Wednesday, June 29, 2022

the honeyed tip of anger and its poisoned roots



The energy of anger can feel empowering. 
When we feel extraordinarily vulnerable or diminished, the energy of anger
 sharpens our senses and brings our power back, serving as a wake-up call
 that shakes us out of our doldrums. Initially, this surge of anger-ridden energy feels good. 
The rush of adrenaline is seductive — we want to hold on to it and increase its energy.
 This feeling of anger can be beneficial at times, but unless we meet it with conscious awareness,
 it can make us lose perspective and can destroy relationships the longer we hold on to it.

Anger allows us to stand in our righteousness, in our sense of justice.
 We may even feel inspired because we regain our sense of self. Our ego, our sense of me,
 is so full, thinking of what we will be doing to right this wrong.

However, unconscious, mindless anger becomes personal, invariably leading to
 inappropriate and unreasonable behavior. It can become divisive, exclusionary, 
and even hateful at times, and it can also separate us from others because it can be
 condescending and arrogant. At its root, this type of anger says
 I am right, and you are wrong.

In this state of mind, our ability to listen carefully to what the other person has to say
 suddenly stops. This righteous anger blinds us and stops serving us as an empowering force.
 It is then that anger can become our worst enemy and an impediment to a peaceful outcome.

Rather than confronting the feeling, we tend to focus on a person or situation
 that serves as a false refuge, something to blame for what we’re unhappy about. 
Forming a false refuge externally robs us of the opportunity to reflect on our fears, 
our loneliness, and our wounds, and eliminates the path to heal the cause of our suffering.

Meeting anger without conscious awareness puts us at great risk.
 It may simmer within as silent suspicion and resentment,
 or it may explode into violent rage and devastation.

 It may come with justifications like I need to be angry, because if I am not, 
I’m going to be hurt, which creates stories in our minds of what we truly believe
 and disconnects us from what we are really harboring in our hearts. 
Unaware of the trap we have fallen into, the only way out
 — the only way to save face — is anger.

Paradoxically, anger can also come with self-judgment: I should not be angry;
 a person with my values cannot be angry. Therefore, I’m a bad person if I show anger.
 We suppress anger by self-condemnation, and it never goes away.
 Without working on avoiding self-judgment, anger is not metabolized,
 and it may return to haunt us later in unexpected ways.

It’s part of being human. Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, describes what to do
 when we are visited by uncomfortable emotions in his beautiful poem,
 “The Guest House.”

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

Skillful ways to start working with anger involve cultivating an openness
 towards curiosity and self-awareness. We must examine anger with the desire to learn 
from it, not in a cold and superficial analysis, but in a warm and intimate way
 that comes from caring about the nature of being human. We must feel the anger
 at a somatic level and explore what is underneath. 
We need to feel it to heal it.

Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
 Feel the anger without judgment, but with self-compassion instead.
 Holding your suffering with tenderness, allowing any thoughts connected to your
 emotions to surface, and then let them go. In this way, your emotions will be able
 to move through you rather than becoming blocked in your body and 
potentially turning into illness or disease.

When I ask myself What is going on with me? I turn my gaze inward and look at my triggers.
 This eliminates the influence of external things that I cannot control. When I do this, 
I often realize it’s not about who did something to me or what was done to me.
 Instead, it’s about what’s going on inside. The anger is in me, and as soon as I shift
 the focus to the right area, the anger starts to dissolve. 
Take a pause before reacting, which gives us the space to breathe
 in and out and start dissolving the tension. Through this action, our thoughts
 may calm down, and we may be able to see things more clearly.

This takes practice, and as such we must engage in it consistently.
 We can start with little triggers, like losing our keys, misplacing our wallets, 
experiencing laptop issues, or running late to a meeting. This way, we train
 our brains to respond mindfully and wisely when provoked by greater threats.

Taking responsibility for what we are experiencing rather than avoiding or repressing
 anger is empowering. Feeling the feeling is where the healing begins.
 Only then, we will be able to have clarity of mind to take a wise step forward.
Monica Jordan
excerpt from: How to work with Anger
Lion's Roar



Friday, June 24, 2022

our kneejerk reactivity



The next time you are offended, consider it a “teachable moment.”

Ask yourself what part of you is actually upset. It’s normally the false or smaller self.
 If we can move back to the big picture of who we are in God, our True Self,
 we’ll find that what upset us usually doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in objective reality!
 But we can waste a whole day (or longer) feeding that hurt until it seems to have a life
 of its own and, in fact, “possesses” us. At that point, it becomes what Eckhart Tolle
 rightly calls our “pain-body.”

Tolle defines this “accumulated pain” as “a negative energy field that occupies
 your body and mind.”  In this space, we seem to have a kneejerk, self-protective
 reaction to everything—and everyone—around us. I emphasize the word reaction
 here because there’s no clear, conscious decision to think or act in this way.
 It just happens and we are seemingly powerless to stop it. By doing healing work
 and by practicing meditation, we learn to stop identifying with the pain
 and instead calmly relate to it in a compassionate way.

For example, in centering prayer, we observe the hurt as it arises 
in our stream of consciousness, but we don’t jump on the boat and give it energy. 
Instead, we name it (“resentment toward my spouse”), then we let go of it,
 and let the boat float down the river. We have the power to say, “That’s not me.
 I don’t need that today. I have no need to feed this resentment. 
I know who I am without it.” This is the beginning of emotional sobriety.

If we’ve been eating a regular meal of resentment toward our spouse, our boss,
 our parents, or “the world,” the boat’s going to come back around
 in the next minute because it’s accustomed to us filling our plate.
 But we must be able to ask and to discover, “Who was I before I resented my spouse?
 And even before that?” This is the primary way we learn to live in our True Self,
 where we are led by a foundational “yes,” not by the petty push backs of “no.”
~ Richard Rohr 
from Emotional Sobriety:
 Rewiring Our Programs for ‘Happiness’
~ Eckhart Tolle 
from The Power of Now:
 A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

our confusing, obscuring emotions


In the psychological climate of our own times, our emotions are almost always
considered to be virtually identical with our personal authenticity,
and the more freely they flow, the more we are seen to be honest and
“in touch.” A person who gravitates to a mental mode of operation
is criticized for being “in his head”; when feeling dominates,
we proclaim with approval that such a person is “in his heart.”

In the Wisdom tradition, this would be a serious misuse of the term heart.
Far from revealing the heart, Wisdom teaches that the emotions 
are in fact the primary culprits that obscure and confuse it. 
The real mark of personal authenticity is not how intensely we can express
 our feelings but how honestly we can look at where they’re coming from
 and spot the elements of clinging, manipulation, and personal agendas
 that make up so much of what we experience as our emotional life today. . . .

In the teachings of the Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers, 
these intense feelings arising out of personal issues were known as the “passions,” 
and most of the Desert spiritual training had to do with learning to spot
 these land mines and get free of them before they did serious psychic damage. 
In contrast to our contemporary usage, which tends to see passion as a good thing, 
indicating that one is fully alive and engaged, the Desert tradition saw passion
 as a diminishment of being. It meant falling into passivity, into a state of being
 acted upon (which is what the Latin passio actually means), rather than clear
 and conscious engagement. Instead of enlivening the heart, 
according to one Desert Father, the real damage inflicted by the passions
 is that “they divide our heart into two.”. . .

The heart, in the ancient sacred traditions, has a very specific and
 perhaps surprising meaning. It is not the seat of our personal affective life—
or even, ultimately, of our personal identity—but an organ for the perception
 of divine purpose and beauty. . . .
Finding the way to where our true heart lies is the great journey of spiritual life. . . .
~ Cynthia Bourgeault
 from The Wisdom Way of Knowing: 
Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart
 art by Picasso


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

lost in emotion



People say we can’t help how we feel. It’s true we can’t help unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral feelings arising when one or more of the six senses have made contact with an object. We multiply the intensity of feeling every time we move away from something pleasant or unpleasant; we create a vicious cycle of craving and aversion.

Often when people say we can’t help how we feel, they are talking about their emotions. We can help how we experience our emotions. They are created by our unconscious and conscious thinking and conditioning. When we emote our thoughts we are habitually responding and reacting out of our emotions. We are forcibly changing our emotions all the time, by reaching out for external stimuli, or by blaming others when we feel vulnerable or upset. Before we know it, we are angry, resentful, self-righteous, and begin to inhabit a storehouse of toxic thoughts, which suppress our uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability.

By observing our thoughts and emotions, we can witness how they build on each other through our attachment to repetitive inner stories. Such witnessing begins the process of healthy nonattachment:

If we are patient, our feelings will change of their own accord—some quicker than others. Our emotions will begin to deplete; they won’t dominate us, or dictate our behavior. Eventually toxic emotions will disappear and nontoxic thinking will start to arise in our hearts, and one day there will be just thoughts without a thinker. There will be sounds without a hearer, tastes without a taster, smells without a smeller, sights without a seer, and touch without a toucher. What I mean by all of this is that things will arise and we will not identify with them as me, mine, or I. There will be no judgments, interpretations, or stories about what we have just perceived. We will see the bigger picture, and not be caught by the clash of the senses, not react to whatever we have made contact with. We will feel the unpleasantness, pleasantness, neutralness, or even the mixture of all three feelings, and will turn toward it without an agitated mind. The heart and mind will accept all of it without protesting. When we protest, toxic emotions begin to emerge. . . .

Our hearts well up with toxins because we push away our painful feelings. Many of us will do our utmost to push them down. We won’t allow ourselves to stop. Our busy lives don’t seem to give us time to feel our feelings. When we turn toward our experience, we will often find feeling tones or sensations in the body. We turn away from the experience in the body with thoughts and thinking. If we have the courage to face the feeling tone, we will discover there is nothing there, no I or me, just a flow of sensations that may be painful, pleasurable, or neutral.

~ Valerie Mason-John
from Detox Your Heart: Meditations for Healing Emotional Trauma

Thursday, June 16, 2022



~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

simple living frees us from within



Simple living is not about elegant frugality.
 It is not really about deprivation of whatever is useful and helpful for our life.
 It is not about harsh rules and stringent regulations. To live simply, 
one has to consider all of these and they may be included to some degree,
 but simple living is about freedom. It’s about a freedom to choose space
 rather than clutter, to choose open and generous living 
rather than a secure and sheltered way.

Freedom is about choices: Freedom to choose less rather than more.
 It’s about choosing time for people and ideas and self-growth
 rather than for maintenance and guarding and possessing and cleaning.
 Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly,
 delighting in the plain and the subtle. It is about poetry and dance,
 song and art, music and grace. It is about optimism and humor, 
gratitude and appreciation. It is about embracing life with wide-open arms.
 It’s about living and giving with no strings attached. . . .

Simple living is as close as the land on which we stand.
 It is as far-reaching as the universe that makes us gasp.
 Simple living is a relaxed grasp on money, things, and even friends.
 Simplicity cherishes ideas and relationships. 
They are treasured more because simplicity doesn’t cling
 nor try to possess things or people or relationships. 
Simplicity frees us within, but it frees others, too. . . . 
Simple living is a statement of presence. 
The real me. This simplicity makes us welcome among the wealthy and the poor alike. . . .
We will not be happy living selfishly in a small world. 
We must live in awareness and in association with the whole real world. 
Our universe. Our cosmos. Our environment. Our earth. Our air.
 Our water supply. Our country. Our neighbor. Our car. Our homes. 
All are part of simple living.
~ Sister Jose Hobday
from Simple Living: The Path to Joy and Freedom

Sister Jose Hobday was A Seneca elder, a prominent Roman Catholic leader,
 and a Franciscan sister who adheres fully to St. Francis’s radical ideal of holy poverty. . . .
 She is also a mystic and contemplative; she is an earth warrior and elder guide
 on the wisdom path; and above all, she is an impassioned servant of the poor, 
especially poor Native Americans.
Sister José lived in the maximum simplicity of voluntary poverty
 in a tiny house in Gallup, New Mexico, surrounded on all sides
 by Indian reservations and pueblos.
As people once flocked to Julian of Norwich’s cell or to Dorothy Day’s Hospitality House, 
so people came to Sister José’s warm hearth for spiritual guidance
 and material help, and no one leaving without assistance.
~ notes by Mary Ford-Grabowsky

