Three bodhicitta poems

at once
it is the sun and moon
the sun and the rain
that brings everything out beautifully…



it’s balm,
and nectar

it’s food,
and medicine

it is the embrace
of a mother
or a wife

the encouraging voice of an old friend,

there is no end to bodhicitta

it is a candle
a scripture,

it’s clearing the ground to build a house,
or a library, or a school

clearing the path so we can walk
clearing away clouds so we can see

there’s no end to this

it’s poetry-
showing all good things

and it’s hope restored,
mistakes forgotten,
gotten over,  gotten past

it’s freedom,
and welcoming arms to someone
learning to walk

it’s the joy that speeds healing
and it’s miracles in abundance

it is paradise itself
and it’s every small, kind act
containing worlds

Tell me, Who can speak of this fully?
We all can

this is our birthright,
our very nature wanting to be born,
it’s the sun of wisdom and compassion inseparable

drawing all things together
leaving nothing out
no one, no teaching,
no person or place or time

it is universal
and personal
our teacher
our very self
our Lord
and worthy of every praise

it is selfless prayer
wonder of wonders- actually praying itself
it is self existing – just like this…

this goes beyond
anything we can say about it
and yet, it’s somehow still
always fully present

awakening, actualizing
from life, bringing forth life,
love itself
our true life

this essential sun
beyond words and the ground of all words
saying,  if we were to put words to it,
aah, may all beings be happy…

and we all must find a way to speak,
to reply,

because of this
to say what’s in us

how will we live?

this says
“dedicate yourself to the ultimate purpose of all beings”

and, “Don’t waste time”  “Everyday, every hour is precious”

this says, “here- sweeten your disposition”

and, “see time”,

and, “give yourself”

how will we reply?
how will we live?

just this- for me, this is the one point containing all
for me, this is the golden road, with heaven worlds all around
where all benefit, in some way

this, is the most satisfying path,
regardless of struggle, the most fulfilling
regardless of how hard it is to say, it’s the biggest joy,
the brightest joy

this is what is reliable
for me, the safe haven,
it is breath, it is sight…

for me, it is giving,
and knowing even now
the pleasure of having its gift received

this is love
and this will,  purpose, of human life, lived to the fullest-
oh, many voices, many hearts celebrate this with me now


What is bodhicitta?

Bodhicitta is our own true nature,
of wisdom and compassion inseparable…

how to speak of this?

it’s the rain that nourishes growing things

it’s the sun that makes everything flourish
it’s the embrace of a mother,
or a wife,
melting  troubles away

it’s like the encouraging voice of an old friend

it’s selfless prayer, naturally
having a purpose past what we see now

it is a word, it is magic,
parting clouds so we can see,
or clearing a  path
or building a house, or a library, or a school

this one source everywhere
becomes a hospital, and doctors, and medicine

in lost times, it is inspiration

this is pure light
this is warm touch
and it is clarity, and strength

it reaches over every ocean
over every rocky climb
through whatever barred gates
past any disbelieving mind
giving life

who can ever speak of this,
and what can compare to this?
there is no end, from what I can see
and all day, my heart sings that this is in me

What can compare to this?

it’s like a hero,
calling captives out of their dungeon
it’s like a fresh morning
after one was given up for dead

astonishment! disbelief!  and then, a great wave
moving through everything,
of praise, and generosity…

it’s like fragrance, or memory, or dream that speeds healing
it is a true word spoken when that’s needed
it is direction, and food, and gifts appearing in our hands to give,
it is learning, and giving to match someone’s need

it is song, universal language,
universal and for all times currency
and a true friend,
it’s meeting our own true nature
what can compare to this?

so then, it is ethics, and wisdom,
patience, and effort,
all, natural, and  effortless in a way

it is all the forms created to express one intent
and, it is all the names given,
it is tradition and all our seeing past form and tradition

today I write this because it’s the only thing I can think of that draws all things to itself
the only thing I can think of that gives everything else some place in the world
all the teachings, all the differences, all the wonder, all the pain

this- is the ultimate name  the one thing most worth praising
this- is the activity of all buddhas,
the very nature of all heroes, and heroines,
angels and saviors

with my little notes at home, today, this is all I wanted to write


it’s an elixir
reviving the dead

a teacher
filling your mind with great things

it’s a compass

a key

or a lock when you need a lock

it’s an oar when you need an oar

an umbrella when you need one

a net holding back poisonous creatures

a shield
first into battle

a word spoken
and not just any word
but just the word you need to hear

a magic word…

it’s encouragement
fresh life
inspiration to continue your journey
with wisdom,
with clear eyes
and with joy

it’s food
it’s big love…

this is music
and grace

and love’s power

love pouring itself

it’s the friendliness you meet
and it’s food

it’s simplicity itself-
good things
for now,
and for generations to come

everything contributes to the power of this practice

it can be like
the first rain after a blazing summer

or it can be like a lion’s heart
a warrior who’s never known fear…

it’s setting things in order

it’s saying your name
calling your name
(not like all the others-
your true name)

the graver the danger
the stronger the will to protect

the more something is worth
the greater the will to give

this is peace, and action, as one

moving worlds
not fading
giving to be given
awakened in teachers
to be awakened in me
the fullness of love, given
to be awakened in you
and on and on…

what words are there to express this…?


this is you
this is for you

From Mahayana Prayers and Poetry.pdfAudio 


The Life Within the Life – Collected Poems, 1985 to 2005