Friday, May 27, 2011

where does the dance begin, where does it end?


Don't call the world adorable, or useful, that's not it.
It's frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven't the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe, until at last, now, the shine
in your own yard?

Don't call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?


~ Mary Oliver
from Why I wake Early

each separate fragment


Love all that has been created by God,
 both the whole and every grain of sand. 
Love every leaf and every ray of light. 
Love the beasts and the birds, love the plants, 
love every separate fragment. 

If you love each separate fragment, 
you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God. 

~ Dostoyevsky

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

dog and bear

The air this morning,
blowing between fog and drizzle,

is like a white dog in the snow
who scents a white bear in the snow
who is not there.

Deeper than seeing,
deeper than hearing,
they stand and glare, one at the other.

So many listen lost, in every weather.

The mind has mountains,
Hopkins wrote, against his sadness.

The dog held the bear at bay, that day.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from After
photo by  Kathleen Connally

to be admired


They are to be admired those survivors
of solitude who have gone with no maps
into the room without feature,
where no wilderness awaits a footstep trace,
no path of dance to a cold summit
to look back on and feel exuberant,
no clarity of territories yet untouched
that tremble near the human breath,
no thickets of undergrowth with deep pores
to nest the litanies of wind addicted birds,
no friendship of other explorers
drawn into the dawn of the unknown.

No. They do not belong to the outside worship
of the earth, but risk themselves in the interior
space where the senses have nothing to celebrate,
where the air intensifies the intrusion of the human
and a poultice of silence pulls every sound
out of a circulation down into the ground,
where in the panic of being each breath unravels
an ever deeper strand in the web of weaving mind,
shawls of though fall off, empty and lost,
where the only red scream of blood continues unheard
within anonymous skin, and the end of all exploring
is the relentless arrival at an ever novel nowhere. 

~ John O'Donohue
from Echoes of Memory



Each one is a small life, but sometimes long, if its
place in the universe is not found out. Like us, they
have a heart and a stomach; they know hunger, and
probably a little satisfaction too. Do not mock them
for their gentleness, they have a muscle that loves
being alive. They pull away from the light. They pull
down. They hold themselves together. They refuse to

But sometimes they lose their place and are tumbled
shoreward in a storm. Then they pant, they fill
with sand, they have no choice but must open the
smallest crack. Then the fire of the world touches
them. Perhaps, on such days, they too begin the
terrible effort of thinking, of wondering who, and 
what, and why. If they can bury themselves again in 
the sand they will. If not, they are sure to perish,
though not quickly. They also have resources beyond 
the flesh; they also try very hard not to die.

~ Mary Oliver
from What Do We Know

with thanks to whiskeyriver

happy 70th bob, and thanks


born: May 24 1941
Duluth, Minnesota 
named Robert Allen Zimmerman
(Hebrew name Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham)

The truth was obscure, 
Too profound and too pure, 
To live it you had to explode

~ Bob Dylan

Monday, May 23, 2011

only one search

Lovers think they are looking for each other,
but there is only one search.

Wandering this world is wandering that,
both inside one transparent sky.
In here there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself,
not what he said or did about the future.
Forget the future. I would worship someone
who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say, "There is nothing ahead,"
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold
the cloth of your clothes with both hands.
The cure for pain is in the pain.

Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both,
you do not belong with us.

When someone gets lost, is not here,
he must be inside us. There is no place like that
anywhere in the world.

~ Rumi
 translated by Coleman Barks
art: self portrait by picasso



The nails, once inset, rise to the surface—
or, more truly perhaps, over years
the boards sink down to meet what holds them.
Worn, yes, but not worn through:
the visible work reveals itself in iron,
to be pounded down again, for what we've declared
the beautiful to be.

~ Jane Hirshfield

Saturday, May 21, 2011

what waits within me


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Monastic Life

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm here


I'm here. I'm always here. Even when I'm 'there', I'm here. 
I can't get away from here. Even when I try to escape here, I find 
myself here. Once I even managed to arrive 'there', but then I took a 
fresh look, and I was still here. Here follows me wherever I go. It's just 
always here, wherever I am. Hmm. Perhaps I am here. I mean, perhaps I 
*am* here! Perhaps here is what I actually am. That's why I'm always 

~ Jeff Foster


ultimate word of truth


A monk asked Joshu, "What is the one ultimate word of truth?"

