Friday, July 31, 2020

readings










~ William Stafford



Thursday, July 30, 2020

traveling through







Death is a favour to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity, deepening the wonder in our
Senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And surely are just traveling through.

If I were in the tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His cup.


If I were in the tavern tonight,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long.


Death is a favour to us,
But our minds have lost their balance.
The miraculous existence and impermanence of
Form
Always makes the illumined ones
Laugh and sing.





~ Hafiz
from  The subject tonight is Love –  poems of Hafiz
Versions by Daniel Ladinsky

impermanence, not the cause of suffering






Impermanence does not necessarily lead us to suffering. 

Without impermanence, life could not be. 
Without impermanence, your daughter could not grow
 into a beautiful young lady. Without impermanence, 
oppressive political regimes would never change. 
We think impermanence makes us suffer. 
The Buddha gave the example of a dog that was hit by a stone 
and got angry at the stone. It is not impermanence that makes us suffer.
 What makes us suffer is 
wanting things to be permanent
 when they are not.

We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. 

If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, 
we will take good care of ourselves. 
When we know that the person we love is impermanent, 
we will cherish our beloved all the more. 
Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment 
and all the precious things around us and inside of us.
 When we practice mindfulness of impermanence,
 we become fresher and more loving. 

Looking deeply can become a way of life. 

We can practice conscious breathing to help us be in touch
 with things and to look deeply at their impermanent nature.
 This practice will keep us from complaining that everything
 is impermanent and therefore not worth living for.

 Impermanence is what makes transformation possible. 
We should learn to say,
 “Long live impermanence”.
 Thanks to impermanence, 
we can change sufferings into joy.




~Thich Nhat Hanh 
from No Death No Fear 



Tuesday, July 28, 2020

time will come





The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.






~ Derek Walcott



why is there a fear of death?

.





Questioner:  The fact of death stares everybody in the face,
 yet its mystery is never solved.  Must it always be so?


Krishnamurti:  Why is there a fear of death? 
 When we cling to continuity, there is the fear of death.
 Incomplete action brings the fear of death. 
 There is a fear of death as long as there is the desire for continuity
 in character, continuity in action, in capacity, in the name, and so on.
  As long as there is action seeking a result, there must be the thinker 
who is seeking continuity.  Fear comes into being when this continuity 
is threatened through death.  So, there is fear of death as long
 as there is the desire for continuity. 

     That which continues disintegrates.  Any form of continuity, 
however noble, is a process of disintegration.  In continuity there is never renewal, 
and only in renewal is there freedom from the fear of death.  If we see the truth 
of this, then we will see the truth in the false.  Then there would be the liberation 
from the false.  Then there would be no fear of death.  Thus living, experiencing,
 is in the present and not a means of continuity.

     Is it possible to live from moment to moment with renewal?
  There is renewal only in ending and not in continuity.  In the interval 
between the ending and the beginning of another problem,
 there is renewal.

     Death, the state of non-continuity, the state of rebirth, is the unknown.
  Death is the unknown.  The mind, which is the result of continuity,
 cannot know the unknown.  It can know only the known.  It can only act
 and have its being in the known, which is continuous.  So the known is in fear
 of the unknown.  The known can never know the unknown, and so death 
remains the mystery.  If there is an ending from moment to moment,
 from day to day, in this ending the unknown comes into being.

     Immortality is not the continuation of "me".  The me and the mine is of time,
 the result of action towards an end.  So there is no relationship between the me
 and the mine and that which is immortal, timeless.  We would like to think 
there is a relationship, but this is an illusion.  That which is immeasurable 
cannot be caught in the net of time.

     There is fear of death where there is search for fulfillment. 
 Fulfillment has no ending.  Desire is constantly seeking and changing
 the object of fulfillment, and so it is caught in the net of time. 
 So the search for self-fulfillment is another form of continuity, 
and frustration seeks death as a means of continuity.  Truth is not continuous. 
 Truth is a state of being, and being is action without time.  This being
 can be experienced only when desire, which gives birth to continuity,
 is wholly and completely understood.  Thought is founded on the past,
 so thought cannot know the unknown, the immeasurable.  
The thought process must come to an end.  
Then only the unknowable comes into being.



