Friday, December 29, 2017

nothing except what he is





people like us


There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can't remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can't remember where

He was when they went to sleep. It's
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time

To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he's lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,

You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken 
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you're safe.


~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems



***

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.





~ Hermann Hesse
from Trees, Reflections and Poems


Seneca on anxiety





There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come.

Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.

It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things. What shall you gain by doing this? Time. There will be many happenings meanwhile which will serve to postpone, or end, or pass on to another person, the trials which are near or even in your very presence. A fire has opened the way to flight. Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe. Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim’s throat. Men have survived their own executioners. Even bad fortune is fickle. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things.

The mind at times fashions for itself false shapes of evil when there are no signs that point to any evil; it twists into the worst construction some word of doubtful meaning; or it fancies some personal grudge to be more serious than it really is, considering not how angry the enemy is, but to what lengths he may go if he is angry. But life is not worth living, and there is no limit to our sorrows, if we indulge our fears to the greatest possible extent; in this matter, let prudence help you, and contemn with a resolute spirit even when it is in plain sight. If you cannot do this, counter one weakness with another, and temper your fear with hope. There is nothing so certain among these objects of fear that it is not more certain still that things we dread sink into nothing and that things we hope for mock us. Accordingly, weigh carefully your hopes as well as your fears, and whenever all the elements are in doubt, decide in your own favour; believe what you prefer. And if fear wins a majority of the votes, incline in the other direction anyhow, and cease to harass your soul, reflecting continually that most mortals, even when no troubles are actually at hand or are certainly to be expected in the future, become excited and disquieted.
 
 
 
 ~ Seneca
with thanks to brainpickings
 Art by Catherine Lepange from Thin Slices of Anxiety: Observations and Advice to Ease a Worried Mind
 
 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Robert Bly and Friends reviving oral tradition








~ Robert Bly

Saturday, December 2, 2017

how






How shall I hold on to my soul, so that
it does not touch yours? How shall I gently
lift it up over you on to other things?
I would so very much like to tuck it away
among long lost objects in the dark,
in some quiet, unknown place, somewhere
which remains motionless when your depths resound.

And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
takes us together like a single bow,
drawing out from two strings but one voice.
On which instrument are we strung?
And which violinist holds us in his hand?
O sweetest of songs.



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from New Poems - 1907 
Rilke met Lou Andreas-Salomé in 1897. He was 22, she was 36. Their love story lasted until 1901 and turned into a friendship that only ended with Rilke’s death in 1926. 

Your being has been the door that allowed me to reach fresh air for the first time.


Friday, December 1, 2017

self-appointed little editor of reality





The language we’ve inherited confuses (this). We say “my” body and “your” body and “his” body and “her” body, but it isn’t that way. … This Cartesian “Me,” this autonomous little homunculus who sits behind our eyeballs looking out through them in order to pass judgment on the affairs of the world, is just completely ridiculous. This self-appointed little editor of reality is just an impossible fiction that collapses the moment one examines it.



~ Robert M. Pirsig
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
with thanks

The thief who became a disciple






One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered,
 demanding either his money or his life.

Shichiri told him:  "Do not disturb me.  You can find the money in that drawer." 
 Then he resumed his recitation.
A little while afterwards he stopped and called:  "Don't take it all. 
 I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow."

The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. 
 "Thank a person when you receive a gift,"  Shichiri added. 
 The man thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed,
 among others, the offence against Shichiri.  
When Shichiri was called as a witness he said:  
 "This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned.  
I gave him the money and he thanked me for it."

After he had finished his prison term,
 the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.




~ from Zen Flesh Zen Bones
 compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

a home in the dark grass








In the deep fall, the body awakes,
And we find lions on the seashore—
Nothing to fear.
The wind rises, the water is born,
Spreading white tomb-clothes on a rocky shore,
Drawing us up
From the bed of the land.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees,
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up on great roots;
Like mad poets captured by the Moors,
Men who live out
A second life.

That we should learn of poverty and rags,
That we should taste the weed of Dillinger,
And swim in the sea,
Not always walking on dry land,
And, dancing, find in the trees a saviour,
A home in the dark grass,
And nourishment in death.




~ Robert Bly
from Stealing Sugar from the Castle
art by O'keeffe

Monday, November 27, 2017

Matins





1
Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten on the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

2
I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth.

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear of word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.



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

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Merton on Sufism








Sufism looks at man as a heart and a spirit and a secret, and the secret is the deepest part. The secret of man is God's secret; therefore it is in God. My secret is God's innermost knowledge of me, which He alone possesses. It is God's secret knowledge of myself in Him, which is a beautiful concept. The heart is the faculty by which man knows God and there Sufism develops the heart.

This is a very important concept in the contemplative life, both in Sufism and in Christian tradition. To develop a heart that knows God, not just a heart that loves God, but a heart that knows God. How does one know God in the heart? By praying in the heart. The Sufis have ways of learning to pray so that you are really praying in the heart, from the heart, not just saying words, not just thinking good thoughts or making intentions or acts of the will, but from the heart. This is a very ancient Biblical concept that is carried over from Jewish thought into monasticism. It is the spirit which loves God, in Sufism. The spirit is almost the same word as the Biblical word "spirit" -- the breath of life. So man knows God with his heart, but loves God with his life. It is your living self that is an act of constant love for God and this inmost secret of man is that by which he contemplates God, it is the secret of man in God himself.




-- Thomas Merton, 
speaking to a group of Catholic sisters in Alaska, 
2 1/2 months before his death in 1968
with thanks to louie,louie

 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

good or bad?







~ Alan Watts

Saturday, November 18, 2017

reverence of approach





A reverence of approach awakens depth and enables us
 to be truly present where we are.  When we approach with reverence
 great things decide to approach us.  Our real life comes 
to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things.  

When we walk on the earth with reverence, 
beauty will decide to trust us.  The rushed heart and
 the arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience 
to enter that embrace. 

 Beauty is mysterious, a slow presence who waits for the ready,
 expectant heart.  When the heart becomes attuned to her 
restrained glimmerings, it learns to recognize her intimations
 more frequently in places it would never have lingered before.


~ John O'Donohue
from Beauty, The Invisible Embrace
art by Van Gogh
 

Friday, November 17, 2017

There is nothing but this

.




First days of spring - blue sky, bright sun. Everything is gradually becoming fresh and green. Carrying my bowl, I walk slowly to the village. The children, surprised to see me, Joyfully crowd about, bringing My begging trip to an end at the temple gate. I place my bowl on top of a white rock and Hang my sack from the branch of a tree. Here we play with the wild grasses and throw a ball. For a time, I play catch while the children sing; Then it is my turn. Playing like this, here and there, I have forgotten the time. Passers-by point and laugh at me, asking, "What is the reason for such foolishness?" No answer I give, only a deep bow; Even if I replied, they would not understand. Look around! There is nothing but this.


~ Ryokan

Sunday, November 12, 2017

this rain










What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone,
in the forest, at night, cherished by this
wonderful, unintelligible,
perfectly innocent speech,
the most comforting speech in the world,
the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks I am going to listen.




~ Thomas Merton




seeing and letting go




But there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.
When I see this way I sway transfixed and emptied... But I can't
go out and try to see this way. I'll fail, I'll go mad. All I can do
is try to gag the commentator, to hush the noise of useless
interior babble…The effort is really a discipline requiring a
lifetime of dedicated struggle; it marks the literature of saints
and monks of every order East and West…

The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally
 that the mind's muddy river, this ceaseless flow 
of trivia and trash, cannot be dammed, 
and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort 
that might lead to madness. 
Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded
 in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights;
 you look along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence
 without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real
 where subjects and objects act and rest purely, without utterance.


~ Annie Dillard 
from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
art by Van Gogh
with thanks



Saturday, November 11, 2017

by dying they have their living



The lovers know the loveliness
That is not of their bodies only
(Though they be lovely) but is of
Their bodies given up to love.

They find the open-heartedness
Of two desires which both are lonely
Until by dying they have their living,
And gain all they have lost in giving,

Each offering the desired desire.
Beyond what time requires, they are
What they surpass themselves to make;
They give the pleasure that they take.



~ Wendell Berry
from Sabbaths, 1997 V
Painting by Chagall

Thursday, November 2, 2017

all-one







Don’t forget the nut, being so proud of the shell,
The body has its inward ways,

the five senses. They crack open,
and the Friend is revealed.

Crack open the Friend, you become
the All-One.



  ~ Rumi

 version by Coleman Barks
from Unseen Rain

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

seek the mystery






The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. 

If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, 
you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer. 

They think they have, so they stop thinking. 
But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery,
 plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. 

The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. 




~ Ken Kesey

from The Art of Fiction - interview by Robert Faggen, 
The Paris Review No. 130 (Spring 1994)


while the music lasts








Men's curiosity searches past and future 
And clings to that dimension. 
But to apprehend 
The point of intersection of the timeless 
With time, is an occupation for the saint - No occupation either, 
but something given And taken,
 in a lifetime's death in love, 
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender. 
For most of us, there is only the unattended
 Moment, the moment in and out of time, 
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight, 
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning 
 Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply 
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music 
While the music lasts.



~ T.S. Eliot
excerpt from The Dry Salvages
 with thanks

song in the year of catastrophe







I began to be followed by a voice saying:
"It can't last.  It can't last.
Harden yourself.  Harden yourself.
Be ready.  Be ready."

"Go look under the leaves,"
it said, "for what is living there
is dead in your tongue."
And it said, "Put your hands
into the earth.  Live close
to the ground. Learn the darkness.
Gather round you all
the things that you love, name
their names, prepare
to lose them,  It will be
as if all you know were turned
around within your body."

