Saturday, February 6, 2021

peace is every step

Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
photo by Ansel Adams


Friday, February 5, 2021

into the stillness


There is a silence into which the world cannot intrude. 
There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. 
Lay down your arms and come without defense into the quiet place 
where Heaven's peace holds all things still at last.
 Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear.

As you close your eyes, sink into the stillness.
 Let these periods of rest and respite reassure your mind
 that all its frantic fantasies were but dreams 
of fever that has passed away. 
Let it be still and thankfully accept its healing.

~ A Course in Miracles
art by Odilon Redon

behind uneasyness

Remedios Varo

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

~ Pablo Neruda 
from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon

to love another

To love another as a person we must begin by granting
 him his own autonomy and identity as a person. 
We have to love him for what he is in himself, 
and not for what he is to us. 

We have to love him for his own good, 
not for the good we get out of him. 

And this is impossible unless we are capable of a love 
which ‘transforms’ us, so to speak, into the other person, 
making us able to see things as he sees them, love what he loves, 
experience the deeper realities of his own life as if they were our own. 

Without sacrifice, such a transformation is utterly impossible. 
But unless we are capable of this kind of transformation 
‘into the other’ 
while remaining ourselves, 
we are not yet capable of a fully human existence.

~ Thomas Merton
from Disputed Questions

Thursday, February 4, 2021

attention and generosity


Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.
 It presupposes faith and love.
Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.

If we turn our mind toward the good,
 it is impossible that little by little the whole soul
 will not be attracted thereto in spite of itself.

We have to try to cure our faults by attention
 and not by will.

The will only controls a few movements of a few muscles, 
and these movements are associated with the idea 
of the change of position of nearby objects.
 I can will to put my hand flat on the table.
 If inner purity, inspiration or truth of thought 
were necessarily associated with attitudes of this kind, 
they might be the object of will.
 As this is not the case, we can only beg for them… 
Or should we cease to desire them? 
What could be worse?
 Inner supplication is the only reasonable way,
 for it avoids stiffening muscles which have nothing to do with the matter.
 What could be more stupid than to tighten up our muscles 
and set our jaws about virtue, or poetry, or the solution of a problem.
 Attention is something quite different.

Pride is a tightening up of this kind.
 There is a lack of grace (we can give the word its double meaning here)
 in the proud man.
 It is the result of a mistake.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
~ Simone Weil
from First and Last Notebooks
with thanks to brainpickings

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

leaning forward



Our society is very result-oriented, 
that’s why we are so competitive. 
That’s why we are always stressed,
 because we are always looking at something in the distance. 
If you are always looking at the top of the mountain you are climbing,
you cannot be aware of the grass and flowers growing at your feet. 
We are always looking ahead, aren’t we? 
And then the actual thing, the actual living, passes us by.
We are locked inside our brains, cut off from the present moment,
always centered on something beyond our reach. 
We are imagining this mirage of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment
which will magically appear once this and this and this happens. 
But what’s happening right now is “it”
 and it’s the only “it” we have.
The rest is just fabrication.
~ Tenzin Palmo 

blank postcards

The calendar all booked up, the future unknown.
The cable silently hums some folk song
but lacks a country.  Snow falls in a gray sea.  Shadows
fight out on the dock.

Halfway through your life, death turns up
and takes your pertinent measurements.  We forget
the visit.  Life goes on. But someone is sewing
the suit in the silence.

~Tomas Transtromer
from The Half-Finished Heaven
translation by robert bly
art by picasso


The presence of God.
In a tunnel of birdsong
a locked gate opens.

~ Tomas Transtromer
excerpt from Haikudikter, The Sorrow Gondola
translations by Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl

from the depths of your heart


art by Odilon Redon, from the British Museum

Psalm 121 
I look deep into my heart,
to the core where wisdom arises.
Wisdom comes from the Unnamable
...and unifies heaven and earth.
The Unnamable is always with you,
shining from the depths of your heart. 

~ A Book of Psalms
 translated and adapted by Stephen Mitchell

when laughing overcomes you


Making room in your mind
for life without your mind

closed shut,
allowing all you are

to see you
where you are,

you feel the free light
behind you

is inside you,
sensing Death,

Mind, the Divine,
are all the same.

What's in a name?
Death is the rest.

Open up, give it room,
let it breathe

the fear right out of you;
it is what's left of you,

it is you, free of you,
knowing you

like the truth
you know

when laughing
overcomes you.

~ V.B. Price
from Death Self
photo Bayon temple at Angkor Thom

Monday, February 1, 2021

self as “not the other”


The heresy of individualism; thinking oneself
 a completely self-sufficient unit 
and asserting this imaginary “unity” against all others.
 The affirmation of the self as simply “not the other.” 
But when you seek to affirm your unity by denying 
that you have anything to do with anyone else, 
by negating everyone else in the universe until you come down to you: 
what is there left to affirm? 
Even if there were something to affirm, 
you would have no breath left with which to affirm it.
The true way is just the opposite: 
the more I am able to affirm others,
 to say “yes” to them in myself,
 by discovering them in myself and myself in them, 
the more real I am. I am fully real
 if my own heart says yes to everyone.

~ Thomas Merton
from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
with thanks to louie, louie


Sunday, January 31, 2021

to choose one's attitude


We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:

 the last of the human freedoms -

 to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances...

~ Victor Frankl


Toss aside your map of the world,
All your beliefs and constructs.
Dare the wild unknown.

Here in this terrifying freedom,
Naked before the universe,
Commune with the One

Who knows everything from the inside:
Invisible power pervading everywhere.
Divine Presence permeating everything.

Breathe tenderly as
The lover of all beings.

~ Vijnana Bhairava Tantra 

the movement of relationship

Daily living is the only field of action available to us. Daily living is the field of relationships, where self-discovery is possible. Self-discovery cannot take place in withdrawal. Even if you wish to look at yourself and get acquainted with the factuality of your inner life, you require the mirror of relationships. The relationships, the movement of relationships, in daily living are the mirror in which the factuality of your psychological structure gets reflected. And in that mirror, you can look at yourself.

It is only in the movement of relationships, of what you call daily living, that you can discover whether there is inner freedom OR you are bound by a number of chains: sensually, verbally, psychologically. Freedom of slavery is possible in the movement of relationships. Away from them, the word freedom has no meaning. The word peace is meaningless if you live in isolation […]

So whether you call it peace, whether you call it freedom, enlightenment – it can occur, it can happen only in the field of relationships which give you the opportunity for direct action. And understanding is the perfume of action. Freedom and peace are the perfume of the movement of relationship.

This is necessary to be clarified because spirituality, religion, spiritual inquiry are unfortunately associated with withdrawal from living. And it seems to me this withdrawal from living, this turning away from the travail of responsibilities, living with people, handling the man-made structures, etc., withdrawing from all that is a denial of inquiry. In withdrawal, in isolation, it’s like a barren field where you cannot grow.

Creativity requires the soil of relationship. The flowering of freedom requires the action and interaction between nature and yourself between non-human species and yourself, between human species and yourself. So one would like to emphasize the necessity of living with people, in society, so that the discovery can take place. Living somewhere in the monastery, in a temple, in an ashram, in the caves of the Himalayas or wherever, thought can project an idea of peace, it can project an idea of transformation, but it’s lifeless.

The friend who is sitting with you has spent months in the cave in the Himalayas, in a student life. Because there was the conditioning around her that you have to go to the Himalayas if you want inner peace, enlightenment [….] And living for months where you wouldn’t see a human being at all. And of course there was what we would call peace, but it was dead. And there was relaxation which had no dynamism. Relaxation to the extent of being sensually numbed….

Vimala Thakar


Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book 
known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title.
~ Virginia Woolfe
Painting: The Prisoner, 1878 - Nikolai Alexandrovich Yaroshenko