Wednesday, May 31, 2023

how healing comes



Healing comes less like a falcon
            with mighty wings,
                        and more like an earthworm
            that slowly, slowly moves
beneath it all, tightening up,
            then stretching out, tightening up
                        and stretching out, a simple
            two-part rhythm. Some days,
that is all the body can do.
            Contract. Expand. Contract. Expand.
                        In the meantime, through this
            artless act, what is dense
becomes porous.
            In the meantime, what is stuck
                        and clotted gets moved around.
            What is dead passes through,
is processes by the grit inside.
            There are tunnels now in the soil of me,
                        thin channels of recovery-
            a blessed loosening,
a gradual renewal, It's unhurried, but
            I feel it, the air, the rain
                        the life coming in.
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
    from All the Honey 

filling my purse with commas


All afternoon, each time
I think I should hurry,
I pull out a comma,
such humble punctuation,
and I invite it into the moment,
and the comma does
what it always does, which
is to invite a pause, a small pause,
of course, but a pause long enough
to breathe, to notice what else
is happening, a slight
suggestion that right here
is a perfect place to rest,
yes, how funny I never noticed
before that the comma itself
looks as if it;s bowing, nodding
its small dark head to what is,
encouraging us to find 
a brief silence and then,
thus refreshed, go on. 
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
from All the Honey
 art by Mori Yuzan

our relationship with ourself


How would you describe the current of energy, the life force inside you, 
that is seeking to grow? Our most important relationship is our relationship with ourself,
 with our interior world. What do you do to nurture that relationship?
 How you nurture that relationship will determine the quality of your life.
 What we call fate does not come to us from outside;
 it goes forth from within us. 
 ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, May 26, 2023

I have no parents


I have no parents:
I make the heaven and earth my parents.

I have no home:
I make awareness my home.

I have no life and death:
I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine powers:
I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means:
I make understanding my means.

I have no secrets:
I make character my secret.

I have no body:
I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes:
I make the flash of lightening my eyes.

I have no ears:
I make sensibility my ears.

I have no limbs:
I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy:
I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.

I have no design:
I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.

I have no miracles:
I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles:
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle.

I have no tactics:
I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talent:
I make ready wit my talent.

I have no friends:
I make my mind my friend.

I have no enemy:
I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor:
I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle:
I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword:
I make absence of self my sword.

 ~ anonymous samurai song 
 14th century

I have no Parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my Parents.
We are all from the same origin and we are all learning from the same source of knowledge: the universe.

I have no Home; I make the Tan T’ien my Home.
The Tan T’ien is considered to be the true center of the body regarding strength and balance. Making this my home, I am always at home, no matter where I am physically. It is also a place to be away from distractions, both from the world and from thoughts. It is where feeling and instinct are most powerful.

I have no Divine Power; I make Honesty my Divine Power.
Complete honesty under all circumstances is something only divine creatures are capable of. For me, to strive for honesty is one big step closer to be a better human being. I understand honesty as not to lie to myself or to other people.

I have no Means; I make Docility my Means.
Assets or utilities are not essential for me, I can do without them. I overcome obstacles by having a mind that is willing to learn and willing to be taught.

I have no Magic Power; I make Personality my Magic Power.
My personality is unique. Its magic is sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising, and sometimes hidden to be discovered.

I have neither Life nor Death; I make A Um my Life and Death.
A Um is the eternal soul. To something that is eternal, life and death do not matter, they are mere steps from one state to the other. 

I have no Body; I make Stoicism my Body.
My body is subject to pain and other physical “distractions”. If stoicism is my body, I am indifferent to the shortcomings of my flesh. What really counts is my mental attitude which will eventually overcome my body’s weaknesses.

I have no Eyes; I make The Flash of Lightning my eyes.
I do not trust things just because I can see them, because my visual senses are easily deceived. The flash of lightning is some kind of first impression, a gut-feeling, or my instinct about a certain situation. I try to trust these more than what I can see.

I have no Ears; I make Sensibility my Ears.
This is rather similar to the previous one. Things do not become facts just because I can hear them. It is more important what happens in my mind to the heard: I process what I hear, think about it, and weigh it with experience. Thus, I do have an opinion about it most of the time.

I have no Limbs; I make Promptitude my Limbs.
It is not really my arms and my legs that get me where I want. It is my decision to get there right now, which gets me there. I try to do important things without any delay.

I have no Laws; I make Self-Protection my Laws.
In the end, nearly all comes down to self-protection. This is the universal law that governs everything. While I think this is some kind of fact, I also think that one should try to overcome this basic law. There are people we cannot live without, there’s family and other loved ones. They build up a context where self-protection does not matter any more. Though this is a weakness, it is a necessary one and one I embrace.

I have no Strategy; I make the Right to Kill and the Right to Restore Life my Strategy.
The underlying strategy of my life is that everything counts. God or the Devil is in the details, as many details might have the power to save my life or to destroy it.

I have no Designs; I make Seizing the Opportunity by the Forelock my Designs.
I have no secret plans. I try to make the best out of the opportunities life offers me, as I cannot control life.

I have no Miracles; I make Righteous Laws my Miracle.
I cannot do miracles. But as it is really hard to be a good human being, I consider it my miracle that I stick to traditional virtues such as honor or honesty.

I have no Principles; I make Adaptability to all circumstances my Principle.
I accept and embrace change. Many things in life are unchangeable and therefore it is not wise to try to stick to strict pseudo-universal principles. I am ready to question myself and to adapt to new situations. I am agile. I am change.

I have no Tactics; I make Emptiness and Fullness my Tactics.
This seems to be contradictory. To achieve a goal, I have to empty myself from any prejudices and other external influences. An empty mind is a mind before thinking, before speaking, before words, a mind at home, relying on instinct (see above). This emptiness is necessary to build up a fascination for the new and to have space that can be filled with ideas and knowledge concerning the goal. (This idea is also discussed in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and in Buddhism.)

I have no Talent; I make Ready Wit my Talent.
Talents are mostly bound to specific tasks. If I have a ready mind that adapts to new tasks quickly, I am not limited by this constraint.

I have no Friends; I make my Mind my Friend.
The first and foremost person I have to become friends with is myself. I am much more powerful if I am happy with myself, if I can trust myself, and if I really know and understand myself.

I have no Enemy; I make Incautiousness my Enemy.
Not other people are my worst enemies, but myself. If I do things in a sloppy way, hastily, if I am not paying attention to the details, if I am betraying myself, if I do not know what I can do and what not: these things will harm me. Trying to do my best at all times is my protection against this enemy.

I have no Armour; I make Benevolence my Armour.
This can be seen in two ways. First, being benevolent, I probably make more friends than enemies and this saves me a lot of trouble. Second, being benevolent poses no threat to other people and, thus, might make an armor unnecessary.

I have no Castle; I make Immovable Mind my Castle.
A castle is a place to hide, a place to gather strength. As it is a common theme in this creed, this is not a physical place, but a place within me. The “immovable mind” (the translation can also mean the “immovable heart”) is immovable in respect to its focus. This focus should be in my inner, natural self and be free of corrupting influences such as anger, fear, or doubt. Within the self, the focus is flexible and not fixed on one particular attribute of the self. This whole idea is heavily connected to the concept of emptiness and fullness, as outlined above.

I have no Sword; I make No Mind my Sword.
And again, this is also very related to the concept of emptiness and fullness and to rely on instinct. Striving for emptiness, the point where I do not think anymore, where I really am…this state of the mind is considered to be the most powerful one, the state I am capable of the most difficult tasks. (This idea is discussed further in Zen and especially in Miyamoto Musashi’s “A Book of Five Rings”.)
 This is merely a brief start to finding a meaning for the creed.
 Comments by André Miede

Thursday, May 18, 2023

connected in compassion



No one escapes suffering in this life. 
None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness, and death.
 How is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? 
How is it that we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives
 and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence at the most obvious of times,
 such as a funeral?
 “If sequestered pain made a sound,” Stephen Levine says,
 “the atmosphere would be humming all the time.”

It is the accumulated losses of a lifetime that slowly weigh us down—
the times of rejection, the moments of isolation when we felt cut off
 from the sustaining touch of comfort and love. It is an ache that resides
 in the heart, the faint echo calling us back to the times of loss. 
We are called back, not so much to make things right, but to acknowledge
 what happened to us. 
Grief asks that we honor the loss and, in doing so, deepen our capacity for compassion.
 When grief remains unexpressed, however, it hardens, becomes as solid as a stone.
 We, in turn, become rigid and stop moving in rhythm with the soul. . . . 
When our grief stagnates, we become fixed in place, unable to move and dance
 with the flow of life. Grief is part of the dance.

As we begin to pay attention, we notice that grief is never far from our awareness. 
We become aware of the many ways it arrives in our daily lives. It is the blue mood
 that greets us upon waking. It is the melancholy that shades the day in muted tones.
 It is the recognition of time’s passing, the slow emptying of our days.
 It is the searing pain that erupts when someone close to us dies—
a parent, a partner, a child, a beloved pet. It is the confounding grief 
when our life circumstances are shattered by the unexpected—
the phone rings with news of a biopsy; we find ourselves suddenly without work,
 uncertain as to how we will support our family; our partner decides one day
 that the marriage is over. We tumble and fall as the ground beneath us opens, 
shaken by violent rumblings. Grief enfolds our lives, drops us close to the earth,
 reminding us of our inevitable return to the dark soil. . . .

It is essential for us to welcome our grief, whatever form it takes.
 When we do, we open ourselves to our shared experiences in life.
 Grief is our common bond. Opening to our sorrow connects us with everyone, everywhere.
 There is no gesture of kindness that is wasted, no offering of compassion that is useless.
 We can be generous to every sorrow we see. It is sacred work. 
~  Francis Weller
from  The Wild Edge of Sorrow:
 Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief; 
The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

their absence puts them with you


What gets you is the knowledge, and it sometimes can fall on you in a clap,
that the dead are gone absolutely from this world. As has been said around here
over and over again, you are not going to see them here anymore, ever.
Whatever was done or said before is done or said for good. Any questions
you think of that you ought to've asked while you had a chance are never
going to be answered. The dead know, and you don't.
And yet their absence puts them with you in a way they never were before.
You even maybe know them better than you did before. They stay with you,
and in a way you go with them. They don't live on in your heart, but your
 heart knows them. As your heart gets bigger on the inside, the world gets
bigger on the outside. If the dead had been alive only in this world, you
would forget them, looks like, as soon as they die. But you remember them, 
because they always were living in the other, bigger world while they lived 
in this little one, and this one and the other one are the same. You
can't see this with your eyes looking straight ahead. It's with your side vision, 
so to speak, that you see it. The longer I live, and the better acquainted
I am among the dead, the better I see it. I am telling what I know.

It's our separatedness and our grief that break the world in two.

~ Wendell Berry
from Stand by Me


Saturday, May 13, 2023

watching my friend pretend her heart isn't breaking


On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons, Six billion tons
is equivalent to the weight of every animal
on earth, including insects. Times three.
Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief -
just a teaspoon and one may as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.
There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see
what anyone else has swallowed.
~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
from Poetry of Presence II -
More Mindfulness poems
photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

what we need is here


Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry


how surely gravity's law (II, 16)

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy


As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence,
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
~ Hermann Hesse
translation by Richard and Clara Winston


Sunday, May 7, 2023

consciousness and matter


 ~ Rupert Spira


Happiness is a butterfly
which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp
but which if you will sit down quietly
 may light upon you.


~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, May 5, 2023


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs—all this resinous, unretractable earth.

~ Jane Hirshfield 

the soft overcomes the hard


 Nothing in the world is weaker than water
 but against the hard and the strong
  nothing outdoes it for nothing can change it
 the soft overcomes the hard
 the weak overcomes the strong
 this is something everyone knows
 but no one is able to practice.
 ~ Lao Tzu 
 translated by Red Pine

become clear with stillness



If waters are placid, the moon will be mirrored perfectly. 
If we still ourselves, we can mirror the divine perfectly. 
But if we engage solely in the frenetic activities of our daily involvements,
 if we seek to impose our own schemes on the natural order, 
and if we allow ourselves to become absorbed in self-centered views,
 the surface of our waters becomes turbulent. 
Then we cannot be receptive to Tao.

There is no effort that we can make to still ourselves. 
True stillness comes naturally from moments of solitude 
where we allow our minds to settle. 
Just as water seeks its own level, the mind will gravitate toward the holy. 
Muddy water will become clear if allowed to stand undisturbed, 
and so too will the mind become clear if it is allowed to be still.

 ~  Deng Ming-Dao
from 365 Tao, Daily Meditations
 with thanks to Heron Dance Art Journal
photo from

Thursday, May 4, 2023

into unity and belonging

... there is a mirror within the human mind. 
 This mirror collects every reflection. Human solitude is so unsolitary.
 Deep human solitude is a place of great affinity and of tension. 
When you come into your solitude, you come into companionship 
with everything and everyone. When you extend yourself frenetically outward, 
seeking refuge in your external image or role, you are going into exile.
 When you come patiently and silently home to yourself, 
you come into  unity and into belonging.

~ John O'Donohue
art by Shanna Strauss

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

what did we see today?

Some days we are passive, listening to the incoming waves.
On other days, we are like a light that sweeps
Out over the husky soybean fields all night.

What did we see today?  Horses at the end 
Of their tethering ropes, the wing of affection going over,
Flying bulls glimpsed passing the moon disc.

Rather than arguing about whether Giordano Bruno
Was right or not, it might be better to fall silent
And lose ourselves in the curved energy.

We know how many men live alone in their twenties,
And how many women are married to the wrong person,
And how many fathers and sons are strangers to each other.

It's all right if we keep forgetting the way home.
It's all right if we don't remember when we were born.
It's all right if we write the same poem over and over.

Robert, I don't know why you talk so confidently
About yourself in this way.  There are a lot of shady
Characters in this town, and you are one of them.

~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey