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Carrying The Dragon

The room was adorn with red tapestry on the walls — silk maroon, velvet burgundy — and a a floor tempered in flame. There was a dragon dance happening. A slithering line of human legs carried the Chinese costume caricature of a writhing red dragon back and forth across the room. I felt drawn to join the form of such a powerful mythic creature. Something in its eye peered and reflected through my own. I stepped towards the slithering parade and the human beings carrying the dragon made space for me to enter the realm of the flying flame serpent. Once underneath the dragon’s skin, the airy quality to the dragon custom was revealed to be an illusion from the outside. The paper mache bore down with a heavy weight as I shouldered the dragon on my back. Everyone parading the dragon felt the weight, the burden of this serpent. We walked on rock and brittle stone which covered the floor and bruised our feet.tumblr_lvv1elNUfo1qhttpto1_r1_1280

How to ride the dragon without baring its weight? I know the dance and move now to grab the dragon’s tale. I take hold, and let the might of this serpent carry me through the clouds into pure sky.

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Where True Sanctity Waits

I stood to the left of the man, his gaze fixed some distance before him. There was an aimless but fixed look in his eyes while tears trailed down his hooded face. Tears fell, for he thought this path was the only way. The community we were in was strong. I had yet to understand why we were all there. It was a temple of sorts and the hour was late. We stood at the precipice of the structure. Two stone slabs were placed on the balcony. Each slab is where each person, the shaman and the sacrifice, stood during the ritual. But the shaman was false, and the sacrifice was brutal.

Volunteers had lined up for the ritual. As they did, I saw the first procession begin. The shaman stood on one stone slab, the volunteer on the other. The volunteer was cloaked in a plastic covering around their entire body. By the shaman’s command, a fire erupted inside the plastic cocoon slowly incinerating the volunteer victim.

It was a sacrifice to the devil within an other realm. The devil’s power grew with each scolding death. The false prophet sold each to the fire with promises of salvation — an afterlife infinite with safety from their dethroned devil-god.

Terror took me. I could not bare to watch another violent sacrifice. I pleaded with the volunteers. “Do you understand how painful this will be?” One young man nodded, devoutly unconcerned. My questions and panicked demeanor sparked suspicion from the cult priests. Their eyes followed me as I looked for an escape.


 

I wandered down the temple a few levels from the top. I was ushered into a waiting room by cultists organizers. The waiting room was a space of recruitment. A place of indoctrination for the spiritually vulnerable.

The cult organizer of this level explained the salvation, the power gained by the devil, and the redemption brought to the world through the sacrifice of our lives. We all waited in uncertain silence following the speech. The organizer left and came back with an announcement.
“It is time for the next round of volunteers. Who is ready for salvation? Typically the youngest among the group are preferred… but most of you are of mature age.”

She brought her heavy stare to my face, “It is also preferred that you believe in the salvation that this ritual brings your soul. However, it is not required for our lord to gain strength.”

My terror of this mad place shifted suddenly. Her attempt to tame me resulted in the opposite effect. I returned to myself, a deep place where existentialism brought laughter. She walked, circling me. “Are you ready to bend to the true will of our lord?”

I looked her in the eye and raised my hands to prayer at heart center. “I take refuge in the Buddha. The Buddha takes refuge in me.” Following this mantra, I touched the knuckles of my thumbs to my forehead center. My central eye opened and the cult organizer could physically see it. I knelt. “I do not fear your claim of death.”


 

The room of indoctrination turned into a room of wakefulness. The organizer left and my new friends and I plotted our escape. Some took up disguise as cultists. I tried but ran out of time. I didn’t even have time to put shoes on before the organizer came back with reinforcements. So I took to running, more floating, down and down and down a stairwell. My friends and I went fast. So fast that the old cultists quietly chatting near the stair well on various lower levels looked more confused then enraged by our flight down the temple steps.

The stairwell ended as we walked through the door at the bottom. It was still night outside as I opened the door. We were contained within the temple facility by tall fencing. We ran towards the ravine parallel with the edge of the temple. Making our way there, we sheltered behind the trees in the small canyon. We were hunted by a lead cultists. It seemed as though he new our every step. Closer he encroached towards our position as we duck from shrub to shrub, crawling on the earth, and squeezing between trees. My companions and I split up; I ran for the tunnel beside the temple above the ravine.

The tunnel brought me to the servant’s quarters and kitchen next to the temple. It was near the edge of the compound. On the other side of it was freedom from the violent sanctity this cult worshiped. I entered the kitchen as silently as I could. I hide behind counters and metal shelving units. I rounded a corner and to my right was the cooking area full of servants busily preparing food. I was spotted instantly by the head cook, who ushered me to her elevated counter.

She knew me. This servant was the one who let me inside the temple. In this moment, she was acting as a short of gate keeper like when we first meet. This time, my intention was to leave with pace. I pleaded with her to let me go without informing the cultists. This temple was lost to violence. I was ready to escape. She said, “I know your true name, not that which was bestowed to you in this place.” On a piece of parchment, she spelled my true name in black marker, “Keegan”.

“Our shift is just ending. You may exit the compound with us.” I sheltered between the cooking staff as they walked out the opposite side of the building from from which I entered. The doorway opened into one last area beside the temple. The sun was now shining, late dawn. It was an open courtyard boxed in by a two story building with a balcony on the second floor. Cultist walked to and fro on this balcony, down its steps, and into the courtyard.

On the opposite side of the courtyard was one last tunnel going under the housing structure squaring around the courtyard. As we approached the tunnel, there was an intersecting hallway to the left leading to a different area of the compound. The female cult organizer who attempted indoctrination on me early was walking that direction with her back to my left. I picked up a large wooden mallet laying against the side of the wall and slammed the head of it against the doorway beside her. The instant it contacted the wall, I let it go and merged back into the crowd of servants leaving the compound. She sprang in the air completely taken by surprise and fear. She spun around searching but unable to identify the culprit. I walked under the tunnel. Before me, a clear dawn free from the temple grounds. Ahead was nature, the dawn, and forest — the true sanctuary.

 


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Unfold Me

 

Go, gone
looking within
thoroughly gone
completely, utterly,
listen.

Not immune
simply human
acceptably mistaken
perceived misperception.

And now I am asked,
what of these desires, then?

They are allowed
just as they are illusive.

Welcomed and cherished,
already gone.

When you sit down and breathe,
they will come dancing on parade.

They bait you with some small permeant promise,
paradise, nibbana.

You can reach out into samsara,
how the wheel turns,

or you can withdraw, with-draw
your mental hand from spinning spokes
smile, bow and, place it in your heart.

They will send a volley
of arrows now, enraged.

Stay.
Watch the arrowheads blossom
to a shower of opening flowers
they descend into a garland low around your neck.

The paradox of joy
full heartedness, fearless love
letting go, having no-thing, no-one, empty.

Then your wanting turn sublime.
Being awake
is suddenly more than enough,
it simply is.

It is our true nature
coming together,
like this.

I am nowhere.
Longing gusts away
with the wind. It is the wind,
like my true nature.
The grandiose
in a subatomic particle.
The lotus,
jewel in the heart.
A circle,
dharmakaya,
unfolding.
Unfold me.


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Cricket Legs

I was told of heights beyond meditation –
direct conversation.

And so I am in conversation now
this hall and pouring meadow walk.

Tiny creature
profoundly subtle
dots of green leafs
cricket sounds.

Oh winds,
If my legs could play such music
You would hear my true nature
With every step I make.

It seems that I am the only one talking,
perhaps hollering too much.

The place I least expect to find you
is where I expect.

And so I have spilled over-edge
edgeless
like a spring out from the darkness
of mountain into the air, clouds.

Shower down now
until these particles roll fluid.

I know how to look in-sight
my true nature, you.


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When The Serpent King Comes

When knowing
becomes as simple
as eating and drinking.

When loving is the same
as letting go.

When arrival is no longer dependent
on seeking destination.

When karma surges
its wave without disrupting anything.

When a monk can smile and breathe
as his temple burns on the hillside.

When a husband learns to trust
his dead wife’s last words and lets her go.

When a young child slowly exchanges
existential fear for celebration, wonder.

When the reed flute hears
the reed bed within its hallow, there all along.

When lovers trust their gaze
beyond the voice of doubt.

When the serpent circles
its own tail and is devoured by love dogs.

When nowhere is now here
and silence is enough.

When the buddha sits down
and Mucalinda protects him.


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Perfect Novice

 

I was a master
When I was a child.

 

Free mind, a play
Unfocused on everything
A perfect novice.

 

Society would tell us,
“with age comes knowledge, wisdom.”
I call this a tragedy.

 

Do you remember when you knew
So little, nothing?

 

The dawn does not know
How it illuminates.
This is why it arrives.

 

The child is un-self-aware.
That is why she is awake.

 

That is why I let my skill
Of discrimination dull
Until I can no longer distinguish
A drink of water
From a breath of air –

The wind from the sail.


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Now River

Now River

My waking eye
hangs like half moon.

Morning illuminating itself
this hallow valley
all that I thought I was

Those hands could never hold
the lifetimes, such grief
how it is all lost.

Now River,
and The Rain
run through.

Run through me.

Chasm in the sky
I take to spiral current.

Water’s Way
and this arriving nature.

I was told of primordial awareness.

I am listening now as the silence,
no perceiving.

Every time
I lose everything.

The things I never had,
already gone.

Show me the hillside.
Show me the hall and how
it turns to ash.

I polish the mirror
to watch it shatter.

Melting the heart
until it flows as water.

Somehow home arrives
no longer walking.

Dawn crashes through me
dissolving inside light.

A wave crests on the ocean
sand grain in the shore.

Just a star,
a glimpse
where I go
as I am gone.