Journal VI

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in It’s Human Form
Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.
Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.
Open the door, then close it behind you.
Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.
Give it back with gratitude.
If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back.
Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.
Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time.
Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.
Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them.
Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves.
The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand or even more.
Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.
Do not hold regrets.
When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.
You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.
Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.
Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.
Ask for forgiveness.
Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.
Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.
You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.
Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.
Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.
Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes.
Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no place else to go.
Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.
Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.
– Joy Harjo

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming “This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!” we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.
– Richard Feynman

I heard God in the silence. I recognized his voice precisely because it was inaudible.
— Jarod Kintz

It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But – and this is the point – who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kid paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.
– Annie Dillard

To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act because true happiness depends upon a revolution in ourselves.
– Sharon Salzberg

Happiness makes you smile; sorrow can crush you.
– Proverbs 15:13

Don’t piss on any happiness or kindness that comes your way. It’s a real sin to decide that an act or a moment is insufficient because it wasn’t the one you hoped for or most needed. I did that for a long time, and I became my own worst enemy, as we often can be. Life–when you’ve lived a lot of it, as I have–is a series of acts and moments, and suddenly you’re in a place, a clearing in your own mental woods, and you can see what got you there. It isn’t a sudden thing, an overnight thing, a planned thing. It’s being kind and acknowledging the kind things done for you; it’s showing up and being happy that your legs worked and someone said ‘yes,’ that magical word from which all things flow. You show up and you’re kind and you’re happy and you keep working and you keep hoping, and suddenly there’s your life and there you are. You’ve become something, and that something is a collection of all that has been given to you and how you chose to use it. That is, I guess, my philosophy of life.
– Ruth Gordon

Ethan Nichtern:
We are totally unprepared for what comes next.

Taking care of each other has to become our highest spiritual value.

Jack Kerouac:
And what does the rain say at night in a small town, what does the rain have to say?

The root of dissatisfaction: always looking for the next thing.
– Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those – in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists; most likely they are counting on your being talkative and relating your experience to others. Therefore, steal, or still, the echo, so that you don’t allow an event, however unpleasant or momentous, to claim any more time than it took for it to occur.
– Joseph Brodsky

Dr. King, on his birthday, ON CAPITALISM: The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life. It can make men so I-centered that they no longer are Thou-centered. Are we not too prone to judge success by the index of our salaries and the size of the wheel base on our automobiles, and not by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity? Capitalism may lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the theoretical materialism taught by Communism.

The next time you go out in the world,
you might try this practice:
directing your attention to people —
in their cars, on the sidewalk,
talking on their cell phones —
just wish for them all to be happy and well.
Without knowing anything about them,
they can become very real,
by regarding each of them personally
and rejoicing in the comforts and pleasures
that come their way.
Each of us has this soft spot:
a capacity for love and tenderness.
But if we don’t encourage it,
we can get pretty stubborn
about remaining sour.
– Pema Chödron

There’s a standoff all across the great divide
With friends and family members on both sides
If someone struck a match it would combust
Scorching everyone, both Them and Us
It’s raining dirty words and disrespect
It’s not having any positive effect
The bridges have collapsed because of rust
We can’t reach each other, Them and Us
We’ve got our earplugs in and our blinders on
And we wonder where have all the flowers gone
Where once there was a garden cool and lush
All that’s left here now is Them and Us
And I’ve never felt so lonely in this world
As I do when all the banners are unfurled
And the airwaves are just spewing all that stuff
About Us and Them, look what it’s done to us
Our differences are few but overblown
And it sometimes leads to punches being thrown
There seems to be a few things to discuss
But you can’t say a word to Them or Us
We write them off because of how they vote
We write them off ‘cause they came on a boat
We turn our backs with contempt and with disgust
At every one of Them who isn’t Us
We identify them by the clothes they wear
We identify them by their skin and hair
And we look for any reason not to trust
Whatever about Them is not like Us
And I’ve never felt so lonely in this world
As I do when all the banners are unfurled
And the airwaves are just spewing all that stuff
About Us and Them, look what it’s done to us
Thoughtful, decent people turning mean
If only all our gods could intervene
There must be some controls they could adjust
Maybe they could make us whole, Them and Us
And I’ve never felt so lonely in this world
As I do when all the banners are unfurled
And the airwaves are just spewing all that stuff
About Us and Them, look what it’s done to us
– Chuck Brodsky

This is what love does to things: the Rialto Bridge, / The main gate that was bent by a heavy lorry, / The seat at the back of a shed that was a sun trap. / Naming these things is the love-act and its pledge; / For we must record love’s mystery without claptrap, / Snatch out of time the passionate transitory.
– Patrick Kavanagh

Reject the conceit of strong intellect,
for in reality, you know nothing.
– E.M.

Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts at lofty heights.
– Peace Pilgrim

“A Monk decided to meditate alone, far from his monastery.
“He was in a boat, in the middle of the lake, cast anchor, closed his eyes and began to meditate.
“After a few hours of silence, he suddenly felt the shock of another boat hitting his. His eyes closed, he began to breathe anger, then rage.
“Then he opened his eyes, ready to howl at the batelier who had so rudely disturbed his meditation. He remained speechless: it was an empty boat that had un-moored, drifted away, and struck his.
“The Monk understood that the slightest shock from the outside was enough to throw him off center. So whenever he met someone who irritated him or provoked his anger, he remembered, ‘This anger is mine. The other is just an empty boat.’ “

David Budbill:
Begin Again
Ryokan said,
“A summer night advances into chaste hours of morning.”
Would that I had said that and in that way.
I lie here sleepy-eyed looking out
the open window as the dawn
gently overtakes the dark.
The night rain is over. Birds begin to sing.
Through the fog and mist,
washed clean, a new day begins.
-From Tumbling toward the End, Copper Canyon Press, 2017

All this ego
all this drive
to get somewhere
when
at the finish line
death sits
one leg
over the other
hands folded
in his lap
a little smirk
on his face.
– David Budbill

The Buddha is a process, not a person. The Buddha is a dynamic evolutionary process of cosmic light spreading and localized darkness dissipating. Literally it is a mistranslation to call the Buddha the “awakened one.” There is no past tense to awakening but only the ever-present tense. The Buddha is the eternally awakening process of the light of consciousness of which you are made and as which your destiny unfolds. – Yasuhiko Genku Kimura

Leading with the mind we analyze, plan, invent, solve problems, etc. With the heart we commune, care and give. We think in a different way. This is a contrast surely. When the two are joined the atmosphere around us becomes “heartmosphere”, a great word coined by a friend of a friend. How much we need to live in “heartmosphere these days! – Gunilla Norris

…Before I know it,
I’m walking again
In the city.
My stride’s jaunty,
My legs feel strong.
I’m an old man
Made young again
By the poems I love.
Reciting them as I saunter along.
– Gregory Orr

Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
and the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.
– Wendell Berry

Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.
– Mother Teresa

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton o…f every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.
– David Foster Wallace

Dalai Lama:
I am convinced we can become happier individuals, happier communities and a happier humanity by cultivating a warm heart, allowing our better selves to prevail.

Mark Nepo:
When we put down our dreams and maps of memory, precious as they are, we can feel the pulse of life.
– from Things That Join the Sea and the Sky

John Lennon:
Being ourselves is what’s important. If everyone practiced being themselves instead of pretending to be what they aren’t, there would be peace.

BREATH
When you see them
tell them I am still here,
that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
that this is the only way,

that the lies I tell them are different
from the lies I tell myself,
that by being both here and beyond
I am becoming a horizon,

that as the sun rises and sets I know my place,
that breath is what saves me,
that even the forced syllables of decline are breath,
that if the body is a coffin it is also a closet of breath,

that breath is a mirror clouded by words,
that breath is all that survives the cry for help
as it enters the stranger’s ear
and stays long after the world is gone,

that breath is the beginning again, that from it
all resistance falls away, as meaning falls
away from life, or darkness falls from light,
that breath is what I give them when I send my love.
– Mark Strand

Remind us again,
brave friend.
What countries may we
sing into?
What lines should we all
be crossing?
What lines might we dare to cross,
and what songs might we hear,
that can deepen our days?
– Paul Robeson

I bow to the sky,
seamless and blue,
the mystical sunlight
filtering through
my church in the pines
here by this creek
with rocks that can sing
and devas that speak
a secret language beyond sound
in praise of hallowed ground.
– Kirtana

The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble – to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.
– Philip Connors

Words cannot begin to describe the beauty, richness, healing power, joy and nourishment of – say, for example, a cloudy morning, the wind, a friendship, kind parents, great teachers, the existence of music or the shades of color we call green.
– Jason Espada

If you want me to die
Then hand me no poison
Take away all my words instead
If you want me to live
Then don’t give me air to breathe
But cover my entire being
In fragrant emotions instead…
– Anita Limbu Moktan

I haven’t written a single poem
in months.
I’ve lived humbly, reading the paper,
pondering the riddle of power
and the reasons for obedience.
I’ve watched sunsets
(crimson, anxious),
I’ve heard the birds grow quiet
and night’s muteness.
I’ve seen sunflowers dangling
their heads at dusk, as if a careless hangman
had gone strolling through the gardens.
September’s sweet dust gathered
on the windowsill and lizards
hid in the bends of walls.
I’ve taken long walks,
craving one thing only:
lightning,
transformation,
you.
– Adam Zagajewski

You were like every human being on the planet in that what you saw in the person you loved most was the person you were frightened of most, which is to say yourself, and so I guess the world is full of twins, beings who are attracted to themselves even as they’re repelled by and drawn to that same-only-different equation.
– Hilton Als

Sometimes my town is deserted. The streets are dark except for a luminous bookstore window. Inside is a poet I loved in my early days. Sometimes she’s talking to a younger version of herself, and they’re sipping wine in unison.
– David Keplinger

That heartbreaking moment when you finish an amazing book, and you are forced to return to reality.
– Grace Paley

Perhaps the most poignant image of our time is that of Earth as seen by the space voyagers: a blue sphere, shimmering with life and light, alone and unique in the cosmos. From this perspective, the maps of geopolitics vanish, and the underlying interconnectedness of all the components of this extraordinary living system – animal, plant, water, land, and atmosphere – becomes strikingly evident.
– Richard Benedick

Some prisoners spent more than ten years buried in solitary cells the size of coffins, hearing nothing but clanging bars or footsteps in the corridors. . .[they] survived because they could talk to each other by tapping on the wall. In that way they told of dreams and memories, fallings in and out of love; they discussed, embraced, fought; they shared beliefs and beauties, doubts and guilts, and those questions that have no answers.
When it is genuine, when it is born of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied a mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.
– Eduardo Galeano

Another morning comes with its strange cure.
The earth is news. Though the river floods
and the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.
– Wendell Berry

Zen isn’t Chinese or Japanese anymore. It belongs to anyone willing to see their nature and become a Buddha, anyone who lives the life of no-mind and laughs in these outrageous times.
– Bill Porter
(Red Pine)
Zen Baggage

Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.
– Tom Robbins
Jitterbug Perfume

TREES
They stand in parks and graveyards and gardens.
Some of them are taller than department stores,
yet they do not draw attention to themselves.

You will be fitting a heated towel rail one day
and see, through the louvre window,
a shoal of olive-green fish changing direction
in the air that swims above the little gardens.

Or you will wake at your aunt’s cottage,
your sleep broken by a coal train on the empty hill
as the oaks roar in the wind off the channel.

Your kindness to animals, your skill at the clarinet,
these are accidental things.
We lost this game a long way back.
Look at you. You’re reading poetry.
Outside the spring air is thick
with the seeds of their children.
– Mark Haddon

INSTRUCTIONS ON NOT GIVING UP
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
– Ada Limón
The Academy of American Poets

If I had sought counseling, I might have become a more mature, emotionally well-adjusted human being. But I preferred becoming a writer.
– Viet Thanh Nguyen

The New Poetry Handbook

1. If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.

2. If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.

3. If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.

4. If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.

5. If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.

6. If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.

7. If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.

8. If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.

9. If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.

10. If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.

11. If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.

12. If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.

13. If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.

14. If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.

15. If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.

16. If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.

17. If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.

18. If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.

19. If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.

20. If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.

21. If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.
– Mark Strand

But to retrace your steps and get back to upper air,
This is the real task and the real undertaking.
– Seamus Heaney

Through every act of following the feminine, giving her the authority to guide Logos, yours is the great love story of heartbreak being redeemed. – Toko-pa Turner

I think that love is stronger than habits or circumstances. I think it is possible to keep yourself for someone for a long time, and still remember why you were waiting when she comes at last…. I would enter your sleep if I could, and guard you there, and slay the thing that hounds you, as I would if it had the courage to face me in fair daylight. But I cannot come in unless you dream of me.
– Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

THINKING vs. HAVING A THOUGHT RELATIVE TO NEUROSIS
Q: Could you comment on any relationship of thinking and thought to anxiety, to neurosis, to obsession?
A: An interesting question. For a clinical answer, you may want to ask a psychologist. The following is my observation as a philosopher who thinks about thinking:
To think and to have a thought are two different activities. Everyone has thoughts but few actually think. To think means to originate thoughts. When you are just having a thought, you are not being the origin of that thought.
Real thinking, or authentic thinking, is a spiritual activity inclusive of but beyond the intellectual activity. In and through thinking, the real “I” comes into being. In thinking, you become the individual. Through thinking, you mark the universe with your soul. With thinking, you ensoul your thought.
A truly creative work of art, philosophy, and science has the soul, the signature, the distinct mark, of the creator. When you listen to Beethoven, his soul awakens your soul. When you behold Michelangelo, his soul embraces your soul. When you read Aurobindo, his soul infuses your soul with inspiration. When you study Bruno, his soul enlivens your soul to the wonder of the infinitude. Their genius is their soul that awakens the genius within you.
In contradistinction, when you are having thoughts, you—your soul, your individuality—are absent. It is more accurate to say that the thoughts have you, not vice versa. You are unaware of whence the thoughts come when the thoughts have you. The thoughts come from the past in reaction to the present. Unlike the great work of genius, the overwhelming majority of what you read today online and in print is the public display of the writers reactively having thoughts.
When thoughts have you, you are “possessed” in various degrees. The conditions you mention—anxiety, neurosis, obsession—are all conditions in which you are being possessed by various unwanted thoughts disconnected from the present reality. Since neurosis, though it is no longer a clinical term, is the broader category (genus) to which anxiety and obsession belong as subcategories (species), let us use neurosis to represent all such conditions.
What is neurosis? What is happening to a person who is having a neurotic reaction such as anxiety, rage, obsession, compulsion, or depression?
My non-clinical definition or understanding of neurosis: Neurosis is the psychological condition in which the person is unable to be at ease with reality—that is, the person is in the state of chronic existential dis-ease with reality.
The neurotic person is in a chronic denial of what is (reality). He is unable to accept and be with what is. What part or kind of reality he denies and how he denies it determines his particular neurotic symptom or syndrome.
Growing up as a child is a traumatic process for most, if not all, of us. First of all, we are not encouraged or even allowed to pursue to be who we are according to the singular design and unique potential with which we each was born. We have been conditioned and programmed to become “somebody” inside the homogenized collectivist culture since we were born—or rather since we were in the womb (the original “Matrix”). This is the universally all-pervasive child abuse that we all suffer which humanity is not aware enough to recognize.
In addition, there are millions upon millions of children who suffer various individual abuses, intentional or unintentional, that negatively affect and deeply afflict them their entire life. Yet, as a child, we have not developed the sufficient competency to effectively process and deal with traumatic experiences stemming from abuse. And some experiences are simply too painful, too traumatic, to endure.
Hence, the denial of reality and the concomitant escape into fantasy, as the substitute for reality, become our survival strategy for dealing with the un-dealable. We develop our ego-logical personality (actually ‘society of personalities’), in large measure, as the avoidance strategy or scheme so as not to re-experience the unendurable traumas, ever.
Unfortunately this strategy does not really work. An unprocessed experience is an incomplete experience and an incomplete experience inexorably wants to and tends to complete itself. This inexorable impulse for experience-completion constitutes one essential component of what Freud named “the unconscious” or what Jung termed “the shadow.”
The neurotic person is constantly stressed and distressed by the pressure of this impulse coming from the unconscious, which becomes a perpetual part of his experience of reality, which he has learned to avoid or deny.
The avoidance of reality is the attempt at the voidance of reality that is un-voidable. The denial of reality is the same: it is the attempt at denying that which is un-deniable. Therefore, as the child escapes into his fantasies, so does the adult or the (so-called) grown-up escape into his “narratives” as the substitution to reality. That is, what isn’t becomes the substitute for what is.
Such narratives are the thoughts that possess us and occupy our minds. Thus, the “normal” persons and the neurotic persons comprise the same spectrum inside the ‘normalcy continuum’ wherein the persons (are able to) maintain the connection to reality to varying degrees. When the person loses the connection to reality completely and transports himself into his fantasies, delusions, or narratives, then he becomes psychotic.
(Some postmodernist philosophers have come up with an idea, the “metanarrative” that states “narrative = reality,” which collapses the distinction and the contradistinction between reality proper and narrative proper to further dissociate the human being from reality. An important philosophical subject for which I have no time here.)
Now the question people would naturally ask is: What is the remedy? How can a neurotic person gain a degree of normalcy and then go beyond just having thoughts to being able to really think and become an originator of thought?
The shortest answer is: Character development. Character signifies the ability to face reality and to meet the challenges of reality. Since neurosis consists of various kinds and degrees of existential disconnection with reality, character development constitutes the counter current that increases the person’s existential connection with reality.
Without a sufficient degree of character development, psychotherapy usually fails, and people end up going to see their therapists for years or even decades without any real change. They only replace their neurotic narratives with psychoanalytic metanarratives about themselves and their lives including their neurotic narratives. (This explains the reason why psychotherapists or psychoanalysts who are masters of psychoanalytic narratives are sometimes as neurotic as their patients.)
Character development begins with you orienting yourself toward reality and truth. To orient yourself toward reality and truth means to develop a loyalty to reality and truth. The loyalty to reality is honesty and the loyalty to truth is integrity. Therefore, character development starts with honesty and integrity.
The avoidance strategy is a form of self-deception. Self-honesty hence is the antidote for the avoidance strategy that perpetuate the neurotic condition. When you face reality in pursuit of truth, the narrative, neurotic or otherwise, gradually disappears. Your mind becomes quiet and you cease to have thoughts and the thoughts cease to have you. Then, the truth reveals itself, and the utterance of that truth is your original thought.
Meditation is the art of being with what is, within and without. And as you practice meditation, the art becomes the constant act of being with what is, within and without. As meditation thus becomes your very existence, there will be no avoidance of reality but a complete voidance of neurosis.

Charles Harper Webb
THE NEW HUMILITY
So the last will be first, and the first last.
—Matthew 20:16
At first, jockeys rein their horses in.
Then they make them stand still
at the gun. When everyone does that,

they back up—at a walk, first; then, a run.
Workers try to earn the least, drive
the worst car, and dive deepest into debt.

Fashionistas vie to wear the shabbiest
clothes: coarse fabric, bad fit, full of holes.
When those holes get so big the clothes fall

off, people compete for Worst Body—
fattest, flabbiest, skinniest, most
malformed. People wear sores as kings once

wore jewels, until the point is reached
where hideous is beautiful. Then the trend
must be reversed—the fewer blebs,

fat-rolls, scars, humped backs, the better.
Football teams have lost so many yards,
points-given-up seem like points gained.

Horses lose more gloriously by running—
faced forward, all-out—in the wrong direction.
People forget they ever ran a different way.

Yakov Azriel
THE IMMIGRANT

Here is good, yes? We are one, yes? This land
of love you’ve brought me to is different from
all lands I’ve known before. I have become
a resident who learns to understand—
a little slowly, yes?—new customs and
new laws. New music, too—to play a drum
and saxophone, you’ve taught me, yes?—and some
new dancing steps, you lead me, hand in hand.

Despite my funny accent and the words
I mispronounce; despite my failure to
improve my speech; despite the way I dress;
despite my dreams in which I speak to birds
in foreign languages unknown to you,
you love me as I am, you love me, yes?

if what you want is jobs
for everyone, you are still the enemy,
you have not through thru, clearly
what that means
– Diana Di Prima

There is a great choice that awaits us every day: whether we go around carving holes in others because we have been so painfully carved ourselves, or whether we let spirit play its song through our tender experience, enabling us to listen, as well, to the miraculous music coming through others.
– Mark Nepo

haven’t written a single poem
in months.
I’ve lived humbly, reading the paper,
pondering the riddle of power
and the reasons for obedience.
I’ve watched sunsets
(crimson, anxious),
I’ve heard the birds grow quiet
and night’s muteness.
I’ve seen sunflowers dangling
their heads at dusk, as if a careless hangman
had gone strolling through the gardens.
September’s sweet dust gathered
on the windowsill and lizards
hid in the bends of walls.
I’ve taken long walks,
craving one thing only:
lightning,
transformation,
you.
– adam zagajewski

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.
— Mary Schmich

It has been said that the poet is the great therapist. In that sense, the poetic task would involve exorcising, conjuring and, in addition, repairing. To write a poem is to repair the fundamental wound, the tear. Because we are all injured.
– Alejandra Pizarnik

The tale that’s told for no other reason but companionship, which is another (and my favorite) definition of literature.
– Jack Kerouac

The ocean of Mind, in its native nature, is the essence of peace and stillness. It is only ill-fated comparison, afflicted projection, fearful foreshadowing, and vindictiveness that causes storms upon the sea of Mind to perpetuate. People caught up with the phantoms of their past carry them around with them and will turn you into one too if you are not awake to it. Hell realms and Pure Lands (Heaven) is a matter of heart-mind. When a person finally sees their own ghosts and that their vindictiveness is actually a form of self-inflicted pain, then they have of a chance of opening themselves to the treasures of liberation.
– Kuma-sensei

I loved my friend.
There’s nothing more to say.
The poem ends,
soft as it began—
I loved my friend.
(Langston Hughes)

HEAVEN IS A LOVING FRIEND
To be seen.
To be met.
To be held
in a non-judgmental,
warm and alive
empathic Field of Understanding.
To be heard.
To be understood.
By another or by yourself.
This is Heaven.
Heaven is not another ‘place’,
but an alive and present Field of Love.
When we were very young,
and we were hurting;
when our world didn’t make sense,
and sorrows and doubts flooded us,
we cried out for Love.
And then, perhaps, a mature adult sat with us.
And listened. And didn’t shame us.
And gave us space. And let us feel.
And didn’t interrupt. Didn’t advise us.
Didn’t judge.
Didn’t project all over us.
Didn’t change the subject.
They were simply curious
about our subjective experience.
And trusting.
And they listened from the Heart.
And they didn’t try to fix us, or analyse us,
or tell us how we should change to please them.
They didn’t treat us like an object,
but as an alive and fascinating subject!
And they held us calmly, looked into our eyes,
(as if we were the only thing
that matteredssss to them in the whole world),
and they let us know
We Were Okay.
We Were So Okay.
Then, we could rest.
We could surrender to our experience.
We could breathe again. Smile again.
Feel human again.
Trust our bodies again.
We were in Heaven,
if only for a moment.
We can touch that same Heaven Now!
By bringing that same warmth, that same curiosity,
that same non-judgmental attention
to our Own Experience.
We can send loving attention deep into our bodies.
Drench our experience with Light.
Saturate our grief, our anger,
our joy and our fears with awareness,
which is Love.
So even when alone,
our Loved One can be so near.
Even when soothing is nowhere to be found,
and we feel like crying out for Love,
we can remember this soothing Presence,
this closeness to Self,
this Deep Friendship,
this Heaven on Earth.
– Jeff Foster

Fred LaMotte:
If you knew how many elixirs
of love you’ve imbibed
with your last inhalation,
how many potions of healing

you’ll pour out through the next

astounded sigh of praise,
you’d awaken before dawn
to spend the darkest hour
in radiant stillness, just
caressing the earth
and bathing the stars
with your breath.

The practice of cherishing others as supreme and regarding oneself as lower is not easy. When we attempt it, our mental afflictions rear up and try to prevent us from putting others above us. They push us to do just the opposite of the real practice. Therefore, since this practice is difficult, the teachings say that once we sense that a disturbing emotion is about to arise in us, we immediately and forcefully block its momentum to keep it from manifesting.
– Karmapa, Teachings on Mind Training

Gunilla Norris:
Things are made visible by contrast. To grow we need to include what is different from our preferences and fiercely held opinions. Instead of being in conflict with difference we could realize as in the yin yang sign (a little spot of white in the black part of the sign–a little spot of black is in the white part of the sign.) that we are bigger than our small definitions and made more whole when we can be more inclusive. The survival of our world may depend on the ability to see contrast as a value rather than a threat.

I was on a gleaming elevator in a vast hotel in a huge city
The other day when a man got on with his daughter about
Age four. I asked her what floor they wanted and she said
Seven million. I reached up as high as I could and pressed
An imaginary button and she laughed and some little door
Opened in all three of us, a wordless yes, and we started to
Talk about the elevator’s voice, which sounded like a lady
From Ireland or Scotland, and how the buttons were twice
As big as any giant’s fingers, and how older gents like me
Remembered buildings without thirteenth floors, isn’t that
Funny, that an ancient supersition would still be reflected
In modern buildings? By now the girl was dancing and her
Dad and I were grinning at her ebullience but then the lady
Spoke their floor and the door opened. The girl leapt away,
But the dad hesitated a second and said quietly hey thanks,
And I knew just what he meant – something like thanks for
Being four years old for a minute. We have those moments
When we are all the same age, from the same country, with
The same language on our teeth, and it never lasts too long,
But it always feels weirdly familiar, doesn’t it? Like we are
Home again for a moment, with family we hardly get to see.
– Brian Doyle

Empathy
My love, I’m grateful tonight
Our listing bed isn’t a raft
Precariously adrift
As we dodge the coast-guard light,
And clasp hold of a girl and a boy.
I’m glad that we didn’t wake
Our kids in the thin hours, to take
Not a thing, not a favorite toy,
And we didn’t hand over our cash
To one of the smuggling rackets,
That we didn’t buy cheap lifejackets
No better than bright orange trash
And less buoyant. I’m glad that the dark
Above us, is not deeply twinned
Beneath us, and moiled with wind,
And we don’t scan the sky for a mark,
Any mark, that demarcates a shore
As the dinghy starts taking on water.
I’m glad that our six-year old daughter,
Who can’t swim, is a foot off the floor
In the bottom bunk, and our son
With his broken arm’s high and dry,
That the ceiling is not seeping sky,
With our journey but hardly begun.
Empathy isn’t generous,
It’s selfish. It’s not being nice
To say I would pay any price
Not to be those who’d die to be us.

Yet I am not one who takes joy
in wounding.
Mine is a quiet mind.
– Sapho

For a Coming Extinction
W. S. Merwin

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important

TOBAR PHADRAIC
Turn sideways into the light as they say
the old ones did and disappear
into the originality of it all.
Be impatient with easy explanations
and teach that part of the mind
that wants to know everything
not to begin questions it cannot answer.
Walk the green road above the bay
and the low glinting fields
toward the evening sun, let that Atlantic
gleam be ahead of you and the gray light
of the bay below you, until you catch,
down on your left, the break in the wall,
for just above in the shadows
you’ll find it hidden, a curved arm
of rock holding the water close to the mountain,
a just-lit surface smoothing a scattering of coins,
and in the niche above, notes to the dead
and supplications for those who still live
.
But for now, you are alone with the transfiguration
and ask no healing for your own
but look down as if looking through time,
as if through a rent veil from the other
side of the question you’ve refused to ask.
And you remember now, that clear stream
of generosity from which you drank,
how as a child your arms could rise and your palms
turn out to take the blessing of the world.
TOBAR PHADRAIC
In RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
– David Whyte

The practice of cherishing others as supreme and regarding oneself as lower is not easy. When we attempt it, our mental afflictions rear up and try to prevent us from putting others above us. They push us to do just the opposite of the real practice. Therefore, since this practice is difficult, the teachings say that once we sense that a disturbing emotion is about to arise in us, we immediately and forcefully block its momentum to keep it from manifesting.
– Karmapa, Teachings on Mind Training

Seek not the paths of the ancients;
seek that which the ancients sought.
– Matsuo Basho, Words by a Brushwood Gate

To illuminate The Way
study the wayfarers of old.

Take up the timeless work
of untangling the soul.

Align Heart-Mind
with nature’s flow.

Journey into the dark
to mine the hidden gold.

When the lantern-lit mind
abides in silent illumination,
the wayfarer’s poems bear the mark
of the Great Transformation.
– Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

SOON YOU WILL RISE LIKE A PHOENIX!
One of the most dangerous spiritual myths we have inherited is that healing is supposed to ‘feel good’.
No. Sometimes our discomfort actually intensifies as darkness emerges into light, as unconscious material makes its way into present awareness, as our old illusions burn up in a fever of healing.
Perhaps our discomfort is not wrong, a mistake, or a sign that we have lost our healing path. Remember, the presence of pain today may actually indicate that our healing process is intensifying, not stalling; that we are actually more awake and sensitive than ever now, less numb, less willing to turn away, more in touch with our sacred vulnerability.
There is such a tendency in our culture to avoid discomfort of any kind, distract ourselves from it, label it as ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’ or even ‘unspiritual’, meditate or medicate it away. Much of our Western medicine is geared towards the removal of symptoms, the silencing of disruption, the numbing of chaos and the journey towards some socially acceptable ‘normality’.
But sometimes, friends, we no longer have any interest in ‘returning to normal’! The ‘normal’ was the problem, not the solution! The status quo needed to shift. It was unstable and false. Our old conception of reality was keeping us trapped and we needed to break free! Sometimes a deadening and soul-destroying ‘normality’ needs to shatter into chaos and crisis; our pain and sorrow, frustration, exhaustion, fear and doubts need to be felt more fully than ever before, and the heart needs to break open more completely.
So let the winds blow, let the tempests rage, let all that is false be purified, let all that is dead remain dead, let life explode where you are! You are only being invited now to a deeper healing, friend, even though it feels like you’re getting ‘worse’, even though the heart is tender and raw, even though you cannot yet feel your tomorrows!
Soon you will rise like a phoenix!
– Jeff Foster

Karine Polwart:
The Swallow’s Return.
The Kittiwake’s Lament.
The Blood Clock.
And more news of the season …
The holy man he sits alone
He bows his head to the altar stone
He hears the kittiwake’s lament
for the little lost souls
Through driving rain and sleet and hail
He tends the candle and the kail
He pours his blessings on the wind

Be still, be still and watch the spray
Tread lightly as you pass your way
And listen
Be still, be still and watch the sky
Tread lightly as you pass on by
And listen

The beacon keeper sits alone
He hears the North wind skirl and moan
And when the haar comes rolling in
he sounds the horn
And after sunset every night
He tends the fire and the light
He sends the sailors safely home

The scientist she sits alone
in a cliff top hide at Cornerstone
she tends the nests upon the rock
from year to year
And as the puffins wheel and spin
She holds her finger to the wind
She is our ears, she is our eyes

The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness, he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed—and the great learned one!—among men.—For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul—which was rich to begin with—more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die charging through those unutterable, unnameable things:
– Arthur Rimbaud

Imaginary Morning Glory
C. D. Wright, 1949 – 2016
Whether or not the water was freezing. The body
would break its sheathe. Without layer on layer
of feather and air to insulate the loving belly.
A cloudy film surrounding the point of entry. If blue
were not blue how could love be love. But if the body
were made of rings. A loose halo would emerge
in the telluric light. If anyone were entrusted to verify
this rare occurrence. As the petal starts to
dwindle and curl unto itself. And only then. Love,
blue. Hallucinogenic blue, love.

Anthony Lemme:
The more whole you become,
the less you’ll confirm your existence and protect yourself by controlling or manipulating others;
the less you’ll expect others to carry your weight or do your work;
the less you’ll expect others to take on your responsibilities and developmental tasks;
the less you’ll mitigate your lack of passion, purpose or vitality by commandeering that of others;
the less you’ll depend on and tax the nervous systems of others to regulate your own;
the more you’ll be able to fully, freely and healthily give and receive love;
the more you’ll be able to create and sustain deep, nourishing, energizing and enduring relationships;
the more whole you’ll become.

When you’re connected
to yourself, others and life
in a deep and enduring way
paying exquisite attention
to what’s happening
both internally and externally,
proceeding and course correcting
according to what’s
most important and true
in your heart of hearts,
while sincerely and actively holding
the safety, well-being, experience,
perspectives and full expression
of others
as important as your own,
without attachment
to the outward form
your mind, culture, community,
or family conditioning
tell you things should take
and doing it all
with a kind heart,
an open mind,
clear boundaries
and a VERY well taken care of body
all directions
are the right direction
and all paths
are the way forward

Stephen Hatch:
A 12th century Cistercian monk named William of St. Thierry understood that “Love is an intellect that gives us knowledge of God” – and, we might add, of the Earth and of one another. Truly, we cannot claim to know another person until we’ve practiced divine love as a means of uncovering the sparks of sacredness that lie hidden deep within them. And we certainly hope that others will do similarly with us . . .

Martin Shaw:
That there’s a nutrition in grief, an artfulness, but there’s precious little in bitterness. Find a wild way of telling the truth.

The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man. The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death. The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A poet says, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age.” This is what we know. The rest is gravy.
– Annie Dillard
The Force That Drives the Flower

Walk Slowly
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.
– Danna Faulds

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
– Proverbs 16:23-25

Maezumi Roshi on how to teach: Just encourage them.

I am your own way of looking at things, she [the Muse] said. When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.
– William Stafford

And Terence McKenna:
Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. It is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control… [driven by] cultural diversion and programming… And you don’t want to even play in that game.
You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world…
Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles.
Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood:
this is the shamanic dance in the waterfall…. hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.

He had kept a little notebook for decades now. In it he wrote down what people said about love. Great novelists, television sages, self-help gurus, people he met in his years of travelling. He assembled the evidence. And then, every couple of years or so, he went through and crossed out all the quotations he no longer believed to be true. Usually, this left him with only two or three temporary truths. Temporary, because the next time round, he would probably cross those out as well, leaving a different two or three now standing.
– Julian Barnes

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind:
1) Study the science of art.
2) Study the art of science.
3) Develop your senses, especially learn how to see.
4) Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

man is a gullible animal, he needs to believe, and without a solid foundation to his belief, he will be satisfied with foundations.
– Bertrand Russell

You would be surprised at the number of people who have the role to divert you from the actual reality (present)… who have the role to lose you by keeping your attention out of the circle of considerations that depend on your balance, your integrity, your security And those of your contemporaries… whose function is to divert your gaze from the concrete issues of this world, by diverting your attention to hypothetical parallel worlds, past or future lives.
You’d be more than shocked to wake up suddenly and see the distribution of roles behind the veil of appearances. To find out that those who claim to be trying to save you from this supposedly ‘Illusory’ world, collaborate consciously and / or unconsciously, but collaborate still, with les who are working to undermine your rights and freedoms, with those who exploit you various Ways.

You know, or maybe you don’t know, human is good by nature, that’s where its strength lies, but also its greatest weakness. This first provision pushes him from the outset to trust. He is born without defence, in prey to all manipulations, ready to be programmed to serve his masters.

Masters, which he will never know, at least if everything goes as planned. Or more precisely, if he becomes a good citizen, compliant and consistent with the model, acting according to what is expected of him.

Its Crédulité, the ease with which it is possible to deceive its sensory and perceptuels systems, and thus impose an impersonal will or le, make him the perfect slave.

His memory follows a relatively short cycle and selects the information to obscure critical episodes, thus most likely to be used to solve puzzles. Its self-reflection capacity is only activated when external information sources are disconnected. And he does not disconnect only rarely, because he fears the void (silence).

Moreover, its potential for reflection, even free of stimuli, still depends on a set of chemical factors, personal provisions and pre-established programmes. Not to mention his oversized emotional body, which at the slightest attempt to emancipation, not only short-circuit his will, but sabotage his judgment, trying to avoid any form of suffering.

Added to this, centralized hierarchical governance based on military power and the monopoly of resources and information. Who, far from acting at random, is working to develop means of sabotage and recovery to anesthésier those who show the slightest sign of awakening.

Big Fish, not to mention sharks, those among us whose ego is the largest or most ambitious, are thus affected by the appâtage of small fish. Or if you prefer, those whose concern is not to inflate themselves or to climb to the top, but to extract from the aquarium and the intense stress they undergo.

As a result, the new age, the best way to recover from the matrix, allows the repêchage of those who escape the net. And, as a result, thousands of people who are intuitive, usually sensible and functional, find themselves désorientées, engaging in all kinds of nonsense.

For the most part, new age idols are living lives far away from what they seem to be, teaching us principles that they do not command or have necessarily integrated themselves. They can prove to be good technicians, with excellent speakers, without producing themselves any fruit.

You will find in this most amazing ménagerie:

Smokers or alcoholics, who are addicted to drugs or meat, who, contrary to their claim, eat well in addition to self-destruction, which is rarely a sign of full conscience. Des alternating between periods of prolonged fasting where they learn to push the boundaries of their bodies, and often painful times of food recovery. And who, by alternating between deprivation and excess, become irritable, frustrated, susceptible and mentally unstable. Not that the existence of a voie route is a decoy, however it is very far from this ‘ready-to-go’ that many of them are trying to sell you. It has to be known that le is a natural route, that is to say not provoked. It is a state that takes place from itself, not through any desire or programme. Will, by the way, is the fruit of ego, not of conscience.

Teachers of the best, psychotic or depressive, who do not know the peace they sell to you, only through medications or sexual practices. Or who are causing havoc around them by their narcissistic or manipulative attitude.

The use of stimulants (Cigarette / drugs / alcohol) does not in any way have such a vocation. And who, by the same means, represents a risk to the consultant. ‘ ‘ Guérisseurs’ ‘, which is flooding us with new methods ‘ ‘ Revolutionarie ‘, without any knowledge of the basic knowledge of esoteric or energy systems. And who are therefore unable to understand the consequences of their actions on humans as well as nature and phenomena.

Psychics, whose lifestyle is neither sober nor wiser, so not safer. Knowing that drug and alcohol use (ethanol) can be used as entry gates for parasites and entities of the lower astral, in addition to causing sensory, neurological and behavioural disorders.

Psychics, who sometimes autoproclame the spokesman of Jesus, Mary, prophets or (Arch) Angels, not to mention these unique intergalactic commanders and ambassadors, repeating all the same endless messages messages for decades. Am I the only one who noticed it? And who sometimes invite entities to take place in their physical bodies, which, I remind you, is the very definition of possession. Moreover, you should know that this practice damages the nervous system and accelerates cellular ageing in the host. The result of the overlay in the same biological envelope of two vibration frequencies.

Welcome to the fantastic world of dream merchants, Gri-Grey, mirages on order and collective hallucinations! Where to make the difference between the true falsehood, there is a need for solid studies and considerable experience. Unfortunately, many of those who are interested in these things do not know the founding principles of the great esoteric routes, nor the natural laws governing the phenomena, or even the workings of the psyche, making them all the more impressionable and malleable.

Yes, we are naive!
It’s human’s own. We are going to have to accept it first, which, in itself, is a big challenge. Then, in a second time, learn to do with it. That is to say stop basing our trust on appearances and beautiful promises, as attractive as they are. To begin to interest us more fully in the facts. Similarly, it would be wise to look at the activities of those who, with great claims, attract the most desperate and vulnerable.

We, small fish, must learn from our mistakes, otherwise we will end up in the belly of the beast! We must, in spite of our obvious weaknesses, seek to find a pragmatic truth. By evolving through our own feelings, intuition and experiences, rather than seeking refuge in abstract reasoning and papier-Masters.

This flight reflex relieves us temporarily, especially because it distracts us from our anxieties, but it does not rule! At least, if i rely on what happens outside the realm of positivisme.

I am not saying that no one is trustworthy, but to invite you to more circonspection. To encourage you to ask questions about the lifestyle and practices of the person you plan to deal with. Never do business with someone you know nothing about, or you know full well that it consumes drugs and / or alcohols.

Let someone intervene in your energy bodies, or make you believe things that you do not perceive, is far from being a harmless gesture and without consequence.

The objective is not to condemn but to inform. If many people in the middle are not aware of the impact of their way of life and their consumption on their state, their work and their customers, others are fully aware of this, without so much in line.

Before, we put our faith in religions, now we put our faith in anything and anyone. The more it changes, the more it’s the only consolation.

– Josée Larouche

A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.
– Dylan Thomas

i clipped and put together a few lines from a meditation by the great brazilian poet vinicius de moraes.

you don’t have to be a man, it’s enough to be human, it’s enough to have sentiment, it’s enough to have heart. you have to know how to speak or be quiet, more than anything you have to know how to listen. you have to like poetry, dawn, a bird, the sun, the moon, the song of the winds and the music of the breeze. you must have love, a great love for somebody, or feel the void of not having that love. you must… respect the pain the passer-by carries with him… you don’t have to be pure, nor totally impure, but you shouldn’t be vulgar. you should have an ideal and fear of losing it and, in case you are not like that, you should feel the great vacuum which that leaves…your principal objective should be to be a friend. you should feel pity for sad persons and comprehend the immense emptiness of the lonely… look for a friend…who is moved when called a friend. who knows how to converse about simple things, the dew, the great rains…you need a friend so as not to go mad…you should like deserted streets, puddles of water and wet roads, the edge of the street, the countryside after the rain, to lie down in the grass. one needs a friend who says it’s good to live, not because life is beautiful but because he has a friend…one needs a friend to stop crying…in order not to live leaning on the past in search of lost memories. who slaps us on the shoulder smiling or crying, but who calls us friend in order to know that we are still living.
– Hune Margulies

Zen is not some special state,
it is our normal condition:
silent, peaceful, awake, without agitation,
life just as it is.
– Master Taisen Deshimaru
The lesson is simple;
the student is complicated.
– Barbara Rasp

To love someone is nothing, to be loved by someone is something, to love someone who loves you is everything.
– Bill Russell

“My ordinary life will sometimes tell
Me that I need to rush through dinner, or
Fill empty space with words or numb my mind
With movies, facebook, junkfood, or more wine.
And yet my ordinary life of snow,
Soup, fire, grass, sun, rabbit, cat, book, and sleep
Needs space in which to happen and be felt.
In breath, the being and the doing merge.
Like a Japanese tea ceremony,
A preparation and event itself,
All the moment needs is my attention
For each gesture to be graceful, to brew
A tea both delicate and bold, just as
Wholesome in the making as the taking.”
– Karolyn Kinane, “Ordinary Life” from The Poetry of Yoga, Vol. 1.

Kirtana:
And you don’t need to be a Zen Buddhist
To pierce the heart of this mystery
You only need to be willing to stop and see,
See what is still and free
You don’t need to be a whirling dervish,
Or study scripture or travel far
You only need to be still and ask who you are
Be willing to know who you are

Just saying: Loud music is becoming inescapable in restaurants, elevators, bookstores, hallways, cabs, and everywhere else. It’s exhausting — when I’m out and about, I need sanctuaries, not continuous hyperstimulation.
– Steve Siblerman

socrates famously said that an unexamined life is not worth living. in contrast, the dadaist tristan tzara, argued in favor of the enjoyment of the “inconsistencies and contradictions of the unexamined life.” but there is a difference: while socrates was speaking in favour of philosophy, tzara was arguing against psychoanalysis (“psycho-banalyse” in his words). when dogen zenji famously said “to know yourself is to forget yourself”, he merged both socrates and tzara, and transcended both. socrates summarised his thinking by adding that after all the studying of philosophy, true knowledge is to know that we know nothing. on this issue, a. j. heschel went in a different direction. heschel argued that for the biblical mind, to know thyself is less important than to know thy god. the only examination we ought to engage in is our relationship with god. from a dialogical perspective the enactment of this relationship is nothing other than the embrace of the neighbor. and here’s an altogether alternative approach to the issue of wisdom: martin buber argued that the key is not what one knows, but how one knows it. we know through relationship. knowledge, here, is more than an epistemic issue, it becomes an ethical project.
– hune margulies

Two individuals who are quiet to the same degree have no need to talk about the melody that defines their hours. This melody is what they have in common in and of itself. Like a burning altar it exists between them, and they nourish the sacred flame respectfully with their occasional syllables.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

When you say something, you own it. You get to say what it means. If someone else interprets it differently, you jump in and correct them. To do improv, you need to completely change the way you approach conversation. You have to give away power and control, to the conversation itself. The conversation creates, not the individual speakers. The conversation takes on a life of its own. Meaning emerges from the collective, sequential, unfolding utterances of each speaker.
– Keith Sawyer

In general, I write more by intuition than by systematic thought. I don’t think of myself as a great thinker, although I would say I have a good head on my shoulders.
– Dag Solstad

Vagabondage
La danse du paysage
Et dans les nuages
Le decoupage
D’un tour billon avec des naufrages
Vagabondage

Toujours en route
Nous sommes encore en route
On joue du tambour
On joue de la flute
Comme l’eau qui bondit d’une chute
Nous sommes en route

Et bientot
Dans le berceau
Un autre petit tzigane
Qui jouera du piano
Pour les chemineaux
Dans les bistros de la lune

Saut perilleux
Subitement il pleut
De la lumiere partout
Et puis tout a coup
Nous sommes trois clowns fabuleux
Faisant des sauts perilleux

Nous cinglons
Dans le wagon
D’un train qui grandit sans cesse
Comme l’univers:
Haute dans les airs
Une rose des veuts
Pointe vers des nouvelles plages

TRANSLATION: “Drifting”

Drifting
The dance of the landscape
And in the clouds
The cutout
Of a whirlwind with shipwrecks
Drifting

Always on our way
Again we’re on our way
Somebody plays the drum
Somebody plays the flute
Like water leaping from a waterfall
We’re on our way

And soon
In the cradle
Another little gypsy
Who will play the piano
For the hobos
In the bars on the moon

Somersault
Suddenly it’s raining
Light all over the place
And then all at once
We’re three improbable clowns
Doing somersaults

We skim along
In the coach
Of a train that’s perpetually expanding
Like the universe:
High in the air
A compass-card
Points toward new shores

It is not outer awareness,
It is not inner awareness,
Nor is it a suspension of awareness.
It is not knowing,
It is not unknowing,

Nor is it knowing itself.

It can neither be seen nor understood,

It cannot be given boundaries.

It is indescribable and beyond thought.

It is indefinable,

It is known only through becoming it.

- Isha Upanishad

It’s time to live like your health depends on it. Whenever we eat, we make a choice. Whenever we choose a food we either improve the world or we make it less. It’s an act of courage and love to prepare healthy food for ourselves and for others and to speak out and educate people.
– John Robbins, Food Revolution Network

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.
– Wendell Berry

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.
– Thomas Merton

Depth psychologists are not, as popularly believed, in the business of curing neurosis, although there is no doubt their work heals. The field of Depth Psychology is in large measure concerned with a fundamental, lived paradox at the heart of all spiritual traditions: That of trying to build consciousness (that thing we know is there but don’t know what it is) by fishing in the unconscious (the big other thing we know is there but which cannot be expressed, only glimpsed obliquely in the dark of dreams, through great literature, through scripture, or out of the corner of the eye through symbols, fairy tales, stories and myth.)
Depth psychologists set off with their analysands on initiatory journeys from which both return transformed. Together, they follow the eternal maps left by story and symbol – the lines and breadcrumb trails which point each generation through history to the realm of the Gods. Depth psychology helps us find the bridges the human community has built through all of history through story and language. Once we have found the bridges, we can cross them again and again. All the gods and heroes of antiquity have been there before us.

Writers are also tracking and trapping this territory. But they go it alone, hacking paths through uncharted imaginal underbrush. The few that are cocky enough, and who survive such hubris, are the ones that carve out the footpaths future generations can follow: Think Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Woolf, Dickenson, Oliver. These are writers who enlarged our world, often not by giving us something new, but by giving us language – finally – to express what is large about the most ordinary things in the world.

Writing and depth psychology are disciplines chiefly concerned with charting awakenings – the slow, squinting work of coming to clarity, the journey into the mystery and largeness of the mind. Writing is the practical magic of depth psychology.

These two quotes from Jung could apply equally to the work of the writer and the depth psychologist:

The word becomes your God, since it protects you from the countless possibilities of interpretation. The word is protective magic against the daimons of the unending, which tear at your soul and want to scatter you to the winds.
– Carl Jung, Liber Novus, Page 270.

Magic is the working of men on men, but your magic action does not affect your neighbor; it affects you first, and only if you withstand it does an invisible effect pass from you to your neighbor. – Carl Jung, The Red Book, Page 308

Often we must go outside society to confirm that we live inside the continuum of creation. One seeks solitude to know relatedness.
– Joan Halifax

If there’s one thing, and one thing only I could say to every affirming priest/rabbi/mullah/shaman under the sun, it’s this: being LGBT is not about sex any more than ethnicity is about skin color. It’s about a shared history, a shared experience, a way of living and being in the world, a way of perceiving and navigating the human condition that has value, for us, and also for you. When you accept us, you aren’t just accepting the spiritual validity of a physical intimacy that is different-yet-not-different than your own; rather, you are accepting the goodness and the radical largess of your own essential Soul. You are agreeing with God that the world She is creating is very good- a goodness that includes YOU.
– Josh Magda

Merger Poem
by Judy Chicago
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again

When one gets quiet, then something wakes up inside one, something happy and quiet like the stars.
– W. B. Yeats

A Conversation for Adults: The Heavy Labour of Loving The World As We Find It
TAD HARGRAVE
If you want to find some pure, untouched place in the world where the troubles of our times and the struggles of being human do not appear, where everyone is kind, loving, always honest, respectful and no one ever gets hurt and where you can be totally safe, you will not only look in vain but you will bring your childish fantasies of this Utopia with you and burden those in every place you find with your disappointments that they didn’t live up to them.
Every person you meet and fall for ends up becoming a disappointment to you – they let you down because they weren’t perfect, they have their flaws. Each new person you meet, you think, “This might be them! Finally, I’ve met someone who is different! They’re not like all the others.” And then the betrayal.
Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.”
Every ashram becomes a sham. Every new job is full of flaws. Every indigenous community a heartbreak. Every spiritual teacher a fraud. Every new potential and actual lover a discouraging disaster. Every new, would-be-friend and ally full of unbearable contradictions. Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.” And, of course, the whole thing is heartbreaking.
And so reality, the way the world is and the people in it are, becomes a constant betrayal. But the betrayal is a necessary one. It’s the betrayal that asks us to stop being children about the whole thing complaining that this world isn’t what we hoped it would be.
“What is it that you wanted to be before the world made you into this?”
You’ll make the world wrong for being the way it is and take the current state of reality as a personal affront to yourself and people like you. But, if you want a better tomorrow and you’re willing to meet the world as it is and are willing to do the impossibly hard work of loving it by learning the deeper story of how it came to be the way it is, if you’re willing to ask every troubling thing you come across, “What is it that you wanted to be before the world made you into this?” then things may begin to change.
If you’re willing to take a stand to stop behaviour you witness that is hurting others without giving into the easy urge to punish, destroy, banish or vilify them in order to ‘purify’ the community – then things might begin to change.
The world in which we find ourselves is deeply troubled and troubling. It is a dangerous time and an endangered one. And the trouble and danger live within us too. There is the simple, pure and light-filled and fictional world of ‘Supposed To’ and then there is this is the real, messy, complicated world in which we live – full of beauty and terror. And this world is not in the way of our getting to the better tomorrow that we want. It is the way… If approached well. If approached poorly, it isn’t.
The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin.
As Stephen Jenkinson put it, “Awakening is not what you’ve been told. You don’t get on the other side of what’s been blocking you from awakening – it puts you in the presence of it.”
But then, the question remains, what do we do when we find ourselves in the presence of it?
Our continued condemnation of this world is what keeps it the way it is. The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin. It’s waiting for us to stop waiting for this better tomorrow to be delivered to us and for us to start fashioning it. It’s waiting to be redeemed instead of discarded because it isn’t perfect enough to meet our impossible, adolescent standards.
When we turn others into a hope-fulfillment vehicle the first casualty of that is the other person. It dehumanizes others to turn them into tools for us to use or food for us to eat. They were not put into this world for us to have our expectations met. When they fail to do something we tell ourselves that they should do (or do something we tell ourselves they shouldn’t have), that doesn’t mean they have failed – it means they were given an impossible task and were crushed by the weight of it. Our incessant hopes, demands and expectations of others are harmful to the very others we claim to admire and love so deeply.
“Do not seek perfection in a changing world. Instead, perfect your love.” Buddha (563 BCE – 483 BCE)
None of this means that real harm isn’t done. Of course, that’s there too. But, let’s all think a bigger thought than, “I’m disappointed” and ask ourselves how it came to be this way that so much harm is being done so often and that the bar for our conduct with each other has become so low. None of this is a call for no standards of conduct and ‘anything goes’. It’s being willing to wonder, “Why is it that anything seems to go? Why does this harmful behaviour keep appearing? Why do I stay silent? Do I have a role in this continuing to happen and how did that begin?” and then wondering what our role might be in bringing some sort of wholeness back to the community without making anyone wrong.
Our attempts to love this world as it is (which is not the same as passively accepting or condoning it) and, in so doing, encourage the growth of a finer world that we may never get to enjoy ourselves… well, that may be the closest thing that any of us get to a genuine initiation into adulthood.
Our willingness to love this world and everyone in it, actively, passionately, fiercely is what allows it to become more whole and ourselves to become adults.

A Conversation for Adults: The Heavy Labour of Loving The World As We Find It – by Tad Hargrave

If you want to find some pure, untouched place in the world where the troubles of our times and the struggles of being human do not appear, where everyone is kind, loving, always honest, respectful and no one ever gets hurt and where you can be totally safe, you will not only look in vain but you will bring your childish fantasies of this Utopia with you and burden those in every place you find with your disappointments that they didn’t live up to them.

Every person you meet and fall for ends up becoming a disappointment to you – they let you down because they weren’t perfect, they have their flaws. Each new person you meet, you think, “This might be them! Finally, I’ve met someone who is different! They’re not like all the others.” And then the betrayal.

Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.”

Every ashram becomes a sham. Every new job is full of flaws. Every indigenous community a heartbreak. Every spiritual teacher a fraud. Every new potential and actual lover a discouraging disaster. Every new, would-be-friend and ally full of unbearable contradictions. Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.” And, of course, the whole thing is heartbreaking.

And so reality, the way the world is and the people in it are, becomes a constant betrayal. But the betrayal is a necessary one. It’s the betrayal that asks us to stop being children about the whole thing complaining that this world isn’t what we hoped it would be.

You’ll make the world wrong for being the way it is and take the current state of reality as a personal affront to yourself and people like you. But, if you want a better tomorrow and you’re willing to meet the world as it is and are willing to do the impossibly hard work of loving it by learning the deeper story of how it came to be the way it is, if you’re willing to ask every troubling thing you come across, “What is it that you wanted to be before the world made you into this?” then things may begin to change.

If you’re willing to take a stand to stop behaviour you witness that is hurting others without giving into the easy urge to punish, destroy, banish or vilify them in order to ‘purify’ the community – then things might begin to change.

The world in which we find ourselves is deeply troubled and troubling. It is a dangerous time and an endangered one. And the trouble and danger live within us too. There is the simple, pure and light-filled and fictional world of ‘Supposed To’ and then there is this is the real, messy, complicated world in which we live – full of beauty and terror. And this world is not in the way of our getting to the better tomorrow that we want. It is the way… If approached well. If approached poorly, it isn’t.

The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin.

As Stephen Jenkinson put it, “Awakening is not what you’ve been told. You don’t get on the other side of what’s been blocking you from awakening – it puts you in the presence of it.”

But then, the question remains, what do we do when we find ourselves in the presence of it?

Our continued condemnation of this world is what keeps it the way it is. The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin. It’s waiting for us to stop waiting for this better tomorrow to be delivered to us and for us to start fashioning it. It’s waiting to be redeemed instead of discarded because it isn’t perfect enough to meet our impossible, adolescent standards.

When we turn others into a hope-fulfillment vehicle the first casualty of that is the other person. It dehumanizes others to turn them into tools for us to use or food for us to eat. They were not put into this world for us to have our expectations met. When they fail to do something we tell ourselves that they should do (or do something we tell ourselves they shouldn’t have), that doesn’t mean they have failed – it means they were given an impossible task and were crushed by the weight of it. Our incessant hopes, demands and expectations of others are harmful to the very others we claim to admire and love so deeply.

“Do not seek perfection in a changing world. Instead, perfect your love.” Buddha (563 BCE – 483 BCE)

None of this means that real harm isn’t done. Of course, that’s there too. But, let’s all think a bigger thought than, “I’m disappointed” and ask ourselves how it came to be this way that so much harm is being done so often and that the bar for our conduct with each other has become so low. None of this is a call for no standards of conduct and ‘anything goes’. It’s being willing to wonder, “Why is it that anything seems to go? Why does this harmful behaviour keep appearing? Why do I stay silent? Do I have a role in this continuing to happen and how did that begin?” and then wondering what our role might be in bringing some sort of wholeness back to the community without making anyone wrong.

Our attempts to love this world as it is (which is not the same as passively accepting or condoning it) and, in so doing, encourage the growth of a finer world that we may never get to enjoy ourselves… well, that may be the closest thing that any of us get to a genuine initiation into adulthood.

Our willingness to love this world and everyone in it, actively, passionately, fiercely is what allows it to become more whole and ourselves to become adults.

“The suffering is most intensified in the experience of betrayal, and betrayals, large and small, are an inevitable thing in intimacy. Anyone who doesn’t seem to share your view of how things are or should be – like a friend who tells you a truth you don’t want to hear or a spouse who won’t go along with you – seems to betray you. Yet betrayal carries within it a way to great wisdom a well as a way to cynicism. There is a choice. While there is never a good reason to seek out betrayal, and left to our own devices we avoid it by almost any means necessary, there is no cause for alarm: betrayal is looking for each of us to relieve us of the humiliating, infantilizing burden of naiveté. Your breaking heart makes room for your soul’s work to be done.”
– Stephen Jenkinson, Money & The Soul’s Desires

The Holy Fool Meets Himself on One of His Highways
by Peter Cooley
Down the long road leading me back to me
I saw my holy friends. I called hello.
This is not allegory. Mind me well.
I do not speak in tongues or prophecy.
I talk in the plain speech of poetry,
which is to say, the morning gives me stars,
leftover nights from which to fabricate
a path such as the first inhabitants
of earth, our ancestors, apes standing up,
could look to and by finding direction
name Cassiopeia, the Pleiades.
Hereafter followed the great voyages,
the three who blindly followed light to light
they came to call God in mythologies,
the rounding of the cape and continents
speaking, given languages of their own.
I said this poem is only about me:
when I came to believe, I was a speck
the light came to. I had my place on earth.
It didn’t matter how tiny I am,
how short my stay—being here, I always was,
I will be, am. Matter’s never destroyed.
I’m the first man, the last man, shouting this.

All trees, the ancestors taught us, communicate with each other and with all creations (Midrash B’reisheet Rabbah 3:2). Even the stars are imbued with soul, a consciousness higher than that of the human, a little lower than that of the angels (12th-century Maimonides in Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Y’sodei HaTorah 12:9). If you listen carefully to the sound of the wings of a bird flying overhead, or to the sounds of an animal nearby, you might also hear the communication of the spirit of that creature (16th-century Rabbi Isaac Luria in Sefer Ru’ach Ha’Kodesh, D’rush Gimmel). Some rabbis even insisted that we cannot fully connect to Creator in prayer without also praying in the language of the grasses, the stones, the animals.”
– Martin Buber, Tales of the Hassidim

Followers of the Way, the leaver of home must study the Way. I myself was formerly interested in the Vinaya (monastic rules) and diligently studied the Sutras and Treatises. Then I realized that they were only drugs suitable for appeasing the ills of the world, only relative theories.
At one stroke I threw them away, set myself to learn the Way. Only then did my eye of the Way begin to see clearly, and I was able to understand and know the false from the true. After long and painful practice, one morning it is realised in one’s own body.
Followers of the Way, just beat up both Buddha and Mara. For if you love the sacred and hate the worldly, you go on floating and sinking in the ocean of birth and death.
– Rinzai

Gunilla Norris:
Why do we so want to divide the world into this and that over and over again? “I hate this. I love this. This is good. This is bad.” Yes, we need contrast in order to choose, but don’t we also need enrichment in order to grow? Any time there is a contrast before us there is an opportunity to learn and expand. We don’t have to slam the door. We can look and see.

Gunilla Norris:
Holding a contrast with deep respect and not choosing one truth over another is a difficult spiritual task that many face. Here’s a constant CHALLENGE that will humble us for certain . . . on the one hand to hold the necessity of accepting what is, exactly as it is, and on the other hand lending our love and effort to make things better, and not in the process making things worse. It’s a razor’s edge

Matt Licata:
It’s not so much that we need to (or even can) get out of the matrix, the developmental-cultural-historical lens through which we have come to perceive what we call “reality.”
Instead, to begin to see it clearly, in all its nuance, subtlety, and dream-like luminosity. How am I imagining myself, others, and the world? What is the myth in which I am living, through which I am seeing? What is the story I’m telling, who are the gods and goddesses I am traveling with?
Am I willing to take the risk to dream a new dream? To differentiate from the voices I have inherited from a world that has forgotten the mysteries. To listen to the new poetry as it pours out of the stars.
While we may never be able to fully step outside the matrix and report back as a neutral observer and “detached witness” (another fantasy of modern consciousness), we can play within it, dance inside and around it, allow ourselves the freedom to hide and seek, and the imagination to get lost and to be found.
We can get messy, fall apart, be vulnerable, fail well, fail with heart, forget and remember, dissolve and come back together. And set aside the fantasy that one day we’ll come to some safe, secure, knowing resolution to the wildness of love and its contradictory, untamed, and relentless activity. That one day we’ll become a “master” at life, wiggle into some invulnerable/ untouchable state, tucked away and protected from the reality that the rug can and will be pulled out from underneath us in each unfolding moment.
To allow others to matter, to allow our hearts to break (and maybe even not be mended), to practice embodied intimacy without becoming fused, to fully participate in the dream without falling into trance. And even if we fall into trance, to dare to see it, too, as none other than the beloved in disguise.
It’s really like being a character in our own fairy tale, with all the mythical and archetypal beings by our side, curious as to what the crazy love-struck boy or girl is going to do next, in awe of the human form and the inseparability of matter and spirit.

The way to avoid repeating unwanted situations is to talk about wanted situations. Talk about what you do want; and discontinue dialogue about any unwanted experiences, situations, or results.
– Abraham Hicks

It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

Nithya Shanti:
Four Levels of Education
First tells us WHAT to think, say and do. It is prescriptive and authoritative.
Second inculcates in us HOW to think, say and do things. It is about attitude, grace and intention.
Third is about questioning WHY we think, say and do what we do. It is develops the capacity to be reflective and question all kinds of assumptions.
Fourth is about inquiring WHO thinks, speaks and acts. It questions the fundamental assumptions around our identity and sense of being a separate autonomous being.
All four are required to create a truly cultured civilization based on truth, aesthetics and benevolence.

Ari Annona:
Thoth (Hermes) brought the *gift* of writing to humanity to enable humanity to remember things.
ALL it did was make humanity incredibly forgetful~
Thoth/Hermes is the patron saint of liars and thieves.
the written word becomes a lie when we take it literally.
it’s a metaphor, and *this* is what we have forgotten…

Melissa La Flamme:
This begins as an inside job: be among people who show they really give a damn about you. You for you. Not what you can do for them. Not just parts of you. But all you are. Otherwise the existential loneliness can be profound

Stevenson’s Edinburgh
‘this dream in masonry and living rock’

Robert Louis Stevenson,
the author in his jimjams,
wrote about the New Town,
its draughty parallelograms

(the parks, squares, and avenues
in which RLS grew up,
the Georgian grasp on the New
that ever shall erupt),

decrying what he saw,
the Enlightenment’s modernity,
our man reserved his awe
for the Old Town’s identity:

the wynds and black, volcanic rock;
the tenements, their ghosts;
Burke and Hare, the mortuary block;
the Covenanters’ host.

In doing so, dear Stevenson
was sticking with the plan:
Romance over reason,
the monster over the man,

and building up the Scottish pash
for what we call duality,
that what is flame will soon be ash,
odd thoughts about mortality,

the Otherness that brands us;
we are the Otherhood,
haunted by the unconscious,
with a tendency to brood.

He was a storyteller,
the finest of the lot.
But he was another fella
who helped fuck up the Scots.
– Andrew Neilson

Shall I tell you about this purplish
sting, the brief light of the jacaranda tree
while the morning becomes freer
at the weird rhythm of these
amputated songs, acid melodies
where the voice lands and no certain line
can be pinned down? Lame caresses,
shadowy affection. Forgotten
are the flesh and its scent,
and the past five months.
– Diogo Vaz Pinto

Maybe you are my heart, shedding poems like tears.
– César Vallejo

A Critique of Dialectical Reason
Between Sea and Sky
a new wave of makeup.
The colours run pale-to-torrid.
The collection introduces eye-
coloring: a new liquid-to-
powder formula with a
difference – it glides on
and stays in place for hours.
– Drew Milne

Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows

drifting across our ceilings the moment 
before we wake up.
What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
― William Wordsworth

When the starry sky, a vista of open seas, or a stained-glass window shedding purple beams fascinate me, there is a cluster of meaning, of colors, of words, of caresses, there are light touches, scents, sighs, cadences that arise, shroud me, carry me away, and sweep me beyond the things I see, hear, or think, The ‘sublime’ object dissolves in the raptures of a bottomless memory. It is such a memory, which, from stopping point to stopping point, remembrance to remembrance, love to love, transfers that object to the refulgent point of the dazzlement in which I stray in order to be.
– Julia Kristeva

Put away that paperback by Edith Hamilton. We have our own mythology to make, our own constellation to set before the jealous gods.
– Greg Sellers

Books are carefully folded forests/void of autumn/bound from the sun.
– Saul Williams

The mountain itself is a mandala. Practice self-reflection intently amid the undefiled stones, trees, streams, and vegetation, losing yourself in the great body of the Supreme Buddha.
– So-o

Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana
Quiet and green was the grass of the field,
The sky was whole in brightness,
And O, a bird was flying, high, there in the sky,
So gently, so carelessly and fairly.
Here, once, Indians shouted in battle,
And moaned after it.
Here were cries, yells, night, and the moon over these men,
And the men making the cries and yells; it was
Hundreds of years ago, when monks were in Europe,
Monks in cool, black monasteries, thinking of God, studying Virgil;
Monks were in Europe, a land having an ocean, miles of water, between
It and this land, America, possessing Montana.
(New York, Vermont, New Mexico, America has too.)
Indians, Indians went through Montana,
Thinking, feeling, trying pleasurably to live.
This land, shone on by the sun now, green, quiet now,
Was under their feet, this time; we live now and it is hundreds of years after.
Montana, thou art, and I say thou art, as once monks said of God,
And thought, too: Thou art.
Thou hast Kansas on thy side;
Kansas is in the newspapers, talked of by men;
Idaho thou hast, and far away, Singapore, Alabama, Brazil.
That bird over this green, under that sun, God, how sweet and graceful it is!
Could we ever do that? Machines that fly are clumsy and ugly;
Birds go into the air so softly, so fairly; see its curves; Earth!
In Montana, men eat and have bodies paining them
Because they eat.
Kansas, with Montana, in America, has, too, men pained by their eating;
So has England, with Westminster Abbey, where poets lie, dead now;
O, what their poetry can do; what poetry can do.
There is the brain of man, a soft, puzzling, weak affair;
Lord, the perfect green of this meadow.
Look at the pure heat and light of that big sun,
And the cleanness of the sky.
Night comes, night has come.
Was not Montana here in the Middle Ages, when old Rome was at its oldest, when
Aristotle wrote,
In Greece, Greece by the Aegean, with the Mediterranean near?
Indians killed each other here,
With the moon over them.
Indians killed each other near Cape Cod, near Boston, in Louisiana, too.
It was before white men came from England, to see them; the white men were seen by them.
Snows have been here, in Montana, while the Indians have been.
Girls are in Helena, mines are in Helena,
Men work in them painfully and long for the bodies of girls;
And long for much more that is in the world, in thee, Earth.
Men work, suffer, are little, ugly, too.
O, mountains are in Montana,
The Rocky Mountains are in California, Utah, Colorado, Montana.
Indians were here, too, by rivers, in these mountains, lived in mountains.
Europe has its Paris, and men live there; Stendhal, Rabelais,   Gautier, Hume were there.
God, what is it man can do?  
There are millions of men in the world, and each is one man,
Each is one man by himself, taking care of himself all the time, and changing other men and being changed by them;
The quiet of this afternoon is strange, haunting, awful;
Hear that buzzing in the hot grass, coming from live things; and those crows’ cries from somewhere;
There is a sluggish, sad brook near here, too.
The bird is gone now, so graceful, fair as it was,
And the sky has nothing but the brightness of air in it.
The clean color of air.
The sun makes it be afternoon here;
In Paris and Sumatra, it is night;
Dark Malays are in lands by the Indian Ocean,
An ocean there is we call the Indian;
Men went to these Malays near the Indian Ocean, in the eighteenth century, in frigates and ships-of-the-line;
And men living here are Indians, too.
O, the cry of the Indian in battle, hundreds of years ago, in woods, in plains, in mountains;
War might have been seen once in this meadow, now in green, now hot;
Hundreds of years ago it might have been seen, and tens of years, and a thousand.
There was love among Indians; there is love in Paris, Moscow, London, and New York.   
Men have been in war, ever,
And men have thought, and written books, about war, love, and mind.
Mist comes in this earth,
And there have been sad, empty, pained, longing souls going through mist.
O, the green in mist that is to be seen in the world.
And time goes on, the world is moving, all of it, so time goes on in this world.
It is now a hot, quiet afternoon in Montana,
Montana with the Rocky Mountains;
Virginia with the Allegany Mountains:
(Indians ambushed Braddock in the Allegany Mountains; the woods, once quiet, once dark,
Sounded sharply and deeply with cries, moans, and shots;
Washington was there;
Washington Irving wrote of Washington, so did Frenchmen who knew Voltaire;
In 1755, Braddock was ambushed and died, and then, in Paris men and women wrote of philosophy who were elegant, witty and thought spirit was of matter; say Diderot, Helvetius, and Madame du Deffand; Samuel Johnson was in London then; Pitt was in England; men lived in Montana,
Honolulu, Argentina and near the Cape of Good Hope;
O, life of man, O, Earth; Earth, again and again!)
And there have been hot afternoons, all through time, history, as men say;
Hot afternoons have been in Montana.
There have been hot afternoons, and quiet, soft, lovely twilights;
Gray, Collins, Milton wrote of these;
There have been hot afternoons in quiet English churchyards, and hot afternoons in America, in Montana; and green everywhere and bright sky; there are deserts in Africa, America, and Australia;
Clear air is healthful; men go to Colorado, near Wyoming, near Montana in the mountains, sick men go to the mountains where Indians once lived, fought and killed each other.
O, the love of bodies, O, the pains of bodies on hot, quiet afternoons, everywhere in the world.
Men work in factories on hot afternoons, now in Montana, and now in New Hampshire; walk the streets of Boston on hot afternoons;
Novels stupid and forgot, have been written in afternoons;
Matinées of witty comedies in London and New York are in afternoons;
Indians roamed here, in this green field, on quiet, hot afternoons, in years now followed by hundreds of years.
Hot afternoons are real; afternoons are; places, things, thoughts, feelings are; poetry is;
The world is waiting to be known; Earth, what it has in it! The past is in it;
All words, feelings, movements, words, bodies, clothes, girls, trees, stones, things of beauty, books, desires are in it; and all are to be known;
Afternoons have to do with the whole world;
And the beauty of mind, feeling knowingly the world!
The world of girls’ beautiful faces, bodies and clothes, quiet afternoons, graceful birds, great words, tearful music, mind-joying poetry, beautiful livings, loved things, known things: a to-be-used and known and pleasure-to-be giving world.
– Eli Siegel

It is not description which can unveil the efficacy and beauty of monuments, seas, or the human face in all their maturity and native state, but rather evocation, allusion, suggestion. These somewhat arbitrary terms reveal what may well be a very decisive tendency in modern literature, a tendency which limits literature and yet sets it free. For what is the magic charm of art, if not this: that, beyond the confines of a fistful of dust or of all other reality, beyond the book itself, beyond the very text, it delivers up that volatile scattering which we call the Spirit, Who cares for nothing save universal musicality.

Speech is not more than a commercial approach to reality. In literature allusion is sufficient: essences are distilled and then embodied in Idea.
Song, when it becomes impalpable joy, will rise to heaven.
This is the ideal I would call Transposition; Structure is something else.
If the poem is to be pure, the poet’s voice must be stilled and the initiative taken by the words themselves, which will be set in motion as they meet unequally in collision. And in an exchange of gleams they will flame out like some glittering swath of fire, sweeping over precious stones, and thus replace the audible breathing lyric poetry of old–replace the poet’s own personal and passionate control of verse.
– Stéphane Mallarmé, Crisis in Poetry

[…] it often seemed as though your feet had stuck roots into the ground and you were doomed to grow and decay like a tree. Nevertheless you were aware of moving, whether it was you who were moving or the landscape moving forward toward you, and you could remain patient with the idea of growth as long as the concept of uniqueness—that one and no other—shone like a star in the sky above you.
– John Ashbery

Alive again because time might be anything,
And earth a broken astrolabe
Plunged into blackness by force of sunlight
These latter days. There is a flower
In the hawk’s mouth once was an animal.
It hurries towards the sun, and the hawk,
Helpless in the color of it, becomes rain.
– Don Revell

I am in the middle of it: chaos and poetry; poetry and love and again, complete chaos. Pain, disorder, occasional clarity; and at the bottom of it all: only love; poetry. Sheer enchantment, fear, humiliation. It all comes with love.
– Anna Akhmatova

Somewhere we’ve developed the misconception that poetry is self-expression, and that meditation is going inward. Actually, poetry has nothing to do with self-expression, it is the way to be free, finally, of self-expression, to go much deeper than that. And meditation is not a form of thought or reflection, it is a looking at or an awareness of what is there, equally inside and outside, and then it doesn’t make sense anymore to mention inside or outside.
– Norman Fischer

Poems give us permission to be unsure, in ways we must be if we are ever to learn anything not already known. If you look with open eyes at your actual life, it’s always going to be the kind of long division problem that doesn’t work out perfectly evenly. Poems let you accept the multiplicity and complexity of the actual, they let us navigate the unnavigable, insoluble parts of our individual fates and shared existence.
Jane Hirshfield

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another

quite outside of your small life.

You cannot hold gravity

or seasons; even air and water

inevitably evade your grasp.

