The Story of a Vow



This is the story of my vow to you and to all.

How I loved you last year under that huge full moon in July at the Rainbow Gathering in Tennessee. How passionately, how tenderly and fully.

It was cold at night in the Smoky Mountains, but you were there, my heart’s husband, with your giant kind eyes and your nimble hands. With silken blond hair and luminous soul and deep voice that soothed me like no other voice ever had.

How vastly I loved you.


I loved you to the furthest extent of romantic love, at a height and at a vibration that many only imagine.  And you loved me the same way.

Heaven is like that week in the Smoky Mountains.  You and I are together and we want for nothing.  You can play music for hours and see the old visions. I can give gems to the sweet travellers who pass by our blanket, and talk to them and listen to them.

At night we hold each other to sleep in the blue grass under the pulsing moon.  In the morning you find coffee for me.  In the dusk we sit at fires where beautiful friends sing haunting songs and tell stories.

You are everything, everything.


I look at you and feel safe and protected and known and cherished.  You hear my kind thoughts and they elevate you.

We go to swim in the jade green lake, naked and laughing with the others.



(me and one of my sisters, Annie Derek, at the Rainbow Gathering)

We understand one another. We are happy as children and everyone can see how dearly we love each other and delight in it. It radiates; it radiates.

It melts into our friendship towards everyone. We are the friends of everyone.

Later that month, back home in Pittsburgh, on the bright morning of the evening you proposed marriage – I knew psychically that you would do it.



(me, in psychedelic love with the addressee)

I readied myself; my whole being sung in glad agreement.  I walked five miles to the meeting of the three rivers in our dream city to meet you.  As I walked I was drunk with delight.

It was July 25th, the day out of time.  We planned our honeymoon to happen at the Global Rainbow Gathering at the Mayan ruins in Mexico, on the week of December 21st, when the world would end.

Then how it stung to lose you.


To lose you as our big wedding came close in the fall.  It hurt like nothing I had ever anticipated.  It felt like being burned alive.  It excoriated me. It drove me mad.

And the week before we were married in mid October, the date you insisted upon, Saturn vaulted into Scorpio again for the first time in the 28 years since I was born.

Saturn, the Great Teacher, brought hard reality to me.

Saturn in Scorpio brought the reality to me that this world is not yet the Rainbow Gathering.  That you and I can’t yet just be together under the moonlight and in the forest, with abundant food and drink and song and warmth.  That we have to work, to toil, and to stress.  And that when we stress we set each other off like evil volcanoes seething.

You drank and hid away in your drawing and music.

I woke you in the nights before the wedding with my anxieties about money and work and you hissed at me like one possessed, speaking in tongues.

I was dead I was dead I was dead I was dead I was dead.

All our friends and all our family celebrated our marriage to each other in the glorying Pennsylvania countryside on a clear, cool day.

But by then you were no longer you and I was no longer me.

Instead of angels kind and radiant, beaming love in all directions, we were both strangers, uptight and insane.

We were demons to each other, cold and cruel and hateful and frightening.


(the fire at our wedding)

I couldn’t even bear to spend our wedding night with you.  And I felt humiliated beyond every degree of shame I ever thought possible.


(confetti fallen at the wedding)

I was married in the eyes of all who knew me but my true love was nowhere I could find him. No matter how I scratched at you or wept or pounded or paced. You were a locked door with no key.


(the lovely cake)

Every morning for more than a month I woke up screaming in my bed at my parent’s house.

I howled bloody murder. I kicked and shouted each day until my mother and father begged me to stop.

All I could think of or speak of was bloody murder.


I wanted to go to our hill in the lush Allegheny cemetery, the hill where we first celebrated our love in May without anyone else’s eyes – with just a picnic and the words of Shelley and Rilke – and there murder myself, slice open my wrists with a kitchen knife and bleed out and die.

After I would stop howling in the morning, after my parents left for work, I would go to the kitchen and sharpen the knife.

