The Whale

“Enter the place you originated from.” ~ Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha


Once I dreamed of standing on the shore of the Petawawa River where it forms a small bay of water that nudges against the land that has been in the care of my father’s family for generations.  At the most northerly point of the bay one’s perspective is exposed to a high set of white water rapids strewn with gigantic boulders and marked by the frothing turbulence of tumbling water.  Downriver it runs with the clean swiftness of a youthful warrior, strong and lean.

Both shorelines, to the east and the west are guarded by ancient windblown cedar and red pine.  The trees step away from the shore where formations of granite worn smooth by time and glaciers sit with immovable steadfastness.  The place has the feeling of something ancient and if one were to listen carefully, beyond the sound of the wind rushing through the pines, one could hear the low murmur of the “Old Ones’” singsong voices.

In the dream I stood waiting at the northern end of the bay on granite that slopes toward the water eventually giving way to the sand of the narrow beach.  Soon, a young, blonde-headed man garbed in the soft-brown tunic and leggings of medieval times appeared beside me.  His smile was princely and gentle. Though I did not recognize him, he was familiar.

Without a word he formed his hands in an open-ended cup and placed them to his mouth and began to blow as if through a horn.  The sound that came was haunting and melodious.  I intuitively understood him to be teaching me to call forth a whale.  I copied his method and was able to create the sound.

The sound I was making through the instrument of my hands began somewhere at the back of my throat.  After several repetitions I felt a light pressure that pushed down into my chest cavity.  The area of my heart tingled.  At that moment my hands fell away from my mouth and a sweet song slipped from my heart in a strange and beautiful language.  I sang as if overtaken by the chant and a great blue whale emerged from the depths just below the rapids to the north. She was enticed to make her way through the water toward me.

In the distance the whale had posed no threat but as she glided closer, like some gargantuan barge I was shaken by her size.  I saw the outline of her tremendous broad back, the power of her thundering tail fin and the roar of spray expelled from her blowhole.

Behind me I felt my teacher urging me to step forward and greet this Sacred Being.  I hesitated until his suggestion grew more forceful and I knew I had no choice.  I had called her.

whale-eyeSuddenly the whale was upon me, her dark shape filling my peaceful bay with a looming, ominous shadow.  Before I knew it I was propelled halfway across the bay to the place directly above the submerged whale.  I stood ankle deep in the water, yet did not sink. I gazed down into the depths and watched the great whale turn with a graceful curve to confront me, eye to eye.

I could see clearly through the water, the long line of her smiling mouth and the intensity of her right eye which held me transfixed.  In her eye I read an invitation.  I could dare look further into that eye or not.  If not, she would be on her way without regret.

I focused my attention on the darkness that lay behind the gleaming surface of the eye.  I fell into the soul of the great blue whale and knew she was an Ancient One, as old as Creation itself.

Her usual ocean of travel was the universe and all the parallel universes.  She took me on a voyage into the stars and beyond.  She was the Ancient Keeper of records, whose purpose to record the events of the cosmos. She held within her soul the patterns of original wisdom. She showed me the formula of my own soul and then I knew what I must do in my life.

The whale bade me return to the place she had joined me in the river.  As suddenly as she had appeared she was gone. I awoke to the first rays of sunrise streaming across my face through the east window.  Gathering the image of the whale and the cosmic mysteries she revealed as reflective companions, I embarked upon the new day, my new life.

~ Agi’sti Tis’stu


Love Letter from a Bodhisattva


Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha encourages people to write love letters to the One, to themselves. Here is one I wrote…

My beloved, this day is special for us because it marks a passage of time in our lives together.  When I look into your eyes I see something wonderful that fills my heart with happiness and joy.   On this special day I wish to express the depth of my love for you and the gladness I feel for having you in my life. 

Sometimes I forget to tell you how much I care.  Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with love for you that I cannot find the words to say how much I appreciate you.  Sometimes I am simply too angry, stubborn or frustrated to let you know that even when things are not going well, my love for you is constant. 

In those moments, when my words don’t come easily, know that as sure as there are mountains that reach to the sky and pebbles that lay upon the ocean shores, my love for you spans all time and is as old as the earth itself. 

Know that as in the clarity of a pure quartz crystal, you help me to see clearly in times of confusion. 

Know that as in the softness and vulnerability of a rabbit that must use sheer determination to protect its own life, you help me to find the courage to go beyond my fears and become all that I can be. 

And as in the everlasting nature of the pine tree that remains green throughout the seasons, you help me to find faith within myself, to know that I have endless love to give and that I am also loved beyond measure.

And when the wind comes to you with the fragrance of wildflowers and sunshine, know that your presence gives me indescribable sweetness and richness beyond compare.

My beloved, know with certainty that as with the first birdsong upon the rising of the sun, each and every morning when all of life awakens to the new day, my love for you is renewed and all that lies before us is the promise of time yet to come, where we will share our precious love for each other and fulfill our dreams of happiness. 

On this special day, I give appreciation for all that you are to me and for the infinite ways you bring joy to my life.

“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” ~ Dalai Lama

~ Agi’sti Tis’stu



Not long after I met my Elder, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha she came to some of us living in the Ottawa region of Canada. She spent the evening telling us intriguing stories and making us laugh with her wonderful humor. I remember being quite pleased with myself at all the brilliant questions I was

thinking up to ask her. No sooner had she answered my question than another one leapt from my lips without even allowing her previous words to sink in.  I wanted to gobble up every possible opportunity with her to get the answer to everything that had ever felt curious about. (I believe they call this having a huge “ego!”)

After many more events like this one I began to notice when there was a large number of people participating I did not always have the chance to ask my questions, yet somehow they were answered. For a while I tested what would happen if I made a point of not asking anything, and then I tried to not even think about what I would like to ask. I practiced keeping an open mind and found the discussion inevitably came to a place where I had a profound realization, giving me precisely what inspired me the most in my current circumstances.

stillnessThen one day, Grandmother talked about asking questions, and how doing this was like having blinders on that did not allow a person to see the many possibilities.

Watch the process of your mind next time you ask a question. Do you already have an answer in mind? I can tell you that most of the time we do and if the answer given does not agree with the one in your head, there a conflict. We create an argument in our thoughts, and tend to express it aloud.  The argument locks us into what we already know and does not allow us to see the broader horizon.

Here’s a friendly hint…

When you have the opportunity to be in audience to someone that has more expertise on a particular subject than you, I suggest you allow a generous portion of your time to be in silence. It is respectful to give the expert the choice of the subject matter they wish to teach. An effective teacher usually provides a question and answer period after they have addressed the needs of the moment. It is highly likely you will learn more by practicing silence in the presence of a Master than you would if you used up the atmosphere with a bunch of your own words.

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”. ~ Dalai Lama

~ Agi’sti Tis’stu

Rivers Knows

I was with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha the first time I met my friend Rivers. He was very small, just being born in fact. Now he is a young man – brilliant, witty and gregarious.


Rivers Knows

Rivers is eight. He knows what matters. Here’s a recent conversation…

Rivers: (Wearing his cool shades like Neo, in The Matrix.) “Did you know that someday there’s going to be a big city built there?”

Me: “Where?”

Rivers: “You know – um – that place.”

Me: “Meadview?” (A town we had recently visited in Arizona.)

Rivers: “No, not Meadview! It’s – um – what do you call it – SPACE!!” (Points to the night sky where we can see a sliver of the moon.)

Me: “Are you going to live there?”

Rivers: (Serious expression.) “Only if there’s a good view. A good view of all the planets.”

Got the picture?

~ Agi’sti Tis’stu

Meeting the Grand Canyon


The first time I went to the Grand Canyon in 1989 was with Pa’Ris’Ha Taylor and some of my other friends. We flew into Phoenix and rented vans for the drive up to Sedona. It was late afternoon when we got to the canyon. We came upon a roadside lookout and pulled over. I walked to the railing and was so overwhelmed by the splendor of the canyon, all I could do was weep. It was not sadness I was feeling, it was sheer joy and the recognition of the greatness of life.

We hurried up and got back in the vehicles so we could check into our hotel. We returned to the rim of the canyon just before sunset. We all sat down on the rock near the edge to watch the sun go down. It was spectacular beyond description. I was sitting cross-legged, looking out into the distance. I watched as the velvet darkness took over the magenta/turquoise sky, and stars began to appear. It was magical.

A bit later when there was no sunlight remaining in the sky, and the midnight blue had stretched over the world in an infinite expanse, she told us stories of the time she has spent there as a younger woman.

We were filled with laughter and wonder. Pa’Ris’Ha told us to look up and try to count the stars. There were uncountable billions in the heavens, more stars than I had ever seen anywhere at once. She said, “Do you see how many stars are in the sky beloveds? As many stars as you can count – that is how much I love you.”

This was my introduction to the Grand Canyon. It pulled me out of my habitual way of thinking the world is a small place that exists inside the rooms of a house, the back yard, the street, the car or the places commonly traveled. The canyon began to teach me about the expansive, infinite nature of my own spirit and it is all about love. There is more love in the world than we could ever use up, we are surrounded by it, saturated with it. There is so much love, we could give it to everyone we meet every day of our lives and still have more to give. The reason we can experience the majesty of the wondrous places in the Earth is simply this; as human beings we contain within us the beauty and the majesty from which all great things are created, it is who and what we are.

Thinking back to that experience I realize how it has given me the courage to reach out to people now that I meet, and invite new friendships. I do not feel the need to limit my relationships to a handful of familiar friends and family. There is enough room in my life for many friends, to expand and include more people. As my circle of friends grows, my horizons expand. When I have moments where I feel the world is closing in on me, I think of the love, as boundless as the space from the base of the Grand Canyon to beyond the starlit heavens. I allow it to take me into the all-inclusive vastness to knowing that all things are possible.

~ Agi’sti Tis’stu

Love is the Silver Ladder


Love is the Silver Ladder

If my body was a beautiful palace of many rooms,

my heart would be one of those fine, spacious rooms

located about chest-height, comparatively speaking.

The room my heart occupied would glow warmly with soft, golden light

emanating from the floor,

made from the boughs and trunk of the white pine of peace,

polished to a high shimmer.

The walls would be the gentle white of adobe, reminiscent of the

inviting homes set in the Arizona desert,

whose heat is the fire that melts away all that is not of purity

and beauty.

The walls of my heart’s room would be bare except for the presence

of many expansive, crystal-clear windows,

providing an excellent view to all that is beautiful and awe-inspiring

not only in this world, but in a multitude of worlds.

There would be no furniture other than luxurious heaps of brilliantly-hued cushions

and woven rugs collected on journeys through exotic lands,

One could nestle comfortably amongst these cushions and rugs, and be tantalized

by the hint of spice and aromatic oils.

And oh, the bounteous pots of glorious green plants that would

thrive in the room of my heart,

Verdant tropical trees and palms, luscious flowering plants

native to the jungle and south-sea islands.

The room would be alive with health and vitality.

My heart place would be the most harmonious and holy room imaginable,

uniting the myriad textures of experience

into an orchestration of musical genius.

On the outside, one of the windows would be decorated with

vibrant red paint.

The fiery red of life-force and vitality.

The fiery red of sexual combustion.

The fiery red of birthing blood.

Leading up to the red-frame window would be a silver ladder,

like the silver umbilical river

the soul rides through this universe and beyond.

The silver ladder studded with the crystalline stars

of the Milky Way.

This ladder would reach to the open window of my heart,

inviting my lover to enter,

My lover would be, and is, all that moves on the wind of beauty,

the divine wind of joy.

My body is a beautiful temple of many fine rooms,


Love is the silver ladder reaching to the red-frame window

of my heart.


~ Agi’sti Tis’stu

Inspired by Grandmother Pa’Ris’ha