Wednesday, May 11, 2022

not knowing



I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the beauty of this world.

There is only one thing
for which I would risk everything:
an I-don’t-know-what
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.

The taste of finite pleasure
leads nowhere.
All it does is exhaust the appetite
and ravage the palate.
And so, I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the sweetness of this world.

But I would risk everything
for an I-don’t-know-what
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.

The generous heart
does not collapse into the easy things,
but rises up in adversity.
It settles for nothing.
Faith lifts it higher and higher.

Such a heart savors
an I-don’t-know-what
found only in the heart of the Mystery.

The soul that God has touched
burns with love-longing.
Her tastes have been transfigured.
Ordinary pleasures sicken her.
She is like a person with a fever;
nothing tastes good anymore.

All she wants
is an I-don’t-know-what
locked in the heart of
the Mystery. . . .

I will never lose myself
for anything the senses can taste,
nor for anything the mind can grasp,
no matter how sublime,
how delicious.
I will not pause for beauty,
I will not linger over grace.
I am bound for
an I-don’t-know-what
deep within the heart of the Mystery.

~ John of the Cross
from Glosa á lo Divino 
 translated by Mirabai Starr
photo by Jeremy Thomas

Monday, May 9, 2022

opening to suffering



Letting go of our suffering is the hardest work we will ever do.
It is also the most fruitful. To heal means to meet ourselves in a new way – 
in the newness of each moment where all is possible and nothing is limited
 to the old, our holding released, our grasping seen with little surprise or judgement.
 The vastness of our being meeting each moment wholeheartedly 
whether it holds pleasure or pain. Then the healing goes deeper 
than we ever imagined, deeper than we ever dreamed.
The teaching of opening mindfully, heartfully, to our deepest suffering
 is part of our essential healing. The deepening awareness brings attention
 to part of the mind that had lost heart, a hidden part of ourselves 
which felt disconnected from itself and all else. It allows access to what
 was closed off, to the pain that was so deep and had been pushed deeper yet
 with each moment of self negation and suppression.
~ Stephen Levine
from Healing into Life and Death
 art by Kan Srijira

Sunday, May 8, 2022

the nativity



No man reaches where the moon touches a woman.
Even the moon leaves her when she opens
Deeper into the ripple in her womb
That encircles dark to become flesh and bone.

Someone is coming ashore inside her.
A face deciphers itself from water
And she curves around the gathering wave,
Opening to offer the life it craves.

In a corner stall of pilgrim strangers,
She falls and heaves, holding a tide of tears.
A red wire of pain feeds through every vein
Until night unweaves and the child reaches dawn.

Outside each other now, she sees him first.
Fresh of her flesh, her dreamt son safe on earth. 
~ John O'Donohue
from  Conamara Blues
art by Gustav Klimt 



 The most beautiful word on the lips of mankind is the word “Mother,”
and the most beautiful call is the call of “My mother.”
It is a word full of hope and love,
a sweet and kind word coming from the depths of the heart.

The mother is everything –
she is our consolation in sorrow,
our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness.
She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness….

Everything in nature bespeaks the mother.
The sun is the mother of earth and gives it its nourishment of heart;
it never leaves the universe at night until it has put the earth to sleep
to the song of the sea and the hymn of birds and brooks.

And this earth is the mother of trees and flowers.
It produces them, nurses them, and weans them.
The trees and flowers become kind mothers of their great fruits and seeds.
And the mother, the prototype of all existence,
is the eternal spirit, full of beauty and love.

 ~ Kahlil  Gibran

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

on the hill late at night

The ripe grassheads bend in the starlight
in the soft wind, beneath them the darkness
of the grass, fathomless, the long blades
rising out of the well of time.  Cars
travel the valley roads below me, their lights
finding the dark, and racing on.  Above
their roar is a silence I have suddenly heard,
and felt the country turn under the stars
toward dawn.  I am wholly willing to be here
between the bright silent thousands of stars
and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground.
The hill has grown to me like a foot.
Until I lift the earth I cannot move.

~ Wendell Berry
from Farming Poems
photo from kathleen connally

the silent articulation of a face

Love comes with a knife, not some
shy question, and not with fears
for its reputation! I say
these things disinterestedly. Accept them
in kind. Love is a madman

working his wild schemes, tearing off his clothes,
running through the mountains, drinking poison,
and now quietly choosing annihilation.

A tiny spider tries to wrap an enormous wasp.
Think of the spiderweb woven across the cave
where Mohammad slept! There are love stories,
and there is obliteration into love.

You've been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.

You must dive naked under and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper! Love flows down.

The ground submits to the sky and suffers
what comes. Tell me, is the earth worse
for giving in like that?

Don’t put blankets over the drum!
Open completely. Let your spirit-ear
listen to the green dome’s passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love beyond all
above and below. The sun rises, but which way
does night go? I have no more words.

Let soul speak with the silent
articulation of a face.

* * *

~ Jelalludin Rumi 
(1207 – 1273)
 translated by Coleman Barks

everything has two endings

Everything has two endings -
a horse, a piece of string, a phone call

Before a life, air
And after

As silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

formless and perfect


There was something
formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.
It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.
 ~ Lao-tzu
Tao Te Ching

an empty boat


If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat 
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.

~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton

stop chasing so many things

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows long.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of the woodcutter.

The sun shines and I mend my robe.
When the moon comes out, I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing so many things.

~ Ryokan

Sunday, May 1, 2022

love and kindness



Saturday, April 30, 2022

Christian mysticism read by Rupert Spira


Friday, April 22, 2022

in abundance


I am who I am.
A coincidence as inscrutable
as any other.
Other ancestors
might have been mine, after all,
then from some other nest
I would have flown,
from some other stump
I would have crawled in my shell.
In nature's wardrobe
there are many costumes-
spider, seagull, field mouse.
Each fits like a glove from the get-go
and is loyally worn
until it wears out.
I, too, had no choice,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone 
much less singular.
Someone from a school of fish,
from an anthill, from a buzzing swarm,
 a piece of landscape thrashed by the wind.
Someone much less lucky,
bred for fur
or for a holiday meal,
something swimming under a cover glass.
A tree stuck in the earth,
with a fire approaching.
A blade of grass trampled by a run 
of incomprehensible events.
One born under a dark cloud
whose lining gleams for others.
But what if I had awakened fear in people,
or merely revulsion,
or merely pity?
 If I hadn't been born 
into the right tribe and
paths closed before me?
Fate has proved
benevolent so far.
The memory of good moments
 might not have been granted me.
A penchant for comparisons
might have been withheld from me.
I might have been myself-though without the wonder,
but that would have meant
being someone else.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair
 Nasa photo




A raindrop fell on my hand,
crafted from the Ganges and the Nile,
from the ascended frost of a seal's whiskers,
from water in broken pots in the cities of Ys and Tyre.
On my index finger
the Caspian Sea isn't landlocked,
and the Pacific flows meekly into the Rudava,
the one that flew in a cloud over Paris
in seventeen sixty-four
on the seventh of May at three in the morning.
There are not enough lips to pronounce
your transient names, O water.
I would have to say them in every language
pronouncing all the vowels at once,
at the same time keeping silent-for the sake of a lake
that waited in vain for a name,
and is no longer on earth-as it is in the heavens,
whose stars are no longer reflected in it.
Someone was drowning; someone dying 
called out for you. That was long ago and yesterday.
You extinguished houses; you carried them off
like trees, forests like cities.
You were in baptismal fonts and in the bathtubs of courtesans,
in kisses, in shrouds.
Eating away at stones, fueling rainbows.
In the sweat and dew of pyramids and lilacs.
How light all this is in the raindrop.
How delicately the world touches me.
Whenever wherever whatever has happened
is written on the waters of Babel.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair

Thursday, April 21, 2022

water / life


Over 95% of our body is water. 
In order to stay healthy you've got to drink good water. ... 
Water is sacred, air is sacred. Our DNA is made out of the same DNA
 as the tree, the tree breaths what we exhale, we need what the tree exhales.
 So we have a common destiny with the tree. We are all from the earth, 
and when earth, the water, the atmosphere is corrupted
 then it will create its own reaction. 
The mother is reacting. 
~ Floyd Red Crow Westerman
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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

to clear violence from ourselves

. it possible to eradicate violence in ourselves?

I am asking whether it is possible for a human being living psychologically
 in any society to clear violence from himself inwardly? 
 If it is, the very process will produce a different way of living in this world.

Some of us, in order to rid ourselves of violence, have used a concept, 
and ideal, called non-violence, and we think by having an ideal of the opposite
 to violence, non-violence, we can get rid of the fact, the actual - but we cannot.
  We have had ideals without number, all the sacred books are full of them,
 yet we are still violent - so why not deal with violence itself
 and forget the word altogether?

If you want to understand the actual you must give your whole attention,
 all your energy, to it.  That attention and energy are distracted when you create
 a fictitious, ideal world.  So can you completely banish the ideal?  
The man who is really serious, with the urge to find out what truth is, 
what love is, has no concept at all. 
 He lives only in what is

To investigate the fact of your own anger you must pass no judgement on it,
 for the moment you conceive of its opposite you condemn it and therefore
 you cannot see it as it is.  When you say you dislike or hate someone,
 that is a fact, although it sounds terrible.  If you look at it, go into it completely,
 it ceases, but if you say, "I must not hate; I must have love in my heart,"
 then you are living in a hypocritical world with double standards.  

To live completely, fully, in the moment is to live with what is,
 the actual, without any sense of condemnation or justification -
 then you understand it so totally that you are finished with it.  

When you see clearly the problem is solved.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from Freedom from the Known

peace is letting go


The power of quiet is great.
It generates the same feelings in everything one encounters.
It vibrates with the cosmic rhythm of oneness. 
It is everywhere, available to anyone at any time.
It is us, the force within that makes us stable, trusting, and loving.
It is contemplation contemplating. 
Peace is letting go 
– returning to the silence that cannot enter the realm of words
because it is too pure to be contained in words.
This is why the tree, the stone, the river, and the mountain are quiet.
~  Malidoma Patrice Some
 with thanks to No Mind's Land


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

act great

What is the key
To untie the knot of your mind’s suffering?

