Saturday, July 31, 2021

impermanence, respect and value every moment

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 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

FOUR QUARTETS T.S. Eliot LITTLE GIDDING (No. 4 of 'Four Quartets')



Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?

If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.


Ash on an old man's sleeve
Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.
Dust in the air suspended
Marks the place where a story ended.
Dust inbreathed was a house—
The walls, the wainscot and the mouse,
The death of hope and despair,
This is the death of air.

There are flood and drouth
Over the eyes and in the mouth,
Dead water and dead sand
Contending for the upper hand.
The parched eviscerate soil
Gapes at the vanity of toil,
Laughs without mirth.
This is the death of earth.

Water and fire succeed
The town, the pasture and the weed.
Water and fire deride
The sacrifice that we denied.
Water and fire shall rot
The marred foundations we forgot,
Of sanctuary and choir.
This is the death of water and fire.

In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending
After the dark dove with the flickering tongue
Had passed below the horizon of his homing
While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the asphalt where no other sound was
Between three districts whence the smoke arose
I met one walking, loitering and hurried
As if blown towards me like the metal leaves
Before the urban dawn wind unresisting.
And as I fixed upon the down-turned face
That pointed scrutiny with which we challenge
The first-met stranger in the waning dusk
I caught the sudden look of some dead master
Whom I had known, forgotten, half recalled
Both one and many; in the brown baked features
The eyes of a familiar compound ghost
Both intimate and unidentifiable.
So I assumed a double part, and cried
And heard another's voice cry: 'What! are you here?'
Although we were not. I was still the same,
Knowing myself yet being someone other—
And he a face still forming; yet the words sufficed
To compel the recognition they preceded.
And so, compliant to the common wind,
Too strange to each other for misunderstanding,
In concord at this intersection time
Of meeting nowhere, no before and after,
We trod the pavement in a dead patrol.
I said: 'The wonder that I feel is easy,
Yet ease is cause of wonder. Therefore speak:
I may not comprehend, may not remember.'
And he: 'I am not eager to rehearse
My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season's fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.
Since our concern was speech, and speech impelled us
To purify the dialect of the tribe
And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight,
Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime's effort.
First, the cold friction of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.'
The day was breaking. In the disfigured street
He left me, with a kind of valediction,
And faded on the blowing of the horn.


There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives—unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.

Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
If I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of no immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them;
If I think of a king at nightfall,
Of three men, and more, on the scaffold
And a few who died forgotten
In other places, here and abroad,
And of one who died blind and quiet
Why should we celebrate
These dead men more than the dying?
It is not to ring the bell backward
Nor is it an incantation
To summon the spectre of a Rose.
We cannot revive old factions
We cannot restore old policies
Or follow an antique drum.
These men, and those who opposed them
And those whom they opposed
Accept the constitution of silence
And are folded in a single party.
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.


The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

practicing love



I don’t practice any particular prayer discipline.
 I have no specific technique I use to meditate. 
I know these methods work for many people. 
But for me, when I tried them, I just spent all my time 
rejecting my wandering thoughts, over and over.
 I’ve tried to practice these disciplines, but now I don’t worry about them anymore.
 Their only purpose anyway is to bring a person to union with God. 
Why should I fast or set aside particular prayer times or deny myself 
in some way when I’ve found the shortcut?
 If every moment I’m consciously practicing love, 
doing all things for God’s sake, then I don’t need to worry 
about these spiritual methods.

My thoughts are the biggest obstacles to this way of living my life. 
The little useless thoughts that drift through my head, making mischief,
 distracting me. I’ve learned to reject them as soon as I notice them.
 They have nothing to do with the reality at hand—
nor with my eternal salvation—
and once I stop paying attention to them, 
I can get back to communing with God.

I have abandoned all particular forms of devotion,
 all prayer techniques. My only prayer practice is attention.
 I carry on a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God 
that fills me with overwhelming joy.

When we walk in the presence of God, the busiest moment of the day 
is no different from the quiet of a prayer altar. Even in the midst of noise
 and clutter, while people’s voices are coming at you from all directions,
 asking for your help with many different things, you can possess God
 with the same serenity as if you were on your knees in church.

I can’t always maintain my focus on God, of course.
 I’ll suddenly discover that I’ve barely given God a thought in a good long while.
 Usually what gets my attention is that I’ll notice how wretched I’m feeling—
and then I’ll realize I’ve forgotten God’s presence. But I don’t worry about it
 too much. I just turn back to God immediately.
 And having realized how miserable I am when I forget God, 
my trust in God is always that much greater.

