Thursday, February 21, 2019

your mirror

Each soul is created to serve as your mirror.

All things in the two worlds
are only your mirrors.

The heart is the mirror of your most royal
beauty -

and both of these worlds
are the case of that mirror.

~ Najm al-Din Daya Razi
from Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition
translation by David and Sabrineh Fideler


~  Richard Rohr

every pore

Love came and emptied me of self,
every vein and every pore,
made into a container to be filled by the Beloved.
Of me, only a name is left,
the rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.

~ Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
 with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana

nonverbal articulation

Music opens a path into the realm of silence. Music reveals the human soul in stark “nakedness,” as it were, without the customary linguistic draperies.

The nature of music variously [has] been understood … as nonverbal articulation of weal and woe, as wordless expression of man’s intrinsic dynamism of self-realization, a process understood as man’s journey toward ethical personhood, as the manifestation of man’s will in its aspects, as love.

Music articulates the inner dynamism of man’s existential self, which is music’s “prime matter” (so to speak), and both share a particular characteristic — both move in time.

Since music articulates the immediacy of man’s basic existential dynamism in an immediate way, the listener as well is addressed and challenged on that profound level where man’s self-realization takes place. In this existential depth of the listener, far below the level of expressible judgments, there echoes — in identical immediacy — the same vibration articulated in the audible music.

We now realize why and to what extent music plays a role in man’s formation and perfection… beyond any conscious efforts toward formation, teaching, or education.

~ Josef Pieper
with thanks to Brain Pickings

a rainy night

A steady stream of almost silent rain
drops on every roof and windowsill
and stretches like a veil
deep over the darkness of the land.
It trickles and tumbles in the wind
with no movement of its own and yet alive.

The fields draw near the clouds.
Even heaven bows to the solid ground.
A rhythmic, subtle song sates the space,
swells, sways, and soaks the night in sorrow
as if a lone violin were delving deep
into dark, secret yearnings
transforming fiery torment into tone
while touching here and there a homeless heart,
which found no words
for its deep longings.

What neither words nor music could express
the wind and rain intone with quiet strength.
They fill the rainy night with a tender lullaby
and the steady rhythms of this song
sustain and cradle and appease
all unheard struggles, all unhealed pain.

~ Hermann Hesse
from Seasons of the Soul
art by Utamaro

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

clearer and clearer

The Chinese and the Greeks were arguing as to who were the better artists.

The King said, "We'll settle this matter with a debate."

This Chinese began talking,
but the Greeks wouldn't say anything.
They left.

The Chinese suggested then that they each be given a room to work 
on with their artistry, two rooms facing each other and divided by a curtain. 

The Chinese asked the King for a hundred colors, all the variations,
and each morning they came to where the dyes were kept and took them all.

The Greeks took no colors.
"They are not part of our work."

They went to their room and began cleaning and polishing the walls.
All day every day they made those walls as pure and clear as an open sky.

There is a way that leads from all-colors to colorlessness.
Know that the magnificent variety of the clouds and the weather comes
from the total simplicity of the sun and the moon.

The Chinese finished,and they were so happy.
They beat the drums in the joy of completion.

The King entered their room, astonished by the gorgeous color and detail.

The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms.
The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected
on the clear Greek walls.  They lived there, even more
beautifully, and always changing in the light.

The Greek art is the Sufi way.
They don't study books of philosophical thought.

They make their loving clearer and clearer.
No wantings, no anger. In that purity
they receive and reflect the images of every moment, 
from here, from the stars, from the void.

They take them in
as though they were seeing
with the Lighted Clarity
that sees them.

~ Rumi
from Mathnawi, 1, 3462-3485, 3499
version by Coleman Barks


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tao Te Ching

~ Lao Tzu


The country seems bigger, for you can see through the bare trees. There are times when the woods is absolutely still and quiet. The house holds warmth. A wet snow comes in the night and covers the ground and clings to the trees, making the whole world white. For a while in the morning the world is perfect and beautiful. You think you will never forget.

You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.

But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.

~ Wendell Berry

let it go

let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go it
was sworn to

let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go

so comes love

~ e.e. cummings
photo by ansel adams

Saturday, February 16, 2019

peace in schools

~ Caverly Morgan

Friday, February 15, 2019

if I should fall behind

~ Bruce Springsteen

Saturday, February 9, 2019

love is active


love never exists 
as a fact 

it is a verb 
and you can do 
all things 
with or without it 

it is nature 
in action 
being true 
to itself 
without even 
a thought

~ Benjamin Dean

from the beginning

From the beginning
the flying birds have left
no footprints on the blue sky

~ Miso Soseki
translated by W.S. Merwin

Muso Soseki first practiced Zen under the guidance of a Chinese teacher but he "failed miserably." He later studied with the Japanese Zen master Koho Kennichi and soon began to unfold into profound awakening, receiving inka or certification of enlightenment in 1339.

Muso Soseki went on to teach large numbers of students and, like many Zen practitioners, write poetry. He also became an advisor to the first Ashikaga Shogun and helped to re-establish trade and communications between Japan and China.

Soseki is perhaps most famous, however, for his profound influence in the art of Zen gardening as spaces to cultivate awareness. 

comments from Poetry Chaikhana

Thursday, February 7, 2019

building cages or dropping keys

No photo description available.

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He Knows.

While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping
keys all night long
For the

~ Hafiz

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


The chooser's happiness lies in his congruence with the chosen,
The peace of iron filings, obedient to the forces of the magnetic field -
Calm is the soul that is emptied of all self,
In the eternal moment of co-inherence.
A happiness within you - but not yours.

~ Dag Hammarskjold
from Markings

standing deer

As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is
too loved or too heavy to part with,
the heart may grow cluttered.
And still the house will be emptied,
and still the heart.
As the thoughts of a person
in age sometimes grow sparer,
like a great cleanness come into a room,
the soul may grow sparer;
one sparrow song carves it completely.
And still the room is full,
and still the heart.
Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.
Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.
Beloved, what can be, what was,
will be taken from us.
I have disappointed.
I am sorry. I knew no better.
A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.

~ Jane Hirschfield 
from The Lives of the Heart


Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.

Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off --
the immeasurable's continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.

~ Jane Hirshfieldfrom
from Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems

photo of the Socratea exorrhiza or walking palm
which can move itself up to about a meter per year

song of the soul

In the depth of my Soul there is-
A wordless song-a song that lives
In the seed of my heart.
It refuses to melt with ink
On parchment; it engulfs my affection
In a transparent cloak and flows,
But not upon my lips.

How can I sing it? I fear it may
Mingle with earthly ether;
To whom shall I sing it? It dwells
In the house of my soul, in fear of harsh ears.

When I look into my inner eyes
I see the shadow of its shadow;
When I touch my fingertips
I feel its vibrations.

The deeds of my hands heed its
Presence as a lake must reflect
The glittering stars; my tears
Reveal it, as bright drops of dew
reveal the secret of a withering rose.

It is a song composed by contemplation,
And published by silence,
And shunned by clamor,
And folded by truth,
And repeated by dreams,
And understood by love,
And hidden by awakening
And sung by the soul.

It is the song of love;
What Cain or Esau could sing it?
It is more fragrant than jasmine;
What voice could enslave it?

It is heart-bound, as a virgin’s secret;
What string could quiver it?
Who dares unite the roar of the sea
And the singing of the nightingale?
Who dares compare the shrieking tempest
To the sigh of an infant?
Who dares speak aloud the words
Intended for the heart to speak?
What human dares sing in voice
The song of God?

~ Kahlil Gibran

Monday, February 4, 2019

the black figure below the boat

We hear phrases: "He made me do it."
"I never wanted that."  The boy's boat gets
Pushed out on the sea, and before long the tidal
Currents guide it from beneath.  He goes to sleep.

He meets a woman, and marries her even though
He doesn't want to.  He says, "It was the current."
But some tiny black figure swims below the boat,
Pushing it.  This man or god works all night.

Then what?  Months go by, years, twenty years.
A lot of water.  The boat hits gravel.
It's an island - the kind where giants live.
"Don't say you didn't want it.  Just get ready."

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems

Sunday, February 3, 2019

absent as "you"

Whenever you are absent as "you,"
You are present as I.
So you may say "My absence as 'me' is My presence as I."

Of course I am always present as I,
but when I appear to be present as "you" (or as "me")
I seem to be absent,
i.e. My presence appears to be an absence.

Also you may say "My absence as 'that' (which can be known)
is My presence as THIS" 
(about which there cannot be anything to know).

If one were to think it,
apperceive it, 
understand it, even occasionally?...

~ Wei Wu Wei
from Posthumous Pieces


Friday, February 1, 2019

seeing "the deep world"

Leonid Afremov

There is a portion of reality which is offered to us without our making any special effort beyond opening our eyes and ears, and this we call the world of pure impressions.  But there is another world built of structures of impressions, which, though hidden, is none the less real.  If this other world is to exist for us, we need to open something more than our physical eyes, and to undertake a greater kind of effort.  But the measure of our effort neither confers any reality on that world, nor takes it away.  The deep world is as clear as the surface one, only it asks more of us.

~ Jose Ortega y Gasset
from Meditations of Quixote, 1914
adapted from a translation by J.W. Jeaffreson


These Things whose essential life you want to express first ask you, "Are you free? Are you prepared to devote all your love to me...?"  And if the Thing sees that you are otherwise occupied with even a particle of your interest, it shuts itself off; it may perhaps give you some slight sign of friendship, a word or a nod, but it will never give you its heart, entrust you with its patient being, its sweet sidereal constancy, which makes it so like the constellations in the sky.  In order for a Thing to speak to you, you must regard it for a certain time as the only one that exists, as the one and only phenomenon which, through your laborious and exclusive love, is now placed at the center of the universe, and which, in that incomparable place, is on that day attended by angels.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from a letter sent to Baladine Klossowska
translation by Stephen Mitchell

both excerpts found in the essay Poetry and the Mind of Indirection
by Jane Hirshfield

hope is as hollow as fear

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
Your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
You will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
That arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
What do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
Then you can care for all things.