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