Friday, July 29, 2011

the privilege of attending the death bed





.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

the darkness that comes with every infinite fall







.

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that so work and feel thirst…

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.





~ Rainer Maria Rilke



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

maturity








.

A level of mental maturity is reached 
when nothing external is of any value 
and the heart is ready to relinquish all. 

Then the real has a chance and it grasps it. 
Delays, if any, are caused by the mind unwilling to see or to discard.


~ Nisargadatta Maharaj



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

silence and solitude








.

Trusting this more penumbral dimension brings us to new places in the human adventure. 
 But we have to let go in order to be; 
we have to stop forcing ourselves, 
or we will never enter our own belonging. 

 There is something ancient at work in us creating novelty. 
 In fact, you need very little in order to develop a real sense of your own spiritual individuality. 
 One of the things that is absolutely essential is silence, the other is solitude.




~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara



Monday, July 25, 2011

it depends on you





.
If in your heart you make
a manger for his birth,
then God will once again
become a child on earth.



~ Angelus Silesius



abundant heart




.
Because the pelicans circle and dive, the fish
Because the cows are fat, the rains
Because the tree is heavy with pears, the earth
Because the woman grows thin, the heart




~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart



Sunday, July 24, 2011

silence






.
The only silence we know is the silence when noise stops, the silence when thought stops - but that is not silence. Silence is something entirely different, like beauty, like love.  And this silence is not the product of a quiet mind, it is not the product of the brain cells which have understood the whole structure and say, 'for God's sake be quiet'; then the brain cells themselves produce the silence and that is not silence.  Nor is silence the outcome of attention in which the observer is observed; then there is no friction, but that is not silence.

You are waiting for me to describe what this silence is so that you can compare it, interpret it, carry it away and bury it.  It cannot be described.  What can be described is the known, and freedom from the known can come into being only when there is a dying every day to the known, to the hurts, the flatteries, to all the images you have made, to all your experiences - dying every day so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent.  But that innocency, that freshness, that quality of tenderness and gentleness, does not produce love;  it is not the quality of beauty or silence.

That silence which is not the silence of the ending of noise is only a small beginning.  It is like going through a small hole to an enormous, wide, expansive ocean, to an immeasurable, timeless state.  But this you cannot understand verbally unless you have understood the whole structure of consciousness and the meaning of pleasure, sorrow and despair, and the brain cells themselves have become quiet.  Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy.  A living mind is a still mind, a living mind is a mind that has no center and therefore no space and time.  Such a mind is the limitless and that is the only truth, that is the only reality.





~ J. Krishnamurti
from Freedom from the Known
photo by Shreve Stockton





heaven is only present






.
Hell is timely, for Hell is the thought
that Hell will go on, on and on, without end.
Heaven is only present, instantaneous and eternal,
a mayfly, a blue dayflower, a life entirely given,
complete forever in its hour.


~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings



silent in the moonlight





.
Silent in the moonlight, no beginning or end.
Alone, and not alone.  A man and a woman lie
On open ground, under an antelope robe.
They sleep under animal skin, looking up
At the old, clear starts.  How many years?
The robe thrown over them, rough
Where they sleep.  Outside, the moon, the plains
Silent in the moonlight, no beginning or end.




~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey



a ramage for a mountain




.
Silent in the moonlight, no beginning or end.
So the binding things  are lost, then found again,
The tines dug out of the snow, the singing so low
The other cannot hear it.  Some sounds do fit
Thick cords and strong fingers.  Slowly the mountain
Enters the man who walks on its slopes alone.
He walks, he sits down, he finds a stone;
No one has seen it, he sits down and is alone.



~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey



Saturday, July 23, 2011

the teapot




.
That morning I heard water being poured into a teapot.
The sound was an ordinary, daily, cluffy sound.
but all at once, I knew you loved me.
An unheard-of-thing, love audible in water falling.



~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey



a sybil





.
Long before our time they called her old,
But she'd walk down the same road every day.
Her age became too much to say
In years — and, like a forest's, would be told 

In centuries. She comes to stand at dusk — 
Her spot each time the same — and to foretell.
She is a hollow, wrinkled husk,
Dark as a fire-gutted citadel. 

She has to turn her flock of talking loose
Or it will grow too crowded to relieve.
Flapping and screaming, words are flying all 

Around her. Then, returning home to roost,
They find a perch beneath her eyebrows' eaves,
And in that shadow wait for night to fall.




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
art by picasso

Friday, July 22, 2011

non-violence






.

Non-violence is perhaps the most exacting of all forms of struggle, 
not only because it demands first of all that one be ready to suffer evil 
and even face the threat of death without retaliation, 
but because it excludes mere transient self-interest, 
even political, from its considerations.





 ~ Thomas Merton

shark's teeth




.
Everything contains some
silence.  Noise gets
its zest from the
small shark's-tooth-
shaped fragments
of rest angled
in it. An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark.  Sometimes
a bit of a tail
or fin can still
be sensed in parks.


~ Kay Ryan
from The Best of It



born at each moment into the everlasting newness




.
My gaze is clear as a sunflower.
My way is to walk the roads
Looking right and left
And sometimes looking behind me...
What I see at each moment
Is that which I never
Caught sight of before.

I have the knack of full awareness
The knack of essential astonishment
That an infant might experience
If at birth he were aware
That he was actually born!
I feel myself born at each moment
Into the everlasting newness
of the world.

I believe in the world
As I believe in a daisy
Because I see it.
But I do not think about it
Because to think is to not-understand.
The world was not made 
For us to think about it
(To think is to have sick vision)
But for us to look at it and assent.

I have no philosophy: I have senses ...
If I talk of nature, that is not because
I know what nature is
But because I love it, and love is for this only:
For he who loves never knows what he loves
Or why he loves, or what love is.

Loving is eternal innocence
And the only innocence is not-thinking.



~ Fernando Pessoa
from The Keeper of the Flocks
translated by Thomas Merton
art by van gogh




poetry of gratefulness




.


.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the book of Camp Branch




.
Camp Branch, my native stream,
forever unreturning flows
from the town down to Cane Run
which flows to the river.  It is 
my native descent, my native
walk, my native thought
that stays and goes, passing
ever downward toward the sea.

Its sound is a song that flings up
the light to the undersides of leaves.
Its song and light are a way
of walking, a way of thought
moved by sound and sight.

It flows as deep in its hollow
as it can go, far down as it has
worn its way. Passing down
over its plunder of rocks, it makes
an irregular music.  Here 
is what I want to know.  Here
is what I am trying to say.

O brave Ross Feld, here is
no "fortification against time."
Here the fort has fallen 
and the water passes its benediction
over the shards, singing!

How much delight I've known
in navigating down the flow
by stepping stones, by sounding
stones, by words too that are
stepping and sounding stones.

Going down stone by stone,
the song of the water changes,
changing the way I walk
which changes my thought
as I go.  Stone to stone
the stream flows.  Stone to stone
the walker goes.  The words
stand stone still until
the flow moves them, changing
the sound - a new word -
a new place to step or stand.

In the notch of Camp Branch
the footing changes, year
to year, sometimes
day to day, as the surges
of the stream move the rocks.
Every walk, as Archie Ammons
said, "is a new walk." And so

go slow.  Let the mind
step with the feet
as the stream steps
downward over the rocks,
nowhere anywhere
but where it is.

In the crease of its making
the steep stream gathers
the seeps that come silently
down from the wooded slants.
Only there at the rockbed
of the branch do the waters break
into light, into singing

of water flowing over rocks
which, in its motion, the water
moves.  And so, singing, the song
changes, moved by music
harsh and crude: splashes,
slubbers, chuckles, and warbles,
the hollow tones of a bell,
a sustained pour, the small
fall steady as a column.

Sometimes, gentled, if you
stand while it flows, it seems
to meditate upon itself
and the hill's long changing
under the sun and rain.

A changing song,
a changing walk,
a changing thought.

A sounding stone,
a stepping stone,
a word
that is a sounding and a stepping
stone.

A language that is a stream flowing
and is a man's thought as he 
walks and thinks beside the stream.

His thoughts will hold
if the words will hold, if each
is a stone that will bear weight,
placed by the flow
in the flow.  The language too

descends through time, subserving
false economy, heedless power,
blown with the gas of salesmanship,
rattled with the sale of needless war,

worn by the mere unhearing
babble of thoughtlessness,
and must return to its own 
downward flow by the flowing
water, the muttered syllables,
the measureless music, the stream
flowing and singing, the man
walking and thinking, balanced
on unsure footholds
in the flowing stream.

"Make sense," I told myself,
the song of the tumbling waters
in my ears.  The sense you make
may make its way along the stream,
but it will not be the stream's sense
you make, nor yet your own
quite, for the flux of language
will make its claim too
upon your walk, upon the stream.

The words fall at last
onto the page, the turning leaf
in the Book of Camp Branch
in time's stream.  As the eye,
as the mind, moves from
moving water to turning page,
what is lost?  What, worse,
is lost if the words falsify
the stream in your walk beside it?
To be carried or to resist
you must be a stone
in the way.  You must be
a stone rolled away.

The song changes by singing
into a different song.
It sings by falling.  The water
descending in its old groove
wears it new.  The words descending
to the page render the possible
into the actual, by wear,
for better or worse, renew
the wearied mind.  This is only
the lowly stream of Camp Branch,
but every stream is lowly.
Only low in the land does 
the water flow.  It goes
to seek the level that is lowest,
the silence that gathers
many songs, the darkness
made of many lights,
and then by the sun is raised
again into the air.


~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings
art by Norma Herring



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully




.
O saints, if I am even eligible  for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived 
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free.  I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night.  Heaven enough for me 
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed 
of our abuse of it and one another.  It would be
the Heaven of knowing again.   There is no marrying
 in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
 to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old.  I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever.  I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short.  I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough.  And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love.  In eternity's once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.



~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings




Monday, July 18, 2011

always new





.
The soul, like the moon,
is new, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing.
Live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.



~ Lalla
from Naked Song
translation by Coleman Barks
art by van gogh




your very flesh shall be a great poem





.

.

This is what you shall do; 
Love the earth and sun and the animals, 
despise riches, 
give alms to every one that asks, 
stand up for the stupid and crazy, 
devote your income and labor to others, 
hate tyrants, 
argue not concerning God, 
have patience and indulgence toward the people, 
take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, 
go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, 
read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, 
re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, 
dismiss whatever insults your own soul, 
and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words 
but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes 
and in every motion and joint of your body.






~ Walt Whitman
 from the preface of Leaves of Grass














Sunday, July 17, 2011

I am a boat







.

I am a boat
without wind.
You were the wind.
Was that the direction I wanted to go?
Who cares about directions
with a wind like that!



.
translation by Robert Bly






It’s the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen,
that it must happen –
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
that the mountains will open
that springs will gush –
that the dream will open,
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbour we didn't know was there.



translation by Robin Fulton



~ Olav H. Hauge
(18 August 1908 – 23 May 1994)
a Norwegian, Mr. Hauge worked as a gardener in his own orchard



surrendering, lose myself in your loosened hair




.
Someday, emerging at last from the violent insight,
let me sing out jubilation and praise to assenting angels.
Let not even one of the clearly-struck hammers of my heart
fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful,
or a broken string.  Let my joyfully streaming face
make me more radiant; let my hidden weeping arise
and blossom.  How dear you will be to me then, you nights 
of anguish.  Why didn't I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair.  How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end.  Though they are really
our winter-enduring foliage, our dark evergreen,
one season in our inner year -, not only a season
in time -, but are place and settlement, foundation and soil and home.




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Duino Elegies, The Tenth Elegy
translation by stephen mitchell
art by van gogh




Saturday, July 16, 2011

my soul heard something







.

What was in that candle's light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?

Come back, my friend! The form of our love
is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember

when my soul heard something
from your soul. I drank water

from your spring and felt
the current take me.





~ Rumi
from The Essential Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks


soul to lover





.
Friend, what do you want of me?
I contain all that was, what is, and what will be.
I hold all, standing tall.
Take everything from me you please.
I won't say no if you want all.
Say, friend, what do you want of me?
I am love.  Love fills me end to end.
What you desire to fill
Your soul, we both desire, friend.
Say to us nakedly your will.



~ Marguerite Porete
from The Mirror of Simple Souls
translated by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone

Marguerite was part of a community of Beguines.  Some of her writing attacked the established clergy.  She and her work were condemned and she was publicly burned around 1300.