Closer Than We Think

We are One
There is no Time
There is no Space
Those we miss are
Closer than we think

Last night I dreamed I was sharing flyers about Dharma Center. I rode a bicycle that would turn into a motorcycle whenever I needed some extra power. (I love how dreams instantly give you what you need!) After distributing flyers throughout Orange County, I followed the signs to get on the freeway to head up to Los Angeles.

The signs lead me on a narrow, curving ramp with steep drop-offs that was like going downhill on a roller-coaster. At the bottom, instead of being on the freeway, I found myself in a beach parking lot in an area resembling Big Sur. There were lots of people, so I started handing out flyers.

A woman walked up to me to get one, and Rama was standing next to her. As she took the flyer from me, she told me how much she missed Rama. Even though they were clearly together, she didn’t know who he was. I looked over at him, and he winked.

She read the flyer and then showed it to her friend who was really Rama. He nodded and smiled. She told me how excited she was to learn about Dharma Center, and again went on and on about how much she missed Rama.

“Well, I guess that’s why I would up here,” I said. “I thought I was getting on the freeway.”

Rama replied, “They really need to fix those signs, huh?”

He laughed and then I woke up.

Rama meditating


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White Crane

A few nights ago, I woke from a dream, which played out before me like a movie:

A white crane fluttered around a city street. Nearby, deeply concerned people were looking for the crane. The bird had once been human, and the people desperately wanted to break the spell before the crane forgot about life as a human.

The crane flew around a building and landed in a tree at the edge of a park. The tree was filled with thirty other white cranes. The cranes all sat still, silently. Suddenly all the cranes flapped their wings and turned to face the opposite direction, except the one crane who had been a human. The people searching for the crane came around the corner and saw the flock of birds.crane-60865_640

The scene zoomed into the single crane. The crane thought, “I wonder what the birds are looking at? Should I turn around too?” The crane looked down at the people and thought, “These humans are here looking for me.”

As the crane in the tree sat suspended between life as a crane and life as a human, the crane knew they were both a dream.



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My work is entirely funded by my readers – by you. If you like what you have read, if you find insight or inspiration in these words, please visit my Support page to learn how you can help keep the work going with a one-time gift, or as an ongoing Patron.




Rise and Fall

The colony sprang to life almost overnight from just a few survivors. The structures they built swelled as the tribe expanded.

Just as their new world matured, a flood of salt water broke down their outer walls. They fought valiantly to maintain their position, but had to take refuge in the natural caves. The next onslaught came disguised as a warm, honey-drenched rain that stuck to them like glue. Their youngest quickly suffocated in the intoxicating sweetness coating every surface.

The more resilient ones burrowed deeper into the folds, leaving deep red lines as they scratched the surface. Salt water floods continued to erode all they had created.rhine-falls-243359_1280

The scent of cherry filled the air, followed by a slippery film that loosened their grip. The cycle continued, with assault after assault.

The elders knew the salt water would eventually wash them all away. The strongest of the colony gathered at the edge of the mouth, waiting for a chance to escape to a new home.

It wasn’t long before the battle scars dissolved, and all signs of the colony disappeared from the tonsils and throat.


At least that’s how I hope the story ends. If the natives are forced to launch a full frontal attack, snot and phlegm will leave a wave of destruction – just like all wars do.


(Now, be honest – you started to root for the colony, just a little bit by the end, didn’t you? :D)

Tattoo Parlor of Enlightenment

Melinda strolled into the tiny tattoo parlor tucked in between the Chinese restaurant and the pawnshop. She twirled one of her blond pigtails around her index finger, checking out the pictures plastered over every inch of wall space. She stopped in front of a block of Chinese dragons.

“Howdy there little lady, my name is Enza. What can I do for you?” asked a burly man covered from head to toe in tattoos. Streaks of gray poked out from the long black ponytail hanging down his back. The colors of his beard and mustache were reversed, with only a few strands of black left. The wrinkles and laugh lines that textured his face were all but hidden by his wide grin.

“I want a tattoo,” replied Melinda. “I think I want a dragon…or wait a minute, what are these?” she asked as she stood in front of a block of squiggly designs.

“Those are Sanskrit symbols, and a few are Tibetan characters,” replied Enza.

“I like the Buddha over there too.”

“Check these out,” said Enza as he rolled up his sleeve. “This here is Green Tara, and on this side is Milarepa.”

“Wow, they’re awesome!” Melinda began to wander again around the shop, unable to keep her feet still. Finally, she stopped for a moment and pointed. “What does this one mean?”

“That’s an OM. Some monks say OM is the sound of Eternity. The monks chant it to help empty their minds and open up to Enlightenment,” said Enza, his eyes twinkling as if he had drifted into ecstasy.

“Enlightenment, huh? Sure, let’s try that one.”

“If you’re certain that’s what you want, we can get started.” Enza motioned towards the chair near the back wall.

Melinda practically ran to the chair, then suddenly stopped. “I thought I wanted it on my arm, but now I think I may want to put it above my ankle.” She rocked back and forth, shifting her weight from one leg to the other. Her finger continued to twirl her hair as she cocked her head to one side, and then the other as she debated the placement of her tattoo.

“It’s an important decision,” said Enza patiently. “A tattoo is a permanent feature of your body; you may be able to alter it, but it will always be there.”

“Ok, Ok,” squeaked Melinda. “The ankle it is!” She plopped down in the chair. She kept shifting her leg and foot to get a better look at where the new tattoo would soon be.

“You’ll need to stay very still, or I won’t be able to work,” Enza gently reminded her as he laid a firm hand on top of her knee.

Melinda continued to squirm in excitement and anticipation. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t stop her foot from twitching and jumping. Enza tried to press the stencil onto her leg, but with each flinch, he would have to clean off the temporary ink and start over.

“You know, the monks seeking Enlightenment have the same problem,” said Enza quietly.

“How’s that?” Melinda replied, her eyes darting across the floor. A deep frown reflected the fear that she wouldn’t be able to get the tattoo she desperately wanted.

“Enlightenment is already here, but to become aware of it, you must sit very still for a very long time. All of the experiences a person has in the world create conditioning, a sort of autopilot that runs the person’s reactions to life. Over time, the ideas of how the world operates build up structures within the mind. The mind jumps from structure to structure, concept to concept, thought to thought. It’s always moving from here to there, just like your leg does every time I get near it.”

“So how do I make it stop moving?” asked Melinda.

“The same way the monks do: meditation,” replied Enza. A soft light grew around Enza’s head, and soon spread to cover his entire body in gold. “Close your eyes and concentrate on the OM symbol. Keep focusing until you can see it clearly in your mind’s eye.”

Melinda thought about leaving and finding another tattoo parlor. This guy obviously had a few loose screws. She loved the symbol she had picked out, so she decided to humor the old man. She looked at the symbol on the paper for a minute, and then closed her eyes to concentrate like Enza had suggested.

“A part of you is always dissolved in meditation, in the clear light of Enlightenment,” whispered Enza. “Some people think they meditate; in truth though, no one meditates. All you need to do is stop thought and get out of the way. Concentrate until only OM exists, and you’ll discover Eternity is already meditating through your being. Stay still long enough, and She will cut away the concepts binding you to this world of suffering.”

Melinda imagined the OM symbol in her mind as Enza’s soothing voice calmed her chaotic thoughts. She felt her body completely relax as her mind filled with feelings of bliss and peace. In this place of silence, nothing mattered. All that existed within her was endless radiant light.

Enza worked quickly and quietly with his ink and needle. Golden light spilled out from his being and into Melinda as she floated in silence, a smile curled upon her lips.

“In the sacred space of meditation, sensations sink into the background. Thoughts arise and fall away like the waves of the ocean, not leaving any impressions. Here, everything is perfect,” said Enza, slowly withdrawing the Light from the room and pulling Melinda back to physical awareness. “The tattoo may be sore for a few days as the skin heals. Be sure to keep it clean and out of the sun,” continued Enza as he helped Melinda stand up.

Bewildered, tears of gratitude fell from Melinda eyes. “It’s beautiful, simply beautiful,” she sobbed, standing in front of the mirror admiring the new artwork shining above her ankle. “Exactly what I wanted. How could I ever repay you?”

“The tattoo costs $250. The meditation lesson was free. I hope you’ll want to continue the practice, and find your way back into the silence by yourself. If you don’t want to, though, that’s quite alright too.”

Melinda handed Enza cash to pay for the tattoo. She didn’t want to leave, but there didn’t seem to be anything else to say.

Enza grinned as he held the door open for her. “Have a great day!” he chimed as she walked out into the world, the new tattoo a larger part of her than she had ever expected.

  by Jenna Sundell, 2006