From the Mandala Zone

A Density of Particles:
The Mandala as Mirror of Inner and Outer Self

     The essential identity of the mandala can be most simply described as a density of particles around a central point, the bindu, which serves as a focus for all the rest. The bindu itself represents the observer as an individual point in the universe. It offers a calm and stable place from which to experience the world, revealing an alcove of silence and serenity amid chaotic surroundings. Enveloping the bindu, the mandala’s particles can be arranged into an infinite variety of patterns. As a result, each and every potential alignment of points in the mandala has a real universal complement. Yet it is not the specific composition of points in any individual mandala that is important, but rather its inherent structure. It need not be perfectly round or symmetric or even pleasing to fulfill its purpose, it must only be. Its very existence serves to represent the Universe as Microcosm, in all its wondrous splendor, to translate the infinite majesty of the Cosmos for communion with the human mind.
      The mandala is a reflection of the true face of the Universe—its intricacy, its patterns, its nested systems, its natural beauty. A sea of particles spans the Universe and each point in that ocean is the center of a vast, Cosmic mandala that stretches endlessly in every direction. Since there is no absolute center to the Universe, every point is a center, and every element is part of an intricate and harmonious pattern. This includes us, our bodies and our minds, which have evolved from the constant, continual movement of the essence of the Universe. This never-ending evolution which guides the Universe so fluidly is found in the mandala as well—every mandala ever created and every one yet to be made holds a place in the fabric of energy that flows through us and through everything that exists.
      It is in the nature of the Universe to create mandalas, and it has done so since the very beginning of time. The basest particles of the Cosmos create mandalas in the form of atoms, so simple in their design yet so amazing in their potential for complexity. These atoms join to form molecules and these in turn to dance and spin in a choreography of gravity and form until their mass and mutual attraction swirl them into glowing spheres of stellar fire… stars whose blazing brilliance are glorious mandalas to behold. And as these cosmic motes continue their dance, the center brightens, burning hotter and hotter—the bindu center of a fiery mandala, ever shifting, ever new. In turn these lovely star mandalas cluster closer, flowing freely yet within the perfect laws of physics… thousands, millions, billions more until a galactic mandala of unimaginable proportions is born and lives and breathes, in its way, to swim along through the infinity of space.
     And the galaxies themselves join together to form vast galactic clusters and superclusters and certainly on into scales we can not yet know. The pattern is clearly established. Each step along the way from subatomic particles to boundless universal structures is wonderfully illustrated as a mandala that arises naturally from the form and behavior of the Universe. It is no wonder, then, that these images resonate so deeply within us, that they fill us with wonder at their beautiful expressions of universal truths.
      The key to this connectivity is the often forgotten fact that we are an integral component of the Universe ourselves. Western thinking has created a scenario for Humanity in which our species has evolved here on Earth as if it were a stage production nestled within the dark and distant theater of space. We study ourselves, and we study the Universe, as if we were not essentially looking at the same thing. Yet we, just as the planets and the stars, are a natural product of the development of the Universe. We arose from universal processes as did the sun, in no more mysterious or mystical a manner. This does not take away from the wonder that is Humanity, on the contrary—to realize that the motes of the Universe, the very subatomic particles that were present at the beginning, can somehow come together to make a person with beating heart and thinking brain and awareness of his place within that selfsame Universe, is a truly awe-inspiring concept. To quote the wonderful Desiderata, “You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars.” We are of the Universe, not simply in it, and we must remember that crucial distinction if we are ever to achieve enlightenment as a species. Humanity is but an element in the vast Universal Mandala, and as such relies on all the other elements, as much as upon itself, for lasting spiritual harmony.
      Once we recognize this unity between the space around us and the space within us, it is a natural step to see how intimately mandalas can describe our inner selves. Every element of our awareness as we move about our lives is as a particle in the Universe, motes that we are often not adept at keeping organized within our mindspace. Modern life is a loosely-controlled chaos, and the mandala is a serene and peaceful pattern against which we can rest our weary defenses. The Universe around us is, by definition, evolving perfectly according to its own laws, while the Universe within us is muddled and confused by the trappings of society and the inconsistencies of consciousness. But this distinction between internal and external is an illusion. We have forgotten that All is truly One, and that we are each other as much as we are ourselves. The mandala is the embodiment of that inherent unity.
      A beautiful mandala in its own right, the human form—body and spirit, matter and energy—represents the Universe with wondrous precision, for in our selves vibrate the very motes of time and space, the flowing wave of constant change that is at the heart of the Cosmos. We, too, are a density of particles, the very particles that stretch across the Universe, from beginning to end, to come together in the wondrous combination that is Humanity. The mandala mirrors this joyous Universal harmony of which we are clearly a part; it is the very essence of serenity and contentment. It shows us—or rather reminds us of—the essential form of our ancient and innermost Self, because it is a reflection of the Universe as a whole and thus an image of our own spiritual unity with the Cosmos.
      Within the mandala is the center—every possible center—that has been lost from the human experience, from our collective unconscious. It can be our focal point to reconnect with that center, which would reveal, at long last, our unity with the Universe. And therefore, finally, our unity with each other.


Pascal’s Reminder




‘Til his death he carried it,

          sewn into the lining of his vest –

                   the note,

                   the reminder

of his meeting with the God of Abraham;

          he held it close daily,

                             rain or shine,

          as he grappled with Number,

          with the brilliant

                                      mystery of mathematics,

          as he gaped at the light behind the veil. . .

What falls away is never gone –

          Yes, I know the Law,

                   & the Wheel rolls on,

          my invocation comes full circle,

                   giving grace

                             to the paradox it rests upon.


A large question, Remembrance,

          like Death or Love,

the ten thousand things

ever call our attention,

          with roots grown deep

                   & branches strong –

but the props of recall are ubiquitous –

                   the Slant of Sun

          or the evening breeze

are reminders,

          like the coal burning

                   in Pascal’s vest –

the invocation can’t be shunned,

          it comes full circle,

                   giving grace to the paradox

                             it rests upon


Wind, Fire, Compassion, Desire,

          the whispered Secret of Trees,

Father Sun rising in the East,

                             setting in the West,

          the cool of morning

                             & birdsong choir –

          Recall is the theme,

                   & the Hound of Heaven

                             is Relentless. . .


This MayDay Dream

          is a call

to challenge the eventless,

                   the moments in Time

                   which seem sparse, or empty,

                                                                   or a lie. . .

A reminder of how the endless sky

          is always filled with deathless song –

Yes, I know the Law,

                   & the Wheel rolls on. . .

          my invocation comes full circle,

                             giving grace to the paradox

                                                          it rests upon.


The Moment

          is no longer so important,

          while it’s more precious than ever –

grains of Truth, Streams from the Source –

          never look at the mountains

                                                & say something clever. . .

The giant lurks behind the curtains

                             in all it’s innocent force –

Yes, I know the Law,

                             & the Wheel rolls on –


My invocation,

my Call to Life,

                   comes Full Circle,

          giving grace to the paradox

                                                it rests upon.

                                                                                                         j.j. marino


Quixote & Sancho



Cervantes Redux




That most gentle knight


(fierce tho’ his wrath in anger)


rides forth still with loyal Sancho at his side


(or perhaps a few paces back, a song on his lips)


in search of Great Deeds and Adventures


(the Don of La Mancha thinking wide, full thoughts


which keep alive forever the Quest).


You may chance upon them


some drowsy summer afternoon, turning a dusty bend in the road;


Quixote ever ready with noble words, valorous acts,


Pancho ever the voice of reason.


Salute them, as I have, at every turn where they might


have passed . . .


Salute them with the deathless knight’s own words:


            “I prefer a wise madness to a foolish sanity.”

j.j. marino


Were It True…..Spring/Easter ’98


The frozen secret whispered in ice bound nights
Of scented promises
Beguiles the latent senses.
Were it true, the sleeper would awaken in bloom,
And fill the heavy air with song;
Weave a wildflower tapestry
upon her magic loom,
And strike the tone of Spring
Upon her golden gong.
Were it true, and all those green promises kept,
The barren fields would sprout in bold array,
And all the stirrings which had slept
Would rise and laugh the cold away.
Were it true, and all the lifeless thoughts were swept
Beneath a flowered carpet,
that frozen secret of ice bound night
Would grant my soul its full delight!
That scented promise of Life anew
Would reawaken me as well…
Would green me, like the spring,
Were it true.

j.j. marino

The Heap


Thrombosis lurks in passageways / with promises to keep: I formulate & plot delays / but know I’m fixin’ to croak in a heap…like the fable of the one-horse shay which never needed repairs, it just fell apart one fine spring day, in a clatter of hardware like a rattletrap Jeep / just like how I’m fixin’ to croak in a heap…..a cardiac attack is in the cards, there’s not much doubt of that; the palace guards all shout alarms that echo down the dark & deep / “Clear a spot!”, they yell, “Throw a cushion on the ground, he’s surely fixin’ to croak in a heap!”……Look at the numbers, look at the stats – a lifetime of cigarettes, alcohol & fats – I’ve courted abuse, now it’s giving me grief / I’ve drawn aces & eights, now I’m fixin’, I know, to croak in a heap…..I’ll be found at home or in the street, a crumpled sack of bones & meat / unable to crawl, or dance, or creep, my former self croaked right there in a heap.

j.j. marino

Easter Poem from John Updike


Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle, and crushed by remonstrance.

@ The Parched Cetacean


It was a common night like all the others in ‘The Parched Cetacean’, a local bar & hangout – bowls of salty peanuts on the bar,  foamy beer & familiar faces. The jukebox was playing Freddy Fender’s woebegone classic, ‘Wasted Days and Wasted Nights’ when I walked through the door & found a bar stool next to Sammy the Avenger. He was in full regalia, taking a break from his night patrol, a pint of beer & a shot of Jager in front of him, deep in conversation with T-bone Clark, our self-proclaimed crystal-vibration love-guru. I ordered a beer & a butterscotch Schnapps and listened to them, trying not to be noticed & dragged into whatever asinine gibberish they were exchanging.

“I’ve been a disciple and studied under many of the great teachers…” T-bone said, a blissed-out, beatific smile matching the Avenger’s stubbly-faced scowl, “…at the least I’ve read some of the things some of them have written about some of the things they’ve taught, and my inner-soul intuition tells me you’re going about this superhero business all wrong. Look here.” He pointed in the vicinity of his chest cavity & actually winked.

Sammy was having none of it – his night so far had been the all-too-familiar grind of misunderstandings, abusive remarks & derisive laughter. Sammy Sprague, the Avenger, thought that the core of Life’s problems & griefs was people’s mysterious (to him) inability to “GET IT“…..he couldn’t make them understand that what he did as a superhero was noble & worthy of itself, a thing to be honored & admired simply for the attention it drew to himself! …Sure, he thought, I’m a fat guy in a cheap-ass costume, and I never really ‘avenge‘ anything, but if people could just fully buy into the concept of ”me plus superhero = I GET IT!”, they’d have a much easier time “getting” things like famine, genocide & global devastation.

T-bone, ever-slick with the nebulous language of universal love, changed tack: “Pasha Baba Sri Sanka, the “Benevolent Enlightened One”, has explained, in this book you must read about the melodies & messages to be found in the Ethereal Odic Zone, that the ‘Self’ or ‘Ego’ is illusion. “Maya”, it’s called…I think that’s an Egyptian word or maybe Chinese or Hebrew or Hindu….I’ll look it up for you. You should come over for tea & I could give you some pamphlets & show you pictures of Pasha Baba.”

Meanwhile, in the Parched Cetacean’s tiny kitchen, Maria Rosario makes pizzas & minds her business….few know she is Tzadkim Nistarim,one of the 36 righteous ones—–>

Timeless Wisdom


Timeless Wisdom



Mr. Mxyzptlk….the Coolest Nemesis.


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