Saturday, March 31, 2012

It is a lie

It is a lie - any talk of God
that does not

~ Meister Eckhart

affection for the I-creature

There's a moon in my body, but I can't see it! 
A moon and a sun. 
A drum never touched by hands, beating, 
and I can't hear it.

As long as a human being worries about when he will die, 
and what he has that is his, 
all of his works are zero. 

When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead, 
then the work of the Teacher is over. 

The purpose of labor is to learn; 
when you know it, the labor is over. 

The apple blossom exists to create fruit; 
when that comes, the petal falls. 

The musk is inside the deer, 
but the deer does not look for it: 

It wanders around looking for grass. 

~ Kabir
photo by kathleen connally

the decision

There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
The letter might still be taken
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room's air.
The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it -
looks around,
sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief
photo: US landing craft closes on Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944

the unknowable reality of things

~ Rupert Spira

Thursday, March 29, 2012


The water which sees the air through 
broken veins of the high mountain summits is suddenly 
abandoned by the power which brought it there, 
and escaping from these forces 
resumes its natural course in liberty. 

Likewise the water that rises 
from the low roots of the vine to its lofty head 
falls through the cut branches upon the roots and 
mounts anew to the place whence it fell. 

~ Leonardo Da Vinci


Being unwise enough to have married her
I never knew when she was not acting.
‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences
Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure
They were still there. She was lovely. I
Was only the looking-glass she made up in.
I husbanded the rippling meadow
Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.

Alone now on the brittle platform
Of herself she is playing her last role.
It is perfect. Never in all her career
Was she so good. And yet the curtain
Has fallen. My charmer, come out from behind
It to take the applause. Look, I am clapping too.

~ R. S. Thomas 
from The Poems of R. S. Thomas

Born Ronald Stuart Thomas in Cardiff, Wales, 1913. He was a Luddite, viewing modern conveniences as distractions that cause us to neglect our spiritual health. He and his wife Elsi lived in a small and almost primitive stone cottage for much of their marriage, and their son, Gwydion, remembered his father preaching against the evils of the refrigerator and the washing machine from his pulpit. His poems were as austere as his lifestyle, and he once wrote: "A recurring ideal, I find, is that of simplicity. At times there comes the desire to write with great precision and clarity, words so simple and moving that they bring tears to the eyes."  Mr. Thomas died in 2000.

~ comments from  writers almanac

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

allow yourself to become it


The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.

The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.

The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.

Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.

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

live from your own center

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous, 
Only our eyes are not open to it. . . . 
Awe is what moves us forward. . . .

Live from your own center. . . . 
The divine lives within you. 
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary. 
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen, 
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper “in group.” 
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. 
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, 
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it. 
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere. 
The world is a match for us. 
We are a match for the world. 
The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . . 

Sanctify the place you are in. Follow your bliss. . . .

~ Joseph Campbell

sower of science, center of religion

The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical.
It is the sower of all true science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead.

To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - 
this knowledge, this feeling,
is at the center of true religion.

~ Albert Einstein

each curve

There are so many positions of love:
each curve on a

the thousand ways your eyes can hold us,
the infinite shapes each mind
can draw,

the spring orchestra of scents and sounds wafting through the air,
the currents of light combusting like

the revolution of the universe’s skirt, whose folds
contain other worlds,

our every sigh that falls against
His inconceivably close,

from Love Poems From God
Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West 
by Daniel Ladinsky

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

only in the double kingdom

Only the man who has raised his strings
among the dark ghosts also
can sense it and give 
the everlasting praise.

Only he who has eaten poppy
with the dead, from their poppy,
will never lose even
his most delicate sound.

Even though images in the pool
seem so blurry:
grasp the main thing.

Only in the double kingdom, there
alone, do voices become
undying and tender.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Robert Bly
from Sonnets to Orpheus
art by alex orlov

near field

This is not something new or kept secret
the tilled ground unsown in late spring
the dead are not separate from the living
each has one foot in the unknown
and cannot speak for the other
the field tells none of its turned story
it lies under its low cloud like a waiting river
the dead make this out of their hunger
out of what they had been told
out of the pains and shadows
and bowels of animals
out of turning and 
coming back singing
about another time

~ W. S. Merwin
from The Shadow of Sirius

april and silence

Spring lies abandoned.
A ditch the color of dark violet
moves alongside me
giving no images back.

The only thing that shines
are some yellow flowers.

I am carried inside
my own shadow like a violin
in its black case.

The only thing I want to say
hovers just out of reach
like the family silver
at the pawnbroker's.