"Yes," was Joshu's reply.

The monk failed to see any sense in the master's reply, and so he asked the question again.

This time, Joshu roared in response, "I am not deaf!"

~  D. T. Suzuki
thanks to whiskey river


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Gustav Mahler 
Born: 7 July 1860 in Kalischt, Bohemia,
Died: 18 May 1911 in Vienna,
was an Austrian composer and conductor of the late Romanticism to Modernism. 
He was not only one of the most important composers of the late Romantic period, 
but also one of the most famous conductors of his time as an opera director 
an important reformer of musical theater.



with thanks to semsakrebsler

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the dove in the belly - stop and listen



The whole of appearance is a toy. For this,
The dove in the belly builds his nest and coos,

Selah, tempestuous bird. How is it that
The rivers shine and hold their mirrors up,

Like excellence collecting excellence?
How is it that the wooden trees stand up

And live and heap their panniers of green
And hold them round the sultry day? Why should

These mountains being high be, also, bright,
Fetched up with snow that never falls to earth?

And this great esplanade of corn, miles wide,
Is something wished for made effectual

And something more. And the people in costumes,
Though poor, though raggeder than ruin, have that

Within them right for terraces—oh, brave salut!
Deep dove, placate you in your hiddenness.

~ Wallace Stevens
art by matisse, 1949

day and night

The sun rises and sets,
 it is day and night,
 it will go on thus for a long time.  

You get to think you are part of it and 
your circumstances are related to the cosmos, 
but one day your little system will break down 
and the day and night will rotate indifferently.  
Can this be?  

It seems more like the sunrise and sunset, 
the moon and stars, 
this new season, 
they are part of me. 

 I am sure they will never be the same without me,
for no one could see them just as I do.

~ Harlan Hubbard
journal entry March 9, 1963
woodcut by the author

your beautiful parched, holy mouth

A poet is someone
Who can pour Light into a spoon,
Then raise it
To nourish
Your beautiful parched, holy mouth.

~ Hafiz
from I Heard God Laughing, Renderings of Hafiz
translation by Daniel Ladinsky

I knew we would be Friends

As soon as you opened your mouth
And I heard your soft

I knew we would be 

The first time, dear pilgrim, I heard 
You laugh,

I knew it would not take me long
To turn you back into 

~ Hafiz
from The Subject Tonight is Love
translation by Daniel Ladinsky

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Siddhartha listened.  He was now listening intently, completely absorbed,
 quite empty, taking in everything. He felt that he had now completely
 learned the art of listening.  He had often heard all this before,
 all these numerous voices in the river, but today they  sounded different.

  He could no longer distinguish the different voices - the merry voice
 from the weeping voice, the childish voice from the manly voice.  
They all belonged to each other: the lament of those who yearn, the laughter
 of the wise, the cry of indignation and the groan of the dying. 

 They were all interwoven and interlocked, entwined in a thousand ways.  
And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearning, all the sorrows all the pleasures,
all the good and evil, all of them together was the world.  All of them together
 was the stream of events, the music of life.  When Siddhartha listened attentively
 to this river, to this song of a thousand voices; when he did not listen 
to the sorrow or laughter, when he did not bind his soul to any one
 particular voice and absorb it in his Self, but heard them all, the whole,
 the unity; then the great song of a thousand voices consisted 
of one word: Om - perfection.

"Do you hear?" asked Vasudeva's glance once again.
 Vasudeva's smile was radiant; it hovered brightly in all the wrinkles
 of his old face, as the Om hovered over all the voices of the river. 
 His smile was radiant as he looked at his friend, and now the same smile 
appeared on Siddhartha's face.  His wound was healing, his pain was dispersing; 
his Self had merged into unity.

From that hour Siddhartha ceased to fight against his destiny. 
There shone in his face the serenity of knowledge, of one who is no longer
 confronted with conflict of desires, who has found salvation, 
who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life,
 full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream,
 belonging to the unity of all things.

~ Hermann Hesse
from Siddhartha
translated by Hilda Rosner

the substance of silence

...there is a greater comfort in the substance of silence
 than in the answer to a question.   
Eternity is in the present.  
Eternity is in the palm of the hand.  
Eternity is a seed of fire whose sudden roots break barriers 
that keep my heart from being an abyss.

~ Thomas Merton
from Dialogues with Silence

the time of business


The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, 
and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, 
while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, 
I possess God in as great tranquility 
as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament. 

~  Brother Lawrence


Monday, May 16, 2011

the silence


One might say
I had decided to marry
the silence of the forest.
The sweet dark warmth of
the whole world
will have to be my wife.
Out of the heart of
that dark warmth
comes the secret that is heard
only in silence,
but is the root of all the secrets
that are whispered
by all the lovers in their beds
all over the world.
So perhaps I have an obligation to
preserve the stillness,
the silence, the poverty,
the original virginal point of
pure nothingness
which is at the center
of all other loves.

~  Thomas Merton
photo by eliot porter

they dropped it

A gardener appeared, waving his toothy rake.
Children with yellow bells in their hands
jumped the fence, snagging uniforms.
One boy trailed a purple vine.

They wouldn't be sorry,
pockets reeking jasmine,
mud staining shoes...
Who deserved flowers more?
Rich people who never came outside
or children stuck all day in school?

The sweaty gardener cursed them,
straightening branches.

Someone else lifted one large pink blossom
from the pavement beyond the fence,
found a scrap of tissue to wrap it in,
carried it home across the sea.

The dried petals lay on a table for months
whispering, Where are we?

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from 19 Varieties of Gazelle



Not dawdling
not doubting
intrepid all the way
walk toward clarity
with sharp eye

With sharpened sword
clearcut the path
to the lucent surprise
of enlightenment

At every crossroad
be prepared to bump into wonder

~  James Broughton 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

an apple

An apple on the table
hides its seeds
so neatly
under seamless skin.

But we talk and talk and talk
to let somebody

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

Friday, May 13, 2011



O my Lord, 
the stars glitter 
and the eyes of men are closed. 
Kings have locked their doors 
and each lover is alone with his love. 

Here, I am alone with you.

~  Rabi’a 
(Basra, 717-801) 
translated by Jane Hirshfield
from Women in Praise of the Sacred

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

a subtle magnetism

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, 
which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
  It is not indifferent to us and which way we walk.  
There is a right way; but we are very liable from heedlessness 
and stupidity to take the wrong one.  We would fain take that walk,
 never yet taken by us through this actual world, which is perfectly
 symbolical of the path which we love to travel in the interior
 and ideal world; and sometimes, no doubt, we find it difficult 
to choose our direction, because it does not yet
 exist distinctly in our ideas.

~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walking, 1863

printing of the diamond sutra



"Hidden for centuries in a sealed-up cave in north-west China, this copy of the 'Diamond Sutra' is the world's earliest complete survival of a dated printed book. It was made in AD 868. Seven strips of yellow-stained paper were printed from carved wooden blocks and pasted together to form a scroll over 5m long. Though written in Chinese, the text is one of the most important sacred works of the Buddhist faith, which was founded in India. Although not the earliest example of a printed book, it is the oldest we have bearing a date. By the time it was made, block-printing had been practiced in the Far East for more than a century. The quality of the illustration at the opening of this 'Diamond Sutra' shows the carver of the printing blocks to have been a man of considerable experience and skill.

This scroll was found in 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein in a walled-up cave at the 'Caves of the Thousand Buddhas', near Dunhuang, in North-West China. It was one of a small number of printed items among many thousands of manuscripts, comprising a library which must have been sealed up in about AD 1000. Although not the earliest example of block printing, it is the earliest which bears an actual date.

The colophon, at the inner end, reads: 'Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, AD 868]'. "

According to National Library of Peking in 1961, the Diamond Sutra is described as: "The Diamond Sutra, printed in the year the world's earliest printed book, made of seven strips of paper joined together with an illustration on the first sheet which is cut with great skill." The writer adds: "This famous scroll was stolen over fifty years ago by the Englishman Ssu-t'an-yin [Stein] which causes people to gnash their teeth in bitter hatred." It is currently on display in the British Museum. The scroll, some sixteen feet long, 17 an half feet long and 10 and half inches wide, bears the following inscription: " reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his parents on the fifteenth of the fourth moon of the ninth year of Xian Long (May 11, 868)"

you can find the text here:

thanks to diamond sutra