Saturday, March 31, 2012
It is a lie - any talk of God
that does not
~ Meister Eckhart
There's a moon in my body, but I can't see it!
A moon and a sun.
A drum never touched by hands, beating,
and I can't hear it.
As long as a human being worries about when he will die,
and what he has that is his,
all of his works are zero.
When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead,
then the work of the Teacher is over.
The purpose of labor is to learn;
when you know it, the labor is over.
The apple blossom exists to create fruit;
when that comes, the petal falls.
The musk is inside the deer,
but the deer does not look for it:
It wanders around looking for grass.
photo by kathleen connally
There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
The letter might still be taken
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room's air.
The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it -
sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief
photo: US landing craft closes on Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944
~ Rupert Spira
Friday, March 30, 2012
Be with those who help your being.
Don't sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.
A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don't try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it's too late for all you could become.
Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?
translation Coleman Barks
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The water which sees the air through
broken veins of the high mountain summits is suddenly
abandoned by the power which brought it there,
and escaping from these forces
resumes its natural course in liberty.
Likewise the water that rises
from the low roots of the vine to its lofty head
falls through the cut branches upon the roots and
mounts anew to the place whence it fell.
~ Leonardo Da Vinci
Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped? And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?
No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, listens
at the shores of the great silence.
~ Antonio Machado, (1875-1935)
(also known as Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz)
Robert Bly translation
.photo by Julius Shulman
Being unwise enough to have married her
I never knew when she was not acting.
‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences
Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure
They were still there. She was lovely. I
Was only the looking-glass she made up in.
I husbanded the rippling meadow
Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.
Alone now on the brittle platform
Of herself she is playing her last role.
It is perfect. Never in all her career
Was she so good. And yet the curtain
Has fallen. My charmer, come out from behind
It to take the applause. Look, I am clapping too.
~ R. S. Thomas
from The Poems of R. S. Thomas
Born Ronald Stuart Thomas in Cardiff, Wales, 1913. He was a Luddite, viewing modern conveniences as distractions that cause us to neglect our spiritual health. He and his wife Elsi lived in a small and almost primitive stone cottage for much of their marriage, and their son, Gwydion, remembered his father preaching against the evils of the refrigerator and the washing machine from his pulpit. His poems were as austere as his lifestyle, and he once wrote: "A recurring ideal, I find, is that of simplicity. At times there comes the desire to write with great precision and clarity, words so simple and moving that they bring tears to the eyes." Mr. Thomas died in 2000.
~ comments from writers almanac
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.
The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.
The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.
When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.
Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.
~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching
translation by j.h.mcdonald
The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it. . . .
Awe is what moves us forward. . . .
Live from your own center. . . .
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.
Today the planet is the only proper “in group.”
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.
You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . .
Sanctify the place you are in. Follow your bliss. . . .
~ Joseph Campbell
The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical.
It is the sower of all true science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead.
To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms -
this knowledge, this feeling,
is at the center of true religion.
~ Albert Einstein
There are so many positions of love:
each curve on a
the thousand ways your eyes can hold us,
the infinite shapes each mind
the spring orchestra of scents and sounds wafting through the air,
the currents of light combusting like
the revolution of the universe’s skirt, whose folds
contain other worlds,
our every sigh that falls against
His inconceivably close,
from Love Poems From God:
Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky
by Daniel Ladinsky
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Transformed into arrows
let's all go, body and soul!
Piercing the air
let's go, body and soul,
with no way of return,
rotting with the pain of striking home,
never to return.
One last breath! Now, let's quit the string,
throwing away like rags
all we've had for decades
all we've enjoyed for decades
all we've piled up for decades,
Transformed into arrows
let's all go, body and soul!
The air is shouting! Piercing the air
let's go, body, and soul!
In dark daylight the target is rushing towards us.
Finally, as the target topples
in a shower of blood,
let's all just once as arrows
Never to return!
Never to return!
Hail, arrows, our nation's arrows!
Hail, Warriors! Spirits of the fallen!
~ Ko Un
translation by Brother Anthony
Only the man who has raised his strings
among the dark ghosts also
can sense it and give
the everlasting praise.
Only he who has eaten poppy
with the dead, from their poppy,
will never lose even
his most delicate sound.
Even though images in the pool
seem so blurry:
grasp the main thing.
Only in the double kingdom, there
alone, do voices become
undying and tender.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Robert Bly
from Sonnets to Orpheus
art by alex orlov
This is not something new or kept secret
the tilled ground unsown in late spring
the dead are not separate from the living
each has one foot in the unknown
and cannot speak for the other
the field tells none of its turned story
it lies under its low cloud like a waiting river
the dead make this out of their hunger
out of what they had been told
out of the pains and shadows
and bowels of animals
out of turning and
coming back singing
about another time
~ W. S. Merwin
from The Shadow of Sirius
photo by Kathleen Connally
Spring lies abandoned.
A ditch the color of dark violet
moves alongside me
giving no images back.
The only thing that shines
are some yellow flowers.
I am carried inside
my own shadow like a violin
in its black case.
The only thing I want to say
hovers just out of reach
like the family silver
at the pawnbroker's.
~ Tomas Transtromer
translation by Robert Bly
from The Half Finished Heaven
photo by David Gray, Reuters
Monday, March 26, 2012
~ Jane Hirshfield
Sunday, March 25, 2012
A river tugs at whatever is within reach, trying to set it afloat and carry it downstream. Living trees are undermined and washed away. No piece of driftwood is safe, though stranded high up the bank; the river will rise to it, and away it will go.
The river extends this power of drawing all things with it even to the imagination of those who live on its banks. Who can long watch the ceaseless lapsing of a river's current without conceiving a desire to set himself adrift, and, like the driftwood which glides past, float with the stream clear to the final ocean?
~ Harlan Hubbard
from Shantyboat - A River Way of Life
Saturday, March 24, 2012
The one close to me now,
even my own body -
will soon become clouds,
floating in different directions.
~ Izumi Shikibu
from The Ink Dark Moon
translation by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani
Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu were both Japanese poets of the Heian Period.
The arts of the Heian Period are marked with a definite feminine sensibility.
Because the Chinese characters (which were used in writing Japanese)
were seen as inappropriate to women,
they developed a simplified and elegant style of writing/calligraphy
that became known as Hiragana or "onna de"... "feminine hand".
~ comments from the literature network
Can this be taught to the students:
to remain with the fact, the actual happening now, whether psychologically or externally?
Knowledge is not the fact; it is about the fact and that has its proper place,
but knowledge prevents perception of what actually is;
then corruption takes place.
This is really very important to understand. Ideals are considered noble, exalted, of great purposeful significance, and what is actually happening is considered merely sensory, worldly and of lesser value. Schools the world over have some exalted purpose, ideal; so they are educating the students in corruption.
What corrupts the mind? We are using the word mind to imply the senses, the capacity to think, and the brain that stores all memories and experiences as knowledge. This total movement is the mind. The conscious as well as the unconscious, the so-called super-consciousness - the whole of this is the mind. We are asking what are the factors, the seeds of corruption in all this? We said ideals corrupt. Knowledge also corrupts the mind. Knowledge, particular or extensive, is the movement of the past, and when the past overshadows the actual, corruption takes place. Knowledge, projected into the future and directing what is happening now, is corruption. We are using the word corruption to mean that which is being broken up, that which is not taken as a whole. The fact can never be broken up; the fact can never be limited by knowledge. The completeness of the fact opens the door to infinity. Completeness cannot be divided; it is not self-contradictory; it cannot divide itself. Completeness, wholeness, is infinite movement.
Imitation, conformity, is one of the great factors of corruption of the mind; the example, the hero, the savior, the guru, is the most destructive factor of corruption. To follow, to obey, to conform, deny freedom. Freedom is from the beginning, not at the end. It is not to conform, to imitate, accept first and eventually find freedom. That is the spirit of totalitarianism, whether of the guru or the priest. This is the cruelty, the ruthlessness, of the dictator, of the authority, of the guru or of the high priest.
So authority is corruption. Authority is the breaking up of integrity, the whole, the complete - the authority of a teacher in a school, the authority of a purpose, of an ideal, of the one who says I know, the authority of an institution. The pressure of authority in any form is the distorting factor of corruption. Authority basically denies freedom. It is the function of a true teacher to instruct, point out, inform, without the corrupting influence of authority. The authority of comparison destroys. When one student is compared to another, both are being hurt. To live without comparison is to have integrity.
~ J. Krishnamurti
from Letters to Schools Volume One 1st September, 1978
Friday, March 23, 2012
"How does the true man of Tao
Walk through walls without obstruction,
Stand in fire without being burnt?"
Not because of cunning
Not because he has learned,
But because he has unlearned.
All that is limited by form, semblance, sound, color,
Is called object.
Among them all, man alone
Is more than an object.
Though, like objects, he has form and semblance,
He is not limited to form. He is more.
He can attain to formlessness.
When he is beyond form and semblance,
Beyond "this" and "that,"
Where is the comparison
With another object?
Where is the conflict?
What can stand in his way?
He will rest in his eternal place
Which is no-place.
He will be hidden
In his own unfathomable secret.
His nature sinks to its root
In the One.
His vitality, his power
Hide in secret Tao.
