Tuesday, December 31, 2019

who yawns

It is God who yawns and sneezes
and coughs, and now laughs.

Look, it's God doing ablutions!
God deciding to fast, God going naked
from one New Year's Eve to the next.

Will you ever understand
how near God is
to you?

~ Lalla
from Naked Song
translations by Coleman Barks

lute music

Let us celebrate. The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.

Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—
Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—

Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

—Kenneth Rexroth
 from The Phoenix and the Tortoise


Saturday, December 28, 2019

in a mystery to be

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remembering how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of walking is to dream
remembering so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remembering yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me

~ e. e. Cummings
from Selected Poems

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

for Ram Dass

Imagine the time the particle you are
returns where it came from!

The family darling comes home.   Wine
without being contained in cups,
is handed around.

A red glint appears in a granite outcrop,
and suddenly the whole cliff turns to ruby.

~ Rumi


Ram Dass, beloved spiritual teacher, psychedelic pioneer and perhaps one of the greatest cultural creative of our generation, whose book Be Here Now kindled the consciousness revolution of the sixties and launched the mindfulness movement, died this week. His passing illuminated the Facebook feeds across our community with touching personal tributes and reflections on his contribution to the shape of consciousness on this planet. One couldn’t help but feel how deeply his teachings entangled a mandala of hearts the world over. His legacy was one of Love.

"Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It's not 'I love you' for this or that reason, not 'I love you if you love me.' It's love for no reason, love without an object."

Monday, December 23, 2019

awaken to the mystery of being here

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter
the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the
courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may
anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that
seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

~ John O'Donohue

a gift

The gift of God is absolutely gratuitous.  It's not something you earn. It's something that's there. It's something you just have to accept. This is the gift that has been given. There's no place to go to get it. There's no place you can go to avoid it. It just is. It's part of our very existence. And so the purpose of all the great religions is to bring us into this relationship with reality that is so intimate that no words can possibly describe it.

~ Thomas Keating

Monday, December 16, 2019

simple seeing

Joan Tollifson

you bind yourself though you use no rope

What is the master [within you] who at this very moment is seeing and hearing?
 If you reply, as most do, that it is Mind or Nature or Buddha
 or one's Face before birth or one's Original Home or Koan or Being
 or Nothingness or Emptiness or Form-and-Color or the Known
 or the Unknown or Truth or Delusion, or say something
 or remain silent, or regard it as Enlightenment or Ignorance,
 you fall into error at once. What is more, if you are so foolhardy
 as to doubt the reality of this master, you bind yourself though you use no rope.

 However much you try to know it through logical reasoning or to name
 or call it, you are doomed to failure. And even though all of you becomes
 one mass of questioning as you turn inward and intently search
 the very core of your being, you will find nothing that can be termed
 Mind or Essence. Yet should someone call your name, something from 
within will hear and respond. Find out this instant who it is!

If you push forward with your last ounce of strength at the very point

 where the path of your thinking has been blocked, and then, 
completely stymied, leap with hands high in the air into the tremendous abyss
 of fire confronting you -- into the ever-burning flame of your own
 primordial nature -- all ego-consciousness, all delusive feelings
 and thoughts and perceptions will perish with your ego-root 
and the true source of your Self-nature will appear. You will feel resurrected,
 all sickness having completely vanished,
 and will experience genuine peace and joy.


a Rinzai Zen Master born in modern-day Kanagawa Prefecture who had trained with Sōtō, Rinzai and Ch'an masters of his time. Bassui was unhappy with the state of Zen practice in Japan during his time, so he set out in life with the mission of revitalizing it. The problems he saw were really two sides of the same coin. That is, he saw both too much attachment by some monks and masters to ritual and dogma as well as too much attachment by some monks and masters to freedom and informality. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

between human beings

Harlan disliked handling money because of its abstractness and impersonality;
 for he did not enjoy either paying it or receiving it in payment. 
He felt a social embarrassment in monetary transactions that country people
 still feel, as if money is simply too crude a means of exchange 
between human beings.

~ Wendell Berry
from Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work

a different self

... I myself I require a more direct revelation, 
not one that must come through so many minds before it reaches mine.  
I must have a faith that I can see and hear, 
one that I can feel without thinking or even trying to put it into words.  
It is not for anyone else, 
it is a personal faith.

The interval of solitude is precious.  
It is a different world and I am a different self.  
I feel relieved of a responsibility that cannot be defined.  
I am released from pressure, my mind is free.  
Yet would I not feel a lack of balance if I lived alone all the time?

