Monday, February 28, 2011

conceit



.


.

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

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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






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present


.

.

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

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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



Saturday, February 26, 2011

mystic

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.
A mystic is a person who is deeply aware of the powerful presence of the divine Spirit: someone who seeks, above all, the knowledge and love of God, and who experiences the profoundly personal encounter with the energy of divine life. 

.
~ Ursula King
art by Odilon Redon, from the British Museum

While older meanings tend to associate mystics with magical dark arts,  definitions now tend to reach across cultures and traditions to embrace all who find their true home within themselves, within their own hearts.

.


Psalm 121 
.
I look deep into my heart,
to the core where wisdom arises.
Wisdom comes from the Unnamable
...and unifies heaven and earth.
The Unnamable is always with you,
shining from the depths of your heart. 
.


~ A Book of Psalms
 translated and adapted by Stephen Mitchell
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Friday, February 25, 2011

enough




.


.

It is enough that one surrenders oneself. 
Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one's being. 
Do not delude yourself by imagining such a source to be some God outside you. 
One's source is within oneself. 
Give yourself up to it. 
.


...
~ Ramana Maharshi


.

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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


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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
wilt.
.

~ St. John of the Cross

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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
their
marvelous understanding.

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

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

oneness into many


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.
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

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freedom - it comes unexpectedly

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Freedom is of the highest importance, but we place it within the borders of our own conceit.  We have preconceived ideas of what freedom is, or what it should be; we have beliefs, ideals, conclusions about freedom.  But freedom is something that cannot be preconceived.  It has to be understood.  Freedom does not come through mere intellection, through a logical reasoning from conclusion to conclusion.  It comes darkly, unexpectedly; it is born of its own inward state.  To realize freedom requires an alert mind, a mind that is deep with energy, a mind that is capable of immediate perception without the process of gradation, without the idea of an end to be slowly achieved.  So, if I may, I would like to think aloud with you about freedom this evening.
.
I think it is very important to understand this problem for oneself, because it is only in freedom that there is love; it is only in freedom that there is creation; it is only in freedom that Truth can be found.  Do what it will, a slavish mind can never find Truth; a slavish mind can never know the beauty and the fullness of life.
.
What matters is to observe your own mind without judgement - just to look at it, to watch it, to be conscious of the fact that your mind is a slave, and no more; because that very perception releases energy, and it is this energy that is going to destroy the slavishness of the mind... We are concerned only with perceiving 'what is', and it is the perception of 'what is' that releases the creative fire.
.
We are the product of our environment, of our culture; we are the product of the food we eat, of our climate, our customs, our traditions. ...As long as I accept the dictates of tradition, of a particular culture, as long as I carry the weight of my memories, my experiences - which after all are the result of my conditioning - I am not an individual, but merely a product.  When you call yourself a Hindu, a Muslim, a Parsi, a Buddhist, a communist, a Catholic, or what you will, are you not the product of your culture, your environment?
.
Our minds are the result of a thousand yesterdays; being conditioned by the culture in which they live, and by the memory of past experiences, they devote themselves to the acquisition of knowledge and technique. ...most of us prefer to be slaves; it is less troublesome, more respectable, more comfortable.  In slavery there is little danger, our lives are more or less secure, and that is what we want - security, certainty, a way of life in which there will be no serious disturbance.  
.
I wonder whether you have ever taken the trouble actually to look at a flower?  And when you do look at a flower, what happens?  You immediately name the flower, you are concerned with what species it belongs to, or you say, 'What lovely colours it has.  I would like to grow it in my garden; I would like to give it to my wife, or put it in my button-hole', and so on.  In other words, the moment you look at a flower, your mind begins chattering about it; therefore you never perceive the flower.  You perceive something only when your mind is silent, when there is no chattering of any kind.  If you can look at the evening star over the sea without a movement of the mind, then you really perceive the extraordinary beauty of it; and when you perceive beauty, do you not also experience the state of love?  Surely, beauty and love are the same.  Without love there is no beauty, and without beauty there is no love.  Beauty is in form, beauty is in speech, beauty is in conduct.  You don't have to do something to bring it about; there is no discipline, no method by which you can learn to perceive.
.
Your minds are slaves to patterns, to systems, to methods and techniques.  I am talking of something entirely different.  Perception is instantaneous, timeless; there is no gradual approach to it.  It is on the instant that perception takes place; it is a state of effortless attention.  The mind is not making an effort, therefore it does not create a border, a frontier, it does not place a limitation on its own consciousness.  But to be aware of that timeless state, to feel the tremendous depth and ecstasy of it, one must begin by understanding the slavish mind.  
.
You know, when you love something without any motive, without any want, such love brings its own results, it finds its own way, it is its own beauty.  ...if you really perceive for yourself that your mind is accumulating, that is enough.  To perceive requires complete attention; and when you give your whole mind, your whole heart, your total being to something, there is no problem.  
.

~ J. Krishnamurti
excerpts from a talk in Bombay, 23 December 1959
.


.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

november




.

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

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non-action




.


.

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
mask.”

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
world.”



~  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










Thursday, February 17, 2011

steps




.

.

Like ev'ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one's achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one's own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief - with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
for each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.
.
We'll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
it lifts and widens us in ev'ry session:
for hardly set in one of life's expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits' paralyzing stances.
.
It even may be that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers...
Anon, my heart! Do part and do recover!
.

~ Hermann Hesse
translated by Walter A. Aue

.