Sunday, November 29, 2020

closed for the night










~ St. John of the Cross
read by Robert Bly




Wednesday, November 25, 2020

holding hands

 
 
 

 

Out of a great need
we are all holding hands
and climbing.

Not loving is a letting go.

Listen,the terrain around here
is
far too
dangerous
for
that.
 
 
 

~ Hafiz
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 23, 2020

the word

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
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


intimately






Knowledge always deceives.
It always limits the Truth, every concept and image does.

From cage to cage the caravan moves,
but I give thanks,
for at each divine juncture
my wings expand
and I

touch Him more
intimately.




~ Meister Eckhart




willing to belong

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.

...few are willing to belong completely
to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
into a living and vigilant silence.



~ Thomas Merton
from Thoughts in Solitude
 
 
 
 
 
 

deepening



Image result for agitation art



He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world 
without deepening his own self-understanding, 
freedom and integrity and capacity to love, 
will not have anything to give others. 

He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion 
of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centeredness, 
his delusions about the ends and means, 
his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.


- Thomas Merton
from Contemplation in a World of Action
art by  Art Strayer





Sunday, November 22, 2020

othering

 
 
 

 
"There are no others."

~ Ramana Maharshi



Where there is a duality, as it were, there one sees another; 
there one smells another; there one tastes another; 
there one speaks to another... 
 
But where everything has become just one's own self,
 then whereby and whom would one see? 
then whereby and whom would one smell? 
then whereby and to whom would one speak?
 then whereby and whom would one hear?
 then whereby and of whom would one think?
 then whereby and whom would one touch?
then whereby and whom would one understand?


—Brihadaranyaka Upabishad
 
 
 

lightly, lightly








It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. 
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig
Lightly, lightly
 
 – it’s the best advice ever given me. 
 
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, 
or portentous, or emphatic. 
No rhetoric, no tremolos, 
no self conscious persona 
putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. 
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. 
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. 

So throw away your baggage and go forward. 
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, 
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. 
 
That’s why you must walk so lightly. 
Lightly my darling, 
on tiptoes and no luggage, 
not even a sponge bag, 
completely unencumbered.




~ Aldous Huxley
from Island





in my breast


 
 
 
 
 
The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast -
Downward,
The branches grow out of me, like arms.
Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child – so high – you are,
And all this is folly to the world.

 
 
 
~ Ezra Pound

 
 
 

Monday, November 16, 2020

a skill which can be cultivated





Learn self-conquest, preserve thus for a time,
and you will perceive very clearly the advantage which you gain from it.
As soon as you apply yourself to contemplation,
you will at once feel your senses gather themselves together:
they seem like bees which return to the hive
and there shut themselves up to work at the making of honey.


~ Saint Teresa of Avila





Complete concentration is complete relaxation.
 The ability to work on a job with total concentration, 
and then put it out of your mind when necessary,
 is a skill which can be cultivated. 
Through practice, 
 
we can learn to drop whatever we are doing
 and turn our attention to a more urgent need.
 When you are absorbed in a favorite book 
and your partner interrupts you, 
set the book aside and give your complete attention
 to what he or she is saying.
 If part of your mind is on the conversation
 and part on what you have been reading, 
there will be division and tension in the mind. 
 
When we practice this one-pointedness during the day,
 it will greatly help our meditation.
 The mind will much more quickly become recollected. 



~  Eknath Easwaran


.
.

forty-nine

 
 
 
 


 
 
 Thinking and talking about the Integral Way 
are not the same as practicing it.
 
Who ever became a good rider by talking
about horses?
 
If you wish to embody the Tao,
Stop chattering and start practicing.
 
relax your body and quiet your senses.
 
return your mind to its original clarity.
 
Forget about being separated from others
and from the Divine Source.
 
As you return to Oneness, 
do not think of it 
or be in awe of it.
 
This is just another way of separating from it.
 
Simply merge into truth,
 and allow it to surround you. 
 
 
 
 
 
~ Brian Brown Walker
from Hus Hu Ching:
 The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu 
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 13, 2020

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
art by Klimt






Wednesday, November 11, 2020

on judging yourself less harshly

 
 
 



I think that part of [less self judgment] is observing oneself more impersonally.
 I often use this image:

When you go into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees…
 and some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, 
and some of them are evergreens and some of them are – whatever. 
And you look at the tree, and you just – allow it. You appreciate it. 
You see why it is the way it is, you sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light,
 and so it turned that way, and you don’t get all emotional about it, 
you just allow it.
 You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that,
 and you’re constantly saying, “You’re too this,”
 or “I’m too this,” or – that judging mind comes in. 
And so I practice turning people into trees, 
which means appreciating them just the way they are.

There was a period of time where I used to have a picture of myself
 on my puja table, and people would come in and say,
 “My God, what an ego this guy’s got; he’s got his own picture on his puja table
.” But really, what it was, was a chance for me to practice opening my heart to myself, 
and to appreciate the predicament I’m in.
 
 And it’s finding a place in yourself from which you see the unfolding of it all. 
That Mother did this, and Dad did this, drugs did this, Maharajji did this –
 all of it is just an unfolding of a storyline, a drama. The Ram Dass story.
 There he is. How will it come out? How did it come out? 
You’re just sort of watching the stories unfold.

But at the same time, it’s nothing to do with me, because I’m not that. 
That’s just a set of phenomena happening. And when you look at yourself 
as a set of phenomena, what is there to judge? Is that flower less than that?
 It’s just being different than that. You begin to appreciate your uniqueness
 without it being better or worse, because it’s just different.
 Cultivating an appreciation of uniqueness 
rather than preference is a very good one.

It’s just when you get inside identification with your personality
 that you get into the judging mode, because then you are a part of that lawful unfolding.
 You’re not stepping outside of it all. The witness,
 or the spacious awareness, is outside of it.
 It’s another contextual framework. 
 
 
 
~  Ram Dass
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

to lessen hostility and extreme reactivity

 
 
 

 

Today, November 6, 2020, the United States, my home, 
is a nation divided against itself, with all sides striving to win.
 This is the karma of white supremacy and colonization
 manifesting in the midst of a global pandemic and climate crisis.
 I live in California, a state that is, literally, on fire.

The Buddha said this:

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set
winning & losing
aside.

“Winning gives birth to hostility.”
 Another translator more colloquially put it this way:
 “The winner sows hatred because the loser suffers.”

I believe in strategic political action and liberatory movement-building. 
I have cast my vote. And these are my Bodhisattva vows as I move with you
 into the coming months and years:
 What actions can I take to lessen hostility and extreme reactivity,
 and to encourage civil discourse and respectful democratic process?

May we all complete the great journe
y of awakening together.
 
 
~  Mushim Patricia Ikeda, 
East Bay Meditation Center
 
 
 
 

grasping







Grasping is the source of all our problems. 
Since impermanence to us spells anguish, 
we grasp on to things desperately, 
even though all things change. 

We are terrified of letting go, 
terrified, in fact, of living at all, 
since learning to live is learning to let go. 

And this is the tragedy and the irony of our struggle to hold on: 
Not only is it impossible, 
but it brings us the very pain we are seeking to avoid. 

The intention behind grasping may not in itself be bad; 
there’s nothing wrong with the desire to be happy, 
but what we try to grasp on to is by nature ungraspable. 

The Tibetans say that you cannot wash the same dirty hand twice in the same running river, 
and no matter how much you squeeze a handful of sand, you will never get oil out of it.





~ Sogyal Rinpoche


impermanence








To what shall
I liken the world?
Moonlight, reflected
In dewdrops, 
Shaken from a crane's bill.




~ Dogen
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen





Monday, November 9, 2020

surrender









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
photo by Eliot Porter
 
 
 


dive deep





 
 
Complete surrender is another name for jnana or liberation.

It is enough that one surrenders oneself.  
Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one's being. 
 Your source is within yourself.
Give yourself up to it.  
That means that you should seek the source and merge in it.

To be absorbed, through surrender in the Self,
 in the non-dual state of mauna, (silence) is the supreme truth.  
That which constitutes offering (oneself) up to the Self is living the life that shines,  
free of the false delusive mind, known as the "I."

