Sunday, February 28, 2010

Returning

.
.


You can live for years next door
to a big pine tree, honored to have
so venerable a neighbor, even
when it sheds needles all over your flowers
or wakes you, dropping big cones
onto your deck at still of night.
Only when, before dawn one year
at the vernal equinox, the wind
rises and rises, raising images
of cockleshell boats tossed among huge
advancing walls of waves,
do you become aware that always,
under respect, under your faith
in the pine tree’s beauty, there lies
the fear it will crash someday
down on your house, on you in your bed,
on the fragility of the safe
dailiness you have almost
grown used to.
.
Denise Levertov
Photo from Quiet Time
.

in timelessness and nowhere

.
Home again. But what was home? 
The fish has vast ocean for home. 
And man has timelessness and nowhere. 
"I won't delude myself with the fallacy of home," he said to himself.
 The four walls are a blanket I wrap around in,
 in timelessness and nowhere, to go to sleep.
.
~ D.H. Lawrence
.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

.


.
My prayer is to die underneath the
Blossoming cherry,
In that spring month of flowers,
When the moon is full.

Saigyo
The wooden statue of Miroku Bosatsu, one of the treasures of Koryu-ji Temple, is regarded as an outstanding example of beauty and purity in Japanese art.
.
.


Loveliest of what I leave behind is the sunlight,
And loveliest after that, the shining stars and the moon’s face,
but also cucumbers that are ripe, and pears, and apples
— Praxilla of Sicyon, 5th century B.C.
.

The snowfall is so silent





The snowfall is so silent,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.



~ Miguel de Unamuno
translated by Robert Bly



Friday, February 26, 2010

By the inquiry 'Who am I?'


.
.
"By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.
The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization."
.
Ramana Maharshi
.

The time will come


.
.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
.
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
.
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
.
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
.
~ Derek Walcott
.

we have picked up the habits of thinking of those around us


.
.
More often than not, we have picked up the habits of thinking of those around us.  These thought-habits are not yours; they can damage the way you see the world and make you doubt your own instinct and sense of life.  When you become aware that your thinking has a life of its own, you will never make a prison of your own perception.  Your vision is your home.  A closed vision always wants to make a small room out of whatever it sees.  Thinking that limits you denies you life.  In order to deconstruct the inner prison, the first step is learning to see that it is a prison.  You can move in the direction of this discovery by reflecting on the places where your life feels limited and tight.  To recognize the crippling feeling of being limited is already to have begun moving beyond it.  Heidegger said, "To recognize a frontier is already to have gone beyond it."  Life continues to remain faithful to us.  If we move even the smallest step out of our limitation, life comes to embrace us and lead us out into the pastures of possibility.
.
~ John O'Donohue, from 'Eternal Echoes'
.

that is my medicine


.
.
When the wind blows
that is my medicine
When it rains
that is my medicine
When it hails
that is my medicine
When it becomes clear after a storm
that is my medicine
.
Holy Woman Poem
.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why is there a fear of death?

.
Questioner:  The fact of death stares everybody in the face, yet its mystery is never solved.  Must it always be so?


Krishnamurti:  Why is there a fear of death?  When we cling to continuity, there is the fear of death. Incomplete action brings the fear of death.  There is a fear of death as long as there is the desire for continuity in character, continuity in action, in capacity, in the name, and so on.  As long as there is action seeking a result, there must be the thinker who is seeking continuity.  Fear comes into being when this continuity is threatened through death.  So, there is fear of death as long as there is the desire for continuity.  
     That which continues disintegrates.  Any form of continuity, however noble, is a process of disintegration.  In continuity there is never renewal, and only in renewal is there freedom from the fear of death.  If we see the truth of this, then we will see the truth in the false.  Then there would be the liberation from the false.  Then there would be no fear of death.  Thus living, experiencing, is in the present and not a means of continuity.
     Is it possible to live from moment to moment with renewal?  There is renewal only in ending and not in continuity.  In the interval between the ending and the beginning of another problem, there is renewal.
     Death, the state of non-continuity, the state of rebirth, is the unknown.  Death is the unknown.  The mind, which is the result of continuity, cannot know the unknown.  It can know only the known.  It can only act and have its being in the known, which is continuous.  So the known is in fear of the unknown.  The known can never know the unknown, and so death remains the mystery.  If there is an ending from moment to moment, from day to day, in this ending the unknown comes into being.
     Immortality is not the continuation of "me".  The me and the mine is of time, the result of action towards an end.  So there is no relationship between the me and the mine and that which is immortal, timeless.  We would like to think there is a relationship, but this is an illusion.  That which is immeasurable cannot be caught in the net of time.
     There is fear of death where there is search for fulfillment.  Fulfillment has no ending.  Desire is constantly seeking and changing the object of fulfillment, and so it is caught in the net of time.  So the search for self-fulfillment is another form of continuity, and frustration seeks death as a means of continuity.  Truth is not continuous.  Truth is a state of being, and being is action without time.  This being can be experienced only when desire, which gives birth to continuity, is wholly and completely understood.  Thought is founded on the past, so thought cannot know the unknown, the immeasurable.  The thought process must come to an end.  Then only the unknowable comes into being.
.
~ J. Krishnamurti, from a talk in Bombay March 14 1948
.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a state of magical simplicity

.
.
To practice Zen means to realize one's existence 
moment after moment,
 rather than letting life unravel in regret of the past 
and daydreaming of the future.
 .
To "rest in the present"
 is a state of magical simplicity, 
although attainment of this state is not as simple as it sounds.
.
~  Peter Matthiessen, from 'Nine-Headed Dragon River'
.

stop chasing so many things


.
.
My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows long.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of the woodcutter.

The sun shines and I mend my robe.
When the moon comes out, I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing so many things.
.
~ Ryokan
.

Hope is as hollow as fear


.
.
Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
Your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
You will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
That arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
What do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
Then you can care for all things.
.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010



.
.
Thought proceeds in a line, while the real world does not. Thought is sequential, successive, one-dimensional, while the real world presents itself as a multidimensional, simultaneous pattern of infinite variety. Thought presents us with the convincing illusion that the world is multiple, separate and independent things existing out there.

As everybody knows, you can’t think of even two or three 
things at once without being thrown into confusion, and so, to introduce some measure of coherence and order, the thought process, with the help of memory, strings out all the separate bits of attention along a line which it creates for that very purpose. This line of successive bits of narrowed attention is nothing other than time. In other words, time is nothing more than thought’s successive way of viewing the world. But by habitually viewing everything in this linear, successive fashion, we arrive at the conclusion that everything proceeds in a line. Everything, however, does not proceed in a line - it happens simultaneously - every-where-at-once. The sun is shining, your heart is beating, birds are singing, the kids are playing, your lungs are breathing, the dog is barking, the wind is blowing, crickets are chirping - these phenomena do not proceed one after another nor follow one another in time - they are all happening everywhere at once, no before, no after. Reality does not proceed in a line, it does not proceed in time, it has the whole of its existence simultaneously.

The whole notion of succession, of one 
thing succeeding another thing in time, depends directly upon our process of memory. Memory creates an illusion of the past, and we generate a vivid sense of time and that we are somehow moving through it towards the future. The whole idea of time depends upon the notion that, through memory, we know the actual past. But, strictly speaking, we are never directly aware of a real past at all, we are only aware of a memory-picture of the past, and memory exists only in and as the present.

You are not looking at the real past at all. You are looking at a present trace of the past. From memories you infer that there have been past events, but you know the past only 
in the present and as part of the present.

In remembering any past event, you are never aware of any actual past at all, but only dim pictures of the past, and those pictures exist only as a present experience.

The same holds true for the 
future as well, because any thought of the future is nevertheless a present thought. We know the past and the future only in the present and as part of the present. Thus, the only time we are ever aware of is Now. There is only a Now that includes memories and expectations. It is out of this that we conjure up, out of this present moment, the vast illusion called Time.

When memory is no longer imagined to be a real knowledge of the 
past, but is instead understood to be a present experience, it can been seen that this present moment contains all time and is therefore itself timeless, and that this timeless present is Eternity itself. Eternity exists in its entirety right now. The universe and all things in it are being created Now. God is always creating the world now, this instant, and it is only to creatures of time that the creation presents itself as a series of events, or evolution.

Think of the past - that is a present act; anticipate the future - that is also a present act. Any evidence of a past exists only in the present, and any reason to believe in a future also exists only in the present. When the real past happened, it wasn’t past but present, and when the real future arrives, it won’t be the future, it will be the present. Thus, the only time of which we are ever aware is the present moment, this moment, which contains all time, is itself timeless, which is Eternity. All time is now. Time is a vast illusion. Eternity is not everlasting time but the real, indestructible, timeless present. The present is the only thing that has no end.
.
~ Ken Wilber, from ‘
The Spectrum of Consciousness’
.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Once, there was a fellow



.
.
Once, there was a fellow who wanted out of the Zen monastery where he was living. In Zen monasteries you must pay constant attention to what you’re doing, what you’re experiencing from moment to moment. After a time, this can get to you, which is precisely what happened to this fellow.

