Sunday, February 28, 2010


You can live for years next door

to a big pine tree, honored to have
so venerable a neighbor, even
when it sheds needles all over your flowers
or wakes you, dropping big cones
onto your deck at still of night.
Only when, before dawn one year
at the vernal equinox, the wind
rises and rises, raising images
of cockleshell boats tossed among huge
advancing walls of waves,
do you become aware that always,
under respect, under your faith
in the pine tree’s beauty, there lies
the fear it will crash someday
down on your house, on you in your bed,
on the fragility of the safe
dailiness you have almost
grown used to.

Denise Levertov


in timelessness and nowhere

Home again. But what was home? 
The fish has vast ocean for home. 
And man has timelessness and nowhere. 
"I won't delude myself with the fallacy of home," he said to himself.
 The four walls are a blanket I wrap around in,
 in timelessness and nowhere, to go to sleep.
~ D.H. Lawrence

Saturday, February 27, 2010


My prayer is to die underneath the
Blossoming cherry,
In that spring month of flowers,
When the moon is full.

The wooden statue of Miroku Bosatsu, one of the treasures of Koryu-ji Temple, is regarded as an outstanding example of beauty and purity in Japanese art.

Loveliest of what I leave behind is the sunlight,
And loveliest after that, the shining stars and the moon’s face,
but also cucumbers that are ripe, and pears, and apples
— Praxilla of Sicyon, 5th century B.C.

The snowfall is so silent

The snowfall is so silent,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.

~ Miguel de Unamuno
translated by Robert Bly

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thought proceeds in a line, while the real world does not. Thought is sequential, successive, one-dimensional, while the real world presents itself as a multidimensional, simultaneous pattern of infinite variety. Thought presents us with the convincing illusion that the world is multiple, separate and independent things existing out there.

As everybody knows, you can’t think of even two or three 
things at once without being thrown into confusion, and so, to introduce some measure of coherence and order, the thought process, with the help of memory, strings out all the separate bits of attention along a line which it creates for that very purpose. This line of successive bits of narrowed attention is nothing other than time. In other words, time is nothing more than thought’s successive way of viewing the world. But by habitually viewing everything in this linear, successive fashion, we arrive at the conclusion that everything proceeds in a line. Everything, however, does not proceed in a line - it happens simultaneously - every-where-at-once. The sun is shining, your heart is beating, birds are singing, the kids are playing, your lungs are breathing, the dog is barking, the wind is blowing, crickets are chirping - these phenomena do not proceed one after another nor follow one another in time - they are all happening everywhere at once, no before, no after. Reality does not proceed in a line, it does not proceed in time, it has the whole of its existence simultaneously.

The whole notion of succession, of one 
thing succeeding another thing in time, depends directly upon our process of memory. Memory creates an illusion of the past, and we generate a vivid sense of time and that we are somehow moving through it towards the future. The whole idea of time depends upon the notion that, through memory, we know the actual past. But, strictly speaking, we are never directly aware of a real past at all, we are only aware of a memory-picture of the past, and memory exists only in and as the present.

You are not looking at the real past at all. You are looking at a present trace of the past. From memories you infer that there have been past events, but you know the past only 
in the present and as part of the present.

In remembering any past event, you are never aware of any actual past at all, but only dim pictures of the past, and those pictures exist only as a present experience.

The same holds true for the 
future as well, because any thought of the future is nevertheless a present thought. We know the past and the future only in the present and as part of the present. Thus, the only time we are ever aware of is Now. There is only a Now that includes memories and expectations. It is out of this that we conjure up, out of this present moment, the vast illusion called Time.

When memory is no longer imagined to be a real knowledge of the 
past, but is instead understood to be a present experience, it can been seen that this present moment contains all time and is therefore itself timeless, and that this timeless present is Eternity itself. Eternity exists in its entirety right now. The universe and all things in it are being created Now. God is always creating the world now, this instant, and it is only to creatures of time that the creation presents itself as a series of events, or evolution.