Why not, then, let go?
…Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?
– Lynn Ungar

…This is, I think,
what holiness is:
the natural world,
where every moment is full
of the passion to keep moving.
Inside every mind
there’s a hermit’s cave
full of light,
full of snow,
full of concentration.
I’ve knelt there,
and so have you,
hanging on
to what you love,
to what is lovely.
The lake’s
shining sheets
don’t make a ripple now,
and the stars
are going off to their blue sleep,
but the words are in place —
and the fish leaps, and leaps again
from the black plush of the poem,
that breathless space.
– Mary Oliver

… I got saved by the beauty of the world.
– Mary Oliver

When you read about the lives of other people, people of different circumstances or similar circumstances, you are part of their lives for that moment. You inhabit their lives, and you feel what they’re feeling, and that is compassion. If we see that reading does allow us that, we see how absolutely essential reading is.
– Amy Tan

But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.
– H. P. Lovecraft

The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war.
– Erasmus

War destroys so much, including our morality and our humanity. We must use our humanity and morality to prevent war.
– Joan Halifax

We have guided missiles and misguided men.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am in the middle of it: chaos and poetry; poetry and love and again, complete chaos. Pain, disorder, occasional clarity; and at the bottom of it all: only love; poetry. Sheer enchantment, fear, humiliation. It all comes with love.
– Anna Akhmatova

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].
– Victor Hugo

I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all. No… not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that… overthrows life. Unbiddable, ungovernable – like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture.
– Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love: A Screenplay

Sometimes I muse about how wonderful it would be if I could string all my dreams together into one continuous life, a life consisting of entire days full of imaginary companions and created people, a false life which I could live and suffer and enjoy. Misfortune would sometimes strike me there, and there I would also experience great joys. And nothing about me would be real. But everything would have a sublime logic; it would all pulse to a rhythm of sensual falseness, taking place in a city built out of my soul and extending all the way to the platform next to an idle train, far away in the distance within me. And it would all be vivid and inevitable, as in the outer life, but with an aesthetics of the Dying Sun.
– Fernando Pessoa

JEFF BROWN:
The primary cause of our unhappiness is not our thoughts. It is our undigested emotional material. Forget the monkey mind. Shifting out of unhappiness is not a cerebral process—that’s just another ineffective band-aid—it is a felt experience. It’s the monkey heart that’s the issue—the state of inner tumult and chaos that emanates from an unclear heart. Flooded with unresolved emotions and unexpressed truths, the monkey heart jumps from tree-top to tree-top, emoting without grounding, dancing in its confusion. Often misinterpreted as a monkey mind, the monkey heart is reflected in unsettled, repetitive thinking. To calm and clarify it, one may benefit from heartfulness practices: emotional release, armor-busters, depth charges, heart openers. Healing the feeling stops the mind from reeling. If you want to change your thinking, heal your heart. That’s the best meditation of all.

One Renfrewshire Man To Another
(W.S.G.)

To articulate clearly what is difficult to say
I shall transmit this by a beam from a lighthouse
Over the eventful, unforgiving waters
Across many a headland and many a bay.
– Douglas Dunn

AMBALILA HEMSELL 
PASSPORT
For the first time in your short life, 
Little Egg, 
 you are hungry. 
You who were born 
with a little blue book in your mouth
have the stomach flu
and for two days have refused even water.
On the second night,
hunger is haunting your room, 
wraith-like, and holding you
I feel the spikes
in your belly, the spongy
ache of your gums.
But by the third day 
you are ready for toast 
and on the fourth day, 
when you want milk, 
you have milk.
*
I think of the Syrian boy
 I saw in the video— 
You are still baby-soft 
but I think 
 of him anyway, 
his tender skeleton 
revealed—
I have known only the outer
edges of hunger, a fight with my father 
over unfinished milk. Food stamp milk, 
milk of lines and forms, undignified 
milk, but still enough milk
for me not to want it.
But I know this:
 How the boy’s father 
 holds him to his chest
like a hole in it
and how his mother,
a tiger in a small cage,
throws herself again
 and again against the wall 
 of no bread.
All my dreams of war 
involve children.
All my dreams
of motherhood 
involve war. Birth,
a bloodbath, and then
the sudden knowing
you can kill, if you need to
you can do anything.
I imagine your skeleton. 
Close my eyes, ultrasound— 
giant head, perfect heart, 
little penis waving around
as you somersault
in your fishbowl.
No life is easy 
but
 some bones are
revealed by ultrasound
others by sonic
boom some
boys watch helicopters
fly low
without
dropping anything.
*
On the day that I made 
cupcakes for your first birthday
an American gunship
bombed the hospital in Kunduz.
Today, it is the hospital in Aleppo
as I peel for you, my Goldfish, an orange.
Someone is claiming
this rubble is for you
but you make friends
everywhere we go, O
Jubilant Ambassador,
Open Heart Surgeon,
Atlantic Sturgeon, O
Call to Prayer. You, in Morocco 
kissing the ticket-seller
through the ticket booth glass, 
you on the lap of every passenger 
on every train and
the first day back Stateside
you coo and flash
your gummy grin
at all the hijabi women
working at Target.
The weird fortune
that this foreign-seeming place
is yours, is lost on you.
*
In the mountains
that run into Mediterranean
 we drive past
those who wait
those who wait for
a boat, as we traipse
across the border
to the rattle
of a cheap rental
dance across
the border
for the stamps
that let us dance back.
These blue books
we carry worth
more than water
more than
life. They wait
in the mountains,
come to the road
to ask for water.
I don’t stop. 
 You
have been crying
for hours
and are finally
asleep.
*
Your grandmother is trying 
for citizenship still. 
Reluctantly, but for you.
At sixty-four
she bites her tongue
and weathers
the years-long interrogation 
of her intention
to share a continent
with her grandchildren.
Meanwhile, you learn how 
to say thank you
and I give you
an orange just to hear it.
In some villages 
the three-year-olds 
have lived
entirely without 
flour, sugar, salt
and the ocean isn’t deep 
enough to keep them 
from appearing
in your body.
What their mothers
would do to hand them
an orange.
*
For you, who were born 
in the sea of my blood
with a little blue book 
like a hook
in your mouth
with the corned
and calloused hands 
of America
steady on the reel
I would throw myself 
against the wall
of war but
I can’t find it.
*
I watch a hawk
collide with a semi-truck.
It looks so inevitable.
At one and a half, you 
take great pleasure in 
undoing things.
Hawk, Little Hawk, 
love-born and lucky,
it damn near killed me
to get you here. By
which I mean, I would
die for you, and I
almost did, but the danger 
of getting you born
is the only danger
we’ve borne. You see?

When you try
 to say I love you
 it sounds like
I
you
I
you
I know
 you
 get the idea.
*
I wished you into 
this world, so
I cannot say
I didn’t wish
this world upon you
its lopsided wing-beats 
its horrors.
I show you that we 
belong to each other.
I encourage your many 
tiny kindnesses.

I want them to count
for something. I want you 
to count something—
I lose count.
For here you are 
in your quiet bed.
For no reason at all
you wake and you sleep 
to nothing
 but birds.

There is something … taking place, a basicfukedupedness that is all-pervasive. What Buddha calls it is ego, or neurosis.
– Chogyam Trungpa

It is part of our nature to love and to be honest. It is part of our nature to long, to know more, and to continue to learn. Our knowledge of the world continues to grow. There are frontiers where we are learning, and our desire for knowledge burns. They are in the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, at the origins of the cosmos, in the nature of time, in the phenomenon of black holes, and in the workings of our own thought processes. Here, on the edge of what we know, in contrast with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world. And it’s breathtaking.
– Carlo Rovelli

PHANTOM BLUES
I have the phantom blues.
I’m too tired to be blue.
This is what phantoms do.
They only almost have the blues.

Maybe I’ll get some rest
so I can get depressed.
Yes, that’s it. I need to
feel better to feel worse.

Maybe I am a phantom.
I hadn’t thought of that.
Just an old weary ghost
with an invisible hat.
– Hans Ostrom

So far the bard taught me, using his freer speech. But nature has a higher end, in the production of new individuals, than security, namely ascension, or the passage of the soul into higher forms. I knew in my younger days the sculptor who made the stature of the youth which stands in the public garden. He was, as I remember, unable to tell directly what made him happy or unhappy, but by wonderful indirections he could tell. He rose one day, according to his habit, before the dawn, and saw the morning break, grand as the eternity out of which it came, and for many days after, he strove to express his tranquility, and lo! his chisel had fashioned out of marble the form of a beautiful youth, Phosphorous, whose aspect is such that it is said all persons who look on it become silent. The poet also resigns himself to his mood, and that thought which agitated him is expressed, but alter idem, in a manner totally new. The expression is organic, or the new type which things themselves take when liberated. As, in the sun, objects paint their images on the retina of the eye, so they, sharing the aspiration of the whole universe, tend to paint a far more delicate copy of their essence in his mind. LIke the metamorphosis of things into higher organic forms is their change into melodies. Over everything stands its daemon or soul, and, as the form of the thing is reflected by the eye, so the soul of the thing is reflected by a melody. The sea, the mountain-ridge, NIagara, and every flower-bed, pre-exist, or super-exist, in pre-cantations, which sail like odors in the air, and when any man goes by with an ear sufficiently fine, he overhears them and endeavors to write down the notes without diluting or depraving them. And herein is the legitimation of criticism, in the mind’s faith that the poems are a corrupt version of some text in nature with which they ought to be made to tally. A rhyme in one of our sonnets should not be less pleasing that the iterated nodes of a seashell, or the resembling difference of a group of flowers. The pairing of the birds is an idyl, not tedious as our idyls are; a tempest is a rough ode, without falsehood or rant; a summer, with its harvest sow, reaped and stored, is an epic song, subordinating how many admirable executed parts. Why should not the symmetry and truth that modulate these, glide into our spirits, and we participate the invention of nature?
This insight, which expresses itself by what is called Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees; by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucid to others. The path of things is silent. Will they suffer a speaker to go with them? A spy they will not suffer; a lover, a poet, is the transcendency of their own nature,– him the will suffer. The condition of true naming, on the poet’s part, is his resigning himself to the divine aura which breathes through forms, and accompanying that.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the starry sky, a vista of open seas, or a stained-glass window shedding purple beams fascinate me, there is a cluster of meaning, of colors, of words, of caresses, there are light touches, scents, sighs, cadences that arise, shroud me, carry me away, and sweep me beyond the things I see, hear, or think, The ‘sublime’ object dissolves in the raptures of a bottomless memory. It is such a memory, which, from stopping point to stopping point, remembrance to remembrance, love to love, transfers that object to the refulgent point of the dazzlement in which I stray in order to be.
– Julia Kristeva

YOUR FAVORITE WRITER IS NOT YOUR MOTHER

All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey towards the lost land.
– Janet Frame

Just because she looks
Like you, or looks like
Your mother, that does
Not make your favorite
Writer your mother. Just
Because she slept with
Bones, was misdiagnosed
With the same lucid
Dreams, or swallowed
The same blue pills.
Just because she lived
In little houses or had
Siblings die young, or
Finds odd things funny.
Just because she had
Unbearable hair and teeth.
Just because you planted
A turtle under a rock.
Just because there’s a photo
Of a hospital, of weeds
Growing out of eyes.
Just because you don’t have
A better half. Just because
You’re a quarter the way
Home. None of this
Makes your favorite writer
Your mother.
Just ask her.
– Jill Talbot

I have always viewed songs as my way of escaping from the world or imagining a better world. And I also believe that songs manifest the best part of me. Outside of songs, I am deeply flawed, so my songs represent aspiration for my own progress in life. I want my songs to inspire me to do better in the business of life, but, mostly, I fall down. Then the songs help lift me up again.
– Luka Bloom

I am in the middle of it: chaos and poetry; poetry and love and again, complete chaos. Pain, disorder, occasional clarity; and at the bottom of it all: only love; poetry. Sheer enchantment, fear, humiliation. It all comes with love.
– Anna Akhmatova

… I got saved by the beauty of the world.
– Mary Oliver

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].
– Victor Hugo

I have always viewed songs as my way of escaping from the world or imagining a better world. And I also believe that songs manifest the best part of me. Outside of songs, I am deeply flawed, so my songs represent aspiration for my own progress in life. I want my songs to inspire me to do better in the business of life, but, mostly, I fall down. Then the songs help lift me up again.
– Luka Bloom

Someone on here said “Love is the process of letting someone in on how deeply uncool you really are.” and I think about it everyday.
– Julian the Poet

During the Warblers’ Spring Migration, While Feeling Sorry for Myself for Being Stuck Here, the Dooryard Birds Save Me from My Melancholy
I am not a rare warbler,
brilliant migratory avatar,
here only momentarily
to sing
a brilliant song.
I am a common chickadee
a long time here to sing
a common song about
how beautiful
the ordinary is.
– From Moment to Moment, Copper Canyon Press, 1999

How do we keep this living song alive?
– Victor Charlo

‘Living water’
The Hill Burns by Nan Shepherd
So without sediment
Run the clear burns of my country,
Fiercely pure,
Transparent as light
Gathered into its own unity,
Lucent and without colour;
Or green,
Like clear deeps of air,
Light massed upon itself,
Like the green pinions,
Cleaving the trouble of approaching night,
Shining in their own lucency,
Of the great angels that guarded the Mountain;
Or amber so clear
It might have oozed from the crystal trunk
Of the tree Paradisal,
Symbol of life,
That grows in the presence of God eternally.
And these pure waters
Leap from the adamantine rocks,
The granites and schists
Of my dark and stubborn country.
From gaunt heights they tumble,
Harsh and desolate lands,
The plateau of Braeriach
Where even in July
The cataracts of wind
Crash in the corries with the boom of seas in anger;
And Corrie Etchachan
Down whose precipitous
Narrow defile
Thunder the fragments of rock
Broken by winter storms
From their aboriginal place;
And Muich Dhui’s summit,
Rock defiant against frost and the old grinding of ice,
Wet with the cold fury of blinding cloud,
Through which the snow-fields loom up, like ghosts from a world of eternal annihilation,
And far below, where the dark waters of Etchachan are wont to glint,
An unfathomable void.
Out of these mountains,
Out of the defiant torment of Plutonic rock,
Out of fire, terror, blackness and upheaval,
Leap the clear burns,
Living water,
Like some pure essence of being,
Invisible in itself,
Seen only by its movement.

Who you are contributes to your poetry in a number of important ways, but you shouldn’t identify with your poems so closely that when they are cut, you’re the one that bleeds.
– Dorianne Laux

When the starry sky, a vista of open seas, or a stained-glass window shedding purple beams fascinate me, there is a cluster of meaning, of colors, of words, of caresses, there are light touches, scents, sighs, cadences that arise, shroud me, carry me away, and sweep me beyond the things I see, hear, or think, The ‘sublime’ object dissolves in the raptures of a bottomless memory. It is such a memory, which, from stopping point to stopping point, remembrance to remembrance, love to love, transfers that object to the refulgent point of the dazzlement in which I stray in order to be.
– Julia Kristeva

My ordinary life will sometimes tell
Me that I need to rush through dinner, or
Fill empty space with words or numb my mind

With movies, facebook, junkfood, or more wine.

And yet my ordinary life of snow,

Soup, fire, grass, sun, rabbit, cat, book, and sleep

Needs space in which to happen and be felt.

In breath, the being and the doing merge.
Like a Japanese tea ceremony,
A preparation and event itself,
All the moment needs is my attention
For each gesture to be graceful, to brew
A tea both delicate and bold, just as
Wholesome in the making as the taking.
– Karolyn Kinane, Ordinary Life

A Vision
A Poem by Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy….
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground….
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

Never to lose my wonder but to rise
On such small steps as night might give way to:
My turning interplanetary here.
By this, I mean that it is only night
One one side of the world, that it be light
On the other, that I greet the dawn
My counterpart in China writes his poem
At midnight, poem he’s waited for all day
But only darkness brings him to his room
Where he can see such brightness as I hold
Lightly in my fist so it can expire.
Right now I’m only a space where God writes.
I say “God”—I mean imagination.
If there’s a difference, turning like this earth
Will show me, won’t you, earth. You will? Right now—
– Peter Cooley

The problem with midnight is
that it never rains then
– Hailey Leithauser

So far the bard taught me, using his freer speech. But nature has a higher end, in the production of new individuals, than security, namely ascension, or the passage of the soul into higher forms. I knew in my younger days the sculptor who made the stature of the youth which stands in the public garden. He was, as I remember, unable to tell directly what made him happy or unhappy, but by wonderful indirections he could tell. He rose one day, according to his habit, before the dawn, and saw the morning break, grand as the eternity out of which it came, and for many days after, he strove to express his tranquility, and lo! his chisel had fashioned out of marble the form of a beautiful youth, Phosphorous, whose aspect is such that it is said all persons who look on it become silent. The poet also resigns himself to his mood, and that thought which agitated him is expressed, but alter idem, in a manner totally new. The expression is organic, or the new type which things themselves take when liberated. As, in the sun, objects paint their images on the retina of the eye, so they, sharing the aspiration of the whole universe, tend to paint a far more delicate copy of their essence in his mind. LIke the metamorphosis of things into higher organic forms is their change into melodies. Over everything stands its daemon or soul, and, as the form of the thing is reflected by the eye, so the soul of the thing is reflected by a melody. The sea, the mountain-ridge, NIagara, and every flower-bed, pre-exist, or super-exist, in pre-cantations, which sail like odors in the air, and when any man goes by with an ear sufficiently fine, he overhears them and endeavors to write down the notes without diluting or depraving them. And herein is the legitimation of criticism, in the mind’s faith that the poems are a corrupt version of some text in nature with which they ought to be made to tally. A rhyme in one of our sonnets should not be less pleasing that the iterated nodes of a seashell, or the resembling difference of a group of flowers. The pairing of the birds is an idyl, not tedious as our idyls are; a tempest is a rough ode, without falsehood or rant; a summer, with its harvest sow, reaped and stored, is an epic song, subordinating how many admirable executed parts. Why should not the symmetry and truth that modulate these, glide into our spirits, and we participate the invention of nature?
This insight, which expresses itself by what is called Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees; by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucid to others. The path of things is silent. Will they suffer a speaker to go with them? A spy they will not suffer; a lover, a poet, is the transcendency of their own nature,– him the will suffer. The condition of true naming, on the poet’s part, is his resigning himself to the divine aura which breathes through forms, and accompanying that.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places.
– opening lines of Desert Solitaire

god is not
the voice in the whirlwind
god is the whirlwind
at the last
judgment we will all be trees
– Margaret Atwood

Forests and Storms
by L M Biese
we represenT
Forests and StormS
in the way thaT
one can burn the otheR
and one can’t movE
but one has to movE

we represenT
Thickets and MaelstromS
in the way thaT
A Maelstrom can be peacefuL
and A Thicket can be wonderfuL

we represenT
Infernos and Snow StormS
in the way thaT
A Snow Storm can be overwhelminG
and An Inferno can be uncontrolablE

we represenT
Storms and ForestS
Maelstroms and ThicketS
Snow Storms and InfernoS

We represenT
the Worst and Best partS
of terrible thingS

your turn, ThickeT

Matt Licata:
It’s not so much that we need to (or even can) get out of the matrix, the developmental-cultural-historical lens through which we have come to perceive what we call “reality.” Instead, to begin to see it clearly, in all its nuance, subtlety, and dream-like luminosity. How am I imagining myself, others, and the world? What is the myth in which I am living, through which I am seeing? What is the story I’m telling, who are the gods and goddesses I am traveling with? Am I willing to take the risk to dream a new dream? To differentiate from the voices I have inherited from a world that has forgotten the mysteries. To listen to the new poetry as it pours out of the stars. While we may never be able to fully step outside the matrix and report back as a neutral observer and “detached witness” (another fantasy of modern consciousness), we can play within it, dance inside and around it, allow ourselves the freedom to hide and seek, and the imagination to get lost and to be found. We can get messy, fall apart, be vulnerable, fail well, fail with heart, forget and remember, dissolve and come back together. And set aside the fantasy that one day we’ll come to some safe, secure, knowing resolution to the wildness of love and its contradictory, untamed, and relentless activity. That one day we’ll become a “master” at life, wiggle into some invulnerable/ untouchable state, tucked away and protected from the reality that the rug can and will be pulled out from underneath us in each unfolding moment. To allow others to matter, to allow our hearts to break (and maybe even not be mended), to practice embodied intimacy without becoming fused, to fully participate in the dream without falling into trance. And even if we fall into trance, to dare to see it, too, as none other than the beloved in disguise. It’s really like being a character in our own fairy tale, with all the mythical and archetypal beings by our side, curious as to what the crazy love-struck boy or girl is going to do next, in awe of the human form and the inseparability of matter and spirit.

Scotland
It requires great love of it deeply to read
The configuration of a land,
Gradually grow conscious of fine shadings,
Of great meanings in slight symbols,
Hear at last the great voice that speaks softly,
See the swell and fall upon the flank
Of a statue carved out in a whole country’s marble,
Be like Spring, like a hand in a window
Moving New and Old things carefully to and fro,
Moving a fraction of flower here,
Placing an inch of air there,
And without breaking anything.
So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland,
And by naming them and accepting them,
Loving them and identifying myself with them,
Attempt to express the whole.
– Hugh MacDiarmid

Anthony Lemme:
The more whole you become,
the less you’ll confirm your existence and protect yourself by controlling or manipulating others;
the less you’ll expect others to carry your weight or do your work;
the less you’ll expect others to take on your responsibilities and developmental tasks;
the less you’ll mitigate your lack of passion, purpose or vitality by commandeering that of others;
the less you’ll depend on and tax the nervous systems of others to regulate your own;
the more you’ll be able to fully, freely and healthily give and receive love;
the more you’ll be able to create and sustain deep, nourishing, energizing and enduring relationships;
the more whole you’ll become.
When you’re connected
to yourself, others and life
in a deep and enduring way
paying exquisite attention
to what’s happening
both internally and externally,
proceeding and course correcting
according to what’s
most important and true
in your heart of hearts,
while sincerely and actively holding
the safety, well-being, experience,
perspectives and full expression
of others
as important as your own,
without attachment
to the outward form
your mind, culture, community,
or family conditioning
tell you things should take
and doing it all
with a kind heart,
an open mind,
clear boundaries
and a VERY well taken care of body
all directions
are the right direction
and all paths
are the way forward

What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.
– Anaïs Nin

I have walked through many lives,
some of them not my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will in tact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
is precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.
— Stanley Kunitz

It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

[T]he whole house was filled with the sound of [a] guitar, and a strange congruence evolved between my feelings and these sounds, as though they were me, as though that was the real me. I had written some lyrics about this, it had actually been meant as a song, but since no tune came to mind, I called it a poem when I later wrote it in my diary: _I distort my soul’s feedback
I play my heart bare
I look at you and think:
We’re at one in my loneliness
We’re at one in my loneliness
You and me
You and me, my love.
– Karl Ove Knausgaard

If our religion is based on salvation,
our chief emotions will be fear and trembling.
If our religion is based on wonder,
our chief emotion will be gratitude.
– Carl Jung

What It Takes
Enough
of a house
to keep

the bugs and rain 
out

in the summer, 

stay warm
 in

in the winter.
Books,
a few
musical instruments,
a garden,
silence,
some mountains,
maybe a cat.
– David Budbill

What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.
– Anaïs Nin

I would willingly pass my life writing and re-writing the same book–that one book every writer carries within him–the image of his own soul.
– Ignazio Silone

What One believes is what matters. Ecstatic identities
Between one’s self and the weather and the things
Of the weather are the belief in one’s element,
The casual reunions, the long-pondered
Surrenders, the repeated sayings that
There is nothing more and that it is enough
To believe in the weather and in the things and me
Of the weather and in one’s self, as part of that
And nothing more. So that if one went to the moon,
Or anywhere beyond, to a different element,
One would be drowned in the air of difference,
Incapable of belief, in the difference.
And then returning from the moon, if one breathed
The cold evening, without any scent or the shade
Of any woman, watched the thinnest light
And the most distant, single color, about to change,
And naked of any illusion, in poverty,
In the exactest poverty, if then
One breathed the cold evening, the deepest inhalation
Would come from that return to the subtle center.
– Wallace Stevens

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork, but the solidest thing we know.
– R. W. Emerson

The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble – to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.
– Philip Connors

Words cannot begin to describe the beauty, richness, healing power, joy and nourishment of – say, for example, a cloudy morning, the wind, a friendship, kind parents, great teachers, the existence of music or the shades of color we call green.
– Jason Espada

You must love someone,
even if only grass, river, tree or stone,
on someone’s shoulder you must lay your hand,
so that it gluts its hunger with nearness,
there must, there must be someone.

It is like bread, like a drink of water

to whom you must give your white clouds,

your brave birds of dreams,
your timid birds of despair
-
somewhere for them there must be

a nest of peace and tenderness –

you must love someone,

even if only grass, river, tree or stone,

for trees and grass know what loneliness is

for footsteps always pass by

even if for a moment they linger -

for the river knows what sorrow is

it need only brood over its depths -

for the stone knows what pain is

how many heavy feet

have already stomped over its mute heart –

You must love someone,

you must love someone,

walk side by side with someone

on the same path -

oh grass, river, stone, tree,

silent companions of the strange and lonely,

good, great beings,

who begin to speak

only when humans have fallen silent.

- Ivan Minatti

Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts at lofty heights.
– Peace Pilgrim

Just saying: Loud music is becoming inescapable in restaurants, elevators, bookstores, hallways, cabs, and everywhere else. It’s exhausting — when I’m out and about, I need sanctuaries, not continuous hyperstimulation.
– Steve Siblerman

Ari Annona:
Depth psychologists are not, as popularly believed, in the business of curing neurosis, although there is no doubt their work heals. The field of Depth Psychology is in large measure concerned with a fundamental, lived paradox at the heart of all spiritual traditions: That of trying to build consciousness (that thing we know is there but don’t know what it is) by fishing in the unconscious (the big other thing we know is there but which cannot be expressed, only glimpsed obliquely in the dark of dreams, through great literature, through scripture, or out of the corner of the eye through symbols, fairy tales, stories and myth.)
Depth psychologists set off with their analysands on initiatory journeys from which both return transformed. Together, they follow the eternal maps left by story and symbol – the lines and breadcrumb trails which point each generation through history to the realm of the Gods. Depth psychology helps us find the bridges the human community has built through all of history through story and language. Once we have found the bridges, we can cross them again and again. All the gods and heroes of antiquity have been there before us.

Writers are also tracking and trapping this territory. But they go it alone, hacking paths through uncharted imaginal underbrush. The few that are cocky enough, and who survive such hubris, are the ones that carve out the footpaths future generations can follow: Think Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Woolf, Dickenson, Oliver. These are writers who enlarged our world, often not by giving us something new, but by giving us language – finally – to express what is large about the most ordinary things in the world.

Writing and depth psychology are disciplines chiefly concerned with charting awakenings – the slow, squinting work of coming to clarity, the journey into the mystery and largeness of the mind. Writing is the practical magic of depth psychology.

These two quotes from Jung could apply equally to the work of the writer and the depth psychologist:

The word becomes your God, since it protects you from the countless possibilities of interpretation. The word is protective magic against the daimons of the unending, which tear at your soul and want to scatter you to the winds.
– Carl Jung

Magic is the working of men on men, but your magic action does not affect your neighbor; it affects you first, and only if you withstand it does an invisible effect pass from you to your neighbor.
– Carl Jung

A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.
– Dylan Thomas

i clipped and put together a few lines from a meditation by the great brazilian poet vinicius de moraes:
you don’t have to be a man, it’s enough to be human, it’s enough to have sentiment, it’s enough to have heart. you have to know how to speak or be quiet, more than anything you have to know how to listen. you have to like poetry, dawn, a bird, the sun, the moon, the song of the winds and the music of the breeze. you must have love, a great love for somebody, or feel the void of not having that love. you must… respect the pain the passer-by carries with him… you don’t have to be pure, nor totally impure, but you shouldn’t be vulgar. you should have an ideal and fear of losing it and, in case you are not like that, you should feel the great vacuum which that leaves…your principal objective should be to be a friend. you should feel pity for sad persons and comprehend the immense emptiness of the lonely… look for a friend…who is moved when called a friend. who knows how to converse about simple things, the dew, the great rains…you need a friend so as not to go mad…you should like deserted streets, puddles of water and wet roads, the edge of the street, the countryside after the rain, to lie down in the grass. one needs a friend who says it’s good to live, not because life is beautiful but because he has a friend…one needs a friend to stop crying…in order not to live leaning on the past in search of lost memories. who slaps us on the shoulder smiling or crying, but who calls us friend in order to know that we are still living.
– Hune Margulies

Two individuals who are quiet to the same degree have no need to talk about the melody that defines their hours. This melody is what they have in common in and of itself. Like a burning altar it exists between them, and they nourish the sacred flame respectfully with their occasional syllables.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

In general, I write more by intuition than by systematic thought. I don’t think of myself as a great thinker, although I would say I have a good head on my shoulders.
– Dag Solstad

When you say something, you own it. You get to say what it means. If someone else interprets it differently, you jump in and correct them. To do improv, you need to completely change the way you approach conversation. You have to give away power and control, to the conversation itself. The conversation creates, not the individual speakers. The conversation takes on a life of its own. Meaning emerges from the collective, sequential, unfolding utterances of each speaker.
– Keith Sawyer

We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.
– Hildegard von Bingen

The way to avoid repeating unwanted situations is to talk about wanted situations. Talk about what you do want; and discontinue dialogue about any unwanted experiences, situations, or results.
– Abraham Hicks

It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

[T]he whole house was filled with the sound of [a] guitar, and a strange congruence evolved between my feelings and these sounds, as though they were me, as though that was the real me. I had written some lyrics about this, it had actually been meant as a song, but since no tune came to mind, I called it a poem when I later wrote it in my diary: _I distort my soul’s feedback
I play my heart bare
I look at you and think:
We’re at one in my loneliness
We’re at one in my loneliness
You and me
You and me, my love.
– Karl Ove Knausgaard

The job of being human is not figuring things out, but getting lost in thought. Isn’t that what holding a vestige to the light is? Holding a vignette in mind? Shards, bits. Considering them, lost in thought . . . Isn’t thought supposed to find something, find an answer? But lost in thought is where we often were, where we wanted to be, you and I across the yellow kitchen table, another cup of coffee.
– Patricia Hampl

I have always viewed songs as my way of escaping from the world or imagining a better world. And I also believe that songs manifest the best part of me. Outside of songs, I am deeply flawed, so my songs represent aspiration for my own progress in life. I want my songs to inspire me to do better in the business of life, but, mostly, I fall down. Then the songs help lift me up again.
– Luka Bloom

Istigkeit – wasn’t that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? Is-ness. The Being of Platonic philosophy – except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from Becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.
– Aldous Huxley

During the Warblers’ Spring Migration, While Feeling Sorry for Myself for Being Stuck Here, the Dooryard Birds Save Me from My Melancholy
I am not a rare warbler,
brilliant migratory avatar,
here only momentarily
to sing
a brilliant song.
I am a common chickadee
a long time here to sing
a common song about
how beautiful
the ordinary is.
– David Budbill, Moment to Moment, Copper Canyon Press, 1999

And despite what social media would have us believe, it is not the language of sharing and following, or buying and wearing, but rather that of bearing deep and unabashed witness to the urgencies and upheavals of lived experience, that comes closest to bringing us into visceral proximity with the lives and plights of others. That’s not just distraction, and it’s not a luxury. It’s a means of self-preservation, a way of affirming commitment to the belief that our lives can and should matter to one another and to ourselves.
– Tracy K. Smith

Most of our action is economically or socially determined and does not come out of our life… the claims of the environment upon you are so great, that you hardly know where the hell you are! What is it you intended? You’re always doing things that are required of you; this minute, that minute, another minute! Where is your “bliss station”?” Try to find it! Put on the music that you really love… or the book you want to read. Get it done! And have a place in which to do it! There you’ll get the “thou” feeling of life.
– Joseph Campbell

We are all more than we know. Wholeness is never lost, it is only forgotten. Integrity rarely means that we need to add something to ourselves; it is more an undoing than a doing, a freeing ourselves from beliefs we have about who we are and ways we have been persuaded to “fix” ourselves to know who we genuinely are. Even after many years of seeing, thinking, and living one way, we are able to reach past all that to claim our integrity and live in a way we may never have expected to live.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

I’d been so seized by passion for this delectable lover.
I not exactly exempt from feeling, from tremblors of lust.
It meant I must, meant I absolutely must not.
Just fade away quietly, mildly changed,
Recognized only by the eyelids of my lover.
– Frederick Seidel

Each transition requires that you end one thing—a mind-set, a lifestyle, a trade—before beginning another, and as such these transitions involve both fear and elation, terrible anxiety and tremendous freedom, the freedom to make new choices, to redefine your life. At some point you simply have to make a leap of at least some distance. But you also have to be gentle with yourself. Big transitions are by their very nature dramatic and effortful, and growth always in some sense violent and disruptive. Treat yourself as if you were in a cocoon, not a padded cell. On the other hand, do not be so easy on yourself that you cheat yourself out of changes you really need to make.
– Gregg Levoy

Transfiguration, send me someone new.
— Peter Cooley

Where writers gather, it can be almost frighteningly lively. I know enough of you personally to know how unusual, individual, odd, eccentric, sometimes nearly extra-terrestrial writers can be. I think a part of the splendid anticipation we feel for gatherings such as this lies in the fact that many practical people don’t quite “get” what we do or why we do it: it conflicts with their view of the world as—rational, sensible, and civic.
– Marvin Bell

What if we choose not to do the things we are supposed to do? The principal gain is a sense of an authentic act – and an authentic life. It may be a short one, but it is an authentic one, and that’s a lot better than those short lives full of boredom. The principal loss is security. Another is respect from the community. But you gain the respect of another community, the one that is worth having the respect of.
– Joseph Campbell

I believe that all of us have a natural brilliance that is yearning to come out and be expressed in the daily activities of our life, including our work. This spark longs to be seen by others not in a superficial, attention-getting way, but in the most authentic way possible. Buddhists call this “Buddha-nature,” our awakened self. It is luminous and radiant, and it is a gift we give to others. It is our original nature before a whole lot of internal and external crap gets piled on it. That luminosity is there in all of us but we often forget it or lose our way.
― Maia Duerr

Think of nothing. Learn how to quiet your mind. Learn how to make your mind quiescent like a motionless lake. A motionless lake can attract our image, reflect the sun, the stars, the moon, trees, grass. A lake that is noisy cannot reflect anything.
– Robert Adams

This Blank Page
is where I begin to exist. See, and already you
begin to know me, an insistence somewhere
that your eyes transmute into Voice – thence
the somebody as much as I am that you
apprehend. But I am more arrogant than this, I
am here before you, making the paths through
blank lines of space,
a detergent across the glass of your language,
restoring the shock of perspective
to the household kitchen window
(the view that you had grown up with
till you could see behind all the fences)
so that, following the footprints of my eyes
already quite outside the walls of
this page
you may be lured somewhere further enough to be
more than the small note that was
extension of me.
– Thomas Shapcott

I felt I belonged to another dimension, and became silent.
– Anna Kavan

…we love to contemplate blue — not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.
– Goethe

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies, —
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.
— Sara Teasdale

Her hands devote themselves
To sheltering a flame;
— Philip Larkin

JEFF BROWN:
Like with any relationship, friendships stand the best chance of lasting if they can accommodate the broadest range of emotions. I once had a great friend, who was an expert at holding the space for vulnerable sharings, but who could not stay in the connection if he became angry. The connection had to be contained, polite, measured, controlled, or he ran for the hills. As a result, the connection could never deepen or grow. It was inherently unreal, as are all connections that are limited to a narrow range of feeling. I understand why anger is so easily excluded from relationships- it has caused great suffering in most of our lives. But there is a place for it at the table. We just have to learn how to communicate it safely, and to let its fire burn all the way through to the lessons at its heart. If we can get angry at each other without running away, we take the connection to an entirely different level. And we heal the wounds that burned.

Prose is a clear river, poetry a muddied lake, afraid of too much clarity.
— Peter Cooley, Window Zuihitsu, World Without Finishing: Poems

In a swamp, as in meditation, you begin to glimpse how elusive, how inherently insubstantial, how fleeting our thoughts are, our identities. There is magic in this moist world, in how the mind lets go, slips into sleepy water, circles and nuzzles the banks of palmetto and wild iris, how it seeps across dreams, smears them into the upright world, rots the wood of treasure chests, welcomes the body home.
— Barbara Hurd, from Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies, —
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.
— Sara Teasdale, from “Peace,” Rivers to the Sea

Even these fireflies
can sense love’s distress, night left
in SOS’s—
— Greg Sellers

What can a person do to help bring back the world? We have to watch it and then look at each other. Together we hold it close and carefully save it, like a bubble that can disappear if we don’t watch out.
– William Stafford

I have nothing to give you, nothing to carry,
some words to make me less afraid, to say
you gave me this.
Memory insists with its sea voice,
muttering from its bone cave.
Memory wraps us
like the shell wraps the sea.
Nothing to carry,
some stones to fill our pockets,
to give weight to what we have.
– Anne Michaels

Even in a place you know intimately,
each night’s darkness is different.
– Anne Michaels

There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.
– Robert Frost

Some landscapes do not fade as memories; they remain panoramas for the soul.
– Greg Sellers

Suddenly, there was an interior world.
– Elizabeth Spencer

Nightingale sings, his face against the glass, the morning window where I come for words, some streak of heaven thrown across the flooreven on a gray day, today, my starting point.
– Peter Cooley

Even though a hundred persons of great erudition predict failure, the wise person who has confidence in this own abilities will persevere and succeed. Even if these same hundred persons predict success, the person who has only knowledge and not the self confidence born of wisdom will fail.
Book knowledge alone gives rise to doubts and doubts cause confusion. In such conditions, no self confidence can develop. But wisdom leads to trust and trust inspires insight and clear thinking. Dharma followers pursue the path of wisdom in order to eliminate doubt and put knowledge to good use.
– Han Shan, Journey to Dreamland

Another thing he had come to understand. He had imagined that, in the modern world, time and place were no longer relevant to stories of love. Looking back, he saw that they had played a greater part in this story than he ever realized. He had given in to the old, continuing, ineradicable delusion: that lovers somehow stand outside of time.
– Julian Barnes, The Only Story

He had a duty to see back to how she had been, and to rescue her. But this wasn’t just about her. He had a duty to himself. To see back and … rescue himself? From what? From ‘the subsequent wreckage of this life?’ No, that was stupidly melodramatic. His life had not been wrecked. His heart, yes, his heart had been cauterized. But he had found a way to live, and continued with that life, which had brought him to here. And from here, he had a duty to see himself as he had once been. Strange how, when you are young, you owe no duty to the future; but when you are old, you owe a duty to the past. To the one thing you can’t change.
– Julian Barnes, The Only Story

Once the World Was Perfect
BY JOY HARJO
Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
Jumped through—
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete.
– John F. Kennedy

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
– T. S. Eliot

Pay attention to the gentle ones, the ones who can hold your gaze with no discomfort, the ones who smile to themselves while sitting alone in a coffeeshop, the ones who walk as if floating. Take them in and marvel at them. Simply marvel. It takes an extraordinary person to carry themselves as if they do not live in hell.
– D. Bunyavong

Carrying Our Words
Ofelia Zepeda
We travel carrying our words.
We arrive at the ocean.
With our words we are able to speak
of the sounds of thunderous waves.
We speak of how majestic it is,
of the ocean power that gifts us songs.
We sing of our respect
and call it our relative.

Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.
-Jim Carrey

How tricky is this ego that it would tempt us for the promise of something that we already possess.
– Jim Carrey

As far as I can tell it’s just about letting the universe know what you want, and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.
– Jim Carrey

Relax and dream up a good life.
– Jim Carrey

Refresh yourself, sister
With the water from the copper bowl with bits of ice in it –
Open your eyes under water, wash them –
Dry yourself with a rough towel and cast
A glance at a book you love.
In this way begin
A lovely and useful day.
– Bertolt Brecht

JEFF BROWN:
Real closeness is not hiding co-dependently in another’s presence. Real closeness is not getting so lost in another that you no longer exist as a separate entity. Real closeness is two sovereign beings far enough back from each other to see a separate other, yet close enough to bridge their hearts. Two interconnected soulitudes.

Not a day goes by when I don’t feel challenged and distracted by an old pattern, another test, a false-path that holds temptation. I don’t think it’s a simple question of finding our sacred purpose and owning it every moment. I think we are always pulled off of it and have to remember. Forget, remember, forget, remember. It’s just that the remembering gets easier over time.
– Jeff Brown

I read a little, / scratch against silence slow spring afternoons.
– Amiri Baraka

Summer can take us all in and go on–
– Peter Cooley

Heart that wonderfully lasted
until I learned how to write
what it so longed to say
– Franz Wright

That smile, for a long time
I couldn’t describe it–
the velvet depression
left by a jewel …
– Franz Wright

(…) joy is not a concept, nor indeed a word, that we are entirely comfortable with, in the present age. The idea seems out of step with a time whose characteristic notes are mordant and mocking, and whose preferred emotion is irony. Joy hints at an unrestrained enthusiasm which may be thought uncool . . It reeks of the Romantic movement. Yet it is there. Being unfashionable has no effect on its existence . . What it denotes is a happiness with an overtone of something more, which we might term an elevated or, indeed, a spiritual quality.
– Michael McCarthy

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields.
– John Steinbeck

I’ve learned to
love the dark
that swells
so early and stays

so long. I could tell you
I’ve stopped speaking
all day to you

and calling it myself.
— Leila Chatti

Every time I wrote your name, I lied.
Every time I wrote your name, it was the truth.
Into the echo of a canyon, I called your name your name your name.
— Nick Lantz

Humans are frugivores across the board, not omnivores.
Vision:
Omnivore: Does not see full color scale.
Frugivore (human): Sees full color scale.

Brain Chemistry:
Omnivore: Fueled by fats and protiens
Frugivore (human): Fueled by glycogen

Circadian Rhythm:
Omnivore: Sleeps 18-20 hours per 24 hour cycle
Frugivore (human): Sleeps 8 or less hours per 24 hour cycle

Mouth opening vs. Head size
Omnivore: Large
Frugivore (human): Small
Jaw Type:
Omnivore: Lower jaw embedded inside upper jaw
Frugivore (human): Upper Jaw sits on Bottom Jaw

Jaw Angle:
Omnivore: Not expanded
Frugivore (human): Expanded

Jaw Joint Location:
Omnivore: Same plane as molar teeth
Frugivore (human): Above molar teeth plane

Jaw Motion and mastication:
Omnivore: Up and down, Minimal to no lateral or forward movement
Frugivore (human): Great lateral and forward mobility

Necessity of chewing food:
Omnivore: Swallows food whole after minimal shearing
Frugivore (human): Extensive chewing necessary

Facial Muscles:
Omnivore: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
Frugivore (human): Well developed to facilitate chewing

Major Jaw Muscles
Omnivores: Temporalis
Frugivores (human): Masseter and Pterygoids

Canines:
Omnivore: Long, Sharp and Curved fangs
Frugivore (human): Rudimentary, Short, and Blunted

Incisors:
Omnivore: Short and pointed
Frugivore (human): Broad, flattened and spade shaped.

Molars:
Omnivore: Sharp blades and/or flattened
Frugivore (human): Flattened with nodular cusps

Tongue:
Omnivore: Moderate to rough
Frugivore (human): Smooth

Salivary gland size:
Omnivore: Small
Frugivore (human): Large

Salivary Chemistry:
Omnivore: Acidic
Frugivore (human): Alkaline

Salivary Enzymes:
Omnivore: No carb digesting enzymes ; Lysosomes
Frugivore (human): Has carb digesting enzymes like Ptyalin

Stomach Capacity:
Omnivore: 60-70% of total digestive tract
Frugivore (human): 21-27% of total digestive tract

Stomach Acidity:
Omnivore: Less than or equal to PH1 with food in stomach
Frugivore (human): 4-5PH with food in stomach

Paristalsis:
Omnivore: Does not requite fiber to stimulate
Frugivore (human): Reqires fiber to stimulate

Length of small intestine:
Omnivore: 3 times body length
Frugivore (human): 9 times body length

Colon type:
Omnivore: Simple
Frugivore (human): Complex

Colon Length:
Omnivore: Short
Frugivore (human): Long

Colon Shape:
Omnivore: Somewhat sacculated
Frugivore (human): Sacculated

Colon Chemistry:
Omnivore: Alkaline
Frugivore (human): Acidic

Liver Type:
Omnivore: Complex
Frugivore (human): Simple

Liver Size:
Omnivore: Proportionately larger than herbivores and
frugivores
Frugivore (human): Proportionately small

Bile Flow:
Omnivore: Comparatively moderate
Frugivore (human): Comparatively weak

Vit. A (Liver detox):
Omnivore: Can metabolize larger amounts efficiently
Frugivore (human): Can only metabolize smaller amounts efficiently

Short Chain Fatty acids:
Omnivore: Cannot convert to Long chain fatty acids
Frugivore (human): Can convert to Long chain fatty acids

Cholesterol:
Omnivore: Can metabolize large amounts efficiently
Frugivore (human): Can only metabolize phytosterols efficiently

Uricase:
Omnivore: Renal secretion (kidneys)
Frugivore (human): No secretion

Urinary Concentration:
Omnivore: Extreme
Frugivore (human): Moderate

Urinary Chemistry:
Omnivore: Acidic
Frugivore (human): Alkaline

Digestion time:
Omnivore: 6-10
Frugivore (human): 12-18

Placenta:
Omnivore: Zonary shaped
Frugivore (human): Discoid shaped

Limbs:
Omnivore: Has 4 paws with claws or hooves
Frugivore (human): Has arms with prehensile hands

Locomotion:
Omnivore: Walks on all fours
Frugivore (human): All fours or upright

Mammaries:
Omnivore: Multiple teats for nursing litters
Frugivore (human): 2 nipples for nursing 1-2 offspring

Skin and Hair:
Omnivore: 100% covered in hair
Frugivore (human): Pores with minimal to moderate hair

Cooling System:
Omnivore: Minimal sweat glands Panting
Frugivore (human): Sweat glands all over body.

Nails:
Omnivore: Sharp claws and blunt hooves
Frugivore (human): Flattened nails

But who could abandon a love developed through uncounted lifetimes?
– Mirabai

How did we, the human race, get to this position where we judge it natural not just to band ourselves into groups, but to set ourselves group against group, neighbour against neighbour, in order to establish some ephemeral sense of superiority? One of the fundamental issues for people to examine is how to break down these walls that separate us one from another; how to open up one to another; how to create trust and places of dialogue.
– Jean Vanier

Summer’s Here

Summer’s here and we can hike the peaks again,
have lunch and tea on mountaintops, look down

on the backs of circling hawks and laze away
the afternoon watching blue-hazy, distant hills.

Come on! Give up those winter blues. Let’s go!
Grease up those boots, find that walking stick.

Get your lungs and legs in shape. And don’t forget
what Yuan Mei said, two hundred years ago:

If you begrudge your feet some pain
you’ll miss ten thousand peaks.
– David Budbill, While We’ve Still Got Feet, Copper Canyon Press, 2005

Books are not only the arbitrary sum of our dreams, and our memory. They also give us the model of self-transcendence. Some people think of reading only as a kind of escape: an escape from the “real” everyday world to an imaginary world, the world of books. Books are much more. They are a way of being fully human.
I’m sorry to have to tell you that books are now considered an endangered species. By books, I also mean the conditions of reading that make possible literature and its soul effects. Soon, we are told, we will call up on “bookscreens” any “text” on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, “interact” with it. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality. This is the glorious future being created, and promised to us, as something more “democratic.” Of course, it means nothing less than the death of inwardness — and of the book.
– Susan Sontag

JUST BEYOND YOURSELF
Just beyond
yourself.
It’s where
you need
to be.
Half a step
into
self-forgetting
and the rest
restored
by what
you’ll meet.
There is a road
always
beckoning.
When you see
the two sides
of it
closing together
at that far horizon
and deep in
your own
heart
at exactly
the same
time,
that’s how
you know
it’s where
you
have
to go.
That’s how
you know
it’s the road
you
have
to follow.
That’s how
you know.
you have
to go.
That’s
how you know.
It’s just beyond
yourself,
it’s
where you
need to be.

JUST BEYOND YOURSELF
From
THE BELL AND THE BLACKBIRD
Poetry by David Whyte

When something is binary and dualistic, interrogate it. Because life is interesting, complicated, messy, and then sometimes there are throughlines through it. And in terms of the self, we actually have multiple identities. And in a really healthy society, I believe we will claim our multiple identities and on every level.
– john a. powell

If you walk your path without singing then this is an insult to the land, to meadows and forests and trees, and they show their disapproval of such a wanderer by taking away from him [or her] the power of moving on …
– Mikk Sarv

I was looking for something to try for.
I was looking for someone to cry for.
I was looking for something to die for.
There isn’t.
– Federick Seidel

Somewhere unwritten poems wait, like lonely lakes not seen by anyone.
– Anna Kamieńska

The paradox of the arts is that they are all made up and yet they allow us to get at truths about who and what we are or might be.
– Seamus Heaney

Because sometimes I live in a hurricane of words.
– Naomi Shihab Nye, You Know Who You Are

The two sides of a secret are repression and expression, just as the two sides of the poem are the told and the untold. We must be careful not to take the word as the meaning itself; words do not ‘capture’ a moment as much as they ‘communicate’ it—they are a bridge that, paradoxically, breaks isolation and loneliness without eradicating it. It is the first experience you ever had of reading a decent poem: ‘oh, somebody else is lonely, too!
– Mary Ruefle

There is a great difference between defending life and befriending it. Defending life is often about holding on to whatever you have at all cost. Befriending life may be about strengthening and supporting life’s movement toward its own wholeness. It may require us to take great risks, to let go, over and over again, until we finally surrender to life’s own dream of itself.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

Humans need stories — grand compelling stories — that help to orient us in our lives in the cosmos. The Epic of Evolution is such a story, beautifully suited to anchor our search for planetary consensus, telling us of our nature, our place, our context. Moreover, responses to this story — what we are calling religious naturalism — can yield deep and abiding spiritual experiences. And then, after that, we need other stories as well, human-centered stories, a mythos that embodies our ideals and our passions. This mythos comes to us, often in experiences called revelation, from the sages and the artists of past and present times.
– Ursula Goodenough

How did we, the human race, get to this position where we judge it natural not just to band ourselves into groups, but to set ourselves group against group, neighbour against neighbour, in order to establish some ephemeral sense of superiority? One of the fundamental issues for people to examine is how to break down these walls that separate us one from another; how to open up one to another; how to create trust and places of dialogue.
– Jean Vanier, Becoming Human

You have to go past the imagined image of (the sacred). Such an image of one’s god becomes a final obstruction, one’s ultimate barrier. You hold on to your own ideology, your own little manner of thinking, and when a larger experience of God approaches, an experience greater than you are prepared to receive, you take flight from it by clinging to the image in your mind. This is known as preserving your faith … I don’t have faith; I have experience. I have experience of wonder of life.
– Joseph Campbell

Remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Know that every deed counts, that every word is power…Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak of love.
…Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.
– May Sarton

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
…the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
– Margaret Atwood

Myth is a wild way of telling the truth.
– Martin Shaw

Without the desire / to fall back into the firefly light, the poets withheld /their voices with the weight of their wild /and gnawing desires.
– Adam Clay

I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. It fluctuates like light flitting over a pond.
– Patti Smith

Yesterday, strangely, began with showers,
laying the heat demons down and out
for a moment and the air, wet
with the ghost of something old.
Whispers like clouds of aimless particles
which one day could form something solid,
whispers and the slight reverberation
of planets softly colliding,
showering each other with dust,
which they have been trying to avoid,
hoping for a poem about something greener.

As if rock didn’t survive,
and dust didn’t dance on air.
– Jill Jones, When Planets Softly Collide

Our love in sunlight, our pain at evening / Have nothing in common, yet they’re both the same thing.
– Cass McCombs

“A steep and unaccountable transition,” Thoreau has described it “from what is called a common sense view of things, to an infinitely expanded and liberating one, from seeing things as men describe them, to seeing them as men cannot describe them.””Man’s mind, like the expanding universe itself, is engaged in pouring over limitless horizons. At its heights of genius it betrays all the miraculous unexpectedness which we try vainly to eliminate from the universe. The great artist, whether he be musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness. One does not see, one does not hear, until he speaks to us out of that limitless creativity which is his gift.
– Loren Eiseley, The Night Country

Sensitive soul, what are you holding in
that detains you from moving on
or keeps you from trying again?
Are you carrying the weight
of his words on your back? 
Are her curses still echoing 
the halls of your heart? 
Here’s the key point, 
although at one time those 
heartless put-downs and insensitive remarks
broke in and crushed your spirit,
their words have no authority to remain. 
Don’t let them reside in your temple 
nor allow them freedom to paralyze your mind. 
Instead, when someone’s unkind criticism 
attempts to claim you, let this become 
a pivotal moment by denying 
those words air or space. 
Perhaps they will perish, 
or maybe even go back to the mouth 
that spilled them. It really doesn’t matter, 
because from now on 
you will nourish your spirit 
with empowering words 
that will take you higher 
in your life’s callings.
– Susan Frybort

Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved.
– Wayne Dyer

Man is not body. The heart, the spirit, is man.
And this spirit is an entire star out of which he is built.
If therefore a man is perfect in his heart,
nothing in the whole light of Nature
is hidden from him.
— Paracelsus

I show my visions to the evening trees,
the trees inside this room, writing my lines,
the morning trees which teach me how to pray.
Sometimes the silence of eternity,
my touchstone, just too much astonishes.
— Peter Cooley

In my early days I was a student of all forms. I learned everything and nothing. I practiced the katas of poetry. I listened to the blues. Having the equilibrium of a poet, I kept falling in love. Now, I believe content and form are not so much in opposition–as many would have us believe. They are one reality, in appearance as well as essence. If you do not know this, no progressive study of the art will provide you any insights. The poem eats when it is hungry, sleeps when it is tired.
– Frank Stanford

Tomorrow or day after, memory will allude to this moment and say no, / you can’t return to what you could have been.
— Scherezade Siobhan

A lady asked me
what poets do
between poems.
Between passions
and visions. I said
that between poems
I provided for death.
She meant as to jobs
and commonly.
Commonly, I provide
against my death,
which comes on.
And give thanks
for the women I have
been privileged to
in extreme.
– Jack Gilbert

Ask the poet how the projector moves:
visual,
mental, potential,
kinetic.

– Brandon Amico

Shizuka (Cleanse)

Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many ‘treasures’ breathing quietly in nature. I call this presence ‘Shizuka.‘ ‘Shizuka‘ means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted. I walk around the forest and harvest my ‘Shizuka’ treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.

In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote, ‘A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.’ What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.

I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting ‘Shizuka’ treasures. ‘Shizuka’ transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. ‘Shizuka‘ sends messages to all five of my senses.

Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.”

– Masao Yamamoto, “From the Artist,” 15 March 2012

In that sense care of the soul is a radical suspension of self-doubt, self-assessment (both good and bad), and even self-concern. It allows mystery to take over for some small, consistent, daily moments. We do not lose our problems, our faults, our pain or our dreams. Instead we are slowly brought to something else that is more vital to us. Some call this love. Some call it wisdom. Some call it “thatness”. Some call it God. Whatever IT is called we are lead into more and more willingness to experience what “is” and to care for ourselves and others.
– Gunilla Norris

How many of us are swept away by what I have come to call an ‘active laziness’? It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues.
– Sogyal Rinpoche

I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.
– Barbara Brown Taylor

SAVING DAYLIGHT
Suppose for a moment you live in a land,
Amazed at what happens during summer solstice.
Very strange things begin to occur,
Instantly, there is little darkness,
Night that we are so used to
Gone; what is left is the brilliant colors.

Daylight from dusk to dawn to dusk again,
Alight in all its energy and brightness.
Yes, we are north of the sixtieth parallel;
Land of the midnight sun.
I have been here before and seen things,
Gazed upon the horizon, waiting for darkness to reappear,
Holding on to summer in all its life, love and beauty;
To see it ebb once more as daylight fades to night.
– C. M. Davidson Pickett

TEN THINGS I NEED TO KNOW
The brightest stars are the first to explode. Also hearts. It is important to pay attention to love’s high voltage signs. The mockingbird is really ashamed of its own feeble song lost beneath all those he has to imitate. It’s true, the Carolina Wren caught in the bedroom yesterday died because he stepped on a glue trap and tore his wings off. Maybe we have both fallen through the soul’s thin ice already. Even Ethiopia is splitting off from Africa to become its own continent. Last year it moved 10 feet. This will take a million years. There’s always this nostalgia for the days when Time was so unreal it touched us only like the pale shadow of a hawk. Parmenedes transported himself above the beaten path of the stars to find the real that was beyond time. The words you left are still smoldering like the cigarette left in my ashtray as if it were a dying star. The thin thread of its smoke is caught on the ceiling. When love is threatened, the heart crackles with anger like kindling. It’s lucky we are not like hippos who fling dung at each other with their ridiculously tiny tails. Okay, that’s more than ten things I know. Let’s try twenty five, no, let’s not push it, twenty. How many times have we hurt each other not knowing? Destiny wears her clothes inside out. Each desire is a memory of the future. The past is a fake cloud we’ve pasted to a paper sky. That is why our dreams are the most real thing we possess. My logic here is made of your smells, your thighs, your kiss, your words. I collect stars but have no place to put them. You take my breath away only to give back a purer one. The way you dance creates a new constellation. Off the Thai coast they have discovered a new undersea world with sharks that walk on their fins. In Indonesia, a kangaroo that lives in a tree. Why is the shadow I cast always yours? Okay, let’s say I list 33 things, a solid symbolic number. It’s good to have a plan so we don’t lose ourselves, but then who has taken the ladder out of the hole I’ve dug for myself? How can I revive the things I’ve killed inside you? The real is a sunset over a shanty by the river. The keys that lock the door also open it. When we shut out each other, nothing seems real except the empty caves of our hearts, yet how arrogant to think our problems finally matter when thousands of children are bayoneted in the Congo this year. How incredible to think of those soldiers never having loved. Nothing ever ends. Will this? Byron never knew where his epic, Don Juan, would end and died in the middle of it. The good thing about being dead is that you don’t have to go through all that dying again. You just toast it. See, the real is what the imagination decants. You can be anywhere with the turn of a few words. Some say the feeling of out-of-the-body travel is due to certain short circuits in parts of the brain. That doesn’t matter because I’m still drifting towards you. Inside you are cumulous clouds I could float on all night. The difference is always between what we say we love and what we love. Tonight, for instance, I could drink from the bowl of your belly. It doesn’t matter if our feelings shift like sands beneath the river, there’s still the river. Maybe the real is the way your palms fit against my face, or the way you hold my life inside you until it is nothing at all, the way this plant droops, this flower called Heart’s Bursting Flower, with its beads of red hanging from their delicate threads any breeze might break, any word might shatter, any hurt might crush.
– Richard Jackson

THE SUMMER YOU READ PROUST
Remember the summer you read Proust?
In the hammock tied to the apple trees
your daughters climbed, their shadows
merging with the shadows of the leaves
spilling onto those long arduous sentences,
all afternoon and into the evening – robins,
jays, the distant dog, the occasional swaying,
the way the hours rocked back and forth,
that gigantic book holding you in its woven nest –
you couldn’t get enough pages, you wished
that with every turning a thousand were added,
the words falling you into sleep, the sleep
waking you into words, the summer you read
Proust, which lasted the rest of your life.
– Philip Terman, Our Portion

“A steep and unaccountable transition,” Thoreau has described it “from what is called a common sense view of things, to an infinitely expanded and liberating one, from seeing things as men describe them, to seeing them as men cannot describe them.””Man’s mind, like the expanding universe itself, is engaged in pouring over limitless horizons. At its heights of genius it betrays all the miraculous unexpectedness which we try vainly to eliminate from the universe. The great artist, whether he be musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness. One does not see, one does not hear, until he speaks to us out of that limitless creativity which is his gift.”
– Loren Eiseley, The Night Country

Shizuka (Cleanse)

Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many ‘treasures’ breathing quietly in nature. I call this presence ‘Shizuka.‘ ‘Shizuka‘ means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted. I walk around the forest and harvest my ‘Shizuka’ treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.
In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote, ‘A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.’ What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.
I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting ‘Shizuka’ treasures. ‘Shizuka’ transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. ‘Shizuka‘ sends messages to all five of my senses.
Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.
– Masao Yamamoto

Living Water
The Hill Burns by Nan Shepherd
So without sediment
Run the clear burns of my country,
Fiercely pure,
Transparent as light
Gathered into its own unity,
Lucent and without colour;
Or green,
Like clear deeps of air,
Light massed upon itself,
Like the green pinions,
Cleaving the trouble of approaching night,
Shining in their own lucency,
Of the great angels that guarded the Mountain;
Or amber so clear
It might have oozed from the crystal trunk
Of the tree Paradisal,
Symbol of life,
That grows in the presence of God eternally.
And these pure waters
Leap from the adamantine rocks,
The granites and schists
Of my dark and stubborn country.
From gaunt heights they tumble,
Harsh and desolate lands,
The plateau of Braeriach
Where even in July
The cataracts of wind
Crash in the corries with the boom of seas in anger;
And Corrie Etchachan
Down whose precipitous
Narrow defile
Thunder the fragments of rock
Broken by winter storms
From their aboriginal place;
And Muich Dhui’s summit,
Rock defiant against frost and the old grinding of ice,
Wet with the cold fury of blinding cloud,
Through which the snow-fields loom up, like ghosts from a world of eternal annihilation,
And far below, where the dark waters of Etchachan are wont to glint,
An unfathomable void.
Out of these mountains,
Out of the defiant torment of Plutonic rock,
Out of fire, terror, blackness and upheaval,
Leap the clear burns,
Living water,
Like some pure essence of being,
Invisible in itself,
Seen only by its movement.

I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. It fluctuates like light flitting over a pond.
– Patti Smith

Dialogue between mr. moses and mr. buddha (and friends) (with a cameo by martin buber!).
buddha facing moses: “sit”
moses facing buddha: “run”
pause…
buddha: “unless you sit the running will lead you nowhere”
moses: “we run so we could sit”
pause for smiling…
moses: “unless you run your siting is for naught”
buddha: “we sit so we could run”
moses: freeing slaves always comes first.
buddha seemed confused.
pause for confusion…
moses and buddha tweaking each other’s ears and declaring in unison:
“what comes first?: sitting or running, running or sitting? false dichotomy! the practice of freedom is one and the same”
silent pause:
noisy pause:
buddha: “the practice is to make our sitting our running”
moses: “the practice is to make our running our sitting. there are people suffering out there, you know”
moses and buddha embrace each other, they raise a cup of malbec and declare in unison: “running and sitting are one and the same.”
agreeable pause…
moses: “when in egypt, know that you need to run”
buddha: “when under the fig-boddhi tree, know that you need to sit”
pause for smelling the desert mogras…
moses’ or buddha’s little girl passing by:
“we are never in or out of egypt. we are never under or away from the fig-boddhi tree”
pause for a grapefruit with cognac… (always drinking, moses and buddha)
buddha: “dogen?”
dogen facing moses: “if you can’t find freedom in egypt, where else will you find it?”
moses: “in the desert”
dogen: “egypt is your desert”
moses: “only a pharaoh would say that”
pause to pause…
vox populi: “moses! in the desert you’ll become the pharaoh”
moses: “the desert is a very narrow bridge. the most precious principle is never to fear at all”
unexpected pause as the bratz-lover rebbe passes by.
he bumps into a mindful buber.
buber bumps into jorge miranda.
jorge miranda bumps into george seawave,
george seawave bumps into howlin’ wolf.
howlin’ wolf: let’s pause for shit.
jorge miranda facing howlin’ wolf : “got” is yiddish for “god”. or an acronym for “get out of the temple”!
howlin’ wolf facing jorge miranda: “i don’t play anything but the blues, but now i could never make no money on nothin’ but the blues. that’s why i wasn’t interested in nothin’ else”
moses seems confused.
pause for confusion…
moses: “isaiah?”
isaiah facing dogen: “blessed are the peacemakers”
isaiah: “amos?”
amos facing buddha: “blessed are the justice makers”
amos: “salomon?”
salomon facing jesus: “blessed are the love makers”
george seawave: “jesus?”
jesus: “blessed is who blesses others”
jesus: “dogen?”
dogen: “blessed is this: here’s a myrtle’”
dogen: “hadas?”
hadas: “cool”. baby is here and now.
hadas: buddha?
buddha facing hadas, jesus, george seawave and moses: “no bless. no curse. bless is curse and curse is bless”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
buddha: “blessed spinoza?”
spinoza: “deus sive nature. ergo it is not one nor it is two.”
spinoza facing moses: “ergo, sub species aeternitatis, nirvanus est samsarus, samsarus est nirvanus”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
moses: “maimonides?”
maimonides: “what?!”
pause to listen to buber:
buber: “will and grace” that is all.
vox deus: “i heard you all and no one called my name. there is a time for everything. yours was the time for nonsense. blessed be the non-sense makers.”
pause to makes no sense:
moses, buddha, dogen, isaiah, amos, spinoza, hadas, maimonides, the bratz-lover, the little girl, howlin’ wolf, george seawave and buber (not jorge miranda though) tweaking each others’ noses and declaring in unison “god is god and so is its opposite. god is one, god is zero. substance is one, substance is empty. we sit, we run, we all fall down, hallelujah..!”
moses saw all this. he smiled. he turned back to the desert to die. and his mind was at peace.
part II
namaskar mister buddha.
beautiful autumn moon tonight.
sorry to disturb your hard-earned peace.
here’s a fig for you!
i wanted to ask you a question?
it takes many forms
but it is one and the sane question.
mister buddha.
when will you open your eyes?
do you see me?
can you see me if your eyes are closed?
maybe you don’t need the eyes to see?
or are your eyes closed that all beings might see?
is that what you’re saying?
and also mr. buddha:
are you within every being and you look at me through every face?
is that what it is?
are you mister buddha the wind outside my window?
can i hear you teach in every fragrant spring breeze?
and spring rain?
or rough storm?
can the breezes hear me?
does the rough storm?
(i know the rain does.)
i do not wish to disturb your hard earned peace
but can you mister buddha give me a hug
with your hands so neatly folded on your lap?
i think it’s important to give a hug.
have you mister buddha ever worn jeans and a shirt?
and long hair?
or is it that orange color is your fashion thing?
(i like your sandals.)
tell me sir, just curious:
have you ever loved a woman?
i’m told you were married once but you left her.
and your son too!
you abandoned your son.
why?
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
my good tathagata:
do you like pizza? (not sure if you’re vegan, but what about chimichurri?)
can you really be enlightened without a bottle of malbec? (just kidding)
(not really)
have you ever changed a diaper?
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
and are you happy when your likeness is being carved?
especially in all that awful shiny and expensive gold?
i mean, wouldn’t you be happier in peasant’s wood
and give all that gold away to feed the poor?
it makes more sense, doesn’t it?
is it you there when i step on a rainy fourteenth street paddle?
my sandals wet.
me maybe slightly upset?
is it ok to be slightly upset when i step in a fourteenth street paddle?
may these confession be my saving grace!
(just trying to be funny)
do you ever, mr. buddha, get up from under that amazing tree?
(i’m told you do sometimes because you care for others too)
(but i don’t blame you. the tree is very cool)
do you play football with your buddies?
what kind of music do you listen to?
are you a good dancer? (i’m a terrible one 🙂
do you mr buddha write poems with your beloved?
or to her?
do you guys make love under the tree?
or the stars?
(are you really a monk, mr buddha)
why??
but sir, if you don’t make love to your beloved:
what in nirvana are you talking about?
(just joking)
but no, seriously.
some worship you mr. buddha.
is that what you wanted?
are you ok with that?
will you be offended if i won’t bow to your golden statues?
my ancestor folks told me never to bow to a statue.
will you comfort me when i’m sick?
will you feed me when i’m hungry?
will you shelter me when i’m homeless?
will you, mr. buddha, cloth me when i’m poor-naked
and sit next to me when i’m lonely?
not that it really matters, really,
but who’s your trainer with all those big muscles?
anyway:
will you have a beer with me in the pub? (that’s not a joke)
and if you won’t:
then what in nirvana are you talking about? (that’s not a joke)
is it the case mister buddha that everyone is a buddha?
or that everything is?
like that paddle i just stepped in?
am i not sitting now next to you at the bar?
is buddha everything and everyone
and always and everywhere?
are you all beings?
or are all beings in you? (you know.. the theology thing…)
i remember being told things like that about the god of my own ancestors.
will you mister buddha say thou back to me?
how so?
how so? mr buddha.
how do you love mister buddha?
i said i just had a question,
ha! but you see, i don’t know much about you mister buddha,
but sure as love i’d love to.
i found the buddha mr buddha
but can’t remember where.
is it ok with you?
rhetorical question, i know.
i know the answer.
– hune margulies

The sun touches the vines on the slopes
And that is godhead. Dew falls on the grass
And that is godhead. The sap awakens –
A birth
A dawn
A spring
Pure dewdrops down the mountain
That is godhead. And you
Nestled in earth’s womb are
Green leaves in winter, woodsap in snow
You are the eternal ivy on the wand of life
Emerald pines that defy the winter
Dates of the oases in drought of deserts.
. . .
He is the new life, the new breath, creative flint
Flood earth with his blood, let your shabby streets
Flow with his life, his light, drum him into the heart
Like thunder. He is the storehouse of life
A bud on the autumn bough, he blossoms in you
His green essence fills your womb of earth.
– Wole Soyinka, The Bacchae: A Communion Rite

Movement is good for the body and stillness is good for the mind.
– Sakyong Mipham

How did we, the human race, get to this position where we judge it natural not just to band ourselves into groups, but to set ourselves group against group, neighbour against neighbour, in order to establish some ephemeral sense of superiority? One of the fundamental issues for people to examine is how to break down these walls that separate us one from another; how to open up one to another; how to create trust and places of dialogue.
– Jean Vanier

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,

pierced with the breath of anguish,

speak of love.
…Return to the most human,

nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.
– May Sarton

Yesterday in Laggan
It was such a day
of sunshine wall to wall,
of heat haze and the year’s first frogs,
of blue hills stretching yonder.

It was such a day
of spring sun melting snow,
of fool’s gold blazing off warm rocks,
of joy to be alive.

It was such a day
of hinted rainbows and dissolving light,
of fragile silences
flooding towards infinity

that I wished to be nowhere else,
doing nothing else,
in company of no one else,
and I wanted it to be forever.
– Gordon Jarvie

The Comfort of the Hills
HEART! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!
Lay it where the sunshine
Cups of colour spills!
Hide it in the shadow
Of the folding fern;
Bathe it in the coolness
Of the brown hill burn;
Give it to the west wind
Blowing where it wills;
Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!

Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills,
Where pity crowns the silence
And love the loneness fills!
Bury it in bracken
Waving green and high;
O’er it let the heather’s
Peaceful purple lie!
Trust it to the healing
Heaven itself distils;
Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!
– Will H. Ogilvie

SAVING DAYLIGHT
Suppose for a moment you live in a land,
Amazed at what happens during summer solstice.
Very strange things begin to occur,
Instantly, there is little darkness,
Night that we are so used to
Gone; what is left is the brilliant colors.

Daylight from dusk to dawn to dusk again,
Alight in all its energy and brightness.
Yes, we are north of the sixtieth parallel;
Land of the midnight sun.
I have been here before and seen things,
Gazed upon the horizon, waiting for darkness to reappear,
Holding on to summer in all its life, love and beauty;
To see it ebb once more as daylight fades to night.
– C. M. Davidson Pickett

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].
– Victor Hugo

Living Water
The Hill Burns by Nan Shepherd
So without sediment
Run the clear burns of my country,
Fiercely pure,
Transparent as light
Gathered into its own unity,
Lucent and without colour;
Or green,
Like clear deeps of air,
Light massed upon itself,
Like the green pinions,
Cleaving the trouble of approaching night,
Shining in their own lucency,
Of the great angels that guarded the Mountain;
Or amber so clear
It might have oozed from the crystal trunk
Of the tree Paradisal,
Symbol of life,
That grows in the presence of God eternally.
And these pure waters
Leap from the adamantine rocks,
The granites and schists
Of my dark and stubborn country.
From gaunt heights they tumble,
Harsh and desolate lands,
The plateau of Braeriach
Where even in July
The cataracts of wind
Crash in the corries with the boom of seas in anger;
And Corrie Etchachan
Down whose precipitous
Narrow defile
Thunder the fragments of rock
Broken by winter storms
From their aboriginal place;
And Muich Dhui’s summit,
Rock defiant against frost and the old grinding of ice,
Wet with the cold fury of blinding cloud,
Through which the snow-fields loom up, like ghosts from a world of eternal annihilation,
And far below, where the dark waters of Etchachan are wont to glint,
An unfathomable void.
Out of these mountains,
Out of the defiant torment of Plutonic rock,
Out of fire, terror, blackness and upheaval,
Leap the clear burns,
Living water,
Like some pure essence of being,
Invisible in itself,
Seen only by its movement.

