Friday, December 29, 2017

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

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

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

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




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

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
.

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

 

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


Sunday, October 8, 2017

the wise silence








We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles.

Meantime within man is the soul of the whole;
the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE.

And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one.




~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

from The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
The Over-Soul

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

telling a story to her own ears





Every word of every tongue is
Love telling a story to her own ears.
Every thought in every mind,
She whispers a secret to her own Self.
Every vision in every eye,
She shows her beauty to her own sight.
Every smile on every face,
She reveals her own joy for herself to enjoy.

Love courses through everything,
No, Love is everything.
How can you say, there is no love,
when nothing but Love exists?
All that you see has appeared because of Love.
All shines from Love,
All pulses with Love,
All flows from Love--
No, once again, all IS Love!





~ Fakhruddin Iraqi


the sail just needs to open


.



.

On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a
day.

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises;
the promise of life
that it always
keeps

each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great
tenderness.

This is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

Peace is wonderful,
but ecstatic dance is more fun, and less narcissistic;
gregarious He makes our lips.

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.



~ Rumi 

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

.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

when the shoe fits






Ch'ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.

His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.

No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.

So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
"For" and "against" are forgotten.

No drives no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.

Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.




~ Chuang Tzu 
(In the Dark Before Dawn)

on summer evenings we sat in the yard




On summer evenings we sat in the yard,
the house dark, the stars bright overhead.
The laps and arms of the old
held the young.  As we talked we knew
by the dark distances of Heaven's lights
our smallness, and the greatness of our love.



~ Wendell Berry


Friday, September 15, 2017

when I fall into the abyss




 

Because I’m a Karamazov. Because when I fall into the abyss, 
I go straight into it, head down and heels up, 
and I’m even pleased that I’m falling in just such a humiliating position, 
and for me I find it beautiful.



Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky
photo:  Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier
 
 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

the inner landscape of beauty





~ John O'Donohue

Friday, August 25, 2017

members of each other










The way we are, we are members of each other. 
All of us. Everything. 
The difference ain't in who is a member and who is not, 
but in who knows it and who don’t.

...

It was a community always disappointed in itself, 
disappointing its members, 
always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, 
always failing and yet always preserving a sort of will toward goodwill…
And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, 
beyond time, by one another’s love, compassion, and forgiveness, 
as it is said we may be perfected by grace.

And so there we all were on a little wave of time lifting up to eternity, 
and none of us ever in time would know what to make of it. 
How could we? 
It is a mystery, for we are eternal beings living in time.




~ Wendell Berry
excerpts from Jaber Crow



Sunday, August 6, 2017

who?









The Student

Who makes my mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak? Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
And hears through my ears?

 The Teacher

The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of words, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be 
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the eye see but cannot be
Seen by the eye,that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the ear hear but cannot be 
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes you draw breath but cannot be 
Drawn by your breath. that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.



~ The Kena Upanishad
translation by Eknath Easwaran

Sunday, July 30, 2017

excerpt from: September 1st, 1939









All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, 
The romantic lie in the brain 
Of the sensual man-in-the-street 
And the lie of Authority 
Whose buildings grope the sky: 
There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone; 
Hunger allows no choice 
To the citizen or the police; 
We must love one another or die.


~ W. H. Auden
 from Another Time
 art by picasso

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

the unknown flute









I know the sound of the ecstatic flute,
but I don't know whose flute it is.

A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.

A lily pad blossoms and is not attached to the bottom! 

When one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.

The moon bird's head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon,
and when the next rain will come is all that the rain bird thinks of.

How is it we spend our entire life loving? 



~ Kabir 

Sssh






Sssh the sea says
Sssh the small waves at the shore say, sssh
Not so violent, not
So haughty, not
So remarkable
Sssh
Say the tips of the waves
Crowding around the headland's
Surf. Sssh
They say to people
This is our earth,
Our eternity.



~ Rolf Jacobsen
from The Soul is here for its own Joy
edited by Robert Bly 
photo by Eliot Porter 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I have received and am still receiving



  illustration by Vladimir Radunsky
 for On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne




How strange is the lot of us mortals!
 Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, 
though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection
 one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — 
first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being
 our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, 
unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. 
 
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life
 are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, 
and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure
 as I have received and am still receiving.
 
 I am strongly drawn to a frugal life and am often oppressively aware
 that I am engrossing an undue amount of the labor of my fellow-men.
 I regard class distinctions as unjustified and, in the last resort,
 based on force. I also believe that a simple and unassuming life
 is good for everybody, physically and mentally.



 ~ Albert Einstein