Tuesday, July 30, 2019

just below our fear







There are words in us
that don't know how
to get to the surface.
Words hidden in our marrow
afraid to show themselves
concerned the world will end
if they are uttered.
Words that cross 
the river of pain
that wish to tell the world
ho much love is hidden
just below our fear.
And some of these words
sometimes find their way
to live among us
in the trust to hear them,
words that spin our compass
anger and loneliness redirected
by insight and forgiveness,
words like mercy and compassion,
words we never trusted to exist.
Words hide in the strangest places,
under stones, in clouds,
in a moment of a friend's kindness,
in a moment to your generosity;
in poems beginning their first line
climbing happily into the heart singing
how close the moon comes 
when we trust the night.
Words even hide in other words.
 Mercy hides in the hesitant pause,
questioning ho much can be trusted
to the tongue, to the pen.
Invoking their true voice
rise to the surface
to sing their original song.




 ~ Stephen Levine
from Becoming Kuan Yin



 

Monday, July 29, 2019

prioritizing well-being








~ Nicola Sturgeon 



Sunday, July 28, 2019

Becoming Kuan Yin - The evolution of Compassion







the Chinese character for "Benevolence."  
It is the character that represent "person" along with that of the number "2."  
Recognizing that when 2 are present, benevolence is a natural occurrence.  
Benevolence eases duality. It is one of the Maha Viharas,
 great abodes of the true heart.


To know Kuan Yin we need to let go of all that is unloved, 

judged, forged from old mind clingings. She is the unconditional love 
behind the conditioned mind.
Some ancient force is called forth in surrendering
 hindrance after hindrance of our secret wretchedness 
and obvious suffering, to yield to the light of our Original Heart.



~ Stephen Levine







Saturday, July 27, 2019

millennium blessing





There is a grace approaching
that we shun as much as death,
it is the completion of our birth.

It does not come in time,
but in timelessness
when the mind sinks into the heart
and we remember.

It is an insistent grace that draws us
to the edge and beckons us surrender
safe territory and enter our enormity.

We know we must pass
beyond knowing
and fear the shedding.

But we are pulled upward
none-the-less
through forgotten ghosts
and unexpected angels,
luminous.

And there is nothing left to say
but we are That.

And that is what we sing about.




~ Stephen Levine
from Breaking the Drought, Visions of Grace



Thursday, July 25, 2019

from so simple a beginning







It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, 
clothed with many plants of many kinds, 
with birds singing on the bushes,
 insects flitting about and worms crawling
 through the damp earth, 
and to reflect that these forms, so different
 yet so dependent on each other in so complex a manner,
 have all been produced by simple laws.There is grandeur in this
 view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed
 by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, 
whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity,
 from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful 
and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.





Charles Darwin
from On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
 
 
 

in this world of yes






love is a place
through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places


yes is a world
in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds




e.e.cummings




Wednesday, July 24, 2019

symbols






Traditionally, the value of the symbol is precisely in its apparent uselessness
 as a means of simple communication.  It is ordered toward communion,
 not to communication. Because it is not an efficient mode of communicating
 information, the symbol can achieve a higher purpose, beyond 
cause and effect. Instead of establishing a new contact by a meeting of minds
 in the sharing of news, the symbol tells nothing new:
 it revives our awareness of what we already know,
 and deepens our awareness. What is "new" in the symbol is the ever new
 discovery of a new depth and a new actuality in what is and always has been.
.The function of the symbol is to manifest a union that already exists
 but is not fully realized.  The symbol awakens awareness or restores it.  
Therefore it does not aim at communication but at communion. 
 Communion is the awareness of participation in an ontological reality: 
in the mystery of being, of human love, of redemptive mystery, 
of contemplative truth,



~ Thomas Merton 
from Merton's Palace of Nowhere 
by James Finley

the conversation






A woman moves close:
there is something she wants to say.
The currents take you one direction, her another.
All night you are aware of her presence,
aware of the conversation that did not happen.
Inside it are mountains, birds, a wide river,
a few sparse-leaved trees.
On the river, a wooden boat putters.
On its deck, a spider washes its face.
Years from now, the boat will reach a port by the sea,
and the generations of spider descendants upon it
will look out, from their nearsighted, eightfold eyes,
at something unanswered.





~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief



a history






Someone first thought it:
an ox gelded, tamed, harnessed to a plow.

Then someone realized the wooden yoke could hold two.

After that, mere power of multiplication.
Railroads, airplanes, factory ships canning salmon.







~ Jane Hirshfield




wind and water and stone


.


The water hollowed the stone,
the wind dispersed the water,
the stone stopped the wind.
Water and wind and stone.

The wind sculpted the stone,
the stone is a cup of water,
The water runs off and is wind.
Stone and wind and water.

The wind sings in its turnings,
the water murmurs as it goes,
the motionless stone is quiet.
Wind and water and stone.

One is the other and is neither:
among their empty names
they pass and disappear,
water and stone and wind. 



