Monday, December 31, 2012

imagine





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
with thanks to http://www.easwaran.org/



Saturday, December 29, 2012

no desire to become





We all want to become something: 
a pacifist, a war hero, a millionaire, 
a virtuous man, or what you will. 

The very desire to become involves conflict, and that conflict produces war. 
There is peace only when there is no desire to become something, 
and that is the only true state because in that state alone
there is creation, there is reality. 

But that is completely foreign to the whole structure of society, 
which is the projection of yourself. You worship success. 
Your god is success, 
the giver of titles, degrees, 
position, and authority. 

There is a constant battle within yourself, 
the struggle to achieve what you want. 

You never have a peaceful moment, 
there is never peace in your heart because 
you are always striving to become something, to progress. 

Do not be misled by the word progress. 
Mechanical things progress, but thought can never progress 
except in terms of its own becoming.





J. Krishnamurti
from The Collected Works
with thanks to http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/


Friday, December 28, 2012

telling a story to her own ears





Every word of every tongue is
Love telling a story to her own ears.
Every thought in every mind,
She whispers a secret to her own Self.
Every vision in every eye,
She shows her beauty to her own sight.
Every smile on every face,
She reveals her own joy for herself to enjoy.

Love courses through everything,
No, Love is everything.
How can you say, there is no love,
when nothing but Love exists?
All that you see has appeared because of Love.
All shines from Love,
All pulses with Love,
All flows from Love--
No, once again, all IS Love!




~ Fakhruddin Iraqi


childhood






It would be good to give much thought, before
you try to find words for something so lost,
for those long childhood afternoons you knew
that vanished so completely - and why?

We're still reminded - : sometimes by a rain,
but we can no longer say what it means;
life was never again so filled with meeting,
with reunion and with passing on

as back then, when nothing happened to us
except what happens to things and creatures:
we lived their world as something human,
and became filled to the brim with figures.

And became as lonely as a sheperd
and as overburdened by vast distances,
and summoned and stirred as from far away,
and slowly, like a long new thread,
introduced into that picture-sequence
where now having to go on bewilders us. 




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
photo by kathleen connally


Thursday, December 27, 2012

every atom babbles the mystery






Love plays its lute behind the screen -
where is a lover to listen to its tune?

With every breath a new song,
each split second a new string plucked.

The world has spilled Love's secret -
when could music ever hold its tongue?

Every atom babbles the mystery -
Listen yourself, for I'm no tattletale!




~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes 
translation by William Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson
art by van gogh



Sunday, December 23, 2012

a christmas poem





Christmas is a place, like Jackson Hole, where all agree
To meet once a year. It has water, and grass for horses;
All the fur traders can come in. We visited the place
As children, but we never heard the good stories.

Those stories only get told in the big tents, late
At night, when a trapper who has been caught
In his own trap, held down in icy water, talks; and a man
With a ponytail and a limp comes in from the edge of the fire.

As children we knew there was more to it—
Why some men got drunk on Christmas Eve
Wasn't explained, nor why we were so often 
Near tears nor why the stars came down so close,
Why so much was lost. Those men and women
Who had died in wars started by others,
Did they come that night? Is that why the Christmas tree
Trembled just before we opened the presents?

There was something about angels. Angels we
Have heard on high Sweetly singing o'er 
The plain. The angels were certain. But we could not
Be certain whether our family was worthy tonight.


~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems



Thursday, December 20, 2012

the ubiquity of the divine presence







Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon 
but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency 
are coming to an end. 

Our divided, schizophrenic worldview,
with no mythology adequate to coordinate our conscious and unconscious — 
that is what is coming to an end. 

The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, 
the idea that there is a single religious group 
that is in sole possession of the truth — 
that is the world as we know it that must pass away. 

What is the kingdom? 
It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence 
in our neighbors, 
in our enemies, 
in all of us. 




~ Joseph Campbell 




[APOCALYPSE: from the Greek word 'apokalyptein', meaning "uncover, disclose, reveal". From apo- "from" + kalyptein "to cover, conceal"

For you, my friend, every day is an apocalypse. Every hour, every minute, every moment, the old is falling away, the known is burning itself up, and the new, the never-before-seen, is revealing itself, in all its freshness. Truly, every moment is the end of a world, the end of dreams, and the birth of the new. Seen in the light of truth, life is a constant apocalypse, a constant awakening to what is, yet the separate self, with its fear of the loss of the status quo and its clinging to form and belief, pushes 'apocalypse' into time, and even fixes it to a specific date. And when that date passes, the mechanism creates a new date. It has to. This has always been the case. It is the seeker in action. To the illusory self, the end of the world will always be 'nigh'. It's how it keeps its own illusion going. It loves the drama of it.

And all the while, this timeless, ever-present apocalypse has always been with us, sweetly singing its song of newness and unshakeable truth. Have a great Friday, no matter what happens. 