<

I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. It fluctuates like light flitting over a pond.
– Patti Smith

Dialogue between mr. moses and mr. buddha (and friends) (with a cameo by martin buber!).
buddha facing moses: “sit”
moses facing buddha: “run”
pause…
buddha: “unless you sit the running will lead you nowhere”
moses: “we run so we could sit”
pause for smiling…
moses: “unless you run your siting is for naught”
buddha: “we sit so we could run”
moses: freeing slaves always comes first.
buddha seemed confused.
pause for confusion…
moses and buddha tweaking each other’s ears and declaring in unison:
“what comes first?: sitting or running, running or sitting? false dichotomy! the practice of freedom is one and the same”
silent pause:
noisy pause:
buddha: “the practice is to make our sitting our running”
moses: “the practice is to make our running our sitting. there are people suffering out there, you know”
moses and buddha embrace each other, they raise a cup of malbec and declare in unison: “running and sitting are one and the same.”
agreeable pause…
moses: “when in egypt, know that you need to run”
buddha: “when under the fig-boddhi tree, know that you need to sit”
pause for smelling the desert mogras…
moses’ or buddha’s little girl passing by:
“we are never in or out of egypt. we are never under or away from the fig-boddhi tree”
pause for a grapefruit with cognac… (always drinking, moses and buddha)
buddha: “dogen?”
dogen facing moses: “if you can’t find freedom in egypt, where else will you find it?”
moses: “in the desert”
dogen: “egypt is your desert”
moses: “only a pharaoh would say that”
pause to pause…
vox populi: “moses! in the desert you’ll become the pharaoh”
moses: “the desert is a very narrow bridge. the most precious principle is never to fear at all”
unexpected pause as the bratz-lover rebbe passes by.
he bumps into a mindful buber.
buber bumps into jorge miranda.
jorge miranda bumps into george seawave,
george seawave bumps into howlin’ wolf.
howlin’ wolf: let’s pause for shit.
jorge miranda facing howlin’ wolf : “got” is yiddish for “god”. or an acronym for “get out of the temple”!
howlin’ wolf facing jorge miranda: “i don’t play anything but the blues, but now i could never make no money on nothin’ but the blues. that’s why i wasn’t interested in nothin’ else”
moses seems confused.
pause for confusion…
moses: “isaiah?”
isaiah facing dogen: “blessed are the peacemakers”
isaiah: “amos?”
amos facing buddha: “blessed are the justice makers”
amos: “salomon?”
salomon facing jesus: “blessed are the love makers”
george seawave: “jesus?”
jesus: “blessed is who blesses others”
jesus: “dogen?”
dogen: “blessed is this: here’s a myrtle’”
dogen: “hadas?”
hadas: “cool”. baby is here and now.
hadas: buddha?
buddha facing hadas, jesus, george seawave and moses: “no bless. no curse. bless is curse and curse is bless”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
buddha: “blessed spinoza?”
spinoza: “deus sive nature. ergo it is not one nor it is two.”
spinoza facing moses: “ergo, sub species aeternitatis, nirvanus est samsarus, samsarus est nirvanus”
moses: not true: freedom is freedom, bondage is bondage.
moses: “maimonides?”
maimonides: “what?!”
pause to listen to buber:
buber: “will and grace” that is all.
vox deus: “i heard you all and no one called my name. there is a time for everything. yours was the time for nonsense. blessed be the non-sense makers.”
pause to makes no sense:
moses, buddha, dogen, isaiah, amos, spinoza, hadas, maimonides, the bratz-lover, the little girl, howlin’ wolf, george seawave and buber (not jorge miranda though) tweaking each others’ noses and declaring in unison “god is god and so is its opposite. god is one, god is zero. substance is one, substance is empty. we sit, we run, we all fall down, hallelujah..!”
moses saw all this. he smiled. he turned back to the desert to die. and his mind was at peace.
part II
namaskar mister buddha.
beautiful autumn moon tonight.
sorry to disturb your hard-earned peace.
here’s a fig for you!
i wanted to ask you a question?
it takes many forms
but it is one and the sane question.
mister buddha.
when will you open your eyes?
do you see me?
can you see me if your eyes are closed?
maybe you don’t need the eyes to see?
or are your eyes closed that all beings might see?
is that what you’re saying?
and also mr. buddha:
are you within every being and you look at me through every face?
is that what it is?
are you mister buddha the wind outside my window?
can i hear you teach in every fragrant spring breeze?
and spring rain?
or rough storm?
can the breezes hear me?
does the rough storm?
(i know the rain does.)
i do not wish to disturb your hard earned peace
but can you mister buddha give me a hug
with your hands so neatly folded on your lap?
i think it’s important to give a hug.
have you mister buddha ever worn jeans and a shirt?
and long hair?
or is it that orange color is your fashion thing?
(i like your sandals.)
tell me sir, just curious:
have you ever loved a woman?
i’m told you were married once but you left her.
and your son too!
you abandoned your son.
why?
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
my good tathagata:
do you like pizza? (not sure if you’re vegan, but what about chimichurri?)
can you really be enlightened without a bottle of malbec? (just kidding)
(not really)
have you ever changed a diaper?
that’s really really important mr buddha, you know?
and are you happy when your likeness is being carved?
especially in all that awful shiny and expensive gold?
i mean, wouldn’t you be happier in peasant’s wood
and give all that gold away to feed the poor?
it makes more sense, doesn’t it?
is it you there when i step on a rainy fourteenth street paddle?
my sandals wet.
me maybe slightly upset?
is it ok to be slightly upset when i step in a fourteenth street paddle?
may these confession be my saving grace!
(just trying to be funny)
do you ever, mr. buddha, get up from under that amazing tree?
(i’m told you do sometimes because you care for others too)
(but i don’t blame you. the tree is very cool)
do you play football with your buddies?
what kind of music do you listen to?
are you a good dancer? (i’m a terrible one 🙂
do you mr buddha write poems with your beloved?
or to her?
do you guys make love under the tree?
or the stars?
(are you really a monk, mr buddha)
why??
but sir, if you don’t make love to your beloved:
what in nirvana are you talking about?
(just joking)
but no, seriously.
some worship you mr. buddha.
is that what you wanted?
are you ok with that?
will you be offended if i won’t bow to your golden statues?
my ancestor folks told me never to bow to a statue.
will you comfort me when i’m sick?
will you feed me when i’m hungry?
will you shelter me when i’m homeless?
will you, mr. buddha, cloth me when i’m poor-naked
and sit next to me when i’m lonely?
not that it really matters, really,
but who’s your trainer with all those big muscles?
anyway:
will you have a beer with me in the pub? (that’s not a joke)
and if you won’t:
then what in nirvana are you talking about? (that’s not a joke)
is it the case mister buddha that everyone is a buddha?
or that everything is?
like that paddle i just stepped in?
am i not sitting now next to you at the bar?
is buddha everything and everyone
and always and everywhere?
are you all beings?
or are all beings in you? (you know.. the theology thing…)
i remember being told things like that about the god of my own ancestors.
will you mister buddha say thou back to me?
how so?
how so? mr buddha.
how do you love mister buddha?
i said i just had a question,
ha! but you see, i don’t know much about you mister buddha,
but sure as love i’d love to.
i found the buddha mr buddha
but can’t remember where.
is it ok with you?
rhetorical question, i know.
i know the answer.
– hune margulies

Movement is good for the body and stillness is good for the mind.
– Sakyong Mipham

How did we, the human race, get to this position where we judge it natural not just to band ourselves into groups, but to set ourselves group against group, neighbour against neighbour, in order to establish some ephemeral sense of superiority? One of the fundamental issues for people to examine is how to break down these walls that separate us one from another; how to open up one to another; how to create trust and places of dialogue.
– Jean Vanier

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,

pierced with the breath of anguish,

speak of love.
…Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.
– May Sarton

Yesterday in Laggan
It was such a day
of sunshine wall to wall,
of heat haze and the year’s first frogs,
of blue hills stretching yonder.

It was such a day
of spring sun melting snow,
of fool’s gold blazing off warm rocks,
of joy to be alive.

It was such a day
of hinted rainbows and dissolving light,
of fragile silences
flooding towards infinity

that I wished to be nowhere else,
doing nothing else,
in company of no one else,
and I wanted it to be forever.
– Gordon Jarvie

The Comfort of the Hills
HEART! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!
Lay it where the sunshine
Cups of colour spills!
Hide it in the shadow
Of the folding fern;
Bathe it in the coolness
Of the brown hill burn;
Give it to the west wind
Blowing where it wills;
Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!

Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills,
Where pity crowns the silence
And love the loneness fills!
Bury it in bracken
Waving green and high;
O’er it let the heather’s
Peaceful purple lie!
Trust it to the healing
Heaven itself distils;
Heart! If you’ve a sorrow
Take it to the hills!
– Will H. Ogilvie

SAVING DAYLIGHT
Suppose for a moment you live in a land,
Amazed at what happens during summer solstice.
Very strange things begin to occur,
Instantly, there is little darkness,
Night that we are so used to
Gone; what is left is the brilliant colors.

Daylight from dusk to dawn to dusk again,
Alight in all its energy and brightness.
Yes, we are north of the sixtieth parallel;
Land of the midnight sun.
I have been here before and seen things,
Gazed upon the horizon, waiting for darkness to reappear,
Holding on to summer in all its life, love and beauty;
To see it ebb once more as daylight fades to night.
– C. M. Davidson Pickett

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].- Victor Hugo

These are the four lessons I have learned,
One from Martha Graham,
three others from here and there –
Walk as though you’d been given one brown eye and one blue,
Think as though you thought best with somebody else’s brain,
Write as though you had in hand the last pencil on earth,
Pray as though you were praying with someone else’s soul.
– Charles Wright

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
– Khalil Gibran

For some poets, poetry derives from a place. Poem after poem reaches back and touches this place, and rehearses experiences connected with the place … But I am not thinking only of poetry which is geographic or descriptive. I am thinking of places which to the poets embody or recall a spiritual state.
– Donald Hall

From the earliest times, poetry has existed in order to retrieve, to find again, and to release. In the poet who writes poems, in the reader who lives it again, in the ideas, the wit, the images, the doctrines, the exhortations, the laments and the cries of joys; the lost forest struggles to be born again inside the word. The life of urge and instinct, that rages and coos, kicks and frolics, as it chooses only without choosing—this life is the life the poem grows from, and leans toward.
— Donald Hall

What makes people good communicators is, in essence, an ability not to be fazed by the more problematic or offbeat aspects of their own characters. They can contemplate their anger, their sexuality, and their unpopular, awkward, or unfashionable opinions without losing confidence or collapsing into self-disgust. They can speak clearly because they have managed to develop a priceless sense of their own acceptability. They like themselves well enough to believe that they are worthy of, and can win, the goodwill of others if only they have the wherewithal to present themselves with the right degree of patience and imagination.
– Alain de Botton

What do you fight for with a bold and loving heart?
– Rohr

Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.
– David Bohm

She’d woven a nest of silence and dark around herself.
I wanted to enter it a pilgrim but did not know how.
— Althena Kildegaard

Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.
– Henry David Thoreau

There is a grace approaching
that we shun as much as death,
it is the completion of our birth.
It does not come in time,
but in timelessness

when the mind sinks into the heart
and we remember.
It is an insistent grace that draws us
to the edge and beckons us surrender
safe territory and enter our enormity.
We know we must pass
beyond knowing
and fear the shedding.
But we are pulled upward
none-the-less
through forgotten ghosts
and unexpected angels,
luminous.
And there is nothing left to say
but we are That.
And that is what we sing about.
~ Stephen Levine ~
(Breaking the Drought)

It has come to this: I’m sitting under a tree
beside a river
on a sunny morning.
It’s an insignificant event
and won’t go down in history.
It’s not battles and pacts,
where motives are scrutinized,
or noteworthy tyrannicides.
…This tree is a poplar that’s been rooted here for years.
The river is the Raba; it didn’t spring up yesterday.
The path leading through the bushes
wasn’t beaten last week.
The wind had to blow the clouds here
before it could blow them away.
And though nothing much is going on nearby,
the world is no poorer in details for that.
It’s just as grounded, just as definite
as when migrating races held it captive.
Conspiracies aren’t the only things shrouded in silence.
Retinues of reasons don’t trail coronations alone.
Anniversaries of revolutions may roll around,
but so do oval pebbles encircling the bay.
The tapestry of circumstance is intricate and dense.
Ants stitching in the grass.
The grass sewn into the ground.
The pattern of a wave being needled by a twig.
So it happens that I am and look.
Above me a white butterfly is fluttering through the air
on wings that are its alone,
and a shadow skims through my hands
that is none other than itself, no one else’s but its own.
When I see such things, I’m no longer sure
that what’s important
is more important than what’s not.
– Wislawa Szymborska

Lynne Knight
IN MEMORIAM
white apples and the taste of stone
—Donald Hall, “White Apples”

The old master is dead,
his gravestone already marked
with lines from a poem

by his wife, whose peonies
blossomed and toppled outside
while he lay in hospice.

Soon his granddaughter will live
in the ancestral house looking out
at blue Mount Kearsage.

The curved ribs of old horses
buried in the field will again yield
their crop of goldenrod.

Dark clouds over Eagle Pond
turn white as the taste of stone,
white as white apples.

DISPATCH FROM AN INLAND UNIVERSITY

First thing they do:
they rust
the bright out of you.

Your uniform almost
a tourist’s,
color-corrected

to minimize joy.
You’re rewired, and then
to imagine

you don’t know it,
you dirty bomb, you,
excites them.

A hand raised up
to the ear
mimics boredom.

They are so pleased
to be launched
ahead like this,

so delighted to play
sailor, to lay
groundwork. So charmed

to be met, to get to speak
and speak and wait
for no reply.

– Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Starting from where you are now, you choose. And in choosing, you also choose who you will be. If this sounds difficult and unnerving, it’s because it is. Sartre does not deny that the need to keep making decisions brings constant anxiety. He heightens this anxiety by pointing out that what you do really matters. You should make your choices as though you were choosing on behalf of the whole of humanity, taking the entire burden of responsibility for how the human race behaves. If you avoid this responsibility by fooling yourself that you are the victim of circumstances or of someone else’s bad advice, you’re failing to meet the demands of human life and choosing a fake existence, cut off from your own authenticity.
– Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Café

This notebook is so old the paper is yellow.
I wonder where the tree grew.

Seems like you never get one thing without losing another.
– Greg Kosmicki

We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,
still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people. Gulls. A flock of pelicans
circled beyond the swells, then closed
their wings and dropped head-long
into the dazzle of light and sea. You clapped
your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table
with wine and food that tasted of the sea.

A perfect day, we said to one another,
so that even when the day ended
and the lights of houses among the hills
came on like a scattering of embers,
we watched it leave without regret.

That night, easing myself toward sleep,
I thought how blindly we stumble ahead
with such hope, a light flares briefly—Ah, Happiness!
then we turn and go on our way again.

But happiness, too, goes on its way,
and years from where we were, I lie awake
in the dark and suddenly it returns—
that day by the sea, that happiness,

though it is not the same happiness,
not the same darkness.
– Peter Everwine

Karine’s powerful, poetic and dramatic cultural statement in respect of the Trump presidency.
Filmed live by the BBC at the opening concert of Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, it was performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as a prelude to Karine’s song “Cover Your Eyes” which was used in the award-winning documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ about the construction of a luxury golf course on a beach in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, and Trump’s shocking treatment of a Scottish family and his attempts to force them off their land.
KARINE POLWART: In performance with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for Celtic Connections, Thursday 19th January 2017
On May 11th 1930, Mary Anne Macleod, from Tong on The Isle of Lewis, boarded the RMS Transylvania from Glasgow to New York City, in search of a better life. There, she fell in love with Frederick, whose father had come to America from Germany as a 16 year old barber.
The couple raised five children.
Mary Anne’s middle son would return years later to Scotland, home of his MacLeod ancestors, whose clan motto is: I burn but I am not consumed. And here – in the name of progress and profit – and executive golf – he would pit himself against time and tide. In his wake, the shifting sands at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire would never be the same.
That son of Mary Anne MacLeod is powerful.
So too is The North Sea.
The marbled, metamorphic rock of Lewis is two-thirds the age of Earth – amongst the very oldest found on our planet. It knows about power. It’s seen a lot. And so I wondered: what might that rock of Lewis have to say about the Inauguration – tomorrow in Washington DC – of the 45th President of the United States of America – Mary Anne’s middle son? This is what the rock told me.
Oh son of Lewis, lonely boy,
hewn from granite, salt and sky
upon a foreign shore:
the ocean is a mirror gleam
in which you see yourself,
and nothing more.

Three billion years of gravity,
of strata forged in fire and earth,
the stone crib of your mother’s birth,
in which your forebears lie.
I am alive. I am a tomb.
I burn, but I am not consumed.
I burn, but I am not consumed.

Fish may swim at your command
across The Atlantic to the land
of dreams and self belief and boundless chance.
An exile tale. An immigrant dance.
You’re captain of a frigate now,
So set your compass, raise the mast,
Blow up the sails,
Erase the past, and future, if you must.
Together we can stand
and watch the peat-land turn to dust.


This is your apprenticeship:
The Gulf Stream doesn’t know your name,
nor does the splendid, blazing sun
that alters how the currents run.
The North wind never heard you roar:
You’re fired! You’re fired!
My back might burn, the blaze run wild,
but I am not consumed, my child.


The Minch whips up a spindrift storm.
The machair shifts. The machair moans.
At Uig Bay and Luskentyre,
the gale blows fast, the tide flows higher.
The shore erodes and disappears.
And, meantime, you are stoking fears
and stacking hope into a pyre.
You strike a match.


Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh
Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh


Your mother was a wee girl once,
who played upon my rocky shore.
And you, you are broken boy,
and you want more and more and more.
You build a tower. You build a wall,
You live in fear that they might fall.
You who see nothing but your face
in the sheen of The Hudson River.


Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh
Oh ma bairn, mo leanaibh

A balancing is yet to come,
although by then you may be gone
and leave a desert to your sons and daughters.
Still, these waters, they will rise,
the North Sea haar will cover your eyes,
despite your appetite for lies.
your disregard for truth.

Three billion years of gravity,
of strata forged in fire and earth,
the stone crib of your mother’s birth,
in which your forebears lie.
I am alive. I am a tomb.
I burn, but I am not consumed.
I burn, but I am not consumed.

& I have seen
rivers, not unlike
you, that failed to find
their way back.
— Andrew Zawacki

Oh son of Lewis, lonely boy,
hewn from granite, salt and sky
upon a foreign shore:
the ocean is a mirror gleam
in which you see yourself,
and nothing more.
Three billion years of gravity,
of strata forged in fire and earth,
the stone crib of your mother’s birth,
in which your forebears lie.
I am alive.
I am the tomb.
I burned, but I was not consumed.
Fish might swim at your command
across The Atlantic to the land
of dreams and self-belief
and boundless chance.
An exile tale.
An immigrant dance.
You’re captain of a frigate now,
So set your compass,
Raise the mast,
Blow up the sails,
Erase the past,
and future, if you must.
Together we can watch the peatland
turn to dust.
Yet, this is your apprenticeship:
The Gulf Stream does not know your name,
nor does the splendid, blazing sun
that alters how the currents run.
The snell wind doesn’t hear you roar:
You’re fired! You’re fired!
My back might burn,
and fires run wild,
I will not be consumed,
not yet, my child.
The Minch whips up a spindrift storm.
The machair shifts.
The machair moans.
At Uig Bay and Luskentyre,
the gale blows fast,
the tide swells higher.
The shore erodes and disappears.
And, meantime,
you will stoke such fears
and stack up hope into a pyre,
then strike a match.
Let’s batten down another hatch.
I burn,
but I am not consumed,
not yet, my child.
Your mother was a wee girl once,
who played upon my rocky back.
And you,
you are a broken boy,
who builds a tower,
and builds a wall,
and lives in fear that they might fall,
you, who see nothing but your own face
in the gleam of The Hudson River.
A balancing is yet to come,
although by then you may be gone
and leave a desert to your sons and daughters.
Still, these waters,
they will rise,
despite your disregard for truth,
your appetite for lies.
Three billion years of gravity,
of strata forged in fire and earth,
the stone crib of your mother’s birth,
in which your forebears lie.
I am alive,
and yet a tomb.
I burn, but I am not consumed.
I burn, but I am not consumed.
Karine Polwart, I burn but I am not consumed

A MAP OF THE WORLD
One of the ancient maps of the world
Is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
And once washed with bright colors,
Though the colors have faded
As you might expect feelings to fade
From a fragile old heart, the brown map
Of a life. But feeling is indelible,
And longing infinite, a starburst compass
Pointing in all the directions
Two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
Swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
Still far from the edge
Where the sea pours into the stars.
– Ted Kooser

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.
– Oliver Sacks

[ ], I cling to you, I am your spectral lover, both of us / crumbling now, but our soul-dust mingling nevertheless / in the endless communion of song, and I hope, I believe, that you / have striven, as I have, / beyond the brute moments of nostalgia, / into the timelessness of music, / and that you have someone with you, as I have [ ].
— Hayden Carruth

To be great, be whole;
Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.
― Fernando Pessoa

No one person can wrestle from the Earth the song of how we can survive together, and no one voice can sing that chorus.
— from More Together Than Alone

Be aware of this persistent feeling that there is something more to do in order to attain the Self. Somehow, you have been brought to a stage where you are encouraged to leave aside all intentions, projections and fantasies, and to simply keep quiet inside your being. Mind is inclined to say this is not enough. It is suggesting you take some action. However, the Master tells you to keep quiet and to focus on the silence of your Heart rather than the rush of the mind. You are advised to avoid the sense of waiting for something to happen. There may arise a little tension because of this advice to not go with the movements of the mind. Learn to bear your own silence by observing the tensions encircling it. Observe rather than react. Again, keep quiet. Stay only as awareness.
– Mooji

I dreamt myself. From far outside myself.
From then on I began to exist—I met with myself,
carrying with me in the middle of the day
the starry key of a night not mine.
Before then I’d only happened to occur:
my own shadow
pretended to confirm me.
Now farewell. I won’t
see myself anymore:
buried so far outside myself
in layers of unfriendly wakefulness
by the opening of eyes and a yawn.
— Jerzy Ficowski

I carry with me
some place
of my own.
When I lose it,
it means I am not.
— Miron Białoszewski

TRIBE by Luka Bloom
I hope the rain holds off just for today
I hope it doesn’t rain on your parade
Kick up your white heels and wave your flags around
Kick up your white heels parading in our town
Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe
All around the side streets, needles look for veins
Where bullets found their mark in old rebellions
Others stand saluting, saying this is who I am
A piece of cloth, a field, an island
Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe
Joyce lies in Zurich, Beckett lies in France
What anthem has the tune to their dance
Who is my tribe, is it only green
Or is it in the rainbow of my dreams
Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe
My tribe is the swallow, flying to be home
My tribe is the heron, who never feels alone
My tribe is in Pine Ridge, my tribe’s in Alice Springs
My tribe is in the heartbeat of all things
Home’s a place inside, I take it with me
I meet my tribe wherever I may be
It’s good to lay your head down outside
It’s good to dance around the tribe
Oh, where is my tribe…

Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.
– Bertand Russell

1: For anyone having trouble celebrating today in view of the halting, confusing, depressing state of progress in our country — keep in mind there’s a reason this is not called “America Day” but “Independence Day”.

2: Today we do not celebrate America as it exists now, nor as it’s ever existed. We celebrate the Declaration of Independence and those ideals it declared to the world and the future.

3: The values we celebrate today are the self-evident truths that “all men are created equal”, and the rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable.

4: Not the pursuit of wealth, nor the pursuit of power, or the pursuit of control, but the pursuit of happiness — personal happiness taking no pre-determined form. And the life and liberty that allows this.

5: That the source of governing power is not wealth, nor physical strength, nor bloodline, nor even God, but the consent of the governed. That no individual is the source of power, but merely borrows that authority from the people until the day they take it back.

6: And I know this is when so many of you will come in with the historical facts that make a mockery of these truths. But I’m not saying that because these things are true, America always or even ever recognized them as such.

7: The problem with declaring such unequivocal, beautiful truths, is that it’s almost impossible for the next thing you say not to carry some measure of hypocrisy. Often, an enormous measure. In America’s case, a nearly fatal measure.

8: So on Independence Day, we do not celebrate America’s adhering to these truths, because we usually haven’t. We have been, to say the least, imperfect followers of them in our slow, compromised, frustrating slog to the dream of a more perfect union.

9: But we celebrate the vision of the imperfect, compromised, flawed people who made this the mission statement and guiding dream of their new country. We celebrate the ability for men who did not understand or acknowledge the truths they declared to still declare those truths.

10: We celebrate that no matter how twisted or corrupted the institutions meant to protect and advance these ideals may become, the ideals themselves can never become twisted because of their simplicity, their purity, their pre-eminence in our history. And their truth.

11: Today, we celebrate the ideal of America that is the challenge for every generation of Americans. A challenge no generation has fully met. A challenge perhaps no generation will ever fully meet.

12: Today we celebrate the resolve that has kept America stumbling forward, even with its occasional fall. And we steel ourselves for the strength it will take to push on to the next step.

13: Guided, as always, by the truths that should never be brooked by qualification — “that all men are created equal” and endowed with those rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those words are what we celebrate today.
– Elliott Kalan

Thomas Paine said, “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man…The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion…We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.” That’s why he felt it so important for all to vote: “…slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case. “He also said, “When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”

For eleven years he thought it was the river
at the bottom of his mind dreaming.
Now he knows she is living inside him,
as the wind is sometimes visible
in the trees. As the roses and rhubarb
are in the garden and then not.
— Jack Gilbert

Whereas melodies chronicle the external events of life, harmonies describe the inner subtext. Harmony provides the inner stream of consciousness, melody the visual storyboard.
So melody and harmony respectively encode inner and outer streams of experience. The manner in which these play off each other captures the essence of a particular realm. If you resonate with certain music, you are resonating with the realm it embodies, and that says something about your soul.
– Tom Montalk

I tie knots in the strings of my spirit
to remember. They are not pictures
of what was. Not accounts of dusk
amid the olive trees and that odor.
The walking back was the arriving.
For that there are three knots
and a space and another two
close together. They do not imitate
the inside of her body, nor her clean
mouth. They cannot describe, but they
can prevent remembering it wrong.
The knots recall. The knots
are blazons marking the trail
back to what we own and imperfectly
forget. Back to a bell ringing
far off, and the sweet summer darkening.
All but a little of it blurs and leaks
away, but that little is most of it,
even damaged. Two more knots
and then just straight string.
— Jack Gilbert

Just this morning, I saw seven cardinals brash and bold as sin in a leafless tree. I let them be for a long while before I shook the air and screwed it all up just by being alive, too.
— Ada Limón

Diana Butler Bass:
I’m so weary of the “call out” culture. We need a call forth culture instead.

Calling forth the best in people. Calling forth compassion, gratitude, empathy. Calling forth justice. Calling forth beauty, goodness, wonder. Calling forth courage.

there are words
that I cannot separate,
like father, mother and child
— José B. González

something in us always wants to cry out
someone we love knows hears
– Ikkyu

Some thought is caught
dead center in its own small world,
a thought so far from the touch of things
that we can only guess at it. If mine,
it would be the secret dream
of walking along across the floor of my life
with an easy grace, and with love enough
to live on at the center of myself.
– Ted Kooser

JEFF BROWN:
Most of the greatest achievements on the planet are unknown to others- private over-comings, silent attempts at belief, re-opening a shattered heart. The real path of champions truly lies within- the transforming of suffering into expansion, the clearing of horrifying debris, the building of a healthy self-concept without tools. The greatest achievers have found a way to believe in something good despite being traumatized and fractured on life’s battlefields. No matter what else they accomplish in their lives, they are already champions. One day the world will realize that it is much harder to heal a shattered heart than excel at athletics. Go(l)d medals all around…

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.
— Marc Chagall

And I hear you in the way you
return every winter, not
just expected, but welcomed
with a crispness to the air and
a lightness to the heart.
— Haily Stager, Arcadian

Love can leave you nowhere in New Mexico
raising peacocks for the rest of your life.
— Jack Gilbert, Trouble

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

or

The Strange Case of the Self, your Self, the Ghost which Haunts the Cosmos

or

How you can survive in the Cosmos about which you know more and more while knowing less and less about yourself, this despite 10,000 self-help books, 100,000 psychotherapists, and 100 million fundamentalist Christians

or

Why is it that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos – novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes – you are beyond doubt the strangest

or

Why is it possible to learn more in ten minutes about the Crab Nebula in Taurus, which is 6,000 light-years away, than you presently know about yourself, even though you’ve been stuck with yourself all your life.
– Walker Percy

There are buoyant attitudes that overcome things, and depressive attitudes overcome by things. To act with a buoyant attitude is the doorway into the realm of buddhas; to act with a depressive attitude is the roadway to hell. With the power of the vow dedicated to liberation, you should keep a buoyant attitude day and night.
– Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655), Zen master, veteran samurai, bushidō philosopher, late-in-life Buddhist hermit, from Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook, edited and translated by Thomas Cleary

I am not an advocate of suffering to become the best version of yourself. The best version of yourself is healthy and happy. The best version of yourself loves to be active, play in the sunshine, and create beautiful, wholesome meals.
– Mark Hyman, MD

We walk around awash in unseen worlds and forces. Sound waves, electromagnetic waves, the subatomic universe, the human aura, the famous quantum soup. All of these are examples of real things that we don’t see. Not only do they exist, they impact our lives continuously, they influence us, they affect us all the time.

Compassion too is real, it’s a solid physical thing, as powerful as gravity, and it affects outcome, turns one thing into another. Compassion, and the lack of compassion, affect us all the time. The fear we feel in the middle of the night can be traced to a lack of this “force.”

When there isn’t enough compassion being generated (either for ourselves as individuals or in the world in general), we become unbalanced; we suffer from it as we would from a lack of fresh air and clean water. It is not an incidental element, it is mandatory. We will not survive without it.
– Patricia Anderson

I’m working on / repairing my sense of meaning in the face of long odds.
– John Gallagher

We close our eyes and go spinning back to those old haunted falls, the happy-sad bittersweet drunk Octobers. What needs to be discharged is the intolerable tenderness of the past, the past gone and grieved over and never made sense of. Music ransoms us from the past, declares an amnesty, brackets and sets aside the old puzzles. Sing a new song, Start a new life, get a girl, look into her shadowy eyes, smile. Fix me a toddy … and we’ll sit on the gallery of Tara and you play a tune and we’ll watch evening fall and lightning bugs wink in the purple meadow.
— Walker Percy

JEFF BROWN:
Being a sensitive person can be a confusing, complicated thing in this still harsh world. It feels intuitively right to open, to feel, to enhearten our daily life, but the world is still vibrating at a more armored and edgy place. It is not yet attuned to the ways of the open heart. So what to do? We don’t want to deaden our capacity to feel, but if we feel too much, we get run over by an often heartless world. I have found my best answer in three places: (1) Selective Attachment; that is- carefully discerning between positive and negative individuals and environments, and only attaching to those people and places that can hold our tender heart safe; (2) Strong energetic boundaries; that is- being physically and emotionally charged, so that we can more effectively repel unwelcome energies; (3) Conscious Armoring; that is- learning how to put on armor when necessary to manage the world and difficult situations, and, consciously removing it when it is no longer needed. If we cultivate these practices, we stand a much better chance of preserving our sensitivity. Once we lose it, we lose our connection to the moment altogether. Here’s to a sensitive way of being! What a courageous path.

Kristianne Gale:
I’d like us to transform the meaning of “right to life” to mean that all life on the planet has the innate right to survive, and that our economic systems have to value life above capital.
Now I’m a right to lifer!

To pray is to look
With sustained and reverent attention
To attempt to picture the vision
Once it becomes visible
Like a chameleon
In plain view concealed
To notice what it evokes
Calls forth from within
To start with “people, places, and things”
And through loving attention
Come to know and see
Divine essence
Radiating from each particular thing
To listen for the music
In water, wind, and movement
To find one’s self worshiping
The gift and the giver
Because they are one
Beauty beyond preference
And finally to try
With sacrificial effort
Found only in gratitude and wonder
To make a poem/prayer
In honor of the unending particularity
The gifts that make a life
– David Norling

On my own I know I’m safe
I have no need to misbehave
And deep within I have a faith
That keeps me tuning in
Each frequency will zing
Just like a chord
On my own I’m never bored

Here I sit alone at night
Punching shadows in the light
Half a moon is burning bright
Down by the sea
Its face looks right at me
Just like a prawn
On my own I’m never bored

I hear the drunk and see his shape
He never stops to take a break
He likes the brew on his cornflake
That sounds ok to me
But I must let it be
Or be ignored
On my own I’m never bored

On my own I can touch the sky
On my own I can climb a tree
I can reach the fruit from within me
Before it falls
Without getting bored
Bored with you
Being stuck with me

She lies in bed the land of nod
I know she dreams of being God
But her fingers are made of cod
And not of magic strokes
She sleeps with other blokes
I am assured
On my own I’m never bored

There was a time when I’d get pissed
But now I see a therapist
He helps me through the old red mist
He thinks I might be gay
But just like tooth decay
That feels sore

On my own I can touch the sky
On my own I can climb a tree
I can reach the fruit from within me
Before it falls
Without getting bored
Bored with you
Being stuck with me

– Chris Difford

There’s a devotion called unflagging
to seeing oneself in surfaces
in a window, a shadow, a standard,
or the immediate space around another body.
She rubs against the space between them,
like that of repellant magnets.

And he does his part in words
with the sound of empty
soda bottles.
— Kate Colby

Music for when the music is over
Is what a poem is. There’s no music
In a poem, just the imaginary
Composer breathing beneath the deep wreck,
The curves of that glorious alphabet
Resilient as bioluminescence
Stuck in the seafloor. There’s something in it,
How poems pretend to sing. Like a peacock
Pretends in the wide span of its plumage
That there is no end to it: the far stars
Of galaxies and its ocelli gaze,
Gazed and gazing as one, the first fissions
Finally arriving to the listener,
Who makes sense of it sooner or later.
— Rowan Ricardo Phillips

We walk around awash in unseen worlds and forces. Sound waves, electromagnetic waves, the subatomic universe, the human aura, the famous quantum soup. All of these are examples of real things that we don’t see. Not only do they exist, they impact our lives continuously, they influence us, they affect us all the time.

Compassion too is real, it’s a solid physical thing, as powerful as gravity, and it affects outcome, turns one thing into another. Compassion, and the lack of compassion, affect us all the time. The fear we feel in the middle of the night can be traced to a lack of this “force.”

When there isn’t enough compassion being generated (either for ourselves as individuals or in the world in general), we become unbalanced; we suffer from it as we would from a lack of fresh air and clean water. It is not an incidental element, it is mandatory. We will not survive without it.
– Patricia Anderson

We close our eyes and go spinning back to those old haunted falls, the happy-sad bittersweet drunk Octobers. What needs to be discharged is the intolerable tenderness of the past, the past gone and grieved over and never made sense of. Music ransoms us from the past, declares an amnesty, brackets and sets aside the old puzzles. Sing a new song, Start a new life, get a girl, look into her shadowy eyes, smile. Fix me a toddy … and we’ll sit on the gallery of Tara and you play a tune and we’ll watch evening fall and lightning bugs wink in the purple meadow.
– Walker Percy

Music for when the music is over
Is what a poem is. There’s no music
In a poem, just the imaginary
Composer breathing beneath the deep wreck,
The curves of that glorious alphabet
Resilient as bioluminescence
Stuck in the seafloor. There’s something in it,
How poems pretend to sing. Like a peacock
Pretends in the wide span of its plumage
That there is no end to it: the far stars
Of galaxies and its ocelli gaze,
Gazed and gazing as one, the first fissions
Finally arriving to the listener,
Who makes sense of it sooner or later.
— Rowan Ricardo Phillips

How do we disentangle our thinking and our hopes from the cultural logic of progress? For that logic does not have enough room for loss, nor for the kind of deep rethinking that is called for when a culture is in crisis… I want to say that this is also history, though it doesn’t get written down so much: the small joys and gentlenesses, the fragments of peace, time spent caring for our children, or our parents, or our neighbors. These tasks alone are not enough to hold off the darkness, but they are one of the starting points, one of the models for what it means to take responsibility for the survival of things that matter deeply…. We’ll get through because we have to, the way we always have, one foot in front of another. Hold those you love tight. Be kind to strangers… There is work to be done.
– Dougald Hine

‘Living Water’
The Hill Burns by Nan Shepherd

So without sediment
Run the clear burns of my country,
Fiercely pure,
Transparent as light
Gathered into its own unity,
Lucent and without colour;
Or green,
Like clear deeps of air,
Light massed upon itself,
Like the green pinions,
Cleaving the trouble of approaching night,
Shining in their own lucency,
Of the great angels that guarded the Mountain;
Or amber so clear
It might have oozed from the crystal trunk
Of the tree Paradisal,
Symbol of life,
That grows in the presence of God eternally.
And these pure waters
Leap from the adamantine rocks,
The granites and schists
Of my dark and stubborn country.
From gaunt heights they tumble,
Harsh and desolate lands,
The plateau of Braeriach
Where even in July
The cataracts of wind
Crash in the corries with the boom of seas in anger;
And Corrie Etchachan
Down whose precipitous
Narrow defile
Thunder the fragments of rock
Broken by winter storms
From their aboriginal place;
And Muich Dhui’s summit,
Rock defiant against frost and the old grinding of ice,
Wet with the cold fury of blinding cloud,
Through which the snow-fields loom up,
like ghosts from a world of eternal annihilation,
And far below, where the dark waters of
Etchachan are wont to glint,
An unfathomable void.
Out of these mountains,
Out of the defiant torment of Plutonic rock,
Out of fire, terror, blackness and upheaval,
Leap the clear burns,
Living water,
Like some pure essence of being,
Invisible in itself,
Seen only by its movement.

Yesterday in Laggan
It was such a day
of sunshine wall to wall,
of heat haze and the year’s first frogs,
of blue hills stretching yonder.

It was such a day
of spring sun melting snow,
of fool’s gold blazing off warm rocks,
of joy to be alive.

It was such a day
of hinted rainbows and dissolving light,
of fragile silences
flooding towards infinity

that I wished to be nowhere else,
doing nothing else,
in company of no one else,
and I wanted it to be forever.
– Gordon Jarvie

A MAP OF THE WORLD
One of the ancient maps of the world
Is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
And once washed with bright colors,
Though the colors have faded
As you might expect feelings to fade
From a fragile old heart, the brown map
Of a life. But feeling is indelible,
And longing infinite, a starburst compass
Pointing in all the directions
Two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
Swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
Still far from the edge
Where the sea pours into the stars.
– Ted Kooser

SAVING DAYLIGHT
Suppose for a moment you live in a land,
Amazed at what happens during summer solstice.
Very strange things begin to occur,
Instantly, there is little darkness,
Night that we are so used to
Gone; what is left is the brilliant colors.

Daylight from dusk to dawn to dusk again,
Alight in all its energy and brightness.
Yes, we are north of the sixtieth parallel;
Land of the midnight sun.
I have been here before and seen things,
Gazed upon the horizon, waiting for darkness to reappear,
Holding on to summer in all its life, love and beauty;
To see it ebb once more as daylight fades to night.
– C. M. Davidson Pickett

TRIBE by Luka Bloom
I hope the rain holds off just for today
I hope it doesn’t rain on your parade
Kick up your white heels and wave your flags around
Kick up your white heels parading in our town

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

All around the side streets, needles look for veins
Where bullets found their mark in old rebellions
Others stand saluting, saying this is who I am
A piece of cloth, a field, an island

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

Joyce lies in Zurich, Beckett lies in France
What anthem has the tune to their dance
Who is my tribe, is it only green
Or is it in the rainbow of my dreams

Oh, where is my tribe
Oh, where is my tribe

My tribe is the swallow, flying to be home
My tribe is the heron, who never feels alone
My tribe is in Pine Ridge, my tribe’s in Alice Springs
My tribe is in the heartbeat of all things

Home’s a place inside, I take it with me
I meet my tribe wherever I may be
It’s good to lay your head down outside
It’s good to dance around the tribe

Oh, where is my tribe…

To find, once again, all that I love: blue sky, sunshine, untrammeled thought, dignity, serenity, nature, poetry, friendship [solitude].
– Victor Hugo

I am not an advocate of suffering to become the best version of yourself. The best version of yourself is healthy and happy. The best version of yourself loves to be active, play in the sunshine, and create beautiful, wholesome meals.
– Mark Hyman, MD

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
– W.B. Yeats

There are buoyant attitudes that overcome things, and depressive attitudes overcome by things. To act with a buoyant attitude is the doorway into the realm of buddhas; to act with a depressive attitude is the roadway to hell. With the power of the vow dedicated to liberation, you should keep a buoyant attitude day and night.
– Suzuki Shosan, Training the Samurai Mind by Thomas Cleary

How do we disentangle our thinking and our hopes from the cultural logic of progress? For that logic does not have enough room for loss, nor for the kind of deep rethinking that is called for when a culture is in crisis… I want to say that this is also history, though it doesn’t get written down so much: the small joys and gentlenesses, the fragments of peace, time spent caring for our children, or our parents, or our neighbors. These tasks alone are not enough to hold off the darkness, but they are one of the starting points, one of the models for what it means to take responsibility for the survival of things that matter deeply…. We’ll get through because we have to, the way we always have, one foot in front of another. Hold those you love tight. Be kind to strangers… There is work to be done.
– Dougald Hine

Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn.
– Christian Wiman

I like people who dream or talk to themselves interminably; I like them, for they are double. They are here and elsewhere.
– Albert Camus

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
– Theodore Roethke

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of – indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.
– Mary Oliver

How do I integrate spirituality into my everyday life?
Throw out the concept of “spiritual life” and “everyday life.
There is only life, undivided and whole.
– Adyashanti

No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.
– Erin Bow

“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”
– Shakespeare, weighing in on the news’

The names of colors are at the edge between where language fails and where it’s most powerful.
– A. S. Byatt

Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.
– Amish Proverb

You are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought …
— Vladimir Nabokov

You’ve forgotten, I think, but I was guided by your dream.
— Kate Greenstreet

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
— William Wordsworth

We do not hover above the great rich tangle of the world, gazing down from on high. We are already in the world and involved in it – we are ‘thrown’ here. And ‘thrownness’ must be our starting point.
– Sarah Bakewell

THE WORLD
I couldn’t tell one song from another,
which bird said what or to whom or for what reason.

The oak tree seemed to be writing something using very few words,
I couldn’t decide which door to open – they looked the same, or what

would happen when I did reach out and turn a knob. I thought I was safe,
standing there
but my death remembered its date:

only so many summer nights still stood before me, full moon, waning moon,
October mornings: what to make of them? which door?

I couldn’t tell which stars were which or how far away any one of them was,
or which were still burning or not – their light moving through space like a long

late train – and I’ve lived on this earth so long -50 winters,
50 springs and summers,
and all this time stars in the sky – in daylight

when I couldn’t see them, and at night when, most nights,
I didn’t look.
– Marie Howe

It is when you are really living in the present-working, thinking, lost, absorbed in something you care about very much, that you are living spiritually.
– Brenda Ueland

AUSTRALIA
The light has come to find you again, even on the far side
of the waking world, look inland and you catch the dark
interior core of what only looks like an empty centre,
look outward and you see the tidal run of ocean stretcing
forever from the shore on which you stand, above all
and across both, newness and the unimaginably ancient,
singing together, and then everywhere, light painted on light,
in the sky, on the ground and in the faces of those looking
not at you but through you, to the beckoning horizon,
to the pale night of a southern sapphire sky, or even beneath
you, through the dust of the endless earth, to the dream-time
in the mind’s eye of what has happened and what is about to happen, even in the crowded cities, even on the endless coast, even in the beautiful interior desolations that never grew a single tree, we feel it when we hear the growing whisper of rain feeding the parched ground, or in the inward growth that makes what has been hidden begin to show its face in the world, the unspoken sense, not of being free now, but the anticipation of being allowed into something deeper, further, beyond our living in the everyday, into the beckoning endless land, into the blue-hilled horizon, into the oceans mounting roar, an unspoken and indescribable freedom just about to happen, reaching for that fatal shore, we walk the edge of this waiting land, riding forever, the slow, almost falling, but never breaking wave of our longed-for arrival.

Big-Sky Thinking
An Alternative form of Blue-Sky Thinking
Thinking that is not grounded or in touch in the realities of the present. Open-minded thinking. Creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs. The activity of trying to find completely new ideas, brain storming, original visionary thinking, creative thinking or planning far into the future which may or may not materialize, integrated thinking, system thinking or out of the box thinking. Creating, imagining, innovating. Thinking flexibly. Responding with wonderment and awe.
Thinking about thinking (metacognition). Thinking of ideas or solutions that are completely new and different from anything that people have thought of before.

The word “Israel” means to struggle with god. No one who was great in the world will be forgotten, but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly in proportion to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became greatest of all.
– Soren Kierkegaard

Somewhere a man is repairing the night, one word at a time.
– Anne Michaels

It was a failure of my imagination that made me keep leaving people. All I could see in the world were beginnings and endings: moments to survive, record, and, once recorded, safely forget. I knew I was getting somewhere when I began losing interest in the beginnings and the ends of things. Short tragic love stories that had once interested me no longer did. What interested me was the kind of love to which the person dedicates [himself] herself for so long, [he] she no longer remembers quite how it began.
– Sarah Manguso

Let our blue(s) always be sky, even if that is twilight.
– Greg Sellers

THE NIGHTINGALE IN BADELUNDA
In the green midnight at the nightingale’s northern limit. Heavy leaves hang in trance, the deaf cars race towards the neon-line. The nightingale’s voice rises without wavering to the side, it is as penetrating as a cock-crow, but beautiful and free of vanity. I was in prison and it visited me. I was sick and it visited me. I didn’t notice it then, but I do now. Time streams down from the sun and the moon and into all the tick-tock-thankful clocks. But right here there is no time. Only the nightingale’s voice, the raw resonant notes that whet the night sky’s gleaming scythe.
– Tomas Tranströmer

So many were given only
A dream of love,
So many given a glimpse,
And that from such a distance.

Who am I to be ungrateful
Who saw the beloved
Face-to-face?

— Gregory Orr

Like night, when the sunset is fading
And starbeams troop up in the skies,
Through a cold, dark and lonely forever
Gleams the light of the poet eyes.
– Voltairine de Cleyre

[C]onfess what you are smuggling: moods, states of grace, elegies!
– Italo Calvino

I will not write of my ending days but only of your travails with my poor travel-logged heart. Remember how? Remember when? I know you will appreciate subject and pretense, will not be fooled. For we long ago unearthed the source of us: drawn to vanishing light, focused on undoing, on surfeit ruins, mysteries known, and still forgiven.
– C. R. Resetarits

Sometimes he imagined the words of love she kept to herself, though “imagined” was really a poor choice of words, for he could sense them in her silence–silence like still water, unspoken words surfacing as quiet glimmers–a glance, a touch, a kiss.
— Greg Sellers

i was part of the harvest i like to tell myself that this was because i was part of the bloom
— Darren C. Demaree

Now only memory can recoup how, where I once looked up, shards of blue sky / held steady through the leaves with the angelic precision of stained glass. This is / where I came to be alone and dream my future life. / This is where maybe I was eight I stopped to listen to a robin’s sweet liquid carol.
— Mike Dillon

Let it be by starlight code or the Rorschach of thunderheads.
Pentecostal lightning will get through even here.
The hedgerows choke with bramble-vines impenetrable as lead,
But radiance will leak past every seam.
— T. R. Hummer

& do not ever say again
that you don’t know what it is to stay
or to be stayed with, that you don’t get love
& maybe couldn’t do it, not like that,
when, in fact, that’s all you’ve ever known. Day
after day, after day, here is your love, your love
that has gone nowhere away from you. Here
is a blue sky. Here is the smell of grass on your fingers.
Here is a flower. A road, a shoreline. Here are kites
rising. Here is breath
— Aracelis Girmay

If I have a soul, I imagine
it’s much like a ‘50s transitor
radio, palm-sized, pulling in static
from so far away, who knows
what they’re saying?
The spindrift stars, foam
and roar—those thin voices
so far removed from paradise,
singing with such indifference—
how can it matter who
we finally think we are?
– Christopher Buckley

When silence reaches an ultimate point, the light penetrates everywhere.
– Hsuan Hua

Amy Miller
A LULLABY
Sleep now. The city
you were building in your head,
its shouting and conveyances,
its strikers and unhelpful signs,
its cops with their stern citations,
rest. Rest the piteous call
from your sister and the words
you boiled in the pot
all day.
Somewhere
deer fatten in a sudden
thaw. A lake floats hundreds
of Russians in bathing suits.
And your dreams—no one can take
those wild paintings
and unbelievable music,
or your lashes dropping
their feathers, or the factory
of your own lungs,
quietly working into the night.

WHEN WILLIAM STAFFORD DIED
Well, water goes down the Montana gullies.
“I’ll just go around this rock and think
About it later.” That’s what you said.
When death came, you said, “I’ll go there.”

There’s no sign you’ll come back. Sometimes
My father sat up in the coffin and was alive again.
But I think you were born before my father,
And the feet they made in your time were lighter.

One dusk you were gone. Sometimes a fallen tree
Holds onto a rock, if the current is strong.
I won’t say my father did that, but I won’t
Say he didn’t either. I was watching you both.

If all a man does is to watch from the shore,
Then he doesn’t have to worry about the current.
But if affection has put us into the stream,
Then we have to agree to where the water goes.
– Robert Bly

Keats would leave blank places in his drafts to hold on
to his passion, spaces for the right words to come.
We use them sideways. The way we automatically
add bits of shape to hold on to the dissolving dreams.
So many of the words are for meanwhile. We say,
“I love you” while we search for language
that can be heard. Which allows us to talk
about how the aspens over there tremble
in the smallest shower, while the tree over by
the window here gathers the raindrops and lets them
go in bunches. The way my heart carols sometimes,
and other times yearns. Sometimes is quiet
and other times is powerfully quiet.
– Jack Gilbert

I have limited space, and that space should be used for non-horrible people. Weed Your Bookshelves of Jerks

We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

I love her […] the way any salmon will taste the whole ocean and still turn for home.
– Sierra Golden

…and it struck me what a wonderful thing nature is because it knows the value of silence, the innuendos of silence and what they could mean for a word-bound creature such as I was.
– Tess Gallagher

This is finally true: deep on the inside everyone is like a church, and the walls are adorned with festive frescoes. In earliest childhood, when this magnificence is still exposed, it is too dark inside to see the images, and then, while the hall is gradually reached by light, adolescent foolishness and its false longings and thirsting shame set in and cover up wall after wall. Some people advance far into and through life without suspecting the original magnificence underneath the sober poverty. But blessed is he [she] who senses, finds, and secretly recovers it. He [She] presents himself [herself] with a gift. And he [she] will return home to himself [herself].
– Rainer Maria Rilke

This world is cruel, even to itself,
The white lilies prey on the blue.
– D. Nurkse

since that day when my
innocent heart was first dyed
with love for you I
never doubted the hue was
fast never thought it might fade
– Ki no Tsurayuki

Tell me where you go in these silences
and I will say if I have been there.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

is the broad blue sky
a keepsake left behind by the
one I love each time
a wave of longing rises
my empty eyes look upward
– Sakai no Hitozane

If you are the type of person who thinks too much then there is nothin lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wave length.
– Matt Haig

Tons of people who survive depression have this rebellion built in. We have to rebel against our own thoughts and minds, so often, in order to live.

We need rebellion as much as obedience. In society and in ourselves. We need to resist so many toxic forces of 21st century conformity. We need to rebel against so many social drives – consumerism, perfectionism, greed, workaholism, social ideals of beauty – just to stay sane.

– Matt Haig

To view work as a pilgrimage is to put our heart’s desires to hazard, because merely by setting out, we have told ourselves that there is something bigger and better, or even smaller and better – above all something more life giving – that awaits us in our work, and we are going to seek it. We look around to see what we have for the journey and find at bottom that we possess only intuitions and imagination.
from CROSSING THE UNKNOWN SEA by David Whyte

The problem of politics is the problem of tribes. ‘When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence’ taught the philosopher.
– Jiddu Kirshnamurtiz

Cutting back on people I follow who keep getting in lengthy tribal spats on twitter. It’s not that I don’t like them, it just leads to joyless timelines and this medium was intended to be more frivolous than that.
– Robin Ince

Frame all fights as bottom vs. top, never left vs. right.
– Jonathan Matthew Smucker

Loving a person is like a séance, in that it involves a strangeness and a necessity.
— Andrea Rexilius, New Organism

Each second the earth is struck
by four and a half pounds of sunlight.
Each second.
Try to imagine that.
No wonder deep shade is what the soul longs for.
And not, as we always thought, the light.
– Charles Wright

What makes us leave what we love best?
What is it inside us that keeps erasing itsef
When we need it most,
That sends us into uncertainty for its own sake
And holds us flush there
until we begin to love it
And have to begin again?
What is it within our own lives we decline to live
Whenever we find it,
making our day unendurable,
And night almost visionless?
I still don’t know yet, but I do it.
– Charles Wright

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.
– Francis Bacon

Most people are frustrated with themselves & project that onto others. Don’t worry what they think of you (or what you think they think). Worry about losing connection to that fire burning in your heart of hearts, what the crackles and sparks whisper when you’re quiet.

Each of us has a sophisticated system that throws away most of our experiences, keeps only a few choice samples, mixes them up with bits from movies we’ve seen, novels we’ve read, speeches we’ve heard, and daydreams we’ve savored, and out of all that jumble it weaves a seemingly coherent story about who I am, where I came from and where I am going. This story tells me what to love, whom to hate and what to do with myself. This story may even cause me to sacrifice my life, if that’s what the plot requires. We all have our genre. Some people live a tragedy, others inhabit a never-ending religious drama, some approach life as if it were an action film, and not a few act as if in a comedy. But in the end, they are all just stories.
– Yuval Noah Harari

The poet can have only one prayer: not to understand the unacceptable—let me not understand, so that I may not be seduced … let me not hear, so that I may not answer … The poet’s only prayer is a prayer for deafness.
— Marina Tsvetaeva

In the early nineteenth century, the German poet Goethe stood up at a dinner party to protest a toast which had praised memory as a static image of the past. For Romantic reasons, he reaffirmed a conception of memory as the mother of creative inspiration, but rather than making it an external power, he described it as a power integral to human beings:
‘I do not recognize memory in the sense in which you mean it. Whatever we encounter that is great, beautiful, significant, need not be remembered from outside, need not be hunted up and laid hold of, as it were. Rather, from the beginning, it must be woven into the fabric of our inmost self, must thus live and become a productive force in ourselves. There is no past that one is allowed to long for. There is only the eternally new, growing from the enlarged elements of the past; and genuine longing always must be productive, must create something new and better.’
– Louise Chawla, from In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry, and Childhood Memory

If I had known, then, that a dull night’s companionable reading would prove on reflection to be a moment of perfect bliss, it’s hard to say what I would have done. Is the horror past or present? All I know is that right now, today, I am greedy for those days, and all the ones I had are not enough. It was their timelessness that made them worth having.
– Carina Buckley

You know the secret passageways
of the soul, the roads that dreams take,
and the calm evening
where they go to die …
— Antonio Machado

I never wanted fame,
nor wanted to leave my poems
behind in the memory of men.
I love the subtle worlds,
delicate, almost without weight
like soap bubbles.
I enjoy seeing them take the color
of sunlight and scarlet, float
in the blue sky, then
suddenly quiver and break.
— Antonio Machado

were it not for the
poems of past generations
numerous as black
bamboo how would we tell each
other of the thoughts
within our hearts
— Mibu no Tadamine, from Kokinshū: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern

I think that too much weight is laid on self-realization. I think that, as a counterweight to the unmanageability of the world, a cult of the individual springs up, maybe even of the unmanageability of the individual — as an attempt to create balance, but on a shaky foundation. And if we writers can’t work things out by any other means, we can always stake out one area, act as if we’re documenting it, and thus provisionally legitimize the structures of a false environment. Or we can stake out strangeness, crawl down into cellar doors and through sewer systems, turn our souls inside out or hide in attics.
– Inger Christensen

The poet know that he [or she] speaks adequately then only when he [or she] speaks somewhat wildly, or ‘with the flower of the mind,’ not with the intellect used as an organ, but with the intellect released from all services and suffered to take its direction from its celestial life; or as the ancients were wont to express themselves, not with intellect alone but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. As the traveller who has lost his [or her] way throws his reins on his horse’s neck and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through this world. For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened for us into nature; the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is possible.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In your lifetime, you will needlessly destroy relationships. You will take wrong turns and miss vital opportunities. You will find yourself addicted to the wrong people or substances. And at some point, in due time, you will make a complete and utter wreck of your life. There is a banality to our everyday tragedies. And as it goes for our own lives, so goes it for the nations of which we are a part. We will elect dangerous and deceitful leaders, support pointless wars, oppose the fight against genuine evils, join causes we later regret, and retreat from the world in ways we deem selfish.
All of this is part of what it means to be human.
– Theo Horesh

This is some advice I got from a priest mentor of mine years back. He said: “Here’s the rule, the airtight rule. Criticize someone precisely in the measure that you are willing to help him or her deal with the problem you’re raising.
The point is that if you are 100% willing to commit yourself to helping the person deal with the problem you’re raising, off you go. Critique ’til the cows come home.
If you’re totally unwilling to take even one little step to help the person deal with the problem, then keep your mouth shut. Don’t say anything.
Maybe a little bit of commitment? Maybe a little bit of critique.
That has never left my mind, that little piece of advice. When I feel the urge to criticize someone, ‘alright Barron, are you willing to commit yourself to helping him deal with his problems? If not, keep your mouth shut.
– Robert Barron

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.
– Annie Lennox

I would consider myself a quilt coming apart at the seams. Each square, a remnant of things come to pass—things I can never be again. Your patch was handkerchief of paisley blue, and one afternoon it unraveled from the clothesline.
You haven’t been seen since.
I should’ve noticed the threads starting to fray.
— Aubrie Cox

Is it ok I’ve kept these words all year?
Is it ok that I see you, still, in me?
— Kaiya Gordon, Mourning Painting

like the marsh water
pent up no outlet for its
flow thickly covered
with the tangle of summer
grass my heart has no release
— Mibu no Tadamine, from Kokinshū: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern

since that parting when
I saw the cold indifferent
countenance of the
fading moon I have known
nothing so cruel as dawn
— Mibu no Tadamine, from Kokinshū: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern

All things exist as they are perceived: at least in relation to the percipient. ‘The mind is at its own place, and of itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ But poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions. And whether it spreads its own figured curtain, withdraws life’s dark veil from before the scene of things, it equally creates for us a being within our being. It makes us the inhabitants of a world to which the familiar world is a chaos. It reproduces the common universe of which we are portions and percipients, and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being. It compels us to feel that which we perceive, and to imagine what which we know. It creates anew the universe, after it has been annihilated in our minds by the recurrence of impressions blunted by reiteration. It justifies the bold and true words of Tasso–Non merita nome di creatore, se non Iddio ed il Poeta (None merits the name of creator, except God and the Poet).
— Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

The past … never really existed: it has always been an illusion created by the symbolizing activity of the mind.
— Barrett Mandel

The descent beckons

as the ascent beckoned
Memory is a kind
of accomplishment
a sort of renewal
even
an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new
places
— William Carlos Williams

Listen,
follow me into the dim
evening orchard your hands cool
Hear seeds journey into plants
damp prayers
Hold our stories round
rough edges of words
Weep the deep wounds full
of light
– Karen L. George

The poet know that he [or she] speaks adequately then only when he [or she] speaks somewhat wildly, or ‘with the flower of the mind,’ not with the intellect used as an organ, but with the intellect released from all services and suffered to take its direction from its celestial life; or as the ancients were wont to express themselves, not with intellect alone but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. As the traveller who has lost his [or her] way throws his reins on his horse’s neck and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through this world. For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened for us into nature; the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is possible.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Buddhism is negative. It will tell you what it is not. When you insist that it must be something it merely allows for an open space, which you can fill in as you like. It is only specific about its method. It tells you to meditate, to be conscious of what you are doing, to do your best. It tells you to earn your daily food in a decent manner. It prescribes kind speech and thought. It suggests that you should create your own situations, rather than being pushed around by yourself and others. It warns that you should not avoid your own doubts. It recommends trying things out for yourself. It abhors all dogma. It doesn’t like you to impose your opinions on others. And it stresses that you should know yourself, your own laziness, pride and greed which, together, constitute the power which turns the wheel of life.
– Janwillem van de Wetering, A Glimpse of Nothingness

may my faith always be
at the end of the day
like a hummingbird…returning
to its favorite flower.
― Sanober Khan

AFTER ALL THIS
After all this love, after the birds rip like scissors
through the morning sky, after we leave, when the empty
bed appears like a collapsed galaxy, or the wake of
disturbed air behind a plane, after that, as the wind turns
to stone, as the leaves shriek, you are still breathing
inside my own breath. The lighthouse on the far point
still sweeps away the darkness with the brush of an arm.
The tides inside your heart still pull me towards you.
After all this, what are these words but mollusk shells
a child plays with? What could say more than the eloquence
of last night’s constellations? or the storm anchored by
its own flashes behind the far mountains? I remember
the way your body wavers under my touch like the northern
lights. After all this, I want the certainty of hidden roots
spreading in all directions from their tree. I want to hear
again the sky tangled in your voice. Some nights I can
hear the footsteps of the stars. How can these words
ever reveal the secret that waits in their sleeping light?
The words that walk through my mind say only what has
already passed. Beyond, the swallows are still knitting
the wind. After a while, the smokebush will turn to fire.
After a while, the thin moon will grow like a tear in a curtain.
Under it, a small boy kicks a ball against the wall of
a burned out house. He is too young to remember the war.
He hardly knows the emptiness that kindles around him.
He can speak the language of early birds outside our window.
Someday he will know this kind of love that changes
the color of the sky, and frees the earth from its moorings.
Sometimes I kiss your eyes to see beyond what I can imagine.
Sometimes I think I can speak the language of unborn stars.
I think the whole earth breathes with you. After all this,
these words are all I have to say what is impossible to think,
what shy dreams hide in the rafters of my heart, because
these words are only a form of touch, only tell you I have no life
that isn’t yours, and no death you couldn’t turn into a life.
– Richard Jackson

And why can I recall only part
of some scene I’d like to relive
now? Where have the lost fragments
gone? As I lie wakeful in bed
what I see is a long corridor
of closed doors.
— James Laughlin

We are often told, that in the critical periods of history it is the national soul which counts: that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” No nation is truly defeated which retains its spiritual self-possession. No nation is truly victorious which does not emerge with soul unstained. If this be so, it becomes a part of true patriotism to keep the spiritual life, both of the individual citizen and of the social group, active and vigorous; its vision of realities unsullied by the entangled interests and passions of the time. This is a task in which all may do their part. The spiritual life is not a special career, involving abstraction from the world of things. It is a part of every man’s life; and until he has realized it he is not a complete human being, has not entered into possession of all his powers
– Evelyn Underhill
Practical Mysticism

Maybe in the end, that’s all a man wishes. For one last night in the bed of his past. When he thinks of his bed, he remembers a woman beneath the sheets, and a cat. Or he thinks he does. He remembers the morning light and the song of doves. The sad song, two notes played over and over. Or was it a bobwhite? He’s not sure. Maybe that’s why he begins to weep. He wonders if there ever was a bed like that. He wonders if it’s better to forget
— Nin Andrews

I’ve drawn the curtains back. I hope that’s okay. It just seems a shame for you to sit here in the dark when we’ve already lived so long without the light. I made a box of memories, like we used to talk about doing.
— Sunyi Dean

To me the foggy blur over the tops of trees is a mental affair. You hold in your mind another time and live there in that other imagined time while the present time, new and raw in some way, presses for attention. But the other time is held like a fragile glass, transparent but up close in front of one’s face. This is a practice from childhood. It serves no purpose except to counter the insistence of present time and to block it a bit. I can’t remember when I haven’t done this. Being in two places at one time.
— Martha Ronk

According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realize how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasizing about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it. It is like a man standing for decades on the seashore, embracing certain ‘good’ waves and trying to prevent them from disintegrating, while simultaneously pushing back ‘bad’ waves to prevent them from getting near him. Day in, day out, the man stands on the beach, driving himself crazy with this fruitless exercise. Eventually, he sits down on the sand and just allows the waves to come and go as they please. How peaceful!
– Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

ON MEDITATING, SORT OF
Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place – half asleep – where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter –
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints –
all that glorious, temporary stuff.
– Mary Oliver, Blue Horses

Monarch
Stand close to the flowers – marvel –
At what it’s like to share space
With creatures that experience life
By making friends with the wind, and
Dancing on sunbeams, and
Tasting late summer’s nectar by
Declaring a small slice
Of a half forgotten garden
A good place to exist for a little while
Let them remind you that
Sunshine, freedom, and a little flower
Are needs shared by all creatures
Whether those creatures
Walk, fly or text
Their way into life’s next moment.
– Heidi Barr

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 under another tree.

Nature’s wardrobe
holds a fair supply of costumes:
spider, seagull, field mouse.
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 tousled 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.
– Wisława Szymborska

It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection, and the air so clean and clear that you feel as if you could reach out and ping it with a finger, as you would a polished wine glass. Even the colors were crisp: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow – flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange.
– Bill Bryson, Notes From a Big Country

Wild geese fly south, creaking like anguished hinges; along the riverbank the candles of the sumacs burn dull red. It’s the first week of October. Season of woolen garments taken out of mothballs; of nocturnal mists and dew and slippery front steps, and late-blooming slugs; of snapdragons having one last fling; of those frilly ornamental pink-and-purple cabbages that never used to exist, but are all over everywhere now.
– Margaret Atwood

It is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.
– Evelyn Underhill

And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness

and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
unstinting happiness.

I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.

Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.
– Mary Oliver, Roses, Late Summer

If Shakyamuni Buddha had dwelled upon his own inadequacies rather than the question of suffering in the world, he would have never realized that everything is all right from the beginning. Zazen is not a practice of self-improvement, like a course in making friends and influencing people. With earnest zazen, character change does occur, but this is not a matter of of ego-adjustment. It is forgetting the self.
– Robert Aitken from “Taking the Path of Zen”

Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist.
– Bill Bryson
I’m a Stranger Here Myself

A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.
– May Sarton
Journal of a Solitude
commonplace

People are starving for love, not knowing their heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your heart is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world.
– Don Miguel Ruiz

A different kind of lovesong indeed, filled with a fiery sense of justice. I don’t believe in ‘good swords’, but this is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of revolution.

I come like a comet new born
Like the sun that arises at morning
I come like the furious tempest
That follows a thundercloud’s warning
I come like the fiery lava
From cloud-covered mountains volcanic
I come like a storm from the north
That the oceans awake to in panic
I come because tyranny planted
My seed in the hot desert sand
I come because masters have kindled
My fury with every command
I come because man cannot murder
The life-giving seed in his veins
I come because liberty cannot
Forever be fettered by chains

I come because tyrants imagine
That mankind is only their throne
I come because peace has been nourished
By bullets and cannon alone
I come because one world is two
And we face one another with rage
I come because guards have been posted
To keep out the hope of the age

From earliest times the oppressed
Have awaked me and called me to lead them
I guided them out of enslavement
And brought them to high roads of freedom
I marched at the head of their legions
And hailed a new world at its birth
And now I shall march with the peoples
Until they unfetter the earth

And you, all you sanctified moneybags
Bandits anointed and crowned
Your counterfeit towers of justice
And ethics will crash to the ground
I’ll send my good sword through your hearts
That have drained the world’s blood in their lust
Smash all your crowns and your sceptres
And trample them into the dust

I’ll rip off your rich purple garments
And tear them to rags and to shreds
Never again will their glitter
Be able to turn people’s heads
At last your cold world will be robbed of
It’s proud hypocritical glow
For we shall dissolve it as surely
As sunlight dissolves the deep snow

I’ll tear down your cobweb morality
Shatter the old chain of lies
Catch all your blackhooded preachers
And choke them as though they were flies
I’ll put a quick end to your heavens
Your gods that are deaf to all prayer
Scatter your futile old spirits
And clean up the earth and the air

And though you may choke me and shoot me
And hang me your toil is in vain
No dungeon, no gallows can scare me
Nor will I be frightened by pain
Each time I’ll arise from the earth
And break through all your weapons of doom
Until you are finished forever
Until you are dust in the tomb

Both Sides The Tweed” is song which was a protest song attacking the 1707 Act of Union against the British. Dick Gaughan reworked it & added a new tune in the 1980’s. This is his version.The Tweed is a river in Scotland & is the division between the two sides. It calls for peace on both sides of the border. (photos of The River Tweed in the video). From Mary Black’s album, “Collected”. Enjoy!

Lyrics for Both Sides The Tweed.
What’s the spring-breathing jasmine and rose ?
What’s the summer with all its gay train
Or the splendour of autumn to those
Who’ve bartered their freedom for gain?

Let the love of our land’s sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness that gloom can e’er clear
For honour’s the sum of the mind

Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free

Having Walked
Having made a study
of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Void,
the warrior-artist picks up the brush
and puts away their sword.
Having sidestepped the traps
of Mara’s handsome sons and alluring daughters,
the warrior-artist focuses energy-attraction
toward the practice of journeying with night-traveling feathers.
Having seen the emptiness of form,
having made the practice of non-attachment like a second skin,
the warrior-artist sweeps away the hooks of others,
moves past the Floating World of projection.
Having broken down
the scaffolding of the dense-bodied self,
the aura of the wayfarer becomes
a billowing white cloud in autumn.
Having stepped beyond the world of red dust,
having tasted the true nectar of freedom
in the green world at the edge of town,
the warrior-artist becomes a citizen of the void
and takes up the ancient way of walking alone.
– Frank LaRue Owen

Let me do my work each day;
and if the darkened hours
of despair overcome me, may I
not forget the strength
that comforted me in the 
desolation of other times.
May I still remember the bright
hours that found me walking
over the silent hills of my
childhood, or dreaming on the
margin of a quiet river,
when a light glowed within me,
and I promised my early God
to have courage amid the
tempests of the changing years.
…Lift up my eyes
from the earth, and let me not
forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others
lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of
the world, but walk calmly
in my path.
Give me a few friends
who will love me for what
I am; and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity
overtake me, and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams,
teach me still to be thankful
for life, and for time’s olden
memories that are good and
sweet; and may the evening’s
twilight find me gentle still.
– Max Ehrmann

So yes, once we get older and more cautious, maybe even sober, it’s inevitable that we’d find so much ‘happiness’—so many cocktail parties, such camaraderie between artists and intermingling of the arts—annoying. In a larger sense, though, it’s important to remember that it’s not only us who have changed.
— On Frank O’Hara: Nothing Personal, by Elaine Equi

We talk about the wounds of lakes, the brutal masses of ice that birthed them, the trees that came up from the wreckage, minute insects. He is eighteen; I am twenty- one. We pinch our fingers into our hands to keep them from shaking, but when we talk, fear colors in our ohs, unravels our vowels, betrays our fear that the next corner will send us hurtling into the ether. So we stay glacial, and talk about dinosaurs, and fossils, and the aristocratic curl of unfurling ferns. Ancient, ostentatious things. And then he points, and tells me that the blue whale’s heart is the size of a Volkswagen. My mind leaps to spaces, and I imagine myself inside it—crouched low in a red chamber, the bloody backseat, touching the wet walls with my splayed fingers, the frame around me shifting with the intake of fluid, the pulse beat, every eight seconds, echoing into the abandoned metropolis of the surrounding sea. And then, I lay my head into the tissue of the upholstery, the sinew and the muscle, the loudness and the quiet, and listen to the lub dub of larger things.
— Carmen Maria Machado

People are starving for love, not knowing their heart is a magical kitchen. Open your heart. Open your magical kitchen and refuse to walk around the world begging for love. In your heart is all the love you need. Your heart can create any amount of love, not just for yourself, but for the whole world.
– Don Miguel Ruiz

In 1898 Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) wrote about haunted landscapes in a piece called ‘Faustus and Helena: Notes on the Supernatural in Art.’ In the essay she says:

the ghost … is the damp, the darkness, the silence, the solitude; a ghost is the sound of our steps through a ruined cloister, where the ivy-berries and convolvulus growing in the fissures sway up and down among the sculptured foliage of the windows, it is the scent of mouldering plaster and mouldering bones from beneath the broken pavement; a ghost is the bright moonlight against which the cypresses stand out like black hearse-plumes, in which the blasted grey olives and gnarled fig-trees stretch their branches over the broken walls like fantastic, knotted beckoning fingers … Each and all of these things, and a hundred others besides, according to our nature, is a ghost, a vague feeling we can scarcely describe, a something pleasing and terrible which invades our whole consciousness.

Here the ghost is the landscape; there is no separation between ghost and place. Lee believes that these places invade consciousness, affecting our very being. She calls this ghost-of-place Genius Loci and states:

although what I call the Genius Loci can never be personified, we may yet feel him nearer and more potent , in some individual monument of feature of the landscape. He is immanent very often, and subduing our hearts most deeply, at a given turn of a road; or a path cut in terraces in a hillside, with view of great distant mountains; … most of all, perhaps, in the meeting-place of streams, or the mouth of a river … . The genius of places lurks there; or, more strictly, he is it.

For Lee there can be no landscape without haunting. The spirit of the place is the place and we have a bodily response to it; it affects us in the moment. Yet any spirit of place is also indelibly linked to the past. Places are always marked by what has gone before, by the people who populated and shaped the environment in many different ways, by the weather of millennia, by the habitations and actions of the non-human. Layers of memory and action are embedded in the landscape alongside the layering of the earth’s history in stone.
– Ruth Heholt and Niamh Downing

I thought that you were an anchor in the drift of the world;
but no: there isn’t an anchor anywhere.
There isn’t an anchor in the drift of the world. Oh no.
I thought you were. Oh no. The drift of the world.
— William Bronk

O spirit of poetry,
souls of those I have loved,
come back to teach me again.
— Edward Hirsch

She let herself drift along the meanders of melancholy, her ear attuned to the music of harps echoing over lakes, to all the songs of dying swans, to all the falling leaves.
— Gustave Flaubert

red pill or blue pill?
what if I told you schools train people to be ignorant, with style; they give you the equipment you need to be a functional ignoramus; never equipping you to deal with things like logic; never giving you the criteria to judge between good and bad in any medium or format; and they prepare you to be a usable victim for a military-industrial complex that needs manpower…

Learned every constellation 
just to find where you’re at.
— Gregory Alan Isakov

So much can neither be written nor kept inside!

— Tomas Tranströmer, Lamento

What are we?

A fleeting, intricate presence riding a tiny speck of water and rock, out here in the dark, sailing the ship of wonder ever more deeply into the void from which we came, that is our true home and mysterious destination.
– Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J. Kripal

Short Speech to My Friends
A political art, let it be

tenderness, low strings the fingers

touch, or the width of autumn

climbing wider avenues, among the virtue

and dignity of knowing what city

you’re in, who to talk to, what clothes

—even what buttons—to wear. I address

/ the society

the image, of

common utopia.

/ The perversity

of separation, isolation,

after so many years of trying to enter their kingdoms,

now they suffer in tears, these others, saxophones whining

through the wooden doors of their less than gracious homes.

The poor have become our creators. The black. The thoroughly

ignorant.

Let the combination of morality

and inhumanity

begin.

Is power, the enemy? (Destroyer
of dawns, cool flesh of valentines, among

the radios, pauses, drunks

of the 19th century. I see it,

as any man’s single history. All the possible heroes

dead from heat exhaustion

at the beach

or hiding for years from cameras

only to die cheaply in the pages
One hero

has pretensions toward literature

one toward the cultivation of errors, arrogance,

and constantly changing disguises, as trucker, boxer,

valet, barkeep, in the aging taverns of memory. Making love

to those speedy heroines of masturbation or kicking literal evil

continually down filmy public stairs.

A compromise

would be silence. To shut up, even such risk

as the proper placement

of verbs and nouns. To freeze the spit

in mid-air, as it aims itself

at some valiant intellectual’s face.

There would be someone

who would understand, for whatever

fancy reason. Dead, lying, Roi, as your children

cane up, would also rise. As George Armstrong Custer

these 100 years, has never made

a mistake.

