Thursday, June 8, 2023

making it right: a prophecy


The duty of a musician is for us to take anything that
happens on stage and make it part of the music.
~ Herbie Hancock 
No wrong notes in jazz, said the musician
and the poet insisted, no wrong words,
No wrong leaf, said the tree,
and field said, no wrong grass.
No wrong time, promised the friend,
and the river said, no wrong rock.
And the heart said, no wrong love,
but the mind said, no, that's wrong.
And the wrong love replanted itself like grass
and grew wild in all the wrong places
like a gorgeous weed, like a tap-rooted song
until the whole field was beautifully wrong, wrong.
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
from All the Honey


"What is grace?" I asked God.
And He said,

"All that happens."

Then He added, when I looked perplexed,

"Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved's arms
was grace?

Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from
until the heart has

~ Saint John of the Cross

Friday, June 2, 2023

in everything...


 I seek to reach the innermost part of myself...

One thing no longer existed for him, the wish to have teachers
and to listen to teachings.

He asked himself - "But what is this, what you have sought to
learn from teachings and from teachers, and what they, who
have taught you much, were still unable to teach you?" And
he found: "It was the self, the purpose and essence of which
I sought to learn. It was the self I wanted to free myself from,
which I sought to overcome. But I was not able to overcome
it, could only deceive it, could only flee from it, only hide from

No thing in this world has kept my thoughts thus busy, as this
my very own self, this mystery of one being one and being
separated... And there is nothing I know less about... I know
nothing about myself! I searched Atman, I searched Brahman,
I was willing to dissect myself and pull off all of its layers, to
find the core of all peels in its unknown interior, the Atman, life
the divine part, the ultimate part. But I have lost myself in the
process. I do not want to kill and dissect myself any longer, to
find a secret behind the ruins.

I want to get to know myself, the secret of Siddhartha.

[The beauty of this world] was no longer the veil of Maya, was
no longer a pointless coincidental diversity of mere appearance,
despicable to the deeply thinking Brahman, who scorns diversity
who seeks unity, but the beauty was also in Siddhartha, the singular
and the divine lived hidden - the purpose and the essential
properties were not somewhere behind the things, they were in
them, in everything...

~  Hermann Hesse
from: Siddhartha
with thanks to Mystic Meandering

the self you leave behind


The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don't grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It's easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.
 ~  Pat Schneider
 from  Olive Street Transfer
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

how healing comes



Healing comes less like a falcon
            with mighty wings,
                        and more like an earthworm
            that slowly, slowly moves
beneath it all, tightening up,
            then stretching out, tightening up
                        and stretching out, a simple
            two-part rhythm. Some days,
that is all the body can do.
            Contract. Expand. Contract. Expand.
                        In the meantime, through this
            artless act, what is dense
becomes porous.
            In the meantime, what is stuck
                        and clotted gets moved around.
            What is dead passes through,
is processes by the grit inside.
            There are tunnels now in the soil of me,
                        thin channels of recovery-
            a blessed loosening,
a gradual renewal, It's unhurried, but
            I feel it, the air, the rain
                        the life coming in.
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
    from All the Honey 

filling my purse with commas


All afternoon, each time
I think I should hurry,
I pull out a comma,
such humble punctuation,
and I invite it into the moment,
and the comma does
what it always does, which
is to invite a pause, a small pause,
of course, but a pause long enough
to breathe, to notice what else
is happening, a slight
suggestion that right here
is a perfect place to rest,
yes, how funny I never noticed
before that the comma itself
looks as if it;s bowing, nodding
its small dark head to what is,
encouraging us to find 
a brief silence and then,
thus refreshed, go on. 
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
from All the Honey
 art by Mori Yuzan

our relationship with ourself


How would you describe the current of energy, the life force inside you, 
that is seeking to grow? Our most important relationship is our relationship with ourself,
 with our interior world. What do you do to nurture that relationship?
 How you nurture that relationship will determine the quality of your life.
 What we call fate does not come to us from outside;
 it goes forth from within us. 
 ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, May 26, 2023

I have no parents


I have no parents:
I make the heaven and earth my parents.

I have no home:
I make awareness my home.

I have no life and death:
I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine powers:
I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means:
I make understanding my means.

I have no secrets:
I make character my secret.

I have no body:
I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes:
I make the flash of lightening my eyes.

I have no ears:
I make sensibility my ears.

I have no limbs:
I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy:
I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.

I have no design:
I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.

I have no miracles:
I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles:
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle.

I have no tactics:
I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talent:
I make ready wit my talent.

I have no friends:
I make my mind my friend.

I have no enemy:
I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor:
I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle:
I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword:
I make absence of self my sword.

 ~ anonymous samurai song 
 14th century

I have no Parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my Parents.
We are all from the same origin and we are all learning from the same source of knowledge: the universe.

I have no Home; I make the Tan T’ien my Home.
The Tan T’ien is considered to be the true center of the body regarding strength and balance. Making this my home, I am always at home, no matter where I am physically. It is also a place to be away from distractions, both from the world and from thoughts. It is where feeling and instinct are most powerful.

I have no Divine Power; I make Honesty my Divine Power.
Complete honesty under all circumstances is something only divine creatures are capable of. For me, to strive for honesty is one big step closer to be a better human being. I understand honesty as not to lie to myself or to other people.

I have no Means; I make Docility my Means.
Assets or utilities are not essential for me, I can do without them. I overcome obstacles by having a mind that is willing to learn and willing to be taught.

I have no Magic Power; I make Personality my Magic Power.
My personality is unique. Its magic is sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising, and sometimes hidden to be discovered.

I have neither Life nor Death; I make A Um my Life and Death.
A Um is the eternal soul. To something that is eternal, life and death do not matter, they are mere steps from one state to the other. 

I have no Body; I make Stoicism my Body.
My body is subject to pain and other physical “distractions”. If stoicism is my body, I am indifferent to the shortcomings of my flesh. What really counts is my mental attitude which will eventually overcome my body’s weaknesses.

I have no Eyes; I make The Flash of Lightning my eyes.
I do not trust things just because I can see them, because my visual senses are easily deceived. The flash of lightning is some kind of first impression, a gut-feeling, or my instinct about a certain situation. I try to trust these more than what I can see.

I have no Ears; I make Sensibility my Ears.
This is rather similar to the previous one. Things do not become facts just because I can hear them. It is more important what happens in my mind to the heard: I process what I hear, think about it, and weigh it with experience. Thus, I do have an opinion about it most of the time.

I have no Limbs; I make Promptitude my Limbs.
It is not really my arms and my legs that get me where I want. It is my decision to get there right now, which gets me there. I try to do important things without any delay.

I have no Laws; I make Self-Protection my Laws.
In the end, nearly all comes down to self-protection. This is the universal law that governs everything. While I think this is some kind of fact, I also think that one should try to overcome this basic law. There are people we cannot live without, there’s family and other loved ones. They build up a context where self-protection does not matter any more. Though this is a weakness, it is a necessary one and one I embrace.

I have no Strategy; I make the Right to Kill and the Right to Restore Life my Strategy.
The underlying strategy of my life is that everything counts. God or the Devil is in the details, as many details might have the power to save my life or to destroy it.

I have no Designs; I make Seizing the Opportunity by the Forelock my Designs.
I have no secret plans. I try to make the best out of the opportunities life offers me, as I cannot control life.

I have no Miracles; I make Righteous Laws my Miracle.
I cannot do miracles. But as it is really hard to be a good human being, I consider it my miracle that I stick to traditional virtues such as honor or honesty.

I have no Principles; I make Adaptability to all circumstances my Principle.
I accept and embrace change. Many things in life are unchangeable and therefore it is not wise to try to stick to strict pseudo-universal principles. I am ready to question myself and to adapt to new situations. I am agile. I am change.

I have no Tactics; I make Emptiness and Fullness my Tactics.
This seems to be contradictory. To achieve a goal, I have to empty myself from any prejudices and other external influences. An empty mind is a mind before thinking, before speaking, before words, a mind at home, relying on instinct (see above). This emptiness is necessary to build up a fascination for the new and to have space that can be filled with ideas and knowledge concerning the goal. (This idea is also discussed in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and in Buddhism.)

I have no Talent; I make Ready Wit my Talent.
Talents are mostly bound to specific tasks. If I have a ready mind that adapts to new tasks quickly, I am not limited by this constraint.

I have no Friends; I make my Mind my Friend.
The first and foremost person I have to become friends with is myself. I am much more powerful if I am happy with myself, if I can trust myself, and if I really know and understand myself.

I have no Enemy; I make Incautiousness my Enemy.
Not other people are my worst enemies, but myself. If I do things in a sloppy way, hastily, if I am not paying attention to the details, if I am betraying myself, if I do not know what I can do and what not: these things will harm me. Trying to do my best at all times is my protection against this enemy.

I have no Armour; I make Benevolence my Armour.
This can be seen in two ways. First, being benevolent, I probably make more friends than enemies and this saves me a lot of trouble. Second, being benevolent poses no threat to other people and, thus, might make an armor unnecessary.

I have no Castle; I make Immovable Mind my Castle.
A castle is a place to hide, a place to gather strength. As it is a common theme in this creed, this is not a physical place, but a place within me. The “immovable mind” (the translation can also mean the “immovable heart”) is immovable in respect to its focus. This focus should be in my inner, natural self and be free of corrupting influences such as anger, fear, or doubt. Within the self, the focus is flexible and not fixed on one particular attribute of the self. This whole idea is heavily connected to the concept of emptiness and fullness, as outlined above.

I have no Sword; I make No Mind my Sword.
And again, this is also very related to the concept of emptiness and fullness and to rely on instinct. Striving for emptiness, the point where I do not think anymore, where I really am…this state of the mind is considered to be the most powerful one, the state I am capable of the most difficult tasks. (This idea is discussed further in Zen and especially in Miyamoto Musashi’s “A Book of Five Rings”.)
 This is merely a brief start to finding a meaning for the creed.
 Comments by André Miede

Thursday, May 18, 2023

connected in compassion



No one escapes suffering in this life. 
None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness, and death.
 How is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? 
How is it that we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives
 and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence at the most obvious of times,
 such as a funeral?
 “If sequestered pain made a sound,” Stephen Levine says,
 “the atmosphere would be humming all the time.”

It is the accumulated losses of a lifetime that slowly weigh us down—
the times of rejection, the moments of isolation when we felt cut off
 from the sustaining touch of comfort and love. It is an ache that resides
 in the heart, the faint echo calling us back to the times of loss. 
We are called back, not so much to make things right, but to acknowledge
 what happened to us. 
Grief asks that we honor the loss and, in doing so, deepen our capacity for compassion.
 When grief remains unexpressed, however, it hardens, becomes as solid as a stone.
 We, in turn, become rigid and stop moving in rhythm with the soul. . . . 
When our grief stagnates, we become fixed in place, unable to move and dance
 with the flow of life. Grief is part of the dance.

As we begin to pay attention, we notice that grief is never far from our awareness. 
We become aware of the many ways it arrives in our daily lives. It is the blue mood
 that greets us upon waking. It is the melancholy that shades the day in muted tones.
 It is the recognition of time’s passing, the slow emptying of our days.
 It is the searing pain that erupts when someone close to us dies—
a parent, a partner, a child, a beloved pet. It is the confounding grief 
when our life circumstances are shattered by the unexpected—
the phone rings with news of a biopsy; we find ourselves suddenly without work,
 uncertain as to how we will support our family; our partner decides one day
 that the marriage is over. We tumble and fall as the ground beneath us opens, 
shaken by violent rumblings. Grief enfolds our lives, drops us close to the earth,
 reminding us of our inevitable return to the dark soil. . . .

It is essential for us to welcome our grief, whatever form it takes.
 When we do, we open ourselves to our shared experiences in life.
 Grief is our common bond. Opening to our sorrow connects us with everyone, everywhere.
 There is no gesture of kindness that is wasted, no offering of compassion that is useless.
 We can be generous to every sorrow we see. It is sacred work. 
~  Francis Weller
from  The Wild Edge of Sorrow:
 Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief; 
The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

their absence puts them with you


What gets you is the knowledge, and it sometimes can fall on you in a clap,
that the dead are gone absolutely from this world. As has been said around here
over and over again, you are not going to see them here anymore, ever.
Whatever was done or said before is done or said for good. Any questions
you think of that you ought to've asked while you had a chance are never
going to be answered. The dead know, and you don't.
And yet their absence puts them with you in a way they never were before.
You even maybe know them better than you did before. They stay with you,
and in a way you go with them. They don't live on in your heart, but your
 heart knows them. As your heart gets bigger on the inside, the world gets
bigger on the outside. If the dead had been alive only in this world, you
would forget them, looks like, as soon as they die. But you remember them, 
because they always were living in the other, bigger world while they lived 
in this little one, and this one and the other one are the same. You
can't see this with your eyes looking straight ahead. It's with your side vision, 
so to speak, that you see it. The longer I live, and the better acquainted
I am among the dead, the better I see it. I am telling what I know.

It's our separatedness and our grief that break the world in two.

~ Wendell Berry
from Stand by Me


Saturday, May 13, 2023

watching my friend pretend her heart isn't breaking


On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons, Six billion tons
is equivalent to the weight of every animal
on earth, including insects. Times three.
Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief -
just a teaspoon and one may as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.
There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see
what anyone else has swallowed.
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
from Poetry of Presence II -
More Mindfulness poems
photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

what we need is here


Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry


how surely gravity's law (II, 16)

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy


As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence,
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
~ Hermann Hesse
translation by Richard and Clara Winston


Sunday, May 7, 2023

consciousness and matter


 ~ Rupert Spira