Saturday, June 15, 2019

two poem by Rumi

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, Let's buy it.


When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks


in praise of Sophia

Friend, don't be angry at the Teacher's discipline,
nor lose your taste for his rebukes,
for the Teacher only corrects those whom he loves, 
as a mother watches constantly her favorite son.
The man who finds the ecstatic mother is a joyful man,
and the man who gains consciousness from her,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver,
and the profit from that acquisition better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
She has long life in her right hand,
and riches and reputation in her left.
Along her path there is much pleasure,
and her path goes through the places of peace.
She is a tree of life for those who bring her inside,
those who hold her firmly inside are called happy.
The Secret One through the ecstatic mother founded the earth,
through consciousness he made the skies go around,
by secret knowledge the oceans broke open,
and the clouds let the dew down.

~ from Proverbs: 3:11-20
translated by Aaron Blon


Ich stehe mir im Weg

People don't realize how much they are in the grip of ideas.
We live among ideas much more than we live in nature.

~ Saul Bellow

doing so,
"Ich stehe mir im Weg"
I stand in my own way.

Friday, June 14, 2019

take no account of all that happens

Abide in peace, 
banish cares, 
take no account of all that happens, 
and you will serve God 
according to His good pleasure, and rest in Him. 

~ Saint John of the Cross 

love impels impels people to service.  If love starts with a downward motion, burrowing into the vulnerability of self, exposing nakedness, it ends with an active upward motion.  It arouses great energy and desire to serve.  The person in love is buying little presents, fetching the glass from the next room, bringing a tissue when there's flu, driving through traffic to pick the beloved up at the airport. Love is waking up night after night to breastfeed, living year after year to nurture.  It is risking and sacrificing your life for your buddy's in a battle.  Love ennobles and transforms.  In no other state do people so often live as we want them to live.  In no other commitment are people so likely to slip beyond the logic of self-interest and unconditional commitments that manifest themselves in daily acts of care.

Occasionally you meet someone with a thousand-year heart.  The person with the thousand-year heart has made the most of the passionate, tumultuous phase of love. Those months or years of passion have engraved a deep commitment in their mind.  The person or thing they once loved hotly they now love warmly but steadily, happily, unshakably.  They don't even think of loving their beloved because they want something back.  They just naturally offer love as a matter of course.  It is gift-love, not reciprocity-love.

~ David Brooks
from The Road to Character

the culture of the day

The cities only care for what is theirs
and uproot all that's in their path.
They crush the creatures like hollow sticks
and burn up nations like kindling.

Their people serve the culture of the day,
losing all balance and moderation,
calling their aimlessness progress,
driving recklessly where they once drove slow,
and with all that metal and glass
making such a racket.

It's as if they were under a spell:
they can no longer be themselves.
Money keeps growing, takes all their strength,
and empties them like a scouring wind,
while they wait for wine and poisonous passions
to spur them to fruitless occupations.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
III,31, The Book of Poverty and Death
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
photo by robert frank

Tuesday, June 11, 2019



Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to 
rather than opposing the flow of life.  The only place where you can
 experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender
 is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.  

It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.  
Inner resistance is to say "no" to what is,
 through mental judgment and emotional negativity.

 It becomes particularly pronounced when things "go wrong,"
 which means that there is a gap between the demands 
or rigid expectations of your mind and what is.  That is the pain gap. 

 If you have lived long enough, you will know that things
 "go wrong" quite often.  It is precisely at those times that surrender 
needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life.   

Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification 
and thus reconnects you with Being.  Resistance is the mind.

~ Eckhart Tolle
from The Power of Now
art by allan omarra


Susila was on the point of turning to catch the
expression of delight on Dugald's upturned face; then, checking herself,
she looked down at the ground. There was no Dugald any more; there was
only this pain, like the pain of the phantom limb that goes on haunting the
imagination, haunting even the perceptions of those who have undergone an
amputation. "Amputation," she whispered to herself, "amputation ..."
Feeling her eyes fill with tears, she broke off. Amputation was no excuse
for self-pity and, for all that Dugald was dead, the birds were as beautiful as
ever and her children, all the other children-, had as much need to be loved
and helped and taught. If his absence was so constantly present, that was
to remind her that henceforward she must love for two, live for two, take
thought for two, must perceive and understand not merely with her own
eyes and mind but with the mind and eyes that had been his and, before
the catastrophe, hers too in a communion of delight and intelligence.

~ aldous huxley
from Island

seawater stiffens cloth

Seawater stiffens cloth long after it's dried.
As pain after it's ended stays in the body:
A woman moves her hands oddly
because her grandfather passed through
a place he never spoke of.  Making
instead the old jokes with angled fingers.
Call one thing another's name long enough,
it will answer.  Call pain seawater, tree, it will answer.
Call it a tree whose shape of branches happened.
Call what branching happened a man
whose job it was to break fingers or lose his own.
Call fingers angled like branches what peel and cut apples,
to give to a girl who eats them in silence, looking.
Call her afterward tree, call her seawater angled by silence.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Sunday, June 9, 2019

no superstition in the breath

Sometimes when I meditate
there is nothing left of me
but the breath
all the rest of me inseparable
from all the rest of you.

There is no superstition in the breath
only in the mind and body surrounding.

The mind and body are suspicious,
full of fables and myths;
but there is no superstition in the breath.
With each exhalation
wordless sensation migrates
from the nostrils to the belly and back again
brings water to the fields,
brings breath down the cord from mother to child,
brings blood to the sacrifice of love and war,
brings bright offerings to the temple;
sings into the dark,
assuring the aspirant bent in the shadow
the breath that never ends,
whether dropped to our knees below the cross,
or easy in the slippers of the Beloved,
and certainly behind the diamond brow,
sighs the sigh heard 'round the world.

That famous ten percent we are supposed 
to have use of our brain seems true
of the rest of the body and mind as well.
We occupy very little of ourselves
A few percent perhaps...

We barely inhabit the breath
living in the shallows of our life.
Our ordinary breath hollowed by fear and anger,
lost behind the nostrils somewhere near the heart,
lost somewhere between the back of the cave 
and to top of Jacob's ladder...our cells
are starving for breath.

The breath does not lie.
It has nothing to say
It simply is
overflowing with sensation
met crossing the bright field
inviting the body and the rest of the mind
to enter subtle as the breath
subtler levels of being...

The fable of each inhalation, like the first
firing of the imagination (full of the superstition of "I")
and animating the body; that first inhalation
still being drawn...
And last exhalation suspended in myth
begun to be expelled soon after birth.

Taking each breath as if it were the last,
before we enter the enormity at the center
of each breath.

Though superstition surrounds the first breath
and is rarely discarded even with the last,
these two breaths - separated by joyful swoons
and plaintive cries - come together in the great silence,
the bitter tears before and after
the great peace between breaths
when mind slows to wisdom and the body
knows itself, as T. S. Eliot nearly says,
for the very first time.

The wise man, the flying woman, dwells
in the space between breaths as faint echoes
drop over the edge and fade into
the vast chasm of silence.

Letting go at the end of each out-breath
stills the enormity.

Occasionally in the meditation hall my breath
nearly stopped.  I needed nothing more 
as thought stilled, and the wind-blown mind
settled.  As the drum stopped.
Breath and fear surrendered.
"If the breath never returns
the universe will breath for me."

Overcoming the distrust, not holding
to the last breath or grasping at the next.
Letting go completely of control of the breath.
Trusting a breath unshaped by pretense
or superstition, a breath that breaths itself
from the oceanic tides between planets ...
a breath like the one before
the one that created the universe,
that began thought, and forgot
its original face.

~Stephen Levine
from Breaking the Drought
photo by Diane Varner

the hurt you embrace becomes joy

The hurt you embrace becomes joy.
Call it to your arms where it can

change.  A silkworm eating leaves
makes a cocoon.  Each of us weaves

a chamber of leaves and sticks.
Silkworms begin to truly exist

as they disappear inside that room.
Without legs, we fly.  When I stop

speaking, this poem will close,
and open its silent wings...

~ Rumi

Saturday, June 8, 2019

the etchings of trauma

~ Rupert Spira 



I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing
happens! Nothing... Silence... Waves...

-Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

~ Juan Ramon Jimenez
translated by Robert Bly

Van Gogh reuses a canvas that he’d already painted 
some two and a half years earlier in Nuenen: x-ray photos
 reveal the head of a woman with a cap under Patch of grass.


More often than not, we feel so enmeshed in the life we have that the prospect of change appears remote or impossible.  Thus, we continue on the tracks that we have laid down for ourselves,  We are unable to think in new ways and we gradually teach ourselves to forget the other horizons.  We unlearn desire.  Quietly, over time, we succumb to the dependable script of the expected life and become masters of the middle way.  We avoid extremes and after a while we no longer even notice the pathways off to the side and no longer sense the danger and disturbance that could be experienced "out there."  We learn to fit our chosen world with alarming precision and regularity.  Often it takes a huge crisis or trauma to crack the dead shell that has grown ever more solid around us.  Painful as that can be, it does resurrect the longing of the neglected soul.  It makes a clearance.  Again we can see the horizons and feel their attraction.  Though we may wince with vulnerability as we taste the exhilaration of freedom, we feel alive!

John O'Donohue
from The Invisible Embrace: Beauty

Friday, June 7, 2019

by the true, loving will of your heart

For silence is not God, nor speaking; 
fasting is not God, nor eating; 
solitude is not God, nor company; 
nor any other pair of opposites.  

He is hidden between them, 
and cannot be found by anything your soul does, 
but only by the love of your heart. 

He cannot be known by reason, 
he cannot be thought, caught, or sought by understanding.  
But he can be loved and chosen by the true, loving will of your heart.

~ The Cloud of Unknowing
Written anonymously, this practical, unemotional book of instruction focuses on stripping away all earthly ways of knowing, of passing through the cloud of forgetting and piercing the cloud of unknowing that exists between himself and God.  Widely read in the fourteen century for its beauty in aiding a contemplative experience, The Cloud, is better known than the later work, The Book of Privy Counseling which also clearly written by one who has trodden the mystical path himself and offers others a helping hand.


don't look at things through your concepts

If you don't look at things through your concepts, you'll never be bored. 
Every single thing is unique. 
Every sparrow is unlike every other sparrow despite the similarities. 
It's a great help to have similarities, so we can abstract, 
so that we can have a concept. 
It's a great help, from the point of view of communication, 
education, science. 
But it's also very misleading and a great hindrance
 to seeing this concrete individual. 
If all you experience is your concept,
 you're not experiencing reality,
 because reality is concrete. 
The concept is a help, 
to lead you to reality, 
but when you get there, 
you've got to intuit or experience it directly.

~ Anthony de Mello


There is a story of a man who came to see the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha was a great teacher. He had some problems in his life, and he thought the Buddha might be able to help him straighten them out.

The Buddha listened patiently to the man as he laid out all his difficulties and worries, and then waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.

The Buddha said, "I can't help you."

"What do you mean?" said the man.

"Everybody's got problems," said the Buddha. "In fact, we've all got eighty-three problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them, maybe you can fix it - but if you do, another one will pop right into its place."

The man was furious. "I thought you were a great teacher! I thought you could help me!"

The Buddha said, "Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth problem."

"The eighty-fourth problem?" said the man. "What's the eighty-fourth problem?"

The Buddha said, "You want to not have any problems."

- Steve Hagen
from Buddhism Plain and Simple
art by Alex Arshansky

Thursday, June 6, 2019

I'm working on the world

I’m working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here’s one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple “Hi there,”
when traded with a fish,
make both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoot of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they are sleeping in the park!