Think of the past - that is a present act; anticipate the future - that is also a present act. Any evidence of a past exists only in the present, and any reason to believe in a future also exists only in the present. When the real past happened, it wasn’t past but present, and when the real future arrives, it won’t be the future, it will be the present. Thus, the only time of which we are ever aware is the present moment, this moment, which contains all time, is itself timeless, which is Eternity. All time is now. Time is a vast illusion. Eternity is not everlasting time but the real, indestructible, timeless present. The present is the only thing that has no end.
~ Ken Wilber, from ‘
The Spectrum of Consciousness’

Monday, February 22, 2010

It is believed by most

It is believed by most
that time passes;
in actual fact,
it stays where it is.
This idea of passing may be called time,
but it is an incorrect idea,
for since one sees it only as passing,
one cannot understand that it stays just where it is.
~ Dogen Zenji

Friday, February 19, 2010

dying each minute, never accumulating

To understand the beauty and the extraordinary nature of death, there must be freedom from the known.  In dying to the known is the beginning of the understanding of death, because then the mind is made fresh, new, and there is no fear.  Therefore one can enter into the state called death.  So, from the beginning to the end, life and death are one.  The wise man understands time, thought, and sorrow, and only he can understand death. The mind that is dying each minute, never accumulating, never gathering experience, is innocent, and is therefore in a constant state of love.
~ J. Krishnamurti, from a talk on July 28th 1964

a natural action

"The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life,
the more you realize that how you use it, 
how you manifest it, is all your responsibility. 
We face such a big task so, naturally, 
such a person sits down for a while.
It's not an intended action, it's a natural action."
~ Kobun Chino

surrender is the first step


[Since nature’s] beauties were such that even a fool could not force them into competition, this cured me once and for all of the pernicious tendency to compare and to prefer -an operation that does little good even when we are dealing with works of art and endless harm when we are dealing with nature. Total surrender is the first step towards the fruition of either. Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.

~ C. S. Lewis
 from Surprised by Joy

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To us all towns are one, all men our kin


To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill.
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Death’s no new thing, nor do our blossoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.
~ Kaniyan Poongundran
(Translated by G.U.Pope)

How do I love thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, February 12, 2010


All you want me to bring back is a rock. No gifts,
no fine words - not even these. But you must 
understand I have spent a lifetime making my way 
to the edge of this stream where I sit in the spent
leaves writing what I know cannot be written. As 
twilight thickens over my fingers, I realize these 
words are falling short of the page. At last I see
your stone, luminescent in the gurgling darkness.
Forgive me for returning empty-handed, but if
I touch it now, I may never get home.
~ Jim Sagel

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speak to us of Self-Knowledge


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

I am thinking of the space between the stars

Estrella Fugaz
I am thinking of the space between the stars when
a tail of fire abruptly blazes in the San Ildefonso sky.
Just so unpredictably did I tumble from orbit, my
identity engulfed in flames.  Yet, my only wish is to
fall out of myself again and again.


Braced against the current, I battle the swollen creek
for a foothold on these ricks polished by the water's
desire for the sea, the same insatiable thirst that
surges though my blood.

~ Jim Sagel, from 'unexpected turn'

Monday, February 8, 2010

Always in the big woods

Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anyone else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.

~ Wendell Berry



What exists wants to persist.
Even the knock of bamboo on bamboo
spilled outward continues.
And you who have lived - restless, ambitious, aggrieved.
A Walter,  a Shirley, a Tim.
A Carlos,  a Teisha,  a Haavo.
Do not think it unchanged, this world you are leaving.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Old men sleeping in speeding cars

Old men sleeping
in speeding cars,
a hawk on a boulder
dripping with fog,
ten deer
in an autumn meadow,
bishop pines
by the ocean.
These all speak more
as our stiff-
ness re-
into new birth.
The worth
of things
cracks open
and shows
the intestines.

on darkness.

~ Michael McClure

Quiet minds

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or
frightened but go on in fortune or
misfortune at their own private pace,  like
a clock during a thunderstorm.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson


Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time.
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.

~ Ojibway


Know the Self as lord of the chariot

Know the Self as lord of the chariot,
The body as the chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as
The Charioteer, and the mind as reins.

The senses, say the wise, are the horses;
Selfish desires are the roads they travel.
When the Self is confused with the body,
Mind, and senses, they point out, he seems
To enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.

When a person lacks discrimination
And his mind is undisciplined, the senses
Run hither and thither like wild horses.
But they obey the rein like trained horses
When one has discrimination and 
Has made the mind one-pointed...