~ Tomas Transtromer
translation by Robert Bly
from The Half Finished Heaven
photo by David Gray, Reuters

Monday, March 26, 2012

being human: a reflection

~ Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a river tugs

A river tugs at whatever is within reach, trying to set it afloat and carry it downstream.  Living trees are undermined and washed away.  No piece of driftwood is safe, though stranded high up the bank; the river will rise to it, and away it will go.

The river extends this power of drawing all things with it even to the imagination of those who live on its banks.  Who can long watch the ceaseless lapsing of a river's current without conceiving a desire to set himself adrift, and, like the driftwood which glides past, float with the stream clear to the final ocean?

~ Harlan Hubbard
from Shantyboat - A River Way of Life

Saturday, March 24, 2012

the one close to me now

The one close to me now,
even my own body -
these too
will soon become clouds,
floating in different directions.

~ Izumi Shikibu
from The Ink Dark Moon
translation by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu were both Japanese poets of the Heian Period. 
 The arts of the Heian Period are marked with a definite feminine sensibility. 
Because the Chinese characters (which were used in writing Japanese) 
were seen as inappropriate to women, 
they developed a simplified and elegant style of writing/calligraphy 
that became known as Hiragana or "onna de"... "feminine hand". 

~ comments from the literature network

corruption of wholeness

Can this be taught to the students: 
to remain with the fact, the actual happening now, whether psychologically or externally?
 Knowledge is not the fact; it is about the fact and that has its proper place, 
but knowledge prevents perception of what actually is; 
then corruption takes place.

This is really very important to understand. Ideals are considered noble, exalted, of great purposeful significance, and what is actually happening is considered merely sensory, worldly and of lesser value. Schools the world over have some exalted purpose, ideal; so they are educating the students in corruption.

What corrupts the mind? We are using the word mind to imply the senses, the capacity to think, and the brain that stores all memories and experiences as knowledge. This total movement is the mind. The conscious as well as the unconscious, the so-called super-consciousness - the whole of this is the mind. We are asking what are the factors, the seeds of corruption in all this? We said ideals corrupt. Knowledge also corrupts the mind. Knowledge, particular or extensive, is the movement of the past, and when the past overshadows the actual, corruption takes place. Knowledge, projected into the future and directing what is happening now, is corruption. We are using the word corruption to mean that which is being broken up, that which is not taken as a whole. The fact can never be broken up; the fact can never be limited by knowledge. The completeness of the fact opens the door to infinity. Completeness cannot be divided; it is not self-contradictory; it cannot divide itself. Completeness, wholeness, is infinite movement.

Imitation, conformity, is one of the great factors of corruption of the mind; the example, the hero, the savior, the guru, is the most destructive factor of corruption. To follow, to obey, to conform, deny freedom. Freedom is from the beginning, not at the end. It is not to conform, to imitate, accept first and eventually find freedom. That is the spirit of totalitarianism, whether of the guru or the priest. This is the cruelty, the ruthlessness, of the dictator, of the authority, of the guru or of the high priest.

So authority is corruption. Authority is the breaking up of integrity, the whole, the complete - the authority of a teacher in a school, the authority of a purpose, of an ideal, of the one who says I know, the authority of an institution. The pressure of authority in any form is the distorting factor of corruption. Authority basically denies freedom. It is the function of a true teacher to instruct, point out, inform, without the corrupting influence of authority. The authority of comparison destroys. When one student is compared to another, both are being hurt. To live without comparison is to have integrity.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from Letters to Schools Volume One 1st September, 1978

Friday, March 23, 2012


"How does the true man of Tao
Walk through walls without obstruction,
Stand in fire without being burnt?"

Not because of cunning
Or daring;
Not because he has learned,
But because he has unlearned.

All that is limited by form, semblance, sound, color,
Is called object.
Among them all, man alone
Is more than an object.
Though, like objects, he has form and semblance,
He is not limited to form.  He is more.
He can attain to formlessness.

When he is beyond form and semblance,
Beyond "this" and "that,"
Where is the comparison
With another object?
Where is the conflict?
What can stand in his way?

He will rest in his eternal place
Which is no-place.
He will be hidden
In his own unfathomable secret.
His nature sinks to its root
In the One.
His vitality, his power
Hide in secret Tao.

When he is all one,
There is no flaw in him
By which a wedge can enter.
So a drunken man, falling
Out of a wagon,
Is bruised but not destroyed.
His bones are like the bones of other men,
But his fall is different.
His spirit is entire.  He is not aware
Of getting into a wagon
Or falling out of one.

Life and death are nothing to him.
He knows no alarm, he meets obstacles
Without thought, without care,
Takes them without knowing they are there.

If there is such security in wine,
How much more in Tao.
The wise man is hidden in Tao.
Nothing can touch him.

~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton

what can I do

~ Rumi
performed by Salim Ghouse

Thursday, March 22, 2012

to slaughter memory

The Verdict

The word landed with a stony thud 
Onto my still-beating breast. 
Nevermind, I was prepared, 
I will manage with the rest.

I have a lot of work to do today; 
I need to slaughter memory, 
Turn my living soul to stone 
Then teach myself to live again…

But how. The hot summer rustles 
Like a carnival outside my window; 
I have long had this premonition 
Of a bright day and a deserted house.

~ Anna Akhmatova
excerpt from Requiem, 
taken from The Complete Poems
with thanks to journal of a nobody


living with meaning, purpose and wisdom in the digital age

~ Eckhart Tolle with Bradley Horowitz

Monday, March 19, 2012


Even the oldest of trees continues its wonderful labor.
Hummingbird lives in one of them.
He's there for the white blossoms, and the secrecy.
The blossoms could be snow, with a dash of pink.
At first the fruit is small and green and hard.
Everything has dreams, hope, ambition.

If I could I would always live in such shining obedience
where nothing but the wind trims the boughs.
I am sorry for every mistake I have made in my life.
I'm sorry I wasn't wiser sooner.
I'm sorry I ever spoke of myself as lonely.

Oh, love, lay your hands upon me again.
Some of the fruit ripens and is picked and is delicious.
Some of it falls and the ants are delighted.
Some of it hides under the snow and the famished deer are saved.

~ Mary Oliver
with thanks to rebel girl at the mark on the wall

Sunday, March 18, 2012

coleman barks - one through love

~ Rumi
with Coleman Barks

another spring

The seasons revolve and the years change
With no assistance or supervision.
The moon, without taking thought,
Moves in its cycle, full, crescent, and full.

The white moon enters the heart of the river;
The air is drugged with azalea blossoms;
Deep in the night a pine cone falls;
Our campfire dies out in the empty mountains.

The sharp stars flicker in the tremulous branches;
The lake is black, bottomless in the crystalline night;
High in the sky the Northern Crown
Is cut in half by the dim summit of a snow peak.

O heart, heart, so singularly
Intransigent and corruptible,
Here we lie entranced by the starlit water,
And moments that should each last forever

Slide unconsciously by us like water.

~ Kenneth Rexroth
from Selected Poems

the still point of the turning world

~ Thomas Merton

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by the elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward is own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.

~ James Wright
 from Collected Poems
photo by Gerhard Richter

must you fear what others fear?

Renounce knowledge and your problems will end.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?
Must you fear what others fear?
Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!

Other people are joyous,
as though they were at a spring festival.
I alone am unconcerned and expressionless,
like an infant before it has learned to smile.

Other people have more than they need;
I alone seem to possess nothing.
I am lost and drift about with no place to go.
I am like a fool, my mind is in chaos.

Ordinary people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Ordinary people are clever;
I alone am dull.
Ordinary people seem discriminating;
I alone am muddled and confused.
I drift on the waves on the ocean,
blown at the mercy of the wind.
Other people have their goals,
I alone am dull and uncouth.

I am different from ordinary people.
I nurse from the Great Mother's breasts.

~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching
photo: Harlan and Anna Hubbard

there is

There is a beginning. 
There is no beginning of that beginning. 
There is no beginning of that no beginning of beginning. 

There is something. 
There is nothing. 
There is something before the beginning of something and nothing, 
and something before that. 

Suddenly there is something and nothing. 
But between something and nothing, 
I still don't really know which is something and which is nothing. 

Now, I've just said something, 
but I don't really know whether I've said anything or not.

~ Chuang Tzu
with thanks to whiskey river

Thursday, March 8, 2012

arabic coffee

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

after drinking all night with a friend

~ Robert Bly

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

garden song

~ David Mallett
performed by Pete Seeger

the walls of Layla

I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the houses that has taken my heart
But of the One who dwells in those houses

~ Nizami Ganjavi
from The Legend of
Layli and Madjnun
sculpture by Michael Alfano



The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

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


It is hard to unlatch a day
from noun and story.

Breath pours
like water
out of a small bowl into a large.

One says,

Another says,
Listen, runner—
underwater things are fragrant to fish.

~ Jane Hirshfield