~ Jeff Foster


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

two water-sellers





A man who lived by selling water found
He'd very little left; he looked around
And saw another water-seller there -
"Have you got any water you could spare?"
He asked.  "No, fool, I certainly have not,"
The other snapped; "make do with what you've got!"
"Oh, give me some," the man began to plead;
"I'm sick of what I have; it's yours I need."
When Adam's heart grew tired of all he knew,
He yearned for wheat, a substance strange and new -
He gave up all he owned for one small grain,
And naked suffered love's relentless pain;
He disappeared in love's intensity -
The old and new were gone and so was he;
He was annihilated, lost, made naught -
Nothingness swallowed all his hands had sought.
To turn from what we are, to yearn and die
Is not for us to choose or to deny."




~ Farid Attar
from The Conference of Birds
art by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

change?







If something has an essence -
How can it ever change
Into anything else?

A thing doesn't change into something else -
Youth does not age,
Age does not age.

If something changed into something else -
Milk would be butter
Or butter would not be milk.

Were there a trace of something,
There would be a trace of emptiness.
Were there no trace of anything,
There would be no trace of emptiness.

Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions.
Believers in emptiness
Are incurable. 






~ Nagarjuna
from Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime
translated by Stephen Batchelor 
art by klimt
with thanks to http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/





all these insane borders we protect





A woman's body, like the earth, has seasons;
when the mountain stream flows,
when the holy thaws,
when I am most fragile and in need,
it was then, it seemed,
God came closest.

God, like a medic on a field, is tending our souls.
Our horns get locked with desires, but don't hold yourself
too accountable; for all desires are really innocent. 
That is what the compassion in His eyes tell me.

Why this great war between the countries -- the countries --
inside of us?

What are all these insane borders we protect?
What are all these different names for the same church of love
we kneel in together? For it is true, together we live; and only
at that shrine where all are welcome will God sing
loud enough to be heard.

Our horns got locked with the earth and sky in some odd
marriage ritual; so what, don't worry. We should be proud of
ourselves for everything we helped create in this
magic world.

And God is always there, if you feel wounded. He kneels
over this earth like a divine medic,
and His love thaws the holy in us.





~ St. Teresa of Avila
from Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
version by Daniel Ladinsky
art by picasso
with thanks to http://peacefullpresence.blogspot.com/



Saturday, December 15, 2012

the answer




Then what is the answer?—Not to be deluded by dreams. 
To know the great civilizations have broken down into violence, 
and their tyrants come, many times before. 
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose 
the least ugly faction; these evils are essential. 
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not 
wish for evil; and not be duped 
By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will 
not be fulfilled. 
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear 
the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand 
Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and 
his history...for contemplation or in fact... 
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, 
the greatest beauty is 
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, 
the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man 
Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions, 
or drown in despair when his days darken.




~ Robinson Jeffers
with thanks to http://themarkonthewall.blogspot.com/





Friday, December 14, 2012

on grief and loss










~ Dr. Geoff Warburton




by looking tirelessly





By looking tirelessly, I became quite empty 
and with that emptiness all came back to me except the mind. 
I find I have lost the mind irretrievably. 
I am neither conscious nor unconscious, 
I am beyond the mind and its various states and conditions.
Distinctions are created by the mind and apply to the mind only. 
I am pure Consciousness itself, unbroken awareness of all that is. 
I am in a more real state than yours. 
I am undistracted by the distinctions and separations which constitute a person. 

As long as the body lasts, it has its needs like any other, 
but my mental process has come to an end. 
My thinking, like my digestion, is unconscious and purposeful. 
I am not a person in your sense of the word, 
though I may appear a person to you. 

I am that infinite ocean of consciousness in which all happens. 
I am also beyond all existence and cognition, pure bliss of being. 
There is nothing I feel separate from, hence I am all. 
No thing is me, so I am nothing. 

Life will escape, the body will die, but it will not affect me in the least. 
Beyond space and time I am, uncaused, uncausing, yet the very matrix of existence.





~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
with thanks to http://ashramof1.tumblr.com/
photo by Bea Garth



handy guide





Avoid adjectives of scale.
Dandelion broth instead of duck soup.
Don’t even think you've seen a meadow, ever.
The minor adjustments in our equations
still indicate the universe is insane,
when it laughs a silk dress comes out its mouth
but we never put it on. Put it on.
Cry often and while asleep.
If it’s raw, forge it in fire.
That’s not a mountain, that’s crumble.
If it’s fire, swallow.
The heart of a scarecrow isn't geometrical.
That’s not a diamond, it’s salt.
That’s not the sky but it’s not your fault.
My dragon may be your neurotoxin.
Your electrocardiogram may be my fortune cookie.
Once an angel has made an annunciation,
it’s impossible to tell him he has the wrong address.
Moonlight has its own befuddlements.
The rest of us can wear the wolf mask if we want
or look like reflections wandered off.
Eventually armor, eventually sunk.
You wanted love and expected what?
A parachute? Morphine? A gold sticker star?
The moment you were born—
you have to trust others because you weren't there.
Ditto death.
The strongest gift I was ever given
was made of twigs.
It didn't matter which way it broke.





~ Dean Young
from Poetry, Nov. 2011
art by van gogh



Thursday, December 13, 2012

lines written in the days of growing darkness




Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.





~ Mary Oliver
photo by Kathleen Connally





Wednesday, December 12, 2012

maggie and milly and molly and may






maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea




~ e. e. cummings



a process of intellection





We name, we give a term to our various feelings, don't we? In saying, 'I am angry', we have given a term, a name, a label to a particular feeling. Now, please watch your own minds very clearly. When you have a feeling, you name that feeling; you call it anger, lust, love, pleasure, don't you? And this naming of the feeling is a process of intellection which prevents you from looking at the fact, that is, at the feeling.

You know, when you see a bird and say to yourself that it is a parrot or a pigeon or a crow, you are not looking at the bird. You have already ceased to look at the fact because the word parrot or pigeon or crow has come between you and the fact.

This is not some difficult intellectual feat but a process of the mind that must be understood. If you would go into the problem of fear or the problem of authority or the problem of pleasure or the problem of love, you must see that naming, giving a label, prevents you from looking at the fact.






~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Collected Works
Vol. XI",350,Choiceless Awareness
art by Edvard Munch


Friday, December 7, 2012

listen






For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.





~ Hermann Hesse
from Trees, Reflections and Poems
with thanks to http://journalofanobody.tumblr.com/







Wednesday, December 5, 2012

like two negative numbers multiplied by rain





Lie down, you are horizontal.
Stand up, you are not.

I wanted my fate to be human.

Like a perfume
that does not choose the direction it travels,
that cannot be straight or crooked, kept out or kept.

Yes, No, Or
—a day, a life, slips through them,
taking off the third skin,
taking off the fourth.

And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple,
an animal question, scuffing.

Old shoes, old roads—
the questions keep being new ones.
Like two negative numbers multiplied by rain
into oranges and olives.



~ Jane Hirshfield
from September 2012 issue of Poetry magazine




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

exhausted





When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.




~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
art by van gogh





Monday, December 3, 2012

known and unknown, intensity, surprise, and disorder





I think I’m allergic to fixed ritual, when it comes to poetry—writing, for me, both needs and constellates big doses of freedom. I do have one habit: somewhere along the way, I developed a liking for writing on the back of torn-in-half sheets of already-used paper. There’s always a little stack by the bed. Even before that, it was always loose paper, not notebooks. My one requirement for writing has always been solitude, and I think it is somehow connected to a sense of privacy from childhood. I've always wanted the freedom to throw things away. A notebook feels to me like a little society, not a scattering of hermits. For me, it’s too self-aware of its own formal purpose, like a graveyard: a good place for the finished, not for conception. This feeling about notebooks is also somehow a metonym for my whole relationship to the act of writing. Creativity comes from some mixture of known and unknown, intensity, surprise, and disorder. The disorderliness makes the intensity permeable to the surprise.



~ Jane Hirshfield
 from Attention, Solitude, and First Books: 
Jane Hirshfield in Conversation



as still as death itself



The more I write the less substance do I see in my work, ... It is tolerably awful. And I face it, I face it but the fright is growing on me. My fortitude is shaken by the view of the monster. It does not move; its eyes are baleful; it is as still as death itself — and it will devour me. Its stare has eaten into my soul already deep, deep.




Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow....

In this world – as I have known it – we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt....

There is no morality, no knowledge and no hope; there is only the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about a world that... is always but a vain and fleeting appearance....A moment, a twinkling of an eye and nothing remains – but a clod of mud, of cold mud, of dead mud cast into black space, rolling around an extinguished sun. Nothing. Neither thought, nor sound, nor soul. Nothing.


~ Joseph Conrad



born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski  was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard British ships, learning English from his shipmates. He was made a Master Mariner, and served more than sixteen years before an event inspired him to try his hand at writing.

He was hired to take a steamship into Africa, and according to Conrad, the experience of seeing firsthand the horrors of colonial rule left him a changed man. His introspective need to come to terms with his experience lead to Heart of Darkness, which was followed by other fictionalized explorations of his life.

He has been lauded as one of the most powerful, insightful, and disturbing novelists in the English canon despite coming to English later in life, which allowed him to combine it with the sensibilities of French, Russian, and Polish literature.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

astir with the harvest of night





May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear
Of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings,
And fixed fortress corners,

A Morning when you become a pure vessel
For what wants to ascend from silence,

May your imagination know
The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,
And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all
The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields
And something original begins
To stir toward your senses
And grow stronger in your heart

In order to come to birth
In a clean line of form,
That claims from time
A rhythm not yet heard,
That calls space to
A different shape.

May it be its own force field
And dwell uniquely
Between the heart and the light

To surprise the hungry eye
By how deftly it fits
About its secret loss.




~ John O'Donohue



Monday, November 19, 2012

revenge












At times ... I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
into a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last
and if I were ready -
I would take my revenge!

But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put
his right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set -
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.

Likewise ... I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and who his presents thrilled.

Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school...
asking about him
and sending him regards.

But if he turned
out to be on his own -
cut off like a branch from a tree -
without mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbors or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness -
nor the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street - as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.



~  Taha Muhammad Ali
with thanks to rebel girl at
http://themarkonthewall.blogspot.com/