Sunday, March 26, 2023

an infinite storm of beauty

No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable

 an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relations 
which culture sustains to wildness as that which regards the world
 as made especially for the uses of man.
 Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms.
 Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, 
and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged.

I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show
 that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself.
 Not that Nature manifests any such thing as selfish isolation. 
In the making of every animal the presence of every other animal has been recognized.
 Indeed, every atom in creation may be said to be acquainted with 
and married to every other, but with universal union there is a division
 sufficient in degree for the purposes of the most intense individuality; 
no matter, therefore, what may be the note which any creature forms
 in the song of existence, it is made first for itself, then more and more remotely
 for all the world and worlds.
The scenery of the ocean, however sublime in vast expanse, 
seems far less beautiful to us dry-shod animals than that of the land 
seen only in comparatively small patches; but when we contemplate 
the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents
 and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together
 as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
 ~ John Muir
from Nature Writings

beyond right and wrong

Teach me That you see as beyond right 
And wrong, cause and effect, past and future.

The all-knowing self was never born,
Nor will it die.  Beyond cause and effect,
This Self is eternal and immutable.
When the body dies, the Self does not die.
If the slayer believes that he can kill
Or the slain believes that he can be killed,
Neither knows the truth.  The eternal Self
Slays not, nor is ever slain.

Hidden in the heart of every creature 
Exists the Self, subtler than the subtlest,
Greater than the greatest,  They go beyond
All sorrow who extinguish their self-will
And behold the glory of the Self
Through the grace of the Lord of Love.
When the wise realize the Self,
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midst of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.

The Self cannot be known through study
Of the scriptures, nor through the intellect,
Nor through hearing discourses about it.
The Self can be attained only by those 
Whom the Self chooses.  Verily unto them
Does the Self reveal himself.

~ The Katha Upanishad (8th-6th century BC)
as translated by Eknath Easwaran

The Katha is a story which beautifully brings together a confrontation
 of the ideal student with the ideal teacher, leading to a highly creative
 and naked consideration of the key questions: "Who am I?" "What dies?" 
"What is left?" and "what, if anything, can we say about death
 - now, while we are alive?

Tolstoy on kindness


The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, 
the more kindness he can find in other people.

You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, 
and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.

Kindness is for your soul as health is for your body: 
you do not notice it when you have it.

Love is real only when a person can sacrifice himself for another person. 
Only when a person forgets himself for the sake of another, 
and lives for another creature,
 only this kind of love can be called true love,
 and only in this love do we see the blessing and reward of life.
 This is the foundation of the world.

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, 
more beautiful than perpetual kindness.
~ Leo Tolstoy
from  A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul,
 Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts
translation by Peter Sekirin
 with thanks to brainpickings


Monday, March 20, 2023


Until each breath refuses they, those, them.
Until the Dramatis Personae of the book’s first page says, “Each one is you.”
Until hope bows to its hopelessness only as one self bows to another.
 Until cruelty bends to its work and sees suddenly: I.

Until anger and insult know themselves burnable legs of a useless table.
Until the unsurprised unbidden knees find themselves bending.
 Until fear bows to its object as a bird’s shadow bows to its bird.
 Until the ache of the solitude inside the hands, the ribs, the ankles.
 Until the sound the mouse makes inside the mouth of the cat.
 Until the inaudible acids bathing the coral.

Until what feels no one’s weighing is no longer weightless.
Until what feels no one’s earning is no longer taken.
Until grief, pity, confusion, laughter, longing know themselves mirrors.
Until by we we mean I, them, you, the muskrat, the tiger, the hunger.
Until by I we mean as a dog barks, sounding and vanishing and
sounding and vanishing completely.

Until by until we mean I, we, you, them, the muskrat, the tiger, the
hunger, the lonely barking of the dog before it is answered.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Ledger

Inside its bends

Inside its bends, the river 
builds the land, outside
it frets the land away.
This is unjust only from
a limited view.  Forever
it doesn't matter, is only
the world's way, the give
and take, the take and 
give we suffer in order 
to live.  This household
of my work, ungainly on
its stilts, stands outside
the bend, and the river wears
near and near, flow
outlasting the standing firm.
Trees once here are gone,
the slope they stood upon
gone.  I needed what is lost,
although I love as well
the flow that took it.  Now
spring is coming, the redbird's
peal rings from the thicket,
the pair exchanges like
a kiss a seed from the feeder,
and this is timeless.  But a day
in time will come when this
house will give way, the walls
lean and fall.  Shattered will be
my window's rectitude.
~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings
photo by Ansel Adams

a leaf says


A leaf says,

“Sweethearts—don’t pick me,
For I am busy doing
God’s work.

I am lowering my veins and roots
Like ropes
With buckets tied to them
Into the earth’s deep

I am drawing water
That I offer like a rose to
The sky.

I am a singing cleaning woman
Dusting all the shelves in
The air
With my elegant green

I have a heart.
I can know happiness like

~ Hafiz
from The Subject Tonight is Love:
Sixty Wild and Sweet Poem of Hafiz
photo of Daisugi pruning technique
with thanks to love is a place

Sunday, March 19, 2023

kin to everything

When we try to pick out anything by itself, 
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. 
One fancies a heart like our own must be beating in every crystal and cell,
 and we feel like stopping to speak to the plants and animals
 as friendly fellow mountaineers. 
Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman,
 becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go; 
for the mountains are fountains — 
beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal ken.

One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature —
 inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. 
And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds,
 we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. 
It is eternally flowing from use to use, 
beauty to yet higher beauty;
 and we soon cease to lament waste and death, 
and  rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, 
unspendable wealth of the universe,
 and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance
 of everything that melts and fades and dies about us,
 feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.

More and more, in a place like this, 
we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, 
kin to everything.

~ John Muir
from  John Muir: Nature Writings

the shores of the great silence

Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped? And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?

No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, listens
at the shores of the great silence.

~ Antonio Machado, (1875-1935)
(also known as Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz)
Robert Bly translation
.photo by Julius Shulman

troubled thoughts

Instead of conditioning the next moment with troubled thoughts,
 you surrender your investment in them;
 now the next moment is open, untroubled, and free. 
 There is no need to judge the world around you; 
you simply allow it to be what it is. 
 If the situation calls for a response from you, fine; you respond,
 not from defensiveness or judgment, but from the natural ease of your presence.
  In the quiet mystery of surrendering your thoughts,
 you have released any fixity of belief or position-taking,
 and you are welcomed by openness, quiet, and a most subtle joy
 - a lightness of being. 
 In surrendering something of no real value, 
you have gained the world. 
 In the openness of unknowing, 
you are completely safe and innocent.

~ Pir Elias Amidon
from Free Medicine 
art by Dali

clearance in the thicket of thought

In prayer, we come nearest to making a real clearance in the thicket of thought.  
Prayer takes thought to a place of stillness.
 Prayer slows the flow of the mind until we can begin to see with a new tranquility. 
 In this kind of thought, we become conscious of our divine belonging.
  We begin to sense the serenity of this clearing.

  We learn that regardless of the fragmentation and turbulence 
in so many regions of our lives, there is a place in the soul 
where the voices and prodding of the world never reach.

  It is almost like the image of the tree.  The branches can sway and quiver in the wind,
 the center of the tree, there pertains the stillness of its anchorage. 
 In prayer, thought returns to its origin in the infinite.  
Attuned to its origin, thought reaches below its own netting. 

 In this way prayer liberates thought from the small rooms where fear and need confine it. 
 Despite all the negative talk about God, the Divine still remains
 the one space where thought can become free. 

 There we will be liberated from the repetitive echoes of our own smallness and blindness... 
Prayer is the path to the secret belonging at the heart of our other lives.

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

Thursday, March 16, 2023

everything you do is guided by thought


 ~ John O'Donohue

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

whatever you frequently think


 Whatever you frequently think and ponder upon, 
that will become the inclination of your mind.
 ~  Buddha
The heart takes on the attributes and colors of that toward which it is inclined.
 It even becomes the same as that toward which it has turned. 

 It only takes on a form according to the thought that comes to it.
 It is for this reason that two ideas cannot exist within the heart simultaneously,
 for the heart takes on completely the form of whatever idea comes to it.
 The heart becomes that thought itself. Then another thought can no longer be contained within it.
 It is like the water of the sea: when water forms a wave, that that wave
 could also take the form of another wave is inconceivable. 
In the same moment there cannot be two waves in the same place. Understand this.

Within the chest of each human being there is one single heart. 
Whether this heart inclines to one Self or to many attributes,
 it takes on the form of whatever it is that it inclines towards.

~ Niyazi Misri
from feast #51
Translated by Camille Helminski and Refik Algan

Sunday, March 12, 2023


Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. 
It asks us to notice that while we rest, 
the world continues without our help. 
It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.

~ Wendell Berry

The time for contemplation is the spring that feeds our action, 
and our action will be as deep as the spring. 
We need time to allow the spirit to clear the obstacles 
– the clinging debris and mud – 
that keeps the spring from flowing freely from its clear, 
deep source. And we need time for the spring to 
overflow into insightful and compassionate action.

~ Thomas Merton

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Crystal Wilkinson and Wendell Berry





 ~ Crystal Wilkinson, Wendell Berry





from you

From you
I don't want anything new
no more gifts
nor the scent of landscapes
rising to fill us, 
no bouquets of insight
left by my head
in the tenderness of morning,

no intoxication 
of thoughts that open horizons
where rooms are low,
nor the sever of spring
under the grid of old worlds
that has set on our skin,
nor my favorite blue,
the cobalt 
colour of silence.

All I want
is your two hands
pulsing in mine,
the two of us
back in a circle
round our love.

~ John O'Donohue