Saturday, November 24, 2018

present, above time

These roses under my window make no
reference to former roses or to better ones;
they are for what they are;
they exist with God to-day.

There is no time to them.
There is simply the rose; it is perfect in
every moment of its existence.

Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts;
in the full-blown flower, there is no more;
in the leafless root, there is no less.

Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature,
in all moments alike.
There is no time to it.

But man postpones or remembers;
he does not live in the present, but with
reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of
the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe
to foresee the future.

He cannot be happy and strong until he too
lives with nature in the present, above time.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 from Self-Reliance, an 1841 essay

Thursday, November 22, 2018


You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their wealth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and and instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life -- while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

unawakened gifts

Related image

Those who are willing to stand out and take the risk of following their gifts place a mirror to our unawakened gifts. To know they are there, day in day out, at the frontiers of their own limitations and vision, probing further into new possibility, enduring at lonely thresholds in the hope of discovery, to know they are willing to risk everything is both disturbing and comforting.

In a small town near us there was a lovely writer and musician who lived a rather bohemian life; he was given sometimes to the drink but he had a beautiful, awakened mind.  He was a kind of 'undercover mystic' and many people, especially young people, came to talk to him when they felt their minds troubling them... I once asked him how he had managed to live alone on that edge.  He said: 'I was a very young man when I first felt the burn of that old mystical flame within me. I realized immediately what an adventure and danger it would be and that there was no going back. On that day I made a bargain with myself, the bargain was; no matter what came I would always remain best friends with myself.  I am old now but I never broke that bargain.'

~ John O'Donohue
from The Invisible Embrace, Beauty

Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness?

~ George Herbert

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

doubts and loves

From the place where we are right 
Flowers will never grow 
In the spring. 

The place where we are right 
Is hard and trampled 
Like a yard. 

But doubts and loves 
Dig up the world 
Like a mole, a plow. 

And a whisper will be heard in the place 
Where the ruined 
House once stood. 

~ Yehudi Amichai

(from: The Selected Poetry of Yehudi Amichai
translation by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell)
photo by Eliot Porter.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

wherever we taste


A wife loves her husband not for his own sake, 
dear, but because the Self lives in him.

The husband loves his wife not for her own sake, 
dear, but because the Self lives in her.

Children are loved not for their own sake, 
but because the Self lives in them.

Everything is loved not for its own sake, 
but because the Self lives in it.

This Self has to be realized.
Hear about this Self.

As a lump of salt thrown in water dissolves 
and cannot be taken out again,
 though wherever we taste, the water it is salty,
 even so, beloved,
 the separate self dissolves in the sea of pure consciousness,
 infinite and immortal. 

 Separateness arises from identifying the Self with the body,
 which is made up of the elements;
 when this physical identification dissolves,
 there can be no more separate self.

~ from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

music and survival

~ Alice Herz-Sommer

At age 110, Alice Herz-Sommer the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, retains an unshakeable faith in the beauty of life and humanity, not unlike an awestruck child. She maintains that even the bad is beautiful, for it is part of life. To this day, Alice lives alone in her North London home, and practices the piano each day for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. People from everywhere come to listen outside of her building. She is the ‘lady in number six’. To claim that music is and has always been her salvation would be an understatement, in Alice’s own words:

“I felt that this is the only thing which helps me to have hope… a sort of religion, actually.
Music is God."

"I knew that even in this very difficult situation, there are beautiful moments... even the bad is beautiful."

 [ also known as Alice Sommer (26 November 1903 – 23 February 2014), was a Prague-born Jewish pianist, music teacher, and supercentenarian who survived Theresienstadt concentration camp. She lived for 40 years in Israel, before migrating to London in 1986, where she resided until her death, and at the age of 110 was the world's oldest known Holocaust survivor until Yisrael Kristal was recognized as such. Kristal was also a Holocaust survivor, and was born two months before Herz-Sommer ]

~ from Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


The soul, then, being thus inwardly recollected in
God or before God, now and then becomes so
sweetly attentive to the goodness of her well-beloved,
that her attention seems not to her to be attention, so
purely and delicately is it exercised; as it happens
to certain rivers, which glide so calmly and smoothly that
beholders and such as float upon them, seem neither to 
see not feel any motion, because the waters are not
seen to ripple or flow at all.

~ Saint Francis de Sales
from An Introduction to the Devout Life 

silence and meditation

One day some people came to a solitary monk  . 

They asked him:
"What is the meaning of silence and meditation? "

The monk was just the scooping of water 
from a deep well. 
He said to his visitors: 

"Look into the well. What do you see?" 

The people looked into the deep well and responded: 
"We see nothing!"

The monk put down his bucket. 
After a short while, he urged the people once more: 
"Look into the well! 
What do you see now? " 

The people looked down again: 
"Now we see ourselves!" 

"You could not see anything," replied the monk, 
"Because the water was restless as your life. 
But now it's quiet. 
This is what the silence gives us : one sees himself "

Then the monk told the people to wait a while. 
Finally, he asked them: 
"And now look again into the well. 
What do you see? " 

The man looked down.
"Now we see the stones on the bottom of the well." 

The monk said: 
"This is the experience of silence and meditation. 

If you wait long enough, you can see the reason of all things. "

~ author unknown

Friday, November 9, 2018

inner wildness

Our bodies are wild. The involuntary quick turn of the head at a shout, 
the vertigo at looking off a precipice, the heart-in-the-throat 
in a moment of danger, the catch of the breath, the quiet moments 
relaxing, staring, reflecting – all universal responses of this mammal body… 

The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect 
to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating,
 it is a life of its own. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us.
 There are more things in the mind, in the imagination, 
than ‘you’ can keep track of – thoughts, memories, images,
 angers, delights, rise unbidden. The depths of the mind, the unconscious, 
are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. 

I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches, but the bobcat that roams
 from dream to dream. The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies
 a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track
 of some of what goes in and out, and the rest takes care of itself. 
The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild.

~ Gary Snyder
from The Practice of the Wild

Tuesday, November 6, 2018



I used to be libertarian. I used to be atheist. I used to want America to be more atheist libertarian.
All my voting, preaching, discussing and complaining reflected those desires. I'm still libertarian and atheist, and now I'm vegan to boot, but none of that matters any more. I no longer care.
All I want out of America now is kindness. That's all. The past few years have filled too many of our friends and neighbors with hate, and it breaks my heart. Some people started acting hateful, crazy and nasty so that they could win, and then people who disagreed with them acted the same way. They disagree in content but agree wholeheartedly in tone. 

So many of us now agree with the message of hate, and play "ideology" as team sports. The message doesn't matter when the medium is hate. My friends who work on TV, people I love personally, are using a tone and a meanness in their jobs that they never used before. Is hate where the money is? I don't know if fighting fire with fire actually works, but I do know that fighting hate with hate never works. 

It makes me cry. I've read about family members not invited to Thanksgiving because of political disagreements! The Clash sang "anger can be power" and I believed it. Maybe I still believe it, but maybe I don't want power any more. Can't we replace the word "evil" with the word "wrong?" Everyone is wrong sometimes and nobody is evil ever. The America I want is kind to people who are wrong. 

I'm like a dog, I don't hear words anymore, I just hear tone. Anyone whose tone is kind will get my complete support. Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Green . . . anything else you got. I've always been left out of team sports. I don't want to win enough. I'm not part of a team, I'm part of humanity. I want kindness. There's no other team for me. Let's love each other, and then discuss how to run our country together. 

~ Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller
 with thanks to fivebranchtree

Saturday, November 3, 2018

love amid owl cries

It is not
the altar that matters,
not that,
nor the shape
that is found there.
The ghostly ideas
come and go, one after another.
But the place endures.
The fact that there is a door.

~ Jane Hirshfield

Friday, November 2, 2018

education and conformity

Question: What are your ideas about education?
Krishnamurti: I think mere ideas are no good at all,  because one idea is as good as another, depending on whether the mind accepts or rejects it.  But perhaps it would be worthwhile to find out what we mean by education.  Let us see if we can think out together the whole significance of education, and not merely think in terms of my idea, or your idea, or the idea of some specialist.
Why do we educate our children at all?  Is it to help the child to understand the whole significance of life, or merely to prepare him to earn a livelihood in a particular culture or society?  Which is it that we want?  Not what we should want, or what is desirable, but what is it that we as parents actually insist on?  We want the child to conform, to be a respectable citizen in a corrupt society, in a society that is at war both within itself and with other societies, that is brutal, acquisitive, violent, greedy, with occasional spots of affection, tolerance and kindliness.  That is what we actually want, is it not?  If the child does not fit into society – whether it be communist, socialist, or capitalist – we are afraid of what will happen to him, so we begin to educate him to conform to the pattern of our own making.  That is all we want where the child is concerned, and that is essentially what is taking place.  And any revolt of the child against society, against the pattern of conformity, we call delinquency.
We want the children to conform; we want to control their minds, to shape their conduct, their way of living, so that they will fit into the pattern of society,  That is what every parent wants, is it not?  And that is exactly what is happening, whether it be in America or in Europe, in Russia or in India.  The pattern may vary slightly, but they all want the child to conform.
Now, is that education?  Or does education mean that the parents and the teachers themselves see the significance of the whole pattern, and are helping the child from the very beginning to be alert to all its influences?  Seeing the full significance of the pattern, with its religious, social and economic influences, its influences of class, of family,  of tradition – seeing the significance of all this for oneself and helping the child to understand and not be caught in it – that may be education. To educate the child may be to help him to be outside of society, so that he creates his own society.  Since our society is not at all what it should be, why encourage the child to stay within its pattern?
At present we force the child to conform to a social pattern which we have established individually, as a family, and as the collective; and he unfortunately inherits, not only our property, but some of our psychological characteristics as well.  So from the very beginning he is a slave to the environment.
Seeing all this, if we really love our children and are therefore deeply concerned about education, we will contrive from the very beginning to bring about an atmosphere which will encourage them to be free.  A few real educators have thought about all this, but unfortunately very few parents ever think about it at all.  We leave it to the experts – religion to the priest, psychology to the psychologist, and our children to the so-called teachers.  Surely, the parent is also the educator; he is the teacher, and also the one who learns – not only the child.
So this is a very complex problem, and if we really wish to resolve it we must go into it most profoundly; and then, I think, we shall find out how to bring about the right kind of education.

~ Krishnamurti, from his second talk in Brussels (June 25th 1956)