He went to see the master and said, “I can’t take this anymore. I want out.”

The master said, “Okay, then leave.”

He started for the door, and the master said, “That’s not your door.”

“Oh. Sorry.” The fellow looked around and spotted another door. As he headed for it, the master said, “That’s not your door.”

“Oh!” He looked around for another door, and as he headed for that one, the master said, “That’s not your door!”

Bewildered and exasperated, the poor fellow said, “What do you mean? There’s 
no other door. You told me I could leave, but there’s no door I can leave by.”

“If there’s no door you can leave by,” said the master, “then sit down.”

We can only be 
here. We can’t leave. We’re always here. Examine your life and you’ll see. The master’s “sit down” means to start paying attention to what’s actually going on, instead of running away from it. This is how it is with us. Because we ignore our true situation, we’re never satisfied.
.
~ Steve Hagen
.

It is believed by most



.
.
It is believed by most
that time passes;
in actual fact,
it stays where it is.
This idea of passing may be called time,
but it is an incorrect idea,
for since one sees it only as passing,
one cannot understand that it stays just where it is.
.
~ Dogen Zenji
.

Thought is the form of the mind's desire

.

Thought is the form of the mind's desire.  It is in our thinking that the depth of our longing comes to expression.  This longing can never be fulfilled by any one person, project, or thing.  The secret immensity of the soul is the longing for the divine.  This is not simply a haunted desire for an absent, distant divine presence that is totally different from us.  Our longing is passionate and endless because the divine calls us home to presence.  Our longing is an echo of the divine longing for us.  Our longing is the living imprint of divine desire.  This desire lives in each of us in that ineffable space in the heart where nothing else can satisfy or still us.  This is what gives us that vital gift we have called "the sense of life." 

The wonder of presence is the majesty of what it so subtly conceals.  Real presence is eternity become radiant.   This is why the "sense of life" in us has such power and vitality.  Our deepest longing is like a restless artist who tirelessly seeks to make our presence real in order that the mystery we harbour may become known to us.  The glory of human presence is the divine longing fully alive.




~ John O'Donohue, from 'Eternal Echoes'
.

Friday, February 19, 2010

dying each minute, never accumulating



.
To understand the beauty and the extraordinary nature of death, there must be freedom from the known.  In dying to the known is the beginning of the understanding of death, because then the mind is made fresh, new, and there is no fear.  Therefore one can enter into the state called death.  So, from the beginning to the end, life and death are one.  The wise man understands time, thought, and sorrow, and only he can understand death. The mind that is dying each minute, never accumulating, never gathering experience, is innocent, and is therefore in a constant state of love.
.
~ J. Krishnamurti, from a talk on July 28th 1964
.

Before sorrow



.
Before sorrow, anger,
longing, or fear have arisen,
you are in the center.
When these emotions appear
and you know how to see through them,
you are in harmony.
That center is the root of the universe;
that harmony is the Tao,
which reaches out to all things.
.
~ Stephen Mitchell, from 'The Second Book of the Tao'


.

a natural action





.
"The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life,
the more you realize that how you use it, 
how you manifest it, is all your responsibility. 
We face such a big task so, naturally, 
such a person sits down for a while.
.
It's not an intended action, it's a natural action."
.
~ Kobun Chino
.

my life

.

.
My mistakes are my life.
.
~ Samuel Beckett
.

surrender is the first step

.



[Since nature’s] beauties were such that even a fool could not force them into competition, this cured me once and for all of the pernicious tendency to compare and to prefer -an operation that does little good even when we are dealing with works of art and endless harm when we are dealing with nature. Total surrender is the first step towards the fruition of either. Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.





~ C. S. Lewis
 from Surprised by Joy

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To us all towns are one, all men our kin



.

To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill.
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Death’s no new thing, nor do our blossoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.
.
~ Kaniyan Poongundran
(Translated by G.U.Pope)
.

How do I love thee?



.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Untouchable



.
All you want me to bring back is a rock. No gifts,
no fine words - not even these. But you must 
understand I have spent a lifetime making my way 
to the edge of this stream where I sit in the spent
leaves writing what I know cannot be written. As 
twilight thickens over my fingers, I realize these 
words are falling short of the page. At last I see
your stone, luminescent in the gurgling darkness.
Forgive me for returning empty-handed, but if
I touch it now, I may never get home.
.
~ Jim Sagel
.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speak to us of Self-Knowledge

.

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.


And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.


Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.


~ Kahlil Gibran
.

I am thinking of the space between the stars



Estrella Fugaz
 
I am thinking of the space between the stars when
a tail of fire abruptly blazes in the San Ildefonso sky.
Just so unpredictably did I tumble from orbit, my
identity engulfed in flames.  Yet, my only wish is to
fall out of myself again and again.
 

****

Runoff
 
Braced against the current, I battle the swollen creek
for a foothold on these ricks polished by the water's
desire for the sea, the same insatiable thirst that
surges though my blood.
 

~ Jim Sagel, from 'unexpected turn'

Monday, February 8, 2010

Always in the big woods





Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anyone else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.

~ Wendell Berry

Two drinking songs



.
1.
I built my hut near where people live
and yet I hear no traffic noise or sound of wheels.
Could you tell me what is happening?
An aloneness gathers around the soul that is alone.
I pick chrysanthemums underneath the east hedge,
the mountains to the south are clear.
The mountain air at sunset is so wonderful,
and the birds coming home, one after the other.
In all these details there are secret truths;
but when I try to shift to language, it all slops away.
.
2.
Such a strong color on the late chrysanthemums!
The stalk sways stoutly, flower wet with dew, open.
Wandering drunk in this beauty, who cares about my sorrows.
I have left excitement behind, and what is not done.
Alone, I take a drink.
The bottle tilts by itself when the cup is empty.
When the sun goes down, all bustle stops,
and the birds on their return call from the leaves.
I walk around my study shouting and proud
because I can take up this life again.
.
~ Tao Yuan-Ming
.

bamboo



.

What exists wants to persist.
Even the knock of bamboo on bamboo
spilled outward continues.
And you who have lived - restless, ambitious, aggrieved.
A Walter,  a Shirley, a Tim.
A Carlos,  a Teisha,  a Haavo.
Do not think it unchanged, this world you are leaving.









~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Old men sleeping in speeding cars





Old men sleeping
in speeding cars,
a hawk on a boulder
dripping with fog,
ten deer
in an autumn meadow,
yellow
aspen,
bishop pines
by the ocean.
These all speak more
as our stiff-
ness re-
laxes
into new birth.
The worth
of things
cracks open
and shows
the intestines.

Glittering
gold
trembling
on darkness.




~ Michael McClure

Quiet minds



.
Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or
frightened but go on in fortune or
misfortune at their own private pace,  like
a clock during a thunderstorm.
.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
.

I wearied myself searching for the friend





I wearied myself searching for the friend
With efforts beyond my strength
I came to the door
And saw how powerfully the locks were bolted
And the longing in me became that strong
And then I saw that I was gazing from within the presence
Only after that waiting and giving up all trying
Did Lalla flow out from where I knelt


"Gently I weep for my mind,
caught in its illusion of ownership.
Mind,  you're not who you think you are.
You're dancing over a pit.
Soon you'll fall through,
And these things,  you've valued
And collected will be left behind."




~ Lalla

Sometimes



.
Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time.
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.
.
~ Ojibway
.

Human desire



.
Human desire differs from animal desire in that it is at root insatiable. Man is characterized by a hunger for the infinite, for an eternity of life, love and joy which, whether he knows it or not, can be nothing other than God. Assuming that God exists, it will follow that God is man's true end, for the appetite of a living organism shows its function. The stomach hungers for food because it's function is to digest food. As physical taste and hunger may often be mistaken as to their true object, desiring nothing but caviar instead of a balanced diet, man is often mistaken as to the goal of his life, desiring wealth, power or physical pleasure instead of God. But his real appetite continues to be God, for which these lesser goals are always unsatisfactory substitutes. Those who set their hearts on finite goals are always discontented; they must always have more and more and more of what they desire, and failing this are frustrated and miserable. Profound contentment is only enjoyed by animals and primitives, in which infinite hunger has not been awakened, and by the saints and mystics who have realized union with God.
.
- Alan Watts
.

Know the Self as lord of the chariot


.
.
Know the Self as lord of the chariot,
The body as the chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as
The Charioteer, and the mind as reins.
.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses;
Selfish desires are the roads they travel.
When the Self is confused with the body,
Mind, and senses, they point out, he seems
To enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.
.
When a person lacks discrimination
And his mind is undisciplined, the senses
Run hither and thither like wild horses.
But they obey the rein like trained horses
When one has discrimination and 
Has made the mind one-pointed...

...
Knowing the senses to be separate
From the Self, and the sense experience
To be fleeting, the wise grieve no more.
.
Above the senses is the mind, above
The mind is the intellect, above that
Is the ego, and above the ego
Is the unmanifested Cause...
.
~ Katha Upanishad
.