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
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

though we strain




And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?
Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances
or streets, as they wind through time?



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(from: Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

inside the rose


.

.
That camel there with its calf running
behind it, Sutur and Koshek, we're like

them: mothered and nursed by where 
and who we are from, following our fates

where they lead, until we hear a drum
begin, grace entering our lives, a prayer

of gratitude.  We feel the call of God,
and the journey changes, A dry field

of stones turns soft and moist as cheese.
The mountain feels level under us.  Love

becomes agile and quick, and suddenly
we're there!  This traveling's not done

with the body.  God's secret takes form
in your loving.  But there are those in

bodies who are pure soul.  It can happen.
These messengers invite us to walk with 

them.  They say, "You may feel happy
enough where you are, but we can't do

without you any longer!  Please."  So
we walk along inside the rose, being

pulled like the creeks and rivers are,
out from the town onto the plain.  My

guide, my soul, your only sadness is when
I am not walking with you.  In deep silence,

with some exertion to stay in your company,
I could save you a lot of trouble!


.
~ Rumi
from The Glance, Songs of Soul-Meeting
translated by Coleman Barks
art by ramel jasir




the trick of finding what you didn't lose




the trick of finding what you didn't lose
(existing's tricky:but to live's a gift)
the teachable imposture of always
arriving at the place you never left

(and i refer to thinking)rests upon
a dismal misconception;namely that
some neither ape nor angel called a man
is measured by his quote eye cue unquote.

Much better than which, every woman who's
(despite the ultramachinations of
some loveless infraworld)a woman knows;
and certain men quite possibly may have

shall we say guessed?"
"we shall" quoth gifted she:
and played the hostess to my morethanme



~e.e.cummings

.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

sweep aside the dust







A small fish swallowing a big one,
Like a Buddhist priest studying the Confucian classics;
It can penetrate the entanglements of buddhas and demons,
And sweep aside the dust collecting on the Law.




~ Dogen
from the Zen Poetry of Dogen by Steven Heine

 

the entry







Not from saying names, 
or praying to statuary.

Not from holding your breath
till you are blue in the face.

Not from twisting your torso this way, now that,
till you are like a string
striving to become a knot.

Not from reading saints' lives
or fingering a billion beads.

Only this:

The moment between the breaths.
The stillness between the notes.

A firefly extinguishes itself,
bleeds darkness
before its final flare.



 ~ Dorothy Walters
from Marrow of Flame 
(homage to Kabir)

 
 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

child of heaven and earth







As a child of heaven and earth, 
you are a mix of infinite openness and finite limitation.  
This means that you are both wonderful and difficult
 at the same time.  
You are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, 
you become carried away with yourself.  
Indeed, you are quite impossible in many ways.  

And still, you are beautiful beyond measure. 
 For the core of what you are is fashioned out of love,
 that potent blend of openness, warmth, 
and clear transparent presence. 
 Boundless love always seems to sparkle 
through your limited form.



~ John Welwood
from Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart
with thanks to Love is a Place
 

Monday, May 1, 2017

the broken thread









Once upon a time, there was a Sufi mystic. Like many mystics, he did not hold any formal position or title. He lived completely in the world, and the only way you knew anything was special about him was the sense of sweetness that seemed to cling to everything he touched.
During the day, he functioned as a shopkeeper, carefully sweeping and stacking and dusting the majestic tapestries, which he sold to support his family. There was a gentle buzz about the shop, a calm flow of traffic that never seemed to cease, from early in the morning when the shopkeeper’s wife unlocked the door and switched the sign to read open, until the evening hours, when the last rays of the sun settled across the dusty streets.

Gradually, the people who came to visit the shop began to linger, to breathe in the fragrance of the mystic, and upon their request, he began to teach. One of his students asked one day if he could begin to spend the afternoons as his assistant. He had no need of pay; he wanted to learn, and the mystic simply smiled, and so it began.

The boy was very polite, and so when he saw his master doing a very peculiar thing one afternoon after a new shipment arrived, he stared only for a moment and did not ask a question. Two days later, when he saw his master doing the same very odd thing, again he politely turned his eyes aside. And so again the third and the fourth and the fifth time. But finally, his curiosity could be contained no more.“Master,” he said, addressing his teacher.
The mystic turned and gazed with soft, deep eyes.
“Master. Why is it that every time you get a shipment of new tapestries, you grab a pin and loosen a thread in the center of each? I’ve seen you do this five times. I know how you love the tapestries, how you teach to always care for what we have here on earth.” He turned his palms up. “Why?”
The Mystic’s soft eyes did not change their expression. “That is the secret,” he said.
The boy’s face grew red and flushed. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
His teacher continued. “The secret of the love. In the broken thread, the place of the flaw, is where you find your way to God.” 


 ~ Sufi story
art from  the Dome of a Sufi Saint by majhul
with thanks to noornalini

Friday, April 28, 2017

your way of knowing






Your way of knowing is a private herb garden.
Enclose it with a hedge of meditation,
and self-discipline, and helpfulness to others.

Then everything you've done before
will be brought as a sacrifice
to the mother goddess.

And each day, as you eat the herbs,
the garden grows more bare and empty.



~ Lalla
translation by Coleman Barks
 from The Soul is here for its own Joy, Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
edited by Robert Bly
  
 

we phantom figures





46

For in and out, above, about, below,
'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show,
Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun,
Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.

47

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in - Yes -
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be - Nothing - Thou shalt not be less.

49

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and Thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

51

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

52

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help - for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

2

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

7

Come , fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
 The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

20

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears -
To-morrow? - Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.

32

There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There seemed - and then no more of Thee and Me.

55

The Vine had struck a Fibre; which about
If clings my Being - let the Sufi flout;
Of my Base Metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without

56

And this I know: whether the one True Light,
Kindle to Love, or Wrathconsume me quite,
One Glimpse of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.




~ Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
First Edition, 1859
translation into English quatrains by Edward FitzGerald