Wednesday, June 17, 2020

dew light

Now in the blessed days of more and less
when the news about time is that each day

there is less of it I know none of that
as I walk out through the early garden

only the day and I are here with no
before or after and the dew looks up.
without a number or a present age

~ W. S. Merwin

in every moment

No one imagines that a symphony 
is supposed to improve in quality
 as it goes along or that the whole
 object of playing it is to reach
 the finale. The point of music
 is discovered in every moment
 of playing and listening to it. 
It is the same I feel with the 
greater part of our lives 
and if we are unduly absorbed
 in improving them we may forget
 altogether to live them.

~ Alan Watts

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

love is every only

love is every only god
who spoke this earth so glad and big
even a thing all small and sad
man,may his mighty briefness dig

for love beginning means return
seas who could sing so deep and strong

one querying wave will whitely yearn
from each last shore and home come young

so truly perfectly the skies
by merciful love whispered were,
completes its brightness with your eyes

any illimitable star

~ e.e.cummings

to my teacher


An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill, 
Overrun with rank weeds growing unchecked year after year; 
There is no one left to tend the tomb, 
And only an occasional woodcutter passes by. 
Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair, 
Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River. 
One morning I set off on my solitary journey 
And the years passed between us in silence. 
Now I have returned to find him at rest here; 
How can I honor his departed spirit? 
I pour a dipper of pure water over his tombstone 
And offer a silent prayer. 
The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill 
And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines. 
I try to pull myself away but cannot; 
A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.

~ Ryokan
art by Thomas Wood


When the soul leaves the body, it is no longer under the burden 
and control of space and time.  The soul is free; 
 distance and separation hinder it no more.  

The dead are our nearest neighbors; they are all around us. 
 Meister Eckhart was once asked, Where does the soul of a person go
 when the person dies?  He said, no place.  Where else would the soul be going?
  Where else is the eternal world?  It can be nowhere other than here. 

 We have falsely spatialized the eternal world.  We have driven the eternal 
out into some kind of distant galaxy.  Yet the eternal world 
does not seem to be a place but rather a different state of being.  

The soul of the person goes no place because there is no place else to go. 
 This suggests that the dead are here with us, in the air that we are
 moving through all the time.  

The only difference between us the the dead
 is that they are now in an invisible form  You cannot see them 
with the human eye.  But you can sense the presence of those you love
who have died.  With the refinement of your soul, 
you can sense them.  You feel that they are near.

~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara
art by Roderick Maclver

maggie and milly and molly and may

maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

~ e. e. cummings

Monday, June 15, 2020

magna carta



Today is the anniversary of the day King John of England placed his seal on the Magna Carta, granting basic liberties to his subjects. He wasn't the first English king to grant a charter, but he was the first to have it forced on him by his barons. He had taxed the Church and the barons heavily to fund the Third Crusade, defend his holdings in Normandy, and pay for unsuccessful wars, and England was on the brink of civil war. The charter limited the monarchy's absolute power and paved the way for the formation of Parliament, and it is the nearest thing to a "Bill of Rights" that Britain has ever had. It guaranteed, among other things, that 

"No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his property, or outlawed, or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor shall we go against him or send against him, unless by legal judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land."

Of course, John had no intention of upholding the document, and it was repealed almost immediately on the grounds that he gave his seal under duress. But the idea had taken root, and through a succession of subsequent charters, it became the basis for the British legal system and, in turn, the legal systems of most of the world's democracies. Parts of the United States Constitution were lifted directly from the Magna Carta, and it is so central to our own idea of law that the American Bar Association erected a monument at the meadow of Runnymede. The yew tree, under which the signing is believed to have taken place, still stands.

Alive today, the yew tree at Runnymede has lived over 2,000 years.

with thanks to writers almanac

at home everywhere

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself,
making everything shine. 
Unperceived, it causes perception. 
Unfelt, it causes feeling. 
Unthinkable, it causes thought. 
Non-being, it gives birth to being. 

It is the immovable background of motion. 

Once you are there, you are at home everywhere.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj
from I am That
translated by Maurice Frydman

when pain is great

When the pain is great,
 go with the pain. 
Let it take you. 

Open your palms and your body to the pain. 
It comes in waves, like a tide, 
and you must be open as a vessel
 lying on the beach—letting it fill you up, 
and then retreating leaving you empty and clear.

