Sunday, August 6, 2017

who?









The Student

Who makes my mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak? Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
And hears through my ears?

 The Teacher

The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of words, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be 
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the eye see but cannot be
Seen by the eye,that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the ear hear but cannot be 
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes you draw breath but cannot be 
Drawn by your breath. that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.



~ The Kena Upanishad
translation by Eknath Easwaran

Sunday, July 30, 2017

excerpt from: September 1st, 1939









All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, 
The romantic lie in the brain 
Of the sensual man-in-the-street 
And the lie of Authority 
Whose buildings grope the sky: 
There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone; 
Hunger allows no choice 
To the citizen or the police; 
We must love one another or die.


~ W. H. Auden
 from Another Time
 art by picasso

kindness

.


.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be 
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crown of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye

.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

the unknown flute









I know the sound of the ecstatic flute,
but I don't know whose flute it is.

A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.

A lily pad blossoms and is not attached to the bottom! 

When one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.

The moon bird's head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon,
and when the next rain will come is all that the rain bird thinks of.

Who is it we spend our entire life loving? 



~ Kabir 
 

Sssh






Sssh the sea says
Sssh the small waves at the shore say, sssh
Not so violent, not
So haughty, not
So remarkable
Sssh
Say the tips of the waves
Crowding around the headland's
Surf. Sssh
They say to people
This is our earth,
Our eternity.



~ Rolf Jacobsen
from The Soul is here for its own Joy
edited by Robert Bly 
photo by Eliot Porter 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

pain and pleasure








Human beings try to avoid pain by setting up permanent zones of pleasure. 
The mind is always seeking to create permanent territories of pleasure to avoid pain. 
But these zones, what we might call 'zones of safety' don't last. 
They always fall apart, and because they are fleeting, 
then we scramble to find another zone of pleasure to help us forget our pain. 
This going round and round is what we mean by samsara. 
Hell is just resistance to life. It's counter-intuitive, but if we stop, 
become curious about the pain, learn to befriend it 
and work with it, actually learn how to be genuine friends 
of ourselves, then the pleasures of life become authentic pleasures 
as opposed to numbing agents, anesthetizing us from our genuine experience.
 
 

~ Pema Chodron, 
Dharma talk, Karma Dzong, Boulder, Colorado, 1999
 art by Edvard Munch
 

all-one







Don’t forget the nut, being so proud of the shell,
The body has its inward ways,

the five senses. They crack open,
and the Friend is revealed.

Crack open the Friend, you become
the All-One.



  ~ Version by Coleman Barks
from Unseen Rain
 
 

the waiting






The death of self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. 

It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll.
 It is merely the slow cessation of the will's spirits and the intellect's chatter: 
it is waiting like a hollow bell with a stilled tongue. 

The waiting itself is the thing.


- Annie Dillard
from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I have received and am still receiving



 llustration by Vladimir Radunsky
 for On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne




How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to a frugal life and am often oppressively aware that I am engrossing an undue amount of the labor of my fellow-men. I regard class distinctions as unjustified and, in the last resort, based on force. I also believe that a simple and unassuming life is good for everybody, physically and mentally.




 ~ Albert Einstein

with thanks to BrainPickings


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

among the multitudes










I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.

Nature's wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.

I didn't get a choice either,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.

Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.

A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.

A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.

A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I'd prompted only fear,
Loathing,
or pity?

If I'd been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?

Fate has been kind
to me thus far.

I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments

My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.

I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is, someone completely different.
 


~ Wislawa Szymborska
 from Poems, New and Collected
with thanks to Love is a Place
 
 
 
 
 

mercy










The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest,—
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,—
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. 
 
 
 
 
~ William Shakespeare 
 from The Merchant of Venice
art by Van Gogh
 

Friday, June 9, 2017

steps out of the circle









The self steps out of the circle;
it stops wanting to be
the farmer, the wife, and the child.

It stops trying to please
by learning everyone's dialect;
it finds it can live, after all,
in a world of strangers.

It sends itself fewer flowers;
it stops preserving its tears in amber.

How splendidly arrogant it was
when it believed the gold-filled tomb
of language awaited its raids!
Now it frequents the junkyards
knowing all words are secondhand.

It has not chosen its poverty,
this new frugality.
It did not want to fall out of love
with itself. Young,
it celebrated itself
and richly sang itself,
seeing only itself
in the mirror of the world.

It cannot return. It assumes
its place in the universe of stars
that do not see it. Even the dead
no longer need it to be at peace.
Its function is to applaud.




