Thursday, February 6, 2020

insider / outsider ambivalence

Czechoslovakia's velvet revolution evolved under the leadership
of Vaclav Havel, who refused to live in the palace.  After
becoming president he continued to reside in his working
class digs in downtown Prague.  Although to his constituents
he was a hero, Havel did not define himself as superior to the
common man; he preferred to be the common man.  Havel
lives out a relationship to authority that seems to include respect
for the hermetic as well as the heroic.

Resisting the seductive delusion of the Big-Man in the Big-House in keeping
with the "under-the worldly point of view," which is at the root of 'wisdom.' 

Like the shaman, the hunter mediates wilderness to civilization.  As in
history and throughout the world: in the hunt, the vision quest, the initiatory
vigil, the hunter goes alone - beyond civilization, into the primeval forest,
into the dark, into the under-world.  And yet the family, the whole village, is 
carried along in the heart.  Perhaps it is only in such solitude that on comes
to understand what human beings really are,...

The insider / outsider ambivalence of the hunter plays across the categorical
and normative boundaries. With the hunter, as with the Trickster, the 
impenetrable boundary becomes a permeable membrane: "membranes act
in a selective permeable way, allowing nourishment in, keeping poisons out."

The hunter, to be successful in the hunt, must abandon the ordinary,
structural categories of perception and descend from the rider into the
mind of the "horse" and "dragon." This descent, delineates "a 
fundamental distinction between two types of perception: 
discernment and designation."  
Distinction, 'designation' may be placed
 on the side of dogmatic structure's endless classifications; 
whereas 'discernment' is nameless, pre- and para- lingual,
 before-and-beyond designation - beyond our linguisticlly 
constructed world - 
discernment is "the music of the pattern."   
Discerning outside of the limitation
of designation - as Rilke implores:

If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

Dropping the reins, our tight-fisted rationality must come to trust the shaggy
 little horse of limbic discernment.

~ Daniel Deardorff
from the other within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture, & Psyche


just be aware - here and now


Just live your life as it comes. 
Keep quietly alert, inquiring into the real nature of yourself. 
Perception is based on memory and is only imagination. 
The world can be said to appear but not to be. 
Only that which makes perception possible is real.

You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown. 
Give up all names and forms, and the Real is with you. 
Know yourself as you are. Distrust your mind and go beyond. 
Do not think of the Real in terms of consciousness and unconsciousness. 
It is utterly beyond both. 
It gives birth to consciousness. 
All else is in consciousness.

Nothing you can see, feel or think is so. 
Go beyond the personal and see. 
Stop imagining that you were born. 
You are utterly beyond all existence and non-existence, 
utterly beyond all that the mind conceives. 
Question yourself: Who am I? 
What is behind and beyond all this? 
Soon you will see that thinking yourself to be a person is mere habit built on memory. 
Inquire ceaselessly.

 Just be aware of your being here and now. 
There is nothing more to it. 
In reality you are not a thing nor separate.

You are the infinite potentiality, the inexhaustible possibility. 
Because you are, all can be. 
The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become. 
You are neither consciousness nor its content. 
You are the timeless Source. 
Disassociate yourself from mind and consciousness. 
Find a foothold beyond and all will be clear and easy.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
from I am That

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

steep yourself in the sea of matter

Sons and daughters of the earth, steep yourself in the sea of matter, 
bathe in its fiery waters, for it is the source of your life and your youthfulness.

You thought you could do without it because the power of thought has been kindled in you?   
You hoped that the more thoroughly you rejected the tangible, 
the closer you would be to spirit: that you would be more divine 
if you lived in the world of pure thought or at least more angelic 
if you fled the corporeal? 
Well, you were like to have perished of hunger.

You must have oil for your limbs, blood for your veins, water for your soul, 
the world of reality for your intellect: 
do you not see that the very law of your own nature 
makes these a necessity for you?

~ Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
art by picasso

no need

At least a flash of sanity: the momentary realization that there is no need

 to come to certain conclusions about persons, events, conflicts, trends, 
even trends toward evil and disaster, as if from day to day and even
 from moment to moment I had to know and declare (at least to myself):
 This is so and so, this is good, this is bad; we are heading for a “new era” 
or we are heading for destruction. What do such judgments mean?
 Little or nothing. Things are as they are, in an immense whole of which
 I am a part, and which I cannot pretend to grasp. To say I grasp it
 is immediately to put myself in a false position, as if I were “outside” it.
 Whereas to be in it is to seek truth in my own life and action, 
by moving where movement is possible and keeping still when 
movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue
 to define themselves ... - and will be more clear to me if I am silent
 and attentive,... rather than constantly formulating statements
 in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive
 debate, and in which, in the last analysis, 
nobody listens to anything except what 
agrees with his own prejudices.

