Saturday, June 15, 2019

two poem by Rumi

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, Let's buy it.


When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks


in praise of Sophia

Friend, don't be angry at the Teacher's discipline,
nor lose your taste for his rebukes,
for the Teacher only corrects those whom he loves, 
as a mother watches constantly her favorite son.
The man who finds the ecstatic mother is a joyful man,
and the man who gains consciousness from her,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver,
and the profit from that acquisition better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
She has long life in her right hand,
and riches and reputation in her left.
Along her path there is much pleasure,
and her path goes through the places of peace.
She is a tree of life for those who bring her inside,
those who hold her firmly inside are called happy.
The Secret One through the ecstatic mother founded the earth,
through consciousness he made the skies go around,
by secret knowledge the oceans broke open,
and the clouds let the dew down.

~ from Proverbs: 3:11-20
translated by Aaron Blon


Ich stehe mir im Weg

People don't realize how much they are in the grip of ideas.
We live among ideas much more than we live in nature.

~ Saul Bellow

doing so,
"Ich stehe mir im Weg"
I stand in my own way.

Friday, June 14, 2019

take no account of all that happens

Abide in peace, 
banish cares, 
take no account of all that happens, 
and you will serve God 
according to His good pleasure, and rest in Him. 

~ Saint John of the Cross 

love impels impels people to service.  If love starts with a downward motion, burrowing into the vulnerability of self, exposing nakedness, it ends with an active upward motion.  It arouses great energy and desire to serve.  The person in love is buying little presents, fetching the glass from the next room, bringing a tissue when there's flu, driving through traffic to pick the beloved up at the airport. Love is waking up night after night to breastfeed, living year after year to nurture.  It is risking and sacrificing your life for your buddy's in a battle.  Love ennobles and transforms.  In no other state do people so often live as we want them to live.  In no other commitment are people so likely to slip beyond the logic of self-interest and unconditional commitments that manifest themselves in daily acts of care.

Occasionally you meet someone with a thousand-year heart.  The person with the thousand-year heart has made the most of the passionate, tumultuous phase of love. Those months or years of passion have engraved a deep commitment in their mind.  The person or thing they once loved hotly they now love warmly but steadily, happily, unshakably.  They don't even think of loving their beloved because they want something back.  They just naturally offer love as a matter of course.  It is gift-love, not reciprocity-love.

~ David Brooks
from The Road to Character

the culture of the day

The cities only care for what is theirs
and uproot all that's in their path.
They crush the creatures like hollow sticks
and burn up nations like kindling.

Their people serve the culture of the day,
losing all balance and moderation,
calling their aimlessness progress,
driving recklessly where they once drove slow,
and with all that metal and glass
making such a racket.

It's as if they were under a spell:
they can no longer be themselves.
Money keeps growing, takes all their strength,
and empties them like a scouring wind,
while they wait for wine and poisonous passions
to spur them to fruitless occupations.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
III,31, The Book of Poverty and Death
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
photo by robert frank

Tuesday, June 11, 2019



Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to 
rather than opposing the flow of life.  The only place where you can
 experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender
 is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.  

It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.  
Inner resistance is to say "no" to what is,
 through mental judgment and emotional negativity.

 It becomes particularly pronounced when things "go wrong,"
 which means that there is a gap between the demands 
or rigid expectations of your mind and what is.  That is the pain gap. 

 If you have lived long enough, you will know that things
 "go wrong" quite often.  It is precisely at those times that surrender 
needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life.   

Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification 
and thus reconnects you with Being.  Resistance is the mind.

~ Eckhart Tolle
from The Power of Now
art by allan omarra


Susila was on the point of turning to catch the
expression of delight on Dugald's upturned face; then, checking herself,
she looked down at the ground. There was no Dugald any more; there was
only this pain, like the pain of the phantom limb that goes on haunting the
imagination, haunting even the perceptions of those who have undergone an
amputation. "Amputation," she whispered to herself, "amputation ..."
Feeling her eyes fill with tears, she broke off. Amputation was no excuse
for self-pity and, for all that Dugald was dead, the birds were as beautiful as
ever and her children, all the other children-, had as much need to be loved
and helped and taught. If his absence was so constantly present, that was
to remind her that henceforward she must love for two, live for two, take
thought for two, must perceive and understand not merely with her own
eyes and mind but with the mind and eyes that had been his and, before
the catastrophe, hers too in a communion of delight and intelligence.

~ aldous huxley
from Island

seawater stiffens cloth

Seawater stiffens cloth long after it's dried.
As pain after it's ended stays in the body:
A woman moves her hands oddly
because her grandfather passed through
a place he never spoke of.  Making
instead the old jokes with angled fingers.
Call one thing another's name long enough,
it will answer.  Call pain seawater, tree, it will answer.
Call it a tree whose shape of branches happened.
Call what branching happened a man
whose job it was to break fingers or lose his own.
Call fingers angled like branches what peel and cut apples,
to give to a girl who eats them in silence, looking.
Call her afterward tree, call her seawater angled by silence.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Sunday, June 9, 2019

no superstition in the breath

Sometimes when I meditate
there is nothing left of me
but the breath
all the rest of me inseparable
from all the rest of you.

There is no superstition in the breath
only in the mind and body surrounding.

The mind and body are suspicious,
full of fables and myths;
but there is no superstition in the breath.
With each exhalation
wordless sensation migrates
from the nostrils to the belly and back again
brings water to the fields,
brings breath down the cord from mother to child,
brings blood to the sacrifice of love and war,
brings bright offerings to the temple;
sings into the dark,
assuring the aspirant bent in the shadow
the breath that never ends,
whether dropped to our knees below the cross,
or easy in the slippers of the Beloved,
and certainly behind the diamond brow,
sighs the sigh heard 'round the world.

That famous ten percent we are supposed 
to have use of our brain seems true
of the rest of the body and mind as well.
We occupy very little of ourselves
A few percent perhaps...

We barely inhabit the breath
living in the shallows of our life.
Our ordinary breath hollowed by fear and anger,
lost behind the nostrils somewhere near the heart,
lost somewhere between the back of the cave 
and to top of Jacob's ladder...our cells
are starving for breath.

The breath does not lie.
It has nothing to say
It simply is
overflowing with sensation
met crossing the bright field
inviting the body and the rest of the mind
to enter subtle as the breath
subtler levels of being...

The fable of each inhalation, like the first
firing of the imagination (full of the superstition of "I")
and animating the body; that first inhalation
still being drawn...
And last exhalation suspended in myth
begun to be expelled soon after birth.

Taking each breath as if it were the last,
before we enter the enormity at the center
of each breath.

Though superstition surrounds the first breath
and is rarely discarded even with the last,
these two breaths - separated by joyful swoons
and plaintive cries - come together in the great silence,
the bitter tears before and after
the great peace between breaths
when mind slows to wisdom and the body
knows itself, as T. S. Eliot nearly says,
for the very first time.

The wise man, the flying woman, dwells
in the space between breaths as faint echoes
drop over the edge and fade into
the vast chasm of silence.

Letting go at the end of each out-breath
stills the enormity.

Occasionally in the meditation hall my breath
nearly stopped.  I needed nothing more 
as thought stilled, and the wind-blown mind
settled.  As the drum stopped.
Breath and fear surrendered.
"If the breath never returns
the universe will breath for me."

Overcoming the distrust, not holding
to the last breath or grasping at the next.
Letting go completely of control of the breath.
Trusting a breath unshaped by pretense
or superstition, a breath that breaths itself
from the oceanic tides between planets ...
a breath like the one before
the one that created the universe,
that began thought, and forgot
its original face.

~Stephen Levine
from Breaking the Drought
photo by Diane Varner

the hurt you embrace becomes joy

The hurt you embrace becomes joy.
Call it to your arms where it can

change.  A silkworm eating leaves
makes a cocoon.  Each of us weaves

a chamber of leaves and sticks.
Silkworms begin to truly exist

as they disappear inside that room.
Without legs, we fly.  When I stop

speaking, this poem will close,
and open its silent wings...

~ Rumi

Saturday, June 8, 2019

the etchings of trauma

~ Rupert Spira 



I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing
happens! Nothing... Silence... Waves...

-Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

~ Juan Ramon Jimenez
translated by Robert Bly

Van Gogh reuses a canvas that he’d already painted 
some two and a half years earlier in Nuenen: x-ray photos
 reveal the head of a woman with a cap under Patch of grass.


More often than not, we feel so enmeshed in the life we have that the prospect of change appears remote or impossible.  Thus, we continue on the tracks that we have laid down for ourselves,  We are unable to think in new ways and we gradually teach ourselves to forget the other horizons.  We unlearn desire.  Quietly, over time, we succumb to the dependable script of the expected life and become masters of the middle way.  We avoid extremes and after a while we no longer even notice the pathways off to the side and no longer sense the danger and disturbance that could be experienced "out there."  We learn to fit our chosen world with alarming precision and regularity.  Often it takes a huge crisis or trauma to crack the dead shell that has grown ever more solid around us.  Painful as that can be, it does resurrect the longing of the neglected soul.  It makes a clearance.  Again we can see the horizons and feel their attraction.  Though we may wince with vulnerability as we taste the exhilaration of freedom, we feel alive!

John O'Donohue
from The Invisible Embrace: Beauty

Friday, June 7, 2019

by the true, loving will of your heart

For silence is not God, nor speaking; 
fasting is not God, nor eating; 
solitude is not God, nor company; 
nor any other pair of opposites.  

He is hidden between them, 
and cannot be found by anything your soul does, 
but only by the love of your heart. 

He cannot be known by reason, 
he cannot be thought, caught, or sought by understanding.  
But he can be loved and chosen by the true, loving will of your heart.

~ The Cloud of Unknowing
Written anonymously, this practical, unemotional book of instruction focuses on stripping away all earthly ways of knowing, of passing through the cloud of forgetting and piercing the cloud of unknowing that exists between himself and God.  Widely read in the fourteen century for its beauty in aiding a contemplative experience, The Cloud, is better known than the later work, The Book of Privy Counseling which also clearly written by one who has trodden the mystical path himself and offers others a helping hand.