Surely, you too have longed for this —
to pour yourself out
on the rising circles of the air
to ride, unthinking,
on the flesh of emptiness.

Can you claim, in your civilized life,
that you have never leaned toward
the headlong dive, the snap of bones,
the chance to be so terrible,
so free from evil, beyond choice?

The air that they are riding
is the same breath as your own.
How could you not remember?
That same swift stillness binds
your cells in balance, rushes
through the pulsing circles of your blood.

Each breath proclaims it —
the flash of feathers, the chance to rest
on such a muscled quietness,
to be in that fierce presence,
wholly wind, wholly wild.

~ Lynn Ungar ~

The Joy of Un-encumbrance

Sometime after his legendary appointment with Mara under the Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa), when the Buddha was finally coaxed to speak, he mentioned something in Pāḷi that has since been translated as ‘Life is suffering’.

I think a better way to convey the subtlety of his insight might be ‘Physicality is an encumbrance’. This is to say that the entirety of what can be found through the lens of corporeal being, be it wonderful or horrible, are still modes of suffering or to put a fine point on it, existential discontent.

If we attempt to live joyfully within the field of all that can be felt, we must also relent to all that is not joyful. Opting for one idealized state to be more formidably present in your life isn’t going to work.

So what would freedom from encumbrance look like, be like, feel like?

Curiously we need look no further than here. Despite the Buddha’s fatalistic proclamation, whatever this is, it is already unencumbered. It is foolish to curate a museum of lies and rules and practices that aim away from what is already present.


Mind, body, and behavioral control agendas can never reveal the inherency and joy of unencumbrance, they’re already symptomatic of a grand magic trick that infers existential autonomy, which is the mother of all illusions.When you find yourself relieved of the monotony and familiarity of yourself, empty of want or purpose, without the slightest need to confirm or conform. Then you can see the novelty of all that arises free from the impulse to categorize or project meaning, you sense the non-specific joy of unencumbrance.

Without context or content what can bind you? If you grant yourself permission you can ride this effortless euphoria all the way to now.

Everything else is optional.

Isra & Mi’raj

On this day in 621, the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, stopping in Jerusalem at the al-Asqa mosque along the way.

According to Hadith reports, Gabriel took the Prophet  at night from the Ka’bah to the mosque in Jerusalem on a buraq (magic horse). On reaching Jerusalem the Prophet along with other Prophets offered Prayers. Gabriel then took him to the heavens and the Prophet  met several great Prophets in different heavenly spheres. (Adam, John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph, Idris, Aaron, Moses & Abraham.)

Finally, he reached the highest point in the heavens and was graced with an experience of the Divine Presence. On that occasion the Prophet  received a number of directives including that Prayers were obligatory five times a day. (Al-Bukhari, K. Manaqib al -Ansar, ‘Bab al-Mi’raj ; K. al-Tawhid, ‘Bab Kallama Musa Taklima‘ – Ed.) 

Thereafter, the Prophet  returned from the heavens to Jerusalem, and from there to the Holy Mosque in Makka. The following day, the unbelievers in Makka found the whole narration utterly amusing.  In fact, even the faith of some Muslims was shaken because of the highly extraordinary nature of the account. 

Allah tells Muhammad that his people must pray 50 times a day, but as Muhammad descends back to Earth, he meets Moses who tells Muhammad to go back to God and ask for fewer prayers because 50 is too many. Muhammad goes between Moses and God nine times, until the prayers are reduced to the five daily prayers, which God will reward tenfold. Again, Moses told Muhammad to ask for even fewer but Muhammad felt ashamed and said that even with fewer prayer times, his followers might not even perform diligently and said he is thankful for the five. —Wikipedia

Forbidden Knowledge

For years my heart inquired of me
                   Where Jamshid’s sacred cup might be,
And what was in its own possession
                   It asked from strangers, constantly;
Begging the pearl that’s slipped its shell
                   From lost souls wandering by the sea.
Last night I took my troubles to
                   The Magian sage whose keen eyes see
A hundred answers in the wine
                   Whose cup he, laughing, showed to me.
I questioned him, “When was this cup
                   That shows the world’s reality
Handed to you?” He said, “The day
                   Heaven’s vault of lapis lazuli
Was raised, and marvelous things took place
                   By Intellect’s divine decree,
And Moses’s miracles were made
                   And Sameri’s apostasy.”
He added then, “That friend they hanged
                   High on the looming gallows tree—
His sin was that he spoke of things
                   Which should be pondered secretly,
The page of truth his heart enclosed
                   Was annotated publicly.
But if the Holy Ghost once more
                   Should lend his aid to us we’d see
Others perform what Jesus did—
                   Since in his heartsick anguish he
Was unaware that God was there
                   And called His name out ceaselessly.”
I asked him next, “And beauties’ curls
                   That tumble down so sinuously,
What is their meaning? Whence do they come?”
                  “Hafiz,” the sage replied to me,
“It’s your distracted, lovelorn heart
                   That asks these questions constantly.”



Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

— Lynn Ungar 3/11/20


It’s not difficult, and in the long run—even in the medium run—it’s actually more economical. It’s only the detailed structure of capitalist systems at present that has created the very destructive relationship of humanity to nature.

Harmony with nature is easy.  It’s “natural”. We know enough to start doing it right away, and there’s so, so much more that we will learn about ecological relationships when we put our minds to it.

At present, the emphasis of the environmental movement is on reducing the human footprint. We can’t conceive that humans can do better than zero, and the only question we’re asking is “how negative?” But we can have a net positive impact, enriching the soil with each passing year, while feeding ourselves. Some indigenous American tribes were practicing this kind of permaculture thousands of years ago, and a few pioneer agriculturalists are doing it today. It’s a situation that looks like an unfolding tragedy, but it’s actually steeped in hope.

Inhabit, the film (free, full-length as of this writing)

The Great Taming

Adrenaline and glucocortisol
We’re drugged with strength of purpose from inside
Our primal terror takes us for a ride
Why can’t we see we’re riding for a fall?

From urgency to urgency we pass
One crisis bleeds into the next
No time for recognition of context
We gradually drown in blind morass

That inner witness who looks out on all
Has fled the premises, gone AWOL
Unconscious actors on a global stage
Recite their lines before an empty hall
The drama’s author is an evil mage
Whose goal is to confine us in his cage

— JJM = #26 in the I Ching Sonnet Project