Sunday, May 20, 2018


When another person makes you suffer, 
it is because he suffers deeply within himself, 
and his suffering is spilling over. 

He does not need punishment; he needs help. 
That’s the message he is sending.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, May 13, 2018

untouched and untasted


We usually do not look into what is really there in front of us. 
We see life through a screen of thoughts and concepts, and we mistake 
those mental objects for reality. We get so caught up 
in this endless thought-stream that reality flows by unnoticed. 
We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up 
in an eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. 
We spend our energies trying to make ourselves feel better,
 trying to bury our fears. We are endlessly seeking security. 
Meanwhile, the world of real experience flows by 
untouched and untasted.

~ Henepola Gunaratana, 
from Mindfulness In Plain English

generosity of self

We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to our inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence. A dramatic example of this kind of transfiguration is the one all parents know. You watch your children carefully, but one day they surprise you; you still recognize them, but your knowledge of them is insufficient. You have to start listening to them all over again.

It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalistic and violent. It brings you falsely outside your own self and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to your self. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home.

~ John O’Donohue 
from Anam Cara 
art by Odilon Redon

water becomes one with water

When a wise man has withdrawn his mind from all things without, 
and when his spirit has peacefully left all inner sensations, 
let him rest in peace, free from the movement of will and desire. ... 

For it has been said: There is something beyond our mind, 
which abides in silence within our mind. 
It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. 
Let one's mind and subtle spirit rest upon that and nothing else. 

... When the mind is silent, 
beyond weakness and distraction, 
then it can enter into a world, 
which is far beyond the mind: the supreme Destination. ... 
Then one knows the joy of Eternity. ... 
Words cannot describe the joy of the soul 
whose impurities are washed away in the depths of contemplation, 
who is one with the Atman, his own Self. 
Only those who experience this joy know what it is. ... 
As water becomes one with water, 
fire with fire, 
and air with air, 
so the mind becomes one with the infinite Mind 
and thus attains Freedom. 

~ Maitreya Upanishad

Saturday, May 5, 2018

there is some kiss

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Ocean water begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its

face against mine, Breathe into me, Close the language-door and 
open the love-window. The moon won't use the door, only the window.

~ Rumi 

Friday, May 4, 2018


I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

–Wislawa Szymborska
excerpt from Nothing Twice, 1997
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Sunday, April 29, 2018

pain and healing

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, 

so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, 

your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, 

even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen,
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, 

has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened 
with His own sacred tears.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet
 art by Sean Lewis

Thursday, April 26, 2018

to heal

Sakyamuni (Buddha) himself refused to answer speculative questions, 
and he would not permit abstract philosophical discussion.  

His doctrine was not a doctrine but a way of being in the world.  
His religion was not a set of beliefs and convictions or of rites and sacraments,
 but an opening to love.  

His philosophy was not a world view but a significant silence,
 in which the fracture implied by conceptual knowledge 
was allowed to heal and reality appeared again in its mysterious

~ Thomas Merton
from Zen and the Birds of Appetite


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

no better love

No better love than love with no object,
no more satisfying work than work with no purpose.

If you could give up tricks and cleverness,
that would be the cleverest trick!

~ Rumi
from The Essential Rumi
translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

Monday, April 16, 2018

see yourself in the cruelest

Practice until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth,
 in the child starving, in the political prisoner. 
Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket,
 on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. 
Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. 
See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, 
the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, 
and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, 
that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding
 will appear as a beautiful flower.

~  Thich Nhat Hanh
with thanks to louie, louie 

Saturday, April 14, 2018


We are vanishing from the earth, yet I cannot think we are useless
or else Usen would not have created us. He created all tribes of 
men and certainly had a righteous purpose in creating each.

~ Geronimo


Sunday, April 8, 2018

we can receive

What I’m coming to lately is an end-of-life conviction that there is more to consciousness than what is produced in my little head, or yours. Both of us have the capacity, at times, mysteriously, to get beyond whatever this small consciousness is doing and telling us. When we are able, when we are sufficiently still and relaxed—letting it happen, not doing it—we can receive a resonance from a greater consciousness.

Many spiritual masters I’ve known, and also eminent scientists like Carl Jung, echo this belief. Just before Jung died, He said: “Man cannot stand a meaningless life. Something in us sees around corners, knows beyond time and space, so may continue in that state after our physical death. Those who fear death as the End, die soon. Those who think they will go on, die old.”