~ Octavio Paz
(Translated by Mark Strand, 
The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987)



forgetting the body






Riding on the inner side of the blackbird's
Wings, I feel the long
Warm flight to the sea;
Dark, black in the trees at night.
Along the railroad tracks
In men's minds wild roses grow.
Lingering as ripe black olives
I go down the stairs of the little leaves,
To the floating continent
Where men forget their bodies,
Searching for the tiny
Grain of sand behind their eyes.





~ William Duffy

Introductory notes by Robert Bly 
to The Lion’s Tail and Eyes, Poems written out of laziness and silence.



“One purpose of poetry is to forget about what you know, and think about what you don’t know. There is an old idea that only by leaving the body can a man think. Such a leaving concerns the body of knowledge as well as the physical body. After all, as Montale says, if the purpose of poetry lay in making oneself understood, there would be no purpose in writing it.”……. 

“The fundamental world of poetry…..is the inward world. The poem expresses what we are just beginning to think, thoughts we have not yet thought. The poem must catch these thoughts alive, holding them in language that is also alive, flexible and animal-alike as they. 

The poem with images is therefore like a lion about to come into existence. A person meets the poem among trees at night. On the path in front of him, he sees a lion who does not know he is there. The lion is changing from his old ancient substance back into a visible body. So far the tip of the tail, the ears, the eyes, and perhaps a paw or two have come.”






wooden






In the presence of supple
goodness, some people
grow less flexible,
experiencing a woodenness
they wouldn't have thought possible.
It is as strange and paradoxical
as the combined suffering
of Pinocchio and Geppetto
if Pinocchio had turned and said,
I can't be human after all.




~ Kay Ryan
from The Best of It






Monday, July 22, 2019

toward emptiness






In the desert,
Turn toward emptiness,
Fleeing the self.

Stand alone
Ask no one's help,
And your being will quiet,
Free from the bondage of things.

Those who cling to the world,
endeavor to free them;
Those who are free, praise.
Care for the sick,
But live alone,
Happy to drink from the waters of sorrow,
To kindle Love's fire
With the twigs of a simple life.

Thus you will live in the desert.




Mechtild of Magdeburg (1207?-1282? or 1297?)
translation by Jane Hirshfield



Friday, July 19, 2019

I come to you without me






I come to you without me, come to me without you.
Self is the thorn in the sole of the soul.
Merge with others,
If you stay in self, you are a grain, you are a drop,
If you merge with others, you are an ocean, you are a mine.


~ Rumi
art by Van Gogh

among the trees






When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple”, they say,
“and you too have come into the world to do this,
to go easy, to be filled with light , and to shine.”





~ Mary Oliver

living it







First and foremost, you must listen to your own rhythm, and
 try to live in accordance with it. Be attentive to what emerges
 from deep down. Often, our actions are only imitations, 
fulfillment of an assumption of duty, or a reflection
 of what we believe a human being “should” be.
 
But the only certainty we may have about our life 
and our deeds can only spring from the very depth of our being.


I know that a new and kinder day will come,
 and I would so much like to live on, 
if only to express all the love I carry within me. 
 
And there is only one way of preparing the new age,
 by living it even now in our hearts.
 
We must be willing to act like a balm for all wounds.




~ Etty Hillesum
 
 

love frees






All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burros eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.

Love frees.



~ Meister Eckhart
art by: Stephen Filarsky


sometimes


.







Water is sometimes sharp and sometimes strong,
sometimes acid and sometimes bitter,
sometimes sweet and sometimes thick or thin,
sometimes it is seen bringing hurt or pestilence,
sometime health-giving, sometimes poisonous.

It suffers change into as many natures as
are the different places through which it passes.

And as the mirror changes with the colour of its subject,
so it alters with the nature of the place,
becoming noisome, laxative, astringent, sulfurous, salty,
incarnadined, mournful, raging, angry, red, yellow,
green, black, blue, greasy, fat or slim.

Sometimes it starts a conflagration,
sometimes it extinguishes one;
is warm and is cold, carries away or sets down,
hollows out or builds up, tears or establishes,
fills or empties, raises itself or burrows down,
speeds or is still;

is the cause at times of life or death, or increase or privation,
nourishes at times and at others does the contrary;
at times has a tang, at times is without savor,
sometimes submerging the valleys with great floods.

In time and with water, everything changes.






~ Leonardo da Vinci
(art by Leonardo, The Last Supper, the face of John)

.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

letters from God






I have said that the soul is not more than the body, 
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, 
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own 
funeral drest in his shroud, 
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the 
earth, 
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the 
learning of all times, 
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it 
may become a hero, 
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d 
universe, 
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed 
before a million universes. 

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, 
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, 
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and 
about death.) 

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the 
least, 
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself. 

Why should I wish to see God better than this day? 
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment 
then, 
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the 
glass, 
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d 
by God’s name, 
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go, 
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.




~ Walt Whitman
photo by Edward Weston



last instruction







"Make of yourself a light" said the Buddha,
 before he died. I think of this 
every morning as the east begins to tear 
off its many clouds of darkness, 
to send up the first signal-a white fan 
streaked with pink and violet, even green. 

