Tuesday, June 13, 2017

among the multitudes










I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.

Nature's wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.

I didn't get a choice either,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.

Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.

A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.

A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.

A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I'd prompted only fear,
Loathing,
or pity?

If I'd been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?

Fate has been kind
to me thus far.

I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments

My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.

I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is, someone completely different.
 


~ Wislawa Szymborska
 from Poems, New and Collected
with thanks to Love is a Place
 
 
 
 
 

mercy










The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest,—
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,—
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. 
 
 
 
 
~ William Shakespeare 
 from The Merchant of Venice
art by Van Gogh
 

Friday, June 9, 2017

steps out of the circle









The self steps out of the circle;
it stops wanting to be
the farmer, the wife, and the child.

It stops trying to please
by learning everyone's dialect;
it finds it can live, after all,
in a world of strangers.

It sends itself fewer flowers;
it stops preserving its tears in amber.

How splendidly arrogant it was
when it believed the gold-filled tomb
of language awaited its raids!
Now it frequents the junkyards
knowing all words are secondhand.

It has not chosen its poverty,
this new frugality.
It did not want to fall out of love
with itself. Young,
it celebrated itself
and richly sang itself,
seeing only itself
in the mirror of the world.

It cannot return. It assumes
its place in the universe of stars
that do not see it. Even the dead
no longer need it to be at peace.
Its function is to applaud.




~ Lisel Mueller
 from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems
 with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana


beyond words










There’s a language beyond words. Silence creates the space for it. 
Sometimes when we feel powerless to speak words that are meaningful, 
when we have to back off into unknowing and helplessness,
 but remain in the situation, silence creates the space 
that’s needed for a deeper happening to occur. 
But often, initially, that silence is uneasy. 
It begins “as a small frightened thing”
 and only slowly grows 
into the kind of warmth 
that dissolves tension.


~ Ron Rolheiser
from  The Healing Place of Silence
art by Alfredo Ramos Martinez
 with thanks to louie, louie


Thursday, June 8, 2017

the haunted room in the mind









In Ireland there are many stories of haunted houses.  There may be a room in which one senses a presence or hears footsteps or a strange voice.  Such haunted places remain uninhabited.  People are afraid to go there.  The place is forsaken and left to deepen ever further into the shadow of itself.  The way you think about your life can turn your soul into a haunted room.  You are afraid to risk going in there anymore.  Your fantasy peoples this room of the heart with sad presences, which ultimately become disturbing and sinister.  The haunted room in the mind installs lonesomeness at the heart of your life.  It would be devastating in the autumn of your life to look back and recognize that you had created a series of haunted rooms in your heart.  Fear and negativity are immense forces, which constantly tussle with us.  They long to turn the mansions of the soul into a totally haunted house.  These are the living conditions for which fear and negativity long, and in which they thrive.  We were sent here to live life to the full.  When you manage to be generous in your passion and vulnerability, life always comes to bless you.  Had you but the courage to acknowledge the haunted inner room, turn the key, and enter, you would encounter nothing strange or sinister there.  You would meet some vital self of yours that you had banished during a time of pain or difficulty.  Sometimes, when life squeezes you into lonely crevices, you may have to decide between survival or breaking apart.  At such times, you can be harsh with yourself and settle to be someone other than who you really long to be.  At such a time, you can do nothing else; you have to survive.  But your soul always remains faithful to your longing to become who you really are.  The banished self from an earlier time of life remains within you waiting to be released and integrated.  The soul has its own logic of loyalty and concealment.  Ironically, it is usually in its most awkward rooms that the special blessings and healing are locked away.  Your thinking can also freeze and falsify the flow of your life’s continuity to make you a prisoner of routine and judgement.




~  John O’Donohue, 
from  'Eternal Echoes

break yourself apart







Be with those who help your being.
Don't sit with indifferent people, whose breath 
comes cold out of their mouths.

Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.
A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don't try to fly, 

and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it's too late for all you could become.
Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?




~ Rumi 
 translation Coleman Barks




on summer evenings we sat in the yard




On summer evenings we sat in the yard,
the house dark, the stars bright overhead.
The laps and arms of the old
held the young.  As we talked we knew
by the dark distances of Heaven's lights
our smallness, and the greatness of our love.



~ Wendell Berry


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

be lost in Unity's inclusive span









The pilgrim sees no form but His and knows
That He subsists beneath all passing shows --
The pilgrim comes from Him whom he can see,
Lives in Him, with Him, and beyond all three.
Be lost in Unity's inclusive span,
Or you are human but not yet a man.
Whoever lives, the wicked and the blessed,
Contains a hidden sun within his breast --
Its light must dawn though dogged by long delay;
The clouds that veil it must be torn away --
Whoever reaches to his hidden sun
Surpasses good and bad and knows the One.
The good and bad are here while you are here;
Surpass yourself and they will disappear.
 
