Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Tolstoy on kindness

 
 
 
 
 

 
The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, 
the more kindness he can find in other people.

You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, 
and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.

Kindness is for your soul as health is for your body: 
you do not notice it when you have it.

Love is real only when a person can sacrifice himself for another person. 
Only when a person forgets himself for the sake of another, 
and lives for another creature,
 only this kind of love can be called true love,
 and only in this love do we see the blessing and reward of life.
 This is the foundation of the world.

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, 
more beautiful than perpetual kindness.
 
 
 
 
 
~ Leo Tolstoy
from  A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul,
 Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts
translation by Peter Sekirin
 with thanks to brainpickings



 

a zero between plus and minus

 
 
 

 
 
Discursive knowledge, knowledge by
Indirection passes away
And love, knowledge by direction,
Directly of another, grows
In its place. There exists a point
At which the known passes through
A sort of occulation,
A zero between plus and
Minus in which knower and known
And their knowledge cease to exist. 
Perfect love casts out knowledge.
...
 
"And what is love? said Pilate,
And washed his hands.
 
 
 
 
 
~ Kenneth Rexroth
from The Dragon and the Unicorn
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

vanished






.

The birds have vanished down the sky. 
Now the last cloud drains away. 

We sit together, the mountain and me, 
until only the mountain remains. 





~ Li Po (China, 701-762)
translated by Sam Hamill
from Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese





Monday, June 28, 2021

knocking

 
 
 

 
 
If there are a "chosen few"
then I am not one of them,
if an "elect," well then
I have not been elected.
I am one who is knocking
at the door.  I am one whose foot
is on the bottom rung.
But I know that Heaven's
bottom rung is Heaven
though the ladder is standing
on earth where I work
by day and at night sleep
with my head upon a stone.
 
 
 
 
~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings
 art by Wade M Flickr
 
 
 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

just so long

 



 
 

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
-long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

 
as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men's hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
-long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

 
or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common's rare and millstones float
-long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

 
worms are the words but joy's the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts and thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
-time is a tree (this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

 
 
 

~ e.e.cummings


.

plung







Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think...and think... while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time
before death.
 
If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?
 
The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten -
that is all fantasy.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the 
City of Death
 
If you make love with the divine now, in the next
life you will have the face of satisfied desire.
 
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!
 
Kabir says this:  When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.
 
 
 
 
Kabir
art by Juna Biagioni




Saturday, June 26, 2021

the thought that we are separated

 
 
 
 

 
 
The chief thing that separates us...
 is the thought that we are separated.
 
 If we get rid of that thought, our troubles will be greatly reduced. 
We fail to believe that we are always with God
 and that is part of every reality. 
 
The present moment, every object we see,
 our inmost nature are all rooted in God. 
 
But we hesitate to believe this until our personal experience
 gives us the confidence to believe in it. . . . 
 
God constantly speaks to us through each other as well as from within. 
The interior experience of God’s presence activates our capacity to perceive
 the divine in everything else, in people, events, and in nature. 
 
We may enjoy union with God in any experience
 of the external senses as well as in prayer. 
 
 
 
 
~ Thomas Keating
 
 
 
 
 

for one thing leads to another

 
 
 

 
 
 Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.


2.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.


3.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
still another.


4.
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.


5.
We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
change.
Congratulations, if
you have changed.


6.
Let me ask you this.
Do you think that beauty exists for some
fabulous reason?

And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure -
your life -
what would do for you?


7.
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another.)

And I have become the child of clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.






Mary Oliver
from Evidence
art by Corinna Button
 with thanks to being silently drawn

 

 
 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

skill seems like clumsiness



.
 

 
 
The greatest accomplishments seem imperfect,
yet their usefulness is not diminished.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
yet it will be inexhaustible.
 
The greatest straightness seems crooked.
The most valued skill seems like clumsiness.
The greatest speech seems full of stammers.
 
Movement overcomes the cold,
and stillness overcomes the heat.
That which is pure and still is the universal ideal.
 
 
 
 
 
Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching
translation by j.h.mcdonald
.photo by Rodney Campbell
 
 
 
 

longing for the perfect






After we had loved each other intently, 
we heard notes tumble together, 
in late winter, and we heard ice 
falling from the ends of twigs. 

The notes abandon so much as they move. 
They are the food not eaten, the comfort 
not taken, the lies not spoken. 
The music is my attention to you. 

And when the music came again, 
late in the day, I saw tears in your eyes. 
I saw you turn your face away 
So that others would not see. 

When men and women come together, 
how much they have to abandon. Wrens 
make their nests of fancy threads 
and string ends, animals 

abandon all their money each year. 
What is it that men and women leave? 
Harder than wren's doing, they have 
to abandon their longing for the perfect. 

The inner nest not made by instinct 
will never be quite round, 
and each has to enter the nest 
made by the other imperfect bird.



~ Robert Bly
from Eating the Honey of Words
art by Rassouli


it's embarassing

 
 
 
 



Of course it’s embarrassing to not always be infinitely wise, 
but I feel that what we can offer each other is the truth of our growth process,
 and that means we fall on our face again and again.

Sri Aurobindo says, 
“You get up, you take a step, 
you fall on your face,
 you get up, 
you look sheepishly at God, 
you brush yourself off,
 you take another step, 
you fall on your face, 
you get up, 
you look sheepishly at God,
 you brush yourself off,
 you take another step…” 
 
and that’s the journey of awakening. 
 
 
 
 
~ Ram Dass
 photo by Abdul Gapur Dayak



 
 
 
 

when someone is seeking






.
"When someone is seeking," said Siddhartha,
 "it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking;
 that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything,
 because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking,
 because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal.

...'someday' is illusion; it is only a comparison. ... 
The world, Govinda, is not imperfect 
or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection.  
 
No, it is perfect at every moment; ... 
I just love the stone and the river
 and all these things that we see and from which we can learn. 
 I can love a stone, Govinda, and a tree or a piece of bark. 
 These are things and one can love things.  
 
But one cannot love words. 
Therefore teachings are of no use to me;
 they have no hardness, no softness, 
nor colors, no corners, so smell, no taste - 
they have nothing but words.

  Perhaps that is what prevents you from finding peace, 
perhaps there are too many words, for even salvation and virtue.
 
  Samsara and Nirvana are only words, Govinda. 
 Nirvana is not a thing;
 there is only the word Nirvana."


.
 
~ Hermann Hesse
from Siddhartha



Monday, June 21, 2021

inviting you to be generous







Wonder, as the child of mystery, is a natural source of prayer.  
One of the most beautiful forms of prayer is the prayer of appreciation.
  This prayer arises out of the recognition of the gracious kindness of creation.
  We have been given so much.  We could never have merited or earned it.
  When you appreciate all you are and all you have, 
you can celebrate and enjoy it. 

 You realize how fortunate you are. 
 Providence is blessing you and inviting you to be generous with your gifts.
  You are able to bless life and give thanks to God. 
 The prayer of appreciation has no agenda but gracious thanks.
  Nothing is given to you for yourself alone.  
When you receive some blessing or gift, 
you do it in the name of others;
 through you, they, too, will come to share
 in the kindness of Providence.




~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes



from Mother Teresa







Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, 
for having someone to call their own. 

In this life we cannot do great things. 
We can only do small things with great love. 

Intense love does not measure, it just gives.

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. 

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...
 but how much love we put in that action. 

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - 
the ones at home.

Love is a fruit in season at all times,
 and within reach of every hand. 

Spread love everywhere you go.
 Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. 

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove
 than the hunger for bread. 

There is more hunger in the world 
for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. 




~ Mother Teresa

Friday, June 18, 2021

the nature of life

 
 
 
 

 
Earth dissolves into water. Water dissolves into fire.
Fire dissolves into air. Air dissolves into space.

Dying [Dissolving], in many cases, does not happen all of
a sudden. It is a gradual process of withdrawing from life
in form.

When I speak of the four elements dissolving, I am not
speaking exactly of physical form. Rather, I am pointing to
the ineffable but observable animating qualities...
The animating qualities also dissolve - apparently missing
when we are left only with the heaviness of the corpse
after death.

There is something beyond the four elements - 
the spirit,soul, or animating presence. 
 The inner dissolution happens simultaneously. 
 Our medical instruments and devices can
certainly measure the physical disintegration, 
but the inner dissolution that happens simultaneously
 is subtle and still...

They are all dissolving - 
the elements and their associated states and as a result,
 the self is dissolving as well. 
 
 This is happening all the time,
 we just see it at the surface at the
time of dying.

Now who are you?

Fragility and impermanence are in the nature of life.
 It's all always coming together and falling apart -
 not just the physical properties of life -
 and not just at the time of death.

Our sense of self is impermanent. 
While illness can contract us into an even smaller sense of self, 
many people who are sick and dying speak of 
no longer being limited by the previous boundaries
 of their old, familiar identities.

We come to embody much wider identities.
 The interior life and the external world permeate each other,
they commingle.




~ Frank Ostaseski
from The Five Invitations
with thanks to Mystic Meandering




the long black bag

 
 

 

 
 
 
What if [negative emotions] have something essential to communicate to us and each other,
 and the real problem is the misguided attitude that negative feelings make us less evolved
 and need fixing? 
 
In the same way that we hold others at an arm’s length when they are too different from us,
 we avoid the inner encounter with otherness, excluding anything that doesn’t fit
 the image we’ve been building of ourselves.

‘Negative emotions’ don’t cease to exist because we ignore them.
 They just find other ways to express themselves. Sometimes we lash out 
inappropriately, having confusing crying fits, or feel protractedly numb. 
Most commonly, we slip into depression and anxiety. . . .

If not addressed in a person’s life, these issues can harden into ideologies
 which are then passed down through the generations. When you add to this 
equation a loud or charismatic leader, movements like Nazism will be born
 from the corroborative fear of otherness. 
 
We think of Nazis as evil, but the truth is we all have the potential for this kind of evil,
 which is ultimately the act of turning away from the suffering of others and ourselves.

Most of us have been raised to be moral, good, and agreeable, 
putting all of our ‘unacceptable’ qualities in what Robert Bly calls 
“The Long Black Bag” we drag behind us, or what Jung termed the personal
 “Shadow.” The Shadow is the place where everything we have forgotten,
 denied, rejected, or not yet discovered goes to live. 
 
 But when we try to live up to the impossible image of a spiritually enlightened, 
knowledgeable, selfless, patient, forgiving, easy-going, supportive, generous superhuman,
 the dark side of our nature just gains in power. . . .

You always have the choice to turn away or to look for redemption in the shadows. 
Sometimes turning away is exactly what you need in the moment, 
especially if you’re tired from toiling down in there.
 Trust that whatever you decide is the right decision.
 Also know that if the issue being presented has roots,
 it will still be there when you’re ready to look at it. . . .

We cannot simply remove the shadow all at once.
 It takes wisdom, courage, and forbearance for our shadows to reveal themselves
 to us so they can be faced and dealt with gently, compassionately, and firmly.
 
 
 
 
 
~   Toko-pa Turner
from Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home
  Photo by Jozef Klopacka