Journal VII

Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

I read, of course, but what I miss is the kind of reading I used to do, which seemed to require that the world be very different from what it has become.
– Sven Birkets

Yes, talking to poets is an antivenom for dread. I need to keep taking it on a daily basis, if not more often.
– Matthew Zapruder

We all have helpers in seen and unseen realms.
Give them something to do.
Otherwise, they will grow inattentive with boredom.
The can clean junk from your mind,
Find the opening note for the chorus of a song,
Or give a grandchild a safe path through the dark.
They will not give you winning numbers at the casino,
Wash your dishes, or take out an enemy.
Thank them.
Feed them once in a while.
– Joy Harjo

Reading should commit us to a vision, should engage our humanity.
– George Steiner

The wise man is one who knows what he does not know.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.
– Czeslaw Milosz

I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t.
– Khaled Hosseini

We are all storytellers, from our first garbled words of mud and slugs to our last struggle to shape the words I love you in the holy cave of our mouths. “How was school?” our mother asked, and we told a story, and “who are you?” our lovers asked, and we told a story… an ancient shape of something true, something that twists up through tragedy and confusion, something true in and of all of us, something that makes us occasionally, haltingly, holy… We are stories told in the brief light between great darknesses.
– Brian Doyle

There are two things: to be and to do. Don’t think too much about to do – to be is first. To be peace. To be joy. To be happiness. And then to do joy, to do happiness – on the basis of being. So first you have to focus on the practice of being. Being fresh. Being peaceful. Being attentive. Being generous. Being compassionate.

This is the basic practice. It’s like if the other person is sitting at the foot of a tree. The tree does not do anything, but the tree is fresh and alive. When you are like that tree, sending out waves of freshness, you help to calm down the suffering in the other person.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Anxiety and Television News
My lungs hurt. I’m not breathing.
So, here I sit, alone on a narrow bed,
making hand puppets appear and disappear
between the lamplight and the wall.
Stretching both hands wide open,
I cross both palms, one over the other,
waving each finger in, then out,
again and again
the shadow bird
dips and dives in dizzying circles,
flies across the room. Suddenly and without permission a panther lurks inside your calloused skin.
All we know of hope surges in the air.
My knuckles lock in battle;
the panther swallows the sparrow whole.
And now I know, don’t I?
how a shadow sounds, half-singing, half-wail.
– Lois Roma-Deeley

At least a flash of sanity: the momentary realization that there is no need to come to certain conclusions about persons, events, conflicts, trends, even trends toward evil and disaster, as if from day to day and even from moment to moment I had to know and declare (at least to myself): This is so and so, this is good, this is bad; we are heading for a “new era” or we are heading for destruction.

What do such judgments mean? Little or nothing. Things are as they are, in an immense whole of which I am a part, and which I cannot pretend to grasp. To say I grasp it is immediately to put myself in a false position, as if I were “outside” it. Whereas to be in it is to seek truth in my own life and action, by moving where movement is possible and keeping still when movement is unnecessary, realizing that things will continue to define themselves – and will be more clear to me if I am silent and attentive, rather than constantly formulating statements in this age which is smothered in language, in meaningless and inconclusive debate, and in which, in the last analysis, nobody listens to anything except what agrees with his own prejudices.
– Thomas Merton

You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don’t hold on, that is all.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

SHORTER AMERICAN MEMORY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
We holler these trysts to be self-exiled that all manatees are credited equi-distant, that they are endured by their Creditor with cervical unanswerable rims. that among these are lightning, lice, and the pushcart of harakiri. That to seduce these rims, graces are insulated among manatees, descanting their juvenile pragmatism from the consistency of the graced. That whenever any formula of grace becomes detained of these endives, it is the rim of the peppery to aluminize or to abominate it. and to insulate Newtonian grace. leaching its fountain pen on such printed matter and orienting its pragmatism in such formula, as to them shall seize most lilac to effuse their sage and harakiri.
– Rosmarie Waldrop

Life comes into being
without any invitation of our own:
we suddenly find ourselves in it.
And as soon as we recognize ourselves
as alive we become aware
that we tend toward inevitable death…
Death is the point at which life,
by freely and totally giving itself,
enters into this ground
and this infinite act of love.
Death is the point at which life can,
if we so choose, become perfectly real,
Death is, then the point at which life
can attain its pure fulfillment.
Death brings life to its goal.
But the goal is not death –
the goal is perfect life.
– Thomas Merton

We have to think and see how we can fundamentally change our education system so that we can train people to develop warm-heartedness early on in order to create a healthier society. I don’t mean we need to change the whole system, just improve it. We need to encourage an understanding that inner peace comes from relying on human values like, love, compassion, tolerance and honesty, and that peace in the world relies on individuals finding inner peace.
– The Dalai Lama

…To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but . . .

If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

Time to shut up.
Voltaire said the secret
Of being boring
Is to say everything.

And yet I held
Back about love
All those years:
Talking about death
Insistently, even
As I was alive;
Talking about loss
As if all was loss,
As if the world
Did not return
Each morning.
As if the beloved
Didn’t long for us.

No wonder I go on
So. I go on so
Because of the wonder.
– Gregory Orr

How Dark the Beginning
All we ever talk of is light—
let there be light, there was light then,

good light—but what I consider
dawn is darker than all that.

So many hours between the day
receding and what we recognize

as morning, the sun cresting
like a wave that won’t break

over us—as if  light were protective,
as if  no hearts were flayed,

no bodies broken on a day
like today. In any film,

the sunrise tells us everything
will be all right. Danger wouldn’t

dare show up now, dragging
its shadow across the screen.

We talk so much of  light, please
let me speak on behalf

of  the good dark. Let us
talk more of how dark

the beginning of a day is.
– Maggie Smith

I am Waiting Exercise
by Jeremy Elbert

I am waiting for the tables to turn
And I am waiting

For a new day to dawn
And I am waiting

for a deeper level of knowing
To be discovered within
And I am waiting

For an end to all the suffering
In the north, south, east, and west
And I am waiting

For the eagle to wed the dove
And to finally understand selflessness, compassion, and love
And I am waiting

For the lotus to bloom
And for seeds of peace to be sown
I am always awaiting a chance

To embrace love, mystery, and change
And to contemplate each possible step forward with
A renewal of wonder

I Am Waiting
BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

…seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.
– Italo Calvino

Have enough courage to trust love once again…
– Maya Angelou

We no longer see the one who teaches us

Musician, play this moment’s music as grace
for those who block our road, grace for

bandits! Musician, you learned this from
a true bandit. I hear the teacher’s accent

in the student’s art. Musician, turn your
face to absence, because existence is

deceitful and afraid. The soul knows it is
not from here. It feels bound in a body,

yet also knows the pleasure of absence.
Absence is the ocean we swim! Existence, a

fish hook. Anyone caught loses the joy
of freedom. Being nailed to the four

elements is a crucifixion. If you keep
running after your wishes and desires,

that’s your crucifixion, be sure of it!
There is a fire in patience that burns

what of you is born to fine ash. Strike
the flint of Sura 100, Honor the one

who loses breath. And, Fire rises
where they walk. These are brave souls,

musician igniting musician. What’s the
point of the chess-game world where a

pawn cuts off a king? I walk awkwardly,
but the smoke goes straight up.

Sometimes a pawn makes it to the other
side and redeems a queen. The knight

says, “Your plodding is one or two moves
for us.” Judgment Day is closer than

that for everyone, one step away. The
chess king says, “Without me this motion

and figuring mean nothing. The bishop
might as well be a mosquito.” Winning

and losing are the same. There’s check-
mate in both. We no longer see the one

who teaches us. You could say we’ve
been checkmated. What happens now?
– Rumi

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I want to think about tenderness this month. It is a quality I greatly care about and our rocking world needs it very much.
– Gunilla Norris

The Wayfarer Magazine:
Expectations are sheer cliffs we cannot help
but climb. The perfect, plumb ground too easy and expected
bears no liking for those beings without wings
but for whom heights hold draw.

Hope is a thing with feathers
but does it know how to fly?

– L.M. Browning

You are the future,
the great red sky before sunrise 
over the fields of time. 

You are the cock’s crow when night is done, 
you are the dew and the bells of matins, 
maiden, stranger, mother, death. 

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes 
that rise from the stuff of our days—
unsung, unmourned, undescribed, 
like a forest we never knew. 

You are the deep innerness of all things, 
the last word that can never be spoken. 
To each of us you reveal yourself differently: 
to the ship as coastline, to the shore as a ship.
Trans. Anita Burrows.

If our sanity is to be strong and flexible, there must be occasional periods for the expression of completely spontaneous movement—for dancing, singing, howling, babbling, jumping, groaning, wailing—in short, for following any motion to which the organism as a whole seems to be inclined. It is by no means impossible to set up physical and moral boundaries within which this freedom of action is expressible—sensible contexts in which nonsense may have its way. Those who provide for this essential irrationality will never become stuffy or dull, and, what is far more important, they will be opening up the channels through which the formative and intelligent spontaneity of the organism can at last flow into consciousness.
– Alan Watts, The Joyous Cosmology

Connecting with your life passion is always your first priority. Without that, you can waste your whole life with stressful hard work, unnecessary degrees, wrong relationships, and distractions that never satisfy.
– Intuitive Zen

Have enough courage to trust love once again…
– Maya Angelou

…seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.
– Italo Calvino

The more grateful we feel, the happier we become. This is because gratitude helps us realize we are all connected.
– Haemin Sunim

Paul Carroll was my first poetry teacher. He taught me 4 essential lessons:

Every poet is the brother & sister of every poet.
Poetry is all the poems ever written
Never ever stop writing poems.
If you’re writing poems on the day you die, 
you will know the true grace of poetry.
– John Zbigniew Guzlowski

She spent the summer in Chicago
Spent the winter in L.A.
She can run faster than a river
Sometimes I still hear her say
You can always be gone
But you can’t always make the ride go on and on
You can always drive fast
But you can’t always make the long ride last
She fell in love in Colorado
And drove out west to see the bay
I’ll feel sorry for him tomorrow
But he’s a lucky man today
She will always be gone
But she won’t always make the ride go on and on
She will always drive fast
But she won’t always make the long ride last
One day she showed up at my house
She said, “Want to get away?”
Want to go to Indiana
A lot of music there they say
– Catie Curtis

Dear Child

Yes, tragedies happen too often to explain
so I won’t try. I will just write this for you.
When at this moment, the green ambition of spring
pushes earth away to let a tendril rise,
our tiny new tree finally breaks open the stone
above it. Overnight I see this miracle of what One
can do. If you were here,
that tree larger each year, I would love you still, and again
to keep you from leaving. I would hold you tight
in my arms and my hands, and I know you
would be in these hands once again like water.

for Jayla
A History of Kindness
Linda Hogan

Right now I suspect [the world] will end in paperwork. That, or water—abundance and/or lack thereof. But the earth won’t be ending. It will be editing.
– Mark Bibbins

RT@hcohenpoet:
when editing, you can delete words 95% of the time. You don’t need em. Just delete your entire manuscript, turn off your laptop, walk outside & find a bog, let the peat reclaim you under its mossy blanket.

Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.
– Justice John Paul Stevens, in his dissent for Citizens United

The best people possess a feeling for beauty, 
the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell 
the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. 
Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; 
they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.
– Ernest Hemingway

Ours to Do
by Richard Rohr 
I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation more than thirty years ago because I saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. Over the years, I met many activists who were doing excellent social analysis and advocating for crucial justice issues, but they were not working from an energy of love except in their own minds. They were still living out of their false self with the need to win, to look good, to defeat the other side, and to maintain a superior self-image.

They might have had the answer, but they were not themselves the answer. In fact, they were usually part of the problem. Most revolutions fail. Too many reformers self-destruct from within. For that very reason, I believe, Jesus and other great spiritual teachers first emphasize transformation of consciousness and awakening of soul. Unless that happens, there is no lasting or grounded reform or revolution. When a subjugated people rise to power, they often become as controlling and dominating as their oppressors because they have not yet faced the shadow side of power. We actually need fewer reformations and more transformations.

The same dualism often masquerades in a new form which only looks like enlightenment. We are all easily allured by the next new thing until we discover that it’s also run by unenlightened people who in fact do not love God/Reality but themselves. They do not love the truth but the illusion of control. The need to be in power, to have control, and to say someone else is wrong is not enlightenment. Such unenlightened leaders do not want true freedom for everybody but only for their own new ideas. My great disappointment with many untransformed liberals is that they often lack the ability to sacrifice the self or create foundations that last. They can neither let go of their own need for change and control, nor can they stand still in a patient, humble way as people of deep faith can. It is no surprise that Jesus prayed not just for fruit, but “fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Too many conservatives, on the other hand, idolize anything that appears to have lasted, but then stop asking the question, “Is this actually bearing any fruit?” It is the perennial battle between idealism and pragmatism.

In order to become truly prophetic people who go beyond the categories of liberal and conservative, we have to teach and learn ways to integrate needed activism with a truly contemplative mind and heart. I’m convinced that once we learn how to look out at life from the contemplative eyes of the True Self, personal politics and economics are going to change on their own. I don’t need to tell you what your politics should or shouldn’t be. Once you see things contemplatively, you’ll begin to seek the bias toward the bottom (not the top, which is far too defended and idealized), you’ll be free to embrace your shadow, and you can live at peace with those who are different. From a contemplative stance, you’ll know what action is yours to do almost naturally.  And what you do not need to do at all!

In my experience, the most powerful argument against violence has been grounded in the notion that, when I do violence to another human being, I also do violence to myself, because my life is bound up with this other life. Most people who are formed within the liberal individualist tradition really understand themselves as bounded creatures who are radically separate from other lives. There are relational perspectives that would challenge that point of departure, and ecological perspectives as well.
– Judith Butler

Frank LaRue Owen:
It’s not democracy if it causes harm. True democracy is a liberating force, not weaponized policy, not oppression.

The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.
– Toni Cade Bambara

reminder to self: you owe it to your (tenderest) self & to all those who’ve nurtured you, who’ve shown you deep generosity, to continue the spell of learning, the good good cycle of shared growth, the knowledge-warmth, the rigorous kindness. align with people, not institutions.
– Chen Chen

Don’t google your own name, ever. 
Don’t search for yourself on anything 
that glows synthetic in the honest dark.
Don’t let your beauty be something 
anyone can turn off. Don’t edit your ugly 
out of your bio. Let your light 
come from the fire. Let your pain 
be the spark, but not the timber. 
Remember, you didn’t come here to write 
your heart out. You came to write it in.
– Andrea Gibson

Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they-like you-must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.
– Geneen Marie Haugen

Just take a gentle in-drawn breath into the heart and feel unselfish love flowing out. If you can do that you’re cooking on the big burner.
– Joe Miller, American Mystic

When I meet 
someone I 
greet them with 
an apology.
– Porsha Olayiwola

To select, combine, and concentrate that which is beautiful in nature and admirable in art…
– J.M.W. Turner

Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.
– Eckhart Tolle

ALL THE TRUE VOWS:

All the True Vows
are secret vows,
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life 
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to the truth
at the center of the image
you were born with,
don’t turn your face away.

…Remember, 
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a new promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find out
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years
in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

– David Whyte

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

Throwing Light 

The snaking road rolls down through forests of pine,
lace of cedar, and a ceaseless gentling green  

covering this first day of February in blue gray sky,
my car drifting into the low curves of granite hills.

Roads hug the immense silver mirror of the lake,
while winter mountains sing
a choral hymn in verses of snow. 

I drift alone in this place between earth and sky
the soundtrack of some vital force, rendering boundaries mute

and the interior places that still have heat 
throwing light to the stars, like a prayer for forgiveness;

always that prayer that lives next 
to the fireflies of regret
winking in and out of our open hands.

We are enveloped within the mother tide 
that ferries us back

into our imperfect and bruised wound and
womb of belonging.

– Margo Stebbing

There is nothing more difficult to achieve 
than a passionate, sincere, quiet faith.
– Andrei Tarkovsky, Time Within Time

Do you understand the sadness of geography?
– Michael Ondaatje

Of course we’re outgunned. But outnumbered? Not when you call in the myth world, not when you call to ancestors deserving of the name, not when you weft your life to the thinking of a hare or the open-shouldered stance of a midwinter beech. Make a stand for something small, specific and precious. Do it today. Amen and let it be so.
– Martin Shaw, Scatterlings

I’ve been through it all, and nothing works better than to have somebody you love hold you.
– John Lennon

Before, I always lived in anticipation . . . that it was all a preparation for something else, something “greater,” more “genuine.” But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day, to the full, and the life is worth living.
– Etty Hillesum

A Call to Pens
Let our poems put stolen children
back into the caring arms
of their families
at our borders
Melting the bars
around the jailers
and every policy-maker
Let our poems plant honeysuckle
and aster for the bees
and let them ban the pesticides
that makes us all sick
Let our poems bust the gas-lights
on the airwaves
and that fierce loyalty to power
Let our poems be the revolution
the turning towards life
that spark inside every sentient being
Let our poems be antidotes
to the bloody bombs
on parade down
Pennsylvania Avenue
And the madman standing
at salute
Let our poems
be the doctor the therapist the priestess
that melts away addiction
The nourishment that fills
that empty hole
at the center
Let our poems rip-off bandaids
to expose the rotting ulcers to the sun
Let them be the balm
the aloe and calendula
that will finally heal us
to the bone
– Valerie A SZarek

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”
– Danusha Lameris

The Flames of Betterment
by Heidi Barr
And I said to my body softly, “I want to be your friend.” It took a long breath and replied, “I have been waiting my whole life for this.” – Nayyirah Waheed

Has your body [whether the physical one that tends to come to mind first, or bodies such as the mental, emotional or spiritual] ever felt like the enemy? I’m guessing that you, at some point in life, have felt some animosity toward some aspect of your being. Most people do. Sometimes when I’m working with people, I’ll ask them to call out the qualities they like about themselves, and it’s almost always hard for them to do that. People seem to default toward sharing what’s not working, what they are trying to change, what’s got to go. Most of the folks I support right now are trying to lose weight, so it’s common for body hatred and a general sense of dissatisfaction to underlay someone’s energy. Most folks don’t go around proclaiming self love. Unprompted, the qualities people like about themselves remain largely unsaid (if they can think of anything at all). From not liking physical appearance to not feeling smart enough to feeling like there’s not enough money or prestige or friends, human beings – you, me, and most people – are fantastic at calling out the negative.

It’s important to keep one foot planted firmly in reality of course – I’m not saying you should gloss over issues that need to be managed or look for the positive in an unsustainable situation. Weight loss can be a wonderful avenue toward improving health, studying for a test can help you learn the material, and having enough money to provide what’s needed to sustain a good quality of life in modern culture is important. Getting to the root of a problem, effectively managing anxiety or depression, and identifying what needs to shift is essential. But beating yourself up over what’s not working doesn’t help anything improve.

Paula D’arcy wrote, “I have taken better care of some of my cars than I have of me. I wouldn’t set fire to my home, but I have been willing to set fire to myself.” When you continually beat yourself up for not being ‘enough’ of something and push constantly toward what culture or your mom or that little demon on your shoulder says you SHOULD be, you are, in a sense, setting yourself on fire. It can be easy to get lost in the flames of betterment, under a grimly layer of self doubt that’s too often laced with a film of self-contempt.

So, time to douse the fire.

Ask yourself this: ‘What has my life belonged to?’ Jot down your answers. Be honest. Some of the things that have gotten pieces of your life won’t make you feel good. That’s okay. Some of them you’ll need to take responsibility for at some point. Some of them are not your fault. Just note them.

The next question is ‘What do I want to give my life to?’ Write down your answers again. Be honest. There are no right or wrong answers, there are just the things that are calling you into doing something different. Remember to treat yourself with kindness and respect.

You body – whether it’s your physical body or mental body or spiritual body – has been waiting its whole life for this. And it’ll keep waiting – but it’s ready when you are.

Maggie Smith writes, “Maybe you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you, but maybe a few feet is enough. How would knowing more of the path change the way you travel it? Move forward one small stretch at a time. Someday, looking back, you won’t believe how much ground you covered. Keep moving.”

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.
So, though no one can take your despair
away from you, 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.

Good-by and Keep Cold
By Robert Frost
This saying good-by on the edge of the dark
And the cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don’t want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don’t want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don’t want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn’t be idle to call
I’d summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don’t want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm.
“How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-by and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.”
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an ax—
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

Our bodies know how to do these three things: connect, develop, and create wholeness. When they fail to do so for some reason, we fall ill and may die. But at the macro level of society and our collective interactions with each other and with the natural world around us, we struggle to implement these three basic aspects of incarnation. We have yet to create a society that fosters creativity and learning, one that creates integration and wholeness between all its members and between itself and the larger world, or one that fosters the emergence of the potentials of consciousness and spirit within the world.

The problem is not that humanity is too incarnated and needs to be more transcendental and “spiritual;” the problem is that we’re not incarnated enough. We all have an incarnational intelligence that inherently knows how to be here on earth in a body; our challenge is—and has been—knowing how to embody that intelligence in our daily lives and to extend its principles and operations into the larger domain of society and environmental responsibility. Understanding that intelligence and how to express it is what Incarnational Spirituality is all about.
– David Spangler, An Introduction to Incarnational Spirituality

~ Our intimate relationship – the pairing of one human being with another – is the greatest vehicle for emotional and spiritual growth life affords us. Within its crucible, every old wound is revisited, every certainty is challenged, every fine quality of our being is forced to expand beyond our perceived limits. If we do it right, we are inevitably transformed into more loving and wise human beings.
– M.J. Ryan

Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity.

… The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

LIVING WITH THE NEWS
Can I get used to it day after day
a little at a time while the tide keeps
coming in faster the waves get bigger
building on each other breaking records
this is not the world that I remember
then comes the day when I open the box
that I remember packing with such care
and there is the face that I had known well
in little pieces staring up at me
it is not mentioned on the front pages
but somewhere far back near the real estate
among the things that happen every day
to someone who now happens to be me
and what can I do and who can tell me
then there is what the doctor comes to say
endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight
– W. S. Merwin

Even opening the mind’s eye fully does not in one fell swoop purify the emotions. Continuous training after enlightenment is required to purify the emotions so that our behavior accords with our understanding. This vital point must be understood.
– Philip Kapleau

The universe only laughs when you try to manifest what you want. It will wait many lifetimes until you realize you don’t have to do anything to get what you already have. You can simply be that, right here and now. Always.
– Intuitive Zen

Pathways
by Mark Nepo

I don’t know why I was born
with this belief in something
deeper and larger than we can
see. But it’s always called. Even as
a boy, I knew that trees and light
and sky all point to some timeless
center out of view. I have spent my
life listening to that center and filtering
it through my heart. This listening
and filtering is the music of my soul,
of all souls. After sixty years, I’ve run
out of ways to name this. Even now,
my heart won’t stand still. In a moment
of seeing, it takes the shape of
my eye. In a moment of speaking, the
shape of my tongue. In a moment of
silence, it slips back into the lake of
center. When you kiss me, it takes
the shape of your lip. When our dog
sleeps with us, it takes the shape of
her curl. When the hummingbird
feeds her baby, it takes the shape
of her beak carefully dropping
food into our throats.

One day a whole damn song
fell into place in my head.
– Billie Holiday

A writer can still write while hiding from the thought police. But a writer who carries the thought police around in his head, who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this? Do I have a right? Is my terminology correct? Will my allies get angry? Will it help my enemies? Could it get me ratioed on Twitter?—that writer’s words will soon become lifeless. A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.
– Paul Kingsnorth

Astonishment and gratitude are an important part of what the future stands to lose under the shouting engines of human ambition. When humans silence nature, drowning out the small voices, we subordinate it to our own presumed power. Anyone who has felt the oppression in a classroom or boardroom or marriage when only some are free to speak will understand what it means to be silenced—to have no voice, to be seen and not heard, to be told to ‘pay attention,’ which means do not pay attention to any voice but one. Human noise is yet one more oil-fired expression of modernity’s claim of sovereignty and control over the natural world.
– Kathleen Dean Moore

in trying to utter it in words one is not “saying” anything in the sense of conveying information or making a proposition. The speech expressing such an experience is more like an exclamation. Or better, it is the speech of poetry rather than logic, though not poetry in the impoverished sense of the logical positivist, the sense of decorative and beautiful nonsense. For there is a kind of speech that may be able to convey something without actually being able to say it. Korzybski ran into this difficulty in trying to expres the apparently simple point that things are not what we say they are, that for example, the word “water” is not itself drinkable. He formulated it in his “law of nonidentity”, that “whatever you say a thing is , it isn’t.” But from this it will follow that it isn’t a thing either, for if I say that a thing is a thing, it isn’t.
What, then are we talking about? He was trying to show that we are talking about the unspeakable world of the physical universe, the world that is other than words. Words represent it, but if we want to know it directly we must do so by immediate sensory contact. What we call things, facts, or events are after all no more than convenient units of perception, recognizable pegs for names, selected from the infinite multitude of lines and surfaces, colors and textures, spaces and densities which surround us. There is no more a fixed and final
way of dividing these variations into things than grouping the stars in constellations.
For if it becomes clear that our use of the lines and surfaces of nature to divide the world into units is only a matter of convenience, then all that I have called myself is actually inseparable of everything. This is exactly what one experiences in these extraordinary moments. It is not that the outlines and shapes which we call things and use to delineate things disappear into some sort of luminous void. It simply becomes obvious that though they may be used as divisions they do not really divide. However much I may be impressed by the difference between a star and the dark space around it, I must not forget that I can see the two only in relation to each other, and that this relation is inseparable.
The most astonishing feature of this experience is, however, the conviction that this entire unspeakable world is “right”, so right that our normal anxieties become ludicrous, that if only men could see it they would go wild with joy.
– Alan Watts, This is IT

The eternal ivy on the wand of life
Emerald pines that defy the winter
Dates of the oases in drought of deserts.
– Wole Soyinka

Groundhog Day by Lynn Ungar
Celebrate this unlikely oracle,
this ball of fat and fur,
whom we so mysteriously endow
with the power to predict spring.
Let’s hear it for the improbable heroes who,
frightened at their own shadows,
nonetheless unwittingly work miracles.
Why shouldn’t we believe
this peculiar rodent holds power
over sun and seasons in his stubby paw?
Who says that God is all grandeur and glory?
Unnoticed in the earth, worms
are busily, brainlessly, tilling the soil.
Field mice, all unthinking, have scattered
seeds that will take root and grow.
Grape hyacinths, against all reason,
have been holding up green shoots beneath the snow.
How do you think spring arrives?
There is nothing quieter, nothing
more secret, miraculous, mundane.
Do you want to play your part
in bringing it to birth? Nothing simpler.
Find a spot not too far from the ground
and wait.

The one thing that everybody wants is to be free
not to be managed, threatened, directed,
restrained, obliged, fearful, administered,
they want none of these things they all want
to feel free … The only thing that any one wants
now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life
as they can, but not to be watched, controlled
and scared, no no, not.
– Gertrude Stein

Prayer is then not just a formula of words, or a series of desires springing up in the heart – it is the orientation of our whole body, mind and spirit to God in silence, attention, and adoration. All good meditative prayer is a conversion of our entire self to God.
– Thomas Merton

whalefact:
i regret to inform you that once again there are absolutely zero whales on either team playing in this year’s super bowl

Nature is the infrastructure of our communities. If we want to leave a world that provides our children with opportunities for dignity and enrichment comparable to those we received, we must protect our environmental infrastructure – our air, water, fisheries, wildlife and the public lands that connect us to our past and give context to our communities that are the source of our values, virtues and character as a people.
– Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Crocodiles are easy.
They try to kill and eat you.
People are harder.
Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.
– Steve Irwin

Worry is a useless mulling over of things we cannot change. Let me mention just one technique. Seldom do you worry about the present moment; it’s usually all right. If you worry, you agonize over the past which you should have forgotten long ago, or you’re apprehensive over the future which hasn’t even come yet. We tend to skim right over the present time. Since this is the only moment that one can live, if you don’t live it you never really get around to living at all.

If you do live this present moment, you tend not to worry. For me, every moment is a new opportunity to be of service.
– Peace Pilgrim

Our idea as to what constitutes spirituality
has steadily grown.
Through the use of desire,
feeling and the reactions
of the emotional nature,
we have seen many thousands
of human beings arrive at the point
where they have been driven to transmute desire into aspiration, feeling into sensitivity
to the things of the spirit, and love of self
into love of God. Thus the mystic emerges.
– Alice Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition

“If meditation is rightly followed, and if perseverance is the keynote of the life, then increasingly soul contact is established. The results of that contact work out in self-discipline, in purification, and in the life of aspiration and of service. Meditation in the eastern sense is …a strictly mental process, leading to soul knowledge and illumination. It is a fact in nature that as a man thinketh (in his heart) so is he.”

Language is the only homeland.
– Czesław Miłosz

Whatever you think
the world is withholding from you,
you are withholding from the world.
– Eckhart Tolle

Meeting each other and leaving each other. Leaving and meeting. That’s what life is!
– August Strindberg

Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.
– Sri Chinmoy

Question: does anyone but me seem to read a particular book better when they listen to a particular group’s music? I have one… for some reason, when I read Tolkien, it helps if I am listening to the Moody Blues.

Anyone else?
– Bill Nash

Those whom the Beloved loves,
we must also love.
If someone is a friend to the Friend,
how can we afford not to be friends?
– Yunus Emre

You can’t have a deeper relationship or connection with a person who has a surface relationship or connection with themselves.
– FO

I would say to young people a number of things, and I have only one minute. I would say, let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can do, everyone, our share to redeem the world, in spite of all absurdities and all the frustration and all disappointments. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to build life as it if were a work of art.
– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Armor yourself in disruption and creation; that is the way this will end, in a forward slip into story, in taking the best parts of us into a future dawning with art and voice.
– Leah Umanski, Survival

Begin with art,
because art tries to take us outside ourselves.
It is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere
and context
so conversation can flow back and forth
and we can be influenced by each other.
– W. E. B. Du Bois

Responsibility to yourself means refusing
to let others do your thinking,
talking, and naming for you; it means learning
to respect and use your own brains
and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.
– Adrienne Rich

Emily Dickinson:
When I, the easy one, was hurt
As never hurt before
I fumbled back through files of verse
For one who suffered more.

But all the poets’ proverbs slept
As dry as my swept brain,
Save that sweet witch who knew at once
My idiom of pain.

Jack Kornfield
Freedom to Make Mistakes

“Gandhi said, “Freedom is not worth having
if it does not include the freedom
to make mistakes.”

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
Step out. Fly. Even if you get burned,
you can fall back to earth and start again.
It is never too late to start over.
Zen Master Dogen laughingly called life
“one continuous mistake.”
Yes, there is the fear of looking bad,
but later when you review your life,
will you wish you had held back?
Probably not.

Sometimes, we limit our own freedom
because we think it will overwhelm us.
Or we think we don’t deserve it.
Or we fear that our ego will lead us astray,
that we’ll get too big for our britches
and try to fly without restraint.
We worry that if we act
and express our true freedom,
we will burn up or take a gigantic fall,
like in the myth of Icarus.
We constrain ourselves from being “too free.”

Relax. Everyone stumbles.
It’s how all children learn to walk.
In the ordinary rhythm of life,
we falter and then learn from our falls
and our suffering. Sometimes we might worry about our tendency to overreach,
to dream up heady plans for ourselves,
inflated visions of the future.
Other times we might feel inadequate
or unworthy. Acknowledge these fears kindly.
But don’t follow their advice.

Modern life offers many possibilities
and we worry about making a wrong choice.
Listen to your heart, and consult your body
and your head. Then, experiment, act,
take a step, learn, discover, grow.
Discover the ease of making mistakes,
trusting, failing, learning anew,
letting yourself be carried by something
larger than yourself. When Rossini was composing his great chorus in G minor,
he accidentally dipped his pen
in a medicine bottle instead of the inkpot.
“It made a blot, and when I dried it
with sand [blotting paper had not yet been invented], it took the form of a natural,
which instantly gave (him) the idea of the effect which the change from G Minor to G Major would make, and to this blot all the beautiful effect of the chorus is due.”

In this way you learn what is called
the freedom of imperfection.
With this freedom comes joy, playfulness,
forgiveness and compassion for yourself
and others. You can enjoy even the mistakes;
they are part of the game. In this way you can become more gracious, forgiving, wise.
Then you can act with your best intentions,
all the while recognizing you cannot
control the results.

“Not knowing for sure”
is a famous Zen practice—
it conveys the truth of our human incarnation.
Not knowing and acting anyway,
with a playful and caring heart,
you cede control of the outcome
and willingly cast your unique spirit
into the mystery.
– Jack Kornfield

The Japanese words Dogen used to express “intimate” are shimmitsu or shinsetsu. For Dogen, “intimate means close and inseparable. There is no gap. Intimacy embraces buddha an­cestors. It embraces you. It embraces the self. It embraces ac­tion. It embraces generations. It embraces merit. It embraces intimacy.
– Peter Levitt’s introduction to The Essential Dogen

Inquiry is the best way to resolve relational confusion. Someone has confused you with their actions. You are walking around baffled by what went down. Sometimes, there is no bridge left and no point in communicating. But sometimes, there is. Sometimes, the door to dialogue is still ajar. If so, it’s best to enter calmly. Lay down the basis for your confusion as clearly and gently as possible. Don’t get their back up. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t fill in the blanks. Acknowledge that you are confused. And then ask them to help you understand. Ask- don’t answer. Your best shot at resolution is to come in curious.
– Jeff Brown

Dogen’s understanding of original wholeness is a radical and life-giving affirmation of all being, where the word radical means “root.” at first it may be difficult for us to hear what he is saying. after all, most of us were raised with the idea inherited from our various religious traditions that originally we are not at one with Oneness, that from the moment of conception we live at a distance from the source of life. Except for the more mystical orientation within these traditions that speaks of im­manence, divinity is seen as solely transcendent and, thereby, is considered “radically other” from human beings.

This belief in distance and otherness is a powerful root of the culturally pervasive view that consciously and unconsciously shapes our lives. as such, it affects how we experience who and what we are. In addition, the fracturing pressures of contempo­rary life might lead many of us to agree that we live at a distance not only from the source but also from ourselves.

In saying this, I am reminded of a comment made by Franz Kafka, who wrote with such accuracy, pathos, and humor about the bizarre and dislocating minefield of modern society. When asked about his connection to others particular to his ethnic and religious community, he replied, “What do I have in common with them? I hardly have anything in common with myself!”
. . .
What a far cry this is from Dogen’s realization of wholeness, or even the occasional experience of feeling at one with our­selves, with life, and with the world. The suffering produced by these powerful influences undermines our sense of wholeness and denies the reality of the interdependent fabric of life that brings all things into existence and makes them what they are.

although what is now called interdependence, which Dogen understood as basic to buddha dharma, is widely accepted as an accurate description of life functioning exactly as it does, the belief in eternal separation continues to have a devastating ef­fect on our personal lives and world. In the most extreme cases, it rationalizes the poison of aggressive actions against those we identify as “other,” promoting racism, sexism, the decimation of the natural world, and war.

Caught in the grip of such discriminative thinking, there is no room for us to experience intimacy. and yet intimacy, especially as Dogen understood it, is a primary antidote to many of the causes of destruction that, in part, define our age.

The Japanese words Dogen used to express “intimate” are shimmitsu or shinsetsu. For Dogen, “intimate means close and inseparable. There is no gap. Intimacy embraces buddha an­cestors. It embraces you. It embraces the self. It embraces ac­tion. It embraces generations. It embraces merit. It embraces intimacy.

When speaking of an experience, as when Dogen exhorts students to make an intimate study of the self, the ideograph carries the sense of being both all-inclusive, or all-encompassing, and immediate. Practicing seated meditation in a way that embodies all-inclusive immediacy is what Dogen meant by “engage yourself in zazen as though saving your head from fire.”

It is worth noting that a principal definition of the ideo­graphs Dogen used to express wholeness, ichinyo in Japanese, is also “inseparable,” with the literal meaning of “one thusness” driving the sense of what inseparable means. according to Kaz Tanahashi, “one thusness” may be understood to mean “not one, not two” or “oneness,” so there is the clear implication of all-inclusiveness here as well. Nothing left out, no gap.

“Intimacy” then, means nondual. It is another word for orig­inal wholeness. To clarify the point so that there is no confu­sion: the fact of oneness does not imply that we do not have personal lives, each with individual attributes. Oneness does not deny individuality in any form; it makes it possible. With­out the nondual functioning of oneness, nothing could exist. and without each thing existing and functioning exactly as it does, oneness cannot be manifested. as Dogen wrote on the subject of practice-realization, and as the teaching on form and emptiness found in the Heart Sutra (a central text of mahayana buddhism, including Zen) makes clear, “not one, not two” means “it is not possible to divide them.”

For Dogen, intimacy is life itself. If we “study this inti­mately,” as he instructed his students to do, we may gain some insight into what he means when using terms like intimate realization, intimate life. Whether or not we practice daily meditation, we might take Dogen’s exemplification of intimacy in the form of zazen to mean that while intimacy certainly in­cludes being or feeling close to someone, intimacy does not stop there. Dogen’s use of the word means holding nothing back while giving ourselves completely to the only moment in which we are. In this way the moment (time) and what we are doing in that moment (being) are one intimate expression of life. Dogen calls this “time being” in one of his most beautiful and intricate teachings.

There is the undeniable demand of thoroughness here, a qual­ity of being best described as through-and-through, one hundred percent; a way of using ourselves fully so that we merge with our activity and, in so doing, merge intimately with all things. Dogen’s teaching that “to master one dharma [to be intimate with one thing] is to master all dharmas” points right at all-encompass­ing thoroughness as one of the hallmarks of intimacy.

I have to encourage you to overtly befriend a living place. The whole history of it. And sit at its knee, and ask the questions. You want a teacher that is billions of years old and comprised of endless relationships and lives. If you really want to learn, befriend a living place. Then learn its languages. Ask the questions. And listen.
– Darin Stevenson

I asked for very little from life,
and even this little was denied me.
A nearby field, a ray of sunlight,
a little bit of calm along with a bit of bread,
not to feel oppressed by the knowledge that I exist,
not to demand anything from others,
and not to have others demand anything from me—
this was denied me,
like the spare change we might deny a beggar
not because we’re mean-hearted
but because we don’t feel like unbuttoning our coat.
– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Aliveness nurtures Aliveness
– Eligio Stephen Gallegos

Our inner lives are every bit as astonishing, baffling, and mysterious as the infinite vastness of the cosmos.
– Adyashanti

It is because the ‘I am’ is false that it wants to continue. Reality need not continue — knowing itself indestructible, it is indifferent of forms and expressions. To strengthen and stabilize the ‘I am’, we do all sorts of things — all in vain, for the ‘I am’ is being rebuilt from moment to moment. It is unceasing work, and the only radical solution is to dissolve the separative sense of ‘I am such and such person’ once and for good. Being remains, but not self-being.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

If you hold on to the past—that heavy anvil—with both hands, you can’t reach for anything else. Set it down gently when you’re ready. Whatever you carry next, keep your grip soft. No white knuckles. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Don’t just give your gifts to people. Give relevance to the invisible by leaving offerings at rivers, or sewing prayer flags for the forest. Build cairns on mountain tops, plant wildflowers in parking lots, and live your life as it were an endless offering of beauty. Any small crumb of thanks we give to the holies makes them come alive with delight. The more we remember our invisible helpers, the more they remember us. Our days get progressively plumper with significance: the woodpecker drumming on the roof like a winged shaman reminds us how thin the veil between worlds is; the warm breeze through the sugar maple is whispering a secret for our ears; and the friend we bump into was sent by our own longing.
– Toko-pa Turner

A woman who can eat a real bruschetta
is a woman you can love and who can love you.
Someone who pushes the thing away
because it’s messy is never going to cackle
at you toothlessly across the living room
of your retirement cottage or drag you back
from your sixth heart attack by sheer furious
affection. Never happen. You need a woman
who isn’t afraid of a faceful of olive oil for that.
– Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World

Each of us must find the one form that will welcome the questions that will liberate our mind.
– Mark Nepo

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.
– Marc Chagall

Cosmic Consciousness has the following characteristics: It is a Presence. It is a very soft Presence; gentle, delicate, smooth and flowing. One is like a wisp, like a delicate and soft cloud. It is conscious. This Presence is experienced as the very stuff of consciousness. It feels like light itself, but more like the substance of light, not as rays of light, but as a flow of light, as an ocean of light. It is “light upon light”. It is Love. This conscious substance of light is soft, gentle, tender and sweet. It is loving. It is as if one becomes an ocean of Love that is conscious. So one can call it conscious love, or the Loving Light.. It is both Consciousness and Love in the same Presence. It is boundless. There is no sense of individual or personal boundaries in this aspect of Being. The conscious and loving Presence is felt to pervade everything, to extend infinitely, as a homogeneous soft medium. The Cosmic Consciousness is responsible for the appearance of form. This can be seen in a deeper experience and appreciation of this aspect of Being. One realizes that this conscious Presence is not only one’s own nature and substance, but that it is the nature and substance of all existence, including the physical universe.
– A. H. Almaas, Pearl Beyond Price

My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.
– Leonard Cohen

The usual idea we have is that meditation is to enlighten us, make us better, give us peace, or whatever. But for these people, meditation is not for oneself. It is an act of service for the sake of the cosmos. The purpose wasn’t to get something out of it. It was to attune oneself to the cosmos for the sake of the cosmos. I suspect that in traditional shamanic cultures this is implicit. But in the West, we’ve somehow become so individualized that we think it’s for us. It is for the sake of the cosmos and it has to do with the senses. It all comes back to the senses.
– Peter Kingsley

…I then felt myself being whisked off into the cosmos, further and further, beyond the sun, beyond our solar system, beyond the Milky Way. And even further until I was in the edge of the universe, and still further until I was at such vantage point that I could see the universe in its entirety. I was stunned by what I saw: the universe was alive! And it was a single organism of awesome complexity, but whole and totally integrated. I recognized that it was still in the stage of its early development, comparable to a fetus, still differentiating the various aspects of itself. I saw how everything that exists, including me and every being was a part of that awesome being. We were aspects of its components just like the various parts of own our being are aspects of who we are. I saw that everything that exists is part of a greater whole and that the whole requires every part in order to be fully who it is. Every part is essential. And out of this a harmony ensues….

The profound and mysterious complexity of the Universe accompanies me to this day, its unity, its aliveness, and the impossibility of ever expressing in words haunts me. Every aspect of the Universe, including us, has a place of relationship with it. We are perhaps the only beings who think that we are somehow independent, not realizing that our most profound task is to remain aligned with the Universe, in relationship with this awesome, vast being. And that our own wholeness is vital for the wholeness of the Universe. And only in this way do we ultimately come to experience our own place of belonging in the Universe.
– Eligio Stephen Gallegos PhD, Into Wholeness: The Path of Deep Imagery

life is so short. write the book that is yrs. help others to stay around & make art truly. don’t be too hard on yrself. forgive. play. luxuriate in imagination. find a way to share yr wonder with another. talk to animals. mostly, just be kind. see everyone who is trying & help.
– Matthew Burnside

Poetry stands in resistance to this commercial culture. It is not about acquiring material wealth; instead, it’s about human insight, genuine human connectivity, and promotes mindfulness and awakening. In that way, poetry is priceless.
– Arthur Sze

If a Bodhisattva
by David Budbill
If a Bodhisattva is one who, although enlightened,
chooses to remain here in this suffering world and
be with the Suffering People, then there is no escape
for any of us, since how could we gain enlightenment
by running away from the pain and injustice that are
all around us? To decide simply to remove yourself
from the fray, to sit down and find peace at the center
of a storm by ignoring the causes of that storm can’t
possibly be a way to any understanding, for if such is
impossible for a Bodhisattva how much more impossible
for the temporal and worldly likes of you and me?

Train hard, the world is depending on us.
– Tanouye Tenshin

How To Feed A Writer
Tempt the tongue with husky whispers the ears
barely hear but the belly remembers.
Place marinated steak on the embers.
Disregard his impatience. Ignore tears
borrowed from the protagonist, page eight.
Serve first for thirst the chilled and peppered booze
and let her stand beneath blue dragonflies
as soft winds blow lindens and day grows late.
Feed a writer everything delicious,
nothing bitter as novels to finish,
old poems to varnish, memoirs to banish.
What they curse and scribe, be it auspicious
or doomed or blamed on their big busy heads,
will be but words when they lie in their beds.
– Chris Ransick

Zazen should never become a means of making yourself feel good nor should it be a tranquilizer to settle excitement or wild thoughts. What is of primary importance is what the ancients called ‘no gaining and no merit’. Indeed, zazen consists in awakening us to our own essence so as to secure and express our True Selves in everyday conduct.
– Omori Sogen

Whatever you practice gets stronger. If you practice judging yourself every day, that gets stronger. If you practice recognizing, allowing, investigating, nurturing, that gets stronger and also quicker.

The real gift is that we start trusting our goodness. We start trusting the love and the awareness. Not only that, we start looking at each other and seeing that too. If we can trust the goodness, then we can help to bring it out in ourselves and each other.
– Tara Brach

It is easy to get compassion fatigue
when our compassion has a fix-it agenda,
or any other agenda for that matter.
Fierce Love, or selfless Love, has no agenda.
It is simply a spontaneously flowing response without any agenda, that does not see others as essentially lacking anything.
It is spontaneous Love in action,
compassion without separation.
Awakened beings for hundreds of years haven’t just crawled into a cave
and detached from the world.
Their engagement is a natural expression
of awakened consciousness,
and comes out of a sense of compassion.
There’s no perfect way to embody Love
or wisdom. You don’t get to a point
where you’re embodying the deepest state
of realization and there’s no deeper
or more embodied way to do it.
There is a sameness at the source
and the deepest core of our being.
When we really realize this,
it gives birth to a natural state
of compassionate love.
The ground of being transcends all qualities.
The form that emerges from it is a creative,
regenerative force, which is Love.
Whenever we bump into the deeper truths
of existence, they seem very paradoxical
to the mind. The deep truths of our being
include all the opposites and polarities,
and it enfolds them into a deeper view.
It takes fierceness and backbone
to be a compassionate presence.
It takes strength to stand up
for the more decent parts of human nature,
knowing that we will sometimes fail.
– Adyashanti

in the Saha world
where falsehoods hold sway
staying true is an art form
– F.O.

I exist as me. The mind, the heart, the body, are an external manifestation of me; but I’m the core, the being itself. I am the source and the ground of all of my experience. Only then are my thoughts, actions, and feelings original. Now they have nothing to do with what my mother or father, or even Christ or Buddha, said. To be me does not mean that I’m impersonal, universal light. That is a different experience, and that ocean of light, love, bliss is for me. I’m its flowering. It is in celebration of me, not the other way around. The pleasure, the joy, the love, the enlightenment are for me — for me as a being. So the being that we truly are is the point of it all, is why there is earth. The reason we are on earth is to be that.
– A. H. Almaas

We scientists are taught never to look for ourselves in other species. So we make sure that nothing looks like us. Until a short while ago, we didn’t even let chimpanzees have consciousness, let alone dogs or dolphins. Only man, you see: Only man could know enough to want things.

But believe me: trees want something from us, just as we’ve always wanted something from them. This isn’t mystical. The environment is alive – a fluid, changing web of purposeful lives dependent on each other. Love and war can’t be teased apart. Flowers shape bees as much as bees shape flowers. Berries may compete to be eaten more than animals compete for the berries. A thorn acacia makes sugary protein treats to feed and enslave the aunts who guard it. Fruit bearing plants trick us into distributing their seeds, and ripening fruit lead to color vision. In teaching us how to find their beat, trees taught us to see that the sky is blue. Our brains evolved to solve the forest. We’ve shaped and been shaped by the forests for longer than we’ve been Homo sapiens.

Men and trees are closer cousins than you think. We’re two things hatched from the same seed, heading off in opposite directions, using each other in a shared place. That place needs all its parts.

Tree stand at the heart of ecology, and they must come to stand at the heart of human politics. Tagore said, ‘trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.’ But people could be the heaven that the earth is trying to speak to.

If we could see green, we see a thing that keeps getting more interesting the closer we get. If we could see what green was doing, we’d never be lonely or bored. If we could understand green, we’d learn how to grow all the food we need in layers three deep, on the third of the ground we need right now, with plants that protected one another from pests and stress. If we knew what green wanted, we wouldn’t have to choose between the earths interests and ours. They’d be the same.
– Richard Powers

From the standpoint of the Kabbalist path and the Sufi path, working on oneself is not a matter of liberating oneself; rather, it is a matter of helping God live, helping God manifest in the world. … The more we see that the true nature of the world is harmony and love, the less there will be general suffering and the more God will live consciously through everyone. When you see this, you see that the theistic and the Buddhist approaches are working toward the same thing: Whether you talk about the enlightenment of all sentient beings or God existing consciously through all sentient beings, you are talking about all the eyes of the universe seeing the same harmony.
– A. H. Almaas

Intuitive Zen:
Connecting with your life passion is always your first priority. Without that, you can waste your whole life with stressful hard work, unnecessary degrees, wrong relationships, and distractions that never satisfy.

Caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence,
it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.
– Audre Lorde

There is still a window of time. Nature can win If we give her a chance.
– Dr. Jane Goodall

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only
to misinform or push an agenda.
It is to exhaust your critical thinking,
to annihilate truth.
– Garry Kasparov

We’ve rested the body.
Now let’s learn to rest the mind.
This is crucial for good physical
and mental health, let alone inner peace.
There are different levels of resting the mind. First, we just relax the intensity.
Second, we settle constant distraction.
Third, we stay present,
and we breathe slow and deep.
Fourth, we settle into the awareness. Awareness is the deeper level of the mind. Ocean is the analogy.
Turbulence and waves on the surface
are the unsettled discursive mind.
The deeper mind is awareness,
like the deeper ocean. To fully rest the mind,
we train in recognizing awareness,
like the deeper ocean.
This is the source of unconditional love
and compassion.
This is the source of the primordial
(always been there) wisdom.
This is the source of true inner peace and joy. Emaho!
– Barry Kerzin

One cannot know the rivers till one has seen them at their sources…
– Nan Shepherd

Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.
– Tina Fey

We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!
– Thomas Merton

Chandali Ishta:
Make the effort! Turn thought around. Write posts to support your values, your vision for this world. Don’t play into the hands of spin doctors with agendas to set whole groups of warrior heros against each other. Say how and why you are personally affected. Let’s keep revealing our humanity. Spin doctors cannot do so !!! Remember our hearts are continually rising in courage and embrace. This is who you are.

Dzongsar Khyentsé Rinpoche:
The Buddha said that if you know a trap
is a trap, you will not be caught.
The Buddha is talking about mindfulness.
But mindfulness is something
that is foreign to me,
so of course I get very much trapped
by all the praise and criticism.
Having said that, my gurus are very special,
and I always say that
if I do have a little bit of a spiritual quality,
it’s because of my teachers.
I remember something
His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse once told me.
I used to be very wild,
and sometimes people would report
my actions to him in hope
that he would scold me and discipline me.
But instead, he would tell me who it was
who told on me and would make a game of it. He used to say, ‘Don’t worry.
You must remember that whenever
there is one person out there
who doesn’t like you
or who thinks you are crazy,
there will be a hundred people
who are going to like you.
And similarly,
whenever there is one person who likes you, you shouldn’t get too excited about it,
because there will be a hundred people
who can’t stand you.’
So liking and disliking
are completely irrelevant.

Wonder is not precisely knowing.
– Emily Dickinson

I’m talking about an inherent way that the body can think; or at least, that when we think, the body is part of that. I’m talking about the inherent way that the body has language; when we talk, the body is part of that—it’s not just the muscles or the vocal chords. It’s clear that the body is linguistic and logical. It senses clarity and also senses itself.
– Eugene Gendlin

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – “No, YOU move.”
– J. Michael Straczynski

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
– Rabindranath Tagore

Each smallest act of kindness – even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile – reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined – those dead, those living, those generations yet to come – that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength – to the very survival of the human tapestry. Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in this momentous day.
– Dean Koontz

Five Essays
– Drew Gardner
1
Letting the groove be what it is. Letting the sounds go where they need to go. Committing to repetition, committing to texture. Following mind and ear rather than form. Trusting self-oscillation. Letting mind manifest itself. Beautiful and filthy, from attenuated to expansive. Letting the drone open the feeling. Panning slowly over the landscape. Trusting honesty. Moving toward feeling.
2
The lyre is very old. From a time, too long ago to remember, when things were all one thing. The lyre and the voice doubling. The cycles repeating, breathing. But not tiring. The buzzy, rich sound. The wisdom of plant life emerging from the universe and meeting, eventually, a strange thought of kindness. A calm, weird peace in your heart whispering something to you that you had forgotten.
3
A kind of ensemble felicity following solidarity. Fuzz squishes the multiple concepts to a scale where they can interact differently. They recombine into a possible larger good hard to guess at. Rather than compete the usual way. You don’t let the fear direct you, but you’re not unkind to it. The helpful flute riff. The blurry moments. The gigantism of open-mindedness. Feeling what kind of person you want to be, and letting that guide you. A kind of strength that comes from unfolding layers. Flammable things that never burn. You travel by staying in one place.
4
Horizons have their own thoughts. There is the patience of evolution, and there is the practice of waiting for someone you love to return. Suddenly the sounds around you are vivid and alive, and the subway escalator squeak relates an engrossing tale with a green subterranean light coming through the gaps.
5
There is a fire boiling the tea and there is a moment that will happen just this once. Then another line of sight. There is a mountain that slows down motion by changing its perspective and a rain that disappears and returns. It is your doctor who has passed away and you become a peculiar kind of  health. The beauty of not getting in others’ way repeating in cascades of novelty, so you don’t overstay your welcome. Move toward it and it expands, move away and it splashes humorously through the surface into the sunlight.

The power of the pause…
Between each thought there is a resting place. If you studied an electro-encephalograph you’d see that the mind has resting places. In order for us to perceive something clearly, it is important to return to our resting place; not to carry over an idea from the past or an idea about the future.

It’s somewhat like a calculator. You put in one plus two and you get three. Then you put in two plus two and you’ll get seven unless you push “C” for clear, between the two calculations.

So it’s very important to push “C” or you’re going to carry over the last calculation into the present one. So let go of any ideas; just push “C”. The point is to return to your center and listen, trust, have faith, have courage. Push C.”
– Barbara Rhodes

And who among us is not neurotic,
and has never complained
that they are not understood?
Why did you come here, to this place,
if not in the hope of being understood,
of being in some small way comprehended
by your peers, and embraced by them
in a fellowship of shared secrets?
I don’t know about you, but I just want to be held.
– Mary Ruefle

Church is not something we go to,
it’s how we live together.
– Bob Holmes

A Fantastic Salad
Harry Salmenniemi

“Incredible salad. Quite insanely good salad.”

“Amazing salad. Quite a wonderful salad.”

“This is really nice. So what’s in it?”

“It’s rocket. I’ve seasoned it slightly. But just normal Italian rocket with a seasoning I made myself.”

“Insanely good. Definitely the best salad I’ve eaten. Is this leaf lettuce?”

“It is, yes. I’ve seasoned that too, with a completely different seasoning. As well as the leaf lettuce and the rocket, there are various types of butterhead lettuce and crisphead lettuce, iceberg lettuce mostly. The long, narrowish leaves are cos lettuce, which I grew myself in a pot. There’s also baby gem lettuce, batavia lettuce, and round lettuce, both normal and crispy-leaved, I also added a little oak leaf lettuce with serrated leaves. The colourful parts are lollo rosso. The crispiness of the leaves is midway between butterhead and crisphead lettuce. There’s also some celtuce, Lactuca sativa var. angustana.”

“This doesn’t look like ordinary lettuce.”

“That’s endive there. What you’re touching now is a broad-leaved endive, an escarole. That one that’s a bit similar is called a curled endive, frisée lettuce or Cichorium endivia var. crispum. They are plants you can use in a multitude of ways; their slight hairiness is due to the intybine. They’re said to aid digestion and also to increase appetite. I seasoned both of them with a splash of vinegar. There’s also common chicory, Cichorium intybus. Originally I thought I’d gratinate it, but then I thought that given there wasn’t that much of it, it could just be served raw in the salad with the radicchio. As you noticed, there’s a bit more radicchio here, it’s the red bits there. I used two kinds, both round-leaved and pointed, because I couldn’t quite choose between them. It’s true that they do resemble one another, but there’s still a difference in the taste. I moistened the radicchio slightly with lemon, grapefruit, and blood grapefruit. Some of it is young rosettes, some mature radicchios. There’s some green radicchio in there to impart a contrasting flavour; it’s sweet-tasting. I don’t know if you’ve encountered it yet.”

“It looks like it’s got cabbage in it too.”

“There are a few cabbage species in there. There’s some normal Chinese cabbage, broccoli, savoy cabbage and cauliflower, kale, sprouts, and kohlrabi. To balance them out, I also added some more unusual and exciting flavours, from pak choi to pale cabbage and elongated mustard. Hopefully you can taste the variety. With cabbage it’s sometimes almost as if it wants to hide in the background; then again, that makes the beans stand out better. You could almost say the flavour really comes from the seasoned beans. That’s why I tried to be really precise when it came to the beans and the peas. The dark spicy ones are normal black beans spiced with chilli, but there’s also kidney beans in there. I also used normal peas and chickpeas, green beans, mung beans, adzuki beans, soya beans, peanuts, lentils, just a hint of lucerne, broad beans, and clover. Please don’t think that this was expensive at all. I pick a lot of wild herbs this time of year. And as you might have noticed, the salad contains birch, bulrush, buttercup petals, caraway, coltsfoot, common reed, fireweed, milfoil, orpine, some plantain, raspberries, red clover, rose petals, silverweed, sorrel, spear thistle, white clover, and wild strawberries. Their function is to add depth to the flavour and make the combination more interesting.”

“This is absolutely excellent.”

“Really exciting to eat. New flavours keep appearing all the time.”

“Thanks. That’s what I was aiming for, an exciting salad.”

“Even though there’s so much green in it, the cheeses taste good.”

“I tried to make the seasoning echo the flavours of the cheeses.”

“The fruit is good as well.”

“There’s all kind of fruit in this aren’t there?”

“I chose some of my favourite fruits. Hopefully they don’t taste all that watery. I didn’t dry them completely, though I did try to drain off the worst of the water. First I put in some apricot, banana and cooking banana, custard apple, kiwi, orange, pineapple, and pomegranate.

There’s also avocado, cactus pear, Cape gooseberry, carambola—also known as star fruit, chestnut, Chinese pear, coconut, golden passion fruit, granadilla, grapefruit, guava, jackfruit, kiwai, and kiwano. The recipe also includes kumquat, lime, limequat, mango, mangosteen, maracuya, melon, nectarine, papaya, pepino—also known as sweet cucumber—which I, peach, pepino – also known as sweet cucumber- which I added very sparingly, and persimmon. The more common citrus fruits are in there to provide refreshing little surprises: there’s clementine, satsuma, tangelo, bitter orange, tangor—also known as temple orange, and tangerine. To give the flavour landscape a more southern feel, I also added dates, dragon fruit, fig, pomelo, rambutan, sapodilla, salak, tangelo, tamarillo—also known as tree tomato, and vinel eaves.

Not forgetting my favourite melon, of course. Cantaloupe melon goes best with galia melon, honeydew melon, and sugar melon, but I wanted to go a bit wild so at the end I added Korean melon and watermelon as well. Hopefully you can tell all the flavours apart. Then again, I was afraid the melon would make the salad too watery. Salad’s impossible to eat when it’s too watery.”

“This isn’t at all watery.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“I like all the cheese. This is really nice. This must be blue-veined cheese?”

“It’s blue-veined cheese, yes, and besides that little bit of blue-veined cheese there’s some Manchego; well, actually I’m not too sure. It might be Gorgonzola I added at the very last minute. I can’t see that far. Hopefully it’s nice too.

“Oh, it is. There’s lots of different cheeses as well. Two pieces might look alike, but taste completely different.”

“I also put in some more common kinds of cheese. As usual, I decided to go for Italian cheese again. So the salad has Bel Paese, Bitto, Caprino, Fontina, Grana Padano, mozzarella, parmesan, pecorino, ricotta, Robiola, Taleggio, and Toma. I also added feta, halloumi, Brie, Camembert, Morbier, Port Salut, and Roquefort. I also like the French ones, of course. But there’s a dark side to me, because if you taste carefully, you’ll also notice some English cheeses in the salad. They might be surprising initially, but I do think they’re really very good. I put in Cheddar, Cheshire, Gloucester, Shropshire Blue, Stilton and Wensleydale. From Holland there’s also Edam, Gouda, Maaslander, and Verkeerskaas. I must confess I practically worship the taste of them. Finnish squeaky cheese—leipäjuusto—and creamy cheese especially is really underrated, basically because it’s so common. A good gouda is a king among cheeses though. Northern Europeans never really appreciate what they make themselves, and Eastern Europeans aren’t much better. That’s why I added a dash of Polish colour: Oscypek, Bundz, Bryndza, Redykołka, and Rokpol. They all have interesting flavours and go well together. Of course the salad also has the Finnish squeaky cheese – leipäjuusto- and creamy cheese, geitost, brunost, Jarlsberg and gamalost, Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, and raclette. I was trying to create a palette of cheeses that was different yet unassuming.”

“This is really nice.”

“The chicken goes really well with this, so does the duck.”

“Actually that’s not duck, it’s willow grouse. I used birds much more sparingly; I tried to concentrate on the simple game, poultry with flavours that would be sure to go well together. I put in a little hazel hen and willow grouse, as well as some ptarmigan breast slices, black grouse, and capercaillie. Mostly capercaillie. It’s got a rugged kind of flavour, as if you were eating it in a scenic forest landscape. Capercaillie has such a perfect flavour I could almost cry when I taste it. I didn’t put in any other meat though. I did consider putting in some bear meat originally, but then I thought that might be overdoing things. Hopefully the lack of it doesn’t affect the taste too badly. I’m a little sorry for not putting in more meat, even if it is a salad.”

“There’s nothing missing from this.”

“Not at all. You must have told us all the ingredients now.”

“Well if you really want to know, then I did add some ingredients I found in the garden as well, like sand rock cress, hoary cress, purple mustard, scurvy grass, lundy cabbage, goosefoot, swinecress, sea kale, toothwort, tansy mustard, sand rocket, whitlow grass, ribwort, wallflower, Syrian mustard, black radish, shepherd’s purse, and Alpine pennycress. I think that’s all.”

“Unbelievable that a salad could be so varied. I’m not even going to dare ask how you seasoned all that.”

“This is great. This really is excellent, no two ways about it.”

“Thanks everyone. I made the dressing myself from scratch, but I’m not keeping the recipe a secret. It was much simpler than the salad. When it comes to dressing, I’ve always thought that simple is beautiful and beautiful is good.”

“This is a fantastic salad. And the dressing is excellent as well.”

“It is. This is a fantastic, fantastic salad.”

– translated from the Finnish by D. E. Hurford

LONELINESS
is the doorway to unspecified desire. In the bodily pain of aloneness is the first step to understanding how far we are from a real friendship, from a proper work or a long sought love. Loneliness can be a prison, a place from which we look out at a world we cannot inhabit; loneliness can be a bodily ache and a penance, but loneliness fully inhabited also becomes the voice that asks and calls for that great, unknown someone or something else we want to call our own.

Loneliness is the very state that births the courage to continue calling, and when fully lived can undergo its own beautiful reversal, becoming in its consummation, the far horizon that answers back.

In the grand scale of things, loneliness is a privilege. Human beings may have the ability to feel aloneness as no other creature can; with a power magnified by intelligence and imagination. Animals may feel alone in an instinctual way, moving naturally and affectionately toward others of their kind, but human beings may be the only beings that can articulate, imagine or call for a specific life they feel they might be missing.

Loneliness is the substrate and foundation of belonging, the gravitational field that draws us home and in the beautiful essence of its isolation, the hand reaching out for togetherness. To allow ourselves to feel fully alone is to allow ourselves to understand the particular nature of our solitary incarnation, to make aloneness a friend is to apprentice ourselves to the foundation from which we make our invitation others. To feel alone is to face the truth of our irremediable and unutterable singularity, but a singularity that can kiss, create a conversation, make a vow or forge a shared life. In the world or community, this essential singularity joins with others through vision, intellect and ideas to make a society.

Loneliness is not a concept, it is the body constellating, attempting to become proximate and even join with other bodies: through physical touch, through conversation, through bodily vulnerability or the mediation of the intellect and the imagination. Loneliness is the place from which we pay real attention to voices other than our own; being alone allows us to find the healing power in the other. The shortest line in the briefest e-mail can heal, embolden, welcome home and enliven the most isolated identity. Human beings are made to belong. Loneliness is the single malt taste of the very essentiality that makes conscious belonging possible. The doorway is closer than we think. I feel alone; therefore I belong.
– David Whyte

This is the underlying intent of Yom Kippur. It is the annual erotic union of Creator with Creation, the blending of the Light of the Spirit Realm with the Light of the Physical Realm, the kiss of the two universes, of the hidden universe and the unfolding universe, of the known world and the unknown world.

Lovemaking, writes the 16th-century Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, happens in stages. First there is the arousal, then the embrace, then the kiss, then the union. The kiss, in particular, he writes, is of utmost importance: “And the kiss needs to be mouth to mouth, breath to breath. And as the feminine breathes into the mouth of the masculine, she breathes into him the mystery-essence of the feminine which dwells exclusively in the universe of the feminine, and as the male breathes into the mouth of the female, he breathes into her the mystery-essence of the masculine which dwells exclusively in the universe of the masculine, and the kiss ought to happen with this quality of cleaving and binding one to the other” (in Pardes Rimonim, Sha’ar Ma’hut V’Ha’han’hagah, end of Ch. 21).


While Rabbi Moshe Cordovero was describing the Sacred Lovemaking between a mortal couple, he was also associating mortal intimacy with the intimate union of Creator and Creation, and elsewhere he impresses us with the age-old insistence of older Kabbalistic teachings that arousal of Above requires arousal from Below (in Pardes Rimonim, Sha’ar Ma’hut V’Ha’han’hagah, beginning of Ch. 20). The response, the joining, of Creator to and with Creation waits for Creation to initiate. Passion of Earth arouses response from Sky (Zohar, Vol. 1, folios 29b, 35a, and 46a-b).

So no wonder there was no Wrath of God stuff in response to our ancestors’ forgetting to observe Yom Kippur while celebrating the completion of the Temple” (Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 17:2), the housing of the Holy of Holies, the very bedchamber, so to speak, of the union of Creator and Creation. (Midrash Devarim Rabbah 2:14).

And no wonder the ancients taught (Midrash B’reisheet Rabbah 3:8) that Yom Kippur was the time God created Light (passion), and Mountains (earth reaching toward sky), and Sky (sky reacting to earth’s arousal with its own arousal, responding with rain that then impregnates the earth [Genesis 2:6]), and Earth (earth births forth vegetation in response to sky).

And so no wonder the rites of Yom Kippur in ancient Israel included women dancing in the vineyards (Mishnah Ta’anit 4:8). Wine evokes passion. Dancing stirs passion. Earth is feminine. And so they stirred and whirled and rejoiced to arouse the lovemaking, the union, of Mother of the Above with Mother of the Below. The men, however, did not join with them. They observed. It was not the time for men to join with women. It was the time of the two Mothers to join with one another, Earth Mother and the Queen of Heaven. The masculine attribute of God, the King of Heaven, had to withdraw and hang with the guys outside the boundaries of the vineyard where the feminine danced herself into ecstasy. It was the men’s role to hold the space, to contain. It was actually a role-reversal: whereas women gift men with containment, tempering and directing their energies, on Yom Kippur the men took on this role while the women let go and danced uninhibitedly in the vineyards.
– Gershon Winkler

If a Bodhisattva

If a Bodhisattva is one who, although enlightened,
chooses to remain here in this suffering world and

be with the Suffering People, then there is no escape
for any of us, since how could we gain enlightenment

by running away from the pain and injustice that are
all around us? To decide simply to remove yourself

from the fray, to sit down and find peace at the center
of a storm by ignoring the causes of that storm can’t

possibly be a way to any understanding, for if such is
impossible for a Bodhisattva how much more impossible

for the temporal and worldly likes of you and me?
– David Budbill

Wonder is not precisely knowing.
– Emily Dickinson

We don’t know anything about silent sages, buried knowledge, the eye of the mute poet, serene seers, yet how many talkative destroyers, prophets and ideologues, teachers and beautifiers there are on the other side.
– Serbian poet Dejan Stojanovic

To rise into love you must descend into your wounds.
– Robert Bly

Students achieving oneness will move ahead to twoness.
– Woody Allen

Lying under the stars,
In the summer night,
……
My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes, I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.
The faint breeze in the dark pines,
And the invisible grass,
The tipping earth, the swarming stars
Have an eye that sees itself.
– Kenneth Rexroth

Amor Fati
You should arm yourself,
not like a Caesar with a raised sword
against the world, but with the words:
Amor Fati — love your fate.

You shall make this axiom
your strongest liberator;
You have chosen your path in the thicket.
Don’t look sideways at other paths!

The pain, too, is your servant.
Paralyzed, crushed and rejected
you see that it reunites you
with what is required.

The fall and the betrayal, too,
will help you like friends.
Your defeats are rich
gifts placed in your hands.

Once, contented
by being worthy of your destiny
you shall know: This was my will.
All that happens to me happens justly.

Then say, when the green woods
of your joy for life has been wondered through:
I want nothing different.
I want nothing changed.

– André Bjerke
(translated by Hossein Kashani)

If someone is suicidal, in pain, at a food bank, unemployed, working class, mentally ill, physically ill, abused, agoraphobic, alone, addicted, homeless, whatever, stop telling them about their privilege. All this misery Olympics is so ostracising and self-defeating.
– Matt Haig

When someone dies, we go searching for poetry […]

But I want elegies while I’m still alive, I want rhapsodies though I’ve never seen Mount Olympus. I want ballads, I want ugly, grating sounds, I want repetition, I want white space […] and most of all—feelings
– Jenny Zhang

poet a. j. heschel wrote a book called “god in search of man”. this image reverses the more prevalent view of man as “seeker” of god. in other words, rather than going on pilgrimage, man needs only to direct his attention to the call aimed at him. in heschel’s poetry, how do we respond to the call? in the embrace of the neighbor. the neighbor is the call and the sacrament. nothing more difficult than this, for to hear is to respond. heschel’s concept of god searching for man is a profoundly ethical-dialogical insight. that is to say, the call from god is not a mystical experience nor it is a gnostic perception. the call from god is an existential demand to respond to the grace that is the between of us and the world.
– hune margulies

Unfolding Your Own Myth & Ibrahim’s Epiphany – Rumi

Unfolding your own myth: “… Chase a deer and end up everywhere! … It’s all a mystical journey to the Friend …”
– Rumi

The Self discovery journey is unique, intimate, unpredictable, terrifying yet exhilarating … and of course lot more than that. Each of us “finds” our “place” and “method” or “practice” of “connecting with our inner self.” Maybe it is early dawn meditation at home … or sitting in a zendo morning or evening or some prescribed time – alone or with a sangha – … or visiting a church or temple or mosque … or go on a solo-retreat in nature or at a monastery or spiritual sanctuary … or anything that “waters the budding soul seeds” …

Rumi does this daily “soul building” in what he calls the “far mosque.” Coleman Barks talks about this in the preamble of the chapter titled A Green Shawl: Solomon’s Far Mosque in his book The Essential Rumi :

“… Rumi tells of Solomon’s practice of building each dawn a place made of intention and compassion and sohbet (mystical conversation). He calls it the “far mosque.” Solomon goes there to listen to the plants, the new ones that come up each morning. They tell him of their medicinal qualities, their potential for health, and also the dangers of poisoning …”

Coleman continues in that same preamble:

“… Rumi often hears it as the birdlike song-talk that begins at dawn under the dome of meditation. Build a far mosque where you can read your soul-book and listen to the dreams that grew in the night. Attar says,
Let love lead your soul.
Make it a place to retire to,
a kind of cave, a retreat
for the deep core of being.
…”

Regardless of where/how this “soul building” is, what is important is to deepen the self discovery and hopefully, in a practical, worldly sense recognize what am i as an individual here for? what is my unique “journey” in the universe? what is “my myth?”

Carl Jung says finding your myth is the “task of tasks” … “… what it means to live with a myth, and what it means to live without one … in the most natural way, I took it upon myself to get to know my myth, and this I regarded as my task of tasks.”

… and Rumi also underscores this “task of tasks” by recommending that we “unfold our own myth” and be aware that “all plans are subject to revision” because “God lives between a human being and the object of his or her desire.”

Unfold Your Own Myth
Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
sunrise spain first light myth rumi
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son
and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet? Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?
Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there’s a pearl. A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he’s wealthy.
But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.
Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown,
lifting.
-Rumi

The implications of “unfolding your own myth” are profound as Rumi says in the above poem “… Chase a deer and end up everywhere …” … or as he says in his account of Ibrahim’s epiphany: “… It’s all a mystical journey to the Friend …” Coleman provides Rumi’s accounting of Ibrahim’s story – or the unfolding of Ibrahim’s myth – in the Notes section of The Essential Rumi:

The line “Chase a deer and end up everywhere!” is a reference to Ibrahim (d. 783), whose story is given below. A prince of Balkh, Ibrahim represents to the sufis someone who in one visionary moment gives up his external kingdom for the inner majesty. There are striking similarities between his life and Gautama the Buddha’s. Balkh seems to have been an area where Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity met and blended; lotus motifs appear on the ancient ruins there. Here is Rumi’s account of Ibrahim’s epiphany:

Ibrahim, when he was still king, went out hunting. As he galloped after a deer, he became separated from his retinue. His horse was tired and lathered, but still Ibrahim rode. Deep in the wilderness, the fleeing deer turned its head and spoke, “You were not created for this chase. This deer body did not take shape out of nothingness, so that you might hunt. Supposing you catch me, will that be enough?”

Ibrahim heard these words deeply and cried out. He reined in his horse and dismounted. There was a shepherd nearby. “Take this royal jacket sewn with jewels. Take my horse and my bow. Give me your shepherd’s robe of coarse cloth, and tell no one what has happened!”

The exchange was made, and Ibrahim set out on his new life. He made such an extraordinary effort to catch the deer and ended up being caught by God! All plans are subject to revision. God lives between a human being and the object of his or her desire. “It’s all a mystical journey to the Friend.”
– Coleman Barks, Discourse #44

One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
– James Joyce

I can’t decide whether to be deciduous
And let all my beliefs go
In a glorious blaze of color

Or adopt the evergreen’s attitude
And drop a belief here and there
With no one the wiser.
– Bobbie Gorman

If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery.
Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.

By waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe.
– Tom Robbins

I came into poetry feeling as though, on some level, these words were not just mine but my grandparents’, their parents’.

– Joy Harjo

*

they visited / me in a stanza where we could be nearest each other / breathing
– Layli Long Soldier

JEFF BROWN:
Shaming people for what they “should have known” never supports progress. Helping them to see what they don’t yet see, does. It’s very easy to look down at those who don’t yet see what you see. But where does that get us? Nowhere. There are many things I did, because I didn’t know better. And even if there is something I now see, there are also many things I don’t yet see. We are all victims (and victors) of context. If you believe in individual and collective transformation, you realize that we are always at a particular moment in time. We see through the eyes of our context, and as that context evolves, so do our ‘realeyesations’. That process can’t happen alone. The road to change is fraught with patterns and potholes. We need each other to traverse new terrain. We need each other to be our eyes, as we forge new pathways of possibility. Let’s do that with compassion. Let’s do that with reverence for each other’s contribution. We are lost without each other.

Walter Bargen: Which brings us to one certainty. . .
sure, tell me the sun sets, rises,
you don’t even have to predict the phases
of the moon or solar flareups,
but can you tell me the colors
sweeping the sky this evening,
can you tell me exactly the volcanic-ash
effects, the drought and dust effects,
the shift of light along the spectrum,
the slashing red as these little erupted stones
melt into the sky as the pall of dust drifts deeper,
and if nothing is ever certain, not even
that two thousand or so years later I may
or may not have inhaled a few atoms
of Caesar Augustus, so Et tu Brute again,
and maybe Charlemagne, probably not Trotsky,
how polluted is the air in this town
when so much lingers for so long,
hacking historical inversions, we deeply
inhale each other, so if there is no point
but the mingling there’s nothing to belabor,
and then we simply declare the nothing of nothing,
distilled down to the clichéd butterfly in Brazil
that sneezes, sucking in Mansanto’s poison
then Balsanaro’s fires inhale its wings,
and then the last three people in London die.

In any society, the artist has a responsibility…a painter or writer cannot change the world. But they can keep an essential margin of non-conformity alive. Thanks to them the powerful can never affirm that everyone agrees with their acts.
– Luis Bunuel

I’m sorry I won’t be around a hundred years from now. I’d like to
see how it all turns out. What language most of you are speaking.
What country is swaggering across the globe. I’m curious to know
if your medicines cure what ails us now. And how intelligent your
children are as they parachute down through the womb. Have
you invented new vegetables? Have you trained spiders to do your
bidding? Have baseball and opera merged into one melodic sport?
A hundred years . . . My grandfather lived almost that long. The
doctor who came to the farmhouse to deliver him arrived in a
horse-drawn carriage. Do you still have horses?
– David Shumate

From what we cannot hold the stars are made.
– W. S. Merwin

Terence McKenna:
Our culture takes us out of the body and sells our loyalty into political systems, into religions, into inanimate objects and machines, collections . . .

You should rather be grateful for the weeds, because eventually they will enrich your practice.
– Shunryu Suzuki

h@ItsAPerfectLife:
i am one bottomless sky, and i will never be content with anyone who isn’t into exploring depths

Dr. Thema:
Find or create spaces where you can unmask, breathe, cry, remember, dream, dance, put down your shield. Find or create… home.

Look out for the grain of things, the way of things. Move in accord with it and work is thereby made simple.
– Alan Watts

The question I was thinking about in this book,” she told me, “was, Can you still just tend your own garden once you know about the fire outside its walls?
– Jenny Offill

Intuitive Zen
The universe is already giving you what you absolutely love and have always w
Poetry is my life, my postmark, my hands, my kitchen, my face.

Poetry is my life, my postmark, my hands, my kitchen, my face.
– Anne Sexton

Intuitive Zen:
The only way to uproot a pattern of powerlessness is to dive into it and let yourself feel completely weak, helpless, needy…. Liberated from the pressure to be strong, your natural, authentic power is released from its cage.

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin:
I have an idea. What if the dominant society decided to do what all other living species and Indigenous human cultures have always done: live off of flows of solar energy and contribute value back to the ecosystems that support us?

Poetry and prose alone has saved my life.
– Anne Sexton

Whoever follows those who follow the way discovers his family and is filled with joy.
– Dhammapada

In fiction, all experience is somebody’s experience. All knowledge is something that someone specific knows. The engine of fiction is imagined points of view that aren’t your own. There is a kind of royal imaginative power in that
– Francis Spufford

todd dillard:
I love it when a poet wields what looks like a child’s logic, it’s an amazing way to make me split my reading into something resembling child-like awe but also the adult in me eager to really explore/dissect/see where the poem is going.

Words need love too
own their own valleys vowels
precious
in holding choices chalices.
– Kamau Brathwaite

I Am Learning to Abandon the World
by Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

What if the ways we respond to crisis is part of the crisis?

How do we respond to crisis?

[A We Will Dance with Mountains III Note]

…I don’t want to advocate purity, or the tyranny of re-wilding, as if we could. But I do want us to account for our relationship with nature. How are our ‘performances of nature’ as you said, hurting other beings? Given the premises of co-emergence, relationality, interbeing, what kind of response can be formed? What does this knowledge ask of us? If we are not to be dichotomous about good and bad, what is the alternative that won’t lead us into a moral relativism that accepts the harm being done as something blameless, unaccountable or even acceptable?And what response would promote accountability without purity, without moral righteousness and without some reified goodness? What process can get us engaged in a relationship with responsibility in a world so ‘queer’ and ‘preposterous’ as this?’
– Dr. Bayo Akomolafe

I don’t know how to explain why I feel more alone now. Maybe it was because we shared memories. Memories only he and I knew, even though we never spoke of them when we met. I realize now it didn’t matter that we didn’t talk about them. They were a presence.
– Natalia Ginzburg

I found a less formal vocabulary and a cadence better suited to what I had to say.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

STRANGER IS
by Leah Umansky

That it might have been yesterday,
But here we are and it is astonishing.
The hidden and the rejected fall off.
The chaotic firsts, the exiled words, the discovery
Of lie upon lie.
Don’t let them.
Don’t let them forget to say their name aloud.
Remember, this volume of our future is overwhelmed
By what is vivid. This sensory overload is fashioned in the air,
Thick with blossom and ripe with insult.
Exhale.
There is so much in this to adore:
The coming together the discussion,
The ardent resistance, and, the next generation,

conspiring re-evaluating flowering

Don’t forget the horror. The unrelenting slog,
The brain-noise the steeping-must of hate,
The mulling-over of falsehoods.
It is too much to keep to one’s self.

I have hopes here, still unquelled.
Within our bodies, inside,
Is another inside,
And another inside,
And another inside that,
Like a procession of thrones.

Peel back the gilded.
Be kind to yourself, but notice the shifting of hands.
Think about how things are casted,
The tangible things.
Those that used to be casted by hands,
Are now spun in lies.

I am disappointed in my country’s dreams,
In my countless dreams, and in my country of dreams.
I am most disappointed in my own inability to see.
I keep saying to myself, darkness doesn’t hold, and it won’t,
So don’t close.
Think: beacon, reckon rage,
And then fathom the unthinkable.
This is not a country that stops.

Take the road going north, further and further north. Go up through the valley, between the mountain ranges…See how the mountains rise up on both sides. Then, just when you can see the little village ahead of you in the distance, slow down and turn right…Off the pavement now, and onto the gravel road. Begin to climb up, up to the high plateau. The road gets smaller, more rutted and less used. Don’t worry. Just keep going…until you find a lane that leads off to the right…stop your car. Park it there. Get out. Go on foot now, up the lane and up the final slope, to the dooryard, garden, orchard–for this is where The Man Who Lives Alone in the Mountains lives…Step up onto the porch. Approach the door. Raise your hand and knock, then wait to hear Come in!…Take off your coat and shoes. Sit down at his table. He has bread and jam, sweet cakes, fruit and a steaming pot of tea. Help yourself to something good to eat, pour a cup of tea. Sit back now and listen to his story.
– David Budbill

All good things
are wild and free.
– Henry David Thoreau

Daily Stoic:
How Do the Stoics Define Wisdom?

Wisdom is harnessing what the philosophy teaches then wielding it in the real world. As Seneca put it, “Works not words.” Wisdom ultimately informs action.

Ethan Nichtern:
A great way to check an item off your to-do list is to realize that you don’t need to do it after all.

The feeling of accomplishment is enormous.

Rumi says that to cry out in weakness is what invites healing to pour in towards it…. How strong one must be to allow themselves to be seen in their weakness. And how brave the other to be unwaveringly helpless. Pain took me into the practice of showing up empty-handed and still being loveable. Pain and injury and illness ask us to consider that our lives are worthy without justification.

It could happen any time, tornado, earthquake,
Armageddon. It could happen.
– Yes, William Stafford

It’s Saturday and I’m choosing to sit on a broken fence,
the logs all weathered and fallen.
I am choosing to sit in the sun on a broken fence
beside a dirt parking lot in a high desert.
Perhaps I do not really believe
that this is the only moment that matters?
Perhaps I don’t trust that I could be gone,
that all life could be gone in one blink,
in one bomb, in one meteorite.

Or is it that I choose to sit on a broken fence
beside a dirt parking lot with the scent of pine
edging each breath and the sound
of cottonwood leaves rustling then stilling
because this, too, matters, this willingness
to treat each breath as if it were the first,
to treat each place as if it is the last
and give it my full attention. To be like the birds
sitting on the barbed wire knowing now, now
is the moment to sing.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

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

Gunilla Norris:
We think of tenderness as being soft, a quality characterized by gentleness. In my experience when we act with tenderness our actions can enter circumstances and change them more deeply than other qualities do. Tenderness, like water, finds it quiet way through almost all barriers. Taking its time, tenderness is fierce.

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast:
“Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan. In Isaiah, we’re told “to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” The Torah commands: “Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Koran instructs: “Stand out firmly for justice.” So history shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful. Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So freedom of religion matters to our national security.”

There is no piecemeal way to do this. We live in a system that took many, many years to build, and it’s going to take some time to get back. We need a systemic solution. That comes from really examining, interrogating and changing the policy and economic regime that we live in.
– Demond Drummer, New Consensus

Instead of affirming the centrality of humans for the umpteenth time, it would be interesting to move beyond the anthropo-centered frame that has enclosed Western minds for centuries and build a new, less destructive relationship with the other species living on this planet.
– Jeremy Narby

If you go to the Amazon, for example, and ask people there about their word for nature, for everything that is not human, they say they have no such concept. And on the contrary, they tend to view most other species as people like us.
– Jeremy Narby

I’ve got like 99 problems but healing my nervous system solved 90 of them.
– The Adrenal Recode

The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.
– Robert M. Pirsig

Some lose yet gain, others gain and yet lose.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Standing on a granite dome in Yosemite
high above a summer-green meadow
she watched a man methodically
strap to his back
huge multicolored bird wings.
He tested and re-tested the straps. Secure
that he was secure,
just before charging full speed
off the edge,
he turned to a friend and
said,
See you at lunch.

She watched as he circled, drifting
round, dropping imperceptibly
towards the valley floor.
Yes, lovely, his spherical journey.
She imagined herself running off the edge,
throwing herself into all that blue-eyed
space.

Later, her lover is away for the weekend.
They need to miss each other.
She hangs the mirror and
her lover’s grandmother’s clock.
Covers the pillow,
tidies up one of her many
stacks of stuff,
goes to a movie alone,
rises early,
writes this poem.

Love hurls itself,
luminous,violent.
Spirals.

The light outside––extraordinary.

How long will we love each other?

– Lauren Crux

Songs, people, the closer you get to them, the more complex their identity shows and the more nuances and details appear. I learned that identity is infinitely dense, like an infinite series of real numbers, and that even if you get very close and zoom in, it never ends.

Things only look pure, if you see them from far away. It’s very important to know about our roots, to know where we come from, to understand our history. But at the same time, as important as knowing where we are from, is understanding that deep down, we are not completely from one place, and a little bit from everywhere.
– Jorge Drexler, Poetry, Music and Identity, TED Talk

Spirituality is completely ordinary. Though we might speak of it as extraordinary, it is the most ordinary thing of all.
– Chogyam Trungpa

To love people as they are is impossible.
And yet one must.
And therefore do good to them,
clenching your feelings,
holding your nose, and shutting your eyes
(this last is necessary).
Endure evil from them,
not getting angry with them if possible,
remembering that you, too, are a human being.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Adolescent

One can and must live with loss and grief
and sorrow and bereavement.
Together they frame this life,
as solid as the ceiling, and the floor
and the walls and the doors.
But there is something else, like a bird that flies
away at the first sign of one’s attention,
or a cricket chirping in the dark,
never settling close enough for one to tell
from which corner the song comes.
– Yiyun Li, Where Reasons End

LATE FRAGMENT

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
– Raymond Carver

I should love my neighbour not because he is neighbourhood, — for what is there in neighbourhood and distance? nor because the religions tell me he is my brother, — for where is the root of that brotherhood? but because he is myself. Neighbourhood and distance affect the body, the heart goes beyond them. Brotherhood is of blood or country or religion or humanity, but when self-interest clamours what becomes of this brotherhood? It is only by living in God & turning mind and heart & body into the image of his universal unity that that deep, disinterested and unassailable love becomes possible.
– Sri Aurobindo

Shutting down the now closes our window to life.
– Mark Nepo

Terence McKenna:
The truth doesn’t need your cooperation to exist.

All forms of cult, all forms of hype, all forms of delusion do require your participation in order to exist.

Terence McKenna:
Cultural conditioning is like bad software. Over and over it is diddled with and re-written, so that it can just run on the next attempt. But there is cultural hardware, otherwise known as authentic being, that we are propelled toward by the example and techniques of the shaman.

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

Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring.
– Gwendolyn Brooks

Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful . . . and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.
– Zadie Smith

Lucinda Williams
“I need freedom in my life,” she sang. “I need hope in my life. I need peace in my life. I need love in my life.”
And the audience stood up and cheered. As if, collectively, we were all saying the same thing: “Yes, Lucinda, we do need that. Especially right now.”

I don’t want to talk about it, for fear of making literature out of it – or without being sure of not doing so – although as a matter of fact literature originates within these truths.
– R. Barthes, Mourning Diary

Authority is a big word that troubles most people, especially in the form of the authorities. And yet, the roots of authority go back to ancient Greek words like author, augment, and authentic. So there can be forms of genuine or authentic authority that develop from roots that are deeper than social regulations or even common laws. What I’m calling authentic authority is rooted not in the common world, but in something deeper, that is both more original and more creative. When people become able to draw from the roots of their deeper self, they become authentic and able to act with true originality, for the deep self is secretly connected to the origins of life.
The word authentic comes from Greek roots meaning original, genuine, principle, as when a person acts upon their own authority. Although old stories refer to the royal rulers as kings and queens, the deeper reference is to the innate nobility of each of our souls, for each person bears from birth an inner nobility and original purpose that tries to surface and become known throughout life. When we act from that which is original and genuine in ourselves, we bring a deeper authority than any position can confer upon us. Being authentic is a requirement for becoming wise. And what increasingly is missing in the contemporary world is not yet another interpretation of the law, or another justification for putting an excess of power in one office without having an effective way of testing whether the next candidate has any capacity for being truthful under pressure, but being able to authentically serve the people and the land in times of crisis.
– Michael Meade

George Gorman:
Any good relationship
Involves a cliff you succeeded
In jumping off of

Curiosity leads
To more than you can imagine

Sugar is not a vegetable.
– Gertrude Stein

Do not refuse to be wild.
– Gertrude Stein

Intuitive Zen:
The amount of money in your bank account is a false sense of wealth. Enjoying your existence and your contributions to the world is the real wealth.

Matt Haig:
Just because someone is mentally ill it doesn’t mean they are a) stupid, b) incapable of making their own decisions, or c) automatically on the wrong side of a debate.

Kerouac:
We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.

The Dove Descending
This poem was inspired by a recent reading of Rilke’s The Dove and Lowell’s Pigeons.

The Dove Descending

The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of incandescent terror
TS Eliot Little Gidding, Four Quartets

Eliot said the end of our exploring
will be to arrive at where we started
and realise our home was not so boring
before we panicked, packed our bags and parted.

And Rilke said a dove must fly the world
in order to appreciate the dovecote.
In storm and roaring wind is peace revealed.
The raging torrent rocks, then calms, the love boat.

Danger and distance, certainly,
and fear, and fear of fear itself,
delay departure, often indefinitely,
leave us like bookends on a dusty shelf.

We know the multi-coloured rainbow beckons
from edge of town, but our fenced-in backyard
requires attention. Drab suburbia threatens
but comforts also. It is always hard

to quit the friendly space one knows and loves,
to doubt the ones inhabiting that space.
Yet constantly a restless heart outgrows,
outflies the limits of this time and place.

Yes, all of us are arrows in the dark
speeding from God-knows-where to God-knows-where,
unsure of making a true mark on earth,
falling unsteadily through endless air,

skimming the ocean till we disappear
into the fire of the sinking sun,
all fight extinguished, as the Temeraire,
all flight unfeathered, Icarus undone.

In pieces, we reform to our true shape.
In dust, we scatter like primeval seeds.
Divorced from cells of coelacanth and ape,
no more embodied by our thoughts and deeds,

alone – no myth or metaphor or art –
and open to the stars which are our home,
we still the beating of our weary heart,
finding at last the place that we’ve come from.

Thich Nhat Hanh:
A true teacher, a true spiritual partner,
is one who encourages you
to look deeply in yourself
for the beauty and love you are seeking.”
“We are noble only by virtue
of the way we think, speak, and act.
The person who practices true love
has the wisdom of nondiscrimination
and it informs all his actions.
He doesn’t discriminate between himself
and his partner or between his partner
and all people. This person’s heart
has grown large
and his love knows no obstacles.

Heidi Barr:
I’ve Never Met A Perfect Person (Have You?)
What if perfection
is the greatest
myth of modern times?
I mean, who decided
what ‘perfect’ is, anyway?
Why give that definition
so much power
when instead
you could be giving energy
to that which lights you up
inside, to that which softens
destruction with healing, to that
which radiates unconditional love
for self and others and the world,
a love that has been known
to cast shadows of beauty
that only imperfection
can create?

Back out of all this now too much for us.
– Frost

*

The world is too much with us.
– Wordsworth

*

I feel too much. I can’t stand what I feel.

– Bidart

He who regards all things as one is a companion of Nature:
– Zhuangzi

To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light✨
– CarlJung

All companionship can consist only in the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes […]. There are such relationships which must be a very great, almost unbearable happiness, but they can occur only between very rich natures and between those who, each for himself, are richly ordered and composed; they can unite only two wide, deep, individual worlds. […O]nce the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
– Rainer Maria Rilke

May We All Be Happy
I don’t know the boy’s name so I ask everyone.
No one knows.
No one can get him to say his own name.
The boy walks all over the room, circling windows,
he steps on construction paper on the floor
where the other children sit, coloring
together. They draw snakes
and a house, a sunflower as big as the sun.
None of these children know the boy’s name,
the boy who has no interest in coloring. He runs out
of the playroom into the hallway into the kitchen,
opening windows without screens.
I don’t want him to tumble down
the roof, I don’t want to imagine
what his parents might say, so I watch the boy
carefully, now hiding under the dining room table.
He pretends he cannot be seen.
I pretend I cannot find him.
Now he locks the door to the hallway
and bursts through another door,
closed for a reason: a meeting among adults,
about sons, brothers, husbands, fathers
named Hay Hov, Koeun Hem,
Rouen Pich, Tith Prak… men whose families
have come to fight against deportation,
to mobilize for the rally
in San Francisco. An elderly woman speaks up
for her son. She wrings her hands, asking for help.
The woman says she has lost other children
in the war before this war, before I can ask the boy,
Whose son are you?
– Monica Sok

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg:
Do something in the next 24 hours that recharges you.

Not that numbs you out.

Something that fills you up.

Even something small.

Allow yourself that.

Shabbat Shalom.

Green Shoots
by John Moynes
I know this is the wrong time of the year,
Though that’s a very foolish thing to say,
The winter falls, but I’ve found cause for cheer,
I may have turned a wonder yesterday,
and when and if I did I saw green shoots,
A hint of confidence come back again,
And fear, of course, for vulnerable grass roots,
I know how quickly they can wither when,
I trick myself and think the healing’s done,
This small good news won’t leave me overjoyed,
No tiger roars, this race is not yet run,
While half my feelings still are unemployed.
The shoots are green, which means the news is good,
And I reacted as I know I should.

Intuitive Zen:
If you’re simply aware of mass ignorance, you don’t have to believe it and suffer from it. You can keep your sources few and choose them wisely.

I think I’ll fall to pieces
If I don’t find something else to do
This sadness never ceases,
Oh, I’m still in love with you
And my headache keeps on reeling
Is got me in a crazy spin
Darling, darling, is this the end?

Still in love with you,
They say time has a way of healing,
Dries all the tears from your eyes,
Darling is this this empty feeling
That my heart can’t disguise!
After all that we’ve been through
I drown my best but it’s no use
I guess I just keep loving,
Is this the end?
Still in love with you

Still in love with you
Now it’s all over, boy
There’s something I think you should know
Baby, baby, think it over,
Just one more time before you go
Call on me, baby
If there’s anything I can do for you
Please, call on me, baby
Help me see this through

Still in love with you
Still in love with you
Still in love with you
– Sade

…neither religion nor politics can of itself create minds with enough receptivity to become wise, or just and generous enough to make a nation.
– W. B. Yeats

One of the fascinating things about humans is you can start to see patterns. I’m fortunate in life to have friends from many different backgrounds and groups and it seems some patterns stay the same. You notice the ones who are encouraging and building themselves and others, and the ones who only tear down. You notice the ones who work to heal communities, and the ones who will rip them apart for their own agendas. You see the ones who address the important issues of homophobia, racism, sexism etc. in a way to create positive change and learning and you see the ones who choose name calling around these issues to deal with their own pain . Maybe these patterns are just a good reminder to think for yourself. Pay attention to the ones who build. The ones who break are not the ones who make the world better.
– Christine Elbert

A beluga whale returns a woman’s dropped iPhone. As Mister Rogers used to say, “Look for the helpers.”
– Science Girl

The job is to ask questions—
it always was—
and to ask them as inexorably as I can.
And to face the absence of precise answers
with a certain humility.
– Arthur Miller

If they can get you asking the wrong questions they don`t have to worry about answers.
– Thomas Pynchon

Once, while visiting his friend Max Brod, young Kafka awakened Brod’s father, who was asleep on a couch. Instead of apologizing, Kafka gently motioned him to relax, advanced through the room on tiptoe, and said softly, “Please–consider me a dream.”
– Franz Baumer

And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.
– MLK

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

The Chinese ideograph for forbearance is a heart
with a sword dangling over it, another instance of language’s
brilliant way of showing us something surprising and important
fossilized inside the meaning of a word.

Vulnerability is built into our hearts, which can be sliced open at any moment
by some sudden shift in the arrangements, some pain, some horror, some hurt.
We know and instinctively fear this, so we protect our hearts by covering them
against exposure. But this doesn’t work. Covering the heart binds and suffocates it
until, like a wound that has been kept dressed for too long, the heart starts to fester
and becomes fetid. Eventually, without air, the heart is all but killed off,
and there’s no feeling, no experiencing at all.

To practice forbearance is to appreciate and celebrate the heart’s vulnerability,
and to see that the slicing or piercing of the heart does not require defense;
that the heart’s vulnerability is a good thing, because wounds can make us more
peaceful and more real – if, that is, we are willing to hang on to the leopard
of our fear, the serpent of our grief, the boar of our shame, without running away
or being hurled off. Forbearance is simply holding on steadfastly with whatever
it is that unexpectedly arises: not doing anything; not fixing anything
(because doing and fixing can be a way to cover up the heart,
to leap over the hurt and pain by occupying ourselves with schemes
and plans to get rid of it).
Just holding on for dear life.
Holding on with what comes is what makes life dear.
– Norman Fischer

Salamanders
It isn’t just the salamander that you save,
on a dark, warm, rainy night, crossing the road,
sure to be crushed into something pale and
mushy, maybe with reminiscent spots or
blotches or stripes, no, there is more in your
wet, finger-puckering hand, there is evidence
of ancient times and awe. A voice reminds you
of things you had forgotten. You don’t fully
understand, but you do.
– Jamie K. Reaser

Cormac McCarthy:
All of this like some ancient anointing. So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.

Fred LaMotte
After days of rain and gray windy billows, a break in the clouds: blue emptiness, the warm sun. For a brief two minutes I got to practice the simple technique I call “Seven Breaths of Light.” I wrote a poem about it in one of my books, but I won’t share that here. I will just tell you what to do if you’d like to join me, the next time you see the Spring sun opening up. The sun has a special warmth, innocence, and liveliness now that we are just past the awakening of Imbolc.
Throw your head back and close your eyes. Gaze into the sun through your forehead. Take seven long deep breaths of light with your whole body. In through your brow, down your chest, out through your solar plexus.
You might feel a tingling between your eyebrows. You might feel your pineal gland shimmering like a sapphire through your brain. You might feel a deep golden warmth around your heart. Know that this breath is full of Prana, the energy of creation, enlivening every nerve in your sacred body, irradiating every cell, gently activating your immune system, permeating even your DNA with the divine Sun, to turn off the chromosomes that cause dis-ease and turn on the chromosomes that bring healing.
All this grace in a few inhalations! Truly, we have been given three sacred talismans for our journey, talismans with unimaginable alchemic power. But we take them for granted, because they are so near us we were born with them in our breast pocket.
If we truly knew how much transformation and magic these talismans bring, not only to ourselves but to the earth around us, we would gladly give up kingdoms just to put wear them round our throats. But we already possess them! All that is needed is a little awareness to activate their power. What are they? The Breath, the Heart, and the Present Moment.

Did you know the
things that I have
swallowed just to
keep this body safe
from the current?
– Brenna Twohy

Drank a lot of coffee today
Got lost in the fray, I gave all I had for a time
Then by some strange design I got a case of the empties
The ruler of my world, a lost forgotten pearl
When fire leaves a girl
Too burned to dry my life
Living on a fault line
And at night
I just laid down and cried
The waters don’t really go by me
Give me something I can see
Something bigger and louder than the voices in me
Something to believe
DIdn’t always do it right
Might have left the heat on high
Didn’t know I had any left
Thought I finally met my death
Gonna do all I can
Stay away from the quicksand
Gonna do all I can
Nobody’s gonna love you the same way
Some of us go astray, I watch so far from them all
Instead of dropping the ball, I seem to carry so many
The colors don’t align, a question of time
I seem to lose what I find
Please give me a sign soon
Really wanna find out the truth
And at night
I just laid down and cried
The waters don’t really go by me
Give me something I can see
Something bigger and louder than the voices in me
Something to believe, to believe
Something to believe
Something to believe
Something to believe
Something to believe
– Weyes Blood

Fred LaMotte:
After days of rain and gray windy billows, a break in the clouds: blue emptiness, the warm sun. For a brief two minutes I got to practice the simple technique I call “Seven Breaths of Light.” I wrote a poem about it in one of my books, but I won’t share that here. I will just tell you what to do if you’d like to join me, the next time you see the Spring sun opening up. The sun has a special warmth, innocence, and liveliness now that we are just past the awakening of Imbolc.
Throw your head back and close your eyes. Gaze into the sun through your forehead. Take seven long deep breaths of light with your whole body. In through your brow, down your chest, out through your solar plexus.
You might feel a tingling between your eyebrows. You might feel your pineal gland shimmering like a sapphire through your brain. You might feel a deep golden warmth around your heart. Know that this breath is full of Prana, the energy of creation, enlivening every nerve in your sacred body, irradiating every cell, gently activating your immune system, permeating even your DNA with the divine Sun, to turn off the chromosomes that cause dis-ease and turn on the chromosomes that bring healing.
All this grace in a few inhalations! Truly, we have been given three sacred talismans for our journey, talismans with unimaginable alchemic power. But we take them for granted, because they are so near us we were born with them in our breast pocket.
If we truly knew how much transformation and magic these talismans bring, not only to ourselves but to the earth around us, we would gladly give up kingdoms just to put wear them round our throats. But we already possess them! All that is needed is a little awareness to activate their power. What are they? The Breath, the Heart, and the Present Moment.

Helplessness and isolation are the core experiences of psychological trauma. Empowerment and reconnection are the core experiences of recovery.
– Judith Herman

You will be transformed by what you read.
– Deepak Chopra

Listening,
non-directed attention,
is the natural,
the inbuilt functioning of the brain.
– Jean Klein

Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love even more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen

I actually attack the concept of happiness.
The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—
but the idea that everything we do
is part of the pursuit of happiness
seems to me a really dangerous idea
and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society,
which is fear of sadness.
Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for
and part of that is sadness, disappointment,
frustration, failure;
all of those things which make us who we are.
Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice
little things that also happen to us,
but they don’t teach us much.
– Hugh Mackay, The Good Life

One of the fascinating things about humans is you can start to see patterns. I’m fortunate in life to have friends from many different backgrounds and groups and it seems some patterns stay the same. You notice the ones who are encouraging and building themselves and others, and the ones who only tear down. You notice the ones who work to heal communities, and the ones who will rip them apart for their own agendas. You see the ones who address the important issues of homophobia, racism, sexism etc. in a way to create positive change and learning and you see the ones who choose name calling around these issues to deal with their own pain . Maybe these patterns are just a good reminder to think for yourself. Pay attention to the ones who build. The ones who break are not the ones who make the world better.
– Christine Elbert

The job is to ask questions—
it always was—
and to ask them as inexorably as I can.
And to face the absence of precise answers
with a certain humility.
– Arthur Miller

If they can get you asking the wrong questions they don`t have to worry about answers.
– Thomas Pynchon

I opened the window
Early this morning
Despite the chill

And the Sun came in like a stranger
Looking at me and the room
Wondering where she could sit

Anywhere, I said


– John Zbigniew Guzlowski

Quest
by Carrie Williams Clifford
My goal out-distances the utmost star,
Yet is encompassed in my inmost Soul;
I am my goal—my quest, to know myself.
To chart and compass this unfathomed sea,
Myself must plumb the boundless universe.
My Soul contains all thought, all mystery,
All wisdom of the Great Infinite Mind:
This is to discover, I must voyage far,
At last to find it in my pulsing heart.

Love
is how Oneness feels.
Social and Ecological Restoration and Regeneration
is how it acts.
– Jose Luis G. Soler

I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair, with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.
– Leonard Cohen

glocal attention: deep in your body, stay focused on the whole, my friends.
– Jose Luis G. Soler

Mêtis…It meant a particular kind of awareness that always manages to stay focused on the whole: on the lookout for hints, however subtle, for guidance in whatever form it happens to take, for signs of the route to follow however quickly they might appear or disappear.
– Peter Kingsley, Reality

She Listens
consumed as we are
by these persistently cast nets of complaint
we draw unto ourselves only the sustenance of the physical body
while the lifeblood itself returns without question to its low point
throne of that which is all things in time…
she listens…
she travels further inland than we can possibly imagine, even into our most soulmet self.
through the caverns of time, among the stars and during
those great exhalations…she listens
she listens to the birds…
those of song, and the raptors careening, waterfowl, and the light hearted murmuring tumbling avian tribes
she hears the songs of the snakes and reptilian brethren
bowing into their wisdom and sureness of sight
to the fox and his poetic cunning,
to the far gaited wolf and all those of long striding hoof
who each tread with certainty upon the earth
she is the familiar of trees, reckoning into their great low voiced cantings looming gnarled hands gathered beneath the soil
to the ladybugs happily finding a home for the night, and flutterers and the crawlers, invertebrates, beetles
each aching to drink her in, and extoll on dreams of the one remaining quest
to the air that dances the climates above us and this dervishing earth her seasons
to the great and honorable always serving lifegiving Sun
the Moon, and the stars beyond reach of her clouds but never too far for her song
to the myths and the stories borne from fostered view, and from the tenuous creeping contrasting dark and shadow wrapping itself onto and within our guile, our guise, our guessing confessing tortured blessed persona,
to the grand tales of families, and beliefs that chase us from our dreams
to the great gates swinging to and fro along the nethers, from the most exalted and far beyond the nameless void of sound
she listens to the ghosts and the smiling spirits and to those who have so long ago forgotten how
…and she listens to her children
to the tides swirling softly or in outrageous dueling, and to all who journey toward destinies around and above her
and to those who’ve met a fate within her, only to find that fate can jest
…and then, as if I were asking…
she laps at my feet in the sunshine
she scrubs me clean and whole
just as she would a muddy child, or any small and delicate thing
she preens my soul and reminds me accept the quickening blaze of my breath
to allow my heart beat soundly in my chest
to love and to call out my name with intention, whenever I too recognize love
to look on the world that she’s feeding, recalling the ten thousand things,
and every pulse that enjoins us, one and all as a great inhalation
now hushed to pray as we recognize her in ourselves just being and breathing
…she listens.
– Hawk Durham

Poetas, no perdamos el tiempo, trabajemos, que al corazón le llega poca sangre.
– Gloria Fuertes.

Poets, let’s not waste time, let’s work, that the heart comes little blood.
– Strong Glory.

Clouds
by Fanny Howe
There’s a softening
To the bricks outside
And the thousand-mile storm
Is leaving where it’s coming from:
From the long-ago to my abode.
I’ll sit at the window
Where it’s safe to say no.
I won’t go out, I won’t work
For a living, I’ll study the clouds
Becoming snow.
Not with a spyglass
But with a wild guess
And only three words: “You never know.”
Now I see others like me
Thinning into the least thing
And drifting out like the frost of dust.
Downstairs, cries of lust.
Up here, a requiem mass
And light to lead the clouds home
To the past. All of us, poor at last.

Throughout history there has been a faction of people who have sought to separate the classes with cruelty and humiliation to make sue everybody “knew their place”. Within the classes, there was further separation for women and by order of birth. This bullshit is the remnant of royalty and the attempt of non royals to replicate it. In America, we separate by race, having no monarchy.
– Angel Morini

Yoko Ono:
Shake off your struggle. Then you will be lighter, and will know where to go.

You get a little moody sometimes
but I think that’s because you like to read.
People that like to read are always a little fucked up.
– Pat Conroy

Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
– Elizabeth Gilbert

Every transformation demands as its precondition “the ending of a world”
the collapse of an old philosophy of life.
– C. G. Jung

The complexity of things—
the things within things—
just seems to be endless.
I mean nothing is easy,
nothing is simple.
– Alice Munro

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
– Elizabeth Bishop

Cristina Raskopf Norcross:
There is something wonderfully reassuring about the end of the day. It means — even if there is more to do, it will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, your only job is to sleep. Tomorrow will be a fresh sheet of paper — waiting for your ink.

When I’m in the note-taking stage I’m mostly stockpiling insights, so I don’t have to have all the insights while I’m writing.
– Elisa Gabbert

a pregnancy of 2500 years, but we are stuck
– Peter Kingsley

The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient
to itself; the heartbreaking beauty
Will remain when there’s no heart to break for it.
– Robinson Jeffers

For most of us,
for almost all of us,
truth can be attained,
if at all,
only in silence.
It is in silence
that the human spirit touches the divine.
– Iris Murdoch

Your slaves build bridges
for the public good,
Those who pass through it
head for the Godhead.

I wish its firm foundation
will hold sway
So those who cross it
…. know it’s the true way.
– Yunus Emre

And the writing is still: to you, with you, about you, because of you and for you.
– Nizar Qabbani

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness…
– E.B. White

I decided to go to the movies. I didn’t really care what was playing; I just wanted the sense of relief when the lights fade out and the world dissolves, the slight confusion when they are turned back up and it reassembles itself.
– Hernan Diaz, The Stay

Take the advice of a father who knows:
You cannot begin too young
Not to be a poet.
– A Poet to His Baby Son by James Weldon Johnson

The opposite of maitri is being judgmental – judging oneself, judging one’s situations, judging other people. When we have a belief about the way things should be it is a sharp angle pointing away from ourselves.
– Suzuki Roshi

Chögyam Trungpa – BECOMING A DHARMIC PERSON
Being civil often has an element of acting. However, in the hinayana, you are behaving rather than acting. Acting is trying to manifest yourself for the sake of display, whereas behaving is how you feel. Acting is the way you dance, and behaving is the way you sneeze or hiccup. You know if you are being genuine. You are the first person who knows. When you are acting, you are concerned with other people’s possible reactions; but when you are behaving, you are just behaving. It’s like sitting on the toilet seat and doing your duty: nobody is watching. It’s your private concern, so there is a quality of genuineness. In the hinayana, you behave decently because the dharma is actually a part of you. That is the meaning of taming yourself.

When someone’s mind is mixed with dharma properly and fully, when someone becomes a dharmic person, you can see the difference. Dharmic people behave differently: they walk differently, they eat differently and they talk differently. You can automatically recognize somebody who is tamed by the dharma. He or she is a different kind of person for those who are not tamed.Becoming a dharmic person means that in your everyday life from morning to morning, around the clock, you are not trying to kid anybody.
– Chögyam Trungpa

I loved her simply because I found her irresistible.
Once for all: I knew to my sorrow, often and often,
if not always, that I loved her against reason,
against promise, against peace, against hope,
against happiness, against all discouragement
that could be.
– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

…Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned —
if not enough else —
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness —

as now and again
some rare person has suggested —
is a miracle.
As surely it is.
– Mary Oliver

I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.
– Alice Walker

Beyond a simple ecology, ecosophy is a wisdom-spirituality of the earth. “The new equilibrium” is not so much between man and the earth, as between matter and spirit, between spatio-temporality and consciousness. Ecosophy is neither a mere ’science of the earth’ (ecology) nor even ‘wisdom about the earth’, but rather a ‘wisdom of the earth herself’ that is made manifest to man when he knows how to listen to her with love.
– Raimon Panikkar

To discover our autonomy is the most challenging thing a human being can do. Because in order to discover our autonomy, we must be free from all external control or influence. This means that we must free our mind from all that it has collected, all that it clings to, all that it depends on.
This begins by realizing that we are in a psychological prison created by our minds. Until we begin to realize how confined we are, we will not be able to find our way out. Neither will we find our way out by struggling against the confines we have inherited from our parents, society, and culture. It is only by beginning to examine and realize the falseness within our minds that we begin to awaken an intelligence that originates from beyond the realm of thinking.
If spirituality is to be meaningful, it must deliver us from all forms of dependence—including the dependence on spirituality—and help awaken within us that creative spark which all beings aspire to. For the culmination of spirituality lies not only in discovering our inherent unity and freedom, but also in opening the way for life to express itself through us in a unique and creative way. Such uniqueness and creativity is not to be found in anything the human mind has ever created, nor is it to be found in our ideals of human perfection or utopian dreams.
True autonomy arises when we have broken free of all the old structures, all psychological dependencies, and all fear. Only then can that which is truly unique and fearless arise within us and begin to express itself. Such expression cannot be planned or even imagined because it belongs to a dimension uninhibited by anything that has come before it.
True autonomy is not trying to fit in or be understood, nor is it a revolt against anything. It is an uncaused phenomenon. Consciously or unconsciously all beings aspire to it, but very few find the courage to step into that infinity of aloneness.
– Adyashanti

If we were able to speak to her, what comment would she pass on the pathological effects of our ignorance–the pollution of her earth, her seas, her air, the abysmal and wanton sacrifice of animals and the contamination with toxins and pesticides of the food and water that is her gift of life to us? And what of the torture, rape and murder of men, women and children in war, the use of explosives to destroy flesh and bone, the agony of orphaned, abandoned, murdered and maimed children? To hear her answer, we would have to attune ourselves to her being. We would have to listen with her ear to the voice of the suffering we bring into being by our ignorance of the oneness and divinity of life. We would have radically to change our habits of behaviour and become more consciously aware that the suffering we inflict on others is actually suffering that we are inflicting on the “body” of spirit:
that Spirit suffers through our suffering.
If we could sense her Presence, surely we would awaken to the sacredness and divinity of life. We would begin to see matter and our own bodies in a different light. We would treat them with greater respect. If we could awaken to her voice, we could bring matter and spirit, body and soul together, healing the deep wounds inflicted by the beliefs and concepts which have separated them. Even as we accomplish this, we would begin to transmit the light and love flowing to all creation from the Holy Spirit.
– Anne Baring

The heart of a human being is no different from the soul of heaven and earth. In your practice always keep in your thoughts the interaction of heaven and earth, water and fire, yin and yang.
– Morihei Ueshiba

It was true. I confessed to it by silence.
– Charlotte Bronte

REPETITION by Shunryu Suzuki
The Indian thought and practice encountered by Buddha was based on an idea of human beings as a combination of spiritual and physical elements. They thought that the physical side of man bound the spiritual side, and so their religious practice was aimed at making the physical element weaker in order to free and strengthen the spirit. Thus the practice Buddha found in India emphasized asceticism. But Buddha found when he practiced asceticism that there was no limit to the attempt to purge ourselves physically, and that it made religious practice very idealistic. This kind of war with our body can only end when we die. But according to this Indian thought, we will return in another life, and another life, to repeat the struggle over and over again, without ever attaining perfect enlightenment. And even if you think you can make your physical strength weak enough to free your spiritual power, it will only work as long as you continue your ascetic practice. If you resume your everyday life you will have to strengthen your body, but then you will have to weaken it again to regain your spiritual power. And then you will have to repeat this process over and over again. This may be too great a simplification of the Indian practice encountered by Buddha, and we may laugh at it, but actually some people continue this practice even today. Sometimes without realizing it, this idea of asceticism is in the back of their minds. But practicing in this way will not result in any progress.
Buddha’s way was quite different. At first he studied the Hindu practice of his time and area, and he practiced asceticism. But Buddha was not interested in the elements comprising human beings, nor in metaphysical theories of existence. He was more concerned about how he himself existed in this moment. That was his point. Bread is made from flour. How flour becomes bread when put in the oven was for Buddha the most important thing. How we become enlightened was his main interest. The enlightened person is some perfect, desirable character, for himself and for others. Buddha wanted to find out how human beings develop this ideal character–how various sages in the past became sages. In order to find out how dough became perfect bread, he made it over and over again, until he became quite successful. That was his practice.
But we may find it not so interesting to cook the same thing over and over again every day. It is rather tedious, you may say. If you lose the spirit of repetition it will become quite difficult, but it will not be difficult if you are full of strength and vitality. Anyway, we cannot keep still; we have to do something. So if you do something, you should be very observant, and careful, and alert. Our way is to put the dough in the oven and watch it carefully. Once you know how the dough becomes bread, you will understand enlightenment. So how this physical body becomes a sage is our main interest. We are not so concerned about what flour is, or what dough is, or what a sage is. A sage is a sage. Metaphysical explanations of human nature are not the point.
So the kind of practice we stress thus cannot become too idealistic. If an artist becomes too idealistic, he will commit suicide, because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. Because there is no bridge long enough to go across the gap, he will begin to despair. That is the usual spiritual way. But our spiritual way is not so idealistic. In some sense we should be idealistic; at least we should be interested in making bread which tastes and looks good! Actual practice is repeating over and over again until you find out how to become bread. There is no secret in our way. Just to practice zazen and put ourselves into the oven is our way.

Today’s society has become adept at utilizing symbolic acts to divert attention from the substantive work needed to make real change. They have become the just-add-water staple food of many modern social movements. And, like their ramen counterparts, they are completely devoid of nutritional value.
Symbolism provides a needed distraction from the sense of hopelessness and despair that many are feeling at this time, offering a placebo that allows us to believe that our efforts are having a tangible impact. This is seductive, because it tells us what we want to hear and allows us to see ourselves as we most want to be. And, like seduction, it is mostly a measure of appearance. It offers us a true and radical difference in appearance to the status quo. But those differences remain on the surface while the underlying structure remains unchanged.
ON THE SURFACE, SYMBOLIC ACTS LOOK GOOD. THE DANGER IS FOUND IN THE REAL-LIFE CONSEQUENCES THAT ARISE WHEN WE FAIL TO ALLOW REALITY TO PENETRATE THE HAZE OF OUR SEDUCTION.
Realities like the decimation of global water sources, rapid deforestation, wholesale destruction of vital ecosystems, elevating rates of violence against human rights and environmental activists, and the ongoing horror of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. These stark realities crash up against the fact that safety pins on lapels, street marches, and sharing posts on social media do not create tangible changes within the systems and structures that maintain injustice or in the lives of those most impacted by that injustice.
Yet, symbolic acts do have a role to play in the unfolding movement of movements. They help amplify the visibility of issues and bring them more firmly into the public awareness. They also help define the social and political climate and can provide visible support to those being targeted. Therefore, we don’t want to eliminate them altogether.
WE JUST WANT TO BE SURE THEY ARE FOLLOWED BY CONCRETE ACTIONABLE STEPS THAT MOVE OUR ISSUES TOWARD RESOLUTION, SO THEY DO NOT BECOME STAGNANT AND INEFFECTIVE.
– Sherri Mitchell – Wena’hamu’gwasit

The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient
to itself; the heartbreaking beauty
Will remain when there’s no heart to break for it.
– Robinson Jeffers

Terence McKenna:
The amount of energy that is wasted in consequence of unresolved neurotic conflicts is unfathomably great. Since neurosis are ultimately a product of the particular civilisation, such a thwarting of human gifts & qualities stands as a serious indictment of the culture in question

Terence McKenna:
We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.

Intuitive Zen:
If you’re always trying to solve your problems, you will always have problems. To actually resolve anything, the whole problem/solution/healing cycle has to be exhausted and transcended.

A learned person becomes noble only when he or she puts into practice what has been learned, instead of just mere words.
– Dalai Lama XIV

No one saves us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.
– Buddhist proverb

This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride & blinding wet

Till day rose…

– Ted Hughes, Wind

Wu Wei Master:
Cherish that which is within you, and shut off that which is without.
– Zhuangzi

High understanding comes from not understanding at all.
– Zen proverb

I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.
– Alice Walker

José Luis G. Soler:
it’s about time to shift from daddybillionaires who are going to take care of us, to heal and grow up together in love, uplifting each other and coalescing into collective, ecstatic intelligence- fathermotherchild within, manifesting without, in dynamic balanced, loving relationship:
ecstatic democracy.

I want to tell what the forests
were like
I will have to speak
in a forgotten language
– W.S. Merwin, Witness

What’s merciful is not knowing where you are,
What time it is, even your name or age,
But merely a clean coolness at the temple—
That, says the spirit softly, is enough
For the mind to adventure on its half-hidden path
Like starlight interrupted by dense trees
Journeying backwards on a winter trip
While you are going, as you fancy, forward,
And the stars are keeping pace with everything.
– The Venetian Vespers by Anthony Hecht

In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ’Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
– Edgar Mitchell, astronaut

I’m up to my ears in unwritten words.
– J.D. Salinger

The old time people here in warm
earth lodges thirty feet across
burned pitchy pinewood slivers for
their candles,
snow after snow for all those
centuries before—
lodgefire light and pitchy slivers
burning—

don’t need much light

for stories in

the night.

– Gary Snyder

Find the balance between
the terror of being alive
and the wonder of being alive.
– Carlos Castañeda

There is only one thing, ONE vibration that seems to be really universal: the Vibration of Love. I am not saying its manifestation, no, nothing of the sort! But the something which is pure Love. That seems to me to be universal.
But as soon as you try to express it, it’s over.
. . .
But I tell you, only that Vibration seems essential and primordial enough to be really universal.
That Vibration which is both the need and the joy to unite.
And deep within it, there is an identity of vibration – the RECOGNITION of an identity of vibration.
– The Mother (Mirra Alfassa), Agenda

Medicine of the Real
By Chameli Ardagh

WHAT A KINDNESS
she showers upon me,
not letting me skip any steps,
or leave not even one stone unturned.
What a mad trust she has
in this broken stumbling lover,
unwavering she ignores
my ramblings about limitations,
about my longing for a tiny bit of glitter.

You asked for freedom didn’t you, she whispers,
as she pours me another glass.
Drunk and bruised I crawl
to the table again and again.
Yes mother, more,
I give everything for just
one more sip of your exquisite
medicine of the real.

Aikido, often translated as “the way of harmonious spirit,” is another Japanese tradition with links to Mongolia. Japanese martial arts master Morihei Ueshiba formed a deep connection with Mongolia. Already a legend among martial-arts masters, he accompanied Onisaburo Deguchi, the head of the shamanistic Omoto-kyo sect, to Mongolia in 1924. It is reported that he and Deguchi encountered Mongolian shamans there.
The following year, Ueshiba returned to Japan, and experienced a great spiritual transformation while spending time in the mountains. He stated that “a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed my body into a golden one.” After this shamanistic initiation experience, Ueshiba’s martial arts skill achieved new, transcendental heights, and he changed his direction to a compassionate form of self-defense, using an attacker’s force to disarm and subdue him without harm. This form of martial arts is well-known today as aikido.
– Kevin Turner, Sky Shamans of Mongolia

In ancient Greek, the root of ‘demon’ means ‘to throw apart.’ That which causes us to fracture, to become less whole, is demonic…

I like to think that when Jesus sent the disciples to cast out demons in his name, he intended for them to look with so much love upon those who had become fractured that their neglected pieces returned to the center of their being.

He intended that the parts that were deemed unlovable by somebody or some institution – the parts abused by those who were supposed to protect them – could, in the gaze of such love, reassemble.
– Nadia Bolz-Weber

We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that?
Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.
– Robert R. McCammon

The bright side of the planet moves toward darkness
And the cities are falling asleep, each in its hour,
And for me, now as then, it is too much.
There is too much world.
– Czesław Miłosz, The Separate Notebooks

Have you noticed that people who have tenderness at the core attract cats, dogs, babies and the elderly. They somehow send out a signal: “Come sit with me. You’ll be safe.”
– Gunilla Norris

They’ve come every day this month.
Once I said I wrote them because
I didn’t have time for anything
else. Meaning, of course, better
things – things other than mere
poems and verses. Now I’m writing
them because I want to.
More than anything because
this is February
when normally not much of anything
happens. But this month
the larches have blossomed
and the sun has come out
every day. It’s true my lungs
have heated up like ovens.
And so what if some people
are waiting for the other shoe
to drop, where I’m concerned.
Well, here it is then. Go ahead.
Put it on. I hope it fits
like a shoe.
Close enough, yes, but supple
so the foot has room to breathe
a little. Stand up. Walk
around. Feel it? It will go
where you’re going, and be there
with you at the end of your trip.
But for now, stay barefoot. Go
outside for a while, and play.
– Raymond Carver

Your summer wind was warm enough, yet the air I breathed
froze me,
A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken’d me,
Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to myself,
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baffled?
And sullen hymns of defeat?
– Whitman

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.
– Rene Daumal

It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content… it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.
– Rene Daumal

I am dead because I have no desire,
I have no desire because I think I possess,
I think I possess because I do not try to give;
Trying to give, we see that we have nothing;
Seeing that we have nothing, we try to give ourselves,
Trying to give ourselves, we see that we are nothing,
Seeing that we are nothing, we desire to become,
Desiring to become, we live.
– Rene Daumal

Truth is one, but error proliferates. Man tracks it down and cuts it up into little pieces hoping to turn it into grains of truth. But the ultimate atom will always essentially be an error, a miscalculation.
– Rene Daumal

Definition: Alpinism is the art of going through the mountains confronting the greatest dangers with the biggest of cares. What we call art here, is the application of a knowledge to an action.
– Rene Daumal

…the most serious thing, and the strangest, is that we are afraid to the point of panic, not so much of seeing ourselves as of being seen by ourselves. This is our root absurdity. What is behind this great fear?
– Rene Daumal

In the mythic tradition, the Mountain is the bond between Earth and Sky. Its solitary summit reaches the sphere of eternity, and its base spreads out in manifold foothills into the world of mortals. It is the way by which man can raise himself to the divine and by which the divine can reveal itself to man.
– Rene Daumal

Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.
– Rene Daumal

We must open ourselves….. to a higher reality, to view the spirit within the matter, to raise our consciousness to the point where our perception of reality is completely changed, and the divine within all creation is revealed.
– Rav Dovber Pinson

My sense is that the divine knowledge we yearn for is social; it is not in the province of a genius any more than it is in the province of a particular culture. It lies within our definition of community. Our blessing, it seems to me, is not what we know, but that we know each other.
– Barry Lopez

When I have not rage or sorrow, and you depart from me, then I am most afraid. When the belly is full, and the mind has its sayings, then I fear for my soul; I rush to you as a child at night breaks into its parents’ room. Do not forget me in my satisfaction. When the heart grins at itself, the world is destroyed. And I am found alone with the husks and the shells. Then the dangerous moment comes: I am too great to ask for help. I have other hopes. I legislate from the fortress of my disappointments, with a set jaw. Overthrow this even terror with a sweet remembrance: when I was with you, when my soul delighted you, when I was what you wanted. My heart sings of your longing for me, and my thoughts climb down to marvel at your mercy. I do not fear as you gather up my days. Your name is the sweetness of time, and you carry me close into the night, speaking consolations, drawing down lights from the sky, saying, See how the night has no terror for one who remembers the Name.
– Leonard Cohen

Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.
– Alain de Botton

Literature is no one’s private ground;
literature is common ground.
It is not cut up into nations; there are no wars there.
Let us trespass freely and fearlessly and find our way
for ourselves.
It is thus that English literature will survive this war
and cross the gulf—
if commoners and outsiders like ourselves
make that country our own country,
if we teach ourselves how to read and how to write,
how to preserve and how to create.
– Virginia Woolf, The Leaning Tower

Talking With the Sun

I believe in the sun.
In the tangle of human failures of fear, greed and
forgetfulness, the sun gives me clarity.
When explorers first encountered my people, they called us
heathens, sun worshippers.
They didn’t understand that the sun is a relative and
illuminates our path on this earth.

After dancing all night in a circle we realize that we are a
part of a larger sense of stars and planets dancing with us
overhead.
When the sun rises at the apex of the ceremony, we are renewed.
There is no mistaking this connection, though Walmart
might be just down the road.
Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the
earth and the sun; we exist together in a sacred field of
meaning.

Our earth is shifting. We can all see it.
I hear from my Inuit and Yupik relatives up north that
everything has changed. It’s so hot; there is not enough
winter.
Animals are confused. Ice is melting.

The quantum physicists have it right; they are beginning to
think like Indians: Everything is connected dynamically
at an intimate level.
When you remember this, then the current wobble of the
earth makes sense. How much more oil can be drained
without replacement, without reciprocity?

I walked out of a hotel room just off Times Square at dawn
to find the sun.
It was the fourth morning since the birth of my fourth
granddaughter.
This was the morning I was to present her to the sun, as a
relative, as one of us. It was still dark, overcast as I walked
through Times Square.
I stood beneath a 21st century totem pole of symbols
of multinational corporations, made of flash and neon.

The sun rose up over the city, but I couldn’t see it amidst the
rain.
Though I was not at home, bundling up the baby to carry
her outside, I carried this newborn girl within the cradleboard of my
heart.
I held her up and presented her to the sun, so she would be
recognized as a relative,
So that she won’t forget this connection, this promise,
So that we all remember the sacredness of life.

– Joy Harjo

The mind has a powerful way of attracting things that are in harmony with it, good and bad.
– Idowu Koyenikan

I had come to the canyon with expectations. I wanted to see snowy egrets flying against the black schist at dusk; I saw blue-winged teal against the green waters at dawn. I had wanted to hear thunder rolling in the thousand-foot depths; I heard the guttural caw of four ravens…what any of us had come to see or do fell away. We found ourselves at each turn with what we had not imagined.
– Barry Lopez

Your work will come out of an authentic life, and if you suppress all of your most passionate impulses in the service of an art that has not yet declared itself, you’re making a terrible mistake.
– Louise Glück

Bong Joon Ho: “I try to maintain a very simple lifestyle,” he says. “Drink coffee, write, and try not to meet a lot of people.”

Tell me why men are less worthy of being defended and nurtured?
I am as angry when they come for my sisters as when they come for my brothers.
– S.B.L

Terence McKenna:
We all want our children to be well adjusted – unfortunately, there’s nothing to be well adjusted to.

You betray yourself, when you deny and squash what your gut knows, and the guidance your heart whispers to you.
Be wary, for the more you betray yourself for fear of change and in favour of others, the less your heart and gut will talk.
Until one day you will wonder why you cannot feel or hear clearly who you are, allowing yourself instead, to be misled and misguided.
And as you close your eyes, you will wonder why you feel so alone within your own bones, within your own company.
But just as spring returns each year, just as life and wildness blooms again from bare branch and dark soil.
Just as the wild weeds; Dandelion and nettle grow through the concrete, rewilding the earth.
So too can your magic, your voice and your own wild be sung again within your bones.
For it is held deep in you like original instructions that your flesh is woven from, never leaving you and unable to be taken away.
Just waiting for you to return; to embrace and care for the tender and potent seeds of knowing that are deep in your heart, your gut and your core. Waiting to break open the concrete that you have poured there, waiting to bring life and wildness back from the darkness.
Start taking notice, it is not lost, you just need to remember how to listen.
– Brigit Anna McNeill

Light and darkness appear to be
simple opposites. Like any opposites
they can be in conflict with each other
or come together in a way that is creative…..
Our darkness hides us from our light.
But what many don’t understand
is that the darkness is also needed
to engage the light,
just as suffering often lifts
our faces toward God.
We may think that our suffering
and the divine are opposites,
that God is goodness and light
while our suffering comes from the darkness.
But this duality is essentially an illusion.
Suffering is an aspect of life energy
being restricted by matter,
being caught in its darkness.
Often suffering comes
from resistance to change,
and change is fundamental to life….
There is a flow of life
that belongs to the miracle of creation,
and the darkness is part of this miracle.
Accepting our darkness,
accepting the suffering of life,
we are taken into
the crucible of transformation
in which the opposites come together.
A deeper awareness is revealed,
not as an ideal but as a lived reality….
This is part of the initiation
of the mystic and the shaman,
whose journey through suffering
gives them access
to life’s hidden powers…
We have to realize that when we deny
the divine mystery of the feminine,
we also deny something fundamental to life.
We separate life from its sacred core,
from the matrix that nourishes all creation.
We cut ourselves from the source
that alone can heal, nourish, and transform.
The same sacred source
that gave birth to each of us
is needed to give meaning to our life,
to nourish it with what is real
and to reveal to us the mystery,
the purpose of being alive.
Because humanity has a central function
in the whole of creation,
what we deny ourselves
we deny to all of life.
In denying the feminine
her sacred power and purpose,
we have impoverished life
on personal and global levels
in ways we do not understand….
Yes, we see now the outer effects on the earth,
but it is so much more difficult
to recognize the inner effects,
which have been devastating.
– Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

In our sacred land
there is one most holy day each year,

holier than Christmas or Passover,
holier than Diwali or the end of the Fast,

holier than the Fourth of July
or the Birthday of Trump.

It’s the day when every rule is broken,
the past is drowned in forgiveness,

the difference between feast and meditation
gets washed away by laughter and tears.

It’s the day when we gaze namelessly
into the eyes of perfect strangers

and fall in love with thieves on their crosses.
Every prison cell is opened this day.

On this day we smear our faces
with chocolate and drink red wine.

On this day we close our ancient books
and dance with valor among the ruins.

Clothing is optional; everything is optional.
There’s only one law, “Love

“and do whatever you like.”
The word “No” cannot be spoken.

But this sounds like a rule, so some folks
just sing “no” all night long.

364 other days get drenched
in the milk of this day.

Gods walk on earth this day
because God is a Man without fear

and a Woman free.
Now I’m sure you are asking,

“When will this day come?”
So I’ll answer you, friend:

This day is today.
Are you ready? Are you sure?
– Fred LaMotte

PEARL
The tear-drop of sun that fell across the lobe
of your left ear as you turned to see me in the light

was the most perfect pearl I ever saw, no salted shell
could form it, no passing lips could ever brush its gleam

and no jeweler’s window show it to the world.
No money could be earned to bring that light to you

even from the world’s end, no man’s riches
could ever find it in his gift to give it to you,

you wore it entirely as your own and in the fleeting
beauty of the time it took to turn your face.

Somewhere inside me is the jewel box memory
where I remember the way you speak, the way you turn

your body in the falling water, but above all
and far from you now, as I close my eyes to sleep,

that moment still caught forever, deep in my heart,
when I saw you wear the priceless light.
– David Whyte

Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem
by Matthew Olzmann

Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
Because you think swans are overrated.
Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me
to Minneapolis. You drove me to Providence.
Because you underline everything you read, and circle
the things you think are important, and put stars next
to the things you think I should think are important,
and write notes in the margins about all the people
you’re mad at and my name almost never appears there.
Because you make that pork recipe you found
in the Frida Kahlo Cookbook. Because when you read
that essay about Rilke, you underlined the whole thing
except the part where Rilke says love means to deny the self
and to be consumed in flames. Because when the lights
are off, the curtains drawn, and an additional sheet is nailed
over the windows, you still believe someone outside
can see you. And one day five summers ago,
when you couldn’t put gas in your car, when your fridge
was so empty—not even leftovers or condiments—
there was a single twenty-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew,
which you paid for with your last damn dime
because you once overheard me say that I liked it.

The mind I love must have wild places,
a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop
in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood,
the chance of a snake or two,
a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of,
and paths threaded with flowers planted
by the mind.
– Katherine Mansfield

HORSES
From the window I saw the horses.
I was in Berlin, in winter. The light
had no light, the sky had no heaven.
The air was white like wet bread.
And from my window a vacant arena,
bitten by the teeth of winter.
Suddenly driven out by a man,
ten horses surged through the mist.
Like waves of fire, they flared forward
and to my eyes filled the whole world,
empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,
they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,
with manes like a dream of salt.
Their rumps were worlds and oranges.
Their color was honey, amber, fire.
Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride,
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged, like a prisoner.
There, in silence, at mid-day,
in that dirty, disordered winter,
those intense horses were the blood
the rhythm, the inciting treasure of life.
I looked. I looked and was reborn:
for there, unknowing, was the fountain,
the dance of gold, heaven
and the fire that lives in beauty.
I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.
I will not forget the light of the horses.
– Pablo Neruda

Dana Levin:
To write beyond and outside the tightening circle — yes.

Aria Aber:
who was the poet who said the most embarrassing thing in the world is to be a poet? elizabeth bishop?

Terence McKenna:
We were torn from that which gave life meaning by climatological and cultural factors which forced us then into the nightmare of history. And it is from that nightmare that we must awaken, or the lethal momentum of egocentrism is going to shove us right over the edge.

We have two eyes to see two sides of things, but there must be a third eye which will see everything at the same time and yet not see anything. That is to understand Zen.
– D. T. Suzuki

Terence McKenna:
I’m aware that there is a drug problem -a terrible one. But it’s a different problem. It’s not caused by people who are seeking expanded or higher consciousness, it is caused by people who are blotting out how the consequences of living in this kind of civilization make them feel

I remember being struck by something I call ‘other exiles,’ there was something in them that was not quite at home in their own environment.
– Kamau Brathwaite, on looking for people to empathize with in Europe.

Silence invites us to appreciate our surroundings more deeply.
– Cati Vanden Breul

Whence all this hurry to arrive at a state? Are you not already face-to-face with the eternal mystery? Take it easy for a while; just watch the snow falling or the kettle boiling, and not so much hurry.
– Alan Watts

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
– Elizabeth Bishop

Milerapa:

We keep thinking and hoping
that there will be a great breakthrough.
We think, “It might happen one of these days!
Let’s just throw a stone in the dark!”
We hope our stone might hit
the head of our enemy
or land on the bosom of our friend,
but throwing a stone in the dark
is a very haphazard approach.
A breakthrough is not homemade:
a breakthrough is reality.
It could actually happen.

– Excerpt from: Milarepa: Lessons from the Life and Songs of Tibet’s Great Yogi, by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, page 83

He went from being the worst kind of malevolent sorcerer to a devoted and ascetic Buddhist practitioner to a completely enlightened being all in a single lifetime. The story of Milarepa (1040–1123) is a tale of such extreme and powerful transformation that it might be thought not to have much direct application to our own less dramatic lives—but Chögyam Trungpa shows otherwise. This collection of his teachings on the life and songs of the great Tibetan Buddhist poet-saint reveals how Milarepa’s difficulties can be a source of guidance and inspiration for anyone. His struggles, his awakening, and the teachings from his remarkable songs provide precious wisdom for all us practitioners and show what devoted and diligent practice can achieve.

In between giving someone a pass, and damning them to hell fire for the pain they’ve wrought, there is a third way.
– Melissa Ann Hughes

It’s not all in your head. It’s all in your heart. It’s all in your feet. It’s all in your hips. It’s all in your shoulders. It’s all in your breath. It’s all in your body. Anything unattended to, unresolved, unhealed, and unprocessed lives in your tissues, your cells, your musculature. It may be manifest in your stinking thinking, but it doesn’t begin there. The mind does not source itself—the body does. The trick is to not try to shift the thinking from within the mind itself. You can’t. You may be able to subdue it there, but you won’t be able to resolve it. Because the troubling thoughts are merely a symptom of the deeper issues. They are a reflection of our emotional holdings and constricted musculature. They emanate from the fleshy trauma tunnels that we dug in order to survive this world. Many of us sit in the waiting room of awakening for decades, waiting impatiently for our new birth. And it never arrives, because we are looking for it where it isn’t—within the mind, itself. Babies aren’t born that way. You have to go down into the depths of the body to bring a new birth to life. Down, down, down…. into the alchemical chambers of new thought—YOUR MAGNIFICENT BODY. This is where we are born again.
– Jeff Brown

Separation
BY W. S. MERWIN
Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

If you can love someone with your whole heart,
even one person, then there’s salvation in life.
Even if you can’t get together with that person.
– Haruki Marukami, 1Q84

If it be knowledge or wisdom one is seeking,
then one had better go direct to the source.
And the source is not the scholar or philosopher, not the master, saint, or teacher, but life itself—
direct experience of life. The same is true for art.
Here, too, we an dispense with ‘the masters.
– Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

I don’t speak to anyone for a week.
I just sit on a stone by the sea.
– Anna Akhmatova

I believe in being a poet in all moments of life.
Being a poet means being human.
I know some poets whose daily behavior
has nothing to do with their poetry.
In other words, they are only poets when they write poetry.
Then it is finished and they turn into greedy,
indulgent, oppressive, shortsighted, miserable,
and envious people.
Well, I cannot believe their poems.
– Forough Farrokhzad

You said “Dark”. I know the butterfly, and the lizard, and the orchis. Are not those your countrymen?
– Emily Dickinson

A true vocation requires shedding anything that would impede or obscure the call. A true pilgrimage requires letting go of the very things most people try to hold onto. In seeking after what the soul desires we become pilgrims with no home but the path the soul would have us follow. As the old proverb says, “Before you begin the journey, you own the journey. Once you have begun, the journey owns you.” After all, what good is a dream that doesn’t test the mettle of the dreamer? What good is a path that doesn’t carry us to the edge of our capacity and then beyond that place? A true calling involves a great exposure before it can become a genuine refuge.
– Michael Meade, Fate and Destiny

Let’s picture if we can two landscapes. The first has a deep clear quiet pool, and the second also has a deep clear quiet pool. The first one is surrounded by garbage. The second one, also surrounded by garbage, has an odd characteristic – everyone who jumps into the pool takes a little pile of garbage in with him — and there is something in the pool that eats it up, so it remains quiet and clear.

Which kind of practice are you doing ? Most of us long for deep, blissful sitting and, even if our pool of peace is ringed around with garbage, we attempt not notice it; if the garbage can disturb us, we want to ignore it. We don’t like difficulties; we prefer to sit in our peace and not be intruded upon. That’s one type of sitting.

The other kind of pool eats up the garbage; as fast as it appears, it is consumed as the person entering the pool carries it in with him. Still in a short time the pool is clear and undisturbed. It may churn more at first. The major difference is that the first pool ends up with more and more garbage around it; the second has none or very little.

As has been said, most of us long for the first kind of practice (life). But the second, facing life as it is, is more genuine; we keep churning up our drama — seeing it, experiencing it, swallowing it — throwing the garbage into ourselves, the deep pool that we are.

A practice exclusively devoted to concentration (shutting out all but the object of concentration) is the first pool. Very peaceful, very seductive. But when you climb out of the pool, the garbage of life remains — our dualistic dealings with our work and relationships. You haven’t handled them. Or you may resort to the well-intentioned but inaccurate devices of positive thinking or affirmations; the gas in the garbage increases and in time explodes.

The second pool (being each moment of life, pleasant or unpleasant) is at times a slow and frustrating practice, but in the long run, fruitful and satisfying. With all that as a background, let’s look at what can be called the turning point in our life and practice. From what are we turning? Let’s look at some sentences: “I feel irritated. I feel annoyed. I feel happy.” What we omit is: “I feel I am hurt by you. I feel I have been made happy by you.”

Actually, the fact is not that you irritate me, it’s that i have a desire to be irritated. You may loudly protest, “oh, never, I certainly don’t want to feel irritated or hurt…” Well, just for a few years (intelligently, in the second pool). The first and uncomfortable years of sitting make it clearer and clearer that my desire is to be irritated or angry (separate). That’s almost all I have known as a means to preserve and protect what I think is my identity. With continued awareness, it dawns that there is only one person who can irritate me or make me feel lonely and depressed, and it is myself — myself as a false identity.

We begin to see a strange and lethal truth: contrary to our beliefs, our basic drive and all our life fore goes into a struggle to perpetuate our separateness, our touchiness, or self-righteousness.

Lao Tzu said, “He who feels punctured, must be a balloon.”, the balloon of irritability, anger, self-centered opinions. If we can be punctured (hurt), we can be sure we are still a balloon. We want to be a balloon; otherwise we could not be punctured. But our greatest desire is to keep the balloon inflated. After all, it’s me!

So what would turning be? What is the turning point? It begins when we observe and feel our anger, our manipulation, our anxiety – and know in our hearts a deep determination to be in another mode.

Than the real transformation can begin. Instead of ignoring garbage, pushing it away, or wallowing in it, we take our garbage into ourselves and let it digest. We take ourselves with us into the pool of life. This begins the turning. After it, life is never the same.

The turning is at first feeble and intermittent. Over time, it becomes stronger and more insistent (in Christian terms, the ‘hound of haven’ chases us). As it strengthens, more and more we know who our Master is. Of course, the Master is not a thing or a person but our awakening knowledge of Who We Are. The difficult years of practice (and life) come before the turning. The patience and skill of both teacher and student are called on to the utmost. Some but not all will make it through the difficulties.

Gurdjieff said: man is a machine. We know how machines work: when the blender’s button is pushed, it goes WHOOSSSH; when we turn our car’s ignition key, the motor roars. Man is a machine. Why? As long as a man’s primary drive is to keep his balloon unpunctured, to avoid having his buttons pushed, he is an automatic machine which has no choice.

Even moving from passive dependence to an active and angry independence — “Don’t tell me what to do!” — is still the activity of a machine with buttons. I feel ruled and compelled by ‘something else’; I have no choice. Like the blender, if pushed, I turn on.

Suppose you do something to me that I view as punishing (it’s mean, it’s unfair, I don’t deserve it). How do I react when this button is pushed? With anger? (And I may not reveal my anger, or I may turn it against myself). Then I am a machine. In this instance, what would the tuning point be?

The turning point is my ability, developed slowly by practice, to be aware of the thoughts and bodily sensations which comprise anger. In the observing of thoughts and sensations, anger will swallow itself and its energy can open life instead of destroying it. Then I (the angry one) can act out of this clarity in a manner that benefits me and you. This is the way of the second pool, the one that takes the garbage, digests it, letting it feed and renew life as compost does a garden.

Let us not have some naive notion that this ability is won overnight. A lifetime is more like it. Nevertheless, faithful and determined practice makes a difference and fairly soon at that.

We come to view the unpleasant aspects of life as learning opportunities. If my balloon is deflated a little — great!. As an opportunity to be welcomed, not avoided or dramatized. each round of such practice renders us a little less machine-like, gives us more appreciation of ourselves and others.

Let’s live in the second pool.
– Charlotte Joko Beck

Charlotte Joko Beck:
You cannot avoid paradise.
You can only avoid seeing it.

Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life.
– Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Let’s look for that big problem
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.
– Thomas Merton

A poem is a place where the conditions
of beyondness and withinness are made palpable,
where to imagine is to feel what it is to be.
It allows us to have the life we are denied
because we are too busy living.
Even more paradoxically, poetry permits us to live
in ourselves as if we were just out of reach of ourselves.
– Mark Strand

Zen’s Oldest Text ~ Three Versions of Bodhidharma’s
Two Entrances & Four Practices

The oldest text attributed specifically to the Zen schools is the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices. Sometimes it is shortened to the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices. And, sometimes simply to The Two Entrances. It is attributed to the semi-mythical Bodhidharma.

Some argue his disciple Huike compiled his teacher’s message as an early version the treatise. And then it was edited more or less into the document we have by the monk Tanlin. The earliest strata seems to date from about the sixth century. Possibly there are even earlier elements.

I find it interesting that the consensus view is that all other texts attributed to Bodhidharma date long after the old barbarian. But in this text with at least some possible connection to him we get critical Zen themes as “wall gazing,” “skillful means,” and “putting the mind at rest.”

Among the things that interest me about this document is how it stands in the place of our Zen tradition. The Dharma as we receive it in the Pali Sutras is highly didactic. The teachings are laid out in order, and each stage is spelled out. Within that received tradition the anecdotes of awakening turn on the Buddha explaining things clearly and people realizing the truth of his teaching.

Zen as we practice it, particularly within the koan introspection disciplines, plays out differently. Instead of lists and stages, stories are told. Sometimes with directions in them, but more often not, at least not in any normatively understood way. We are, instead, invited to look within our own hearts, into that rich but also desolate place, think of it as a jungle or a desert, or a deep frozen mountain range.

And with the we are invited to take a journey. As we trek all along the way surprises, shocks, offense and joy erupt, pretty much unbidden, often at the strangest moments. And from those moments where we’re thrown into the mystery, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and find strangely, wondrously, that our lives take new courses.

With Two Entrances, we see that from right at the beginning of Zen’s emergence. Although it is a hybrid document, representing the old and the new pretty jumbled up. In the treatise we start with an invitation to the leap from the hundred-foot pole, as we say in Zen. But, most of it is within that older more formal didactic expression of our heartful way. If you don’t push it too hard, the treatise is sort of a platypus, part mammal, part reptile, part classical Buddhist explanation, part Zen presentation.

You get to choose which is mammal, which is reptile. All of it, I suggest, alive, and, for our purposes, useful.

There are a number of translations available. Here are three.”

***

Bodhidharma on the Twofold Entrance to the Tao

Translated by D T Suzuki

From the Manual of Zen Buddhism

“There are many ways to enter the Path, but briefly speaking they are of two sorts only. The one is “Entrance by Reason” and the other “Entrance by Conduct”.

By “Entrance by Reason” we mean the realization of the spirit of Buddhism by the aid of the scriptural teaching. We then come to have a deep faith in the True Nature which is the same in all sentient beings . The reason why it does not manifest itself is due to the overwrapping of external objects and false thoughts. When a man,abandoning the false and embracing the true, in singleness of thought practises the Pi-kuan [“Wall-gazing”] he finds that there is neither self nor other,that the masses and the worthies are of one essence, and he firmly holds on to this belief and never moves away therefrom. He will not then be a slave to words, for he is in silent communion with the Reason itself, free from conceptual discrimination; he is serene and not-acting. This is called “Entrance by Reason”.

By “Entrance by Conduct” is meant the four acts in which all other acts are included. What are the four?

1. To know how to requite hatred;
2. To be obedient to karma;
3. Not to crave anything; and
4. To be in accord with the Dharma.

1. What is meant by “How to requite hatred”? He who disciplines himself in the Path should think thus when he has to struggle with adverse conditions: “During the innumerable past ages I have wandered through a multiplicity of existences, all the while giving myself to unimportant details of life at the expense of essentials, and thus creating infinite occasions for hate, ill-will, and wrongdoing. While no violations have been committed in this life, the fruits of evil deeds in the past are to be gathered now. Neither gods nor men can foretell what is coming upon me. I will submit myself willingly and patiently to all the ills that befall me, and I will never bemoan or complain. The Sutra teaches me not to worry over ills that may happen tome. Why? Because when things are surveyed by a higher intelligence, the foundation of causation is reached.” When this thought is awakened in a man, he will be in accord with the Reason because he makes the best use of hatred and turns it into the service in his advance towards the Path. This is called the “way to requite hatred”.

2. By “being obedient to karma” is meant this: There is no self (atman) in whatever beings are produced by the interplay of karmic conditions; the pleasure and pain I suffer are also the results of my previous action. If I am rewarded with fortune, honour, etc., this is the outcome of my past deeds which by reason of causation affect my present life. When the force of karma is exhausted, the result I am enjoying now will disappear; what is then the use of being joyful over it? Gain or loss, let me accept the karma as it brings to me the one or the other; the Mind itself knows neither increase nor decrease. The wind of pleasure [and pain] will not stir me, for I am silently in harmony with the Path. Therefore this is called “being obedient to karma”.

3. By “not craving (ch’iu) anything” is meant this: Men of the world, in eternal confusion, are attached everywhere to one thing or another, which is called craving. The wise however understand the truth and are not like the ignorant. Their minds abide serenely in the uncreated while the body moves about in accordance with the laws of causation. All things are empty and there is nothing desirable to seek after. Where there is the merit of brightness there surely lurks the demerit of darkness. This triple world where we stay altogether too long is like a house on fire; all that has a body suffers, and nobody really knows what peace is. Because the wise are thoroughly acquainted with this truth, they are never attached to things that change; their thoughts are quieted, they never crave anything. Says the Sutra:”Wherever there is a craving, there is pain; cease from craving and you are blessed.” Thus we know that not to crave anything is indeed the way to the Truth. Therefore, it is taught not “to crave anything”.

4. By “being in accord with the Dharma” is meant that the Reason which we call the Dharma in its essence is pure, and that this Reason is the principle of emptiness (sunyata) in all that is manifested; it is above defilements and attachments, and there is no “self”, no “other” in it. Says the Sutra: “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, because it is free from the stain of being; in the Dharma there is no ‘self because it is free from the stain of selfhood.” When the wise understand this truth and believe in it, their lives will be “in accordance with the Dharma”.

As there is in the essence of the Dharma no desire to possess, the wise are ever ready to practice charity with their body, life, and property, and they never begrudge, they never know what an ill grace means. As they have a perfect understanding of the threefold nature of emptiness, they are above partiality and attachment. Only because of their will to cleanse all beings of their stains, they come among them as of them, but they are not attached to form. This is the self-benefiting phase of their lives. They,however, know also how to benefit others, and again how to glorify the truth of enlightenment. As with the virtue of charity, so with the other five virtues [of the Prajnaparamita], The wise practice the six virtues of perfection to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no specific consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. This is called “being in accord with the Dharma”.

***

Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices

attributed to Bodhidharma

translated by John R. McRae
from The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch’an Buddhism

“There are many ways of entering into enlightenment, but all of them may effectively be subsumed under two categories: the “entrance of principle” and the “entrance of practice”.

The entrance of principle is to become enlightened to the Truth on the basis of the teaching. One must have a profound faith in the fact that one and the same True Nature is possessed of all sentient beings, both ordinary and enlightened, and that this True Nature is only covered up and made imperceptible by false sense impressions.

If one discards the false and takes refuge in the True, one resides frozen in “wall contemplation”, in which self and other, ordinary person and sage, are one and the same; one resides fixedly without wavering, never again to be swayed by written teachings. To be thus mysteriously identified with the True Principle, to be without discrimination, serene and inactive: This is called the entrance of principle.

The entrance of practice refers to the “four practices” which encompass all other practices. They are the “practice of retribution of enmity,” the “practice of acceptance of circumstances,” the “practice of the absence of craving,” and the “practice of accordance with the Dharma.”

What is the practice of the retribution of enmity? When the practitioner of Buddhist spiritual training experiences suffering, he should think to himself:
“For innumerable eons I have wandered through the various states of existence, forsaking the fundamental for the derivative, generating a great deal of enmity and distaste and bringing an unlimited amount of injury and discord upon others.

My present suffering constitutes the fruition of my past crimes and karma, rather than anything bequeathed to me from any heavenly or human being. I shall accept it patiently and contentedly, without complaint.”

When you react to events in this fashion, you can be in accord with Principle, therefore this is called practice of the retribution of enmity.

The second is the practice of the acceptance of circumstances. Sentient beings have no unchanging self and are entirely subject to the impact of their circumstances. Whether one experiences suffering or pleasure, both are generated from one’s circumstances. If one experiences fame, fortune, and other forms of superior karmic retribution, this is the result of past causes.

Although one may experience good fortune now, when the circumstances responsible for its present manifestation are exhausted, it will disappear. How could one take joy in good fortune? Since success and failure depend on circumstances, the mind should remain unchanged. It should be unmoved even by the winds of good fortune, but mysteriously in accordance with the Tao. Therefore, this is called the practice of acceptance of circumstances.

The third is the practice of the absence of craving. The various kinds of covetousness and attachment that people experience in their never-ending ignorance are referred to as craving. The wise person is enlightened to the Truth, the essential principle which is contrary to human convention. He pacifies his mind in inactivity and accepts whatever happens to him. Understanding that all existence is nonsubstantial, he is without desire. The sutra says: “To have craving entails suffering; to be without craving means joy.” Understand clearly that to be without craving is equivalent to the true practice of the Path.

The fourth is the practice of accordance with the Dharma. The absolute principle of essential purity is called Dharma. According to this principle, all characteristics are nonsubstantial and there is no defilement and no attachment, no “this” and “that.” Since this Dharma is without parsimony, one should practice the perfection of dana (selfless giving), giving of one’s body, life, and possessions without any regret. In this way one benefits self as well as others ornamenting the path of enlightenment.

Outline of Practice
Translated by Red Pine

From The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma

MANY roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls,’ the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.

To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: Suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma.

First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the Path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, “In Countless ages gone by, I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions. Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice. The sutras say “when you meet with adversity don’t be upset because it makes sense.” With such understanding you’re in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the Path.

Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we’re ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.

Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity. To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.” When you seek nothing, you’re on the Path.

Fourth, practicing the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don’t exist. The sutras say, “The Dharma includes no being because it’s free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it’s free from the impurity of self.” Those wise enough to believe and understand these truths are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing the six virtues to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is what’s meant by practicing the Dharma.
– James Ishmael Ford

Esther Hicks:
You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. If you’re wanting to be of an advantage to others, be as tapped in, turned in, turned on as you can possibly be.

And when all the wars are over,

a butterfly will still be beautiful.

– Ruskin Bond

Why Do You Bother to Write Poems?
Is the question from the back of the room; I cannot
Quite see the student asking it, but it’s deep-voiced
And challenging and I assume it’s a guy. Because I
Want to rub music and language together and gawk
At the flames, I say. Because poetry, if it takes fire,
Cracks people’s masks, and assaults arrogance, and
Sucks you beneath the surface of words toward why
We use them. Because we have been singing before
There ‘were’ words and it’s healthy to remember that.
Because the great poems are about you and me both
And there is damned little we will be able to discuss
In the normal flow of the river and it’s good for both
Of us to stand together quietly for a while in a poem.
Because why the hell not ? What is it exactly that we
Should count as time better spent ? You cannot spare
Two minutes for a poem? Sure, it might be pompous
Arty muck, and you demand your two minutes back,
But what if it isn’t ? What if it shivers you, or startles
You awake, or makes you weep remembering a time
When you sang all day too, and everything was made
Of music and light and colors and slabs of shimmer ?
WHAT IF, brother — that’s my answer to your question.
– Brian Doyle

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
– Anne Frank

Terence McKenna:
We actually live in a de-humanising culture and, as you know, the consequences of a couple of thousand years of this kind of alienation are that now we face the potential death of the planet. We have invented . . the sin of stealing the future from your own children.

It is absurd to try to “explain it”: poetry is lived, enjoyed or suffered, is gestated or sublimated, humiliated, hurt or consecrated…
– Ana Emilia Lahitte

claire schwartz:
Distortions of language is a hallmark of empire, but I continue to be bowled over by the violence sanitized under the label “moderate” in this country.

Dream
by Elizabeth Bishop
I see a postman everywhere
Vanishing in thin blue air
A mammoth letter in his hand,
Postmarked from a foreign land.
The postman’s uniform is blue.
The letter is of course from you
And I’d be able to read, I hope,
My own name on the envelope
But he has trouble with this letter
Which constantly grows bigger & bigger
And over and over with a stare,
He vanishes in blue, blue air.

THE JEWISH POEM
Can we find our way back
I mean all the way back
before a jealous G-d
before Abraham and Sarah
wandered off from Sumer
before ancient Sumer itself
gave birth to patriarchy
scourge of the planet
ushering in the end times
before David and Solomon
before priests and kings
before Jewish exceptionalism
but not before
the original Shekinah
divine feminine presence
body of light, body of bliss
incarnation of the Goddess
when we Jews were
a tribe like any other
Tribes speaking and singing
wearing rainbow IDs
of skin and meat and bone
hunters and gatherers
shakers and trance dancers
Jews no different
moving with the seasons
year after year, circling
around, starting over
owning next to nothing
burning our self-images
in great bonfires determined
by configuration of the stars
burning fixations and regrets
burning bruised egos
burning lingering grudges
burning effigies of hate
sending it all up in flames
egalitarian and free
at home in telepathy
and celebration, at ease
in our animal bodies
Before Torah and Talmud
before Mishnah and Midrash
before moldy dictatorial texts
before thou shalt not, before
all the rules and regulations

Before the Promised Land
before patriarchal decay
before fear and trembling
before we were tossed
from the Garden in shame
before the Garden itself
before we got hoodwinked
into forsaking wilderness
fleeing from the Goddess
to whom we had always
willingly surrendered
outside of clock time
outside of history
From the Mediterranean Sea
to the Bay of Bengal
and beyond, the Goddess
radiating her power. . .
So say it again, we Jews
a tribe like any other
born from undulations
of the feminine landscape
we traveled across for
untold thousands of years
supplicants in sacred groves. . .
– Michael Brownstein

For the Greeks, memory is rooted in utterance, if we may judge from the etymology (“I remember,” “I make mention,” “I name”). Memorable naming is the function of poetry, for the poet uses memory to transform our human relationship to time.
– Anne Carson

We sin against the imagination whenever we ask an image for its meaning, requiring that image be translated into concepts.
– James Hillman

It may be important to great thinkers
to examine the world, to explain and despise it.
But I think it is only important to love the world,
not to despise it, not for us to hate each other,
but to be able to regard the world and ourselves
and all beings with love, admiration and respect.
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Do they still call it infatuation? That magic ax that chops away the world in one blow, leaving only the couple standing there trembling? Whatever they call it, it leaps over anything, takes the biggest chair, the largest slice, rules the ground wherever it walks, from a mansion to a swamp, and its selfishness is its beauty…. People with no imagination feed it with sex — the clown of love. They don’t know the real kinds, the better kinds, where losses are cut and everybody benefits. It takes a certain intelligence to love like that — softly, without props.
– Toni Morrison, from Love

How marvelous the music
of that musician is who calls up love.
The tunes he strikes up in different modes
all go to a different place.

I hope the world will never
be deprived of the cries
of lovers. When they cry out, their
harmonies stretch us out into eternity.

– Hafiz

it is possible to experience everything – trees, birds, people, air, the sky, the planets, the galaxy, all of it – as a living presence. Not only conscious, aware, but living, alive, just the way our body feels alive – living, pulsing, almost breathing. Not only that, but it has a dynamism, a force, that is constantly metamorphosing and appearing as the universe we see. So that the changes we see, the cars moving, the birds flying, the sun rotating, the trees growing, all of those can be experienced as a transformation of this living presence, as one thing, undivided.
– A. H. Almaas

I love to dream.

For some, the “real” world is plenty and day-to-day responsibilities and activities fill them with purpose and accomplishment.

But for many of us, this is not the case- we get depressed and our soul’s dry up without seeing symbol, meaning, depth, and imagination in what is called “reality.”

In addition, many of the problems we face, from social issues like war, racism, and poverty to figuring out how to really get along with each other in a world of essential diversity, cannot be resolved by logical plans, greater discipline, being nicer, or adding more financial resources.

We need imaginers who know the mind of the child to be the creative force for new life.
We need deep feelers who are moved by experiences that are ultimately subjective yet holy.
We need spiritual warriors who face the mundane while still being moved by Spirit.
We need social activists who flip the script of society’s bankrupt ranking systems.
We need shamans ready to explore the underworld’s monsters and disguised angels.
We need all of these dreamers to teach us to love the world in new ways.
– David Bedrick

Resignation
I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
sometimes
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because the winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off this Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things

I love you
like the habit I picked up in college
of sleeping through lectures
or saying I’m sorry
when I get stopped for speeding
because I drink a glass of water
in the morning
and chain-smoke cigarettes
all through the day
because I take my coffee Black
and my milk with chocolate
because you keep my feet warm
though my life a mess
I love you
because I don’t want it
any other way

I am helpless
in my love for you
It makes me so happy
to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
locking me in an echo chamber
where your voice reverberates
through the four walls
sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
because it’s been so good
for so long
that if I didn’t love you
I’d have to be born again
and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
is so simple
the thought though of you
sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
because no two snowflakes are alike
and it is possible
if you stand tippy-toe
to walk between the raindrops
I love you
because I am afraid of the dark
and can’t sleep in the light
because I rub my eyes
when I wake up in the morning
and find you there
because you with all your magic powers were
determined that
I should love you
because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you

I love you
because you made me
want to love you
more than I love my privacy
my freedom my commitments
and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
to love you
because you saw me one Friday
afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you
– Nikki Giovanni

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Having a Coke with You
by Frank O’Hara

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it

When you chose me—
love chose—
I came out of the great anonymity
from everyone, from nothing.
Till then
I was never taller than
the sierras of the world.
I never sank deeper
than the maximum
depths marked out
on maritime charts.
And my gladness was
sad, as small watches are
without a wrist to fasten to,
without a winding crown, stopped.
But when you said: you,
to me, yes, to me singled out,
I was higher than stars,
deeper than coral.
– Pedro Salinas

You, whom I do not tell that all night long
I lie weeping,
whose very being makes me feel wanting
like a cradle.

You, who do not tell me, that you lie awake
thinking of me:–
what, if we carried all these longings within us
without ever being overwhelmed by them,
letting them pass?

Look at these lovers, tormented by love,
when first they begin confessing,
how soon they lie!

You make me feel alone. I try imagining:
one moment it is you, then it’s the soaring wind;
a fragrance comes and goes but never lasts.
Oh, within my arms I lost all whom I loved!
Only you remain, always reborn again.
For since I never held you, I hold you fast.

– The Diaries of Malte Laurids Brigge (song).
Trans. by Albert Ernest Flemming

Love is that condition in which the happiness
of another person is essential to your own.
– Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Words set things in motion. I’ve seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges. I’ve felt them doing it. Words conjure. I try not to be careless about what I utter, write, sing. I’m careful about what I give voice to.
– Toni Cade Bambara

Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.
– Fromm

[I]n the madness of love is the destructive refusal of the established way of life.
– Marcuse

You do not need to waste your time doing those things that are unnecessary and trifling. You do not have to be rich.
You do not need to seek fame or power.
What you need is freedom, solidity, peace and joy.
You need the time and energy to be able to share these things with others.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

What we normally call the mind
is the deluded mind,
a turbulent vortex of thoughts
whipped up by attachment,
anger, and ignorance.
This mind, unlike enlightened awareness,
is always being carried away
by one delusion after another.
Thoughts of hatred or attachment
suddenly arise without warning,
triggered by such circumstances
as an unexpected meeting with an enemy
or a friend, and unless they are immediately overpowered with the proper antidote,
they quickly take root and proliferate,
reinforcing the habitual
predominance of hatred or attachment
in the mind and adding more
and more karmic patterns.
Yet, however strong these thoughts may seem,
they are just thoughts and will eventually
dissolve back into emptiness.
Once you recognize
the intrinsic nature of the mind,
these thoughts that seem to appear
and disappear all the time
can no longer fool you.
Just as clouds form, last for a while,
and then dissolve back into the empty sky,
so deluded thoughts arise, remain for a while,
and then vanish into the voidness of mind;
in reality nothing at all has happened.
When sunlight falls on a crystal,
lights of all colors of the rainbow appear;
yet they have no substance that you can grasp.
Likewise, all thoughts in their infinite variety –
devotion, compassion, harmfulness, desire –
are utterly without substance.
There is no thought that is something
other than voidness;
if you recognize the void nature of thoughts
at the very moment they arise,
they will dissolve.
Attachment and hatred
will never be able to disturb the mind.
Deluded emotions will collapse by themselves.
No negative actions will be accumulated,
so no suffering will follow.
– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Terence McKenna:
We are semi-conscious. This is our problem.

We’re like someone half awake inside a burning building.

I write poetry because I can’t disobey the impulse; it would be like blocking a spring that surges up in my throat. For a long time I’ve been the servant of the song that comes, that appears and can’t be buried away. How to seal myself up now?…
– Gabriela Mistral

The key tool of oppression is turning marginalized groups against one another […] There will always be space for debate and conversation […] But it is equally important to find what unites us.
– Adam Eli

I wish neither to possess nor to be possessed.
I no longer covet ‘paradise’
More important, I no longer fear ‘hell’…
The medicine for my suffering
I had within me from the very beginning
but I did not take it.
My ailment came from within myself,
but I did not observe it, until this moment.
Now I see that I will never find the light unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, consuming myself.
– Bruce Lee

I think that I am here, on this earth, to present a report on it, but to whom I don’t know. As if I were sent so that whatever takes place has meaning because it changes into memory.
– Czeslaw Milosz

want to contribute to peace in this world (as well as in your own heart/mind/body)? substitute your reactivity with curiosity. it works wonders.

this is not meant to imply that there is not a time to fight for what’s right and against what harms… but curiosity is a far too under-utilized skill…
– Maia Duerr

Ego as hyper-ego is Satanic
Instead of [ego] acting as an instrument of growing realization of the psychic totality, [hyper-ego] acts as an instrument of exclusion of everything that seems dangerous to its predominance and limited values. Instead of co-operating with the unconscious and using its (the ego’s) potentialities in reverence for the whole, [hyper-ego] is only out to impress, and to gain power… The hyper-ego reveals itself as the opponent of the unconscious, and not as its partner, its polarity, which would manifest the necessary and creative interdependence and interaction of the two.

This is an archetypal as well as a personal conflict: the ego, “the son of darkness,” has turned in rebellion against the unconscious; Phosphorus (bringer of light) has turned into renegade Satan (Lucifer)… Archetypally speaking, the Father world has turned against the Mother world.
– Gerhard Adler, The Living Symbol

.. the ego, as denoting extreme isolation and a splitting off from God, has the power to turn into a demon as soon as it stresses its independence of God by its egocentric behavior. The divine dynamis [instrument] of the Self… is made subservient to the ego, which then becomes demonic..
– C.G. Jung

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am.
– Anaïs Nin

There was a danger
whenever I was on home ground.
It was the danger of seeing my life
through other eyes than my own.
– Alice Munro, Family Furnishing

INCANTATION
Because we time-travel into the future
at a blistering sixty minutes an hour,
I ask you to sit down and write me
one beautiful sentence I might carry
in my pocket on the journey when I go,
and in the window of the train unfold

O you were the best of all my days.

Never knowing if the thing is broken
or the door between us is still open,
you would like me to sit down and write
you one beautiful sentence you might
carry in your wallet when you leave,
and in the cab you take it out and read

Permit me voyage, love, into your hands.

Depending where one stands, each circle
back is a possible fall, a fail, a spiral,
and I would like you to take a few seconds
to write me out one beautiful sentence
to carry now across the night and ocean,
and held up at the gate I sit down and open

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
– Nick Laird

Cliche This
When you grow up with a view of the sun setting
over, say, Lake Michigan, are you more susceptible
to what our little star can do under the right circumstances,
are you less dismissive of sunsets on postcards
and calendars than the rest of us, do you grow moody
and out of sorts without your daily hit of miraculous?
Because when I see a great sunset, the sky losing its mind,
sticking a knife in my heart again and again,
I think of that Kenyan oil executive who gave up his millions
to adopt hundreds of street children, I think of his wife
—his sons and daughters who said goodbye to their lives, too,
I think of those kids sleeping in alley and doorways
finishing college. Yes, with the right sunset
—one of those freaky light shows worthy of its own religion—
anything’s possible, if not the man of my dreams,
a black lab with a red ball, his tail running for office.
And just think of the first people who sat where I’m sitting,
this beach I had to beg, borrow and steal to get to,
folks who must’ve thought the waves were somehow linked
to their breathing, who still believed in clouds, silver linings.
And how to watch this woo-woo of weird light
routinely denied to anyone without vacation time
and not swing wide my arms as if I’m not the only black person
out here, how to stand up and shake out my towel
as if all that star shine isn’t still rearranging my soft machinery,
crashing me, handing me back to myself like an invitation.
– Valencia Robin

When I sweat trying to lift
what no one can lift,
I am praying.
When I fly 1000 miles to be
stopped by the moon on the
spine of an ancient mountain,
I am praying.
When I fall on the lawn in laughter
with my dog and she won’t stop
licking my face,
I am praying.
When you are winded by the light
on the photo of your mother
who died so suddenly,
you are praying.
When your grief lets you feel the
pain of those you don’t know,
you are praying.
When life moves through us
for no reason,
we are all praying.
I am humbled that all my efforts
to pray have failed, until
living is praying
with no intent.
Now, my heart is plucked
like the string of a harp
at every turn.
– Mark Nepo, At Every Turn

You are quite right,
the main interest of my work
is not concerned with
the treatment of neuroses
but rather with the approach to the numinous.
But the fact is that
the approach to the numinous
is the real therapy
and inasmuch as you attain
to the numinous experiences
you are released from the curse of pathology.
Even the very disease
takes on a numinous character.
– C. G. Jung

I believe and trust that, in the few remaining places that humans can rest and dream in rhythmic cycles of revival, this power of Sleep will emerge to heal. In uncolonised freedom space, at the wild fractal edges of awareness, in the places between sleep and dream, we remain present enough to hear these songs of freedom calling for repair and restoration.
– Uma Dinsmore Tuli

It’s far too late in the destruction of the planet for people of integrity to reasonably believe in, much less propagate, the myth of scientific and technological progress being beneficial or even neutral in value. After all the atrocities committed to serve technological progress, it is embarrassing that I still have to debunk that religion.
And yet, the cult of technological progress has such a stranglehold over our beliefs and our discourse that we can normally drop off the word “technological” and people still understand our meaning.
In 1970 Lewis Mumford wrote (as George Draffan and I discussed in Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control), “The chief premise common to both technology and science is the notion that there are no desirable limits to the increase of knowledge, of material goods, of environmental control; that quantitative productivity is an end in itself, and that every means should be used to further expansion.”
Mumford’s response to this cult of progress was to insist that “what one must challenge is the value of a system so detached from other humanneeds and humanpurposes that the process goes on automatically without any visible goal except that of keeping the corporate apparatus itself in a state of power-making, power-yielding productivity.”
Mumford didn’t dwell on the “tendency of mechanization and automation to form a self-enclosed system” to indicate some minor glitches, which are to be expected in any machine. “The point,” he wrote, “is that the most massive defects of automation are those that arise, not from its failures, but from its indisputable [sic] triumphs. …”
Mumford asked the same question that so many of us ask, which is, why on earth would a culture do so many crazy, stupid, destructive things? His answer cuts through the cornucopian garbage we’re all handed (and garbage it is; of what use are cool computer games on a planet being murdered?): “The desired reward of this magic [of automation, and more broadly, progress] is not just abundance but absolute control.”
But you knew that already. Only “innocents,” to use Mumford’s overgenerous word (I would say “psychopaths,” or maybe “the living dead”), could consider a “completely automated world society” to be the culmination of human evolution (all of evolution took place so we can watch television?). Instead, those of us with any sense at all recognize that the sort of automated future that the progress that civilization promises (or rather threatens) “would be a final solution to the problems of mankind, only in the sense that Hitler’s extermination program was a final solution for the ‘Jewish problem.’”
We all know this in our bodies. Some of us even know it in our heads. Mumford commented in 1970 that, “The notion that mechanical and scientific progress guaranteed parallel human benefits was already dubious by 1851, the year of the Crystal Palace Exhibition, and now has become completely untenable.” And yet in 1933 the title of the World’s Fair in Chicago was The Century of Progress. The slogan over the gate? “Science explores, technology executes [certainly in more ways than one], man conforms.” This was during the Great Depression, that colossal glitch (but not failure) of the machine’s economic system. In 1933 the unemployment rate was peaking at 25 percent (something’s dramatically wrong with a system where three out of four people are working their lives away, yet the economic system still falters) and farmers were dumping milk while people starved. Technology was executing, but some men weren’t conforming.
Mumford wasn’t wildly optimistic about the future. He knew—as we all do—that there was no hope in proceeding “on the terms imposed by technocratic society … [with] its plans for accelerated technological progress, even though man’s vital organs [and the rest of the world] will all be cannibalized in order to prolong the megamachine’s meaningless existence.”
He knew also, “The ideology that underlies and unites the ancient and modern megamachines is one that ignores the needs and purposes of life in order to fortify the power complex and extend its dominion. Both megamachines are oriented toward death; and the more they approach unified planetary control, the more inescapable does that result promise to become.”
He didn’t think change would be easy, saying, rightly enough, that it might take “an all-out fatal shock treatment, close to catastrophe, to break the hold of civilized man’s chronic psychosis. Even such a belated awakening would be a miracle.”
And of course today most people have not awakened from the cult of progress. Even with the world being dismembered before our eyes, nearly all public figures—from public leaders to public environmentalists to public intellectuals—continue to be members and servants of the cult of progress, the cult—to finally (for now) complete building this cult’s name—of scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic, managerial progress. Or maybe we should just call it the cult of control, or better, the cult of enslavement.
For those who benefit from it, progress is about improving their material lifestyle (temporarily, until progress kills the world) at the expense of those they enslave, steal from, or otherwise exploit. For everyone else, it is about loss.
Progress. Just today I read that in vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, there is forty-eight times as much plastic as phytoplankton, up from five to ten times as much just a few years ago.
Progress. One million migratory songbirds die every day because of skyscrapers, cell phone towers, domesticated cats, and other trappings of modern civilized life.
Progress. At least 200 species are driven extinct by this culture every single day. The rates are going up. The modern mass extinction has barely begun.
Progress. A half million human children (and untold nonhuman hildren) die every year as a direct result of so-called debt repayment from so-called third world countries (the colonies) to so-called first world countries (the center of empire, the industrialized nations, the nations that have undergone progress).
Progress. Studies have shown a strong positive correlation between regions in Africa that have resources valuable to industrialized nations and warfare.
Progress is polar bears swimming hundreds of miles to ice floes that have melted away, till finally they can swim no more.
Progress is nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, and “drones” piloted from an office in Florida that can kill people in Pakistan. Progress is the ability to kill at a great distance.
Progress is the ability of fewer and fewer people to control more and more people, and to destroy more and more of the world.
Progress is moonscapes in Alberta, from tar sands extraction.
Progress is moonscapes in West Virginia, from mountain top removal.
Progress is moonscapes the world over, from clear-cuts, mining, the release of industrial effluents, agriculture.
Progress is pipelines across Alaska.
Progress is dying oceans.
Progress is the complete takeover and pollution of the world.
I just received the following note: “I am a commercial airline pilot by trade. I have been flying aircraft for 24 years. I am one of those rare individuals who has always loved what I do for a living. I of course realize the paradox. Airlines are one of the major contributors to the problems we face. I tell you this because I’ve known for some time that something was terribly, terribly wrong, but until recently I have not really understood what I was feeling.
“I have the rare opportunity to see our world from a bird’s-eye view on a regular basis. I fly routes from Alaska to South America and everything in between. A few years ago, I started taking pictures of what I have been seeing, which is that the Earth beneath me was changing before my eyes.
“An example. I’ve been flying trips into Mexico City for about ten years. At first it was common to get a visual approach into this airport. A visual approach means we can see the airport from twenty to thirty miles, and have the ability to guide ourselves visually into landing. Over the last several years pollution has made it virtually impossible to see the runway until we are less than three miles away. And many pilots now refuse to do layovers in this area because we return with sinus infections and migraines. Now a question: do you think our planes are filled with people vacationing or visiting? No, most of the aircraft to Mexico and Central and South America are filled with white, male American businessmen. You can guess why they’re going down there.
“I’m amazed at how many people still believe that rural areas exist. I wish everyone could see what I see, especially at night. It used to be that I could fly at night and would pass over vast areas of darkness. Not anymore. There are lights as far as I can see in every direction, even when one would think we’re ‘in the middle of nowhere.’ During the day (when I’m away from areas of pollution and actually have decent visibility) everywhere I look the earth is scarred, damaged, roads everywhere, even when I’m over National Parks or deserts in Nevada, places you would not think, when you are driving in them, that they would be this way. But, from my seat I see a terrible cobweb quickly covering every land-base, almost like a scab forming over the Earth. I have seen it happen very, very quickly. And it seems to be accelerating every year.
“A few years ago, I started throwing out bait words while flying, trying to see if anyone else was waking up to some of the things I’ve been witnessing. In three years, only two other pilots have been able to have a conversation with me about what we were seeing: the rest stay numbed out with the current newspaper or computer magazine.”
Progress.
Progress is making more and more of the world jump through hoops on command.
Progress is the arrogance to believe that scientists and technicians can understand what will happen when they force salmon, rivers, mice, human beings, genes, bears, sparrows, rocks, electricity, mountains, forests, oceans, the planet, to jump through hoops on command, combined with the narcissism not to particularly care so long as the negative effects are paid by someone else.
Progress is a god.
Progress is God.
Progress is killing the world.
Progress is a dead world, finally, terminally, under control.
Now, I know someone will grab the low-hanging fruit of modern medicine, will say, “That is progress. If someone could cure Crohn’s disease, wouldn’t you take the pill, wouldn’t you want that bit of progress?” First, let’s ignore the fact that Crohn’s is a result of progress. Second, I would take the pill, because me not taking it wouldn’t stop the cult of progress. If me not taking the pill would stop this cult from destroying the world—or would even significantly slow its destructive actions—I would of course refuse it. Third, I would be thankful for that bit of progress. Fourth, I would want that bit of progress, all other things being equal. But that right there is the problem: all other things are never equal. I’ll say it again, so even members of the cult of progress might not forget (but of course they will): all other things are never equal. This kind of progress always comes at great cost to others. Part of the problem is that we are taught, systematically, to compartmentalize, and to ignore consequences outside our immediate purview, and as members of an abusive, exploitative culture based on domination and control, to especially ignore negative consequences that accrue to others because of progress. What are the ecological costs of a modern medical industry that exists in great measure to alleviate problems caused by industrial civilization, and that primarily serves the rich?
The space heater making my feet warm requires mines, smelters, oil wells and refineries, plastics factories, dams, a global transportation structure, and so on. But having a space heater is progress, right?
Of course the next argument is that knowledge is just knowledge, but as I made clear in Endgame, Welcome to the Machine, The Culture of Make Believe, and What We Leave Behind, because this culture is based on the powerful exploiting anyone they can, and because there is effectively no accountability for the powerful, and given the large pool of technicians working to facilitate exploitation by the powerful, nearly any knowledge will be quickly turned to the benefit of those in power.
This desire to dominate—and then to project this domination onto the natural world so that you can then attempt to perceive this domination as “natural”—suffuses every part of this culture. Just yesterday I read a newspaper article about the most recent mass extinction prior to the current one, and came across this throwaway line: “And when the mass extinction was over, the mammals of the world finally had their opportunity to thrive and evolve and dominate the Earth.” This is precisely the sort of teleological attitude and support for domination that made me hesitate to write about the mass extinction events.
Quite simply, this culture is all about enslaving everyone and everything its members can get their hands (or machines) on. What’s another word for making someone jump through hoops? Enslavement. In this culture, what is progress? It is movement toward more efficiently making others jump through hoops on command. It is measured by the ability to enslave, to control. To surveil. To kill at a distance. And what is the ultimate goal? It is, as I’ve made clear in book after book, to control everyone and everything. Sam Harris is quite clear about what he perceives as the purpose. He states explicitly: “We can say it even more simply: we need a world government.”
And we all know what group will govern. And we all know for whose benefit. And we all know by what means they will govern.
If we were honest, progress would not be called progress but rather escalation, for that is what it does. It escalates the ability of those doing the commanding to make others jump through hoops on command.
If we were honest, progress would be considered an insane theology, because it values forcing “matter and energy to jump through hoops on command” more than it values even life on earth.
I know, I know, I can hear the cry of the cult members even now: “If progress is so bad, why does everyone want it?” Well, they don’t. Nonhumans certainly don’t. But they don’t count, do they? They’re only there for you to use. Many humans don’t want progress, either. Or at least they didn’t, when they still had intact social structures. If the indigenous have consistently wanted progress, why have so many taken up arms in defense of their ways of life (and their land)? I often think of the line by Samuel Huntington: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations [sic] were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; nonWesterners never do.” Here is another way to look at this question:
what has happened when people—indigenous or not—have refused progress? Does the name Admiral Perry mean anything to you? When people have resisted technological progress, it has been imposed upon them through force. The savages used to be offered the choice of Christianity or Death. Now it is Progress or Death. Meet the new boss, same as the old …
– Derrick Jensen, Dreams

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks don’t see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.
– Jack Kerouac

Bruce Cockburn:
I was a dweller by a dark stream
A crying heart hooked on a dark dream
In my convict soul I saw your love gleam
And you showed me what you’ve done
Jesus, thank you joyous Son

Bruce Cockburn:
Strings vibrate
Music leaps out
In a shimmering intrigue
words unsaid whirl away like dust
from the sidewalk-sweeper’s broom
Across a fold in space you touch my hand

Bruce Cockburn:
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend

Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable.
– Hannah Arendt

Whatever the circumstance, bodily movement or stillness, feeling well or distressed, with good concentration or scattered attention, everything can be brought back to awareness.
– Kittisaro

A work of art is something produced by a person, but is not that person — it is of her, but is not her. It’s a reach, really — the artist is trying to inhabit, temporarily, a more compact, distilled, efficient, wittier, more true-seeing, precise version of herself — one that she can’t replicate in so-called ‘real’ life, no matter how hard she tries. That’s why she writes: to try and briefly be more than she truly is.
– George Saunders

ABCs:
Appreciate something. Be a good friend. Confront a hard thing. Decide. Explore your backyard. Find peace. Go outside more than you think you should. Help a neighbor. Invigorate yourself. Journey. Knead dough. Listen. Make art. Nurture a seed. Observe nature. Play. Question the status quo. Read books. Say what you need to say. Tinker. Unfollow the crowd. Volunteer. Wander in the wild. Xeriscape when necessary. Yodel, just to see what it’s like. Zigzag often.
– Heidi Christina

Deng Ming-Dao
DECLINE OF TRADITION

During a recent practice session in martial arts, I questioned my teacher about the purpose of each blow. We discussed the aim, the target, and how to practice. As we were trying to distinguish one from the other, she referenced the name of the posture. In this case, the name implied a snapping motion, and so it made sense to show that.
Then she said, “They don’t teach the names anymore in China.” I was skeptical, but she insisted. The conversation moved on, but I couldn’t decide if the names had been discarded or if the teachers were simply incompetent.

That night, I happened to see an interview with my teacher’s team mate. She mentioned how the old masters had been desperately poor. They were summoned to Beijing to teach, but they lived in odd rooms and were grateful to be able to have meals in the school. What went unsaid was how these masters must have been suppressed and their lives wrecked by the Cultural Revolution.

So much has been lost, and I don’t know that it can be revived. We hold onto pieces. I’ve seen enough of Chinese culture to know that it is fractal in nature: one piece can regenerate the whole. That’s how people in the past could come from other walks of life and still achieve higher levels than specialists. A calligrapher could have better movements than a swordsman. A musician could have greater insight into Tao than a monk. A craftsperson could explain the classics better than a scholar. But that was because China was a whole culture one hundred years ago. Will it come back? Maybe, but it will take time.

Confucius set down the ideal of “rectification of names.” Today, that takes on a new meaning.

Society’s praise can be cheaply secured, and almost all men are content with these easy merits; bu the instant effect of conversing with God will be to put them away. There are persons who are not actors, not speakers, but influences; persons too great for fame, for display; who disdain eloquence; to whom all we call art and artist, seems too nearly allied to show and by-ends, to the exaggeration of the finite and selfish, and loss of the universal.
– Emerson, Divinity School Address

Tom Sheldon
(changeling)
in a labyrinth of inescapable truth

what potency flows on watery breathed lines
splashing me with its beauty
I forget to breathe, sink into the cool lostness
I thought i had escaped.
Yes the “danger and beauty” everyday i peel one away
to find another and a purpose with fire
despite the wind that blows at the candle flame…
I’ve become dry from exhaustive digging.
the sound of the four winds become my destiny
I find myself in the middle of an eye, watching myself
in its blank stare motionless,
where time is now a bay
the world in stillness nests
wavering, in its own transparency
stained with equal parts hope and melancholy.
Sun light singed me with sadness
The very same unchanging syllable of light
sparkles a ghostly theater of reflection
in a labrynth of inescapable truth
I answer the premonitions, just in case
the pain evaporates knowing this
and while in time it fades
It can come back at a whisper
conceptualized in its own reflection
It has to do with a sense of place
where I come from and where I am at.
An appreciation for who I am…
a vivid portrait of life-altering moments

Transformed into arrows
let’s all go, body and soul!
Piercing the air
let’s go, body and soul,
with no way of return,
transfixed there,
rotting with the pain of striking home,
never to return.

One last breath! Now, let’s quit the string,
throwing away like rags
all we’ve had for decades
all we’ve enjoyed for decades
all we’ve piled up for decades,
happiness,
the lot.
Transformed into arrows
let’s all go, body and soul!

The air is shouting! Piercing the air
let’s go, body, and soul!
In dark daylight the target is rushing towards us.
Finally, as the target topples
in a shower of blood,
let’s all just once as arrows
bleed.

Never to return!
Never to return!

Hail, arrows, our nation’s arrows!
Hail, Warriors! Spirits of the fallen!

– Ko Un
translation by Brother Anthony

VII
The Verdict
The word landed with a stony thud
Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared,
I will manage with the rest.

I have a lot of work to do today;
I need to slaughter memory,
Turn my living soul to stone
Then teach myself to live again…

But how. The hot summer rustles
Like a carnival outside my window;
I have long had this premonition
Of a bright day and a deserted house.
– Anna Akhmatova

A land not mine
A land not mine, still
forever memorable,
the waters of its ocean
chill and fresh.

Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk,
and the air drunk, like wine,
late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pinetrees.

Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.
– Anna Akhmatova

You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought , but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and if you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition… The great thing is not ever to think about form but let it come. Does that sound strange from me? They have accused me of thinking about nothing else. Do you see the real joke? It is the critics who have really thought about form always, and I have thought about – writing!
– Gertrude Stein

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension–though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal–then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
–but we have changed, a little.
– Denise Levertov

You can live for years next door
to a big pine tree, honored to have
so venerable a neighbor, even
when it sheds needles all over your flowers
or wakes you, dropping big cones
onto your deck at still of night.
Only when, before dawn one year
at the vernal equinox, the wind
rises and rises, raising images
of cockleshell boats tossed among huge
advancing walls of waves,
do you become aware that always,
under respect, under your faith
in the pine tree’s beauty, there lies
the fear it will crash someday
down on your house, on you in your bed,
on the fragility of the safe
dailiness you have almost
grown used to.
– Denise Levertov

Sons and daughters of the earth, steep yourself in the sea of matter,
bathe in its fiery waters, for it is the source of your life and your youthfulness.

You thought you could do without it because the power of thought has been kindled in you?
You hoped that the more thoroughly you rejected the tangible,
the closer you would be to spirit: that you would be more divine
if you lived in the world of pure thought or at least more angelic
if you fled the corporeal?
Well, you were like to have perished of hunger.

You must have oil for your limbs, blood for your veins, water for your soul,
the world of reality for your intellect:
do you not see that the very law of your own nature
makes these a necessity for you?
– Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality—it’s all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.

In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago. And many of them seem to me written by a stranger: I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else’s dream.

I often find texts of mine that I wrote when I was very young—when I was seventeen or twenty. And some have a power of expression that I do not remember having them. Certain sentences and passages I wrote when I had just taken a few steps away from adolescence seem produced by the self I am today, educated by years and things. I recognize I am the same as I was. And having felt I am today making a great progress from what I was, I wonder where this progress is if I was then the same as I am today.

Just a few days earlier I suffered horribly reading a short text I’d written earlier. I remember perfectly that my scruples—at least as far as language is concerned—are only a few years old. In a drawer I found a much older text in which those same scruples were strongly accentuated. I didn’t understand myself in the past in a positive way. How did I advance towards what I already was? How can the person who knows me today not know me yesterday?

All this confuses me in a labyrinth where I am with myself and wander away from myself.
I wander with my thoughts and I’m sure that what I’m writing now I already wrote. I remember. And I ask the being that in me presumes to exist if there might not be in the Platonism of sensations another, more appropriate amamnesis, another memory of a former life that might only be of this life…

My God, my God, whose performance am I watching? How many people am I? What is this space between myself and myself?
– Fernando Pessoa

Why scurry about looking for the truth?
It vibrates in every thing and every not-thing, right off the tip of your nose.
Can you be still and see it in the mountain? the pine tree? yourself?
Don’t imagine that you’ll discover it by accumulating more knowledge.
Knowledge creates doubt, and doubt makes you ravenous for more knowledge.
You can’t get full eating this way.
The wise person dines on something more subtle:
He eats the understanding that the named was born from the unnamed,
that all being flows from non- being,
that the describable world emanates from an indescribable source.
He finds this subtle truth inside his own self,
and becomes completely content.
So who can be still and watch the chess game of the world?
The foolish are always making impulsive moves,
but the wise know that victory and defeat are decided by something more subtle.
They see that something perfect exists before any move is made.
This subtle perfection deteriorates when artificial actions are taken,
so be content not to disturb the peace.
Remain quiet.
Discover the harmony in your own being.
Embrace it.
If you can do this, you will gain everything,
and the world will become healthy again.
If you can’t, you will be lost in the shadows forever.
– Lao Tzu

Terence McKenna:
Reclaim experience. Do not dwell in the mistakes of the past. Do not lose yourself in the castles of the future & do not give your authenticity away to experts, gurus, governments, bosses . . . take back your mind & your body & begin to engage with the fact that you are alive.

to a poet, the human community is like the community of birds to a bird, singing to each other. Love is one of the reasons we are singing to one another, love of language itself, love of sound, love of singing itself, and love of the other birds.
– Sharon Olds

the world is ready to disappear fear,
a world that is not afraid of itself
or who it loves,
a world that is ending hunger
in the many forms that hunger exists,
no one is left out,
so tomorrow,
when the first rays of dawn
reach like swords of light
into your eyes,
begin the day,
like a tango with your soul,
in love with life,
because you are.
– Disappear Fear

Pay no attention to your thoughts. Don’t fight them. Just do nothing about them, let them be, whatever they are. Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through. Remember to remember: “Whatever happens, happens because I am.” All reminds you that “you are”. Take full advantage of the fact that to experience you must “be”. You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates. Don’t hold on, that is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you. Give up your addictions. There is nothing else to give up. Stop your routine of acquisitiveness, your habit of looking for results and the freedom of the universe is yours. Be effortless.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.
…….
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.
No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

I also have to say something deeply unfashionable: it is not relentless self-absorption that makes us realise our interior mess is directly mirrored outside ourselves. That’s not vanity, that’s attention. It’s not hubris, it’s horrifying clarity. If you don’t attend to your soul’s vitality with intent, then suppressed it’ll run you ragged. They are not above catastrophe to get your attention.
– Martin Shaw

Part of being an immigrant is having to start over again, having to begin in a new land, a new life, without forgetting the old one… to begin in silence.
– Mahtem Shiferraw

We are asked to kneel, or
stand still, depending on which land
we embroider our feet with—
– Mahtem Shiferraw

As a poet and as a human living on a planet careering ever more deeply and unevenly into capitalism-induced horrors, I want to attend to both: the moments of singing; the moments when a voice breaks.
– Heather Christle

Poetry is nuclear energy squeezed into lines. Something that will explode into particles. This is what frightens the established order and those who are in charge of it. Poetry is pleasure and profoundness, infinite independence and freedom from ties, a very fine balance, an inner order. Patience and passion. I cannot think of a world without poetry. For everyone…
– Gülten Akın

Future-Forward-Looking Back
I wanted a garden.
I wanted a small house
with a garden.
I wanted to look out at dusk
and see bamboo
and sturdy cedars
bedecked with small white flags
and rope offerings to the kami.

I wanted feasts.
I wanted feasts and laughter
sock feet on tatami
around a central fire
and steam hissing from a teapot.

I wanted stories.
I wanted weightlessness.
I wanted long walks.
I wanted weeks of drifting
through clouds and hills.
I wanted to pull a salmon from a stream.
I wanted to become bonded
to mountains,
intimately.
I wanted to end each day with the words ‘This was work that made a difference’ on my lips.
I wanted to see the world evolve.
I wanted to see humans and nature heal our rift.
I wanted a lasting peace.

Here, now,
this rain
will have to be enough.

For tonight,

this

rain

is

enough.
– Frank LaRue Owen

How shall I keep my soul
from touching yours? How shall I
lift it up beyond you to other things?
Ah, I would gladly hide it
in darkness with something lost
in some silent foreign place
that doesn’t tremble when your depths stir.
Yet whatever touches you and me
blends us together the way a bow’s stroke
draws one voice from two strings.
Across what instrument are we stretched taut?
And what player holds us in his hand?
O sweet song.
– Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Edward Snow)

I don’t trust ‘spiritual people’ without a foundation in social justice.
– Brannu Sunyata

Anchoring your abilities, creative talents & purpose in this reality is your business. Meaning you will discover the unique way in which your mind functions. Attempting to follow others works, if it works for you. But all guidelines are psyops. Someone has already designed a map with intent. The term pysop is normally used for mind control systems using nefarious methods to hold power over others. What I am pointing too is the less subtle psyops that teachers are now using in schools to scare children about the environment, or the more famous with teaching methods for creative expression.

Here is permission to evolve your own path & technique. Follow the intuitive flow that speaks more loudly when you are more relaxed and quiet.

Remember a psyop is any psychological operation or instruction from others with a personal agenda.
– Chandali Ishta

Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
– Martin Luther King, Jr

When something important in your life ends, it’s like a monument has burned. Stop sifting: there’s no reconstructing it from ash. Stand in the space and see it—burnt black as it may be—as a site for building. There’s room for something else now—what? You decide. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Is ambivalence working for you? The word can be traced back to the Latin ambi (“in two ways”) and valeo (“be strong”). What if instead you used your strength to move one way, to be fully present? Remember in school when attendance was called? Say “here” and mean it. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Love is not a state, a feeling, a disposition, but an exchange, uneven, fraught with history, with ghosts, with longings that are more or less legible to those who try to see one another with their own faulty vision.
– Judith Butler

Everything you do to help enhance your energy flow and balance your energy are good for you. The more you can do it the better you will be at it and the more benefit you will receive. The very best, in my opinion, is connecting with the limitless, unconditional love of the universe and the infinite source. Opening your heart, connecting with this unconditional love is always the best. There is simply no more powerful healing energy than unconditional love. When you open your heart like this…then the Qi will do what is best for you naturally and spontaneously.
– Chunyi Lin

When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

‘Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.’

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.
– Martin Luther King, Jr

By Birthright
The tongues that could tell
the story of my childhood
all departed before
reciting it to me.

I’ve had to listen so very carefully
to my own voice
in order to discern the truth.

Blessings come in this way,

quietly, without fanfare
creeping up on you
all the moments
of your life,

until you realize they
are already there in the council
of day dreams and night prayers,
waiting patiently for your
eyes to be peeled open.

“Good morning Mary Sunshine!”
Mother used to chortle
as she jerked the bottom of
the white plastic shades,
making them jump and spin
and me bolt upright into
a belief that love is always
coupled with cruel acts
of kindness.

That one’s been keeping me
from waking up for a
long time now,

and it could explain why
I never put shades on
my windows,

oddly enough.

Of course there are other
examples,

and I raised myself in
the bouncy infant chair
of all of them.

Growing up has been a process
of severance from
what I never knew,

and a claiming of what has
always been my
inheritance.

We are worthy
by birthright.

Cast off the hand that attempts
to both slap and sooth,

whether it be yours
or someone else’s.

The Beloved speaks only in verses
that celebrate your
innermost beauty;

it knows from experience
that ugliness

can hide out in popular
places.

Refrain from reading
love letters written
with invisible ink.

Do not dance with someone
who intentionally
steps on your toes.

Admit that you know
when silence is being
used as a weapon

and walk out the proverbial door,
some of you – the real one,
into the presence of
singing birds.

I will make no apologies
for urging you to love yourself
enough to wait in the
vast open spaces of
uncertainty until
the true generosity
of spirit alights
upon your every cell.

No, I will not place
expectations as to the
form in which it
will come.

But it will come.
If you believe,
we are all worthy
by birthright.
– Jamie K. Reaser

Everyone I meet is from California.
– America

Go North!
– The Albion Band

The further west you walk the browner, hotter, stiller, and emptier the country gets.
– Woody Guthrie

I have a theory that the noises and bedlam of civilization get in the way of having a wide open door to dreams and the unconscious…

__________

Forty years ago a friend and I floated deep into the wilderness of Alaska. Around the campfire more than a week into the trip, my friend, an English major, recited this verse from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Where under crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to it for help — for It
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

That night I dreamed:.

I am lying on a bed of stones next to a river.
Above me is the dome of the sky, covered with deep, white clouds.

There are bear tracks, deeply embedded in the clouds, going up the left side.

At the zenith, the bear tracks turn into lynx tracks and descend down the right side.

I feel a profound sense of peace…

____________

The dream pre-cognitively described the arc of my life, from starting out more masculine and bear-like to shifting towards a more feminine approach at mid-arc. (Similarly our own struggles also reflect the struggle of the collective, the coming shift towards the feminine.)

Perhaps more importantly than any personal meaning this dream provided, it was a metaphor that indeed there is a potent dome in the sky, where archetypes and archetypal creatures roam — a Presence we cannot see directly but a Presence that leaves tracks…
– Steve Parker

REVELATION
The old Rabbi said, Torah contains all revelation.
The Brahmin said, Vedas reveal everything.
The Gospel is the end of it, said the priest.
Then I went to a Mosque, where the Imam told me,
Those old books were corrected by the last Prophet:
no revelation after holy Qu’ran.
But a funny thing happened when I heard them:
my heart contracted in breathless withering,
I felt my juices drying up.
So I walked barefoot through my own back yard
and consulted the first plum bud.
That tiny green nipple gushed Torah,
Veda, Gospel, Qu’ran: new juices
blushed up the twigs in my body.
Allah struck dumb by the fragrance of that pollen,
the breasts of El Shaddai could not contain the milk
that sparkled over those naked branches
and bubbled up in mushrooms.
Forsythia dripped golden sweetness,
tipped the tulip cup and spilled
bright God all over the mosses.
The original prophet was the Robin.
Then came the grace of the messenger Bee.
At night I heard Upanishad intoned by frogs,
ten thousand little pundits in the wetlands!
At dawn, I was moved into deeper silence
by the Sura of the Sparrow.
I could not fathom the verses of the Thrush,
feathered rishis in the apple trees.
Books are for Winter, calligraphy of frost.
I love to read, but when Spring comes,
Epistles are written in the petals of the rose,
I Ching cast in blossoming sticks on blue sky.
As long as seasons unfold
like wings of Presence from old cocoons,
revelation will never cease!
– Alfred K. LaMotte

Smile
If a child smiles, if an adult smiles,
that is very important.
If in our daily lives we can smile,
if we can be peaceful and happy,
not only we,
but everyone will profit from it.
If we really know how to live,
what better way to start the day
than with a smile?
Our smile affirms
our awareness and determination
to live in peace and joy.
The source of a true smile
is an awakened mind.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.
– John Adams

SHEKHINAH
To our desert ancestors, she was the Divine Presence
who they carried in the Sacred Ark
the clouds of glory that guided them
and the Manna that nourished them

To the Talmudic sages, she was the Divine Presence
who dwelled in the holy temple in Jerusalem
the Spirit that surrounds us when we pursue justice
and leaves when there is pollution and violence.

To the Medieval Pietists, she was the Divine Presence
who sat at the celestial Throne of Glory
receiving our prayers
and radiating back the light to all beings.


To the authors of the Zohar, she was the Divine Presence
moving through the Tree of Life as Binah, great Ocean Mother
Gevurah the Destroyer, Hod the Glory
and Malchuth the Earth

To the S’f at Kabbalists, she was the Divine Presence
as “Pardes” holy apple orchard and Shabbos Queen
whose re-unification with the Divine King
was the goal of all prayers and ritual actions

To the Hasidic Masters, she was the Divine Presence
who shone on the faces of righteous women and men
Mother of the soul’s breath
her return to earth was the goal of their prayers

To our diaspora Fore mothers, she was the Divine Presence
as the Compassionate Source
the one they called out to in childbirth, illness and death
and celebrated on the New Moon

An to us contemporary seekers, she is the Divine Presence
in the voices of women, representing the Shekhinah re-awakening
who is calling to us from the earth…
save the planet, stop the nuclear madness, clear the air,
heal the sick, respect the elders, care for the children

and to Her, we respond- we are ready to create a dwelling place for the divine
here on earth
to Her we answer in music and meditation, in politics and poetry, in dance and drama
to Her we respond:“Hineynu” yes, we are here!
– Rabbi Leah Novick

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. …There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

‘Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.’

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caring is all we have.
Cynicism is just a soft form of denial.
– Jenny Offill

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE JOURNEY
The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.
– Pat Schneider, Olive Street Transfer

The things you think of to link are not in your control. It’s just who you are, bumping into the world. But how you link them is what shows the nature of your mind. Individuality resides in the way links are made.
– Anne Carson

Guard your senses. Temper your sharpness. Mask your brightness. Be at one with the earth. This is primal union.
– Lao Tzu

You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.
– Morpheus, The Matrix

Keith S. Wilson:
it is wild to me that Americans will be like things suck really bad and then when you say maybe capitalism is the problem they’ll peek above their hospital bills, foreclosures, and predatory loans and be like no no capitalism is great I think it’s probably foreigners

If you just let the scales drop from your eyes, you realize that everything everywhere is filled with truth; everything is filled with Buddha; everything everywhere is to be appreciated!!
– Soko Morinaga

As soon as you accept the accidental effects, they are no longer accidents. They are necessity – the part of yourself that you could not expect or design beforehand. Thus the realm of your creativity grows wider.
– Kazuaki Tanahashi

Correct becomes defect.
Good becomes ominous.
People’s delusions have certainly lasted long.
– Laozi, #TaoTeChing, Ch. 58

I think there is a demand. The demand is for a radical economic & political restructuring of the world. & most people would say that’s impossible. & it may or may not be achieved but I think that’s less important than articulating what a just & fair world can be.
– Judith Butler

My hope and wish is that one day, formal education will pay attention to what I call “education of the heart.
– Dalai Lama XIV

Gain or loss, what is worse?
– Laozi, TaoTeChing, Ch. 44

jill talbot:
My mother used to tell me, “Just call the university where you want to teach and tell them you’d like to teach there.” It infuriated me then, the way she didn’t understand the academic job market. But I see now that’s how much she believed in me.

Terence McKenna:
Culture is like software – it’s the operating system in the local area. You download being a Xitoto tribesman or a Hong Kong stockbroker and then behaviors are prescribed. Naive people tend to believe that these operating systems are reality. They’re not reality.

Maggie Smith:
Is ambivalence working for you? The word can be traced back to the Latin ambi (“in two ways”) and valeo (“be strong”). What if instead you used your strength to move one way, to be fully present? Remember in school when attendance was called? Say “here” and mean it. Keep moving.

The things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practice contentment.
– Atisha

Elizabeth Warren:
Never give up.

That’s what being a teacher is all about. No matter how hard it gets, no matter how steep the road looks, no matter how many times it doesn’t look like it’s moving forward, you just don’t give up.

Because the relationship between self and world is reciprocal, it is not a matter of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the Earth, the Earth heals us. No need to wait. As we care enough to take risks, we loosen the grip of ego and begin to come home to our true nature. For in the co-arising nature of things, the world itself, if we are bold enough to love it, acts through us. It does not ask us to be pure or perfect, or wait until we are detached from all passions, but only to care to harness the sweet, pure intention of our deepest passions…
– Joanna Macy

Letting go is the lesson. Letting go is always the lesson.
Have you ever noticed how much of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?

Dejar ir es la lección. Dejar ir siempre es la lección.
¿Alguna vez has notado cuánto de nuestra agonía está ligada al deseo y la pérdida?
– Susan Gordon Lydon

Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
– W. H. Auden

The Soul selects her own Society—
– Emily Dickinson

Many people have accused me
of having a romantic view,
whereas I personally feel sorry
for those who have lost
romance in their lives.
– Arundhati Roy

If God gives you chocolate,
you open your mouth, no?
– Alejandro Jodorowsky

I turn sentences around.
That’s my life.
I write a sentence and then I turn it around.
Then I look at it and turn it around again.
Then I have lunch.
Then I come back and write another sentence.
Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around.
Then I read the two sentences over
and turn them both around.
Then I lie on my sofa and think.
Then I get up and throw them out
and start from the beginning.
– Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer

Never belong to a crowd;
Never belong to a nation;
Never belong to a religion;
Never belong to a race.
Belong to the whole existence.
Why limit yourself to small things?
When the whole is available.
– Osho

We are like sculptors,
constantly carving out of others the
image we long for, need, love or desire—
often against reality, against their benefit,
and always, in the end, a disappointment,
because it does not fit them.
– Anaïs Nin

The essay lives in moments of disruption.
It lives in the belief that no beauty is innocent,
no ugliness is fixed or simple,
every life is bottomless,
and no experience is ever only private.
An essay doesn’t simply transcribe the world,
it finds the world It makes the world.
It remakes the world.
It puts a boom box right on the floor
and starts playing.
– Leslie Jamison

Writing for me is a search for God.
– Carson McCullers

There is no God but one God and Art is his revealer;
that’s my creed and I’ll follow it to the end,
to a hotter place than Pittsburgh if need be.
– Willa Cather in a letter to Mariel Gere, 1896

There’s something really interesting about this notion that there is a below-the-surface part of the mind participating in the writing of a story,
and that what we call ‘process’ is about getting out of the way of that part of the mind.
– George Saunders

To be alive means to live in a world
that preceded one’s own arrival
and will survive one’s own departure.
– Hannah Arendt

This book was written using 100% recycled words.
– Terry Pratchett

The feeling of Sunday is the same everywhere,
heavy, melancholy, standing still.
– Jean Rhys

I do not think that marriage is one of my talents.
I’ve been much happier unmarried than married.
– Doris Lessing

My dear, in the midst of hate,

I found there was, within me, an invincible love.

In the midst of tears,

I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.

In the midst of chaos,

I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.

I realized, through it all, that…

In the midst of winter,

I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy.

For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me,

within me, there’s something stronger-

something better, pushing right back.

– Albert Camus

Those days are gone
Those days of ecstasy & wonder
Those days of sleep & wakefulness
Those days when each shadow
contained a secret
Each closed box held a treasure…

Those days are gone…

– Forough Farrokhzad

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
– Albert Einstein

Work diligently towards your own salvation.
– Buddha

If mankind really wants happiness and freedom, we have to free ourselves from ingrained theories, dogmas, and concepts that make us rigid, one-dimensional, narrow-minded, and constrained. If we finally devote most of our energies into this endeavor, the world will heal, life can flourish, and there will be much more joy in the world.
– Victoria Knobloch

If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, of self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology.
*
Our theology should be like poetry….
A poet spends a great deal of time listening to his unconscious, and slowly calling up a poem word by word, phrase by phrase, until something beautiful is brought forth into the world that changes people’s perceptions…
*
Theology is—or should be—a species of poetry,which read quickly or encountered in a hubbub of noise makes no sense. You have to open yourself to a poem with a quiet, receptive mind, in the same way you might listen to a difficult piece of music…
– Karen Armstrong

My wish is to be neither an ascetic
Indifferent to the world
Nor a manipulator of supernatural powers
Nor even a worshiper craving liberation-
But only to become drunk
On the abundant wine of devotion.
– Utpaladeva

As far as the space of the universe extends, so far extends
the space within the heart. Within it are contained both
heaven and earth, both fire and air, bith sun and moon,
lightning and the stars.
– Chandogya Upanishad

Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano.
– Fredric Chopin

Across a space peopled with stars I am
laughing while my sides ache for existence.
– Gerald Stern

There isn’t a ‘you’
inside of that heart
that you’re protecting.
– Adyashanti

Those of us who know not the secret of properly regulating our own existence on this tumultuous sea of foolish troubles which we call life are constantly in a state of misery while vainly trying to appear happy and contented. We stagger in the attempt to keep our moral equilibrium, and see forerunners of the tempest in every cloud that floats on the horizon. Yet there is joy and beauty in the roll of the billows as they sweep outward toward eternity. Why not enter into their spirit, or, like Lieh-tzu, ride upon the hurricane itself? Only he who has lived with the beautiful can die beautifully…Let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.
– Tenshin

People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.
– J. Michael Straczynski

on nachman’s narrow bridges

there is not a thing we can know about god, but we can still talk to her. how do we talk to god? by the embrace of all beings.

rebbe nachman of bratzlav famously said: “the world is a very narrow bridge. the main principle and most important thing is never to be afraid”. existential fear is the only mystery of human life i cannot comprehend nor overcome. never to be afraid seems like the most unreasonable of demands. it is almost as puzzling as nachman’s other famous teaching: “it is a great commandment to be always joyous.” joy cannot be commanded. the opposite of joy is not sadness, it is fear. to be both joyous and fearful is the most basic of human conditions. without joy we have no peace, without fear we have no joy.

“by the ‘narrow ridge’, said martin buber, “i mean that i do not rest on the broad upland of a system that includes a series of sure statements about the absolute, but on a narrow rocky ridge between the gulfs where there is no sureness of expressible knowledge but the certainty of meeting what remains undisclosed…the narrow ridge is the place where i and thou meet.” the place where i and thou meet is the place where god is.

to that previous thought, buber added the necessary conclusion about the differences between belief and faith: “i know no cogent proof of god’s existence. if one were to exist, there would no longer be any difference between faith and unbelief; the risk of faith would not longer exists. i have dared to believe – not on the basis of arguments, and i cannot bolster my faith by arguments. i have no metaphysics on which to establish my faith, i have created none for myself, i do not desire any, i need none, i am not capable of one…i gave my faith-experience the conceptual expression necessary for its being understood, but i posit no metaphysical thesis.” whatever it is “of god in us” as the quakers say, or whatever we find deep and deeper within us that is ineffable, whatever “that” is, the most important thing is that it be manifested in our reaching out in dialogue to one being.

i have argued about myself that i am a man of faith, but i do not believe. just to be able to even utter the word “god” it takes an enormity of intellectual and emotional recklessness, let alone make claims as to god’s nature and intentionality. the only thing that remains open is our ability to respond to god’s presence, and we can only do so by being present in the embrace of the other. as buber stated it: “the world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.

For example I think that the guidance will come through music…. I believe that a musician will come and express the different essential states and the different gradations of reaching them through music. Others will come and express this through art, movement, diet, medical research, ecology. I see a whole caravan arriving and unfolding…
– Faisal Muqaddam

Release this, and everything will be of-itself-so.
– Zen master Sengstan, 6th-century

There is a world behind this world. The old cultures used to be in constant conversation with it through the sacred practices of storytelling, dreaming, ceremony, and song. They invited the Otherworld to visit them, to transmit its wisdom to them, so that they might be guided by an ancient momentum. But as we succumbed to the spell of rationalism, the living bridge between the worlds fell into disrepair. As fewer made the journey back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch, we forgot how to find the Otherworld. At any given moment, we are either turning away from or coming into congruence with our kinship with mystery.
– Toko-pa Turner

Chogyam Trungpa ~ THINGS AS THEY ARE
It’s like the two ideas of compassion we discussed earlier. One if that YOU would like to see somebody happy; the other is that you help somebody because THEY need you, which is a different idea altogether. The first type of compassion is based on overpowering, undermining the colorful and beautiful aspect of situations, and trying to mold them into your shape, your pattern; whereas the other is just purely relating with the situation as it is, and working along with it, which is the warrior quality.

AN OCEAN OF BLISS

I’m sitting with my dog on a quiet hill overlooking my small hometown and all of its insignificant busyness. I’m 12 years old, and I’m thinking about some big questions that fascinate me: “Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life? What happens after death? What should I do with my life? Why is there so much suffering in the world? How can I be truly happy? How can I really help others?”
I’m convinced that I’ve been born on the wrong planet because I clearly don’t belong here. Being alive is so profoundly strange, yet the grown-ups around me seem to just take everything for granted. It’s as if they’ve fallen into some sort of coma and don’t notice that they’re alive. Or perhaps they’ve secretly agreed never to talk about the big questions of life, but to anesthetize themselves with trivia.
Everyone goes about their daily business as if they know exactly what life is all about. But I can see that no one’s really got a clue as to what’s going on. Most people just go along with whatever ideas are currently in vogue, wether they’re about makeup, music, or the nature of reality. Something inside of me rages against their inane, unquestioning, “commonsense” approach to life. I refuse to believe that my purpose in this extravagant universe could be to climb a career ladder, buy a house, and get a pension plan. Life is too important to waste just making money and acquiring things. Life is like an enormous question that demands an answer.

And then, unexpectedly and inexplicably, it happens…

My train of thoughts jolts to a halt, and the whole world starts vibrating, sending seismic shudders through my soul. I feel as if the top of my head has just come off and the sky has poured in. I’m overwhelmed by awesome, unfathomable, breathtaking mystery. I don’t know anything. Nobody knows anything. Life is a miracle of such enormous proportions that the mind can’t possibly comprehend it.
I seem to have inexplicably slipped into another reality in which the colors are brighter and the birds sing symphonies. I’m immersed in wonder. I feel a bizarre sense of oneness with everything around me, as if I’m the universe looking at itself, amazed by its own beauty. I’m utterly happy for no reason at all. I feel certain beyond doubt of the goodness of all that is.
The humdrum world has peeled away like a superficial veneer, revealing a secret garden that I’ve always suspected was close by. I know this place. It feels like home. But how can it be so familiar when it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced? I have no idea what is happening to me. But I know that m y life will never be the same again. And I know that the answer I’m searching for so desperately is not a clever theory about life. It’s this experience of wonder in which all of my questions dissolve.

And then there is sudden, deep silence. I’m consumed by the sensation of sinking, as if I’m being engulfed by an ocean of bliss. Spasms of relaxation ripple through my young body, and I feel embraced by such a love that tears of relief spring spontaneously to my eyes. The entire vast universe is pulsating with limitless love. It is held together by love. And I am that love. There is only love. I’ve been born to experience this moment.
– Tim Freke, How long is now?

Woman And Feminine Principle
Supplication to Yeshe Tsogyal

Mother of all the victorious ones,
dharmadhatu samantabhadri,
Very kind, only mother who protects the subjects of Tibet,
Bestower of supreme siddhi,
chief among the dakinis of great bliss,
Yeshe Tsogyal, we supplicate at your feet.

Grant your blessings so that outer, inner,
and secret obstacles may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that the lives
of the gurus may be long.
Grant your blessings so that this kalpa
of disease, famine, and war may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that the casting
of curses, spells, and sorcery may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that life, glory,
and prajña¥ may increase.
Grant your blessings so that our wishes
may be fulfilled spontaneously.
– Khakhyap Dorje [Karmapa XV

I am not old … she said … I am rare.
I am the standing ovation
At the end of the play.
I am the retrospective
Of my life as art
I am the hours
Connected like dots
Into good sense
I am the fullness
Of existing.
You think I am waiting to die …
But I am waiting to be found
I am a treasure.
I am a map.
And these wrinkles are
Imprints of my journey
Ask me anything.
– Samantha Reynolds

Warning to Children
Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree,
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
Red and green, enclosed by tawny
Yellow nets, enclosed by white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where the same brown paper parcel –
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head,
Finds himself enclosed by dappled
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
And white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
he lives – he then unties the string.
– Robert Graves

Matter is alive. There are microworlds. There are tons of reality everywhere in the thick of matter. Learn to see other worlds.
– Dugpa Rinpoche

True speech isn’t beautiful
Beautiful speech isn’t true.
Expertise doesn’t debate.
Debate isn’t expertise.
Knowing isn’t wealth
Wealth doesn’t know.
The holy person doesn’t accumulate.
Already, considers people’s
personal healing his own.
Already, so as to support people’s
personal healing more.
Nature’s way benefits, and yet doesn’t harm.
The holy person’s way acts,
and yet doesn’t contend.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 81

Of all the ghastly wounds inflicted by this Administration; to the environment, social services, immigration, education, equality, religious freedom, national pride, and global standing—perhaps the greatest injury has been to the Truth.
– Pastor John Pavlovitz

… it’s your thoughts about the money. Fortunately, you don’t need a million bucks to have those thoughts. A good dose of gratitude will do it.
– B. D. Schiers

The flaw that you immediately notice in someone is probably a flaw of yours. If you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t have noticed it so quickly.
– Haemin Sunim

The world knows three kinds of revolution. The material has strong results, the moral and intellectual are infinitely larger in their scope and richer in their fruits, but the spiritual are the great sowings.

The changes we see in the world today are intellectual, moral, physical in their ideal and intention: the spiritual revolution waits for its hour and throws up meanwhile its waves here and there. Until it comes the sense of the others cannot be understood and till then all interpretation of present happening and forecast of [hu]man’s future are vain things. For its nature, power, event are that which will determine the next cycle of our humanity.
– Sri Aurobindo

How wonderful to be alive, he thought.
But why does it always hurt?
– Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

There is a quality of Fearlessness in Enlightenment, not regarding the world as an enemy.
– Chogyam Trungpa

Giving Thanks
Voices of ravens and owls
crystals and Orion
A crescent moon over Venus
Soft whispers in my heart
strong songs in yours
A warm furnace
coffee and salty-dark chocolate
a cat’s long whiskers
brushing my cheek
Words and words and words
that allure each other
into poetic lines
Snow on fence tops and fox trails
in the yard
Quiet
A strong body to shovel snow
and make art
Sunshine cracking
through snow drifts
A voice to share
A heart that cares
A trust that believes
Music that is reliable
Friends more so
Being drawn
To Spirit in so many forms
Spirit by so many names
– Valerie A SZarek

Why Is the Color of Snow?

Let’s ask a poet with no way of knowing.
Someone who can give us an answer,
another duplicity to help double the world.

What kind of poetry is all question, anyway?
Each question leads to an iceburn,
a snownova, a single bed spinning in space.

Poet, Decide! I am lonely with questions.
What is snow? What isn’t?
Do you see how it is for me.

Melt yourself to make yourself more clear
for the next observer.
I could barely see you anyway.

A blizzard I understand better,
the secrets of many revealed as one,
becoming another on my only head.

It’s true that snow takes on gold from sunset
and red from rearlights. But that’s occasional.
What is constant is white,

or is that only sight, a reflection of eyewhites
and light? Because snow reflects only itself,
self upon self upon self,

is a blanket used for smothering, for sleeping.
For not seeing the naked, flawed body.
Concealing it from the lover curious, ever curious!

Who won’t stop looking.
White for privacy.
Millions of privacies to bless us with snow.

Don’t we melt it?
Aren’t we human dark with sugar hot to melt it?
Anyway, the question—

if a dream is a construction then what
is not a construction? If a bank of snow
is an obstruction, then what is not a bank of snow?

A winter vault of valuable crystals
convertible for use only by a zen
sun laughing at us.

Oh Materialists! Thinking matter matters.
If we dream of snow, of banks and blankets
to keep our treasure safe forever,

what world is made, that made us that we keep
making and making to replace the dreaming at last.
To stop the terrible dreaming.
– Brenda Shaughnessy

In holy dark
the diamond silence
of pure consciousness
becomes more radiant,
more solid
than any object
it could be conscious
“of.”
A swirling flock of opposites,
wings with nothing to carry,
a galaxy of contradictions
gracefully encircling
the black hole
of no-self.
Now dear one
We are ready.
Let us make love
because we are neither
one nor two.
O holy confusion,
O erotic void,
O paramour whose
only veil
is my yearning!
– Fred LaMotte

To be here, all you have to do is let go of who you think you are. That’s all! And then you realize, I’m here. Here is where thoughts aren’t believed. Every time you come here, you are nothing. Radiantly nothing. Absolutely and eternally zero. Emptiness that is awake. Emptiness that is full. Emptiness that is everything.
– Adyashanti

We are all complicit in this great dying—our cars and energy-intensive lifestyle creating the carbon emissions that can so easily take us from ecocide to omnicide. What will our world look like one, two, or three degrees warmer? We may see images of the Earth burning, but most of us are still safe in our consumer lifestyle, the shelves of our stores still full. We are not being displaced, refugees in our own country. But we are being asked to heed what Pope Francis called “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” We cannot ignore the global racial injustice that belongs to our climate crisis.
– Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

We have to allow ourselves to be loved by the people who really love us, the people who really matter. Too much of the time, we are blinded by our own pursuits of people to love us, people that don’t even matter, while all that time we waste and the people who do love us have to stand on the sidewalk and watch us beg on the streets!
– Nitya Prakash

The most beautiful stories
always start with wreckage.
– Jack London

Tobacco, sugar, alcohol: these are the great addictive and destroying drugs, and they are the least interfered with, and the most commercialized. . . the psychedelics: no claim of addiction was ever made, even by their critics.
– Terrance McKenna

I had an old wound once, but it is healing.
– Sylvia Plath

Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world
is scared of each other.
– John Steinbeck

Ceres Looks at the Morning (excerpt)
I wake slowly. Already
my body is a twilight: Solid. Gold.
At the edge of a larger darkness. But outside
my window
a summer day is beginning. Apple trees
appear, one by one. Light is pouring
into the promise of fruit.

Beautiful morning
look at me as a daughter would
look: with that love and that curiosity:
as to what she came from.
And what she will become.
– Eavan Boland, The Lost Land

Chogyam Trungpa ~ PRAJNA AND COMPASSION
The point is not to want to benefit anyone or make them happy. There is no audience involved, no ‘me’ and ‘them.’ It is a matter of an open gift, complete generosity without the relative notions of giving and receiving. That is the basic openness of compassion: opening without demand. Simply be what you are, be the master of the situation. If you will just ‘be’ then life flows around and through you. This will lead you into working and communicating with someone, which of course demands tremendous warmth and openness. If you can afford to be what you are, then you do not need the “insurance policy” of trying to be a good person, a pious person, a compassionate person
– Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

Everyone wants you to quietly be Atlas,
to shoulder it all. Even the voice in your
head insists you are behind. But I’ve seen
the light in you, the one the gods finger
while we sleep. I’ve seen the blossom open
in your heart, no matter what remains to
be done. There are never enough hours
to satisfy the minions of want. So close
your eyes and lean into the Oneness that
asks nothing of you. When the calls stack,
answer to no one, though you receive them
all. Just open your beautiful hands, born with
nothing in them. You have never been more
complete than in this incomplete moment.
– Mark Nepo, The Myth of Urgency

Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.
— Eugène Ionesco

May we not know anguish.
– Marian Haddad

The Atlantic is a stormy moat, and the Mediterranean
The blue pool in the old garden,
More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice
Of ships and blood, and shrines in the sun; but here the Pacific-
Our ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.
Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs
Nor any future world- quarrel of westering
And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power
– Robinson Jeffers

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
– Isaiah 43:2

My grace is sufficient for you.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Just take a gentle in-drawn breath into the heart and feel unselfish love flowing out. If you can do that you’re cooking on the big burner.
– Joe Miller

Here is a secret that members of the cult of scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic, managerial progress don’t want you to know, that those who believe science is the only path to knowledge don’t want you to know, that other monotheists don’t want you to know, that those who are killing the planet don’t want you to know, that those who commit genocide against indigenous people don’t want you to know, that witch-hunters didn’t want you to know, that God doesn’t want you to know: there are other ways to be. There are other ways to know the world and to know ourselves. There are other ways to be in relationship with each other and with the world, there are other ways to progress, there are other forms of technology (songs, poems, stories, dreams, ways to hear or see or know where the caribou are, ways to interact with swaying lights, ways to interact with other sides and those who live there), there are other ways to gain wisdom, there are other ways to live, ways to live in place. These ways are and must be, first and foremost, based upon accepting and respecting the land and others for who they are. They are based upon having the courtesy and intelligence and emotional security to acknowledge these others’ existences, intelligences, and wisdoms, and having the humility, maturity, and joy to realize these others may have something to teach you and everyone else (at their convenience, in their own time, by their particular methods).

This is the good news they don’t want you to know: there is another way to be, and it is a very good life, joyous and secure. And sustainable. And natural. And not so lonely. And not so existentially difficult. It is to be surrounded by meaning, surrounded by other intelligences, surrounded by life wanting to live.

We are embedded in the culture in which we are embedded. We know what we are taught to know, and we do not know what we are taught to not know (as well as what we are not taught). We consider as knowledge what we are taught to consider as knowledge, and we do not consider as knowledge what we are taught to not consider as knowledge. We value what we are taught to value, and we do not value what we are taught to not value. We preserve what we are taught to preserve, and we destroy what we are taught to destroy. We understand what we are taught to understand, and we do not understand what we are taught to not understand (or not taught). We enter into relationships in ways we are taught to enter into relationships, and we do not enter into relationships in ways we are taught to not enter into relationships (or that we are taught are not plausible relationships). We believe the world is the way we are taught to believe the world is, and we do not believe the world is any of the ways we have been taught to believe that the world is not. We have faith in those organizations, entities, processes, and relationships we have been taught to have faith in, and we do not have faith in those organizations, entities, processes, and relationships we have been taught to not have faith in. We take as common sense (sensus communis, the set of unstated assumptions, prejudices, and values we generally take for granted, having absorbed this set from the culture at large without critically considering it) that which we have been taught to believe is common sense, and we take as nonsensical that which we have been taught to believe is nonsensical.

It’s extraordinarily easy for us to point our fingers at fourteenth-century peasants and say they were ignoramuses because their houses weren’t wired for electricity. Likewise we can wear our smug little smiles when we talk about those ignorant Aztecs who believed that human sacrifices were necessary to make sure the universe didn’t collapse, and we can snicker at the silly Indians who sang to the corn or who believe that our dreams come from animals, and we can laugh out loud at those superstitious quacks who believe that the position of stars at the time of your birth affects your personality or fate, and at those pathetically delusional souls (oh yes, we don’t have souls, I forgot) who believe that stars speak, that rivers have volition, that trees have conversations, as do songbirds, coyotes, ducks, wind, and soil.

But don’t you see, it’s all magic, in one form or another. And the magic will have an internal consistency. If I flip a switch, the light goes on. Why? Because electricity flows into the light bulb, heats up a filament or gas or whatever, and this heat causes the filament or gas or whatever to glow. But what is electricity? Well, everyone but those silly fourteenth-century peasants knows it’s electrons flowing down wires. A veritable river of electrons. Isn’t it? But where is the source, the spring, the font from which all these bazillions of electrons flow, and why do they do it? Or wait, maybe that’s all wrong. Maybe electricity is, oh goodness, now I’m beginning to confuse myself. What is electricity? Now that I think of it, I don’t really know what it is. And I’m guessing you might not either. And the truth is that scientists and engineers don’t know either. Not even physicists. Hell, the truth is that no humans really know. We know what we’ve been taught. We (some of us) know the equations—V = IR and all that—but mainly what we know is that, as was true of computers, when we flip a switch, something happens. Why? Electricity, that’s why. But why? We know how to work with it, but we don’t know how it works or who it is or what it wants, and we certainly don’t know why. We don’t know how it lives. We are engineers and mathematicians, not people who understand. How it works, how it lives, who it is, what it wants, all remain mysteries, and articles, to use a phrase many members of the cult of progress despise, of faith.

Having thoroughly confused myself on this issue, I asked a physicist friend if the previous paragraph was defensible. She wrote back, “We say that electricity is the flow of electrons through a conductor, but we don’t really mean that. We don’t really know. No one has ever seen an electron. No one has ever seen any of the particles which (or who) make up the discipline of particle physics! We can see where they’ve been, in a particle accelerator, and the tracks of their energetic movements and collisions with other particles, but this whole notion of a particle responsible for the effect known as electricity is, very much, taken on faith.

“The two things that give scientists much courage of their convictions are, as far as I can see: (1) the mathematical equations which, frankly, describe the behavior of any mass in a given field, so far, anyway (I’m talking of the Boltzmann equations here, and the terms ‘field’ and ‘mass’ are again question-begging terms, as we’ve set up their meanings to coincide with what we want them to describe); and (2) the fact that when we shoot particles into each other at high energies we see tracks left behind in the stratum, which we’ve decided to call ‘lepton interaction’ and ‘electron neutrino formation,’ as if that actually gives us any more information.

“I think what I’m getting at here is the same thing you are—that science is self-referencing. But yes, the main points I would make are that we’ve never actually seen an electron particle, which is supposed to be responsible for this ‘flow’ of ‘current’ (nice appropriation of terminology, huh?) and moreover, the description of an electron at a sub-particle, or quark, level is even more indeterminate. Quarks are really, really, theoretical.

“And right in line with this, have you read about the arguments going on in quantum mechanics just now about whether or not particles have free will? It’s quite a controversy. For example, check out this headline from Science News: ‘Do subatomic particles have free will? If we have free will, so do subatomic particles, mathematicians claim to prove.’”

She continued, “Scientists don’t want to accept the mantle, but I really do think they’re as dogmatic as any other religion. The fact that the stuff science describes can be seen to ‘work’ is a major foundation stone of the theology. But do they really, truly, understand ‘how’? I would say not.”

She concluded, “It’s a good thing you used electricity in your example, and not gravity, because we have even less of an idea what’s going on there. Hypothetical gravitons to the contrary, nobody really has a clue what mediates it. One theory of gravity is that it is leaking from some force in some other dimension. And that theory has even been put forward by staid scientists, not by people wearing funny hats and swearing that Harry Potter belongs in the nonfiction section of bookstores.”

This all reminded me of a quote from Neil Evernden’s extraordinary book The Natural Alien: Humankind and Environment: “All of us, by virtue of our membership in a science-dominated culture, have adopted the abstraction of Galileo as our definition of nature. And in denying our immediate experience in deference to that abstraction we have gone some way towards cutting the earthly vocal chords ourselves. This is not an esoteric phenomenon confined to the laboratory. How many of us have, as the psychiatrist J. H. van den Berg suggests, replied to our children’s questions about the nature of the world and of life in terms that only make sense in a Galilean context? When the child asks: ‘why have the leaves turned red?’ or ‘why does it snow?’ we launch into explanations which have no obvious connection with the question. Leaves are red because it is cold, we say. What has cold to do with colour? How is the child to know that we are talking of abstract connections between atmospheric conditions and leaf chemistry? And why should he care? The child has asked ‘why,’ not ‘how,’ and certainly not ‘how much.’ And why should he care that the molecular structure of water is believed to be such that at low temperatures it forms rigid binds which make it appear as ice or snow? None of these abstractions says anything about what the child experiences: the redness of leaves and the cool, tickling envelopment by snow. The living response would be quite different. ‘“Why are the leaves red, Dad?” “Because it is so beautiful, child. Don’t you see how beautiful it is, all these autumn colors?” There is no truer answer. That is how the leaves are red. An answer which does not invoke questions, which does not lead the child into an endless series of questions, to which each answer is a threshold. The child will hear later on that a chemical reaction occurs in those leaves. It is bad enough, then; let us not make the world uninhabitable for the child too soon.’”

From the perspective of someone who has grown up with a scientific understanding of electricity, electricity does not seem so much like magic. It’s just part of life. We can work with it. We can develop theories surrounding it. We can devise complex and simple equations. And while we do not and cannot fundamentally understand its sources or reasons, we can and most often do simply accept it, and our explanations probably make some sense to us, because if they didn’t we’d most likely attempt to come up with other explanations. Likewise, from the perspective of someone who grew up with an Aztec understanding of the role of human sacrifice in propitiating deities, the relationship between cutting out someone’s still-beating heart and holding it up to the sky, and the universe not collapsing, would not seem so much like magic. It would just be part of life. It would make as much sense to them as electricity does to us. They could work with it. They could develop theories surrounding it. And while they did not and could not fundamentally understand its sources or reasons, they could and most often did simply accept it, and their explanations probably made some sense to them, because if they didn’t then more than likely they would’ve attempted to come up with other explanations.

Before you laugh too hard at the absurdity of that belief, take a look in the mirror and consider this culture’s enacted beliefs that money is more important than a living planet; that money has value; that the functioning of an economic system is more important than a living planet; that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet; that technology will solve problems caused by technology; that we are separate from the earth; that this way of life is better than others that were sustainable; and so on. Who’s laughing—or rather, crying—now?

All belief systems make sense to (at least some of) those on the inside. This must be true, by definition, since if enough people stop believing in a culture’s belief system, the culture will change or disintegrate. Nazism made sense to many Nazis. Christianity makes sense to many Christians. Capitalism makes sense to many capitalists. Science makes sense to many scientists.

Those who stop believing in the dominant mythology, belief system, cosmology, or whatever, will have one or more of many possible responses. They may suffer cognitive dissonance. They may suffer despair. They may suffer depression. They may find their lives meaningless. I think often of that powerful articulation by Joseph Campbell: “For those in whom a local mythology still works, there is an experience both of accord with the social order, and of harmony with the universe. For those, however, in whom the authorized signs no longer work—or, if working, produce deviant effects—there follows inevitably a sense both of dissociation from the local social nexus and of quest, within and without, for life, which the brain will take to be for ‘meaning.’” So, for example, if the authorized signs of Catholicism— the Cross, communion, the story of Jesus, the system of sacraments, and so on—workforyou,youwill have been given a prepackaged set of symbols that will help bring meaning to your life. But if those signs don’t work for you, then you will be bereft, and will need to go on a quest to find signs that do provide meaning to you. Likewise with the American Dream; if the authorized signs work for you, then you’ve been handed a prepackaged set of symbols that will bring meaning to your life. Unfortunately, in the first of those cases—Catholicism—the meaning is found separate from natural life on this earth, and in the second of those cases—the American Dream—the meaning is found in behaviors that boil down to the accumulation of wealth, which means the meaning is found in behaviors that are destructive of human community and of life on earth. Science in a sense is even more problematical as a set of symbols, since its most radical adherents explicitly propose an utter lack of meaning in the universe, leaving people really with no place to search for meaning (except in their own heads and in their own creations and the creations of other humans, which is a major reason for this culture’s insanity, and its consequent destruction of the planet). There can of course be other responses to disbelieving in a dominant mythology. People may simply withdraw (think: “simple-living activists” attempting to withdraw from capitalism). They may attempt to change the dominant belief system. In this, they may succeed if enough others also disbelieve in the dominant belief system. They may fail if too many still believe in that dominant story. They may also fail if too many people have vested interests in the maintenance of that dominant mythology (think: capitalists). And so on.

Labeling all members of a belief system different from one’s own as total ignoramuses is bigoted, ethnocentric, indefensible, stupid, and just plain silly, much like saying that just because someone else doesn’t speak English but rather Farsi (or coastal redwood), that they don’t speak (or think, or that they are ignorant). There are many powers in the universe, and there are many ways to access, communicate (and commune) with, worship, entreat, harness, and/or command these powers. These ways could involve singing, praying, holding up still-beating hearts, removing the tops of mountains and dumping the sludge into streams and rivers, and so on. All of these different ways and all of these different means can have different intended and unintended consequences.

My central point is this: while different belief systems can make internal sense, and while different belief systems can lead to different ways of accessing, communicating with, worshiping, entreating, harnessing, and/or commanding the same and very different powers and entities, one of the extremely problematical, indeed dangerous, indeed terrifying, attributes of any monotheism is that just as the dominant culture (and capitalism, and industrial civilization) systematically destroys physical diversity, monotheism—including Christianity, including science—systematically attempts to deny or destroy all other ways of accessing any powers other than its own (on this side or on other sides). That’s what monotheism is. And that is both foolish and far more dangerous than many of us allow ourselves to understand.
– Derick Jensen, Dreams, LOCAL MYTHOLOGIES

Advice? I don’t have advice.
Stop aspiring and start writing.
If you’re writing, you’re a writer.
Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country
and there’s no chance for a pardon.
Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath,
and you’ve got just one last thing to say,
like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake,
tell us something that will save us
from ourselves.

Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow
and know that we’re not alone.
Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows,
maybe you’re one of the lucky ones
who doesn’t have to.

– Alan Wilson Watts

There are things in life that we do, and things that we are. That which we are, is eternal, and that which we have, is temporary. Never look outside of you for things, people and experiences to confirm your sense of value and your worth. Never get your sense of worth from outside of you, for that will only enslave you, putting at the mercy of things, people and experiences you have little or no control over.
– Luminita D. Saviuc

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place
– David Byrne

We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out. We collapse back into the Truth only when we are naked and free – which is probably not very often. We do not think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into a new way of thinking. In other words, our journeys, around and through our realities, or circumferences, lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.
– Richard Rohr

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.
– George Eliot

You have a deep green mission
on a thirsty planet,
tasked with the grace
of a fallen raindrop,
to abandon despair.

To slow down and notice those
tiny cataclysms of Spring,
how long it takes
an apple bud to burst.

Not merely to hear
thrush song at dawn,
but to listen.
And in a mountain meadow,
to be not only the fragrance
of honeysuckle on a ragged breeze,
but the wind itself,
unscented.

Don’t waste time becoming
anyone but a Lover.
Always gaze into what vanishes.
Give people hope
that this moment is enough.

Teach little children and old men
how to dwell in the kingdom
of impermanence.
Do beauty with your hands.
Breathe peace.

These are simple words, my friend,
but they were born of many tears.
– Fred LaMotte

So much of the teaching was being emphasized on the masculine side, which is more like sunshine: radiance, light, enlightenment, awakening, all of those things, it’s a male frequency. The female has it, of course, but it’s been advocated and emphasized and so much advertised by men, about this, while the Feminine was set aside. When you look at the Yin and Yang, you know, the circle of Yin and Yang, you see half of it is white with the black circle and the other half of it is white with the black circle. The Feminine is black with Radiance and the Masculine is Radiance with black, with the Deep. The combination of the two makes what they call non dual, dual. The Universe, the Being, is made of two aspects, Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine, Radiance and Darkness, electro-magnetic, the electric is the Radiance and the magnetic is the Deep. The magnet is the Feminine, and very little is talked about it, very little is explored, and the flow that comes with it. …There is Wisdom, and Wisdom, part of it is the protection of life. If life is going to be damaged, Truth is not that important, that is Wisdom. So, Wisdom is something that I feel is so not integrated. They talk about it, but they don’t integrate it enough, to balance the picture.

I really felt that all my life, even with enlightenment, I was standing on one leg, I was imbalanced. And when this came…I even had experiences of it. I remember I had experience of this darkness and I went to a very high rinpoche, and I said, “I’ve had this experience of this darkness”. He said, “Don’t go, don’t go there. Just go to the Luminous. I needed for somebody to say “don’t go” (smile) to go. I went there, but I didn’t integrate it, I didn’t understand it. And that day, that night, that quality descended. And i felt, for the first time, balanced, the Yin and Yang in me, balanced. The masculine and the feminine really needed to be acknowledged in their fullness, in their quality, and the Universe is made of those two elements. And to know them, to integrate them, to honor the manifestations and emanations is a big piece that is barely touched upon.

We have ignorance of the Dark, of the Deep, of gentleness, and we make all kind of projections, and we advertise so much teaching about enlightenment, that now spirituality is imbalanced. Whenever I hear so much teaching about enlightenment, and emphasis in awakening, and all of those things, it’s missing the Wisdom, the Depth, the richness of that field, that I think it’s so important, and I think that by seeing it, I think the Feminine Principle will be merging more and more. The Female will have her right position in existence. That She is not less, she is of equal magnitude, the Universe is imbalanced without Her.

I felt such balance in me when I went to Mecca, visiting, I went to the Kaaba. The Kaaba is a cubit, a black cubit, and the name “Kaaba”, literally means “The Feminine”, the beautiful Female. That’s what it is, black with gold… And I remember…this cubit that the Muslims go to for pilgrimage, it’s built on a vortex, energy coming from the center of the Earth. And I remember going there, wanting to know, what is feel like, what is there, what is about? And I was going with the attitude of “this is religion”, and all of these things, and when I entered the mosque, and I looked at the Kaaba,the emanation that was coming from there brought me to my knees. For the first time, I felt pure emanation of the Feminine Essence. Feminine Presence: Pure. It brought me to my knees. I felt that I was incomplete until this emanation came. And it corrected the imbalance in my masculinity, I needed tat kind of mirroring in order for this one to know what is right and what is not. It was really an amazing experience.

I felt – when I realized this – the Deep and the Radiance, the combination of the two and the completion,I felt that at last the riddle of spirituality cracked up. It is a field of utmost creativity, made of electro-magnetic field, Radiance and Deep, and all creation comes from it and dissolves in it, and there are so many wisdoms and teachings in it that we don’t have. Spirituality don’t have it. it doesn’t belong to spirituality, it is beyond spirituality. Way beyond spirituality, spirituality is only one branch on the tree of that grand knowledge. So, I felt like really relieved, balanced, I don’t know that knowledge, I know a little about it, but I felt my struggle and evolution in the spiritual journey got resolved when this riddle got cracked, when the nondual became dual, it is dual, it is male and female, Yin and Yang. I felt that this is the crowning of my spiritual work. At last, I rested, something in me was not happy with enlightenment, it needed the endarkenment (warm smile), and the endarkenment corrected something. … The Deep and the Radiance are co-emergent….
– Faisal Muqaddam, Enlightenment vs. Endarkenment

Down is a good place to go, where the mind is single. Down is out, out of your ever-loving mind and back to your careless senses.
– Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

and placed my grief
in the mouth of language
the only thing that would grieve with me
– Lisel Mueller

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
– Arundhati Roy

Write
like you must rescue yourself from yourself, become scrupulous
to the body and the rain that floods you with rage and the crude
sublimities: there was a lip print on the plastic glass […] Write like there’s evidence,
there’s tenderness
– Bruce Smith

Racism is a philosophy based on contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes,
what is in part disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man,
I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
– I Corinthians 13: 8-13 (NIV)

The Buddha:
I have shown you the methods
That lead to liberation.
But you should know
That liberation depends upon yourself.

As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
– John Green

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.
– Confucius

And remember: you must never, under any circumstances, despair. To hope and to act, these are our duties in misfortune.
– Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Sacred Heart: not just a Catholic thing…
When you find or see the inner sacred space of the first refuge, feel as the priest who sees Christ in a vision or a Buddhist monk who sees Buddha in a vision after a period of longing; experience the joy and respect and tears of your genuine heart opening. Many deep experiences can happen. Be open.

These experiences are self-realization, self-knowing, self-seeing, self-encountering, knowing your true self, knowing who you are, knowing the truth. Knowing the inner refuge means all this.

Just host in that warmth whatever is happening like a great powerful compassionate mother when her child is in pain and crying…. that mother space of the inner refuge is the healer.
– Jose Luis G. Solier

An Edited Excerpt from Oral Teachings
by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

First refuge:
The center of the victorious mandala, one’s own body,
The source of all positive qualities without exception,
Is the expanse within the three channels and the five chakras.
I take refuge in this body of emptiness.

Gradually draw your attention inward. Be fully aware of your body. Feel that stillness in your body. From the soles of your feet to the crown of your head, feel stillness in every cell in your body and in the flow of movement within your body. Just be more conscious of your entire body, more connected with your entire body, and be aware of the stillness in your body. Gradually feel a deep inner stillness.

Finally, through inner stillness, be aware of the first refuge, the unbounded sacred space, the body of emptiness.

When you find or see the inner sacred space of the first refuge, feel as the priest who sees Christ in a vision or a Buddhist monk who sees Buddha in a vision after a period of longing; experience the joy and respect and tears of your genuine heart opening. Many deep experiences can happen. Be open.

These experiences are self-realization, self-knowing, self-seeing, self-encountering, knowing your true self, knowing who you are, knowing the truth. Knowing the inner refuge means all this.

Second refuge:
All the gathered clouds of suffering and misery
Are completely cleared by the wisdom wind,
Revealing the unelaborated, primordially pure expanse of the sky.
I take refuge in this body of light.

Listen and hear the silence within. Feel and connect with inner silence. Hear the inner silence not only from your ears or somewhere in your head, but hear through your entire body and entire existence. Feel that silence at your crown, in your throat, your heart, your navel chakra, and in your secret chakra. Feel the silence in the flow of your blood and pulse of your veins. Hear the silence in the movement of your breath.

Gradually feel a deep sense of peace in that silence. When you hear the silence in all your existence, you feel a deep quiet. You feel peace. This silence is the absence of agitation, thoughts, emotions, which are like clouds in the sky. When the clouds disappear, the sun shines. Allow that inner sun. Be aware of that inner sun. Awareness is the inner sun. There is a sense of presence in that inner silence and peace. Recognize that sense of knowing, sense of being, sense of being awake, sense of being alert, sense of being present. This is the famous presence that everybody talks about. Present in that opennessis what we are actually referring to when we are talking about presence. It is experiential, this second refuge. Recognize that.

If you feel it, if you are aware of it, that is the body of inner light. Once again, be like that priest, monk or shaman, and feel the devotion, trust and joy, like a lost child reuniting with the mother again. There is joy in recognition. You are that child; that sacred space is your mother. The child would be full of joy and excitement, liveliness and fullness—a peak state of consciousness. Allow that experience.

Third refuge:
From the pavilion of the five wisdom lights,
Rays of non-dual spheres of light emanate,
Clearing the webs of the darkness of ignorance.
I take refuge in this body of great bliss.

Be aware of that spaciousness, openness in your heart, in your mind. Be aware of that union of space and light. Be aware of that warmth coming from that open space and the infinite light of awareness. As you discover the warmth and the joy of being, it is like opening the treasury of a king. You are opening the treasury of your inner kingdom. Everything that you will ever need is here. Infinite joy is here; infinite strength is here; deep compassion is here. An ultimate sense of balance is here. The peace that everyone searches for is here. The support that we seek in our life is here in the inner refuge. This is our best friend. There is no reason to feel alone or lonely. You belong. You are part of it; you are it. All that we seek through our outer situations and relationships and all that we do to find inner meaning, all those states of consciousness already exist in us more powerfully than those conditions which are temporary and vulnerable. This discovery is changeless and ceaseless. It is a great discovery. Be aware and feel like you are discovering the treasure of an inner kingdom.

Now gradually reflect in your life upon the changes that are difficult to process; reflect upon the impermanence that you are facing or are afraid of facing. In that vast space, in that infinite awareness, in that incredible capacity of hosting your experience with warmth, just be conscious without analyzing or judging. Just be aware of what is happening. I am afraid. I feel insecure. I don’t know what is going to happen or why it is happening. Whatever your thoughts and feelings are, don’t judge them but be aware as they are. Be aware of what is happening. We don’t need a second thought to judge them; we only need one awareness to know them and host them and care deeply by being. Hosting in that warmth is the definition of care here rather than verbally saying, “I care.” It is an ultimate meaning of care rather than a conventional meaning of care. A conventional meaning of caring is when ego is saying, “I am going to care,” and yet is confused about what that means and is unable to truly do so.

Just host in that warmth whatever is happening like a great powerful compassionate mother when her child is in pain and crying. Be like this loving mother—steady, strong, caring, nonjudgmental, present. Be like this mother toward yourself, because you are that child who is suffering, the one who says, “I feel difficulty facing these changes; I feel difficulty processing these challenges; I have a hard time accepting these impermanent situations.” That “I” needs care and attention and healing, and you are that healer; that mother space of the inner refuge is the healer.

When you are truly able to connect in this way with the one who is facing difficulties with change and impermanence, you will heal. You are able to help yourself. This sacred inner space within will clear and open and guide and show what to do. It will grow you, because in some way, every pain helps us to grow. For every being who has achieved enlightenment, their pain helped them to grow step by step.

We might think something is changing, something is being lost, but actually, there is no change happening, there is nothing we are losing. For sure, we are experiencing we are losing, we are experiencing we are changing, we are experiencing it might be terrible. But we are not this change—and our journey is to discover that we are not change. Our challenges are like a test or an exam, testing your strength and testing your connection to the inner refuge. What shakes you tests your capacity to trust in the inner refuge and to trust yourself.

Just for a moment, reflect upon your past when you experienced change or separation or a threat occurred. You may not remember everything clearly, but perhaps you remember some of your emotions, thoughts and interactions, and perhaps you thought very similarly to what you are thinking now of these challenges. You may feel completely lost or scared, and it looks like there is nothing clear about your future. Perhaps you even thought, “This will destroy me completely.” None of those fears are true. Did those experiences allow you to grow, be more aware, more realistic, more open, more considerate, more respectful of others? Did it expand your consciousness and awareness? Then you were much younger and less mature. Now that you are more mature, these changes might benefit your development all the more. Because of your exposure to the teachings and practices and your experiences of life, you are so much richer. Allow that possibility of growing through challenges with the support of these beautiful practices of the inner refuge and your own inner strength and trust.

In the practice of bodhicitta,
there are no enemies, only loved ones.

It’s the responsibility of the practitioner
to specifically include every individual person in their bodhicitta practice,
even if at the same time
they oppose their actions.
The reason people like Gandhi
don’t succumb to their emotions
is because of the principles
they have deeply contemplated.
To have conviction in bodhicitta,
one must generate love and care
specifically toward the people
that might harm you, or that might be
the very reason you might lose the bodhicitta. In the practice of bodhicitta,
there are no enemies, only loved ones.
We’re not talking about an insignificant matter that affects your life in small manners;
we’re talking about the rest of your existence.

Nothing else in this life
can assure the rest of your existence
to be positive,
other than the practice of bodhicitta.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body. These three centers must all be working, and working in harmony, as the first prerequisite to the Wisdom way of knowing.
– Cynthia Bourgeault

The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

I came to poetry because I felt I couldn’t live properly in the real world. I was thirteen and in Algebra class. That was the day I decided I would be a poet for all time.
– Lucie Brock-Broido

I believe in communication; books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.
– Jeanette Winterson

This world is like a mountain. Your echo depends on you. If your speech is worthy, the world will reflect it back. If your speech fails you, the world will reflect it back. Even if someone speaks badly of you, speak well about them. Changing your own heart changes the world.
– Shams Tabrizi

A quote from Joanna Macy caught my eye recently: We will probably not know in our lifetimes whether we are serving as deathbed attendants to a dying world or as midwives to the next stage of human evolution.” Very true, and I would add, perhaps we can’t really say which is which, womb or tomb.

Many decades ago, when I was sobering up from near fatal alcohol abuse, I saw a vocational rehabilitation counselor by the name of Lester D. Hazell, a marvelous human being. In addition to being a vocational counselor, she was also a psychologist, teacher, midwife, and author of one of the earliest books on natural at-home childbirth. During the time that I was seeing her, her teenage son (her first born child if I recall correctly) was killed in a car accident right after his high school graduation. I remember that the first time I saw her after this had happened, she said something to the effect that she had discovered that birth and death are very closely related, very much the same—I don’t remember her exact words, but that was the gist of it.

As I’m always pointing out, and as Buddhism has long pointed out, if we look very closely at the fabric of existence, we will find no birth and no death. Birth-death is one thing, happening moment-to-moment, and we can never actually find where any apparent “thing” begins or ends. Do we begin at birth, at the moment of conception, at the moment when our parents met, at the moment when they were born, at the moment when their great great great grandparents were born, or maybe with the Big Bang? And what was here before that? And is the self (the body-mind person) that we think of as “me” actually a separate, autonomous, solid, persisting “thing,” or is it more like an ever-changing whirlpool, inseparable from the water out of which it is made?

When we look closely at any form, we find that it is always changing, and that it is inseparable from everything it supposedly is not. When we die, our body goes back to the elements in one way or another, and I would suggest that consciousness is like space—it was never really divided up or encapsulated. This particular pattern of energy, this particular waving in the great ocean of consciousness that we call a person, disintegrates in death and becomes part of new patterns, new waves, new whirlpools, new ever-changing, interdependent appearances. Energy, consciousness, matter, whatever-this-is, doesn’t end; it changes shape.

Whether this present time is the beginning of the next stage of human evolution, or whether it is the beginning of a post-human stage in the evolution of the universe that begins with our extinction, we cannot know. But either way, there is a deep sense here that in the bigger picture, all is well. Unicity itself (the totality, the universe, the Self, the Tao, Consciousness, primordial awareness, intelligence-energy, God, Spirit, Presence, Here-Now, whatever label or concept you prefer) is indestructible. It never begins or ends. It never departs from itself. It depends on nothing. It has no other. It is ever-present, timeless, infinite.

In one sense, as awareness or presence or spirit, I have no gender, no age, no race, no nationality, no political leanings, no sexual orientation, no location in space or time. I am boundless, seamless, without preferences or attachments. I accept everything and cling to nothing. As awareness. I am shapeless and formless and whatever appears, appears in me and is not other than this presence that I am. This is not a philosophy; it is a palpable reality that can be recognized, seen, felt, opened to, melted into in any moment.

We could also say that as unicity, as the Totality, I am no gender and every gender, no age and every age, no race and every race, no nationality and all nationalities, no political leanings and all political leanings, no sexual orientation and every sexual orientation, no location in space or time and all locations in space and time. I am both boundless and apparently bound, seamless and apparently divided up. I am oneness and multiplicity, form and emptiness, at exactly the same time. Again, this is not a philosophy; it is a palpable reality that can be recognized in our present experiencing, right here, right now. We simply need to give our attention to what we actually see rather than to our conceptual maps and ideas about it.

As unicity, there is nothing and nowhere that I am not. I am expressing, discovering, revealing, exploring and unfolding myself as every imaginable happening, playing infinite roles in infinite movies, and I am what remains after all the movies end. As that primordial darkness—the unknowable, inconceivable, groundlessness—I am beyond all ideas, subtler than anything perceivable or conceivable. In me, everything disappears, and out of me, everything emerges. I am the no-thing-ness of everything.

We are each unique, never-to-be-repeated individuals with a date of birth and a date of death, and to deny this relative aspect of reality would be absurd. But at the same time, it is the larger totality, the seamless whole, the single I to which we all refer, that is being this whole show, including this dance called “me” and “you.” And beyond our seemingly limited identity as a particular person, we are that seamlessness, that infinite and unbroken wholeness, which is all there is.
– Joan Tollifson

It matters if you are thought of as less than, as unequal.

It matters if you are not witnessed as worthy, as magnificent and full of flowering.

It matters if you are not lifted in light, dipped in Earth’s dark, by those who can truly see you – who can bless.

It matters.

– David Bedrick

ALL THERE IS
by Jeff Foster

If there is sadness here, let it be.
If there is joy here, let it be.
If there is numbness here, let it be.
If there is uncertainty here, let it be.
If there is some unspeakable emptiness here, let it be.

Consider the possibility
that there is no mistake here.
No thought or feeling unwanted.
No appearance in the moment which is ‘against’ you.

Be what you are.
Be the vast Field, the limitless Space,
in which all thoughts and feelings
come and go,
effortlessly, naturally.

Stop trying to get ‘there’.
Stop trying to ‘feel better’.
Stop rushing to FUTURE.
Bow to the PRESENT, exactly as it is.
Know its sacredness. Feel its warmth.

You may not feel ‘better’ right away,
but you will feel alive, grounded.
You may not get ‘there’,
but you will fall in love with HERE.

Which is all there is.

I may not know my original face
but I know how to smile.
I may not know the recipe
for the diameter of a circle
but I know how to cut a slice for a friend.
I may not be Mary or the Buddha
but I can be kind.
I may not be a diamond cutter
but I still long for rays of light
that reach the heart.
I may not be standing on the hill of skulls
but I know love when I see it.
– Stephen Levine, Breaking the Drought: Visions of Grace

My teacher used to tell us stories,
his voice full of deep respect,
about the patriarchs of our temple.
Nhat Dinh, a venerable monk
who lived over a hundred years ago,
was the Zen master who originally founded
the Tu Hieu Meditation school
and our root temple. My teacher told us
this story about him that had been passed down over the years.

Long ago, the patriarch went up to
Spring of Yang Hill near to where the temple tombs are now located, chose a peaceful spot to clear, and built a hermitage where he could practice and take care of his ageing mother.
In this hermitage, which he named “Nourishing Peace,” he followed the Buddha’s teachings faithfully. His concentration was very deep
and he wasn’t caught in anything
small or petty.

Even though he was a Zen master,
he cared for the needs of his old mother.
When living in an era where there is no Buddha, taking care of one’s parents
is as virtuous and meritorious
as taking care of the Buddha.

One time his mother was ill
and needed some nourishing food to recover. Knowing that in the past his mother
liked to eat rice soup with fresh fish,
he went to the market to buy a fish
to prepare for his mother. People were shocked to see a monk buying a fish
and carrying it home, but they dared not
say anything to him, knowing that he was
a high monk and could do no wrong.
People didn’t understand it, however,
and they gossiped about him behind his back. But the master continued to be himself
in his natural, unaffected way as he walked through the streets carrying a fish home
from the market. He knew what he was doing and he did not get caught
in other people’s opinions of him,
which were based on their ignorance.

When I first heard this story
I felt a joy that almost brought me to tears. Nhat Dinh demonstrated a free and liberated attitude that wasn’t “bound by dogma” –
like a poem that says a person
who is caught in prejudices
would never be able to live or understand.
Later on, Nourishing Peace Hermitage
grew into a large temple and King Tu Duc,
who was very dedicated to his own mother, gave it the name the “Imperially-Appointed Temple of Loving Kindness and Filial Love.” The master passed away in the tenth lunar month of the year 1847.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, The Monk and the Fish, My Master’s Robe

Karma as Tapestry
Let us explore the nature of karma, because I think karma is quite misunderstood in the West. There are various understandings in different religious traditions of the meaning of karma, but here we’ll examine the Buddhist understanding of the term. Actually, the word karma in Sanskrit means “action.” It also means “work.”

All actions we undertake not only with our body but with our speech and with our mind are expressions of karma. It’s the action part that counts, not the result.

The Buddha himself said that by karma he meant intention, chetana. Karma is intention. This means that every intentional action of body, speech, or mind plants seeds in our mind stream. Sooner or later, in that lifetime or in future lifetimes, those seeds will sprout and ripen. That ripening is called vipaka, which means a result of the karma. And that is what we experience. We have to understand that karma isn’t some kind of overpowering or all-pervading fate. The little seeds planted in the past are eventually going to sprout up. How and when they sprout is undetermined.

When the Lord Buddha Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment it wasn’t just a sudden zap. It was a very gradual opening of the mind. In the first watch of the night as he sat under the Bodhi Tree in Bihar, he went back through all his previous births. He went through aeons and aeons of time, through devolutions and evolutions of the universe, back through billions of years, knowing: At that time, I was like this. At that time, I lived like this and then I died, and I was reborn like that. Time has no meaning on an absolute level, and so in a very short time he was able to experience all this. Then, in the second watch of the night—a watch is a three-hour period—his mind opened still further to encompass all beings: their coming into existence, their duration, their passing away and coming again into a new being. And in the third watch of the night, just before dawn, he realized the interconnection and the relativity of all things: interdependent origination. That is when he became a Buddha.

Nowadays in our very humanistic, scholastic mode we say, “Oh well, the Buddha talked about karma because it was the fashion of the day. You know, everybody in those days believed in karma, or many people did, so he just took it on board as part of his doctrine.” But it wasn’t like that. It was a part of his enlightenment to actually experience how beings come and how beings go, and how they are interrelated and interconnected—how karma works. Later on, his main attendant and and cousin, Ananda, said to him, “Well, karma is kind of complicated, but I think I got it now.” The Buddha replied, “Don’t even say that. The understanding of karma is the province only of the mind of a fully enlightened one.”

Only a Buddha can really understand karma, because only a Buddha can see the total pattern, the whole tapestry. We just see a tiny part, and on the wrong side usually—the side with all the knots and loose ends. And then we try to understand the total pattern from that tiny square, but how is that possible? We need to look at the other side at a distance in order to see how all those red and green and blue threads form a pattern. I don’t mean that our lives are already woven. We are continually weaving. That’s the whole point…

We are weaving, moment to moment, with our thoughts and words and deeds, we are weaving our tapestry. Mostly we only see a very small part of what we’re weaving – and we only mostly are seeing it from the wrong side, so we see all the loose ends and the back of it. We don’t see the whole picture. So if there are lots of dark threads we think ‘Oh this is very dark, this is very ugly, this is very difficult this problem.’ But if we could go the other side, and stand back and see the whole vast tapestry, we would recognize that even those dark threads are necessary for the total design.
– Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Into the Heart of Life

I have observed a strange idea of love
that many people seem to have:
they see love as a kind of gift
that has to be given back.
Someone says, “I love you,” and if the other person does not reply with an “I love you, too,” the first person gets upset.
But love doesn’t always have to be reciprocated. We can just love.
If love doesn’t come back to you,
it is still love that you give and that you feel.
We do not always have to look to get something back for what we give, do we?
– 17th Karmapa, The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out

The Karmapa describes how to see the world as a global community, in which people are linked by their shared concerns for humanity–and their wish to bring about real change. While acknowledging the magnitude of this undertaking, the Karmapa shows us how to go about it, using the inner resources we have already…

You are not merely your race, your gender, your tribe, your class. These are your ornaments, your incidents, but they are not who You are. Transcend every identity group, every voting block, by which desperate politicians try to contain You. For You are immeasurable, You include galaxies. True courage is to transcend concepts of identity, and realize in this very moment, with this very breath, that You are incomparably unique. The real revolution is becoming a Person.
– Fred LaMotte

Is heaven like a snowed-in amphitheater?
– from “New Year’s Letter” in Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, “A Reading” by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine

It Was Like This: You Were Happy
It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.

It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.

At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.

It does this not in forgiveness—
between you, there is nothing to forgive—
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,
all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.
– Jane Hirshfield

When hearing something unusual, do not pre-emptively reject it, for that would be folly. Indeed, awful things may be true, and familiar and praised things may prove to be lies. Truth is truth unto itself, not because people say it is.
– Ibn al-Nafis

An esteem or sense of self that is caught in shame’s grip fuels an engine of ‘self improvement’ based on an attempt to cure oneself of oneself.

It is a hole made from self negation that longs to be filled but cannot be.

Essentially, every time the shamed person suffers, rather than respond with compassion towards themselves, they blame themselves and try to ‘fix’ themselves.

This motivation creates enormous stress and leads the person to make heroic efforts to be more disciplined; to be strict or rigid in their viewpoint regarding spirituality, religion or healing; or to be obsessive in their reach for reward, approval or success.

They can easily manipulated into becoming followers of anything that promises relief.

In my viewpoint, this is one of the most fundamental healing dilemmas of our time, leading people to seek out healing that is unsustainable at best, injurious at worst, and leading others to offer ‘medicine’ that is not actually ‘medicine.’
– David Bedrick

If you believe in light, you’ll be in light, you don’t have to face darkness.
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

CLOSE
is what we almost always are: close to happiness, close to another, close to leaving, close to tears, close to God, close to losing faith, close to being done, close to saying something, or close to success, and even, with the greatest sense of satisfaction, close to giving the whole thing up.

Our human essence lies not in arrival, but in being almost there, we are creatures who are on the way, our journey a series of impending anticipated arrivals. We live by unconsciously measuring the inverse distances of our proximity: an intimacy calibrated by the vulnerability we feel in giving up our sense of separation.

To go beyond our normal identities and become closer than close is to lose our sense of self in temporary joy, a form of arrival that only opens us to deeper forms of intimacy that blur our fixed, controlling, surface identity.

To consciously become close is a courageous form of unilateral disarmament, a chancing of our arm and our love, a willingness to hazard our affections and an unconscious declaration that we might be equal to the inevitable loss that the vulnerability of being close will bring.

Human beings do not find their essence through fulfillment or eventual arrival but by staying close to the way they like to travel, to the way they hold the conversation between the ground on which they stand and the horizon to which they go.

We are in effect, always, close; always close to the ultimate secret: that we are more real in our simple wish to find a way than any destination we could reach: the step between not understanding that and understanding that, is as close as we get to happiness.
– DAVID WHYTE

How little we knew, before the advent of mobile phones, how much we were holding invisible conversations with others wherever we took ourselves, no matter the beauty of our present surroundings. I caught this iconic, ubiquitous and contemporary body language along the banks of the Seine on one early morning walk. A beautiful day to walk, to take in the opalescent fresh sky, to have one’s face in the sun, to see the buds breaking all along the edge of the water, and I suppose, an equally beautiful background context in which to reach out and text a loved one.
– DW

Healing Begins With Gratitude
We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words. It is an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with self-reflexive consciousness that brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.

In the Tibetan Buddhist path we are asked to pause before any period of meditative practice and precede it with reflection on the preciousness of a human life. This is not because we as humans are superior to other beings, but because we can “change the karma.” In other words, graced with self-reflexive consciousness, we are endowed with the capacity for choice—to take stock of what we are doing and change directions. We may have endured for eons of lifetimes as other life-forms, under the heavy hand of fate and the blind play of instinct, but now at last we are granted the ability to consider and judge and make decisions. Weaving our ever more complex neural circuits into the miracle of self-awareness, life yearned through us for the ability to know and act and speak on behalf of the larger whole. Now the time has come when by our own choice we can consciously enter the dance.

In Buddhist practice, that first reflection is followed by a second, on the brevity of this precious human life: “Death is certain; the time of death is uncertain.” That reflection awakens in us the precious gift of the present moment—to seize this chance to be alive right now on Planet Earth.

Even in the Dark

That our world is in crisis—to the point where survival of conscious life on Earth is in question—in no way diminishes the value of this gift; on the contrary. To us is granted the privilege of being on hand: to take part, if we choose, in the Great Turning to a just and sustainable society. We can let life work through us, enlisting all our strength, wisdom, and courage, so that life itself can continue.

There is so much to be done, and the time is so short. We can proceed, of course, out of grim and angry desperation. But the tasks proceed more easily and productively with a measure of thankfulness for life; it links us to our deeper powers and lets us rest in them. Many of us are braced, psychically and physically, against the signals of distress that continually barrage us in the news, on our streets, in our environment. As if to reduce their impact on us, we contract like a turtle into its shell. But we can choose to turn to the breath, the body, the senses—for they help us to relax and open to wider currents of knowing and feeling.

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.

Thankfulness loosens the grip of the industrial growth society by contradicting its predominant message: that we are insufficient and inadequate. The forces of late capitalism continually tell us that we need more—more stuff, more money, more approval, more comfort, more entertainment. The dissatisfaction it breeds is profound. It infects people with a compulsion to acquire that delivers them into the cruel, humiliating bondage of debt. So gratitude is liberating. It is subversive. It helps us realize that we are sufficient, and that realization frees us. Elders of indigenous cultures have retained this knowledge, and we can learn from their practices.

Learning from the Onondaga

Elders of the six-nation confederacy of the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois, have passed down through the ages the teachings of the Great Peacemaker. A thousand years ago, they had been warring tribes, caught in brutal cycles of attack, revenge, and retaliation, when he came across Lake Ontario in a stone canoe. Gradually his words and actions won them over, and they accepted the Great Law of Peace. They buried their weapons under the Peace Tree by Lake Onondaga and formed councils for making wise choices together, and for self-governance. In the Haudenosaunee, historians recognize the oldest known participatory democracy and point to the inspiration it provided to Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and others in crafting the Constitution of the United States. That did not impede American settlers and soldiers from taking by force most of the Haudenosaunees’ land and decimating their populations.

Eventually accorded “sovereign” status, the Haudenosaunee nations—all except for the Onondaga—proceeded in recent decades to sue state and federal governments for their ancestral lands, winning settlements in cash and license for casinos. All waited and wondered what legal action would be brought by the Onondaga Nation, whose name means Keepers of the Central Fire and whose ancestral land, vastly larger than the bit they now control, extends in a wide swath from Pennsylvania to Canada. But the Onondaga elders and clan mothers continued to deliberate year after year, seeking consensus on this issue that would shape the fate of their people for generations to come. Finally, in the spring of 2005, they made their legal move. In their land rights claim, unlike that of any other indigenous group in America, they did not demand the return of any ancestral land or monetary compensation for it. They asked for one thing only: that it be cleaned up and restored to health for the sake of all who presently live on it, and for the sake of their children and children’s children.

To state and federal power-holders, this was asking a lot. The land is heavily contaminated by industrial development, including big chemical processing plants and a number of neglected toxic waste sites. Onondaga Lake, on whose shores stood the sacred Peace Tree, is considered to be more polluted with heavy metals than any in the country. Within a year, at the urging of the governor of New York, the court dismissed the Onondaga claim as invalid and too late.

On a bleak November afternoon, when the suit was still in process, I visited the Onondaga Nation—a big name for this scrap of land that looks like a postage stamp on maps of Central New York. I had come because I was moved by the integrity and vision of their land rights claim, and now I saw how few material resources they possess to pursue it. In the community center, native counselors described outreach programs for mental health and self-esteem, bringing young people together from all the haudenosaunee. To help with the expenses, other tribes had chipped in, but few contributions had been received from the richer ones.

They were eager for me to see the recently built school where young Onondagans, who choose not to go off the Nation to U.S.-run schools, can receive an education. a teacher named Frieda, who was serving for a while as a clan mother, had waited after hours to show me around. The central atrium she led me into was hung about with shields of a dozen clans— turtle clan, bear clan, frog—and on the floor illumined by the sky light was a large green turtle, beautifully wrought of inlaid wood. “here is where we gather the students for our daily morning assembly,” Frieda explained. “We begin, of course, with the thanksgiving. Not the real, traditional form of it, because that takes days. We do it very short, just twenty minutes or so.” Turning to gaze at her face, I sank down on a bench. She heard my silent request and sat down too. raising her right hand in a circling gesture that spiraled downward as the fingers closed, she began. “Let us gather our minds as one mind and give thanks to grandfather Sun, who rises each day to bring light so we can see each others’ faces and warmth for the seeds to grow.” on and on she continued, greeting and thanking the life-giving presences that bless and nourish us all. With each one—moon, waters, trees—that lovely gesture was repeated. “We gather our minds as one mind.”

My eyes stayed riveted on her. What I was receiving through her words and gesture felt like an intravenous injection, right into my bloodstream. This, I knew, can teach us how to survive, when all possessions and comforts have been lost. When our honored place in the world is taken from us, this practice can hold us together in dignity and clear mind.

What Frieda gave me is a staple of haudenosaunee culture. The Mohawks have written down similar words, in an equally short form, so the rest of us can have it too. known as the Mohawk Thanksgiving Prayer, it begins:

THE PEOPLE

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

THE EARTH MOTHER

We are all thankful to our mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

And it concludes:

THE ENLIGHTENED TEACHERS

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. We send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

THE CREATOR

Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or great spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. for all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the creator.

Now our minds are one.

CLOSING WORDS

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

The Spiral

There are hard things to face in our world today, if we want to be of use. Gratitude, when it’s real, offers no blinders. on the contrary, in the face of devastation and tragedy it can ground us, especially when we’re scared. It can hold us steady for the work to be done.

The activist’s inner journey appears to me like a spiral, interconnecting four successive stages or movements that feed into each other. These four are: 1) opening to gratitude, 2) owning our pain for the world, 3) seeing with new eyes, and 4) going forth. The sequence repeats itself, as the spiral circles round, but ever in new ways. The spiral is fractal in nature: it can characterize a lifetime or a project, and it can also happen in a day or several times a day.

The spiral begins with gratitude, because that quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source. It reconnects us with basic goodness and our personal power. It helps us to be more fully present to our world. That grounded presence provides the psychic space for acknowledging the pain we carry for our world.

In owning this pain, and daring to experience it, we learn that our capacity to “suffer with” is the true meaning of compassion. We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind and how it helps us to move beyond fear. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into wider reaches of our world as lover, world as self.

The truth of our inter-existence, made real to us by our pain for the world, helps us see with new eyes. It brings fresh understandings of who we are and how we are related to each other and the universe. We begin to comprehend our own power to change and heal. We strengthen by growing living connections with past and future generations, and our brother and sister species.

Then, ever again, we go forth into the action that calls us. With others whenever and wherever possible, we set a target, lay a plan, step out. We don’t wait for a blueprint or fail-proof scheme; for each step will be our teacher, bringing new perspectives and opportunities. Even when we don’t succeed in a given venture, we can be grateful for the chance we took and the lessons we learned. and the spiral begins again.

Then all the work I put my hand to
widens from turn to turn.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

– JOANNA MACY PH.D

I love to dream.

For some, the “real” world is plenty and day-to-day responsibilities and activities fill them with purpose and accomplishment.

But for many of us, this is not the case- we get depressed and our soul’s dry up without seeing symbol, meaning, depth, and imagination in what is called “reality.”

In addition, many of the problems we face, from social issues like war, racism, and poverty to figuring out how to really get along with each other in a world of essential diversity, cannot be resolved by logical plans, greater discipline, being nicer, or adding more financial resources.

We need imaginers who know the mind of the child to be the creative force for new life.
We need deep feelers who are moved by experiences that are ultimately subjective yet holy.
We need spiritual warriors who face the mundane while still being moved by Spirit.
We need social activists who flip the script of society’s bankrupt ranking systems.
We need shamans ready to explore the underworld’s monsters and disguised angels.

We need all of these dreamers to teach us to love the world in new ways.
– David Bedrick

Dear Spirit: I need your guidance. I am coming off a virus that has left my head foggy for days.

Spirit: And what happens when your head is foggy?

Me: I want to close my eyes and then I realize my head also aches a bit.

Spirit: Ah, you are not aware that you ache until you turn inwards. Please practice more sensitivity to yourself.

Me: I also dreamt that I was on a big ship traveling at night for days. I couldn’t see. I was frightened, waiting for the light.

Spirit: Your dream offers the same counsel: Let go of the light, close your eyes, let your in-sight and dreaming way guide you.

Me: Tears flow. I think I have known this to be true. I guess I need you to remind me, affirm these truths.

Spirit: You can ask me the same questions every hour, day after day, and I will remind and affirm each and every time.

Me: Grateful.

– David Bedrick

In my experience, there is no symptom that belongs only to the individual, whether that symptom is emotional, spiritual, physical, social, or financial.

Accordingly, when I work with a person with an addictive process, I always ask myself, “Am I working with one person, a family dynamic, a cultural dynamic, or a a manifestation of social injustice?”

Similarly, when I work with a woman who is suffering from dissatisfaction with her body image or weight, I always think, “Am I working with just this woman or a gender dynamic, a generational story, or global sexism?”

Or when I work with a person wrestling with trauma, I always ask myself, “What is the impact of family or mainstream denial about trauma causing events and the ripple effects across generations?”

And when I work with a person who has cancer, I always ask myself, “Am I working with this one person’s health or with the impact of capitalism, or a gender issue (e.g., breast cancer; prostate cancer)?

And when I work with a person who is depressed, I always contemplate, “Is what presses this person down an aspect of patriarchy or a culture that marginalizes their gifts?”

When we don’t consider symptoms as part of this larger web, individuals are more likely to feel shame about their suffering by thinking that their difficulty is only about them as individuals – their limits, their pathology, their deficiencies, and their failure.

– David Bedrick

If you are trying to transform
a brutalized society
into one where people can live
in dignity and hope,
you begin with
the empowering of the most powerless.
– Adrienne Rich

Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they-like you-must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.
– Geneen Marie Haugen

Spring
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Ponies
by Spencer Reece
I remember the ponies in the distance.
I remember you talked of a war, no two wars, a failed marriage—
discretely, without force or grandeur.
This was before they amputated your leg, before the stroke.
You rolled your r’s, spoke of Oxford,
recalled driving in the Quaker ambulance unit in China,
where you saw an oil drum filled with severed limbs.
Pleased to have your approval, I rarely spoke.
You were like a father to me and I was grateful.
I remember the ponies behind the fence, muscular,
breathing, how they worried the grass.
The ponies said: This day astounds us. The field is green.
We love nothing better than space and more space.
Ah, they knew what I needed to know.
They lived in their bodies.
If the ponies wanted to kiss, they kissed.
They moved like the shadows of airplanes.
They knew no hatred, but fear they understood.
The sky was shot clear with blue.
After the picnic, we gathered the tablecloth.
As we left, I could still see the ponies,
crowding one another, free and unbroken.

The habit of the religious way of thinking
has biased our mind so grievously
that we are—terrified at ourselves
in our nakedness and naturalness;
it has degraded us
so that we deem ourselves depraved
by nature, born devils.
– Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own

All of the world’s cosmologies and religions are transformations of an original lunar-scheduled cultural template that derives from our Palaeolithic ancestors.
– Lionel Sims

…what you encounter, recognize, discover, depends to a large degree to the quality of your approach, when we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us…
– Francis Weller quoting John O’Donohue

Alison Luterman
IN DEFENSE OF THOSE WHO HARBOR TERRIBLE IDEAS AT TAX TIME

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Like so many others. Sleeping with that guy.
Not checking the address. Letting him put it in
without a condom just the once. Who hasn’t done
all that and worse, is what I was thinking,
driving to H&R Block to get my taxes done
and listening to the radio where everyone keeps talking about
the young black gay actor who orchestrated
a fake hate crime against himself.
It must have seemed like such a good idea to him
at the time, I think, clutching to my chest
the scattered bits of our financial life—
receipts and pay stubs, the record of all I’ve spent
on poetry contests and that workshop
on musical theater—enough
to buy a hot tub, a cheap used one, anyway,
on Craigslist—and that might
or might not be a disaster, too, you never know.
I’ve booked an appointment
with the nicest CPA in the world—Dennis—
who says to me, “You’re not a cookie-cutter person.
Don’t be ashamed of your life.” Really, he should be a therapist
instead of an accountant, but I hope he stays at this job forever,
smoothing out my crumpled 1099s, recording
the five hundred dollars I made coaching
for Poetry Out Loud, the thousand
from that one contest I did win, and then all the bills
when our old home’s ancient plumbing gave up the ghost.
It’s more than I can face head-on, this evidence
of how we live and earn and spend and waste
our lives, and I heard that the young man, an actor, staged the crime
against himself because he felt he wasn’t being paid enough—
though I bet he was paid more than a poet—
well, who isn’t? And who, in the end, doesn’t feel
attention must be paid? Although few would go
to such lengths to get it. I’ve had my share
of Bad Ideas, God knows, and all of them seemed Good to me
at the time, and so have you, I bet, and so has everyone.
It’s the human condition, after all, to be assailed by a million thoughts
a day, most of them insane—I remember I once thought
of becoming a dominatrix, for example—that didn’t last long,
then I thought maybe I’d write a play
about a woman who becomes a dominatrix
in late middle age, to pay the bills—and well,
you see where all this is heading.
I have to forgive this young man his terrible
idea, I have to because, in my own way, I’ve been him.
And while we’re at it all those others
whose freakazoid fancies must have seemed brilliant
to them for a minute, the way all our eurekas do at three a.m.—
gleaming like fool’s gold … haven’t we all
chased them like magical butterflies
through the meadowlands of imagination,
only to end up empty-handed and chagrined,
and far from home?

To understand how delusion arises, practice watching your mind. Begin by simply letting it relax. Without thinking of the past or the future, without feeling hope or fear about this thing or that, let it rest comfortably, open and natural. In this space of the mind, there is no problem, no suffering.

Then something catches your attention–an image, a sound, a smell. Your mind splits into inner and outer, self and other, subject and object. In simply perceiving the object, there is still no problem. But when you zero in on it, you notice that it’s big or small, white or black, square or circular; and then you make a judgment– for example, whether it’s pretty or ugly. Having made that judgment, you react to it: you decide you like it or don’t like it. That’s when the problem starts, because “I like it” leads to “I want it.” We want to possess what we perceive to be desirable. Similarly, “I don’t like it” leads to “I don’t want it.” If we like something, want it, and can’t have it, we suffer. If we don’t want it, but can’t keep it away, again we suffer. Our suffering seems to occur because of the object of our desire or aversion, but that’s not really so–it happens because the mind splits into object-subject duality and becomes involved in wanting or not wanting something.

We often think the only way to create happiness is to try to control the outer circumstances of our lives, to try to fix what seems wrong or to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the real problem lies in our reaction to those circumstances. What we have to change is the mind and the way it experiences reality.


For it is our emotions that propel us through extremes, from elation to depression, from good experiences to bad, from happiness to sadness–a constant swinging back and forth. Emotionality is the by-product of hope and fear, attachment and aversion. We have hope because we are attached to something we want. We have fear because we are averse to
something we don’t want. As we follow our emotions, reacting to our experiences, we create karma – perpetual motion that inevitably determines our future. We need to stop the extreme swings of the emotional pendulum so that we can find a place of centeredness.


When we first begin to transform the emotions, we apply the principle of iron cutting iron or diamond cutting diamond. We use thought to change thought. A negative thought such as anger is antidoted by a virtuous thought such as compassion, while desire can be antidoted by the contemplation of impermanence.


In the case of attachment, begin by determining what it is you’re attached to. For example, you might, after much effort, succeed in becoming famous, thinking this will make you happy. Then your fame triggers jealousy in someone, who tries to shoot you. What you worked so hard to create is the cause of your own suffering. Or you might work very hard to become wealthy, thinking this will bring happiness, only to lose all your money. The loss of wealth in itself is not the source of
suffering, only attachment to having it.


We can lessen attachment by contemplating impermanence. It is certain that whatever we’re attached to will either change or be lost. A person may die or go away, a friend may become an enemy, a thief may steal our money. Even our body, to which we’re most attached, will be gone one day. Knowing this not only helps to reduce our attachment, but gives us a
greater appreciation of what we have while we have it. For example, there is nothing wrong with money, but if we’re attached to it, we’ll
suffer when we lose it. Instead, we can appreciate it while it lasts, enjoy it and enjoy sharing it with others, and at the same time know it’s impermanent. Then when we lose it, the emotional pendulum won’t make as
wide a swing toward sadness.


Imagine two people buy the same kind of watch on the same day at the same shop. The first person thinks, “This is a very nice watch. It will be helpful to me, but it may not last long.” The second person thinks, “This is the best watch I’ve ever had. No matter what happens, I can’t lose it or let it break.” If both people lose their watch, the one who is attached will be much more upset than the other.


If we are fooled by life and invest great value in one thing or another, we may find ourselves fighting for what we want and against any
opposition. We may think that what we’re fighting for is lasting, true, and real, but it’s not. It’s impermanent, it’s not true, it’s not lasting, and ultimately, it’s not even real.


Our life can be compared to an afternoon at a shopping center. We walk through the shops, led by our desires, taking things off the shelves and tossing them in our baskets. We wander around, looking at everything, wanting and longing. We see a person or two, maybe smile and continue on, never to see them again.


That’s what life is like. Driven by desire, we don’t appreciate the preciousness of what we have. We need to realize that the time we have to be with our loved ones, our friends, our family, our co-workers is very brief. Even if we lived to a hundred and fifty, that would be very little time to enjoy and utilize our human opportunity.


Young people think their lives will last a long time; old people think life will end soon. But we can’t assume these things. Our life comes
with a built-in expiration date. There are many strong and healthy people who die young, while many of the old and sick and feeble live on and on. Not knowing when we’ll die, we need to develop an appreciation for and acceptance of what we have, while we have it, rather than continuing to find fault with our experience and seeking, incessantly, to fulfill our desires.


If we find ourselves worrying whether our nose is too big or too small, we should think, “What if I had no head–now that would be a
problem!” As long as we have life, we should rejoice. If everything doesn’t go exactly as we’d like, we can accept it. If we contemplate
impermanence deeply, patience and compassion will arise. We will hold less to the apparent truth of our experience, and the mind will become more flexible. Realizing that one day this body will be buried or burned, we will rejoice in every moment we have rather than make ourselves or others unhappy.

Now we are afflicted by “me-my-mine-itis,” a condition caused by ignorance. Our self-centeredness and self-important thinking have become very strong habits. In order to change them, we need to refocus. Instead
of concerning ourselves with “I” all the time, we must redirect our attention to “you” or “them” or “others.” Reducing self-importance lessens the attachment that stems from it. When we focus outside ourselves, ultimately we realize the equality of ourselves and all other beings. Everybody wants happiness; nobody wants to suffer. Our attachment to our own happiness expands to an attachment to the happiness of all.


Until now our desires have tended to be very short term and superficial. If we are going to wish for something, let it be nothing less than complete enlightenment for all sentient beings. That’s something worthy of desire. Continually reminding ourselves of what is truly worth wanting is an important element in developing pure practice.


Desire and attachment won’t change overnight, but desire becomes less ordinary as we redirect our worldly yearning toward the aspiration to become enlightened for the benefit of others. At the same time, we don’t
abandon the ordinary objects of our desires –relationships, wealth, fame–but our attachment to them lessens as we contemplate their impermanence. Not rejecting them, rejoicing in our fortune when they arise, yet recognizing that they won’t last, we begin to build qualities of spiritual maturity. As our attachment slowly decreases, harmful
actions that would normally result from attachment are reduced. We create less negative karma, more fortunate karma, and the mind’s positive qualities gradually increase.


Later, after we’ve done more meditation practice, we can try an approach that’s different from contemplation, different from using
thought to change thought: revealing the deeper nature, or wisdom principle, of the emotions as they arise.


If you are in the midst of a desire attack –something has captured your mind and you must have it–you won’t get rid of the desire by trying to suppress it. Instead, you can begin to see through desire by examining what it is. When it arises in the mind, ask yourself, “Where does it come from? Where does it dwell? Can it be described? Does it have any color, shape, or form? When it disappears, where does it go?”


This is an interesting situation. You can say that desire exists, but if you search for the experience, you can’t quite grasp it. On the other hand, if you say it doesn’t exist, you’re denying the obvious fact that you are feeling desire. You can’t say that it exists, nor can you say that it does not exist. You can’t say that it’s “both” or “neither,” that it both does exist and does not exist, or that it neither exists nor does
not not exist. This is the meaning of the true nature of desire beyond extremes.

It’s our failure to understand the simplicity of the natural state that gets us into trouble. No conceptual structure will describe the true
nature of an emotion. We experience it the way we do because we don’t understand its essential nature. Once we do, the emotion tends to dissolve.

Then we’re not repressing the emotion, but neither are we encouraging it. We are simply looking clearly at what is taking place. If we set a cloudy glass of water aside for a while, it will settle by itself and become clear. Instead of judging the experience of desire, we look
directly at its nature, what is known as “liberating it in its own ground.” Then it simply dissolves.

Each negative emotion, or mental poison, has an inherent perfection that we don’t recognize because we are so accustomed to its appearance as.emotion. Just as poison can be taken medicinally to effect a cure, each
poison of the mind, worked with properly, can be transformed to its wisdom nature and thus enhance our spiritual practice.

If while in the throes of desire, you simply relax, without moving your attention, that space of the mind is called discriminating wisdom
You don’t abandon desire–instead you reveal its wisdom nature.
– Chagdud Rinpoche

My heart is an hourglass filled with gunpowder, and at any given moment some wild spark is gonna blow me sky high so, I don’t know, maybe this is why I love the way I do, with teeth and swallow and song and snarl and water and sparkle and consequence.
– Rachel Wiley

A Tendency To Shine
If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume your
mind’s clothing with more sooty knowledge. No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.
For God is in a mood to plunder your riches
and fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.
So don’t just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with. Jump now into the space
between thoughts and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.
– Adyashanti, My Secret is Silence

Form your letters carefully and well.
Making things carefully
Is more important than making them.
– Antonio Machado

Many of us believe
we’re not capable of the deep spirituality
that mystics experience. Is the best we can hope for an occasional moment of peace
in nature, or with friends, or at church, synagogue, mosque or on a meditation cushion? What if we’re all actually natural mystics in waiting?

Brother Wayne Teasdale writes in The Mystic Heart, “We are all mystics!” and “We need to understand, to really grasp at an elemental level, that the definitive revolution is the spiritual awakening of human kind. This revolution will be the task of the inter-spiritual age. The necessary shifts in consciousness require a new approach to spirituality that transcends past religious cultures of fragmentation and isolation.”

The great hope Teasdale pointed to is coming to fruition today as the world’s contemplatives meet with neuroscience scientists, and psychotherapists. Simultaneously, the principles and essential methods of realizing and activating spiritual awakening are beginning to become simpler and more effective.

Though we’ve invested centuries in developing our intellect to create tremendous modern advances, we’re beginning to realize that the next stage of development for humankind is to discover a non-conceptual unitive awareness and to drop into the wisdom of the heart. Mysticism is not regressing back to a child-like primitive state. Mystical awareness is actually a progressive type of unity consciousness that includes and also transcends our everyday mind.

The direct path wisdom traditions have reported that this spirit, sometimes called unitive awareness, is equally available to each of us and within each of us, and also as each of us. The radical message of mysticism is that we don’t have to wait for the spirit, earn grace, or create a new awareness. Instead, unitive awareness is already here. It’s more a matter of learning how to perceive it, accept it, and live from it. If we don’t consider ourselves mystics already, then maybe we can begin to see ourselves as potential mystics, and if we choose, mystics in training.

If this unitive awareness is indeed already here, why do so many of us miss it? One reason is because the spirit, or unitive awareness, is not a thing; its essential nature has no shape, size, or color. Renowned anthropologist Emile Durkheim believed that human beings developed religions through their perception of the sacred, “a superior realm, impalpable through the five senses but one that can nevertheless be experienced.” In one Buddhist model of consciousness, we have our five senses but then thinking is considered our sixth sense. One of the doors to mystical perception is to discover what or who these six senses appear to, and then develop a seventh sense of unitive awareness.

Hindu wisdom traditions from India identify four natural states of consciousness. The first three we all know very well:

ego-consciousness, or our everyday waking state.

The second is sleep,

and the third is dream and daydream.

The fourth natural state is unitive awareness, called turiya in Sanskrit.

In Tibetan Buddhism, this natural ground of our being is called Rigpa, or awake awareness. But once we know how, we can experience unitive awareness just as naturally as we experience the other three states. Unfortunately, this reality that is so important and so precious is not included in our Western psychological map. Though awake awareness may seem like a new experience, it’s not an altered state. We come to realize that the everyday point of view of the ego-identification is actually the altered state. We can then recognize a natural state of awake unitive awareness and begin to de-hypnotize ourselves from the trance of self-centeredness. By shifting awake awareness from the background to the foreground, we arrive at our natural condition, or what Zen Buddhists call ordinary mind or heart-mind.

Becoming familiar with this fourth natural state leads to a discovery of our basic nature, not just as a state, but as a stage of our basic condition. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, said, “It is when we distinguish ‘unitive awareness’ from ‘consciousness’ that the ongoing construction of the false self ceases.”

One way we know that a natural awareness is always present is through those whose ego-identification has been dissolved or blown apart by tragedy or severe overwhelm. Many of these people report that in the midst of their extreme experience, a unitive awareness is revealed to be naturally functioning like our breath or our heartbeat. But we don’t have to wait for tragedy to strike to know this. We can learn to intentionally discover the anatomy of awareness. Unitive awareness is not esoteric or reserved for the Olympic athletes of meditation, but in fact is teachable and learnable. There isn’t one way, method, or tradition that’s best for all, but we’re finding certain principles and pathways to learn and unlearn that make unitive awareness more accessible. We’re developing modern mystical practices in dialogue with ancient methods, such as “infused contemplation” in Christianity, “just sitting” in Zen, and “resting in the arms of god” in the Sufi tradition, and also “awareness of awareness” and “recognizing your own face” in Tibetan Buddhism.

Awake awareness can learn to know itself as formless and simultaneously arise as all forms. To illustrate this point, imagine you’re in the middle of a small storm cloud, trying to see clearly. No matter where you move or what you try to change within the cloud, you remain engulfed in fog. If, instead, you simply step out of the cloud, you’ll recognize that you actually have access to the clarity of the open sky. You’ll realize that the foundation of who you are is the sky and all its contents. Once you realize that the sky is all around and simultaneously within the cloud, you can return to the cloud without losing clarity. Similarly, when we feel alone in our heads, depressed, or upset, it’s as if we’re trapped inside the cloud of those thoughts and feelings. But unitive awareness can step back and recognize itself as the vast sky of formless awareness. When we embrace this vast, open-sky awareness, we can enter any emotional storm, pattern, or story without becoming re-identified with it. We no longer need to remain outside as a witness. When this open sky of awareness is the ground of our being—the place where we are knowing from, it naturally includes everything from within and reveals the natural unity with everyone and everything. After all, no storm ever hurt the sky. And sky permeates even the thickest, darkest cloud.

This discovery of awake awareness as out ground not only leads to individual awakening from the sleepy world of the egoic view, but it reveals the interconnectedness of us all with each other, nature, and life itself. This kind of natural mysticism reflects the union of contemplation and action. And this shift of perception is also a shift in identity as we become part of a greater whole, the same world family. Though we retain our uniqueness, we realize we’re all of the same essential nature. And so, unitive awareness is the starting point for conflict resolution, cooperation, and mutual love and respect between all of humankind.
– Loch Kelly

What precisely was this teaching? It was, Bourgeault concludes, a teaching which belonged to the tradition of conscious self-transformation which is specifically carried in the three Gnostic gospels of Thomas, Philip and Mary. Whereas the canonical gospels emphasize “right belief” as the basis for salvation, these three wisdom gospels all place their emphasis on “right practice”. In her view, there is no doubt that what Jesus and Mary Magdalene were both teaching was the methodology of “right practice”. This practice could, in time, lead to the opening of “the eye of the heart” —an organ of spiritual perception which, as Bourgeault wonderfully describes it, acts like “a vibrant resonant field” aligning us with a deeper dimension of reality, bringing together the finite and the infinite, so that we act from the underlying unitive ground, “that place of oneness before the opposites arise.”
– Anne Baring

…And there, in the wilderness of oblivion, she waits for us to look for her. “Wisdom, where will you find her?” asked Job. “The eagle knows not the path to her whereabouts, nor have the eyes of the falcon seen her. The proud beasts have not walked the road leading to her, nor have the lions come across her along their trodden paths. The sea says ‘She is not with me,’ and although no one can fathom her vastness, she is nowhere to be found in the Land of the Living” (Job 28:7-14).

We’ve sapped her of her strength and run off with all that she’s ever given us over the millennia, gluttonously misusing her endowments for the realization of our own dreams and agendas in complete disregard of hers. And so, while she still speaks to us and through us, she no longer does so with the clarity of Truth which was once her forte. For The Spirit lies when we can’t accept her truth. And when truth weakens, clarity blurs, and the world becomes engulfed in slander, distortion and utter confusion. Again, and hear this clearly: when we will not allow her to tell us what she wants to say, she will say only what we want to hear.

The battery is running low, the flame is flickering; the breath is weakening. It is up to you and me to rise up and take a stand. To participate. I urge you and myself to go that extra mile or centimeter for the Other. Leave the toilet seat down. Reach beyond your comfort zone to breathe the Breath of Life into the nostrils of your friend, your lover, your pet rabbit, yourself. Hover. Turn your back to the lies; run as fast as your feet or wheel-chair will carry you away from mouth-foaming hatred that masquerades as virtue. Leap off the majority-fueled bandwagons of self-righteous indignation and cast a smile toward a stranger at the market. Rekindle The Spirit so that The Spirit will hover once again as the great eagle she once was. Show her your sincerity and commitment to actively participate with her in the celebration and ennoblement of this beautiful life and all of its mind-blowing trimmings. Restore her to her station as Spirit of the Day. Then: “will she become strengthened and she will become healed and eternal joy shall be restored onto her” (Early 15th-century Hebrew hymn, Yedid Nefesh) and thus onto you as well. Then will the feathers of the Great Eagle become renewed and she will once again soar to the highest of heights while diving into the deepest of depths to become again the sacred kiss of heaven and earth, the colorful weave of spirit and matter, the intimate union of Creator and Creation. Then shall the Wisdom that made you and the wisdom that you are become one. Then will She’cheenah become a reality for us rather than a clique New-Agey catchphrase cast about with glib random. Then shall “Truth sprout forth from out of the earth and Rightness restored from out of the heavens” (Psalms 85:12).
– Gershon Winkler

To the othered, forgotten, marginalized, cast aside, hurt, oppressed, depressed, anxious, human hard truths, underdogs, buried, and misunderstood, I will advocate for you.

I’m sorry you’ve been hurt by carelessness. We can all do better.
– Airea D Matthews

We should never want to tell all there is to tell about it.
– Gaston Bachelard

If you’re real honest with yourself
you will find that most people
are interested in improving their humanhood. They want to become better human beings. They want to improve their affairs, their health, their finances, their positions, their status.
And of course you realize this
is the wrong reason for coming here
[to Satsang].

We’re not interested in your humanhood,
for the premise of this teaching
is you are inhuman. You are not your body,
nor your mind, nor are you the doer.

So, to improve your humanhood is folly.
You’re not trying to become
better human beings.
You’re trying to forget
that you are a human being
and focus your attention on your divinity,
on your Self, on the I-­am,
until your humanhood
has been transcended and transmuted.

That’s called liberation or awakening,
which is really your real nature.
Then you are free.

– Robert Adams

Thich Nhat Hanh:

I laugh when I think
how I once sought paradise
as a realm outside of the world of birth.
It is right in the world of birth and death
that the miraculous truth is revealed.
But this is not the laughter of someone
who suddenly acquires a great fortune;
neither is it the laughter of one
who has won a victory.

It is, rather, the laughter of one who;
after having painfully searched
for something for a long time,
finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

Poem of Regret for an Old Friend
What you did wasn’t so bad.
You stood in a small room, waiting for the sun.
At least you told yourself that.
I know it was small,
but there was something, a kind of pulped lemon,
at the low edge of the sky.

No, you’re right, it was terrible.
Terrible to live without love
in small rooms with vinyl blinds
listening to music secretly,
the secret music of one’s head
which can’t be shared.

A dream is the only way to breathe.
But you must
find a more useful way to live.
I suppose you’re right
this was a failure: to stand there
so still, waiting for—what?

When I think about this life,
the life you led, I think of England,
of secret gardens that never open,
and novels sliding off the bed
at night where the small handkerchief
of darkness settles over
one’s face.
– Meghan O’Rourke

If we regard knowledge as an antique, as ancient wisdom to be collected, then we are on the wrong path.
– Chögyam Trungpa

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
– Hannah Arendt

Maggie Smith:
Hear me out: a classic intervention show but for people who listen to sad sounds on repeat

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Do not think that you know.
– Zhuangzi

If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing.
– Dogen Zenji

She’s the only friend I’d skip school for.
– Malala Yousafzai: Speaking of Greta Thunberg

Don’t let your progress become pride.
– Zeeshan Pathan

If there is no freedom of expression, then the beauty of life is lost. Participation in a society is not an artistic choice, it’s a human need.
– Ai Weiwei

True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Circe
– H.D.
It was easy enough
to bend them to my wish,
it was easy enough
to alter them with a touch,
but you
adrift on the great sea,
how shall I call you back?

Cedar and white ash,
rock-cedar and sand plants
and tamarisk
red cedar and white cedar
and black cedar from the inmost forest,
fragrance upon fragrance
and all of my sea-magic is for nought.

It was easy enough—
a thought called them
from the sharp edges of the earth;
they prayed for a touch,
they cried for the sight of my face,
they entreated me
till in pity
I turned each to his own self.

Panther and panther,
then a black leopard
follows close—
black panther and red
and a great hound,
a god-like beast,
cut the sand in a clear ring
and shut me from the earth,
and cover the sea-sound
with their throats,
and the sea-roar with their own barks
and bellowing and snarls,
and the sea-stars
and the swirl of the sand,
and the rock-tamarisk
and the wind resonance—
but not your voice.

It is easy enough to call men
from the edges of the earth.
It is easy enough to summon them to my feet
with a thought—
it is beautiful to see the tall panther
and the sleek deer-hounds
circle in the dark.

It is easy enough
to make cedar and white ash fumes
into palaces
and to cover the sea-caves
with ivory and onyx.

But I would give up
rock-fringes of coral
and the inmost chamber
of my island palace
and my own gifts
and the whole region
of my power and magic
for your glance.

Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego.
– Eckhart Tolle

claire schwartz:
translation teaches me so much about revision—how to carry what has been across to a new home, the possibility of that, the violence

a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
alone
she must know
the voices of mountains
she must recognize
the foreverness of blue sky
she must flow
with the elusive
bodies
of night winds
who will take her
into herself”
– Joy Harjo, Fire

Words have loyalties
to so much
we don’t control.
Each word we write
rights itself
according to poles
we can’t see
[…]It’s hard for us
to imagine how small
a part we play in
holding up the tall
spires we believe
our minds erect.
Then North shifts
[…]and we suspect.
– Kay Ryan

Ethan Nichtern:
That beautiful balance of humility and confidence.

That place where you don’t try to take power away from others, and you don’t let anyone take your power either.

In meditation it’s called “holding your seat.”

It’s everything I aspire to practice.

Literature is dialogue; responsiveness. Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another.-
– Susan Sontag

You might say the poem is a semicolon, a living semicolon, what connects the first line to the last, the act of keeping together that whose nature is to fly apart.
– Mary Ruefle

The impulse to create begins—often terribly & fearfully—in a tunnel of silence. Every real poem is the breaking of an existing silence, & the first question we might ask any poem is, What kind of voice is breaking silence, & what kind of silence is being broken?
– Adrienne Rich

Terence McKenna:
Do you think you are repeating the lifestyles and algorithms of your parents and grandparents ad infinitum back to Adam, or do you feel like you stepped to the front of the train of human evolution, that you are making yourself new every day?

Ethan Nichtern:
The Socialism/Capitalism question is frankly, annoying, given that each word is just used as a wedge by a certain group of people to otherize another group who are probably allies, and neither word is used as originally defined in modern political discussions.

Maggie Smith:
Even when—especially when—life feels cloudy, do your best to see yourself clearly. Try to articulate what inspires you vs. what shuts you down, what excites you, what scares you. When you think about what you want and why, you’re confronting who you are. Start there. Keep moving.

The first named author in history was a lunar priestess.
– Edward Brooke-Hitching, The Sky Atlas

George Harrison:

Forgive me lord

Please, those years when I ignored you, hmm
Forgive them lord
Those that feel they can’t afford you, hmm
Help me lord, please
To rise above this dealing, hmm
Help me lord, please
To love you with more feeling, hmm
At both ends of the road
To the left and the right
Above and below us
Out and in, there’s no place that you’re not in
Oh, won’t you hear me lord
Help me lord, please
To rise a little higher, hmm
Help me lord, please
To burn out this desire, hmm
Hear me lord, please[X2]

Oh, won’t you please, please
Hear me lord
Oh, hear me lord
Hear me lord

Alpha Step
BY JACK UNDERWOOD
A change to my usual sleeping position,
earth holding me close
like I’m something that it loves.
I feel a murmur through the hedgerow,
old gods thawing from the permafrost.
Only a matter of time
before an Empire falls
into the hands of an idiot
and there are more ways of saying things
than things worth saying;
only a matter of  love to steer the wind,
which batters us daily, this only life
that climbs beyond unfashionable
beginnings, leaving us leaving it,
breathless software, a bite taken out
of the grand old narrative,
while our ghosts refuel midair.
Deep time. Lovely time.
The human print will not survive.
I mean like, woo, there it was.

In the journal I do not just express myself
more openly than I could to any person;
I create myself.
The journal is a vehicle
for my sense of selfhood.
It represents me
as emotionally and spiritually independent.
Therefore (alas) it does not simply record
my actual, daily life but rather—
in many cases—
offers an alternative to it.
– Susan Sontag

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

The world presents itself in two ways to me. The world as a thing I own, the world as a mystery I face. What I own is a trifle, what I face is sublime. I am careful not to waste what I own; I must learn not to miss what I face.
We manipulate what is available on the surface of the world; we must also stand in awe before the mystery of the world. We objectify Being but we also are present at Being in wonder, in radical amazement.
All we have is a sense of awe and radical amazement in the face of a mystery that staggers our ability to sense it.
. . .
Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding, insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe.
Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple: to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

I would say about individuals, an individual dies when he ceases to be surprised. I am surprised every morning that I see the sunshine again. When I see an act of evil, I am not accommodated. I don’t accommodate myself to the violence that goes on everywhere; I’m still surprised. That’s why I’m against it, why I can hope against it. We must learn how to be surprised, not to adjust ourselves. I am the most maladjusted person in society.
– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

In the future a training in seership might lead to a revolution in human knowledge.

Try to become the master of your vision, and seek for and evoke the greatest of earth memories, not those things which only satisfy curiosity, but those which uplift and inspire, and give us a vision of our own greatness; and the noblest of all Earth’s memories is the august ritual of the ancient mysteries, where the mortal, amid scenes of unimaginable grandeur, was disrobed of his mortality and made of the company of the gods.
– A. E. (G. W. Russell)

An interesting perspective from Rev. Jim Rigby:
SAY THE WORD
We had a great conversation yesterday about the word “socialism.” Some said, understandably, that it is politically unwise to use that word. That may be true politically, but I am not a politician. As a minister my first duty is to break trances.
As a minister I tried for years to advocate for LGBTQ people. The congregation nodded comfortably so long as I spoke in soothing euphemisms. Eventually, I realized, if I really loved the people I was speaking to, I needed to disturb the peace by saying the actual words “homosexual,” “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” and “transgender.” As soon as I began to say the actual words that triggered people, I had charges filed against me within the denomination. People disagreed, but now they understood what I was trying to say. Now there was a chance of real understanding.
Remember the wounded white privilege that erupted when activists began to say the words, “Black Lives Matter?” Because much of our prejudice is unconscious, avoiding certain words can result in a false sense of agreement. As long as white people reserve the words “racist” or “white supremacists” for people with hoods on their heads we can remain in a trance where everything is understood through a vocabulary that hides how we are privileging ourselves over others.
For years I spoke about respect for women’s rights, but until I used the word “abortion” from the pulpit, we were in false agreement. As long as I confined myself to words that were comfortable within the patriarchy I wasn’t really doing anything to break the trance.
Please feel free to disagree with me, but I believe capitalism is a trance in this culture. I can’t think of any other reason why good people would consent to poisoning the drinking water of poor people with our waste. I can’t imagine any other reason we would shrug off an estimated 68,000 people who will die each year from lack of health care in the richest nation on earth. I can’t think of any other reason why we are sitting by passively as our planet is turned into a desert in the name of “moderation” and “incremental change.”
When we can’t say certain words, we probably can’t think certain thoughts. If we are triggered by the word “socialism” that should tell us something. By only using words that are comfortable within the framework of capitalism, we are reduced to using a vocabulary that measures the worth of everything by its exchange value, not for its intrinsic worth.
It is better for people to understand what we are saying and get mad at us than to forge a false agreement by agreeing to never really say what we mean. We have to love each other enough to risk losing each other’s favor. We all want a better world, but we can only get there by breaking our trances, and to do that we have to say the words.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
At night, it is good to examine
what you have thought and done
during the day, and to confess your faults
and unconsidered actions and repair them.
Tell yourself that, having encountered a teacher
and received his instructions,
you know better than to behave in that way.
As for your positive actions,
dedicate the merit to all beings
and vow to improve on them the following day.

I’ll read my books and I’ll drink coffee
and I’ll listen to music, and I’ll bolt the door.
– J.D. Salinger

The account of our experiences, the record of debit and credit, is reflected in the amount of trust or distrust we display towards life and humanity. There are those who maintain that the good is within our reach everywhere; you have but to stretch out your arms and you will grasp it. But there are others who, intimidated by fraud and ugliness, sense scorn and ambushes everywhere and misgive all things to come. Those who trust develop a finer sense for the good, even at the hight cost of blighted hopes.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

Chekhov said: let’s put God—
and all these grand progressive ideas—
to one side.
Let’s begin with man;
let’s be kind and attentive to the individual man—
whether he’s a bishop, a peasant, an industrial magnate,
a convict in the Sakhalin Islands,
or a waiter in a restaurant.
Let’s begin with respect, compassion,
and love for the individual—
or we’ll never get anywhere.
– Vasily Grossman, Life and fate

In the beginning, the natural law was given to the original people. It is written in the colors – it is written on the stone and in the water, in the colors of the rocks and the land, the colors of the oceans and the rivers and the snows, the colors of the plants and the trees, the colors of the birds and the animals and the fishes, and the colors of the people – the white people, the brown people, the black people, the red people, the yellow people and the peoples of all colors in between. The Younger Brother can learn to read the colors – with much spiritual work and effort.
– the Mamo Elder of the Arhuaco

The only evil is inattention. It is the father of stupidity and the grandfather of the twins: suffering and sorrow.

El único mal es la falta de atención. Es el padre de la estupidez y el abuelo de los gemelos: el sufrimiento y la tristeza.
– Wu Hsin

Making Peace
A voice from the dark called out,
‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.
– Denise Levertov

Dream Song No. 382
– John Berryman

At Henry’s bier let some thing fall out well:
enter there none who somewhat has to sell,
the music ancient & gradual,
the voices solemn but the grief subdued,
no hairy jokes but everybody’s mood
subdued, subdued,

until the Dancer comes, in a short short dress
hair black & long & loose, dark dark glasses,
uptilted face,
pallor & strangeness, the music changes
to ‘Give!’ & ‘Ow!’ and how! the music changes,
she kicks a backward limb

on tiptoe, pirouettes, & she is free
to the knocking music, sails, dips, & suddenly
returns to the terrible gay
occasion hopeless & mad, she weaves, it’s hell,
she flings to her head a leg, bobs, all is well,
she dances Henry away.

Dream Song No. 340
–John Berryman

The secret is not praise. It’s just being accepted
at something like the figure where you put your worth
anywhere on the bloody earth,
especially abroad. We must keep our spirits up
anyhow. Of course, praise is nice too,
particularly when it comes to a stop.

When it comes to a stop, so one can think ‘Yes, that happened.’
It’s not so good while going on: an element of incredulity
enters & dominates.
The shadows of the grey ash on my page,
I can’t get out of this either to youth or age,
I’m stuck with middle.

Such hard work demands such international thanks
besides better relations with one’s various banks,
slightly better.
So many have forgotten me, I forget some
and there will never come a congregation
to see needing Henry home.

Dream Song No. 305
– John Berryman

Like the sunburst up the white breast of a black-footed penguin
amid infinite quantities of gin
Henry perceived his subject.
It came nearer, like a guilty bystander,
stood close, leaving no room to ponder,
Mickey Mouse & The Tiger on the table.

Leaving the ends aft open, touch the means,
whereby we ripen. Touch by all means the means
whereby we come to life,
enduring the manner for the matter, ay
I sing quickly, offered Henry, I
sing more quickly.

I sing with infinite slowness finite pain
I have reached into the corner of my brain
to have it out.
I sat by fires when I was young, & now
I’m not I sit by fires again, although
I do it more slowly.

Thou hast to learn to bear all the gods within thee and never stagger with their inrush or break under their burden.
– Sri Aurobindo

Anne Heaton:
Lying on a yoga mat today, I had this beautiful vision of the democratic candidates just stopping the what’s expected of them behavior and standing in a circle and going around and each person sharing what they thought each other candidate’s strengths were. I think so and so is really good at the details, or has incredible vision or truly cares about people etc. And then after they had listed their colleagues’ attributes and what they thought each could bring to the table, they would end with themselves and say: lastly here’s what I would bring, this is why I think I’m good. I’ve always liked reverse negotiation and courtesy and love and appreciation being expressed and I think it might be nice. Honestly I don’t think it would change the outcome, we’d all just feel a lot better.

I am one of those who would bring back the old reverence for the Mother, the magic, the love. I think, metaphysician, you have gone astray. You would seek within yourself for the fountain of life. Yes, there is the true, the only light. But do not dream it will lead you further away from the earth, but rather deeper into its heart. By it you are nourished with those living waters you would drink. You are yet in the womb and unborn, and the Mother breathes for thee the diviner airs.
– A.E. George William Russell

Whatever limited and unstable talents you may have, there is absolutely no reason to feel proud of them. As the saying goes, ‘Just as water never collects on top of a mountain peak, true worth never collects on top of the crag of pride.’ Pride stops you developing devotion, wisdom, or compassion; it closes you off from the teacher’s blessings and impedes all progress on the path. So, to avoid the dangers of pride, it is important to examine yourself honestly.

If you analyze pride carefully, you will find that it is not inherent in whatever you feel proud of, but is produced by the grasping mind. If you always stick to a modest position and keep your mind humble, pride will vanish like morning mist. A mind free of the grip of pride remains always in Chenrezi’s wisdom of essential sameness.
– Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

FLOWERS WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU
by Natalie Shapero

The river is heavy with phosphorus and scum.
It causes liver damage if ingested.
I don’t know exactly whose runoff it is, but so long
as they’re taking press photos with prize-winning
children and donating sizeable
sums to the ballet, I take no issue. River’s yours.

Once I saw a guy struggling to talk his way out
of some base thing he’d done, and his underwhelmed
companion said to him FLOWERS
WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU? Now I say it

all the time. The councilman announces he’s sorry
for taking advantage of the district’s trust,
or the paper issues the mother
of all retractions, and I’m right there at the window,
readying myself for the knock and the spray
of larkspur and tea rose. You shouldn’t have.

Not for Happiness

The aim of far too many teachings these days is to make people “feel good,” and even some Buddhist masters are beginning to sound like New Age apostles.

Their talks are entirely devoted to validating the manifestation of ego and endorsing the “rightness” of our feelings, neither of which have anything to do with the teachings we find in the pith instructions. So if you are only concerned about feeling good, you are far better off having a full body massage or listening to some uplifting or life affirming music than receiving dharma teachings, which were definitely not designed to cheer you up. On the contrary, the dharma was devised specifically to expose your failings and make you feel awful.

Try reading The Words of My Perfect Teacher. If you find it depressing, if Patrul Rinpoche’s disconcerting truths rattle your worldly self confidence, be happy. It is a sign that at long last you are beginning to understand something about the dharma. And by the way, to feel depressed is not always a bad thing. It is completely understandable for someone feel depressed and deflated when their most humiliating failing is exposed. Who wouldn’t feel a bit raw in such a situation? But isn’t it better to be painfully aware of a failing rather than utterly oblivious to it? If a flaw in your character remains hidden, how can you do anything about it? So although pith instructions might temporarily depress you, they will also help uproot your shortcomings by dragging them into the open. This is what is meant by the phrase “dharma penetrating your mind,” or, as the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye put it, “the practice of dharma bearing fruit,” rather than the so-called good experiences too many of us hope for, such as good dreams, blissful sensations, ecstasy, clairvoyance, or the enhancement of intuition…

Patrul Rinpoche said there is no such thing as a person who has perfected both dharma practice and worldly life, and if we ever meet someone who appears to be good at both, the likelihood is that his or her skills are grounded in worldly values.

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.

Kongtrul Rinpoche suggested we pray to the guru, buddhas, and bodhisattvas and ask them to grant their blessings, “So I may give birth to the heart of sadness.” But what is a “heart of sadness”? Imagine one night you have a dream. Although it is a good dream, deep down you know that eventually you will have to wake up and it will be over. In life, too, sooner or later, whatever the state of our relationships, our health, our jobs, and every aspect of our lives, everything, absolutely everything, will change. And the little bell ringing in the back of your head to remind you of this inevitability is what is called the “heart of sadness.” Life, you realize, is a race against time, and you should never put off dharma practice until next year, next month, or tomorrow—because the future may never happen.

This race-against-time kind of attitude is so important, especially when it comes to practice. My own experience has shown me that promising myself I will start to practice next week more or less guarantees that I will never get around to it. And I don’t think I am alone. So once you understand that real dharma practice is not just about formal sitting meditation but a never-ending confrontation with and opposition to pride and ego, as well as a lesson in how to accept change, you will be able to start practicing right away. For example, imagine you are sitting on a beach admiring the sunset. Nothing terrible has happened and you are content, even happy. Then suddenly that little bell starts to ring in your head, reminding you that this could be the last sunset you ever see. You realize that, were you to die, you might not be reborn with the ability to appreciate a sunset, let alone the capacity to understand what a sunset is, and this thought alone helps you focus your mind on practice.

A sincere wish to practice the dharma is not born of a desire for personal happiness or to be perceived as a “good” person, but neither do we practice because we want to be unhappy or become “bad” people. A genuine aspiration to practice dharma arises from the longing to attain enlightenment.

By and large, human beings tend to prefer to fit into society by following accepted rules of etiquette and being gentle, polite, and respectful. The irony is that this is also how most people imagine a spiritual person should behave. When a so-called dharma practitioner is seen to behave badly, we shake our heads over her audacity at presenting herself as a follower of the Buddha. Yet such judgments are better avoided, because to “fit in” is not what a genuine dharma practitioner strives for. Think of the great mahasiddha Tilopa, for example. He looked so outlandish that if he turned up on your doorstep today, odds are you would refuse to let him in. And you would have a point. He would most probably be almost completely naked; if you were lucky, he might be sporting some kind of G-string; his hair would never have been introduced to shampoo; and protruding from his mouth would quiver the tail of a live fish. What would your moral judgment be of such a being? “Him! A Buddhist? But he’s tormenting that poor creature by eating it alive!” This is how our theistic, moralistic, and judgmental minds work. In fact, they work in a very similar way to those of the world’s more puritanical and destructive religions. Of course, there is nothing necessarily wrong with morality, but the point of spiritual practice, according to the Vajrayana teachings, is to go beyond all our concepts, including those of morality.

Right now the majority of us can only afford to be slightly nonconformist, yet we should aspire to be like Tilopa. We should pray that one day we will have the courage to be just as crazy by daring to go beyond the eight worldly dharmas—happiness and suffering, fame and insignificance, praise and blame, gain and loss—and care not one jot about whether or not we are praised or criticized. In today’s world, such an attitude is the ultimate craziness. More than ever, people expect to be happy when they are admired and praised, and unhappy when derided and criticized. So it is unlikely that those who want the world to perceive them as sane will risk flying from the nest of the eight worldly dharmas. Sublime beings, though, couldn’t care less either way, and that is why, from our mundane point of view, they are considered crazy.

If worldly happiness is not the goal of dharma, then what is it that prompts a person to want to practice? Chances are that stepping onto a spiritual path would not even occur to a person who is rich, enjoys their life, and has a strong sense of personal security. Of course all of us, even the rich, experience moments of sadness and hopelessness, and we may even momentarily feel the urge to turn our backs on all this world has to offer. But this is not a genuine experience of renunciation mind, as it has far more to do with weariness and boredom than renunciation; it is often a sign that, like a spoiled child tired of his toys, we are in desperate need of a change.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye said that if deep down you continue to believe a tiny corner of samsara could be useful or that it might even offer the ultimate solution to all your worldly problems, it will be extremely difficult to become a genuine spiritual seeker. To believe that life’s problems will somehow work themselves out, that everything bad is fixable, and that something about samsara has to be worth fighting for, makes it virtually impossible to nurture a genuine, all-consuming desire to practice the dharma. The only view that truly works for a dharma practitioner is that there are no solutions to the sufferings of samsara and it cannot be fixed.

It is vital to understand that however positive this worldly life, or even a small part of it, may appear to be, ultimately it will fail because absolutely nothing genuinely works in samsara. This is a very difficult attitude to adopt, but if we can at least accept it on an intellectual level, it will provide us with just the incentive we need to step onto the spiritual path. (Other incentives include making fools of ourselves or becoming entangled in worldly systems by trying to fix them.) The bottom line, though, is that only when a beginner truly appreciates just how hopeless and purposeless samsara really is will a genuine aspiration to follow a spiritual path arise in his or her mind.

As Shakyamuni Buddha, compassionately and with great courage, explained to an autocratic king, there are four inescapable realities that eventually destroy all sentient beings:
1.We will all become old and frail.
2.It is absolutely certain that everything will constantly change.
3.Everything we achieve or accumulate will eventually fall apart and scatter.
4.We are all bound to die.

Yet our emotions and habits are so strong that even when the truth is staring us in the face, we are unable to see it.

In addition to recognizing the futility of samsara, the point of dharma practice is that it penetrates our minds and diminishes our affection for our ego and worldly life by pressing us to detach ourselves from the eight worldly dharmas. However beneficial a practice appears to be, however politically correct or exciting, if it does not contradict your habit of grasping at permanence, or looks harmless but insidiously encourages you to forget the truth of impermanence and the illusory nature of phenomena, it will inevitably take you in the opposite direction of dharma.

Most of us tend to resent being confronted with the truth, and from resentment springs denial. The most obvious example is that we feel annoyed when we are forced to acknowledge the illusory nature of our lives and the reality of death. We also take exception to contemplating it, even though death is an irrefutable universal truth. Our habitual reaction is to pretend it will never happen—which is how we deal with most of the other inconvenient truths we find difficult to stomach.

Instead of becoming resentful, though, it is important for any- one who sincerely wishes to become a dharma practitioner to develop a willingness and openness to embrace the truth, because the dharma is the truth. The Buddha himself made no bones about it. He never once provided his students with rose-tinted glasses to take the edge off the horror of the truth of impermanence, the agonies that are “emotion,” the illusory nature of our world, and, above all, the vast and profound truth of shunyata, emptiness. None of these truths is easy to understand, or even to aspire to understand, particularly for minds programmed by habit to long for emotional satisfaction and aim for ordinary bliss. So if someone is able to hear teachings about emptiness and tolerate them intellectually as well as practically and emotionally, it is an indication that they have a real affinity for the dharma.

Many of us feel spiritually impoverished. Kongtrul Rinpoche said this is because we never stop desiring comfort and happiness. Until that kind of poverty mentality is overcome, a large portion of our mind will always be busy trying to secure personal comfort and happiness, making letting go of anything at all extremely difficult. Even those who present themselves as spiritual practitioners will find it impossible to make the superhuman effort necessary.

The problem here is that on a superficial, worldly level, everything spiritual, especially the buddhadharma, appears to be utterly useless and a complete waste of time. We are practical beings who like to build houses so we can be comfortable and happy, and to put our resources into erecting a stupa with no bedroom or toilet or anything functional in it strikes us as being wasteful. But as Kongtrul Rinpoche pointed out, clinging to the merest hint of an idea that worldly values and ideals might somehow be useful makes it extremely hard for anyone to tackle something as apparently futile as spiritual practice. And cutting the ties of the habits that bind us to worldly values, especially when it comes to material wealth, is virtually impossible. “Wealth,” from an authentic dharma perspective, is understood entirely differently. For a dharma practitioner, wealth is not gold, silver, or a healthy bank account; wealth is contentment—the feeling that you have enough and need nothing more.

As the Buddha said in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (Diamond Sutra), “Like a star, hallucination, candle, magical illusion, dewdrop, bubble, dream, lightning, or a cloud—know all compounded phenomena to be like this.”

From a Buddhist point of view, each aspect and moment of our lives is an illusion. According to the Buddha, it’s like seeing a black spot in the sky that you are unable to make sense of, then concentrating on it intensely until finally you are able to make out a flock of birds. It is like hearing a perfect echo that sounds exactly like a real person shouting back at you. Life is nothing more than a continuous stream of sensory illusions, from the obvious ones, like fame and power, to those less easy to discern, like death, nosebleeds, and headaches. Tragically, though, most human beings believe in what they see, and so the truth Buddha exposed about the illusory nature of life can be a little hard to swallow.

What happens once we know that everything we see and experience is an illusion? And what is left once those illusions have been liberated? To be liberated from illusion is to dispel all the limitations that false perception brings and entirely transform our attitude. So “liberate” means to be released from the delusion of imagining illusions to be real. But crucially, we have to want to be liberated; we have to want to become enlightened. And it is only once we develop a genuine longing for enlightenment that, almost automatically, we start to learn how not to want to be ambitious in a worldly sense. Such a longing is not easy to generate, but without it, to step aimlessly onto the spiritual path would be utterly pointless.

Millions of people in this world are interested in some version of meditation, or yoga, or one of the many so-called spiritual activities that are now so widely marketed. A closer look at why people engage in these practices reveals an aim that has little to do with liberation from delusion and has everything do to with their desperation to escape busy, unhappy lives, and heartfelt longing for a healthy, stress-free, happy life. All of which are romantic illusions.

So where do we find the roots of these illusions? Mainly in our habitual patterns and their related actions. Of course, no one of sound mind imagines any of us would willingly live an illusion. But we are contrary beings, and even though we are convinced we would shun a life built on self-deception, we continue to maintain a strong grip on the habits that are the cause of count- less delusions. Small wonder the great masters of the past have said that although everyone longs to be free from suffering, most of us simply won’t let go of it; although no one wants to suffer, we find it almost impossible not to be attracted to samsara.

Most of us know that aggression is a problem, as are pride and jealousy, but the truth is that all emotions cause problems one way or another and each has a distinctive character. “Passion,” for example, is starkly different from “aggression.” Fundamentally, though, all emotions spring from one basic source, distraction.

What is “distraction”? Clearly, it is not merely the sound of a chainsaw firing up or blaring Bollywood music that interrupts our meditation practice. On a more profound level, distraction is any of the emotional responses we are sidetracked by—for example, hope for praise and fear of blame, as well as its more subtle manifestations, like being spaced-out, distracted, lost in thought, or worked up.

Since our fundamental problem is distraction, its fundamental solution is to be mindful. There are an infinite number of methods for developing mindfulness that all fall into one of two categories: shamatha or vipashyana. The point of shamatha practice is to make mind malleable. But a pliant mind alone will not uproot samsara completely; we also need to see the truth, which is why vipashyana, or insight, practice is so crucial.

Unfortunately, though, mindfulness is difficult, mostly because we lack the enthusiasm to develop it but also because our habit of longing for distraction is both deeply ingrained and extremely tenacious. It is therefore vital for a dharma practitioner to develop renunciation mind and to recognize the defects of samsara, both of which lie at the core of the Buddhist approach to training the mind.

The masters of the past suggest we should constantly remind ourselves about: the imminence of death; the futility of our worldly activities; and the worst news of all, that there is no end to samsara’s sufferings. Just look around you and you will see that the world never ceases to churn out more and more of the same thing, and that the result is unremitting pain and unbearable suffering. It’s no surprise, then, as the great masters have pointed out, that to maintain mindfulness for as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea accumulates more merit than years of practicing generosity, discipline, and asceticism.

– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

The inner and outer realms are coming closer together, as are the personal and the collective. We are engaged in a profound process together of helping to reconnect human civilization with the natural intelligence of life, and this project has become in our times not some esoteric fantasy but an evolutionary imperative. We will not be able to engineer our way out of our multi-faceted systemic challenges while remaining in our current default consciousness of separation. Only through a profound re-alignment of human culture with the whole of life will we be able to access and embody the holistic solution patterns for the meta-crisis.
– David Nicol

Some books are toolkits you take up to fix things, from the most practical to the most mysterious, from your house to your heart, or to make things, from cakes to ships. Some books are wings… Some books are medicine, bitter but clarifying.
– Rebecca Solnit

The poet in us is not only committed to the deepest form of feeling, seeing, and hearing, but also committed to learning from those who feel, see, and hear more deeply.
– Mark Nepo

The Stranger

Something has carried me
into a new place,
a country where
I have not been before,
a language
I do not know.

This dervish on the screen
now turning in my heart,
spinning me
into newness.

This music from
an unnamed source,
its drumbeat of
unity and love.

These leaves trembling
on the tree nearby––
now they are me,
now they have invaded
and overthrown
what I thought I was,
boundaries dissolved,
cells all given way,
faded into
this familiar stranger
I have become.

– Dorothy Walters

It is rare that I
have to stop eating anything
because I have run out of it.

We, in the West, eat until we want
to eat something else,
or want to stop eating altogether.

The chef of a great kitchen
uses only small plates.

He puts a small plate in front of me,
knowing I will hunger on for it
even as the next plate is being
placed in front of me.

But each plate obliterates the last
until I no longer mourn the destroyed plate,

but only mewl for the next,
my voice flat with comfort and faith.

And the chef is God,
whose faithful want only the destruction
of His prior miracles to make way
for new ones.

– Max Ritvo

The Birth of a Planet

At first silence and then an inner music, and then the sounds of song throughout the vastness of its orbit grew as many in number as there were stars at gaze. Avenues and vistas of sound! They reeled to and fro. They poured from a universal stillness quick with unheard things. They rushed forth and broke into myriad voices joyous with childhood. From age and the eternal they rushed forth into youth. They filled the void with reveling and exultation. In rebellion they then returned and entered the dreadful Fountain. Again they came forth, and the sounds faded into whispers; they rejoiced once again, and again died into silence.

And now all around glowed a vast twilight; it filled the cradle of the planet with colorless fire. I felt a rippling motion which impelled me away from the center to the circumference. At that center a still flame began to lighten; a new change took place, and space began to curdle, a milky and nebulous substance rocked to and fro. At every motion the pulsation of its rhythm carried it farther and farther away from the center, it grew darker, and a great purple shadow covered it so that I could see it no longer. I was now on the outer verge, where the twilight still continued to encircle the planet with zones of clear transparent light.

As night after night I rose up to visit it they grew many-colored and brighter. I saw the imagination of nature visibly at work. I wandered through shadowy immaterial forests, a titanic vegetation built up of light and color; I saw it growing denser, hung with festoons and trailers of fire, and spotted with the light of myriad flowers such as earth never knew. Coincident with the appearance of these things I felt within myself, as if in harmonious movement, a sense of joyousness, an increase of self-consciousness; I felt full of gladness, youth, and the mystery of the new. I felt that greater powers were about to appear, those who had thrown outwards this world and erected it as a place in space.

I could not tell half the wonder of this strange race. I could not myself comprehend more than a little of the mystery of their being. They recognized my presence there, and communicated with me in such a way that I can only describe it by saying that they seemed to enter into my soul breathing a fiery life; yet I knew that the highest I could reach to was but the outer verge of their spiritual nature, and to tell you but a little I have many times to translate it, for in the first unity with their thought I touched on an almost universal sphere of life, I peered into the ancient heart that beats throughout time; and this knowledge became change in me, first, into a vast and nebulous symbology, and so down through many degrees of human thought into words which hold not at all the pristine and magical beauty.

I stood before one of this race, and I thought, “What is the meaning and end of life here?” Within me I felt the answering ecstasy that illuminated with vistas of dawn and rest, it seemed to say:

“Our spring and our summer are unfolding into light and form, and our autumn and winter are a fading into the infinite soul.”

I thought, “To what end is this life poured forth and withdrawn?”

He came nearer and touched me; once more I felt the thrill of being that changed itself into vision.

“The end is creation, and creation is joy: the One awakens out of quiescence as we come forth, and knows itself in us; as we return we enter it in gladness, knowing ourselves. After long cycles the world you live in will become like ours; it will be poured forth and withdrawn; a mystic breath, a mirror to glass your being.”

He disappeared…
In that world I dared not stay during its period of withdrawal; having entered a little into its life, I became subject to its laws: the Power on its return would have dissolved my being utterly. I felt with a wild terror its clutch upon me, and I withdrew from the departing glory, from the greatness that was my destiny-but not yet.

– AE George William Russel

RETROSPECT

Desire is hidden identity.

I felt the gaiety of childhood springing up through weariness and age, for to come into contact with that which is eternally young is to have that childhood of the spirit it must attain ere it can be molded by the Magician of the Beautiful and enter the House of Many Mansions.

While the child is still in its mother’s arms it is nourished by her, yet it does not know it is a mother which feeds it. It knows later in whose bosom it has lain. As the mother nourishes the body so the Mighty Mother nourishes the soul. Yet there are but few who pay reverence where reverence is due, and that is because this benign deity is like a mother who indulges the fancies of her children. With some she imparts life to their own thoughts. Others she endows with the vision of her own heart. Even of these last some love in silence, being afraid to speak of the majesty which smiled on them, and others deceived think with pride: “This vision is my own.”

As I walked in the evening down the lanes scented by the honeysuckle my senses were expectant of some unveiling about to take place, I felt that beings were looking in upon me out of the true home of man. They seemed to be saying to each other of us, “Soon they will awaken; soon they will come to us again,” and for a moment I almost seemed to mix with their eternity. The tinted air glowed before me with intelligible significance like a face, a voice. The visible world became like a tapestry blown and stirred by winds behind it. If it would but raise for an instant I knew I would be in Paradise. Every form on that tapestry appeared to be the work of gods. Every flower was a word, a thought. The grass was speech; the trees were speech; the waters were speech; the winds were speech.

I said of the earth that we and all things were her dreams:

She is rapt in dreams divine.
As her clouds of beauty pass
On our glowing hearts they shine,
Mirrored there as in a glass.

Earth, whose dreams are we and they,
With her deep heart’s gladness fills
All our human lips can say
Or the dawn-fired singer trills.

We may indeed have a personal wisdom, but spiritual vision is not to speak of as ours any more than we can say at the rising of the sun: “This glory is mine.”

Yet though the imagination apprehended truly that this beauty was not mine, and hailed it by its heavenly name, for some years my heart was proud, for as the beauty sank into memory it seemed to become a personal possession, and I said “I imagined this” when I should humbly have said, “The curtain was a little lifted that I might see.” But the day was to come when I could not deny the Mighty Mother the reverence due, when I was indeed to know by what being I had been nourished, and to be made sweet and mad as a lover with the consciousness of her intermingling spirit.”

– AE George William Russell,

I would be careful to call it walking.
There is no real expression in English.
I would call it travelling on foot.
And travelling on foot is something
that we have lost in our civilization.
But physically we are made for travelling on foot,
to move at a certain pace, and to see things with intimacy.
En route, you will have only substantial encounters..
– Werner Herzog, Was the Twentieth Century a Mistake?

The great heart of the earth is full of laughter; do not put yourselves apart from its joy, for its soul is your soul and its joy is your true being.
– AE George William Russell

that moment when
I surrendered into radical for-giveness
and between my eyes:
the intoxicating buzzing
of another eye
bees of the invisible
collecting inner light
that sees

‘ While hanging on the world tree, [one-eyed] Odin said,
“I sacrifice myself to my Self”. ‘

“If Thine eye be single, Thy whole body will be filled with light.”
– Jose Luis G. Solier

The Place of Rest

The soul is its own witness and its own refuge.

Unto the deep the deep heart goes,
It lays its sadness nigh the breast:
Only the Mighty Mother knows
The wounds that quiver unconfessed.

It seeks a deeper silence still;
It folds itself around with peace,
Where thoughts alike of good or ill
In quietness unfostered cease.

It feels in the unwounding vast
For comfort for its hopes and fears:
The Mighty Mother bows at last;
She listens to her children’s tears.

Where the last anguish deepens — there
The fire of beauty smites through pain:
A glory moves amid despair,
The Mother takes her child again.

– A.E. George William Russell

Our own land, long ago, had its Initiates in whom the eye of the seer was open. This eye, concealed in the hollow of the brain, is the straight gate and the narrow way through which alone the mortal may pass and behold the immortal. It is now closed in most men. Materialism, sensuality and dogmatic belief have so taken the crown and scepter from their souls that they enter the golden world no more knowingly – they are outcast of Eden. But the Tuatha De Dannans were more than seers or visionaries. They were magicians – God and man in one. Not alone their thought went out into the vast, but the Power went along with it. This mystic Power is called the Serpentine Fire. It is spiritual, electric, creative. It develops spirally in the ascetic, mounting from center to center, from the navel to the heart – “He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters. This spake he of the Spirit.” (John, 7:38) – from thence it rises to the head. He is then no more a man but a god; his vision embraces infinitude.

The action of this Power was symbolized in many ways, notably by the passage of the sun through the zodiacal signs because the twelve signs of the Zodiac are hidden in his body. A stone serpent was found a little while ago in Ireland marked with twelve divisions. The archaic verses alluded to have the same meaning:

“I am the point of the lance of battle.

[The spinal cord, the Sushumna nadi of Indian Psychology.]

I am the God who creates in the head of man the fire of the thought.
Who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?

[The meeting of the mortal and the immortal on Mount Meru, the pineal gland.]

Who announces the ages of the moon?

[The activity of the inner astral man.]

Who teaches the place where courses the sun?”

[Spirit.]

The Serpentine Power is the couch of the sun, the casket of spirit. Hence the Druids or Magi who had mastered this power were called Serpents. Though St. Patrick is said to have driven the serpents out of Ireland, traces still remain of the serpent wisdom. Lest the interpretation given should seem arbitrary I will trace further explicit references to the third eye. Diarmuid, the hero and darling of so many story-tellers, whose flight with Grania forms one of the most mystic episodes in Celtic romance, is described as having a spot in the center of his forehead which fascinated whoever gazed. He is called the “Son of the Monarch of Light.” He is the Initiate, the twice-born. This divine parentage has the sense in which the words were spoken. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.” In the same sense a Druid is described as “full of his God.” From the mystic Father descends the Ray, the Child of Light. It is born in [hu]man as mind, not reasoning: earthly not sensual, but as the heaven-aspiring, thinking mind. In itself, it is of the nature of fire. The man who knows it becomes filled with light, aye, he moves about in light within himself.”

– AE George William Russell

All over the earth,
elegies for the earth.

The shore is in mourning. It mourns what it must soon

see, the sea
rising—

implacable, drowning chunks of the intelligible, familiar world.

Creatures of the earth filled with the instinct to wound
the earth. We fear that by an act of immense, unconscious

will, we have succeeded at last in killing NATURE.

Since childhood, you hated the illusion that this
green and pleasant land

inherently is green
or pleasant

or for human beings home. Whoever dreamed that had

not, you thought, experienced
the earth. We needed to rewrite in revenge the world that wrote us.

*

My parents drove from the Sierras (Bishop), to the almost-
city of their parents, carved from desert (Bakersfield).

To get anywhere you had to cross the Mojave Desert.

It was World War Two. In the Sierras my father was a big shot.
He said It’s better to be a big fish in a little pond. The government

didn’t draft—even

refused to enlist—rich
farmers. So to my mother’s dismay, night after night in bars

drunk, wronged, he fought soldiers who had called him a coward.

They drove their gorgeous Lincoln Zephyr across the steaming
Mojave at night.

Half-

carsick, I was in the back seat, inside,
protected.

Unprotected. Phantasmagoric enormous

tumbleweeds in the empty
landscape rolled aimlessly outside the speeding car.

– Frank Bidart

If you will but awaken the inner sight, all the lands of Immortal Youth will build themselves up anew for you no longer as fantasy but in vivid actuality. Earth will become magical and sweet as ever. You will be drunken with beauty.
– A.E. George William Russell

This day, as a living dream
Weaving desires with truths,
Made of avian songs and people-y schemes
Could be full of a whole bunch of clues.

Clues may come when the dreams grow cold
And beliefs are rent in two,
Like the cloaks of gold on the mourners of old
Who still tried to look for the clue

Of a whiff of a hint from a bedouin’s tent
Or the slap of a dolphin’s tail,
A wee flower of hope or an urge ancient
That catches the wind like a sail.

Any nudge of a clue about something at all
Could loosen the whip of the wish
That lives on the tip of a mountain tall
At the heart of an ocean abyss.

And so this day, as a living dream
Still weaving desires with truths,
Could be pregnant with more than an interesting meem
If you stop to look out for the clues.
– George Gorman

Ethan Nichtern:

That beautiful balance of humility and confidence.

That place where you don’t try to take power away from others, and you don’t let anyone take your power either.

In meditation it’s called “holding your seat.”

It’s everything I aspire to practice.