~ Lisel Mueller
 from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems
 with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana


beyond words










There’s a language beyond words. Silence creates the space for it. 
Sometimes when we feel powerless to speak words that are meaningful, 
when we have to back off into unknowing and helplessness,
 but remain in the situation, silence creates the space 
that’s needed for a deeper happening to occur. 
But often, initially, that silence is uneasy. 
It begins “as a small frightened thing”
 and only slowly grows 
into the kind of warmth 
that dissolves tension.


~ Ron Rolheiser
from  The Healing Place of Silence
art by Alfredo Ramos Martinez
 with thanks to louie, louie


Thursday, June 8, 2017

the haunted room in the mind









In Ireland there are many stories of haunted houses.  There may be a room in which one senses a presence or hears footsteps or a strange voice.  Such haunted places remain uninhabited.  People are afraid to go there.  The place is forsaken and left to deepen ever further into the shadow of itself.  The way you think about your life can turn your soul into a haunted room.  You are afraid to risk going in there anymore.  Your fantasy peoples this room of the heart with sad presences, which ultimately become disturbing and sinister.  The haunted room in the mind installs lonesomeness at the heart of your life.  It would be devastating in the autumn of your life to look back and recognize that you had created a series of haunted rooms in your heart.  Fear and negativity are immense forces, which constantly tussle with us.  They long to turn the mansions of the soul into a totally haunted house.  These are the living conditions for which fear and negativity long, and in which they thrive.  We were sent here to live life to the full.  When you manage to be generous in your passion and vulnerability, life always comes to bless you.  Had you but the courage to acknowledge the haunted inner room, turn the key, and enter, you would encounter nothing strange or sinister there.  You would meet some vital self of yours that you had banished during a time of pain or difficulty.  Sometimes, when life squeezes you into lonely crevices, you may have to decide between survival or breaking apart.  At such times, you can be harsh with yourself and settle to be someone other than who you really long to be.  At such a time, you can do nothing else; you have to survive.  But your soul always remains faithful to your longing to become who you really are.  The banished self from an earlier time of life remains within you waiting to be released and integrated.  The soul has its own logic of loyalty and concealment.  Ironically, it is usually in its most awkward rooms that the special blessings and healing are locked away.  Your thinking can also freeze and falsify the flow of your life’s continuity to make you a prisoner of routine and judgement.




~  John O’Donohue, 
from  'Eternal Echoes

break yourself apart







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?




~ Rumi 
 translation Coleman Barks




on summer evenings we sat in the yard




On summer evenings we sat in the yard,
the house dark, the stars bright overhead.
The laps and arms of the old
held the young.  As we talked we knew
by the dark distances of Heaven's lights
our smallness, and the greatness of our love.



~ Wendell Berry


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

be lost in Unity's inclusive span









The pilgrim sees no form but His and knows
That He subsists beneath all passing shows --
The pilgrim comes from Him whom he can see,
Lives in Him, with Him, and beyond all three.
Be lost in Unity's inclusive span,
Or you are human but not yet a man.
Whoever lives, the wicked and the blessed,
Contains a hidden sun within his breast --
Its light must dawn though dogged by long delay;
The clouds that veil it must be torn away --
Whoever reaches to his hidden sun
Surpasses good and bad and knows the One.
The good and bad are here while you are here;
Surpass yourself and they will disappear.
 
 
 ~ Farid Attar
English version by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis
art by Andrew Wyeth
 with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana

 
 
 

Monday, June 5, 2017

I came to love you too late





I came to love you too late, Oh Beauty,
so ancient and so new. Yes,
I came to love you too late.  What did I know?
You were inside me, and I was 
out of my body and mind looking
for you.
I drove like an ugly madman against
the beautiful things and beings
you made.
You were inside me, but I was not inside you...
You called to me, you cried to me; you broke the bowl
of my deafness; you uncovered my beams and threw them
at me; you rejected my blindness; you blew a fragrant wind
on me, and
I sucked in my breath and wanted you; I tasted you
and now I want you as I want food and water; you
touched me, and I have been burning ever since to
have your peace.



~ Saint Augustine

Saturday, June 3, 2017

to learn from animal being




Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence:
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens:
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging,
We manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

May we enter
Into lightness of spirit,
And slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence
Of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts
Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk
Upon the earth
With all their confidence
And clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds
Might be baptized
In the name of the wind
And light and the rain.




~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Friday, June 2, 2017

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


Thursday, June 1, 2017

glorious









~ MaMuse

silence and meditation






One day some people came to a solitary monk  . 

They asked him:
"What is the meaning of silence and meditation? "

The monk was just the scooping of water 
from a deep well. 
He said to his visitors: 

"Look into the well. What do you see?" 

The people looked into the deep well and responded: 
"We see nothing!"

The monk put down his bucket. 
After a short while, he urged the people once more: 
"Look into the well! 
What do you see now? " 

The people looked down again: 
"Now we see ourselves!" 

"You could not see anything," replied the monk, 
"Because the water was restless as your life. 
But now it's quiet. 
This is what the silence gives us : one sees himself "


Then the monk told the people to wait a while. 
Finally, he asked them: 
"And now look again into the well. 
What do you see? " 

The man looked down.
"Now we see the stones on the bottom of the well." 

The monk said: 
"This is the experience of silence and meditation. 

If you wait long enough, you can see the reason of all things. "




~ author unknown






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

by whom






The Student
.
Who makes the mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak?  Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
and hears through my ears?

The Teacher

The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of the word, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be 
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the eye see but cannot be 
Seen by the eye, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the ear hear but cannot be 
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes you draw breath but cannot be
Drawn by your breath, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.


.
~ The Kena Upanishad
translated and introduced by Eknath Easwaran

There is a Sufi story about a seeker who calls on Allah day in and day out for years and finally throws himself down and sobs,  "How long have I been calling and you do not answer!"  Then he hears a voice:  "Who do you think has been making you call me?"

Kena, in the title means "by whom?" - that is, impelled by whom do all the motions stir?  Or in Shankara's brilliant paraphrase, "By whose mere presence does that desire arise which moves the universe?"



a child went forth







There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that object he became.
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day....or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird.
And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's calf, and the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pondside.. and the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there.. and the beautiful curious liquid.. and the water-plants with their grateful flat heads.. all became part of him.

And the field-sprouts of April and May became part of him....wintergrain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent roots of the garden,
And the appletrees covered with blossoms, and the fruit afterward.... and woodberries.. and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school.. and the friendly boys that passed.. and the quarrelsome boys.. and the tidy and freshcheeked girls.. and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents..he that had propelled the fatherstuff at night, and fathered him.. and she that conceived him in her womb and birthed him.... they gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day.... they and of them became part of him.




~ Walt Whitman
excerpt from There was a Child Went Forth
art by Klimt


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

when the body and mind grow weak






When the body and mind grow weak, the Self gathers in all the powers of life and descends with them into the heart.  As prana leaves the eye, it ceases to see. "He is becoming one," say the wise;  "he does not see.  He is becoming one; he no longer hears.  He is becoming one; he no longer speaks, or tastes, or smells, or thinks, or knows."  By the light of the heart the Self leaves the body by one of its gates; and when he leaves, prana follows, and with it all the vital powers of the body.  He who is dying merges in consciousness, and thus consciousness accompanies him when he departs, along with the impressions of all that he has done, experienced, and known.





~ from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
art by van gogh




Monday, May 29, 2017

as the rain





As the rain on the mountain peak runs off
The slopes on all sides, so those who see
Only the seeming multiplicity in life
Run after things on every side.

As pure water poured into pure water
Becomes the very same, so does the Self
Of the illumined man or woman, Nachiketa,
Verily become one with the Godhead.

...
The adorable one who is seated
In the heart rules the breath of life.
Unto him all the senses pay their homage.
When the dweller in the body breaks out
In freedom from the bonds of flesh,
What remains?  For this Self is supreme!

We live not by the breath that flows in
And flows out, but by him who causes the breath
To flow in and flow out.




~ The Katha Upanishad
(Death as Teacher)
translated by Eknath Easwaran




Sunday, May 28, 2017

looking into a face








Conversation brings us so close! Opening
The surfs of the body,
Bringing fish up near the sun,
And stiffening the backbones of the sea!

I have wandered in a face, for hours,
Passing through dark fires.
I have risen to a body
Not yet born,
Existing like a light around the body,
Through which the body moves like a sliding moon.





~ Robert Bly
from The Light Around the Body


 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

body and soul





Without Contraries is no progression.
 Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, 
are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
 Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.
Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.



All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors.
1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
2. That Energy, call'd Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call'd Good, is alone from the        Soul.
3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True

1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3 Energy is Eternal Delight
~ William Blake 
from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
 with thanks to Love is a Place
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

traveling through







Death is a favour to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity, deepening the wonder in our
Senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And surely are just traveling through.

If I were in the tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His cup.


If I were in the tavern tonight,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long.


Death is a favour to us,
But our minds have lost their balance.
The miraculous existence and impermanence of
Form
Always makes the illumined ones
Laugh and sing.





~ Hafiz
from  The subject tonight is Love –  poems of Hafiz
Versions by Daniel Ladinsky
with thanks to Death Deconstructed