The Divine Presence occupies the here and now.
 If you are not aware of this—become so!
 ~ Brother Lawrence
from Brother Lawrence: A Christian Zen Master
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

abandoning the self-center


 ~ Joseph Goldstein

between seeing and speaking

Somewhere between seeing and speaking, somewhere
Between our soiled and greasy currency of words
And the first star, the great moths fluttering
About the ghosts of flowers,
Lies the clear place where I, no longer I,
Nevertheless remember
Love’s nightlong wisdom of the other shore…

 I no longer I,
In this clear place between my thought and silence
See all I had and lost, anguish and joys,
Glowing like gentians in the Alpine grass,
Blue, unpossessed and open.

~ Aldous Huxley
from Island

when you speak


 Pay attention when you speak the rest of the time, the best you're able, 
and listen to your heart. See if you can begin practicing 
letting your words come from your heart.
 A good clue for this is if you're in a conversation that lasts more than five minutes, 
so you've been talking for awhile, pause, or wake up for a second
 in the middle of it, and ask inside, "Now, what does my heart really want to say?" 
You're having this conversation. "What's in there that really wants to be said?
 Maybe I won't see this person ever again. What do I really want to say?" 
That can begin to empower your speech, to transform it 
from automatic pilot to the place where you start to wake up.
 It's fantastic. It's really wonderful to work with.

Most of us value integrity. It really lights up the heart
 to think about living in a way that comes from inside, 
where our actions, our words, and our inner being are connected. 
It's very precious. In the Buddhist tradition they're given as training precepts,
 training precepts which we practice. It's not some God -- given law that we must follow,
 but precepts which we begin to practice -- 
to begin to learn to live our life from our hearts, 
to live our life, as I said, with an uprightness of heart.


~ Carlos Castaneda

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

abandon yourself

People say: "O Lord, how much I wish that I stood as well with God,
 that I had as much devotion and peace in God as others have. 
 I wish that it were so with me!"  Or "I should like to be poor." or else
Things will never go right for me till I am in this place or that,
 or till I act one way or another.  I must go and live in a strange land, 
or in a hermitage, or in a cloister."  

In fact, this is all about yourself, and nothing else at all.  
This is just self-will, only you do not know it, or it does not seem so to you. 
 There is never any trouble that starts in you that does not come from your own will,
 whether people see this or not.  We can think what we like:
 that a man ought to shun one thing or pursue another -
 places and people and ways of life and environments and undertakings. 
 That is not the trouble; such ways of life or such matters are not what impedes you.
  It is what you are in these things that causes the trouble, 
because in them you do not govern yourself as you should.

Therefore, make a start with yourself, and abandon yourself. 
 Truly, if you do not begin by getting away from yourself,
 wherever you run to, you will find obstacles and trouble wherever it may be. 
 People who seek peace in external things - be it in places or ways of life
 or people or activities or solitude or poverty or degradation -
 however great such a thing may be or whatever it may be, 
still it is all nothing and it gives no peace.
  People who seek in that way are doing it all wrong;  
the further they wander, the less will they find what they are seeking.  
They go around like someone who has lost his way; 
 the farther he goes, the more lost he is.  
Then what ought he to do?  He ought to begin by forsaking himself,
 because then he has forsaken everything.  Truly, if a man renounced 
a kingdom or the whole world but held on to himself,
 he would not have renounced anything.  
What is more, if a man renounces himself, 
 whatever else he retains, riches or honors or whatever it may be,
 he has forsaken everything.  

About what Saint Peter said: "See, Lord, we have forsaken everything" (Matt. 19:27) -
 and all that he had forsaken was just a net and his little boat -
 there is a saint who says: "If anyone willingly gives up something little,
 that is not all which he has given up, but he has forsaken everything 
that worldly men can gain and what they can even long for; 
for whoever has renounced his own will and himself, has renounced everything,
 as truly as if he had possessed it as his own, to dispose of as he would."
 For what you choose not to long for, you have wholly forsaken and renounced
 for the love of God.  That is why our Lord said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3)  -
 that is, in the will.  And no one ought to be in doubt about this;
 if there were a better form of living, our Lord would have said so,
 as he also said: "Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself" (Matt 16:24);
 as a beginning; everything depends on that.  
Take a look at yourself, 
and whenever you find yourself deny yourself.  
That is the best of all.