An old man, he lay down between two sala trees,
 and he might have said anything, 
knowing it was his final hour. The light burns upward,
 it thickens and settles over the fields. Around him,
 the villagers gathered and stretched forward to listen. 
Even before the sun itself hangs, disattached,
 in the blue air, I am touched everywhere
 by its ocean of yellow waves.

 No doubt he thought 
of everything that had happened in his difficult life. 
And then I feel the sun itself 
as it blazes over the hills, like a million flowers on fire- 
clearly I'm not needed, 
yet I feel myself turning into something 
of inexplicable value. Slowly, 
beneath the branches, he raised his head. 
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.




~  Mary Oliver


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

motion








If you are the amber mare
I am the road of blood
If you are the first snow
I am he who lights the hearth of dawn
If you are the tower of night
I am the spike burning in your mind
If you are the morning tide
I am the first bird's cry
If you are the basket of oranges
I am the knife of the sun
If you are the stone altar
I am the sacrilegious hand
If you are the sleeping land
I am the green cane
If you are the wind's leap
I am the buried fire
If you are the water's mouth
I am the mouth of moss
If you are the forest of the clouds
I am the axe that parts it
If you are the profaned city
I am the rain of consecration
If you are the yellow mountain
I am the red arms of lichen
If you are the rising sun
I am the road of blood



~ Octavio Paz
translated by Eliot Weinberger, 
from Collected Poems 1957-1987 

wander






"Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality—it’s all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.

In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago. And many of them seem to me written by a stranger: I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else’s dream.

I often find texts of mine that I wrote when I was very young—when I was seventeen or twenty. And some have a power of expression that I do not remember having them. Certain sentences and passages I wrote when I had just taken a few steps away from adolescence seem produced by the self I am today, educated by years and things. I recognize I am the same as I was. And having felt I am today making a great progress from what I was, I wonder where this progress is if I was then the same as I am today.

Just a few days earlier I suffered horribly reading a short text I’d written earlier. I remember perfectly that my scruples—at least as far as language is concerned—are only a few years old. In a drawer I found a much older text in which those same scruples were strongly accentuated. I didn’t understand myself in the past in a positive way. How did I advance towards what I already was? How can the person who knows me today not know me yesterday? 

All this confuses me in a labyrinth where I am with myself and wander away from myself.
I wander with my thoughts and I’m sure that what I’m writing now I already wrote. I remember. And I ask the being that in me presumes to exist if there might not be in the Platonism of sensations another, more appropriate amamnesis, another memory of a former life that might only be of this life…

My God, my God, whose performance am I watching? How many people am I? What is this space between myself and myself?"





~ Fernando Pessoa
 from The Book of Disquiet





presence in landscape







I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows,
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am a beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in valour,
I am the salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a world of knowledge,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created the fire in the head.

Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain? 
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun?




~ Amairgen 
(chief poet of the Milesians,
brother of Evir, Ir, and Eremon, the first Milesian 
princes who came to Ireland hundreds of years before Christ)
ed. P. Murray
from Anam Cara, by John O'Donohue
art by Pan Tian Shou



by the inquiry







"By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.
The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization."



~ Ramana Maharshi


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sometimes







Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen for a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
and an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions.  What should I reply?



~ Hermann Hesse

.

leading a strange life






At times he heard within him a soft, gently voice, which reminded him quietly, complained quietly, so that he could hardly hear it.  Then he suddenly saw clearly that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing many things that were only a game, that he was quite cheerful and sometimes experienced pleasure, but that real life was flowing past him and did not touch him.  Like a player who plays with his ball, he played with his business, with the people around him, watched them, derived amusement from them; but with his heart, with his real nature, he was not there.  His real self wandered elsewhere, far away, wandered on and on invisibly and had nothing to do with his life.  He was sometimes afraid of these thoughts and wished that he could also share their childish daily affairs with intensity, truly to take part in them, to enjoy and live their lives instead of only being there as an onlooker.



~ Herman Hesse
from Siddhartha


throw it all away





take each step
then throw it all away again,
suddenly,  beauty
overflows 



~ Hermann Hesse
from Rosshalde

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

separation left me








You went away but remained in me
And thus became my peace and happiness.

In separation, separation left me
And I witnessed the Unknown.

You were the hidden secret of my longing,
Hidden deep within my conscience deeper than a dream.

You were my true friend in the day
And in darkness my companion.




~ Mansur al- Hallaj
(9th Century)
English version by Mahmood Jamal

the unwinding






So we sit down, we’re quiet for a while.
And gradually the unwinding happens –
of the mind, and the body, and the heart.
And then maybe we get a glimpse, or a taste, of freedom;
and if we do, then we give our attention to that.
We surrender to that presence.
Dropping out of our heads and surrendering to stillness,
one-pointed presence, effortless vastness.
We let it take us, completely.
That’s what surrender is.



~ Jon Bernie
from  Ordinary Freedom