Walk In Beauty

Many years ago I was on a road trip through the American southwest and in a bookstore somewhere, stumbled across a small square book titled: Navajo, Walking in Beauty. It was then that I was first introduced to the Navajo word hózhó. Roughly translated into English as “beauty”, hózhó encompasses the concepts of harmony, balance, and reciprocal relations. Instantly, I fell in love. I was deeply moved by the possibility that beauty is an expression of harmony and profound spiritual realization—a perception that understands beauty to be both embodied aesthetic expression, as well as ineffable and transcendent sensibility.

Hózhó is realized by aligning one’s self with the forces of nature. It is a dynamic and ongoing process of harmonizing the self with the world and the entirety of the universe and existence. To “walk in beauty” is in essence, to live a life of harmony and peace.  

Following is the concluding refrain from a Navajo ceremonial song:

Beauty before me, I walk with.
Beauty behind me, I walk with.
Beauty above me, I walk with.
Beauty below me, I walk with.
Beauty all around me, I walk with.
In old age, the beautiful trail, I walk with.
It is I, I walk with.

Not only is one blessed to walk in a world of beauty, but in the end one becomes beauty itself. Hózhó. It is with this understanding of beauty by which I am most inspired to express myself in the world. Through my writing, photography, dance and poetry, I hope to invoke this world of hózhó. Whether on this website and blog, my social media pages or publications, I hope you will find inspiration and hózhó for your own journey through life. May you walk in beauty.

if today i die
may beauty be my only 
footprints in the sand

the poet’s day off

today i take refuge in the mundane
the ordinary and prosaic 
laundry beckons like an old friend
or, a cup of hot black coffee on my desk

for lunch, i eat goat cheese with sliced cucumber sprinkled with lots of black pepper and a dash of cayenne a drizzle of honey dried parsley flakes and chopped walnuts... between two slices of whole wheat bread, with a glass of tap water
really
you should try it

today, every single one of my electronic gadgets work without mishap while
crystals and sage bundles 
gather the dust
the vacuum cleaner is no dance partner today, nor
hungry ghost
and the gods are silent 
and clocks steer clear of double digit numbers

flowers are just pretty flowers, and 
rocks are, well.... rocks

i welcome the air, slightly matte and thick
like a fleece blanket somehow comforting in its stillness

today i take a shower, trim my nails—no polish—rub cream into my face and go to bed before the stroke of midnight, and do not dream
for just today
i am twinkled out, and grounded.

tomorrow, i shall fly
again

field of dreams

Life is a field
of dreams
growing with the wind
and weather patterns 
of thoughts
feelings 
and voices
Voices from the soil
of memory
past loves and sorrows
past joys and triumphs
and remorse 
They take root
and grow
into our field of dreams
And whether asleep or awake
we all walk our field of dreams
on pathways of hope 
or of despair
to horizons unknown
But surely
on a pathway of love
love itself is the horizon 
and the infinitely wild beautiful blue sky above
 

仲間 (nakama*)

between worlds i fly
with stars sun and moon dancing
my heart wide open

One of the precious things about friends is that they do little things for you which they know will mean a lot. The above photo is a painting of an ancient Japanese dancer holding a branch of tsubaki (camellia) flowers. To me, the painting expresses a unity of nature and dancer, freedom of movement within tradition and continuity, as well as love and sheer joy. Grace and surrender. Ecstasy. It is everything I’d wish to express myself, in my own dancing body. 

Knowing that I would love this painting, my friend who happened upon it by chance, took a photo and sent it to me. And for this alone, I will treasure our friendship forever. There are these threads which we do not see, and yet they are there nonetheless—somewhere and somehow, weaving together our gestures and our footsteps into criss-cross patterns in the unfathomable sky. 

We are dancing this mysterious journey, together, across seas of tumultuous unknowns… across space with no dimension and time with no border. Dancing, without destination nor particular goal. We dance, for love. For joy. We dance to dance the dance. 
It is a prayer in the dark; and sacred offering in the light. 
I will be there dancing, always. 
To dance for you. To dance with you. 
To dance the dance.
To dance.
Dancing.

*仲間 nakama means friends or partners in the same group, often those you have a long-term relationship with and shared experiences. This mini-essay was written for my traditional Japanese dance nakama, to whom I am infinitely grateful.

Gold

this love is gold light
in wild flowers and bold skies
beauty everywhere

(haiku 5-7-5)

The Holy Grail

Certain things are a matter of belief. 
Do you believe, for example, that the holy grail is real and that its location has or has not yet been discovered, or do you believe it is a striking creation of medieval European literature? If it is not actually real, why do so many claim to have found it? Why does something of such ambiguity hold such sway, spanning centuries and continents? 

Belief in certain things is a matter of contention. Is there life after death? God? Reincarnation? Telekinesis? Whereas belief in other things is rarely of dispute. Rain falls to the ground from clouds. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Kyoto city was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years. 

So why is the existence of a god or gods or goddesses or holy people or deities or kami for that matter, at times hotly contested whereas the sun’s emergence in the east generally is not?

We might start by pointing to the tangible-to-the five-senses and thusly physically experiential nature of the sunrise in what we know to be “east”. However it is also true is it not, that many people, when asked where east is, will not be able to answer correctly on the spot without external reference to a map or mechanical compass of some sort. Physical experience alone is insufficient. To understand where east is, we must have somehow learned something about the relationship between the sun and earth, about planetary orbits, the solar system and space. But from the point of view of Pluto, or of a star in Andromeda, how fixed or relevant ultimately is Earth’s east, anyway? Is east to the left or to the right? Your left or my right? 

