Thursday, May 31, 2018


When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and
 say that a man should be empty of self and all things;
 and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simplicity
  beyond all words and beyond all understanding that God is;
 and thirdly, that he should consider the great longing
 which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it 
man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, 
of the purity of the divine nature.

~ Meister Eckhart

Saturday, May 26, 2018

the woodcarver

Kling, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded.  They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
"What is your secret?"
Kling replied: " I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs."

"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand."

"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand 
And begin."

"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been 
No bell stand at all."

"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

when it is one-sided



"I have found a thought, Govinda, which you'll again regard as a joke or foolishness, but which is my best thought. It says: The opposite of every truth is just as true! That's like this: any truth can only be expressed and put into words when it is one-sided. Everything is one-sided which can be thought with thoughts and said with words, it's all one-sided, all just one half, all lacks completeness, roundness, oneness. When the exalted Gotama spoke in his teachings of the world, he had to divide it into Sansara and Nirvana, into deception and truth, into suffering and salvation. It cannot be done differently, there is no other way for him who wants to teach. But the world itself, what exists around us and inside of us, is never one-sided. A person or an act is never entirely Sansara or entirely Nirvana, a person is never entirely holy or entirely sinful. It does really seem like this, because we are subject to deception, as if time was something real.

I have experienced on my body and on my soul that I needed sin very much, I needed lust, the desire for possessions, vanity, and needed the most shameful despair, in order to learn how to give up all resistance, in order to learn how to love the world, in order to stop comparing it to some world I wished, I imagined, some kind of perfection I had made up, but to leave it as it is and to love it and to enjoy being a part of it.

... love, oh Govinda, seems to me to be the most important thing of all. To thoroughly understand the world, to explain it, to despise it, may be the thing great thinkers do. But I'm only interested in being able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it and me, to be able to look upon it and me and all beings with love and admiration and great respect.

~ Herman Hesse
from  Siddhartha


Monday, May 21, 2018

nearer the roses

A nightingale flies nearer the roses.
A girl blushes. Pomegranates ripen.

Hallaj will be executed. A man walks
a mountain path, solitary and full of

prayer. Trust grows for nine months,
then a new being appears. Narcissus

at the edge, creekwater washing tree
roots: God is giving a general into-

ductory lecture. We hear and read it
everywhere, in the field, through the

branches. We'll never finish studying.
Neither of us has a penny, yet we're

walking the jewelers' bazaar seriously
considering making a purchase! Or

shall I say this with other metaphors?
A barn crowded with souls. Quietness

served around a table. Two people talk
along a road that's paved with words.

~ Rumi



Our self-centeredness,
our distinctive attachment to the feeling 
of an independent "I" works to inhibit
our compassion.

True compassion can only develop
and grow as such self-grasping is reduced
and eventually eliminated.

~ Dalai Lama 
from Tibetan Portrait - The Power of Compassion
photo by Phil Borges

the woman is Tamdin, 69 years old, she was imprisoned in 1987 but now has escaped, 
walking 35 days across the Himalayas to seek an audience with the Dalai Lama.


destroyer of illusion

Compassion is the destroyer of illusion, 
it isn’t helping ladies over the road or helping people get through life.  
Compassion doesn’t help the separate individual,
 it exposes the dream of separation and leaves freedom. 
 Unconditional love doesn’t recognize that there is
 a separate person who needs help… 
that is the freeing nature of the boundlessness
 that is palpable when we are together.

~ Tony Parsons


How can we ever know the difference we make to the soul of the earth? Where the infinite stillness of the earth meets the passion of the human eye, invisible depths strain towards the mirror of the name.

In the word, the earth breaks silence. It has waited a long time for the word. Concealed beneath familiarity and silence, the earth holds back and it never occurs to us to wonder how the earth sees us. Is it not possible that a place could have huge affection for those who dwell there?

Perhaps your place loves having you there. It misses you when you are away and in its secret way rejoices when you return. Could it be possible that a landscape might have a deep friendship with you? That it could sense your presence and feel the care you extend towards it? Perhaps your favorite place feels proud of you.

We tend to think of death as a return to clay, a victory for nature. But maybe it is the converse: that when you die, your native place will fill with sorrow. It will miss your voice, your breath and the bright waves of your thought, how you walked through the light and brought news of other places.

Perhaps each day our lives undertake unknown tasks on behalf of the silent mind and vast soul of nature. During its millions of years of presence perhaps it was also waiting for us, for our eyes and our words. Each of us is a secret envoi of the earth.

~  John O'Donohue
from Beauty: Rediscovering the True Source of Compassion, 
Serenity and Hope
art by van gogh

Sunday, May 20, 2018

separation is painful

When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful,
and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being,
you have gone beyond all need of help.
You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being.
You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not.
You can only give what you are - and of that you can give limitlessly.

- Nisargadatta Maharaj



When another person makes you suffer, 
it is because he suffers deeply within himself, 
and his suffering is spilling over. 

He does not need punishment; he needs help. 
That’s the message he is sending.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, May 13, 2018

generosity of self

We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to our inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence. A dramatic example of this kind of transfiguration is the one all parents know. You watch your children carefully, but one day they surprise you; you still recognize them, but your knowledge of them is insufficient. You have to start listening to them all over again.

It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalistic and violent. It brings you falsely outside your own self and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to your self. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home.

~ John O’Donohue 
from Anam Cara 
art by Odilon Redon

water becomes one with water

When a wise man has withdrawn his mind from all things without, 
and when his spirit has peacefully left all inner sensations, 
let him rest in peace, free from the movement of will and desire. ... 

For it has been said: There is something beyond our mind, 
which abides in silence within our mind. 
It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. 
Let one's mind and subtle spirit rest upon that and nothing else. 

... When the mind is silent, 
beyond weakness and distraction, 
then it can enter into a world, 
which is far beyond the mind: the supreme Destination. ... 
Then one knows the joy of Eternity. ... 
Words cannot describe the joy of the soul 
whose impurities are washed away in the depths of contemplation, 
who is one with the Atman, his own Self. 
Only those who experience this joy know what it is. ... 
As water becomes one with water, 
fire with fire, 
and air with air, 
so the mind becomes one with the infinite Mind 
and thus attains Freedom. 

~ Maitreya Upanishad

Saturday, May 5, 2018

there is some kiss

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Ocean water begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its

face against mine, Breathe into me, Close the language-door and 
open the love-window. The moon won't use the door, only the window.

~ Rumi 

Friday, May 4, 2018


I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

–Wislawa Szymborska
excerpt from Nothing Twice, 1997
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh