Friday, March 24, 2017

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
 art by Picasso


Saturday, March 18, 2017

birds of passage







The
Classroom
Surely becomes disarrayed
When the teacher is out of sight
Because of our grand
Volcanic 
Spirits.

The 
Birds of passage
Arrive with a broken 
Wing,

Though
Are then lifted by God
So high and
"Low"

To experience the heart
Of everything.

The mind surely becomes disarrayed
When the Teacher is out
Of sight.



~ Hafiz
from The Gift
translations by Daniel Ladinisky

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

and love says






And love
Says,

"I will, I will take care of you,"

To everything that is
Near.


~ Hafiz
from The Gift
translation by Daniel Ladinsky

Saturday, March 4, 2017

chickpea to cook





A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it's being boiled.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

"Don't you try to jump out.
You think I'm torturing you.
I'm giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this."

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea 
will say to the cook,
 "Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this be myself.

I'm like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn't pay attention
to his driver.  You're my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love cooking."

The cook says, "I was once like you,
fresh from the ground,  Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled once beyond that,
and become your teacher."




~ Rumi
from The essential Rumi
translations by Coleman Barks and John Moyne



Macarius and the pony


.


.
People in a village
At the desert's edge
Had a daughter
Who was changed (they thought)
By magic arts
Into a pony.

At first they berated her
"Why do you have to be a horse?"
She could think of no reply.

So they led her out with a halter 
Into the hot waste land
Where there was a saint
Called Macarius
Living in a cell.

"Father" they said
"This young mare here
Is, or was, our daughter.
Enemies, wicked men,
Magicians, have made her
The animal you see.
Now by your prayers to God
Change her back
Into the girl she used to be."

"My prayers" said Macarius,
"Will change nothing,
For I see no mare.
Why do you call this good child
An animal?"

But he led her into his cell
With her parents:
There he spoke to God 
Anointing the girl with oil;
And when they saw with what love 
He placed his hand upon her head
They realized, at once.
She was no animal.
She had never changed.
She had been a girl from the beginning.

"Your own eyes
(said Macarius)
Are your enemies.
Your own crooked thoughts
(said the anchorite)
Change people around you
Into birds and animals.
Your own ill-will
(said the clear-eyed one)
Peoples the world with specters."


.
~ Thomas Merton
from  The Collected Poems


.

Friday, February 24, 2017

sweater






What is asked of one is not what is asked of another.
A sweater takes on the shape of its wearer,
a coffee cup sits to the left or the right of the workspace,
making its pale Saturn rings of now and before.
Lucky the one who rises to sit at a table,
day after day spilling coffee sweet with sugar, whitened with milk.
Lucky the one who writes in a book of spiral-bound mornings
a future in ink, who writes hand unshaking, warmed by thick wool.
Lucky still, the one who writes later, shaking.  Acrobatic at last, the 
sweater,
elastic as breath that enters what shape it is asked to. 
Patient the table;  unjudging, the ample, refillable cup.
Irrefusable, the shape the sweater is given,
stretched in the shoulders, sleeves lengthened by unmetaphysical
pullings on.





~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief 


Friday, February 10, 2017

the "I" experience









~ Alan Watts



the night house







Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass -
The grass of civics, the grass of money -
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body - the house of voices -
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.




  ~ Billy Collins
 art by Van Gogh



Sunday, January 29, 2017

simple acceptance







The everyday practice is simply to develop 
a complete acceptance and openness to all 
situations and emotions, and to all people,
 experiencing everything totally 
without mental reservations and blockages, 
so that one never withdraws
 or centralizes into oneself.



~ Trungpa Rinpoche




Thursday, January 26, 2017

individual shoots were younger







The individual shoots were younger, but these new growths from the past few centuries were not considered to be stand-alone trees but part of a larger whole.. The root is certainly a more decisive factor than what is growing above ground.  After all, it is the root that looks after the survival of an organism. It is the root that has withstood severe changes in climatic conditions. And it is the root that has regrown trunks time and time again. It is in the roots that centuries of experience are stored, and it is this experience that has allowed the tree's survival to the present day.

~ Peter Wohllenben
from The Hidden Life of Trees



... down deep, at the molecular heart of life,
we’re essentially identical to trees.


~ Carl Sagan

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

thank you


.


Meditation enables them to go
Deeper and deeper into consciousness,
From the world of words to the world of thoughts,
Then beyond thoughts to wisdom in the Self.
...
Sharp like a razor's edge, the sages say,
Is the path, difficult to traverse.


~ Katha Upanishad



This is the passage from which the title of Somerset Maugham's book The Razor's Edge was taken. His story traces the spiritual journey of an American fighter pilot traumatized by WWI. The book is apparently based on the life of Guy Hague who had spent time with Ramana Maharshi in Tamil Nadu, India, as did Maugham himself.
William Somerset Maugham was born on this day in 1874 in Paris. He was trained as a doctor and work on the front as a Red Cross volunteer during WWI. He became famous with his semi- autobiographical novel Of Human Bondage in 1915. Maugham's novels seem to make apparent the beauty of and intricacy of the fabric of life in-which we are all entwined.



Happy Birthday Mr. Maugham and thank you.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

the thing with feathers






"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.


~ Emily Dickinson

from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Edited by R. W. Franklin
 with thanks to Love is a Place

Saturday, December 17, 2016

the bridge








Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.

Entering it
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
a rainbow.
I’ll sleep beneath its arches.


~ Octavio Paz
from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957-1987



Sunday, December 11, 2016

in the heart of the night






In the heart of the night,
The moonlight framing
A small boat drifting,
Tossed not by the waves
Nor swayed by the breeze.


~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen

 

true person







The true person is
Not anyone in particular,
But, like the deep blue color
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world.
 
 
 
~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen