Tuesday, December 27, 2022



A person made dazed
by the cup of love
forgets all other joys.
He speaks with remembrance
in his innermost soul-
and then falls silent
to outer disputes.
~ 'Ala'  al-Dawala Simnani 

Monday, December 26, 2022


Having lived long in time,
he lives now in timelessness
without sorrow, made perfect
by our never finished love,
by our compassion and forgiveness,
and by his happiness in receiving
these gifts we give. Here in time
we are added to one another forever.

~ Wendell Berry
from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

Saturday, December 24, 2022

this morning



. . . This morning, when I looked
at a lily, just beginning to open,
its long, slender pouch tipped
with soft, curling-back lips, and I could peek just
slightly in, and see the clasping
interior, the cache of pollen,
and smell the extreme sweetness, I thought they were
shyly saying Mary's body,
he came from the blossom of a woman, he was born
in the beauty of her lily.
~ Sharon Olds 

for a moment


Across the highway a heron stands
in the flooded field. It stands
as if lost in thought, on one leg, careless,
as if the field belongs to herons.
The air is clear and quiet.
Snow melts on this second fair day.
Mother and daughter,
we sit in the parking lot
with doughnuts and coffee.
We are silent.
For a moment the wall between us
opens to the universe;
then closes.
And you go on saying
you do not want to repeat my life.
~ Ruth Stone

Friday, December 23, 2022

the envoy

One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.
Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.

I don't know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.

For a year I watched
as something -- terror? happiness? grief? --
entered and then left my body.

Not knowing how it came in.
Not knowing how it went out.

It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.

There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.

Through them
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.

~  Jane Hirshfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt

calm, ease


Thich Nhat Hanh

faint traces


Reflecting over seventy years,
I am tired of judging right from wrong.
Faint traces of a path trodden in deep night snow.
A stick of incense under the rickety window.
~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind
The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan
by Kazuaki Tanahashi

every step


Treading along in this dreamlike, illusory realm,
Without looking for the traces I may have left;
A cuckoo's song beckons me to return home,
Hearing this, I tilt my head to see
Who has told me to turn back:
But do not as me where I am going,
As I travel in this limitless world,
Where every step I take is my home.
~ Dogen
 from The Zen Poetry of Dogen

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

a small boat drifting





 In the heart of the night,
 The moonlight framing
A small boat drifting,
Tossed not by the waves
Nor swayed by the breeze. 
~ Dogen
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen

Friday, December 16, 2022

acceptance and expansion



 Suzuki Roshi said that renunciation is not giving up the things of the world,
 but accepting that they go away.
 An acceptance of impermanence helps us learn how to die. 
It also reveals the flip side of loss, which is that letting go is an act of generosity.
 We let go of old grudges, and give ourselves peace. We let go of fixed views,
 and give ourselves to not knowing. 
We let go of self-sufficiency and give ourselves to the care of others.
 We let go of clinging and give ourselves to gratitude.
 We let go of control and give ourselves to surrender.

"Surrender is not the same thing as letting go. 
Normally, we think of letting go as a release often accompanied by a sense of freedom
 from previous restraints.
 Surrender is more about expansion. There is a freedom in surrender,
 but it is not really about setting something down or distancing ourselves from an object,
 person, or experience, as it is with letting go. 
With surrender, we are free because we have expanded into a spaciousness,
 a boundless quality of being that can include but not be constrained by
 the previously limiting beliefs that once defined us, keeping us separate and apart.
 We release the fruitless habit of clinging to changing objects as a source of happiness.
 In surrender, we are reconstituted. We are no longer enslaved by our pasts.
 No longer imprisoned by our former identities. We become intimate 
with the inner truth of our essential nature.
 In surrender, 
we feel ourselves not gaining distance, but rather coming closer.
~ Frank Ostaseski
from The Five Invitations
art by by Antony Gormley

the man who didn't know

There was a man who didn't know what was his.
He thought as a boy that some demon forced him
To wear "his" clothes and live in "his" room
And sit on "his" chair and be the child of "his" parents.

Each time he sat down to dinner, it happened again.
His own birthday party belonged to someone else.
And - was it sweet potatoes that he liked? -
He should resist them.  Whose plate is this?

This man will be like a lean-to attached
To a house.  It doesn't have a foundation.
This man is helpful and hostile in each moment.
This man leans toward you and leans away.

He's charming, this man who doesn't know what is his.

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems
photo by Lisa Kristine

my friend



I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There's nothing more to say.
The poem ends,
Soft as it began,—
I loved my friend
~ Langston Hughes
from The Weary Blues 
with thanks to love is a place

Sunday, December 4, 2022

speech from the heart - mindful listening



If one is to do good,
it must be done in the minute particulars.
General good is the plea of the hypocrite,
the scoundrel and the flatterer.
~ William Blake

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.


Only when the inner dialogue stops
 can the hidden parts of ourselves be seen and revealed.

~ Carlos Castenada 
as Don Juan

What we call the beginning is often the end,
and to make an end is a beginning,
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 dissident nor ostentatious.
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
the common word exact with vulgarity,
the formal word precise but not pedantic,
the complete consort dancing together.

When 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,
that's where we start.
We die with the dying.
See them depart and we go with them,
and we are born with the dead.
See, they're returned and bring us with them.

~ T.S. Eliot
from Four Quartets

The Buddha outlined a practice for staying mindful
 of how another person is addressing us, without getting caught up in our own reactivity, 
remaining compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of lovingkindness.

... there are five courses of speech that others may
use when they address you: their speech may be timely or
untimely, true or untrue, gentle or harsh, connected with
good or with harm, spoken with a mind of lovingkindness
or with inner hate....
you should train yourselves thus:
Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no
evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare,
with a mind of lovingkindness...
 ~ Buddha

~ Joseph Goldstein
excerpts taken from various talks


how rarely I have stopped to thank the steady effort

A person speaking
pauses, lets in
a little silence-portion with the words.
It is like an hour.
Any hour. This one.
Something happens, much does not.
Or as always, everything happens:
the standing walls keep
standing with their whole attention.
A noisy crow call lowers and lifts its branch,
the crow scent enters the leaves, enters the bark,
like stirred-in honey gone into the tea.
How rarely I have stopped to thank
the steady effort of the world to stay the world.
To thank the furnish of green
and abandon of yellow. The ancient Sumerians
called the beloved “Honey,” as we do.
Said also, “Borrowed bread is not returned.”
Like them, we pay love’s tax to bees,
we go on arranging the old notes in different orders.
Desire inside A C A G G A T.
Forgiveness in G T A C T T.
In a world of space and time, arrangement matters.
An hour has no front or back,
except to those whose eyes face forward,
whose tears blur thought and stars.
Five genes, in a certain arrangement,
will spend this life unrooted, grazing.
It has to do with how the animal body comes into being,
the same whether ant or camel.
What then does such unfolded code understand,
if it finds in its mouth the word important
the thing that can be carried, or the thing that cannot,
or the way they keep trading places,
grief and gladness, the comic, the glum, the dead, the living.
Last night, the big Sumerian moon
clambered into the house empty-handed
and left empty-handed,
not thief, not lover, not tortoise, just looking around,
shuffling its soft, blind slippers over the floor.
This felt, to me, important, and so I looked back with both hands
open, palms unblinking.
What caused the fire, we ask, meaning, lightning, wiring, matches.
How precisely and unbidden
oxygen slips itself into, between those thick words.

~  Jane Hirshfield
from the New York Times
print on April 15, 2012, on page SR6 of the 
New York edition with the headline: Tax Break. 

pure attention

Bless the spirit that makes connections,
for truly we live in what we imagine.
Clocks move along side our real life
with steps that are ever the same.

Though we do not know our exact location,
we are held in place by what links us.
Across trackless distances
antennas sense each other.

Pure attention, the essence of the powers!
Distracted by each day's doing,
how can we hear the signals?

Even as the farmer labors
there where the seed turns into summer,
it is not his work. It is Earth who gives.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, XII
Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy version
art by Christi Belcourt

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

a deeper generosity

Forgiveness is one of the really difficult things in life.  
The logic of receiving hurt seems to run in the direction of never forgetting
 either the hurt or the hurter.  When you forgive, some deeper, 
divine generosity takes you over.  When you can forgive, then you are free.  

When you cannot forgive, you are a prisoner of the hurt done to you.  
If you are really disappointed in someone and you become embittered, 
you become incarcerated inside that feeling.  Only the the grace of forgiveness 
can break the straight logic of hurt and embitterment.  It gives you a way out,
 because it places the conflict on a completely different level.  In a strange way,
 it keeps the whole conflict human.  You begin to see and understand the conditions, 
circumstances, or weakness that made the other person act as she did.


Why are we so reluctant to leave our inner prisons?  
There is the security of the confinement and limitation that we know.  
We are often willing to endure the searing sense of forsakenness and distance
 which limitation brings rather than risking the
 step out into the field of the unknown. 

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes
art by Leah Dorion

of generosity

What is required is a willingness to look 
deeply at one's present moments, 
no matter what they hold, 
in a spirit of generosity,
 kindness towards oneself, 
and openness toward 
what might be possible. 

~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

the happiness of every living thing




What we really want to do is serve happiness.
We want everyone to be happy, never unhappy even for a moment.
We want the animals to be happy. The happiness of every living thing is what we want.
We want it very much but we cannot bring it about.

We cannot make even one individual happy.
It seems that this thing that we want most of all is out of our reach.
But we were born to serve happiness and we do serve it.
The confusion is due to our lack of awareness of real happiness. 

Happiness is pervasive.
It is everywhere. And everywhere the same.
And it is forever.

When people are really happy they say:
 'This will last forever even after death', and that is true.
When we are unhappy it is because something is covering our minds
 and we are not able to be aware of happiness. 
When the difficulty is past we find happiness again.
It is not that happiness is all around us. That is not it at all.
It is not this or that or in this or that.

It is an abstract thing.
Happiness is unattached. Always the same.
 It does not appear and disappear.
 It is not sometimes more and sometimes less.
 It is our awareness of happiness that goes up and down.
Happiness is our real condition.
It is reality.
It is life.

When we see life we call it beauty. It is magnificent - wonderful.
We may be looking at the ocean when we are aware of beauty
 but it is not the ocean. We may be in the desert and we say
 that we are aware of the 'living desert' but it is not the desert.

Life is ever present in the desert and everywhere, forever.
By awareness of life we are inspired to live.

Life is consciousness of life itself.

~ Agnes Martin
from Agnes Martin, Paintings, Writings, Remembrances 
by Arne Glimcherersity 
 prepared for a lecture at the Univ of New
 Mexico, Santa Fe 1979
art by van gogh

with thanks to being silently drawn

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

on loving-kindness



He who is skilled in good, and wishes to
attain that state of Peace, should act thus:
he should be able, upright, perfectly upright,
amenable to corrections, gentle and humble.

He should be contented, easy to support,
unbusy, simple in livelihood,
with senses controlled, discreet,
not impudent, and not greedily attached to families.

He would not commit any slight misdeeds
that other wise men might find fault in him.
May all beings be well and safe,
may their hearts rejoice.

Whatever beings there are —
weak or strong, long or short,
big, medium-sized or small, subtle or gross,

Those visible or invisible,
residing near or far, those that have come to be
or have yet to come, (without exceptions)
may all beings be joyful.

Let one not deceive nor despise
another person, anywhere at all.
In anger and ill-will,
let him not wish any harm to another.

Just as a mother would protect her
only child with her own life,
even so, let him cultivate boundless thoughts
of loving kindness towards all beings.

Let him cultivate boundless thoughts
of loving kindness towards the whole world —
above, below and all around,
unobstructed, free from hatred and enmity.

Whether standing, walking, seated
or lying down, as long as he is awake,
he should develop this mindfulness.
This they say, is the divine abiding here.

Not erroneous with views,
endowed with virtues and insight,
with sensual desires abandoned,
he would come no more to be conceived in a womb.


~ the Buddha
 Metta Sutta
photo by Michael Marcoux


Sunday, November 20, 2022



While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house.

White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At the touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.

~ James Wright

a blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, 
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. 
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies 
Darken with kindness. 
They have come gladly out of the willows 
To welcome my friend and me. 
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture 
Where they have been grazing all day, alone. 
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness 
That we have come. 
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. 
There is no loneliness like theirs. 
At home once more, 
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. 
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, 
For she has walked over to me 
And nuzzled my left hand. 
She is black and white, 
Her mane falls wild on her forehead, 
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear 
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. 
Suddenly I realize 
That if I stepped out of my body I would break 
Into blossom.

~ James Wright
from Above the River

Friday, November 11, 2022

today's stupidity



Natural, reckless, correct skill;
Yesterday's clarity is today's stupidity
The universe has dark and light, entrust oneself to change
One time, shade the eyes and gaze afar at the road of heaven.


from Ikkyū and The Crazy Cloud Anthology : A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan 
by Sonja Arntzen
with thanks to crow with no mouth

any road

its logical; if you're not going anywhere
any road is the right one 

~ Ikkyu Sojun (1394 -1481)
he was known his teaching and for his erotic poems and revolutionary shakuhachi music. 
he founded what became known as the "Red Thread," or erotic school of Zen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

the iron grinder





They were like two mirrors facing each other.

Who sees, who is seen?

Seeing each other like this,
they experienced the recognition everyone craves -
to be seen exactly as we are,

nothing more,

and nothing less.

Seen like this,

all the many forms in the world
are the same
as one's own hand,

one's own face.

~ Liu Tiemo
from Women of the Way
by Sallie Tisdale
with thanks to being silently drawn

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

what is brought into being?




What is it that we are creating together?
We exchange a few words and a presence is born. 
We pass in the street for a fleeting instant,
and something new comes into being. 
Sitting across the table together, a guest arrives.
What guest has been invited to join us? 
What is brought into being? 
– Shanti Natania Grace
 from The Intrinsic Heart

judge like a king, and choose the purest


God has given us a dark wine so potent that,
drinking it, we leave the two worlds. 
God has put into the form of hashish a power
to deliver the taster from self-consciousness. 
God has made sleep so
that it erases every thought. 
God made Majnun love Layla so much that
just her dog would cause confusion in him. 
There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstasies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley. 
Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars. 
Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.
Be a connoisseur,
and taste with caution. 
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.” 
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it’s been untied,
and is just ambling about. 

~ Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks
from The Essential Rumi

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

transitions and letting go



Different transitions challenge our attachments in different ways.
 Just going from one day to another—Friday into Saturday—is not so hard for most of us.
 But what about going from one season to another, one year to another, one job to another,
 one relationship to another? Each of these transitions becomes harder as our attachments
 and expectations around them increase. Perhaps you are used to being able to get up and run 
or jog each day. There may come a time when this is no longer possible, and you must
 forget about jogging. That kind of change can be very difficult to adapt to. 
Maybe you’ve always had one kind of relationship with your parents, but now
 it’s become another kind of relationship. Now, instead of gathering for barbecues or parties,
 maybe you visit them in a hospital or nursing home and hold their hands. It’s a change.
 You are not used to it. It’s hard to transition to the new phase of life 
if you’re still attached to the previous one.

Because bigger transitions are more difficult, we must focus on our ability to let go now.
 If you look at this moment of your life, right now, how many things could you let go of? 
Think of one thing at this moment that you are attached to, that you’re identifying with,
 that you are holding onto, that causes pain. Perhaps you have a difficult relationship 
with someone in your life because of a grudge you are holding onto, or perhaps your
 attachment to the relationship itself is holding you back.
With awareness, we can see that when we struggle with a transition, 
it has something to do with an attachment, whether to an identity or to something external.
 If you let that one thing go, and then another thing and another and another,
then all the smaller things you can let go of will help you to be free. Each act of letting go
 benefits you, making it easier to let go of the harder things that will come along the way.
 If we do not apply ourselves to these opportunities to let go, if we can’t handle the little things
 that come along, then we are certain to have a harder time with the big things.

Letting go is like cleaning your garage or your closet.
 How many of us have cleaned our closets and found stuff in there that we were not using?
 This is a simple opportunity to practice letting go. When you open your closet and see something
 you put in there five years ago that you haven’t used, haven’t even touched, go ahead
 and take hold of it and let that one thing go! Energetically, these small acts of letting go
 can make a big impact. Even just deleting photos from your phone—a simple act of selecting
 and then deleting—can lighten our attachments. Do you know someone who has too much stuff, 
whose house has almost no space for people to move, let alone any sense of spaciousness? 
Often, at times of transition, we behave without awareness. 
We behave with condition, with pain, with fear. We feel we don’t have a choice.
 Just knowing we do have a choice can make all the difference. The choice comes
 when we can take time to be still, silent, spacious. We practice not doing, not saying,
 not thinking (not thinking is harder, but at least not doing and not saying).
 Then, once we have calmed down, we find a new space from which we can do 
and say and think, and what we do and what we say might be different from what we originally
 would have said or done. One thing that we want to be able to see clearly and to say
 to ourselves is, “If it’s not good, I will not make it worse.” 
Leave it as it is.

We have so many opportunities to be aware. Think about approaching it this way:
 I’m going to handle this little transition well so I can handle the next, harder one even better. 
Each time we make these little transitions and feel free, feel good, the world opens up for us.
 Moments, places, locations, changes, transitions happen all the time in life. 
These are all opportunities to cultivate and practice to better support the transition. 

~ Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
with thanks to Lions Roar
art: Visualizing a Lost Painting by Vincent van Gogh
 using X-ray Fluorescence Mapping