Thursday, May 19, 2022



I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!
 ~ A. R. Ammons
from Selected Poems
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

not knowing



I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the beauty of this world.

There is only one thing
for which I would risk everything:
an I-don’t-know-what
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.

The taste of finite pleasure
leads nowhere.
All it does is exhaust the appetite
and ravage the palate.
And so, I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the sweetness of this world.

But I would risk everything
for an I-don’t-know-what
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.

The generous heart
does not collapse into the easy things,
but rises up in adversity.
It settles for nothing.
Faith lifts it higher and higher.

Such a heart savors
an I-don’t-know-what
found only in the heart of the Mystery.

The soul that God has touched
burns with love-longing.
Her tastes have been transfigured.
Ordinary pleasures sicken her.
She is like a person with a fever;
nothing tastes good anymore.

All she wants
is an I-don’t-know-what
locked in the heart of
the Mystery. . . .

I will never lose myself
for anything the senses can taste,
nor for anything the mind can grasp,
no matter how sublime,
how delicious.
I will not pause for beauty,
I will not linger over grace.
I am bound for
an I-don’t-know-what
deep within the heart of the Mystery.

~ John of the Cross
from Glosa á lo Divino 
 translated by Mirabai Starr
photo by Jeremy Thomas

Monday, May 9, 2022

opening to suffering



Letting go of our suffering is the hardest work we will ever do.
It is also the most fruitful. To heal means to meet ourselves in a new way – 
in the newness of each moment where all is possible and nothing is limited
 to the old, our holding released, our grasping seen with little surprise or judgement.
 The vastness of our being meeting each moment wholeheartedly 
whether it holds pleasure or pain. Then the healing goes deeper 
than we ever imagined, deeper than we ever dreamed.
The teaching of opening mindfully, heartfully, to our deepest suffering
 is part of our essential healing. The deepening awareness brings attention
 to part of the mind that had lost heart, a hidden part of ourselves 
which felt disconnected from itself and all else. It allows access to what
 was closed off, to the pain that was so deep and had been pushed deeper yet
 with each moment of self negation and suppression.
~ Stephen Levine
from Healing into Life and Death
 art by Kan Srijira

Sunday, May 8, 2022

the nativity



No man reaches where the moon touches a woman.
Even the moon leaves her when she opens
Deeper into the ripple in her womb
That encircles dark to become flesh and bone.

Someone is coming ashore inside her.
A face deciphers itself from water
And she curves around the gathering wave,
Opening to offer the life it craves.

In a corner stall of pilgrim strangers,
She falls and heaves, holding a tide of tears.
A red wire of pain feeds through every vein
Until night unweaves and the child reaches dawn.

Outside each other now, she sees him first.
Fresh of her flesh, her dreamt son safe on earth. 
~ John O'Donohue
from  Conamara Blues
art by Gustav Klimt 



 The most beautiful word on the lips of mankind is the word “Mother,”
and the most beautiful call is the call of “My mother.”
It is a word full of hope and love,
a sweet and kind word coming from the depths of the heart.

The mother is everything –
she is our consolation in sorrow,
our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness.
She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness….

Everything in nature bespeaks the mother.
The sun is the mother of earth and gives it its nourishment of heart;
it never leaves the universe at night until it has put the earth to sleep
to the song of the sea and the hymn of birds and brooks.

And this earth is the mother of trees and flowers.
It produces them, nurses them, and weans them.
The trees and flowers become kind mothers of their great fruits and seeds.
And the mother, the prototype of all existence,
is the eternal spirit, full of beauty and love.

 ~ Kahlil  Gibran

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

on the hill late at night

The ripe grassheads bend in the starlight
in the soft wind, beneath them the darkness
of the grass, fathomless, the long blades
rising out of the well of time.  Cars
travel the valley roads below me, their lights
finding the dark, and racing on.  Above
their roar is a silence I have suddenly heard,
and felt the country turn under the stars
toward dawn.  I am wholly willing to be here
between the bright silent thousands of stars
and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground.
The hill has grown to me like a foot.
Until I lift the earth I cannot move.

~ Wendell Berry
from Farming Poems
photo from kathleen connally

the silent articulation of a face

Love comes with a knife, not some
shy question, and not with fears
for its reputation! I say
these things disinterestedly. Accept them
in kind. Love is a madman

working his wild schemes, tearing off his clothes,
running through the mountains, drinking poison,
and now quietly choosing annihilation.

A tiny spider tries to wrap an enormous wasp.
Think of the spiderweb woven across the cave
where Mohammad slept! There are love stories,
and there is obliteration into love.

You've been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.

You must dive naked under and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper! Love flows down.

The ground submits to the sky and suffers
what comes. Tell me, is the earth worse
for giving in like that?

Don’t put blankets over the drum!
Open completely. Let your spirit-ear
listen to the green dome’s passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love beyond all
above and below. The sun rises, but which way
does night go? I have no more words.

Let soul speak with the silent
articulation of a face.

* * *

~ Jelalludin Rumi 
(1207 – 1273)
 translated by Coleman Barks

everything has two endings

Everything has two endings -
a horse, a piece of string, a phone call

Before a life, air
And after

As silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

formless and perfect


There was something
formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.
It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.
 ~ Lao-tzu
Tao Te Ching

an empty boat


If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat 
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.

~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton

stop chasing so many things

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows long.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of the woodcutter.

The sun shines and I mend my robe.
When the moon comes out, I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing so many things.

~ Ryokan

Sunday, May 1, 2022

love and kindness



Saturday, April 30, 2022

Christian mysticism read by Rupert Spira


Friday, April 22, 2022

in abundance


I am who I am.
A coincidence as inscrutable
as any other.
Other ancestors
might have been mine, after all,
then from some other nest
I would have flown,
from some other stump
I would have crawled in my shell.
In nature's wardrobe
there are many costumes-
spider, seagull, field mouse.
Each fits like a glove from the get-go
and is loyally worn
until it wears out.
I, too, had no choice,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone 
much less singular.
Someone from a school of fish,
from an anthill, from a buzzing swarm,
 a piece of landscape thrashed by the wind.
Someone much less lucky,
bred for fur
or for a holiday meal,
something swimming under a cover glass.
A tree stuck in the earth,
with a fire approaching.
A blade of grass trampled by a run 
of incomprehensible events.
One born under a dark cloud
whose lining gleams for others.
But what if I had awakened fear in people,
or merely revulsion,
or merely pity?
 If I hadn't been born 
into the right tribe and
paths closed before me?
Fate has proved
benevolent so far.
The memory of good moments
 might not have been granted me.
A penchant for comparisons
might have been withheld from me.
I might have been myself-though without the wonder,
but that would have meant
being someone else.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair
 Nasa photo




A raindrop fell on my hand,
crafted from the Ganges and the Nile,
from the ascended frost of a seal's whiskers,
from water in broken pots in the cities of Ys and Tyre.
On my index finger
the Caspian Sea isn't landlocked,
and the Pacific flows meekly into the Rudava,
the one that flew in a cloud over Paris
in seventeen sixty-four
on the seventh of May at three in the morning.
There are not enough lips to pronounce
your transient names, O water.
I would have to say them in every language
pronouncing all the vowels at once,
at the same time keeping silent-for the sake of a lake
that waited in vain for a name,
and is no longer on earth-as it is in the heavens,
whose stars are no longer reflected in it.
Someone was drowning; someone dying 
called out for you. That was long ago and yesterday.
You extinguished houses; you carried them off
like trees, forests like cities.
You were in baptismal fonts and in the bathtubs of courtesans,
in kisses, in shrouds.
Eating away at stones, fueling rainbows.
In the sweat and dew of pyramids and lilacs.
How light all this is in the raindrop.
How delicately the world touches me.
Whenever wherever whatever has happened
is written on the waters of Babel.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair