Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Way doesn't rise or fall

The Way doesn't rise or fall
those who are blind look for an advantage
sages and wise men escape from this world
where counterfeit truth prevails
rein in your senses don't indulge them
be ever mindful and nothing else
lose your body beneath a patched robe
and say good-bye to a thousand rebirths
A life lasts one hundred years
but which of us gets them all
precarious as a teetering thatched hut
or a leaking boat in a storm
mediocre monks are pathetic
would-be masters are sadder still
the world's empty ways aren't what they were
some days I shut my old gate tight
Green mist red clouds a trail through bamboo
and a hut where quiet lasts
just let go and worries end
stop to think and the mind reappears
an unpolished mirror holds millions of shapes
a bell doesn't ring until it is rung
our original nature is the real buddha
nothing solid or empty nothing old or new
A monk in the wild sits quiet and relaxed 
he survives all year on what karma brings
bamboo and yellow flowers occupy his thoughts
white clouds and streams simplify his life
he doesn't mistake a rock for a tiger on a hill
or the image of a bow for a snake in a bowl
in the woods he knows nothing of the world's affairs
at sunset he watches the crows return
~ Stonehouse
from "The Zen Works of Stonehouse"
Book One: Mountain Poems
translated by Red Pine

Michelangelo spoke of his work as releasing 
"Prisoners in Stone"

and we too, 
captured in invisible "stone"
wait for our Michelangelo to free us.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

can you find your true identity?

How arbitrary, the ways in which we identify ourselves.
This fan chart used in genealogy helps demonstrate this fact.
10 generations here, taking us back only to the mid-1600's, 
and in that 10th generation, 512 equal contributors to 
my genetic inheritance.  I derive my identity, and even think of myself
as being related to maybe 2 of those.
That's about 2 tenths of one percent of the total genetic influence.
511 other surnames that could equally well apply.
How seriously we sometimes take ourselves.

Prayers for the Earth

For once on the face of the earth let's not speak in any language
Let's stop for one second and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines.
We would all be together in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales
...And the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,
Victory with no survivors
Would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused with total inactivity,
Life is what it is about.
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single minded about keeping our lives moving,
And for once could do nothing,
Perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves
And of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.
~ Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

snug harbor

To achieve more perfect
harmony with the river
and at the same time 
live close to the earth
... I became a shantyboater
~ Harlan Hubbard
from Harlan Hubbard and the River - A Visionary Life
by Don Wallis

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a man and a horse

There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. 
The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, 'Where are you going?" and the first man replies, I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. 
We are always running, and it has become a habit. 
We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. 
We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
from "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching"
art: "Summer" by Harlan Hubbard 

Monday, August 23, 2010

longing for your giant self


In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: 
and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, 
carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends 
and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, 
"Wherefore are you slow and halting?"
For the truly good ask not the naked, 
"Where is your garment?" 
nor the houseless, 
"What has befallen your house?" 

~ Kahlil Gibran
from "The Prophet"
art: "Shantyboats at Sunrise"
by Harlan Hubbard

the art

When I paint a landscape,
I try to paint heaven,
and my joy at being there.
There is no artist,
living or dead,
whose work would satisfy me
as an expression of my life.
Nothing was ever painted 
that I would like to have done.
No one ever expressed me.
My painting could not have been done by anyone else,
nor in the past.
It is growing more and more unique and personal.
The beauty of the snow, 
the pleasure of seeing it
and being out in it.
To express that is the end of art.
I would like my paintings to be as real as the rain and stones,
yet transcend reality into sublimity.
My pictures follow their own course.
I draw the geographic form, but as the painting goes on,
there springs up a design which is unpredictable,
unconscious, and as perfect as my sense of harmony makes it.
~ Harlan Hubbard
from his journals, taken here from
"Harlan Hubbard and the River - A Visionary Life"
by Don Wallis
art: "Crossing the River"
 by Harland Hubbard

Sunday, August 22, 2010

seeing reality? true ideas?

