Friday, December 18, 2020

we came to lose our leaves

As I've gotten older, I find I am able to be nourished more by sorrow 
and to distinguish it from depression. 

It is not our job to remain whole. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, 
and be born again, Drawing up from the great roots.

One day while studying a [William Butler] Yeats poem 
I decided to write poetry the rest of my life. 
I recognized that a single short poem has room for history, 
music, psychology, religious thought, mood, occult speculation, character, 
and events of one's own life.

There are a lot of men who are healthier at age fifty 
then they have ever been before, because a lot of their fear is gone.

We can exchange sparks of light with another's eyes 
when we meet our lover on the dance floor at someone else's wedding. 
Our brains then go about warmed and fiery, and with one note 
they can explode into cello concertos and can imagine the giant blinking 
at the top of the bean stalk... His barbarous fingers scratching his head.

There is a privacy I love in this snowy night. 
Driving around, I will waste more time.

~ Robert Bly

leap in the dark

There is always some accident in the best things,
whether thoughts or expressions or deeds.  
The memorable thought, the happy expression, 
the admirable deed are only partly ours. 
The thought came to us because we were in a fit mood;
 also we were unconscious and did not know that we had said or done a good thing.
 We must walk consciously only partway toward our goal,
 and then leap in the dark to our success.

~ Henry David Thoreau
from his journal, March 11, 1858
photo by Robert Goulet

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

just below our fear

There are words in us
that don't know how
to get to the surface.
Words hidden in our marrow
afraid to show themselves
concerned the world will end
if they are uttered.
Words that cross 
the river of pain
that wish to tell the world
how much love is hidden
just below our fear.
And some of these words
sometimes find their way
to live among us
in the trust to hear them,
words that spin our compass
anger and loneliness redirected
by insight and forgiveness,
words like mercy and compassion,
words we never trusted to exist.
Words hide in the strangest places,
under stones, in clouds,
in a moment of a friend's kindness,
in a moment to your generosity;
in poems beginning their first line
climbing happily into the heart singing
how close the moon comes 
when we trust the night.
Words even hide in other words.
 Mercy hides in the hesitant pause,
questioning how much can be trusted
to the tongue, to the pen.
Invoking their true voice
rise to the surface
to sing their original song.

 ~ Stephen Levine
from Becoming Kuan Yin

look into its depths and see its roots


The Buddhist attitude is to take care of anger.
We don't suppress it.
We don't run away from it.
We just breathe and hold our anger
in our arms with utmost tenderness....
Then the anger is no longer alone,
it is with your mindfulness.
Anger is like a closed flower in the morning.
As the sun shines on the flower, 
the flower will bloom,
because the sunlight penetrated deep into the flower.
Mindfulness is like that.
 If you keep breathing...
mindfulness particles will infiltrate the anger.
When sunshine penetrates a flower, the flower cannot resist.
It is bound to open itself and reveal its heart to the sun.
If you keep breathing on your anger,
shining your compassion and understanding on it,
your anger will soon crack and you will be
able to look into its depths and see its roots.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, December 14, 2020

the continuation of "me"


 Immortality is not the continuation of "me".  The me and the mine is of time,
 the result of action towards an end.  So there is no relationship between the me
 and the mine and that which is immortal, timeless.  We would like to think 
there is a relationship, but this is an illusion.  That which is immeasurable 
cannot be caught in the net of time.

     There is fear of death where there is search for fulfillment. 
 Fulfillment has no ending.  Desire is constantly seeking and changing
 the object of fulfillment, and so it is caught in the net of time. 
 So the search for self-fulfillment is another form of continuity, 
and frustration seeks death as a means of continuity.  Truth is not continuous. 
 Truth is a state of being, and being is action without time.  This being
 can be experienced only when desire, which gives birth to continuity,
 is wholly and completely understood.  Thought is founded on the past,
 so thought cannot know the unknown, the immeasurable.  
The thought process must come to an end.  
Then only the unknowable comes into being.

~ J. Krishnamurti
from a talk in Bombay March 14 1948

loos’d of limits and imaginary lines


From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will,
 divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women 
You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.
~ Walt Whitman
 from Song of the Open Road


this idea of "I"


The idea of an enduring self has kept you wandering helplessly...
for countless past lifetimes. It is the very thing 
that now prevents you from liberating yourself
and others from conditioned existence.
If you could simply let go of that on thought of "I," 
you would find it easy to be free,
and free others, too.
If you overcome the belief in a truly existing self today,
you will be enlightened tomorrow. But if you never 
overcome it, you will never gain enlightenment...
Use any practice you do to dissolve this idea of "I"
and the self-oriented motivations that accompany it.
Even if you do not succeed in the beginning, keep trying.
~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche 

Sunday, December 13, 2020





Nisargadatta Maharaj



into the midst of everything



She saw that all phenomena arose, abided, and fell away. 
She saw that even knowing this arose, abided, and fell away. 
Then she knew there was nothing more than this, no ground,
 nothing to lean on, stronger than the cane she held. 
 Nothing to lean upon at all, and no one leaning…
 And she opened the clenched fist in her mind and let go,
 and fell, into the midst of everything.
from Women of the way  by Sallie Tisdale

here is peace



It is a sort of tradition in this country not to talk about religion 
for fear of offending — I am still a little subject to the tradition,
 and rather dislike stating my “attitudes” except in the course of a poem.
 However, they are simple. I believe that the universe is one being,
 all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, 
and they are all in communication with each other, 
influencing each other, therefore parts of one organic whole.
 (This is physics, I believe, as well as religion.)

The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars, 
none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole. 
This whole is in all its parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be 
so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it, 
and to think of it as divine. It seems to me that this whole alone
 is worthy of the deeper sort of love; and that here is peace, 
freedom, I might say a kind of salvation.

I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things
 by making one’s own life and environment beautiful, so far as one’s power reaches.
 This includes moral beauty, one of the qualities of humanity, 
though it seems not to appear elsewhere in the universe. 
But I would have each person realize that his contribution is not important,
 its success not really a matter for exultation nor its failure for mourning;
 the beauty of things is sufficient without him.
~ Robinson Jeffers
from  The Wild God of the World: An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers
 with thanks to Brain Pickings

The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
that watched before there was an ocean.

"Continent’s End” in Tamar and Other Poems

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

naturally mindful



Mindfulness may seem like a difficult practice that takes special training and abilities to practice, but in many ways we are naturally mindful, whether we practice mindfulness or not. Everybody has awareness. That is how we know that we are suffering. We know we’re anxious. Whether we practice mindfulness or not, we notice our breathing. We notice that we have a body. We notice the taste of our food, the smells in the air. We notice that we feel good when we are generous. We notice that we like it when people are nice to us. We notice that we feel wonderful when we feel loved. We don’t need a special practice to notice these things. That is what we do because we are alive.

Whether we practice mindfulness or not, we train our minds to manage our emotions. We practice habits that create our typical moods. We live according to our beliefs to create as much happiness as we are able. Even if we don’t practice mindfulness, we live in the present moment. That’s all we have.

Making the transition from not practicing to practicing mindfulness is not always a question of choice. You don’t always choose what to believe. If you somehow begin to believe that you can train your mind to create your emotional states, then you naturally begin a mindfulness practice. You don’t even have to believe it whole heartedly. You only have to suspect that it might be true. Then you begin experimenting by watching your mind. In any moment that you consciously watch your mind, in any moment that you are aware of your awareness, if you suspect that this awareness is creating a difference, you are being mindful.

When you begin entertaining the belief that you are constantly, either actively or passively, training your mind, then your mindfulness practice expands into every moment. You know you are practicing when you test your beliefs by engaging with your difficult emotions. If you find yourself purposefully breathing in the heat of your anger to see how quickly it passes or dismissing a judgmental thought as another thought, then you are doing it.

When you start to notice that bringing your awareness regularly to your present circumstance creates subtle or profound changes, then you reinforce your beliefs and begin collecting tools to help your practice. You may consciously set an intention for your practice, such as to train your mind to feel happiness, or to train your mind to work through sadness, anger or grief. You may begin a meditation practice to improve your focus. You may learn breathing techniques, yoga or a martial art to assist your practice. As you gain skills and techniques to work with your mind, you become an active participant in your changing mind. That feels good. When you recognize your own basic goodness, there is no turning back. Compassion naturally arises.



~ Peter Taylor.
  a Zen master in the Korean Jogye tradition
with thanks to whiskey river

Monday, December 7, 2020

a handful of truths

Buddha took some Autumn leaves
In his hand and asked
Ananda if these were all
The red leaves there were.
Ananda answered that it 
Was Autumn and leaves
Were falling all about them,
More than could ever 
Be numbered.  So Buddha said,
"I have given you
A handful of truths.  Besides
These there are many
Thousands of other truths, more
Than can ever be numbered.

~ Kenneth Rexroth
photo by Eliot Porter

is it possible


Is it possible for the rose to say, 
"I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, 
but I will withhold it from the bad?" 
Or is it possible for the lamp to say, 
"I will give my light to the good people in this room,
 but I will withhold it from the evil people"? 
Or can a tree say, 
"I'll give my shade to the good people who rest under me,
 but I will withhold it from the bad"? 
These are images of what love is about.


~ Anthony de Mello
from Awareness: The perils and opportunities of reality


deepening journey

What amazes me is that before we can count
 we are taught to be grateful for what others do. 
As we are broken open by our experience, 
we begin to be grateful for what is,
 and if we live long enough and deep enough
 and authentically enough, 
gratitude becomes a way of life.

~ Mark Nepo

the joy in which we come to rest.

Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker's joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.

~ Wendell Berry