Thursday, May 16, 2019

a symbolic universe







There is no remedy against this reversal of the natural order. Man cannot escape from his own achievement. He cannot but adopt the conditions of his own life. No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe. Language, myth, art, and religion are parts of this universe. They are the varied threads which weave the symbolic net, the tangled web of human experience. All human progress in thought and experience refines and strengthens this net. No longer can man confront reality immediately; he cannot see it, as it were, face to face. Physical reality seems to recede in proportion as man's symbolic activity advances. Instead of dealing with the things themselves man is in a sense constantly conversing with himself.

He has so enveloped himself in linguistic forms, in artistic images, in mythical symbols or religious rites that he cannot see or know anything except by the interposition of this artificial medium. His situation is the same in the theoretical as in the practical sphere. Even here man does not live in a world of hard facts, or according to his immediate needs and desires. He lives rather in the midst of imaginary emotions, in hopes and fears, in illusions and disillusions, in his fantasies and dreams. 'What disturbs and alarms man,' said Epictetus, 'are not the things, but his opinions and fantasies about the things.





 ~  Ernst Cassirer 
from An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture


 

weave project









~ David Brooks



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

terror within









It has always been much easier (because it has always seemed much safer) to give a name to the evil without than to locate the terror within. 

And yet, the terror within is far truer and far more powerful than any of our labels: the labels change, the terror is constant. And this terror has something to do with that irreducible gap between the self one invents — the self one takes oneself as being, which is, however, and by definition, a provisional self — and the undiscoverable self which always has the power to blow the provisional self to bits. 

It is perfectly possible — indeed, it is far from uncommon — to go to bed one night, or wake up one morning, or simply walk through a door one has known all one’s life, and discover, between inhaling and exhaling, that the self one has sewn together with such effort is all dirty rags, is unusable, is gone: and out of what raw material will one build a self again? 

The lives of men — and, therefore, of nations — to an extent literally unimaginable, depend on how vividly this question lives in the mind. It is a question which can paralyze the mind, of course; but if the question does NOT live in the mind, then one is simply condemned to eternal youth, which is a synonym for corruption.








~ James Baldwin
from The Price of the Ticket
art by picasso






Tuesday, May 14, 2019

a mustard seed






Become as a child,
become deaf, become blind!
Your own substance
must become nothingness;
drive all substance, all nothingness far from you!
Leave space, leave time,
eschew also all physical representation.
Go without a way
the narrow footpath,
then you will succeed in finding the desert.


 ~ Anonymous
(excerpt from Granum Sinapis) - found here in for lovers of god everywhere 
by roger housden


...the writer suggests we have only to let go of all striving and effort and open ourselves to the deep waters of existence. Without technique, without trying to seek anything, being only awake and attentive to the moment, we may enter the desert, the luminous ground of silence.  


pour yourself out like a fountain









Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.







~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII



this bleeding separation




In the school of mind you
learn a lot, and become
a true scholar for many to look up to.
In the school of Love, you become
a child to learn again.

*****

A pious one with a hundred beads on your rosary,
or a drunkard in a tavern,
any gift you bring the Beloved will be accepted
as long as you come in longing.
It is this most secret pain,
this bleeding separation,
which will guide you to your Heart of Hearts.

*****

If you do not give up the crowds
you won't find your way to Oneness.
If you do not drop your self
you won't find your true worth.
If you do not offer all you
have to the Beloved,
you will live this life free of that
pain which makes it worth living.





~ Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
English version by Vraje Abramian
from Nobody, Son of Nobody: 
Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir



hiding in this cage






hiding in this cage
of visible matter

is the invisible
lifebird

pay attention
to her

she is singing
your song



~ Kabir
english version by Rushil Rao



Kabir is not easily categorized as a Sufi or a Yogi -- he is all of these. He is revered by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. He stands as a unique, saintly, yet very human, bridge between the great traditions that live in India. Kabir says of himself that he is, "at once the child of Allah and Ram."


mule heart





On the days when the rest
have failed you,
let this much be yours -
flies, dust, and unnameable odor,
the two waiting baskets:
one for the lemons and passion,
the other for all you have lost.
Both empty,
it will come to your shoulder,
breathe slowly against your bare arm.
If you offer it hay, it will eat.
Offered nothing,
it will stand as long as you ask.
The little bells of the bridle will hang
beside you quietly,
in the heat and the tree's thin shade.
Do not let its sparse mane deceive you,
or the way the left ear swivels into dream.
This too is a gift of the gods,
calm and complete.



~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart
art by McKenzie Birnie





no edges now



 





The clear bead at the center
changes everything.

There are
no edges to my loving now.

You've heard it said there's
a window that opens from one
mind to another, but if there's
no wall, there's no need for
fitting the window, or the latch.



~ Rumi

Monday, May 13, 2019

farewell letter





She wrote me a letter
after her death
and I remember
a kind of happy light
falling on the envelope
as I sat by the rose tree
on her old bench
at the back door,
so surprised by its arrival
wondering what she would say,
looking up before I could open it
and laughing to myself
in silent expectation.

Dear son, it is time
for me to leave you.
I am afraid that the words
you are used to hearing
are no longer mine to give,
they are gone and mingled
back in the world
where it is no longer
in my power
to be their first
original author
not their last loving bearer.
You can hear
motherly
words of affection now
only from your own mouth
and only
when you speak them
to those
who stand
motherless
before you.

As for me I must forsake
adulthood
and be bound gladly
to a new childhood.
You must understand
this apprenticeship
demands of me
an elemental innocence
from everything
I ever held in my hands. 

I know your generous soul
is well able to let me go
you will in the end
be happy to know
my God was true
and I find myself
after loving you all so long,
in the wide,
infinite mercy
of being mothered myself. 


P.S. All your intuitions are true.




~ David Whyte
photo by edward steichen



Sunday, May 12, 2019

mother









if there are any heavens my mother will (all by
herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses

my father will be (deep like a rose
tall like a rose)

standing near my

(swaying over her
silent)
with eyes which are really petals and see

nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
hands
which whisper
This is my beloved my

(suddenly in sunlight

he will bow,

and the whole garden will bow) 
 
 
 
 
~ e. e. cummings
 from  Like a perhaps hand: Poems. Gedichte
 
 


Saturday, May 11, 2019

for celebration








Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.



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


Households, cities, countries, and nations have enjoyed great happiness when a single individual has taken heed of the Good and Beautiful. . . . Such people not only liberate themselves; they fill those they meet with a free mind. 

~  Philo

Friday, May 10, 2019

no shape





The river has no shape, but it takes on the boundaries which it carves out for itself,
so is the mind boundless, until it creates a prison for its own thoughts.



~ Samurai Warrior Wisdom
 
 





unites us with all living beings





People whom we love are a fire that feeds our lives . . . 
But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know . . . 
That is something still greater and more beautiful 
because it widens out the boundaries of our being, 
and unites us with all living beings.



~ Pablo Neruda



prayer of the heart




In meditation we do not seek to know about God as though he were an object like other objects which submit to our scrutiny and can be expressed in clear scientific ideas. We seek to know God himself, beyond the level of all the objects which he has made and which confront us as “things” isolated from one another, “defined,” “delimited,” with clear boundaries. The infinite God has no boundaries and our minds cannot set limits to him or to his love. His presence is then “grasped” in the general awareness of loving faith; it is “realized” without being scientifically and precisely known, as we know a specimen under a microscope. His presence cannot be verified as we would verify a laboratory experiment. Yet it can be spiritually realized as long as we do not insist on verifying it. As soon as we try to verify the spiritual presence as an object of exact knowledge, God eludes us.

In a word, God is invisibly present to the ground of our being: our belief and love attain to him, but he remains hidden from the arrogant gaze of our investigating mind which seeks to capture him and secure permanent possession of him in an act of knowledge that gives power over him. It is in fact absurd and impossible to try to grasp God as an object which can be seized and comprehended by our minds.

The knowledge of which we are capable is simply knowledge about him. It points to him in analogies which we must transcend in order to reach him. But we must transcend ourselves as well as our analogies, and in seeking to know him we must forget the familiar subject-object relationship which characterizes our ordinary acts of knowing. Instead, we know him insofar as we become aware of ourselves as known through and through by him. We “possess” him in proportion as we realize ourselves to be possessed by him in the inmost depths of our being. Meditation or “prayer of the heart” is the active effort we make to keep our hearts open so that we may be enlightened by him and filled with this realization of our true relationship to him. Therefore the classic form of “meditation” is repetitive invocation of the name of Jesus in the heart emptied of images and cares.

Hence the aim of meditation in the context of Christian faith, is not to arrive at an objective and apparently “scientific” knowledge about God, but to come to know him through the realization that our very being is penetrated with his knowledge and love for us.




~ Thomas Merton
from On Meditation
sketch by the author