 
 ~ Farid Attar
English version by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis
art by Andrew Wyeth
 with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana

 
 
 

Monday, June 5, 2017

I came to love you too late





I came to love you too late, Oh Beauty,
so ancient and so new. Yes,
I came to love you too late.  What did I know?
You were inside me, and I was 
out of my body and mind looking
for you.
I drove like an ugly madman against
the beautiful things and beings
you made.
You were inside me, but I was not inside you...
You called to me, you cried to me; you broke the bowl
of my deafness; you uncovered my beams and threw them
at me; you rejected my blindness; you blew a fragrant wind
on me, and
I sucked in my breath and wanted you; I tasted you
and now I want you as I want food and water; you
touched me, and I have been burning ever since to
have your peace.



~ Saint Augustine

Saturday, June 3, 2017

to learn from animal being




Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence:
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens:
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging,
We manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

May we enter
Into lightness of spirit,
And slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence
Of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts
Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk
Upon the earth
With all their confidence
And clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds
Might be baptized
In the name of the wind
And light and the rain.




~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Friday, June 2, 2017

a process of intellection





We name, we give a term to our various feelings, don't we? In saying, 'I am angry', we have given a term, a name, a label to a particular feeling. Now, please watch your own minds very clearly. When you have a feeling, you name that feeling; you call it anger, lust, love, pleasure, don't you? And this naming of the feeling is a process of intellection which prevents you from looking at the fact, that is, at the feeling.

You know, when you see a bird and say to yourself that it is a parrot or a pigeon or a crow, you are not looking at the bird. You have already ceased to look at the fact because the word parrot or pigeon or crow has come between you and the fact.

This is not some difficult intellectual feat but a process of the mind that must be understood. If you would go into the problem of fear or the problem of authority or the problem of pleasure or the problem of love, you must see that naming, giving a label, prevents you from looking at the fact.






~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Collected Works
Vol. XI",350,Choiceless Awareness
art by Edvard Munch


Thursday, June 1, 2017

glorious









~ MaMuse

silence and meditation






One day some people came to a solitary monk  . 

They asked him:
"What is the meaning of silence and meditation? "

The monk was just the scooping of water 
from a deep well. 
He said to his visitors: 

"Look into the well. What do you see?" 

The people looked into the deep well and responded: 
"We see nothing!"

The monk put down his bucket. 
After a short while, he urged the people once more: 
"Look into the well! 
What do you see now? " 

The people looked down again: 
"Now we see ourselves!" 

"You could not see anything," replied the monk, 
"Because the water was restless as your life. 
But now it's quiet. 
This is what the silence gives us : one sees himself "


Then the monk told the people to wait a while. 
Finally, he asked them: 
"And now look again into the well. 
What do you see? " 

The man looked down.
"Now we see the stones on the bottom of the well." 

The monk said: 
"This is the experience of silence and meditation. 

If you wait long enough, you can see the reason of all things. "




~ author unknown






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

by whom






The Student
.
Who makes the mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak?  Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
and hears through my ears?

The Teacher

The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of the word, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be 
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the eye see but cannot be 
Seen by the eye, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the ear hear but cannot be 
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes you draw breath but cannot be
Drawn by your breath, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.


.
~ The Kena Upanishad
translated and introduced by Eknath Easwaran

There is a Sufi story about a seeker who calls on Allah day in and day out for years and finally throws himself down and sobs,  "How long have I been calling and you do not answer!"  Then he hears a voice:  "Who do you think has been making you call me?"

Kena, in the title means "by whom?" - that is, impelled by whom do all the motions stir?  Or in Shankara's brilliant paraphrase, "By whose mere presence does that desire arise which moves the universe?"



a child went forth







There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that object he became.
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day....or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird.
And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's calf, and the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pondside.. and the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there.. and the beautiful curious liquid.. and the water-plants with their grateful flat heads.. all became part of him.

And the field-sprouts of April and May became part of him....wintergrain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent roots of the garden,
And the appletrees covered with blossoms, and the fruit afterward.... and woodberries.. and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school.. and the friendly boys that passed.. and the quarrelsome boys.. and the tidy and freshcheeked girls.. and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents..he that had propelled the fatherstuff at night, and fathered him.. and she that conceived him in her womb and birthed him.... they gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day.... they and of them became part of him.




~ Walt Whitman
excerpt from There was a Child Went Forth
art by Klimt