Is the esoteric secret
To slay the crazed one whom each of us
Did wed

And who can ruin
Our heart’s and eye’s exquisite tender

Hafiz has found
Two emerald words that

That I now cling to as I would sacred
Tresses of my Beloved’s 

Act great.
My dear, always act great.

What is the key
To untie the knot of the mind’s suffering?

Benevolent thought, sound
And movement.

~ Hafiz

beautiful hands


This is the kind of Friend
You are -

Without making me realize
My soul's anguished history,
You slip into my house at night,
And while I am sleeping,
You silently carry off
All my suffering and sordid past 

In Your beautiful 

~ Hafiz
from The Subject Tonight is Love
translation by Daniel Ladinsky

the flight of language

Some of the leaves stay on all winter
and spring comes without knowing
whether there is suffering in them
or ever was
and what it is in the tongue they speak
that cannot be remembered by listening
for the whole time that they are on the tree
and then as they fly off with the air 
that always through their lives was there

~ W.S. Merwin
from The Pupil

Sunday, April 17, 2022

we can receive

What I’m coming to lately is an end-of-life conviction that there is more
 to consciousness than what is produced in my little head, or yours.
 Both of us have the capacity, at times, mysteriously, to get beyond 
whatever this small consciousness is doing and telling us. 
When we are able, when we are sufficiently still and relaxed—letting it happen, 
not doing it—we can receive a resonance from a greater consciousness.

Many spiritual masters I’ve known, and also eminent scientists like Carl Jung,
 echo this belief. Just before Jung died, He said: “Man cannot stand a meaningless life.
 Something in us sees around corners, knows beyond time and space, 
so may continue in that state after our physical death. 
Those who fear death as the End, die soon. 
Those who think they will go on, die old.”

Fear is constricting. In fact, so are all those self-concerns for one’s reputation,
 for one’s ideas, even for what the next association is telling me. For example,
 am I just thinking of what I should say to you now? Or am I open to something
 that could be quite new, that is not really coming so much from me 
as from this source consciousness that many traditions have called “I”?

I’m referring to the consciousness that manages to see what things are,
 what I am, and to not get caught in the next reaction or judgment or association
—because all of these are functions; and consciousness is not a function.

Without being in love with consciousness, we can’t reach it, 
and it can’t reach us while we’re preoccupied with all that is going on 
in our ordinary thought, our ordinary bodily habits, sensations, movements,
 and our ordinary emotional reactions.

These are what I am calling functions.
It’s as if we have two natures: a functional nature and what many people
 have been calling a spiritual nature or a soul. But that language
 is suspect these days because we have been so careful for the last couple
 of centuries to separate from the superstitions of the past 
that we have involuntarily cut ourselves off from the sacred,
 and even from God.

This narcissistic preoccupation with my story, my difficulty, 
which always has a kind of negative touch to it because I am complaining
 about what is wrong with me either physically or mentally. And the quiet, 
impartial, impersonal mind, consciousness, with which I 
could be connected, is blocked by that.

It is so important to understand awareness as a connector to 
something greater than me, to my source, really. My presence
 is the doorway to that, even at the moment that I acknowledge
 that I don’t know who I am and I see my lack of presence.
 But that is the beginning of a real wish for it, a wish to be.

And when I have that wish, then maybe something can reach me
 that is of an absolutely different quality. I may perceive it as an axis
 of light running down through my physical body, which has a different
origin. Gurdjieff says the physical body comes from this earth, 
and this other … my essence … comes from the stars, from the sun,
 from higher up, in a sense, closer to the source.

We have such a resistance to even the theoretical idea that we could,
 right now, you and I, be breathing an air charged with 
the omnipresence of consciousness, the omniscience of consciousness. 
We’ve all had, perhaps rarely, a direct experience of a moment when
 I knew everything at once and I was aware not just of what
 I’m calling this present moment, but of past, present, future,
 as one eternity.

These are just words at this moment. But I remember it wasn’t just a word,
 it was a flash of light, of electricity from the top of my head to my toes.
 And it changed something in my cellular structure that persists today. 
I feel that now. And everybody has this possibility for a change.
 As you say, we have to be aware of our need, in order to be receptive
 to this source consciousness, to wake up in a larger sense.

I can’t reach it, but it can reach me.

It’s not a mental conception, but a deeper conviction 
that could draw everything and everyone together in the love
 of consciousness, the faith of consciousness, the hope of consciousness.

~ James George
from To let the Light In, A Conversation with James George
in Parabola Magazine

the night house

Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass -
The grass of civics, the grass of money -
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body - the house of voices -
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.

  ~ Billy Collins
 art by Van Gogh

when faces called flowers float out of the ground

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)

when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we’re alive,dear:it’s(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
(now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)

when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it’s spring(all our night becomes day)o,it’s spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
(all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)

~ e.e.cummings


Thursday, April 7, 2022


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be 
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crown of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems