Saturday, April 6, 2019

death and deepening

When the body is in the grave, dead and buried, or when there is a death of ego and its perspectives during one's lifetime, then a deeper spirit or soul can come to be.  A deepening of historical being occurs by way of an under-the-worldly point of view.  The descent into the underworld of souls (psychai, animae) is a descent into a soul-perspective or depth-perspective concerning history.  One might say that the descent into hell is actually the ascent of soul.  It brings a sense of soul into ascendancy in life, and it gives the human ego a perspective from a soulful point of view.  The descent is itself a resurrection.

In-fero means  "to carry inward," "to gather in."  Therefore... the descensus may be read as referring, not to some actual physical place, but rather to a "journey to the interior."  The descensus is ad inferos.  It is a "carrying inward."  Hell is a descensus, and encountering it is a "deepening." 

Tradition imagines the descent into hell as a descent into "darkness," or into a "hole," or into a "pit," or into "invisibility" (Hades' name means "invisible"), then no matter how a person may feel about such experiences of being in the "dark," in a "hole," in the "pits," or "invisible" to others, that person is encouraged to search such deep moments for their disclosures and expressions of profound "soul."

~ David Leroy Miller
from Hells and Holy Ghosts: 
A Theopoetics of Christian Belief

a waking

I was walled inside a dream.
Its walls had no consistency,
no weight: its emptiness was its weight.
The walls were hours and the hours
sorrow, hoarded forever.
The time of those hours was not time.

I leapt through a breach: in this world
it was four o’clock. The room was my room
and my ghost was in each thing.
I wasn't there. I looked out the window:
not a soul under the electric light.
Vigilant streetlamps, dirty snow,
houses and cars asleep, the insomnia
of a lamp, the oak that talks to itself,
the wind and its knives, the illegible
writing of the constellations.

The things were buried deep in themselves
and my eyes of flesh saw them
weary of being, realities
stripped of their names. My two eyes
were souls grieving for the world.
On the empty street the presence
passed without passing, vanishing
into its forms, fixed in its changes,
and turned now into houses, oaks, snow, time.
Life and death flowed on, blurred together.

Uninhabited sight, the presence
looked at me with nobody’s eyes:
a bundle of reflections over the cliffs.
I looked inside: the room was my room
and I wasn't there. Being lacks nothing
—always full of itself, always the same—
even though we are not there … Outside,
the clarities, still uncertain:
dawn in the jumble of the rooftops.
The constellations were being erased.

~ Octavio Paz
translated by Eliot Weinberger,
 from  A Tree Within
art by sara fairfax

you find a flower

You find a flower half-buried in leaves,
And in your eye its very fate resides.
Loving beauty, you caress the bloom;
Soon enough, you’ll sweep petals from the floor.

Terrible to love the lovely so,
To count your own years, to say “I’m old,”
To see a flower half-buried in leaves
And come face to face with what you are.

~ 寒山 Han Shan

Han-shan's early life was privileged. He was well educated, traveled, served in the military, went to war, competed unsuccessfully for government jobs, and finally married, moved to the country and became a gentleman farmer. As the years passed, he became increasingly dissatisfied with his life and disappointed in the world of men. One day he packed up some books and began to wander. His wanderings led him to a remote place called Cold Mountain, in the Tien Tai range in southern China, where he built a hut, dug a pond and planted some vegetables. 

~ comments from Wikipedia

Thursday, April 4, 2019

fallen in love

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

~ David Whyte

opening out

The opening out and out,
body yielding body:
the breaking
through which the new
comes, perching
above its shadow
on the piling up
darkened broken old
husks of itself:
bud opening to flower
opening to fruit opening
to the sweet marrow
of the seed -
from what was, from
what could have been.
What is left
is what is.

~ Wendell Berry
art by Van Gogh


to leave even one's own first name behind

Of course, it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer,
to give up customs one barely had time to learn, 
not to see roses and other promising Things
in terms of a human future; no longer to be
what one was in infinitely anxious hands; to leave
even one's own first name behind, forgetting it
as easily as a child abandons a broken toy.
Strange to no longer desire one's desires.  Strange 
to see meanings that clung together once, floating away
in every direction.  And being dead is hard work
and full of retrieval before one can gradually feel
a trace of eternity. - Though the living are wrong to believe
in the too-sharp distinctions which they themselves have created.
Angels (they say) don't know whether it is the living 
they are moving among, or the dead.  The eternal torrent
whirls all ages along in it, through both realms
forever, and their voices are drowned out in its thunderous roar.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Duino Elegies, The first Elegy
translation by Stephen Mitchell
art by Matisse

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

love the difficult

What is required of us in that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it.
In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.
Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams:
there against the depth of this background, they stand out,
there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, April 1, 2019

there is this mystery


And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it, then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

Is it the animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

Who lives it, then?  God, are you the one
who is living life?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Pilgrimage, II,12

horses at midnight without a moon

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.

 ~ Jack Gilbert
from Refusing Heaven

you who let yourselves feel

You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.

Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, IV
translation by Joanna Macy

Saturday, March 30, 2019

axioms for wildness

Alive to the thrill
Of the wild.

Meet the dawn
On a mountain.

Wash you face
In the morning dew.

Feel the favor of the earth.

Go out naked in the wind,
Your skin
Almost Aeolian.

With the music inside,
Dance like there is no outside.

Become subtle enough
To hear a tree breathe.

Sleep by the ocean,
Letting yourself unfurl
Like the reeds that swirl
Gradually on the sea floor.

Try to watch a painting from within:
How it holds what it never shows.

The mystery of your face,
Showing what you never see.

See your imagination dawn
Around the rim of your world.

Feel the seamless silk of the ocean
Worm you in ancient buoyancy.

Feel the wild imprint of surprise
When you are taken in by your lover's eyes.

Succumb to warmth in the heart
Where divine fire glows.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the space Between Us

Friday, March 29, 2019

our hearts are held

That by which our hearts are held,
whole worlds love it too.
I can't deny the truth --
many ways lead to the One.

Those whom the Beloved loves,
we must also love.
If someone is a friend to the Friend,
how can we afford not to be friends?

If you would be a lover,
befriend him who loves your Friend;
and if you cannot,
don't call yourself a friend of mine.

Whomever you tend to despise,
hold dear instead.
Don't belittle others, respect them.
This is where the path leads.

If your heart is filled with love,
your way is sacrifice.
Through sacrifice you will find your place
in the ranks of Love.

Hearts which truly love the Truth,
Truth will open a door wide.
Dismantle the house of selfishness.
Put away your self-regard.

High and low, enemy, neighbor,
the Friend serves them all.
Whoever wants to spread this word
must first go out of his home.

This counsel that Yunus gives
is like buried gold.
Those who love the Friend
find peace in both worlds.


By Yunus Emre
(1238 - 1320)
Translated by Kabir Helminski / and Refik Algan
 art by Van Gogh


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

unveiling ourselves

~ Rupert Spira

leave our selves behind

Essence and form don't mean we are apart:
Water unites with soil in a plant's heart;
Wind joins with fire in substance like its food;
Wine joins with humans and affects our mood.
Since we're not of the King's class or His kind,
To reach Him we must leave our selves behind.
The Lord remains alone once He removes
Our 'I'-ness, dust beneath His horse's hooves;
Souls turned to dust in which His signs are found
As hoof-prints which His horse left on the ground.
If you become the dust beneath His feet,
Then you will be the crown of the elite.

Lest my appearance drive you far from me,
Eat sweets before you hear my homily!
Form has caused many men to fall astray,
Though some chased form and reached God anyway.
Body and soul are joined to some degree,
Although they have no similarity:
The eyeball fills with light which gives it sight;
And drops of blood contain the heart's pure light;
Kidneys house joy, the liver grief and pain;
Intellect, candle-like, lives in the brain.
Of how they're all joined we are ignorant,
 To work out why our brain is impotent.
With human souls the Absolute's connected-
From Him, rare pearls each human heart collected.
Like Mary, we're make pregnant, through that touch,
With the Messiah we adore so much!
Not the Messiah who walks in this place, 
But that Messiah who's beyond all space.
The soul, once pregnant with the Holy One,
Then makes the whole world pregnant too,in turn.
Thus to a second world this world gives birth,
So resurrected souls see that world's worth.
If I discuss this till the Final Day,
There would remain a lot more left to say.
These words themselves are really just a prayer,
Which aims to catch a sweet breath He might spare.
Who can stay silent and not give his all
When 'Here I am!' He answers to Man's call?
This 'Here I am!'  you cannot hear, although
You can still taste it clearly, head to toe! 

 ~ Rumi
from The Masnavi - Book Two 
translation by Jawid Mojaddedi
art by Picasso, Fernande Olivier (Amélie Lang) his first muse.


Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. 
It asks us to notice that while we rest, 
the world continues without our help. 
It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.

~ Wendell Berry

The time for contemplation is the spring that feeds our action, 
and our action will be as deep as the spring. 
We need time to allow the spirit to clear the obstacles 
– the clinging debris and mud – 
that keeps the spring from flowing freely from its clear, 
deep source. And we need time for the spring to 
overflow into insightful and compassionate action.

~ Thomas Merton