Thursday, August 15, 2019

by presence


The teacher teaches by presence. 
The language of presence is 
more powerful than all the verbalizations 
from all the languages from the world put together. 
It is the eloquence of existence. 

If you allow life to become your teacher, it teaches. 

But if you turn to books 
and want to know whether it be duality or non-duality, 
one god or many, one creator, or two, etc., 
if you turn to books and theories, 
if you want to dig into the past and base your perception on that, 
then the opportunity to live first hand would be missed.

~ Vimala Thakar
from Growing into Wholeness

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


~ Buffy Sainte-Marie


beneath persona

The person, from the Latin persona, was originally the megaphone-mouthed mask used by actors in the open-air theaters of ancient Greece and Rome, the mask through (per) which the sound (sonus) came.

~ Alan Watts

Walt Whitman - 1854

There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises,
 independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. 
This is the thought of identity — yours for you, 
whoever you are, as mine for me. 
Miracle of miracles, beyond statement, 
most spiritual and vaguest of earth’s dreams, 
yet hardest basic fact, and only entrance to all facts.
 In such devout hours, in the midst of the significant wonders of heaven and earth,
 (significant only because of the Me in the centre,) creeds, conventions, 
fall away and become of no account before this simple idea.
 Under the luminousness of real vision, it alone takes possession, 
takes value. Like the shadowy dwarf in the fable, once liberated and look’d upon, 
it expands over the whole earth, and spreads to the roof of heaven.

~ Walt Whitman
 from Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose
 with thanks

identity and safety

You ask me how I became a madman.  It happened thus:  One day, long before many gods were born,  I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen, - the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives, - I ran mask-less through the crowded streets shouting, "Thieves, thieves, and cursed thieves."

Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, "He is a madman."  I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time.  For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more.  And as if in a trance I cried, "Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks."

Thus I became a madman.

And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness;  the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

But let me not be too proud of my safety.  Even a Thief in jail is safe from another thief.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Madman his Parables and Poems
art by Leonardo da Vinci

my friend

My friend, I am not what I seem. 
Seeming is but a garment I wear - 
a care-worn garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.

The "I" in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, 
and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.

When thou sayest, "The wind bloweth eastward,"  
I say, "Aye it doth blow eastward";  
for I would not have thee know that my mind doth not dwell upon the wind but upon the sea.

Thou canst not understand my seafaring thoughts, 
nor would I have thee understand.  
I would be at sea alone.

When it is day with thee, my friend, it is night with me; 
yet even then I speak of the noontide that dances upon the hills 
and of the purple shadow that steals its way across the valley;
 for thou canst not hear the songs of my darkness nor see my wings beating against the stars - 
and I fain would not have thee hear or see.  
I would be with night alone.

When thou ascendest to thy Heaven I descend to my Hell 
- even then thou callest to me across the unbridgeable gulf, " My companion, my comrade," 
- for I would not have thee see my Hell.  
The flame would burn thy eyesight and the smoke would crowd thy nostrils.  
And I love my Hell too well to have thee visit it.  
I would be in Hell alone.

Thou lovest Truth and Beauty and Righteousness; 
and I for thy sake say it is well and seemly to love these things.  
But in my heart I laugh at thy love.  
Yet I would not have thee see my laughter.  
I would laugh alone.

My friend, thou art good and cautious and wise; nay, thou art perfect 
- and I, too, speak with thee wisely and cautiously.  
And yet I am mad.  But I mask my madness. 
I would be mad alone.

My friend, thou art not my friend, 
but how shall I make thee understand?  
My path is not thy path, 
yet together we walk, hand in hand.

~  Kahlil Gibran
from Poems Parables and Drawings


Monday, August 12, 2019

singing image of fire

A hand moves, and the fire's whirling takes different shapes:
All things change when we do.
The first word, "Ah," blossoms into all others.
Each of them true.

~ Kukai (774-835)
translation by Jane Hirshfield

Saturday, August 10, 2019

the larger circle

We clasp the hands of those who go before us,
and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other's arms,
and the larger circle of lovers
whose hands are joined in a dance,
and the larger circle of all creatures,
passing in and out of life,
who move also in a dance,
to a music so subtle and vast
that no one hears it except in fragments.

~ Wendell Berry

photo Jane Goodall with a 
chimpanzee at the Tchimpounga 
Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre, 
Congo (Brazzaville).

Thursday, August 8, 2019

to be gentle

It is Spring in the mountains.
I come alone seeking you.
The sound of chopping wood echoes
Between the silent peaks.
The streams are still icy.
There is snow on the trail.
At sunset I reach your grove
In the stony mountain pass.
You want nothing, although at night
You can see the aura of gold
And silver ore all around you.
You have learned to be gentle
As the mountain deer you have tamed.
The way back forgotten, hidden
Away, I become like you,
An empty boat, floating, adrift.

~  Tu Fu (712-770)
translation by Kenneth Rexroth

Monday, August 5, 2019

allowing heartbreak allows healing

There come a point where it is more important to just let our heart break
 and get on with it than to keep trying to figure out why 
we are so often in pain or who's at fault and what sort of punishment they deserve.  

It takes a lot of work to get healed, to merge the heart and the disheartened.  
But even in the least observation, it becomes clear that no one needs any excuse
 for being in so much pain.  Wherever there is expectation or broken hope,
 disappointment or loss, there is the stuff of Shakespearean malady.

Healing is entering, with mercy and awareness, 
into those areas of ourselves we have withdrawn from with fear
 and a sense of helplessness. Healing is reoccupying those parts of ourselves
 that we abandoned because of mental or physical pain.
 Healing is replacing our merciless reactions with a merciful response.

Without mercy, we don't have a chance.  
And that chance is the breadth of heart that is our birthright.

~ Stephen Levine
from Untended Sorrow
art by Van Gogh


Saturday, August 3, 2019

a room


A room does not turn its back on grief.
Anger does not excite it.
Before desire, it neither responds
nor draws back in fear.

Without changing expression,
it takes
and gives back;
not a tuft in the mattress alters.

Windowsills evenly welcome
both heat and cold.
Radiators speak or fall silent as they must.

Doors are not equivocal,
floorboards do not hesitate or startle.
Impatience does not stir the curtains,
a bed is neither irritable nor rapacious.

Whatever disquiet we sense in a room
we have brought there.

And so I instruct my ribs each morning,
pointing to hinge and plaster and wood -

You are matter, as they are.
See how perfectly it can be done.
Hold, one day more, what is asked.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Lives of the Heart
art by Pierre Bonnard

The gate of heaven is everywhere.

~ Thomas Merton

Friday, August 2, 2019

I worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers 
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn 
as it was taught, and if not how shall 
I correct it? 

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, 
can I do better? 

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows 
can do it and I am, well, 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, 
am I going to get rheumatism, 
lockjaw, dementia? 

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. 
And gave it up. And took my old body 
and went out into the morning, 
and sang.

~ Mary Oliver
from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

among trees


I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

~ Wendell Berry
 photo by Kathleen Connally

Tolstoy on kindness

The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, 
the more kindness he can find in other people.

Kindness enriches our life; with kindness mysterious things
 become clear, difficult things become easy, 
and dull things become cheerful.

You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, 
and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.

Kindness is for your soul as health
 is for your body: you do not notice it when you have it.

Love is real only when a person can sacrifice himself 
for another person. Only when a person forgets himself for the sake of another,
 and lives for another creature, only this kind of love can be called true love,
 and only in this love do we see the blessing and reward of life. 
This is the foundation of the world.

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, 
more beautiful than perpetual kindness.

 ~ Leo Tolstoy
from A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish 
the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts


Thursday, August 1, 2019

canned goods

~ Greg Brown

floating on an idea of me

fall into the breath,
stilled mind sank into
a bright bubble, sinking
down through the sea,
through ocean bottom,
through the minds floor.
no control

nothing here of my own
floating on the idea of me
just awareness observing
thoughts, ideas, perceptions
appearing and disappearing
on the surface of
an imagined thinker

free from entanglement
watching the habitual trinkets
the call and response of senses
immersed within absolute stillness
beyond name and form
a Pure Land
 of our inherent nature

 ~ adapted form Becoming Kuan Yin
by Stephen Levine