Friday, March 30, 2018

in my end is my beginning

In the Beginning of Beginnings was Void of Void, the
And in the Nameless was the One, without body, without
This One - this Being in whom all find power to exist -
Is the Living.
From the Living, comes the Formless, the Undivided.
From the act of this Formless, come the Existents, each
To its inner principle.  This is Form. Here body embraces and
cherishes spirit.
The two work together as one, blending and manifesting their
Characters.  And this is Nature.
But he who obeys Nature returns through Form and Formless
to the Living,
And in the Living
Joins the unbegun Beginning.
The joining is Sameness.  The sameness is Void.  The Void is
The bird opens its beak and sings its note
And then the beak comes together again in Silence.
So Nature and the Living meet together in Void.
Like the closing of the bird's beak
After its song.
Heaven and earth come together in the Unbegun,
And all is foolishness, all is unknown, all is like
The lights of an idiot, all is without mind!
To obey is to close the beak and fall into Unbeginning.

~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
art by picasso

into the unknown

There is a certain innocence about beginning, 
with its excitement and promise of something new.
 But this will emerge only through undertaking some voyage into the unknown. 
And no one can foretell what the unknown might yield. 
There are journeys we have begun that have brought us great inner riches and refinement; 
but we had to travel through dark valleys of difficulty and suffering.
 Had we known at the beginning what the journey would demand of us,
 we might never have set out. 
Yet the rewards and gifts became vital to who we are. 
Through the innocence of beginning we are often seduced into growth.

… When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning, 
unforeseen things can emerge. And in a sense, 
this is exactly what a beginning does. 
It is an opening for surprises.
 Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning,
 there are always exciting possibilities. … 
beginnings have their own mind, 
and they invite and unveil new gifts and arrivals in one’s life.
Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen; … 
What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?

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

Monday, March 26, 2018

give up all questions except one


Give up all questions except one: 
'Who am I?' 
After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. 
The 'I am' is certain. 
The 'I am this' is not. 
Struggle to find out what you are in reality. 

To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. 
Discover all that you are not--
time, space, 
this or that
concrete or abstract, 
which you perceive can be you. 

The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. 
The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only, 
the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

ode to the past

Today, in conversation,
the past
cropped up,
my past.
spoiled flour,
You crouch down,
into yourself,
you smile,
congratulate yourself,
when it's a matter
of someone else, some friend,
some enemy,
you are merciless,
you frown:
What a terrible life he had!
That woman, what a life
she led!
You hold
your nose,
you disapprove of pasts
other than your own.
Looking back, we view
our worst days
with nostalgia,
we open the coffer
and run up the ensign
of our feats
to be admired.
Let's forget the rest.
Just a bad memory.
Listen and learn.
is divided into two rivers:
flows backward, devouring
life already lived;
the other
moves forward with you
your life.
For a single second
they may be joined.
This is that moment,
the drop of an instant
that washes away the past.
It is the present.
It is in your hands.
Racing, slipping,
tumbling like a waterfall.
But it is yours.
Help it grow
with love, with firmness,
with stone and flight,
with resounding
with purest grains,
the most brilliant metal
from your heart,
in the full light of day
without fear
of truth, goodness, justice,
companions of song,
time that flows
will have the shape
and sound
of a guitar,
and when you want
to bow to the past,
the singing spring of
transparent time
will reveal your wholeness.
Time is joy.

~ Pablo Neruda
 from Selected Odes of Pablo Neruda
 with thanks to Love is a Place

Monday, March 19, 2018


Freedom is not following a river.
Freedom is following a river
...though, if you want to. 

It is deciding now by what happens now.
It is knowing that luck makes a difference.
No leader is free; no follower is free
 ...the rest of us can often be free.
Most of the world are living by
creeds too odd, chancy, and habit-forming be worth arguing about by reason. 

If you are oppressed, wake up about
four in the morning: most places,
you can usually be free some of the time
..if you wake up before other people.

~ William Stafford
 from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

one body

My right hand has written all the poems that I have composed. 
My left hand has not written a single poem. 
But my right hand does not think, “Left Hand, you are good for nothing.” 
My right hand does not have a superiority complex. 
That is why it is very happy. 
My left hand does not have any complex at all. 
In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom 
called the wisdom of nondiscrimination.
One day I was hammering a nail and my right hand was not very accurate 
and instead of pounding on the nail it pounded on my finger.
 It put the hammer down and took care of the left hand 
in a very tender way, as if it were taking care of itself. 
It did not say, “Left Hand, you have to remember that
 I have taken good care of you and you have to pay me back in the future.” 
There was no such thinking. And my left hand did not say, 
“Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm—
give me that hammer, I want justice.” 
My two hands know that they are members of one body; 
they are in each other.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
from his address to Congress entitled
Leading with Courage and Compassion,
Sept. 10th 2003
with thanks to Love is a Place

Saturday, March 3, 2018

the way it is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford 

the smile

Galen, the great physician, asked one of his assistants
to give him a certain medicine.

"Master, that medicine is for crazy people!
You're far from needing that!"

Galen: "Yesterday a madman turned and smiled at me,
did his eyebrows up and down, and touched my  sleeve.
He wouldn't have done that if he hadn't recognized 
in me someone congenial."

Anyone that feels drawn,
for however short a time, to anyone else,
those two share a common consciousness.

It's only in the grave that unlike beings associate.
A wise man once remarked, "I saw a crow and a stork
flying together, and I couldn't understand it,
until I investigated and found what they shared.
They were both lame."

~ Rumi
from Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter
version bu Coleman Barks
photo by Sean Thomas