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

a brave and startling truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet 
Traveling through casual space 
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns 
To a destination where all signs tell us 
It is possible and imperative that we learn 
A brave and startling truth 
And when we come to it 
To the day of peacemaking 
When we release our fingers 
From fists of hostility 
And allow the pure air to cool our palms 

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet 
Whose hands can strike with such abandon 
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living 
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness 
That the haughty neck is happy to bow 
And the proud back is glad to bend 
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction 
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines 

When we come to it 
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body 
Created on this earth, of this earth 
Have the power to fashion for this earth 
A climate where every man and every woman 
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety 
Without crippling fear 

When we come to it 
We must confess that we are the possible 
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world 
That is when, and only when 
We come to it.

~ Maya Angelou
from Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry


A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.

We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
 from Red Suitcase

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

beasts bounding through time


Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory

moving this little bit of light toward

 ~  Charles Bukowski, 
from You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense
 with thanks to whiskey river


Friday, June 10, 2022



 ~ Keb' Mo'

my home




Keb' Mo' 





Stand still.

The trees ahead and the bushes beside you 
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~ David Wagoner
from Collected Poems 1956-1976
photo by Eliot Porter
with thanks to mystic meandering

Monday, June 6, 2022

common ground and a common bond


Always in big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off
alone into a new place there will be,
along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread.
It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond
with the wilderness you are going into.
You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place,
but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness,
nobody can discover the world for anybody else.
It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves
that it becomes a common ground and a common bond,
and we cease to be alone.

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry
from The Unforeseen Wilderness: 
Kentucky’s Red River Gorge
 with thanks to being silently drawn


Sunday, June 5, 2022

supple cord

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
We could have spoken,
could have sung
to one another,
we were in the same room
for five years,
but the soft cord
with its little frayed ends
connected us
in the dark,
gave comfort
even if we had been bickering
all day.
When he fell asleep first
and his end of the cord
dropped to the floor,
I missed him terribly,
though I could hear his even breath
and we had such long and separate lives
 ~ Naimi Shihab Nye
from A MAZE ME

where hate won't grow

I'm not interested in
Who suffered the most.
I'm interested in
People getting over it.
Once when my father was a boy
A stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
and its riddle: the boy who has fallen
stands up. A bucket of pears
in his mother's doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Later his friend who threw the stone
says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.
Each carries a tender spot:
something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
"I am native now."
A woman speaks to a tree in place
of her son. And olives come.
A child's poem says,
"I don't like wars,
they end up with monuments."
He's painting a bird with wings
wide enough to cover two roofs at once.
Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
it's ridiculous.
There's a place in my brain
Where hate won't grow.
I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.
It's late but everything comes next.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye
(19 Varieties of Gazelle)
photo by  imso gabriel

Friday, June 3, 2022



Yes, there are plenty of heroes and heroines everywhere you look.
 They are not famous people. They are generally obscure and modest people
 doing useful work, keeping their families together and taking an active part
 in the health of their communities, opposing what is evil (in one way or another)
and defending what is good. 
Heroes do not want power over others. 
Devoted though we must be to the conservation cause,
 I do not believe that any of us should give it all of our time or effort or heart.
 Give what you can, but do not burn yourselves out -- or break your hearts.
 Let us save at least half of our lives for the enjoyment of this wonderful world
 which still exists. Leave your dens, abandon your cars and walk
 out into the great mountains, the deserts, the forests, the seashores. 
Those treasures still belong to all of us. 
Enjoy them to the full, stretch your legs, 
expand your lungs, enliven your hearts -
 Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!

 ~ Edward Abbey
Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos
 from an American Iconoclast
photo: fruiting body of a slime mold 

Thursday, June 2, 2022

open your hands


There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.

You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

~ Rumi
Translation: Coleman Barks 

the way it is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

~ William Stafford
from The Way it Is, 1998

William Stafford’s journey with words began most mornings before sunrise. This simple poem was written 26 days before he passed.
One of his students, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote, “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford. There has been no one who gave more courage to a journey with words, and silence, and an awakened life.”