~ Harlan Hubbard
from his journal, 1959

Thursday, December 12, 2019

emptied of all things

For He is the Very Rest.
God wishes to be known, 
And it pleases Him that
We rest in Him;
For all that is beneath Him
Will never satisfy us.
Therefore no soul is rested
Til it is emptied of all things
That are made.
When, for love of Him, 
It is empty, 
The soul can
Receive His deep rest.

~ Julian of Norwich, (1342-c. 1423)

She may have joined a Benedictine community earlier, but then at the age of thirty she fell ill to the point of death and was given last rites. She then received a series of sixteen visions which were later described in her work entitled Showings, or Revelations of Divine Love in the first book known to have been written by a woman in English.  It exists in two versions, a short text of twenty-five chapters and a much longer text of eighty-six chapters.  The first thought to have been written immediately after the visions were received,  and the second after years of meditation on the meaning of these visions.

"Be still and know that I am God," so says the Psalmist (Psalm 46:10), yet the word rest adds a dimension of stillness.  It implies letting go of effort - even the effort to be internally still - and allowing oneself to be held by  that which can not be named or known.  When we do let go of all desires for this and that, when we are empty, we receive his deep rest.  

~ contributing to comments: Roger Housden and Ursula King

stillness - and our thinking mind

~ Richard Rohr

haunted pilgrims

Fashioned from clay, we carry the memory of the earth. Ancient, forgotten things stir within our hearts, memories from the time before the mind was born. Within us are depths that keep watch. These are depths that no words can trawl or light unriddle. Our neon times have neglected and evaded the depth-kingdoms of interiority in favor of the ghost realms of cyberspace. We have unlearned the patience and attention of lingering at the thresholds where the unknown awaits us. We have become haunted pilgrims addicted to distraction and driven by the speed and color of images.

~ John O'Donohue
from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

the roof nail

A hundred boats are still looking for shore.
There is more in my hopes than I imagined.
The tiny roof nail lies on the ground, aching for the roof.
Some little bone in our foot is longing for heaven.

~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey
art by picasso

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

plague of intolerance

A mass movement readily exploits the discontent and frustration

 of large segments of the population which for some reason or other
 cannot face the responsibility of being persons and standing
 on their own feet. But give these persons a movement to join, 
a cause to defend, and they will go to any extreme, stop at no crime, 
intoxicated as they are by the slogans that give them a pseudo-religious
 sense of transcending their own limitations. The member of a mass movement, 
afraid of his own isolation, and his own weakness as an individual,
 cannot face the task of discovering within himself the spiritual power 
and integrity which can be called forth only by love. Instead of this, 
he seeks a movement that will protect his weakness with a wall of anonymity
 and justify his acts by the sanction of collective glory and power.
 All the better if this is done out of hatred, for hatred is always easier 
and less subtle than love. It does not have to respect reality as love does.
It does not have to take account of individual cases. Its solutions are simple
 and easy. It makes its decisions by a simple glance at a face, a colored skin,
 a uniform. It identifies an enemy by an accent, an unfamiliar turn of speech,
 an appeal to concepts that are difficult to understand. 
He is something unfamiliar. This is not "ours." 
This must be brought into line - or destroyed.

Here is the great temptation of the modern age, this universal infection 

of fanaticism, this plague of intolerance, prejudice and hate
which flows from the crippled nature of man who is afraid of love
 and does not dare to be a person. It is against this temptation most of all
 that the Christian must labor with inexhaustible patience and love,
in silence, perhaps in repeated failure, seeking tirelessly to restore, 
wherever he can, and first of all in himself, the capacity of love 
and which makes man the living image of God.

~ Thomas Merton,
from Disputed Questions

reverence of approach

A reverence of approach awakens depth and enables us
 to be truly present where we are.  When we approach with reverence
 great things decide to approach us.  Our real life comes 
to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things.  

When we walk on the earth with reverence, 
beauty will decide to trust us.  The rushed heart and
 the arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience 
to enter that embrace. 

 Beauty is mysterious, a slow presence who waits for the ready,
 expectant heart.  When the heart becomes attuned to her 
restrained glimmerings, it learns to recognize her intimations
 more frequently in places it would never have lingered before.

~ John O'Donohue
from Beauty, The Invisible Embrace
art by Van Gogh

far away

Keep far away.

You should never be here too much; be so far away that they can’t find you,
 they can’t get at you to shape, to mold.

