Wednesday, December 4, 2019

a stricken deer that left the herd

I WAS a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.

There was I found by one who had himself
Been hurt by th' archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and heal'd, and bade me live. 

Since then, with few associates, in remote
And silent woods I wander, far from those
My former partners of the peopled scene;
With few associates, and not wishing more.

Here much I ruminate, as much I may,
With other views of men and manners now
Than once, and others of a life to come.
I see that all are wand'rers, gone astray
Each in his own delusions; they are lost
In chace of fancied happiness, still wooed
And never won. Dream after dream ensues,
And still they dream that they shall still succeed,
And still are disappointed; rings the world
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind,
And add two-thirds of the remainder half,
And find the total of their hopes and fears
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay
As if created only like the fly
That spreads his motley wings in th' eye of noon
To sport their season and be seen no more.

~ William Cowper 
 art by Picasso

the voices

The rich and fortunate do well to keep silent,
for no one cares to know who and what they are.
But those in need must reveal themselves,
must say: I am blind,
or: I'm on the verge of going blind,
or: nothing goes well with me on earth,
or: I have a sickly child,
or: I have little to hold me together...

And chances are this is not nearly enough.

And because people try to ignore them as they
pass by them: these unfortunate ones have to sing!

And at times one hears some excellent singing!

Of course, people differ in their tastes: some would
prefer to listen to choirs of boy-castrati.

But God himself comes often and stays long,
when the castrati's singing disturbs Him.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

I am

~ Kirtana


If you ask how much do I want

If you ask how much do I want,
I'll tell you that I want it all.
This morning, you and I
and all men
are flowing into the marvelous stream
of oneness.

Small pieces of imagination as we are.
we have come a long way to find ourselves
and for ourselves, in the dark, the illusion
of emancipation.

This morning, my brother is back from his
long adventure.
He kneels before the alter,
his eyes full of tears.
His soul is longing for a shore to set anchor at
(a yearning I once had).
Let him kneel there and weep.
Let him cry his heart out.
Let him have his refuge there for a thousand years,
enough to dry all his tears.

One night, I will come
and set fire to his shelter,
the small cottage on the hill.
My fire will destroy everything
and remove his only life raft after a shipwreck.

In the utmost anguish of his soul,
the shell will break.
The light of the burning hut will witness
his glorious deliverance.
I will wait for him
beside the burning cottage.
Tears will run down my cheeks.
I will be there to contemplate his new being.
And as I hold his hands in mine
and ask him how much he wants,
he will smile and say that he wants it all -
just as I did.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

all of a sudden

All my life perplexed by truth and falsity, right and wrong;
Now amusing myself in the moonlight,
Laughing at the wind,
Listening to the song of birds -
So many years spent idly contemplating
The immense white layer on the mountains;
This winter, all of a sudden,
I see it for the first time as a snow-mountain.

~ Dogen
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen by Steven Heine

Monday, December 2, 2019

on a day when the wind is perfect

On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a 

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises;
the promise of life
that it always
each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great

This is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

Peace is wonderful,
but ecstatic dance is more fun, and less narcissistic;
gregarious He makes our lips.

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

~ Rumi
from Love Poems From God: 
Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West 
by Daniel Ladinsky

forgiving oneself

My brother used to ask the birds to forgive him; 
that sounds senseless but it is right; 
for all is like the ocean, all things flow and touch each other;
 a disturbance in one place is felt at the other end of the world. 

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky
from The Brothers Karamazov
art by Shiko Munakata
with thanks to Love is a Place


You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart
 you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed
 unfold its wings but cannot fly.

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves 
and they would escape.

And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought
 reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.
When you meet your friend on the roadside
or in the marketplace, let the spirit in
you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the
ear of his ear...
~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet
 with thanks to BrainPickings

Saturday, November 23, 2019

why does not the church tell you?

At last the time came for the bride
to be with Him.

Nothing all the other brides had ever known 
could have prepared me.

Only the beauty and light you cannot describe
has a place in His house.

I can touch God - yes - but not with anything I own,
not with anything I can identify with,
not with anything that

Purity, have you ever contemplated that word?
I once beheld the root of the Immaculate
and it drew me into itself.

I looked at all through
His eyes.

Why does not my sacred church tell you:
God only sees

~ St. John of the Cross
 from Love Poems from God
by Daniel Ladinsky

first he looked confused

I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog "God,"
First he looked 

then he started smiling, then he even

I kept at it: now he doesn't even

I am wondering if this
might work on

~ Tukaram
from Love Poems from God:
Twelve Voices from East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky

Friday, November 22, 2019

addicted to the external

It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits. A world lives within you. No one else can bring you news of this inner world. Through our voices, we bring out sound from the mountain beneath our soul. These sounds are words. There are so many talking all the time, loudly, quietly, in rooms, on streets, on TV, on radio, in the paper, in books. The noise of words keeps what we call the world there for us. We take each others’ sounds and make patterns and predictions, benedictions, and blasphemies. Each day, our tribe of language holds what we call the ‘world’ together. Yet the uttering of the world reveals how each of us relentlessly creates. Everyone is an artist. Each person brings out sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.

Humans are new here. Above us, the galaxies dance out toward infinity. Under our feet is the ancient earth. We are beautifully molded from this clay. Yet the smallest stone is millions of years older than us. In your thoughts, the silent universe seeks echo.

An unknown world aspires towards reflection. Words are the oblique mirrors which hold your thought. You gaze into these word mirrors and catch glimpses of meaning, belonging shelter. Behind their bright surfaces is the dark and the silence. Words are like the god Janus, they face inwards and outwards at once.

If we become addicted to the external our interiority will haunt us. We will become hungry with a hunger no image, person or deed can still. To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity. In order to keep our balance, we need to hold the interior and exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new together. No one else can undertake this task for you. You are the one and only threshold of your inner world. This wholesomeness is holiness. To be holy is natural; to befriend the worlds that come to balance in you.

Behind the facade of image and distraction, each person is an artist in this primal and inescapable sense. Each one of us is doomed and privileged to be an inner artist who carries and shapes a unique world.

Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace.

~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


When the path ignites a soul,
there's no remaining in place.

The foot touches ground,
but not for long.

The way where love tells its secret
stays always in motion,
and there is no you there, and no reason.

The rider urges his horse to gallop,
and so doing, throws himself
under the flying hooves.

In love-unity there's no old or new.
Everything is nothing.
God alone is.

For lovers the phenomena-veil is very transparent,
and the delicate tracings on it cannot
be explained with language.

Clouds burn off as the sun rises,
and the love-world floods with light.

But cloud-water can be obscuring,
as well as useful.

There is an affection that covers the glory,
rather than dissolving into it.

It's a subtle difference,
like the change in Persian
from the word "friendship"
to the word "work."

That happens with just a dot
above or below the third letter.

There is a seeing of the beauty
of union that doesn't actively work
for the inner conversation.

Your hand and feet must move,
as a stream streams, working
as its Self, to get to the ocean.
Then there's no more mention
of the search.

Being famous, or being a disgrace,
who's ahead or behind, these considerations
are rocks and clogged places
that slow you. Be as naked as a wheat grain
out of its husk and sleek as Adam.

Don't ask for anything other
than the presence.

Don't speak of a "you"
apart from That.

A full container cannot be more full.
Be whole, and nothing.

~ Hakim Sanai
version by Coleman Barks
from  The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, 
with Lectures by Inayat Khan

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

the "goal?"

The traveler who finds his road blocked by a river will use a raft to reach the opposite shore, but, this shore once reached, he will not carry the raft on his shoulders while continuing his journey.  He will abandon it as something which has become useless.

The raft represents the different kinds of methods, intellectual training or moral discipline, which are available as means to bring the seeker of liberation to the "other shore".  On this shore, both have lost their value; they bear no relation to the conditions existing on the "other shore" and, like the raft in the parable, they are only a useless burden.... 

"The country which is nowhere is the real home."

On the other hand, is there any traveler who makes a crossing?  
Is there a somebody who reaches the other shore?

If this was the case, this traveler would carry with him the "hither shore" into the "beyond", just as the dust on the soles of one's shoes is carried from one place to another.  The traveler would transform the "other bank" into "this bank" because here and there are in him, are him and that outside the mind which thinks "here" and "there" are no other "here" and "there".

To go beyond virtue and vice, opinions and beliefs is to go beyond the mental constructions which are built up by the mind, unceasingly, and to recognize, by transcendent insight, that they are void of reality.  It is also to recognize, by transcendent insight, that that which has been imagined as practicing virtue, surrendering to vice, as holding opinions and elaborating theories, as traveling towards a goal and reaching the goal, is nothing but an inconsistent phantom, devoid of reality. 

~ Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden
from The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects


come in, my self

A certain person came to the Friend’s door
and knocked.
“Who’s there?”
“It’s me.”
The Friend answered, “Go away. There’s no place
for raw meat at this table.”

The individual went wandering for a year.
Nothing but the fire of separation
can change hypocrisy and ego. The person returned
completely cooked,
walked up and down in front of the Friend’s house,
gently knocked.
“Who is it?”
“Please come in, my self,
there’s no place in this house for two.
The doubled end of the thread is not what goes through
the eye of the needle.
It’s a single-pointed, fined-down, thread end,
not a big ego-beast with baggage."

~ Rumi
excerpt taken from Two Friends
translation by coleman barks

Sunday, November 17, 2019

the solitude of the other

 art by Ralf Winkler

I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: 
that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.
 For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude,
 then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing
 the opportunity for solitude. And only those are the true sharings
 which rhythmically interrupt periods of deep isolation...

All companionship can consist only in the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes,
 whereas everything that one is wont to call giving oneself is by nature 
harmful to companionship: for when a person abandons himself, 
he is no longer anything, and when two people both give themselves up
 in order to come close to each other, there is no longer
 any ground beneath them...

once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings
 infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up,
 if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible
 for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

from Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties:
 Translations and Considerations

Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not
 in each other’s shadow.

 ~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet

 art by Odilon Redon