~ Meister Eckhart
from Selections from His Essential Writings,
Counsels on Discernment

Monday, July 12, 2021

patlience in our sadnesses


It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, 
which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.
 Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; 
because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away
 from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition 
where we cannot remain standing. 
That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us,
 the presence that has been added, has entered our heart,
 has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – 
is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. 
We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, 
and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. 
We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, 
but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way
 in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. 
And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad:
 because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment 
when our future steps into us is so much closer to life
 than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us
 as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open 
we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence
 can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, 
the more it becomes our fate.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


Sunday, July 11, 2021

unfulfilled desires

The memory of the pasts unfulfilled desires traps energy,
 which manifests itself as a person. 
When its charge gets exhausted, 
the person dies.

 Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the birth. 
Self-identification with body creates ever-fresh desires 
and there is no end to them unless 
this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen.

 It is clarity that is liberating,
 for you cannot abandon desire unless 
its causes and effects are clearly seen.

I do not say that the same person is reborn.
 It dies, 
and dies for good. 

But its memories remain 
and their desires and fears. 
They supply the energy for a new person.

~  Nisargadatta Maharaj

the winged energy of delight


As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.
Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.
To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.
Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions... For the god
wants to know himself in you.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from uncollected poems

each is fulfilled in the other

The universe must be experienced as the Great Self. 

Each is fulfilled in the other:
 the Great Self is fulfilled in the individual self,
 the individual self is fulfilled in the Great Self.
 Alienation is overcome as soon as we experience this surge of energy 
from the source that has brought the universe through the centuries.

New fields of energy become available to support the human venture.
 These new energies find expression and support in celebration. 
For in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.

It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself.

~ Thomas Berry

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Dalai Lama - 86th Birthday Message



compassion - radical kinship


"It is not enough to believe that compassion is important and to think about how nice it is!"

Self-centeredness inhibits our love for others,
 and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another.
 For true happiness to come about, we need a calm mind,
 and such peace of mind is brought about only by a compassionate attitude. 
How can we develop this attitude? 
 We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; 
we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.

Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.
 For instance, the love parents feel for their child is often strongly associated 
with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. 
Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, 
but it too is usually attachment. Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife—
particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s 
deeper character very well—depends more on attachment than genuine love.
 Marriages that last only a short time do so because they lack compassion; 
they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation,
 and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears. 
Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears flawless,
 when in fact he or she has many faults. In addition, attachment makes us exaggerate
 small, positive qualities. When this happens, it indicates that our love is motivated
 more by personal need than by genuine care for another.

Compassion without attachment is possible. 
Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. 
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.
 Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others
 does not change even if they behave negatively.
 Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, 
but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person 
is a close friend or an enemy.
 This is genuine compassion. 
For a practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion, 
this genuine wish for the well-being of another, 
in fact for every living being throughout the universe. 

~ Dalai Lama
adapted from The Compassionate Life
 art of Father Gregory Boyle from
Saint Ignatius College Prep Library


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

life's splendor

Life's splendor forever lies in wait 
about each one of us in all its fullness, 
but veiled from view, deep down,
 invisible, far off. It is there, though, 
not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. 
If you summon it by the right word, 
by its right name, it will come.

  ~ Franz Kafka
from Diaries, 1910 1923

Friday, July 2, 2021

I was a tiny insect

I was a tiny insect. Now a mountain.
I was left behind. Now honoured at the head.
You healed my wounded hunger and anger,
and made me a poet who sings about joy.
~ Rumi

master of dance


When a kid with Down’s Syndrome lumbers along
in a coat of clumsy, squinting to find
a level parade, treading mostly alone;
what do you make of this jack-of-no-trade?
Revulsion, compassion, empathy, fear,
anger or sadness because strangeness is near
- what do you reckon, or, what do you feel?
‘owbout respect for a teacher over there,
a mirror of openness, simpleness, now
enjoying a journey with others and me
as a master of dancing, exuberance,
and with a strange little question ‘What’s the real deal?’
like, your last day on earth, well, what will you choose
- one million dollars, a hug, celebration,
or smile?

~ John Lavan
more at real poems


the tongue says loneliness

The tongue says loneliness, anger, grief,
but does not feel them.

As Monday cannot feel Tuesday,
nor Thursday
reach back to Wednesday
as a mother reaches out for her found child.

As this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it.

Not a bell, 
but the sound of the bell in the bell-shape,
lashing full strength with the first blow from inside the iron.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief