Wednesday, December 19, 2018

learn by little

Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker's joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.

~ Wendell Berry
from Leavings
art by Auguste Rodin 

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


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

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


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