Fear is constricting. In fact, so are all those self-concerns for one’s reputation, for one’s ideas, even for what the next association is telling me. For example, am I just thinking of what I should say to you now? Or am I open to something that could be quite new, that is not really coming so much from me as from this source consciousness that many traditions have called “I”?

I’m referring to the consciousness that manages to see what things are, what I am, and to not get caught in the next reaction or judgment or association—because all of these are functions; and consciousness is not a function.

Without being in love with consciousness, we can’t reach it, and it can’t reach us while we’re preoccupied with all that is going on in our ordinary thought, our ordinary bodily habits, sensations, movements, and our ordinary emotional reactions.

These are what I am calling functions.
It’s as if we have two natures: a functional nature and what many people have been calling a spiritual nature or a soul. But that language is suspect these days because we have been so careful for the last couple of centuries to separate from the superstitions of the past that we have involuntarily cut ourselves off from the sacred, and even from God.

This narcissistic preoccupation with my story, my difficulty, which always has a kind of negative touch to it because I am complaining about what is wrong with me either physically or mentally. And the quiet, impartial, impersonal mind, consciousness, with which I could be connected, is blocked by that.

It is so important to understand awareness as a connector to something greater than me, to my source, really. My presence is the doorway to that, even at the moment that I acknowledge that I don’t know who I am and I see my lack of presence. But that is the beginning of a real wish for it, a wish to be.

And when I have that wish, then maybe something can reach me that is of an absolutely different quality. I may perceive it as an axis of light running down through my physical body, which has a different origin. Gurdjieff says the physical body comes from this earth, and this other … my essence … comes from the stars, from the sun, from higher up, in a sense, closer to the source.

We have such a resistance to even the theoretical idea that we could, right now, you and I, be breathing an air charged with the omnipresence of consciousness, the omniscience of consciousness. We’ve all had, perhaps rarely, a direct experience of a moment when I knew everything at once and I was aware not just of what I’m calling this present moment, but of past, present, future, as one eternity.

These are just words at this moment. But I remember it wasn’t just a word, it was a flash of light, of electricity from the top of my head to my toes. And it changed something in my cellular structure that persists today. I feel that now. And everybody has this possibility for a change. As you say, we have to be aware of our need, in order to be receptive to this source consciousness, to wake up in a larger sense.

I can’t reach it, but it can reach me.

It’s not a mental conception, but a deeper conviction that could draw everything and everyone together in the love of consciousness, the faith of consciousness, the hope of consciousness.

~ James George
from To let the Light In, A Conversation with James George
in Parabola Magazine

vocation to solitude

 To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls up on that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars… to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into the bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of life into a living and vigilant silence.

~ Thomas Merton 
from Thoughts in Solitude
  art by Odilon Redon, " Silence"
with thanks to Parabola


the finger pointing?

“What is essential is invisible to the eye" 
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The “thing in itself” (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. This creator only designates the relations of things to men, and for expressing these relations he lays hold of the boldest metaphors… It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities… A word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases — which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. Every concept arises from the equation of unequal things. Just as it is certain that one leaf is never totally the same as another, so it is certain that the concept “leaf” is formed by arbitrarily discarding these individual differences and by forgetting the distinguishing aspects. This awakens the idea that, in addition to the leaves, there exists in nature the “leaf”: the original model according to which all the leaves were perhaps woven, sketched, measured, colored, curled, and painted — but by incompetent hands, so that no specimen has turned out to be a correct, trustworthy, and faithful likeness of the original model… We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche
from  Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche
art from  original watercolors for The Little Prince

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

For Martin Luther King

On hearing if Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination Thomas Merton wrote this poem:
April 4 1968 

On a rainy night
On a rainy night in April
When everybody ---
Said the minister

On a balcony
Of a hotel in Tennessee
"We come at once

On a night
On a rainy night in April
When the shot was fired
Said the minister

"I've come at once upstairs
and found him lying
On the balcony ... after... the tornado...he came at once upstairs

On a --- ---
he was our hope
and we found a tornado
said the minister.

And a well dreamed white ---
said the minister
Propped a telescopic storm

and he never
(the well-deemed minister of death)
ran away

And on the balcony
Said the minister
even lovely dying.... after... the tornado
... after the tornado
... after... the tornado
... after... the tornado

~ Thomas Merton
with thanks to louie,louie

Merton's letter to Coretta Scott King