Saturday, April 3, 2021

toward me

Existence leans its mouth
toward me,
because my love
cares for
~ Meister Eckhart
art by Coleen-Joy Page

see no stranger



See no stranger has become a practice that defines my relationships. . . .
 Seeing no stranger begins in wonder. 
It is to look upon the face of anyone and choose to say: 
You are a part of me I do not yet know. 
Wonder is the wellspring for love. 
Who we wonder about determines whose stories we hear 
and whose joy and pain we share. Those we grieve with,
 those we sit with and weep with, are ultimately those we organize
 with and advocate for. 
When a critical mass of people come together to wonder about one another,
 grieve with one another, and fight with and for one another, we begin to build
 the solidarity needed for collective liberation and transformation
—a solidarity rooted in love. . . .

Out in the world, I notice the unconscious biases that arise in me
 when I look at faces on the street or in the news. 
To practice seeing each of them as a sister or brother or family member, 
I say in my mind: You are a part of me I do not yet know. 
Through conscious repetition, I am practicing orienting to the world
 with wonder and preparing myself for the possibility of connection.
 (Sometimes I do this with animals and the earth, too!) 
It opens me up to pay attention to their story. When their story is painful, 
I make excuses to turn back—“It’s too overwhelming” or “It’s not my place”
—but I hold the compass and remember that all I need to do is be present
 to their pain and find a way to grieve with them. 
If I can sit with their pain, I begin to ask:

What do they need?
Valarie Kaur
 Australian aboriginal art

Thursday, April 1, 2021

red brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he's come from,
where he's headed.
That way, he'll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you'll be
such good friends
you don't care.

Let's go back to that.
Rice?  Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That's the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye
from 19 Varieties of Gazelle

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

love and compassion


We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received
wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion....

This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need
for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated
philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.
The doctrine is compassion.

Love for others and respect for their rights and
dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.
So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are
learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some
other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and
conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is
no doubt we will be happy.

~ Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

deepest root of compassion



Bearing the unbearable is the deepest root of compassion in the world. 
When you bear what you think you cannot bear,
 who you think you are dies. 
You become compassion. 
You don't have compassion - you are compassion. 
True compassion goes beyond empathy 
to being with the experience of another.
 You become an instrument of compassion.
~ Ram Dass
 art by Susan Cohen Thompson

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

healing reconciliation



Klaas, all I really wanted to say is this: we have so much work to do on ourselves
 that we shouldn’t even be thinking of hating our so-called enemies.
 We are hurtful enough to one another as it is.
 And I don’t really know what I mean when I say that there are bullies
 and bad characters among our own people, for no one is really “bad” deep down. 
I should have liked to reach out to that [bully] with all his fears, 
I should have liked to trace the source of his panic, 
to drive him ever deeper into himself, 
that is the only thing we can do, 
Klaas, in times like these.

And you, Klaas, give a tired and despondent wave and say, 
“But what you propose to do takes such a long time, 
and we don’t really have all that much time, do we?”
 And I reply, “What you want is something people have been trying to get
 for the last two thousand years, and for many more thousand years before that, 
in fact, ever since [humankind] has existed on earth.” 
“And what do you think the result has been, if I may ask?” you say.

And I repeat with the same old passion,
 although I am gradually beginning to think that I am being tiresome,
“It is the only thing we can do, Klaas, I see no alternative, 
each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself 
all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. 
And remember that every atom of hate we add to this world
 makes it still more inhospitable.”

And you, Klaas, dogged old class fighter that you have always been,
 dismayed and astonished at the same time, say,
 “But that—that is nothing but Christianity!”

And I, amused by your confusion, retort quite coolly,
“Yes, Christianity, and why ever not?”

~ Etty Hillesum
from An Interrupted Life: The Diaries

Monday, March 29, 2021




The word “scapegoating”
 originated from an ingenious ritual described in Leviticus 16.
 According to Jewish law, on the Day of Atonement,
 the high priest laid hands on an “escaping” goat, 
placing all the sins of the Jewish people from the previous year onto the animal.
 Then the goat was beaten with reeds and thorns,
 driven out into the desert, and the people went home rejoicing. 
Violence towards the innocent victim was apparently quite effective
 at temporarily relieving the group’s guilt and shame. 
The same scapegoating dynamic was at play when European Christians
 burned supposed heretics at the stake, and when white Americans
 lynched Black Americans. In fact, the pattern is identical
 and totally non-rational.

Whenever the “sinner” is excluded, our collective 
ego is delighted and feels relieved and safe.
 It works, but only for a while, because it is merely an illusion.
 Repeatedly believing the lie, that this time we have the true culprit, 
we become more catatonic, habitually ignorant, and culpable
—because, of course, scapegoating never really eliminates evil in the first place.
 As Russian philosopher Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote,
 “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, 
and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.
 But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
” As long as the evil is “over there,” we can change or expel
 someone else as the contaminating element. 
We then feel purified and at peace. 

...we think our own violence is necessary and even good.
 But there is no such thing as redemptive violence. 
Violence doesn’t save; 
 it only destroys all parties in both the short and long term. 
~ Richard Rohr
adapted from CONSPIRE 2016: Everything Belongs

Saturday, March 27, 2021

annals of T'AI CHI: "Push Hands"


In this long routine "Push Hands,"
one recognizes force and yields, then 
slides, again, again, endless like water,
what goes away, what follows, aggressive
courtesy till force must always lose,
lost in the seethe and retreat of the ocean.
So does the sail fill, and air come
just so, because of what's gone, "Yes"
in all things, "Yes, come in if you
insist," and thus conducted find a way
out,  yin following and becoming  
by a beautiful absence it's partner yang
~ William Stafford
from Poetry, Sept. 1992

Sunday, March 21, 2021



What we ordinarily mean by choice is not freedom.
 Choices are usually decisions motivated by pleasure and pain,
 and the divided mind acts with the sole purpose 
of getting “I” into pleasure and out of pain. 
But the best pleasures are those for which we do not plan, 
and the worst part of pain is expecting it
 and trying to get away from it when it has come. 
  when I try to act and decide in order to be happy,
 when I make “being pleased” my future goal.
 For the more my actions 
are directed towards future pleasures, 
the more I am incapable
of enjoying any pleasures at all.
 For all pleasures are present, 
and nothing save complete awareness of the present 
can even begin to guarantee future happiness.

It seems that if I am afraid, then I am “stuck” with fear.
 But in fact I am chained to the fear only so long as I am trying to get away from it.
 On the other hand, when I do not try to get away I discover 
that there is nothing “stuck” or fixed about the reality of the moment.
 When I am aware of this feeling without naming it, without calling it “fear,”
 “bad,” “negative,” etc., it changes instantly into something else,
 and life moves freely ahead. The feeling no longer perpetuates itself...

The further truth that the undivided mind is aware of experience as a unity,
 of the world as itself, and that the whole nature of mind and awareness 
is to be one with what it knows, suggests a state that would usually be called love…
 Love is the organizing and unifying principle which makes the world a universe
 and the disintegrated mass a community. It is the very essence and character
 of mind, and becomes manifest in action when the mind is whole… 
This, rather than any mere emotion, 
is the power and principle of free action.
 ~ Alan Watts
from The Wisdom of Insecurity
art by Van Gogh
with thanks to brainpickings

outside the court of religious and civic opinion



The greatest prophet of the Jewish tradition, Moses, 
had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside
 and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—
this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition.
 It is quite different than mere liberal and conservative positions, 
and often even at odds with them. 
Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative
 and non-dual way of knowing—
a way of being in the world that is utterly free
 and grounded in the compassion of God.

how we might maintain that same sense of prophetic freedom
 outside the contemporary political and religious “encampments” of our day.
 For those of us who are sincerely and devotedly trying to camp elsewhere
 than in any political party or religious denomination, 
we know full well that we must now avoid the temptation
 to become our own defended camp.

it means that we can
 “safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves” 
as Etty Hillesum describes it.
~ Richard Rohr
excerpt from his Daily Meditation
 photo by Dorothea Lange


Thursday, March 18, 2021

the music that is always there

HD Wallpaper | Background Image ID:910503 

When I used to wake with night sweats my mind would spin in endless loops of anxiety,
 going over little irresolvable problems, like a miser counting pennies, unable to stop, to sleep.
 Even when I told myself there was truly nothing to worry about, and believed it,
 still, the wild worries persisted. The ghosts of these attacks haunted me for years.

