Saturday, March 31, 2012

It is a lie

It is a lie - any talk of God
that does not

~ Meister Eckhart

affection for the I-creature

There's a moon in my body, but I can't see it! 
A moon and a sun. 
A drum never touched by hands, beating, 
and I can't hear it.

As long as a human being worries about when he will die, 
and what he has that is his, 
all of his works are zero. 

When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead, 
then the work of the Teacher is over. 

The purpose of labor is to learn; 
when you know it, the labor is over. 

The apple blossom exists to create fruit; 
when that comes, the petal falls. 

The musk is inside the deer, 
but the deer does not look for it: 

It wanders around looking for grass. 

~ Kabir
photo by kathleen connally

the decision

There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
The letter might still be taken
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room's air.
The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it -
looks around,
sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief
photo: US landing craft closes on Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944

the unknowable reality of things

~ Rupert Spira

Thursday, March 29, 2012


The water which sees the air through 
broken veins of the high mountain summits is suddenly 
abandoned by the power which brought it there, 
and escaping from these forces 
resumes its natural course in liberty. 

Likewise the water that rises 
from the low roots of the vine to its lofty head 
falls through the cut branches upon the roots and 
mounts anew to the place whence it fell. 

~ Leonardo Da Vinci

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


Being unwise enough to have married her
I never knew when she was not acting.
‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences
Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure
They were still there. She was lovely. I
Was only the looking-glass she made up in.
I husbanded the rippling meadow
Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.

Alone now on the brittle platform
Of herself she is playing her last role.
It is perfect. Never in all her career
Was she so good. And yet the curtain
Has fallen. My charmer, come out from behind
It to take the applause. Look, I am clapping too.

~ R. S. Thomas 
from The Poems of R. S. Thomas

Born Ronald Stuart Thomas in Cardiff, Wales, 1913. He was a Luddite, viewing modern conveniences as distractions that cause us to neglect our spiritual health. He and his wife Elsi lived in a small and almost primitive stone cottage for much of their marriage, and their son, Gwydion, remembered his father preaching against the evils of the refrigerator and the washing machine from his pulpit. His poems were as austere as his lifestyle, and he once wrote: "A recurring ideal, I find, is that of simplicity. At times there comes the desire to write with great precision and clarity, words so simple and moving that they bring tears to the eyes."  Mr. Thomas died in 2000.

~ comments from  writers almanac

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

allow yourself to become it


The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.

The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.

The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.

Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.

~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching
translation by j.h.mcdonald

live from your own center

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous, 
Only our eyes are not open to it. . . . 
Awe is what moves us forward. . . .

Live from your own center. . . . 
The divine lives within you. 
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary. 
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen, 
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper “in group.” 
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. 
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, 
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it. 
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere. 
The world is a match for us. 
We are a match for the world. 
The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . . 

Sanctify the place you are in. Follow your bliss. . . .

~ Joseph Campbell

sower of science, center of religion

The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical.
It is the sower of all true science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead.

To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - 
this knowledge, this feeling,
is at the center of true religion.

~ Albert Einstein

each curve

There are so many positions of love:
each curve on a

the thousand ways your eyes can hold us,
the infinite shapes each mind
can draw,

the spring orchestra of scents and sounds wafting through the air,
the currents of light combusting like

the revolution of the universe’s skirt, whose folds
contain other worlds,

our every sigh that falls against
His inconceivably close,

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

only in the double kingdom

Only the man who has raised his strings
among the dark ghosts also
can sense it and give 
the everlasting praise.

Only he who has eaten poppy
with the dead, from their poppy,
will never lose even
his most delicate sound.

Even though images in the pool
seem so blurry:
grasp the main thing.

Only in the double kingdom, there
alone, do voices become
undying and tender.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Robert Bly
from Sonnets to Orpheus
art by alex orlov

near field

This is not something new or kept secret
the tilled ground unsown in late spring
the dead are not separate from the living
each has one foot in the unknown
and cannot speak for the other
the field tells none of its turned story
it lies under its low cloud like a waiting river
the dead make this out of their hunger
out of what they had been told
out of the pains and shadows
and bowels of animals
out of turning and 
coming back singing
about another time

~ W. S. Merwin
from The Shadow of Sirius

april and silence

Spring lies abandoned.
A ditch the color of dark violet
moves alongside me
giving no images back.

The only thing that shines
are some yellow flowers.

I am carried inside
my own shadow like a violin
in its black case.

The only thing I want to say
hovers just out of reach
like the family silver
at the pawnbroker's.

~ Tomas Transtromer
translation by Robert Bly
from The Half Finished Heaven
photo by David Gray, Reuters

Monday, March 26, 2012

being human: a reflection

~ Jane Hirshfield