Knowing the senses to be separate
From the Self, and the sense experience
To be fleeting, the wise grieve no more.

Above the senses is the mind, above
The mind is the intellect, above that
Is the ego, and above the ego
Is the unmanifested Cause...

~ Katha Upanishad

The unknown evokes wonder



The unknown evokes wonder. If you lose your sense of wonder, you lose the sacramental majesty of the world. Nature is no longer a presence, it is a thing.  Your life becomes a dead cage of fact.  The sense of the eternal recedes, and time is reduced to routine.  Yet the flow of our lives cannot be stopped.  This is one of the amazing facts about being in the dance of life.  There is no place to step outside.  There is no neutral space in human life.  There is no place to go to get out of it.  There is no little cabin down at the bottom of the garden where the force and familiarity of life stop, and you can sit there in a space outside your life and yourself and look in on both. Once you are in life, it embraces you totally.
~ John O'Donohue, from 'Eternal Echoes'

Somewhere, out at the edges

Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn.

I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of Solitude
of the Soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

~ John O' Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

it needs forever

Anna: There you are, Harlan.  I've called and called.  What are you doing?

Harlan: Looking.

Anna: At what?

Harlan: The river.

Anna: You've never seen enough, have you,  of that river you looked at all your life?

Harlan: It never does anything twice.   It needs forever to be in all its times and aspects and acts.  To know it in time is only to begin to know it.  To paint it, you must show it as less than it is.  That is why as a painter I never was at rest.  Now I look and do not paint.  This is the heaven of a painter - only to look, to see without limit.  It's as if a poet finally were free to say only the simplest things.
For a moment they are still again, both continuing to look, in  opposite directions, at the river.

Anna: That is our music, Harlan.  Do you hear it?

Harlan: Yes, I hear.

Anna: I think it will always be here.  It draws us back out of eternity as once it drew us together in time.  Do you remember, Harlan, how we played?  And how, in playing, we no longer needed to say what we needed to say?

Harlan: I'm listening. But I heard here too, remember, another music, farther off, more solitary,  closer -

Anna: To what, Harlan?

Harlan: I'm not so sure I ever know.  Closer to the edge of modern life,  I suppose - to where the life of living things actually is lived;  closer to the beauty that saves and consoles this earth.  I wanted to spend whole days watching the little fish that flicker along the shore.

Anna: Yes.  I know you did.

Harlan: I wanted
to watch, every morning forever,the world shape itself again out of the drifting fog.

Anna: Your music,  then,   was it in those things?

Harlan: It was in them and beyond them,  always almost out of hearing.

Anna: Because of it you made the beautiful things you made,  for yourself alone, and yet, I think, for us both.  You made them for us both,  as for yourself,  for what we were together required those things of you alone.

Harlan: To hear that music,  I needed to be alone and free.

Anna: Free, Harlan?

Harlan: I longed for the perfection of the single one.  When the river rose and the current fled by,  I longed to cast myself adrift,  to take that long,  free downward-flowing as my own.  I know the longing of an old rooted tree to lean down upon the water.

Anna: I know that.  I knew that all along.  And then was when I loved you most.  What brought me to you was knowing the long, solitary journey that was you,  yourself - the thought of you in a little boat, adrift and free.  But, Harlan, why did you never go?  Why did you not just drift away, solitary and free,  living on the free charity of the seasons, wintering in caves as sometimes you said you'd like to do?

Harlan: Oh,  Anna, because I was lonely!  The perfection of the single one is not perfection, for it is lonely.

Anna: From longing  for the perfection of the single one,  I called you into longing for the perfection of the union of two,

Harlan: which also was imperfect, for we were not always at one, and I never ceased, quite, to long for solitude.

Anna: And yet, of the two imperfections, the imperfection of the union of two is by far the greater and finer - as we understood.

Harlan: Yes, my dear,  Anna,  that I too understood.  It is better, granting imperfection in both ways, to be imperfect and together than to be imperfect and alone.

Anna: And so this is the heaven of lovers that we have come to - to live again in our separateness, so that we may live again together, my Harlan.

~ Wendell Berry
from  Sonata at Payne Hollow


Sunday, February 7, 2010

the direct path for all

Find out who is subject to free will or predestination and abide in that state.  Then both are transcended.  That is the only purpose in discussing these questions.  To whom do such questions present themselves?   Discover that and be at peace.
Your true nature is that of infinite spirit.  The feeling of limitation is the work of the mind.  When the mind unceasingly investigates its own nature,  it transpires that there is no such thing as mind.  This is the direct path for all.
Your speak as if you are here,  and the Self is somewhere else and you had to go and reach it ... But in fact the Self is here and now,  and you are always It.
The realized person weeps with the weeping, laughs with the laughing, plays with the playful, sings with those who sing, keeping time to the song.   His presence is like a pure,  transparent mirror.  It reflects our image exactly as we are.  It is we who play the several parts in life and reap the fruits of our actions.  How is the mirror or the stand on which it is mounted affected?  Nothing affects them,  as they are mere supports.
~ Ramana Maharshi

This Phenomenal Absence


NOWHERE, WHERE I am an object, am I; 
nor where any part of  "me" is an object is it part of me or is mine.
  Only here where I can see nothing (but the objective universe) am I
 - and I am only an absence objectively.
When I realize that, I cease also to be an individual "I"
 for anything individual is thereby an object.
My only existence is non objective,  as non - objectivity itself.
I cannot be portrayed in any way, drawn, photographed or described. 
 That which impersonally I am has no qualities or resemblance
 to an individual subject - object, which is purely conceptual.
Note:  A "self", an "ego", any kind of separated personality or being, is an object.  
That is why nothing of the kind is - as the Diamond Sutra so repeatedly insists.
My objective self only has a conceptual existence.
Non - objectively I am the apparent universe.
Identifying myself with my conceptual object is what constitutes bondage.
  Realizing that my conceptual object only exists in so far as it
 and its subject are THIS phenomenal absence and now - constitutes liberation.
I am my phenomenal absence.

~ Wei Wu Wei
 from  All else is Bondage

surpression of thinking

The Masters' exhortations to abjure  "thinking" 
 do not imply the suppression of thought 
but the reorientation, by articulation,
 of the impetus that results in dualistic
 thought into its im-mediate experience.
Suppressed thought is the negative aspect of the dualism 
 "thought - no - thought,"  another mode of thought itself
 and "one half of a pair,"  whereas what the Masters mean
 is wu nien, which is the absence of both counterparts,
 thought and no - thought,  which is the presence of the suchness
 of thought, and that is expressed in spontaneous Action 
 ( pure action arising from Non - action: Wu wei).
Wu Nien is the presence of the absence of no - thought.

~ Wei Wu Wei
 from  All else is Bondage

The true path

Just before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him.  "Shall I lead you on?"  Ikkyu asked.
Ninakawa replied:  "I came here alone and I go alone.  What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered:  "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion.
Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
With his words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled and passed away.
~ from Zen Flesh Zen Bones compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki

Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room

Loneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you. It is a condition of separateness. Solitude is becoming one with the space around you. It is a condition of union. Loneliness is small, solitude is large. Loneliness closes in around you; solitude expands toward the infinite. Loneliness has its roots in words, in an internal conversation that nobody answers; solitude has its roots in the great silence of eternity. 
~ Kent Nerburn

what is sorrow for?

What is sorrow for? It is a storehouse
Where we store wheat, barley, corn and tears.
We step to the door on a round stone,
And the storehouse feeds all the birds of sorrow.
And I say to myself: Will you have
Sorrow at last? Go on, be cheerful in autumn,
Be stoic, yes, be tranquil, calm;
Or in the valley of sorrows spread your wings.

~Robert Bly

what time is it?

what time is it?it is by every star
a different time,and each most falsely true;
or so subhuman superminds declare

- nor all their times encompass me and you:
when are we never,but forever now
(hosts of eternity;not guests of seem)
believe me,dear,clocks have enough to do

without confusing timelessness and time.

Time cannot children,poets,lovers tell -
measure imagine,mystery,a kiss
- not through mankind would rather know than feel;

mistrusting utterly that timelessness

whose absence would make you whole life and my
(and infinite our)merely to undie

~e.e.  cummings

silently if

silently if,out of not knowable
night's utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile

sings or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss

losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow's own joys and hoping's very fears

yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
yours is the darkness of my soul's return
- you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

~ e.e. cummings