Sunday, March 26, 2023

an infinite storm of beauty

No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable

 an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relations 
which culture sustains to wildness as that which regards the world
 as made especially for the uses of man.
 Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms.
 Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious, 
and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged.

I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show
 that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself.
 Not that Nature manifests any such thing as selfish isolation. 
In the making of every animal the presence of every other animal has been recognized.
 Indeed, every atom in creation may be said to be acquainted with 
and married to every other, but with universal union there is a division
 sufficient in degree for the purposes of the most intense individuality; 
no matter, therefore, what may be the note which any creature forms
 in the song of existence, it is made first for itself, then more and more remotely
 for all the world and worlds.
The scenery of the ocean, however sublime in vast expanse, 
seems far less beautiful to us dry-shod animals than that of the land 
seen only in comparatively small patches; but when we contemplate 
the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents
 and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together
 as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
 ~ John Muir
from Nature Writings

some essential questions

Teach me That you see as beyond right 
And wrong, cause and effect, past and future.

The all-knowing self was never born,
Nor will it die.  Beyond cause and effect,
This Self is eternal and immutable.
When the body dies, the Self does not die.
If the slayer believes that he can kill
Or the slain believes that he can be killed,
Neither knows the truth.  The eternal Self
Slays not, nor is ever slain.

Hidden in the heart of every creature 
Exists the Self, subtler than the subtlest,
Greater than the greatest,  They go beyond
All sorrow who extinguish their self-will
And behold the glory of the Self
Through the grace of the Lord of Love.
When the wise realize the Self,
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midst of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.

The Self cannot be known through study
Of the scriptures, nor through the intellect,
Nor through hearing discourses about it.
The Self can be attained only by those 
Whom the Self chooses.  Verily unto them
Does the Self reveal himself.

~ The Katha Upanishad (8th-6th century BC)
as translated by Eknath Easwaran

The Katha is a story which beautifully brings together a confrontation
 of the ideal student with the ideal teacher, leading to a highly creative
 and naked consideration of the key questions: "Who am I?" "What dies?" 
"What is left?" and "what, if anything, can we say about death
 - now, while we are alive?

Tolstoy on kindness


The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, 
the more kindness he can find in other people.

You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, 
and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.

Kindness is for your soul as health is for your body: 
you do not notice it when you have it.

Love is real only when a person can sacrifice himself for another person. 
Only when a person forgets himself for the sake of another, 
and lives for another creature,
 only this kind of love can be called true love,
 and only in this love do we see the blessing and reward of life.
 This is the foundation of the world.

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, 
more beautiful than perpetual kindness.
~ Leo Tolstoy
from  A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul,
 Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts
translation by Peter Sekirin
 with thanks to brainpickings


Monday, March 20, 2023


Until each breath refuses they, those, them.
Until the Dramatis Personae of the book’s first page says, “Each one is you.”
Until hope bows to its hopelessness only as one self bows to another.
 Until cruelty bends to its work and sees suddenly: I.

Until anger and insult know themselves burnable legs of a useless table.
Until the unsurprised unbidden knees find themselves bending.
 Until fear bows to its object as a bird’s shadow bows to its bird.
 Until the ache of the solitude inside the hands, the ribs, the ankles.
 Until the sound the mouse makes inside the mouth of the cat.
 Until the inaudible acids bathing the coral.

Until what feels no one’s weighing is no longer weightless.
Until what feels no one’s earning is no longer taken.
Until grief, pity, confusion, laughter, longing know themselves mirrors.
Until by we we mean I, them, you, the muskrat, the tiger, the hunger.
Until by I we mean as a dog barks, sounding and vanishing and
sounding and vanishing completely.

