Monday, September 12, 2022

flawed and fragile



We are able to forgive because we are able to recognize our shared humanity.
 We are able to recognize that we are all fragile, vulnerable, flawed human beings
 capable of thoughtlessness and cruelty. We also recognize that no one is born evil
 and that we are all more than the worst thing we have done in our lives.
 A human life is a great mixture of goodness, beauty, cruelty, heartbreak,
 indifference, love, and so much more. We want to divide the good from the bad, 
the saints from the sinners, but we cannot. All of us share the core qualities 
of our human nature, and so sometimes we are generous and sometimes selfish. 
Sometimes we are thoughtful and other times thoughtless, sometimes we are kind
 and sometimes cruel. This is not a belief. This is a fact.

If we look at any hurt, we can see a larger context in which the hurt happened.
 If we look at any perpetrator, we can discover a story that tells us something
 about what led up to that person causing harm. It doesn’t justify the person’s actions;
 it does provide some context. . . .

No one is born a liar or a rapist or a terrorist. No one is born full of hatred.
 No one is born full of violence. No one is born in any less glory or goodness than you or I.
 But on any given day, in any given situation, in any painful life experience,
 this glory and goodness can be forgotten, obscured, or lost. We can easily be hurt and broken, 
and it is good to remember that we can just as easily be the ones who have 
done the hurting and the breaking.

We are all members of the same human family. . . .

In seeing the many ways we are similar and how our lives are inextricably linked, 
we can find empathy and compassion. In finding empathy and compassion, 
we are able to move in the direction of forgiving.

Ultimately, it is humble awareness of our own humanity that allows us to forgive:

We are, every one of us, so very flawed and so very fragile. I know that,
 were I born a member of the white ruling class at that time in South Africa’s past, 
I might easily have treated someone with the same dismissive disdain with which I was treated. 
I know, given the same pressures and circumstances, I am capable of the same monstrous acts
 as any other human on this achingly beautiful planet. It is this knowledge of my own frailty
 that helps me find my compassion, my empathy, my similarity,
 and my forgiveness for the frailty and cruelty of others.
 ~ Desmond Tutu and Mpho A. Tutu
 from The Book of Forgiving: The Foufold Path for Healing 
Ourselves and Our World
art by Leigh Wells

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

our children, coming of age

In the great circle, dancing in
and out of time, you move now
toward your partners, answering
the music suddenly audible to you
that only carried you before
and will carry you again.
When you meet the destined ones
now dancing toward you,
out of your awareness for the time,
we whom you know, others we remember
whom you do not remember, others 
forgotten by us all.
When you meet, and hold love 
in your arms, regardless of all,
the unknown will dance away from you 
toward the horizon of light.
Our names will flutter
on these hills like little fires.

~ Wendell Berry


Monday, September 5, 2022



You must become brother and sister
to each and every thing,
so that they flow through you
dissolving every difference
between what belongs to you and others.
No star, no leaf shall fall -
you fall with them -
to rise again
in every new beginning.
~ Hermann Hesse
from The Season of the Soul
art by Picasso

Friday, September 2, 2022

the way


Friend, this is the only way
to learn the secret way:

Ignore the paths of others,
even the saints' steep trails.

Don't follow.
Don't journey at all.

Rip the veil from your face.
~ Sachal Sarmast
English version by Ivan M. Granger

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

you'd like to stay


Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love on another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
what ever happens.
This is the time you'd like to stay
Not a leaf stirs. There is no sound.
The fireflies lift light from the ground.
You've shed the vanities of when
And how and why, for now. And then
The phone rings. You are called away.
~ Wendell Berry
from Given Poems

no one home

No one home
Fallen pine needles
scattered at the door.

~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind
by Kazuaki Tanahashi

before listening

Before listening to the way, do not fail to wash your ears.
Otherwise it will be impossible to listen clearly.

What is washing your ears?

Do not hold on to your view.
If you cling to it even a little bit,
you will lose your way.

What is similar to you but wrong, you regard as right.

What is different from you but right, you regard as wrong.

You begin with ideas of right and wrong.
But the way is not so.

Seeking answers with closed ears is
like trying to touch the ocean bottom with a pole.

~ Ryokan

Monday, August 29, 2022

The past above, the future below


"The past above, the future below
and the present pouring down..."
wrote Dr. Williams. Is that
correct? Or is the future above
and the past below?

The stream
that is departing from itself as
it was is above and is the past.
The stream that is coming to itself
as it will be is below and is
the future. Or:

The stream yet
to come is above and is the future.
The stream that has gone by
is below and is the past.

In its riddles in the world
in the mind in the world
the stream is the stream
beyond words, beginning nowhere
ending nowhere.

It falls as rain.
It flows in all its length. It enters
finally the sea. It rises into the air.
It falls as rain. To the watcher
on the shore, it comes and it

The immeasurable, untestable,
irrecoverable moment of its passing
is the present, always already
past before we can say that it is
present, that it was the future
flowing into the past or is
the past flowing into the future

or both at once into the present
that is ever-passing and eternal,
the instantaneous, abounding life.

~ Wendell Berry

Sunday, August 28, 2022

I knew

Although from the beginning
I knew
the world is impermanent,
not a moment passes
when my sleeves are dry.

~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind

more firmly to the grindstone



I watch people in the world 
Throw away their lives lusting after things, 
Never able to satisfy their desires, 
Falling into deeper despair 
And torturing themselves. 
Even if they get what they want 
How long will they be able to enjoy it? 
For one heavenly pleasure 
They suffer ten torments of hell, 
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone. 
Such people are like monkeys 
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water 
And then falling into a whirlpool. 
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer. 
Despite myself, I fret over them all night 
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

~ Ryokan
Born as Eizō Yamamoto  in the village of Izumozaki Japan,
 his poetry is often very simple and inspired by nature.
 He loved children, and sometimes forgot to beg for food
 because he was playing with the children of the nearby village. 
He refused to accept any position as a priest or even as a poet.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

untouched and untasted


We usually do not look into what is really there in front of us. 
We see life through a screen of thoughts and concepts, and we mistake 
those mental objects for reality. 
We get so caught up 
in this endless thought-stream that reality flows by unnoticed. 
We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up 
in an eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. 
We spend our energies trying to make ourselves feel better,
 trying to bury our fears.
 We are endlessly seeking security. 
Meanwhile, the world of real experience flows by 
untouched and untasted.

~ Henepola Gunaratana, 
from Mindfulness In Plain English

this only


A valley and above it forests in autumn colors.
A voyager arrives, a map leads him there.
Or perhaps memory. Once long ago in the sun,
When snow first fell, riding this way
He felt joy, strong, without reason,
Joy of the eyes. Everything was the rhythm
Of shifting trees, of a bird in flight,
Of a train on the viaduct, a feast in motion.
He returns years later, has no demands.
He wants only one, most precious thing:
To see, purely and simply, without name,
Without expectations, fears, or hopes,
At the edge where there is no I or not-I.

~ Czeslaw Milosz
(The Collected Poems,
 1931-1987, trans. by Robert Hass)

Friday, August 19, 2022



And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet
art by Picasso

why scurry about looking for the truth?

Why scurry about looking for the truth? 
It vibrates in every thing and every not-thing, right off the tip of your nose. 
Can you be still and see it in the mountain? the pine tree? yourself? 
Don't imagine that you'll discover it by accumulating more knowledge. 
Knowledge creates doubt, and doubt makes you ravenous for more knowledge. 
You can't get full eating this way. 
The wise person dines on something more subtle: 
He eats the understanding that the named was born from the unnamed, 
that all being flows from non- being,
 that the describable world emanates from an indescribable source. 
He finds this subtle truth inside his own self, 
and becomes completely content. 
So who can be still and watch the chess game of the world?
 The foolish are always making impulsive moves,
 but the wise know that victory and defeat are decided by something more subtle.
 They see that something perfect exists before any move is made. 
This subtle perfection deteriorates when artificial actions are taken, 
so be content not to disturb the peace.
 Remain quiet. 
Discover the harmony in your own being. 
Embrace it. 
If you can do this, you will gain everything, 
and the world will become healthy again.
 If you can't, you will be lost in the shadows forever.

~  Lao Tzu
from Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
by Brian Walker



I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, 
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, 
by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and 
I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally.

Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable 
by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; 
nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people 
along any particular path.

If you first understand that, then you will see 
how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, 
and you cannot and must not organize it.

If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; 
it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, 
to be imposed on others.

~ J. Krishnamurti
art by zahra darvisharian