– troublingly elusive
and always a distraction from
liberation) Oh, save me
from this suffering, this restless
karmic sea

Defended I assumed my
treasure would be safe,
would be brought out
at a later time
would then be cherished and
adored, as was befitting of it’s
hidden glory
But, so long ignored, it became
encrusted and brittle to my tarnished eyes
and I doubted
I had ever seen it

Why then this anguished yearning?

Yet once in a while
it appears in its former brilliance
often in the form of another person,
a wise teacher
in the sacred space that
opens up to receive you
when you feel you’ve lost your way
and remember again
that you are searching for something
of true value
which has been with you all along

Or in one of life’s tantalizing mysteries
that lift us out of ordinary mind
into a wide sea of possibilities
magnificent and awe-inspiring

This is where I like to hang out,
not in the insidious, uninterrupted
battle for power and advantage
not in the “winners circle” of life
Because I don’t want to push
you out of my way
I want to welcome you in

This finally is my true voice
The dream of many generations
So gentle it is not often heard
So simple it is not always honoured

In the anguish of anger,
of Paradise lost
The Muslim, the Jew, the Christian,
the Sikh, the Hindu… Ah, how many
there are to name…
Have sometimes forgotten the true
message of religion – hard won
by mystics in quiet places,
compelled to dispel
the suffering of the world

The once true treasure
has become a rallying cry for war
heaping more agony upon the world
And forgotten is the surrender
that rescues from all poverty

Now the Defended Self lays siege upon
a wounded humanity
thinking this is the way to salvation
to the long awaited glory,
thinking a concept will do for reality
thinking the false prophets are all
on the other side

I found my voice
early- but it was
an angry voice
for the most part
So I put it away

because, I didn’t like
the shrill sound
the terrible mutilations of truth
so easy to utter with great conviction
The thoughts that set in motion
All the tragedies of the world

Vancouver, Spring, 2004.