~ Thomas Merton
from Learning to Love
sketch by the author

thief of hearts

Thief of hearts,
you have ransacked
this beggar's hut,
left me

All I see
is the print
of your pilfering hand
Ivan Granger 
from Real Thirst
art by Van Gogh

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

the greek ships

When the water holes go, and the fish flop about
In the mud, they can moisten each other faintly,
But it's best if they lose themselves in the river.

You know how many Greek ships went down
With their cargoes of wine.  If we can't get
To port, perhaps it's best to head for the bottom.

I've heard that the mourning dove never says
What she means.  Those of us who make up poems
Have agreed not to say what the pain is.

Eliot wrote his poems for years standing under
A bare light-bulb.  He knew he was a murderer,
And he accepted his punishment at birth.

The sitar player is searching: now in the back yard,
Now in the old dishes left behind on the table,
Now for the suffering on the underside of a leaf.

Go ahead, throw your good name into the water.
All those who have ruined their lives for love
Are calling to us from a hundred sunken ships.

~ Robert Bly
from My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy

why we tell stories

Because we used to have leaves 
and on damp days 
our muscles feel a tug, 
painful now, from when roots 
pulled us into the ground 

and because our children believe 
they can fly, an instinct retained 
from when the bones in our arms 
were shaped like zithers and broke 
neatly under their feathers 

and because before we had lungs 
we knew how far it was to the bottom 
as we floated open-eyed 
like painted scarves through the scenery 
of dreams, and because we awakened 
and learned to speak 

We sat by the fire in our caves, 
and because we were poor, we made up a tale 
about a treasure mountain 
that would open only for us 

and because we were always defeated, 
we invented impossible riddles 
only we could solve, 
monsters only we could kill, 
women who could love no one else 
and because we had survived 
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, 
we discovered bones that rose 
from the dark earth and sang 
as white birds in the trees 

Because the story of our life 
becomes our life 

Because each of us tells 
the same story 
but tells it differently 

and none of us tells it 
the same way twice 

Because grandmothers looking like spiders 
want to enchant the children 
and grandfathers need to convince us 
what happened happened because of them 

and though we listen only 
haphazardly, with one ear, 
we will begin our story 
with the word and

~ Lisel Mueller
from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

still playing

Mind and body dropped off; 
dropped off mind and body!
This state should be experienced by everyone;
it is like piling fruit into a basket without a bottom,
like pouring water into a bowl With a pierced hole;
However much you may pile or pour you cannot fill it up.
When this is realized the pail bottom is broken through.
But while there is still a trace of conceptualizations
which makes you say ‘I have this understanding’
or ‘I have that realization’,
you are still playing with unrealities.

~ Dogen Zenji
Dogen was born about 1200 in Kyoto, Japan,
 he was drawn to the teachings of silent meditation. 
He established his own school of zen. 


the direct path - the progressive path

~ Rupert Spira

Monday, February 3, 2020

grounded values - open arms

~ Jean Vanier

Sunday, February 2, 2020


~ Rupert Spira


beyond the reach

I lost whatever ability I still had to distinguish subject from object, 

tell apart what remained of me and what was Bach’s music.
 Instead of Emerson’s transparent eyeball, egoless and one with all it beheld,
 I became a transparent ear, indistinguishable from the stream of sound
 that flooded my consciousness until there was nothing else in it,
 not even a dry tiny corner in which to plant an I and observe. Opened to the music,
 I became first the strings, could feel on my skin the exquisite friction
of the horsehair rubbing over me, and then the breeze of sound flowing past
 as it crossed the lips of the instrument and went out to meet the world,
 beginning its lonely transit of the universe. Then I passed down into the resonant
 black well of space inside the cello, the vibrating envelope of air formed 
by the curves of its spruce roof and maple walls. The instrument’s wooden 
interior formed a mouth capable of unparalleled eloquence —
 indeed, of articulating everything a human could conceive.
 But the cello’s interior also formed a room to write in and a skull in which to think
 and I was now it, with no remainder.