There's no state in which one is seeing reality. 
WHO is seeing WHAT? 
You can only BE real. 
(And that you are always.) 
The problem exists only in thinking.
Let all false ideas go, 
that's all. 
There's no need for true ideas. 
(Since there are none.)

 Nisargadatta Maharaj

a more direct revelation

Much as I admire the Christian principles and teaching, 
and the people ... who follow them,
...for myself I require a more direct revelation, 
not one that must come through so many minds before it reaches mine.  
I must have a faith that I can see and hear, 
one that I can feel without thinking or even trying to put it into words.  
It is not for anyone else, it is a personal faith.

~ Harlan Hubbard
.from his journal, 1959


Go deeper


Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart.

D.H. Lawrence
photo: Kilauea lava lake

Saturday, August 21, 2010

After Anna's death

He was not lonely because he had no desire to return to the past: 

"I am not one of those who enjoy thinking of their past life.  
For me, it is gone, and I have no desire to resurrect it even in thought."  

He saw the pain and imperfection of the past, and he did not want it back. 
The present was enough; it was all he asked.  
And the present provided him sufficient company.  
He was newly and generously mindful of the creatures who lived with him in Payne Hollow:  

"This hillside is common ground for me and the little wild animals who live here."  

He was attentive as perhaps never before to the presence of possum and chipmunk, 
cricket and katydid, bullfrog and dove.  
When he woke long before dawn, the night song of the katydids 
would be dwindling toward silence: 

"Each squawk you think is the last; but no, some diehard starts afresh.  
Sometimes I lie awake listening.  
Surely now the night is over, but no, not yet.

~ Wendell Berry
quoting Harlan Hubbard in
Harlan Hubbard - Life and Work
art by Harlan Hubbard


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

so near and real


"This continued fair, warm weather, and the ripening of the earth...
 affords a glimpse of life on a higher level than we know. 
 It is marvelous that our daily lives go on amid this splendor. 
No heaven could be more fair."
To see the earth and its creatures in this way is not to see them merely
 as they would appear to the eye of a naturalist, for he said,
 "I have little sympathy with the viewpoint of the naturalist."  

It is rather, to see into their life, to be aware of the informing spirit 
which they manifest: "The sound of the crickets is one voice, one manifestation,
 one of the myriads of the spirit which hovers over the earth." 

This seems sometimes to be a "distant contemplative spirit, yet so near and real, 
that watches the writhings of men."  At other times it seems to be immanent,
 at one with the creatures it informs, and this leads him to dispute the scientific 
reduction to fact: "I watched the fireflies as I looked down into the bottom land,
 like a basin in its wall of dark trees, all filled with the flashing, moving light...
 Their wild dance suggests the supernatural.  The scientist would explain it
 probably as the mating of insects, but how would he account for the joy
 it raises in the beholder?  That is the supernatural part and it can't be 
explained away.  
It is more real than the scientific fact."

~ Wendell Berry
quoting Harlan Hubbard's journal from 1963
art by HH "The Hawthorne Tree," 1985

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I discovered a truth

I discovered a truth that seemed to me a revelation... 
There seemed to be two universes which I termed the world and the earth, 
in either of which I could choose to live.  
Then I saw there was but one, 
and that I was living on the earth looking directly into infinity.
~ Harlan Hubbard
from the afterword of "Payne Hollow - Life on the fringe of Society"
afterword by Don Wallis
art by the author, River Hills, 1935

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The painter Harlan Hubbard

The painter Harlan Hubbard said
that he was painting Heaven when
the places he painted merely were
the Campbell or Trimble County
banks of the Ohio, or farms
and hills where he had worked or roamed:
a house's gable and roofline
rising from a fold in the hills, 
trees bearing snow, two shanty boats
at dawn, immortal light upon 
the flowing river in its bends.
And these were Heavenly because
he never saw them clear enough to satisfy his love, his need
to see them all again, again.

~ Wendell Berry
art by Harlan Hubbard

What is usual is not what is always

What is usual is not what is always.
As sometimes, in old age, hearing comes back.

Footsteps resume their clipped edges,
birds quiet for decades migrate back to the ear.

Where were they? By what route did they return?

A woman mute for years
forms one perfect sentence before she dies.

The bitter young man tires;
the aged one sitting now in his body is tender,
his face carries no regret for his choices.

What is usual is not what is always, the day says again.
It is all it can offer.

Not ungraspable hope, not the consolation of stories.
Only the reminder that there is exception.

~ Jane Hirshfield
photo by Eliot Porter


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet your own self

Meet your own self. Be with your own self, 
listen to it, obey it, cherish it, keep it in mind ceaselessly. 
You need no other guide. 
As long as your urge for truth affects your daily life, 
all is well with you. 
Live your life without hurting anybody. 
Harmlessness is a most powerful form of Yoga and it will take you speedily to your goal. 
This is what I call nisarga yoga, the Natural yoga. 
It is the art of living in peace and harmony, 
in friendliness and love. 
The fruit of it is happiness, uncaused and endless.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Friday, August 6, 2010



When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

One cloud upon the hillside,
Two shadows in the valley
And the light strikes home.
Now dawn commands the capture
Of the tallest fortune,
The surrender
Of no less marvelous prize!

Closer and clearer
Than any wordy master,
Thou inward Stranger
Whom I have never seen,

Deeper and cleaner
Than the clamorous ocean,
Seize up my silence
Hold me in Thy Hand!

Now act is waste
And suffering undone
Laws become prodigals
Limits are torn down
For envy has no property
And passion is none.

Look, the vast Light stands still
Our cleanest Light is One!

~ Thomas Merton

Monday, August 2, 2010

Excerpts from extemporaneous talks in Ojai California

Oak Grove High School in Ojai, California, founded by J. Krishnamurti in 1975
It is a pre-K through grade 12 private school offering a small, intimate, inquiry-based day and boarding program that blends college preparatory academics with deep exploration of life’s issues. Teachers support open-minded and spirited discussion, encourage inquiry, and strive to develop in each student a self-reflective capacity that leads to inner honesty, independence and integrity. Graduates go on to college having developed a global perspective, sensitivity toward the environment and human relations, and exceptional critical thinking skills.    www.oakgroveschool.com 


Everywhere society is conditioning the individual, and this conditioning takes the form of self-improvement, which is really the perpetuation of the 'me', the ego, in different forms.  Self-improvement may be gross, or it may be very, very refined when it becomes the practice of virtue, goodness, the so-called love of one's neighbor, but essentially it is the continuance of the 'me', which is a product of the conditioning influences of society.  All your endeavor has gone into becoming something, either here, if you can make it, or if not, in another world; but it is the same urge, the same drive to maintain and continue the self.
August 7th, 1955
If one is capable of studying, watching oneself, one begins to discover how cumulative memory is acting on everything one sees; one is forever evaluating, discarding or accepting, condemning or justifying, so one's experience is always within the field of the known, of the conditioned.  But without cumulative memory as a directive, most of us feel lost, we feel frightened, and so we are incapable of observing ourselves as we are.  When there is the accumulative process, which is the cultivation of memory, our observation of ourselves becomes very superficial.  Memory is helpful in directing, improving oneself, but in self-improvement there can never be a revolution, a radical transformation. It is only when the sense of self-improvement completely ceases, but not by volition, that there is a possibility of something transcendental, something totally new coming into being.
August 21st, 1955
If we can discover from what the sense of domination springs, that discovery may answer the question of why we are violent.
 August 27th, 1955
Being free of society implies not being ambitious, not being covetous, not being competitive; it implies being nothing in relation to that society which is striving to be something.  But you see, it is very difficult to accept that because you may be trodden on, you may be pushed aside; you will have nothing.  In that nothingness there is sanity, not in the other...  As long as one wants to be part of this society, one must breed insanity, wars, destruction, and misery; but to free oneself from this society - the society of violence, of wealth, of position, of success - requires patience, inquiry, discovery, not the reading of books, the chasing after teachers, psychologists, and all the rest of it.
August 28th, 1955
~ J. Krishnamurti