Complete surrender is impossible in the beginning.  
Partial surrender is certainly possible for all. 
 In course of time that will lead to complete surrender. 
 There is no peace of mind without surrender.

Dive deep in the Heart and remain as the Self.





~ Ramana Maharshi
from Essential Writing on Nonduality
edited by Jerry Katz






Sunday, November 8, 2020

a song for nobody









A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.



~ Thomas Merton
from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton


Friday, November 6, 2020

come forth

 

 


 
 
I dreamed of my father when he was old.
We went to see some horses  in a field;
they were sorrels, as red almost as blood,
the light gold on their shoulders and haunches.
Though they came to us, all a-tremble
with curiosity and snorty with caution,
they had never known bridle or harness.
My father walked among them, admiring,
for he was a knower of horses, and these were fine.
 
He leaned on a cane and dragged his feet
along the ground in hurried little steps
so that I called to him to take care, take care,
as the horses stamped and frolicked around him.
But while I warned, he seized the mane
of the nearest one. "It'll be all right,"
he said, and then from his broken stance
he leapt astride, and sat lithe and straight
and strong in the sun's unshadowed excellence.
 
 
 
 
~ Wendell Berry



in blackwater woods


.
 
 
 
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
 
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
 
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
 
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
 
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
 
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
 
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
 
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
 
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
 
 
 
 
 
~ Mary Oliver
from  American Primitive
 photo by Eliot Porter
 
 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

the waiting






The death of self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. 

It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll.
 It is merely the slow cessation of the will's spirits and the intellect's chatter: 
it is waiting like a hollow bell with a stilled tongue. 

The waiting itself is the thing.




- Annie Dillard
from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek





Tuesday, November 3, 2020

your crooked heart

 
 
 

 
 
 
As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
 
 
 
 
 ~ W.H. Auden
from Another Time
 
 
 
 

the wisdom of insecurity





You cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. 
Indeed, you cannot grasp it just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket.
 If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand
 it and that you will always be disappointed, 
for in the bucket the water does not run. 
To "have" running water 
you must let go of it and let it run.




-Alan Watts




Ars Poetica?

 
 
 
 

 

I have always aspired to a more spacious form
that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.

In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.

....


And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings.
People therefore preserve silent integrity,
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

....



~ Czeslaw Milosz
excerpt translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee 
 with thanks to Love is a Place
 




Monday, November 2, 2020

five ways to lose





With the wood from a hundred-year-old tree
They make sacrificial vessels,
Covered with green and yellow designs.
The wood that was cut away
Lies unused in the ditch.
If we compare the sacrificial vessels with the wood in the ditch
We find them to differ in appearance:
One is more beautiful than the other
Yet they are equal in this: both have lost their original nature.
So if you compare the robber and the respectable citizen
You find that one is, indeed, more respectable than the other:
Yet they agree in this: they have both lost 
The original simplicity of man.

How did they lose it?  Here are the five ways:
Love of colors bewilders the eye
And it fails to see right.
Love of harmonies bewitches the ear
And it loses its true hearing.
Love of perfumes
Fills the head with dizziness.
Love of flavors
Ruins the taste.
Desires unsettle the heart
Until the original nature runs amok.

These five are enemies of true life.
Yet these are what "men of discernment" claim to live for.
They are not what I live for:
If this is life, then pigeons in a cage
Have found happiness!



~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton



not your true identity

 
 
 
 

 

The essence of all spirituality is presence,
a state of consciousness that transcends thinking.
There is a space behind and in between your thoughts and emotions.
When you become aware of that space,
you are present,
and you realize that your personal history,
which consists of thought,
is not your true identity and is not the essence of who you are.
What is that space, that inner spaciousness?
It is pure consciousness,
the transcendent "I AM" that becomes aware of itself.
The Buddha calls it sunyata,
emptiness.
It is the "kingdom of heaven" that Jesus pointed to,
which is within you
here and now.




~  Eckhart Tolle
 with thanks to louie, louie