As for intangible-to-the-five-senses things such as kami, we might point to the ubiquity and continuity of shrines in Japan as evidence of their actual existence. “Believers” may claim to have experienced physically tangible results after praying to kami, such as healed illnesses or passed university entrance examinations. Visions of non-physical beings or other experiences beyond the tangible-to-the-five-senses might also be cited by some as proof that kami are real. Such “intangibles” however, are often disputed as imagination and thusly unacceptable and unverifiable evidence. But what are “visions” after all, if not something seen somehow?    

I am not here to profess what is true or not true. But I am here to question our assumptions about what we believe to be true or not true. And I am here to suggest that the holy grail itself is not necessarily its purported historical and physical reality, and that it is not necessarily a thing of literary legend—but that perhaps the real holy grail is realizing that what we believe to be true is “true”. Truth is a consequence of belief; not necessarily the other way around. What you believe creates what you experience; not necessarily the other way around.
Perhaps, in other words, the real holy grail is that we are all—each and every one of us—kami

landing

~a short meditation on flight, four~

Flight, for all its exhilaration and glory, always comes home. Every bird lands, eventually. And it is this very moment of landing—a touchdown full of sweetness, which gives flight its freedom. For without landing, the sky would be abyss. Without landing, flight would be exile. It is the inevitability of landing which gives wings to dreams… to our wildest, our sweetest, and our most beautiful dreams.

flight 
is an embrace of sky
wings spread wide
caressing wind as it streams by

flight
is a love of the sky song
whispered in tendrils 
of crimson clouds and golden light

and flight
is the heart’s journey home
weaving dawn and dusk 
into luster love and soft landing 
 

freedom

~a short meditation on flight, three~

When you see birds flying in the sky, does your heart not also soar? 

love is

love is deeper
than the deepest ocean
which, in the end
has a bottom
a finite place of rest

and love is brighter even
than the brightest and most brilliant star
which, although still visible
billions and billions of light years away
will twinkle out 
some day

love is more beautiful
than even the most beautiful red rose
which, held too tightly
pierces the heart
thorns sharp and steep 
searing

love    is    love
which, has no end
no void
and no restraint
love is 
infinite
boundless
and like birds flying into the wild blue sky
free
 

we are all angels

~a short meditation on flight, two~

Who does not dream about flying? 
Although our actual physical bodies are essentially tethered to this earth, it seems that flight is somehow intrinsic to our souls. Somehow, I really do know what it is to fly, in this human body… I can feel it in my bones, and on the surface of my skin caressed by wind—my entire being buoyed by its light power. Soaring. 

Do you? Too, like me, know flight?
Does your heart lift, with the first rays of sunrise—taking you out beyond the horizons? When the birds circle overhead, can you meet them up there in the blue sky—seeing eye to eye, and the dancing tree tops below? As the soft pads of your bare feet sink into earth, gently with each step on the path, are you not also drawn upwards and a little closer to those not so distant cloud bottoms? And at night when the stars twinkle so invitingly, do you dance there too among all the glitter? Gloriously?

Maybe we are all angels, after all? 
We’re just walking this earth awhile—for the grand adventure of it all… for dreaming dreams, for the thrill and for the mania, for sleeping and awakening, for creating something beautiful or fantastic and then reveling in it too… But above all, maybe we are here for love—simply, to love and to be loved. Love.

the sky beneath your feet

~a short meditation on flight~

the sky beneath your feet

gravity moves in two directions, and
falling into earth has its own 
fleeting 
transcendence
the sky is not always overhead, but
when we do
fly up and skywards
we push down first, and then
suspend

in a heartbeat
we are birds, soaring everywhere there is space
and into the strong arms of wind we go
twirling swirling tumbling
landing
just when, the ground rises

it is a love affair with light
it is surrender and a prayer
and dreams surfacing into day
it is the sky beneath your feet

Source

Who can tell me, what is the source of love? 
Not the whos nor whats which we love, not our dreams nor passions. But like rain from the clouds, rivers from the high mountains, song from morning birds, from where does love come?

Like this body made up of trillions of cells, and cells made up of biomolecules, and biomolecules made up of… ah, um, let’s just skip right to the part where matter essentially breaks down into nothingness… where this body is nothing but empty space. 
And what of love? What are its elemental parts and particles? Like the body falling into a microverse of emptiness, into what space does love fall, eventually? Like trying to locate physical origins of consciousness itself, trying to locate the same for love may very well be futile—an endeavor best left to the poets among us. 
(It is apparent, yes, that science is not my forte!) But surely, there are no grand laws of physics, quantum physics, or other physics for that matter, which can tell us how love arises into our hearts and minds, and bursts so brightly, into our souls. 

So let the poet in me humbly suggest a theory. 
Love, like light, comes from the sun. Yes, that’s right. All those millions and gazillions of stars out there? They are actually love-generating furnaces! 
It makes sense does it not? Physical matter breaks down into emptiness, so we are actually bodies of empty space being filled with light. Or is light only a result of a collision of particles and waves between the sun and our vastly empty bodies? I think that light too, like love, cannot truly be contained in the mind. 
These uncontainables, and these apparent immaterials… are like wind which can only be seen in the swirl of desert sand. Or water, in the long and slow curves of canyon walls. Sound, in the reverberation of strings. 
And love, seen in the light of a smile or felt in a remembered birthday, arises in the betweenness of things. In relationship. A mother and child. A butterfly and an irresistible flower. Shimmering rainbows of water and light in the sky. A spider and her web. Love is light. Like how we come to see the sun—in the collision of particles and waves. A reverberation felt in the deep space of the heart. 

In the photo above, do you not see the heart shining out from the sun? I offer you this, my empirical evidence that the source of love is indeed, the sun.
So the next time you gaze up into the starry night sky, perhaps you will feel the overwhelming presence of love shining everywhere there… And your heart, your one precious heart, flooded with light.