Thursday, February 28, 2019

a path with heart

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

Let the young soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: “What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?” Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self. Compare these objects, see how they complement, enlarge, outdo, transfigure one another; how they form a ladder on whose steps you have been climbing up to yourself so far; for your true self does not lie buried deep within you, but rather rises immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your I.

Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators... She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…

There may be other methods for finding oneself, for waking up to oneself out of the anesthesia in which we are commonly enshrouded as if in a gloomy cloud — but I know of none better than that of reflecting upon one’s educators and cultivators.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche
 with thanks to Brainpickings
art by van gogh

you seek and cannot find

That which you seek and cannot find - is the Seeker.

"By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.
The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization."

The thinker is the ego, 
which if sought will automatically vanish.
Reality is simply loss of the ego.
Destroy the ego by seeking its identity.

Because the ego has no real existence, 
it will automatically vanish, 
and Reality will shine forth by itself in all its glory.

This is the direct method.
All other methods retain the ego, 
In those paths so many doubts arise, 
and the eternal question remains to be tackled. 
But in this method the final question is 
the only one and is raised from the very beginning.

No practices are even necessary for this quest.

~ Ramana Maharshi

And the only practice is seeing this, 
which is Awareness, 
which is this which an eye cannot see when it looks at itself.

Practice is deepening understanding, 
for understanding is first an intuitional glimpse of the truth of this, 
then the obtaining of this intuitional glimpse at will, 
and, finally, the permanent installation of this inseeing 
when "walking, standing, sitting and lying," 
in public and in private, asleep and awake.

~ Wei Wu Wei
from All Else is Bondage
x-ray image of a rose by albert koetsier


another beam of light

So many blessings have been given to us
During the first distribution of light, that we are
Admired in a thousand galaxies for our grief. 

Don't expect us to appreciate creation or to
Avoid mistakes. Each of us is a latecomer
To the earth, picking up wood for the fire. 

Every night another beam of light slips out
From the oyster's closed eye. So don't give up hope
that the door of mercy may still be open. 

Seth and Shem, tell me, are you still grieving
Over the spark of light that descended with no
Defender near into the Egypt of Mary's womb? 

It's hard to grasp how much generosity
Is involved in letting us go on breathing,
When we contribute nothing valuable but our grief. 

Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm.

~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey
art by Klimt

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

bad people

A man told me once that all the bad people
were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
you need; they are really claws, and we know
claws. The sharks - what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
in black coats who chase you for hours
in dreams - that's the only way to get you
to the shore. Sometimes those hard women
who abandon you get you to say, "You."
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn't move on its own. Sometimes it takes
a lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States.
This man told me that things work together.
Bad handwriting sometimes leads to new ideas;
and a careless god - who refuses to let people
eat from the Tree of Knowledge - can lead
to books, and eventually to us. We write
poems with lies in them, but they help a little.

~  Robert Bly
Morning Poems

away from the restless mind

By intentionally quieting our restless minds and calling a temporary
halt to the random noise - inner and outer - to which we are subject,
we create an environment conducive to the manifestation of silence.
Welling up from within, this silence subtly engulfs us, drowning out
all the noise of existence.

When constantly engaged at the forefront of our minds, our awareness
restlessly flutters about from thought to thought, sensation to
sensation, thus pushing out silence. The effort required to break
through the surface waves of the mind forges an inward path
to the deepest levels of silence. When deliberately sustained....this
inner drilling displaces the obfuscatory debris that clutters the mind
with a matrix of noise. When all mental ruminations are at last
exhausted, genuine silence emerges.

But, many prefer the comfort of noise, the bustling of crowds, the
constant engagement of new thoughts and interesting repartee.
To embrace silence means splicing off a certain arena of the
familiar and venturing into uncharted territories. While one
may fruitfully participate in communal spiritual activities, quite
often the deeper stages of this voyage are undertaken by oneself.
To keep the mind occupied with external concerns is to point the
inner compass in an outward direction. This is the most subtle trap
to which the feeble mind continually succumbs. For to interact
constantly with the objects of the senses is to eclipse entirely the
realm of silence, which is first experienced within. When
repeatedly accessed, the decibel level of true silence will deafen
the resolute mystic.

Ever elusive yet all pervading, silence is known by those who take
the leap. The adventuresome hiker seeks areas untrampled by the
masses. The successful inner voyager treks to the precipice, and
then, having encountered the Unknowable, brazenly discards map and
compass and boldly treads onward. The yearning heart echoes the
cry that seized the Psalmist:
"Be still and know that I am God." 

John Roger Barrie
Excerpt from Parabola
with thanks to Mystic Meandering

Sunday, February 24, 2019

sky inside you

It is a strange awakening to find the sky inside you
and beneath you
and above you
and all around you
so that your spirit is one with the sky,
and all is positive night.

~ Thomas Merton
from  Sign of Jonas

buried in the grave of custom

In my short experience of human life, the outward obstacles, if there were any such, have not been living men, but the institutions of the dead. It is grateful to make one’s way through this latest generation as through dewy grass. Men are as innocent as the morning to the unsuspicious… I love man-kind, but I hate the institutions of the dead un-kind. Men execute nothing so faithfully as the wills of the dead, to the last codicil and letter. They rule this world, and the living are but they're executors.

Herein is the tragedy; that men doing outrage to their proper natures, even those called wise and good, lend themselves to perform the office of inferior and brutal ones. Hence come war and slavery in; and what else may not come in by this opening? But certainly there are modes by which a man may put bread into his mouth which will not prejudice him as a companion and neighbor.

All men are partially buried in the grave of custom, and of some we see only the crown of the head above ground. Better are the physically dead, for they more lively rot. Even virtue is no longer such if it be stagnant. A man’s life should be constantly as fresh as this river. It should be the same channel, but a new water every instant.

~ Henry Davi
d Thoreau
from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
with thanks to brainpickings 

Friday, February 22, 2019

that is my medicine


When the wind blows
that is my medicine

When it rains
that is my medicine

When it hails
that is my medicine

When it becomes clear after a storm
that is my medicine

~ Holy Woman Poem


Thursday, February 21, 2019

your mirror

Each soul is created to serve as your mirror.

All things in the two worlds
are only your mirrors.

The heart is the mirror of your most royal
beauty -

and both of these worlds
are the case of that mirror.

~ Najm al-Din Daya Razi
from Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition
translation by David and Sabrineh Fideler


~  Richard Rohr

every pore

Love came and emptied me of self,
every vein and every pore,
made into a container to be filled by the Beloved.
Of me, only a name is left,
the rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.

~ Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

nonverbal articulation

Music opens a path into the realm of silence. Music reveals the human soul in stark “nakedness,” as it were, without the customary linguistic draperies.

The nature of music variously [has] been understood … as nonverbal articulation of weal and woe, as wordless expression of man’s intrinsic dynamism of self-realization, a process understood as man’s journey toward ethical personhood, as the manifestation of man’s will in its aspects, as love.

Music articulates the inner dynamism of man’s existential self, which is music’s “prime matter” (so to speak), and both share a particular characteristic — both move in time.

Since music articulates the immediacy of man’s basic existential dynamism in an immediate way, the listener as well is addressed and challenged on that profound level where man’s self-realization takes place. In this existential depth of the listener, far below the level of expressible judgments, there echoes — in identical immediacy — the same vibration articulated in the audible music.

We now realize why and to what extent music plays a role in man’s formation and perfection… beyond any conscious efforts toward formation, teaching, or education.

~ Josef Pieper
with thanks to Brain Pickings

a rainy night

A steady stream of almost silent rain
drops on every roof and windowsill
and stretches like a veil
deep over the darkness of the land.
It trickles and tumbles in the wind
with no movement of its own and yet alive.

The fields draw near the clouds.
Even heaven bows to the solid ground.
A rhythmic, subtle song sates the space,
swells, sways, and soaks the night in sorrow
as if a lone violin were delving deep
into dark, secret yearnings
transforming fiery torment into tone
while touching here and there a homeless heart,
which found no words
for its deep longings.

What neither words nor music could express
the wind and rain intone with quiet strength.
They fill the rainy night with a tender lullaby
and the steady rhythms of this song
sustain and cradle and appease
all unheard struggles, all unhealed pain.

~ Hermann Hesse
from Seasons of the Soul
art by Utamaro

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

clearer and clearer

The Chinese and the Greeks were arguing as to who were the better artists.

The King said, "We'll settle this matter with a debate."

This Chinese began talking,
but the Greeks wouldn't say anything.
They left.

The Chinese suggested then that they each be given a room to work 
on with their artistry, two rooms facing each other and divided by a curtain. 

The Chinese asked the King for a hundred colors, all the variations,
and each morning they came to where the dyes were kept and took them all.

The Greeks took no colors.
"They are not part of our work."

They went to their room and began cleaning and polishing the walls.
All day every day they made those walls as pure and clear as an open sky.

There is a way that leads from all-colors to colorlessness.
Know that the magnificent variety of the clouds and the weather comes
from the total simplicity of the sun and the moon.

The Chinese finished,and they were so happy.
They beat the drums in the joy of completion.

The King entered their room, astonished by the gorgeous color and detail.

The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms.
The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected
on the clear Greek walls.  They lived there, even more
beautifully, and always changing in the light.

The Greek art is the Sufi way.
They don't study books of philosophical thought.

They make their loving clearer and clearer.
No wantings, no anger. In that purity
they receive and reflect the images of every moment, 
from here, from the stars, from the void.

They take them in
as though they were seeing
with the Lighted Clarity
that sees them.

~ Rumi
from Mathnawi, 1, 3462-3485, 3499
version by Coleman Barks


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tao Te Ching

~ Lao Tzu