Sunday, May 31, 2020

ventilating the world with tenderness

~ Greg Boyle


Hidden in the heart of every creature
Exists the Self, subtler than the subtlest,
Greater than the greatest.  They go beyond
All sorrow who extinguish their self-will
And behold the glory of the Self
Through the grace of the Lord of Love.

Though one sits in meditation in a 
Particular place, the Self within
Can exercise his influence far away.
Though still, he moves everything everywhere.

When the wise realize the Self,
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midst of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.

The Self cannot be known through study
Of the scriptures, nor through the intellect,
Nor through hearing discourses about it.
The Self can be attained only by those
Whom the Self chooses.  Verily unto them
Does the Self reveal himself.

~ The Katha Upanishad
translated by Eknath Easwaran

Saturday, May 30, 2020

blessing in the chaos

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
Let what divides you
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

The human heart continues to dream of a state of wholeness,
 a place where everything comes together, 
where loss will be made good, where blindness will transform
 into vision, where damage will be made whole, 
where the clenched question will open in the house of surprise,
 where the travails of a life’s journey will enjoy a homecoming. 
To invoke a blessing is to call some of that wholeness upon a person now. 

~ Jan Richardson
art by klimt

be helpless

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we're lying.
If we say No, we don't see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.

~ Rumi
translation by Coleman Barks


We are looking for your laugh.
Trying to find the path back to it
between drooping trees.
Listening for your rustle
under bamboo,
brush of fig leaves,
feeling your step
on the porch,
natty lantana blossom
poked into your buttonhole.
We see your raised face
at both sides of a day.
How was it, you lived around
the edge of everything we did,
seasons of ailing; growing,
mountains of laundry; mail?
I am looking for you first; last
in the dark places,
when I turn my face away
from headlines at dawn,
dropping the rolled news to the floor.
Your rumble of calm
poured into me.
There was the saving grace
of care, from day one, the watching
and being watched
from every corner of the yard.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from Transfer

Friday, May 29, 2020

the movement of love

Meditation is the movement of love. It isn't the love of the one
or of the many.  It is like water that anyone can drink out of any jar...
it is inexhaustible. 

The soil in which the meditative mind can begin is the soil of everyday life,
 the strife, the pain, and the fleeting joy. It must begin there, and bring order,
 and from there move endlessly. But if you are concerned only with making order,
 then that very order will bring about its own limitation, 
and the mind will be its prisoner.
 In all this movement you must somehow begin from the other end, 
from the other shore, and not always be concerned with this shore
 or how to cross the river. You must take a plunge into the water,
 not knowing how to swim. And the beauty of meditation
 is that you never know where you are, 
where you are going, what the end is.

~  J. Krishnamurti
from The Meditative Mind
with thanks to Love is a Place


stories of the Buddha's last days

~ Jack Kornfield

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I cobbled their boots

How could I love my fellow men who tortured me?

One night I was dragged into a room 
and beaten near death with
their shoes

striking me hundreds of times
in the face, scarring me 

I cried out for God to help, until I fainted.

That night in a dream, in a dream more real than this world.
a strap from the Christ's sandal
fell from my bleeding

and I looked at Him and He 
was weeping, and

"I cobbled their boots;
how sorry 
I am.

What moves all things
is God."

~ St John of the Cross
from Love poems of God,
Twelve sacred voices from the East and West

in my wallet I carry a card

In my wallet I carry a card
which declares I have the power to marry.

In my wallet I carry a card
which declares I may drive.

In my wallet I carry a card
that says to a merchant I may be trusted to pay her.

In my wallet I carry a card
that states I can borrow a book in the town where I live.

In my hand I carry a card
Its lines declare I am cardless, carless,
stateless, and have no money.

It is buoyant and edgeless.
It names me one of the Order of All Who Will Die.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty



~ Jack Kornfield


Wednesday, May 27, 2020


I say I
a small mosquito drinks from my tongue

but many say we and hear I
say you or he and 
hear I

what can we do with this problem

a bowl held in both hands
cannot be filled by the holder

x, says the blue whale
x, say the krill
solve for y, says the ocean, then multiply by existence

the feet of an ant make their own sound on the earth

ice is astonished by water

a person misreads

delirium as delphinium
and falls into
a blueness sleepy as beauty when sneezing

the pronoun dozes

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty

my species

a small purple artichoke
in its own bittered
and darkening
grows tender,
grows tender and sweet

patience, I think,
my species

keep testing the spiny leaves

the spiny heart

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty

anxiety starts to disintegrate

Being conscious is cutting through your own melodrama
 and being right here. Exist in no mind, be empty, here now, 
and trust that as a situation arises, out of you will come 
what is necessary to deal with that situation 
including the use of your intellect when appropriate. 
Your intellect need not be constantly held on to keep reassuring
 you that you know where you’re at, out of fear of loss of control.

Ultimately,  that anxiety starts to disintegrate.
 And you start to define yourself as in flow with the universe; 
and whatever comes along—death, life joy, sadness
—is grist for the mill of awakening.
Ram Dass 

rain light

All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the after life
that lived there long before you were born 
see how they wake without a question
even through the whole world is burning

~ W. S. Merwin
from The Shadow of Sirius
iris by van gogh

grow accustomed

We grow accustomed to the Dark -
When light is put away -
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye -

A Moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our Vision to the Dark -
And meet the Road - erect -

And so of larger - Darkness -
Those Evenings of the Brain -
When no a Moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within -

The Bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
 But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.

~ Emily Dickenson 

the last day

This may be the last day of my life.
I lifted my right hand to wave at the sun,
but I did not wave at it in farewell.
I was glad I could still see it - that's all.

~ Fernando Pessoa
translation by Richard Zenith


Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn't matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn't always understand.

~ Czeslaw Milosz
translation by Robert Hass
from The Collected Poems
art by Picasso

so little

I said so little.
Days were short.

Short days.
Short nights.
Short years.

I said so little.
I couldn't keep up.

My heart grew weary
From joy,

The jaws of Leviathan
Were closing upon me.

Naked, I lay on the shores
Of desert islands.

The white whale of the world
Hauled me down to its pit.

And now I don’t know
What in all that was real.

~ Czeslaw Milosz
translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee

Monday, May 25, 2020

priceless gifts

An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.

~ Anna Swirszczynska
from Talking to My Body
 translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

between the roof planks

It is true,
the wind blows terribly here -
but moonlight
also leaks between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

~ Izumi Shikibu, (974-1034)

She is considered by some to be the greatest woman poet of Japanese literature.
from:  Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield

the white horse

 The youth walks up to the white horse, to put its halter on
and the horse looks at him in silence.

They are so silent they are in another world.

~ D. H. Lawrence


On a branch
floating downriver,
a cricket singing.

 art by Seiko


Sunday, May 24, 2020

all will come again

All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong
and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
 from: 'The Book of Hours'

a face

It's just by chance, who
you are, but given myself
I take care of this being.
Nobody else will remember
its hunger, cold, loneliness:
I will be reminded, and care.

This face, like an old watch,
I carry wherever I go.
Grandmothers, grandfathers, you pictures,
you should forgive my regret:
my wanting another. I carry it
as you did. It belongs
somewhere, and I am taking it there.

On corners I let the wind
have all the world, and I turn
as a ship accepts the waves
but is itself and has a voyage
built into it, stubbornly.

The choice of being who you are
is offered us, or being nothing.
The mask of myself is an old gift
nobody else took. So I brought it here.

  ~ William Stafford

I am not I

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

~ Juan Ramon Jimenez
translated by Robert Bly

inside a stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
An listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill-
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

~ Charles Simic 
photo by  Hans Strand

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Capricho Arabe

~ Sharon Isbin

just a story

~ James Ford
from  Journeys on the Razor-Edged Path
  by Simons Roof

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

the promise

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

~ Jane Hirshfield

on finding a guide

You wear coarse wool, but you're a king,
as the soul's energy hides, as love
remembers. You enter this room in a human
shape and as the atmosphere we breathe.

You are the central pole through the nine
levels connecting them and us to absolute
absence. So that we can have what we want,
you give failure and frustration. You want

only the company of the lion and the lion
cub, no wobbly legs. That man there, you
suggest, might remove his head before
entering the temple. Then he could listen

without ears to a voice that says, My
creature. A month of walking the road, you
make that distance in one day. Never mind
gold and silver payments. When you feel

generous, give your head. My beauty,
you have no need for a guide. The one
who follows and the one who leads are
inseparable, as the moon and the circle

around it. An Arab drags his camel town
to town. You go through your troubles
and changing beliefs, both no different from
the moon moving across or basil growing

and getting cut for a bouquet. It doesn't
matter you've been lost. The hoopoe is
still looking for you. It's another
beginning, my friend, this waking in a

morning with no haze, and help coming
without your asking! A glass submerged
is turning inside the wine. With grief
waved away, sweet gratefulness arrives.

~ Rumi 
Coleman Barks, Nevit Ergin version


~ James Ishmael Ford 

and yet

The world of dew --
A world of dew it is indeed,
And yet, and yet . . .


on trust in the heart

The perfect way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love
It reveals itself fully and without disguise;
A tenth of an inch's difference,
And heaven and earth are set apart.
If you wish to see it before your own eyes
Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it.

To set up what you like against what you dislike -
That is the disease of the mind:
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood,
Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.

The Way is perfect like unto vast space,
It is indeed due to making choice
That its Suchness is lost sight of.

Pursue not the outer entanglements,
Dwell not in the inner Void;
Be serene in the oneness of things,
And dualism vanishes by itself.

When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion,
The quiescence thus gained is ever in motion;
As long as you tarry in dualism,
How can you realize oneness?

And when oneness is not thoroughly understood,
In two ways loss is sustained:
The denying of reality is the asserting of it,
And the asserting of emptiness is the denying of it.

Wordliness and intellection -
The more with them, the farther astray we go:
Away, therefore, with wordliness and intellection,
and there is no place where we cannot pass freely.

When we return to the root, we gain the meaning;
When we pursue external objects we lose the reason.
The moment we are enlightened within,
We go beyond the voidness of a world confronting us.

Transformations going on in an empty world which confronts us
Appear real all because of ignorance:
Try not to seek after the true.
Only cease to cherish opinions.

from Zen: a way of life 
by Christmas Humphreys