1 Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.
2 Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.
3 Love what you do.
4 Be honest with yourself. If you are no good, accept it. If the work you are ­doing is no good, accept it.
5 Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went in the drawer it will be just as bad when it comes out.
6 Take no notice of anyone you don’t respect.
7 Take no notice of anyone with a ­gender agenda. A lot of men still think that women lack imagination of the fiery kind.
8 Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward.
9 Trust your creativity.
10 Enjoy this work!

We have enough information, more than enough, to plot a course towards engaged, passionate, sorrowful sanity. We have more than enough information to oblige us to behave as if there are generations to come that will need some example of grace under considerable pressure when it’s their turn.
– Stephen Jenkinson

You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 X 10^18 joules of potential energy – enough to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.
– Bill Bryson

The only burden you’ve ever had is your mind. There is no other burden. See if you can stop your mind for a few seconds, and see how peaceful you are. Where there are no thoughts, there are no worries, there are no fears, there’re no anxieties, there are no desires, no wants, no greed, no hurt, no enemies. It is the mind, the thoughts, that causes these things to come to us. We actually create these conditions. We create our own reality.
– Robert Adams

When you hear a stone dislodge itself from the high river bluffs and watch it tumble down to rest again, or when the pine branches move slightly in the winter breeze, or when you hear the late winter ice fringe on the river swish and hiss quietly as it breaks up in the current, you know each of these events, together with the human response to it, contains a poem, a complete artistic occurrence. You don’t need to do anything to it. In fact, you have to resist adding. The poet’s job, then, becomes containing that event and its aura of feeling succinctly, without insertions of wordplay or cogitation. The whole task is that of conveying the individual atmosphere present. Often this aura is so delicate and indefinably itself that while the poet can sometimes tell if he has caught it, he doesn’t know what it is he has caught. He simply recognizes its presence. It always lies beyond the image presented—in the escaping hints of implication of the image.
– Paul O. Williams

This is the way my memories connect
Now that they have no pattern.
All I can do is make the pictures click
As I go sailing on the stream of thought
Feeding the lake across which the sun strikes
To fill my sail, and every river bank
Or beach between the dunes and the sand bar
Leads to another place which I once knew,
— Clive James, The River in the Sky: A Poem

World, world, I am scared
and waver in awe before the wilderness
of raw consciousness, because it is all
dark and formlessness; and it is real
this passion that we feel for forms. But the forms
are never real. Are not really there. Are not.
— William Bronk

The wind had stopped sighing through the cracks with the coming of dark. He raised his head from his work and listened, seated at the little table, the faint chirping of crickets leaking through the plank walls. Everything was singing tonight after the rain … And the air smelled different.
— Larry Brown

Poetry is about what exists independent of writing. It’s about that something, that force, which sweeps poetry (and just about everything else) away.
— Daniel Wolff

Whether what we sense of this world
is the what of this world only, or the what
of which of several possible worlds
–which what?–something of what we sense
may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense.
— William Bronk

Whenever
The universe becomes
Four walls and a sigh
And a rainbow
Looks like a black ribbon
That wraps round the neck of tomorrow …
I have to know you wrestle with a longing
That easily knocks you down.
— Linda Abdel Baki

Grey-faced as worlds flow fast away
For worlds are done with every day, from minds hotwired to the sun
Her news is blue, her borrowed light softens the truth
The truth is night
— Chrissy Mason

Just being able to say beautiful words, to put beautiful words together, is a way of moving through time and living your life and holding onto your life more valuably.
— David Mason

HAWK
The forest is the only place
where green is green and blue is blue.
Walking the forest I have seen
most everything. I’ve seen a you
with yellow eyes and busted wing.
And deep in the forest, no one knew.
– Wendy Videlock

NORTH OF MIST
Just north of mist,
along the border,
half a color
from the water,
under the kiss
of shadow’s daughter,
(two breaths backward,
one word upward),
past the rumpled
terra cotta,
down the salve
of templed sorrow,
up the scales
of Bach, and Buddha,
down the moon
of broken solder,
through the eyes
of someone’s father,
in the grass
beside the water;
one part liar,
one part seer,
one part lyric,
one part scholar,
this is the walk
we come to wander,
one part illness,
one part healer.
– Wendy Videlock

You should go home to your hermitage; it is inside you. Close the doors, light the fire, and make it cozy again. That is what I call ‘taking refuge in the island of self.’ If you don’t go home to yourself, you continue to lose yourself. You destroy yourself and you destroy people around you, even if you have goodwill and want to do something to help. That is why the practice of going home to the island of self is so important. No one can take your true home away.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

At the age of twenty-nine Gautama slipped away from his palace in the middle of the night, leaving behind his family and possessions. He traveled as a homeless vagabond throughout northern India, searching for a way out of suffering. He visited ashrams and sat at the feet of gurus but nothing liberated him entirely – some dissatisfaction always remained. He did not despair. He resolved to investigate suffering on his own until he found a method for complete liberation. He spent six years meditating on the essence, causes and cures for human anguish. In the end he came to the realization that suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims. Rather, suffering is caused by the behavior patterns of one’s own mind. Gautama’s insight was that no matter what the mind experiences, it usually reacts with craving, and craving always involves dissatisfaction. When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves to be rid of the irritation. When the mind experiences something pleasant, it craves that the pleasure will remain and will intensify. Therefore, the mind is always dissatisfied and restless. This is very clear when we experience unpleasant things, such as pain. As long as the pain continues, we are dissatisfied and do all we can to avoid it. Yet even when we experience pleasant things we are never content. We either fear that the pleasure might disappear, or we hope that it will intensify. People dream for years about finding love but are rarely satisfied when they find it. Some become anxious that their partner will leave; others feel that they have settled cheaply, and could have found someone better. And we all know people who manage to do both.
– Yuval Noah Harari

Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?
― Annie Dillard

It is why
when we love
we remember our lives in water,
that other lives fall through us
like fish swimming in an endless sea
— Linda Hogan, Drum

The loneliness comes and goes, but the blue holds, / Permeating the early leaves that flutter in the sunlight
— John Koethe, The Late Wisconsin Spring

We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer.
– Jonah Lehrer

METONYMY AS AN APPROACH TO A REAL WORLD
Whether what we sense of this world
is the what of this world only, or the what
of which of several possible worlds
– which what? – something of what we sense
may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense.
For the rest, a truce is possible, the tolerance
of travelers, eating foreign foods, trying words
that twist the tongue, to feel that time and place,
not thinking that this is the real world.

Conceded, that all the clocks tell local time;
conceded, that “here” is anywhere we bound
and fill a space; conceded, we make a world:
is something caught there, contained there,
something real, something which we can sense?
Once in a city blocked and filled, I saw
the light lie in the deep chasm of a street,
palpable and blue, as though it had drifted in
from say, the sea, a purity of space.
– William Bronk

I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.
– James Kavanaugh

For the traveler today
Among the Zen parables, one koan is called “Just Drinking Tea”. Tea represents Zen spirit: he who tastes it tastes Zen.

Hot plum tea is offered to a visitor arriving from afar. Honey and sugar are dissolved in hot water and a pickled plum with the seed removed is proffered between the points of chopsticks. The visitor first steeps the plum briefly in the honey water. He then removes and eats it before drinking the tea. The sourness of the plum and the sweetness of the tea relieve the fatigue of the journey.

For the cook today
The three spirits of zen cooking –
First, the heart of pleasure.
Second, the heart of kindness.
Third, it’s a big deep heart.
Pay attention to everything.

These are Dogen’s three spirits of zen cooking. The happy spirit feels joy and gratitude at the privilege of being assigned the worthy task of cooking, an opportunity to follow the true way. The venerable spirit calls upon a kind heart in the pursuit of food that will please the diner. The great spirit does not flinch from the smallest detail and offers unwavering help in the unshakable quest for improvement.

For all of us today
Taste as much of this as you can. Swallow what you need and spit out the rest.
– Taizan Maezumi

Write in the light
of all the languages
you know the earth contains,
you murmur in my ear.
This is pure transport.
– Meena Alexande

I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds – but I think of you always in those intervals.
– Salvador Plascencia

The gull
giving loneliness
sound.
– Alexis Rotella

The loneliest people above all contribute most to commonality. I have said earlier that one person might hear more and another less of the vast melody of life; accordingly, the latter has a smaller or lesser duty in the great orchestra. The individual who could hear the entire melody would be at once the loneliest and the most common, for he [or she] would hear what no one else hears and yet only because he [or she] would grasp in its perfect completeness that which others strain to hear obscurely and only in parts.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Who can face the sea and not inherit its loneliness?
— Olin Ivory

How numerous and manifold is everything that is yet to come, and how differently it all surfaces and how differently it all passes from the way we expect. How poor we are in imagination, fantasy, and expectation, how lightly and superficially we take ourselves in making plans, only for reality then to arrive and play its melodies on us.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, On Life and Living

From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.
– R. Buckminster Fuller

[Describing an incident where he felt suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light, when a voice spoke to him. This was what it said.]
Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today.
– Edward Abbey

ODE TO THE PRESENT
This present moment, smooth as a wooden slab, this immaculate hour, this day pure as a new cup from the past – no spider web exists – with our fingers, we caress the present; we cut it according to our magnitude; we guide the unfolding of its blossoms. It is living, alive – it contains nothing from the unrepairable past, from the lost past, it is our infant, growing at this very moment, adorned with sand, eating from our hands. Grab it. Don’t let it slip away. Don’t lose it in dreams or words. Clutch it. Tie it, and order it to obey you. Make it a road, a bell, a machine, a kiss, a book, a caress. Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume. And make a chair; braid its back; test it. Or then, build a staircase!

Yes, a staircase. Climb into the present, step by step, press your feet onto the resinous wood of this moment, going up, going up, not very high, just so you repair the leaky roof.
Don’t go all the way to heaven. Reach for apples, not the clouds. Let them fluff through the sky, skimming passage, into the past.

You are your present, your own apple. Pick it from your tree. Raise it in your hand. It’s gleaming, rich with stars. Claim it. Take a luxurious bite out of the present, and whistle along the road of your destiny.
– Pablo Neruda

What is this? Sadness? Yes, perhaps.
A little tune that never stops.
One knows by heart its downs and ups.
— Joseph Brodsky

We all have forests in our minds. Forests unexplored, unending. Each one of us gets lost in the forest, every night, alone.
— Ursula K. Le Guin

You should lie down now and remember the forest,
for it is disappearing–
no, the truth is it is gone now
and so what details you can bring back
might have a kind of life.

Not the one you have hoped for, but a life
-you should lie down now and remember the forest-

– Susan Stewart

These are facts
you mouthy sonofabitch
shut up and let me love you
— Heather Bell

healing is not the same as being cured.
true healing is a coming to (w)holeness / (w)holiness despite our physical/mental/emotional woundings and illnesses.
Healing is an integration of every aspect of our BEing which might or might not result in a “cure” but always results in deep acceptance and peace despite externals~

HALF LIFE
We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream

barely touching the ground

our eyes half open
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.
– Stephen Levine, Breaking the Drought

Do you wake up as I do, having forgotten what it is that hurts or where, until you move? There is a second of consciousness that is clean again. A second that is you, without memory or experience, the animal warm and waking into a brand new world. There is the sun dissolving the dark, and light as clear as music, filling the room where you sleep and the other rooms behind your eyes.
— Jeanette Winterson

A film of mist clings to the storm windows
as the thunder gets pocketed and carried away
in the rain’s dark overcoat. A good reading night—

car wheels amplified by the flooded street,
leaf-clogged gutters bailing steadily, constant
motion beyond my walls echoing

my body’s gyroscopic stillness. Sonnevi says
Only if I touch do I dare let myself be touched,
and that familiar and somewhat terrifying curtain

of reading slips around me, pinning sound
to the room’s lost corners, pinning the room
to an emptying sky. I’m in the glacial grooves

of Sonnevi’s words as he makes love
and listens to Mozart in a spare apartment,
now reawakens to her voice saying goodnight

so much that I couldn’t sleep I was elated.
His world slips through the waterfall
of language and hovers here, on the other side,

in my apartment, where we listened to jazz
showering with the door open, soft-boiled eggs
by the pink light of the Chinese takeout,

made love against the footsteps of morning
commuters, smoked cigarettes on the fire escape
right up to the minute you left. Here,
we are in this continuousness —our lives
dissolved in the channels of written lines—
every word I’ve read was in me before I read it.

They’re pulled from me like seconds
from the cistern of an unfinished life. Love’s
endless weathering moves the body

of our words: We read to understand
we’re not alone in it—we carry one another,
assuredly—
though we do this alone.
– Wayne Miller, Reading Sonnevi on a Tuesday Night

People have free-fallen for thousands of miles through the distance of the heart
— Charles Wright, Thinking about the Night Sky, I Remember a Poem by Tu Fu

It’s too easy, you see, to get trapped in the past. The past is very seductive. People always talk about the mists of time, you know, but really it’s the present that’s in a mist, uncertain. The past is quite clear, and warm, and comforting. That’s why people often get stuck there.
— Susanna Kearsley, Mariana

Evenings spread their deeply darkened blue,
with the aching desire of winds and falling stars,
with shifting, caressing glow of fluttering leaves and grasses,
we wove ourselves into the wind, merged with the blueness…
— Anna Margolin

The task is clear: to create a culture of caretaking in which no one and nowhere is thrown away, in which the inherent value of people and all life is foundational.
– Naomi Klein

Perhaps I would not be so disheartened
if I did not dream of poems.
— Anna Margolin, Discontended

Look at everyone around you and see what we have done about ourselves and what is considered our daily victory. We have not loved above all things. We have not accepted what is not understood because we do not want to be fools. We have accumulated things and assurances for not having each other. We have no joy that has not been cataloged. We have built cathedrals and we have stayed on the outside, because the cathedrals that we ourselves build fear that they are traps. We have not given ourselves, because that would be the beginning of a long life and we fear it. We have avoided falling on our knees in front of the first of us who out of love says: you are afraid. We have organized associations and smiling clubs where it is served with or without soda. We have tried to save ourselves, but without using the word salvation so as not to be ashamed of being innocent. We have not used the word love to avoid having to recognize its context of hatred, love, jealousy and so many other opposites. We have kept our death a secret to make our life possible. Many of us make art because we do not know what the other thing is like. We have disguised our indifference with false love, knowing that our indifference is anguish in disguise. We have disguised the great fear with the little fear and that’s why we never talk about what really matters. Talking about what really matters is considered an indiscretion. We have not adored for having the sensible stinginess of remembering the false gods in time. We have not been pure and naive not to laugh at ourselves and so that at the end of the day we can say “at least I was not stupid” and so we were not perplexed before turning off the light. We have smiled in public about what we would not smile when we were left alone. We have called weakness to our candor. We have feared each other, above all. And all this we consider our victory every day.
– Clarice Lispector, An Apprenticeship, Or, The Book of Delights

What we often forget is that thought is to be used to correct life. It’s not a way of life. If you make thought the center of your life, you’re not going to live it. So, what you have to do is be this kind of hysterical, emotional, vibrant creature who lives at the top of his lungs for a lifetime and then corrects around the edges so that he doesn’t go insane or drive his friends mad. Thought is the skin around the organ. The organ is full of blood and a beating heart, a soul and the exaltation of being alive!
– Ray Bradbury

Until the culture recognizes the legitimacy of growing down, each person in the culture struggles blindly to make sense of the darkness that the soul requires to deepen into life.
– James Hillman

Your dark night may be a bardo, a period of apparent lifelessness that precedes a new birth of meaning. Maybe your dark night is a gestation, a coming into being of a level of existence you have never dreamed of. Maybe your dark night is one big ironical challenge, just the opposite of what it appears to be — not a dying, but a birthing.” Thomas Moore
— Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals

Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.
– Paulo Coelho

While we might not need a new religion, we do need a new sense of the sacred or an awakening of the most ancient one: a sense of awe, wonder, and respect for something greater than us. What could that something greater be? There is no need to theorize about it. What is greater than us is the earth itself – life – and we are folded into it, a small part of it, and we have work to do.
– Paul Kingsnorth

The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us. It helps us connect to our basic right to be here, like the breath does. It’s a stance of the soul. In systems theory, each part contains the whole. Gratitude is the kernel that can flower into everything we need to know.
– Joanna Macy

The theme of the Grail is the bringing of life into what is known as ‘the wasteland.’ The wasteland is the preliminary theme to which the Grail is the answer. . . It’s the world of people living inauthentic lives – doing what they are supposed to do.
– Joseph Campbell

WHOEVER’S found out what location
compassion (heart’s imagination)
can be contacted at these days,
is herewith urged to name the place;
and sing about it in full voice,
and dance like crazy and rejoice
beneath the frail birch that appears
to be upon the verge of tears…
– Wislawa Szymborska

…We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.
– John O’Donohue

The Currents of the World
By Quinn Bailey (Westwords, 2013)

You are adrift
Floating on a vast ocean
Clinging to your little piece of the wreckage.
Drifting for what could have been forever.
Until one day, as you crest yet another wave, it’s there in the distance.
How did you not see it before?
Has it always been there? Softly calling your name.
You turn and for the first time in your life… KICK.
Fighting against the swell.
Fighting until your muscles burn and your own name means nothing!
But you get no closer
So you keep fighting.
Your piece of that long forgotten ship wreck held up like a shield,
You fight until the salt water mixes with the blood in your mouth
And you wish your bones would just break already!
But you are no closer
It’s in that moment you realize
If you wish to continue you must let go of that which has kept you safe
On the surface all these years.
With the deepest gratitude
You slip below
And let the currents of the world
take you.

Heartwood
By Terry Junttonen
Rub me the wrong way,
I’m so tired of right.
Stroke roughly against the grain.
Rub me raw, past polish
And circling layers
To the unmapped center,
Wild wood
Where I am freed to wander lost,
Walk widdershins,
Grow a new shape.

…If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place
that allows us to remember the sacred.
Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert
is a pilgrimage to the self.
There is no place to hide and so we are found.
– Terry Tempest Williams

…The soul who loves the peak
also inhales the deep
breath rising
from the mountain
buried in mist.
– Robert Bly

…Though we do not know our exact location,
we are held in place by what links us.
Across trackless distances
antennas sense each other.
Pure attention, the essence of the powers!
Distracted by each day’s doing,
how can we hear the signals?
Even as the farmer labors
there where the seed turns into summer,
it is not his work. It is Earth who gives.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

If you can’t hear the turkey tail and the bright green
moss singing on the rotted oak corpse, please don’t bother me.
If you can’t converse with a stone or
haven’t even thought about learning the language of birds,
Please move on.
Life is short. Each one.
I want my allegiances to be with lovers;
the kind that reach out and invite everything to touch them.
Two hands are not enough for this world
in my humble opinion.
There is so much to hold beyond fear, beyond hatred,
and so we must use our sensibilities to find each other.

Let my prayers be that you will hear the angels at the corpse
and listen for a long while to what the stones know
about the bodies that they have met.
And, the birds, the birds. Let me pray that someday, soon,
you will understand what they are saying about
the need to wake and rise.

Maybe, then, we could take a walk together
and be astonished
by the beauty of this world.

Maybe, then, a poet could be understood.
– Jamie K. Reaser

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers of feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, one way or another.
– Rebecca Solnit

I write a poem in which you soften me like gerunds / & after dinner, as I wash our plates by the failing light / of last winter’s Hanukkah candles, you make of me a prophet.
— Meg Day

Even when I am alone, I have real good company–dreams and imaginations and pretendings.
— L.M. Montgomery

DOORS
I’m trying to create an option for all
these doors in life. You’re inside
or out, outside or in. Of late, doors
have failed us more than the two-party system
or marriages comprising only one person.
We’ve been fooled into thousands of dualisms
which the Buddha says is a bad idea.
Nature has portals rather than doors.
There are two vast cottonwoods near a creek
and when I walk between them I shiver.
Winding through my field of seventy-seven
large white pine stumps from about 1903
I take various paths depending on spirit.
The sky is a door never closed to us.
The sun and moon aren’t doorknobs.
Dersu Uzala slept outside for forty-five years.
When he finally moved inside he died.
– Jim Harrison

just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy. and yet being alive is no answer to the problem of living. to be or not to be is not the question. the vital question is: how to be and how not to be. the tendency to forget this vital question is the tragic disease of contemporary man. a disease that may prove fatal, that may end in disaster. to pray is to recollect passionately the perpetual urgency of this vital question.
– abraham joshua heschel

CHOOSING TO THINK OF IT
Today, ten thousand people will die
and their small replacements will bring joy
and this will make sense to someone
removed from any sense of loss.
I, too, will die a little and carry on,
doing some paperwork, driving myself
home. The sky is simply overcast,
nothing is any less than it was
yesterday or the day before. In short,
there’s no reason or every reason
why I’m choosing to think of this now.
The short-lived holiness
true lovers know, making them unaccountable
except to spirit and themselves – suddenly
I want to be that insufferable and selfish,
that sharpened and tuned.
I’m going to think of what it means
to be an animal crossing a highway,
to be a human without a useful prayer
setting off on one of those journeys
we humans take. I don’t expect anything
to change. I just want to be filled up
a little more with what exists,
tipped toward the laughter which understands
I’m nothing and all there is.
By evening, the promised storm
will arrive. A few in small boats
will be taken by surprise.
There will be survivors, and even they will die.
– Stephen Dunn

In the room, the rain beginning its long descent onto the roof–
Its sound the chirring of crickets in a ravine.
I could almost hear … no, I could only imagine hearing it. And that
Is what it has become:
Having to imagine, having to imagine everything,
In detail, & without end.
– Larry Levis

a piano woken by one finger
like someone learning the alphabet all over
or rather, astronomy, peering into the font
of the constellations for our names where we are not
and where the whole amount
depends on our subtraction into nought.
— Joseph Brodsky

Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn’t matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you’d still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.
— Ada Limón

There is no antidote […] against the opium of time. The winter sun shows how soon the light fades from the ash, how soon night enfolds us. Hour upon hour is added to the sum. Time itself grows old. Pyramids, arches and obelisks are melting pillars of snow. Not even those who have found a place amidst the heavenly constellations have perpetuated their names: Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osiris in the Dog Star. Indeed, old families last not three oaks.
— W. G. Sebald

no sake–
I gaze deeply
at the moon
— Santonka Taneda

Some fact and much imagination richly mixed. It’s literature but to the reader it’s history that hardens into dogma. The red paint dries. The light becomes the business plan of a priest. We are condemned to worn versions.
— Rodger Kamenetz, The Errors of Religion

Amber on hills the day begins
the light upon me a kind of body
— Olga Broumas & T. Begley

Poetry is a private kiss
provocatively exchanged
in a public space.
— K. Satchidanandan The Kiss, The Mighty Stream

After dusk we descended homeward.
— Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

So like twilight to show up just when you need it.
— Rodger Kamenetz, Incident on Memory Lane

My soul pours out without end, like melancholy water
— Éphraïm Mikhaël, Florimond

Am I free? There’s something that still restrains me. Or am I fastening myself to it? Either way, it’s like this: I’m not completely free because I’m tied to everything. In fact, a person is everything. It’s not a heavy burden to carry by yourself because it isn’t simply carried: one is everything.
It seems to me that for the first time I’m gaining in understanding about things. The impression is that I don’t try anymore to come closer to things so I won’t go beyond myself. I have a certain fear of myself, I’m not to be trusted and I distrust my false power.
This is the word of someone who cannot.
I don’t control anything. Not even my own words. But it isn’t sad: it’s humble happiness. I, who live to the side, I’m to the left of whoever comes in. And within me trembles the world.
– Clarice Lispector

Hermeticism and the Golden Fleece – Joseph Caezza
Hermeticism and the Golden Fleece
Joseph Caezza
Every century and upon every continent a handful of exceptional men are born who possess the innate ability to read the signatures of nature directly, to see immediately into the mystery of continuous creation and to know pristine reality revealed by the power of imaginal identification. Such vision differs radically from twentieth century pedestrian academic mentality. These sages have bequeathed us a legacy of artifacts fine as the thread of Ariadne in the form of the good texts of Hermetic Alchemy. These tomes speak from the vein of the forge and the crucible, a mother load in the vast mine of collective imagination about mankind’s origin and ultimate destiny. They articulate with artful genius the same message of the hero’s journey embodied in the great world myths. A generation ahead of mythic Cadmus, a generation behind Homer’s Ulysses, Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece constitutes a fabulous example of the archetypal process of Nature referred to in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Tristmegistus as “the operation of the Sun”.
The greatest alchemical adepts, Artephius, Nicholas Flamel, Salomon Trismosen, Michael Maier, Philalethes, Dom Pernety and Fulcanelli among many others have spoken at once with pornographic explicitness and again with exasperating obliqueness about the bench-top laboratory manipulations revealed in the circumstances of Jason’s voyage. Joscelyn Godwin in his brilliant forward to Antoine Faivre’s contemporary survey, The Golden Fleece and Alchemy remarks that C. G. Jung anchors Jason’s argo along with the Hermetic great work solely to the psychic level of personality integration while ignoring how, why, what and with what, adepts actually do in their laboratories. Faivre too, pays gross negligence to this central aspect of the royal art which concerns itself with a combination of prayer, study and working hands-on directly with matter. “ORA, LEGE, LEGE, LEGE, RELEGE, LABORA ET INVENIES”, declares the motto of the Mutus Liber of 1677, “Pray, Read, Read, Read, Read Again and You Shall Find”.
Western alchemy represents a highly specialized version of the age old quest for mystical communion with the essential archetypal process of Nature. Adepts seek to recapitulate this process with symbolically affective laboratory gestures, chemical manipulations and of course, with the indispensable cooperation of providence. But what do they actually do in their laboratories?
Betty Dobbs in her monumental study, The Foundations of Newton’s Alchemy or The Hunting of the Green Lyon, addresses this central issue of laboratory procedures in their 17th century European context better than any modern professional scholar. She explains that adepts worked their methodologies with simple manipulations and a few key materials. She provides an excellent translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s Clavis, a recipe that entails the chief substances symbolized in the Jason myth.
According to the myth, Chrysomellos, the winged ram sent by beneficent Olympian deities rescues a child from the homicidal plot of his stepmother, carrying him safely to the eastern shores of the Black sea. Here the miraculous ram becomes a sacrifice, its fleece hung upon an oak tree in a grove sacred to Ares and guarded by a dragon. The scenario refers metaphorically to the descent of the Divine from above the highest sepheroth, Kether, down the Kabbalistic tree of life to the lowest sepheroth, Malkuth, Earth in the presence of the element Antimony, who’s vital spirit, philosophic mercury, remains still in tact. Matter has become the prison of spirit. Insightful wisdom and artful alchemical manipulation may release it.
Renaissance alchemists represented antimony by the symbolic rams horns that also identify the zodiac constellation Ares. Antimony, a metalloid or semi-metal was perceived as below lead in an infant or childhood state in the natural process of metallic evolution fully mature in the element gold. It was also symbolized as a cross above a circle which additionally identified Earth, the divinely perfect circle of gold buried under the cross of nature upon which man is crucified.
Gold, more than a metaphor, blatantly and beautifully bears the solar signature. Its perfect state defies oxidation or attack by any single acid giving way only to aqua regia, a combination of nitric and hydrochloric acid. Luster and permanence testify to its Divinity within the confines of the metallic realm.
Ares, known to the Romans as Mars, also indicates the element Iron, rich in philosophical sulfur, the source principle of the luminous animating functional fire of Nature. It comprises the compliment of philosophic mercury. Iron finds use in purifying stibnite, the chief ore of antimony in the classic reduction process: Sb2S3 + 2 Fe = 2Sb + Fe2S3 .
Newton spent years of study and labor working out the details of this reaction and its product at the root of animated philosophic mercury. Small iron nails are heated red hot in a crucible. Powdered antimony ore is added along with saltpeter and tartar to serve as fluxing agents. After several fulminating episodes sponsored by repeated additions of saltpeter the molten material is poured into a conical mold. Pure antimony sinks to the bottom topped off by a layer of scoria which easily separates after cooling. Signs of correct crystal purity include a star pattern on the surface of the antimony, hence the name star martial regulus.
In a major episode exactly reminiscent of Cadmus, Jason must sow serpents teeth into a field. From these seeds spring an army of ghost warriors who fight each other to death. The seed of gold, the serpent teeth are extracted from the layer of scoria above the purified antimony, the mercurial serpent, using sal ammoniac, ammonium chloride in the procedure of sublimation. This seed after purification is then sewn into meticulously prepared philosophical mercury. This metallic mixture then sealed hermetically in a flask undergoes a long gradually heated fermentation. Color changes clearly mark the major stages of this incubation along with the emergence and dissolution from the molten mass of many strange forms described metaphorically in the Jason myth as a battle of ghost warriors. Newton and other adept authors describe these forms as fast growing metallic trees. An anonymous contemporary operator recently perceived these forms as rapidly sprouting heads of cauliflower that soon dissolved back into the putrefying chaos contained in his hermetic flask.
The ultimate product of this labor mythically known as the golden fleece refers to the philosopher’s stone. This red powder projected into molten base metal effects an apparently miraculous transmutation into gold. Recent discoveries by Stan Tenen and others, (Gnosis No. 3 and 28) of the geometric revelation hidden in the Torah’s Hebrew letter code that model mathematically the fractal process of a seeds germination into fruit containing self propagating seed within itself, illuminates this alchemical gesture of projection. During this gesture rearrangement of base metal subatomic particles catalyzed by the propagated potency of Divine Presence unfolding flower-like from the philosopher’s stone, creates a well known wonder of alchemy.
This wonder of alchemy testifies with unquestionable proof to the level of personality integration achieved by the operator. Unlike the vague proofs of successful psychotherapy the adept has a tangible token artifact. Alchemy of the forge and crucible variety thus embodies the profound idea of sacred science. Our late twentieth century civilization moves ever closer to the rediscovery of this tradition. Yet the only way to exhaustively understand the symbolic implications of the Jason myth in its alchemical context is to become an alchemist and to execute the great work.
But does salvation require a laboratory? The archetypes projected into external substance may be manipulated at a strictly internal level. The symbols of western alchemy occur in familiar forms in Tantric Yoga. The European “Royal Art” of alchemy pursues the same goal as the Royal Raja Yoga of India. In the most remote past European and Hindu cultures sprang from a single root whose core experience of Gnosis presented itself in myths and related esoteric disciplines of spiritual reintegration.
J. Nigro Sansonese, a contemporary yogin as well as professor of math and physics delivers a brilliantly argued thesis in his recent The Body of Myth. Expanding the tradition of C.G. Jung and Joseph Campbell he explicates the anatomic, physiologic and neurologic basis of the great world myths. Such myths trek out the physical geography of man’s body as the spiritual current moves up the spinal ladder of ascending attention to culminate in the ecstatic rapture of gnosis.
According to Sansonese myths reveal in esoteric language the stages of bodily transformation leading to contemplative trance. He includes an entire chapter on Jason and the Argonauts. Jason’s ship, the argo refers to the cranium. The fifty argonauts represent the five senses withdrawn from fragmented external experience yet focused on the inward journey into trance. Two of these argonauts, the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux are esoteric descriptions of alternate nostril breathing.
The rowing contest between Jason and Hercules constitutes a further example of alternate nostril breathing just previous to the experience of trance symbolized as the heros collapse from exhaustion into unconsciousness. The author speaks from his own experience of meditative absorption when he describes minutely perceptible changes in the sutures and sinuses of the skull during breathing which correlate to elements of the stages in the argonauts’ journey.
Finally Sansonese dissects the name “Jason” to reveal its two syllable nature as an onomatopoeic rendering for the physical gesture of respiration. Convincing evidence appears in the ancestral lineage of Jason. His great-grandfather was Aeolus, god of the wind. Also relevant are yogic breathing exercises that assign onomatopoeic syllables to inspiration and expiration such as HAM-SA, SO-HAM or SI-VA. These arguments might seem eccentric and vague. Perhaps only another yogin could appreciate their depth and profoundness.
Contemporary scholars have barely touched the phenomenological relationship between yoga and alchemy. Certainly they pursue identical goals. Mircea Eliade in his now classic encyclopedic survey, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, includes a brief chapter on yoga and alchemy. He notes that there are certain moments when the “osmosis” between these two disciplines is perfect.
The Hermetic scholar, Manly Palmer Hall speculates on the etymology of the symbolic rose of the Rosicrucians derived from Ras, wisdom or Ros, dew which recall Rasayana,the Ayurvedic science of longevity involving alchemically produced herbal and metallic medicines but more specifically “rasum”, the nectar of immortality produced in the brain. Normally this secretion is destroyed by normal body function but yogic manipulations such as the headstand and kerchari mudra preserve and cultivate this substance.
During kerchari mudra, the tongue, artificially lengthened over years of ardent discipline inserts back and up into the nasal passage to block the normal flow of rasum. Such a practice is thought to function like the golden fleece to preserve health and even restore lost youth.
The greatest Hindu sages write about the spiritual accomplishment of Gnosis using the metaphor of the philosopher’s stone. Jnaneshwar (1275-1296) certainly one of the foremost saints of the past millennium wrote an exquisite commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s central scripture. He composed this work at the age of fourteen, without formal education by direct knowledge resulting from Divine grace. He describes with unparalleled depth the symptoms of bodily transformation effected by the yogic process of spiritual awakening. His commentary contains no less than 17 references to the philosopher’s stone that explicitly transmutes base metal into gold. Often these references describe the way divine grace transforms its recipient.
The seventh century South Indian sage, Thirumoolar in his classic, Thirumandiram, an esoteric masterpiece of 3000 verses, explains man’s path to immortal divinity. In verse 2709 he declares that the name of God, Siva, is an alchemical vehicle that turns the body into immortal gold. His poetry resonates with the deathless nature of spiritual attainment.
Another great South Indian saint, Ramalinga Swamigal (1823-1874) dissolved his perfected body into blinding white light just as another earlier sage, Manickavasagar had done in the seventh century. As a child Ramalingar delivered brilliant scriptural discourses and commentaries without any formal education. He too claimed direct knowledge bestowed by divine grace. In his classic testimony, The Divine Song of Grace, Ramalinga describes the transmutation of his dense physical body into a body of light:
“Oh God! The Eternal Love, just to bestow upon me the golden body, You,
Universal Love, have merged with my heart, allowing yourself to be infused in me.
Oh Supreme Love, You with the Light of Grace have alchemised my body”.
Canto 6, Chapter 1, Verse 480
This verse resounds with the import of the gesture of alchemical projection where a minute quantity of the philosopher’s stone transmutes molten base metal into gold. Ramalinga’s body cast no shadow and attempts to photograph him revealed only his clothing. The esoteric level of such accomplishment defies any attempt at vain academic analysis.
So too, a deeper understanding of the quest of Jason and the Argonauts defies the limit of ivory tower scholarship. The golden fleece beckons to every man as a road map of the soul’s origin and ultimate destiny. Exhaustive study of the map will always be an optional first step. Genuine accomplishment emerges only when we take up the quest and join Jason on his hero’s journey.
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Dobbs, Betty Jo Teeter, The Foundations of Newton’s Alchemy or The Hunting of the Green Lyon. Cambridge, 1975
Faivre, Antoine, The Golden Fleece and Alchemy, SUNY, Albany, N.Y. 1993
Jnanadeva, Sri, (Jnanashwar), Bhavartha Dipika, also known as the Jnanashwari, Samata, Madras, 1954
Natarajan, B., editor-translator, Thirumoolar’s Thirumandiram, ITES, Madras,1979
Pernety, Antoine-Joseph, An Alchemical Treatise on the Great Art, Weiser, York Beach, ME. 1995
Sansonese, J. Nigro, The Body of Myth: Mythology, Shamanic Trance and the Sacred Geography of the Body, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT. 1994
Srinavasan, C., An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ramalinga, Ilakkia Nilayam, Tiruchi, 1968.

Yes, this heart rushes toward you–
harder and harder, farther and farther.
— Joseph Brodsky, New Stanzas to Augusta

Most of the time we go through the day, through our activities, our work, our relationships, our conversations, and very rarely do we ground ourselves in an awareness of our bodies. We are lost in our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our stories, our plans.

Pay attention to those times when you feel like you are rushing. Rushing does not have to do with speed. You can rush moving slowly, and you can rush moving quickly. We are rushing when we feel we are toppling forward. Our minds run ahead of ourselves; they are out there where we want to get to, instead of being settled back in our bodies. The feeling of rushing is good feedback. Whenever we are not present, right then, in that situation, we should stop and take a few breaths. Settle into the body again. Feel yourself sitting. Feel the step of a walk. Be in your body.

The Buddha made a very powerful statement about this: “Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana.” Such awareness is not a superficial practice. Mindfulness of the body keeps us present.”
– Joseph Goldstein

What I master by day
still lapses in the night. But I go on
[…], blindly feeling the snow
come down, learning to flower by tightening.
— Jack Gilbert, A Description of Happiness in København

The birds do not sing in these mornings. The skies
are white all day. The Canadian geese fly over
high up in the moonlight with the lonely sound
of their discontent. Going south. Now the rains
and soon the snow. The black trees are leafless,
the flowers gone. Only cabbages are left
in the bedraggled garden. Truth becomes visible,
the architecture of the soul begins to show through.
— Jack Gilbert, Half the Truth, Collected Poems

When we slow,
the garden can choose what we notice. Can change
our heart.
— Jack Gilbert, Burning (Andante Non Troppo)

As artists, we want to speak from the scar, not the wound, from self-possession as opposed to raw pain. The audience can feel the difference … When an artist creates or performs from pain and inexperience, you feel their pain and inexperience and nothing else. In contrast — and this is the power and magical potential of great art — when you read or watch an artist perform from a place of self-anchored strength, as the audience, you feel invigorated with newfound clarity, wisdom, and inspiration.
— Reema Zaman, After Healing Comes Rising

Tell another. Image & thought binding.
When did this blue world become black & white?
Easter Sunday. Too young for a sermon
To mean anything. From the church balcony
A chorus rose with the sureness of night
Thunder, led him to that River Jordan
Simply the Mississippi in his mind.
Gospel voices, a deep-down undertow
For his Huckleberry soul. They pull him
Under—over—asunder. Their hymns find
Him lifting, rising, wanting to be close
As he could to those rafter voices, skin
He had not seen before, their songs burdened
By shadowed nights flamed in crucifixions.
– Greg Sellers

In loneliness twilight’s hammer wakes a small night so the great night can come in.
— Rodger Kamenetz, In Loneliness

Night the canopy our poem shapes.
— David Meltzer

ON BITCHING
after Catullus

Listen, Hilarius, you’ve got to snap out of it.
I know you’re in your fifties now,
but don’t let yourself give in to bitterness.
Sure, when you were younger the muse
used to visit more often, sprawling across your lap
and whispering in your ear, but at least
she treats you now and then to an idea
or plants a stanza in your head as you’re waking up.
And stop bitching about editors
who keep publishing each other’s poems
in Pretension Quarterly or The Moribund Review.
Try not to let it bother you so much.
Why waste your energy enumerating
all the petty injustices that have gone on
since ancient times and are bound to continue
for centuries to come? And there’s no point
in envying the poets who swagger into rooms,
charging every molecule with their need
to be important. So, let them be important.
And if, sometimes, you feel as if you
hardly exist, well, as a great poet once said,
be secret and exult . . . instead of sulking.
Believe me, I agree with you, it’s too bad
things sometimes work the way they do,
but it’s exasperating to listen to you
after you’ve had a few too many cups of wine
railing against the zealously self-promoting
postmodern obfuscators, the hip ironists revved up
on their own cleverness, the tedious fundamentalists
of rhyme and meter, or the one you call
the formalist narcissist Stalinist surrealist.
Not bad, Hilarius, but you need to get over it.
You didn’t want power, remember?
You wanted to write poems. So, write them.
And the next time some self-satisfied preener
wins a prize, don’t dwell on it, but remind yourself
of all the poems that didn’t get away, the poems
of your friends and how they’ve borne you up
and spurred you on with a better envy,
and remember the friends themselves, laboring
alone at their desks, mostly under the radar
(unlike the “famous poets” you call the oxymorons),
and giving you what literary life you have
which if not dazzling is at least genuine –
and thank the gods to the end of your days
for the time they’ve granted you to spend
on making poems, even if they come to nothing.
– Jeffrey Harrison

Most memories are forgotten more than once.
— Lera Auerbach

Wondering wanderer in search of wonder, always lost, never found, profane and profound; round and round circling sounds in the maze of the page, musical sage, child of the times, enchanted by rhymes, seeking connection in all forms of art …
– Lera Auerbach

Even the past is still a being in the fullness of its occurrence, if only it is understood not according to its content but by means of its intensity, and we–members of a world that generates movement upon movement, force upon force, and seems to cascade inexorably into less and less visible things–we are forced to rely upon the past’s superior visibility if we want to gain an image of the now muted magnificence that still surrounds us today.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

To see Void vast infinite
look out the window
into the blue sky.
– Allen Ginsberg

You hold an absence
at your center,
as if it were a life.
– Richard Brostoff

You hear yourself walking on the snow.
You hear the absence of birds.
A stillness so complete, you hear
the whispering inside of you. Alone
morning after morning, and even more
at night. They say we are born alone,
to live and die alone. But they are wrong.
We get to be alone by time, by luck,
or by misadventure. When I hit the log
frozen in the woodpile to break it free,
it makes a sound of perfect inhumanity,
which goes pure all through the valley,
like a crow calling unexpectedly
at the darker end of twilight that awakens
me in the middle of a life. The black
and white of me mated with this indifferent
winter landscape. I think of the moon
coming in a little while to find the white
among these colorless pines.
– Jack Gilbert

Christ, how this life
From mud to miracle
Is just the prettiest little burden
Isn’t it, El?
– Richard Buckner

It is not a question of loving myself as I may love others but of being more dependent on this silent partner I carry within myself, more at his mercy, as it were, than is perhaps the case with anybody else. The fear of losing oneself is legitimate, for it is the fear of no longer being able to talk with oneself. And not only grief and sorrow but also joy and happiness and all the other emotions would be altogether unbearable if they had to remain mute, inarticulate.

Even if we are by ourselves, when we articulate or actualize this being-alone we find that we are in company, in the company of ourselves. Loneliness, that nightmare which, as we all know, can very well overcome us in the midst of a crowd, is precisely this being deserted by oneself, the temporary inability to become two-in-one, as it were, while in a situation where there is no one else to keep us company. Seen from this viewpoint, it is indeed true that my conduct towards others will depend on my conduct toward myself. Only no specific content, no special duties and obligations are involved, nothing indeed but the sheer capacity of thought and remembrance, or its loss.
– Hannah Arendt, Responsibility and Judgment

Happiness is the purging of mental toxins, such as hatred and obsession.
happiness is the purge of mental toxins, like hate and obsession.
– Matthew Ricard

Mark Gibbons
The Old Poet Sees the White Man

Two stools down, two white guys
rebuild – sheet rock and tape – the house
they’d worked on all day, tossing
back pints of Miller beer. Beyond them
an elderly couple sit chewing
on burgers, still collared up warm
in their polyester coats – two cigarettes
burning in the ash tray between them.
Not a regular, but not a stranger,
the old poet orders a burger and glass
of Guinness, props his cane between his knees,
cracks open a peanut and nibbles
on the fruit, lets the shells fall
among the husks piling on the floor.

The door opens and an Indian woman enters.
All heads turn, pause, and return.
She walks past them, the length of the bar,
her gait smooth and sure as a cat’s,
disappears in the direction of the rest rooms
or the alley exit. One bartender washing
glasses nods knowingly at the other guy
flipping burgers. On TV, Dallas, America’s
Team, battles the Redskins for bragging
rights – top dog of the NFL cellar.

The old poet recalls a sweat he took years ago
up Spring Creek, catches himself humming
a song – Charlo’s Walking Bear.
The polyester smoker points out to his woman
an all-Irish Butte baseball team in the gallery
on the back wall, laughs, coughs and rasps,
“Down in Finn Town we hammered those Micks.”
The dishwashing bartender grins, pours
the Finn couple free beers on the house.
One of the carpenters kills his pint, raps
the empty hard on the counter, and stands up
to stretch his legs, “No shit,” he says,
“every fuckin’ board – twisted as a cork screw!”
The bartender laughs, grabs a fresh glass,
tilts it under the tap, and draws another brew.

The Indian woman comes back, appears
headed out the door, but pulls up
next to the poet – who gives her a smile
she doesn’t return. She digs in her pockets,
drops coins on the bar, and unwads two
crumpled bills. The bartender keeps rinsing glasses.
His ears, then his eyes acknowledge the money.

He wipes his hands, asks flatly, “Whatta ya need?”
The old poet sees smoke, bleached bones,
black wings cross her face, framed
in the back bar mirror. “Ya got cigarettes?”
she asks quietly, “Marlboro menthols?”
He pulls a box of regular filters from the case.
“Menthols,” she says. Slowly, he grabs another
brand, shows her, says, “Four and a quarter.”
Her hands close on the mound of cash.
“Four and a fucking quarter?” she asks.
Holding the pack up, halfway over the bar,
he warns, “Hey! Watch your mouth.”
Grabbing her change and mumbling, “Goddamn
robbers,” she turns and lunges out the door.

The bartender returns the pack of smokes
to the case, blank faced – his one eye twitches.
Nobody’s talking. Then the Cowboys score.
Happy Hour begins, and the bartender
pours. The poet’s burger is up. The old couple
moves over to the keno machines. America’s
Team pulls out an overtime squeaker.
As the carpenters get back to nailing it down,
the old poet chews slowly, nurses his beer,
and glances at the white man
eating crow in the mirror.

—for Vic Charlo

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.
– Albert Einstein

Treacherous Revelations
The day will come
when you must rely
on no others advice,
save your own.
The loud, clamorous
rumbling of a wisdom forgotten,
where permissions are burned,
and the rising swell of a shaky ghost
floods your throat
awakening a fumbling,
chaotic and unkempt power
one that has not seen the light of day
for many moons.
Pressed into a chamber of twilight
where all but the stars of your Soul
sang to this sole note of you,
and now it expands.
It claws and scrambles its way
through the stony, cold passage
where moss and lichen grow.
It hears the crashing of the tide,
and knows the taste of salt
rocking through water.
It can smell the seaweed, and
it can feel the damp wind
spinning threads of sky
through a loom of forested sand.
It flies upon the wings of its own desperation
fearing this to be the last and only chance
the world might hear your true voice.
– Amanda Fiorino

i am seeking the fertile, slippery ground–
that resides somewhere between
the edge of passive receptivity
and the fire of intimidating.

my longing propels me–
perpetually and passionately,
to seek those desires unspoken,
dismissed,
shamed,
long-buried.
desires relegated to sweaty epiphanies–
the kind that are only possible when your path
collides with fellow edgewalkers
and soul mates.
the kind that leaves you both thrashing about,
without regard for the risks or peril undertow–
clumsily yet fiercely determined
to experience firsthand
what it is to be human.
untended desires sought and found–
in the dark harrowing womb of seedy nightclubs
and the dreamy, otherwordly dimensions
that exist down endless rabbit holes,
if you know just where to look.
desires lost
and embodiment shakily sought–
in the laps and soft bodies of strangers,
many known more deeply and intimately
than close friends.
wholeness resides here.
in the soft, middle ground,
between worlds.
in that tension between–
extremity and formlessness.
stillness and movement.
vulnerability and strength.
black and white.
prickly intensity and soft sweetness
literal and mystery
masculine and feminine
middle and edge.
i have but one question–
where is that elusive ground that you seek?
– Nikki Coffelt, Ph.D.

Open up your heart,
to receive all the beauty and grace of the universe.
Gaze upon the night sky with wonder,
imagining each star as a new possibility.
Run through the fields of flowers,
abandoning all your worries and others’ expectations.
Dance among the raindrops of spring,
as you celebrate the joy of living fully.
Ride the ocean waves,
testing your courage and endurance.
Tread gently, with eyes wide open, through the forests;
they have yet to reveal all their secrets.
Listen to the call of mother nature.
She knows,
Accepting is not giving up,
but opening up,
to a world of opportunities and adventures,
never before imagined.
– Uma Sivaprasad

WHOEVER’S found out what location
compassion (heart’s imagination)
can be contacted at these days,
is herewith urged to name the place;
and sing about it in full voice,
and dance like crazy and rejoice
beneath the frail birch that appears
to be upon the verge of tears…
– Wislawa Szymborska

woods in winter chill
browns and tans blend with hillside
copperhead den–still
— Greg Sellers

And stories teach not only attitudes, but beliefs – not that such-and-such a belief is true, but what it feels like to hold it.
— Philip Pullman

When I look at my life and its secret colours, I feel like bursting into tears.
— Albert Camus

You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
– Martha Medeiros

When changewinds swirl through our lives, they often call us to undertake a new passage of the spiritual journey: that of confronting the lost and counterfeit places within us and releasing our deeper, innermost self–our true selves. They call us to come home to ourselves, to become who we really are.
– Sue Monk Kidd

Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.
– Paulo Coelho

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I’ll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I’ll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.
The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can’t see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I’ll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
– Li-Young Lee, This Room and Everything in It, The City in Which I Love You

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
BY THE NUMBERS

Two hundred ninety million.
That’s how many dollars Monsanto
was ordered to pay the dying man
when the company failed to warn him
about how the poison they made
to kill weeds would also kill him.
Two hundred ninety million.
That’s how many miles
the Voyager 2 moves away
from the earth every year. And though
it was made to do so—to travel
past our sun’s magnetic field—who
could blame it for moving away
from this dying planet at
thirty-four thousand one hundred ninety-one
miles per hour. If that number were dollars
today, it would be equivalent to eight thousand dollars
in 1977 when the Voyager 2 was launched.
And eight thousand, that’s how many sacred
elephants there were on the banks
of the Six Tusker Lake in the Himalaya,
elephants who flew in the air, and sages say
the Buddha himself was once born as son
to the chief of these eight thousand elephants.
Yes, sacred and magical things happen here
on the earth, despite the greed,
despite the poison. I was seven
when the Voyager 2 left, and since then
it’s traveled eighteen and a half billion miles.
If those miles were pounds,
that would equal more than a million
large African elephants, though in all of Africa,
there are only four hundred fifteen thousand
elephants left, down from five million
just a hundred years ago. What I am saying
is that as the Voyager 2 enters interstellar space
things are strange here on Earth, and we seem
hellbent on our own destruction, but I
am so grateful to be here, still. Even as
the Voyager 2 hurtles beyond the heliosphere,
I find myself still falling in love
with the twenty-seven thousand three hundred seventy-five
days I have to live,
and the earth’s twelve thousand
species of grass, and the five thousand stars
visible to the naked eye and the two hundred six
bones in the body, all of them working to help
us run toward beauty, yes, grateful
for two hands to hold one beloved face
and, amidst all this enormity, the absolute absence
of sufficient words to say how holy, how incalculable is love,
and how marvelous, really, to stare up
into the familiar night sky and imagine
all boundaries we’re just beginning to cross.

Ultimately, to live an enchanted life is to pick up the pieces of our bruised and battered psyches, and to offer them the nourishment they long for. It is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary. Above all, to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again. This is an active choice, a leap of faith which is necessary not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of the wide, wild Earth in whose being and becoming we are so profoundly and beautifully entangled.
– Sharon Blackie

I’ve never been as precise as a blade of light.
— Michael Torres, Ars Poetica

I was already dozing off in the shade, dreaming that the rustling trees were my many selves explaining themselves all at the same time so that I could not make out a single word. My life was a beautiful mystery on the verge of understanding, always on the verge!
— Marianne Boruch, Once I Knew, Then I Forgot

In the bookstore I accidentally ended up at the section on Tao, or / more precisely, by the Treatise on Emptiness. / I rejoiced, since that day I was perfectly empty.

— Adam Zagajewski, Treatise on Emptiness

One day I came upon a pile of books, clothes, and odd furniture dumped on the sidewalk. There was a manuscript of sorts and pages of it were blowing away in the wind. Passersby were scrambling through the boxes of books. I asked and was told an American writer had died in the building. No one knew his name. He had no family. The landlord had thrown all his things onto the street. Here it was, his library, his life’s work, up for grabs. There were great books of poetry and philosophy. Someone in the crowd commented that the writer must have been a grosse tête. As I walked away I saw more pages of his manuscript blowing down the damp street and I felt sickened. I put the books back down.

Soon after this experience, a friend gave me a copy of [Walter] Benjamin’s essay ‘Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting.’ As he unpacks his library, he describes how each book evokes in his mind a wave of memories. Benjamin writes, ‘Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.’
– Gwen Strauss, Walter Benjamin’s Last Hike

Tides and storms, the patterns of seasons and migrations, the quality of the soil and the air – all of these continue to influence and are influenced by us; they remind us of the intricate web from which we cannot disentangle ourselves, try as we might. Also, some of us are still lucky enough to live in places where we are awakened by birdsong in the morning, where at night we can see the Milky Way spilled across the sky. These things are part of our daily human experiences. As such, these phenomena – like anything else – can take on particular meaning, both original and universal.

Such meaning depends on authenticity, which often depends on engagement. This is the case whether we are talking about authenticity between people and people or between people and nature. We must be attentive; we must give our senses over to the other.
– Hannah Fries, In Defense of Wonder

I made an effort to develop a mind of winter.
— Teju Cole, Open City

“Anything you may find through seeking,” the Zen master Rinzai warns, “will be only a wild fox spirit.”

I learned from Heidegger that ‘thinking’ in the greek philosophical sense means something very different than generating a concept. It has more to do with ‘revealing’ some aspect of reality, and at the same time bringing it into being. This changed everything for me and made me understanding that using words, had more to do with destroying concepts, or tearing away false concepts, than making some new framework of ideas. Writing then became more like ‘sculpting words’ or chipping away at the dross or the superficial or the mechanical, and trying to find the living form the hard block of words.
– Andrew Sweeny

JEFF BROWN:
M: Do you consider yourself a spiritual teacher?
JB: Oh God no. Life itself is the only real spiritual teacher—and we all have access to its manifold teachings. Because I define spirituality in the most inclusive sense—as Reality—I do not believe anyone is specially qualified to rightfully call themselves a spiritual teacher. Because no single person can teach all of reality. Some can effectively explore aspects of reality and provide tools to others, but none of us, at this stage of human development, can access the full grand picture. All one can access and teach are limited strands. Better to reference yourself by what you specialize in: a meditation teacher, a reiki practitioner, an embodiment facilitator, rather than a spiritual teacher. That’s the old delusional paradigm, one that feeds into our sense of smallness and gives the ‘teacher’ an artificial sense of elevated value. And it’s ironic—many of them bash the ego and then seek to strengthen their unhealthy ego by labeling themselves spiritual teachers. Most teachers have not transcended their egos. In fact, their need to be held in high regard as the awakened knower—preserves it. They call themselves “spiritual teachers,” and yet, many of them are merely larger than-life trauma survivors. Their gurudom is camouflage, a place to hide from their unhealed wounds.
(~an excerpt from the dialogue between Michael, and myself, in Grounded Spirituality)

Great big flakes like white ashes
at nightfall descending
abruptly everywhere
and vanishing
in this hand like the host
on somebody’s put-out tongue, she
turns the crucifix over
to me, still warm
from her touch two years later
and thank you,
I say all alone—
Vast whisp-whisp of wingbeats
awakens me and I look up
at a minute-long string of black geese
following low past the moon the white
course of the snow-covered river and
by the way thank You for
keeping Your face hidden, I
can hardly bear the beauty of this world.
– Franz Wright, Cloudless Snowfall

Ah, how short are the days! How soon the night overtakes us!
In the old country the twilight is longer; but here in the forest
Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its coming,
Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day and the lamplight;
Yet how grand is the winter! How spotless the snow is, and perfect!
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Theologian’s Tale

But I also know of yet another life. I know and want it and devour it ferociously. It’s a life of magical violence. It’s mysterious and bewitching. In it snakes entwine while the stars tremble. Drops of water drip in the phosphorescent darkness of the cave. In that dark the flowers intertwine in a humid fairy garden. And I am the sorceress of that silent bacchanal. I feel defeated by my own corruptibility. And I see that I am intrinsically bad. It’s only out of pure kindness that I am good. Defeated by myself. Who lead me along the paths of the salamander, the spirit who rules the fire and lives within it. And I give myself as an offering to the dead. I weave spells on the solstice, spectre of an exorcised dragon.
– Clarice Lispector

The Hipster’s lament

The clever idiots are on the bannister
They glare at you with their savant eyes
But they never really touch you

The wordsmiths are deep in their furnace
Working their subterfuge, their banana revolution
But they never really know what they say

Oh how they burn in their cool intellect
Oh how they drift away from their bodies like angry sleepers
They think that they can win you with mere words

And sometimes they succeed for awhile
Until the next clever idiot comes a long
To dress you in a new lexicon

No, you were just another naked man under the hammer
When floods came, when the harsh times arrived
Your tenured halls could not immunize you to rats and plagues

You thought you were particularly clever Mr. Jones
But you never learned to really dance or laugh,
With all the metaphors you threw at people

You never really heard the ancient language
Though you mastered the revolutionary lingo
You never shuddered in the embrace of the deep

How pride caused you to show all your feathers
But how drab they became in the bright light
How you ran to the skirts of mother, banished from your kingdom

Another hipster under the wheel
Raging against the father in the sky
With nothing in your womb
– Andrew Sweeney

Things to Think – Robert Bly

Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

Here is the best true story on giving I know, and it was told by Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girl’s IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, “How soon until I start to die?
– Anne Lamott

Be silent, guard your tongue, and keep
All inmost thoughts and feelings deep
Within your heart concealed.
There let
Them in their courses rise and set,
Like stars in jewelled night, unheard:
Admire them, and say not a word.
– Fyodor Tyutchev, from “Silentium!”, trans. John Dewe, Selected Poems (Brimstone Press, 2014)

I lay beneath the stars of another sky
in the black grass at midnight.
Midnight breathed, slow and lazy,
and I thought about you, about us,
about sharp and shining moments
plucked from my imagination like a thorn
– Adam Zagajewski, from “For M.,” Without End: New and Selected Poems (Farrar, Starus, and Giroux, 2002)

Any wound rather than a wound of the heart.
– Ecclesiastes 25:13

shorter kisses
longer quarrels–
winter solstice
– Eric Amann, from Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala, 2010)

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
– Epictetus

IT TOOK TIME
This is a poem about
how you never get the kiss you want
when you want it;

how time twines around your neck, its thorns
digging into your skin so you can never forget
how clinging to a string of hope, threading it
between your spine, and having it unravel before you
in the span of an hour
is worse than any metaphor about nakedness
that you poets will ever write.

This is my reflection in the mirror. This stanza
is the small gap where my fingers try to touch against
the glass.

You can’t even possess yourself; let alone
the person you see standing before you.

The moon
hasn’t come back from the cleaners yet
and I have nothing to slip into tonight that makes my reflection feel
beautiful.

Time is falling through the hole in my pocket. January
is coming soon, and I have a feeling that he’s never going to fall
out of love with this December.

He’ll still write her love letters. He’ll
send her white orchids on every lonely holiday and pretend
that love is a place you can cross state lines to get back to,

but it’s that time of the year again, and
calendar sales keep reminding us all that we can never get back
to where we once wanted so bad to lose ourselves in
for good.
– Shinji Moon

A MID-WINTER NIGHTS DREAM
by Dr. Martin Shaw

let’s go out tonight.

Put your wallet away, your money’s no good here. I’m paying. Let’s meet at mine at 7.30. Don’t worry about cabs, or trains, or even planes, a carriage will be outside at 7 o’clock sharp, lanterns swinging merrily, and the sound of laughter and champagne corks being popped. Old friends are calling your name from the window. Someone wonderful is looking after the kids and the animals, so you can get back as late as you want. You are dressed so fine, people wouldn’t be able to tell quite which century you are from. You’re the most beautiful thing anyone has ever seen.

The fire is glowing with coals, and the room is low lit and merry. That smiling man that took your coat looks a lot like Mircea Eliade, but don’t make a fuss about it, he gets a little shy sometimes. And the musicians have come. Settled on a magic carpet by the fire; we have Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sitting in with Van Morrison and a group of lute playing Troubadours sent exclusively for tonight by Eleanor of Aquitaine. She’s coming late, with Rudolf Steiner and a bottle of very good brandy. He’s got his dancing shoes on. Roberta Flack is cozied up on the sofa and riffing her words beautifully over the whole ensemble.

My cottage has many doors. Over this evening, which lasts several days, we will wander through many, you and I. One is large and ornate and opens up to dusky Shiraz where we will wander with Sufis and children and animals, led by Hafez, throwing keys into the dungeons to free all those rowdy prisoners. Later we will drink Margaritas on the roof leading toasts with the Baal Shem Tov.

We will behold many things this night; from the forests of Sherwood to a midnight wander through the Louvre with Modigliani and Frida Kahlo (that took quite a lot for me to arrange), we will thrill to the erotic swish of the black sea against Pans ship as he makes us way to England to nurse a lost little otter through a terrible night, this Piper at the Gates of Dawn. A mid-winter night’s dream. We will wander in such glory and sweetness we will become a little more human again. Just a little.

And at some point we will wander back into my cottage. Tolkien, Bachelard and Virginia Woolf are playing cards, and some have curled under blankets and are just gently snoozing in their happy acres of dream. There is no need to leave just yet. And you can come back anytime you want.

Let this night be with you always. Don’t ever give up on love.

No Fear No Meanness No Envy

Bear with me, wise readers, in that I’ve chosen no form for the Book of Mind Because everything has no form, and when you’ve finished reading this book you will have had a glimpse of everything, presented in the way that everything comes: in piecemeal bombardments, continuously, rat tat tatting the pure pictureless liquid of Mind essence.”
– Jack Kerouac

A PATH NOT TAKEN

(In Respectful Disagreement
with Robert Frost)

…But you never turned to cross,
and you never found a bridge,
and you never took that other way,
and you stayed on this path to the end,
recalling the other way you did not take
as you would a close and loving friend
who had left you not to leave you but simply
to go on with their life, so that you carried
their memory through the years that passed
as you would a beautiful and worthwhile burden,
growing with them as they grew,
walking with them as they walked,
until one day it was just as if that someone
you had come to love at a distance,

and that someone who had walked with you
always on the other side of the stream,
had passed away, but in your mind you were
still speaking to them and still walking with them
and still carrying them onward, but now
just a short way to a place you would lay them down,
under the trees, and in a way in which memory
and every day presence stop living in separate worlds,
and the calm, death-still image of every disappearance,
renews itself in some extraordinary beginning again,
and you realize, sitting by their side, saying goodbye,
that you took no separate path at all,
neither this nor that, neither the one you loved
nor the one you did not want, that you had after all,
always held them generously together
by not choosing this side of existence or the other.

You were in the end,
never just looking on,
but always the river moving between
and that song in the water,
holding the flow of ways together.

Those who became complete
by Yunus Emre
Those who became complete
didn’t live this life in hypocrisy,
didn’t learn the meaning of things
by reading commentaries.
Reality is an ocean; the Law is a ship.
Many have never left the ship,
never jumped into the sea.
They might have come to Worship
but they stopped at rituals.
They never knew or entered the Inside.
Those who think the Four Books
were meant to be talked about,
who have only read explanations
and never entered meaning,
are really in sin.
Yunus means “true friend”
for one whose journey has begun.
Until we transform our Names,
we haven’t found the Way.

The Great Way is not difficult for those
Who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent,
Everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
And heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
– The Faith Mind Sutra

Real courage is risking something that might force you to rethink your thoughts and suffer change and stretch consciousness. Real courage is risking one’s clichés.
– Tom Robbins

Keep sitting like a mountain,
breathing like a forest, flowing like a river.
Keep riding the wind.
Keep dreaming, keep believing.
Rest when you need to, but keep moving.
Life is in love with movement.
When in doubt, turn to the buddha-nature of Nature herself.
Mother Earth offers us all the lessons we need
including those about freezing, thawing, and flowing.
Start to tell stories.
Disappear into them.
This is where the magic is.
This is how you will find your way
to the shimmer at the back of the world.
– Frank LaRue Owen

In the face of a culture that is constantly telling us otherwise, A Year of No Buying allowed us to separate our joy from our things. We were left to find it elsewhere…We had more family outings and more lazy Saturdays, and in the bargain got laughter and creativity and relationship and rest.
– Susannah Pratt

Poetry itself, like love, like any spiritual hunger—thrives on longings that can never be fulfilled, and dies when the poet thinks they have been.
– Christian Wiman

So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence on existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt, and you are pursuing a ghost.
– Christian Wiman

The Beyond is merely beyond,
A melancholy place of failed and fallen stars.
– Mark Strand

..how important it is to live a principled life, and a life of committed engagement to social and spiritual transformation.
– Joan Halifax

As you face loss, frustration, hurt, and conflict, invite a sense of your own dignity. Sit up, stand up tall. Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.
– Jack Kornfield

Joan Halifax:
Dogen’s words about putting aside the words and turning the light around: “Put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light around and shine it inward. Your body and mind will drop away of themselves, and your original face will manifest. If you want to get into touch with things as they are, you – right here and now – have to start being yourself, as you are. You met the Buddha Way in this life – how could you waste your time delighting in sparks from a flint stone? Form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning – emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash. Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way that points directly to the real thing. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Share the wisdom of Buddhas with Buddhas, transmit the samadhi of ancestors to ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. This treasure house will open of itself; it is up to you to use it freely.”

CALENDARS
Back in the blue chair in front of the green studio
another year has passed, or so they say, but calendars lie.
They’re a kind of cosmic business machine like
their cousin clocks but break down at inopportune times.
Fifty years ago I learned to jump off the calendar
but I kept getting drawn back on for reasons
of greed and my imperishable stupidity.
Of late I’ve escaped those fatal squares
with their razor-sharp numbers for longer and longer.
I had to become the moving water I already am,
falling back into the human shape in order
not to frighten my children, grandchildren, dogs and friends.
Our old cat doesn’t care. He laps the water where my face used to be.
– Jim Harrison

Tell a wise person or else keep silent…
In the calm waters of the love nights
where you were begotten, where you have begotten
a strange feeling creeps over you
as you watch the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness
and a desire for higher lovemaking
sweeps you upwards.
Distance does not make you falter,
now, arriving in magic, flying
and finally insane for the light
you are the butterfly, and you are gone.
And so long as you have not experienced
this: to die and so to grow
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A world is dying and a new world is struggling to be born, and this new world that’s struggling to be born is essentially grounded in a recognition of the interdependence of all humankind.
– Michael Penn

You say you have no secrets but I can feel them,
they’re bumps under the blanket
You do not let me in
This mood kept me up all night, like stars in my face,
like the burning fuel of dead stars burning right through my face
So now I have my own secrets
– Emily Berry, Allegiances

You came into my life — not as one comes to visit … but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.
– Vladimir Nabokov

What more can I tell you?
Oh, everything — like how they would walk home in
the evenings when the light was soft, anything bad sliding
off them, and they would feel owned, completely owned,
in a good way, by the air, which would touch them constantly,
sometimes urgently, sometimes lightly, just to let them know
it was there, and they would think maybe this is what being
alive is.
– Emily Berry

The moral of the story: There is no limit to the damage a few ill placed words can do. And: beware of the unhealed healer.
– Andrew Sweeney

JEFF BROWN:
Perhaps we can ask each other more questions. Real questions. The kind that connect us. Perhaps we can encounter each other from a place of inquiry- not assumption, not psycho-analytic categorization, not the egoic need to judge. Real inquiry. Here I am. Here you are. Curious about each other. Wondering how we got here. Allowing time to hear each other’s stories. And to really listen. To get to know. To wonder. Inquiry changes everything.

Someone, / Who claimed to have known me years before, // Approached, saying there were many poets / Wandering around who wished to be alive again. / They were ready to say the words they had been unable to say– // Words whose absence had been the silence of love,
– Mark Strand

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love life first, then march through the gates of each season; go inside nature and develop the discipline to stop destructive behavior; learn tenderness toward experience, then make decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell you; act accordingly.
– Gretel Ehrlich

I have learned to live in the shadows. I conduct my secret experiments with sea shells and rope. I slip inside of the monument with dynamite, not to celebrate the goddess but to liberate her. The prisoners go on playing their games, while she waits outside in her 10000 overcoats. Our language won’t be understood by the ideologues. It roughness is too fine for baboons. Its borders are invisible. It is pathless land. Nevertheless, the mute still speaks, his tongue still babbles on street corners. Why does he still still say hosanna and hallelujah in his rags. Because the world is not made of things, and Jerusalem is not a place. Can you see it buried in all the sleeping dogs? Can you hear that weird music? It is calling you back to the sea.
– Andrew Sweeney

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals…
How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
Yes! No! The swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals,
wants only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.
– Mary Oliver

Writing… it isn’t commercial. It’s cosmic. One hand in the world and one hand in the stars.
– James Scott Smith

Between pines, a pause
in the forest, transparent, yet visible,
like how no, in its nothing

is still an answer, is the water

I could not give her, the wish
taken out of the well;

– Joanna Kaminski

I will read long books and the journals of dead writers. I will feel closer to them than I ever felt to people I used to know before I withdrew from the world. It will be sweet and cool this friendship of mine with dead poets, for I won’t have to touch them or answer their questions. They will talk to me and not expect me to answer. And I’ll get sleepy listening to their voices explaining the mysteries to me. I’ll fall asleep with the book still in my fingers, and it will rain.

Where words come from, into consciousness, baffles me. Speaking or writing, the words bounce instantaneously into their context, and I am victimized by them, rather than controlling them. They do not wait for my selection; they volunteer. True, I can reject them, but my whole way of writing induces easy acceptance – at first – of any eager volunteer. I want to talk about these volunteers, but first want to consider another reason for trying carefully to set the record straight, about attitudes toward language. The point concerns how a writer feels about language, in general. Many opine that a writer, and particularly a poet, for some reason, must love language; often there is even a worshipful attitude assumed. I have noticed this assumption with particular attention because it happens that insofar as I can assess my own attitudes in relation to others I have an unusually intense distrust of language. What people say or write comes to me attenuated or thinned by my realization that talk merely puts into the air an audio counterpart of mysterious, untrustworthy, confused events in the creature making the sounds. Truth, or wonder, or any kind of imaginative counterpart of absolute realities – these I certainly do not expect in human communication.
– William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl

I believe Eurydice / is actually the poet, not Orpheus. Her muse / Has his back to her with his ear bent to his own heart. / As if what you learn making love to yourself matters / More than what you learn when loving someone else.
– Terrance Hayes

You who were given a life, what did you make of it?
– Forrest Gander, What It Sounds Likes

To find a buddha, all you have to do is see your nature. Your nature is the buddha. And the buddha is the person who’s free, free of plans, free of cares. If you don’t see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you’ll never find a buddha. The truth is, there’s nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a teacher. And you need to struggle to make yourself understand.
– Bodhidharma

have learned to live in the shadows. I conduct my secret experiments with sea shells and rope. I slip inside of the monument with dynamite, not to celebrate the goddess but to liberate her. The prisoners go on playing their games, while she waits outside in her 10000 overcoats. Our language won’t be understood by the ideologues. It roughness is too fine for baboons. Its borders are invisible. It is pathless land. Nevertheless, the mute still speaks, his tongue still babbles on street corners. Why does he still still say hosanna and hallelujah in his rags. Because the world is not made of things, and Jerusalem is not a place. Can you see it buried in all the sleeping dogs? Can you hear that weird music? It is calling you back to the sea.
– Andrew Sweeney

There is something else which has the power to awaken us to the truth. It is the works of writers of genius, or at least those with genius of the very first order and when it has reached its full maturity. They give us, in the guise of fiction, something equivalent to the actual density of the real, that density which life offers us every day but which we are unable to grasp because we are amusing ourselves with lies.
– Simone Weil

… for just as the universal family of gifted writers transcends national barriers, so is the gifted reader a universal figure, not subject to spatial or temporal laws. It is he – the good, the excellent reader – who has saved the artist again and again from being destroyed by emperors, dictators, priests, puritans, philistines, political moralists, policemen, postmasters, and prigs. Let me define this admirable reader. He does not belong to any specific nation or class. No director of conscience and no book club can manage his soul. His approach to a work of fiction is not governed by those juvenile emotions that make the mediocre reader identify himself with this or that character and ‘skip descriptions.’ The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book. The admirable reader does not seek information about Russia in a Russian novel, for he knows that the Russia of Tolstoy or Chekhov is not the average Russia of history but a specific world imagined and created by individual genius. The admirable reader is not concerned with general ideas: he is interested in the particular vision. He likes the novel not because it helps him to get along with the group (to use a diabolical progressive-school cliché); he likes the novel because he imbibes and understands every detail of the text, enjoys what the author meant to be enjoyed, beams inwardly and all over, is thrilled by the magic imageries of the master-forger, the fancy-forger, the conjuror, the artist. Indeed, of all the characters that a great artist creates, his readers are the best.
– Vladimir Nabokov

I always was investigative in terms of everlasting life, but a little more interested now. A little more content with my answers.
– Mary Oliver

Some memories I would give anything to forget.
Others I would not give up upon the point of
death, they are the bright hawks of my life.
– Mary Oliver

Plain and simply, a love lyric is one’s soul set in motion. If it’s good, it may do the same to you.
– Joseph Brodsky

Love is one of many great fires.
Passion is a fire made of many woods,
each of which gives off its special odor
so we can know the many kinds
that are not love. Passion is the paper
and twigs that kindle the flames
but cannot sustain them. Desire perishes
because it tries to be love.
Love is eaten away by appetite.
Love does not last, but it is different
from the passions that do not last.
Love lasts by not lasting.
– Jack Gilbert

Sunshine copies a text on my desk.
Every day and on purpose,
to see if I can unravel the words.
– Zoltán Böszörményi

The whole business of what’s reality and what isn’t has never been solved and probably never will be. So I don’t care to be too definite about anything. I have a lot of edges called Perhaps and almost nothing you can call Certainty. For myself, but not for other people. That’s a place you just can’t get into, not entirely anyway, other people’s heads. I’ll just leave you with this. I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It’s enough to know that for some people they exist, and that they dance.
– Mary Oliver

Poety allows us to address paradox directly. It frees us from the dualities and entrenched egoic perspectives inherent in our prosaic everyday speech. It takes the gravity of life and gives it wings, makes darkness bright, turns poison into nectar. It is the bridge between the wordless primeval and the carnal, the sound and the flesh. It is twilight medicine for those caught in language prisons, in the endless argument. It is the doorway to the breath and pulse of life.
– Andrew Sweeney

The secret to all of it, she said, was not just the ideas or the images, of course, but the music—the rhythm and flavor of the words… This was the secret code you could knock onto the door of the heart to gain entry.
– Mary Oliver

When we read, we are not looking for new ideas, but to see our own thoughts given the seal of confirmation on the printed page. The words that strike us are those that awake an echo in a zone we have already made our own – the place where we live – and the vibration enables us to find fresh starting points within ourselves.
– Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living

The door has not been touched for days now. I sit as one often does waiting for a letter or the sound of lock being cracked by key. These are the worst moments: the shallow earth of a song, the living of doubts and how both find a method to enter dreams. This is the reason the shadows on the road scurry upon meeting headlights.
– Chris Caruso, Dearest Reception

In the light from the rain, different from sunlight, everything appeared to gleam unreflecting from within itself in its quiet arcade of identity. The green of the small zinnia shoots was very pure, almost burning. One by one, as the rain reached them, all the individual little plants shone out, and then the branching vines.The pear tree gave a soft rushing noise, like the wings of a bird alighting. She could sense behind her, as if a lamp were lighted in the night, the signal-like whiteness of the house.
– Eudora Welty, A Curtain of Green

The weather varies between heavy fog and pale sunshine; My thoughts follow the exact same process.
– Virginia Woolf

What needs to be discharged is the intolerable tenderness of the past, the past gone and grieved over and never made sense of. Music ransoms us from the past, declares an amnesty, brackets and sets aside the old puzzles. Sing a new song. Start a new life, get a girl, look into her shadowy eyes, smile.
– Walker Percy, from Love in the Ruins

Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Exert yourself.
…When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
– Epictetus (Interpretation by Sharon Lebell)

It is one thing to present the great principles of dharma, or to sit and listen to them. It’s quite another to confront them honestly with one’s own life. That is why koan study, dharma combat and mondo exchanges are so vital to the life and continuity of this practice.
– John Daido Loori

I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can.
— Jack Gilbert, The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart

Symbolism exists precisely for the purpose of conveying to the imagination what the intellect is not ready for.
– C. S. Lewis

In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest. All that is set forth in books, all that seems so terribly vital and significant, is but an iota of that from which it stems and which it is within everyone’s power to tap. Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water. It applies to the pursuit of the arts as well as to the pursuit of knowledge. Men are still being taught to create by studying other men’s works or by making plans and sketches never intended to materialize. The art of writing is taught in the classroom instead of in the thick of life.
– Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

If only there were a perfect moment in the book;
if only we could live in that moment,
we could begin the book again
as if we had not written it,
as if we were not in it.
But the dark approaches
to any page are too numerous
and the escapes are too narrow.
We read through the day.
Each page turning is like a candle
moving through the mind.
Each moment is like a hopeless cause.
If only we could stop reading.
“He never wanted to read another book
and she kept staring into the street.
The cars were still there,
the deep shade of trees covered them.
The shades were drawn in the new house.
Maybe the man who lived there,
the man she loved, was reading
the story of another life.
She imagine a bare parlor,
a cold fireplace, a man sitting
writing a letter to a woman
who has sacrificed her life for love.”
If there were a perfect moment in the book,
it would be the last.
The book never discusses the causes of love.
It claims confusion is a necessary good.
It never explains. It only reveals.
– Mark Strand

I am convinced that every poet carries within him or herself a cluster of process models that govern the nature and rhythm of how poems are created and why. In myself, I can recognize three. One comes from the life of the farm where I spent my childhood: in that model, one prepares the soil, one scatters the seed, and then one waits, dependent on the vagaries of the weather to make things happen. The second is musical (and obvious): the improvisatory lessons learned from years of delving into performance within the flexible but endlessly instructive parameters of the cluster of American musical forms that have been a lifelong passion for me. The third model—and I have only recently recognized its much more subtle operation in my psyche and in my poetic practice—comes from the life of that small pond: its fixed margin, its flexible ragged right, its simultaneous revelation of a life within and a life without, its subtle alteration of the spectrum of the clear and the opaque, reflection and refraction, opening and closing.
– T. R. Hummer

Most of us think that because we have studied the Dharma for a while we have understood a few things. We may have understood a little, and we may have even had some fleeting experience. If we are aware that this knowledge and experience can always be improved upon and transcended, if we are not satisfied with the little that we have, if we have the courage to let go of what we have and still hunger for more, this is the dawning of devotion. This is a sign of humility. Humility is the moisture or fertilizer from which devotion will grow.
To help that devotion grow, remember the following
Your friends, family, identity, or projects, big or small, will not provide you with the fundamental basis necessary for bliss and happiness.
Absolutely everything around you is impermanent, even your body, and while you can be sure you will die, you can have no certainty about when, where, or how.
The people with whom you associate, who accompany you through this life, will all eventually lead you to pain.
All your relationships are temporary. When you check into a hotel you don’t immediately start thinking that you’ll spend eternity with the managers, maids, and waiters. Your home, your friends, your ideals and values are just part of a hotel experience. Sooner or later, you will have to check out and leave them all behind.
The triple gems are glorious. Think often on their enlightened qualities, and whenever possible, try to associate with a virtuous friend, a guru who will point out your mistakes honestly.
Nothing happens randomly; everything happens according to the mathematical logic of cause, condition, and effect. To this logic we owe our complete trust. Modern people already trust the function of karma on some level: for example, we know that a marigold is not created by a god but that it grows from a seed when all the necessary conditions come together. What we don’t all have is the more profound, undeniable trust in karma. This is what leads to so much disappointment and the feeling that life is “unfair,” especially when we do our best to do the right thing yet suffer unexpected consequences. We trust only the immediate and obvious causes and conditions and never suspect that there are layers and more layers lining up behind them. If you arouse these thoughts in your mind, devotion will also be aroused.
Four Types of Devotion
According to Jigme Lingpa, there are four different types of devotion:
Inspiring devotion: You read and hear the words of the Buddha and they make sense, and therefore you feel attracted to the Dharma. Ideally, this is the kind of devotion you begin with.
Desiring devotion: Like a bee desiring pollen, you have a desire to create certain qualities in yourself—the desire to apply the teachings and attain their result.
Trusting devotion: You begin to see the unsurpassable and nondeceiving quality of the triple gems, and therefore you have confidence in the master and the teaching from the bottom of your heart.
Nonreturning devotion: Once you’re convinced that the thing above you is the sky, nothing will shatter that conviction. Once you have developed a trust in view, meditation, and action through hearing, meditation, and contemplation, you will never see the guru as anything other than the Buddha. You enter onto the path of the Dharma with strong determination and a conviction that you will never turn back. This is what we call “nonreturning devotion.”
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, The Guru Drinks Bourbon?
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse (Khyentse Norbu) is a Tibetan Buddhist lama who travels and teaches internationally and is also an award-winning filmmaker. He is the abbot of several monasteries in Asia and the spiritual director of meditation centers in Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Taipei. He is also head of a Buddhist organization called Siddhartha’s Intent.

Birthday
Richie Hofmann

I look for words in the dark,
silently describing to myself
the particular conditions of the weather
on the morning I saw you most recently—
the wind, its patterned disarray—
my mind elsewhere, distracted, lyrical,
while the pianist plays an encore.
Mozart was born on this day
257 years ago. All day
I have been ungenerous, resentful,
impatient. In between
movements, no applause
but the old ladies cough loudly, violently.
We cannot last forever.
I loved music before I loved books.
I loved Mozart before I loved you.

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.
– Paul Theroux

Forget the sky, I whisper.
You and I are rooted things.
– Loueva Smith

I must get at you, somehow:
[…]
I want your hidden look, your real smile
–That lonely, mocking smile your cool mirror knows.
— Jorge Luis Borges, Two English Poems

On rare occasions there comes along a profound original, an odd little book that appears out of nowhere, from the pen of some obscure storyteller, and once you have read it, you will never go completely back to where you were before. The kind of book you might hesitate to lend for fear you might miss its company. The kind of book that echoes from the heart of some ancient knowing, and whispers from time’s forgotten cave that life may be more than it seems, and less.
– Edmund James Banfield

I don’t think I’m an exceptionally bad reader. I suspect that many people, maybe even most, are like me. We read and read and read, and we forget and forget and forget. So why do we bother? Michel de Montaigne expressed the dilemma of extensive reading in the sixteenth century: “I leaf through books, I do not study them,” he wrote. “What I retain of them is something I no longer recognize as anyone else’s. It is only the material from which my judgment has profited, and the thoughts and ideas with which it has become imbued; the author, the place, the words, and other circumstances, I immediately forget.” He goes on to explain how “to compensate a little for the treachery and weakness of my memory,” he adopted the habit of writing in the back of every book a short critical judgment, so as to have at least some general idea of what the tome was about and what he thought of it.
– Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.
– Ma Java Sati Bhagavati

Half of me is filled with bursting words and half of me is painfully shy. I crave solitude yet also crave people. I want to pour life and love into everything yet also nurture my self-care and go gently. I want to live within the rush of primal, intuitive decision, yet also wish to sit and contemplate. This is the messiness of life – that we all carry multitudes, so must sit with the shifts. We are complicated creatures, and ultimately, the balance comes from this understanding. Be water. Flowing, flexible and soft. Subtly powerful and open. Wild and serene. Able to accept all changes, yet still led by the pull of steady tides. It is enough.
– Victoria Erickson

lost seltzer moon
dissolves into a cascade,
effervescent flume
– Greg Sellers

I was getting water tonight
off guard when I saw the moon
in my bucket and was tempted
by those Chinese poets
and their immaculate pain.
– Jack Gilbert, Winter in the Night Fields

On a night
when the moon
shines as brightly as this,
the unspoken thoughts
of even the most discreet heart might be seen.
– Izumi Shikibu, The Ink Dark Moon

Ask me what I know of longing and I will speak of distances
between meadows of night-blooming flowers.
I will speak
the impossible hope of the firefly.
You with the candle
burning and only one chair at your table must understand
such wordless desire.
– Camille T. Dungy, Characteristics of Life

People protect what they love.
– Jacques Yves Cousteau

…The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
– Lisel Mueller

…Let us pray dangerously.
Let us throw ourselves from the top of the tower,
let us risk a descent to the darkest region of the abyss,
let us put our head in the lion’s mouth and,
direct our feet to the entrance of the dragon’s cave.
Let us ask for nothing less than the Infinite to ravage us.
Let us ask for nothing less than annihilation in the Fires of Love…
– Dangerous Prayers, Regina Sara Ryan

The mosquito is so small
it takes almost nothing to ruin it.
Each leaf, the same.
And the black ant, hurrying.
So many lives, so many fortunes!
Every morning, I walk softly and with forward glances
down to the ponds and through the pinewoods…
How many, how many, how many
make up a world!
And then I think of that old idea: the singular
and the eternal.
One cup, in which everything is swirled
back to the color of the sea and sky.
Imagine it!
A shining cup, surely!
In the moment in which there is no wind
over your shoulder,
you stare down into it,
and there you are,
your own darling face, your own eyes.
And then the wind, not thinking of you, just passes by,
touching the ant, the mosquito, the leaf,
and you know what else!
How blue is the sea, how blue is the sky,
how blue and tiny and redeemable everything is, even you,
even your eyes, even your imagination.
– Mary Oliver

Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Exert yourself.
…When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
– Epictetus (Interpretation by Sharon Lebell)

Wrinkles
by Erica Jong
Issue no. 59 (Fall 1974)
“Sometimes I can’t wait until I look
like Nadezhda Mandelstam.”
— Naomi Lazard
My friends are tired.
The ones who are married are tired
of being married.
The ones who are single are tired
of being single.
They look at their wrinkles.
The ones who are single attribute their wrinkles
to being single.
The ones who are married attribute their wrinkles
to being married.
They have very few wrinkles.
Even taken together,
they have very few wrinkles.
But I cannot persuade them
to look at their wrinkles
collectively.
& I cannot persuade them that being married
or being single
has nothing to do with wrinkles.
Each one sees a deep & bitter groove,
a San Andreas fault across her forehead.
“It is only a matter of time
before the earthquake.”
They trade the names of plastic surgeons
like recipes.
My friends are tired.
The ones who have children are tired
of having children.
The ones who are childless are tired
of being childless.
They love their wrinkles.
If only their wrinkles were deeper
they could hide.
Sometimes I think
(but do not dare to tell them)
that when the face is left alone to dig its grave,
the soul is grateful
& roils in.

I still think the revolution is to make the world safe for poetry, meandering, for the frail and vulnerable, the rare and obscure, the impractical and local and small.
– Rebecca Solnit

Gradually we realize what is felt is not so important
(however lovely or cruel) as what the feeling contains.
– Jack Gilbert, Beyond Pleasure

I feel half faded away like some figure in the background of an old picture.
– Iris Murdoch, The Severed Head

Her mystic, lunar, inviolable charm.
– Charles Guérin, The Delicate Evening

Poetry registers
feelings, delights, and passion, but the best searches
out what is beyond pleasure, is outside process.
Not the passion so much as what the fervor can be
an ingress to. Poetry fishes us to find a world
part by part, as the photograph interrupts the flux
to give us time to see each thing separate and enough.
The poem chooses part of our endless flowing forward
to know its merit with attention.
– Jack Gilbert, Beyond Pleasure

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
– Sylvia Plath, The Moon and the Yew Tree

I believe that each of us internalizes a landscape composite of myths and stories, and we carry that psychological terrain within us as we make our way through the world, whether we are facing that green divan that Anna Akhmatova slept on in Saint Petersburg or gazing out at Stone Mountain in Georgia, an overlay by which the future is often colored and through which it is often perceived. However, like Lillian Smith—“Miss Lil”—some of us attempt to refashion that inherited landscape through consciousness. That is, we attempt to bring ourselves to an awareness of what has shaped us. Since landscape is both regional and emotional, I learned to meditate on everything around me, people and nature.
– Yusef Komunyakaa, More Than a State of Mind

The entire life of the human soul is mere motions in the shadows. We live in a twilight of consciousness, never in accord with whom we are or think we are …
– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

At night,
the moon is one of many, but I look
no further than this one sky
– Chelsea Dingman, Antipastoral

You see, my mind takes me far,
but my heart dreams of return
– Henri Cole, Twilight

I have had to learn the simplest things last.
– Charles Olson, Maximus, to himself

Don’t follow someone else’s map. You should glean teachings from all directions, keeping true to those that bring progress yet remaining open to changes in yourself.
– Deepak Chopra

What is going on is a projection of your mind. A weak mind cannot control its own projections. Be aware, therefore, of your mind and its projections. You cannot control what you do not know.

On the other hand, knowledge gives power. In practice it is very simple. To control yourself, know yourself.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

the mist
moved slowly across
the field held down
by stones, stitch of trees

what colour was the mist
x-ray grey
how still was it
the iv drip before it falls

mist always at a distance
always as far as sight

I stopped the car to watch it cross the field
black earth breathing its winter breath



life can become so still

the iv drip
before it falls

earth of the body
where a life grows
– Anne Michaels

Perhaps you are, like me, a romantic who dreams of something very spiritual.
– Federico García Lorca

He remembers love as it could be.
Outside, the moon is shining on nothing in particular.
– Jack Gilbert, Hot Nights in Florida

What might it mean to be drawn into meanings that, in some profound and necessary sense, shatter us? This is what it means to love. This is what it should mean to write one more poem. The inner and outer urgency of it, the mysterious and confused agency of it: all love abhors habit, and poetry is a species of love.
– Christian Wiman, Nimble Believing

More and more of the past was dragged back into their conversation as they walked and talked in the twilight.
– Mary Lavin, Long Ago

Sometimes I feel singled out by ideas, images—and compelled to speak. I don’t have to search. Perhaps this has to do with when and where I grew up. In the Southern landscape, I was excited by the inherent rituals constructed within such a lively, vivid system of surprises. I learned to see things, but also to see into things. In that sense, I was intrigued by the inner relationships of ordinary things glimpsed often from a scant reference point. Ordinary things collided to create moments of engagement. So in a sense I’m always taking things apart and putting things back together. Nothing gets off the hook. The image is very important to me. But also music, the music embedded in language, is perhaps even more important—I see, hear, and feel the images. This is the point where mind and body merge.
– Yusef Komunyakaa, from “Small Illuminations,” Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries, ed. Radiclani Clytus (University of Michigan Press, 2017)

We make a harvest of loneliness
and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.
– Jack Gilbert, from “The Manger of Incidentals,” Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

More and more it is the incidental that makes him yearn,
and he worries about that.
– Jack Gilbert, A Taste for Grit and Whatever

Work begins when you don’t like what you’re doing. Tension, a lack of honesty, and a sense of unreality come from following the wrong force in your life. As an adult, you must rediscover the moving power of your life!
– A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

The message that I think Buddhism has to offer the world in this troubled century is the Buddha’s insight that we all have buddhanature.
In so many ways, we are just like the Buddha. We too find ourselves striving desperately to find meaning in our lives, to experience a little peace, pleasure, comfort, and security. We chase after fleeting experiences and place our full trust and confidence in them, with the hope that somehow, someday, they’ll lead us to lasting happiness. We try so hard to find success in worldly endeavors that never seem to pay off in the end.
Many of us then give up and turn to the spiritual path, but we approach it with all the striving and expectation the Buddha initially had. We assume that the problem is us, that we need a tool to remedy some basic flaw in our mind, and we then go to work using meditation to fix a perpetually imperfect present moment.
The Buddha learned that all this effort, even when it comes in a fancy “spiritual” package, strengthens our deep-rooted habit to see the present moment as a problem. But when all our effort and striving is based on this belief, we can just get stuck in a better version of samsara. We seem to be doing all the right things, but we never find our way out of the maze.
We all know what it feels like to be seeking and seeking, and never finding. It’s like drinking saltwater. It feels good for a moment, but leaves us even thirstier than we started.
The example I’ve always loved is the image of a bird looking for its nest. The bird might fly far away looking for food, but it will always return home. As long as it hasn’t found its way back to the nest, it will keep looking, and searching. But when the bird finally arrives, it has no doubts. The bird knows it’s home.
We are a lot like that bird trying to find its way home. We know that all the fleeting pleasures of life aren’t going to lead us to lasting happiness. We know our physical health is fragile, and our relationships and jobs will change. But no one is telling us where home is. All we can do is make our best guess, or keep looking in the same places with the hope that we’ll discover something new.
The Buddha is telling us where to look. He’s showing us where to find our true home, the place where we can finally rest with the confidence that our search is over.
The key to this journey is appreciation.
It might seem that appreciation has no place in a world with so many challenges. These days we are constantly reminded of our problems. Depression and anxiety are on the rise, climate change is creating disasters all over the world, and big changes in society are bringing to light so many things that have been in the shadows for many generations.
How could we possibly talk about appreciation when we are confronted with such massive challenges?
Appreciation isn’t positive thinking. It’s not wishing things to be better than they really are. Appreciation is taking the time to notice what’s already here, what we have right now in this very moment. This capacity gives us the inner strength to work with our suffering in a skillful way, and to stay connected to each other as we do.
There are so many qualities that we don’t give ourselves credit for. As the Buddha discovered, our minds are naturally clear and aware. Our hearts are naturally open and compassionate. Each of us has tremendous wisdom. Although we don’t always recognize it, this buddhanature is always with us.
Every single day we do countless things that express this buddhanature—small acts of compassion, moments of insight and understanding. These things are so common that we don’t even notice them.
Recognizing these qualities is like discovering a treasure that’s been buried right beneath our feet. What we discover might feel new and fresh, but it’s our discovery that is new, not the qualities themselves.
This discovery of our own buddhanature is the solution to the problems we face. It gives us the confidence, the compassion, and the wisdom to deal with our own challenges and the suffering of the world with an open heart and a clear mind.
When we make appreciation the foundation of our practice, every moment is filled with possibility.
– Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

I don’t know what’s more disturbing: this guttural, primal instinct that everything is falling apart everywhere, that the world is literally on fire…or the fact that I woke up, got dressed, left for work and am now on a very normal train on a very normal day.
– Mary Annaïse Heglar

Sometimes we are led through the doorway
by a child, sometimes
by a stranger, always a matter of grace changing
the past, for if there is anything we must change
it is the past. To look back
and see another map.

Love enough to fill
a shoe, a suitcase, a bit of ink,
a painting, a child’s eyes at a chalkboard,
a bit of chalk, a bit of
bone in ash.

All that is cupped,
all that is emptied

the rush of water from a pump,
a word spelled out
on a palm.
– Anne Michaels

JEFF BROWN:
I am not interested in enlightenment if it means detachment from my selfhood, the emotional body, the earth plane, the challenges of being human. I am interested in Enrealment, because it means that my most spiritual moments are inclusive, arising right in the heart of all that is human: joy and sorrow, shopping list and unity consciousness, fresh mangoes and stale bread. Enrealment is about living in all aspects of reality simultaneously rather than only those realms that feel the most comfortable. We are not just the light, or the mind, or the emptiness, or perpetual positivity. We are the everything. It’s ALL God, even the dust that falls off my awakening heart.

Love comes quietly,
finally, drops
about me, on me,
in the old ways.

What did I know
thinking myself
able to go
alone all the way.

– Robert Creeley, Love Comes Quietly

I will always lean my heart
As close to your soul
As I can.

– Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz

Songs for the People
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway.

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.

If you wrestle an angel, you will grow muscle. There’s no doubt of that. You will also hurt in places that you didn’t know you had. There’s no doubt of that either. And you will lose, by the normal calculus of trying to engineer the life that you’re sure you deserve. It will not come out as you planned, wrestling angels. Your plans are usually the first casualty of the match. But here is that great secret of it: you will be able to boast of your defeat. You will be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be your certainty, your creed, your way of doing life’s business, and you can tell wild, true stories about how it all came to ruin. Whatever is left standing – and there is always something left standing when you wrestle angels – is the thing that was true about you and your life all along, as faithful a companion as the Earth that will one day cradle you again.
― Stephen Jenkinson

The Moon
by Jorge Luis Borges
Issue no. 125 (Winter 1992)
to María Kodama
There is so much lonliness in that gold.
The moon of every night is not the moon
That the first Adam saw.
The centuries
Of human wakefulness have left it brimming
With ancient tears. Look at it. It is your mirror.
— translated from the Spanish
by Robert Mezey

Pieces on the Ground
BY MARIANNE BORUCH
I gave up the pencil, the walk in woods, the fog
at dawn, a keyhole I lost an eye to.

And the habit of early, of acorn into oak—
bent tangled choked because of ache or greed,
or lousy light deemed it so.

So what. Give up that so what.

O fellow addicts of the arch and the tragic, give up
the thousand-pound if and when too.
Give up whatever made the bed or unmade it.

Give up the know thing that shatters into other things
and takes the remember fork in the road.

The remember isn’t a road.

At noon, the fog has no memory of fog, the trees I walked
or wanted to. Like the pencil never recalls its least
little mark, the dash loved, the comma which can’t,

cannot dig down what its own brief nothing
means on the page. I don’t understand death either.

By afternoon, the brain is box, is breath let go, a kind of
mood music agog, half emptied by the usual
who am I, who are you, who’s anyone.

Truth is, I listen all night for morning, all day
for night in the trees draped like a sound I never quite


get how it goes. There’s a phantom self, nerved-up
as any arm or leg.

Of  course I was. Of course I stared from the yard,
my mother at the window

rinsing knife and spoon and the middle of her life.

In drawing class, all eyes fix on the figure gone
imaginary, thinning to paper. Not the wind or a cry
how the hand makes, our bent to it—

pause and rush, rush and pause—

small animals heard only at dark, spooked in the leaves.

There is one thing I must do here at my woodshed hermitage. Saint Anne’s (and may I one day live here and do it all day long), and that is to prepare for my death. But that means a preparation in gentleness. A gentleness, a silence, a humility that I have never had before–which seems impossible in the community, where even my compassion is tinged with force and strain. But if I am called solitude, it is I think, to unlearn all tension, and get rid of the strain that has always falsified me in the presence of others and put harshness into the words of my mind. I have needed solitude, it is because I have always so much need the mercy of Christ and needed His humility and His charity. How can I give love unless I have much more than I have ever had.
– Thomas Merton

Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next – and disappear. That’s why it’s so important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.
– Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein

Once, the great pandit and yogi Naropa was reading texts in the extensive library of a great temple when a dakini suddenly appeared out of a dark cloud in the space in front of him and said, “You know the words but you don’t know the meaning.”
“Where can I learn the meaning?” Naropa asked.
She replied, “There’s a great yogi called Tilopa. You can receive the commentaries from him.”
Consequently, as directed by the dakini, the great pandit Naropa went to West Bengal, in the north-eastern part of India, in search of his guru, Tilopa. When he got there, he asked the local people if they knew Tilopa. They said, “There are two Tilopas: a rich one and a poor one, a beggar. There are two.” Naropa said, “Tilopa, the guru I have to find, doesn’t necessarily have to be rich or poor.”
Later, as he went around, he found Tilopa by the river, pulling fish from the water, cooking them over a fire and eating them. Seeing this, instead of criticizing Tilopa or being shocked by his behavior, he remained silent; not a hair of his body moved. He just stood there quietly, without a single negative or disparaging thought, and simply reflected,
“Since sentient beings are so ignorant, in order to release them from ignorance and lead them to enlightenment, Tilopa has manifested in this form, catching fish and eating them.

One of the reasons writers are so much more interested in life than others who just go on living all the time is that what the writer doesn’t understand the first thing about is just what he acts like such a specialist about – and that is life. And the reason he writes is to explain it all to himself, and the less he understands to begin with, the more he probably writes. And he takes his ununderstanding, whatever it is – the face of wealth, the collapse of his father’s pride, the misuses of love, hopeless poverty – he simply never gets over it. He’s like an idealist who marries nearly the same woman over and over. He tries to write with different names and faces, using different professions and labors, other forms to travel the shortest distance to the way things really are.
– Grace Paley

I found the Muse in myself. And I loved Her fiercely.
— Annie Finch

My favorite sweet gum has a shade
so cool it lifts the dead weight
of my heart on splendid fulcrums
of joy. Its ten thousand half-star leaves
wildly caress the random wind,
and my whole world
becomes a shivering song.
— Loueva Smith, Direct Descendant of the Coming Rain

Writing teachers invariably tell students, Write about what you know. That’s, of course, what you have to do, but on the other hand, how do you know what you know until you’ve written it? Writing is knowing. What did Kafka know? The insurance business? So that kind of advice is foolish, because it presumes that you have to go out to a war to be able to do war. Well, some do and some don’t. I’ve had very little experience in my life. In fact, I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.
– E. L. Doctorow

The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.
– John Ruskin

On Admiration
by Tad Hargrave

So often in our lives, we march up to others as if we know them already. Or we look at them acquisitively, trying to figure them out, trying to know them once and for all, so that we can banish all remaining mystery.

But admiration asks us to wait and watch from a distance for a while, to let the mystery, those skittish birds scared off by our clumsy human footsteps, come slowly back towards us until we are sitting there, back against a tree, inside of all that we do not and can not know, the birds peering down on us from their branches.

We could do well to bring this understanding to our relationships with each other. To approach slowly and with an immense courtesy that signals to the other your lack of familiarity with their ways. We could look at each other in this way and be staggered by how little know. We could look at those we’ve known our whole lives like this.

Why were you made and who planted you here?

What’s the story you were born from and into?

Is it ever hard for you to be alive?

What parts of you have yet to be seen?

Where do you feel misunderstood?

Have I hurt you before and not known it?

What food feeds you the most? And what grows it?

Let the questions arise. Drink from the cup of how little you know or, better yet, be willing not to drink anything for a little while. Hunger and thirst might just be the way that mystery, the midwife of all our learning, feeds us. Wonder might be the kind of food that keeps our minds sharp, our gaze soft and our body supple.

This culture is so insistent of ending mystery. See if you can feed it against so that it grows ever larger. Or see if you can go hungry for a while yourself to notice how big it always was. Be staggered by how little you saw and how narrow was your view.

“You are a Sufi when your heart is as soft and as warm as wool.”
~ Traditional

“LOVERS OF GOD”

Sufism is a path of love. The Sufi is a traveler on the path of love, a wayfarer journeying back to God through the mysteries of the heart. For the Sufi the relationship to God is that of lover and Beloved, and Sufis are also known as lovers of God. The journey to God takes place within the heart, and for centuries Sufis have been traveling deep within themselves, into the secret chamber of the heart where lover and Beloved share the ecstasy of union.

There are some people for whom spiritual life has to be a love affair, a passionate affair of the soul. This tremendous love affair takes place within the heart, and is one of the greatest mysteries of being human. To love God and to be loved by God, to experience the depth and intimacy of this relationship, is a secret long known to the Sufis. Within the heart we come closer and closer to our Beloved, so close that finally there is no separation as the lover merges into the Beloved, the lover becomes lost in love. Step by step we walk along the path of love until finally we are taken by love into love; we are taken by God to God, and then there is no going back, only a deepening and deepening of this love affair of the soul. This is the ancient journey from separation to union, the journey from our own self back to a state of oneness with God.

On this journey love is the power that will take us Home. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and it resides within the heart of each of us. But this love needs to be awakened. The heart needs to be activated so that it can come to know its primordial passion, this link of love that runs through the world and is our own essence.

Since the beginning of time there have been masters of love, spiritual teachers who understood the ways of love, how to activate and channel this latent power within the human being. They carry the knowledge of how to awaken the longing that the soul has for God and help the lover live this longing, of how to allow this longing to fulfill itself so that the lover comes to experience nearness, intimacy, and finally union with God. This is the ancient wisdom of love, how to activate the heart, how to work with the currents of love so that the human being is taken back to God. And this is the wisdom of the Sufis, the ancient path of love that has always been here, long, long before they were called Sufis.

There is a story about a group of mystics, a band of lovers of God, who were called the Kamal Posh. Kamal Posh means blanket wearers, for their only possession was one blanket which they wore as a covering during the day and used as a blanket at night. As the story goes they traveled throughout the ancient world from prophet to prophet but no one could satisfy them. Every prophet told them to do this or to do that, and this did not satisfy them. Then one day, at the time of Muhammad, the Prophet was seated together with his companions when he said that in a certain number of days the men of the Kamal Posh would be coming. So it happened that in that number of days this group of Kamal Posh came to the prophet Muhammad. And when they were with him, he said nothing, but the Kamal Posh were completely satisfied. Why were they satisfied? Because he created love in their hearts, and when love is created, what dissatisfaction can there be?

Sufism is the ancient wisdom of the heart. It is not limited by time or place or form. It always was and it always will be. There will always be lovers of God. And the Kamal Posh recognized that Muhammad knew the mysteries of the heart. They stayed with the Prophet and were assimilated into Islam. According to this story the Kamal Posh became the mystical element of Islam. And later these wayfarers became known as Sufis, perhaps in reference to the white woolen blanket, sûf, which they wore, or as an indication of their purity of heart, safâ, for they were also known as the pure of heart.

These lovers of God followed Islam, and observed the teachings of the Qur’an, but from a mystical point of view. For example, in the Qur’an there is a saying that God, Allâh, is nearer to us than our jugular vein (Sura 50:16). For the Sufis this saying speaks about the mystical experience of nearness with God. The Sufi relates to God not as a judge, nor as a father figure, nor as the creator, but as our own Beloved, who is so close, so near, so tender. In the states of nearness the lover experiences an intimacy with the Beloved which carries the softness and ecstasy of love.

We all long to be loved, we all long to be nurtured, to be held, and we look for it in another; we seek a man or woman who can fulfill us. But the mystic knows the deeper truth, that no other person can ever answer our real needs. Maybe for a while an outer lover can appear to give us the love and support we crave, but an external lover will always be limited. Only within the heart can our deepest desires, our most passionate needs, be met, totally and completely. In moments of mystical intimacy with God we are given everything we could want, and more than we believe possible. He is closer to us than ourself to ourself, and He loves us with the completeness that belongs only to God.

Another passage from the Qur’an that carries a mystical meaning is the “verse of light” from sura 24, which contains the phrase, “light upon light, Allâh guides to His light whom He will.” The Sufis have interpreted the words “light upon light” as describing the mystery of how His light hidden within our own heart rises up to God, giving us the longing and light we need for the journey. He awakens the lamp of Divine light within the hearts of those who believe in the oneness of God. For the Sufi this light is a living reality that is felt as love, tenderness, and also the guidance that is necessary to help us on the way. His light takes us back to Him, from the pain of separation to the embrace of union. Not only the Qur’an, but also the hadîth, the sayings attributed to the Prophet, often carry an inner meaning for the Sufi. One of the best known is “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” This hadîth refers to the whole mystery of self-knowledge, of going within yourself, discovering your real nature, not what you think you are but what you really are. Sufism is a path of love and also a journey to self-knowledge, of carrying the light of consciousness into the core of our being. The spiritual journey is always inward, a gradual process of self-discovery as you realize the real wonder of being human. The wayfarer makes the most difficult and courageous of journeys, turning away from the outer world of illusion, and turning back to God, not as an idea but as a living reality that exists within the heart. This is a journey of self-revelation, a painful process of leaving behind our illusory nature, the ego, and entering into the arena of our true Self. And as another hadîth explicitly states, on this journey you have to “die before you die”: before you can experience the innermost state of union with God, the ego has to be sacrificed; you have to be burnt, consumed by the fire of divine love.

FRIENDS OF GOD

In the early days of Sufism very little was written down; there were just luminaries, saints, friends of God, wali, who lived their own spiritual passion, their deepest devotion. One such saint was Râbi’a, a woman who was born into slavery, but whose owner was so impressed by the intensity of her devotion that he gave her her freedom. She became known for stressing the love that exists between the mystic and God. Always looking towards God, she cared for nothing that might distract from or interfere with this relationship. She was once asked, “Do you love God?” “Yes,” she replied. “Do you hate the devil?” “No, my love of God gives me no time to hate the devil.”

Râbi’a’s prayer emphasizes the mystical rejection of everything but God: “Oh Lord, whatever share of this world thou dost bestow, bestow it on thine enemies. And whatever share of the next world doth thou giveth me, give it to thy friends. Thou art enough for me.” An outer love affair may give us a semblance of fulfillment, but the intense inner love that belongs to the mystical relationship with God gives us a fulfillment that is total and absolute. Until you have tasted the degree of this inner fulfillment, you hardly dare dream that it is possible. But as the wayfarer walks along the path, as the lover comes closer to her Beloved, this fulfillment gets deeper and deeper, more and more complete; and you know, with a certainty that is born of experience, that only the Beloved can give you what you need. In the words of Râbi’a, “Thou art enough for me.”

For the Sufi everything is given through love, within the heart. And it is given because our Beloved wills: “Allâh guides to Allâh whom He wills.” The work of the wayfarer is really a work of preparation, to empty the cup of oneself so that He can fill it with the wine of love, the intoxicating substance of His love for us. The mystic knows that the only obstacle between us and our Beloved is our own self, as the tenth-century Sufi al-Hallâj passionately expressed:

Between You and me there lingers an “it is I”
which torments me.
Ah! lift through mercy this “it is I”
from between us both.

The lover longs to burn in the fire of love until he is empty, so that his Beloved can fill his heart with the wine of divine remembrance, with the taste of nearness, with the intimacies of love. He calls us to Him and we turn away from the world back to our Beloved, so that He can reveal the secret He has placed within our hearts, the wonder of oneness, the innermost union of lover and Beloved. Again to quote al-Hallâj, “I am He whom I love, He whom I love is me.”

As mystics we burn with the fire of divine love that He has ignited within our heart. He calls us to Him and we respond, turning away from the world, turning away from our ego, to the deeper mystery hidden within the heart. And we make this journey, this sacrifice, because it is His will, because He has looked within our heart. Someone came to Râbi’a and asked, “I have committed many sins; if I turn in penitence towards God, will He turn in mercy towards me?” “No,” she replied, “first He must look upon you, then you can turn towards Him.”

We are so easily identified only with our own effort and our own will that we have forgotten the primal truth of His need for us, His love for us: that He guides us back to Him because He wills. This is why the Sufi attaches such importance to surrender, and Islam means “surrender.” The mystic walks a path of surrender, giving up his will, his own self, to the mysteries of love, drawn on this journey by the power of His love for us that He has awakened within our heart. The great ninth-century Sufi, Bâyezîd Bistâmî, came to realize this truth:

At the beginning I was mistaken in four respects. I concerned myself to remember God, to know Him, to love Him and to seek Him. When I had come to the end I saw that He had remembered me before I remembered Him, that His knowledge of me had preceded my knowledge of Him, that His love towards me had existed before my love to Him and He had sought me before I sought Him.

His love towards us is the fundamental core of our existence, and of our spiritual quest. The whole of Sufism can be summed up in the saying in the Qur’an, “He loves them and they love Him” (Sura 5:59). Within the heart the lover knows that this is the essence of her relationship with God: His love for us awakens our love for Him, His love draws us back to Him. The whole path is this drama of love being enacted within our heart and within our whole life.

ONENESS AND ANNIHILATION

Central to love is the quality of oneness. Love belongs to oneness and draws us towards oneness. We experience this in a human love affair. When our love for another draws us closer to that person, we want to get nearer and nearer, until in the moment of sexual union we are taken out of ourself into the bliss of ecstasy. Love for God awakens the memory of oneness that is stamped into the heart, and the path takes us into this arena. Bâyezîd Bistâmî was one of those God-intoxicated mystics who realized this essential oneness, the unity of God and man. Drunk with the wine of love, he exclaimed, “Under my garments there is nothing but God.”

In the outer world we are so caught in duality, in separation from God, that we don’t even know how we hunger for oneness. We have forgotten that we belong to God and that He is our own essential nature, the core of our being. But there are those in whom this memory is awakened, and, like the moth attracted by the candle, they are drawn into the fire of love, the fire that will burn away their own separate self, until all that remains is love.

The Sufis have been known as the people of the secret because they carry this secret of love, the oneness of lover and Beloved. Inwardly the cost of realizing oneness is always oneself, though some Sufis have had to pay a more physical price. Al-Hallâj was martyred for proclaiming anâ’l-haqq (“I am the Absolute Truth”). When he was executed, one of his fellow Sufis, Shibli, said, “God gave you access to one of His secrets, but because you made it public He made you taste the blade.” Through al-Hallâj the mysteries of love became known in the marketplace and the mosque. Love’s martyr, he was prepared to pay the ultimate price, but he also knew that the physical world is only a veil of separation. Just before his death he exclaimed, “My God, here am I now in the dwelling place of my desires.”

There is a Sufi saying that nothing is possible in love without death, and al-Hallâj knew and lived this. He said, “When Truth has taken hold of a heart, She empties it of all but Herself! When God attaches Himself to a man, He kills in him all else but Himself.” The Sufis call this process of dying to oneself fanâ, annihilation. In the fire of love we are burnt, and through this burning the ego learns to surrender, to die to its own notion of supremacy. The lover learns to give herself totally to her Beloved, without thought or care for herself, until she can say, “The Beloved is living, the lover is dead.” In this ultimate love affair we die to ourself, and this death is a painful process, because the ego, the “I,” does not easily give up its notion of supremacy.

When I first came to the path I was given a taste of fanâ, of this annihilation of myself, although at the time I did not understand the experience. One evening I was invited to a talk on the spiritual dimension of mathematics. Sitting in front of me was a white-haired old lady, and after the talk I was introduced to her by a friend. This old lady, who was to be my teacher, gave me one look from her piercing blue eyes and I had the physical experience of becoming just a speck of dust on the floor. At the time I was an arrogant nineteen-year-old and I thought I knew a lot about spirituality. I had read many books and had been practicing meditation and hatha yoga. But at that instant it all fell away and I became nothing. Years later I understood that it was a foretaste of the path, that the disciple has to become “less than a speck of dust at the feet of the teacher.” But at the time I was just left in a state of bewilderment so profound I did not even think about it.

Sufism is a living mystical system. The great Sufis from the past have left us glimpses, the footprints of their journey. But over the centuries this wisdom of love has been passed from heart to heart, from culture to culture. After meeting this white-haired Russian lady I went to the small, North-London studio apartment where she lived and held meditation meetings. I experienced the love that comes from those who have given themselves totally to love, who are immersed in the soul’s love affair with God. The path took me and transformed me, softened and emptied me. And always there was the sense of this ancient tradition of the lovers of God, stretching back to the beginning of time, and yet eternally present.

Sufism is for those who need a path that lives the primacy of love, who need to make the journey from separation to union, from the isolation of their own self to the intoxicating intimacy of their heart’s Beloved. The path of love is a fire within the heart that burns away the veils of separation, emptying us of ourself so that we can come to experience our innermost state of union. The Beloved ignites the spark that becomes this fire because He wants us to come Home, to make the greatest journey, the soul’s journey back to God. He wants us to know our true nature and to share with us the secret of His love, His hidden face. The mystery of “He loves them and they love Him” is so simple, so pure, so much a part of us and yet so easily forgotten. Sadly, in our culture we look for complexity and forget this primal mystery hidden within our own heart. Yet this is the mystery that the Sufis have long understood, the secret they hold in trust for mankind.

IBN ‘ARABI AND JALALUDDIN RUMI

Another great Sufi was Ibn ‘Arabî, who was born in the twelfth century in Spain. Ibn ‘Arabî was one of the few Sufis who didn’t have a spiritual teacher. Instead, he said, he was initiated by Khidr. Khidr is a very important Sufi figure, who represents direct revelation. Mystics are not satisfied with hearing about God, with listening to other people’s experiences; they are driven to realize God as a living reality within their own heart. And Khidr is the archetypal figure who gives the Sufi access to this direct revelation. Khidr is also known as the Green Man, and he usually appears in dreams as someone quite ordinary; you don’t know that it is Khidr until he has gone.

Ibn ‘Arabî had his first mystical experiences, his first immersion in the oneness of God, when he was quite young. He wrote over four hundred books, but at the core of his mystical teaching is the idea of the unity of being, that everything is one and everything is a part of God. Everything is God; He is the cause of everything, the essence of everything, and the substance of everything. There is no other existence than He. Ibn ‘Arabî writes:

‘When the mystery—of realizing that the mystic is one with the Divine—is revealed to you, you will understand that you are no other than God and that you have continued and will continue…. Then you will see all your actions to be His actions and your essence to be His essence…. There is nothing except His Face, “whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God.”

Ibn ‘Arabî became known as the greatest sheikh (sheikh is the term for a Sufi teacher). And he also became known as the “pole of knowledge” for the tremendous mystical understanding and insights he left behind. For example, he wrote about the importance of the imagination as a way of transcending the physical world and gaining access to the inner world of archetypal images. In recent years this knowledge of his has been rediscovered and forms the basis of revaluing this faculty of the imagination, a faculty which has been sadly rejected by our belief in rationalism.

Four years after Ibn ‘Arabî’s death in 1240, a meeting took place that was to inspire some of the world’s greatest writings on mystical love. A theology professor was walking home from school when he met a ragged dervish. The professor was Jalaluddin Rûmî and the dervish, Shams-i Tabrîz. According to one story Rûmî fell at Shams’ feet and renounced his religious teaching when the dervish recited these verses:

‘If knowledge does not liberate the self from the self
then ignorance is better than such knowledge. ‘

Shams-i Tabrîz was the spark that ignited the fire of divine love within Rûmî, who summed up his life in the two lines:

‘And the result is not more than these three words:
I burnt, and burnt, and burnt.’

Shams had awakened in him a fire that could only be satisfied with union, with the ecstatic loss of the self in the presence of the Beloved. And Rûmî knew how precious is this fire, this burning within the heart:

‘It is burning of the heart I want; this burning
which is everything,
More precious than a worldly empire, because
it calls God secretly, in the night.’

Shams was the divine sun that had lighted Rûmî’s life. But one day Shams disappeared, possibly sensing the jealousy of Rûmî’s students and family. Rûmî was distraught, but then he heard news that Shams was in Damascus, and he sent his son, Sultân Walad, to bring him back. When Shams returned Rûmî fell at his feet, and once more they became inseparable, such that “no one knew who was the lover and who was the beloved.” But again the jealousy of Rûmî’s students and his younger son destroyed their physical closeness. Again Shams disappeared, this time murdered. Rûmî was consumed with grief, lost alone in the ocean of love.

But from the terrible pain of outer separation and loss was born an inner union as he found his beloved within his own heart. Inwardly united with Shams, the theology professor was transformed into love’s poet. Rûmî knew the pain of love and the deepest purpose of this fire within the heart, how it empties the human being and fills him with the wine of love:

‘Love is here like the blood in my veins and skin
He has annihilated me and filled me only with Him
His fire has penetrated all the atoms of my body
Of “me” only my name remains; the rest is Him.’

Rûmî became the poet of lovers, expressing the crazy passion of the soul’s desire for God. He knew that lovers are madmen, gamblers, fools prepared to suffer the deepest devastation for their invisible Beloved. He spoke of the mystery that draws us into this burning, blissful obliteration:

‘Love is a madman,
working his wild schemes,
tearing off his clothes, running
through the mountains, drinking poison
and now quietly choosing annihilation.’

Rûmî’s words, spoken centuries ago, ring in the soul of every lover, every wayfarer who seeks to follow this passion that is in the innermost of our being, the pathway in the soul that leads back to the Beloved. That Rûmî is the world’s most popular poet today speaks of the need we have to hear these stories of divine love, to hear from a master of love how the heart can sing, cry, and burn with passion for God. Our culture may bombard us with material values but there is an inward hunger for what is real, for a love affair that belongs to the soul and not to the personality. Rûmî covers the spectrum of divine love: the haunting cry of the reed flute suffering separation from the reed bed, the laughter of lovers, the need to be naked, how “the mystic dances in the sun, hearing music others don’t.” With the language of love he tells us of the mystery of things, a mystery so lacking in our contemporary world. He reminds us of an unlived sorrow and an uncontainable joy, of the limitless horizon of the heart and the need for our heart’s true Friend.

SUFI ORDERS

Rûmî was not only the greatest Sufi poet, but he also founded the Mevlevî order, often known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their beautiful whirling dance, in which the dancers rotate like the planets turning around the sun. The founding of the different Sufi orders was an important part in the development of Sufism. In the early days of Sufism, small groups would gather around particular teachers, and by the eleventh century these groups had formed into spiritual orders, tarîqas, each order bearing the name of its founder.

The first order to emerge was the Qâdiryyah, founded by al-Jîlânî in the twelfth century in Baghdad. Jîlânî was an ascetic, a missionary, and a teacher, and became one of the most popular saints in the Islamic world. Other orders followed: the Suhrawardiyya, named after Suhrawardî, which spread into India and Afghanistan; the Rifâ’iyya order founded by Ahmad ar-Rifâ’î, which spread through Egypt and Syria and until the fifteenth century was one of the most popular orders. They were also known as the Howling Dervishes because they practiced a loud dhikr (dhikr, like mantra, is the repetition of a sacred phrase or name of God). They also became notorious for strange practices like eating snakes, cutting themselves with swords, and dancing in fire without being hurt.

In total contrast is the sobriety associated with the Naqshbandiyya, named after Bahâ ad-dîn Naqshband (d. 1390), but started by ‘Abd’l-Khâliq Ghujduwânî (d. 1220). The Naqshbandis are also known as the Silent Sufis because they practice a silent rather than vocal dhikr. Bahâ ad-dîn said “God is silent and is most easily reached in silence.” The Naqshbandiyya do not engage in samâc, sacred music or dance, and do not dress differently from ordinary people. Another aspect of the Naqshbandi path is the suhbat, the close relationship of master and disciple. The order was very powerful in Central Asia from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, and also spread throughout India.

Each order has its particular practices; some use music and dance, while others stress silence. But central to each tarîqa is the spiritual chain of succession stretching from sheikh to sheikh back to the founder of the order. Through this spiritual chain is transmitted the energy of the path, the power that is needed to take the wayfarer Home. The white-haired old lady whom I met when I was nineteen, and who gave me that look with her piercing blue eyes, was a representative of the Naqshbandi order. After the death of her husband, when she was in her fifties, she had gone to India where she met a Sufi master, Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib means elder brother, because traditionally the Sufi sheikh is “without a face, without a name.” Sufis do not believe in personality worship, or in idealizing the teacher. The teacher is just a guide, a stepping stone from the world of illusion to the world of reality. Bhai Sahib trained her according to his system, and she was the first Western woman to be given this ancient spiritual training of the Naqshbandis.

She stayed with him for a number of years, undergoing an intense spiritual training, which she recorded as a diary. When she met him he told her to keep a diary of her experiences, and to keep a record of her dreams. Later he said, “I am not going to teach you anything. If I teach you things you will forget them. Instead I will give you experiences.” Sufism is a path of experiences, in which the very inner substance of the individual is totally changed. Later, her diaries became a book, Daughter of Fire (Chasm of Fire in its abridged version), the first written record of this spiritual training. It tells of how love is created within the heart, how this divine love is experienced as burning longing, and the slow and painful process of purification that grinds down the ego until the disciple surrenders totally to the Beloved, to the currents of love that take her Home.

After Bhai Sahib’s death in 1966 she returned to England, and brought this spiritual system to the West. When I met Irina Tweedie, or Mrs. Tweedie as she liked to be known, she had a small meditation group, just a few friends meeting twice a week. Meeting her, being in her presence, I knew that she knew, that she lived the secret for which I longed. This knowledge had nothing to do with words, but was stamped into the very core of her being and radiated from every cell. In her presence this mysterious path was alive, an ancient transmission of love that is from soul to soul, from essence to essence. Sufism is this transmission of love, a process of awakening the heart as an organ of direct perception: “light upon light, in Thy light shall we see light.”

Mrs. Tweedie’s small North-London room became my home from home, a space of reality in a world of illusion, a place where the heart was given precedence. We meditated and drank tea, she spoke of her teacher, and we shared dreams. Sufis believe in dreams, in the wisdom and guidance that they hold. And always beneath the surface of this company of friends, the primal mystery of being human was present, the secret of secrets, the heart’s knowledge of its Beloved. Sufis are lovers of God; they live the truth that in the whole of the universe there are only two, the lover and the Beloved: “He loves them and they love Him.”

I grew up in this atmosphere of love and the invisible presence of the path. Years later I had a dream in which I was told that I had been “made soft by a very hard system”; something within me had been softened by the love that was given, and yet the hardness of the system was always there, a path that pushes you to test every fiber of your being. For just as love is warm and tender, so it has a cold, hard quality that empties the heart of everything that is not Him.

The path of love is a journey into the unknown, into the darkness and wonder that lie within us. We are drawn into the bottomless depths of our own being, into a state of vulnerability and nakedness that for most people is too terrifying to consider. The poet Hâfiz writes: “The dark night, the fear of waves, the terrifying whirlpool, how can they know of our state, those who go lightly along the shore?” But Sufis are love’s fools, His own personal idiots who do not care for their own safety, only for the eternal embrace of their Beloved.

This book is an attempt to share something of this path, of its beauty and terror, intimacy and awe. When Mrs. Tweedie was with Bhai Sahib in India, in answer to her many questions he would often reply, “You will know, by and by.” She found that for the Western mind it is very difficult to be left continually in a state of unknowing, and, when she returned to England, said that she would try to explain as much as possible. Many aspects of the path cannot be explained, because they belong to the inner recesses of the heart which cannot be grasped by the mind. Yet the mind can also play its part, helping us to understand the strange and often paradoxical ways of love. Spiritual life is so simple, because God is a simple essence. And there are waysto become attuned to this inner essence, to learn to listen and allow Him into our life. The ways of love flow according to their own rhythms, which are buried deep within us, often very different from the surface values of our life. Listening to the stories of the heart, we can become familiar with the deeper music of our own nature, and catch the thread of an inner unfolding that leads us beyond the limitations of our surface self, to something both wonderful and intoxicating. This ancient path of love is eternally alive, singing the mysteries of the heart, and since the beginning of time His lovers have been offering a taste of its wine that burns like fire.”

~ Love is a Fire: The Sufi’s Mystical Journey Home
by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Love is a Fire is an introduction to the Sufi path of love, taking the reader into the passion and wisdom of this mystical tradition. The call of the heart and how it draws us back to divine union is one of mankind’s greatest secrets, and for the Sufi this love is a fire that burns away all traces of separation. Love is a Fire is based on live talks and meetings with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, who teaches how to live this burning. He describes the stages of the path of love on the soul’s journey home. This is a book for anyone drawn to the fire of divine love.

COMMON BOOK PILLOW BOOK
Long enough since the genre was popular
we’ve forgotten what to call it: weird mix of quotes and collectibles, private
thoughts and uncensored meditations in brief, like locks of hair and
child height charts of your considerations
and ponderings. An abandoned art, you practice it with care: each quote
equal to the other, simple entries like coordinates of unmarked
appearances
in the sky – twenty years, over
8,000 days – the weather is “what you make of sunshine,” and only
women “can
make a man successful,” haven’t you heard
“God is the messenger, and we are all brothers and sisters,” organizations
of hate “must be fought with the ultimate crest: humanity,” and you
note a quote with a love reserved
for precision and the unattained, and I
suspend like cracked meteors in the ether
of your common message: go to bed, what is truly important in this world
has already been said.

When people deserve love the least
is when they need it the most,” we are the axis
of cliche, “like mother like daughter,” sign your name
on this one before I turn out the light
and resume my interrupted prayer.
– Priscila Uppal

To me the foggy blur over the tops of trees is a mental affair. You hold in your mind another time and live there in that other imagined time while the present time, new and raw in some way, presses for attention. But the other time is held like a fragile glass, transparent but up close in front of one’s face. This is a practice from childhood. It serves no purpose except to counter the insistence of present time and to block it a bit. I can’t remember when I haven’t done this. Being in two places at one time. This is my definition of a person, I say, as if I were saying something definitive and true.

— Martha Ronk

Writing down your thoughts is both necessary and harmful. It leads to eccentricity, narcissism, preserves what should be let go. On the other hand, these notes intensify the inner life, which, left unexpressed, slips through your fingers. If only I could find a better kind of journal, humbler, one that would preserve the same thoughts, the same flesh of life, which is worth saving.
~
Moreover the writer invents himself as a character in this form. He shapes himself from the shards of the everyday, from the truth of that daily life. Which is also a truth not to be scorned.
– Anna Kamieńska

And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be
ready
and we ripple with life through the days.
– D. H. Lawrence

Poet is a voice, I say, like Icarus,
whispering to himself as he falls.
~
Yes, my life as a broken branch in the wind
hits the Northern ground.
I am writing now a history of snow,
the lamplight bathing the ships
that sail across the page.
– Ilya Kaminsky

Practice Everywhere:
love you when you cry, even if it’s over “silly things.” I love when you can’t find your keys. I love you when you are stressed. I love you when you are “wasting time.” How are you unconditionally loved?

Magic doesn’t sweep you away; it gathers you up into the body of the present moment so thoroughly that all your explanations fall away: the ordinary, in all its plain and simple outrageousness, begins to shine – to become luminously, impossibly so. Every facet of the world is awake, and you within it.
~
The deeper I slid into the material density of the real, the more I found that there was nothing determinate or predictable about existence. Actuality, this inexhaustible mystery, cannot be domesticated. It is wildness incarnate. Reality shapeshifts.
– David Abram

And now, advice for beginning mystics. Be sober, be intelligent, be educated, rely on the tangible reality as long as you can. Remember that the act of writing is a tiny part of a bigger something. Defend the value of the spiritual experience and if somebody tells you it’s an old fashioned notion, laugh loudly and serenely.
– Adam Zagajewski

But today I want Rilke to speak—through me. In the vernacular, this is known as translation. (Germans put it so much better—nachdichten—to pave over the road, over instantaneously vanishing traces.) But translation has another meaning. To translate not just into (i.e., into the Russian language), but across (a river). I translate Rilke into Russian, as he will someday translate me to the other world. By hand—across the river.
– Marina Tsvetaeva

Very simple love that believes in words,
since I cannot do what I want to do,
can neither hug nor kiss you,
my pleasure lies in my words
and when I can I speak to you of love.
– Patrizia Cavalli

At a certain time in a man’s life, he forgets things. He not only forgets but he also imagines he forgets. Maybe there is a good reason he forgets. Maybe he lives in the Midwest, and all around him the fields are flat, the skies are white, the winters are so long, they never end. He can’t tell one day from another, one field or thought from the next.
– Nin Andrews

Maybe in the end, that’s all a man wishes. For one last night in the bed of his past. When he thinks of his bed, he remembers a woman beneath the sheets, and a cat. Or he thinks he does. He remembers the morning light and the song of doves. The sad song, two notes played over and over. Or was it a Bob-white? He’s not sure … He wonders if there ever was bed like that. He wonders if it’s better to forget.
– Nin Andrews

It’s not supposed to be this way. We’re not supposed to be doing it alone. Our sadness, struggle, fears and rage are not just our own, but are the righteous collective trauma response to being forcibly removed from our life-sustaining relationships with the land and each other.
We have been isolated and segregated into tiny boxes, seduced into becoming dependent slaves to an insanely out of balance world-destroying machine. Our children are drafted and ‘educated’ from increasingly early ages into a life of servitude to a system that promises vast and glitzy glories but actually sucks us dry in all the real and beautiful ways that truly matter.
You can’t buy the things we really need. Real and true human connection, heartfelt tenderness, empathy and grass roots support for one another are not commodities for sale. We have to re-create all this ourselves, even while we are still enslaved and shackled to this stupid sinking ship. We can’t stay small and separate any longer. So let’s make radical actions of furious and blatant kindness, beauty and joy:
Cook extra food and share it with a neighbour. Organise a community lunch. Make spaces for wild and exotic playful ridiculous dancing. Begin to really care for a particular area of land. Fall in love with a tree or rock or river and shamelessly court it ’til it marries you. Grow fruit and vegetables with others. Swop clothes. Share tools. Make copious and plentiful gorgeous offerings to ancestors. Check in on the old folk living nearby and see if they need anything. Hold their hand while you listen to them. Ask single parents if you can look after their kids for a day so they can get their sanity back. Support a local maker or small business. Leave random gifts on strangers’ doorsteps. Spontaneously sing rousing and beautiful protest songs in the high street. Touch each other with great reverence and care. Listen to each other. Hug for a long time and hold one other. Consistently disrupt consensus reality in tiny and subtle, diabolically potent ways. Widen the cracks for the new more beautiful world to burst forth, made of all the quiet splendour that can’t be bought or sold.
– Red K Elders

One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own. There are times of great uncertainty in every life. Left alone at such a time, you feel dishevelment and confusion like gravity. When a friend comes with words of encouragement, a light and lightness visit you and you begin to find the stairs and the door out of the dark. The sense of encouragement you feel from the friend is not simply her words or gestures; it is rather her whole presence enfolding you and helping you find the concealed door. The encouraging presence manages to understand you and put herself in your shoes. There is no judgment but words of relief and release.
– John O’Donohue, Excerpt from ETERNAL ECHOES

The young men run.
The children in ritual chatter
scatter upon
their Own and old geography.

The Law comes sirening across the town.
– Gwendolyn Brooks

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.
– Gwendolyn Brooks

She was learning to love moments. To love moments for themselves.
– Gwendolyn Brooks

When you love a man, he becomes more than a body. His physical limbs expand, and his outline recedes, vanishes. He is rich and sweet and right. He is part of the world, the atmosphere, the blue sky and the blue water.
– Gwendolyn Brooks

To love—is to see a person as God intended him and his parents failed to make him.

To not love—is to see a person as his parents made him.

To fall out of love: is to see, instead of him, a table, a chair.
– Marina Tsvetaeva

One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.
– Paulo Coelho

Toni Morrison:
I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost… magnificent, when I write.

…And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth….
– Mary Oliver

…But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that – when you feel it – brings you to your knees.
There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.
– Rainer Maria Rilke ( trans. A. Barrows and J. Macy)

Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.
– Seriphim of Sarov

My vagabondage is unlonelied by poems
– Fanny Howe

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic citty
– Miroslav Holub

The things you do not have to say make you rich. Saying things you do not have to say weakens your talk. Hearing things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing. And things you know before you hear them – those are you, those are why you are in the world.
– William Stafford

And when all the wars are over,
a butterfly will still be beautiful.
– Ruskin Bond

What did you notice?
The dew-snail;
the low-flying sparrow;
the bat, on the wind, in the dark;
big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance;
the soft toad, patient in the hot sand;
the sweet-hungry ants;
the uproar of mice in the empty house;
the tin music of the cricket’s body;
the blouse of the goldenrod.
What did you hear?
The thrush greeting the morning;
the little bluebirds in their hot box;
the salty talk of the wren,
then the deep cup of the hour of silence.
When did you admire?
The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit;
the carrot, rising in its elongated waist;
the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the pale green wand;
at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid beauty of the flowers;
then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.
What astonished you?
The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.
What would you like to see again?
My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,
her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue,
her recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness,
her strong legs, her curled black lip, her snap.
What was most tender?
Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root;
the everlasting in its bonnets of wool;
the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body;
the tall, blank banks of sand;
the clam, clamped down.
What was most wonderful?
The sea, and its wide shoulders;
the sea and its triangles;
the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine.
What did you think was happening?
The green beast of the hummingbird;
the eye of the pond;
the wet face of the lily;
the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak;
the red tulip of the fox’s mouth;
the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve of the first snow—
so the gods shake us from our sleep.
– Gratitude, Mary Oliver

And, this, perhaps, is the last hope for an artist in a capitalist country:

They have assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their own, secret souls; and in this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a long outwaiting.
– N. Scott Momaday

You are like a sky abloom with strange stars.
— Éphraïm Mikhaël, J’ai vécu dans mon rêve

Why does the past
sleep with us when we hope
the person beside us is the future?

— Lara Egger, Because There’s No Emoji for Memory

YOU BELONG

You know how most churches are set up…Behave like us, or Believe like us, and then we might let you Belong. Jesus however, puts Belonging right up front, right out of the gate…You already are loved and you belong. God loves you with no qualifications needed. All you’ve got to do is experience it.

It’s how we did things in the Jesus Movement and it changed a generation. It puts God in charge instead of our theological systems. Think about it. To be loved means you are accepted. “For God so loved the world”… when we receive God’s love, it’s that “Wow, what a love,” that draws us to Jesus. It’s Grace, it’s God, it’s the Holy Spirit doing it…and we stand in dumbfounded amazement at what God has done loving through us.
– Bob Holmes

Nadia Bolz-Webber:
I always thought I’d be a better person by now. But still, after 27 years of sobriety, 10 years of ordination and soooo much yoga, my first reaction to almost everything is, “Fuck You”. I don’t often stay there. But I almost always start there. Oh well. Off to another yoga class

BAD PEOPLE
A man told me once that all the bad people
Were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
You need; they are really claws, and we know
Claws. The sharks – what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
In black coats who chase you for hours
In dreams – that’s the only way to get you
To the shore. Sometimes those hard women
Who abandon you get you to say, “You.”
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States.
This man told me that things work together.
Bad handwriting sometimes leads to new ideas;
And a careless god – who refuses to let people
Eat from the Tree of Knowledge – can lead
To books, and eventually to us. We write
Poems with lies in them, but they help a little.
– Robert Bly
Morning Poems

I lean warmly toward him, try to get closer, in empathy and companionship, to study his face, so moist and young in these rains, to match or approximate it. ‘Don’t be lorn, don’t be blue, it’s only morn, and I’m with you.’ I sing this, but he stiffens, then tries not to stiffen, forces a smile but moves too quickly away. He does this often now. Something, someone, keeps him, is kept, in some other corner of his life. I can’t follow him there—where that is, a place of woundedness, we are too without each other.

To meet there would be to step into the strange dark rage of strangers. But I’ve accrued a kind of patience, I believe, loosely like change. I can feel the jangle and money of it. I will wait for him, I think: let him go and sicken himself, confuse himself, dash through the bad woods of himself… I’ll wait for him, my heart in epilogue, knit and reknit, perhaps as it always has been. I’ll wait until I just can’t wait anymore.
— Lorrie Moore, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

I preferred abandoned over forsaken–and estranged to abandoned. I loved with abandon. It’s something I still take with me. Estranged is a word with a focus on absence. I can’t afford to think of lack–I’d rather be liberated by it.
— Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir

I want to make her think the constellations have all wandered
into new formations, that the lake’s moon is held a prisoner
each time she refuses to listen to these words, that the flowers
turn from her when she turns from me–a poetry not to be
squandered
as in the past, not lost among the cries of the stars, unheard,
but carrying home, as the sparrow, in order to restore
its nest, carries one twig at a time, some new metaphor
that startles her soul into knowing what I have endured,
and into knowing what a prisoner she’s been in her own heart,
and she will see this poem as some lost rose in the snow, fallen
inside her, or a relic some farmer unearths as he plows,
and then she’ll know how her refusals only seem to chart
new lands and stars in this poem that finally transcends
all fears of me, and some new, some sacred love allow.
— Richard Jackson, The Poetics of Love

What should I say about your tendency to doubt your struggle or to harmonize your inner and outer life? My wish is ever strong that you find enough patience within you and enough simplicity to have faith. May you gain more and more trust in what is challenging, and confidence in the solitude you bear. Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right in any case.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

HAVE JUST SAID
I have just said
something
ridiculous to you
and in response,
your glorious laughter.
These are the days
the sun
is swimming back
to the coast
and the light on the water
gleams
as never, it seems, before.
I can’t remember
every spring,
I can’t remember
everything –
so many years!
Are the morning kisses
the sweetest
or the evenings
or the inbetweens?
All I know
is that “thank you” should appear
somewhere.
So just in case
I can’t find
the perfect place –
“Thank you, thank you.”
– Mary Oliver

The life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself.
– On World Photography Day, Italo Calvino on photography and the art of presence.

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

No less important than the stories are the contexts in which they were told and the gifted individuals who learned them and passed down. Although the physical environments in Cape Breton differed from that of the western Highlands, the Gaelic social context for performance and transmission of the oral traditions, transferred virtually intact, proved ideal for encouraging community cohesion and and fostering verbal arts in the backwoods settlements of the new world. From field evidence amassed since the early 1960’s, Gaelic storytelling sessions, on various scales, were a staple of entertainment on the island wherever the language was spoken. The centre of the evenings social gatherings, and therefore the main intellectual institution of the rural Gaels, was the taigh céilidh (the céilidh house), a household in the community where people of all ages would gather in the evenings, particularly in the windr, to pass the time in conversation and informal entertainment… The evening would begin with casual conversation and the exchange of important local news before the main entertainment. It was usually the custom to offer visitors food or drink, depending on what was available.
– John Shaw, The Blue Mountain

For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence
– Thomas Merton

Take me to those days again,
where afternoons lasted forever
and sunset paused long enough
to bless everything in sight.
It was almost too much,
the world holy and golden,
our laughter incense in the air.
— Alison Pelegrin

Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable and finally has come to look and not to buy. So shoes are worn and hassocks are sat upon and finally everything is left where it was and the spirit passes on, just as the wind in the orchard picks up the leaves from the ground as if there were no other pleasure in the world but brown leaves, as if it would deck, clothe, flesh itself in flourishes of dusty brown apple leaves and then drops them all in a heap at the side of the house and goes on.
– Marilynne Robinson

Just be, and enjoy being.
Solo sé, y disfruta siendo.
– Eckhart Tolle

Poem for Merwin

for a long time you planted one every day
and now the garden is a clock on forest time

forest time where we were happy
for a few translucent hours moving
into the ghost houses
no longer there

and the shade houses
that are
their myth of air

and the places where people used to gather
by the stream that is now a dry bed
to eat and sing
we cannot almost hear them

then out along the narrow paths
over stones I kept forgetting
like years you had placed

and the dead clock face painters
covered in radium could not convey
their messages to us
here in the permanent shade

the palms with their very different leaves
and seed pods seem to say

you who think nothing can be repaired

you who will not ever
be able to describe our shapes
and say I love to no one

or today I was born

you burned astronomers
look at our wet leaves
maybe you were not even born
for knowing your own planets

you were not born for knowing
but saying

a piece of wood burned next to the little jade statue
means no matter how many times we leave
we will keep returning

it means no matter how many times we go
out where they sell executions

we will come back here
where the black gravestone
is a window in love with the beloved

on it is written here we were happy
which is true

reading it I would like to remember
what I am feeling now
that I would like not to be
the mechanism

a blade angled in reason

I too would like to lay down
in my own sort of field
green with potential love

today I know I was born
to try to remember
the name of the simplest leaf

from the tree of my childhood

I have always known that god all along
and that we were each born
the shadow of reality upon us

so be not easily angry
pick up the small rose book
with its disappearing house on the cover

enter its doorway
get lost for a while

forget we were born to carry our names

until it is our turn with nothing to say
except maybe we were born to love

and move further on

On earth
a man cannot flip a finger at the sky


because each man is already
a finger flipped at the sky.
– Ilya Kaminsky

Man and nature trade shadow and life …

All writing invites to an anterior reading of the
world which the word urges and which we pursue
to the limits of faded memory …

My truth in the book is my truth outside life.
Thus my life grows around my books …

You will die in the mirror.
— Edmond Jabès

In haiku, the two entirely different things that are joined in sameness are poetry and sensation, spirit and matter.
— R.H. Blyth

If our starting point is a respect for nature and people, diversity is an inevitable consequence. If technology and the needs of the economy are our starting point, then we have what we are faced with today—a model of development that is dangerously distanced from the needs of particular peoples and places and rigidly imposed from the top down.
― Helena Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh

nature an endless song
a symphony of diversity and balance
inertia outwardly;
a lot happening on the inside
demanding all attention
vital to attend
focus
inwardly;
not moving enough to produce
a reflection or substance
to focus on
sad unknown
suffused with rose water
choice what we all have
– Svetlana Lilova, Metaphysical Dictionary

Montana is long winters rewarded with perfect summers.
– Tyler Dunning

The more time I can spend
away from town on the days
I’m not forced by need to be there,
the more time that begins
to actually feel like living
– Chris La Tray

There’s a form of nourishment
that only you can give to yourself
and if you don’t learn the language
of how that’s done,
even on your last day here
you will have remained a stranger to yourself
and all those with whom you kept company.
— Frank LaRue Owen

I nodded with deep understanding,
having mourned my own list of things
that don’t seem to be in the stars of this life,
— Frank LaRue Owen

One day these words will be gone.

So will the hands that sculpted them
and the eyes of mind that saw them
and the pulse of heart
that beat their shapes
on the anvil of vision.

The only echo of what is found here
will be found out there
in the rain
the wind
the tide pools at dawn
a quiet, crackling fire beneath the moon
the song of the surf coming in
—  Frank LaRue Owen

There has only ever been one poem
and all poems are but a mirror of that one.

Then you will understand the Great Poet
whose poem is still being sung into Being each day.

Then you will understand that your life
and even your death
is a line in that poem.
—  Frank LaRue Owen

With the high clouds
hugging close to the treetops

the pine and spruce
hugging close to the mountain

the hawk and osprey
hugging close to upper branches

the starling and wren
hugging close to lower branches

the red-wing blackbird
hugging tight to the swaying cattail stalk

the deer hugging close
to the mist of the high grass meadow

it would seem
we are the only ones

who have forgotten the way
of holy embrace.
—  Frank LaRue Owen

When the soul becomes unburdened / it’s like a new saddle on a fresh horse. // Suddenly the trail feels right again, and the strong horizon line in front of you as you turn / becomes its own form of soothing medicine.
– Frank LaRue Owen

I remember how it felt to walk beside you / your small frame edging up the path / like a bright flower flowing down a stream.
– Frank LaRue Owen

I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, ergotise, narcotise, and paralyse, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain, very much as madder mixed with a stag’s food at the Zoo colours the growth of the animal’s antlers. Moreover, in the case of the human animal, that acquired tint, or taint, is transmissible. May I give you an instance? There is a legend which has been transmitted to us from the remotest ages. It has entered into many brains and coloured not a few creeds. It is this: Once upon a time, or rather, at the very birth of Time, when the Gods were so new that they had no names, and Man was still damp from the clay of the pit whence he had been digged, Man claimed that he, too, was in some sort a deity. The Gods were as just in those days as they are now. They weighed his evidence and decided that Man’s claim was good – that he was, in effect, a divinity, and, as such, entitled to be freed from the trammels of mere brute instinct, and to enjoy the consequence of his own acts. But the Gods sell everything at a price. Having conceded Man’s claim, the legend goes that they came by stealth and stole away this godhead, with intent to hide it where Man should never find it again. But that was none so easy. If they hid it anywhere on Earth, the Gods foresaw that Man, the inveterate hunter – the father, you might say, of all hunters – would leave no stone unturned nor wave unplumbed till he had recovered it. If they concealed it among themselves, they feared that Man might in the end batter his way up even to the skies. And, while they were all thus at a stand, the wisest of the Gods, who afterwards became the God Brahm, said, “I know. Give it to me!” And he closed his hand upon the tiny unstable light of Man’s stolen godhead, and when that great Hand opened again, the light was gone. “All is well,” said Brahm. “I have hidden it where Man will never dream of looking for it. I have hidden it inside Man himself.” “Yes, but whereabouts inside Man have you hidden it?” all the other Gods asked. “Ah,” said Brahm, “that is my secret, and always will be; unless and until Man discovers it for himself.”
– Rudyard Kipling, Surgeons and the Soul

Maggie Smith:
My morning: coffee (duh), essay revisions, and 10,000 Maniacs turned up irresponsibly loud. Because I can. Gen X forever.

Jack Kerouac:
You gotta, you gotta or you’ll die! Damn fool, talk to her! What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you tired enough of yourself by now?