And I would pray while I sharpened it, pleading Jesus and Gautama and Mary and any saint anywhere to help me live again.

And I have to tell you, brother.  Jesus and Gautama and Mary and the saints from all times and places – they kept their vows.  They spoke to me when I was shattered.

Seek and you will find. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.


Gradually in prayer I realized a truth.

I saw that you and I had lost each other due to our self-cherishing, due to our ego grasping, our self-centeredness.

And I saw that in my present form, as a mere limited human, I had no power to end your self-cherishing or to stop your self-destruction.

I could only end mine.


And I saw that if I murdered myself it would stop nothing.  It would end no one’s pain.  It would only make more pain, and I would go to hell.

And as I lay in hell all other beings on earth, all our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, would continue to suffer from their lost loves just as I suffered in those days, shouting in my bed about murdering myself as my parents cried.

I broke up with you by letter on December 21st while you traveled in Mexico on our honeymoon without me.  The world had ended.

It was unbearable, the thought of anyone else suffering as we suffered then.

I made a vow.  And I became happy again, this time with an unbreakable happiness.

I will realize Buddhahood.  I will awake utterly.


No matter what you decide to do with this life, I know who we are and I know what the purpose of our love is.

It is the same purpose possessed by all the loves of all lovers anywhere; it is total liberation for all.

I will fulfill that purpose, no matter if you don’t want to.  No matter if you are too afraid; no matter if you are too weak; no matter if you don’t understand.

I am not afraid. I am not too weak. I understand.


I have died, brother.  My will to protect my self-cherishing died in the posion flames of losing you.  The nigredo of our alchemy scorched it away.  I will never let it dominate me again.

I will leave all delusion.  I will free every being in existence, in this world and all worlds.

If you won’t free yourself, I will free you, eventually.

You can shirk your bodhisattva responsibility in this life if you want to.

You can hate, you can complain, and drink, and woo women, and amuse yourself with art and music until this round concludes.

If I determine I must no longer speak with you on earth in order to realize my goal, then I will do that without flinching.

If I should fail in this lifetime to reach Buddhahood, it doesn’t matter.  I will never never never never stop trying.  I will not forget my aspiration.

In this life or in another I will gain total virtue and siddhis of awesome power.  I will become stronger than diamond, more fleet than light.

I will find you in the bottom pit of hell with a billion others and drag you all out if I must.


I will not rest until every soul has been brought to perfect love, perfect freedom and perfect joy, including mine and yours.

I will take rebirth in samsara endlessly.

Like all my sisters, I am the Magadalene; I am Sophia; I am Prajnaparamita, the Mother of All Buddhas, born and unborn.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasangate, bodhi swaha!

Gone, gone, gone all together beyond, awake at last!

Nothing will stop me.  I will see samsara and nirvana become as one.  I will see you shine in your glory along with all my brothers, O Christ, O Maitreya.

This lifetime no longer exists for me except as a stepping stone to that oneness.  No semblance of love with you or anyone else will ever hold my attention again.

I have had enough of semblances, enough of illusions that can die.  I want only the deathless, and I will find it.

This letter is not an invitation to you to recreate the past with me.  Last summer was only a weak glimpse of the eternal.  It was shattered too easily by the hard facts of this existence and by our self-cherishing.

The romance of our self-cherishing cannot happen again, it’s over.

It’s only purpose was initiation.


The only love that is left, the only relationship there is, is the one of wisdom to compassion, of energy to emptiness, and I will realize it.

And one aeon I will be with you again under a full moon in heaven.  And this time we will be truly free.  There will be no world of theft and heartbreak to return to.  We will have dissolved it.

All our brothers and sister Buddhas will be there with us, singing near fires, telling sublime storie.

And there will be no end to this heaven, no end to anyone’s happiness.


Beings are numberless; I vow to save them.


Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to exhaust them.

Dharma-gates are boundless; I vow to pass through them.

The Buddha Way is supreme; I vow to embody it.

Happy anniversary, brother.  I love everyone, and you.