So I became the cello and mourned with it for the twenty or so minutes it took

 for that piece to, well, change everything. Or so it seemed; now, its vibrations subsiding,
 I’m less certain. But for the duration of those exquisite moments, Bach’s cello
 suite had had the unmistakable effect of reconciling me to death… Having let go
 of the rope of self and slipped into the warm waters of this worldly beauty —
 Bach’s sublime music, I mean, and Yo-Yo Ma’s bow caressing those four strings 
suspended over that envelope of air — I felt as though I’d passed 
beyond the reach of suffering and regret.

~ Michael Pollan 
from How to Change Your Mind: 
What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness,
 Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
 with thanks to brainpickings

Saturday, February 1, 2020


The Grail Hero - particularly in the person of Parzival, the 'Great Fool' - is the forthright, simple, uncorrupted, noble son of nature, without guile, strong in the purity of the yearning of his heart.  ... His widowed, noble mother, in their forest retreat had told him of God and Satan, "distinguished for him dark and light."  However, in his own deeds light and dark were mixed.  He was not an angel or a saint, but a living, questing man of deeds, gifted with paired virtues of courage and compassion, to which was added loyalty.  And it was through his steadfastness in these - not supernatural grace - that he won, at last, the Grail.

Parzival makes two visits to the Grail Castle.  The first is a failure. 
 The Grail King is a wounded man, whose nature has been broken by castration in a battle. 
 Parzival spontaneously wishes to ask him, "What is wrong?"  But then, he has been told
 that a knight does not ask questions, and so, in order to preserve the image of himself 
as a noble knight, he restrains his natural impulse of compassion,
 and the Grail quest fails.

... in the end, as in the case of Parzival, the guide within will be his own noble heart alone, and the guide without, the image of beauty, the radiance of divinity, that wakes in his heart amor: the deepest, inmost seed of his nature, consubstantial with the process of the All, "thus come" And in this life-creative adventure the criterion of achievement will be ... the courage to let go the past , with its truths, its goals, its dogmas of "meaning," and its gifts: to die to the world and come to birth from within.

What the Holy grail symbolizes is the highest spiritual fulfillment of a human life.  
Each life has some kind of high fulfillment, and each has its own gift from the grail.
  The theme of compassion is part of the clue about how to get there and where it is. 
 It has to do with overcoming the same temptations that the Buddha overcame: 
of attachment to this, that, of the other life detail that has pulled you off course.

~ Joseph Campbell
 from: A Joseph Campbell Companion
 edited by Diane Osbon



When humility delivers a man 
from attachment to his own words 
and his own reputation, 
he discovers that true joy is only possible 
when we have completely forgotten ourselves,
and it is only when we pay no more attention to our life 
and our own reputation and our own excellence 
that we are at last completely free to serve God for His sake alone.

~ Thomas Merton

on passion

In a state of passion without a cause, there is intensity free of all attachment;
but when passion has a cause, there is attachment , and attachment
 is the beginning of sorrow.  Most of us are attached; we cling to a person,
 to a country , to a belief, to an idea, and when the object of our attachment 
is taken away or otherwise loses its significance, we find ourselves empty,
 insufficient.  This emptiness we try to fill by clinging to something else, 
which again becomes the object of our passion.

When passion has a cause, it becomes lust.  When there is a passion for something
 - for a person, for an idea, for some kind of fulfillment - then out of the passion
 there comes contradiction, conflict, effort.  You strive to achieve or maintain
 a particular state, or to recapture one that has been and is gone. 
 But the passion of which I am speaking goes not give rise to contradiction, conflict. 
 It is totally unrelated to a cause, and therefore it is not an effect.

There can be passion only when there is total self-abandonment.  
One is never passionate unless there is a complete absence of what we call thought. 
 What we call thought is the response of the various patterns and experiences of memory, 
and where this conditioned response exists, there is no passion, there is no intensity. 
 There can be intensity only when there is a complete absence of the 'me'.

You will find out what love is, and what sorrow is, only when your mind
 has rejected all explanations and is no longer imagining, no longer seeking 
the cause, no longer indulging in words or going back in memory 
to its own pleasures and pains.  Your mind must be completely quiet, 
without a word, without a symbol, without an idea.  And then you will discover
 - or there will come into being - that state in which what we have called love, 
and what we have called sorrow and what we have called death are the same.  
 There is no longer any division between love and sorrow and death;  
and there being no division, there is beauty.  But to comprehend, to be in this state
 of ecstasy, there must be that passion which comes with the
 total abandonment of oneself.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from a talk in Saanen, Aug. 5th 1962