Saturday, July 31, 2010

not moving even one step





The rain falling too lightly to shape
an audible house, and audible tree,
blind, soaking, the old horse waits in his pasture.

He knows the field for exactly what it is:
his limitless mare, his beloved.
Even the mallards sleep in her red body maned
in thistles, hooved in the new green shallows of spring.

Slow rain streams from fetlocks, hips, the lowered head,
while she stands in the place beside him that no one sees.

The muzzles almost touch.
How silently the heart pivots on its hinge.




~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart

Friday, July 30, 2010

Listening


.
.
What is the deep listening?  Sama is
a greeting from the secret ones inside
.
the heart, a letter.  The branches of 
your intelligence grow new leaves in
.
the wind of this listening.  The body
reaches a peace.  Rooster sound comes,
.
reminding you of your love for dawn.
The reed flute and the singer's lips:
.
the knack of how spirit breathes into
us becomes as simple and ordinary as
.
eating and drinking.  The dead rise with 
the pleasure of listening.  If someone
.
can't hear a trumpet melody, sprinkle
dirt on his head and declare him dead.
.
Listen, and feel the beauty of your
separation, the unsayable absence.
.
There's a moon inside every human being.
Learn to be companions with it.  Give
.
more of your life to this listening.  As
brightness is to time, so you are to
.
the one who talks to the deep ear in
your chest.  I should sell my tongue
.
and buy a thousand ears when that
one steps near and begins to speak.
.
~ Rumi
from The Glance
translated by Coleman Barks
.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Question the Bundle Had


.
.
When summer was nearly over,
The bundles would stand in the stubble
Whispering.  One said: "For a while,
It looked like I might get away."
.
"I could have done it -
No one would have noticed.
But it was hard to know
If I should go singly, or with others."
.
Each of us resembles that
Bundle.  For years we waited
For the right moment to escape.
Perhaps it was that moment in July
.
When the thunder came.  But the next
Day it was too late.  And we
Ended up in the thresher.
Were we right to wait?
.
~ Robert Bly
an early Vincent Van Gogh
.

When the Cat Stole the Milk


.
.
Well there it is.  There's nothing to do.
The cat steals the milk and it's gone.
Then the cat steals you, and you're found
Days later, with milk on your face.
.
That implies that you become whoever
Steals you.  The trees steal a man,
And an old birch becomes his wife
And they live together in the woods.
.
Some of us have always wanted
God to steal us.  Then our friends
Would call each other, and print
Posters, and we would never be found.
.
~ Robert Bly
.

Monday, July 26, 2010

People Like Us


.
.
There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can't remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can't remember where
.
He was when they went to sleep.  It's
All right.  The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time
.
To save the house.  And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he's lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college.  Even in graduate school,
.
You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor.  And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death
you're safe.
.
Robert Bly
for James Wright
.

Words the Dreamer Spoke to my Father in Maine


.
.
Ocean light as we wake reminds us how dark
Our old house is.  That's home.  Like Hamlet,
One visit to Wittenberg is enough, and we'll soon be
Back in crazy Denmark.  I dreamt I stood
.
In a machine shop; my dead father stands beside me.
We talk, but his eyes remain on my chest.
I say to him for the first him:"Oh look at me
When we talk." I could see cubbyholes
.
With dark tools, and a rough floor stained with oil.
Clotted windows, cobwebs, a black vise.
But sunlight outside our windows speaks of ocean
Light, bone light, Labrador light, prairie light.
.
It's the same light that glints off swords, and shines
From Idaho rivers some days, and from the thin
Face just before death. I say to my father,
"We could be there if we could lift our eyes."
.
~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems
photo by Kathleen Connally
.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dark Night (excerpt)


.
.
In the delicious night,
In privacy, where no one saw me,
Nor did I see one thing,
I had no light or guide
But the fire that burned inside my chest.
.
That fire showed me
The way more clearly that the blaze of noon
To where, waiting for me,
Was the One I knew so well,
In that place where no one ever is.
.
I stood still; I forgot who I was,
My face leaning against Him,
Everything stopped, abandoned me,
My being was gone, forgotten
Among the white lilies.
.
~ Saint John of the Cross
.

But the silence in the mind




But the silence in the mind
is when we live best, within
listening distance of the silence
we call God.  This is the deep 
calling to deep of the psalm-
writer, the bottomless ocean
We launch the armada of
our thoughts on, never arriving.

It is a presence, then,
whose margins are our margins;
that calls us out over our 
own fathoms.  What to do
but draw a little nearer to
such ubiquity by remaining still?



~ R. S. Thomas

calmly and smoothly


.
.
The soul, then, being thus inwardly recollected in God or before God, now and then becomes so sweetly attentive to the goodness of her well-beloved, that her attention seems not to her to be attention, so purely and delicately is it exercised; as it happens to certain rivers, which glide so calmly and smoothly that beholders and such as float upon them, seem neither to see nor feel any motion, because the waters are not seen to ripple or flow at all.
.
~ Saint Francis de Sales
from An Introduction to the Devout Life
.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The spring woods hastening now


.
.
The spring woods hastening now
To overshadow him,
He's passing in to where
He can't see out.  It charms
Mere eyesight to believe
The nearest thing not trees
Is the sky, into which 
The trees reach, opening
Their luminous new leaves.
Burdened only by 
A weightless shawl of shade
The lighted leaves let fall,
He seems to move within
A form unpatterned to 
His eye or mind, design
Betokened to his thought
By leafshapes tossed about.
Ways untranslatable
To human tongue or hand
Seem tangled here, and yet
Are brought to light, are brought
To life, and thought finds rest
Beneath a brightened tree
In which, unseen, a warbler
Feeds and sins.  His song's
Small shapely melody
Comes down irregularly,
As all light's givings come.
.
~ Wendell Berry
photo by Kathleen Connally
.

the light changes


.
.
Can I see the buds that are swelling 
in the woods on the slopes
on the far side of the valley? I can't,
of course, nor can I see 
the twinleafs and anemones
that are blooming over there
bright-scattered above the dead
leaves.  But the swelling buds
and little blossoms make
a new softness in the light
that is visible all the way here.
The trees, the hills that were stark
in the old cold become now
tender, and the light changes.
.
~ Wendell Berry
Given
.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That which you seek and cannot find - is the Seeker


.
.
That which you seek and cannot find - is the Seeker.
.
"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."
.
The thinker is the ego, 
which if sought will automatically vanish.
Reality is simply loss of the ego.
Destroy the ego by seeking its identity.
.
Because the ego has no real existence, 
it will automatically vanish, 
and Reality will shine forth by itself in all its glory.
.
This is the direct method.
All other methods retain the ego, 
In those paths so many doubts arise, 
and the eternal question remains to be tackled. 
But in this method the final question is 
the only one and is raised from the very beginning.
.
No practices are even necessary for this quest.
.
~ Ramana Maharshi

.

And the only practice is seeing this, 
which is Awareness, 
which is this which an eye cannot see when it looks at itself.
.
Practice is deepening understanding, 
for understanding is first an intuitional glimpse of the truth of this, 
then the obtaining of this intuitional glimpse at will, 
and, finally, the permanent installation of this inseeing 
when "walking, standing, sitting and lying," in public and in private, asleep and awake.
.
~ Wei Wu Wei
from All Else is Bondage
x-ray image of a rose by albert koetsier
.


.





Song of the Barren Orange Tree


.
.
Woodcutter.
Cut my shadow from me.
Free me from the torment 
of seeing myself without fruit.
.
Why was I born among mirrors?
The day walks in circles around me,
and the night copies me
in all its stars.
.
I want to live without seeing myself.
And I will dream that ants
and thistleburrs are my
leaves and my birds.
.
Woodcutter.
Cut my shadow from me.
Free me from the torment
of seeing myself without fruit.
.
~ Federico Garcia Lorca
from The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca
translated by W.S. Merwin
.

surrender


.
.
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.  The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.  It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.  Inner resistance is to say "no" to what is, through mental judgment and emotional negativity.  It becomes particularly pronounced when things "go wrong," which means that there is a gap between the demands or rigid expectations of your mind and what is.  That is the pain gap.  If you have lived long enough, you will know that things "go wrong" quite often.  It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life.   Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being.  Resistance is the mind.
.
~ Eckhart Tolle
from The Power of Now
art by allan omarra
.
.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things to Think


.
.
Think in ways you've never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.
.
Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.
.
When someone knocks on the door, think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time, or that it's
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
.
~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems
.

