Wednesday, December 19, 2018

in time a man disappears







In time a man disappears
from his lifelong fields, from 
the streams he has walked beside,
from the woods where he sat and waited.
Thinking of this, he seems to 
miss himself in those places
as if always he has been there.
But first he must disappear,
and this he foresees with hope,
with thanks.  Let others come.





.
~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

small beauties








After she’s gone to camp, in the early
evening I clear our girl’s breakfast dishes
from the rosewood table, and find a dinky
crystallized pool of maple syrup, the
grains standing there, round, in the night, I
rub it with my fingertip
as if I could read it, this raised dot of
amber sugar, and this time,
when I think of my father, I wonder why
I think of my father, of the Vulcan blood-red
glass in his hand, or his black hair gleaming like a
broken-open coal. I think I learned to
love the little things about him
because of all the big things
I could not love, no one could, it would be wrong to.
So when I fix on this image of resin
or sweep together with the heel of my hand a
pile of my son’s sunburn peels like
insect wings, where I peeled his back the night before camp, 
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have - as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world. 
 
 
 

--Sharon Olds
 'Little Things' from The Gold Cell
 


Thursday, December 13, 2018

can you




taoteching.jpg?resize=253%2C1000
2nd century BC Ink-on-silk manuscript of the Tao Te Ching


Can you keep your soul in its body,
hold fast to the one,
and so learn to be whole?
Can you center your energy,
be soft, tender,
and so learn to be a baby?

Can you keep the deep water still and clear,
so it reflects without blurring?
Can you love people and run things,
and do so by not doing?

Opening, closing the Gate of Heaven,
can you be like a bird with her nestlings?
Piercing bright through the cosmos,
can you know by not knowing?

To give birth, to nourish,
to bear and not to own,
to act and not lay claim,
to lead and not to rule:
this is mysterious power.



~   Lao Tzu
 from Tao Te Ching
 version by Ursula K. Le Guin
with thanks to brain pickings

the single face





The world is no more than the Beloved's single face;
In the desire of the One to know its own beauty, we exist.

Each place, each moment, sings its particular song of not-being and being.
Without reason, the clear glass equally mirrors wisdom and madness.

Those who claim knowledge are wrong; prayer just leads to trance;
Appearance and faith are mere lees in the Unknowing Wine.

Wherever the Footprint is found,
that handful of dust holds the oneness of worlds.

This earth, burnished by hearing the Name, is so certain of Love
That the sky bends unceasingly down, to greet its own light.



~ Ghalib
translated by Jane Hirshfield
from The Enlightened Heart,
An anthology of sacred poetry edited
by Stephen Mitchell
photo by eliot porter


not anyone


Related image



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.




Eihei Dogen
with thanks to poetry chaikhana

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

skin around the organ








What we often forget is that thought is to be used
to correct life. It's not a way of life.

If you make thought the center of your life,
you're not going to live it.

So, what you have to do is be this kind of hysterical, emotional, vibrant creature
who lives at the top of his lungs for a lifetime and then
corrects around the edges so that he doesn't go insane
or drive his friends mad.

Thought is the skin around the organ.
The organ is full of blood and a beating heart,
a soul and the exaltation of being alive!




~ Ray Bradbury


the smoke of ideas









The full beauty of the mountain is not seen until 
you consent to the impossible paradox:

 it is... 

and is not.... 

When nothing more needs to be said,
 the smoke of ideas clears, 
the mountain is seen.



 ~ Thomas Merton
with thanks to louie,louie


how to lose power










~ Jean Vanier


Friday, December 7, 2018

the empty boat





He who rules men lives in confusion;
He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.
Yao therefore desired
Neither to influence others
Nor be influenced by them.
The way to get clear of confusion
And free of sorrow
Is to live with Tao
In the land of the great Void.

If a man is crossing a river
And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
Even though he be a bad-tempered man
He will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
He will shout at him to steer clear.
If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
And yet again, and begin cursing.
And all because there is somebody in the boat.
Yet if the boat were empty,
He would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat 
Crossing the river of the world,
No one will oppose you,
No one will seek to harm you.

The straight tree is the first to be cut down,
The spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.
If you wish to improve your wisdom
And shame the ignorant,
To cultivate your character
And outshine others;
A light will shine around you
As if you had swallowed the sun and the moon:
You will not avoid calamity.

A wise man has said:
"He who is content with himself
Has done a worthless work.
Achievement is the beginning of failure.
Fame is the beginning of disgrace."

Who can free himself from achievement
And from fame, descend and be lost
Amid the masses of men?
He will flow like Tao, unseen,
He will go about like Life itself
With no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace.  He has no power.
He achieves nothing, has no reputation.
Since he judges no one
No one judges him.
Such is the perfect man:
His boat is empty.




~ Chuang Tzu
translation by Thomas Merton
from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton
art by Nancy Poucher





To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.

...few are willing to belong completely
to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
into a living and vigilant silence.



~ Thomas Merton
from Thoughts in Solitude

Thursday, December 6, 2018

humility





Image result for humility thomas merton

In humility is the greatest freedom. 
 
As long as you have to defend the imaginary self
 that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart.
 
As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people,
 you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and
 there is no joy in things that do not exist.


~Thomas Merton
 with thanks to louie, louie


 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

the sacred dimension








The natural way of being after death of a loved one is suffering at first, then there is a deepening. In that deepening, you go to a place where there is no death. And the fact that you felt that means you went deep enough, to the place where there is no death. Conditioned as your mind is by society, the contemporary world that you live in, which knows nothing about that dimension – your mind then tells you that there is something wrong with this. Your mind says “I should not be feeling peace, that is not what one feels in a situation like this”. But that’s a conditioned thought by the culture that you live in. So instead we can recognize when this happens, when that thought comes – recognize it as a conditioned thought that is not true.  

It doesn't mean that the waves of sadness don’t come back from time to time. But in between the waves of sadness, you sense there is peace. As you sense that peace, you sense the essence of your children as well – the timeless essence. So death is a very sacred thing – not just a dreadful thing. When you react to the loss of form, that’s dreadful.

When you go deep enough to the formless, the dreadful is no longer dreadful, it’s sacred. Then you will experience the two levels, when somebody dies who is close to you. Yes it’s dreadful on the level of form. It’s sacred on the deeper level. Death can enable you to find that dimension in yourself. You’re helping countless other humans if you find that dimension in yourself – the sacred dimension of life. Death can help you find the sacred dimension of life – where life is indestructible.

Surrender can open that door for you. Complete acceptance of it. So honor that sacred dimension and realize that what your mind is saying, that it isn't right, is just a form of conditioning – it isn’t the truth. It is supremely right.

This is always the window into the formless. As you accept it, surrender. Because the form is gone, your mind becomes still when you surrender to death. It’s not through explanations that you accept death. You can have explanations, mental explanations that say, well, he or she will move on or reincarnate, or go to some place of rest. That can be comforting, but you can go to a deeper place than that, where you don’t need explanations – a state of immediate realization of the sacredness of death, because what opens up when the form dissolves is life beyond form. That is the only thing that is sacred. That is the sacred dimension.





~ Eckhart Tolle


if you open yourself







Nature uses few words:
when the gale blows, it will not last long;
when it rains hard, it lasts but a little while;
What causes these to happen? Heaven and Earth.

Why do we humans go on endlessly about little
when nature does much in a little time?
If you open yourself to the Tao,
you and Tao become one.
If you open yourself to Virtue,
then you can become virtuous.
If you open yourself to loss,
then you will become lost.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
the Tao will eagerly welcome you.
If you open yourself to virtue,
virtue will become a part of you.
If you open yourself to loss,
the lost are glad to see you.

"When you do not trust people,
people will become trustworthy."



~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching, 23
translation by j.h. mcdonald




Sunday, December 2, 2018

what the heart cannot forget








Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.


The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.


The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.


The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.


And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.


The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.




~ Joyce Sutphen
from Coming Back to the Body




all you have






Image result for Ursula Le Guin


It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. 
Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. 
The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. 
We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, 
in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. 
We know it, because we have had to learn it. 
We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand
 will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach
 out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. 
You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.

If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. 
Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. 
You will not know what it is to come home… Fulfillment… is a function of time. 
The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal… It has an end. 
It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return,
 but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell… The thing about working with time, 
instead of against it, …is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts.



~  Ursula Le Guin
from The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia





Saturday, November 24, 2018

present, above time







These roses under my window make no
reference to former roses or to better ones;
they are for what they are;
they exist with God to-day.

There is no time to them.
There is simply the rose; it is perfect in
every moment of its existence.

Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts;
in the full-blown flower, there is no more;
in the leafless root, there is no less.

Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature,
in all moments alike.
There is no time to it.

But man postpones or remembers;
he does not live in the present, but with
reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of
the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe
to foresee the future.

He cannot be happy and strong until he too
lives with nature in the present, above time.


~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 from Self-Reliance, an 1841 essay