Thursday, February 23, 2023

water, forms and forces

Christopher Tin: Live at Cadogan Hall - Waloyo Yamon
Water is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It creates life and brings about death, and it has the power to shape the face of the earth. Water means different things to different cultures, and I wanted to explore this in The Drop That Contained the Sea. Each piece is inspired by water in a different form, arranged in the order that water flows through the world: melting snow, mountain streams, rivers, the ocean, and so forth. And like Calling All Dawns, the end of the album flows back into the beginning, reflecting the endless nature of the water cycle. Each of the 10 pieces is also sung in a different language, exploring a different vocal tradition: Bulgarian women's choirs, Mongolian throat singing, and Portuguese fado, to name just a few.

The album features an all-star collection of international classical and world music artists, including Soweto Gospel Choir, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Dulce Pontes, Anonymous 4, Schola Cantorum, Kardes Türküler, Nominjin, Roopa Mahadevan, Angel City Chorale, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Christopher Tin).
 with thanks to love is a place


You and I are not only here in terms of the work we’re doing on ourselves.
 We are here in terms of the role we’re playing within the systems of which we are a part,
 if you look at the way change affects people that are unconscious.

Change generates fear, fear generates contractions,
 contraction generates prejudice, bigotry, and ultimately violence.
 You can watch the whole thing happen, and you can see it happen
 in society after society after society.

The antidote for that is a consciousness that does not respond to change with fear.

~ Ram Dass

standing up

In a split second of hard thought, I managed to catch her. 
 I stopped, holding the hen in my hands.  Strange,
 she didn't really feel living: rigid, dry, 
and old white plume-ridden lady's hat that shrieked out the truths of 1912.  
Thunder in the air.  An odor rose from the fence-boards,
 as when you open a photo album that has got so old
 that no one can identify the people any longer.

I carried her back inside the chicken netting and let her go. 
 All of a sudden she came back to life, she knew who she was,
 and ran off according to the rules.  Hen-yards are thick with taboos. 
 But the earth all around is full of affection and tenacity.  
A low stone wall half-overgrown with leaves.  
When dusk begins to fall the stones are faintly luminous 
with the hundred-year-old warmth from the hands that built it.

It's been a hard winter, but summer is here and the fields want us to walk upright. 
 Every man unimpeded, but careful, as when you stand up in a small boat. 
 I remember a day in Africa: on the banks of the Chari, there were many boats, 
an atmosphere positively friendly, the men almost blue-black in color 
with three parallel scars on each cheek (meaning the Sara tribe). 
 I am welcomed on a boat - it's a canoe hollowed from a dark tree.  
The canoe is incredibly wobbly, even when you sit on your heels.  A balancing act.
  If you have the heart on the left side you have to lean a bit to the right, 
nothing in the pockets, no big arm movements, please, all rhetoric has to be left behind.  
Precisely: rhetoric is impossible here. 
 The canoe glides out over the water.

~ Tomas Transtromer
from The Half-Finished Heaven
translation by Robert Bly
Photo by Will Baxter/CRS

the vase

I am always holding a priceless vase in my hands.
If you asked me about the deeper truths
of the path and I told you
the answers,

it would be like handing sacred relics to you.
But most have their hands tied
behind their

that is, most are not free of events their eyes have seen

and their ears have heard

and their bodies have felt.

Most cannot focus their abilities
in the present, and 
might drop what 
I said.

So I'll wait; I don't mind waiting until
your love for all
makes luminous
the now.

~ Rabia
(c. 717-801)
translation by Daniel Ladinsky

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

the sail just needs to open



On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises;
the promise of life
that it always

each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great

This is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

Peace is wonderful,
but ecstatic dance is more fun, and less narcissistic;
gregarious He makes our lips.

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

~ Rumi 

from Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
translations by Daniel Ladinsky


begin to see through

When you take the time to draw on your listening-imagination, 
you will begin to hear this gentle voice at the heart of your life.
 It is deeper and surer than all the other voices 
of disappointment, unease, self-criticism and bleakness. 
All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul.
 It is always there and the more deeply you learn to listen, 
the greater surprises and discoveries that will unfold. 
To enter into the gentleness of your own soul
 changes the tone and quality of your life. 
Your life is no longer consumed by hunger for the next event,
 experience or achievement. You learn to come down 
from the treadmill and walk on the earth. 
You gain a new respect for yourself and others 
and you learn to see how wonderfully precious this one life is. 
You begin to see through the enchanting veils of illusion 
that you had taken for reality. You no longer squander yourself 
on things and situations that deplete your essence. 
You know now that your true source is not outside you. 
Your soul is your true source and a new energy
 and passion awakens in you. 

~ John O'Donohue
from Beauty, The Invisible Embrace

I am wondering

I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog "God,"
First he looked 

then he started smiling, then he even

I kept at it: now he doesn't even

I am wondering if this
might work on

~ Tukaram
from Love Poems from God:
Twelve Voices from East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky

if you have listened

When you listen you reach
into dark corners and
pull out your wonders.
When you listen your
ideas come in and out
like they were waiting in line.
Your ears don’t always listen.
It can be your brain, your
fingers, your toes.
You can listen anywhere.
Your mind might not want to go.
If you can listen you can find
answers to questions you didn’t know.
If you have listened, truly
listened, you don’t find your
self alone.
~  Nick Penna, fifth grade
(from:  Poetic Medicine by John Fox)
 art by Joe Villion

Friday, February 17, 2023

there is a kindness

There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere,
 often in the places we least expect. The world can be harsh and negative,
 but if we remain generous and patient, kindness inevitably reveals itself. 
Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness;
 something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it we are able to trust
 and open ourselves. Here in Connemara, the mountains are terse and dark; 
left to themselves they would make for a brooding atmosphere. However,
 everywhere around and in between there are lakes. The surface of these lakes
 takes on the variations of the surrounding light to create 
subtle diffusion's of color. Thus their presence qualifies the whole landscape
 with a sense of warmth and imagination. If we did not feel that some ultimate kindness
 holds sway, we would feel like outsiders confronted on every side by a world 
toward which we could make no real bridges.

The word kindness has a gentle sound that seems to echo the presence
 of compassionate goodness. When someone is kind to you, you feel understood
 and seen. There is no judgment or harsh perception directed toward you.
 Kindness has gracious eyes; it is not small-minded or competitive;
 it wants nothing back for itself. Kindness strikes a resonance with the depths
 of your own heart; it also suggests that your vulnerability,
 though somehow exposed, is not taken advantage of; 
rather, it has become an occasion for dignity and empathy.
 Kindness casts a different light, an evening light that has the depth
 of color and patience to illuminate what is complex and rich in difference.

Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct 
that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway.
 This is the heart of blessing. To believe in blessing is to believe
 that our being here, our very presence in the world, is itself the first gift,
 the primal blessing. As Rilke says: Hier zu sein ist so viel 
— to be here is immense. Nowhere does the silence of the infinite
 lean so intensely as around the form of a newly born infant. 
Once we arrive, we enter into the inheritance of everything that has preceded us;
 we become heirs to the world. To be born is to be chosen. To be created 
and come to birth is to be blessed. Some primal kindness chose us
 and brought us through the forest of dreaming until we could emerge
 into the clearance of individuality, with a path of life
 opening before us through the world.

The beginning often holds the clue to everything that follows. 
Given the nature of our beginning, it is no wonder that our hearts are imbued
 with longing for beauty, meaning, order, creativity, compassion, and love, 
We approach the world with this roster of longings and expect 
that in some way the world will respond and confirm our desire. 
Our longing knows it cannot force the fulfillment of its desire; 
yet it does instinctively expect that primal benevolence to respond to it.
 This is the threshold where blessing comes alive.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us
photo by Ami Vitale

by presence


The teacher teaches by presence. 
The language of presence is 
more powerful than all the verbalizations 
from all the languages from the world put together. 
It is the eloquence of existence. 

If you allow life to become your teacher, it teaches. 

But if you turn to books 
and want to know whether it be duality or non-duality, 
one god or many, one creator, or two, etc., 
if you turn to books and theories, 
if you want to dig into the past and base your perception on that, 
then the opportunity to live first hand would be missed.

~ Vimala Thakar
from Growing into Wholeness

Tuesday, February 14, 2023



The longer we are together
the larger death grows around us.
How many we know by now
who are dead! We, who were young,
now count the cost of having been.
And yet as we know the dead
we grow familiar with the world.
We, who were young and loved each other
ignorantly, now come to know
each other in love, married
by what we have done, as much
as by what we intend. Our hair
turns white with our ripening
as though to fly away in some
coming wind, bearing the seed
of what we know. It was bitter to learn
that we come to death as we come
to love, bitter to face
the just and solving welcome
that death prepares. But that is bitter
only to the ignorant, who pray
it will not happen. Having come
the bitter way to better prayer, we have
the sweetness of ripening. How sweet
to know you by the signs of this world!

~ Wendell Berry

you come fresh

You come fresh from the place where names are not needed.
In that place there's a blissful secret most of us can no
longer remember. We have forgotten. But soon you
will start to learn words. You will learn to say what you
feel and want, and with that saying you too will forget
what is so natural to you now. Or perhaps you will be
lucky, and a current of the bliss you came from will
continue to stream through your heart...remembering
the beauty of your origin.

.....each of us is unique, and each of us has to find
our own way. I suppose it's only natural that I
should want to give you some advice...

Know you are safe...
Everything is all right forever.
We are made out of light.
One day you may doubt it -
that's part of the drama...
Just remember - you are safe...

Walk in the open air.
Spend as much time as you can
in nature, in places that humans
have not built on and paved over.
The natural world will teach you,
heal you, and replenish your soul
with its beauty. It is, like you are now,
fresh from the generosity of the

Be interested in everything.
Be a generalist.
Be curious and amazed by things.
Listen to others.
Welcome new ways of seeing, but
always think for yourself.

Follow your love.
Do what you love.
Love what you love.
I'm not talking simply
about love that's affection
or passion - but love that
continually moves to heal...

Little one, you are about to start
a great adventure.
Follow your love.
Be interested in everything.
Walk in the open air.
Know you are safe.

~ Elias Amidon

with thanks to Mystic Meandering
 art: 99 names of Allah

a guest house


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival,
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness come 
As an unexpected visitor,
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 
They may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from above.

~ Rumi


Thursday, February 9, 2023

beauty of the living world


The yellow-throated warbler, the highest remotest voice
or this place, sings in the tops of the tallest sycamores,
but one day he came twice to the railing of my porch
where I sat at work above the river. He was too close
to see with binoculars. Only the naked eye could take him in,
a bird more beautiful than every picture of himself,
more beautiful than himself killed and preserved
by the most skilled taxidermist, more beautiful
than any human mind, so small and inexact,
could hope ever to remember. My mind became
beautiful by the sight of him. He had the beauty only
of himself alive in the only moment of his life.
He had upon him like the whole
beauty of the living world that never dies.
~ Wendell Berry
from Given Poems
(for Jonathan Williams)  
Photo by Dan Dehm

Monday, February 6, 2023

we arrive here



We arrive here in this world having forgotten where we came from, 
though something of a memory seems to remain: a whisper, a distant shine
like that of a house window at night on the far side of the valley, perhaps
what some have called "the inner light," to guide us when finally we have been
jolted awake.  And so we don't come from nothing. But once here we 
don't know where we are. At first I learned the world as a book written,
completed the day before my birth, not to be changed by another penstroke.
And then I saw that some I know were departing from it, never to return,and new
 strangers were arriving. The newcomers, if they stayed, would learn
more or less of where they were. And then, in time, they too would depart, 
taking with them the sum of all they had learned, leaving behind them
maybe a few who would remember them, and then the rememberers too 
would go and be gone. I see in this the order of things, nothing to complain
about. I have been here long enough to watch the whole turn of the wheel.
I see that we are passing through this world like a river of water flowing
 through a river of earth. A far cry from a written book, the world - to
extend my desperate metaphor - is a book ceaselessly being written,
and not in a human language. This too has not been submitted to our
judgment, and it is not for us to regret. To give thanks seems truly to be
the right response, for as we come and go we learn something of love,
the gift and the giving of it, if we accept it, to give us standing hereafter.
That is the heart speaking in the heart's language, and out of a mystery 
so vast that order and chance may be reconciled within it. Because,
 for all we surely know, we come into our times and places as much at 
random as leaves falling,...
~ Wendell Berry
from How it Went - Thirteen more stories of
the Port William membership