Until by until we mean I, we, you, them, the muskrat, the tiger, the
hunger, the lonely barking of the dog before it is answered.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Ledger

Inside its bends

Inside its bends, the river 
builds the land, outside
it frets the land away.
This is unjust only from
a limited view.  Forever
it doesn't matter, is only
the world's way, the give
and take, the take and 
give we suffer in order 
to live.  This household
of my work, ungainly on
its stilts, stands outside
the bend, and the river wears
near and near, flow
outlasting the standing firm.
Trees once here are gone,
the slope they stood upon
gone.  I needed what is lost,
although I love as well
the flow that took it.  Now
spring is coming, the redbird's
peal rings from the thicket,
the pair exchanges like
a kiss a seed from the feeder,
and this is timeless.  But a day
in time will come when this
house will give way, the walls
lean and fall.  Shattered will be
my window's rectitude.
~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings
photo by Ansel Adams

Sunday, March 19, 2023

the shores of the great silence

Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped? And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?

No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, listens
at the shores of the great silence.

~ Antonio Machado, (1875-1935)
(also known as Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz)
Robert Bly translation
.photo by Julius Shulman

troubled thoughts

Instead of conditioning the next moment with troubled thoughts,
 you surrender your investment in them;
 now the next moment is open, untroubled, and free. 
 There is no need to judge the world around you; 
you simply allow it to be what it is. 
 If the situation calls for a response from you, fine; you respond,
 not from defensiveness or judgment, but from the natural ease of your presence.
  In the quiet mystery of surrendering your thoughts,
 you have released any fixity of belief or position-taking,
 and you are welcomed by openness, quiet, and a most subtle joy
 - a lightness of being. 
 In surrendering something of no real value, 
you have gained the world. 
 In the openness of unknowing, 
you are completely safe and innocent.

~ Pir Elias Amidon
from Free Medicine 
art by Dali

clearance in the thicket of thought

In prayer, we come nearest to making a real clearance in the thicket of thought.  
Prayer takes thought to a place of stillness.
 Prayer slows the flow of the mind until we can begin to see with a new tranquility. 
 In this kind of thought, we become conscious of our divine belonging.
  We begin to sense the serenity of this clearing.

  We learn that regardless of the fragmentation and turbulence 
in so many regions of our lives, there is a place in the soul 
where the voices and prodding of the world never reach.

  It is almost like the image of the tree.  The branches can sway and quiver in the wind,
 the center of the tree, there pertains the stillness of its anchorage. 
 In prayer, thought returns to its origin in the infinite.  
Attuned to its origin, thought reaches below its own netting. 

 In this way prayer liberates thought from the small rooms where fear and need confine it. 
 Despite all the negative talk about God, the Divine still remains
 the one space where thought can become free. 

 There we will be liberated from the repetitive echoes of our own smallness and blindness... 
Prayer is the path to the secret belonging at the heart of our other lives.

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

Thursday, March 16, 2023

everything you do is guided by thought


 ~ John O'Donohue

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

whatever you frequently think


 Whatever you frequently think and ponder upon, 
that will become the inclination of your mind.
 ~  Buddha
The heart takes on the attributes and colors of that toward which it is inclined.
 It even becomes the same as that toward which it has turned. 

 It only takes on a form according to the thought that comes to it.
 It is for this reason that two ideas cannot exist within the heart simultaneously,
 for the heart takes on completely the form of whatever idea comes to it.
 The heart becomes that thought itself. Then another thought can no longer be contained within it.
 It is like the water of the sea: when water forms a wave, that that wave
 could also take the form of another wave is inconceivable. 
In the same moment there cannot be two waves in the same place. Understand this.

Within the chest of each human being there is one single heart. 
Whether this heart inclines to one Self or to many attributes,
 it takes on the form of whatever it is that it inclines towards.

~ Niyazi Misri
from feast #51
Translated by Camille Helminski and Refik Algan

Sunday, March 12, 2023


Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. 
It asks us to notice that while we rest, 
the world continues without our help. 
It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.

~ Wendell Berry

The time for contemplation is the spring that feeds our action, 
and our action will be as deep as the spring. 
We need time to allow the spirit to clear the obstacles 
– the clinging debris and mud – 
that keeps the spring from flowing freely from its clear, 
deep source. And we need time for the spring to 
overflow into insightful and compassionate action.

~ Thomas Merton

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Crystal Wilkinson and Wendell Berry





 ~ Crystal Wilkinson, Wendell Berry





from you

From you
I don't want anything new
no more gifts
nor the scent of landscapes
rising to fill us, 
no bouquets of insight
left by my head
in the tenderness of morning,

no intoxication 
of thoughts that open horizons
where rooms are low,
nor the sever of spring
under the grid of old worlds
that has set on our skin,
nor my favorite blue,
the cobalt 
colour of silence.

All I want
is your two hands
pulsing in mine,
the two of us
back in a circle
round our love.

~ John O'Donohue

the many wines

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 on 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,

and 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
from The Book of Love
translation by Coleman Barks

our inner worlds

We assume too readily that we share the one world with other people... 
It is true at the objective level that we inhabit the same physical space as other humans; 
the sky is, after all, the one visual constant that unites everyone's perception of being in the world... 

At a deeper level, each person is the custodian of a completely private, individual world...
when people come to visit you, they bring all of their inner worlds,...
their lives are not elsewhere; they are totally there with you, before you, reaching out toward you. 
 When the visit is over, their bodies stand up, walk out, and carry this hidden world away. 

 This recognition also illuminates the mystery of making love. 
It is not just two bodies that are close, but rather two worlds: 
they circle each other and flow into each other. 
We are capable of such beauty, delight, and terror 
because of this infinite and unknown world within us.

~ John O'Donohue
art by Norval Morrisseau

Friday, March 10, 2023

in the beginning was the dream

In the beginning was the dream.
  In the eternal night where no dawn broke, the dream deepened.
  Before anything ever was, it had to be dreamed.  
Everything had its beginning in possibility.  
Every single thing is somehow the expression and incarnation 
of a thought.  If a thing had never been thought, 
it could never be.  If we take Nature as the great artist of longing
 then all presences in the world have emerged from her mind 
and imagination.  We are children of the earth's dreaming. 
  When you compare the silent, under-night of Nature
 with the detached and intimate intensity of the person, 
it is almost as if Nature is in dream and we are her children 
who have broken through the dawn into time and place. 

  Fashioned in the dreaming of the clay,
 we are always somehow haunted by that;
 we are unable ever finally to decide what is dream
 and what is reality.  Each day we live in what we call reality. 
 Yet the more we think about it, the more life seems to resemble a dream.

  We rush through our days in such stress and intensity,
 as if we were here to stay,  and the serious project of the world 
depended on us.  We worry and grow anxious; 
 we magnify trivia until they have become important enough
 to control our lives.  Yet all the time, we have forgotten
 that we are but temporary sojourners on the surface of a strange planet
 spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos. 

 There is no protective zone around any of us. 
 Anything can happen to anyone at any time.  
There is no definitive dividing line between reality and dream.  
What we consider real is often precariously dreamlike.
  One of the linguistic philosophers said that there is no evidence
 that could be employed to disprove this claim:  
The world only came into existence ten minutes ago
 complete with all our memories.  Any evidence you could proffer
 could still be accounted for by the claim.  Because our grip
 on reality is tenuous, every heart is infused
 with the dream of belonging.

