Friday, December 31, 2010
The rain has stopped,
the clouds have drifted away,
and the weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure,
then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world,
then the moon and the flowers
will guide you along the way.
photo by Hideyuki Katagiri
thanks to http://dhammanovice.tumblr.com/
Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with our busy thoughts.
Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still.
And imagine if that moment were to go on and on,
leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision
which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy,
so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination
which leaves us breathless.
~ Saint Augustine
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think...and think... while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time
If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?
The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten -
that is all fantasy.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the
City of Death
If you make love with the divine now, in the next
life you will have the face of satisfied desire.
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!
Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Whoever you are: some evening take a step,
out of your house, which you know so well.
Enormous space is near, your house lies where it begins,
whoever you are.
Your eyes find it hard to tear themselves
from the sloping threshold, but with your eyes,
slowly, slowly, lift one black tree
up, so it stands against the sky, skinny, alone.
With that you have made the world, the world is immense
and like a word that is still growing in the silence.
In the same moment that your will grasps it,
your eyes, feeling its subtlety will leave it....
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Robert Bly
I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
freely adopt as my own:
but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:
I said what is more lowly than the grass:
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up
and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:
I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:
at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
~ A. R. Ammons
thanks to http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The shoes put on each time
left first, then right.
The morning potion’s teaspoon
of sweetness stirred always
for seven circlings—no fewer, no more—
into the cracked blue cup.
Touching the pocket for wallet,
before closing the door.
How did we come
to believe these small rituals’ promise,
that we are today the selves we yesterday knew,
tomorrow will be?
How intimate and unthinking,
the way the toothbrush is shaken dry after use,
the part we wash first in the bath.
Which habits we learned from others
and which are ours alone we may never know.
Unbearable to acknowledge
how much they are themselves our fated life.
Open the traveling suitcase—
There the beloved red sweater,
bright tangle of necklace, earrings of amber.
Each confirming: I chose these, I.
But habit is different: it chooses.
And we, its good horse,
opening our mouths at even the sight of the bit.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt
An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill,
Overrun with rank weeks growing unchecked year after year;
There is no one left to tend the tomb,
And only an occasional woodcutter passes by.
Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair,
Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River.
One morning I set off on my solitary journey
And the years passed between us in silence.
Now I have returned to find him at rest here;
How can I honor his departed spirit?
I pour a dipper of pure water over his tombstone
And offer a silent prayer.
The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill
And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines.
I try to pull myself away but cannot;
A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.
art by Thomas Wood
Monday, December 27, 2010
Though he was ill and in pain,
in disobedience to the instruction he
would have received if he had asked,
the old man got up from his bed,
dressed, and went to the barn.
The bare branches of winter had emerged
through the last leaf-colors of fall,
the loveliest of all, browns and yellows
delicate and nameless in the gray light
and the sifting rain. He put feed
in the troughs for eighteen ewe lambs,
sent the dog for them,. and she
brought them. They came eager
to their feed, and he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding
eased. From no place in the time
of present places, within no boundary
nameable in human thought,
they had gathered once again,
the shepherd, his sheep, and his dog
with all the known and the unknown
round about to the heavens' limit.
Was this his stubbornness or bravado?
No. Only an ordinary act
of profoundest intimacy in a day
that might have been better. Still
the world persisted in its beauty,
he in his gratitude, and for this
he had most earnestly prayed.
~ Wendell Berry
Sunday, December 26, 2010
If your hermitage is deep in the mountains
surely the moon, flowers, and maple trees [momji]
will become your friends.
Men of the world passing this way are few,
Dense grass conceals the door
All night in silence, a few woodchips burn slowly,
As I read the poems of the ancients.
I sit quietly, listening to the falling leaves--
A lonely hut, a life of renunciation ...
this hut of sticks,
flimsy as the world itself.
My hermitage lies in a forest all around me,
Everything is thick and green
no one finds this place,
Only those who have lost their way.
No news of the affairs of men
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
A thousand peaks, ten thousand mountain streams
yet no signs of anyone.
art by Cezanne
The great good news is that
love is free and it has not gone anywhere.
In all of these eons that you have been hiding from love,
love is still here,
it is still open,
it is still waiting for your commitment,
still waiting for you to say,
"Yes, I give my life to the truth of love.
I vow to let love live this life as it will,
for better or worse, for richer or poorer."
The love that you search for everywhere is already present within you.
It may be evoked by any number of people or events.
A mountain can evoke this love.
A sunset can evoke this love.
But finally, you must realize you are this love.
The source of all love is within you.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden here.
The continents blasted, cities and little towns,
everything become a scorched blacked ball.
The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here is
there is no news at all.
Time to ignore sensible advice,
to untie the knots our culture ties us with.
Cut to the quick.
Put cotton in both sentimental ears.
Go back into the reedbed.
Let cane sugar rise again in you.
No rules or daily duties.
Those do not bring the peace of silence.
translation by Coleman Barks
from Rumi - The Big Red Book
Happy are those who know
behind all words, the Unsayable stands,
and from that source, the Infinite
crosses over to gladness, and us.
Free of those bridges we raise
with constructed distinctions;
so that always, in each separate joy,
we gaze at the single, wholly mutual core.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Friday, December 24, 2010
Keep your intelligence white-hot
and your grief glistening
so your life will stay fresh.
Cry easily like a little baby.
thanks to http://mindfulheart.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
If the soul was born with pinions
What are hovels to it, what are mansions?
What's Genghis Khan to it and what his Horde?
I have two enemies in all the world,
Two twins, inseparably fused:
The hunger of the hungry and the fullness of the full.
Marina Tsvetaeva, (1892-1941)
translation by David McDuff
(Born in Moscow, she married Sergey Efron who fought with the White Guard. One of her two children died of malnutrition in 1920. They lived in exile in Prague and Paris. Even though Sergey was secretly a soviet informer during their exile, he was executed by the secret police on their return to the Soviet Union. Tsvetaeva hanged herself in 1941.)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.
~ Mary Oliver
from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays
Grace is not something to be acquired from others.
If it is external, it is useless.
All that is necessary is to know its existence in you.
~ Ramana Maharshi
That would be waving and that would be crying,
Crying and shouting and meaning farewell,
Farewell in the eyes and farewell at the centre,
Just to stand still without moving a hand.
In a world without heaven to follow, the stops
Would be endings, more poignant than partings, profounder,
And that would be saying farewell, repeating farewell,
Just to be there and just to behold.
To be one's singular self, to despise
The being that yielded so little, acquired
So little, too little to care, to turn
to the ever-jubilant weather, to sip
One's cup and never to say a word,
Or to sleep or just to lie there still,
Just to be there, just to be beheld,
That would be bidding farewell, be bidding farewell.
One likes to practice the thing. They practice,
Enough, for heaven. Ever-jubilant,
What is there here but weather, what spirit
Have I except it comes from the sun?
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation. When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy. When we choose indifference, we betray our world. Yet the world is not decided by action alone. It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior. The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together. Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows...
~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
Parzival approaches the grail castle
If for a moment
the leaves fell upward,
if it seemed a small flock
of brown-orange birds
circled over the trees,
if they circled then scattered each in
its own direction for the lost seed
they had spotted in tall, gold-checkered grass.
If the bloom of flies on the window
in morning sun, if their singing insistence
on grief and desire. If the fish.
If the rise of the fish.
If the blue morning held in the glass of the window,
if my fingers, my palms. If my thighs.
If your hands, if my thighs.
If the seeds, among all the lost gold of the grass.
If your hands on my thighs, if your tongue.
If the leaves. If the singing fell upward. If grief.
For a moment if singing and grief.
If the blue of the body fell upward, out of our hands.
If the morning held it like leaves.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart
Saturday, December 18, 2010
What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.)
Space reaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Uncollected Poems
Friday, December 17, 2010
You will know love when the mind is very still and free from its search for gratification and escapes. First, the mind must come entirely to an end. Mind is the result of thought, and thought is merely a passage, a means to an end. When life is merely a passage to something, how can there be love? Love comes into being when the mind is naturally quiet, not made quiet, when it sees the false as false and the true as true. When the mind is quiet, then whatever happens is the action of love, it is not the action of knowledge. Knowledge is mere experience, and experience is not love. Experience cannot know love. Love comes into being when we understand the total process of ourselves, and the understanding of ourselves is the beginning of wisdom.
~ J. Krishnamurti
from his talk in Madras, Feb. 5th 1950
It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind.
The simple act of reading poetry
alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath.
Poetry induces trance.
Its words are chant. Its rhythms are drum beats.
Its images become the icons
of the inner eye.
Poetry is more than a description
of the sacred experience;
it carries the experience itself.
~ Ivan M. Granger
find Ivan at: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/G/GrangerIvanM/index.htm
Thursday, December 16, 2010
And so to stand firmly and avoid pitfalls,
keep to the path you are on.
Let your longing relentlessly beat upon the cloud of unknowing
that lies between you and your God.
Pierce that cloud with the keen shaft of your love,
spurn the thought of anything less,
and do not give up this work for anything.
For the contemplative work of love by itself will eventually heal you...
And so diligently persevere until you feel joy in it. For in the beginning it is usual to feel nothing but a kind of darkness about your mind, or as it were, a cloud of unknowing. You will seem to know nothing and to feel nothing except a naked intent toward God in the depths of your being. Try as you might, this darkness and this cloud will remain between you and your God. You will feel frustrated, for your mind will be unable to grasp him, and you heart will not relish the delight of his love. But learn to be at home in this darkness. Return to it as often as you can, letting your spirit cry out to him whom you love.
the fourteenth century anonymous author,
the Cloud of Unknowing
Simple life does not consist in the mere possession of a few things but in the freedom from possession and non-possession, in the indifference to things that comes with deep understanding. Merely to renounce things in order to reach greater happiness, greater joy that is promised, is to seek reward which limits thought and prevents it from flowering and discovering reality.
To control thought-feeling for a greater reward, for a greater result, is to make it petty, ignorant and sorrowful. Simplicity of life comes with inner richness, with inward freedom from craving, with freedom from acquisitiveness, from addiction, from distraction. From this simple life there comes that necessary one-pointedness which is not the outcome of self-enclosing concentration but of extensional awareness and meditative understanding.
Simple life is not the result of outward circumstances; contentment with little comes with the riches of inward understanding. If you depend on circumstances to make you satisfied with life then you will create misery and chaos, for then you are a plaything of environment, and it is only when circumstances are transcended through understanding that there is order and clarity. To be constantly aware of the process of acquisitiveness, of addiction, of distraction, brings freedom from them and so there is a true and simple life.
~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Collected Works Volume III Ojai 8th Public Talk 2nd July, 1944
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The gray window
And the ghost of loss gets into you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And, so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
And the deepest level of communication
is not communication,
but communion. It is wordless.
It is beyond words,
and it is beyond speech,
and it is beyond
Not that we discover a new unity.
We discover an older unity.
My dear brothers, we are already one.
But we imagine that we are not.
And what we have to recover is our original unity.
What we have to be is what we are.
~ Thomas Merton
from his Asian journal
Monday, December 13, 2010
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you, I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
moment. All the immense
images in me - the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods -
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house -, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced upon, -
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from the Uncollected Poems
translated by Stephen Mitchell