Be so far away, like the mountains, like the unpolluted air;
 be so far away that you have no parents, no relations, no family, no country;
 be so far away that you don’t know even where you are.

Don’t let them find you; don’t come into contact with them too closely.

Keep far away where even you can’t find yourself; keep a distance 
which can never be crossed over; keep a passage open always 
through which no one can come.

Don’t shut the door for there is no door, only an open, endless passage;
 if you shut any door, they will be very close to you, then you are lost.

Keep far away where their breath can’t reach you
 and their breath travels very far and very deeply; 
don’t get contaminated by them, by their word, by their gesture,
 by their great knowledge; they have great knowledge
 but be far away from them where even you cannot find yourself.

For they are waiting for you, at every corner, in every house to shape you, 
to mold you, to tear you to pieces and then put you together in their own image.

Their gods, the little ones and the big ones, are the images of themselves,
 carved by their own mind or by their own hands.

They are waiting for you, the churchman and the Communist,
 the believer and the non-believer, for they are both the same;
 they think they are different but they are not for they both brainwash you, 
till you are of them, till you repeat their words, till you worship their saints,
 the ancient and the recent; they have armies for their gods 
and for their countries and they are experts in killing.

Keep far away but they are waiting for you, the educator and the businessman; 
one trains you for the others to conform to the demands of their society, 
which is a deadly thing.

They have a thing called society and family: these two are their real gods,
 the net in which you will be entangled.

They will make you into a scientist, into an engineer,
 into an expert of almost anything from cooking to architecture to philosophy.

Keep far, far away; they are waiting for you, the politician and the reformer;
 the one drags you down into the gutter and then the other reforms you; 
they juggle with words and you will be lost in their wilderness.

Keep far away; they are waiting for you, the experts in God and the bomb throwers: 
the one will convince you and the other show you how to kill;
 there are so many ways to find God and so many, many ways to kill.

But besides all these, there are hoards of others to tell you what to do 
and what not to do; keep away from all of them, 
so far away that you cannot find yourself or any other.

You too would like to play with all of them who are waiting for you 
but then the play becomes so complicated and entertaining that you will be lost.

You should never be here too much, 
be so far away that even you cannot find yourself.

They were all sitting in a row in the fairly well kept garden; 
they had on the light and they were eating and the big house was behind them. 
There was the scent of many flowers in the air and the breeze 
was coming from the restless sea. On that road there was hardly any car 
and your brain was utterly still and the movement of a flash was taking place. 
The meditation was the flash and that flash can only be in emptiness; 
the flash that opens the door into the unknown. 
That flash has no time but it’s only a fleeting second. 
You can never keep that flash any more than you can hold
the winds in your fists.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from his notebook

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

the voices

The rich and fortunate do well to keep silent,
for no one cares to know who and what they are.
But those in need must reveal themselves,
must say: I am blind,
or: I'm on the verge of going blind,
or: nothing goes well with me on earth,
or: I have a sickly child,
or: I have little to hold me together...

And chances are this is not nearly enough.

And because people try to ignore them as they
pass by them: these unfortunate ones have to sing!

And at times one hears some excellent singing!

Of course, people differ in their tastes: some would
prefer to listen to choirs of boy-castrati.

But God himself comes often and stays long,
when the castrati's singing disturbs Him.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

If you ask how much do I want

If you ask how much do I want,
I'll tell you that I want it all.
This morning, you and I
and all men
are flowing into the marvelous stream
of oneness.

Small pieces of imagination as we are.
we have come a long way to find ourselves
and for ourselves, in the dark, the illusion
of emancipation.

This morning, my brother is back from his
long adventure.
He kneels before the alter,
his eyes full of tears.
His soul is longing for a shore to set anchor at
(a yearning I once had).
Let him kneel there and weep.
Let him cry his heart out.
Let him have his refuge there for a thousand years,
enough to dry all his tears.

One night, I will come
and set fire to his shelter,
the small cottage on the hill.
My fire will destroy everything
and remove his only life raft after a shipwreck.

In the utmost anguish of his soul,
the shell will break.
The light of the burning hut will witness
his glorious deliverance.
I will wait for him
beside the burning cottage.
Tears will run down my cheeks.
I will be there to contemplate his new being.
And as I hold his hands in mine
and ask him how much he wants,
he will smile and say that he wants it all -
just as I did.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

all of a sudden

All my life perplexed by truth and falsity, right and wrong;
Now amusing myself in the moonlight,
Laughing at the wind,
Listening to the song of birds -
So many years spent idly contemplating
The immense white layer on the mountains;
This winter, all of a sudden,
I see it for the first time as a snow-mountain.

~ Dogen
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen by Steven Heine

Monday, December 2, 2019

on a day when the wind is perfect

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 

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises;
the promise of life
that it always
each morning.

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

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 
by Daniel Ladinsky

forgiving oneself

My brother used to ask the birds to forgive him; 
that sounds senseless but it is right; 
for all is like the ocean, all things flow and touch each other;
 a disturbance in one place is felt at the other end of the world. 

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky
from The Brothers Karamazov
art by Shiko Munakata

Saturday, November 23, 2019

why does not the church tell you?

At last the time came for the bride
to be with Him.

Nothing all the other brides had ever known 
could have prepared me.

Only the beauty and light you cannot describe
has a place in His house.

I can touch God - yes - but not with anything I own,
not with anything I can identify with,
not with anything that

Purity, have you ever contemplated that word?
I once beheld the root of the Immaculate
and it drew me into itself.

I looked at all through
His eyes.

Why does not my sacred church tell you:
God only sees

~ St. John of the Cross
 from Love Poems from God
by Daniel Ladinsky

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


When the path ignites a soul,
there's no remaining in place.

The foot touches ground,
but not for long.

The way where love tells its secret
stays always in motion,
and there is no you there, and no reason.

The rider urges his horse to gallop,
and so doing, throws himself
under the flying hooves.

In love-unity there's no old or new.
Everything is nothing.
God alone is.

For lovers the phenomena-veil is very transparent,
and the delicate tracings on it cannot
be explained with language.

Clouds burn off as the sun rises,
and the love-world floods with light.

But cloud-water can be obscuring,
as well as useful.

There is an affection that covers the glory,
rather than dissolving into it.

It's a subtle difference,
like the change in Persian
from the word "friendship"
to the word "work."

That happens with just a dot
above or below the third letter.

There is a seeing of the beauty
of union that doesn't actively work
for the inner conversation.

Your hand and feet must move,
as a stream streams, working
as its Self, to get to the ocean.
Then there's no more mention
of the search.

Being famous, or being a disgrace,
who's ahead or behind, these considerations
are rocks and clogged places
that slow you. Be as naked as a wheat grain
out of its husk and sleek as Adam.

Don't ask for anything other
than the presence.

Don't speak of a "you"
apart from That.

A full container cannot be more full.
Be whole, and nothing.

~ Hakim Sanai
version by Coleman Barks
from  The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, 
with Lectures by Inayat Khan

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

the "goal?"

The traveler who finds his road blocked by a river will use a raft to reach the opposite shore, but, this shore once reached, he will not carry the raft on his shoulders while continuing his journey.  He will abandon it as something which has become useless.

The raft represents the different kinds of methods, intellectual training or moral discipline, which are available as means to bring the seeker of liberation to the "other shore".  On this shore, both have lost their value; they bear no relation to the conditions existing on the "other shore" and, like the raft in the parable, they are only a useless burden.... 

"The country which is nowhere is the real home."

On the other hand, is there any traveler who makes a crossing?  
Is there a somebody who reaches the other shore?

If this was the case, this traveler would carry with him the "hither shore" into the "beyond", just as the dust on the soles of one's shoes is carried from one place to another.  The traveler would transform the "other bank" into "this bank" because here and there are in him, are him and that outside the mind which thinks "here" and "there" are no other "here" and "there".

To go beyond virtue and vice, opinions and beliefs is to go beyond the mental constructions which are built up by the mind, unceasingly, and to recognize, by transcendent insight, that they are void of reality.  It is also to recognize, by transcendent insight, that that which has been imagined as practicing virtue, surrendering to vice, as holding opinions and elaborating theories, as traveling towards a goal and reaching the goal, is nothing but an inconsistent phantom, devoid of reality. 

~ Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden
from The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects


come in, my self

A certain person came to the Friend’s door
and knocked.
“Who’s there?”
“It’s me.”
The Friend answered, “Go away. There’s no place
for raw meat at this table.”

The individual went wandering for a year.
Nothing but the fire of separation
can change hypocrisy and ego. The person returned
completely cooked,
walked up and down in front of the Friend’s house,
gently knocked.
“Who is it?”
“Please come in, my self,
there’s no place in this house for two.
The doubled end of the thread is not what goes through
the eye of the needle.
It’s a single-pointed, fined-down, thread end,
not a big ego-beast with baggage."

~ Rumi
excerpt taken from Two Friends
translation by coleman barks