 And with a deep breath
 (it has to be as deep as the pain) 
one reaches a kind of inner freedom from the pain,
 as though the pain that you experience 
were not yours but the body’s. 

The spirit lays the body on the altar.

~  Anne Morrow Lindbergh

to myself


Even when I forget you
I go on looking for you
I believe I would know you
I keep remembering you
sometimes long ago but then
other times I am sure you
were here a moment before
and the air is still alive
around where you were and I 
think then I can recognize
you who are always the same
who pretend to be time but 
you are not time and who speak
in the words but you are not 
what they say you who are not 
lost when I do not find you

~ W. S. Merwin
from Present Company


Saturday, June 13, 2020

empty-handed in the end

Our lives, the beauty and abundance of the world,
 are freely given. We enter the world empty-handed
in the beginning and leave it empty-handed in the end.

No doubt there is pleasure in the finer things of life,
in all that is soft to the touch and pleasing to the eye.
While such things do gratify the senses, they mean nothing
to the soul, unless the Real shines through them.
And the Real only appears when the self disappears.

 When one looks beyond one's wants one begins to see
other's needs.  Possessions then seem less desirable.
One is less minded to acquire the things of the world
and more inclined to give them away. The more one
gives the freer one feels. The giver receives as much
as the receiver, for giving is a relief to the soul.
It cannot breathe unless the load is lightened.

The biblical phrase, "Cast your bread upon the waters,"
is meant, to entrust a part of your sustenance to the waves
of the divine bounty.  Trust in the tide that flows through
all that is an will be.

You will find, in the end, that what you truly possess is
what you have given away.

~ Pir Zia Inayat-Kan
from Saraced Chivalry

I, myself am distraction


Suppose that my “poverty” be a hunger for spiritual riches: 
suppose that by pretending to empty myself, pretending to be silent, 
I am really trying to cajole God into enriching me with some experience 
— what then?

Then everything becomes a distraction. 
All created things interfere with my quest for some special experience. 
I must shut them out, or they will tear me apart.

What is worst — I, myself am distraction. 
But, unhappiest of all — if my prayer is centered in myself, 
if it seeks only an enrichment of my own self, 
my prayer will be my greatest potential distraction.

Full of my own curiosity, 
I have eaten of the tree of Knowledge and 
torn myself away from myself and God.

I am left rich and alone and nothing can assuage my hunger: 
everything I touch turns into distraction.

~ Thomas Merton
from Thoughts In Solitude
sketch by the author

roguish smile of a joyful god

Every day of your life joy is waiting for you, 
hidden at the heart of the significant things which happen to you
 or secretly around the corner of quieter things. If your heart loves delight,
 you will always be able to discover the quiet joy that awaits
 to shine forth in many situations. 

Prayer should help us develop the habit of delight. 
We weight the notion of prayer with burdens of duty,
 holiness and the struggle for perfection. Prayer should have the freedom of delight.
 It should arise from and bring us to humour, laughter, and joy.
 Religion often suffers from a great amnesia; it constantly insists
 on the seriousness of God and forgets 
the magic of the divine glory. 

Prayer should be the wild dance of the heart, too.
 In the silence of our prayer we should be able to sense the roguish smile
 of a joyful god who, despite all the chaos and imperfection, 
ultimately shelters everything.

~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes

Friday, June 12, 2020

the jar I am becoming

The sky-wheel turns us into dawn
and fills creation again with color.

Let it be our weakness, this thirst-love
for the world, the sun coming up
like red-gold being poured!

The potter's wheel moves,
and shapes change quickly.

Let the jar I am becoming
turn into a wine cup.
Fill me with your love
for being awake.

I'm no hypocrite renunciate.
Call me this delicious substance
you taste when you create new beauty.

Be strong, Hafiz!
Work here inside time,
where we fail, catch hold
again, and climb.

~ Hafiz
from The Hand of Poetry
translation by Inayat Khan and Coleman Barks

in the realm of the passing away

This is the realm of the passing away.  All that 
exists does not for long.
Whatever comes into this world never stops sliding
toward the edge of eternity.
Form arises from formlessness and passes back,
arising and dissolving in a few dance steps between
creation and destruction.

We are born passing away.
Seedlings and deadfall all face forward.
Earthworms eat what remains.
We sing not for that which dies but for that which 
never does.

~ Stephen Livine
from Breaking the Drought: 
Visions of Grace