The purpose of a pilgrimage is about setting aside a long period of time in which the only focus is to be the matters of the soul. Many believe a pilgrimage is about going away but it isn’t; it is about coming home. Those who choose to go on pilgrimage have already ventured away from themselves; and now set out in a longing to journey back to who they are.
Many a time we believe we must go away from all that is familiar if we are to focus on our inner well-being because we feel it is the only way to escape all that drains and distracts us, allowing us to turn inward and tend to what ails us. Yet we do not need to go to the edges of the earth to learn who we are, only the edges of ourself.
― L.M. Browning

Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.
― L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries

We must seek out that which invigorates us, and engage it at all fronts. Art, music, literature, conversation, travel, nature—whatever it is that keeps the fire of our spirit bright—we must build our life around it; for, without our passions, the years ahead become a burden rather than a gift.
― L.M. Browning

Shall we not recover ourselves? Shall we not redeem ourselves to one another? Shall we not restore this world?
Could we not be the generation who did what always should have been done? Who took the hard path so that humanity could be returned to the right path? Shall we not reexamine all that we choose to pursue and reconsider what will actually fulfill us?
The past has been defined by what we have done; while the present and future are decided by what we choose to do.
Shall we believe in what should be and go in search of it? Shall we believe in what needs to be and build it together?
We become more by believing that we can be more. Life becomes better when we are willing to act on the belief that it can be better.
To believe is to reach and reach is what we all must do.
― L.M. Browning

We can’t deny our journey. We can’t pretend we’re fine when we’re not. All we can do is own it—own our suffering.
― L.M. Browning

Now I know, you can’t change what’s happened to you or hide it, or spin it, or get over it. All you can do is hold it confidently knowing that the mistakes are yours but so too is the wisdom earned along the punishing passage. Suffering is the catalyst for transformation. The wounds don’t define us; how we went about surviving does. Oddity, in this sickened society of medicated despair, is a blessed state.
― L.M. Browning

The divine is in the present and you must be present to experience it. When you vacate the present and recede into your mind, allowing worries or work to remove you from the moment, you leave the plain upon which the divine dwells. When you are constantly under the anesthetic of digital distraction, you withdraw; you are no longer conscious, and therefore are in no fit state to commune with the sacred. If you wish to hear the answers you seek, you must be present to hear them. If you wish to partake in the insights there to be known, you must be present to receive them. If you wish to know the divine, you must be present to meet it. …you must be present.
― L.M. Browning

Do not hold a lazy faith. Miracles are not spontaneous events we must wait for helplessly. Miracles are an achievement—a breakthrough accomplished by those who pushed themselves beyond what was thought possible while holding a belief in a better life. Get up off your knees, and roll up your sleeves.
– L.M. Browning

There is no “letting go.” I would dare to take it further and say there is no healing from trauma. For nearly 25 years, I’ve waited to get over the traumas that have amassed across my life. The pursuit of this healing has felt a great deal like a search for God—for something elusive, divine, and that may or may not exist.
― L.M. Browning

The cure for our modern maladies is dirt under the fingernails and the feel of thick grass between the toes. The cure for our listlessness is to be out within the invigorating wind. The cure for our uselessness is to take back up our stewardship; for it is not that there has been no work to be done, we simply have not been attending to it.
― L.M. Browning

I no longer seek those things that help me to heal but for those things that fortify me with the strength required to carry the load fate has set upon my shoulders. Instead of finding a way to forget, find a way to bear the constant remembering. The silence of the wild being one of those elements that reinforce the weathered walls of the soul and mind.
– L.M. Browning

I’m broken. We’re all broken and right now we’re all isolated within that brokenness. The cure for the loneliness is connection—connection with that broken part of ourselves and with each other—and we can’t achieve that connection while pretending we are okay. We’re not okay.
― L.M. Browning

Take all those things that would propose to be important, and weigh them upon the scale of your soul. Asking how much each thing actually impacts, not just the moment, but the years ahead. Discard all that is trivial masquerading as significant, and reserve your days for those things that truly matter.
― L.M. Browning

Question everything—no matter how beloved, or how long-held, or how exalted—without apology. Only those who build their world upon lies need fear an inquisitive mind. The truth will remain, even after a storm of doubt and revolution has washed over it. Only illusions need be protected. The truth need not be defended; it existed before us and will continue to exist after us.
― L.M. Browning

We all have those things that help us carry on through life. It is important that these things upon which we depend for daily strength are healthy for our character rather than harmful. We must ask ourselves whether the comforts we reach for each day are vices or virtues? Do they feed the best parts of us or do they rob us of them? Even when we are at our most fatigued and are tempted to reach for self-destructive things, we must try to seek out and take solace in those things that will lead to our eventual renewal; rather than those things that will only serve to bring us lower.
– L.M. Browning

From time to time, we all must go unto a landscape—be it inner or outer landscape—where there are no hiding places. Allowing the stark awe and silence to aid us in both communing and confronting the depth of ourselves. We fear emptiness because we know that within those places of nothingness we will come face-to-face with who we are and gaze into the internal mirror. But what is the alternative? Shall we go our entire life without hearing our own voice . . . without ever having met who we are when isolated from all?
― L.M. Browning

Justified within ourselves that we have suffered more than others, we feel guiltless when we disregard those in front of us, be they our family, our co-workers, strangers we interact with during our daily business, or faceless masses in foreign lands.
There are those who transcend the bitter acts done unto them, declaring that the pain shall end with them. And then there are those who use the crimes committed against them as a free pass to commit crimes against others.
Wronged as we each have been, nothing gives us the right to disregard the fragility of another. We can and must halt the hate passing throughout this world. A hateful act done unto us can be absorbed and transcended or it can be re-projected, thus allowing its ill force to continue moving throughout the population.
We must work to transcend those hateful things already carried out upon each of us and in doing so prevent new acts of hate from being done. We must work to heal from the wounds already received and connect to a sense of consideration, to ensure that we do not pass along any of our pain to the generations as yet unburdened. We must declare a general amnesty; we must forgive each other and in doing so find that we have been forgiven. We must put away our bitterness and extend an open hand.
― L.M. Browning

Indifference is a choice.
― L.M. Browning, The Nameless Man

The hands can build a structure, but it is the heart that brings forth the meaning to fill it.
― L.M. Browning

There is a magic here that can help the mind breathe.
― L.M. Browning

As a writer— and artist— I ask myself, What’s next? Where is the next boundary to push? What is the next thing of which humanity is in need that I might make some small contribution to it?
― L.M. Browning

take the pieces and build them skywards.
– Biffy Clyro

I would dig a thousand holes to lay next to you
I would dig a thousand more if I needed to
I look around the grave for an escape route of old routines
There doesn’t seem to be any other way
Cause I’ve started falling apart I’m not savoring life
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
Crazy as it sounds, you won’t feel as low as you feel right now
At least that’s what I’ve been told by everyone
I whisper empty sounds in your ear and hope that you won’t let go
Take the pieces and build them skywards
‘Cause I’ve started falling apart I’m not savoring life
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
I’ve started falling apart I’m not savoring life
Take the pieces and build them skywards
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
Take the pieces and build them skywards
I’ve started falling apart I’m not savoring life
Take the pieces and build them skywards
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
Take the pieces and build them skywards
I’ve started falling apart I’m not savoring life
Take the pieces and build them skywards
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
Take the pieces and build them skywards
Take the pieces and build them skywards
And take the pieces and build them skywards
And take the pieces and build them up to the sky

Peter Falk: I can’t see you, but I know you’re here. I feel it. You’ve been hanging around since I got here. I wish I could see your face. Just look into your eyes and tell you how good it is to be here. Just to touch something. See that’s cold; that feels good. Or to smoke. Have coffee. Or if you do it together, that’s fantastic. Or to draw. You know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it’s a good line. Or when your hands are cold and you rub them together. See that’s good, that feels good. There’s so many good things, but you’re not here. I’m here. I wish you were here. I wish you could talk to me. . .cuz I’m a friend. Compañero. – from Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders

Constant as the Night
Lowen & Navarro

Wake up and Tell her, stand up and say
Go ahead and admit it, she makes this a better day
When all the others fail you, and fall by the side
She stands as true as the redwoods, and as constant as the night

Constant as the night, changes into daylight
Quietly she lent her hand, and she changed my life
Now everyone told me, everybody said
But I refused to listen, and I left with you instead
I will never fail you, no I won’t fall behind
I may be as crazy as the cracks in this old guitar, but I’m as constant as the night
Constant as the night, changes into daylight
Quietly she lent her hand, and she changed my life
I will never fail you, no I won’t fall behind
I may be crazy as the cracks in this old guitar, but I’m as constant as the night
Constant as the night, changes into daylight
Quietly she lent her hand, and she changed my life
Constant as the night
Constant as the night
Constant as the night
Constant as the night

Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.
– Alphonse de Lamartine

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
– Toni Morrison

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
– Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
– Henry David Thoreau

This hideous forest, I suddenly realized, was there to repair the damage done, and not at our bidding. Its intent was not to look good. Its intent was to stay alive, year by year, century by century, until at last it had recycled even the nylon stocking.
– Emergence Magazine

Wait for an autumn day, for a slightly
weary sun, for dusty air,
a pale day’s weather.

Wait for the maple’s rough, brown leaves,
etched like an old man’s hands,
for chestnuts and acorns,

for an evening when you sit in the garden
with a notebook and the bonfire’s smoke contains
the heady taste of ungettable wisdom.

Wait for afternoons shorter than an athlete’s breath,
for a truce among the clouds,
for the silence of trees,

for the moment when you reach absolute peace
and accept the thought that what you’ve lost
is gone for good.
– Adam Zagajewski

Nature is not just the source of everything that I do, it is the ultimate source of everything we human animals do. Everything we imagine we create comes from the world we inhabit.
– John Luther Adams

Cheryl Strayed:
My highest literary achievement is that I have comforted others in their bewilderment and sorrow.

We had our mystic heroes and wrote, nay sung novels about them, erected long poems celebrating the new ‘angels’ of the American underground.
– Gary Snyder

READING BASHÔ ON THE PLANE
Between lectures,
This little seat by the window
My hermitage.

Dark clouds are coming in like an army
Soon the sky will open up and disarm me
You will go just like you’ve gone before
One sad soldier off to war with enemies that only you can see
Dishes stacked, the table cleared
It’s always like the scene of the last supper here
You speak so cryptically that’s not news to me
The flood is here it will carry you
And I’ve got work to do
Come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles
There is fire there is lust
Some will trade it all for someone they could trust
There’s a bag of silver for a box of nails
It’s so simple the betrayal
Though it’s known to change the world and what’s to come
Just come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Don’t you recognize them anymore
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles
There’s the given and the expected
I count my blessings while I eye what I’ve neglected
Is this for better, is this for worse?
You’re all jammed up and the dam’s about to burst.
I hear the owl in the night
I realize that some things never are made right
By some will we string together here
Days to months and months to years
What if everything we have adds up to nothing
Come on home, the team you’re hitched to has a mind of its own
But it’s just the forces of your past you’ve fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I’m stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles
– Emily Ann Sailers

Human intelligence is the source of our problems. But it would be foolish to think that the solution is to reduce intelligence.

There is only one way out: we must not let our intelligence be guided by negative and harmful emotions. It must be guided only by proper and positive motivation if it is to become marvelously constructive.
– 14th Dalai Lama

Every time you write a ‘divide and conquer’ type post on facebook, simplifying reality and blaming all the ills of culture and nature on one or more specifics groups you don’t like, you may have harvest many fans, ego strokes and ‘likes’. But at the same time you may lose a small part of your soul.
– Jason Hine

I’ve always felt that when you do feel loneliness, it’s a kind of inverse measure of what you belong to. It actually tells you where to go.
– David Whyte

Pride can be medicine and pride can be poison.
Pride can be sin and pride can be virtue.

Pride in the false is the harbinger of hell.
Pride in the real is indication of heaven.
Pride in the temporary leads to despair.
Pride in the Always roots body mind in joy.

Pride in personality is a house built on sand
Pride of the divine is a palace on rock.

What is meant by Vajra (divine) Pride in tantra’s methodology? Pride is a deep feeling of pleasure and satisfaction derived from what one is identified with. When identified and grasping toward fleeting phenomena as identity then pride bolsters illusion and leads to suffering. When awareness rests in gnosis, a knowing of its own nature as the openness freedom and luminous kindness then this same sensation is Divine (vajra) Pride – the pleasure and satisfaction of wisdom bliss.

When pride is rooted in an effort to build happiness from what is partial, temporary, confused then it ceaselessly evolves into suffering. Pride as poison. Building ones house on a foundation of shifting sands.

But, when pleasure and satisfaction become linked, through spiritual growth, to confusions dissolution in wisdom then this is pride as medicine. Building ones home on a foundation of bedrock.
– t.k.

Home, imagined, comes to be. It is real, realer than any other place, but you can’t get to it unless your people show you how to imagine it – whoever your people are. They may not be your relatives. They may never have spoken your language. They may have been dead for a thousand years. They may be nothing but words printed on paper, ghosts of voices, shadows of minds. But they can guide you home.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

bodhisattva epiphany

It takes you a long while.

The old books say kalpas.

The Teacher in the desert barked: “What’s time?”

Then, you figure it out.

You see.

The old-timers call it kensho, satori.

The Teacher in the desert declared: “It’s just blinders falling away.”

When you finally see, you no longer want to be here.

The seeing requires a letting-go for which you were never prepared.

It goes against the grasping of the Floating World.

It runs counter to your animal natures.

It’s when the Dharma becomes a biological override.

The old ones say, “Harness practice exertion.”

The Teacher in the desert said: “Eventually you will grow bored

with anything that doesn’t contain the sweet nectar of The Way.”

The moment from seeing to doing can be an arduous delay.

Even some of the greats set aside whole swaths of time

to lounge in the Halls of Decadence as a final farewell.

But, you can’t un-see what you have seen.

The old ones talk about Mara’s daughters, the arrows of demon armies;

how nothing here can compare to the ecstasy of Sukhavati.

The Teacher in the desert said: “Even that doesn’t quite get it.”

When you finally see, you no longer want to be here.

But, you see others struggling around you,

and you love them,

and the Earth Realm,

and what the world could be,

so you stay.

The Teacher in the desert says:

I know you no longer want to be here.

You,…stay.

– Frank LaRue Owen

How to Untangle Environmental Stories: Five Contradictory Lessons
by ANA MARIA SPAGNA

When we talk about environmental writing, one irony has always fascinated and sometimes frustrated me. Alongside chronicling the wonders of the non-human world, we’re writing about people trying to fulfill very basic needs—food, air, water, clothing, shelter—in sustainable ways, but doing so leads us into a dense tangle of politics, race, gender, and class. Too often, because the stories are so complicated, creative writers cede this territory to journalists and academics, as if to say: Let them wade into the weeds!

Of course that’s wildly wrong-headed. We need to write about the world around us and our place in it in creative and compelling ways. As stories. But how?

After many years of trying, I’ve learned a few lessons. If the lessons are contradictory, they’re lessons nonetheless.

1. Be audacious. Be humble.

A few years ago, I found myself craving a new way of talking about ecological renewal. Not restoration, not preservation, not conservation. Maybe reclamation? In my own (quite-tangled) book of narrative nonfiction Reclaimers, I decided to follow that word wherever it led. It was audacious of me as a non-lawyer to deconstruct legal strategies, as a non-bureaucrat to interrogate (and celebrate) the work of bureaucrats, as a non-indigenous person to tell stories about indigenous people. The key to pulling it off? I had to admit, over and over, how much I didn’t know.

Around the same time, my friend Kathleen Alcalá started writing a book about her high cholesterol diagnosis that led her to wonder how to find (and grow) healthy food on the island where she lives, which led her to interview grocers, doctors, ethnobotanists, wine makers, and chefs, and to delve into the history of Indian-Filipino farmers, Croatian fishermen, and Japanese-American landowners formerly incarcerated in internment camps, as well as her own upbringing in a Mexican-American family in California. The resulting book The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island defies genre in the most audacious ways.

Admittedly, finding a structure to hold so many disparate narrative threads can be a challenge. Less like a braid. More like a web. But that, too, seems right. If we believe in ecology—in the intricate ways all systems and species are interconnected—we can write straight into the tangle.

2. Embrace the personal. Avoid solipsism.

We talk a lot about where the “I” belongs in nonfiction. We ask the narrator in workshop: Why do you care? What is your stake? Such questions can feel superfluous in environmental writing. Maybe because the answer seems self-evident: We all care. (Or should.) Duh! Or maybe because we feel too small compared to all the stars in the sky, the trees in the forest, the fish in the sea. But as every writer knows, the universal stems from the personal.

In Raw Material: Working Wool in the West Stephany Wilkes finds vocation in sheep shearing and leaves a corporate job. Along the way she tackles the economics of wool production—from shearing to shipping to dyeing to weaving—and works her way to sustainable grazing as a means of carbon sequestration. Her personal story draws us in, but the perspective is never hers alone.

In a similar way, Marlenia Myers, a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, explores the ongoing saga of a creosote plant turned Superfund site near her late grandmother’s home in Winnfield, Louisiana. In her essays and book-in-progress, she dismantles stereotypes about the urban-rural divide and exposes ignorance and racism, while her affection for the citizens of Winnfield allows her to simultaneously explore the dangerous pull of nostalgia.

Myers’ family connection gives her unique authority. But even if your stake is pure curiosity and passion, your presence on the page creates intimacy. You can hold the reader’s proverbial hand, ask questions she would ask, express skepticism or outrage she might feel. You can be the tour guide through the tangle.

3. Interrogate injustice. Own your privilege.

If environmentalism has traditionally had one blind spot, it’s summed up in the clichéd hypocrisy: NIMBY. Not in my backyard. Activists protected their own neighborhoods at the expense of others, while naturalists wrote about venturing into pristine forests to gaze at waterfalls. The glaring privilege, in both cases, remained largely unexamined.

The plain truth is not everyone has equal access to clean air or water—much less pristine forests—and we have a responsibility to interrogate injustice.

But as research takes us into communities not our own, the issue of appropriation looms large. At every juncture, we need to ask: Is this my story to tell? Are there people living in the community who can tell it better? If so, we can elevate their voices. Or we can step out of the way. (In Reclaimers, I abandoned one narrative thread because the tribe involved was actively promoting the story in media outlets.) Still, the danger of appropriation doesn’t count as dispensation, an excuse to return to describing waterfalls (though I love a good waterfall as much as the next person.) In Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Elizabeth Rush models one excellent approach when she gives interview subjects short chapters where they speak entirely in their own unique unedited voices.

4. Increase your knowledge. Reject the language of expertise.

The opportunity to increase our own knowledge—and the reader’s—is one of the great pleasures of writing. Sharman Apt Russell has published books on an astonishing array of topics: butterflies, flowers, childhood malnutrition, and public lands grazing. (Her book Diary of a Citizen Scientist won the John Burroughs Medal Award for Natural History Writing.) Her work often contains a hefty helping of what she calls “veggies”: nourishing facts slipped into a story. I asked her how she manages to make so much information accessible. She mentioned the need for clarity, and to avoid jargon, the language of experts, at all costs. Instead, she urges writers to be intimate, to use language that expresses personal joy.

“Take the freedom in research-based prose to be full-throated,” she says. “To use figurative language—hyperbole, personification, metaphor. To use shifts to second person, shifts in tense, flash forwards, flashbacks, juxtapositions that are weirdly meaningful to you. Meta-nonfiction. Humor. To have fun, to be funny. To reflect. To be sad.”

5. Acknowledge urgency. Nurture the possibility of hope.

The reality of climate crisis surrounds us. From extreme weather to geopolitical migrations, we live with it daily. The most obvious way to address the urgency is simply to record the experience, whether you’re writing “environmental” stories or not. Descriptions of environmental changes belong in manifestos, op-eds, and investigative reportage, yes, and also in personal essays, in memoir, in short stories, and poetry, too.

Not just the urgency. The possibility of hope.

So often what draws me to environmental stories is the sheer energy of people fighting on the fringes, exploring solutions, working with shovels and saws, with computers and maps, with megaphones and musical instruments. Super heroes proliferate on the big screen, in the realm of so-called make-believe. They also surround us every day: sheep shearers, oyster farmers, citizen scientists, teachers, students, writers. Always writers.

Where does hope lie?

In us.

If you are the inheritor of an ancient tradition, it’s never selling out to live and interpret the tradition in terms of its relevance to your modern life. Any valid tradition NEEDS you to do just that. Traditions only become useful when we can make use of them right NOW.

The way we keep our integrity while modernizing what we’ve inherited is to always make a respectful effort to study the history of the traditions we inherit. That’s how to hold a lineage.
– Ethan Nichtern

Summer Brennan:
I’m not procrastinating, I’m waiting for the world to solidify beneath me before I begin.

While the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.
– Taoist proverb

Dr. Thema:
Be authentic even among game players. When you don’t lose yourself, you win.

When you breathe, you’re being kind to yourself. It keeps you alive. When you’re kind to someone else, you’re being kind to yourself, it keeps you alive.
– B. D. Schiers

Silence is restorative. It helps our brains reboot. Take the time to soak up silence during the day, if only for 5 minutes.
– Kristie Leong, M.D.

Do the same things today that you always do everyday, but do them in silence and see a new reality emerge.
– The Power of Silence

Shira Erlichman:
Youre not something to be solved. Or fixed. Not a problem, mathematical or otherwise. You are however veined with stars. What pulls you taut keeps the sky slack. What birds traverse, youre made of. Youre not something to be added to or subtracted from. Youre infinite, that’s all

Daily Kerouac:
But what would I do on weekends, join the merry picnickers? I’d just hide up there beyond that beautiful meadow. I’d stay there forever.

Jason Garner:
Tenderness can be a byproduct of meditation when, as we sit and become intimate with our own pain, we see that suffering is a tie that binds us to one another. As we view the universality of suffering our hearts open and we begin to see others with compassionate and gentle eyes.

the library haunter:
I relate to Bilbo Baggins because I, too, fell asleep during the Battle of the Five Armies.

Chris La Tray:
A bald eagle cruising over the Clark Fork River near downtown Missoula this morning proves this town hasn’t yet totally gone to shit.

We cannot be present and run our story-line at the same time.
– Pema Chödrön

Ethan Nichtern:
Morning meditation.

Not gonna say it saves my life.

But damn is the day better for having done it.

Ida Tarbell:
Hi, you know who fucking loves voter suppression and hates democracy? Fossil fuel cartels.

Michelle Goldberg:
I’ve read about climate grief, the despair felt by climate scientists watching helplessly as something precious and irreplaceable is destroyed. Lately I think I’m experiencing democracy grief.

Conspire to squirrel away days to mend.
– Kim Brandon

Ethan Nichtern:
Learning to be still while the whole world is on fire is, by definition, a maladaptive skill.

Don’t strive for stillness in the midst of this blaze.

Strive for PRESENCE and fierce compassion.

I still feel that poetry is not medicine – it’s an X-ray. It helps you see the wound and understand it.
– Dunya Mikhail

At the end of this day there remains what remained yesterday and what will remain tomorrow:
the insatiable, unquantifiable longing to be both the same and other.
– Fernando Pessoa

WiseAndShine:
Everyone’s biggest fear with the rising popularity of mindfulness is that it acts as a pressure release valve and thus maintains the status quo without changing anything. Or it should be.

Greta Thunberg:
Well I am telling you there is hope. I have seen it.
But it does not come from governments or corporations.
It comes from the people.

i love the Replacements but i do wish that 43-year-old men would talk to me about something else.
– Rax King

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
The world is on fire, and everything is awful, and it can feel wrong to celebrate anything these days, but FUEL YOURSELF. The resistance needs your art and joy.

WiseAndShine:
I’m surprised that more non-psychologists don’t talk about ingroups and outgroups. It is so relevant in today’s binary world. The biases we can succumb to when we aren’t somehow aware of these concepts are manifold…

When you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody.
– Martin Luther King Jr. (Nov. 17, 1957)

Aria Aber:
had a wholesome dream in which i helped my crush get back together with his crush, who is not me.

Dr. Thema:
Stop waiting for them. Start living for you.

Sometimes we need a life makeover. Declutter your heart. Make space for the new.

I don’t trust girlboss companies who use intimate gal pal language with their workers any more than I trusted techbro companies who installed ping pong tables for their workers. absent of actual worker protections, informality is just an accelerant for work-life boundary erosion.
– Fang Meli

Seamus Heaney:
Anything can happen, the tallest towers
Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded.

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
My anxiety monster speaks five languages.

Amnesty International:

Right to freedom of expression.
Right to freedom of thought.
Right to peaceful assembly.
Right to access the law.
Right to education.
Right to rest.
Right to life.

These—& more—are our fundamental human rights. #HumanRightsDay

Talking about Zen all the time is like looking for fish tracks in a dry riverbed.
– Wu-Tzu

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
– Emily Dickinson

The whole planet is riddled with misplaced aggression. It’s more popular than strawberry cheesecake. People are so overcome with repressed rage, that it simply has to leak out somewhere, often in the direction of innocents. Sometimes it comes through as physical violence, and more often in the form of emotional abuse, passive aggression, scapegoating and persecution. And none of this will change, until we learn how to deal with our unresolved emotions from an early age. Until society normalizes the sharing of our woundedness, and normalizes techniques for healthy release. Until we learn how easily humans are traumatized, and create conditions that prevent it. We do this, and we change the world. We don’t do this, and we are doomed to destroy each other (and our planet). Because all that trauma forces us to repress our memories and dissociate from reality. It compels us to choose paths that are not amenable to healing and wholeness. It turns us into a splintered symphony of suffering. And in a splintered state, we can’t help but do damage to ourselves and others. To break the cycle, we have to get to the roots of our aggression: our unresolved pain and anger. We have to fully own what we are carrying. We have to heal this humanity.
– Jeff Brown

I worship you, but I loathe marriage. I hate its smugness, its safety, its compromise and the thought of you interfering with my work, hindering me; what would you answer?
– Virginia Woolf

This made me sad. By embracing your friend you are not drained. You are brought into the current of real life, your heart lifts with their heart. What drains people is isolation, fear, and triangulation. When you truly meet your friend it’s what makes life real and heals both of you. Dogs aren’t the only healers on this earth.
– Beena David

I really don’t care what you personally think about Osho as a human. We are all extremely complex beings. Sometimes the villain – sometimes the saviour – if we are wanting to living in the binaries instead of exploring the nuances of connections, individual and collective. Anyway……

Osho on Loving Deeply

Males AND females.

Man goes from one woman to another, goes on changing. People think he is a great lover; he is not a lover at all. He is avoiding, he is trying to avoid any deep involvement because with deep involvement problems have to be faced, and much pain has to be gone through. So one simply plays safe; one makes it a point never to go too deeply into somebody.

If you go too deep you may not be able to come back easily. And if you go deeply into somebody, somebody else will go deeply into you also; it is always proportionate. If I go very deep in you the only way is to allow you also to go that deep in me. It is a give and take, it is a sharing. Then one may get entangled too much, and it will be difficult to escape and the pain may be much. So people learn how to play safe: just let surfaces meet — hit-and-run love affairs. Before you are caught, run.

This is what is happening in the modern world. People have become so juvenile, so childish; they are losing all maturity.

Maturity comes only when you are ready to face the pain of your being; maturity comes only when you are ready to take the challenge. And there is no greater challenge than love.
– Osho

The line between projection and possibility is the line between infatuation and love, and the failure to walk it with clarity and grace is perhaps the most ancient anguish of the human heart — the raw material of our greatest tragedies and ballads of heartbreak and poems of unrequited love.
– James Thurber

…Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
– Mark Strand

It’s important to get caught up with yourself. Because all that unpacked and accumulated material blocks your clarity and your presence. You want to feel peace inside your bones, but it’s very difficult if there is a weight of material that hasn’t been attended to. You are still back there: old memories, unresolved experiences, self-congratulations yet to be expressed. It’s not just about clearing through the dark: it’s also about welcoming in the light. The best way to attend to this is to create space to reconnect with yourself: quietude alone with the soulself (‘soulitude’), a formed intention to express and release what wants to move, integration time that brings you right up to date. In this overwhelming world, coming to terms with where you have been and getting caught up with yourself is the most important personal process you can engage in. When you do, you ready yourself for whatever is next, and you create more space inside for new experiences to enter.
– Jeff Brown

Can one invent verbs?
I want to tell you one: I sky you
– Frida Kahlo

Ideally, I’m an eco-socialist. Realistically, I’m a pawn in a larger game. Mentally, I’m a nonviolent anarchist. Emotionally, I’m a disaster.
– ZMKF writer, artist

Rage, rage against the lying of the right.
– Amy Kinsman

Everybody in the whole world was fighting with somebody to stay.
– Mariam Toews

That war had almost torn the country in two, but the railroad, men said, had bound it back together, the tracks and ties like sutures to a wound, now fading to a scar.
– Peter Ho Davies

the library haunter:
Bizarre that some boys complain about being “friend-zoned” when I celebrate my friends and send them books in the mail and cry with them over skype. If I’ve ever friend-zoned you, congratulations! There are few things in this world more rewarding than deep friendship.

I believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy — not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you. Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred. To me, those are the real freedoms on the basis of which good human societies are based.
– Vandana Shiva

I Do Not Go Away

You have terror and I have tears.

In this cruel way, we are for each other.

We are at war. You always win.

But I do not go away.

You shoot me again. Again, I do not go away.

You shoot with bullets, but you have nothing else.

I fight back. I shoot you

With fragments of childhood, where you played the hero.

I shoot you with memories of your mother

And your little sister, Maritza.

I shoot you with spring in the rolling mountains

And the taste of plantain bananas and sugar.

You do not fall down dead―

You can kill me, where all I can do

Is hold up the mirror of remembering to you―

The mirror of everything you have done.

You set fire to me with gasoline.

I set fire to you with the memory of your first love.

You cut my hands off. I cut your hands off

With the way you saw them disappear

When he was diving into the warm water of the lake,

The summer of swimming with your brother.

Do you remember the names of the left-for-dead?

The damaged, the hounded, the hurt?

Do you remember my name?

Your fist is hard.

My name is crying.

You strike a match.

My name is cringe.

You lift your foot.

My name is pain.

You wake up.

My name is closed eyes.

Your smile mimics the size of the opening

On the side of a head, a crude opening

That a mean needle will stitch up tonight.

Your arm laughs at me with its muscle.

All this. All these tears you have made,

This water you have found in the desert,

All this blood you have drawn

From the bodies of so many who needed it.

You win. You have always won.

All I can do is not go away.

Not go away is my name.
– Albert Rios

No matter what all your money buys, it’s in the arms of love that true treasure lies…..keep your mansions of gold.
– Hal Ketchum

Perhaps we need to revisit the brilliant thought paths of our Palaeolithic Ancestors and recover enough cognitive function to correct the impossible messes civilisation has created, before the echidnas decide to sack us all and take over as the custodial species of this planet.

The stories that define our thinking today describe an eternal battle between good and evil springing from an originating act of sin. But these terms are just metaphors for something more difficult to explain, a relatively recent demand that simplicity and order be imposed upon the complexity of creation, a demand sprouting from an ancient seed of narcissism that has flourished due to a new imbalance in human societies.

There is a pattern in the universe and everything in it, and there are knowledge systems and traditions that follow this pattern to maintain balance, to keep the temptations of narcissism in check. But recent traditions have emerged that break down creation systems like a virus, infecting complex patterns with artificial simplicity, exercising a civilising control over what some see as chaos. The Sumerians started it. The Romans perfected it. The Anglosphere inherited it. The world is now mired in it.

The war between good and evil is in reality an imposition of stupidity and simplicity over wisdom and complexity.
– Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed.
– Etty Hillesum

More truthworkers, fewer lightworkers. Because truth is more grounded and inclusive, encompassing of shadow AND light, giving us a much better chance of making a real difference.
– Jeff Brown

It’s important to remember that those coping strategies that helped you to survive, may not help you to heal from what you survived. They were defense mechanisms, parts that you developed in order to manage unbearable realities. They were the best friends many of us had, as children. But healing requires something different. Our healing requires that we peel away the adaptations and disguises and come back to our vulnerable core. Our armored warrior’s willfulness, our imaginative defense mechanisms, are now impediments to our quest for transformation. We can’t come back to center, if we are identified with those parts that protect it. This is not to say that we harshly sever from what has served us. No, no, we do it slowly, lovingly, gratefully bowing to the best friends we ever had, as they assume a more secondary role in our life. A centered life is not a defenseless life. It’s one where we live from a sturdy and integrated core. Our defenses are no longer all that we are. They are places we consciously go now and then, before returning to the magnificent core of our being.
– Jeff Brown

ONLY THIS WORLD

Personally, I prefer the Taoist concept of a divine world without conscious agency. All is movement, all is complete, but no one is directing anything. It happens by itself.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of a god or group of gods managing this world. Not only does it seem at odds with all the evidence, but I really haven’t had much luck with authority. As soon as there is a great bureaucracy, there’s always the chance that it won’t be fair to me. Oh, I know that every religion assures us that the gods are above human foibles, but I don’t know. Certainly all sorts of religious stories show that gods make mistakes and play favorites. The minute someone claims that they are the chosen people and that their god will protect them, they are implying that their god will choose them over me.

s
Philosophically, a universe without conscious agency is a necessity. The universe is a complete whole, and it has no before or after, no plan, no goals—and no preferential traits. If there is only an eternal present, there can be no preparation, conclusion, or responses to subjective petitioning. There is only this world. Now.
– Deng Ming-Dao

Hard-Day-Ahead Daily Intention

Today, let me be love.

Not the shiny, perfectly worded, flashy and flowery love that comes and goes with special occasions or when it’s convenient.

Let me be the messy, genuine, put in the effort, feel it in your bones, come as you are, kind of love.

Let me be the wholly accepting love that serves as a warm blanket on shaky shoulders.

Let me be the kind of love that silences doubt, breaks down barriers, throws out lifelines, and scoots closer.

Let me be the mountain-moving type of love that clears an unimaginable path for impossible hope.

I can be anything I want today.

Today,
Let me be love.

By Rachel Macy Stafford

It’s important to get caught up with yourself. Because all that unpacked and accumulated material blocks your clarity and your presence. You want to feel peace inside your bones, but it’s very difficult if there is a weight of material that hasn’t been attended to. You are still back there: old memories, unresolved experiences, self-congratulations yet to be expressed. It’s not just about clearing through the dark: it’s also about welcoming in the light. The best way to attend to this is to create space to reconnect with yourself: quietude alone with the soulself (‘soulitude’), a formed intention to express and release what wants to move, integration time that brings you right up to date. In this overwhelming world, coming to terms with where you have been and getting caught up with yourself is the most important personal process you can engage in. When you do, you ready yourself for whatever is next, and you create more space inside for new experiences to enter.
– Jeff Brown

We have grown very poor in threshold experiences. Falling asleep is perhaps the only such experience that remains to us. But also the ebb & flow of conversation & the sexual permutations of love, like the world of figures in the dream, rise up over the threshold.
– Walter Benjamin

Let a man retire and the common crowd will think of him as leading a life apart, free of all cares, self-contented, living for himself, when in fact not one of these blessings can be won by anyone other than the philosopher.
– Seneca

A Trumpian wall of sorts divides the world into realms of the social and natural. For so long, we have denied the nonhuman access to the social. We’ve imagined the world mute, dead and good only as resource. What we call the Anthropocene is another way of saying the Wall has been breached. And now an insurgency of the invisibilized bodies that have long subsidized our claims to centrality/mastery has spilled through the cracks, effacing the hieroglyphics of our permanence. This breach will not be repaired. We are undone. It is perhaps time to honour our unfurling.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Hate is a lack of imagination.
– Graham Greene

There is nothing more musical than a sunset.
– Claude Debussy

until you bore yourself to death, basically, and the faculty that produces opinions and snap judgments and unrealistic scenarios for your own prominence, after you run through them for a number of years, they cease to have charge. They bore themselves into non-existence. You see them as diversions from another kind of intimacy that you become more interested in—and that is what Socrates said: Know Thyself.
– Leonard Cohen

What work will you leave behind
I asked myself while in the rain
Oh this and that, it answered me
And handed me the stars, then the moon
– From “The Green Lake” by Dorothea Lasky

Mark Nepo:
All expression has two noble intentions: to try to say what is unsayable and to bear witness to what is.

Toko-pa Turner:
We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel in modern times is more than a personal problem, it is a cultural ailment which arises out of what I call the Great Forgetting. Our lives are like the fruit of a heritage seed: Each of the generations that preceded us has contributed to our life’s survival. There is an ancestral momentum which carries us forward when we are in step with it, and to which we are beholden. To hear this momentum, we must turn towards the soul. There, in our dreams, we find the clues to what we love and what our lives long for.

Sam Duckworth:
Remember what is good. People, places, things. Hold them tight. Restore and recharge. There is work to be done. It’s not going to be easy. Turn your anger into fuel. Solidify your communities. Trust in each other. Plug the gaps. Take up space. Be the change we need.

Micah Uetricht:
It sucks to eat shit. But imagine how many times someone like Bernie Sanders has eaten shit politically over his life. If he had given up the 1st time, or the 2nd time, or the 100th time, he wouldn’t be playing the key role that he is in the resurgent left movement in the US.

Sometimes, I think we read things with too many words.
– Lynette Genju Monteiro

Avoid friends who cause you to increase delusions and rely upon those who increase your virtue. This you should take to heart.
– Atīśa Dīpa kara Śrījñāna

It’s easy to be kind when others treat you well. The challenge is to preserve your loving-kindness when they treat you badly—to preserve goodwill in the face of ill will.
– Rick Hanson

Sam Duckworth:
Remember what is good. People, places, things. Hold them tight. Restore and recharge. There is work to be done. It’s not going to be easy. Turn your anger into fuel. Solidify your communities. Trust in each other. Plug the gaps. Take up space. Be the change we need.

I saddle the horses and ride
toward you, my country,
The land of ice on the lids
– Adonis, Tr Kareem James Abu-Zeid and Ian Eubanks

Vieira Paddy:
Corbyn has been campaigning for all human rights for decades and the media made you idiots think he’s racist so you went and voted for an actual racist. Enjoy 5 horrible years.

Beyond all vanities, fights, and desires, omnipotent silence lies.
– Dejan Stojanovic

Lee Fang:
The left isn’t losing everywhere. Lib-left coalitions have won recent elections and now govern in Denmark, Portugal, Spain. Worth exploring why.

Bhanu Kapil:
There’s no leaving the room,” said Claudia Rankine, in Wyoming, in 2015.

Her words return to me at midnight in the English countryside.

Because, as it turns out, there isn’t.

Mil Upton:
Just remember every single one of you is closer to using a food bank than you will ever be to having a billion quid.

I have started to communicate so strongly with you that I stopped being while existing. You became an I.
– Lispector – Agua Viva

the library haunter:
the year is ending. take a risk. finish your book. declare your crush. crawl through the bricked-up door in your bedroom. battle the Other Mother with black button eyes. rescue your parents from inside a snowglobe. be kind to yourself.

Alicia Ostriker: Dear God

It used to be
I would fall to the floor and press my forehead to it
in moments of despair

I would say help me
help me

but listen
I am ok
though I just now found myself pressing my forehead
to the carpet of my stairs

about the waters in the flooded cities
poisoned by oil spill, chemicals, the dead
about the survivors forever traumatized
dear god
I am alive I am alive
help them

It takes courage to become authentic. So many talk about the light but not enough speak the truth about the struggles it takes to get there and the tools to overcome it all.
– Nikki Rowe

The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide to learn how to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it.
– Marianne Williamson

Rumi:
Stars burn clear all night. Do that yourself, and a spring will rise in the dark with water your deepest thirst is for.

Zen teaches that our approach to today
determines our whole approach to life.
The Japanese call this attitude
lchi-nichi issho:
“Each day is a lifetime.”
– Philip Toshio Sudo

Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow.
– Og Mandino

Don’t hold onto the point that you have something to overcome, because you’ll always have something to overcome if you do that. When your mind seems to resist, don’t feed it any more power by thinking its resisting. Its a drawback. But simply inquire: “to whom does it resist?” And don’t think about it but just inquire. Remember, do not believe that there’s anything that you have to overcome for you’ll spend eternity overcoming. There is nothing that exists that you have to overcome.
– Robert Adams

To the Saguaro Cactus Tree in the Desert Rain
I had no idea the elf owl
Crept into you in the secret
Of night.

I have torn myself out of many bitter places
In America, that seemed

Tall and green-rooted in mid-noon.
I wish I were the spare shadow
Of the roadrunner, I wish I were
The honest lover of the diamondback
And the tear the tarantula weeps.
I had no idea you were so tall
And blond in moonlight.
I got thirsty in the factories,
And I hated the brutal dry suns there,
So I quit.

You were the shadow
Of a hallway
In me.

I have never gone through that door,
But the elf owl’s face
Is inside me.

Saguaro,
You are not one of the gods.
Your green arms lower and gather me.
I am an elf owl’s shadow, a secret
Member of your family.

Justin Luria:
Alright hippies, listen up. Here’s how modern day spirituality need to change:

– emphasis is to move from unconditional acceptance and love and light, to fierce love, and divine wrath (wrathful compassion)

– we need to realise that we’ll never be “done”, personal development wise; we’re all needed now, not at some future point when we think we’ll be a better version of ourselves. The time is now.

– Don’t do spiritual or personal development stuff in lieu of politics. Get political, locally. Even if that’s helping at food banks or volunteering in some way. Spirituality is meant to help the world, and your participation in places where you are needed is surely the best way of walking the talk. But join a political party, show up to meetings, get involved. No more being a powerless serf.

– No but seriously, it’s time to start winding down the spiritual activities that focus exclusively on yourself. If you’re recovering from trauma or doing other gnarly self healing, ok, you’re excused while you look after yourself. For everyone else, start learning how to crotchet, ferment food, harvest, save, store and sew seeds, make medicines from wild plants, make clothes, make soap, and any of the many things that let use our hands to make what we need. And not forgetting, learning how to campaign effectively.

– we need to choose our battles and stop expecting ideological purity from our allies and the sides we’re on/supporting. Everyone is on an evolving journey, and it isn’t fair OR realistic to expect everyone to be at the final stage of that journey.

– conversely, we need to speak up when we see egregious stuff. Listen to your heart and gut rather than your fear. So long as you are balancing firmness with kindness, it will be ok, and any reaction the other person has to what may feel to them as criticism is on them, not you. We often do this (say outloud when something is wrong) for the benefit of the onlookers, and for our society in general, rather than for the person doing the thing, who may be intransigent. We do it so that our collective empathy and conscience and moral compass is calibrated together, and strengthened.
(a good example of this: please, for the love of goodness, don’t let Jewish people’s knee-jerk reflex of seeing everything as antisemitism get in the way of you saying that the Palestinian occupation, apartheid and land seizure is wrong. It is wrong. I am Jewish.)

– and let’s move away from developing relationships with spiritual beings that are basically very celestial and ethaerial, without much or any connection to this world, land or peoples; to spirits of the land and places and ancestors, who are very much involved with our lives, without whom we wouldn’t be here. Those beings are gonna be our allies in the times to come. (they’re also the beings that need us to look after them, too. The 9th dimensional beings are doing ok without us; the beings of this world are in mutual relationship with us, or rather, we are with them. Even if the relationship is mainly one of us taking. Let’s work on that eh?)

The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide to learn how to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it.
– Marianne Williamson

Ode to My Socks
Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.
Nevertheless
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.
The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.
– Pablo Neruda

Beyond all vanities, fights, and desires, omnipotent silence lies.
– Dejan Stojanovic

I am trying to sleep on the front porch of forgiveness.
– Blythe Baird

Nicholas Pierotti:
When I lived in Paris in the Eighties, I earned my living as a busking musician, playing my old Gibson Hummingbird guitar among the mimes and clowns and fire-eaters in the vast space outside the Centre Pompidou. It was a good living at the time, because the French 20 Franc coin (this was before the Euro) was about the size of a quarter, and American tourists would fish around in their pockets, and throw what they thought was the equivalent of a quarter into my guitar case (it was actually worth about three bucks at the time).
I would take my earnings and drift down through the Marais (the Jewish quarter) listening to violins playing from distant high windows, and buy a falafel sandwich for my dinner… if it was particularly cold (and the stone streets of Paris can get very cold in Winter), I would cross the Seine, and quite close to the ancient church of Saint Severin, there was a North African street stand where you could get a sandwich with lamb on it, piled high with french fries and drizzled with Algerian red hot sauce.
I would often walk down through the wintry Luxembourg Gardens, before doubling back to where I lived – the Poet’s room at George Whitman’s Shakespeare and Company. And when I got home, on the way to my room, I would always pass under the portal in the bookstore where it was painted ““Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.”
That is good general policy in my mind. That is good advice just to be a proper Human Being. One of the great expressions of human nature at its best, like the nine-night Navajo Night Chant or the Pueblo deer dances at Taos at Christmastime.
Every day ought to be Christmas, and every day we should all open our hearts to our neighbors EVERYWHERE.
For surely we are all Angels, though some of us have forgotten our true nature.

What We Need

The Emperor,
his bullies
and henchmen
terrorize the world
every day,

which is why
every day

we need

a little poem
of kindness,

a small song
of peace

a brief moment
of joy.
– David Budbill, While We’ve Still Got Feet

When education is not liberating, the dream of the oppressed is to become the oppressor.
– Paulo Freire

Silence is a fence round wisdom.
– German proverb

Listen closely. The eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been going on, and will go on and on.
– Kerouac

You do not love me.
I see that.
You do not see me:
I am your black cat.

You forget
that I remember an Egypt
where I was worshipped
where I was loved.
– James Baldwin

Jackie Brennan:
I decided to leave Montana by asking myself, ‘Who would you talk to if you stayed here? And what would you talk about? Fishing?’

As a Macleaniac, I have to believe it’s significant that he ultimately swam back upstream.

Matt Haig:
Seems unfashionable to say this but most people are good. People who voted differently to you. They are not demons. They are the many. They have their own lives and loves. They make their own mistakes. They are us. Human beings. To win people over it helps to like them.

Sean Theodore Stewart:
Writers, anytime you are feeling small or doubting the importance of what you do, read Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel Lecture. It is a revelation and a path forward.

That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
– Shakespeare, “Richard II”

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
Ways to support something you love:

—Talk about it
—With everyone you know
—And everyone you don’t
—Bond with existing friends over it
—Make new friends with it
—Keep talking
—Until everyone is like YES GOD FINE OKAY ILL TRY IT OUT
—OMG YOU WERE RIGHT

Brigit Strawbridge Howard:
One of the blessings that runs alongside short-term memory problems, is that you quickly forget what upset you earlier. So I’ve changed my mind about a twitter break. Why? because 99% of the interactions I have here are kind, thoughtful, interesting, and beautiful. Thank you!

Micah Uetricht:
It sucks to eat shit. But imagine how many times someone like Bernie Sanders has eaten shit politically over his life. If he had given up the 1st time, or the 2nd time, or the 100th time, he wouldn’t be playing the key role that he is in the resurgent left movement in the US.

After the Winter
by Claude McKay

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire to shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.

Crofter
Last thing at night
he steps outside to breathe
the smell of winter.

The stars, so shy in summer,
glare down
from a huge emptiness.

In a huge silence he listens
for small sounds. His eyes
are filled with friendliness.

What’s history to him?
He’s an emblem of it
in its pure state.

And proves it. He goes inside.
The door closes and the light
dies in the window.
– Norman MacCaig

There can be no society without poetry,
but society can never be realized as poetry,
it is never poetic.
Sometimes the two terms seek to break apart.
They cannot.
– Octavio Paz

The world seems to be sinking into dust, but I recount, as in the beginning, in my sing-song voice which sustains me, saved by the tale from present troubles and protected for the future. Finished with the sweeping over the centuries, with the going back and forth as in the past. Now I can think only day by day.
My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings… but the things of peace, one equal to the other. The drying onions being equal to the tree trunk crossing the marsh…
But no one has so far succeeded in singing an epic of peace. What is wrong with peace that its inspiration doesn’t endure and that its story is hardly told?
Must I give up now? If I do give up, then mankind will lose its storyteller. And once mankind loses its storyteller it will also lose its childhood.

– from Wim Wenders’ 1987 film “Wings of Desire”. Written in Berlin before the wall fell. This is the old man, Homer, musing the questions of history, war, peace and passing on our mythology through the telling of stories. The video clip is very beautiful but contains some traumatic scenes. So here are the words, which somehow seemed right today.

When Men and Women NEED each other, the War of the Sexes is over once and for all.

It is replaced by Devotion.

– Mark Binet

Your true strength could crush the matrix with a single exhale.
– Melissa

Probably no one in this world is more susceptible to hyperreality than the exiled. In their yearning for the homeland, they plunge into the country they find on their phones.
– Amir Ahmadi Arian

As unbalanced parties of every description can never tolerate a free inquiry of any kind, when employed against themselves, the license, and even the most temperate freedom of the press, soon excite resentment and revenge.
– John Adams

kick off your sandals, shake out your hair, its torn where you are dancing it’s torn everywhere

it’s torn on the right, it’s torn on the left, it’s torn on the centre, which few can accept

come gather the pieces all scattered and lost
the lie in what’s holy
the lie in what’s not
– Leonard Cohen

The Poem as Mask
Orpheus

When I wrote of the women in their dances and
wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, god-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
myself.

There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
child
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.
– Muriel Rukeyser

They call these bluebird days…days for for skiing and spotting eagles, for hauling firewood and noticing fox tracks, and for shadows that talk to bright light.
– Heidi Christina

Too long away on other worlds,
the two of us returned
to a moonless Earth

no longer blue,
a surprise in burnt sienna.
– Keith Allen Daniels

Rumi Poems
Our meetings were in secret.
Such things are not to be told.

Yet I keep breaking my vow
of silence,
spreading the news abroad,
cracking the world’s heart
wide open.
– Dorothy Walters

Gunilla Norris:
What do we want to nurture this season if not moments of peace where we can claim a little break from managing and producing so as to be able to gaze with acceptance on all that is. We will then be, if only for a few moments, a safe zone for others.

Sitting quietly with ones we care about, not a word spoken, peace arrives and says everything.
– Gunilla Norris

Harlan disliked handling money because of its abstractness and impersonality;
for he did not enjoy either paying it or receiving it in payment.
He felt a social embarrassment in monetary transactions that country people
still feel, as if money is simply too crude a means of exchange
between human beings.
– Wendell Berry, Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work

… I myself I require a more direct revelation,
not one that must come through so many minds before it reaches mine.
I must have a faith that I can see and hear,
one that I can feel without thinking or even trying to put it into words.
It is not for anyone else,
it is a personal faith.

The interval of solitude is precious.
It is a different world and I am a different self.
I feel relieved of a responsibility that cannot be defined.
I am released from pressure, my mind is free.
Yet would I not feel a lack of balance if I lived alone all the time?
– Harlan Hubbard

I am a Poet and have been one for many more years than I have been anything else. I started out as a youth roaming the fields and woodlands of my United States, and I continue to write and dream my way across this entire Planet.

I was born in a dry suburb, and was raised in the big yellow country, the Sacramento Valley, wild oat covered hillsides crawling with ancient oaks. In adolescence I escaped the hops and the walnut groves for the San Gregorio seacoast, when the White Goddess beckoned. I found my voice in the roar of the surf.

Now I roam the Sierra, hop up and down in my Teva sandals. Wade the great streams as they roar over round stones down from ancient peaks… dance the silver dance of the wild rainbow… and find a place in my ultralight backpack for my spattered poetry notebook. It deserves a place next to that bag of nuts, my titanium cup; worth its weight in gold dust from the river, split pea soup from the pouch. Ancient shaman tales and woodcut journeys… yamabushi of the mind, and lots of white space for taking my own cryptic outerspace trailnotes…

I am the Poet of the Ancient. You’ll find me riding on Mexican second class buses, slouching in roadside quesadillarias high in smoky Mexican mountain passes, eating squashblossoms and green corn, while scribbling in notebooks that are rainspotted from windy beaches; trudging the last mile to Delphi with donkeys all around me, or busking with my guitar by the Beaubourg on frozen Parisian Winter days.

I like the lower galleries of the Louvre, where armless women dream of Pharaohs and Codes of Law.
– Nicholas Pierotti

The intellectual is always showing off;
The lover is always getting lost.
The intellectual runs away, afraid of drowning;
the whole business of love is to drown in the sea.
– Rumi

TURNS OUT, I’M STILL ASLEEP
by Jamey Hecht
Mostly my fault, the fault I’m built around.
We were a pair again until we weren’t one.
You made me laugh. We made that sound
in bed when we flew too close to the sun.
You made my story make some sense again,
assembled fragments of my memory;
you joined the edges of what happened, when.
Our last attempt is lost. The melody
of “I Will” by the Beatles won’t let up,
though now we know you Won’t. I failed.
I turned the Holy Grail into a paper cup,
our wine to water, and the garbage pail
of time is home to what we wanted, now.
You tried to wake me up. I don’t know how.

I hope you live without the need to dominate, and without the need to be dominated. I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is.

Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing – instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls.

– Ursula K. Le Guin

Learning to Pray
Long susceptible to the pious heresies,
of mystics, martyrs and other fanatics mad enough to confound themselves with G_d, and declare it free of ego

Those spiritually-reckless creatures contemptuous of all rule books,
traffic signs and speeding tickets
in such a hurry were they to arrive

No social drinkers, these revelers
they drank to get drunk, alone
that they might stay that way
—sobriety being the only sin

But what of us without stamina
for such superhuman attention
or the patience to stand in line
inching towards the checkout

Might we forge our own language
(until we can speak in tongues)
by asking of our every action
does this, or that, please You?
– y. lababidi

THE WORD
Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,
between “green thread”
and “broccoli” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”
Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend
and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning – to cheer you up,
and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,
that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,
but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom
still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,
– to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.
– Tony Hoagland

We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at the bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.

That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions,’ the whole so called ‘spirit-world,’ death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily paring been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.

For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and un-renewed; it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Grand piano by Carsten René Nielsen (trans. by David Keplinger)
Following the birth he was laid out in a grand piano. He lived fairly well off his wordless daydreams and by the few faint notes the strings produced when he turned in his sleep. Outside on the street, people passed with black umbrellas, the streetcars full of snow stood parked in the cemeteries, zeppelins hung attached to the sky by pins. Had the moon crumbled into the fine dust that settled on his eyelashes? Did the sun rise in his right ear and set in the left? Did he have any siblings, and well, who was that, who every year on his birthday sat down at the piano and began to play, but always stopped so suddenly and without any explanation.

Any deep wound or loss can be transformed into fierce grace when we meet the pain with a caring presence. We can find grace in the immediacy of a frightening experience or in working with long-held trauma. Although the pain of trauma may lead us to believe that our spirit has been tainted or destroyed, that isn’t so. No amount of violence can corrupt the timeless and pure presence that is the very ground of our being. Waves of fear or shame may possess us temporarily, but as we continue to entrust ourselves to loving presence, as we let ourselves feel loved, our lives become more and more an expression of who or what we are. This is the essence of grace—homecoming to who we are.
– Tara Brach, True Refuge

An entire species that through its hard labor has given birth to its next self-expression – a fully conscious Soul, green to its roots, feet firmly planted on the Earth but now transparent to the Creative Intelligence that everywhere presses in upon it.

– Christopher Bache, LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven

Rough as the road ahead is likely to be, we need to lead with joy and optimism. The first job of activists is to inspire people. Winning or losing is not all that’s at stake. The key to victory lies in how we answer the question of who we will become in the process of struggle.
– Scot Nakagawa

With record levels of red mind (anxiety, distraction & disconnect) leading to gray mind (burnout, breakdown & depression) our mission is to help people become more calm, cool, collected & creative.

Help build the #bluemind

– wallace j nichols

You will be disappointed
in every guru you meet
until you meet the one inside.
Then what shines from your
hollow core
will reflect from all their faces
and each will give you
perfect darshan –
as will the face of the rose,
the broken moon in a rainbow
of spilt motor oil,
the frozen pizza,
the toothless woman in a blanket
gazing into an empty
MacDonald’s coffee cup.
Now let the molten gold
of your own grace
fill in the cracks of the world.
– Fred LaMotte

…Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground
underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls
freely upon it after the darkness of the nights
and the darkness of our ignorance and madness.
Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,
which is the light of imagination. By it you see
the likeness of people in other places to yourself
in your place. It lights invariably the need for care
toward other people, other creatures, in other places
as you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

No place at last is better than the world. The world
is no better than its places. Its places at last
are no better than their people while their people
continue in them. When the people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens.

– Wendell Berry (This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems)

Don’t overlook me, little dove,
when you send us a sign from the heights.

Forgive me, twilight,
don’t pierce me, spear of nightmares.
Don’t bless me with madness,

wake me, morning star.

The Everlasting Self
Tracy K. Smith

Comes in from a downpour
Shaking water in every direction—
A collaborative condition:
Gathered, shed, spread, then
Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love
From a lifetime ago, and mud
A dog has tracked across the floor.

And we walked the pagan streams
And searched for white horses on surrounding hills
We lived where dusk had meaning
And repaired to quiet sleep, where noise abated
In touch with the silence
On Honey Street, on Honey Street
What happened to a sense of wonder
On yonder hillside, getting dim
Why didn’t they leave us, alone
Why couldn’t we just be ourselves
We could dream, and keep bees
And live on Honey Street
And we walked the pagan streams
In meditation and contemplation
And we didn’t need anybody, or anything
Then, no concepts, being free
And I want to climb that hillside again, with you
One more time
As the great, great, great, great, great, great, great
Being watches over
And we repair, repair, repair, shh, repair, shh, we repair
To Honey Street, to Honey Street.
– Van Morrison, Pagan Streams

We were told that we would see America come and go. In a sense America is dying from within because they forgot the instructions of how to live on Earth. It’s the Hopi belief, it’s our belief, that if you are not spiritually connected to the Earth, and understand the spiritual reality of how to live on Earth, its likely that you will not make it.

Everything is spiritual, everything has a spirit, everything was brought here by the creator, the one creator. Some people call him God, some people call him Buddha, some people call him Allah, some people call him other names. We call him Tunkaschila—Grandfather.
We are here on Earth only a few winters, then we go to the spirit world. The spirit world is more real then most of us believe.

The spirit world is everything. Over 95% of our body is water. In order to stay healthy you’ve got to drink good water. . . . Water is sacred, air is sacred.

Our DNA is made out of the same DNA as the tree. The tree breathes what we exhale. We need what the tree exhales. So we have a common destiny with the tree.

We are all from the Earth, and when Earth, the water, the atmosphere is corrupted then it will create its own reaction. The mother is reacting.

In the Hopi prophecy, they say the storms and floods will become greater. To me it’s not a negative thing to know that there will be great changes. It’s not negative, its evolution. When you look at it as evolution, it’s time. Nothing stays the same. You should learn how to plant something. That is the first connection.

You should treat all things as spirit, realize that we are one family. It’s never something like the end. It’s like life, there is no end to life.
– Floyd Red Crow Westerman, 1936-2007

Where no beauty exists
I would create beauty.

I shall create a planet
And get it ready to collide with earth.

– Lei Shuyan
(Tr. fr Chinese by F. Dai, D. Ding & E. Morin)

The difference between narcissus
and sunflower
is a point of view: the first
stares at his image in water
and says there is no I but I
and the second looks
at the sun and says I am
what I worship.
And at night, difference shrinks
and interpretation widens.
– Mahmoud Darwish

We have a country of words. So speak, speak that I may lean
my path on a stone made of stone. We have a country of words.
Speak, speak that we may know an end to this travel!
– Mahmoud Darwish

It only takes one person to start a culture of sanity, and the language used is one of open-hearted bravery.
– doña Río de Gracian

With record levels of red mind (anxiety, distraction & disconnect) leading to gray mind (burnout, breakdown & depression) our mission is to help people become more calm, cool, collected & creative.
Help build the #bluemind
– Wallace J. Nichols

Rough as the road ahead is likely to be, we need to lead with joy and optimism. The first job of activists is to inspire people. Winning or losing is not all that’s at stake. The key to victory lies in how we answer the question of who we will become in the process of struggle.
– Scot Nakagawa

Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world?” This question is often asked, but whatever answer is given to it will mislead. The answer “yes” would lead to complacency; the answer “no” to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work.
– E.F. Schumacher

Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except your self.
– Teachings of the Buddha

At some point in my life I made a conscious decision that I would try to be optimistic — not blind to anything at all — but to always hear the way that had the best chance for happiness.
– Louise Erdrich

Fix all your attention on your own path, and do not imitate others. Your life is unique, and your karma is yours alone.
– Taisen Deshimaru

Daily Kerouac:
We are sealed in our own little melancholy atmospheres, like planets, and revolving around the sun, our common but distant desire.

Shira Erlichman:
Today, I am a root in the dark. I trust my thirst. I know there is no knowing without unknowing. I want to become a carrot, a rose, a fist, a poem, a sun––I dont know what I will become––so I have to be patient. I sense the web around me, within me. I am rooted in potent company.

Maggie Smith:
Don’t be ashamed to be someone who feels things intensely. Grief, love, desire, anger, fear—they’re not wild creatures you need to tame, but signs of your humanity. Respect them and let them be—uncaged, unmuzzled. They’ll settle themselves in time. Keep moving.

…Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture
Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs
Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place
– May Swenson

Who has dislocated the world?
and why are birds circling in our stomachs?
– A poet to read right now is Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian, whose powerful book, “Lean Against This Late Hour,” is beautifully translated from Persian by Idra Novey and Ahmad Nadalizadeh

Here’s an advice from
Sholeh Wolpe
Iranian-born poet and translator:

Here come the octopi of war
tentacles wielding guns, missiles
holy books and colorful flags.

Don’t fill your pens with their ink.
Write with your fingernails, scratch
light upon these darkened day

Myths are stories about people who become too big for their lives temporarily, so that they crash into other lives or brush against the gods. In crisis, their souls are visible.
– Anne Carson

Zen is simply a voice crying, “Wake up! Wake up!
– Maha Sthavira Sangharakshita

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power
reconstitute the world.
– Adrienne Rich, Excerpted from “Natural Resources”

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.
– Gary Snyder

AFTER YEARS
Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer’s retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.
– Ted Kooser

Buddha in Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet—
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

************

Buddha in the glory

Middle of all the middle, core of the seeds,
Almond that locks and sweetens, –
This all to all the stars
Is your pulp: be greeted.

Look, you feel nothing hanging on you anymore;
In Infinite is your bowl,
And there stands the strong juice and pushes.
And from the outside a ray helps him,

Because at the top your suns will be
Full and glowing upside down.
But in you has already begun,
What survives the suns.

– Summer 1908, Paris.
Trans. Stephen Mitchell

South in Hundreds
by Ching-In Cheng

Missing one hundred.

for many leagues, i slept under
surface. couldn’t learn enough
to stay, couldn’t hurt along
midriff, scrum and scrub. see myself
rushing into tomorrow’s wet
world. thin trees almost ferns with quiet mouth
desire. took to cold high plain, only wind and a murdered boy.

started running at the first sign
of breath but there’s only
three yesterday heads speak in these fields.
so much to circle. always asking
to let me repair small chord between us.
you started lagging each step, dragging
the water, stirring up dirt. he still
refuses all nourishment, says everything bad.

an odd man rushes past, asking if
near swamp, still looking for signs
we’ve seen two girls on horseback.
not tired, he says, refusing to go to sleep.
we’ve seen very little all day, close to the whistling ground.
in this family, we don’t count sheep because we eat them.
we shake our heads no
under black light, we’re all deep stream, counting down cows.

as the man points to the tracks, they couldn’t have gone far.
Still fresh, still fresh.

The art of life is more like navigation than warfare, for what is important is to understand the winds, the tides, the currents, the seasons, and the principles of growth and decay, so that one’s actions may use them and not fight them.
– The Watercourse Way, Watts & Huang

I have felt the comfort and reassurance of wet, wild places—the steady surge and flow of the sea on sand, water slipping over stones. There is meaning in the natural rhythms of dying and living, winter and spring, bones and leaves. Even in times of bewilderment or despair, there is the steadfast ground underfoot—pine duff, baked clay, stone turned red in the rain. I am trying to understand this, the power of water, air, earth, and time to bring gladness gradually from grief and to restore meaning to lives that seem empty or unmoored.
– Kathleen Dean Moore, from the book Wild Comfort

I used to be a hopeless romantic. I am still a hopeless romantic. I used to believe that love was the highest value. I still believe that love is the highest value. I don’t expect to be happy. I don’t imagine that I will find love, whatever that means, or that if I do find it, it will make me happy. I don’t think of love as the answer or the solution. I think of love as a force of nature – as strong as the sun, as necessary, as impersonal, as gigantic, as impossible, as scorching as it is warming, as drought-making as it is life-giving. And when it burns out, the planet dies.
– Jeanette Winterson

The world desperately needs people free of cultural illusions and who are undertaking a dedicated exploration of true reality. Not just to know the material nature of things, but also to know the very Source of everything that exists.
– Thomas Keating, From The Mind to The Heart

This is, perhaps, the year to learn to be big.
Spruce tree big. Cliffside big. Big as mesa,
as mountain lake. Big as in cosmos, as in love.
Being small has never served me— constricting,
contorting, trying to fit into a room, into shoes,
into a name. Let this be the year to escape all those little
rules with those little shoulds, all those little
cages with their little locks. Time to make of myself
a key, time to lean into immensity. Time to supersize
communion, time to grow beyond self. Time to
open, to unwall, to do as the universe does,
accelerating as it expands, not rushing toward
something else, but changing the scale of space itself.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Gunilla Norris:
There is at the core of every human being a holy place that we cannot destroy whether we own it, refuse to believe it exists or simply are unconscious of it. That core place is pure and good no matter what we have done or have not done in our lives. When we trust its “isness” we have a home to return to where the raggedness of living is restored and where we can begin again.

Today feels like a good day to wander into a forest for 30 years only to come back with antlers, a thousand yard stare and the ability to speak to the Earth.
– odysseyeight

Chögyam Trungpa – Genuineness
When relaxation develops in us, through letting go of neurosis and experiencing a sense of space and cool fresh air around us, we begin to feel good about ourselves. We feel that our existence is worthwhile. In turn we feel that our communication with others could also be worthwhile, pure, and good. On the whole we begin to feel that we are not cheating anybody; we are not making anything up on the spot. We begin to feel that we are fully genuine.

Marisa Crane:
cancelling plans is ok. going bankrupt & moving to a town you own is ok. using a wine metaphor to explain your sexuality to a woman in flannel is ok. saying ew x 1 million is ok. learning to love yrself & yr family is ok. meeting a boy who serenades u at open mic is ok. it’s ok.

Joseph Fasano:
Love someone like the last song of the world.

Here is a short poem by Iranian poet, Sara Mohammadi Ardehali, translated by Erfan Mojib:

My poor geranium!
these days, when I am not feeling well
it has lost its leaves.

What can I do about it
when we drink from the same mug?

Here are the lines by a brilliant Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian, translated from Persian by Idra Novey and Ahmad Nadalizadeh:

Tomorrow morning
humanity will enter the alley
and the trees will hide
out of terror
behind the sparrows.

Intuitive Zen:
Amidst all struggles, confusion, and chaos, there’s a hidden portal to your most authentic, blissful, fulfilling existence. The portal appears when you realize it comes from within, from your own true heart.

Kelli Russell Agodon:
Everyone has been talking about their “word for the year” while I have not found mine. . .

then today it appeared to me:
*bigheartedness* DONE! ✔️

And I’ve got my word!

Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.
– Dōgen Zenji

Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal, I have been making as much noise as I can.
– James Baldwin

Intuitive Zen:
Don’t look for a higher vibration. Look for a natural, true vibration which is all vibrations and dimensions in harmony.

If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!
– Thich Nhat Hanh

JEFF BROWN:
Intimacy is an informant. Not the kind of informant that shares inappropriate information, but the kind that tells us just what we need to know. If we allow ourselves to listen real close, it whispers everything we are hiding from ourselves and each other. It shines a bright light on our unresolved shadow, exposing all the layers of armor that prevent us from being truly present with each other. Intimacy is surely ‘in-to-me-see’, but it is also the only way to uncover the obstructions to true connection. Because we can only connect to another to the depths that we connect with ourselves. If we are a step back from our own hearts, we will always be a step back from everyone else’s.

I would like to visit the factory that makes train horns, and ask them how they are able to arrive at that chord of eternal mournfulness. Is it deliberately sad? Are the horns saying, Be careful, stay away from this train or it will run you over and then people will grieve, and their grief will be as the inconsolable wail of this horn through the night? The out-of-tuneness of the triad is part of its beauty.
– Nicholson Baker

Gary Snyder:
The first step, I think… is to make us love the world rather than to make us fear for the end of the world. Make us love the world… and then begin to take better care of it.

Shira Erlichman:
It’s no small thing to endorse your own bones, to brew a small cup ahead of a big day, to make eye contact with the cat or bus driver or mirror, to prioritize a nap, to remember your heart is interstellar, to paint the cupboard, to show up at the gym, to let the smalls bigify.

Was I carrying any object which could be dangerous to other passengers?
I said yes.
Startled, she asked: What?
I told her: just my heart.
– Agha Shahid Ali

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what he has done from beginning to end.
– Ecclesiastes 3:11 

Hiking – I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.
– John Muir 

There is a ruins in each of us. A place where ‘what once was’ lives on like an echo, haunting the landscape of our lives with its weathered foundations. Abandoned, scavenged, and dismantled by time, the ruin is the holiest place in our heart. It is the ways in which we have been broken that have earned us a standpoint. It is in our life’s absences that a wild longing is born. This place that has been ruined is a temple in which to worship, to throw down our grief and our forgetting, and praise what remains. After all, these remains are the evidence of how greatly we have loved and should be venerated as the legacy of survival that they are.
– Toko-pa Turner

For You O Democracy
By Walt Whitman
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon, 
I will make divine magnetic lands, 
                   With the love of comrades, 
                      With the life-long love of comrades. 

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America,
and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies, 
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other’s necks, 
                   By the love of comrades, 
                      By the manly love of comrades. 

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme! 
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

The Second Snow
It wasn’t the first snow of
the season, the second, but
it called for at least as much
reverence, for all the attention
one could give to it.
It started in the night,
greeted the morning, and wanted
the day as its own, and took
it in silence and prettiness. The dark
tree skeletons held it up, turning
themselves into many-winged
angels, revealing their true nature
to those who can utter something
more whimsical and deeply honest
than, “It is snowing!”
On days like this, I want to find my
way back to all the snows I’ve seen,
and all the people who were there
too. There are conversations that
never happened under that thick
white blanket, but there was
laughter too, and that unique familiarity
that snow brings, much the way that the
moon brings familiarity, and the darkness,
and the sun and stars, though somehow we humans
still remain lonely. Often. I want to gift questions
about loneliness into the world; how we came
to abandon the good company of magic and
retreated into the world of rationalized noise. But,
not now. Now, I want to let myself be claimed
by the beauty of the snow – the second snow – because
I’ve already found the answer.
– Jamie K. Reaser

For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. 
– Jacques-Yves Cousteau

‘I believe that enchantment is an attitude of mind which can be cultivated, a way of approaching the world which anyone can learn to adopt: the enchanted life is possible for everybody. Because enchantment, by my definition, has nothing to do with fantasy, or escapism, or magical thinking: it is founded on a vivid sense of belongingness to a rich and many-layered world; a profound and whole-hearted participation in the adventure of life. The enchanted life is one which is intuitive, embraces wonder and fully engages the creative imagination – but it is also deeply embodied, ecological, grounded in place and community. It flourishes on work that has heart and meaning; it respects the instinctive knowledge and playfulness of children. It understands the myths we live by; thrives on poetry, song and dance. It loves the folkloric, the handcrafted, the practice of traditional skills. It respects wild things, recognises the wisdom of the crow, seeks out the medicine of plants. It rummages and roots on the wild edges, but comes home to an enchanted home and garden. It is engaged with the small, the local, the ethical; enchanted living is slow living. 

‘Ultimately, to live an enchanted life is to pick up the pieces of our bruised and battered psyches, and to offer them the nourishment they long for. It is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary. Above all, to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again. This is an active choice, a leap of faith which is necessary not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of the wide, wild Earth in whose being and becoming we are so profoundly and beautifully entangled.’
– Sharon Blackie

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace.
Give me, amidst the day’s confusion
the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tension of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art
of taking minute vacations….
slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me
of the fable of the hare and the tortoise;
that the race is not always to the swift;
that there is more to life than measuring its speed.

Let me look up at the branches of the towering oak
and know that … it grew slowly … and well.

Inspire me
to send my own roots down deep…
into the soil of life’s endearing values…

That I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Slow me down, Lord.

– Wilfred A. Peterson

As a writer, I have been struck since medical school by the pervasive trope of disease as enemy and medicine as warfare. We talk about battling cancer, fighting heart disease, treatments that are more or less aggressive, killer T-cells, silver bullets, the immune system’s defenses, screening as surveillance, malignant tumors as invasive… it goes on and on. Art therapists even encourage children to draw pictures of themselves attacking their cancers, depicting their antibodies and our drugs and radiation as soldiers and weapons. And who else but doctors and military commanders give orders?
 I’ve always thought these metaphors limit our understanding of disease and constrain our approach to treating it. Whereas some traditions consider disease as an imbalance within ourselves or dis-harmony between ourselves and our environment, allopathic (Western) medicine sees disease as something other, something alien, and treatment tries to counteract it. There’s leakage into and from the political sphere: it’s always us and them, there’s always the dream of a wall with increased border security. And the ultimate tragedy is that death is unavoidably experienced as defeat. I’ve heard hospitalists say of a patient’s impending and inevitable death: “Not on my watch!” Fighting a war is a matter of pride, ego, prowess, strength, endurance and sheer will. No wonder then that doctors burn out – this kind of war is unwinnable. The death rate is and always will be 100%. In the end, I think changing the paradigm will have to come from outside medicine. From art, from science, from patients. Even from politics.
– Hugh Blumenfeld

Derrick Jensen:
Here is today’s excerpt. It is from Dreams:

Sam Harris wrote that he doesn’t trust “the wisdom of Nature,” and that he believes that to trust “Nature is a stultifying and dangerous mythology.” Now, wait a goddamn minute. Do you want to talk about wisdom? Do you want to talk about a wisdom that shouldn’t be trusted? Do you want to talk about a “stultifying and dangerous mythology”? Like any True Believer, I’m sure Harris would claim that his religion— science—is not a mythology, although it clearly is. A myth is “a popular belief or tradition … embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or a segment of a society,” and at this point the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective is certainly that. Nonetheless, I’m sure scientists would argue that science is not a mythology, but rather an objective description of reality as reality is. Of course, fundamentalist Baptists argue the same for their religion. So would anyone who refuses or fails to question the assumptions of his or her faith.

None of which is to say that a mythology—the set of stories a particular group lives by—cannot also accurately represent physical reality. I am merely pointing out that science, too, is based on faith, no matter how fevered the denials of dogmatic scientific philosophers, and no matter how much they may claim that science merely describes physical reality, and makes no ethical or moral claims.

The notion that science makes no ethical or moral claims is absurd, and I’m surprised that otherwise intelligent people so often accept this. First, the precepts of science—including the notion that the universe is mechanistic, and including the emphasis placed on repeatability (which follows from and reinforces the notion that the universe is mechanistic, or not a willful decision-maker, or not filled with willful decisionmakers)—carry with them extraordinary moral weight, in that they lead to certain behaviors that carry with them moral consequences. For example, if you perceive the world as alive and filled with willful subjects with whom you can enter into relationships, you will treat those others differently than if you perceive them as dead, or as parts of a machine, or as resources. Second, even something as simple as counting carries with it moral weight. I have written elsewhere that arithmetic presumes that the items to be counted—the digits—are identical. Before you dismiss this as so much hairsplitting, consider that Treblinka and other Nazi death camps had quotas to fill. Guards held contests among the inmates in which winners lived, and a preset number of losers didn’t. But they’re just so many numbers, right? Not if you lose. It’s easier to kill a number than an individual, whether we’re talking about so many tons of fish, so many board feet of timber, or so many boxcars of untermenschen. I don’t have anything against counting, but valuing the quantifiable over the nonquantifiable (or at least what you are incapable of quantifying) carries with it moral weight. And pretending that none of this is true or accurate carries with it moral weight.