When he is all one,
There is no flaw in him
By which a wedge can enter.
So a drunken man, falling
Out of a wagon,
Is bruised but not destroyed.
His bones are like the bones of other men,
But his fall is different.
His spirit is entire. He is not aware
Of getting into a wagon
Or falling out of one.
Life and death are nothing to him.
He knows no alarm, he meets obstacles
Without thought, without care,
Takes them without knowing they are there.
If there is such security in wine,
How much more in Tao.
The wise man is hidden in Tao.
Nothing can touch him.
~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The word landed with a stony thud
Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared,
I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today;
I need to slaughter memory,
Turn my living soul to stone
Then teach myself to live again…
But how. The hot summer rustles
Like a carnival outside my window;
I have long had this premonition
Of a bright day and a deserted house.
~ Anna Akhmatova
excerpt from Requiem,
taken from The Complete Poems
with thanks to journal of a nobody
~ Eckhart Tolle with Bradley Horowitz
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
'… But this is a prison, Father,
Don't you know, how to draw a bird?'
And I tell him: 'Son, forgive me.
I've forgotten the shapes of birds.'
My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
'Don't you know, Father, the difference between a
wheatstalk and a gun?'
I tell him, 'Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheatstalks
and armed religion
you can't buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can't pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can't buy a book
that doesn't explode between your fingers.'
My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
'But this is a tear, father, not a poem!'
And I tell him:
'When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you'll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers.'
My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands
and I sink, weeping.
~ Nizar Qabbani
Born on this date in Damascus, Syria (1923). His mother, who was illiterate, sold her jewelry to raise money to publish his first anthology, Childhood of a Bosom (1948), and he went on to become the most popular Arab poet and to publish more than 20 books of poetry. Much of his poetry was influenced by the tragic deaths of two women he loved. When he was 15, his older sister committed suicide rather than be forced into marriage with a man she did not love, and he turned his attention to the situation of Arab women. He wrote romantic, sensual poems and poetry demonstrating the need for sexual equality and women's rights. Many years later, in 1981, his second wife, an Iraqi woman, died during the Lebanese Civil War when the Iraqi Embassy was bombed. Qabbani was grief-stricken and frustrated with the political and cultural climate of the Arab world, and he lived in Europe for the rest of his life. He died April 30, 1998.
~ comments from writers almanac
Monday, March 19, 2012
Even the oldest of trees continues its wonderful labor.
Hummingbird lives in one of them.
He's there for the white blossoms, and the secrecy.
The blossoms could be snow, with a dash of pink.
At first the fruit is small and green and hard.
Everything has dreams, hope, ambition.
If I could I would always live in such shining obedience
where nothing but the wind trims the boughs.
I am sorry for every mistake I have made in my life.
I'm sorry I wasn't wiser sooner.
I'm sorry I ever spoke of myself as lonely.
Oh, love, lay your hands upon me again.
Some of the fruit ripens and is picked and is delicious.
Some of it falls and the ants are delighted.
Some of it hides under the snow and the famished deer are saved.
~ Mary Oliver
with thanks to rebel girl at the mark on the wall
photo by kathleen connally
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying,
where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk
to kiss your little hands and feet when it’s time
for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats
are yours. All I can say, remembering you,
is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhhh.”
Moses could stand it no longer.
“Who are you talking to?”
“The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.”
“Don’t talk about shoes
and socks with God! And what’s this with your little hands
and feet? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you’re chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows
needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!
Even if you meant God’s human representatives,
as when God said, ‘I was sick, and you did not visit me,’
even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.
Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the origin,
not for Allah.”
The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.
A sudden revelation
came then to Moses. God’s voice:
You have separated me
from one of my own. Did you come as a Prophet to unite,
or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and it’s all right.
It’s not me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshipers! I don’t hear the words
they say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!
those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn
Don’t impose a property tax
on a burned-out village. Don’t scold the Lover.
The “wrong” way he talks is better than a hundred
“right” ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn't matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn't need snowshoes!
The love-religion has no code or doctrine.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn't need markings.
God began speaking
deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here, poured into
and through him. He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It’s foolish of me
to try and say this. If I did say it,
it would uproot our human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.
Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways,
like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
his wandering state.
Moses finally caught up
“I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
and however your loving tells you to. Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world
Loosen your tongue and don’t worry what comes out.
It’s all the light of the spirit.”
The shepherd replied,
I’ve gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped
out of itself. The divine nature and my human nature
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can’t say what has happened.
What I’m saying now
is not my real condition. It can’t be said.”
The shepherd grew quiet.
When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The flute player puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The flute player!
Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it’s always like
this dear shepherd’s simplicity.
When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
“This is certainly not like
we thought it was!”
translation by Coleman Barks