Thursday, September 27, 2012

meditation










~ Dolano


you said is







you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body,to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)?
Looking into
your eyes Nothing,i said,except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever.

….and through the lattice which moved as
if a hand is touched by a
hand(which
moved as though
fingers touch a girl’s
breast,
lightly)
Do you believe in always,the wind
said to the rain
I am too busy with
my flowers to believe,the rain answered




e.e. cummings
from his Complete Poems (1904-1962)
with thanks to life love yoga

mirrors of perfection






The master bonesetter will pay his call
where there is someone with a broken leg.

When there's no sickly patient, how then can
the beauty of the healing arts be known?

And how can alchemy be seen if copper's
low-grade, inferior nature is not known?

Deficiencies are mirrors of perfection;
the vilest things are mirrors of His glory.

For opposites make known their opposites
as honey's taste is known is vinegar.

Whoever understands his own defects
has galloped to perfection with ten horses.

And why is he not flying to his Lord
is that he thinks himself already perfect.

There is no sickness of the soul that's worse
than being convinced of your perfection, sir!

Much blood must flow out of your heart and eyes
until this smugness takes its leave of you.




~ Rumi
from the Masnavi-ye Ma'navi
excerpt from Joseph and his guest
translation by alan williams
art by gustav klimt




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

confusion





The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the questions,
nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes
and your wanting still for years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.




~ Rumi
from The Essential Rumi
translations by Coleman Barks and John Moyne



for Tom, on his birthday





Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.




~ T. S. Eliot

excerpt from East Coker



Eliot regarded Four Quartets as his masterpiece, and it is the work that led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. It consists of four long poems, each first published separately: Burnt Norton , East Coker , The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding . Each has five sections. Although they resist easy characterization, each poem includes meditations on the nature of time in some important respect—theological, historical, physical—and its relation to the human condition. Each poem is associated with one of the four classical elements: air, earth, water, and fire.

The Four Quartets cannot be understood without reference to Christian thought, traditions, and history. Eliot draws upon the theology, art, symbolism and language of such figures as Dante, and mystics St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich. The "deeper communion" sought in East Coker, the "hints and whispers of children, the sickness that must grow worse in order to find healing," and the exploration which inevitably leads us home all point to the pilgrim's path along the road of sanctification

from Wikipedia



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Monday, September 24, 2012

News of the Universe




The first film to explore Bly’s long and prolific life - 
as poet, translator, mythologist, guiding light of men's work, 
antiwar activist and cultural gadfly.




~ Robert Bly



a shared language through metaphor






~ Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, September 23, 2012

beneath your chosen path







When the garden of your unchosen lives has enough space to breathe beneath your chosen path, your life enjoys a vitality and a sense of creative tension.  Rilke refers to this as "the repository of unlived things."  You know that you have not compromised the immensity that you carry, and in which you participate.  You have not avoided the call of commitment; yet you hold your loyalty to your chosen path in such a way as to be true to the blessings and dangers of life's passionate sacramentality.  No life is single.  Around and beneath each life is the living presence of these adjacencies.  Often, it is not the fact of our choosing that is vital, but rather the way we hold that choice.  In so far as we can, we should ensure that our chosen path is not a flight from complexity.  If we opt for complacency, we exclude ourselves from the adventure of being human. Where all danger is neutralized, nothing can ever grow.  To keep the borders of choice porous demands critical vigilance and affective hospitality. To live in such a way invites risk and engages complexity.  Life cannot be neatly compartmentalized.  Once the psyche is engaged with such invitation and courage, it is no longer possible to practice tidy psychological housekeeping.  To keep one's views and convictions permeable is to risk the intake of new possibility, which can lead to awkward change.  Yet the integrity of growth demands such courage and vulnerability from us; otherwise the tissues of our sensibility atrophy and we become trapped behind the same predictable mask of behavior.



~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes



religion means






I think the word religion means gathering together all energy at all levels, physical, moral, spiritual, at all levels, gathering all this energy which will bring about a great attention. And from there move. To me that is the meaning of that word. The gathering of total energy to understand what thought cannot possibly capture. Thought is never new, never free, and therefore it's always conditioned, fragmentary, and so on. So religion is not a thing put together by Thought, or by fear, or by the pursuit of satisfaction and pleasure. But something totally beyond all this, which isn't romanticism, speculative belief, or sentimentality. And I think if we could keep to the meaning of that word, putting aside all the superstitious nonsense that is going on in the world in the name of religion.


~ J. Krishnamurti


things keep sorting themselves








Does the butterfat know it is butterfat,
milk know it’s milk?
No.
Something just goes and something remains.

Like a boardinghouse table:
men on one side, women on the other.
Nobody planned it.

Plaid shirts next to one another,
talking in accents from the Midwest.

Nobody plans to be a ghost.

Later on, the young people sit in the kitchen.

Soon enough, they’ll be the ones
to stumble Excuse me and quickly withdraw.
But they don’t know that.
No one can ever know that.




~ Jane Hirshfield
from Poetry (September 2012)




Saturday, September 22, 2012

a waking







I was walled inside a dream.
Its walls had no consistency,
no weight: its emptiness was its weight.
The walls were hours and the hours
sorrow, hoarded forever.
The time of those hours was not time.

I leapt through a breach: in this world
it was four o’clock. The room was my room
and my ghost was in each thing.
I wasn't there. I looked out the window:
not a soul under the electric light.
Vigilant streetlamps, dirty snow,
houses and cars asleep, the insomnia
of a lamp, the oak that talks to itself,
the wind and its knives, the illegible
writing of the constellations.

The things were buried deep in themselves
and my eyes of flesh saw them
weary of being, realities
stripped of their names. My two eyes
were souls grieving for the world.
On the empty street the presence
passed without passing, vanishing
into its forms, fixed in its changes,
and turned now into houses, oaks, snow, time.
Life and death flowed on, blurred together.

Uninhabited sight, the presence
looked at me with nobody’s eyes:
a bundle of reflections over the cliffs.
I looked inside: the room was my room
and I wasn't there. Being lacks nothing
—always full of itself, always the same—
even though we are not there … Outside,
the clarities, still uncertain:
dawn in the jumble of the rooftops.
The constellations were being erased.




~ Octavio Paz
translated by Eliot Weinberger,
 from  A Tree Within
with thanks to growing orbits
art by sara fairfax



Friday, September 21, 2012

nocturne





You are woken in the night
by something that cannot speak
in daylight, that has no purchase
in the hard currency of your life.

Outside is the shallow well
of a sleeping town; electric lights
peek faintly into black space,
and the lithe ghost of the dark

slips into the only house that
bids it welcome. Your husband
lies snoring, dreams of another
world, offers you rough the gift

of aloneness. Know this:
what arrives here cannot
be other than itself, and
has no care for you. It

has no words, and no respect
for yours, so finds your body,
colonizes your spine, feeds
you up into the sea of stars. You

may think you are changing,
or hope; but you are simply
failing to forget, allowing
stillness to be recognized.

You are momentarily disappearing,
to enter your own voice, see
with your own eyes, become
the body you gave birth to;

you have returned to
your own faithfulness,
your own unimaginable
emptiness.


~ Andrew Colliver
from the unpublished manuscript A Day of Light
with thanks to poetry chaikhana



september





it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn




~ Linda Pastan
from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems
with thanks to the mark on the wall


new rooms





The mind must
set itself up
wherever it goes
and it would be
most convenient
to impose its
old rooms — just
tack them up
like an interior
tent. Oh but
the new holes
aren't where
the windows
went.





~ Kay Ryan 
from Poetry July/August 2012
with thanks to whiskey river


Friday, September 14, 2012

be ahead of all parting






Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Be forever dead in Eurydice - more gladly arise
into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.

Be - and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.





~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The Sonnets to Orpheus, II,13
from The Enlightened Heart
an anthology of sacred poetry
edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell



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Thursday, September 13, 2012

clearance in the thicket of thought






In prayer, we come nearest to making a real clearance in the thicket of thought.  Prayer takes thought to a place of stillness. Prayer slows the flow of the mind until we can begin to see with a new tranquility.  In this kind of thought, we become conscious of our divine belonging.  We begin to sense the serenity of this clearing.  We learn that regardless of the fragmentation and turbulence in so many regions of our lives, there is a place in the soul where the voices and prodding of the world never reach.  It is almost like the image of the tree.  The branches can sway and quiver in the wind, the center of the tree, there pertains the stillness of its anchorage.  In prayer, thought returns to its origin in the infinite.  Attuned to its origin, thought reaches below its own netting.  In this way prayer liberates thought from the small rooms where fear and need confine it.  Despite all the negative talk about God, the Divine still remains the one space where thought can become free.  There we will be liberated from the repetitive echoes of our own smallness and blindness... Prayer is the path to the secret belonging at the heart of our other lives.





~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes



Friday, September 7, 2012

exercise






First, forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

then forget what day of the week it is
and do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practice doing it in company
for a week
and then do them together
for a week
with as few breaks as possible 

follow these by forgetting to add

or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them
around after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count 

forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backwards
starting with even numbers
with Roman numerals
starting with fractions of Roman numerals
with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on to the alphabet
forgetting it all until everything
is continuous again 

go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire 

forget fire 



~ W.S. Merwin
from Migration: New and Selected Poems
 with thanks to love is a place
photo by Ellis Nadler



Thursday, September 6, 2012

the last watch





At the high-tide of night, when the first breath of dawn came upon the wind, the Forerunner, he who calls himself echo to a voice yet unheard, left his bed-chamber and ascended to the roof of his house.  Long he stood and looked down upon the slumbering city.  Then he raised his head, and even as if the sleepless spirits of all those asleep had gathered around him, he opened his lips and spoke, and he said:

“My friends and my neighbors and you who daily pass my gate, I would speak to you in your sleep, and in the valley of your dreams I would walk naked and unrestrained;  far heedless are your waking hours and deaf are your sound-burdened ears.

“Long did I love you and overmuch.

“I love the one among you as though he were all, and all as if you were one.  And in the spring of my heart I sang in your gardens, and in the summer of my heart I watched at your threshing-floors.

“Yea, I loved you all, the giant and the pygmy, the leper and the anointed, and him who gropes in the dark even as him who dances his days upon the mountains.

“You, the strong, have I loved, though the marks of your iron hoofs are yet upon my flesh; and you the weak, though you have drained my faith and wasted my patience.

“You, the rich have I loved, while bitter was your honey to my mouth; and you the poor, though you knew my empty-handed shame.

“You the poet with the borrowed lute and blind fingers, you have I loved in self indulgence; and you the scholar, ever gathering rotted shrouds in potters’ fields.

“You the priest I have loved, who sit in the silences of yesterday questioning the fate of my tomorrow; and you the worshipers of gods the images of your own desires.

“You the thirsting woman whose cup is ever full, I have loved you in understanding; and you the woman of restless nights, you too I have loved in pity.

“You the talkative have I loved, saying, ‘Life hath much to say’; and you the dumb have I loved, whispering to myself, ‘Says he not in silence that which I fain would hear in words?’

“And you the judge and the critic, I have loved also; yet when you have seen me crucified, you said, ‘He bleeds rhythmically, and the pattern his blood makes upon his white skin is beautiful to behold.’

“Yea, I have loved you all, the young and the old, the trembling reed and the oak.

“But alas! It was the over-abundance of my heart that turned you from me.  You would drink love from a cup, but not from a surging river.  You would hear love’s faint murmur, but when love shouts you would muffle your ears.

“And because I have loved you all you have said, ‘Too soft and yielding is his heart, and too undiscerning is his path.  It is the love of a needy one, who picks crumbs even as he sits at kingly feasts.  And it is the love of a weakling, for the strong loves only the strong.’

“And because I have loved you overmuch you have said, ‘It is but the love of a blind man who knows not the beauty of one nor the ugliness of another.  And it is the love of the tasteless who drinks vinegar even as wine. And it is the love of the impertinent and the overweening, for what stranger could be our mother and father and sister and brother?

“This you have said, and more.  For often in the marketplace you pointed your fingers at me and said mockingly, ‘There goes the ageless one, the man without season, who at the moon hour plays games with our children and at eventide sits with our elders and assumes wisdom and understanding.’

“And I said ‘I will love them more.  Aye, even more.  I will hide my love with seeming to hate, and disguise my tenderness as bitterness. I will wear an iron mask, and only when armed and mailed shall I seek them.’
“Then I laid a heavy hand upon your bruises, and like a tempest in the night I thundered in your ears.

“From the housetop I proclaimed you hypocrites, Pharisees, tricksters, false and empty earth-bubbles.

“The short-sighted among you I cursed for blind bats, and those too near the earth I likened to soulless moles.

“The eloquent I pronounced fork-tongued, the silent, stone-lipped, and the simple and artless I called the dead never weary of death.

“The seekers after world knowledge I condemned as offenders of the holy spirit and those who would naught but the spirit I branded as hunters of shadows who cast their nets in flat waters and catch but their own images.

“Thus with my lips have I denounced you, while my heart, bleeding within me, called you tender names.

“It was love lashed by its own self that spoke.  It was pride half slain that fluttered in the dust.  It was my hunger for your love that raged from the housetop, while my own love, kneeling in silence, prayed your forgiveness.

“But behold a miracle!

“It was my disguise that opened your eyes, and my seeming to hate that woke your hearts.
“And now you love me.

“You love the swords that stride you and the arrows that crave your breast.  For it comforts you to be wounded and only when you drink of your own blood can you be intoxicated.

“Like moths that seek destruction in the flame you gather daily in my garden: and with faces uplifted and eyes enchanted you watch me tear the fabric of your days.  And in whispers you say the one to the other, ‘He sees with the light of God.  He speaks like the prophets of old.  He unveils our souls and unlocks our hearts, and like the eagle that knows the way of foxes he knows our ways.’

“Aye, in truth, I know your ways, but only as an eagle knows the ways of his fledglings.  And I fain would disclose my secret.  Yet in my need for your nearness I feign remoteness, and in fear of the ebb-tide of your love I guard the floodgates of my love.”

After saying these things the Forerunner covered his face with his hands and wept bitterly.  For he know in his heart that love humiliated in its nakedness is greater that love that seeks triumph in disguise; and he was ashamed.

But suddenly he raised his head, and like one waking from sleep he outstretched his arms and said, “Night is over, and we children of the night must die when dawn comes leaping upon the hills; and out of our ashes a mightier love shall rise.  And it shall laugh in the sun, and it shall be deathless.”





~ Kahlil Gibran
from Poems, Parables and Drawings


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 Poetry Magazine




comparison and struggle






One is everlastingly comparing oneself with another, with what one is, with what one should be, with someone who is more fortunate. This comparison really kills. Comparison is degrading, it perverts one's outlook. And on comparison one is brought up. All our education is based on it and so is our culture. So there is everlasting struggle to be something other than what one is. The understanding of what one is uncovers creativeness, but comparison breeds competitiveness, ruthlessness, ambition, which we think brings about progress. Progress has only led so far to more ruthless wars and misery than the world has ever known. To bring up children without comparison is true education.



~ J. Krishnamurti
with thanks to j krishnamurti online
art by van gogh




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

unlabeled






Like the small hole by the path-side something lives in,
in me are lives I do not know the names of,

nor the fates of,
nor the hungers of or what they eat.

They eat of me.
Of small and blemished apples in low fields of me
whose rocky streams and droughts I do not drink.

And in my streets—the narrow ones,
unlabeled on the self-map—
they follow stairs down music ears can’t follow,

and in my tongue borrowed by darkness,
in hours uncounted by the self-clock,
they speak in restless syllables of other losses, other loves.

There too have been the hard extinctions,
missing birds once feasted on and feasting.

There too must be machines
like loud ideas with tungsten bits that grind the day.

A few escape. A mercy.

They leave behind
small holes that something unweighed by the self-scale lives in.





~ Jane Hirshfield


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

illness or invitation









~ Jeff Foster



Sunday, September 2, 2012

radical discontinuity







I have been talking, of course, about a dualism that manifests itself in several ways: as a cleavage, a radical discontinuity, between Creator and creature, spirit and matter, religion and nature, religion and economy, worship and work, and so on. This dualism, I think, is the most destructive disease that afflicts us. In it’s best-known, it’s most dangerous, and perhaps its fundamental version, it is the dualism of body and soul. This is an issue as difficult as it is important, and so to deal with it we should start at the beginning…




~ Wendell Berry
from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry



between human beings








Harlan disliked handling money because of its abstractness and impersonality; for he did not enjoy either paying it or receiving it in payment. He felt a social embarrassment in monetary transactions that country people still feel, as if money is simply too crude a means of exchange between human beings.





~ Wendell Berry
from Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work

meditation on death






Nothing retains its form; new shapes from old.
Nature, the great inventor, ceaselessly
contrives. In all creation, be assured,
there is no death—no death, but only change
and innovation; what we people call birth
is but a different new beginning; death
is but to cease to be the same. Perhaps
this may have moved to that and that to this,
yet still the sum of things remains the same.






~Pythagoras
Ovid, Metamorphoses
translation by A.D. Melville