a liturgy of light and growth


.
.
When suffering comes, we feel panic and fear.  Frightened, we want to hide.  You want to climb up on to some high ledge to escape the dismemberment of this acidic tide.  Yet the strange thing is: the more you resist, the longer it stays.  The more intensely you endeavor to depart the ground of pain, the more firmly you remain fixed there.  It is difficult to be gentle with yourself when you are suffering.  Gentleness helps you to stop resisting the pain that is visiting you.  When you stop resisting suffering, something else begins to happen.  You begin slowly to allow your suffering to follow its own logic.  The assumption here is that suffering does not visit you gratuitously.  There is in suffering some hidden shadowed light.  Destiny has a perspective on us and our pathway that we can never fully glimpse; it alone knows why suffering comes.   Suffering has its own reasoning.  It wants to teach us something.  When you stop resisting its dark work, you are open to learning what it wants to show you.  Often, we learn most deeply and receive profoundly from the black, lonely tide of pain.  We often see in Nature how pruning strengthens.  Fruit trees look so wounded after being pruned, yet the limitation of this cutting forces the tree to fill and flourish.   Similarly with drills of potatoes when they are raised, earth is banked up around them and seems to smother them.  Yet as the days go by the stalks grow stronger.  Suffering can often become a time of pruning.  Though it is sore and cuts into us, later we may become aware that this dark suffering was secretly a liturgy of light and growth. 
.
~ John O'Donohue
from: Eternal Echoes
.

the essence of beauty


.
.
You know when you see something like a marvelous mountain against the blue sky, the vivid, bright, clear, unpolluted snow, the majesty of it drives all your thoughts, your concerns, your problems away.  Have you noticed that?  You say, 'How beautiful it is', and for two seconds perhaps, or for even a minute, you are absolutely silent.  The grandeur of it drives away for that second, the pettiness of ourselves.  So that immensity has taken us over.  Like a child occupied with an intricate toy for an hour; he won't talk, he won't make any noise, he is completely absorbed in that.  The toy has absorbed him.  So the mountain absorbs you and therefore for the second, or the minute, you are absolutely quiet, which means there is no self.  Now, without being absorbed by something - either a toy, a mountain, a face, or an idea - to be completely without the me in oneself, is the essence of beauty.
.
J. Krishnamurti
from a talk in Saanen, July 18th 1978
.


Conversation with the Soul


.
.
The soul said, "Give me something to look at."
So I gave her a farm.  She said,
"It's too large."  So I gave her a field.
The two of us sat down.
.
Sometimes I would fall in love with a lake
Or a pine cone.  But I liked her
Most.  She knew it.
"Keep writing," she said.
.
So I did.  Each time the new snow fell,
We would be married again.
The holy dead sat down by our bed.
This went on for years.
.
"This field is getting too small," she said.
"Don't you know anyone else
To fall in love with?"
What would you have said to Her?
.
~ Robert Bly
.

.

One Source of Bad Information


.
.
There's a boy in you about three
Years old who hasn't learned a thing for thirty
Thousand years.  Sometimes it's a girl.
.
This child had to make up its mind
How to save you from death.  He said things like:
"Stay home.  Avoid elevators.  Eat only elk."
.
You live with this child, but you don't know it.
You're in the office, yes, but live with this boy
At night.  He's uninformed, but he does want
.
To save your life.  And he has.  Because of this boy
You survived a lot.  He's got six big ideas.
Five don't work.  Right now he's repeating them to you.
.
~ Robert Bly
.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

extraordinary concentrated affection


.
.
You know, when you have a small child with you, you listen to its cries, you listen to its words, its murmurs.  You are so concerned you listen; you may be asleep, but the moment he cries you wake up.  You are attentive all the time because the child is yours, you must care for it, you must love it, you must hold it.  You are so tremendously attentive that even though you are asleep, you wake up.  Now, with that same quality of attention, affection, care, you give to every movement of that child, could you watch the mirror which is yourself?  Not me, you are not listening to me: you are listening with that extraordinary concentrated affection and care to the mirror which is yourself, and to what it is telling you.  Will you do it?
.
J. Krishnamurti
from a talk at Saanen, July 18th, 1978
.

My Doubts on Going to Visit a New Friend






I'm glad that a white horse grazes in that meadow
Outside your kitchen window; even when it rains
There's still someone there.  And it rains often
In the mountains.

I have to ask myself what kind of friend I can be.
You'll want to know whether I do dishes,
Or know my share of stories, or any Wallace
Stevens poems be heart.

I know that I won't talk all the time, or steal
Money, or complain about my room,
Or undermine you, or speak disparagingly
Of your family.

I am afraid there'll be a moment when 
I fail you, friend; I will turn slightly
Away, our eyes will not meet, and out in the field
There will be no one.


Robert Bly
.

Thoughts


.
.
There's something dangerous
In being with good talkers.
.
The fly's stories of his ancestors
Don't mean much to the frog.
.
I can't be the noisy person I am
If you don't stop talking.
.
Some people talk so brilliantly
That we get small and vanish.
.
The shadows near that Dutch woman
Tell you that Rembrandt is a good listener.
.
Robert Bly
.

Visiting Sand Island


.
.
Somebody showed off and tried to tell the truth
And drank wine and went to bed.  Someone 
Woke in the night and wanted his children
To walk in the grass on this island under the stars.
.
Someone was lucky.  Someone had eyes and found
Stars.  Someone had feet and found grass.
Someone loved thought, and knew things to learn.
Someone could turn in the river and go up or down.
.
Someone thought he was unlucky, thought he didn't try
To tell the truth.  Someone thought his head was dark.
Someone tried to feel as bad as others did; someone
Flapped along the ground to draw the fox to him.
.
Tell him, friends, that the nest is now gone;
Tell him the little twigs are all dispersed.
Tell him all he has to do is walk under stars.
Tell him the fox has long since eaten his dinner.
.
Robert Bly
.

For Ruth


.
.
There's a graceful way of doing things. Birch branches
Curve slightly upward; or the wind brings a few
snowflakes down, and then joins the night;
Or you leave me a sprig of chervil and no more.
.
Each morning we have this new chance.  We can walk
A few steps behind the others down the mountain;
We can enter a conversation as if we were blessed,
Not insisting on our old way of gaining pity.
.
There's a way you have of knowing what another
May need ahead of time, before the party
Begins, as smoke sometimes disappears
Downward among branches.  And I've learned
.
From you this new way of letting a poem be.
.
Robert Bly
from Morning Poems
.

Friday, July 16, 2010

detachment from the world



.
Confusion arises because certain spiritual teachings say that detachment from the world is necessary for enlightenment.  The concept of detachment can be confused with release from pain, a way of numbing so that you don't have to experience the pains of life.  If you are not willing to fully experience the pains of love, the pains of the heart breaking open, then you close your heart in the name of comfort and control, even in the name of enlightenment.
.
Give up every idea of detachment, and experience your detachment fully.  Experience the pain and the beauty of attachment, and the grief as what you are attached to is ripped away.  Then you will recognize what can never be detached, what is not some stoic, unfeeling, unemotional, inhuman existence, but what is freely and consciously all of it.
.
~ Gangaji
from: the Diamond in your Pocket
.

Letting go of control


.
.
Letting go of control is a deeper relaxation, a floating on the ocean.  You can become aware of where you are holding on, and you can just let go and allow the ocean to hold you.  You can become aware that all your tension and clinging are unnecessary, and then relax and let yourself be supported.  In this same way you can become aware of all the mental and emotional energy that gets exerted in holding on to a particular story, and you can just let it all go.  There is a deeper intelligence than the one you use to control, and it is present to be recognized in all lives, at all moments.
.
~ Gangaji
from: the Diamond in your Pocket
.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is not the mind also an instrument of comparison?


.
.
Is not the mind also an instrument of comparison?  You say this is better than that; you compare yourself with somebody who is more beautiful, who is more clever.  There is comparison when you say, 'I remember that particular river that I saw a year ago, and it was still more beautiful'.  Your compare yourself with somebody, compare yourself with an example, with the ultimate ideal.  Comparative judgment makes the mind dull; it does not sharpen the mind, it does not make the mind comprehensive, inclusive, because, when you are all the time comparing, what has happened?  You see the sunset, and you immediately compare that sunset with the previous sunset.  You see a mountain and you see how beautiful it is.  Then you say, 'I saw a still more beautiful mountain two years ago'.  When you are comparing, you are really not looking at the sunset which is there, but you are looking at it in order to compare it with something else.  So comparison prevents you from looking fully.  I look at you, you are nice, but I say, 'I know a much nicer person, a much better person, a more noble person, a more stupid person'.  When I do this, I am not looking at you.  Because my mind is occupied with something else, I am not looking at you at all.   In the same way, I am not looking at the sunset at all.  To really look at the sunset, there must be no comparison; to really look at you, I must not compare you with someone else.  It is only when I look at you without comparative judgment that I can understand you.  But when I compare you with somebody else, then I judge you and I say, 'Oh, he is a very stupid man'.  So stupidity arises when there is comparison.  I compare you with somebody else, and that very comparison brings about a lack of human dignity.  When I look at you without comparing, I am only concerned with you, not with someone else.  The very concern about you, not comparatively, brings about human dignity.
.
So as long as the mind is comparing, there is no love, and the mind is always judging, comparing, weighing, looking to find where the weakness is.  So where there is comparison, there is no love.  When the mother and father love their children, they do not compare them, they do not compare their child with another child; it is their child and they love their child.  But you want to compare yourself with something better, with something nobler, with something richer, so you create in yourself a lack of love.  You are always concerned with yourself in relationship to somebody else.   As the mind becomes more and more comparative, more and more possessive, more and more depending, it creates a pattern in which it gets caught, so it cannot look at anything anew, afresh.
.
And so it destroys that very thing, that very perfume of life, which is love.
.
J. Krishnamurti
from a conversation with students at Rajghat School
December 19, 1952
.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kindness



.

.
Briefly
We walk this earth.
We have
But a short time.
We resemble grasses;
Green in the spring,
Brown in the summer heat,
Withering in the winter wind.
Those who understand this
Put aside their useless quarrels.
The cosmos is unfathomably vast.
The human mind is very small.
An act of kindness is never wasted;
It is the gateway to the deathless and unborn,
It is the exultation of the heart.
.
~  Jim Wilson
.

to spareness


.

You lean toward nonexistence,
but have not yet become it entirely.
For this reason, you can still be praised.

The tree unleafing enters your dominion.
An early snowfall shows you abide in all things.

Your two dimensions are line and inclination.
Therefore desire,
though is incinders each mote of its object, itself is spare.

The late paintings of Turner
prove your slender depths without limit.
The beauty too of shakuhachi and cello.

"Winter darkness. Rain. No crickets singing."
-You are there, pulling hard on the rope-end.

Remembering you, I remember also compassion.
I cannot explain this.
Nor how you live in a teabowl
or in a stone that has spent a long time in a river.
Nor the way you at times can signal your own contradiction,
meaning extra, but not by much-
"Brother, can you spare a dime," one thin man asks another.

Any room, however cluttered, gestures toward you,
declaring:
"Here lives this, not that."
In mathematics, the modest "<" sign gestures toward you.

Your season is surely November,
your fruit, persimmons ripening by coldness.

Your sound a crow cry, a bus idling at night by roadside.

Without apparent effect,
and so you remind of starlight on the colors of a cow's hide.

Your proposition, like you, is simple, of interest only to the human soul:
vast reach of all that is not, and still something is.




~ Jane Hirshfield



Daily living is the only field of action (click title to listen)




.
.
Daily living is the only field of action available to us. Daily living is the field of relationships, where self-discovery is possible. Self-discovery cannot take place in withdrawal. Even if you wish to look at yourself and get acquainted with the factuality of your inner life, you require the mirror of relationships. The relationships, the movement of relationships, in daily living are the mirror in which the factuality of your psychological structure gets reflected. And in that mirror, you can look at yourself.
.
It is only in the movement of relationships, of what you call daily living, that you can discover whether there is inner freedom OR you are bound by a number of chains: sensually, verbally, psychologically. Freedom of slavery is possible in the movement of relationships. Away from them, the word freedom has no meaning. The word peace is meaningless if you live in isolation […]
.
So whether you call it peace, whether you call it freedom, enlightenment – it can occur, it can happen only in the field of relationships which give you the opportunity for direct action. And understanding is the perfume of action. Freedom and peace are the perfume of the movement of relationship.
.
This is necessary to be clarified because spirituality, religion, spiritual inquiry are unfortunately associated with withdrawal from living. And it seems to me this withdrawal from living, this turning away from the travail of responsibilities, living with people, handling the manmade structures, etc., withdrawing from all that is a denial of inquiry. In withdrawal, in isolation, it’s like a barren field where you cannot grow.
.
Creativity requires the soil of relationship. The flowering of freedom requires the action and interaction between nature and yourself between non-human species and yourself, between human species and yourself. So one would like to emphasize the necessity of living with people, in society, so that the discovery can take place. Living somewhere in the monastery, in a temple, in an ashram, in the caves of the Himalayas or wherever, thought can project an idea of peace, it can project an idea of transformation, but it’s lifeless.
.
The friend who is sitting with you has spent months in the cave in the Himalayas, in a student life. Because there was the conditioning around her that you have to go to the Himalayas if you want inner peace, enlightenment [….] And living for months where you wouldn’t see a human being at all. And of course there was what we would call peace, but it was dead. And there was relaxation which had no dynamism. Relaxation to the extent of being sensually numbed….”
.
Vimala Thakar
from: http://sharanam.tumblr.com/
.