.
~ J. Krishnamurti
from a talk in Bombay March 14 1948
art by Klimt




Sunday, July 26, 2020

silence shall be my answer






All things change and die and disappear.
Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and disappear.
In this hour I shall cease to ask them 
and silence shall be my answer.
The world that Your love created,
that the heat has distorted,
that my mind is always misinterpreting,
shall cease to interfere with our voices.



~ Thomas Merton
from Dialogues with Silence
.
The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message
 that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty
 because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words 
that will transform his darkness into light.  He does not even anticipate
 a special kind of transformation.  He does not demand light instead of darkness.
  He waits in silence, and, when he is "answered," it is not so much by a word
 that bursts into his silence.  It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably
 revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.



from The Climate of Monastic Prayer
(one of last books he prepared for publication)
sketch by the author



Saturday, July 25, 2020

when we no longer know what to do






It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.



~  Wendell Berry

in the beginning was the dream









In the beginning was the dream.
  In the eternal night where no dawn broke, the dream deepened.
  Before anything ever was, it had to be dreamed.  
Everything had its beginning in possibility.  
Every single thing is somehow the expression and incarnation 
of a thought.  If a thing had never been thought, 
it could never be.  If we take Nature as the great artist of longing
 then all presences in the world have emerged from her mind 
and imagination.  We are children of the earth's dreaming. 
  When you compare the silent, under-night of Nature
 with the detached and intimate intensity of the person, 
it is almost as if Nature is in dream and we are her children 
who have broken through the dawn into time and place. 

  Fashioned in the dreaming of the clay,
 we are always somehow haunted by that;
 we are unable ever finally to decide what is dream
 and what is reality.  Each day we live in what we call reality. 
 Yet the more we think about it, the more life seems to resemble a dream.

  We rush through our days in such stress and intensity,
 as if we were here to stay,  and the serious project of the world 
depended on us.  We worry and grow anxious; 
 we magnify trivia until they have become important enough
 to control our lives.  Yet all the time, we have forgotten
 that we are but temporary sojourners on the surface of a strange planet
 spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos. 

 There is no protective zone around any of us. 
 Anything can happen to anyone at any time.  
There is no definitive dividing line between reality and dream.  
What we consider real is often precariously dreamlike.
  One of the linguistic philosophers said that there is no evidence
 that could be employed to disprove this claim:  
The world only came into existence ten minutes ago
 complete with all our memories.  Any evidence you could proffer
 could still be accounted for by the claim.  Because our grip
 on reality is tenuous, every heart is infused
 with the dream of belonging.



~ John O' Donohue
 from 'Eternal Echoes'
 art by Erté.




how to be







Make a place to sit down.
Sit down.  Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection,  reading,  knowledge,
skill -- more of each
than you have  -- inspiration,
work,  growing older,  patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity.  Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly.  Live
a three - differential life;
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of silence,  like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.




~ Wendell Berry
photo - Sitting Bull
by F.A. Rinehart





Friday, July 24, 2020

a journey of one inch







And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, 
no matter how long, 
but only by a spiritual journey, 
a journey of one inch, 
very arduous and humbling and joyful, 
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, 
and learn to be at home.




~ Wendell Berry
(Collected Poems)
photo by: Kathleen Connally




Thursday, July 23, 2020

the language we’ve inherited





The language we’ve inherited confuses (this). 

We say “my” body and “your” body and “his”
 body and “her” body, but it isn’t that way. … 

This Cartesian “Me,” this autonomous little homunculus 
who sits behind our eyeballs looking out through them 
in order to pass judgment on the affairs of the world,
 is just completely ridiculous. 

This self-appointed little editor of reality
 is just an impossible fiction that collapses
 the moment one examines it.



~ Robert M. Pirsig
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance




excerpt from: The Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith






God made mud. 
God got lonesome. 
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!" 
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."


And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around. 
Lucky me, lucky mud.


I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done. 
Nice going, God. 
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have. 
I feel very unimportant compared to You. 
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud
that didn't even get to sit up and look around. 
I got so much, and most mud got so little. 
Thank you for the honor!


Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep. 
What memories for mud to have! 
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met! 
I loved everything I saw! 
Good night. 



~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
(Cat's Cradle)

opposites




.



With all its eyes the natural world looks out
into the Open.  Only our eyes are turned 
backward, and surround plant, animal, child 
like traps, as they emerge into their freedom.
We know what is really out there only from
the animal's gaze;

 for we take the very young
child and force it around, so that it sees
objects - not the Open, which is so
deep in animals' faces.  Free from death.
We, only, can see death; the free animal
has its decline in back of it, forever,
and God in front, and when it moves, it moves
already in eternity, like a fountain.

Never, not for a single day, do we have 
before us that pure space into which flowers 
endlessly open. Always there is World
and never Nowhere without the No: that pure
unseparated element which one breathes
without desire and endlessly knows. 

 A child 
may wander there for hours, through the timeless
stillness, may get lost in it and be 
shaken back. Or someone dies and is it.
For , nearing death, one doesn't see death; but stares
beyond, perhaps with an animal's vast gaze.
Lovers, if the beloved were not there
blocking the view, are close to it, and marvel...
As if by some mistake, it opens for them
behind each other.. But neither can move past
the other, and it changes back to World.
Forever turned toward objects, we see in them
the mere reflection of the realm of freedom,
which we have dimmed. Or when some animal
mutely, serenely, looks us through and through.
That is what fate means: to be opposite,
to be opposite and nothing else, forever.




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
excerpt from the Duino Elegies, #8
translated by Stephen Mitchell
photo by shreve stockton

.

habit - fear - security - exclusion






.

 For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room,
 it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, 
a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. 


Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity
 is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe’s stories
 to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons 
and not be strangers to the
 unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, 
and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.
 We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond,
 and over and above this we have through thousands of years 
of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still
 we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished
 from all that surrounds us. 


We have no reason to mistrust our world, 
for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, 
those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.
 And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels
 us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems
 to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.


 How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons
 that at the last moment turn into princesses; 


perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting 
to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its 
deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.




~ Rainer Maria Rilke





Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Coltrane - compassion










~ John Coltrane


The divine force — God, as Coltrane defined it —
 breathes through us all, said Coltrane, 
and the last years of his life can be seen as an attempt —
 sometimes a struggle —
 to breathe God through his horn.

“Once you become aware of this force for unity in life,” 
wrote Coltrane in the liner notes for 1965’s Meditations,
 his acknowledged follow-up to A Love Supreme.
 “You can’t forget it. It becomes part of everything you do… 
my goal in meditating on this through music however remains… 
to uplift people as much as I can. To inspire them
 to realize more and more their capacities for
 living meaningful lives.”

 comments by Sean Murphy


compassion









~ Joseph Goldstein



for oneself








The first being one must have compassion for
is oneself.
You can't be a witness to your thoughts
with a chip on your shoulder or an axe to grind.

Ramana Maharshi said,
"If people would stop wailing alas I am a sinner
and use all that energy to get on with it
they would all be enlightened."


He also said,
"When you're cleaning up the outer temple
before going to the inner temple,
don't stop to read everything
you're going to throw away..."





art by William Russell Nowicki






 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

apple





.


I wake and remembered 
nothing of what I was dreaming

The day grew light, then dark again — 
In all its rich hours, what happened? 

A few weeds pulled, a few cold flowers 
carried inside for the vase. 
A little reading. A little tidying and sweeping.

I had vowed to do nothing I did not wish 
to do that day, and kept my promise.

Once, a certain hope came close 
and then departed. Passed by me in its familiar 
shawl, scented with iodine woodsmoke.

I did not speak to it, nor it to me. 
Yet still the habit of warmth traveled 
between us, like an apple shared by old friends —

One takes a bite, then the other. 
They do this until it is gone.




~ Jane Hirshfield






you live like this






You live like this,
 sheltered,
 in a delicate world,
 and you believe you are living. 

Then you read a book… 
or you take a trip…
 and you discover
 that you are not living, 
that you are hibernating. 

The symptoms of hibernating
 are easily detectable: first, restlessness. 
The second symptom 
(when hibernating becomes dangerous 
and might degenerate into death):
 absence of pleasure. 
That is all.

 It appears like an innocuous illness. 
Monotony, boredom, death. 
Millions live like this (or die like this) 
without knowing it. 

They work in offices. 
They drive a car. 
They picnic with their families. 
They raise children.
 And then 
some shock treatment takes place, 
a person, a book, a song,
 and it awakens them and saves them from death.




~ Anaïs Nin
from The Diary of Anaïs Nin



to love myself









~ Thich Nhat Hanh



 

Monday, July 20, 2020

the way of the heart - Rumi











Sunday, July 19, 2020

in the kingdom of insecurity





As the under-secretary leans forward and draws an X
her earrings dangle like the sword above Damocles,
As a speckled butterfly turns invisible against the earth
the demon merges with the opened newspaper.
A helmet worn by no one seizes power.
A mother tortoise escapes, flying underwater.





~ Tomas Transtromer
from The Sorrow Gondola
translations by Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl





at the center







The Master is not trapped in opposites. His this is also a that. 
He sees that life becomes death and death becomes life,
 that right has a kernel of wrong within it and wrong a kernel of right,
 that the true turns into the false and the false into the true. 

He understands that nothing is absolute,
 that since every point of view depends on the viewer, 
affirmation and denial are equally beside the point. 
The place where the this and the that are not opposed to each other
 is called "the pivot of the Tao." When we find this pivot, we find ourselves
 at the center of the circle, and here we sit, serene, 
while Yes and No keep chasing each other
 around the circumference, endlessly. 

Mind can only create the qualities of good and bad by comparing. 
Remove the comparison, and there go the qualities. 
What remains is the pure unknown: ungraspable object,
 ungraspable subject, and the clear light of awareness 
streaming through. The pivot of the Tao
 is the mind free of its thoughts.
 It doesn't believe that this is a this
 or that that is a that. 

Let Yes and No sprint around the circumference
 toward a finish line that doesn't exist. How can they stop trying
 to win the argument of life until you stop? When you do, 
you realize that you were the only one running.

 Yes was you,
 No was you, 
the whole circumference, with its colored banners,
 its pom-pom girls and frenzied crowds - that was you as well.
 At the center, the eyes open and again
 it's the sweet morning of the world. There's nothing here
 to limit you, no one here to draw a circumference.
 In fact, there's no one here - 
not even you.



~ Stephen Mitchell
from The Second Book of the Tao
art by Master Shen-Long
with thanks to Love is a Place




grace








~ Kraig Kenning





Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Andaluza









~ Anne Gastinel & Pablo Marques

perfect accord




Some people who play solos quite well simply are no good at accompanying.  
It takes a special something to know when to keep in the background 
and when to play out to give the soloist support and when, 
occasionally, the piano has a real solo passage or phrase ... 

The thing is to think of the piece as a whole, 
not as a violin part with an accompanying piano part, 
but as one piece of music.  
You feel as if you were playing the violin part yourself, 
you are in such perfect accord with the violinist.




~ Anna Hubbard
in this letter to Mia Cunningham, Anna describes her experience of playing with Harlan.  
It might as easily describe the art of  living graciously with others.

from "Anna Hubbard - Out of the Shadows"
by Mia Cunningham

Anna and Mia,1956
(Mia left)



Monday, July 13, 2020

Blessing




Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that quicken your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.
May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of the question "Who am I?" and may it brighten your longing.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness with which your body belongs to the world.
May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.
May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighborhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.
May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of God.





~ John O'Donohue







the longing






The sweetest thing in all my life 
has been the longing - to reach the Mountain, 
to find the place where all the beauty came from - 
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. 
Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? 
The longing for home? 
For indeed it now feels not like going, 
but like going back.




~ C.S. Lewis


a secret thread







 
 
 
You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. 
You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them,
 though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all,
 and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.
 
 Again, you have stood 
before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for
 all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing 
what you saw - but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realize
that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing 
an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you 
are transported.
 
 Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret
 attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of - something, not to 
be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, 
the smell of cut wood in the workshop
 or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?


Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet
 another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain 
even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, 
and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences
 between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood 
to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. 
 
 
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints
 of it - tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away
 just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest - if there ever
 came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself 
you would know it.
 
 Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say
 “Here at last is the thing I was made for.” We cannot tell each other about it. 
It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable
 want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends
 or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, 
when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are,
 this is. If we lose this, we lose all.




~ C.S. Lewis
from The Problem of Pain
art by Stushie
with thanks to Love is a Place