Sometimes it's okay. 
Sometimes it's not one desperate act after another.
Sometimes we hear the music that is always there. As the old Irish homily goes:

"The most beautiful music is the music of what happens."

It is not necessary to run to a remote, quiet place to hear it. 
It is here already, always.
The essence of eternity is how we experience the present.
The witnesses are here in ourselves.
The fullness of our inheritance denies nothing.

The ravaged road goes on and on
in both directions.
Who can I ask to buy the bones?

Snow settles on hemlock and Yew.
This is enough.
To the end of my days
Without end amen.

~ Terrance Keenan
from Zen Encounters with Loneliness

not an imitation


I’ve come to see that the call of God, the love that bids us welcome, 
is always a call to become the true you. Not a doormat. The true you.
 Not an imitation of someone else. The true you:
 someone made in the image of God, 
deserving of and receiving love.
There is a Jewish proverb, 
“Before every person there marches an angel proclaiming, 
‘Behold, the image of God.’”
 Unselfish, sacrificial living isn’t about ignoring or denying or destroying yourself.
 It’s about discovering your true self—the self that looks like God—
and living life from that grounding. 
Many people are familiar with a part of Jesus’s summary of the law of Moses:
 You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.
 Yourself. Loving the self is a required balance.
 If we fail in that, we fail our neighbor, too. 
To love your neighbor is to relate to them as someone made in the image of God.
 And it is to relate to yourself as someone made in the image of God.
 It’s God, up, down, and all around, and God is love.

The ability to love yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others. 
The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfill both needs. . . .
 ~ Bishop Michael Curry
found here in  Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Sunday, March 14, 2021

on being


~ John O'Donohue



~ Naomi Shihab Nye 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

a natural delight



The Diamond Sutra says,
"Out of nowhere, the mind comes forth."
A story of understanding coming out of nowhere.
Some of the old school buildings in Los Angeles had high ceilings
and clerestory windows. A boy was sitting at his little chair in 
kindergarten when he saw the yellow light coming in through the
high windows. Dust motes swirled in the beam of light. He noticed
how bright they were and kept watching; then, suddenly there was
no distance between him and the light. He disappeared. He didn't 
know how long he was gone; there was no time. When he heard a
voice calling, he didn't recognize the name at first; it didn't have
anything to do with him. Then he heard the other children 
laughing and wondered what they were laughing about.
It was the teacher calling him. After that, the things he saw
were beautiful in themselves.  Faces seemed more real, and 
what was real was beautiful.  He didn't really have a name 
anymore; he was the beam of light.  And it didn't have to be a
beam of light.  It could be a Coke can or another child, and he
feel that connection. His sense of yours and mine had shifted
to something like, "My hamburger is yours, your house is mine."
When the grownups around him fought and argued, he felt sad
for them, that they didn't understand, and couldn't see what he 
could see.

Usually people work hard to make things happen. 
Yet it might be that things happen by themselves, coming out of nowhere.

When you forget your carefully assembled fiction of who you are, 
you can find a natural delight in people, in the planet, the stones, and the trees.
 There is no observable limit to this beauty, and no one is excluded from it. 
Then, if you are fighting an enemy, 
you may be fighting them as well as you can,
 but you won’t be a true believer. 
You will know that an enemy is not truly other
 and that the fighting is some kind of misunderstanding. 
The worries that lead to quarrels may still be present,
 but they are not the main thing.

Your problems could be a kind of dream, 
very powerful when you are in it, and yet a dream. 
You might notice that, even deep in dreaming, 
you are near to waking up.
 And the more you are awake,
 the kinder the world might seem.

~ John Tarrant
from Bring Me The Rhinoceros
and other Zen Koans that will save your life
 photo Buddha's Footprints, by Peter Adams
with thanks to Love is a Place