Tuesday, October 19, 2021

optimism and enduring patience



American Indians continue to suffer from the effects of conquest by European immigrants
 over the past five centuries—an ongoing and pervasive sense of community-wide
 post-traumatic stress disorder. We live with the ongoing stigma of defeated peoples
 who have endured genocide, the intentional dismantling of cultural values, 
forced confinement on less desirable lands called “reservations,” 
intentionally nurtured dependency on the federal government, 
and conversion by missionaries who imposed a new culture on us 
as readily as they preached the gospel. . . .

[Indian peoples] suspect that the greed that motivated the displacement
 of all indigenous peoples from their lands of spiritual rootedness is the same greed
 that threatens the destruction of the earth and the continued oppression of so many
 peoples and ultimately the destruction of our White relatives. 
Whether it is the stories the settlers tell or the theologies they develop to interpret those stories,
 something seems wrong to Indian people. But not only do Indians continue to tell the stories,
 sing the songs, speak the prayers, and perform the ceremonies that root themselves
 deeply in Mother Earth; they are actually audacious enough to think that their stories
 and their ways of reverencing creation will some day win over our White settler
 relatives and transform them. Optimism and enduring patience seem to run 
in the life blood of Native American peoples.
May justice, followed by genuine peace,
 flow out of our concern for one another and all creation. 
~ George Tinker
from  American Indian Liberation

Friday, October 15, 2021

thank you






honour song




Saturday, October 9, 2021

heartbreak, loss, and letting go



Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colours and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in love relationship, in a life's work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete's quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

Our hope to circumvent heartbreak in adulthood is beautifully and ironically child-like; heartbreak is as inescapable and inevitable as breathing, a part and parcel of every path, asking its due in every sincere course an individual takes, it may be that there may be not only no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak, but no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart broken by what it holds and then has to let go.

In a sobering physical sense, every heart does eventually break, as the precipitating reason for death or because the rest of the body has given up before it and can no longer sustain its steady beat, but hearts also break in an imaginative and psychological sense: there is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak. A marriage, a committed vow to another, even in the most settled, loving relationship, will always break our hearts at one time or another; a successful marriage has often had its heart broken many times just in order for the couple to stay together; parenthood, no matter the sincerity of our love for a child, will always break the mold of our motherly or fatherly hopes, a good work seriously taken, will often take everything we have and still leave us wanting; and finally even the most self compassionate, self examination should, if we are sincere, lead eventually to existential disappointment.

Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose. It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms even when we do not feel it by the intimate physical experience generated by it absence; it can also ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have built even as we stand in its ruins.

If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, and even, its own reward. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.

David Whyte
from Consolations: The Solace, 
Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

not lose myself


 When I am not present to myself, 
then I am only aware of that half of me, 
that mode of my being which turns outward to created things.

And then it is possible for me to lose myself among them. 
Then I no longer feel the deep secret pull of the gravitation of love
 which draws my inward self toward God.

My will and my intelligence lose their command of the other faculties. 
My senses, my imagination, my emotions, scatter to pursue
 their various quarries all over the face of the earth.

Recollection brings them home. It brings the outward self into line 
with the inward spirit, and makes my whole being answer the deep
 pull of love that reaches down into the mystery of God.
 In order to be recollected in action, 
I must not lose myself in action.
In order to keep acting,
I must not lose myself in recollection.
~ Thomas Merton
 from No Man is an Island
 with thanks to Love is a Place


the hidden music


 My heart, sit only with those
who know and understand you.

Sit only under a tree
that is full of blossoms.

In the bazaar of herbs and potions
don't wander aimlessly,
find the shop with a potion that is sweet.

If you don't have a measure
people will rob you in no time.

You will take counterfeit coins
thinking they are real.

Don't fill your bowl with food from
every boiling pot you see.

Not every joke is humorous, so don't search
for meaning where there isn't one.

Not every eye can see,
not every sea is full of pearls.

My heart, sing the song of longing,
like nightingale.

The sound of your voice casts a spell
on every stone, on every thorn.

First, lay down your head,
then one by one
let go of all distractions.

Embrace the light and let it guide you
beyond the winds of desire.

There you will find a spring and
nourished by its sweet waters
like a tree you will bear fruit forever.
 ~ Rumi
translation by Maryam Mafi 
and Azima Melita Kolin
art by Tovit Basirtman




Lionesses baby-sit for one another just as house cats sometimes do. . . . 
Elephants appear to make allowances for other members of their herd. 
One African herd always traveled slowly because one of its members 
had never fully recovered from a broken leg suffered as a calf. 
A park warden reported coming across a herd with a female 
carrying a small calf several days dead, which she placed on the ground
 whenever she ate or drank: she traveled very slowly and 
the rest of the elephants waited for her. . . . 
There appears to be so little survival value in the behavior of this herd,
 that perhaps one has to believe that they behaved this way 
just because they loved their grieving friend who loved her dead baby, 
and wanted to support her.
~ Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy
from When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals


Thursday, September 9, 2021

it’s their nature

Death of the Historic Buddha, Japan. 14th century, ink and gold on silk. 
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Now you too must learn to be satisfied with the many years
 you’ve already depended on your body. You should feel that it’s enough.

