Monday, February 28, 2011




It is conceit that kills us 
and makes us cowards instead of gods. 
Under the great Command: Know thy self, and that thou art mortal! 
we have become fatally self-conscious, fatally self-important, fatally entangled in the cocoon coils of our conceit. 
Now we have to admit we can't know ourselves, we can only know about ourselves. 
And I am not interested to know about myself any more, 
I only entangle myself in the knowing. 
Now let me be myself, 
now let me be myself, and flicker forth, 
now let me be myself, in the being, one of the gods. 

~ D.H. Lawrence


for a leader



May the gift of leadership awaken in you as a vocation,
Keep you mindful of the providence that calls you to serve.
As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings,
May your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills.
When the way is flat and dull in times of gray endurance,
May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.
When thirst burns in times of drought,
May you be blessed to find the wells.
May you have the wisdom to read time clearly
And know when the seed of change will flourish.
In your heart may there be a sanctuary
For the stillness where clarity is born.
May your work be infused with passion and creativity
And have the wisdom to balance compassion and challenge.
May your soul find the graciousness
To rise above the fester of small mediocrities.
May your power never become a shell
Wherein your heart would silently atrophy.
May you welcome your own vulnerability
As the ground where healing and truth join.
May integrity of soul be your first ideal.
The source that will guide and bless your work.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
photo by Reuters





The incarnate Word is with us,
is still speaking, is present
always, yet leaves no sign
but everything that is.


~ Wendell Berry
from Given
IX, Sabbaths 1999


a pile of ashes

Your pride in yourself and your wanting,
these steal your energy along the road.

If you can kill these robbers
and become the servant of everyone,
you'll meet the Lord in meditation
and see what you used to protect
as just a pile of ashes.

~ Lalla
from Naked Song
translations by Coleman Barks

Friday, February 25, 2011

beyond the grey continent

It must be those brief moments
when nothing has happened - nor is going to.
Tiny moments, like islands in the ocean
beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days.
There, sometimes, you meet your own heart
like someone you've never known.

~ Hans Børli


Thursday, February 24, 2011

if you love

You might quiet the whole world for a second
if you pray.
And if you love, if you
really love,
our guns will

~ St. John of the Cross


to just be close

I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and 
came near.
It often does not take more than that to help at times -
to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing,
so full of love
that they don't
- chat,
they just gaze with
marvelous understanding.

~ St. John of the Cross
from Love Poems from God
translations by Daniel Ladinsky


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

oneness into many


As the same fire assumes different shapes
When it consumes objects differing in shape,
So does the one Self take the shape
Of every creature in whom he is present.
As the same air assumes different shapes
When it enters objects differing in shape,
So does the one Self take the shape
Of every creature in whom he is present.
The ruler supreme, inner Self of all,
Multiplies his oneness into many.
Eternal joy is theirs who see the Self
In their own hearts.  To none else does it come!

~ Katha Upanishad
translation by Eknath Easwaran


Tuesday, February 22, 2011



Some aggravations include the whole world.
What can you do?  An old pulp-cutter
Longs to die, imagines
The Easter nails.
On his Icelandic farm, Guttorm hears
The news: his two sons
Dead.  He pulls the covers
Up over his head.
Some oak leaves hang, others fall.
The body says, "It's all right
To die.  It's not an insult
To the world."

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems


winter afternoon by the lake


Black trunks, black branches, and white snow.
No one nearby, five o'clock, below zero,
Late January. No birds. No wind.
You look, and your life seems stopped.  Perhaps
You died suddenly earlier today.  But the thin
Moon says no.  The trees say, "It's been this way
Before, often.  It's cold, but it's quiet."  We've experienced
This before, among the messy Saxons putting back
The hide flap.  A voice says: "It's old.  You'll never
See this again, the way it is now, because
Just today you sensed that someone gave you
Life and said, 'Stay as long as you like.'"
The snow and the black trees, pause, to see if we're
Ready to re-enter that stillness.  "Not yet."

~ Robert Bly
For Owen
from Morning Poems





That which offers no resistance,
overcomes the hardest substances.
That which offers no resistance
can enter where there is no space.
Few in the world can comprehend
the teaching without words,
or understand the value of non-action.


~ Lao Tzu
from The Tao Te Ching
translation j.h. mcdonald


for lost friends


As twilight makes a rainbow robe
From the concealed colors of day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of night,
May we lose no one we love
From the shelter of our hearts.
When we love another heart
And allow it to love us, 
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels.
May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
That whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench.
Though a door may have closed,
Closed between us,
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inherit;
Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;
Bring warmth again to 
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to 
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them the peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us


Monday, February 21, 2011

a way between voice and presence


Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks


this press of time

We set the pace,
But this press of time –
take it as a little thing
next to what endures.

All this hurrying
soon will be over
Only when we tarry
do we touch the holy.
Young ones,
don’t waste your courage
racing so fast
flying so high.

See how all things are at rest –
darkness and morning light
blossom and book.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, February 19, 2011

you know quite well



You know quite well, deep within you, 
that there is only a single magic,
a single power, a single salvation...
and that is called loving. 

~ Herman Hesse 

Friday, February 18, 2011

the tree of love


I said to God, “Let me love you.”
And he replied, “Which part?”

“All of you, all of you.” I said.

“Dear” God spoke, “You are as a mouse wanting to impregnate
a tiger who is not even in heat. It is a feat way
beyond your courage and strength.
You would run from me
if I removed my

I said to God again,

“Beloved I need to love you – every aspect, every pore.”

And this time God said,

“There is a hideous blemish on my body,
though it is such an infinitesimal part of my Being-
could you kiss that if it were revealed?”

“I will try, Lord, I will try.”

And then God said,
“That blemish is all the hatred and
cruelty in this

~  Saint Thomas Aquinas
from Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky

I am the truth

tomb of Hallaj


Kill me, my faithful friends,
For in my being killed is my life.
Love is that you remain standing
In front of your Beloved
When you are stripped of all your attributes;
Then His attributes become your qualities.
Between me and You, there is only me.
Take away the me, so only You remain


I am the One whom I love, and the One whom I love is myself.
We are two souls incarnated in one body;
if you see me, you see Him,
if you see Him, you see us.


~  Al-Hallaj

Mansur al-Hallaj was executed in Baghdad in 922.
Hallaj taught an interior expression,
 he was known to say “ana al-haq,” or “I am the Truth,”
for this he was executed.


each moment to fully engage



Pursuing knowledge in childhood we rise
Until we become masterful and wise
But if we look through the disguise
We see the ties of worldly lies.

Early one morning I heard an angelic chime
Bringing news of a loving and joyous clime
Pursuit of the unimportant is the worst crime
Live in joy & love before the end of your time.

I watched the birds on nature’s stage
Playful, in flight, page after page
Thus opened the doors of my cage
& learnt each moment to fully engage.

~ Omar Khayyam
verses from The Rubaiyat


I sent my soul


I sent my soul into the invisible,
Some letter of that after life to spell.
And by and by my soul returned to me
And answered, I myself am heaven and hell.

~ Omar Khayyam 
from The Rubaiyat


a symphony



...Ever since I was a child, I have had the tendency to create a fictitious world around me, to surround myself with friends and acquaintances who never existed. ( I don’t know, of course, if they didn't really exist or if it is me who doesn't exist. On such matters, as in all others, one shouldn't be dogmatic.) Ever since I became aware of the thing that I call self, I can remember with mental precision, the figures, the movements, the character and the history of several fictitious people who were, to me, as visible and mine as those things which we, perhaps abusively, call real life. This tendency, which exists since I realized that I was a self, has always been with me, modifying slightly the kind of music it uses to bewitch me but never altering its manner of bewitching.

~ Fernando Pessoa
in a letter to his friend Casais Monteiro


My soul is like a hidden orchestra; I do not know which instruments 
grind and play away inside of me, strings and harps, timbales and drums. 
I can only recognize myself as a symphony.

from The Book of Disquiet


present truth


one must be 
in the moment 
for life to 
ever come true 
touch the ground 
and be grounded 
find comfort here 
living, being, 
breathing, now 
this is where 
it will all happen

~ Benjamin Dean

ash ode



When I saw you ahead I ran two blocks 
shouting your name then realizing it wasn't 
you but some alarmed pretender, I went on 
running, shouting now into the sky, 
continuing your fame and luster. Since I've
 been incinerated, I've oft returned to this thought, 
that all things loved are pursued and never caught, 
even as you slept beside me you were flying off. 
At least what's never had can’t be lost, the sieve 
of self stuck with just some larger chunks, jawbone, 
wedding ring, a single repeated dream, 
a lullaby in every elegy, descriptions 
of the sea written in the desert, your broken 
umbrella, me claiming I could fix it.

~ Dean Young

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I died for beauty


I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

~ Emily Dickinson


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

da capo

Take the used-up heart like a pebble
and throw it far out.

Soon there is nothing left.
Soon the last ripple exhausts itself
in the weeds.

Returning home, slice onions, carrots, celery.
Glaze them in oil before adding
the lentils, water, and herbs.

Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.
Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.
You may do this, I tell you, it is permitted.
Begin again the story of your life.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart



I unpetalled you, like a rose,
to see your soul,
and I didn't see it.
But everything around
--horizons of lands and of seas--
everything, out to the infinite,
was filled with a fragrance,
enormous and alive.

~ Juan Ramon Jimenez
translated by Stephen Mitchell


in a stolen boat

push off what seemed safe: The fishing dock,
pitch pines, children glazed to sheen
by ruthless summers. Past
the jetty, past the past, to open sea--
all violet and green, that choppy path between doom and luck--
Put your back into it, and row.

~ April Bernard