Wednesday, August 27, 2014

one light






‘I’ and ‘you’ are but the lattices,
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One Light shines.
‘I’ and ‘you’ are the veil
between heaven and earth;
lift this veil and you will see
no longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
When ‘I’ and ‘you’ do not exist,
what is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?



~ Mahmud Shabistari




Mahmud Shabistari was one of Sufi’s greatest poets of the 14th Century. Like Rumi, Shabistari lived in turbulent times. This period was often fraught with dangers, in particular the Mongol invasions brought much devastation. However Shabistari was able to write much poetry and synthesise much of the Sufi wisdom. He had a style similar to Ibn Arabi and expressed Sufi philosophy in a moving and simple language. As David Fieldler says of Shabistari

“ Shabistari possessed a unique genius for summarizing the profound and often complex teachings of Sufism in a beautiful, aphoristic, and concise fashion, which often leaves the reader speechless when the deeper meanings of his verse are grasped. “


The Secret Rose Garden by Shabistari Shabistari (1317 A.D.) must be reckoned among the greatest mystical poetry of any time or land. Treating such themes as the Self and the One, The Spiritual Journey, Time and this Dream-World, and the ecstasy of Divine Inebriation, Shabistari’s work is a perennial witness to the capabilities and destiny of humanity. Stressing the One Light that exists at the heart of all religious traditions, Shabistari's work is one of the clearest and most concise guides to the inner meaning of Sufism, and offers a stunningly direct exposition of Sufi mystical thought in poetic form.

~ Comments from Poet Seers



Monday, August 25, 2014

the lesson of the falling leaves






the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god.
i agree with the leaves.


~ Lucille Clifton
with thanks to love is a place



Sunday, August 3, 2014

late ripeness







Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered 
the clarity of early morning. 
One after another my former lives were departing, 
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas 
assigned to my brush came closer, 
ready now to be described better than they were before. 
I was not separated from people, 
grief and pity joined us. 
We forget — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King. 
For where we come from there is no division 
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be. 
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part 
of the gift we received for our long journey. 
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago - 
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror 
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel 
staving its hull against a reef — they dwell in us, 
waiting for a fulfillment. 
I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard, 
as are all men and women living at the same time, 
whether they are aware of it or not. 





~Czeslaw Milosz
from Collected Poems, 1931-1987
art by van gogh
with thanks to http://deathdeconstructed.blogspot.com/




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

it takes so long to finish a poem







My hand remembers stroking a sleek bird years ago, 
one which was crouching under my fingers, 
longing for the sky roof on top of the cabin roof, 
the forgiveness high in the air.  

As for me, I have given so many hours to the ecstasy of detail, 
the shadow of the closing door, 
the final syllable of that poem which is already gone, 
looking back over its shoulder.  

Well, well... sometimes in our slow hours a child climbs down into this world.




~ Robert Bly
from Reaching Out to the World -
 New & Selected Prose Poems




Monday, June 30, 2014

reply to a letter







In the bottom drawer I find a letter which arrived for the first time twenty- six years ago. A letter written in panic, which continues to breathe when it arrives for the second time.
A house has five windows; through four of them daylight shines clear and still. The fifth window faces a dark sky, thunder and storm. I stand by the fifth window. The letter.
Sometimes a wide abyss separates Tuesday from Wednesday, but twenty-six years may pass in a moment. Time is no straight line. but rather a labyrinth. and if you press yourself against the wall, at the right spot, you can hear the hurrying steps and the voices, you can hear yourself walking past on the other side.
Was that letter ever answered? l don't remember, it was a long time ago. The innumerable thresholds of the sea continued to wander. The heart continued to leap from second to second, like the toad in the wet grass of a night in August.
The unanswered letters gather up above, like cirrostratus clouds foreboding a storm. They dim the rays of the sun. One day l shall reply. One day when I am dead and at last free to collect my thoughts. Or at least so far away from here that l can rediscover myself. When recently arrived I walk in the great city. On 25th Street, on the windy streets of dancing garbage. I who love to stroll and merge with the crowd, a capital letter T in the infinite body of text.





~ Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Göran Malmqvist
from The Blue House
art by emile claus
with thanks to whiskey river


Sunday, June 29, 2014

eyes are blind




‘People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…”

“They don’t find it,” I answered.

“And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

“Of course,” I answered.

And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.’




~  Antoine de Saint-Exupery
from The Little Prince


born in Lyon in 1900. He was rather a poor student, and he failed his entrance exam to the naval academy, but he joined the French army in 1921, and that's where he flew his first plane. He left the military five years later and began flying airmail routes into the Sahara Desert, eventually becoming the director of a remote airfield in Rio de Oro. Living conditions were Spartan, but he said, "I have never loved my house more than when I lived in the desert." He wrote his first novel, Southern Mail (1929), in the Sahara and never lost his love for the desert.

In 1929, he moved to South America to fly the mail through the Andes, and he later returned to carry the post between Casablanca and Port-étienne. He worked as a test pilot and a journalist throughout the 1930s, and survived several plane crashes. He also got married in 1931, to Consuelo Gómez Carrillo. She wrote of him in her memoir, "He wasn't like other people, but like a child or an angel who has fallen down from the sky."

He rejoined the French army upon the outbreak of World War II, but when the Nazis invaded France in 1940, he fled to the United States, hoping to serve the U.S. forces as a fighter pilot. He was turned down because of his age, and, homesick and discouraged, he began his best-known book, The Little Prince (1943). The following year, he returned to North Africa to fly a warplane for France. He took off on a mission on July 31, 1944, and was never heard from again.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

tribute








~ Jane Goodall

the immense expanse beyond








The search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding. Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh. We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore. Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another. Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap. They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath.




~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
from Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion
photo by Ansel Adams
with thanks to whiskey river


Thursday, June 26, 2014

the blue house






It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishads of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.





~ Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Göran Malmqvist


Sunday, June 22, 2014

a mind that lets go




Do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom.
Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.




~ Achaan Chah,  (1918-1992)


(Ajahn (sometimes spelled Achaan) Chah was born into a large and comfortable family in a rural village in Northeast Thailand. He ordained as a novice in early youth and on reaching the age of twenty took higher ordination as a monk. As a young monk he studied some basic Dhamma, Discipline and scriptures. Later he practiced meditation under the guidance of several of the local Meditation Masters in the Ascetic Forest Tradition. He wandered for a number of years in the style of an ascetic monk, sleeping in forests, caves and cremation grounds, and spent a short but enlightening period with Ajahn Mun, one of the most famous and respected Thai Meditation Masters of this century.)


a blaze of light








There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah


~ Leonard Cohen





My eyes so fix
upon your image
that whatever I gaze at
I imagine you.



~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes



Thursday, June 19, 2014

after work






I stop the car along the pasture edge,
gather up bags of corncobs from the back,
and get out.
Two whistles, one for each,
and familiar sounds draw close in darkness—
cadence of hoof on hardened bottomland,
twinned blowing of air through nostrils curious, flared.
They come deepened and muscular movements
conjured out of sleep: each small noise and scent
heavy with earth, simple beyond communion,
beyond the stretched-out hand from which they calmly
take corncobs, pulling away as I hold
until the mid-points snap.
They are careful of my fingers,
offering that animal-knowledge,
the respect which is due to strangers;
and in the night, their mares' eyes shine, reflecting stars,
the entire, outer light of the world here.




~ Jane Hirshfield 
from Of Gravity and Angels



Sunday, June 15, 2014

reflected





Reflected
in the dragonfly's eye -
mountains.




Kobayashi Issa
(1763-1828)
from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter
translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto





Friday, June 13, 2014

sea foam











Moment by moment you await understanding, spiritual perception, peace and good to arrive from nonexistence. Nonexistence, then, is God's factory from which He continually produces goods.

He has caused what is nonexistent to appear magnificently existent, while the truly existent He has caused to appear as nonexistent.
He has hidden the Sea, yet made the foam visible;
He has concealed the Wind, but displayed the dust.

The dust whirls in the air higher than a minaret: does it rise by itself? You see the dust borne high, but the Wind you don't see, although you can surmise it.

You see the white-capped waves tumbling in every direction, but without the Sea the foam has no way to move.
You see the foam by sense perception and the Sea by induction:
just as speech is manifest and thought is hidden.


~ Rumi
art by O'Keeffe


stretch out








Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.

Make a new water-mark on your excitement
And love.
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
Chatting
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
You. 




~ Hafiz