~ John O' Donohue
 from 'Eternal Echoes'
 art by Erté.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

from anxiety to happiness


A documentary about how to let go of fear, anxiety and the illusion of control

Alejandro is an ordinary man, in the year 2018 he has a unique opportunity:
 to travel in a very close way along a Buddhist monk who lived 50 years in the Himalayas
 and accompanied the most recognized masters of Tibetan Buddhism 

With his genuine humor, daring and vulnerability, in 'From Stress to Happiness' 
we are guided by Alejandro De Grazia, who makes us reflect on issues of our mind.
 All accompanied by breathtaking landscapes that remind us of the essence of the transcendental
 and the simple, already making us look for answers to the questions of the documentary.
 De Grazia invites us to an incredible journey that will undoubtedly transform those 
who have seen this movie. 
 ~ Alejandro De Grazia
Matthieu Ricard 
found on Netflix

Saturday, March 4, 2023


Night, two o'clock: moonlight.  The train has stopped
in the middle of the plain.  Distant bright points of a town
twinkle cold on the horizon.

As when someone has gone into a dream so far
that he'll never remember he was there
when he comes back to his room.

And as when someone goes into a sickness so deep
that all his former days become twinkling points, a swarm,
cold and feeble on the horizon.

The train stands perfectly still,
Two o'clock: full moonlight, few stars.

~ Tomas Transtromer
translated by Robert Bly

the name

I got sleepy while driving and pulled in under a tree at the 
side of the road.  Rolled up in the back seat and went to sleep.
How long? Hours. Darkness had come.

All of a sudden I was awake, and didn't know who I was?
I'm fully conscious, but that doesn't help.  Where am I?
WHO am I? I am something that has just woken up in a back
 seat, throwing itself around in panic like a cat in a gunnysack. 
Who am I?

After a long while my life comes back to me.  My name
comes to me like an angel.  Outside the castle walls there is a
 trumpet blast (as in the Leonora Overture)  and the footsteps
that will save me come quickly quickly down the long staircase.
It's me coming! It's me!

But it is impossible to forget the fifteen-second battle in the 
hell of nothingness, a few feet from a major highway where
the cars slip past with their lights dimmed.

~ Tomas Tranströmer



One day it's the clouds,
one day the mountains.
One day the latest bloom
of roses - the pure monochromes,
the dazzling hybrids - inspiration
for the cathedral's round windows.
Every now and then
there's the splendor
of thought: the singular
idea and its brilliant retinue -
words, cadence, point of view,
little gold arrows flitting
between the lines.
And too the splendor
of no thought at all:
hands lying calmly
in the lap, or swinging
a six iron with effortless
tempo. More often than not
splendor is the star we orbit
without a second thought,
especially as it arrives
and departs. One day
it's the blue glassy bay,
one day the night
and its array of jewels,
visible and invisible.
Sometimes it's the warm clarity
of a face that finds your face
and doesn't turn away.
Sometimes a kindness, unexpected,
that will radiate farther
than you might imagine.
One day it's the entire day
itself, each hour foregoing
its number and name,
its cumbersome clothes, a day
that says come as you are,
large enough for fear and doubt,
with room to spare: the most secret
wish, the deepest, the darkest,
turned inside out.
~ Thomas Centolella
(Views from along the Middle Way)

Thursday, March 2, 2023

always new

The soul, like the moon,
is new, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing.
Live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.

~ Lalla
from Naked Song
translation by Coleman Barks

awareness is

Don't talk of different religions.
The one reality is everywhere,
not just in a Hindu, or a Muslim,
or anywhere else! Realize:

your awareness is
the truth about God.

~ Lalla

simply joy

There are seconds, they only come five or six at a time, 
and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, 
fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it's heavenly,
 but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. 

One must change physically or die. 
The feeling is clear and indisputable. 
As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and
 suddenly say: yes, this is true. 
This is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy.

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
from The Devils found in 
Collection of the best works of Fyodor Dostoevsky

remembering now



You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember
 it always just the way it was. But you can't remember it the way it was. 
To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening.
 It can return only by surprise.
 Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them
 that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind.
 And so you have a life that you are living only now,
now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, 
and you must be thankful for living day by day,
 moment by moment, in this presence.

But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. 
You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present,
 and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time.
 When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. 
You are remembering it as it is.
 It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present,
 alive with you in the only time you are alive.

~ Wendell Berry