And I went and put my hands 
into the ground, and they took root
and grew into a season's harvest.
I looked behind the veil
of the leaves, and heard voices
that I knew had been dead
in my tongue years before my birth.
I learned the dark.

And still the voice stayed with me. 
Waking in the early mornings,
I could hear it, like a bird
bemused among the leaves,
a mockingbird idly singing
in the autumn of catastrophe:
"Be ready.   Be ready.
Harden yourself.  Harden yourself."

And I heard the sound 
of a great engine pounding
in the air, and a voice asking:
"Change or slavery?
Hardship or slavery?"
and the voices answering:
"Slavery!  Slavery!"
And I was afraid, loving 
what I know would be lost.

Then the voice following me said:
"you have not yet come close enough.
Come nearer the ground.  Learn
from the woodcock in the woods
whose feathering is a ritual
of the fallen leaves,
and from the nesting quail
whose speckling makes her hard to see
in the long grass.
Study the coat of the mole.
For the farmer shall wear
the greenery and the furrows
of his fields, and bear
the long standing of the woods."

And I asked: "you mean a death, then?"
"yes," the voice said.  "Die
into what the earth requires of you."
Then let go all holds, and sank
like a hopeless swimmer into the earth,
and at last came fully into the ease
and the joy of that place,
all my lost ones returning.





~ Wendell Berry
from Farming Poems
art by Roderick Maclver



Monday, October 30, 2017

proverb







You must become brother and sister
to each and every thing
so that they flow through you
dissolving every difference
between what belongs to you and others.

No star, no leaf shall fall -
you fall with them -
to rise again
in every new beginning.



~ Hermann Hesse 
 translated by Ludwig Max Fisher, PhD
photo by Eliot Porter


 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The madness of love







The madness of love 
Is a blessed fate;
And if we understood this
We would seek no other:
It brings into unity to
What was divided,
And this is the truth:
Bitterness it makes sweet,
It makes the stranger a neighbor,
And what was lowly it raises on high.

  

~ Hadewijch of Antwerp
photo by Ansel Adams
.

happiness






As long as you chase happiness,
you are not ready to be happy, 
even if you owned everything.

As long as you lament a loss,
run after prizes in restless races,
you have not yet known peace.

But when you have moved beyond desire,
become a stranger to your goals and longings
and call no longer on happiness by name,

then you heart rises calmly
above the ebb and flow of action
and peace has reached your soul.


~ Hermann Hesse
translation by Ludwig Max Fischer 
 

Friday, October 27, 2017

metaphors and symbols







Someone who found the inner path
who, dedicated to deep meditation,
got a glimpse of this essential truth,
that we choose God and World
only as metaphors and symbols.
 Every thought and action then
becomes an inner conversation,
a meeting between God and World.


~ Hermann Hesse
from The Seasons of the Soul

 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

dew light








Now in the blessed days of more and less
when the news about time is that each day

there is less of it I know none of that
as I walk out through the early garden

only the day and I are here with no
before or after and the dew looks up.
without a number or a present age


~ W. S. Merwin





Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water






Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. 
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
 Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected
 even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon
 and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, 
or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you,
 just as the moon does not break the water. 

You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water
 does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop 
is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long
 or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, 
and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.


~ Dogen Zenji (1200 - 1253)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

enter singing








1.
The cloud is free only
to go with the wind.

The rain is free
only in falling.

The water is free only
in its gathering together,

in its downward courses,
in its rising into the air.

2.
In law is rest
if you love the law,
if you enter, singing, into it
as water in its descent.

3.
Or song is truest law,
and you must enter singing;
it has no other entrance.

It is the great chorus
of parts. The only outlawry
is in division.

4.
Whatever is singing
is found, awaiting the return
of whatever is lost.

5.
Meet us in the air
over the water,
sing the swallows.

Meet me, meet me,
the redbird sings,
here here here here.





~ Wendell Berry
photo by Beth Acherman



between heaven and earth





Sacred or secular
manners and conventions
make no difference to him

Completely free
leaving it all to heaven
he seems a simplton

No one catches
a glimpse inside
his mind

this old man
all by himself
between heaven and earth



~ Muso Soseki
translated by W. S. Merwin

congruence with the chosen








The chooser's happiness lies in his congruence with the chosen,
The peace of iron filings, obedient to the forces of the magnetic field.


Calm is the soul that is emptied of all self,
In the eternal moment of co-inherence.
A happiness within you - but not yours.


–Dag Hammarskjöld
from Markings

 liap

Thursday, October 19, 2017

foundations








I built on the sand
And it tumbled down,
I built on a rock
And it tumbled down.
Now when I build, I shall begin
With the smoke from the chimney.



~ Leopold Staff
translated by Czeslaw Milosz

Friday, October 13, 2017

You Are Tired (I Think) by e.e.cummings







You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And I knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the hyacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.



~ e.e.cummings