Saturday, May 8, 2021

a simple life


Simple life does not consist in the mere possession of a few things
 but in the freedom from possession and non-possession, 
in the indifference to things that comes with deep understanding.
 Merely to renounce things in order to reach greater happiness, 
greater joy that is promised, is to seek reward which limits thought
 and prevents it from flowering and discovering reality. 

To control thought-feeling for a greater reward, for a greater result,
 is to make it petty, ignorant and sorrowful. Simplicity of life
 comes with inner richness, with inward freedom from craving,
 with freedom from acquisitiveness, from addiction, from distraction.
 From this simple life there comes that necessary one-pointedness
 which is not the outcome of self-enclosing concentration 
but of extensional awareness and meditative understanding. 

Simple life is not the result of outward circumstances;
 contentment with little comes with the riches of inward understanding. 
If you depend on circumstances to make you satisfied with life
 then you will create misery and chaos, for then you are a plaything
 of environment, and it is only when circumstances are transcended 
through understanding that there is order and clarity. 

To be constantly aware of the process of acquisitiveness,
 of addiction, of distraction, brings freedom from them 
and so there is a true and simple life.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Collected Works Volume III Ojai 
8th Public Talk 2nd July, 1944

Thursday, May 6, 2021

choosing drifting

a shantyboat community by the river's edge.  

After building their "shantyboat," out of mostly salvaged materials, 
Harlan and Anna set out on the river, 

I had no theories to prove. 
I merely wanted to try living by my own hands, 
independent as far as possible from a system of division of labor 
in which the participant loses most of the pleasure 
of making and growing things for himself.  
I wanted to bring in my own fuel and smell its sweet smoke 
as it burned on the hearth I had made.  
I wanted to grow my own food, 
catch it in the river, or forage after it.  
In short, I wanted to do as much as I could for myself, 
because I had already realized from partial experience 
the inexpressible joy of so doing.

This is a windy day with a secret exhilaration about it. 
When I look at the rough water patched with cloud shadows, 
the boat pitching slightly in the wind waves -
 all this from a higher plane somewhere above these little affairs.  
Yet they are a part and lead into it. 

The pure delight of drifting.  
Each time, it was a thrill to shove out into the current, 
to feel the life and power of the river, 
whose beginning and end were so remote.  
We became a part of it, like the driftwood... 
The tension and excitement, the near ecstasy of drifting.  
We had to stop often and take it in small doses.

~ Harlan Hubbard
from Harlan Hubbard and the River - A Visionary Life
by Don Wallis
block prints by Harlan Hubbard

from 'Sonata at Payne Hollow'

Harlan and Anna Hubbard

And now, as both have known they would,
they turn toward one another, and thus they are
changed, revealing themselves now
as neither young nor old, but timeless
and clear, as each appears
within the long affection of the other. 

~ Wendell Berry


Wednesday, May 5, 2021


Can you focus your life-breath until you become
supple as a newborn child?
While you cleanse your inner vision
will you be found without fault?
Can you love people and lead them
without forcing your will on them?
When Heaven gives and takes away
can you be content with the outcome?
When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?

Giving birth and nourishing,
making without possessing,
expecting nothing in return.
To grow, yet not to control:
This is the mysterious virtue.

~ Lao Tzu
from Tao Te Ching
art: Aboriginal Australia Rainbow Serpent
Middle School Art

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

a dense cloud of thoughts

For those who allow their mind to wander here and there,
 everything will go wrong.
Just as the sun cannot be seen in a densely clouded sky,
 so one’s own Self cannot be seen in a mind-sky
 which is darkened by a dense cloud of thoughts.

All the benefit to be obtained by inner inquiry
 is only the destruction of the deceptive ‘I’-sense [the ego]. 
It would be too much to say that it is to attain Self,
 which always shines clear and ever-attained.
Firmly abiding as ‘I am I’, 
without any movement of the mind, 
is the attainment of Godhood.

When scrutinized, 
among all the many qualities necessary for those 
who wish to attain the imperishable Liberation, 
it is the attitude of a great liking to be in permanent solitude
 that must be well established in their mind.

According to the outlook of different people 
the same woman is considered to be wife, 
husband’s sister, daughter-in-law, wife of one’s brother-in-law,
 mother, and so on. 
Yet in truth she does not at all undergo any change in her form.

Unless one realizes oneself to be the unattached Self, 
which is like the space that remains not even in the least attached to anything,
 though it exists inside, outside and pervading everything,
 one cannot remain undeluded.

One who has destroyed the mind is the emperor
 who rides on the neck of the elephant of supreme Jnana (self-knowledge).
 Know for certain that the turmoil of the mind
 is the sole cause of the miserable bondage 
of the cruel and fierce birth [and death].

~ Ramana Maharshi
art by Colette Baumback

Sunday, May 2, 2021

the busy edge dissolves




The object in meditation and all of our contemplative disciplines is silence. But… 
that silence is in order for you to perceive something other than yourself — 
what you’ve arranged as yourself to actually perceive this frontier
 between what you call your self and what you call other than your self, 
whether that’s a person or a landscape.

One of the greatest arts of poetry is actually to create silence through attentive speech — 
speech that says something in such a way that it appears as a third frontier
 between you and the world, and invites you into a deeper and more generous
 sense of your own identity and the identity of the world… 
Poetry is the verbal art-form by which we can actually create silence.

Silence is frightening, an intimation of the end, the graveyard of fixed identities.
 Real silence puts any present understanding to shame; orphans us from certainty;
 leads us beyond the well-known and accepted reality and confronts us 
with the unknown and previously unacceptable conversation 
about to break in upon our lives.

In silence, essence speaks to us of essence itself
 and asks for a kind of unilateral disarmament, 
our own essential nature slowly emerging
 as the defended periphery atomizes and falls apart.
 As the busy edge dissolves we begin to join the conversation 
through the portal of a present unknowing, robust vulnerability, 
revealing in the way we listen, a different ear, a more perceptive eye, 
an imagination refusing to come too early to a conclusion, 
and belonging to a different person 
than the one who first entered the quiet.
~ David Whyte
from  Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning
of Everyday Words
 photo by Aaron Burden
with thanks to BrainPickings

Saturday, May 1, 2021

a deeper generosity

Forgiveness is one of the really difficult things in life.  
The logic of receiving hurt seems to run in the direction of never forgetting
 either the hurt or the hurter.  When you forgive, some deeper, 
divine generosity takes you over.  When you can forgive, then you are free.  

When you cannot forgive, you are a prisoner of the hurt done to you.  
If you are really disappointed in someone and you become embittered, 
you become incarcerated inside that feeling.  Only the the grace of forgiveness 
can break the straight logic of hurt and embitterment.  It gives you a way out,
 because it places the conflict on a completely different level.  In a strange way,
 it keeps the whole conflict human.  You begin to see and understand the conditions, 
circumstances, or weakness that made the other person act as she did.


Why are we so reluctant to leave our inner prisons?  
There is the security of the confinement and limitation that we know.  
We are often willing to endure the searing sense of forsakenness and distance
 which limitation brings rather than risking the
 step out into the field of the unknown. 

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes
art by Leah Dorion

Friday, April 30, 2021

no longer sure


It has come to this: I'm sitting under a tree
beside a river
on a sunny morning.
It's an insignificant event
and won't go down in history.
It's not battles and pacts,
where motives are scrutinized,
or noteworthy tyrannicides.

And yet I'm sitting by this river, that's a fact.
And since I'm here
I must have come from somewhere,
and before that
I must have turned up in many other places,
exactly like the conquerors of nations
before setting sail.

Even a passing moment has its fertile past,
its Friday before Saturday,
its May before June.
Its horizons are no less real
than those that a marshal's field glasses might scan.

This tree is a poplar that's been rooted here for years.
The river is the Raba; it didn't spring up yesterday.
The path leading through the bushes
wasn't beaten last week.
The wind had to blow the clouds here
before it could blow them away.

And though nothing much is going on nearby,
the world is no poorer in details for that.
It's just as grounded, just as definite
as when migrating races held it captive.

Conspiracies aren't the only things shrouded in silence.
Retinues of reasons don't trail coronations alone.
Anniversaries of revolutions may roll around,
but so do oval pebbles encircling the bay.

The tapestry of circumstance is intricate and dense.
Ants stitching in the grass.
The grass sewn into the ground.
The pattern of a wave being needled by a twig.

So it happens that I am and look.
Above me a white butterfly is fluttering through the air
on wings that are its alone,
and a shadow skims through my hands
that is none other than itself, no one else's but its own.

When I see such things, I'm no longer sure
that what's important
is more important than what's not.

~  Wislawa Szymborska
S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh translation 
with thanks to Love is a Place

Thursday, April 29, 2021

the silent self

Image result for noise art

There is a silent self within us whose presence is disturbing
 precisely because it is so silent: it can't be spoken.
 It has to remain silent. To articulate it, to verbalize it,
 is to tamper with it, and in some way to destroy it. 

Now let us frankly face the fact that our culture is one 
which is geared in many ways to help us evade any need to face this inner, silent self.
 We live in a state of constant semi attention to the sound of voices, music, traffic,
 or the generalized noise of what goes on around us all the time. 
This keeps us immersed in a flood of racket and words,
 a diffuse medium in which our consciousness is half diluted:
 we are not quite "thinking", not entirely responding, 
but we are more or less there. 
We are not fully present and not entirely absent, 
not fully withdrawn, yet not completely available. 
It cannot be said that we are really participating in anything
 and we may in fact, be half conscious of our alienation and resentment. 
Yet we derive a certain comfort from the vague sense that we are
 "part of something" -- 
although we are not quite able to define what that something is -- 
and probably wouldn't want to define it even if we could. 
We just float along in the general noise. 
Resigned and indifferent,
 we share semi-consciously in the mindless mind of Muzak 
and radio commercials which pass for "reality".

- Thomas Merton
from  Love & Living
art by Andy Mercer


spirit that makes connections

Bless the spirit that makes connections,
for truly we live in what we imagine.
Clocks move along side our real life
with steps that are ever the same.

Though we do not know our exact location,
we are held in place by what links us.
Across trackless distances
antennas sense each other.

Pure attention, the essence of the powers!
Distracted by each day's doing,
how can we hear the signals?

Even as the farmer labors
there where the seed turns into summer,
it is not his work. It is Earth who gives.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, XII
Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy version
art by Christi Belcourt

the unwinding

So we sit down, we’re quiet for a while.
And gradually the unwinding happens –
of the mind, and the body, and the heart.
And then maybe we get a glimpse, or a taste, of freedom;
and if we do, then we give our attention to that.
We surrender to that presence.
Dropping out of our heads and surrendering to stillness,
one-pointed presence, effortless vastness.
We let it take us, completely.
That’s what surrender is.

~ Jon Bernie
from  Ordinary Freedom

Sunday, April 25, 2021

the intimate space

What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.)
Space reaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you.  Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits.  Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Uncollected Poems

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

to satisfy desires



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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

with mindfulness' rope


Those who wish to keep the trainings
Must with perfect self-possession guard their minds.
Without this guard upon the mind,
The trainings cannot be preserved.
Wandering where it will, the elephant of mind,
Will bring us down to torment in the hell of Unrelenting Pain. 
No worldly beast, however wild and crazed, 
Could bring upon us such calamities.
If, with mindfulness' rope,
The elephant of mind is tethered all around,
Our fears will come to nothing,
Every virtue drop into our hands. 
~ Shantideva
from The Way of the Bodhisattva

Sunday, April 18, 2021



The things of the world cannot affect the soul;
 they lie inert outside it, and only internal beliefs disturb it.

Nothing happens that isn’t in accord with universal nature, 
and before long you won’t exist at all, just like [your heroes]…
 fix your gaze on the matter at hand and see it for what it is,
 and then, keeping in your mind 
your obligation to be a good person 
and the demands of your humanity, 
go right ahead and do it, in the way that seems to you
 to be most just. 
But do it with kindness and modesty

describe to yourself every impression that occurs to your mind, 
so that you can clearly see what the thing is like in its entirety, 
stripped to its essence, and tell yourself its proper name 
and the names of the elements of which it consists 
and into which it will be resolved.
 Nothing is more conducive to objectivity than the ability 
methodically and honestly to test everything that you come across in life, 
and always to look at things in such a way that you consider
 what kind of part each of them plays in what kind of universe,
 and what value it has for the universe as a whole.

If you carry out every present task by following right reason assiduously, 
resolutely, and with kindness; if rather than getting distracted by irrelevancies, 
you keep your guardian spirit unspoiled and steady, 
as though you had to surrender it at any moment; 
if you engage with the task not with expectations or evasions,
but satisfied if your current performance is in accord 
with nature and if what you say and express is spoken with true  honesty, 
you’ll be living the good life. And there’s no one who can stop you doing so!
~ Marcus Aurelius
excerpts from Meditations: The Annotated Edition by Robin Waterfield
art - Light distribution on soap bubble from Le monde physique
with thanks to brainpickings