You can compare it to household utensils that you’ve had for a long time—
your cups, saucers, plates and so on. When you first had them 
they were clean and shining, but now after using them for so long,
 they’re starting to wear out. Some are already broken, some have disappeared, 
and those that are left are deteriorating: they have no stable form,
 and it’s their nature to be like that. Your body is the same way. 
It has been continually changing right from the day you were born, 
through childhood and youth, until now it has reached old age. 

Allow the mind to let go of its attachments. The time is ripe.

Even if your house is flooded or burnt to the ground, 
whatever the danger that threatens it,
 let it concern only the house. 
If there’s a flood, don’t let it flood your mind. 
If there’s a fire, don’t let it burn your heart.
 Let it be merely the house, that which is external to you, 
that is flooded and burned. Allow the mind to let go of its attachments.
 The time is ripe.

It is the same with your wealth, your possessions, and your family—
they are all yours only in name; they don’t really belong to you, 
they belong to nature.

It’s like the water of a river. It naturally flows down the gradient; 
it never flows against it, and that is its nature. If a person were to go
 and stand on a river bank and, seeing the water flowing swiftly 
down its course, foolishly want it to flow back up the gradient, 
he would suffer. Whatever he was doing, his wrong thinking 
would allow him no peace of mind. He would be unhappy
 because of his wrong view, thinking against the stream.

Find your real home
~  Ajahn Chah
excerpt from:
 First published on January 1, 1994 by permission of the Abbot, 
Wat Pah Nanachat, Thailand
found in Lions Roar

Monday, September 6, 2021

one light

‘I’ and ‘you’ are but the lattices,
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One Light shines.
‘I’ and ‘you’ are the veil
between heaven and earth;
lift this veil and you will see
no longer the bonds of sects and creeds.
When ‘I’ and ‘you’ do not exist,
what is mosque, what is synagogue?
What is the Temple of Fire?

~ Mahmud Shabistari

Mahmud Shabistari was one of Sufi’s greatest poets of the 14th Century. Like Rumi, Shabistari lived in turbulent times. This period was often fraught with dangers, in particular the Mongol invasions brought much devastation. However Shabistari was able to write much poetry and synthesise much of the Sufi wisdom. He had a style similar to Ibn Arabi and expressed Sufi philosophy in a moving and simple language. As David Fieldler says of Shabistari

“ Shabistari possessed a unique genius for summarizing the profound and often complex teachings of Sufism in a beautiful, aphoristic, and concise fashion, which often leaves the reader speechless when the deeper meanings of his verse are grasped. “

The Secret Rose Garden by Shabistari Shabistari (1317 A.D.) must be reckoned among the greatest mystical poetry of any time or land. Treating such themes as the Self and the One, The Spiritual Journey, Time and this Dream-World, and the ecstasy of Divine Inebriation, Shabistari’s work is a perennial witness to the capabilities and destiny of humanity. Stressing the One Light that exists at the heart of all religious traditions, Shabistari's work is one of the clearest and most concise guides to the inner meaning of Sufism, and offers a stunningly direct exposition of Sufi mystical thought in poetic form.

~ Comments from Poet Seers


Whether drifting through life on a boat or 
climbing toward old age leading a horse, 
each day is a journey and the journey itself is home. 

~ Basho


Like ev'ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one's achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one's own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief - with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
for each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.
We'll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
it lifts and widens us in ev'ry session:
for hardly set in one of life's expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits' paralyzing stances.
It even may be that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers...
Anon, my heart! Do part and do recover!

~ Hermann Hesse
translated by Walter A. Aue

Monday, August 30, 2021




We will never have any memory of dying.

We were so patient
about our being,
noting down
numbers, days,
years and months,
hair, and the mouths we kiss,
and that moment of dying
we let pass without a note—
we leave it to others as memory,
or we leave it simply to water,
to water, to air, to time.
Nor do we even keep
the memory of being born,
although to come into being was tumultuous and new;
and now you don’t remember a single detail
and haven’t kept even a trace
of your first light.

It’s well known that we are born.

It’s well known that in the room
or in the wood
or in the shelter in the fishermen’s quarter
or in the rustling canefields
there is a quite unusual silence,
a grave and wooden moment as
a woman prepares to give birth.

It’s well known that we were all born.

But of that abrupt translation
from not being to existing, to having hands,
to seeing, to having eyes,
to eating and weeping and overflowing
and loving and loving and suffering and suffering,
of that transition, that quivering
of an electric presence, raising up
one body more, like a living cup,
and of that woman left empty,
the mother who is left there in her blood
and her lacerated fullness,
and its end and its beginning, and disorder
tumbling the pulse, the floor, the covers
till everything comes together and adds
one knot more to the thread of life,
nothing, nothing remains in your memory
of the savage sea which summoned up a wave
and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree.

The only thing you remember is your life. 

~  Pablo Neruda
from Plenos Poderes (Fully Empowered)
 art by Jackie Traverse
 with thanks to whiskey river

Saturday, August 28, 2021

no strangers



under cherry blossoms’ shade
even those whom we don’t know
are not strangers 

~ Issa Kobayashi 

Friday, August 27, 2021



 In reality there is a single integral community of the Earth 
that includes all its component members 
whether human or other than human.
 In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, 
its own dignity, its inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. 
Every being declares itself to the entire universe. 
Every being enters into communion with other beings. 
This capacity for relatedness, for presence to other beings,
 for spontaneity in action, is a capacity possessed by every mode of being
 throughout the entire universe.
~ Thomas Berry
 photo by Edward Sheriff Curtis