Time retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time’s unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won’t be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is, in my book,
the price that felons pay,
so don’t whine that it’s steep:
you’ll stay young if you’re good.
Suffering doesn’t insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you’ll be dreaming
that you don’t need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it’s part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.
Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;

you’d feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.
Only a world like that. To die
just that much. And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach’s fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

~ Wislawa Szymborska
translated by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

– Wislawa Szymborska Polish Poet (Born July 1923)/Nobel Literature Prize 1996

Excerpt from her Nobel Lecture
December 1996

Poets, if they’re genuine, must also keep repeating “I don’t know.” Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that’s absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their “oeuvre” …

The Poet and the World by Wislawa Szymborska

with thanks to

identify yourself with the consciousness and life

This is the essential experience of any mystical realization. 

You die to your flesh and are born into your spirit. 
You identify yourself with the consciousness and life of which your body is but the vehicle. 
You die to the vehicle and become identified…
with that of which the vehicle is but the carrier. 

~ Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
from The Power of Myth

bathe in its fiery waters

Sons and daughters of the earth, steep yourself in the sea of matter, bathe in its fiery waters, for it is the source of your life and your youthfulness.

You thought you could do without it because the power of thought has been kindled in you? You hoped that the more thoroughly you rejected the tangible, the closer you would be to spirit: that you would be more divine if you lived in the world of pure thought, or at least more angelic if you fled the corporeal? Well, you were like to have perished of hunger.

You must have oil for your limbs, blood for your veins, water for your soul, the world of reality for your intellect: do you not see that the very law of your own nature makes these a necessity for you?

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

a hindrance here

To put it more simply, let that mysterious grace move in your spirit as it will and follow wherever it leads you.  Let it be the active doer and you the passive receiver.  Do not meddle with it, but let it be... Your part is to be as wood to a carpenter or a home to a dweller.  Remain blind during this time cutting away all desire to know, for knowledge is a hindrance here.  Be content to feel this mysterious grace sweetly awaken in the depths of your spirit.   Forget everything...

~ The Cloud of Unknowing


Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice
Better than knowledge is meditation
But better still is the surrender of attachment to results,
For there follows immediate peace. 

translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

why scurry about looking for the truth?

Why scurry about looking for the truth? 
It vibrates in every thing and every not-thing, right off the tip of your nose. 
Can you be still and see it in the mountain? the pine tree? yourself? 
Don't imagine that you'll discover it by accumulating more knowledge. 
Knowledge creates doubt, and doubt makes you ravenous for more knowledge. 
You can't get full eating this way. 
The wise person dines on something more subtle: 
He eats the understanding that the named was born from the unnamed, 
that all being flows from non- being,
 that the describable world emanates from an indescribable source. 
He finds this subtle truth inside his own self, 
and becomes completely content. 
So who can be still and watch the chess game of the world?
 The foolish are always making impulsive moves,
 but the wise know that victory and defeat are decided by something more subtle.
 They see that something perfect exists before any move is made. 
This subtle perfection deteriorates when artificial actions are taken, 
so be content not to disturb the peace.
 Remain quiet. 
Discover the harmony in your own being. 
Embrace it. 
If you can do this, you will gain everything, 
and the world will become healthy again.
 If you can't, you will be lost in the shadows forever.

~  Lao Tzu
from Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
by Brian Walker


living is relationship

Life is relationship, living is relationship, yet very little attention is given to the question.  What is your relationship with another? Have you any relationship at all; or is you relationship with the past?  The past with its images, experience, knowledge, brings about what you call relationship.  But knowledge in relationship causes disorder.  If you have hurt me, I remember that; you hurt me yesterday, or a week ago, that remains in my mind, that's the knowledge I have about you.  That knowledge prevents relationship; that knowledge in relationship breeds disorder.  So the question is:  When you hurt me, flatter me, when you scandalize me, can the mind wipe it away at the very moment without recording it?

So one asks:  Can you see that sunset, or the beautiful face, or your sexual experience, or whatever it be, see it and finish it, not carry it over  -  whether that thing was great beauty or great sorrow or great physical or psychological pain?  Can you see the beauty of it and be finished, completely finished, not take it over and store it up for the next day, next month, the future?  If you store it up, then thought plays with it.  Thought is the storing up of that incident of that pain or that suffering or that thing that gave delight.

I want to see the sunset, I want to look at the trees, full of the beauty of the earth. I don't want to reduce it, and thought will reduce it.  Is not the mind an instrument of comparison?  You say this is better than that; you compare yourself with somebody who is more beautiful, who is more clever.  There is comparison when you say, 'I remember that particular river that I saw a year ago, and it was still more beautiful'.  You compare yourself with somebody, with an example, with the ultimate ideal.  You see the sunset, and you immediately compare that sunset with the previous sunset.  You see a mountain and you see how beautiful it is.  Then you say, 'I saw a still more beautiful mountain two years ago'.  When you are comparing, you are really not looking at the sunset which is there, but you are looking at it in order to compare it with something else.  So comparison prevents you from looking fully.

What is actually taking place in our relationships?  Are not our relationships a self-isolation?  Is not every activity of the mind a process of safeguarding, of seeking security, isolation?  We have so many securities; we have built walls around ourselves with which we are satisfied, and occasionally there is a whisper beyond the wall;  occasionally there is an earthquake, a revolution, a disturbance which we soon smother.  So most of us really do not want to go beyond the self-enclosing process;  all we are seeking is a substitution, the same thing in a different form.  We are actually seeking, not to go beyond isolation, but to strengthen isolation so that it will be permanent and undisturbed.

Most of us are aware of this inner poverty, this inner insufficiency. You say it is empty, you give it a name, and you think you have understood it. Is not the very naming of the thing a hindrance to the understanding of it?   It is not an abortive reaction, it is a fact, and by calling it some name, we cannot dissolve it - it is there.  Do you know something by giving it a name?  Do you know me by calling me a name?  You can know me only when you observe me, when you have communion with me, but calling me by a name saying I am this or that, obviously puts an end to communion with me.     

It is only when the mind is quiet that it shall know love, and that state of quietness is not a thing to be cultivated.  Cultivation is still the action of the mind; discipline is still a product of the mind, and a mind that is disciplined, controlled, subjugated, a mind that is resisting, explaining, cannot know love. You may read, you may listen to what is being said about love, but that is not love.  Only when you put away the things of the mind, only when your heart is empty of the things of the mind, is there love.  Then you will know what it is to love without separation, without distance, without time, without fear - and that is not reserved to the few.

~ J. Krishnamurti
excerpts from a collection of talks
On Love and Loneliness

photo from streetcar named desire by Tennessee Williams

Monday, June 3, 2019

gentleness helps

When suffering comes, we feel panic and fear.  Frightened, we want to hide.  You want to climb up on to some high ledge to escape the dismemberment of this acidic tide.  Yet the strange thing is: the more you resist, the longer it stays.  The more intensely you endeavor to depart the ground of pain, the more firmly you remain fixed there.  It is difficult to be gentle with yourself when you are suffering.  

Gentleness helps you to stop resisting the pain that is visiting you.  When you stop resisting suffering, something else begins to happen.  You begin slowly to allow your suffering to follow its own logic.  The assumption here is that suffering does not visit you gratuitously.  There is in suffering some hidden shadowed light.  Destiny has a perspective on us and our pathway that we can never fully glimpse; it alone knows why suffering comes.   Suffering has its own reasoning.  

It wants to teach us something.  When you stop resisting its dark work, you are open to learning what it wants to show you.  Often, we learn most deeply and receive profoundly from the black, lonely tide of pain.  We often see in Nature how pruning strengthens.  Fruit trees look so wounded after being pruned, yet the limitation of this cutting forces the tree to fill and flourish.   Similarly with drills of potatoes when they are raised, earth is banked up around them and seems to smother them.  Yet as the days go by the stalks grow stronger.  

Suffering can often become a time of pruning.  Though it is sore and cuts into us, later we may become aware that this dark suffering was secretly a liturgy of light and growth. 

~ John O'Donohue
from: Eternal Echoes

the stone of the fruit must break

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain. 
And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, 
that its heart may stand in the sun, 
so must you know pain. 

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, 
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; 
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, 
even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. 
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief. 

Much of your pain is self-chosen. 
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. 
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: 

For his hand, though heavy and hard,is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, 
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay 
which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet