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/




Saturday, November 17, 2012

where you are at home





The world of the past has gone... Behold I am making all of creation new.
(Book of Revelations)

The new day deepens what has already happened and unfolds what is surprising, unpredictable, and creative... Presence is the way a person's individuality comes toward you.  Presence is the soul texture of the person... If your soul is awakened, then you realize that this is the house of your real belonging.  Your longing is safe there.  Belonging is related to longing.  If you hyphenate belonging, it yields a lovely axiom for spiritual growth:  Be - Your - Longing.  Longing is a precious instinct in the soul. Where you belong should always be worthy of your dignity. You should belong first in your own interiority.  If you belong there, and if you are in rhythm with yourself and connected to that deep, unique source within, then you will never be vulnerable when your outside belonging is qualified, relativized, or taken away.  You will still be able to stand on your own ground, the ground of your soul, where you are not a tenant, where you are at home.



~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara






Friday, November 16, 2012

I am the pause





Between going and staying the day wavers, 
in love with its own transparency. 
The circular afternoon is now a bay 
where the world in stillness rocks. 

All is visible and all elusive, 
all is near and can't be touched. 

Paper, book, pencil, glass, 
rest in the shade of their names. 

Time throbbing in my temples repeats 
the same unchanging syllable of blood. 

The light turns the indifferent wall 
into a ghostly theater of reflections. 

I find myself in the middle of an eye, 
watching myself in its blank stare. 

The moment scatters. Motionless, 
I stay and go: I am a pause.



~ Octavio Paz
photo by David Orndorf



Thursday, November 15, 2012

the faraway








O'Keeffe grew to love the desert, which she called "the faraway." She felt that the thin, dry air enabled her to see farther, and she was awed by the seemingly infinite space that surrounded her. She would devote much of the rest of her career to painting desert scenery.




~ Georgia O'Keeffe

1918 photo by Alfred Stieglitz
from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

a tree within






A tree grew inside my head.
A tree grew in.
Its roots are veins,
its branches nerves,
thoughts its tangles foliage.

Day breaks
in the body’s night.
There, within, inside my head,
the tree speaks.
Come closer—can you hear it?



~ Octavio Paz
translation by Eliot Weinberger



between what I see and what I say




for Roman Jakobson

1

Between what I see and what I say,
Between what I say and what I keep silent,
Between what I keep silent and what I dream,
Between what I dream and what I forget:
poetry.
It slips
between yes and no,
says
what I keep silent,
keeps silent
what I say,
dreams
what I forget.
It is not speech:
it is an act.
It is an act
of speech.
Poetry
speaks and listens:
it is real.
And as soon as I say
it is real,
it vanishes.
Is it then more real?

2

Tangible idea,
intangible
word:
poetry
comes and goes
between what is
and what is not.
It weaves
and unweaves reflections.
Poetry
scatters eyes on a page,
scatters words on our eyes.
Eyes speak,
words look,
looks think.
To hear
thoughts,
see
what we say,
touch
the body of an idea.
Eyes close,
the words open.





~ Octavio Paz (1914-1998),
from A Tree Within, (Poems 1976-1987)






presence in landscape





I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am a beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in valour,
I am the salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a world of knowledge,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created the fire in the head.

Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain? 
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?



~ Amairgen 
(chief poet of the Milesians,
brother of Evir, Ir, and Eremon, the first Milesian 
princes who came to Ireland hundreds of years before Christ)
ed. P. Murray
from Anam Cara, by John O'Donohue
art by Pan Tian Shou



Monday, November 12, 2012

farming for life











~ Wendell Berry



Sunday, November 11, 2012

supposing





supposing i dreamed this)
only imagine,when day has thrilled
you are a house around which
i am a wind-

your walls will not reckon how
strangely my life is curved
since the best he can do
is to peer through windows,unobserved

-listen,for(out of all
things)dream is noone's fool;
if this wind who i am prowls
carefully around this house of you

love being such,or such,
the normal corners of your heart
will never guess how much
my wonderful jealousy is dark

if light should flower:
or laughing sparkle from
the shut house(around and around
which a poor wind will roam




~ e.e. cummings



Saturday, November 10, 2012

quenching darkness






God
pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.

The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink

while God pours light

and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.

Hafiz, seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips

as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.


~ Hafiz




The solitary is one who is aware of solitude in himself as a basic and inevitable human reality, not just as something which affects him as an isolated individual. Hence his solitude is the foundation of a deep, pure and gentle sympathy with all other men, whether or not they are capable of realizing the tragedy of their plight. More - it is the doorway by which he enters into the mystery of God, and brings others into that mystery by the power of his love and his humility.



- Thomas Merton
  from Disputed Questions
Notes for a Philosophy of Solitude
with thanks to http://fatherlouie.blogspot.com/




photo by Thomas Merton


What the solitary renounces is not his union with other men, but rather the deceptive fictions and inadequate symbols which tend to take the place of genuine social unity - to produce a facade of apparent unity without really uniting men on a deep level.  We are all alike in our aloneness at the deepest level, yet most of us try to distract ourselves from awareness of this in the ways Pascal called "divertissement," the "occupations and recreations so mercifully provided by society, which enable a man to avoid his own company for twenty-four hours a day."


~ John Barbour
from The Value of Solitude
here quoting Thomas Merton





A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” 
a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, 
as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. 
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires 
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. 

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison 
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures 
and the whole of nature in its beauty.

~ Albert Einstein




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ghazal the Rain - 02 Dawn











Kayhan Kalhor and Shujaat Husain Kahn
with thanks to catherine willis

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

witness







You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their wealth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and and instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life -- while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.



~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet
with thanks to poetry chaikhana




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

a story about Alexander the great







When Alexander, that unconquered lord,
Who subjugated empires with his sword,
Required a lengthy message to be sent
He dressed up as the messenger and went.
"The king gives such an order," he would say,
And none of those who hurried to obey
Once guessed this messenger's identity -
They had no knowledge of such majesty,
And even if he said:  "I am your lord,"
The claim was thought preposterous and ignored.
Deluded natures cannot recognize
The royal way that stands before their eyes.




~ Farid Attar
from The Conference of Birds
translation by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis



Sunday, November 4, 2012

a dimension called love





So when you ask what love is, you may be too frightened to see the answer. It may mean complete upheaval; it may break up the family; you may discover that you do not love your wife or husband or children—do you?—you may have to shatter the house you have built, you may never go back to the temple. 
But if you still want to find out, you will see that fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity. 
So if you eliminate all these, not by forcing them but by washing them away as the rain washes the dust of many days from a leaf, then perhaps you will come upon this strange flower, which man always hungers after. 
If you have not got love—not just in little drops but in abundance—if you are not filled with it, the world will go to disaster. You know intellectually that the unity of mankind is essential and that love is the only way, but who is going to teach you how to love? 
Will any authority, any method, any system, tell you how to love? If anyone tells you, it is not love. Can you say, “I will practice love. I will sit down day after day and think about it. I will practice being kind and gentle and force myself to pay attention to others”? 
Do you mean that you can discipline yourself to love, exercise the will to love? When you exercise discipline and will to love, love goes out the window. By practicing some method or system of loving you may become extraordinarily clever or more kindly or get into a state of nonviolence, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with love. 
In this torn desert world there is no love because pleasure and desire play the greatest roles, yet without love your daily life has no meaning. And you cannot have love if there is no beauty. Beauty is not something you see—not a beautiful tree, a beautiful picture, a beautiful building, or a beautiful woman. There is beauty only when your heart and mind know what love is. 
Without love and that sense of beauty there is no virtue, and you know very well that, do what you will—improve society, feed the poor—you will only be creating more mischief, for without love there is only ugliness and poverty in your own heart and mind. 
But when there is love and beauty, whatever you do is right, whatever you do is in order. If you know how to love, then you can do what you like because it will solve all other problems.
So we reach the point: Can the mind come upon love without discipline, without thought, without enforcement, without any book, any teacher or leader—come upon it as one comes upon a lovely sunset? It seems to me that one thing is absolutely necessary and that is passion without motive—passion that is not the result of some commitment or attachment, passion that is not lust. A man who does not know what passion is will never know love because love can only come into being when there is total self-abandonment. 
A mind that is seeking is not a passionate mind and to come upon love without seeking it is the only way to find it—to come upon it unknowingly and not as the result of any effort or experience. Such a love, you will find, is not of time; such a love is both personal and impersonal, is both the one and the many. 
Like a flower that has a perfume, you can smell it or pass it by. That flower is for everybody and for the one who takes the trouble to breath it deeply and to look at it with delight. Whether one is very near in the garden or very far away, it is the same to the flower because it is full of that perfume and, therefore, it is sharing with everybody. 
Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought. It is only the innocent mind which knows what love is, and the innocent mind can live in the world, which is not innocent. 
To find this extraordinary thing which man has sought endlessly through sacrifice, through worship, through relationship, through sex, through every form of pleasure and pain, is only possible when thought comes to understand itself and comes naturally to an end. Then love has no opposite, then love has no conflict. 
You may ask, “If I find such love, what happens to my wife, my children, my family? They must have security.” When you put such a question you have never been outside the field of thought, the field of consciousness. When once you have been outside that field you will never ask such a question because then you will know what love is in which there is no thought and therefore, no time. You may read this mesmerized and enchanted, but actually to go beyond thought and time—which means going beyond sorrow—is to be aware that there is a different dimension called love. 
But you don’t know how to come upon this extraordinary fount, so what do you do? If you don’t know what to do, you do nothing, don’t you? Absolutely nothing. Then inwardly you are completely silent. Do you understand what that means? It means you are not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing; there is no center at all. Then there is love.




~ J. Krishnamurti 
from Freedom from the Known



Friday, November 2, 2012

planting trees





In the mating of trees,
the pollen grain entering invisible
the domed room of the winds, survives
the ghost of the old forest
that was here when we came. The ground
invites it, and it will not be gone.
I become the familiar of that ghost
and its ally, carrying in a bucket
twenty trees smaller than weeds,
and I plant them along the way
of the departure of the ancient host.
I return to the ground its original music.
It will rise out of the horizon
of the grass, and over the heads
of weeds, and it will rise over
the horizon of men’s heads. As I age
in the world it will rise and spread,
and be for this place horizon
and orison, the voice of its winds.
I have made myself a dream to dream
of its rising, that has gentled my nights.
Let me desire and wish well the life
these trees may live when I
no longer rise in the mornings
to be pleased by the green of them
shining, and their shadows on the ground,
and the sound of the wind in them.



~ Wendell Berry
from The Country of Marriage




love? ... find out






So to go into the question of what love is we must first free it from the encrustation of centuries, put away all ideals and ideologies of what it should or should not be. To divide anything into what should be and what is is the most deceptive way of dealing with life.

Now how am I going to find out what this flame is which we call love—not how to express it to another but what it means in itself? I will first reject what the church, what society, what my parents and friends, what every person and every book, has said about it because I want to find out for myself what it is.

Here is an enormous problem that involves the whole of mankind. There have been a thousand ways of defining it and I myself am caught in some pattern or another according to what I like or enjoy at the moment—so shouldn’t I, in order to understand it, free myself from my own inclinations and prejudices? I am confused, torn by my own desires, so I say to myself, “First clear up your own confusion. Perhaps you may be able to discover what love is through what it is not.”

. . .

The government says go and kill for the love of your country. Is that love? Religion says give up sex for the love of God. Is that love? Is love desire? Don’t say no. For most of us it is desire with pleasure, the pleasure that is derived through the senses, through sexual attachment and fulfillment.

I am not against sex, but see what is involved in it. What sex gives you momentarily is the total abandonment of yourself, then you are back again with your turmoil, so you want a repetition over and over again of that state in which there is no worry, no problem, no self.

You say you love your wife. In that love is involved sexual pleasure, the pleasure of having someone in the house to look after your children, to cook. You depend on her; she has given you her body, her emotions, her encouragement, a certain feeling of security and well-being. Then she turns away from you; she gets bored or goes off with someone else, and your whole emotional balance is destroyed, and this disturbance, which you don’t like, is called jealousy. There is pain in it, anxiety, hate and violence. 

So what you are really saying is, “As long as you belong to me I love you but the moment you don’t I begin to hate you. As long as I can rely on you to satisfy my demands, sexual and otherwise, I love you, but the moment you cease to supply what I want I don’t like you.” So there is antagonism between you, there is separation, and when you feel separate from another there is no love.

But if you live with your wife without thought creating all these contradictory states, these endless quarrels in yourself, then perhaps—perhaps—you will know what love is. Then you are completely free and so is she, whereas is you depend on her for all your pleasure you are a slave to her. So when one loves there must be freedom, not only from the other but from oneself.

This belonging to another, being psychologically nourished by another, depending on another—in all this there must always be anxiety, fear, jealousy, guilt; and so long as there is fear there is no love; a mind ridden with sorrow will never know what love is; sentimentality and emotionalism have nothing whatsoever to do with love. And so love is not to do with pleasure and desire.

Love is not the product of thought, which is the past. Thought cannot possibly cultivate love. Love is not hedged about and caught in jealousy, for jealousy is of the past. Love is always active, present. It is not “I will love” or “I have loved.” If you know love you will not follow anybody. Love does not obey. When you love there is neither respect not disrespect.

Do you know what it really means to love somebody, to love without hate, without jealousy, without anger, without wanting to interfere with what he is doing or thinking, without condemning, without comparing—don’t you know what it means? Where there is love is there comparison? When you love someone with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your body, with your entire being, is there comparison? When you totally abandon yourself to that love there is not the other.






~ J. Krishnamurti
excerpt from Freedom from the Known
art by nancy poucher




letters from God






I have said that the soul is not more than the body, 
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, 
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own 
funeral drest in his shroud, 
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the 
earth, 
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the 
learning of all times, 
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it 
may become a hero, 
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d 
universe, 
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed 
before a million universes. 

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, 
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, 
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and 
about death.) 

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the 
least, 
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself. 

Why should I wish to see God better than this day? 
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment 
then, 
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the 
glass, 
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d 
by God’s name, 
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go, 
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.




~ Walt Whitman
photo by Edward Weston



beneath hurt and grief





Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises




~ Rumi
version by Coleman Barks
with thanks to poetry chaikhana




Thursday, November 1, 2012

the man who lost his key





A Sufi heard a cry: "I've lost my key;
If it's been found, please give it back to me -
My door's locked fast; I wish to God I knew
How I could get back in.  What can I do?"
The Sufi said: "And why should you complain?
You know where this door is; if you remain
Outside it - even if it is shut fast -
Someone no doubt will open it at last.
You make this fuss for nothing; how much more
Should I complain, who've lost both key and door!"
But if this Sufi presses on, he'll find
The closed or open door which haunts his mind.
Men cannot understand the sufis' state,
That deep Bewilderment which is their fate.
To those who ask: "What can I do?" reply:
"Bid all that you have done till now goodbye!"
Once in the Valley of Bewilderment
The pilgrim suffers endless discontent,
Crying: "How long must I endure delay,
Uncertainty? When shall I see the Way?
When shall I know? Oh, when?"  But knowledge here
Is turned again to indecisive fear;
Complaints become an grateful eulogy
And blasphemy is faith, faith blasphemy.





~Farid Attar
from The Conference of Birds
translation by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis