Saturday, December 31, 2016

late ripeness







Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered 
the clarity of early morning. 
One after another my former lives were departing, 
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas 
assigned to my brush came closer, 
ready now to be described better than they were before. 
I was not separated from people, 
grief and pity joined us. 
We forget — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King. 
For where we come from there is no division 
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be. 
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part 
of the gift we received for our long journey. 
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago - 
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror 
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel 
staving its hull against a reef — they dwell in us, 
waiting for a fulfillment. 
I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard, 
as are all men and women living at the same time, 
whether they are aware of it or not. 





~Czeslaw Milosz
from Collected Poems, 1931-1987
art by van gogh







forgiveness






Forgiveness is the answer to a child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive. In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us - we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others.



~ Dag Hammarskjöld 
from Markings
translated by Leif Sjoberg and W.H. Auden.

Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary General of the United Nations, serving from 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1961. He is the only person to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. Markings, a sort of diary of poetry and meditations, was found in his office after his death, along with a letter to Swedish Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Leif Sjoberg, explaining that it may be published if Mr. Sjoberg felt it worth publishing.





Tuesday, December 27, 2016

no expectations







A spirit that lives in this world
And does not wear the shirt of love,
Such an existence is a deep disgrace.

Be foolish in love,
Because love is all there is.

There is no way into presence
Except through a love exchange.

If someone asks, But what is love?
Answer, Dissolving the will.

True freedom comes to those
Who have escaped the questions
Of freewill and fate.

Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.

Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
For that way of being.

How long to you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.

Anything born in the spring dies in the fall,
But love is not seasonal.

With wine pressed from grapes,
Expect a hangover.

But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount.  Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.

Be clear like a mirror
Reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry 
That comes with images.

Gaze into what is not ashamed
Or afraid of any truth.

Contain all human faces in your own
Without any judgement of them.

Be pure emptiness.
What us inside that? You ask.
Silence is all I can say.

Lovers have some secrets
That they keep.


~ Rumi
From: Rumi - Bridge to the Soul
Translation by Coleman Barks


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Love frees


.
.
All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burros eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.

Love frees.


~ Meister Eckhart
art by: Stephen Filarsky


the bridge








Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.

Entering it
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
a rainbow.
I’ll sleep beneath its arches.
 


~ Octavio Paz
from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957-1987
with thanks to Love is a Place 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

in the heart of the night






In the heart of the night,
The moonlight framing
A small boat drifting,
Tossed not by the waves
Nor swayed by the breeze.


~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen

 

true person







The true person is
Not anyone in particular,
But, like the deep blue color
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world.
 
 
 
~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen
 

Friday, December 9, 2016

lessons








~ Elizabeth Lesser

Thursday, December 8, 2016

written in my hut on a snowy evening






Reflecting over seventy years,
I am tired of judging right from wrong.
Faint traces of a path trodden in deep night snow.
A stick of incense under the rickety window.


~ Ryokan 
from Sky Above, Great Wind

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

still life





The rose that no longer blooms in the garden,
blooms inside her whole body, among the veins
and organs and the skeleton.

Linda Gregg 



A hidden blossoming.

Petals flaming beneath the skin.

And a softness pressing,
as delicate as the mouth
of a blind lover.

Each movement,
each quiet gesture
awakens
a rosary in the blood.

Was it desire
which brought her to this moment,
this arrival at source,
or was it merely a need 
to be still, to be richly fed
from this fountain
of dark silence?



~ Dorothy Walters
from Marrow of Flame


 

the difficulty of return






When I first got back,
I thought people would
wish to listen,
moved by my unlikely tale.

Soon I saw that to them I was
mere pariah, outcast,
traveler from a far country
no one had ever heard of,
or believed in.

These goods I brought home
were invisible to all
but the most discerning eye.

My recitals, my celebrations
and laments for what had transpired,
a dumb-show
to all but the most
finely tuned ear.

Now I am ringed by a halo of silence,
and move cautiously,
mouth closed
over this stone
I carry on my tongue.


~ Dorothy Walters
from Marrow of Flame

 

Monday, December 5, 2016

observe






Surely any form of accumulation, either of knowledge or experience, any form of ideal, any projection of the mind, any determined practice to shape the mind - what it should be and should not be - all this is obviously crippling the process of investigation and discovery.

So I think our inquiry must be not for the solution of our immediate problems but rather to find out whether the mind, the conscious as well as the deep unconscious mind in which is stored all the tradition, the memories, the inheritance of racial knowledge,whether all of it can be put aside. I think it can be done only if the mind is capable of being aware without any sense of demand, without any pressure, just to be aware.

 I think it is one of the most difficult things to be so aware because we are caught in the immediate problem and in its immediate solution, and so our lives are very superficial. Though one may go to all the analysts, read all the books, acquire much knowledge, attend churches, pray, mediate, practice various disciplines; nevertheless, our lives are obviously very superficial because we do not know how to penetrate deeply. 

I think the understanding, the way of penetration, how to go very, very deeply, lies through awareness, just to be aware of our thoughts and feelings, without condemnation, without comparison, just to observe. You will see, if you will experiment, how extraordinarily difficult it is, because our whole training is to condemn, to approve, to compare.  




~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Book of Life

problem?







There is a story of a man who came to see the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha was a great teacher. He had some problems in his life, and he thought the Buddha might be able to help him straighten them out.

The Buddha listened patiently to the man as he laid out all his difficulties and worries, and then waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.

The Buddha said, "I can't help you."

"What do you mean?" said the man.

"Everybody's got problems," said the Buddha. "In fact, we've all got eighty-three problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them, maybe you can fix it - but if you do, another one will pop right into its place."

The man was furious. "I thought you were a great teacher! I thought you could help me!"

The Buddha said, "Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth problem."

"The eighty-fourth problem?" said the man. "What's the eighty-fourth problem?"

The Buddha said, "You want to not have any problems."



- Steve Hagen
from Buddhism Plain and Simple
art by Alex Arshansky


Saturday, December 3, 2016

the unstructured sources of our beings









Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings, to the unknown, and returns us to our rational, structured selves refreshed. Having once experienced the mystery, plenitude, contradiction, and composure of a work of art, we afterward have a built-in resistance to the slogans and propaganda of oversimplification that have often contributed to the destruction of human life. Poetry is a verbal means to a nonverbal source. It is a motion to no-motion, to the still point of contemplation and deep realization.



~ A. R. Ammons

Thursday, December 1, 2016

a stream I go a-fishing in








Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.


~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walden: Where I lived and What I lived for
 

inside the river





Inside the river is there a river? -
it could follow slow water the way
the real current follows a stiller
shore. And in your life the life that
hurries could pass, and pass its
open neighbor the earth, and its shore
the sky. To be here, and always to find
places in the current, the dreams
the river has - surely we bubbles
ought to tell about it?

Listen: One of the rooms the river has
after its bridge and its bend in the mountains
is a place waiting for the sun every
afternoon, when the sun dwells
at a slant under a log and finds
that little yellow room and a waterbug
trying to learn circles but never making
one its shadow approves. Miles later
the river tries to recall that dream,
turning with all of its twisting self
that found gravel and found it good.

Just before the ocean that river
turns on its back and side and slowly
invites the world and the air and the sky,
trying to give away everything, everything.



  ~ William Stafford



the path






The path to heaven lies through heaven,
and all the way to heaven is heaven.

 
~ Catherine of Siena
with thanks to Love is a Place