What is at stake is our understanding of the nature of reality, our relationship to reality, and the stories by which we live our lives. The stories by which we live our lives—the myths we live by—deeply influence how we behave. And further, if the stories we tell are destructive or evil—as in a primary mythology that has as its stated purpose extending one’s “dominion” over others (whether this dominion comes from God or Science), that attempts to “bind [‘Nature’] to your service and make her your slave” or to “make matter and energy jump through hoops on command”—it should surprise no one when our behavior is destructive. And as we’ve seen, the stories of science are extremely dangerous: is it possible to be more dangerous than to be facilitating the murder of the entire planet?

So in whose wisdom do a huge percentage of people in this culture trust? Harris demonstrates one of science’s most dangerous stories in his line, “Science, in the broadest sense, includes all reasonable claims to knowledge about ourselves and the world.”

It’s an absolutely extraordinary statement. Remember, he called a trust in “Nature” a “stultifying and dangerous mythology.” But certainly any mythology that makes this claim is pretty much by definition stultifying (from the Latin meaning “stupid-making.” Can any mythology be more stupid than that which is both leading to and facilitating the murder of the planet?). It is similar to the Catholic Church’s claim that “outside the Church there is no salvation.” This was an attempt to convince people that the Catholic Church had (or has) a monopoly on salvation, which was(and is) an attempt to claim a monopoly on a particular sort of power. Science’s attempt to convince people that science has a monopoly on knowledge is also an attempt to claim a monopoly on a particular sort of power. After all, as Francis Bacon said, “knowledge is power.”

Harris has also said, “It is time we realized that to presume knowledge where one has only pious hope is a species of evil. Wherever conviction grows in inverse proportion to its justification, we have lost the very basis for human cooperation. Where we have reason for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another. People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power.”

For once, I agree with him (or at least I agree with the parts that aren’t pretty-sounding-but-empty rhetoric). And I challenge Harris or any other scientific fundamentalist to provide evidence that science, and a scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective that has as its aim extending human “dominion” and causing the world to “jump through hoops on command,” is not gravely harming the world, is not driving species after species extinct, is not destroying natural community after natural community, is not diminishing life on this planet. I challenge him and those like him to show how the belief that science and the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective can do anything other than gravely harm the world is anything other than a “pious hope.” I challenge him and those like him to show how their convictions that science is not a “species of evil” can still grow even in the face of the horrors caused by science and scientists and the whole scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective.

It is true that where we have evidence for what we believe, we have less need of faith. And so I would challenge scientists to show their reasons for believing that the mythology of science—based as it is from its genesis to its current endgame on increasing power and control— is not destructive of life on this planet. Where is the evidence? We can talk till the end of the world about the importance of science in helping us understand global warming (and believe me, we will talk about the importance of science in helping us understand global warming until the very end of the world, and we will talk and talk and talk, and do anything to distract us from actually stopping this culture before it causes the end of the world), but carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and without science and the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective, there’d be no industrial civilization heating up the globe. It’s ridiculous to sing the praises of science for helping to understand or even (almost undoubtedly unsuccessfully) helping to solve a problem that either would not exist or would not be so severe were it not for science and the scientific mind-set in the first place. This applies not only to global warming, but to any of the other myriad problems caused by science and the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic perspective.

Harris says, “People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power.” Yet that is precisely where the firm believers in the mythology of science reside, this mythology based on the ridiculous conceit that the world is mechanistic, or dead, this mythology based on the equally ridiculous conceit that only humans are really sentient, this mythology based on nonhuman others not existing for their own sakes, this mythology based on torturing the planet into compliance, this mythology based on the notion that “we will find better and better ways to exploit our resources and maintain our way of living while still protecting our forests and oceans and the rest of our environment,” this notion for which there is no evidence whatsoever, this notion for which there is an entire world of evidence to the contrary.

Einstein once said that the Fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones: he forgot to add that the third might be fought with kalashnikovs.

If the war into which we are fast sliding goes global, it will be more asymmetrical, more discontinuous, more ambiguous, and more dispersed than those which came before. It will be carried out in online forums, in broken backwaters, to the beat of terrorist bomb blasts. It will involve non-state militias, working in tandem with armies of trolls, and a dispersal of chaos providing cover for unrelated atrocities. 

The war that is brewing may have nothing to do with Venezuela, but it has already helped Nicholas Maduro seize control of parliament; it may have nothing to do with Libya, but Erdogan has already used it as a cover to quietly send in Turkish troops. If it continues to escalate, we can count on China using it to distract us from their genocide of Uyghurs, India to distract from atrocities in Kashmir, and Bolsonaro to use it to step up his attacks in the Amazon. 

The danger this time is less that of a few well organized great powers duking it out in epic battles and more the the intensified breakdown of states and international order that has been in the works for decades. If we do not stop it now, we should expect the crimes against humanity in Syria and Yemen to get worse, and the civil unrest in Lebanon and Iraq to degenerate. Everything will get worse, because America and Iran have long been engaged in a proxy war, and as the fighting becomes more direct, it will also become more intense. 

There will be more troops, more guns, more drones, more bombings, more militias, more bellicosity, more nationalism, more armies of trolls. The issues that matter most will be more drowned out; and the rightwing nationalists and fascists will have the wind they need in their sails to consolidate power. The war into which we are sliding is an emergent affair, whose first shots were barely noticed. And like a nation plagued by civil unrest, there will be no declaration of the world war into which we enter, only a backward glance at the affairs that set it in motion long ago. 

So, now is the time to prevent the slide, now is the time if you want to stop it from getting worse. You can sign petitions, share posts, join protests, make comments, forge connections, and, let us never forget, educate yourself on the matter, so everything you say is more meaningful and effective. The battle for public opinion is being fought on Twitter and in the comment sections of major news sites. And there are countless liberals to be won over who are contributing to the slide. Let us not forget what is at stake if we lose and the erratic narcissist residing in the oval office becomes a wartime president. 
– Theo Horesh

Beast of No Emissions
by Marta Helal
i say it with the arrogance of a thoroughbred
when i say
i have seen the earth
how it is held
together
with its fences and caution tape
always under
construction
going out
of business
the percentage off
increasing with each passing
week
my diminishing
return was as inevitable as my americanness
as my willingness to incur
more debt
i return
a triathlete of sea, land, and sky
i dye my hair so we can grow old again
i age and learn to love
the bit
for at night it gives me something to grind against

The [truth] in friendship is to me every bit as sacred as eternal marriage.
– Katherine Mansfield 

Get you somebody who brings you moss instead of flowers.
– Emilia Phillips 

The vocabulary of rain differs tonight
Not from the last rain
But from itself
Many voices tonight
The baritone the alto … the crumbling mountain and the heft of it
Descending from sky this sound
But nearer the ground, I hear breathing in a glass bottle, the high-pitched tin of it…
Though it is glass
I hear the rain hitting something making that note sound resonant across the field
Nearer to me than far
On the roads at the circumference of this place, tires
The wet mist they create in their wake
My favorite is the glass bottle
As if Michael were playing it
As if its rhythm is intended, its tone sought
Mimetic of singing
of song
This high note repeats its percussive syllable
Even I cannot write it, this vocabulary escapes me
The fourth sounding strains of water
Are not strains, at all
Strains insinuate muscle
effort
Neither are they streams
Streams flow fully
The 4th sound is the soothing, the rain falling straight, not a sideways pounding
Simply falling
Like a veil between us and something
Tonight, so many sounds rain makes, point and counterpoint
I don’t want to do without the cloud music of the heaving mountain without its heaving
Neither dare I lose the comfort of that falling veil of rain
Even the mist in tires’ wake on the side roads near
But the bottle, the bottle
as if someone tapping their finger against the lip, or a metal spoon against its body or midneck
It’s the high note that sings
percusses
Almost a said word but not
– Marian Haddad

MOONLIT POEM
All that matters is the kiss of pistil and stamen.
All that matters is the wave nature of the moon.
All that matters is the sexual caress
of listener and silence,
a thrill in stillness where the music is conceived.
All that matters is the death of distances,
the sapphire yearning-pool
where the sky in your forehead drowns
your dark embryo again and again.
Are we not born in each others sorrow
as tears of joy?
This is the gift of emptiness,
giving like a bellows.
All that matters is the touch of your breath
pouring out of the desert night
where stars arrange themselves tenderly,
in the shape of a hand over your slumber,
and my breath,
ebbing into the diamond blackness
that is always awake.
– Fred LaMotte

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.
– Sylvia Plath

The notion of being independent and separate actually feeds illness rather than helps to resolve it.
– Eliot Cowan

direct, intimate, unifying knowledge
Da’at
In the branch of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah, Daʻat (“Knowledge”, Hebrew: דעת [ˈdaʕaθ]) is the location (the mystical state) where all ten sefirot in the Tree of Life are united as one.

In Daʻat, all sefirot exist in their perfected state of infinite sharing. The three sefirot of the left column that would receive and conceal the Divine light, instead share and reveal it. Since all sefirot radiate infinitely self-giving Divine Light, it is no longer possible to distinguish one sefira from another; thus they are one.

Daʻat is not always depicted in representations of the sefirot; and could be abstractly considered an “empty slot” into which the germ of any other sefirot can be placed. Properly, the Divine Light is always shining, but not all humans can see it.
– Wikipedia

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
– Rabindranath Tagore

A person with a ghost ends up housing two souls, feeding two souls, making room in their lives for two opposing directions—one trying to live forward, the other incapable of living in anything except what it had previously experienced, continually stuck in reverse going backward in time. A living person thus afflicted finds it hard to ever have full use of their own motivation or plans: every forward motion is cut in half, every plan aborted.
– The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise, Martín Prechtel

Let us remember that the shining of the heart is not unique to meditation masters and advanced practitioners. It is here in us all. As we cultivate lovingkindness, eventually we can end up like Dipama, radiating love to all we meet.
– Jack Kornfield

…If I was the song that entered your heart
then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
for the death of rivers.

And this was my true task, to be the
music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
the soul has need of a body,
and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
beauty of heaven
where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.
– Mary Oliver

There is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.
– Marcus Aurelius

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.
– Sylvia Plath

Principles of Chaos
by Chelsea Dingman
If the hurricaning sky wolfs
this sad peninsula. If depression is the glass
held up to all of this rain. If the rain
doesn’t fall, but shimmies
against the panes. If rain. If brick.
If buckled, the brick speaks.
If brick is the language of our dead
cities. If we are left for dead.
If I kissed the bodies pulled from me,
more than once, in a hurricane.
If he is a man is a monster.
If the brain cells that tell him to turn
a deadbolt, turn the switch instead.
If the fire at the end of the switch
holds no apology. If he grew so sad
that I assigned him a hotline. If sea
-water needs. If the lilies in the front
yard overcome the leaves. If we can’t live
this way. If lost, should anyone live
by force? If I said: not in front of the kids.
If his fist clenched. If my body intuited
the blow. If a hurricane, like a mirror, grieves
its center. If the sky, brickless, holds us
here. Like that kiss held me. Sick with him
as I was. If I don’t remember light,
the mind an emptied drawer. If I must
hold him inside. Each cell, wilting
in a field. If fallow is the opposite of forever.
If, in case this doesn’t pass, the rain
is just rain is just rain is just rain.

D.H. Lawrence:
This is what is the matter with us: we are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars.

∞ Our ancestors understood the world as a being in the sense that it was a companion, a teacher, and in some ways a competitor. But there was a more urgent and crucial aspect of this relationship: the world was the living library which would respond rapidly to any question appropriately offered.

Instead of checking out a book, using Google, or buying some expert’s advice, our ancestors asked the world. They asked the sky, the Sun, the moon, and living places. They asked the trees and stars. They asked the wind and darkness. The cave. And the world would send the living answer forth to meet the querent. In person.

To this day, the library still works this way, but the majority of the existing humans, with all of their hubris, guns, science and books, cannot remember this, will not believe it, and thus… are unable to form or offer their questions adequately.

Even today, some few of us remain who remember the library, its nature, and the profound intimacy of these relationships. I hope you will set down the human stories and begin to ask the questions again… in your own way, voice, time and place. The library is open. It is our species who closed up.
– Darin Stevenson

If the communication is perfect, the words have life, and that is all there is to good writing, putting down on the paper words which dance and weep and make love and fight and kiss and perform miracles.
– Gertrude Stein

If you want peace you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies.
– Desmond Tutu

Poetry becomes the conversation we could not otherwise have.
– Cid Corman

“Center” and “centered” have come to be fairly widely used. They tend to imply a connection with the navel, with one-pointedness, on the way to bliss, realization, and inner peace. But these are not the goals of the centering process. For it is a continual engagement with experience, not a withdrawal from it. It begins with pain and ends with paradox. It wrestles with evil and the daimonic as it does with angels and repentance. It is an activity of consciousness, not a stage of spiritual achievement.
– Centering by M.C. Richards

It is an profound goodness for mind to realize that the past is gone, the future not yet come; it is an immeasurable wisdom to realize that the remaining ‘present’ does not exist as well. The first is accomplished through careful reasoned analysis and the second through the penetrating transrational insight of gnosis. The first accomplishes relative happiness within the world and the second accomplishes the sublime pure land of ineffable substanceless wisdom.
– t.k

The poet Anne Connolly has been in touch to share a poem originally written over Christmas updated to cover events during and into the New Year. A sobering reminder if one is needed.

Blue Tinsel Lily

Who would have thought of blue
for Christmas flowers? A bit askew
for this dark hemisphere.

The Waratah is their state bloom,
a vibrant centre with a crimson
spiky heart, a bonny tu-tu skirt
of periwinkle petals frilled about.

And in the topsy-turvey winter-time
of New South Wales buds spear up
like agapanthus in a heart-throb red


cross continents to Scotland‘s capital,
open this calendar to sunrise
as we are hottle-bottling to bed.

But hotter still is how their earth
has smouldered into flame and smoke
and choking aftermath of fire.

The television screen is Armageddon.
The fleeing people hug the beach edge,
look to a haemoglobin sky for hope.

And one man whose livelihood is ash
has only praise for those who fight
the random wind and spark and blaze.

He speaks with pity for his neighbours
asks for prayers, holds the turning year
in the ambiguity of his gaze.

A.C. 31st Dec.2019

Because money is convertible into all other things, it infects them with the same feature, turning them into commodities—objects that, as long as they meet certain criteria, are seen as identical. All that matters is how many or how much. Money, says Seaford, ‘promotes a sense of homogeneity among things in general.’ All things are equal, because they can be sold for money, which can in turn be used to buy any other thing. In the commodity world, things are equal to the money that can replace them. Their primary attribute is their ‘value’—an abstraction. I feel a distancing, a letdown, in the phrase, ‘You can always buy another one.’ Can you see how this promotes an antimaterialism, a detachment from the physical world in which each person, place, and thing is special, unique? No wonder Greek philosophers of this era [when modern money originated] began elevating the abstract over the real, culminating in Plato’s invention of a world of perfect forms more real than the world of the senses. No wonder to this day we treat the physical world so cavalierly. No wonder, after two thousand years’ immersion in the mentality of money, we have become so used to the replaceability of all things that we behave as if we could, if we wrecked the planet, simply buy a new one.
– Charles Eisenstein

I looked around from where I lay on the bed and found that the book I would want to read on a day like this apparently had not yet been written.
– Christa Wolf, Accident

On Mystery
by Tad Hargrave

If you plant a seed of mystery it doesn’t grow you a solution. It grows a strange plant bearing fruits you can’t eat, each one filled with a dozen more seeds. Mystery seems to beget mystery. Worthwhile questions seem to beget more questions. You can’t dissect the seeds and expect to find a solution without killing the plant inside it.

Our need to know everything makes a sacrifice of what we say we want to know. Our manner of admiring is often the end of that which we profess to admire. The heartbreaking truth of modern culture is that our manner of loving is often deadly and our curiousity another form of acquisition.

How do we admire in a way that ennobles and behold without seeking to remove the space between ourselves and those we claim to love?

For many of us, our past is a consequence laden testimony to our not knowing another way. And maybe that past and the ways it echoes on in the world is a mystery too, waiting for us to learn some slower, older and more gracious manner of approach.

It’s not so much that we ask too much of it but that there is something mystery asks of us that is all but unknown in this culture – the capacity to be in the presence of something unfamiliar without grasping at it or mauling it with our desire to turn it into something familiar.

Mystery is a small village in a foreign country that you let embrace you as they come to know you slowly. It’s their dinner table at which you sit, attentive, not asking questions but trusting that when you need to know something they will tell you because we know that we are the stranger here, we are the guest, and mystery is the host of everything.

On the Road to Buddhahood

Ever plainer. Ever simpler.
Ever more ordinary.

My goal is to become a simpleton.

And from what everybody tells me
I am making real good progress.

– David Budbill

Ahavah means “love” in Hebrew. The Jewish mystics remark on the affinity between the word ahavah, “love,” and “echad,” one. The numerical value of their letters is the same: 13. Oneness, unity, is the aspiration of love, and love emerges from a perception of unity.
– Rabbi Julian Sinclair

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. … This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us.
– Steven Pressfield

Is fearr beagán den ghaol ná mórán den charthanas.
(A little kinship is better than a lot of charity.)
– Irish Gaelic Proverb

I was not prepared: sunset, end of summer. Demonstrations
of time as a continuum, as something coming to an end,

not a suspension: the senses wouldn’t protect me.
I caution you as I was never cautioned:

you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.

Your body will age, you will continue to need.
You will want the earth, then more of the earth –

Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond.
It is encompassing, it will not minister.

Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you,
it will not keep you alive.
– Louise Glück

I hear that the axe has flowered
I hear that the place can’t be named,

I hear that the bread which looks at him
heals the hanged man,
the bread baked for him by his wife,

I hear that they call life
our only refuge.

– Paul Celan, Trans. Michael Hamburger

Say the Word
by Sandra Beasley
To be apart, I’m told.
To be asunder.
To be a privative, negative, reversing force.
To be reached only by oaths and curses.
To have black sheep sacrificed in my name
because I’m a god, yes,
as we are all gods on occasion.
To be bodied as I am bodied.
To be rich of earth,
which is to be chronically chthonic.
To be where the gems are—
underground.
To be Dīs. To be Dīs. To be Dīs.
To reject any pickaxe disguised as love.

This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.
– D.H. Lawrence

It is not by preaching or expounding the sutras (scriptures) that you fulfill the task of awakening others to self-realization; it is rather by the way you walk, the way you stand, the way you sit and the way you see things.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

If a person is quiet enough inside, he might be able to catch on to what I’m trying to do in my poetry.
– Frank Stanford

Northwart, aye northwart, in the pitmirk nicht.
A nirlin wind comes blawin frae the ice,
Plays dirdum throu the rails and shrouds and riggin,
Ruggin at bodies clawin at the life-lines…
– Arctic Convoy, J. K. Annand

Claim your silence. Demand your silence from a world that demands you have none. Have the courage to sit in that uncomfortable sea of nothingness where you finally have to face all the things you wish didn’t exist but do. It is essential to your well being and functioning. Find your place(s), whether it be that one clean room in your house; that one spot beneath a tree in your backyard; the nature place that takes ten minutes to drive to; or the river flowing behind your house. Model to the next generation that this time of review and silence is not an indication of laziness or selfishness; It is an indication of wisdom and sophistication, and ultimately, efficacy. We–a society so obsessed with noise, news clips, action, arguments, debates, anger, confrontation, stimulation and busy-ness–must recreate ourselves and re-carve a place of silence (some might call it prayer) in our lives. It is a great healing measure for the wounded world outside of us, and the wounded world within us. WE CAN HEAL.
– Lyla June Johnson

“Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
– Deuteronomy 27:19

You can’t measure your success by the number of people who follow you. You measure it by how true you are to path. Because if you aren’t true to path, no amount of societal success will ever gratify you. And if you are true to path, the way that the world receives you is of little significance. Because you have already found your way home.
– Jeff Brown

Part of man’s frustration is that he has become accustomed to expect language and thought to offer explanations which they cannot give. To want life to be “intelligible” in this sense is to want it to be something other than life.
– Alan Watts

Something has to die in order for us to begin to know our truths. Perhaps we have to lose our national fantasies.
– Adrienne Rich

Our poets are often immigrants. They are not just border, but tongue, crossers. Yehuda Amichai, arguably the greatest poet of the Hebrew language, wrote poems in his second language (Hebrew). Coming to a language second is to actually arrive at it first.
– Shira Erlichman

trying to get back to a state of being enchanted by writing & reading
– Marisa Crane

In Culture as in Calculus, differentiation precedes integration.
– Vince Horn

Honestly still not over the fact that wombats are out here trying harder to save life on earth than we are.
– Robyn Hammontree

I think that there are a lot of people who just wish avant-garde poetry just never happened. Well, too bad for them I guess.
– Sandra Isabel

Art is this certain kind of making, a writer makes reality, a writer is a kind of journalist, a magic one.
– Kathy Acker

If I wanted to understand a culture… I would turn to poetry first. For it is my confirmed bias that the poets remain the most ‘stunned by existence,’ the most determined to redeem the world in words.
– C.D. Wright

Live your own life. Not the life your husband’s grandmother wants you to live.
– Matt Haig

Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world…
– Kerouac

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound!
– Zen proverb

Guilt, regret, resentment, sadness and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past and not enough presence.
– Eckhart Tolle

What gives me hope? In all my travels around the globe, I have found far more people would rather help than hurt, welcome than shun, love than hate.
– Dan Rather

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.
– Maya Angelou

Studying Buddhism has made me better at kindness and a lot worse at politeness.
– Ethan Nichtern

We are not saints, we are not heroes. Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary. We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth. But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation. It is not given us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen. We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand. A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle. A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame. It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity. It is simply an issue of the presence of light.
– Kent Nerburn

What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children, life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until … a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?
– Karl Ove Knausgård

An individual is not smart, according to our culture. An individual is merely lucky to be part of a system that has intelligence that happens to reside in them. In other words, be humble about this always. The real intelligence isn’t the property of an individual corporation – the real intelligence is the property of the universe itself.
– John Mohawk

As long as there is a ‘you’ thinking or not-thinking, you are no closer to home than the day you were born.
– Wei Wu Wei

Elissa Washuta:
I cannot end an email without a comment on when I will next see the person, and if it’s unknown whether I will ever see them again, a crisis begins inside me.

I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than work miracles in unkindness.
– Mother Teresa

I want to be something entirely without words.
– Ada Limón

Kerouac:
The summer chair rocking by itself In the blizzard.

As you liberate yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
– Mahmoud Darwish

Mentoring, in its best use, is an act of collaboration.
– Nancy K. Miller

Psalm 72:4
He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.

Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.
– Jack Kerouac

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
– Rachel Carson

The content is absolutely different in the case of music and in the case of novels. But the essence, for me, is really similar.
– László Krasznahorkai

Was I carrying any object which could be dangerous to other passengers?
I said yes.
Startled, she asked: What?
I told her: just my heart.
– Agha Shahid Ali

Gary Snyder:
The first step, I think… is to make us love the world rather than to make us fear for the end of the world. Make us love the world… and then begin to take better care of it.

Even if others, equal or inferior to me in status,
Should, out of arrogance, disparage me,
To honour them, as I would my teacher,
By bowing down my head before them —
this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.
– Gyelse Tokme Zangpo

Screw War.
– Buddha, more or less

For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it..
– Jacques-Yves Cousteau

The process of breathing in Indian music is like learning how to breathe underwater. It requires un-doing.
– meera vijayann

To me, studying Buddhism and Taoism is like getting cataracts removed. It’s like seeing yourself clearly for the first time.
– B. D. Schiers

A. N. Devers:
I am anti war and I am anti woo-woo belief that somehow a socialist revolution in America would stop war. That is some GOOP. I believe in socialisms potential and necessity in our democracy but not if it comes with all this naïveté.

Old spirit, in and beyond me,
keep and extend me. Amid strangers,
friends, great trees and big seas breaking,
let love move me. Let me hear the whole music,
see clear, reach deep. …..
After such luck, however late, give me to give to
the oldest dance…. Then to good sleep,
and – if it happens – glad waking.
– Philip Booth

Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no greater crime than leaving.
In friends, what do you count on? Not on what they do.
You can never tell what they will do. Not on what they are. That
may change. Only on this: their not leaving.
He who cannot leave cannot stay. He who has a pass
In his pocket – will he stay when the attack begins. Perhaps
He will not stay.
If it goes badly with me, perhaps he will stay. But if it goes
Badly with him, perhaps he will leave.
Fighters are poor people. They cannot leave. When the attack
Begins they cannot leave.
He who stays is known. He who left was not known. What left
Is different from what was here.
Before we go into battle I must know: have you a pass
In your coat pocket? Is a plane waiting for you behind the battlefield?
How many defeats do you want to survive? Can I send you away?
Well, then, let’s not go into battle.

– Bertolt Brecht, Staying Alive.
(translated from the German text by F. Jones)

HAIKU
~
Wriggly earthworm—
is it true that you only
have eyes for Mother?

************

– Clark Strand, Issa HAIKU Master Class

Those who want to follow the Way of Beauty must break away from cultural dictatorship and move out into no-man’s land where everything is new and unknown. They must learn to live outside of stereotypes and worn-out attitudes, and free themselves from any bonds – roles, ties, ideologies, interests, or habits – that might hold them back. They must learn all over again, without fear or hesitation, to be themselves.
– Piero Ferrucci

Meditation is the most powerful antidote to chaos. Given the chaos in the world today, meditators meditating is one of the greatest ways we can be of service. A resonant field of inner peace is the greatest disruptor of all.
– Painted Brain

If you are asking me what the individual can do right now, in a political sense, I’d have to say he can’t do all that much. Speaking for myself, I am more concerned with the transformation of the individual, which to me is much more important than the so-called political revolution.
– William S. Burroughs

genuine kindness is, and i cannot stress this enough, so much fucking cooler than coolness will ever be.
– aria aber

I found myself immersed in verdant life, surrounded with varying shades of green. It was like being in the middle of a green fog and in the midst not of living creatures but of the power and vitality of life itself. I had a sense of an immense presence, a bit like being at the base of a mountain, only more so. I felt a multitude of impressions and images pressing in on me, more than I could process or interpret.

Then the fog parted, and I gained a different perspective. Things began to fall into place, or at least, my mind began to fashion an image it could comprehend and use to organize what I was experiencing. I was seeing the world from a distance, but it did not at all resemble the images of the planet from space. Everything remained green, and there was no differentiation between oceans or continents. It was like looking at the biomass of the earth presented as a collage of images of various life-forms, from microbes to moose, from protozoa to pinewoods, with fish, birds, animals, humans, plants all represented. This was very impressionistic, with a few sharp details, including landscapes such as forests and mountains. And underneath the green light was a deeper core of light that to my sight was a reddish gold, conveying a sense of love.

Quite beyond the imagery, however, was a sense of presence. It felt vast, but at the same time it felt intimate. I did not feel diminished by its vastness. I felt that whatever this was, I was part of it, and it was part of me.
“This,” John said, “is the World Soul. It is the life and consciousness that infuse the world, giving of itself to support all the other lives that are evolving on this planet. Humanity is helping it to incarnate, but its gift back is to enable you to develop a planetary consciousness. This is an essential part of your destiny as a species, a destiny which you are confronting at this time in history.”
– David Spangler, Apprenticed to Spirit: The Education of a Soul

The habit of ignoring race is understood to be a graceful, even generous, liberal gesture.
– Toni Morrison PLAYING IN THE DARK

In this dream world
We doze
And talk of dreams —
Dream, dream on,
As much as you wish.
– Ryokan (trans. by John Stevens)

The I Ching States Happiness Lies in the Proper Blend of:
– Ryokan (trans. by John Stevens)
Hot-cold
good-bad
black-white
beautiful-ugly
large-small
wisdom-foolishness
long-short
brightness-darkness
high-low
partial-whole
relaxation-quickness
increase-decrease
purity-filth
slow-fast.

Within a light snow
Three thousand realms;
Within those realms,
Light snow falls.
– Ryokan

What if, says a small child to me this afternoon,
We made a poem without using any words at all?
Wouldn’t that be cool? You could use long twigs,
And feathers, or spider strands, and arrange them
So that people imagine what words could be there.
Wouldn’t that be cool? So there’s a different poem
For each reader. That would be the best poem ever.
The poem wouldn’t be on the page, right? It would
Be in the air, sort of. It would be between the twigs
And the person’s eyes, or behind the person’s eyes,
After the person saw whatever poem he or she saw.
Maybe there are a lot of poems that you can’t write
Down. Couldn’t that be? But they’re still there even
If no one can write them down, right? Poems in
Books are only a little bit of all the poems there are.
Those are only the poems someone found words for.
– Brian Doyle

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
– Albert Einstein

The great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations take place. And the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately springs as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources. In our most private and most subjective lives, we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers. We make our own epoch.
– Carl Jung

Visionaries of a new holistic and ecological paradigm are themselves deemed to be neurotic. They have moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience. Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you have got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it or you can’t. You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations. The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience – that is the hero’s deed.
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

To attain peace among the nations in any dynamic or enduring form requires not simply political negotiation but a new mode of consciousness. The magnitude of this change is in the order of religious conversion or of spiritual rebirth…A change is needed in every phase of human life.
– Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts

Inspiration is not garnered from litanies of what is flawed; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. Healing the wounds of the Earth and its people does not require saintliness or a political party. It is not a liberal or conservative activity. It is a sacred act.
– Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed – be it ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.
– Václav Havel, address to US Congress

You have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour. Now you must go back and tell them this is the hour.
– Hopi Elders

There is in all human beings a secret, personal life,
often hidden from the community.
It is this sensitive life which my website
has been created to feed and sustain,
this life that lives deep within each person
waiting to be recognised and called forth.

There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others with a larger vision.
The immense fulfilment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness,
has a quality impossible to describe.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

At dawn the trampling hordes set our quiet planet in motion.
We’re all aboard the street, and it’s as crammed as the deck of a ferry.

Where are we headed? Are there enough teacups? We should consider ourselves lucky
to have made it aboard this street!
It’s a thousand years before the birth of claustrophobia.

Hovering behind each of us who walks here is a cross that wants to catch up with us,
pass us, unite with us.
Something that wants to sneak up on us from behind, put its hands over our eyes and
whisper “Guess who!”

We look almost happy out in the sun, while we bleed to death from wounds we don’t
know about.
– Tomas Tranströmer

Bless the poets, the workers for justice,
the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache,
the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh
meaning – We will all make it through,
despite politics and wars, despite failures
and misunderstandings. There is only love.
– Joy Harjo

“The bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.”
– Iris Murdoch

We never have more than one bar.
Our server is usually down.
We over-interpret each star.
But I never see more than one bear
In the lights of an oncoming car
As I walk from the bar into town.
We’ve never had more than one bar.
Our server is usually Dawn.

The healing power of poetry:
Unmoored suffering is the most difficult to bear. What the soul hungers for is that our feelings be reflected back to us in elevating words, to have our experiences validated as real and meaningful. Poetry, more than other forms of language, can revitalize the spirit, renew our strength, and invite us, even in the midst of pain and fear, to be present and more fully ourselves.
– Ivan M. Granger

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals…
How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
Yes! No! The
swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.
– Mary Oliver

Sestina
by Marci Nelligan
after Hieronymus Bosch


There’s no there there, no here here—
a timetable shows the missing trains, the fruit bowl longs for oranges.
We went ahead to lurch behind, booked
a passage so circuitous it carves
new dimensions in the tabletops. They’ve posted
soldiers in the laundromats and everything you want
Irradiates to dust. I wanted
to become a different human, left myself here
among the daisies, tied the horse to a newell post
and let him nibble all the oranges.
Sweet tongue to the fruit, sweet agronome—carve
statues out of butter to venerate the cows—your books

with all their fractured mirrors, diminish me, bookend
this life with the twin ghosts of hollowness and want.
Among all the things we might have carved
into trees or out of marble, not a single effigy captures the here
of our simplicity, the rolling hips of fields, the slutty orange
of trees that turn on you each fall. Whereas a fence is made of posts

the country’s made of crosses and we post
death threats on the clothesline flapping with the sheets. I thought
a good book
could solve it all, the proper smile. Yet tyranny wears orange
trappings, a mine fire, a deposition. I want
something to put my body in, I want to feel the here-
and-now draw its tongue along my neck, carve

a cuneiform instruction manual in my shoulder blades, make me
a carved
idol for this new century of cosmic meltdown. Write this on a Post-it
note and affix it to the future: “Here
lies the history of America, one big comic book
of medical interventions.” There’s a way to want
that’s simple as our minds. There’s an orange

sun fatter than the sky, an orange
demon on a blitzkrieg mission to barbeque oblivion. Carve
me a corner I might hole up in, give way to what you want
and want for nothing. All we have are postage
stamps from foreign places, an attic full of musty yarn. Strike a
matchbook
to it all, flee the scene and we were never there.

I want so many things for us, post my hopes on a telephone pole
like lost puppies
but the book is here, our names carved from its narrative—all lost,
all devastation.
Peel and pith the orange holds its essence in its skin. Peel and pith
its bitterness, too.

Nandi Chinna
Sorrow and Beauty in Equal Measure

Mottlecah – Eucalyptus macrocarpa

“In 1842 a macrocarpa was grown from a seed at Kew Gardens
It flowered five years later in 1847.”

In a crucible of fog and damp
mainly green and wildy weedy,
Victorian England turning steam driven,
mass produced, the miracle of sewing machines,
electric light, cars, the sorrow
of work, child labour, smoke haze,
swallowing up forest and farm.

Curiosity brought macrocarpa here,
by ship from the West Australian Desert.
With sun and wind stored in its seed husk,
older than Albion and its disappeared woods,
mottlecah grows lopsided and gangly in a hothouse at Kew.

As an object of study;
the colour of the flowers
is due to the stamens alone; for petals
(as in the genus) there are none.*

Extant from its country, it takes
five years of pale skies
to coaxe the flower from its shell;
one wild bright bushy flower
burning on the branch like a fire in the desert.
*Mottlecah – Eucalyptus macrocarpa quote from William Jackson Hooker

Would you become a pilgrim on the road of love? The first condition is that you make yourself humble as dust and ashes
– Rumi

That’s the style I want: a barren beauty, none the less beautiful for its barrenness.
– A. R. Ammons

In the seeing is just the seen.
– The Buddha

Thing is, we cannot make ourselves humble. Life does that. Our job is to rise.
– Chandali Ishta

What we say/write is who we are.
We are made up of language.
Babies learn language mimetically and also by putting things in their mouths.
Words are flesh or they are just noise; bringing language back into our bodies makes words true.
I love you is best said when we cannot help it.
The culture is transmitted to us in language and until this happens we are other.
Language is political.
Poetry is the way back to the understanding/feeling of this.
– Doug Anderson

Something
needed me
once, and I
know something
will need
me again.
– Neil Hilborn

Shakti will take on any number of forms to usher seekers through her gate from the finite to the infinite. She can become the masculine form of gods, feminine forms of goddesses, forms of mantras, yantras, guardians, paths, traditions, and more. All forms issue from Her. Some people wonder why, with their Kundalini awakening, they primarily have visions of Shiva or Krishna, Hanuman or Ram, Buddha or Jesus, or other male forms of the Divine, or why they don’t perceive forms at all, but rather clouds of Light suffused with Loving Consciousness. The list of Shakti’s possible creations is endless! She will appear in ways that will help the seeker move forward. It’s important to let go of any preconceptions of how the Goddess should appear, let go of how we would like Her to appear, and receive Her as She chooses to appear, even if in the moment that is simply as a thought. Everything arising in the mind, including the mind itself, is Shakti.

The wise seek to approach Her through reverence, love and devotion, and then they gain the good graces of this power. Devotees that approach Kundalini as the Great Goddess with their loving devotion have an entirely different experience. They gain her boons, her gifts of enlightenment, without having to fear what may be provoked by some forceful, domineering practice. That attitude is key to understanding how we receive the gifts that this extraordinary innate power of Consciousness has to offer. It doesn’t mean that our experiences of our karmas going up in flames may not be intense. But there’s no need to exacerbate things with a willful egotistical attitude.

We’re living at a time of the return of the Goddess. We need her wisdom to inform and inspire humanity to live cooperatively again if life on this earth is going to survive. We need her clarity of vision, her deep compassion, and her unwavering patience to live in harmony with each other and the environment. We need the awakened state of selflessness that Kundalini Shakti bestows, empowering people to recreate society, social structures, businesses, and economic systems on a cooperative model instead of the dominator mode that breeds destruction and war. The more She awakens people, the more individuals there will be transforming the collective consciousness of families, groups, towns, businesses, and countries. We are her organs of perception and action. Empowered by Her, we can see clearly and act wisely.
– Lawrence Edwards, Awakening Kundalini

The tiger does not declare his “tigritude” before he pounces. He declares it in the elegance of his leap.
– Wolfe Soyinka, Nigerian dramatist.

PURRING
The internet says science is not sure
how cats purr, probably
a vibration of the whole larynx,
unlike what we do when we talk.

Less likely, a blood vessel
moving across the chest wall.

As a child I tried to make every cat I met
purr. That was one of the early miracles,
the stroking to perfection.

Here is something I have never heard:
a feline purrs in two conditions,
when deeply content and when
mortally wounded, to calm themselves,
readying for the death-opening.

The low frequency evidently helps
to strengthen bones and heal
damaged organs.

Say poetry is a human purr,
vessel mooring in the chest,
a closed-mouthed refuge, the feel
of a glide through dying.

One winter morning on a sunny chair,
inside this only body,
a far-off inboard motorboat
sings the empty room, urrrrrrrhhhh
urrrrrrrhhhhh
urrrrrrrhhhh
– Coleman Barks, Winter Sky

…The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.
– Billy Collins, The Art of Drowning

One of the measures of art is the amount of wilderness it contains. I call poetry a metamedium – metaphoric, metamorphic, metabolic. It articulates shifts of being, changes and transfers of energy.
– Stanley Kunitz

It’s fascinating to see a little spider release a thin thread from its middle, a something that looks almost invisible and fragile. And then the spider hangs from it, trusting its strength. I like thinking about that. A little bit of trust from within, nothing huge at all, can be amazingly strong.
– Gunilla Norris

It is paradoxical that a deeper trust ensues in a relationship when we own having done something wrong to harm our bond. Owning our frailties makes us more human, more trustworthy. It’s a bit the way scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. BUT if we keep doing the same harmful thing, trust goes out the window.
– Gunilla Norris

Paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion,
and the thinker without paradox is like a lover without feeling;
a paltry mediocrity.
– Søren Kierkegaard

TIROBHAVA
A tear is never just a tear.
A pollen bindhu never
just a speck of dust.

How will you discover
other worlds in
the cracks of this one

if you cannot pluck
the ancient forest
from a hollow white seed?

Each pulse of sub-atomic
darkness spans 
Galactic wombs.

Lord Shiva’s sacred work
is Tirobhava, concealing
truth beneath appearances…

How dull this earth would be
if a dandelion were merely
a weed and not a scripture
of entangled chants,
a helix of poems.

Mirage within mirage,
is this planet not a rapture
of veils, each lucid
hiddenness revealing
an even more transparent secret?

Think of shells and their pearls,
husk and milk of coconut,
the first fingers that broke
a pomegranate open

stained with the wonder
of ten thousand wounds,

or her that first gazed
into a still green pond
and fell among the petals
of her own eye… 

It is a sea of thanksgiving.
You dive in with
your whole body,

then come up gasping
with a soul.
– Fred LaMotte

who can we trust…?:
no walking slogans, 
ideologies
political o
religious
advertising:
people who really care
for everything
for everyone

– Tim Freke, love is how Oneness feels

Can You Feel It?

Listening to Van Morrison
Singing in “Pagan Streams”:
“And we repair, repair, repair, shh, repair, shh, we repair
To Honey Street, to Honey Street.”
Something whispers in my ear:
“Shhhhh, can you hear that bubbling brook?
Can you feel it?”
I close my eyes and
Listen with my body.
A cat I become:
Human purring, mmmmm…
Ecstatic, my heart exhales, ahhhhh
The river and I become 
One
Love
Echad 
Ahavah
– José Luis Soler
(verses born at “Comunity of Voices” gathering, Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe, New Mexico)

To write is also not to speak. It is to keep silent. It is to howl noiselessly.
– Marguerite Duras

When we are a thousand miles away from poetry, we still participate in it by that sudden need to scream—the last stage of lyricism.
– Emil Cioran

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.
– C. JoyBell C.

What is this true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, action, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong, into one single koan.
– Hakuin Ekaku

I am all for going consciously unconscious when its truly necessary. The idea that we have to always remain awake, in an often challenging world, feels ungrounded and dangerous. Sometimes, its just too much to remain open to. Sometimes, we simple have to distract and turn off. Otherwise, we risk re-traumatizing ourselves and blowing our circuits. And this then makes it more difficult to remain awake when it matters most. Instead, lets allow ourselves to turn off when its most perilous. Not for any longer than is necessary, but just enough to hold us safe. Because our transition from a survivalist to an authentic consciousness must be rooted in something more than perpetual awakening. It needs to be rooted in reality, integral, sustainable. It needs to understand the complexity of the human experience. And sometimes, that means we have to consciously turn away from needless intensities. It’s our flexibility of response that will serve us.
– Jeff Brown

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clark Strand:

HAIKU
~
Pushing and shoving
even up in the heavens—
cloud arguments.

two living things
in the shape of books
found me and carried me
through the empty streets
talisman-like
protecting me of drowning
in deep shit:
transforming it in
hot water
where I began to swim.
Marion Woodman’s “Dancing in Flames…”
Robert Johnson’s “Ecstasy…”:
The Black Mother
and
the Green Man.
I died again
and I began to live

Wage Peace
by Judith Hill
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.

Wage Sanity

Breathe in Congressional hearings and lying presidents
Breathe out free school lunches in Detroit and L.A.

Breathe in 6:00 am tweets from the Oval Office
Breathe out a poem’s rhyming stanzas

Breathe in brown-skinned children sleeping in cages on our border
Breathe out a trip to your neighbor’s house
with a basket of warm oatmeal cookies

Breathe in our National Parks left unprotected
Breathe out starry blankets under forever nights

Create sanity with a pen and notebook
and a Poet’s fearless words

Think of the shy yellow tongues of Irises
instead of Rick Perry heading The Department of Energy

Wage sanity like a garden of snow-laden Dahlias
or a field of strawberries nestled on the land together

See the stars placed so carefully
in every creation story
and the sun that peaks
every morning

Weave sanity into your river of bones
like a circling eddy of calm tea in winter

Imagine all of the world’s guns
melted into sculptures
and park benches

Plant maple trees that will blaze in the fall
for 200 years

Hug a stranger. Hug 5.
Look into each other’s eyes
and smile

See this world now as awake

People holding open doors
and a place in traffic

Celebrate this tender world
as we see each other
beyond headlines and podium speeches

Hold open as many doors
as possible
– Valerie A Szarek

Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.
It’s going nowhere, and I—from nowhere.
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:
Miraculous, the breathing plain.
Meanwhile the sun squints at this starched poverty—
The squint itself consoled, at ease . . .
The ten-fold forest almost the same . . .
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread.
– Osip Mandelstam

Shhhhh, 
can you hear it…?
can you heart it…?

Everything in existence is crying out for a particular quality of consciousness that only humans can give. This doesn’t mean we are superior to nature, only that there’s an incredible need for a certain cooperation. The famous mystic Rudolph Steiner has said that for the agricultural process to happen, for seeds and plants and trees to grow, birdsong is absolutely essential. This is a beautiful truth that very few people know. But we also need to take what he said one stage further, because birds call and sing not only to quicken the plants: they also call to awaken the human seed that we are. They are actually singing for our sake as well. If we can start to listen to them, really listen, they will draw us into this greater consciousness I have been talking about. They will be our teachers, because outer nature is able to point us to our inner nature.
. . .
When we can listen to what the birds have to say, to what nature has to say, and when we perceive the beauty of nature, then we are completing the circle and returning this physical world to its source through our own consciousness.
. . .
It’s love for the world, love of the world. It comes from the world and we’re just there to give it back to the world. And the senses are the sacramental instruments that we’ve been given.
It’s all here. Here we have everything we need—we don’t have to go looking for extraordinary rituals. We are just given, everywhere, right now. Every sound is an opportunity to be conscious.
It’s the cosmos calling.
– Peter Kingsley

The King We Need
by Charles Johnson

The great problem facing modern man 
is that the means by which we live 
have outdistanced the spiritual ends 
for which we live.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have we misunderstood 
Martin Luther King, Jr.?

“When most of us think about that American apostle of nonviolence and peace, Martin Luther King, Jr., even some who marched beside him in demonstrations nearly fifty years ago, we do so with an almost deliberate forgetfulness and precious little understanding of the specific “content of character” (to borrow one of King’s most famous phrases) displayed by a man who insisted in his sermon “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” that, “Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.”

Despite the overwhelming presence of this man in our lives, King in his magnificent fullness—as this nation’s Socratic “gadfly of the state” and our most prominent moral philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century—is strangely absent. Too many of us, especially those born after his assassination thirty-seven years ago, see him only in the oversimplified terms of race-as an eloquent, segregation-era “voice of his people,” frequently and falsely compared in political conversations with his very different (and philosophically antithetical) contemporary, Malcolm X, whose daughter’s observation in the 1980’s about her father’s popularity applies equally as well to King: “He’s getting attention, but I think he’s misunderstood… Young people are inspired by pieces of him instead of the entire man.”


In other words, these two iconic and long-dead Americans suffer from the curse of canonization, which progressively over four decades has airbrushed away the sweat and scars, the pores and imperfections, and the polyvalence both men exhibited during their highly influential journeys among us. This is tragic, for it is in such personal minutiae that we find the very foundations from which a memorable public life arises. Moreover, this forgetfulness is a tragedy for all of us as Americans, because not only questions about race relations are at stake in the Martin Luther King, Jr., story but also deeper issues, older conundrums, about what it means to be civilized in the political and social world, about how one confronts social evil without creating further evil, division and enmity, even questions about what Buddhists call pratityasamutpada (dependent origination) that resonate beneath the surface of King’s remarkable and too brief thirty-nine years of life.

Clearly, these are matters of urgency—especially the demand for civility—when in our spiritually bankrupt world awash in pop culture vulgarity and terrorist acts (consider the Russian children of Middle School 1 killed by Chechen rebels and radical Muslim beheadings of noncombatants like Egyptian Mohammed Abdel Aal in 2004), our leaders during the last presidential campaign, on both the left and the right, shamelessly employed such dirty tactics as mud-slinging and character assassination in their desire to “win.” (Prescient, King once stated: “We shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect,” and also counseled, “We must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle.”) Would that today’s arrogant, Thersitical, ankle-biting and so often short-sighted politicians, with their red-meat rhetoric, might remember what King told the Freedom Riders in 1960: “Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.”

King, Religion, and Moral Consistency

Sadly, today few if any of King’s admirers can list all his campaigns through the South and North, each a drama in itself. (Most only recall Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma, but what about the battles for equality and justice he led in Albany, Chicago and St. Augustine, Florida?) Nor can they sketch the complex yet ethically coherent philosophy—part social gospel, part Personalism (the belief that God is infinite and personal), and part Gandhian satyagraha—that led him triumphantly from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and produced that breathtaking fusion of scholarship and idealism known as “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” one of the great political documents in American history, which King composed in a darkened cell without a single note or textbook to refer to, writing first on the margins of a newspaper, then on toilet paper, and finally on a legal pad from his lawyers.

Fewer still know anything about the role religion played in his family’s lineage (his father, Daddy King, was a prominent Atlanta minister and activist, of course, but his grandfather Adam Daniel Williams was known to preach at the “funerals of snakes, cats, dogs, horses or anything that moved”); or his childhood and parents (“It is quite easy for me to think of the universe as basically friendly,” King wrote in 1950, “mainly because of my uplifting hereditary and environmental circumstances”); or his education that culminated in a Ph.D. from Boston University when he was twenty-five (he began his freshman year at Morehouse College when he was fifteen years old and was a disciplined, star student at Crozer Theological Seminary); or his personal regimens, eccentricities, spiritual goals or even the name of his favorite sermon-the one he believed captured the essence of his message-among all the speeches he gave during his 14-year public ministry. It was not, as so many believe, the impromptu speech King delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington, when he tossed aside the words he’d worked on until 4 a.m. that day, but rather “The Drum Major Instinct,” a powerful sermon his lifelong friend Rev. Ralph Abernathy played at King’s funeral. Taking his text from Mark 10:35, where James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approach Jesus with their desire to sit beside him in Glory, King said:

There is, deep down within all of us, an instinct. It’s a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs a whole gamut of life….We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. Alfred Adler, the great psychoanalyst, contends that this is the dominant impulse…this desire for attention…. Now in adult life, we still have it, and we really never get by it. We like to do something good. And you know, we like to be praised for it…. But there comes a time when the drum major instinct can become destructive. And that’s where I want to move now…. Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior. Nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. I must be first. I must be supreme. Our nation must rule the world…but let me rush on to my conclusion… . Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That’s what I want you to do….

If moral authority is based on moral consistency, then the above statement, which King felt encapsulated his life’s primary work and vision, demonstrates why this liberal theologian became a leader admired by all Americans and world citizens of goodwill, for he lived his own advice in “The Drum Major Instinct,” from his childhood when Daddy King counseled Martin, who was born into the class of black Atlanta Brahmins, against feelings of class superiority, to the final days of his life when he was preparing the Poor People’s campaign for economic justice.

If I read King’s life correctly, there are three discernible stages in the public evolution of this man who was both the creator and creation of one of the most transformative moments in American history.

King’s Public Evolution: Stage One — Nonviolence as the Way

His early, pre-Montgomery years are, of course, fascinating in their own right. In her biography, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King speaks of how “If he ever did something a little wrong, or committed a selfish act, his conscience fairly devoured him. He would, throughout his life, really suffer if he felt there was some possibility that he had wronged anyone or acted thoughtlessly. He was a truly humble man and never felt he was adequate to his positions. This is why he worried so much, worked so hard, studied constantly, long after he became a world figure.” Coretta was, we should note, a graduate of Antioch College, and says that she “took to my heart the words of Horace Mann, who founded Antioch. In his address to the first graduating class he had said, ‘Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.’”

Her husband Martin believed as she did, and he says as much in “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” There, in one of his favorite sermons—the first he preached at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery—King described life’s essentials in terms of length, breadth, and height.

The first, length, concerns the development of the individual: “After we’ve discovered what God called us to do, after we’ve discovered our life’s work, we should set out to do that work so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn couldn’t do it better.” The second dimension, breadth, highlights our social relations: “Don’t forget in doing something for others that you have what you have because of others….We are tied together in life and in the world.” And finally, said King, at the center of the last dimension, height, is our relationship to the divine: “We were made for God, and we will be restless until we find rest in him.”

So, yes, he was by temperament and training prepared at age twenty-five to have thrust upon him the leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on December 1, 1955. In this first stage of his public life, the exquisitely learned young scholar who never experienced the traditional, numinous moment of religious conversion (his awakening would come later in his kitchen during the height of threats against his family) became the American symbol for the struggle against segregation, and the ideals of integration and brotherhood wore his face.

But why him? Why not other respected activists like, say, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell or the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins? The answer to that question can be found on the night of January 30, 1956, when King, who was at a meeting, learned his home had been bombed. He rushed there, found Coretta and their baby, Yolanda, unharmed, and outside an angry, armed black crowd spoiling for a showdown with white policemen at the scene. The situation was edging toward violence. King raised one hand to quiet the crowd, and then said, “I want you to go home and put down your weapons. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence….We must meet hate with love.” Later, the policemen would say King saved their lives, and his Gandhi-esque stance, his vision, was heard round the world as something uniquely redemptive in the bloody, centuries-long struggle for black liberation in America.

King’s calming words, in the heat of racial violence, were an American’s skillful adaptation of Gandhi’s observation that, “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.” (“Christ furnished the spirit,” said King. “Gandhi showed me how it worked.”) That was the law of King’s life and political vision in the fifties and early sixties. “Power at its best,” he said, “is love implementing the demands of justice; justice, at its best, is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Championing such wisdom resulted in his receiving fifty assassination threats, the wrath of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and the envy (and sometimes opposition) of Black Power activists. A $30,000 bounty would be placed on his head. He would be stabbed once (in Harlem by a mad black woman named Izola Curry) and arrested and jailed again and again. Despite all that, King embraced as a Christian much of what a Buddhist would see as the bodhisattva vow; he traveled to India in 1959, a guest of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, and returned to America determined to devote one day a week of his ever strangulation-tight schedule to fasting and meditation.

In this initial phase of King’s public life, his core beliefs can be expressed, as I argue in my novel Dreamer (1998), in three transcendentally profound theses. First, that nonviolence—in words and actions—must be understood not merely as a strategy for protest, but as a Way, a daily praxis people must strive to translate into each and every one of their deeds.

In its fullness, therefore, King’s moral stance implies non-injury (ahimsa) to everything that exists. Consider how this translates into the ten points of the “Commitment Blank,” a kind of Decalogue signed by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and their followers during the electrifying Birmingham campaign:

COMMANDMENTS FOR THE VOLUNTEERS
I HEREBY PLEDGE MYSELF-MY PERSON AND BODY-TO THE NONVIOLENT MOVEMENT. THEREFORE I WILL KEEP THE FOLLOWING COMMANDMENTS:

-Meditate daily 
on the teachings and life of Jesus.
-Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation-
not victory.
-Walk and talk in the manner of love, 
for God is love.
-Pray daily to be used by God 
in order that all men might be free.
-Sacrifice personal wishes 
in order that all men might be free.
-Observe with both friend and foe 
the ordinary rules of courtesy.
-Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
-Refrain from the violence of fist, 
tongue, or heart.
-Strive to be in good spiritual 
and bodily health.
-Follow the directions of the movement 
and of the captain on a demonstration.

When SCLC’s activists operated on the basis of these vows, they could not fail in winning the hearts and minds of their opponents, for clearly they approached their “enemy” as themselves.

Secondly, he urged us to practice agape, the ability to unconditionally love something not for what it currently is (for at a particular moment it might be quite unlovable, like segregationist George Wallace in the early sixties) but instead for what it could become, a teleological love that recognizes everything as process, not product, and sees beneath the surface to a thing’s potential for positive change-the kind of love every mother has for her (at times) wayward child.

And finally, he understood integration and interdependence to be the life’s blood of our being, proclaiming, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In effect, King understood that our lives are already tissued, ontologically, with the presence of others in a we-relation, the recognition of which moves us to feel a profound indebtedness to our fellow men and women, predecessors and ancestors.

“When we get up in the morning,” he said, “we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. The towel is provided by a Turk. We reach for soap created by a Frenchman. In the kitchen, you drink coffee provided by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African, and you butter toast from an English-speaking farmer. And before you’ve finished breakfast, you’ve depended on more than half the world….This is the way our universe is structured. This is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of the universe.” And if our destinies are so intertwined, it follows that “Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

Little wonder, then, that when King entered Stage Two of his evolution, which I date from the day he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he envisioned himself not merely as a Southern civil rights leader, but instead as a man obligated to promote his belief in the “beloved community” and peace on the world stage-a stance that would make him the first international celebrity to oppose the Vietnam War (and a comrade of a young monk named Thich Nhat Hanh, whom King nominated for that prize).

King’s Public Evolution: Stage Two — “What can I do now?”
In 1964, at age thirty-four, he was the youngest person to receive the Peace Prize. The money came to $54,000, and King kept none of it for himself. He divided the prize money evenly among five organizations devoted to civil rights and peace. Forty years ago, in his acceptance speech for the award, he told his audience:

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial and moral question of our time….The foundation of such a method is love…. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

But it was inevitable that King, after seeing so many victories for humanity, from Montgomery to the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Voting Rights Act in 1965, would question what he should do next. Those closest to him said he experienced bouts of depression. His critics wanted to see him retire permanently to his church in Atlanta, or take a quiet job as president of a black college. He said to his friend Bayard Rustin, “I sometimes wonder where I can go from here. I’ve accomplished so much. What can I do now?”

It was this question after 1965—what now?—that propelled King into Stage Three of his development, returning him to a conclusion he noted about our economic life as early as 1951: “It is a well-known fact that no social institution can survive when it has outlived its usefulness. This capitalism has done. It has failed to meet the needs of the masses.

King’s Public Evolution: Stage Three — His last and greatest dream
This last and greatest “dream” called for reforming capitalism to end poverty once and for all. For King, that goal translated, specifically, into an Economic Bill of Rights, the redistribution of wealth and a guaranteed income for all Americans. The superb historian Stephen B. Oates wrote eloquently of this final phase in Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

This hardly made King a Marxist. He meant it when he told his staff that Marx ‘got messed up’ when he failed to ‘see the spiritual undergirding of reality’ and embraced an odious ‘ethical relativism’ which led him to believe that the ends justified the means. And King continued to preach against the evils of Russia’s dictatorial communist state. No, somehow a better social order than communism or capitalism had to be constructed, one that creatively blended the need for community and the need for individuality. Perhaps in this, his most imaginative, desperate, and far-reaching scheme, he could take his country a step closer to the realization of an old dream: the forging of a Christian commonwealth…

In hindsight, we know that King’s promotion of what I would call Christian Socialism influenced a generation of black American leaders, from Huey Newton of the Black Panthers to Rev. Jesse Jackson. Had he lived and realized his “Washington Project” of leading the poor of all races and ethnic backgrounds to shut down the nation’s capital, King might have become the most dangerous man in America-the one public figure, much revered, who could potentially unify in his person and through the power of his moral authority the civil rights, labor and antiwar movements.

But that was not to be. A metal-jacketed 30.06 bullet ended his life on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, and with his death a glorious, tempestuous chapter in the history of this republic ended. That same year in one of his last sermons, “Unfulfilled Dreams,” King said, “And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.” He understood, as we all must, that hard-won spiritual and political triumphs can be lost in a single generation. In her biography, Coretta also speaks about the problem of achieving a final victory for the ideals of social and economic justice in a world of change and impermanence:

One of the failings of the Movement was that, while we taught people to fight against the system, and how to respect themselves, we didn’t teach young people that they would have to fight all over again. As long as we have a democratic system we are going to have to work to protect our freedom and self-respect. And that is for blacks or whites or whatever color. Freedom is never guaranteed forever; you have to fight for it.
– Charles R. Johnson is the author of Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice.

And this is really what I would like to talk about: the hubris, the inflation, the insanity of separating ourselves from the sacred. The one tiny technicality we forget is this: that wherever we take everything for ourselves we end up with absolutely nothing. First we have to know how to care for the gods if the gods are going to care for us. We have to start by invoking what’s sacred for us. It’s only by shedding everything, including ourselves, that we sow the seeds of the future.
– Peter Kingsley, Catafalque

The world needs your rebellion and the true song of your exile. In what has been banned from your life, you find a medicine to heal all that has been kept from our world. We must find the place within where things have been muted and give that a voice.
– Toko-pa Turner

But being is making; not only large things, a family, a book, a business; but the shape we give the afternoon, a conversation between friends, a meal.
– Frank Bidart

Despite the extremely divergent values, concepts, and histories of these our categories of thought about human behavior, there are two conclusions about which classic psychoanalysis, modern psychaitry, and its stepsister pop psychology, AL-Anon, and mindfulness agree. The sudden, triggered reaction a) without consideration of choices; b) without looking at the order of events; c) without taking responsibility for consequences on others and the escalation of Conflict, and d) without self-criticism, is the source of social and personal cruelty and the cause of great pain. Lashing out by overreaction, as has been demonstrated, deepens the problem. All of these systems recommend the same tactic: delay.

And in order to delay, they all agree, one needs to be in a community: a relationship, friendship circle, family, identity group, nation, or people who encourage us to be self-critical and look for alternatives to blame, punishment, and attack. We need to be in groups that are willing to be uncomfortable and take the time to fully talk through the order of events, take all parties into account, and facilitate repair.
– Sarah Schulman, Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair

When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, “You are too this, or I’m too this.” That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are.
– Ram Dass

How Men Lose The Fire
It had been too long since I’d last had a fire.
The next morning the smell of wood-smoke on my shirt stopped me in my tracks.
Suddenly I was racked with cravings for the feral life.
I wanted to drink from a horn, to live a life rich in rock, iron, and fire.
I wanted to be lost, wild, ancient.
***
We don’t sell our soul in some Faustian bargain.
We bleed it out slow, one sterile, plastic, right-angled day at a time.
We try to jump-start it with nostalgia.
We look back to our golden years, when we were gods.
We look back to that time we trekked through Nepal, or the summer we lived out of our pickup truck, broke, tan, and happy.
We look back and think “God to be single again.”
But that’s not it.
It’s not the large commitments we’ve accepted, but the small ones we’ve shirked.
Remember how simple it all is:
Music. Put on headphones, lose yourself. Drift into sleep with the sounds of the masters in your ears.
Writing. Dust off your journal. Write down your theories, your could-be futures, your unhinged rants.
Outside. Unplug everything. Walk a mile in the dark. Build an unreasonably large bonfire.
Poetry. Put the business book down. Try some Buber or Whitman or Ted Hughes instead.
Conversation. Ring up the best conversationalist you know and take him to lunch. Light each other’s minds on fire.
***
We know this.
So why did we stop?
Wife and kids? Mortgage? Busiest, most soul-sucking job on the planet?
Doesn’t matter.
Abandon our health, and our bodies will fail us.
Abandon our SOUL, and meaning ITSELF will be lost.
It’s not hard.
No need to take some month-long “find yourself” trip to India.
Getting your soul back: the steps may be shocking, but they are simple.
– ThirdWayMan

I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don’t know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.
No puedo decirte ninguna verdad espiritual que en lo profundo de ti no sepas. Todo lo que puedo hacer es recordarte lo que has olvidado.
– Eckhart Tolle

Morgan Parker:
What they don’t tell you about being single in ur thirties is it’s like, kinda boring? Unless you write a bunch of books while the couples are having dinner or taking walks or whatever couples do.

We have fought oppressive and repressive political regimes, based on Christian principles, for centuries. . . A Christian must cry out in indignation against all persecution. That’s what made me walk with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. We are all responsible, and must continue to speak out.
– Archbishop Iakavos of The Holy Orthodox Church

We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudices and hatred. This is the melting-pot, the seat of a great human experiment. Beautiful words, full of noble, idealistic sentiment. Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment? The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle. The goal of all our striving has long been forgotten. We no longer wish to succor the oppressed and homeless; there is no room in this great, empty land for those who, like our forefathers before us, now seek a place of refuge. Millions of men and women are, or were until very recently, on relief, condemned like guinea pigs to a life of forced idleness. The world meanwhile looks to us with a desperation such as it has never known before. Where is the democratic spirit? Where are the leaders?
– Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

My 1st public speech ever was at a rally against the Gulf War in Jan. 1991.

2nd was next day at an MLK event I co-organized, before Arizona acknowledged the holiday.

Now, over 1500 presentations later, I’m still speaking against war & militarism, & for peace, justice & solidarity.
– Drew Dillinger

If any of us extra-olds look tired it’s because we did it in 1991 as well.
– Miriam Verburg

To speak of solitude again, it becomes always clearer that this is at bottom not something that one can take or leave. We are solitary. We may delude ourselves and act as though this were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are so, yes, even to begin by assuming it. We shall indeed turn dizzy then; for all points upon which our eye has been accustomed to rest are taken from us, there is nothing near any more and everything far is infinitely far. A person removed from his own room, almost without preparation and transition, and set upon the height of a great mountain range, would feel something of the sort; an unparalleled insecurity, an abandonment to something inexpressible would almost annihilate him. ….

So for him who becomes solitary all distances, all measures change; of these changes many take place suddenly, and then, as with the man on the mountaintop, extraordinary imaginings and singular sensations arise that seem to grow out beyond all bearing. We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have the courage for the most strange, the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called “visions,” the whole so-called “spirit-world,” death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

a poem
every day there is a new god in town.
and every moon is a new moon.
everyone knows that!
you wake up in the morning
you meet the new god
and you start with him all over again.
hello god: what is your name?
nice to meet you.
i have a name too.
do you have any plans for the world today sir, god?
i really need your help with mine.
i told all about them to yesterday’s god.
and so you spend your new day
getting to know the newest god.
and you wonder if he has even noticed you.
you go on to your day and forget about god for a while.
you come home hoping to share with him a glass of wine. (or two).
then you sleep through the night and you dream of a better god tomorrow.
– Hune Margulies

This is not a poem, just a murmur
whose poor thoughts won’t reach
the edge of the page.

In scripture, the word for Spirit is Breath.
So it is in all Wisdom tongues.
For Wisdom is Sophia,
he soul in your breathing.

When you are awake,
this inhalation is the Holy Spirit,
the sigh of the Creator in creation.

She is the Goddess who birthed the sun
when She danced in the beginning
with a deep green shadow.

And though her womb enfolds
the clustered galaxies
She whirls inside your body,
weaving awareness into flesh.

Call her the dignity
of what flows through you
when you do not try.
Call her the delight of Ruu,
the Shakti, the Qi.

Honor her by listening.
Tend her flame in your lungs
and you will permeate the earth
like fragrance in a flower.
You will become her whisper,
“Tova, Shiva, B’ishm’illa, Sweet Lord!”

Friend, please swim in the river
of amazement
that pours down your dark hollow places
like wine that is saved
for the end of the wedding.

Your golden exhalation will ignite the stars
on invisible fibers of attention,
just as countless downy cotton threads
are instantly consumed by a single spark.

How do I know this?
I am breathed
by the Beloved.
– Fred LaMotte

am i only one who splices all my books together like Frankenstein’s monster until i create just one big book that i keep in my basement that’s just an unreadable Horcrux where my soul will slumber when my earthly life has reached its end?
– Matthew Burnside

…give us the strength to encounter
that which is to come, that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates
of death, loyal and loving to one another.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

Prometheus
BY LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)
Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality,
Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise;
What was thy pity’s recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,
Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh
Until its voice is echoless.

Titan! to thee the strife was given
Between the suffering and the will,
Which torture where they cannot kill;
And the inexorable Heaven,
And the deaf tyranny of Fate,
The ruling principle of Hate,
Which for its pleasure doth create
The things it may annihilate,
Refus’d thee even the boon to die:
The wretched gift Eternity
Was thine—and thou hast borne it well.
All that the Thunderer wrung from thee
Was but the menace which flung back
On him the torments of thy rack;
The fate thou didst so well foresee,
But would not to appease him tell;
And in thy Silence was his Sentence,
And in his Soul a vain repentance,
And evil dread so ill dissembled,
That in his hand the lightnings trembled.

Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen Man with his own mind;
But baffled as thou wert from high,
Still in thy patient energy,
In the endurance, and repulse
Of thine impenetrable Spirit,
Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,
A mighty lesson we inherit:
Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,
A troubled stream from a pure source;
And Man in portions can foresee
His own funereal destiny;
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence:
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself—and equal to all woes,
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can descry
Its own concenter’d recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory.

Well, I don’t exactly know
What’s going on in the world today
Don’t know what there is to say
About the way the people are treating
Each other, not like brothers not like sisters
Leaders take us far away from ecology
With mythology and astrology
It’s got something to say
About the way we live today
Why can’t we learn to love each other
It’s time to turn a new face
To the whole wide world human race
Stop the money chase
Lay back, relax
Get back on the human track
Stop racing toward oblivion
Oh, such a sad, sad state we’re in
Do you recognize the bells of truth
When you hear them ring
Won’t you stop and listen
To the children sing
Won’t you come on and sing it to the children…
– Leon Russell

The God of peace is never glorified by human violence.
– Thomas Merton

Shinto
by Jorge Luis Borges

When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of the mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.

Those modest gods touch us–
touch us and move on.

Arrivals
I don’t quite know how it occurred
that this great fish has appeared
almost fully-formed, it seemed
to crowd out all else in my aquarium
Perhaps, this creature of the depths
always was, just out of sight
secretly feeding on hidden longing
and now demands acknowledging
With the swish of a majestic tail
it’s upset my incidental decor –
gone the rubber diver and plastic treasure.
The glass frame itself can’t be far behind…
– Yahia Lababidi

Marian Haddad:
It’s so disheartening watching people in the arts turn on other people in the arts. Deeply saddening.

BECOMING
Nowhere is it the same place as yesterday.
None of us is the same person as yesterday.
We finally die from the exhaustion of becoming.
This downward cellular jubilance is shared
by the wind, bugs, birds, bears and rivers,
and perhaps the black holes in galactic space
where our souls will all be gathered in an invisible
thimble of antimatter. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, trees wear out as the wattles under my chin
grow, the wrinkled hands that tried to strangle
a wife beater in New York City in 1957.
We whirl with the earth, catching our breath
as someone else, our soft brains ill-trained
except to watch ourselves disappear into the distance.
Still, we love to make music of this puzzle.
 – Jim Harrison

The mind is the real cause of our problems, the mind that is working mechanically night and day, consciously and unconsciously. The mind is a most superficial thing and we have spent generations, we spend our whole lives, cultivating the mind, making it more and more clever, more and more subtle, more and more cunning, more and more dishonest and crooked, all of which is apparent in every activity of our life. The very nature of our mind is to be dishonest, crooked, incapable of facing facts, and that is the thing which creates problems; that is the thing which is the problem itself.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star…
– e. e. cummings

D. A. Powell:
The first tree we have record of poets interacting with is the Beech tree. If you want a deep dive into one poet’s relationship with trees, check out C.D. Wright’s Casting Deep Shade, a remarkable love affair with the beech.

Ivie Ani:
A Tribe Called Stressed

Whenever I remake a song
[…] it is myself that I remake
– Yeats

Maggie Smith:
Sometimes gifts—the best ones—arrive hidden inside layers of trouble. All kinds of trouble, too: mistakes, failures, regrets, embarrassments, abandonments. You won’t see the gift if you’re only seeing the trouble. Keep opening until you get there. Keep moving.

There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering you face directly, and so become free.
– Ajahn Chah

Anne Walk:
I would be so happy if literary mags were available on Apple News.

Khadijah Queen:
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but sometimes folks won’t like you or what you do, no matter what you do, for reasons that have more to do with them. Sometimes they block your path forward. You can’t change them. Like Toni Morrison said: learn to fly.

Think always of the universe as one living creature,
made of one substance and one soul:
how all is absorbed into this one consciousness;
how a single impulse governs all its actions;
how all things collaborate in all that happens;
the very web and mesh of it all.
– Marcus Aurelius

JEFF BROWN:
It has to end, you know. The self-hatred. The collective shaming. The disdain for other. The emotional armor. The buried pain. The displaced humans. The misplaced kindness. The repressed trauma. The fake positivity. The meaningless materialism. The forgotten heart.
It has to begin, you know. The self-love. The collective healing. The love for other. The emotional release. The liberated pain. The welcomed humans. The perpetual kindness. The honored story. The authentic feeling. The meaningful purpose. The open heart.
It’s time.

Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.
– Anatoli Boukreev

“It’s time for a president who’s not an old white guy.”
A sentiment I can respect. However, I think it more important to elect a non-neoliberal or non-neocon to stop spreading harmful policies that hurt women and ecosystems around the globe, regardless of gender or race.

The New York Times has endorsed two female candidates who may talk progressive values at home in the US, but will continue endless, costly illegal wars, corporate defense contracts and unethical arms trades. Warren and Cloudbootjar are more neoliberal policy spreaders who could make us feel good about electing a woman, while destroying the Earth and quality of human life with harmful economic and foreign policies.

I don’t understand why, in the media and public discourse, is Tulsi Gabbard not the obvious and number one non-white, female choice? She’s young and experienced and fits the identity protocols. It must be more that the identity protocols are the way to prop up the safe neoliberal candidates who won’t reform our broken systems to make them work for citizens and not corporate shareholders.

I’m voting Bernie because sometimes old white guys are more feminist, work their whole lives for civil rights and have more professional integrity than some women.
– Kristianne Gale

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work
– Emile Zola

A Man’s A Man For A’ That
by Robert Burns 1795

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

There is a big difference between projections and hard-earned wisdom. All too often, people are accused of projecting when they make bold statements about human behavior. And sometimes this is true- our perspective can emanate from our own unresolved issues. We still have a chip on our shoulder, and that chip influences our view. But sometimes, our perspective is a reflection of what we have gleaned from our experiences. Sometimes we have learned a little something from all we have endured. So let’s not turn everyone’s wisdom into a mirror projection game. Because sometimes we are actually seeing through the veils to a truth that demands expression. Sometimes our insights are fully grounded in reality.
– Jeff Brown

I knew not where I was,
but when I saw myself there,
without knowing where I was,
I understood”l
– San Juan de la Cruz

And there I found myself more truly and more strange.
– Wallace Stevens

We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that’s known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.
– Rilke

The poet always hears similarities
where the prosaist only sees differences.
– José Luis Soler

I don’t know how humans got here
Probably not a garden and a snake
Or a rib and angels
And whatever

I don’t know how our brains became machines
Always calculating ways
To take things or each other
And destroy or at least use them
You know?

As if somehow we aren’t part of everything
Don’t need all of it
And each other
Just as much as air
Or food or the blood in our hearts
And veins

But I do know how my father’s hands looked
Holding my little sister
When she was born
Like some fragile thing made of
Light and silk and dragonfly bones

I’ve seen how people in love
Their eyes you know
How that is when they
Look at each other

Or when after some terrible loss
Has happened
People hold each other
Like they are the last life rafts
Anywhere and it matters

How you walk on this earth
And need this place
Need the ones you love
More than food or a house
Or anything else

I think that maybe I don’t need to know
Everything anyway
Except that love is real
Realer than death or distance
And sometimes all I need to do

Is just stand here
Under the gaze of trees much older
Than any of us
And remember how it is
To long for what isn’t yet and maybe
Never will be

Maybe the touch of a hand warm at night
Is more real and good
With the wind cold outside
Than all of anything else
We’ve thought of before

Perhaps whatever you call home
Is the thing after all
Calling you back to it
No matter what far lonely places
You’ve ever been

Saying along with the ancient stars
If they could speak
That you’re here for now
And matter
Yes you do as much but not more
Than the crow that just landed in its nest
Right over there
– Jacob Nordby

At some point on the journey, you may reach a point where you want to ease the throttle of transformation. Not where you stop growing, but where you stop utilizing your will to affect personal change. You’re still growthful, but it’s different. It’s gentler, and it’s more about accepting what is, than changing it. You reach a place where you are more embracing of who you are, and of how far you have come, and you feel ready to work with what you’ve got. It’s important to notice this moment, if it arrives. Because there is a real peace in that tender self-acceptance. And, ironically, it may ignite the most profound change of all.
– Jeff Brown

This breath is the Goddess.
Don’t waste a single exhalation
complaining about the world.
Just choose beauty and sing.

The gift will not appear
until you are grateful.
Under the snow, seeds listen.

The softer your voice of praise
the more they reach upward,
empty cups of thirst and yearning.
Here is the secret:

Creation happens in quietness.
You are the cause of Spring
– Fred LaMotte

I still think that poetry is something else: a form of love that exists only in silence.
– José Emilio Pacheco

Preserve my eyes, which are irreplaceable.
Preserve my heart, veins, bones,
Against the slow death building in them like hornets until the place
is entirely theirs.
Preserve my tongue and I will bless you again and again.
Let my ignorance and my failings
Remain far behind me like tracks made in a wet season
– WS Merwin, from Lemuel’s Blessing, The Moving Target

One of my favorite musicals is Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye, the father, has a scene where he is trying to see both sides of something. He goes back and forth finding a reason on either side until he is finally at a point where he exclaims, there is no other side. Sometimes that’s the answer.
– unknown

Song for Lonely Roads

Now let us understand each other, love,
Long time ago I crept off home,
To my own gods I went.

The tale is old,
It has been told
By many men in many lands.
The lands belong to those who tell.
Now surely that is clear.

After the plow had westward swept,
The gods bestowed the corn to stand.
Long, long it stood,
Strong, strong it grew,
To make a forest for new song.

Deep in the corn the bargain hard
Youth with the gods drove home.
The gods remember,
Youth forgets.
Doubt not the soul of song that waits.

The singer dies,
The singer lives,
The gods wait in the corn,
The soul of song is in the land.
Lift up your lips to that.
– Sherwood Anderson

JEFF BROWN:
So many breakdown because they cannot carry
the weight of falsity any longer. They are breaking
through to a more authentic consciousness. Sadly, this
is often stigmatized as a ‘breakdown,’ as though they
are machines that stopped working. We need to up-frame
these experiences and see them for what they
are: break-throughs for inner freedom. At some point,
we just can’t carry the bullshit anymore and long to be
real.

Remember that language is an instrument of the mind. It is made by the mind, for the mind. Things just happen to be as they are, but we want to build them into a pattern, laid down by the structure of our language. So strong is this habit, that we tend to deny reality to what cannot be verbalized. We just refuse to see that words are mere symbols, related by convention and habit to repeated experiences. Whatever you may say will be both true and false. Words do not reach beyond the mind. Thoughts are the result of previous conditioning that the mind has had. Only the changeable can be thought of and talked about. The unchangeable can only be Realized in Silence. Once Realized, it will deeply affect the changeable, Itself remaining unaffected.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

It was in speaking of Jesus that Simkhovitch says, ‘Humility can never be humiliated.’
– Howard Thurman (1939)

Lauren Worsh:
For the past many thousands of years we have built and sustained societies and culture on the foundation of some fundamental misperceptions and mis-(e)valuations. I call it The Culture of the Lie.
This experiment has not been without value, but it’s also been traumatic and has distorted and unnaturally limited our potentials. And, it has exhausted its usefulness.
Many still lack the will or the vantage to perceive accurately the existence and distortions of the underlying structures. (I’m not making this wrong or blaming, just stating what appears to be true to me.) When you feel/see primarily in energy and only secondarily in substance, the luxury of innocence (of this knowing) and denial eventually abandons you. The underlying energy design lays itself bare before your sense, and once seen, there’s no going back. (Tho we often try…)
This message is for those of you who resonate with what I am speaking.
(If it does not, please don’t concern yourself any further with it.)
Remember, we are playing a very long game here. The end of an era of at the very least 5-10,000 years will take some time. A few generations, most likely, before the world we know is possible exists as an accessible option for any who would choose it.
Don’t think we are failing because the results we want to see remain yet so elusive. This train is unstoppable (though whether or not humanity will survive to enjoy is perhaps yet to be determined). The shift in consciousness is real and echoes across the multiverse. Work towards the world you want for today’s children and their children and grandchildren. Relatively speaking, we are so close. But patience is still needed. And long vision. Else we despair.
Trust. Your heart knows best.

Blessing and appreciating all who find the courage to survive hell and then turn toward the devastating light and darkness of your wholeness.
We tear (w)holes in the matrix, so those yet to find the will to see and to see themselves through the lies will have a more supported time of it when they are ready.

When you truly step into the abyss of no-self,
you become something more like
a force of nature. By saying “a force of nature,”
I don’t mean to imply anything big or grand.
I mean that you are then
a selfless expression of the whole.
Not even that “you”
become a selfless expression of the whole,
but rather that being a selfless expression
of the whole is all that’s left of you.
There will be no feeling of being in service.
There will only be service,
but without the servant.
You see, true selflessness is not a virtue in a conventional or even spiritual sense. Selflessness does not feel like being selfless or inspired or empty or vast or spiritual, although it can appear as any of these things in the same way that the weather can change from day to day. Selflessness is even beyond the experience of unity. It is the source of unity, of our experience of creation. It is also beyond God, or whatever name that we have replaced “God” with.
In selflessness, the numinous ground
isn’t a place we visit and experience
from time to time. It is our being beyond being.
It is to be that which you can never think of,
conceive, or imagine—
even, and especially when,
selflessness becomes your living reality.
– Adyashanti

Children now come out of the Earth…dragging the textures of wisdoms gone before and bringing it up with them. They’re not tabula rasas, they’re not empty slates. They’re alive in the wisdom of ancestors that are still folded in the thick present. Pay homage to the multiple that is lingering within them.
– Dr. Bayo Akomolafe ⁣

Every component of the Earth Community, both living and nonliving, has three rights: the right to be, the right to habitat or a place to be, and the right to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of the Earth community.
– The fifth Principle for Jurisprudence Revision, Thomas Berry

When you’re mindful and centered, the people around you notice it. Giving yourself the gift of mindfulness is actually a gift to something bigger.
– Kate Munding

The warrior’s duty is to generate warmth and compassion for others.
– Chögyam Trungpa

Father Greg Boyle:
It’s connection and kinship that ultimately heals people.

We are all alive alone.
Neither friend nor lover
Child nor mother
Can light our way for very long.
Out of loneliness
Arises the self we never knew.
Out of fear
Comes the wisdom of our ancestors.
Out of impatience
Grows the persistence of old age.
These shadows of our memory
Create new pathways to the soul
So that in being alive alone
We become alive together….
– Nancy Woods

The Light is rising more clearly in the whole collective consciousness, so that some of this misinformation and lies are seen through, it is seen through by the vast majority of people throughout the world. so the whole thing is awakening, it is opening, it’s a beautiful rising and a removal that is taking place, and a greater awareness is coming up, will be coming up.
. . .
We know what’s happening, we know what is happening, and we know that those mistruths, those concepts and ideas, they cannot last in the face of the Light of Truth itself. And so, at some time, maybe not enough Light has come up in the whole collective consciousness, maybe a little bit more of drama has to happen, a little bit more challenge to the Truth has to happen, but at some point that Light of Consciousness will be bright enough to be able to see through the Truth, because this Light of Consciousness, what it really is, it is the super-fluid, efficient flow of Nature, of Nature’s intelligence, which has been constricted due to all the ego-sense of identification with the bodymind, all the stresses..due to that identification, have constricted Nature, that beautiful divine intelligence of Nature couldn’t function with all that mess.

What is taking place is, we could say, a new type of government is coming up, a real government where Nature itself can function, at least begin to function less restricted, through the whole collective consciousness of the world. And that’s what this transformation is happening, it’s taking place, so that Nature itself regains control, instead of mind and ego-sense…
– Lawrence Hoff

And do not forget, even a fist once was an open palm and fingers.
– Yehuda Amichai

In the process of expressing, something happens that’s valuable to the act of living.
– Mark Nepo

Observation is like a flame
which is attention, and with that,
the hurt, hate, all that, is burnt away, gone.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Buddha said that someone
who brushes against you in the street
does this as a result of sharing karma
with you for five hundred lifetimes.
So our …
practicing, eating, and living together
mean that we have met
and continued to meet
for many, many lifetimes —
strong karma together.
And this will not stop in the future.
We will meet again and again,
into infinite time.
– Seung Sahn

What Calls the Eye to See

What you are now stands before me
immortal and true. I see it in the ground underfoot, and in the clouds in the sky,
and in the mist gathering among the canyons,
and in the face of the old man
walking his grandchild down the sidewalk.
In the robes of monks I see it,
and in the rags worn by the women
begging for change outside the supermarket.
I see it in the sympathetic eyes
of the mother greeting her young son
as he returns home from the war,
and in the father
trying to comfort his baby daughter
as he stands in line at the grocery store.
I see it in the curve of my face in the mirror,
and in the multitudes of stars in the sky.

I not only see it but I hear it as well.
I hear it in the cries of the newborn baby
hungry for its mother’s breast,
and in the laughter of the old men
sitting in the donut store together,
and in the quiet sobs
of the man placing flowers at his wife’s grave.
I hear it in the ancient chants
echoing through the open window
of the old church, and in the ladies
sitting on benches in the garden
laughing with delight,
and in the man working at the butcher shop asking his customers “Who’s next?”

What calls the ear to listen or the eye to see more than the surface façade
that shrouds the essential spirit?
Parting the strata and dross,
what is essential picks its way
through the manicured narrative
of endless lives. In each moment of every day,
Truth is not lacking
or held in abeyance for some later date;
it is given in full measure, and abundantly so.
Do not be afraid of what appears
to be chaos or dissolution—
embrace the full measure
of your life at any cost.
Bare your heart to the Unknown
and never look back. What you are
stands content, invisible, and everlasting.
All means have been provided
for our endless folly
to split open into eternal delight.
– Adyashanti

The Way Out
Maybe it seems like
disappointments lurk
around every other corner, like
the universe decided
to stop handing out signs, like
sorrow and rage collide
daily just to spite you, like
history keeps repeating
itself, and not in ways that feel good.
If this is the case, it’s fair
to feel despair, and to wonder
how there could ever be a way out of this.
It’s fair to feel that way.
It’s not wrong, either.
It’s also not the end of the story.
No one can take your despair
away from you– you may know
this already. It’s one of those
things that rage and sorrow fight over.
No one can take your despair
away from you– but you can
look it in the eye on the clear days
and say, ‘Hello rage, sorrow. Walk with me
for awhile. The weather’s fine.”
Walk with me for awhile.
The weather’s fine, and even when it turns
we’ll continue walking until we’re through.
– Heidi Barr

The universe is not a collection of objects–it is a communion of subjects.
– Thomas Berry

Praise Song for the Day
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.
– Elizabeth Alexander

Creative ideas will come to you in the quiet moment in between your thoughts. You are wiser than you think. Be still and see what happens.
– Haemin Sunim

Intuitive Zen:
You can do what feels good or you can do what is authentic which goes beyond concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and is inexplicably fulfilling, lasting, and spectacular.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
– Confucius

Jason Garner:
Breathe deeply and be kind …

Let go of thinking.
– Rumi

When there is nothing left, there will still be sand. There will still be the desert to conjugate the nothing.
– Edmond Jabès, trans. Rosemarie Waldrop

Silence is proactive.
– B. D. Schiers

Wholeness can only come from broken hearts that are healed and they can only be healed when they respond to each other.
– Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp

No room has ever been as silent as the room
Where hundreds of violins are hung in unison.
– Michael Longley

Caroline Holland:
there are many reasons students decide to pursue a PhD degree. one under-explored reason is revenge

There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.
– Primo Levi

Tackling destructive emotions and practicing loving-kindness is how we should live in the here and now.
— Dalai Lama XIV

Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to go fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to unbuild walls.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

The springs of our reaction to music lie deeper than thought… Part of what music allows me is the freedom to drift off into a reverie of my own, stimulated but not constrained by the inventions of the composer. And part of what I love about music is the way it relaxes the usual need to understand. Sometimes the pleasure of an artwork comes from not knowing, not understanding, not recognizing.
– Wendy Lesser

Marisa Crane:
I can’t wait until I become a famous author & I can finally show everyone my sweatpants game

Wisdom without kindness and knowledge without sobriety are useless.
– Carlos Castaneda

Silence is sufficient.
– J. Matthew Waters

The glorification of busy will destroy us. Without space for healing, without time for reflection, without an opportunity to surrender, we risk a complete disconnect from the authentic self. We burn out on the fuels of willfulness, and eventually cannot find our way back to center. And when we lose contact with our core, we are ripe for the picking by the unconscious media and other market forces. After all, consumerism preys on the uncentered. The farther we are from our intuitive knowing, the more easily manipulated we are. The more likely we are to make purchases and decisions that don’t serve our healing and transformation. To combat this, we have to form the conscious intention to prioritize our inner life. To notice our breath, our bodies, our feelings. To step back from the fires of overwhelm and remember ourselves. It may feel counter-intuitive in a culture that is speed-addicted, but the slower we can become, the quicker we can return home.
– Jeff Brown

If you go into a room full of light, but outside is darkness, and you open the curtain, that darkness won’t come in. But if you go into a room which is dark and you open up a little tiny bit of a curtain, it will fill the whole room with light. Such is the power of the light.

We are this light and we must discover this…
– Master Mooji

Beloveds, please listen:

It is not wise to compare your life to that of others, for each life stream is unique and is the expression of pure spirit and being. Know within your heart that your life is tailor-made for awakening in response to the will of the Supreme Being. Even if great hardship comes your way, don’t complain, judge or fall into self-pity. Don’t waste energy like this. Rather, use these same difficulties and circumstances to sharpen your powers of discernment and to intensify your drive for Liberation and freedom from all psychological conditioning and evil forces.

You are here as life itself flowing towards its own divine source.

Regard your life as auspicious.
– Mooji

i was not always crumbled
fortress & concrete
partition. once, the bodies
in me could sing
without screaming—
– George Abraham

Terence McKenna:
What we really are is a community of mind, knitted together by codes&symbols, intuitions, aspirations, histories, hopes -the invisible world of the human experience is far more real to us than the visible world, which is little more than a kind of stage or screen on which we move.

Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss.
– Paul Celan

It is not by preaching or expounding the sutras (scriptures) that you fulfill the task of awakening others to self-realization; it is rather by the way you walk, the way you stand, the way you sit and the way you see things.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

The healing power of poetry:
Unmoored suffering is the most difficult to bear. What the soul hungers for is that our feelings be reflected back to us in elevating words, to have our experiences validated as real and meaningful. Poetry, more than other forms of language, can revitalize the spirit, renew our strength, and invite us, even in the midst of pain and fear, to be present and more fully ourselves.
– Ivan M. Granger

Tad Hargrave:
Health Check In: Are you drinking enough water? Are you breathing? Are you moving your body enough? Are you eating good food? Yoga? Meditating? Exercise? Turning off your screen before bed? So easy to slip on these things. No need to answer below – just a reminder to remind yourself about whatever health practices you know you need to practice even if that’s adjusting your sitting position and taking a few deep breaths right now. Big love to you all out there in these trying times.

A Small Fiction:
Dog liked sleeping.

It was fun, chasing dreams. Trying to catch joy.

Waking up was even better.

At the foot of his person.

Remembering he’d already caught it.

Spiritual Materialism
True spirituality is not a battle; 
it is the ultimate practice of non-violence. 
We are not regarding any part of us 
as being a villain, an enemy, 
but we are trying to use everything 
as a part of the natural process of life. 
As soon as a notion of polarity, 
of good and bad develops, 
then we are caught in spiritual materialism, which is working to achieve happiness 
in a simple-minded sense, 
on the way to egohood.
– Chögyam Trungpa, The Dualistic Barrier

Distortions We Bring To Buddhism
Transplanting anything from a foreign culture is a difficult process which may corrupt what is being imported. Buddhism is certainly no exception; in fact, among imported foreign goods, dharma is perhaps the most prone to corruption. Initially, to understand dharma even on an intellectual level is not at all simple. Then once we have some understanding, to put dharma into practice is even more subtle, because it requires that we go beyond our habitual patterns. Intellectually, we may recognize how our narrow-minded habits have brought about our own cycle of suffering, but at the same time we may also be afraid to engage wholeheartedly in the process of liberating these habits of ours.

This is cherishing of ego. For even if we think we want to practice the Buddhist path, to give up our ego-clinging is not easy, and we could well end up with our own ego’s version of dharma—a pseudo- dharma which will only bring more suffering instead of liberation.

For this reason, most Oriental teachers are very skeptical about exporting dharma to the Western world, feeling that Westerners lack the refinement and courage to understand and practice properly the buddhadharma. On the other hand there are some who try their best to work on the transmission of the dharma to the West.

It is important to remember that a thorough transplantation of dharma cannot be accomplished within a single generation. It is not an easy process, and as when Buddhism was brought from India to Tibet, it will undoubtedly take time. There are enormous differences between the attitudes of various cultures and different interpretations of similar phenomena. It is easy to forget that such supposedly universal notions as “ego,” “freedom,” “equality,” “power,” and the implications of “gender” and “secrecy,” are all constructions that are culture-specific and differ radically when seen through different perspectives. The innuendoes surrounding a certain issue in one culture might not even occur to those of another culture, where the practice in question is taken for granted.

In recent years there have been numerous critiques of both the Buddhist teachings and certain Buddhist teachers. Unfortunately, these often reveal a serious degree of ignorance about the subject matter. Many Tibetan lamas adopt the attitude that “it doesn’t matter,” because they genuinely don’t mind such attacks. I think the perspective of many lamas is vaster than trying to keep track of the latest likes and dislikes of the fickle modern mind. Other Tibetan lamas adopt the attitude that Westerners are merely spiritual window-shopping, telling the younger lamas like myself, “See, we told you! They are not here for the dharma. For them, we are a mere curiosity.” In an attempt to adopt a good motivation, I would like to propose some alternative perspectives.

Certain critiques of Buddhism actually enhance my devotion to the teachings and to my teachers, because I feel the dharma defies any such criticisms. But I also feel that some of these writings can be harmful in their effect. There may be many beings whose connection to the dharma is just about to ripen, and these writings can jeopardize their opportunity. In our life we encounter a multitude of obstacles and difficult circumstances. But the worst possible obstacle is to be prevented from engaging in an authentic path to enlightenment.

In this age, when people naively jump to conclusions based on the writings of those who try to warn about the hazards of guru-disciple relationships, such critiques may result in the tragic destruction for many people of their only chance of liberation from the ocean of suffering. In the sutras, it is stated that someone who rejoices even momentarily over something that leads to such a lost opportunity will not encounter the path of enlightenment for hundreds of lifetimes.

Generally, I think that when we want to expose a fault or present an opinion, two attributes are necessary: one should know the subject thoroughly, and one should not oneself have the faults that one is criticizing. Otherwise, one will be, as the Tibetan proverb describes, “a monkey who laughs at another monkey’s tail.” Let us not forget that as human beings we are victims of our own narrow-minded interpretations. We should not give so much authority to our limited points of view: our interpretations and subjective perspectives are limitless and almost always stem from our own fears, expectations and ignorance.

It would be of great amusement to many learned Tibetan scholars if they could read some of the presentations written by Westerners on such subjects as Buddhism or gurus. It is like imagining an old Tibetan lama reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or listening to a beautiful aria. He would most probably think the former uninteresting and that the latter sounded like a cat being skinned alive!

It is better not to distort things with our limited interpretations at all, but if we have to, then at least we should be more aware of how powerful and one-sided our interpretations can be. For example, I could claim all kinds of things about the way that Westerners approach the study of Eastern cultures. I could easily put forward an interpretation, one that might seem entirely valid, that claims Western conceptual frameworks stem from a basic attitude of arrogance in the way that they construct themselves and others.

In almost all departments in Western universities that allegedly teach Buddhism, the teachers usually have to hide the fact if they happen to be Buddhists themselves. Do the mathematics teachers hide the fact that they believe in the logic of mathematics? Western scholars need to be more questioning about their own rigid biases that prevent them from being able to appreciate other perspectives. I find heartbreaking the imperialist attitude that arrogantly isolates one aspect of Eastern culture, analyzing it at a careful distance, manipulating and sterilizing it to fit Western agendas, and then perhaps concluding that it is now suitable for consumption.

Another example of the hypocrisy involved with this kind of attitude is the Western “benevolent” wish to “liberate” Eastern women from the clutches of what is imagined to be the oppressive tyranny of a misogynist system, resembling the Western missionaries wanting natives to adopt Christian morals and values. In the West, amongst other things, women are photographed naked and the pictures are published in magazines. Many other cultures would regard this as exceedingly embarrassing, as well as extremely exploitative and oppressive of women. So from their point of view, Western criticism of another culture for its subjugation of women is a highly contentious matter.

Surely no culture should claim to have the deep appreciation and understanding necessary to produce a thorough and justified critique of an important aspect of another’s culture (especially when the topic is as sophisticated and complex as Buddhism) without having the humility to make the effort to accurately and deeply learn about that topic on that culture’s own terms.

Sometimes it might help Westerners to develop more respect and appreciation for the East if they remember that 3000 years ago, when the East was flourishing with philosophy, arts, languages and medicine, the Western natives still didn’t have the idea to brush their own teeth! And in many cultures’ perspectives, so-called Western science and technology has not really done much besides destroying the world’s resources. Ideas such as democracy and capitalism, as well as equality and human rights, can be seen to have failed miserably in the West, and to be nothing but new dogmas.

I find it difficult to see the advantage of incorporating these limited Western value systems into an approach to the dharma. These certainly do not constitute the extraordinary realization Prince Siddhartha attained under the Bodhi tree 2500 years ago. The West can analyze and criticize Tibetan culture, but I would be so thankful if they could have the humility and respect to leave the teachings of Siddhartha alone, or at least to study and practice them thoroughly before they set themselves up as authorities.

If people could put some effort into being respectful and open- minded, there is so much knowledge available that could liberate them from all kinds of suffering and confusion. It is only now that I have come to realize the significance of the great respect that the Tibetan translators and scholars of the past had toward India, their source of dharma and wisdom. Instead of being critical or even resentful of their source, they called it “The Sublime Land of India.” This kind of attitude is very different from the Western shopping mentality that regards the dharma as merchandise and our own involvement as an investment—only wanting to accept what sits well with our habitual expectations and rejecting what we don’t find immediately gratifying.

This is not to say that Westerners should not he critical of the Buddhist teachings. On the contrary, as the Lord Buddha himself said, “Without melting, beating, weighing and polishing a yellow substance, one should not take it for gold. Likewise, without analysis one should not accept the dharma as “valid.” Logical analysis has always been encouraged in the Buddhist tradition, and Buddhism has always challenged the promotion of blind faith.

The difference lies in the attitude you take towards the criticism. In the process of analyzing that “yellow substance,” the analyzer must not only maintain an open mind, but also acknowledge that he/she may not have an adequate knowledge of the subject matter. That is the whole point of analysis. Otherwise we are just seeking confirmation of what we already believe. Being skeptical and seeking faults are two completely different things.

Nowhere is the difference between these two attitudes more obvious and more important than when it comes to criticisms of the guru in Vajrayana Buddhism. Unfortunately, the guru is a must for Vajrayana practice. However, all great masters and teachings repeatedly advise that one should always be skillful in checking the lama before one takes him as one’s master. We have that option, and we should take advantage of it. It is vital to study the teachings extensively in order to be prepared to take on a teacher. In fact, some of the Vajrayana scriptures mention that one should check a potential teacher for twelve years before becoming his student.

However, I think it is also important to remember that Buddhism is not only Vajrayana. There are other paths such as Theravada, which is the foundation of all Buddhist paths. This is a straightforward path, which does not spark off all kinds of mystical expectations.

What sometimes seems to happen is that people want to practice Vajrayana because they see it as something exotic, when in fact they would be better off with the sanity and simplicity of the Theravada.

In Vajrayana, in order to enable the guru to help us and work on our dualistic ego-centered preoccupations, we are supposed to think that the guru is no different in wisdom than the Buddha. This is the highest form of mind training. We are literally making a hero out of someone who, because he sees our potential, has no qualms about challenging and even abusing our narrow minded and habitual patterns. This is a very radical, difficult and revolutionary method. From a conventional point of view, or from the point of view of ego-cherishing, the whole notion of the guru- disciple relationship is something almost criminal. Yet the point to remember is that the only purpose of the existence of the guru is to function as a skillful means to combat habits of dualistic conceptualizations, and to combat the tricks and tenacity of ego-clinging. In this way the guru is a living manifestation of the teachings.

It needs to be emphasized that it is our perception of the guru which enables the guru to function as a manifestation of the dharma. At first we see the guru as an ordinary person, and then as our practice develops we start to see the guru as more of an enlightened being, until finally we learn to recognize the guru as being nothing but an external manifestation of our own awakeness or buddhamind. In a subtle way then, it is almost irrelevant whether or not the teacher is enlightened. The guru-disciple relationship is not about worshipping a guru, but providing the opportunity to liberate our confused perceptions of reality.

Looking at it from the teacher’s point of view, if someone assumes the role of a teacher without being qualified, the negativity of this deception obviously will remain within their mindstream. It is important to understand that unless a lama is completely enlightened, he or she must carry the burden of what they do. Obviously, if he is an enlightened being, he has no karma, but if not, the consequences of his actions will come to him; his actions are his responsibility. From our point of view as students, if we have chosen him as our teacher, we should just learn from him, according to whatever path we wish to follow.

The principle of guru and devotion is much more complicated than creating a role model and worshipping him or her. Devotion, when you really analyze it, is nothing more than trusting the logic of cause and effect. If you cook an egg, putting it in boiling water, you trust the egg will be boiled. That trust is devotion. It is not blind faith or insistence on the illogical. The Buddha said, “Do not rely on the individual, rely on the teaching.” Yet it seems that we nonetheless decide to continue judging individual teachers without remembering the wider perspective and context of the purpose of the teachings.

One issue that can be controversial, and which has attracted a great deal of attention, is that in the vajrayana pleasure such as sex is not rejected as a threat to spiritual practice, but rather is used to enhance spiritual purification. While this may sound fascinating, it is important to remember that such practice requires an immense theoretical and practical grounding, without which, when viewed from the outside, it is easily misinterpreted.

Vajrayana male-female symbolism is not about sex. The practice can only exist in the context of a correct view of the unity of compassion and wisdom. Furthermore, as the tantric path works on a personal and non-conceptual level, it is not possible to make judgments about a practitioner. Tantra transcends completely the conventional idea of a man and woman having a sexual relationship. It is about working with phenomena to bring about the extraordinary realization of emptiness and bodhicitta in order to liberate all beings from samsara. To expect a yogin or yogini, who is aspiring to go beyond the chauvinism of the confused mind, to worry about sexual rights issues seems absurd in the context of such a vast view.

Yet for the neophyte Westerner, certain Tibetan traditions must be very annoying, and seem sexist or male chauvinist. Western perspectives on sexual relationships emphasize “equality,” yet this is very different from what is meant by equality in Vajrayana Buddhism. Where equality in the West stands for two aspects reaching equal footing, in Vajrayana Buddhism equality is going beyond “two-ness” or duality all together.

If duality remains, then by definition there can be no equality. I think social equality between men and women is less important than realizing the equality between samsara and nirvana which, after all, is the only true way to engender a genuine understanding of equality. Thus the understanding of equality in Vajrayana Buddhism is on a very profound level.

The notion of sexual equality is quite new in the West, and because of this there is a certain rigid and fanatic adherence to the specific way it should be practiced. In vajrayana Buddhism, on the other hand, there is a tremendous appreciation of the female, as well as a strong emphasis on the equality of all beings. This might not, however, be apparent to someone who cannot see beyond a contemporary Western framework. As a result, when Western women have sexual relationships with Tibetan lamas, some might be frustrated when their culturally conditioned expectations are not met.

If anyone thinks they could have a pleasing and equal lover in a Rinpoche, they couldn’t be more incorrect. Certain Rinpoches, those known as great teachers, would by definition be the ultimate bad partner, from ego’s point of view. If one approaches such great masters with the intention of being gratified and wishing for a relationship of sharing, mutual enjoyment etc., then not only from ego’s point of view, but even from a mundane point of view, such people would be a bad choice. They probably will not bring you flowers or invite you out for candlelit dinners.

Anyway, if someone goes to study under a master with the intention to achieve enlightenment, one must presume that such a student is ready to give up his or her ego. You don’t go to India and study with a venerable Tibetan master expecting him to behave according to your own standards. It is unfair to ask someone to free you from delusion, and then criticize him or her for going against your ego. I am not writing this out of fear that if one doesn’t defend Tibetan lamas or Buddhist teachers, they will lose popularity. Despite a lot of effort to convince the world about the pitfalls of the dharma and the defects of the teachers, there will still be a lot of masochists who have the misfortune to appreciate the dharma and a crazy abusing teacher who will make sure to mistreat every inch of ego. These poor souls will eventually end up bereft of both ego and confusion.

I know there are plenty of people who will disagree with much of what I have said. For as much as I am set on my interpretations, so are others set on theirs. I have met great teachers whom I admire enormously and although I may be a doomed sycophant, I pray I will continue to enjoy the company of these teachers. On the other hand, people may have other ideas and be happy with them. My practice is devotion to the Buddhist path; others may choose doubting the Buddhist path. But as Dharmakirti said, ultimately we must abandon the path. So I hope in the end we will meet where we have nothing to fight over.

Mind’s ultimate nature, emptiness endowed with vividness,
I was told is the real Buddha.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of hierarchy.

Mind’s ultimate nature, its emptiness aspect,
I was told is the real Dharma.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of political correctness.

Mind’s ultimate nature, its vivid aspect,
I was told this is the real Sangha.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of equal rights.

One cannot disassociate emptiness from vividness.
This inseparability I was told is the Guru.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with depending on chauvinist lamas.

This nature of mind has never been stained by duality,
This stainlessness I was told is the deity.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with the categories of “gender” or “culture.”

This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty.
– Howard Zinn

Violin
I had the passion  
but not the stamina
nor the discipline,  
no one knew how 
to discipline me so  
they just let me be, 
Let me play along, 
let me think I was 
somebody, I could 
be somebody, even 
without the no-how. 
Never cared one bit  
when my bow didn’t 
match the rest of the  
orchestra, I could get  
their notes right but  
always a little beyond, 
sawing my bow across 
the strings, cuttin it up
even if I wasn’t valuable 
even if I lacked respect 
for rules of European
thought and composure. 
A crescendo of trying 
to be somebody, 
a decrescendo of trying 
to belong, I played along 
o yes, I play along.  
– Nikki Wallschlaeger

Words and questions come from the mind and hold you there. To go beyond the mind, you must be silent and quiet. Peace and silence, silence and peace — this is the way beyond. Stop asking questions.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

At school I had a teacher that didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. At the end of the year 
he decided to fail me. The ironic thing 
is that the topic was chemistry.

I have the distinction 
of being the only Chemistry Laureate 
who failed the topic in high school!

– Tomas Lindahl, Nobel laureate 

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . .
– Thomas Merton

Poetry can repair no loss, but it defies the space which separates[…]by its continual labor of reassembling what has been scattered.
– John Berger, quoted by Adrienne Rich

Unworthiness is often the greatest barrier to receiving love and pleasure. Even when someone gives us a genuine compliment, it can be hard to receive if we don’t feel equal to what’s being said. Imagine how difficult it is then to receive divine support when we don’t feel equal to the generosity of life.

Most of us think that worthiness is something we either have or don’t; I’d like to propose that worthiness is our intrinsic state when we dismantle those barriers.

Worthiness is the value, importance, and goodness that we ascribe to ourselves and to the world. But so much of what we value was inherited from our families and our culture. On the path to belonging, we must untangle our true values from our inherited, collective ideas of worth—and lack of worth—that have been woven into our beliefs.

To know what you truly value, you have to follow what makes you feel alive, what gives you enthusiasm, what raises goosebumps on your skin, what sends your imagination running wild. It springs tears to your eyes and gives your soul a feeling of relief. It makes you laugh with delight or weep with poignancy. It’s not always pretty, but it is wholly alive! And this aliveness will grow your sense of worth in the world and, by extension, your capacity for pleasure.
– Toko-pa Turner

The Cold Heaven
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

Your physically felt body is, in fact, part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people, in fact the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body as it is felt from inside.
– Eugene T. Gendlin

In the beginning there was the ‘One’ and it was bored out of its frickin’ mind . . . and so it became two, just for something to do. Yin and yang, nothingness and somethingness, space and object, tumbling eternally.

I imagine those two would have quarreled endlessly had they not become lovers and given birth to an eternal spring of impermanent forms, the “ten thousand things” (as we are known in Taoism and Buddhism).

Perhaps this ephemeral impermanence of things is a sort of truce that was made between the abyss of absolute nothingness and the possibility of something actually existing . . . a truce that makes it possible for everything imaginable to rise and fall, in and out of existence temporarily, throughout the boundless cosmos, for eternity.
– Alan Watts

The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair.
– Bertrand Russell

…we will arc—above this
season of dry bones, arc above buoyant water
in our leaping, between water and sky, between between.
Memory is larger—and stronger than stone.
– Marian Haddad, Statue of the Sleeping Wildflower. Stone.

I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good. And this will take you to freedom and to whatever truth there is.
– Shakyamuni Buddha

This is my Jewishness
Like Teresa de Avila
Like John of the Cross
Like Abraham Abulafia
Embracing it all
Without Borders
A Lineage of Ecstatic Joy
Song of Songs
is the Western Tantra
Earthy Emptiness Dancing
Ancient Mother Wisdom
Kissing us All
– Jose Luis G. Soler

No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
– Zora Neale Hurston

Just Rest

Just sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing
Just rest.

For your separation from God,
From love,
Is the hardest work
In this world.

Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to drink.

You can use my soft words
As a
Cushion
For your head.
– Hafiz

Start Close In

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.
– David Whyte

Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.
– Richard Feynman

Tuning Fork
– Bruce Bond
Lynchpin of the singing wheel,
……….you with the silver of your call
……….so tiny and, yes, unmusical
at times, your shiny monotone
……….a mere shiver down the spine
……….of the steel, the nerve, the wine
glass so quick to speak, to startle
……….at your touch, its hollow bell
……….overflowing with the chill
that silence drinks. As does the shape
……….of seasoned violins who sleep
……….beside you in their cases, who slip
at night from some determined pitch
……….and form of things. True, we call it,
……….as in true north, winter’s pivot
we steer below, that we balance
……….in the heaven of our compass.
……….True, the way the rifle in us
aims to see, to make true the cross
……….that sees. True, as in the thrust
……….of birth, or death, the things we trust
to be there when we draw the curtain.
……….Is there nothing under the sun
……….more sure, more fragile than your song?
Of all the birds most like the hummingbird.
……….You who hover with the speed
……….of the atom, the blur of being
here alive. It’s what you hear
……….passed as one symphonic rumor
……….from string to string, ear to ear,
through the sea of all the sour
……….fiddling, our uncertain water
……….from which a music crawls ashore.
Straight as light itself—the sound
……….you make—as the shaft we send
……….flying from the bow of sight.
Not much of a song really.
……….Not yet. More of a tune we bury
……….in bodies of the tunes we play,
a perfect thing (and so not
……….a thing at all) our one clear note
……….deep inside the humming planet.

Your feelings aren’t “all in your head”; they live in your body. They raise your pulse and flush your face and keep you awake. Sometimes they physically hurt. Feel—always, as unreservedly as you can—but pay attention to your body, to what you’re carrying and where. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

What we really are is a community of mind, knitted together by codes&symbols, intuitions, aspirations, histories, hopes -the invisible world of the human experience is far more real to us than the visible world, which is little more than a kind of stage or screen on which we move.
– Terence McKenna

INVITATION TO SILENCE
My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams,
but watches, its eyes wide open far-off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.
– Antonio Machado

Self care is giving the world what’s best of you instead of what’s left of you.
– Rachael Redgate

When these techniques fail, they fail in ways that are not human. AI is simple math, there’s no room in it for ethics, or common sense, or empathy. Some of the egregious errors we will catch, but a lot of them we will not. These systems, which would require an extraordinary level of oversight to run safely, are being deployed across the planet by naive Stanford grads with almost no human supervision, for profit, and have the potential to profoundly reshape our society.
— Poynter.org interviews Maciej Ceglowski: Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

SEEKING PURPOSE

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
– Orison Swett Marden

There were no letters tucked in the trees today,
no handwritten notes tied with red string.
No epistles, no missives, no communiques.
Some days, a woman wishes the world
would be more direct, more intimate, would just tell her
her purpose, would spell it out in a language she knows.
Include sketches, clear directives. Write her name
on the envelopes so there can be no mistake.
Leave the letters in a place she will find them.
But no. Today, the only message in the trees
is snow. She tries to make meaning of it.
Laughs at the impulse. Reminds herself, Snow is snow.
Isn’t it like her to look for meaning?
Next thing you know, she’ll be looking
for a message in the clouds. In rivers. In books.

Ari Annona:
sometimes I just want to return to my interiorized world of painting where I do not have to try and explain myself and my lifelong learning and integration to anyone else…
it would be SO much simpler…

There is a good kind of waiting
which trusts the agents of fermentation.
There is a waiting
which knows that in pulling away
one can more wholly return.
There is the waiting
which prepares oneself,
which anoints and adorns
and makes oneself plump
with readiness for love’s return.
There is a good kind of waiting
which doesn’t put oneself on hold
but rather adds layers to the grandness
of one’s being worthy.
This sweet waiting
for one’s fruits to ripen
doesn’t stumble over itself
to be the first to give
but waits for the giving
to issue at its own graceful pace.
– From Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner

For Love
BY ROBERT CREELEY
for Bobbie
Yesterday I wanted to
speak of it, that sense above
the others to me
important because all

that I know derives
from what it teaches me.
Today, what is it that
is finally so helpless,

different, despairs of its own
statement, wants to
turn away, endlessly
to turn away.

If the moon did not …
no, if you did not
I wouldn’t either, but
what would I not

do, what prevention, what
thing so quickly stopped.
That is love yesterday
or tomorrow, not

now. Can I eat
what you give me. I
have not earned it. Must
I think of everything

as earned. Now love also
becomes a reward so
remote from me I have
only made it with my mind.

Here is tedium,
despair, a painful
sense of isolation and
whimsical if pompous

self-regard. But that image
is only of the mind’s
vague structure, vague to me
because it is my own.

Love, what do I think
to say. I cannot say it.
What have you become to ask,
what have I made you into,

companion, good company,
crossed legs with skirt, or
soft body under
the bones of the bed.

Nothing says anything
but that which it wishes
would come true, fears
what else might happen in

some other place, some
other time not this one.
A voice in my place, an
echo of that only in yours.

Let me stumble into
not the confession but
the obsession I begin with
now. For you

also (also)
some time beyond place, or
place beyond time, no
mind left to

say anything at all,
that face gone, now.
Into the company of love
it all returns.

The more we practice wholeheartedly with sincerity, the more powerful our practice becomes even in the midst of our own self-interest, our self-concern, our hesitation, our resistance because sincerity is like a raging fire….. A sincere heart, in alignment with the Way, has no equal.
– Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei

JEFF BROWN:
While I appreciate the value of speaking our truths in relationship about what triggers us, I also recognize the value of expressing our gratitudes. This is particularly essential for those with an abundance of unresolved and easily projected childhood material. The narcissistic nature of early wounding can often leave us in a state of perpetual trigger, one where it can be difficult to move from compassion in our connection with loved ones. We share the negative stuff that comes up in the relationship, while forgetting to share our love, our respect, our deep regard for all that they overcome and offer on a daily basis. It has to be balanced, or defences will be erected and individual and relational progress will be stalled. In other words, for every bit of bratitude, offer an abundance of gratitude. We must never deny the beauty that someone brings.

No man will stand taller than you when you say, ‘I marched with Cesar Chavez.’
– Robert F. Kennedy

How to Listen to Music: A Vintage Guide to the 7 Essential Skills
by Eliott Schwartz

1 Develop your sensitivity to music. Try to respond esthetically to all sounds, from the hum of the refrigerator motor or the paddling of oars on a lake, to the tones of a cello or muted trumpet. When we really hear sounds, we may find them all quite expressive, magical and even ‘beautiful.’ On a more complex level, try to relate sounds to each other in patterns: the successive notes in a melody, or the interrelationships between an ice cream truck jingle and nearby children’s games.

2 Time is a crucial component of the musical experience. Develop a sense of time as it passes: duration, motion, and the placement of events within a time frame. How long is thirty seconds, for example? A given duration of clock-time will feel very different if contexts of activity and motion are changed.
Develop a musical memory. While listening to a piece, try to recall familiar patterns, relating new events to past ones and placing them all within a durational frame. This facility may take a while to grow, but it eventually will. And once you discover that you can use your memory in this way, just as people discover that they really can swim or ski or ride a bicycle, life will never be the same.

3 If we want to read, write or talk about music, we must acquire a working vocabulary. Music is basically a nonverbal art, and its unique events and effects are often too elusive for everyday words; we need special words to describe them, however inadequately.

4 Try to develop musical concentration, especially when listening to lengthy pieces. Composers and performers learn how to fill different time-frames in appropriate ways, using certain gestures and patterns for long works and others for brief ones. The listener must also learn to adjust to varying durations. It may be easy to concentrate on a selection lasting a few minutes, but virtually impossible to maintain attention when confronted with a half-hour Beethoven symphony or a three-hour Verdi opera.
Composers are well aware of this problem. They provide so many musical landmarks and guidelines during the course of a long piece that, even if listening ‘focus’ wanders, you can tell where you are.
[…]

5 Try to listen objectively and dispassionately. Concentrate upon ‘what’s there,’ and not what you hope or wish would be there. At the early stages of directed listening, when a working vocabulary for music is being introduced, it is important that you respond using that vocabulary as often as possible. In this way you can relate and compare pieces that present different styles, cultures and centuries. Try to focus upon ‘what’s there,’ in an objective sense, and don’t be dismayed if a limited vocabulary restricts your earliest responses.
[…]

6 Bring experience and knowledge to the listening situation. That includes not only your concentration and growing vocabulary, but information about the music itself: its composer, history and social context. Such knowledge makes the experience of listening that much more enjoyable.

7 There may appear to be a conflict between this suggestion and the previous one, in which listeners were urged to focus just on ‘what’s there.’ Ideally, it would be fascinating to hear a new piece of music with fresh expectations and truly innocent ears, as though we were Martians. But such objectivity doesn’t exist. All listeners approach a new piece with ears that have been ‘trained’ by prejudices, personal experiences and memories. Some of these may get in the way of listening to music. Try to replace these with other items that might help focus upon the work, rather than individual feelings. Of course, the ‘work’ is much more than the sounds heard at any one sitting in a concert hall; it also consists of previous performances, recorded performances, the written notes on manuscript paper, and all the memories, reviews and critiques of these written notes and performances, ad infinitum. In acquiring information about any of these factors, we are simply broadening our total awareness of the work itself.

We rush impetuously into novelty, driven by a mounting sense of insufficiency, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. We no longer live on what we have, but on promises, no longer in the light of the present day, but in the darkness of the future, which, we expect, will at last bring the proper sunrise. We refuse to recognize that everything better is purchased at the price of something worse; that, for example, the hope of greater freedom is canceled out by increased enslavement to the state, not to speak of the terrible perils to which the most brilliant discoveries of science expose us.
………………………New methods or gadgets, are of course impressive at first, but in the long run they are dubious and in any case dearly paid for. They by no means increase the contentment or happiness of people on the whole. Mostly they are deceptive sweetenings of existence, like speedier communications which unpleasantly accelerate the tempo of life and leave us with less time than ever before.
– C. G. Jung – Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

I would like to step out of my heart
and go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
long ago,
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is –
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city…

From “Lament” (trans. unknown)

Ich möchte aus meinem Herzen hinaus
unter den großen Himmel treten.
Ich möchten beten.
Und einer von allen Sternen
müßte wirklich noch sein.
Ich glaube, ich wüßte,
welcher allein
gedauert hat,—
welcher wie eine weiße Stadt
am Ende des Strahls in den Himmeln steht.
– Rainer Marie Rilke

It’s one thing to find your ‘center’ while detaching from the world. It’s a whole other thing to find it at the heart of the world. And at the heart of the self in the world. For years, I left the world to find my ‘self’. This was an essential step, because I was not yet self-connected enough to find my center in the heart of society. I was too light, too soft, too traumatized. But then I came to realize that if I couldn’t hold to my center in the world, then I didn’t have much of a center. If all it took was a few days in the marketplace, on urban streets, dealing with humanity, before I had to run back to the woods to find myself, then what had I found? A very fragile, hollow center. And so the work continued, this time in the world itself. No easy feat, because of my trauma history and the still unconscious ways of society, but the truest work I have ever done. Because now I can sit in the middle of hell, and continue to feel my core. Because now I can stand amid the fires of distraction, and sustain my focus. It’s one thing to find our center while we are hiding from the world. It’s quite another to find it in the heart of the everything. Because the wholly grail is you, unstoppably solid in the heart of the madness.
– Jeff Brown

How we define our problems is part of the problem, and we will often repeat and reinforce those problems in the name of enacting resolutions.
– Bayo Akomolafe

In the whole of existence there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is not divine
– Empedocles

I was gazing out of the window, at the Earth, moon, sun, and star-studded blackness of space in turn as our capsule slowly rotated. Gradually, I was flooded with the ecstatic awareness that I was a part of what I was observing. Every molecule in my body was birthed in a star hanging in space. I became aware that everything that exists is part of one intricately interconnected whole.
– Edgar Mitchell, astronaut

I found myself immersed in verdant life, surrounded with varying shades of green. It was like being in the middle of a green fog and in the midst not of living creatures but of the power and vitality of life itself. I had a sense of an immense presence, a bit like being at the base of a mountain, only more so. I felt a multitude of impressions and images pressing in on me, more than I could process or interpret.

Then the fog parted, and I gained a different perspective. Things began to fall into place, or at least, my mind began to fashion an image it could comprehend and use to organize what I was experiencing. I was seeing the world from a distance, but it did not at all resemble the images of the planet from space. Everything remained green, and there was no differentiation between oceans or continents. It was like looking at the biomass of the earth presented as a collage of images of various life-forms, from microbes to moose, from protozoa to pinewoods, with fish, birds, animals, humans, plants all represented. This was very impressionistic, with a few sharp details, including landscapes such as forests and mountains. And underneath the green light was a deeper core of light that to my sight was a reddish gold, conveying a sense of love.

Quite beyond the imagery, however, was a sense of presence. It felt vast, but at the same time it felt intimate. I did not feel diminished by its vastness. I felt that whatever this was, I was part of it, and it was part of me.
“This,” John said, “is the World Soul. It is the life and consciousness that infuse the world, giving of itself to support all the other lives that are evolving on this planet. Humanity is helping it to incarnate, but its gift back is to enable you to develop a planetary consciousness. This is an essential part of your destiny as a species, a destiny which you are confronting at this time in history.”
– David Spangler, Apprenticed to Spirit: The Education of a Soul

Meditation is just to be here. This can mean doing the dishes, writing a letter, driving a car, or having a conversation – if we’re fully engaged in this activity of the moment, there is no plotting or scheming or ulterior purpose.
– Steve Hagen

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons.
– C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.
– Wendell Berry

I wonder why
the Prophet comes down
from a mountain peak in the sky
holding stone-carved commandments?
Why can’t She meander
like a stream through the valley
with ripe berries in her hand?
I wonder why
we build the story of our dream
on pillar, steeple, palace, penthouse.
Why not waken to the smell
of hay grass after rain,
run our gaze along the gentle curve
of wine-gold hills and poppies
clustered at a desert spring?
Why not be like evening mist
settling into low places,
silence pierced by a bell
of red-winged blackbird?
And why won’t nations drop the veil
of their borders,
gather naked in the fire-lit circle
of our village shaman, the Sun,
sharing psycho-electric juices
of the ancient forest,
roiling brown hips in the harvest dance,
entangling our chromosomes
in the body of a single
rainbow serpent?
I wonder why
all our prayers are not one sound,
the sound of this breath
moving up and down the axis
of the Milky Way,
whispering, ‘Enough,
enough, enough…’
– Fred LaMotte

I found that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I questioned them, wisdom finally had room to live.
– Byron Katie

For many, the apocalypse is the messianic disruption of history, the blast just down the heavy road. Going forward is out of the question. For others, the apocalypse is Tuesday. The eddies of loss and the hieroglyphics of death imprinted on marked bodies. The legacies of excavation. The feeling of having one’s face pressed to the ground so forcefully that the dirt cleans our skin. The troubling incertitude that does not know time as a tarmac luxuriously dotted with expertise and strategic foresight. The wisdom that has learned to shrug its shoulders when asked: “what is your five-year plan?” For these ones, the world is not about to end. For these ones climate justice looks like an extension of whiteness. For these ones the ‘messiah’, the disruption so anxiously delayed by the prayers of the propertied human, never left for the heavens. The messianic descended into hell and made good company, dancing drunk with kin at the feet of worlds that have ended many times before.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Find a web of reciprocal relationship to which you belong and strengthen it. Is there any situation where that is not a choice, no matter how badly democracy frays or how deep into overshoot we step, or how mad or scared we are?
– Dr Elizabeth Sawin

A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back secrets.
Everything has to do with loving and not loving.
This night will pass.
Then we have work to do.
– Rumi

Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity

Years spent defining this self
—Carving out the edges of this mind—
The channels of this spirit.
Now to take that sculpture of identity,
Which over time becomes the mask,
And shatter it.
To achieve perfect knowledge
Of the soul within—to experience
That fleeting moment
Of fierce clarity.
Then to surrender.
To grasp the known
And then transform again Into the unknown.
The grains of sand
From the mandala of soul
That take one form
Are scattered—swept away
Then re-gathered
To make a new form.
Definition and evolution.
Empowerment and surrender.
We come into knowing
Then set back out as the student.
The child and the elder
Are one and the same.
We are free
Only when we allow ourselves
To be boundless.
Do not drive yourself insane
Longing for the destination.
Live while on the journey.
– Leslie M. Browning

Bus Stop
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Stubborn sleet. Traffic stuck on Sixth.
We cram the shelter, soaked, strain
to see the bus, except for a man next to me,
dialing his cell-phone. He hunches,
pulls his parka’s collar over it, talks slow and low:
“It’s daddy, hon. You do? Me too. Ask mom
if I can come see you now. Oh, okay,
Sunday then. Bye. Me too baby. Me too.”
He snaps the phone shut, cradles it to his cheek,
holds it there. Dusk stains the sleet, minutes
slush by. When we board the bus,
that phone is still pressed to his cheek.

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin:
Find a web of reciprocal relationship to which you belong and strengthen it. Is there any situation where that is not a choice, no matter how badly democracy frays or how deep into overshoot we step, or how mad or scared we are?

Honor the words that enter and attach to your brain.
– Louise Glück

The tools of language and thought are of real use to men only if they are awake—not lost in the dreamland of past and future. But in the closest touch with that point of experience where reality can alone be discovered: this moment.
– Alan Watts

It seemed like I was doing something ludicrous, trying to build a permanent work of literature out of broken little whimpering bits about the most ephemeral experiences when I was still mostly broken and half-ephemeral myself.
– Anne Boyer

I found that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I questioned them, wisdom finally had room to live.
– Byron Katie

Ethan Nichtern:
Please reject any version of the mindfulness movement that does not include a strong social, cultural and political awareness in its practices and teachings.

The idea that someone is “crazy” or too much for sending a long, thoughtful message says a lot about our culture.
– Melissa Ann Hughes

For one with compassion, even his enemies will turn into friends,
Without compassion, even his friends turn into enemies.

With compassion, one has all Dharmas,
Without compassion, one has no Dharma at all.
– Shabkar

Maybe every strange, alienated kid is presumed to write, because people had always said to me, Do you write?
– Deborah Eisenberg

And about the love of others who branded me as cold hearted, I always thought: If you only knew how dangerous love would be for me.
– Hannah Arendt

Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego’s will to prevail. To listen to the soul is to stop fighting with life-to stop fighting when things fall apart, when they don’t go our way, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood. To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty, and to wait.
– Elizabeth Lesser

Terence McKenna:
Claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light. The tools are there. The path is known. You simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the programme of a living world and a re-empowerment of the imagination.

Heidi Barr:
What if the system that dictates how we operate on the surface changed, overnight?
I’d grow loads of vegetables and flowers, cook food for people, practice some yoga, hike a lot, embrace every season, and promote the beauty of a simple existence.
What would you do?

Like clouds, once gone in their long drift,
there’s no coming back –
And like the wind that moves them, we stop
Wherever we please, or wherever we come to be,
Each one in his proper place,
not too near, not too far
From That’s okay and No one was ever interested enough.

How many years have slipped through our hands?
At least as many as the constellations we still can identify.
The quarter moon, like a light skiff,
floats out of the mist – remnants
Of last night’s hard rain.
It, too, will slip through our fingers
with no ripple, without us in it.

How is it it’s taken me almost a lifetime to come to the fact
That heaven and earth have no favorites
in either extreme?
Bits of us set out, at one time or another, in both directions,
Sleeping fitfully, heads on our fists,
Now close together and warm, now cold in the south sky.

Each one arrives in his own fashion,
each one with his birthmark
Beginning to take shape and shine out
And lead forth like a lead lamp.
Look for us in the black spaces, somewhere in the outer dark.
Look for us under the dead grass
in winter, elsewhere, self-satisfied, apart.
– Charles Wright

Start by leaving home. It’s not where the heart is,
but where the hard edge is. When ice begins
to ebb from shoreline
freeing mangy marsh grass,
leave.

And as you pick up speed, let your life arc out,
away from you.”

– Susan Elbe, How to Fall in Love

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves.
*
Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.
*
I have become convinced that the very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God’s mercy to me: if only because someone…so prone to confusion & self-defeat could hardly survive for long without special mercy.
*
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.
*
The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.
*
For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self…God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please.
*
“He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others.
*
Where is silence? Where is solitude? Where is love? Ultimately, these cannot be found anywhere except in the ground of our own being.
*
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.
– Thomas Merton

Are You Ready to Lose Your World ?
There is a very famous poem written by the third patriarch of Zen, Seng-ts’an, called the Hsin-Hsin Ming, which translates as Verses in Faith Mind. In this poem Seng-ts’an writes these lines: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.” This is a reversal of the way most people go about trying to realize absolute truth. Most people seek truth, but Seng-ts’an is saying not to seek truth. This sounds very strange indeed. How will you find truth if you don’t seek it? How will you find happiness if you do not seek it? How will you find God if you do not seek God? Everyone seems to be seeking something. In spirituality seeking is highly honored and respected, and here comes Seng-ts’an saying not to seek.
The reason Seng-ts’an is saying not to seek is because truth, or reality, is not something objective. Truth is not something “out there.” It is not something you will find as an object of perception or as a temporal experience. Reality is neither inside of you nor outside of you. Both “outside” and “inside” are not getting to the point. They both miss the mark because outside and inside are conceptual constructs with no inherent reality. They are simply abstract points of reference. Even words like “you,” or “me,” or “I,” are nothing more than conceptual points of reference existing only in the mind. Such concepts may have a practical value in daily life, but when assumed to be true they distort perception and create a virtual reality, or what in the East is called the world of samsara.

Seng-ts’an was a wily old Zen master. He viewed things through the eye of enlightenment and was intimately aware of how the conditioned mind fools itself into false pursuits and blind alleys. He knew that seeking truth, or reality, is as silly as a dog thinking that it must chase its tail in order to attain its tail. The dog already has full possession of its tail from the very beginning. Besides, once the dog grasps his tail, he will have to let go of it in order to function. So even if you were to find the truth through grasping, you will have to let it go at some point in order to function. But even so, any truth that is attained through grasping is not the real truth because such a truth would be an object and therefore not real to begin with.
In order to seek, you must first have an idea, ideal, or an image, what it is you are seeking. That idea may not even be very conscious or clear but it must be there in order for you to seek. Being an idea it cannot be real. That’s why Seng-ts’an says “only cease to cherish opinions.” By opinions he means ideas, ideals, beliefs, and images, as well as personal opinions. This sounds easy but it is rarely as easy as it seems. Seng-ts’an is not saying you should never have a thought in your head, he is saying not to cherish the thoughts in your head. To cherish implies an emotional attachment and holding on to. When you cherish something, you place value on it because you think that it is real or because it defines who you think you are. This cherishing of thoughts and opinions is what the false self thrives on. It is what the false self is made of. When you realize that none of your ideas about truth are real, it is quite a shock to your system. It is an unexpected blow to the seeker and the seeking.
The task of any useful spiritual practice is therefore to dismantle cherishing the thoughts, opinions, and ideas that make up the false self, the self that is seeking. This is the true task of both meditation and inquiry. Through meditation we can come to see that the only thing that makes us suffer is our own mind. Sitting quietly reveals the mind to be nothing but conditioned thinking spontaneously arising within awareness. Through cherishing this thinking, through taking it to be real and relevant, we create internal images of self and others and the world. Then we live in these images as if they were real. To be caught within these images is to live in an illusory virtual reality.

Through observing the illusory nature of thought without resisting it, we can begin to question and inquire into the underlying belief structures that support it. These belief structures are what form our emotional attachments to the false self and the world our minds create.

This is why I sometimes ask people, “Are you ready to lose your world?” Because true awakening will not fit into the world as you imagine it or the self you imagine yourself to be. Reality is not something that you integrate into your personal view of things. Reality is life without your distorting stories, ideas, and beliefs. It is perfect unity free of all reference points, with nowhere to stand and nothing to grab hold of. It has never been spoken, never been written, never been imagined. It is not hidden, but in plain view. Cease to cherish opinions and it stands before your very eyes.”
– Adyashanti

THE BIG MIND OF PRIMORDIAL AWARENESS
It is taught in Jewish mysticism that each and every blade of grass has an angel hovering above it that continuously whispers to it, “Grow! Grow!” This is an extraordinary idea. The teaching also says that, every field has its angel, every mountain has its angel, every nation, every planet, every solar system, every galaxy, and even every universe.
We learn from this that while individuals are unique, each individual gives up this uniqueness when identified with a group, which has its own identity. As each group is identified with a still larger group, we ultimately come to the conclusion that everything in creation fits under one umbrella. Oneness is the soul of Judaism.
This idea of oneness is in contrast with the enormous multiplicity of the individuality of each blade of grass. Judaism resolves this apparent contradiction—and Buddhism comes to an identical conclusion—by recognizing that there are two perspectives: a relative truth and one that is absolute.

The relative perspective is dualistic, a world composed of a multiplicity of things, each of which is unique. The other viewpoint, however, is the perspective of the absolute truth in which nothing is considered unique, for nothing has its own enduring identity. Each and every thing is an absolute necessity that cannot be omitted without tearing the fabric of creation. Thus nothing can be viewed as separate.

Einstein amplified on this idea, showing that space and time cannot be separated from one another. Our minds boggle at this idea, for the nature of thinking itself is dualistic. That time does not exist on its own and that space can be “bent” and “stretched” simply is inconceivable—and yet these amazing ideas have been proven in modern physics.
The relative viewpoint is the way we humans perceive the universe. The absolute viewpoint is the way God perceives creation, so to speak. Let us investigate more closely what this means.

Every individual has a unique point of view depending upon a multitude of variables: language, culture, age, gender, family experience, education, socio-economic status, etc. There are hundreds of variables that eventually affect one’s level of consciousness. Therefore, there are billions of unique relative viewpoints. This vast spectrum of human consciousness falls into a single category known in Jewish mysticism as mochin de katnut, literally defined as “small mind.”
This definition of small mind is not intended to be interpreted as a demeaning notion for it is an all-inclusive representation of the way people see things, without regard to the fact that it includes all genius and all ignorance of human perception. So, Einstein’s equations fall into the category of small mind just as much as small mind includes someone who is considered mentally challenged because of extremely low intelligence. The essential point is that when the human mind is clinging to a particular thought-subject, it is in the realm of mochin de katnut. Obviously, most of us live our lives in this realm most of the time.
In opposition to mochin de katnut, there is a realm of consciousness described in Kabbalah as mochin de gadlut, literally “big mind.” The awareness of big mind is not limited in any way by any of the variables described above. Big mind has no limit at all—it is aware of everything, everywhere, at all times. Indeed, it is primordial awareness itself.
Small mind continuously sees imperfections, it judges and criticizes how life is unfolding, it wants to fix things and make things better. Small mind also experiences strong emotions and is often dissatisfied and frustrated. But small mind is sometimes happy and even joyous. In the end, however, one of the most common conditions of small mind is its sense of confusion—it wonders often about how life works and if there is any purpose to one’s existence.


One of our predicaments in this life is our continuous propensity to be overwhelmed by the appearance of things and our complete immersion in the belief of our separate self. These two aspects of our lives are reinforced time and again, day after day, moment after moment. As long as we believe there is a central “me,” and that this “I” engages unlimited worldly objects, we are forever surrounded and immersed in the realm of small mind.

Yet, consider this idea of mochin de gadlut, big mind. It has the following qualities. It recognizes each moment as perfect, just the way it is. Big mind is equanimous about matters (but not apathetic), it is sharply aware of the conditioning that lies under all of our activities. Big mind is never dissatisfied with the way things happen, it is a calm, expansive, spacious state. It sees clearly the mystery of life and rests comfortably in the state of “not knowing” what is going to happen from moment to moment. Small mind has an urge to be in some kind of control; big mind recognizes that the intrinsic nature of creation is that it is unknowable and uncontrollable.
– Rabbi David Cooper, Ecstatic Kabbalah

If you want to understand the truth, you must let go of your situation, your condition, and all your opinions. Then your mind will be before thinking. “Before thinking” is clear mind. Clear mind has no inside and no outside. It is just like this. “Just like this” is the truth. An eminent teacher said, “If you want to pass through this gate, do not give rise to thinking”. This means that if you are thinking, you can’t understand Zen. If you keep the mind that is before thinking, this is Zen mind. So another Zen Master said, “Everything the Buddha taught was only to correct your thinking. If already you have cut off thinking, what good are the Buddha’s words?
– Seungsahn

If philosophy is to serve a positive purpose, it must not teach mere scepticism, for, while the dogmatist is harmful, the sceptic is useless. Dogmatism and scepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or of ignorance. Knowledge is not so precise a concept as is commonly thought. Instead of saying ‘I know this’, we ought to say ‘I more or less know something more or less like this.’ It is true that this proviso is hardly necessary as regards the multiplication table, but knowledge in practical affairs has not the certainty or the precision of arithmetic.
– Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

It is such a mistake to assume that practicing dharma will help us calm down and lead an untroubled life; nothing could be further from the truth. Dharma is not a therapy. Quite the opposite, in fact; dharma is tailored specifically to turn your life upside down—it’s what you sign up for. So when your life goes pear-shaped, why do you complain? If you practice and your life fails to capsize, it is a sign that what you are doing is not working. This is what distinguishes the dharma from New Age methods involving auras, relationships, communication, well-being, the Inner Child, being one with the universe, and tree hugging. From the point of view of dharma, such interests are the toys of samsaric beings—toys that quickly bore us senseless.
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming.
– G.K. Chesterton

The progress of humanity seemed to be measured in the distance we placed between ourselves and nature.
– matt haig, how to stop time

The ability to observe without evaluating, is the highest form of intelligence.
– J. Krishnamurti

Thou hast to learn to bear all the gods within thee and never stagger with their inrush or break under their burden.
– Sri Aurobindo

Entrance by Rainer Maria Rilke
Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let it go. . .

What the Given Says to the Made
– Bruce Bond
How odd the ordinary birds that praise
the common, which their music cannot be.
Come, says the swallow, as if to raise
a flag from the thicket, its winter leaves
woven in the heartwood, the gutter, the nest.
You hear it every day, the phantom blossom
of song in the bush, the more in the less,
how it gives the seen an unseen name.
Come, it beckons, which is how it makes
light of things, how it takes them in,
where both name and named die into music.
Ask the child who leans to the grave to listen.
There is a bird in there, he will tell you.
And you thought it was you alone, ’til now.

excerpts from When the Body Leads
by Ren Powell

I.

It begins and ends in a dream
as do all clichés

In a house I’ve lived in for years
Where my feet know and remember
Where to lift

to avoid
snagging
socks or skin
on the splintered spot
on the soft pine floor

Where my back knows and remembers
Where to bend

in the corner of the attic
to avoid
catching
my forehead against the rafter

While my mind is wandering
Ahead of my body
Through the checklist of the day’s obligations

In this small house I know
so intimately –

a door
I’d overlooked.

A room –
A wing –

that opens

II.

Thoughts can dissolve into the body
or skim above it

like smooth stones

like one hand clapping

the mind in search of itself

Sinking among the cells
of flesh and blood
and neurons and
the space between
the spaces

between


like the memory
of a flame
dancing

positive/negative

on the retina

like breath
like a flying fish of consciousness
captured in the ocean of a body

III.

The wisdom of the body
shivering-laughing-sneezing-convulsing-pissing-
screaming/

Shifting rhythms
like a horse’s shifting
gait

Whatever works
Whatever is efficient
Whatever is matter-of-fact in its joy

There is nothing discrete of the body
Where everything moves together

Resists together

IV.

A house with a locked door
is a broken home

an amputation
a phantom ache

A house with a locked door

an imaginary thought
a distant relative too removed to survive
the delicate mutations of evolution

A fragment of DNA

V.

Sometimes I run
with my eyes closed

A fish flying over
the surface

To escape from/return to
an overwhelming
sense

An indisputable sense
like water
like flames
fading from the retina

“To prophesy,” Merton writes, “is not to predict, but to seize upon reality in its moment of highest expectation and tension toward the new. This tension is discovered not in hypnotic elation but in the light of everyday existence. Poetry is innocent of prediction because it is itself the fulfillment of all the momentous predictions hidden in everyday life.
Poetry is the flowering of ordinary possibilities. It is the fruit of ordinary and natural choice. This is its innocence and dignity…

When the poet puts his foot in that ever-moving river, poetry itself is born out of the flashing water. In that unique instant, the truth is manifest to all who are able to receive it… No one can enter the river wearing the garments of public and collective ideas. He must feel the water on his skin. He must know that immediacy is for naked minds only and for the innocent.

Come, dervishes: here is the water of life. Dance in it.
– Thomas Merton, Message to Poets, February of 1964, Raids on the Unspeakable

SHEKINAH
As you fall
asleep tonight,
do not take this
inhalation for granted.
Honor her like a royal guest.
Make a spacious tent
of your flesh,
for She who contains
the galaxies
has come to dwell in you,
pouring her gift from the stars
down your backbone.
Each expiration
will guide you
through a silver door,
a mirror of moonlight.
The key is silence.
Step through.
Follow her rainbow
into the void
where wings of astonishment
will carry you from
death to death.
A scent of blossoms
from the garden in your body
will guide you home,
enlarged by the memory
of stillness.
Neither come nor go.
Just let her lead you
from the mind to the heart.
– Fred LaMotte

For strangely graven
Is the orb of life, that one and another
In gold and power may outpass his brother.
And men in their millions float and flow
And seethe with a million hopes as leaven;
And they win their Will, or they miss their Will,
And the hopes are dead or are pined for still;
But whoe’er can know,
As the long days go,
That To Live is happy, hath found his Heaven!
– Euripides, The Bacchae

you see, once you connect with this amazing power and light all the dark stuff comes up in you. The shadow in you comes up to be healed. But it means you have to look at it. Because what´s being asked of you is a massive transformation of everything. The way you think, the way you feel, the way you choose in every aspect of your life. How do you choose to react to the person who makes you angry? How do you choose to react to the inevitable blows of life, sickness, or bankruptcy, or having a critic not like your book very much? How do you choose to react to your impatience? The qualities in you that really need to be transformed? So once you´ve had these experiences, this isn´t the end of the path, it´s actually the beginning of the integration process, which is the tough part because you have to do the real work then. And you can only do that patiently and humbly, through sacred practise and through shadow work and through failing and through being a fool and falling and picking yourself up again.
– Andrew Harvey

Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.
– Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

The Absence of Village and Its Restoration
by Tad Hargrave

The absence of village makes it incalculably more likely that you will cause harm to others in your life.

That harm might be from something you do. It might be from something you refuse to do; something you find yourself, to your horror, capable of doing or something, perhaps with more horror, incapable of doing.

It is almost impossible to overstate the vastness of this thing we all intuitively understand: it doesn’t only take a village to raise a child it takes a village to end the childhood of those little ones who would prefer to go on being children forever and craft humanity and village-mindedness from where there was the appropriate selfishness of childhood.

Because we live in a culture where this crafted ending of childhood and initiation of adulthood never occurs, we have less humanity amongst us. We have uninitiated children in adult bodies living together in condos or in the Whitehouse.

That’s that we have now.

No village, just scenes. No real community, just networks.
We are so utterly and completely free and untethered to anything, elders, the non-human world, and the unseen, that would grant us our humanity. And, surely you would grant that this would all be bad enough but it is orders of magnitudes worse because the unravelling of village life also unravelled the means by which to ravel it together.

It was the village that would, when trespass had occurred, would intervene to ensure the one hurt was safe and tended to, that the one who did the hurting was held to account and that the village, as a whole, designed the means by which the wholeness of the village might be restored. Each infraction – every lie, every piece of abuse, every neglect, was a tear the fabric of mutual life and I think our old timers must have known that things can get too torn; they can reach a point at which restoration becomes unlikely to the point of impossibility.

The lack of belonging we live with has us craft a world to which no one would want to belong. The urge to run from that world crafts a world from which everyone wants to run. The urge to ‘fix’ it is the fix that was in a long time ago.
And I would suggest that this is precisely, in the dominant civilizations of the world, where we are.

The very thing that causes our inhumanity also prevents the humanity from re-appearing. The very thing that tore a rip in that ornate tapestry of kinship prevents the sewing it back together. The civilization in which we live does not craft humans anymore, it lets children grow up and run the show.

This is the vicious cycle in which we find ourselves. Inhumanity begetting more inhumanity. Damage damaging and then damaging the capacity to repair the damage.

But I’ll tell you what it looks like from the inside, from the vantage point of those who benefit from it the most, because it’s PR team is superb: it looks like progress. It looks like freedom. It looks like the internet and Facebook, like Netflix and the best TV shows you’ve ever seen. It looks like a steady supply of any drug you want. It looks like affordable travel around the world. It looks like tourist friendly destination when we get there. It looks like smart phones and well paved, straight, long roads (to the extent that we can differentiate those two). It looks like Plato and Aristotle’s greatest dream.

And when we see all of that, and how very good it is, then all of our dysfunction must, we tell ourselves, come from us.

And the solution, we are assured, is to work on ourselves some more and that our salvation will be found on the yoga matt or, if we are particularly insightful, evolved and advanced, the even smaller, introspection demanding, leave-the-body-behind-and-go-within-to-the-real-you, meditation cushion. Or take this pill. Or do this process. By yourself.

But this doing everything by ourselves is not the solution, it’s the fullest expression of the deep, deep ancestral trauma of the unravelling of the village.

It is the problem attempting to solve itself by creating more of itself.

And yet, every day, so many of us are encouraged to worship at the altar of the Self, who is sitting on the throne where God used to be with the DSM where the Bible used to be.

And when we cause harm, and of course we do, the response is the response of the very individualistic, puritan culture we’ve been told is the product of four billion years of evolution.

It is to punish.

It is the excise the offending part and get rid of them.

Which shatters our scenes even further.

There is no community to do the healing and so we end up with less community. And that ‘less community’ is less able to do the needed healing and so it crumbles further.

And I don’t know where it begins to turn around but I know it has something to do with village-mindedness. I know it has something to do with the impulse to restore wholeness rather than to enforce purity. I know it has to do with reframing safety as coming from not the absence of those things that would harm us as we wash our hands with the anti-bacterial soaps of salvation, but a way of coming into some better relationship with their presence amongst us. I know it has to do with a willingness to be undone and broken hearted for all the things done to us and that we did, all of the things that were never done to us and that we never did for others. I know it is full of remorse and immense grief as we come to our senses in time to see the wake of the speeding boat of our personal and collective (without being communal) lives tearing away at the shoreline of the people whose property we claimed to admire. I know it has to do with being willing to get up and walk away from that altar of loneliness without knowing where else we might worship or what worshipping even means anymore. I know it has something to do with stopping running and stopping with the making the ones who have caused harm run away on that road out of town to the next town where they do the same thing to more people because they never healed from what drove them to cause the harm in the first place.

Maybe instead, it’s got to do with all of us looking at the long road that’s made getting what we want so easy for us and getting what we need so difficult, and tearing it up to plant fruit trees in hopes of a life that is harder but more human, where we trade our growth for depth and our freedom for friendship. And maybe that’s what true freedom is anyway.

I don’t know if you’re with me in this or against me on this but I’m glad to be alive today to have a chance to do something about this damage that I’ve done and that you have done and that was done a long time before we arrived on the scene, and to make as much beauty as I can while I am still granted days. May you be granted the strength and support you need to turn your deepest shames into food to feed the ones to come so that they don’t devour the world like you did. May you see, from a greate distance if needed, the ones who hurt you become utterly heartbroken by what they’ve done as the consequences of it all come crashing into them and become the greatest defenders of people like you. May we all be granted some small portion of redemption and might we spend it like mad and lay it at that firepit that is still being built at the center of that place that for too long has been everywhere but, with the first stone laid becomes somewhere to us. Might that fire draw people together when its cold and might there be some fine conversation, around that bonfire of our childhoods burning away, about how we might proceed otherwise.

Might we all be granted the days long enough to stand there together, not heroic, but utterly defeated by the freedom, progress and vast unending potential that we thought we always wanted.

I was on an African plain where hundreds of natives were dancing a dance of celebration. (…) The lions were far away, there was no danger, there was food and no one was hungry. The tribe had survived the rigors of life for another year and they were dancing their thanks. They were dancing their celebration of life. This was an extraordinary sensation. I was able to take in the experience of these many people whole. I was the tribal mind reveling in celebration. Their infectious joy and dance-induced ecstasy blended them into a single field of celebration. They knew what was happening, and they kept giving themselves over to the process, letting it deepen and deepen until they were completely awash with the unifying joy of their tribe, the plain, the earth, etc. They were one with themselves, each other, and their environment. I had never experienced anything like this before in my life, this melting into a communal embrace, and it was profoundly moving. How impoverished we are that we have lost these rituals that activate the deeper weave of our interconnectedness.
My reference point for experiencing all this was an intelligence that saturated everything – the people, the animals, the fire, the Earth itself. If I had to name it, I would call it Earth Consciousness. I discovered that not only did this celebrating dance heal the tribe – cleansing them of the pains of the year’s losses and setbacks and healing the frictions of interpersonal conflict – it also, much to my surprise, healed the earth itself. I actually experienced a release of energy that healed not only the tribal mind-field but the energy field of this geographic region.
– Christopher Bache

Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action.
– George Monbiot

And of all the things we’re dying from tonight,
being alive is the strangest,
surviving our histories is the saddest.
Time leaves the smallest wounds,
and your body, a mortal occasion
of timeless law,
is all the word I know.
– Li-Young Lee

Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.
– Bertrand Russell

Maybe loves journey is the road back to friendship…
– Shannon Goose