Love is called the daughter of the skies because it grows wings quickly.
– Hebrew proverb

The notion that there exist dangerous thoughts is mistaken for the simple reason that thinking itself is dangerous to all creeds, convictions, and opinions.
— Hannah Arendt

There is a rumor of total welcome among the frosts of the winter morning. Beauty has its purposes, which, all our lives and at every season, it is our opportunity, and our joy, to divine. Nothing outside ourselves makes us desire to do so; the questions, and the striving toward answers, come from within. The field I am looking at is perhaps twenty acres altogether, long and broad. The sun has not yet risen but is sending its first showers over the mountains, a kind of rehearsal, a slant light with even a golden cast. I do not exaggerate. The light touches every blade of frozen grass, which then burns as a particular as well as part of the general view. The still-upright weeds have become wands, encased in a temporary shirt of ice and light. Neither does this first light miss the opportunity of the small pond, or the groups of pine trees. And now: enough of silver, behold the pink, even a vague, unsurpassable flush of pale green. It is the performance of this hour only, the dawning of the day, fresh and ever new. This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings, or even midnight. Each has its portion of the spectacular. But dawn – dawn is a gift. Much is revealed about a person by his or her passion, or indifference, to this opening of the door of day. No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it, could be a stranger to me.
– Mary Oliver

Calm down. Both your sins and your good deeds will be lost in oblivion.
– Czesław Miłosz

Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth.
– Virginia Woolf, Orlando

The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself.
–  e. e. cummings

If literature isn’t everything, 
it’s not worth a single hour 
of someone’s trouble.
–  Jean-Paul Sartre

A painting lives by companionship,
expanding and quickening in the eyes
of the sensitive observer.
It dies by the same token.
It is therefore a risky and unfeeling act
to send it out into the world.
– Mark Rothko

Poetry’s work
is the clarification
and magnification
of being.
– Jane Hirshfield

It is with roses and locomotives…
that my poems are competing.
–  e. e. cummings

There are nothing 

but gifts 
on this poor, poor Earth.
– Czeslaw Milosz

Crying: Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.
– Ron Swanson

16th Karmapa

With your supreme intelligence, 
you realized the intention
Of the unsurpassable vehicle, 
the tradition of Padmakara.
Guru of unequalled kindness, 
I remember you from my heart.
I supplicate you—
bless me with your compassion.

I, Pema Trinley Palzang, 
a performer of three activities,
From now on, 
will take control 
of my own discipline in thought and deed.
I make a firm commitment, as follows,
To avoid thoughtlessness and senselessness.

In physical conduct, 
I will not allow myself 
to be rootless and hurried,
Incapable of being still, 
carelessly following my every whim.
I will always hold my own space
And be adorned 
by the training in pure discipline.

In speech, whether spiritual or secular,
I will choose meaningful words
And shun unconnected talk 
of past events or boring discussions
concerning any of the three times.
I will always exert myself in dharmic recitations, proclamations, and readings.

In mind, I will not flutter back and forth 
like a young bird on a branch.
Not getting absorbed 
in discursive thoughts of good and bad,
I will meditate, cultivating forbearance and relying on my own perceptions, not those of others. I will reflect on how best 
to benefit the teachings and beings.

In particular, the vital essence 
of the thought of all victorious ones
Is the true nature—
the uncontrived, innate dharmakaya.
Without ever lapsing, I will sustain it 
with one taste 
in equipoise and post-meditation.

In sum, I will hold myself to the sublime, dharmic conduct of the three gates,
Not falling under the influence of othbffhers.
Arrogance, haughtiness, 
or thoughts of self-aggrandizement— 
whatever of these arises,
I will not let them move me in the slightest.
I will remain firm, dignified, and fearless, like a mountain.

Until this collection of elements 
has rotted away,
I will not waver from this way of being.
Of this way I will be a fearless warrior—
that will be my quality.
This is my vow, like an image carved in stone. May it be virtuous!
Gods and protectors, 
work to help this come to pass!
May the virtuous signs 
of auspiciousness excellently blaze!
– Heart Advice of the Karmapa

One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.
– Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, you must be here, and also, millions of light-years away…

The mystics, I like… I like their… their illogicality… their burning illogicality – the flame… the flame… which consumes all our filthy logic.
– Samuel Beckett, in conversation with Charles Juliet

Unconditional confidence is the pragmatic aspect of tenderness. It is the action arising from the softness.
– Chogyam Trungpa

It is never too early to practice at becoming an elder. Conscious eldering is about doing the inner work, attending to the soul life before it comes for you. So many people have what we call a mid-life crisis in their fifties; suddenly they realize they have been living in false belonging their whole lives and have a desperate urge to scrap everything and start over. However, if we learn at an earlier age to attend to our longing, to take the risks necessary to live in alignment with our soul’s calling, then we are preparing ourselves to be true elders in the second half of life.
– Toko-pa Turner, Belonging

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.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Or maybe the world is just waiting for us to destroy our immune systems through the use of chemicals (including plastics) or through just plain old selfadministered poisoning (I can hear Poirot intoning that this was obviously a murder-suicide: “They killed the planet, and in so doing killed themselves. It is so apparent that even a child would be embarrassed by someone who could not see it.”). But of course there’s no reason that salmon or ice caps or frogs should pay for our stupidity.

That’s all presuming that the natural world can conjure up some defenses—viruses, fungi, and so on—this quickly. But maybe that takes time. Maybe the earth mostly thinks and/or acts at a different speed, and as we speak it is putting together a virus to defend all of its other members from us. Unfortunately, it is time that we who want life to live no longer have.

But maybe there’s something else going on here. I keep thinking about all of those extremely intelligent women who end up with abusers, and I keep thinking about all of those indigenous peoples who were emotionally and physically unprepared for their encounters with this culture and its relentless sociopathology, its relentless death urge, its insatiability, its indefatigable omnicide. These people weren’t stupid. And yet even when they’ve fought back they’ve never been as intent on death-dealing as has been this culture and its members. They (and I’m including nonhumans in this description) have never made a fetish, a philosophy, a life goal, a religion, an epistemology of forcing everyone and everything to jump through hoops on command. They’ve simply wanted to find ways to live, and to be left alone. Because, Richard Dawkins’s dismal fantasies and “nature programming” propaganda aside, the world isn’t so nasty as we’ve been taught to believe by this culture that is terrified of and hates life. Most creatures most of the time, including large carnivores, don’t really want to fight. Fighting is wasteful and dangerous. They’ll play (bighorn sheep butting heads is much more akin to football than to war) but when it comes to fighting they’d most often rather run away than tangle.

The extraordinary Dakota activist and scholar Waziyatawin said to me, about why these forces have not rallied in the past, “I think that all of creation must have been stunned by the voraciousness of the appetite of settler society. In a universe in which ‘life wants to live,’ as you have stated, it’s difficult for the rest of us to comprehend the perversity of a society based on exploitation, consumption, and its own self-destruction. How could any spiritual being be prepared for the extent of this madness? How could we not expect for civilization to eventually engage in self-correcting behaviors to restore the balance we all need to survive? Now we know that it is not true, that civilization is not showing any signs of deviating from its road to annihilation, but that is such an absurd course of action, how could any spiritual being guess civilization would not come to its senses? Now we are scrambling.”

So perhaps the intelligence of the earth has to this point been aimed at simply living, at trying to make do in the face of this culture’s atrocities, trying to avoid this culture where it can and to survive the blows when it cannot. Maybe a strength of the intelligence of the earth and many of its members is an extraordinary patience—that’s probably something you learn through hundreds of millions of years of living. If so, it is then tragic in the extreme that in this case, patience is not serving life well.

There are signs, though, that this patience—if patience really is a reason for the earth not killing us off—is wearing thin. All across the world nonhuman attacks on humans are increasing. According to one British article, “After centuries of being eaten, evicted, subjected to vivisection, killed for fun, worn as hats and made to ride bicycles in circuses, something is causing them [nonhuman animals] to turn on us. And it is being taken seriously enough by scientists that it has earned its own acronym: HAC—‘human-animal conflict.’

“It’s happening everywhere. Authorities in [the United States of] America and Canada are alarmed at the increase in attacks on humans by mountain lions … foxes and wolves. Romania and Colombia have seen a rise in bear maulings. In Mexico, in just the past few months, there’s been a spate of deadly shark attacks, with The LA Times reporting that, ‘the worldwide rate in recent years is double the average of the previous 50 … Sierra Leone [has] witnessed assaults and killings by chimps who,according to New Scientist, ‘almost never attack people.’ In Uganda, they have started killing children by biting off their limbs then disemboweling them.

“There has been a surge in wolf attacks in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia and France. In Australia, there has been a run of dingo killings, and crocodile violence is up. In Beijing, injuries from cats and dogs have swelled by 34 per cent, year-on-year. In [the United States of] America, the number of humans killed by pet dogs has increased sharply since 2000. In Australia, dog attacks are up 20 per cent. In Britain, nearly 4,000 people needed hospital treatment for dog bites in 2007, a figure that has doubled in the past four years. In [Mumbai], petrified residents are being slaughtered in ever-increasing numbers by leopards, leading J. C. Daniel, a leopard specialist, to comment, ‘We have to study why the animal is coming out. It never came out before.’ In Edinburgh, in June, there was a string of bizarre fox attacks—a pensioner was among the victims. In Singapore, residents have been being terrorised by packs of macaques. … In Cameroon, for the first time, gorillas have been throwing bits of tree at humans. They’re using weapons against us.”

The article goes on, “All over Africa, India and parts of south-east Asia, elephants have started attacking humans in unprecedented numbers. Not just killing—they’re rampaging through villages and stomping crops, terrorising local populations in any way they can. ‘What’s happening today is extraordinary,’ Dr. Gay Bradshaw, a world authority on elephants, told reporters in 2006. ‘Where for centuries humans and elephants lived in relatively peaceful co-existence, there is now hostility and violence.’ Bradshaw is the director of the Kerulos Centre for Animal Psychology and Trauma Recovery, in Oregon. ‘When you see reports of elephants running into crops or attacking people, they’re highly stressed,’ she tells me. ‘And there are multiple stressors—violence, lack of food, lack of water; their families are being broken up; their society is collapsing. All of these things are human-derived.’”

The article continues, quoting Bradford: “‘Put yourself in an elephant’s shoes. What’s it like living in Africa or Asia when you’re surrounded by an active threat, not just to you but to your family? Let’s take, for example, one of the things that’s happening in Africa. Females are starting to charge lorries. Why? It’s hard to understand the motive. Perhaps she’s traumatised. Perhaps it’s pre-emptive—they may have a gun. It may be self-defence. And other times it may well be revenge. It’s not that I don’t think elephants have the capacity.’ Dr Marc Bekoff, a leading ethologist, agrees. ‘We need to be careful when using that sort of language,’ he says. ‘But I don’t think there’s any doubt that, in certain situations, animals show revenge.’”

The article concludes, “According to Gay Bradshaw, we shouldn’t be asking why they’re turning on us. A more reasonable question would be, why aren’t they attacking us more?

“‘Animals have the same capacity that we do, in terms of emotions and what we consider to be high-mindedness and moral integrity. In fact, I’d argue they have more, because they haven’t done to us what we’ve done to them. That’s a sobering thought. It’s amazing that all the animals are as benign as they are. It’s amazing their restraint. Why aren’t they picking up guns?’”

It is sad that nonhumans (and humans) have to fight back. But I’m guessing I’m not the only person who is glad that they are.

The next possible explanation really isn’t an explanation at all, but rather a statement of humility in the presence of a universe far more complex than we can ever hope to fathom. There may be reasons for the collapse which we simply don’t have the perspective—I mean perspective in its most physical sense—to perceive.

Whenever I’m walking along a road and I see slugs, beetles, newts, frogs, or snakes trying to cross, I stop to carry or shoo them where (I perceive) they were trying to go. Often I wonder if then for the rest of their lives they’ll be telling friends a story of their harrowing adventure: “I was minding my own business, when suddenly I was engulfed in this great mass of hot, smelly, fleshlike material that had a nauseating texture and a smell to match. The world went dark as appendages of this mass closed around me. I was jolted up in the air and carried in a herky-jerky way that, combined with the texture and the smell, nearly made me lose my lunch.But I didn’t panic! No, not me! I struggled and I fought, until finally—and I’m not quite sure of the mechanism, but I suspect it was because this mass, while almost certainly entirely nonsentient, still somehow recognized true heroism as well as superiority of intellect—I was able to cause the appendages to open, which allowed me to make my (dignified) escape. And honestly, I still don’t know what it was about. It seems the universe was scaring me for no good reason.”

What from one perspective can seem (and is) meaninglessly horrifying, from another perspective can be the act of being saved from a larger horror, in this case being squashed by a car.

I’m not trying to suggest that my understanding of the cosmos is particularly more complex than that of a slug, insect, newt, frog, or snake, or that I am particularly “smarter,” whatever that means. That’s why I stressed the physical meaning of perspective: I can see cars better than they can, and perhaps living in this culture has given me a better understanding than they of what cars can do to them (or perhaps losing family member after family member to cars has given them a far better understanding than I will ever have).

I wonder in my own life how often things happen to me that I find terrifying, or even just annoying, and that I wish at the time weren’t happening, but that for reasons beyond my ability to perceive might be saving me (or someone else) from something worse, or that are perhaps setting in motion processes that may ultimately have nothing to do with me. One of my mother’s favorite phrases is, “Everything happens for a reason.” This may be simply her way of existentially getting through calamitous events, or it may be physically and spiritually true.

I want to be clear that I’m not saying that this culture came about so it could murder the world to fulfill some master plan that will lead to some great glorious leap in (of course) human evolution, or to Heaven. I’ll leave those destructive fantasies to technotopians and Christians. I’m just saying it’s possible we may be participating in processes we’re unable to fully perceive or understand, and which we may never be able to fully perceive or understand. In no way does this lessen our
responsibility to stop this culture from killing the planet.
– Derrick Jensen, Dreams, Limitations

It all adds up to one thing: peace, silence, solitude. The world and its noise are out of sight and far away. Forest and field, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same language.
– Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe

Collecting facts is important. Knowledge is important. But if you don’t have an imagination to use the knowledge, civilization is nowhere. Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life. We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
– Ray Bradbury

David Bentley Hart:
In every other free society with a functioning market economy, socialism is an ordinary, rather general term for sane and compassionate governance of the public purse for the purpose of promoting general welfare and a more widespread share in national prosperity.
In countries where, since World War II, the principles of democratic socialism have shaped public policy (basically, everywhere in the developed world except here), the lives of the vast majority of citizens, most especially in regard to affordable health care, have improved enormously. This is acknowledged by almost every political faction, whether “liberal” (like Social Democrats), “conservative” (like Christian Democrats) or “progressive” (like Greens). And the preposterous cost projections that American conservative propagandists routinely adduce to prove that “socialized medicine” or a decent public option would exhaust our Treasury are given the lie in each of those countries every day.

There is simply nothing better than to climb out onto a rock, and sit for hours with nothing in sight but sea and sky.
– Alan Watts

When one who is lost knows that it is time to turn back,
one is not far from having found the Way.
– Zen proverb

Think kindly; speak gently and clearly … Everything matters, Every breath, Every syllable, Every sentence.
– Lama Surya Das

Terence McKenna:
It never enters their mind that such a state even exists: a state not of alienation, exactly, but of ironical, sophisticated insight into the mechanisms of one’s own culture and the cultural games that are being played.

People want you to be happy. Don’t keep serving them your pain!
– Rumi

Mindfulness Training:
I choose not to judge others, because in some areas of my life I’m still on trial.

We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought.
– Eckhart Tolle

Matthew Burnside:
what are u writing toward? what are u writing away from? an answer u don’t yet have the question to? what is stopping u from writing yr truth right now? (follow up: how might u sabotage whatever is sabotaging u?) a memory u cling to? a memory that clings to u?

The fear of poetry is an indication that we are cut off from our own reality.
– Muriel Rukeyser

Be sure that whatever you are is you.
– Roethke

Intuitive Zen:
If you want to maintain your sanity, replace conditioned beliefs that shame and disempower you with the inner knowing that respects and celebrates you.

Deng Ming-Dao
BOWING
Do you respect others? Strangers included? Will you bow to them?
Do you respect yourself? Even if that means fighting through the hypnotic voices that lower your self-esteem? Will you bow to yourself?
Do you respect the divine? Beyond appearance, beyond religion, beyond doctrine? Will you bow to it?
Why do we show respect? Is it just because you were taught to do so by your elders? Or is there a deeper meaning? Should respect be unwavering?
Respect means that you acknowledge the intrinsic value in other people. It means you recognize it in yourself too. The deepest essence of that is the lifeforce. We know that other people are alive, and that every person has an equal right to life.
The lifeforce has no gender and no race. It has no appearance, no facial feature or limbs. It wears no clothes. It needs no education. It does not strive. It doesn’t own anything nor can it be owned. It has no use for money or property. It has no labor or value that can be exploited, and yet it is the peak of what we know preciousness to be.
The lifeforce is the same in every person. Therefore, those who see the life in others cannot discriminate. They cannot hate. None of us are different in terms of the life in us. We show respect. We bow. We know that none of us is above another: we are alive. That is holy.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche:
You might imagine the tamer your mind,
the more likely you are to see
the wildness of others,
but quite the opposite happens.
A mature practitioner will usually have
a far purer perception of others
than a beginner.
The more enlightened qualities
a practitioner acquires,
the humbler he will become;
the more time he spends with his guru,
the greater his devotion;
and the more he hears
and contemplates the dharma,
the quicker his pride
and arrogance will diminish.
The supreme sign of a great practitioner
is not that he sprouts a halo,
has extraordinarily auspicious dreams,
experiences bliss continuously,
or can foresee our miserable futures.
The supreme sign is that he no longer has
any interest in material gain, fame,
the respect of others,
or being the centre of attention.

I write, erase, rewrite,
erase again, and then
a poppy blooms.
– Hokushi

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!
– Henry David Thoreau

THE BEAR
When my propane ran out
when I was gone and the food
thawed in the freezer I grieved
over the five pounds of melted squid,
but then a big gaunt bear arrived
and feasted on the garbage, a few tentacles
left in the grass, purplish white worms.
O bear, now that you’ve tasted the ocean
I hope your dreamlife contains the whales
I’ve seen, the one in the Humboldt current
basking on the surface who seemed to watch
the seabirds wheeling around her head.
– Jim Harrison

The poet is on the side of undeceiving the world.
– Seamus Heaney

Weigh the true advantages of forgiveness and resentment to the heart. Then choose.
– Jack Kornfield

One day I just noticed that everything I was imagining was ridiculous.
– Byron Katie

Looking at beauty in the wold is the first step of purifying the mind.
– Amit Ray

Come, sun. Lather yourself against
my eyelids.
– Franny Choi, Reasons It’s Important to Rest

Vince Horn:
I don’t care about your awakening, I care what you do with it.

People need dreams, there’s as much nourishment in ’em as food.
– Dorothy Gilman

Patience gives you joy in the process of awakening. Without patience, you may find yourself at war with your own forgetfulness or reactivity.
– Tara Brach

Some books we can read over and over again through the years with renewed delight. Our initial encounter with such a book feels like our first experience with a place we love, or like the first sight of shore or sea—that particular, that vast.
– Jeffrey Yang

Mia Mingus:
reminder: your healing cannot depend on their accountability.

Fill your heart with kindness and forgiveness, there will be no stress, anger, or bitterness.
– Debasish Mridha

The poet is on the side of undeceiving the world.
– Seamus Heaney

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to turn away immediately
From those things which bring desire and attachment.
For the pleasures of the senses are just like salty water:
The more we taste of them, the more our thirst increases.
– Gyelse Tokme Zangpo

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.
– Rachel Carson

The Apple Trees at Olema
They are walking in the woods along the coast
and in a grassy meadow, wasting, they come upon
two old neglected apple trees. Moss thickened
every bough and the wood of the limbs looked rotten
but the trees were wild with blossom and a green fire
of small new leaves flickered even on the deadest branches.
Blue-eyes, poppies, a scattering of lupine
flecked the meadow, and an intricate, leopard-spotted
leaf-green flower whose name they didn’t know.
Trout lily, he said; she said, adder’s-tongue.
She is shaken by the raw, white, backlit flaring
of the apple blossoms. He is exultant,
as if some thing he felt were verified,
and looks to her to mirror his response.
If it is afternoon, a thin moon of my own dismay
fades like a scar in the sky to the east of them.
He could be knocking wildly at a closed door
in a dream. She thinks, meanwhile, that moss
resembles seaweed drying lightly on a dock.
Torn flesh, it was the repetitive torn flesh
of appetite in the cold white blossoms
that had startled her. Now they seem tender
and where she was repelled she takes the measure
of the trees and lets them in. But he no longer
has the apple trees. This is as sad or happy
as the tide, going out or coming in, at sunset.
The light catching in the spray that spumes up
on the reef is the color of the lesser finch
they notice now flashing dull gold in the light
above the field. They admire the bird together,
it draws them closer, and they start to walk again.
A small boy wanders corridors of a hotel that way.
Behind one door, a maid. Behind another one, a man
in striped pajamas shaving. He holds the number
of his room close to the center of his mind
gravely and delicately, as if it were the key,
and then he wanders among strangers all he wants.
– Robert Hass

I wish the world were ending tomorrow.
Then I could take the next train,
arrive at your doorstep in Vienna,
and say: ‘Come with me, Milena.
We are going to love each other without scruples
or fear or restraint.
Because the world is ending tomorrow.’
Perhaps we don’t love unreasonably
because we think we have time,
or have to reckon with time.
But what if we don’t have time?
Or what if time, as we know it, is irrelevant?
Ah, if only the world were ending tomorrow.
We could help each other very much.
– Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena

“They pass before me one by one riding on animals
“What are you waiting for,” they want to know

Z—, young as he is (& mad into the bargain) tells me
“Some day you’ll drop everything & become a rishi, you know.”

I know
The forest is there, I’ve lived in it
More certainly than this town? Irrelevant—

What am I waiting for?
A change in customs that will take 1000 years to come about?
Who’s to make the change but me?

“Returning again and again,” Amida says

Why’s that dream so necessary? walking out of whatever house alone
Nothing but the clothes on my back, money or no
Down the road to the next place the highway leading to the
mountains
From which I absolutely must come back

What business have I to do that?
I know the world and I love it too much and it
Is not the one I’d find outside this door.
– Philip Whalen, A Vision of the Bodhisattvas

The essential thing is to work in a state of mind
that approaches prayer.
– Henri Matisse

MOVEMENT
We are alive because we are on the move

We are never still
We are nomads, we are
Parents, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants
What I dream is more mine than what I touch

And so it has always been, from the infinite
We were the raindrop, traveling on the meteorite
We cross galaxies, emptiness, millennia
We were looking for oxygen, we found dreams

We barely got on two feet
And we saw each other in the shadow of the bonfire
We hear the voice of the challenge
We always look at the river, thinking of the other riverbank

We are a species on a trip
We have no belongings, but luggage
We are never still, we are nomads
We are parents, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants
What I dream is more mine than what I touch

I’m not from here, but neither are you
I’m not from here, but neither are you
Nowhere at all and, of all
Sides a little

The same with the songs
The birds, the alphabets
If you want something to die
Leave it still
– Jorge Drexler

Lay the blame for everything on one.

All suffering, all sickness,
possession by spirits, loss of wealth, involvements with the law and so on,
are without exception
the result of clinging to the “I.”

That is indeed where we should lay the blame for all our mishaps. All the suffering that comes to us arises simply through our holding on to our ego. We should not blame anything on others. Even if some enemy were to come and cut our heads off or beat us with a stick, all he does is to provide the momentary circumstance of injury. The real cause of our being harmed is our self clinging and is not the work of our enemy. As it is said:

All the harm with which this world is rife,
All the fear and suffering that there is:
Clinging to the ‘I’ has caused it!
What am I to do with this great demon?

When people believe that their house is haunted or that a particular object is cursed, they think that they have to have it exorcized. Ordinary people are often like that, aren’t they? But ghosts, devils and so on are only external enemies; they cannot really harm us. But as soon as the inner ghost of ego-clinging appears—that is when the real trouble starts.

A basis for ego-clinging has never at any time existed. We cling to our “I,” even when in fact there is nothing to cling to. We cling to it and cherish it. For its sake we bring harm to others, accumulating many negative actions, only to endure much suffering in samsara, in the lower realms, later on.

It says in the Bodhicharyavatara:

O you my mind, for countless ages past,
Have sought the welfare of yourself;
Oh the weariness it brought upon you!
And all you got was sorrow in return.

It is not possible to point to a moment and say, “This was when I started in samsara; this is how long I have been here.” Without the boundless knowledge of a Buddha, it is impossible to calculate such an immense period of time.

Because we are sunk in the delusion of ego-clinging, we think in terms of “my body, my mind, my name.” We think we own them and take care of them. Anything that does them harm, we will attack. Anything that helps them, we will become attached to. All the calamities and loss that come from this are therefore said to be the work of ego-clinging and since this is the source of suffering, we can see that it is indeed our enemy. Our minds, which cling to the illusion of self, have brought forth misery in samsara from beginningless time. How does this come about? When we come across someone richer, more learned or with a better situation than ourselves, we think that they are showing off, and we are determined to do better. We are jealous, and want to cut them down to size. When those less fortunate than ourselves ask for help, we think, “What’s the point of helping a beggar like this? He will never be able to repay me. I just can’t be bothered with him.” When we come across someone of equal status who has some wealth, we also want some. If they have fame we also want to be famous. If they have a good situation, we want a good situation too. We always want to compete. This is why we are not free from samsara: it is this that creates the sufferings and harm which we imagine to be inflicted on us by spirits and other human beings.

Once when he was plagued by gods and demons, Milarepa said to them: “If you must eat my body, eat it! If you want to drink my blood, drink it! Take my life and breath immediately, and go!” As soon as he relinquished all concern for himself, all difficulties dissolved and the obstacle-makers paid him homage.

That is why the author of the Bodhicharyavatara says to the ego:

A hundred harms you’ve done me
Wandering in cycles of existence;
Now your malice I remember
And will crush your selfish schemes!

The degree of self-clinging that we have is the measure of the harms we suffer. In this world, if a person has been seriously wronged by one of his fellows, he would think, “I am the victim of that man’s terrible crimes, I must fight back. He ought to be put to death, or at least the authorities should put him in prison; he should be made to pay to his last penny.” And if the injured man succeeds in these intentions, he would be considered a fine, upstanding, courageous person. But it is only if we really have the wish to put an end to the ego-clinging which has brought us pain and loss from beginningless time—it is only then, that we will be on the path to enlightenment.

And so, when attachment for the “I” appears—and it is after all only a thought within our minds—we should try to investigate. Is this ego a substance, a thing? Is it inside or outside? When we think that someone has done something to hurt us and anger arises, we should ask ourselves whether the anger is part of the enemy’s makeup or whether it is in ourselves. Likewise with attachment to friends: is our longing an attribute of the friend, or is it in ourselves? And if there are such things as anger or attachment, do they have shape or colour, are they male, female or neither? For if they exist, they ought to have characteristics. The fact is, however, that even if we persevere in our search, we will never find anything. If we do not find anything, how is it that we keep on clinging? All the trouble that we have had to endure until now has been caused by something that has never existed! Therefore, whenever the ego-clinging arises we must rid ourselves of it immediately and we should do everything within our power to prevent it from arising again. As Shantideva says in the Bodhicharyavatara:

That time when you could beat me down
Is in the past, it’s no more here.
Now I see you! Where will you escape?
I will crush your haughty insolence!

“In this short lifetime,” Geshe Shawopa used to say, “we should subdue this demon as much as possible.” Just as one would go to lamas for initiations and rituals to exorcize a haunted house, in the same way, to drive away this demon of ego-clinging, we should meditate on Bodhichitta and try to establish ourselves in the view of emptiness. We should fully understand, as Geshe Shawopa would say, that all the experiences we undergo are the fruit of good or evil actions that we have done to others in the past. He had the habit of giving worldly names to selfish actions, and religious names to actions done for others. Then there was Geshe Ben who, when a positive thought occurred to him, would praise it highly, and when a negative thought arose, would apply the antidote at once and beat it off.

The only way to guard the door of the mind
is with the spear of the antidote.
No other way exists. When the enemy is strong, we too have to be on the alert.
When the enemy is mild we can loosen up
a little bit as well.
For example
when there is trouble in a kingdom,
the bodyguards will protect the king constantly, neither sleeping at night nor relaxing by day. Likewise, in order to drive away
the mischiefmaker of our ego-clinging,
we should apply the antidote of emptiness
as soon as it appears. This is what Geshe Shawopa used to call “the ritual of exorcism.
– H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Carrying Difficult Situations onto the Path to Enlightenment

Jetsünma Tenzin Palmo:
It’s very important if we understand
that even the most difficult things in our life,
if dealt with skillfully,
can be an enormous boost
on our spiritual path.

The finest of the finer things do not ever pit us against one another, that is how you know them.
– Lauren Worsch

Taking a Stand

We live in a time where
our collective shadow is emerging
on a massive worldwide scale
hurting millions of people
as well as Earth’s innocent creatures.
It is a crucial time and there is a calling
for those wishing to heed it,
which is one of taking a stand.
Whether this is knowing interiorly
what is right and wrong and truly living
from that knowing, to actually speaking up
and helping society
in further gaining understanding.

Throughout time there have been
strong spiritually minded voices
standing up for peace, justice,
and social change. Included in the list is Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr,
Sri Aurobindo, and currently we have Amma, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, as well as the powerful voices of Joanna Macy
and Andrew Harvey (who coined the phrase Sacred Activism), all of whom
demonstrate what it looks like to be actively engaged in bringing awareness, love,
and right action to life.

There are many others who are not as well known and who are currently working
to help to bring about a more just
and compassionate society.
This is ‘in the world work’
which takes courage, determination,
and strength.

Many spiritual teachers of our time
are not taking a stand,
and remain neutral socially and politically.
This is their choice, but it does not model
what true awakening brings
in a helpful way for these times.
Realization brings a flowering of the heart
that is able to include everything within it, including our shadow
and that which is out of balance.
Speaking truthfully
about what is out of balance
is supportive to the whole.
And yes, this can look like
having a political opinion
(which is not a bad word).

We are in danger of extinction,
and we are taking many innocent creatures along with us. To me this is a beautiful
as well as painful invitation
to step off our spiritually padded cushion,
and emerge into the world bringing with us
our open-hearted
as well as clear-headed awareness.
It is an invitation to courageously speak
what we know and feel is true and right.

Will we always be correct
in our understanding or perfect in right action? Likely not, but when we risk speaking
and modeling truth, we are living the edge
of what our humanity is capable of.
If we don’t risk it, we are possibly
letting go into spiritual apathy
which can manifest as non-action.

Deeply caring about our world, the Earth,
and one another is love in action.
And each one of us is capable
of far more than we know.
Remembering that we are all in this together and that how we live and act
can lead to amazing outcomes for the whole.

It is a new dawn and we are
the creators of what is possible.
– Susanne Marie, Reality bites

Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful flower.
That flower might be an orchid or a rose,
or even a simple little daisy
growing beside a path.
Looking into a flower, we can see
that it is full of life.
It contains soil, rain, and sunshine.
It is also full of clouds, oceans, and minerals.
It is even full of space and time.
In fact, the whole cosmos is present
in this one little flower.
If we took out just one
of these “non-flower” elements,
the flower would not be there.
Without the soil’s nutrients,
the flower could not grow.
Without rain and sunshine,
the flower would die.
And if we removed all the non-flower elements, there would be nothing substantive left
that we could call a “flower.”
So our observation tells us
that the flower is full of the whole cosmos, while at the same time
it is empty of a separate self-existence.
The flower cannot exist by itself alone.

We too are full of so many things
and yet empty of a separate self.
Like the flower, we contain earth,
water, air, sunlight, and warmth.
We contain space and consciousness.
We contain our ancestors, our parents
and grandparents, education, food, and culture.
The whole cosmos has come together
to create the wonderful manifestation
that we are.
If we remove any of these
“non-us” elements,
we will find there is no “us” left.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Moses Heard A Shepherd Praying
“Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying,
“God, Where are you? I want to help you,
to fix your shoes and comb your hair.
I want to wash your clothes
and pick the lice off.
I want to bring you milk
to kiss your little hands and feet when it’s time
for you to go to bed.
I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat.
God, my sheep and goats are yours.
All I can say, remembering you,
is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhh.”

Moses could stand it no longer.
“Who are you talking to?”

“The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.”

“Don’t talk about shoes
and socks with God!
And what’s this with your little hands and feet? Such blasphemous familiarity
sounds like you’re chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows needs milk.
Only someone with feet needs shoes.
Not God!
Even if you meant
God’s human representatives,
as when God said,
‘I was sick and you did not visit me,’
even then this tone
would be foolish and irreverent.

Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the origin,
not for Allah.”

The shepherd repented
and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered into the desert.

A sudden revelation
came then to Moses.
God’s voice:

You have separated
me from one of my own.
Did you come as a Prophet to unite,
or to sever?

I have given each being
a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing
and saying that knowledge.

What seems wrong for you is right for him.
What is poisonous to one
is honey to someone else.

Purity and impurity,
sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping
are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.

Hindus do Hindu things.
the Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and it’s all right.

It’s not me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshipers! I don’t hear the words
they say. I look inside at the humility.

That broken-open lowliness is the reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends with your burning.
Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!

Moses,
those who pay attention
to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn are another.

Don’t impose a property tax
on a burned-out village.
Don’t scold the Lover.
The “wrong” way he talks
is better than a hundred
“right” ways of others.

Inside the Kaaba
it doesn’t matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!

The ocean diver doesn’t need snowshoes!
The love-religion has not code or doctrine.

Only God.

So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn’t need markings.

God began speaking deeper mysteries
to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here,
poured into and through him.
He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.

It’s foolish of me
to try and say this.
If I did say it,
it would uproot human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard.
In another, sideways, like a bishop.

Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
recording his wandering state.

Moses finally caught up with him.
“I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
Say whatever
and however your loving tells you to.
Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion.
Through you a whole world is freed.
Loosen your tongue
and don’t worry what comes out,
It’s all the light of the spirit.”

The shepherd replied,
“Moses, Moses,
I’ve gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip
and my horse shied and jumped on itself.
The divine nature of my human nature
came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can’t say what has happened.
What I’m saying now
is not my real condition. It can’t be said.”

The shepherd grew quiet.

When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The flute player puts breath into the flute,
and who makes the music?
Not the flute, The flute player!

Whenever you speak praise or thanksgiving
to God, it’s always like
this dear shepherd’s simplicity.

When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again and again,

This is certanly not like
we thought it was!

– Rumi

The deserts of the world and the deserts of the soul will be reforested.
– Eduardo Galeano

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.
– Richard P. Feynman

All beings have buddhanature.
Nothing can improve upon it;
nothing can destabilize it.
Stainless from the beginning,
its radiance cannot be corrupted.
Though we all have the essence of buddha,
the wrapping of emotions, habitual patterns, inhibitions and the like temporarily obscures it. To use an analogy, think of soiled cloth:
the dirt is not inherent in the cloth,
but until we wash the fabric,
its true nature is disguised.
Everyone accepts that clothes are washable, that the dirt is impermanent.
We know the clothes were clean
when we bought them; the bill didn’t say
‘shirt $425, tax $5, dirt $10.”
The very reason we spend money
on things like soap and washing machines
is that we trust the dirt is temporary
and can be washed away.
And furthermore, we have the motivation
to put the clothes in the washing machine,
add the soap, and wash them.
All the seeming negativity
and troubles in your life are a result
of cause and condition.
They are not “God given”;
they are not in your true nature.
Nor do they occur by chance.
It is not like you smell dog shit
from across the street
and out of the blue
some appears on your shoe.
You have to really step in it.
Do you understand what I’m saying?
This is actually good news
because it means you have the power
to manipulate the very causes and conditions that have created your problems.
When you eliminate
negative causes and conditions,
what is left behind
is what we call buddhanature.
The inhibitions that obscure our buddhanature develop because we use
external points of reference
to define and confirm our own self-identity.
The problem with this is that
reference points continually change.
As we try to keep up
with these varying references,
inhibitions build upon themselves and multiply. Our self-consciousness increases,
and we experience fear and vulnerability. Reference points are the cause of our hope, fear and inhibitions,
and they take us farther
and farther from our buddhanature.
So you might as well cut inhibitions
and go back to what is true –
your own basic goodness,
your buddhanature.
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Lisel Mueller––A Bulwark Against Barbarism
She was above all
elegant, precise.
She was the observer
who saw what the others missed,
or forgot,
or felt was of no importance.
Hers was the subtle voice,
the delicate perception,
the angle that many
ignored.
Though her sensibility was honed
in the furnace of twentieth century
violence, her poems
focused on the personal
insight, the close perception,
the undeniable revelation,
a painting with significant
undertones,
the music with evident nuance.
She avoided certain controversial
positions––feminism, patriarchal deficiencies,
the egregious tactics of certain males––
and thus became a darling
of male judges, critics, editors.
Still, her work was worthy
of the highest acclaim,
a model for the less famous,
a standard for the rest.
She took us where we had not been,
delivered us into unexplored territory,
made us feel wiser, more knowing,
more human.
– Dorothy Walters

In An Election Year
In this great and wonderful country of mine, land that I love, we are in the midst of an election year. This past week the cherry trees (and the plum trees and the pear trees) have begun to blossom. What is one to do?

The Valley Wind

Living in retirement beyond the World,
Silently enjoying isolation,
I pull the rope of my door tighter
And bind firmly this cracked jar.
My spirit is tuned to the Spring-season;
At the fall of the year there is autumn in my heart.
Thus imitating cosmic changes
My cottage becomes a Universe.

– Lu Yün

Art isn’t a popularity contest;
it’s a solitary practice,
a conversation between self and self.
You play with ideas and patterns
and try to find a complexity of structure
and nuance missing from everyday life.
– Douglas Glover

No live organism can continue for long to exist
sanely under conditions of absolute reality;
even larks and katydids
are supposed, by some, to dream.
– Shirley Jackson

Those who don’t belong to any specific place
can’t, in fact, return anywhere.

I wander the world, even at my desk.

– Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words

Be a voice not an echo.
– Albert Einstein

Life is a Carnival
by Karen Solie
Dinner finished, wine in hand, in a vaguely competitive spirit
of disclosure, we trail Google Earth’s invisible pervert
through the streets of our hometowns, but find them shabbier,
or grossly

contemporized, denuded of childhood’s native flora,
stuccoed or in some other way hostile
to the historical reenactments we expect of our former


settings. What sadness in the disused curling rinks, their illegal
basement bars imploding, in the seed of a Walmart
sprouting in the demographic, in Street View’s perpetual noon.
With pale

and bloated production values, hits of AM radio rise
to the surface of a network of social relations long obsolete.
We sense
a loss of rapport. But how sweet the persistence

of angle parking! Would we burn these places rather than see
them
change, or just happily burn them, the sites of wreckage
from which we staggered with our formative injuries into the rest

of our lives. They cannot be consigned to the fourfold,
though the age we were belongs to someone else. Like our old
house. Look what they’ve done to it. Who thought this would
be fun?

A concert, then, YouTube from those inconceivable days before
YouTube, an era boarded over like a bankrupt country store,
cans still on its shelves, so hastily did we leave it. How beautiful

they are in their poncey clothes, their youthful higher
registers, fullscreen, two of them dead now. Is this eternity?
Encore, applause, encore; it’s almost like being there.

After the Disaster
A picnic in the sequoias, light
filtered into planes, and the canopy
cut through. Fire raged in that place
one month ago. Since I’d been there,
I’d have to see it burning.
Nature of events to brush
against us like the leaves
of aspens brush against each
other in a grove full of them
carved with the initials
of people from the small weird town
hikers only like for gas. Messages
get past borders—water
across the cut stem of the sent
sunflower alive with good
intentions. People who mistake
clarity for certainty haven’t learned
that listening isn’t taking
a transcript, it’s not speech
the voice longs for, it’s something
deeper inside the throat.
Now, from the beginning, recite
the alphabet of everything
you should have wanted, silverware,
a husband, a house to live in
like a castle, but I wanted
fame among the brave.
A winter night in desert light:
trucks carving out air-corridors
of headlight on the interstate
at intervals only a vigil
could keep. Constellations
so clean you can see
the possibilities denied.
Talking about philosophy
might never be dinner
but can return
your body to a state
of wonder before sleep.
The night reduced us
to our elements.
I wanted water, and whatever
found itself unborn
in me to stay alive.

Working through our emotions as well as the contractions of the heart- and belly-centers is a way of integrating our ancestors, and they become the ancestors of the merkavah. The merkavah is not just the vehicle that we use to journey; it is ultimately a nondual phenomenon because it is both the vehicle and the terrain. Through the integration of the ancestors, as what we are and as what we live, we become not just a vehicle of transformation, a merkavah, but we also embody the full expression of that vehicle. This is becoming a full human being, a full-bodied human expression of Living Being. We become the cosmic body of God, as we have discussed in past meetings.
– Zvi Ish-Shalom, The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah

Remedio : Ocotillo (Candlewood)
Tommy Archuleta

To forgive one’s life love for dying, pick the long, feather-like, crimson flowers in early spring, when the desert is in bloom. Boil in river water only. Let cool. Drink at once. Drink when waking, at noon, and at bedtime each day for three full weeks thereafter. If resentment persists, go to your beloved’s grave daily and pray for forgiveness until sound sleep and appetite return.

◊◊◊

My last days
May they pass

slow as black smoke
goes father’s

only prayer
of late

No
No I’m certain

that he stole it
from Adam I’m sure

who first
uttered it

just outside
the Garden

the first night he
spent alone

There can be no rebirth
without a dark night of the soul,
a total annihilation
of all that you believed in
and thought that you were.

– Hazrat Inayat Khan, Thinking Like The Universe: The Sufi Path Of Awakening

We have to be very careful with “trauma-informed” gurus and spiritual teachers. It’s a kitschy new term, but lets handle it with care. Because most of what they are teaching is usually rooted in trauma-avoidant patriarchal spiritual concepts. They are, by nature, proponents of a trauma repressive system that is not remotely interested in the lived truth of the human experience. If you look VERY CLOSELY, their version of spirituality is usually some combination of ego-hating, victim-bashing, story re-framing, heart-severing, artificially forgiving, anger-shunning self-avoidance that masquerades as awakening. If they are truly trauma-informed, they will have to give up their dissociative version of spirituality and replace it with one that makes no distinction between our humanness and our sacredness. In other words, they will no longer call themselves a “spiritual teacher”, as though wearing a badge of egoic honor. They will no longer call their tender woundedness a “pain body,” as though describing a car part. They will no longer look “up there” or beyond the self, or only in stoic stillness and silence, for their answers. They will find them right in the heart of their glorious human story. They will find them right in the heart of their personal trauma. Not ‘trauma-informed’ as though they have transcended the human fray, but trauma survivors, just like the rest of us.
– Jeff Brown

There was this new energy that can allow for new combinations of things that haven’t been able to be combined together, organizations of the electro-magnetic field that haven’t been possible together, a potential evolutionary unfoldment, right down in the substratum of the quantum field of consciousness, prior to actualizing itself into existence.

Remembrance is re-connecting to that domain. It’s also, while you are in this domain, consciously reconnecting to this domain. You start building bridges, between your higher self and your normal self, and your lower self. You start recognizing these things are happening simultaneously. You are building a bridge, bridges each time. So, it’s not just binging us back into connection with that that it’s higher, it’s also choosing to descend into our content, and meet that as is arising.
Unfortunately, most spiritualities are about staying up here, and never coming back down. But that is why we left humankind bereft. That’s why we left the possible evolution of humankind lacking the spiritual power to come and bring the new conditions of being from matter.

That act of bringing in the Om Tat Sat Shri Force through your body opened a channel in your system. It also opened a channel for the new to come back, it grounded it.

When we align ourselves energetically, especially when we do it together in this way, we begin to open a capacity already in the inherent design of our bodies to be channels for this higher Force, to come down in us, in our body, sitting in our chair, in the room, purposefully doing exercise, to bring it into the world, into the fundamental substratum of matter, towards the Asat, where it emerges out of their absolute inconscience, and starts to become more and more aware. And we all carry that same [unintegillible] in our root, and it;s shared with all humanity, so, when we reach into the roots of our self, this Truth-Force was able to spread into the fabric, the one interconnected, collective Consciousness that resides in matter, that we are all expressions of. I saw it, it was like the whole Earth was a Being. And we injected this radiant Light into it, and I watched it going through the whole world, as if it was healing and opening channels, clearing and coming alive in ways that have never been done before.

As far as I know, this is truth. As far as I know this is succesful. When i can experience it as directly and as tangibly and as really as that, it’s as good information as I have. And when I read Sri Aurobindo, I know this is what he was doing…

….We are the vehicles, we are the growth coming into physicality in this new energy field that Sri Aurobindo brought, in order for us to be means by which the Supreme can come more fully into the body, the physical body of this Creation. And I saw – by doing so -, I saw the new molecules, new compounds, new atomic structures were coming into existence. That there was this new energy that can allow for new combinations of things that haven’t been able to be combined together, organizations of the electro-magnetic field that haven’t been possible together, a potential evolutionary unfoldment, right down in the substratum of the quantum field of consciousness, prior to actualizing itself into existence. I can’t know if that’s true, but it FEELS true. And I have the right to the work. We have the right to the work. And, as I speak of it, it rings true. it’s cohesive, it’s coherent, it’s consistent with everything I know of my whole being.
– Sat Shree

The more we generate thoughts, the busier we are mentally, and the more convinced we are of our existence.
– Chogyam Trungpa

What do sad people have in common? It seems they have all built a shrine to the past, and often go there, and do a strange wail and worship. What is the beginning of happiness? It is to stop being so religious like that.
– HAFIZ (The Gift)

What we needed were not words and promises
but the steady accumulation of small realities.
– Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Sitting on the earth and letting ourselves be with the big questions of our becoming, deprived of our usual and elaborate defense systems, we are indeed no different from any other mammal. Knowing that resistance is futile, we lean into our healing, quite naturally, letting the wind, the heat, the hunger and the silence whittle away at our selves, taking off the ‘extra’, to expose the beauty of our individual and unique nature and core.
– Petra Lentz-Snow

When desire and fear end, bondage also ends. It is the emotional involvement, the pattern of likes and dislikes which we call character and temperament, that create the bondage. Don’t be afraid of freedom from desire and fear. It enables you to live a life so different from all you know, so much more intense and interesting, that truly by losing all you gain all.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you. When that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, “I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore. That really means, “I won’t be a human being anymore.”

You see people doing that today where they feel that society has let them down, and they can’t ask anything of it, and they can’t put their hopes on anything outside themselves. You see them actually retreating to a life in which they think only of their own satisfaction, and maybe the satisfaction of their revenge against society. But the life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer.

Tragedy happens only when you are trying to live well, because for a heedless person who doesn’t have deep commitments to others, Agamemnon’s conflict [in which the king-protagonist has to choose between saving his army and saving his daughter] isn’t a tragedy…

Now the lesson certainly is not to try to maximize conflict or to romanticize struggle and suffering, but it’s rather that you should care about things in a way that makes it a possibility that tragedy will happen to you. If you hold your commitments lightly, in such a way that you can always divest yourself from one or the other of them if they conflict, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want people to live their lives with a deep seriousness of commitment: not to adjust their desires to the way the world actually goes, but rather to try to wrest from the world the good life that they desire. And sometimes that does lead them into tragedy.
– Martha Nussbaum

When it emerged, the ether ruptured, and from this rupture Voice issued forth. This Voice spread out and increased until it became twenty six thousand, thousand, thousands and myriad of myriads kinds of lights.
– The Fountain of Wisdom, Ma’yan ha-Hokmah

The evening sky was cloudless, clear, azure blue turning to dusk and dark. An owl, who had waited patiently all day for her time to come, begins to call. Mind, unalienated from body, expands across sense field into sky, into owl, into ancient tree the smell of rich earth. Freed from past or future, me or mine, there is unutterable and immeasurable mystery…. and this mystery is suffused, pervaded, by the awe and wonder of knowing and knowing become love.

In the quite of deep mind twilight falls and mystery is touched, divinity is known. The body whole is an act of perception and knowing. It is formed and made to know and hold appearance in the silent love of knowing. The mind’s scurrying worrying fretting figuring cannot know in this way. Concept, thinking, is not fashioned for this function. Leave thinking to thinking’s work and let body, animated by the silent heart of awareness, know appearance with the gesture of tender heartedness’ caress.

A mind rested in silence allows the heart to see with the whole body. The body, this life, our existentiality is the very organ of knowing by which the unutterable mystery of ineffable awareness knows itself, its qualities, its playfulness, its frolic and love. When mind comes to silence then body knows in the deep of mystery and knowing is not translated into experience. The sage does not have experiences. The one whose mind is freed in pure wisdom does not know experience, rather, the immediacy of their knowing confounds any possibility of that manipulation we call experience. Experience is born of mind’s thinking made memory and memory is anything but immediacy.

Mind chews experience the way a goat chews its cud – vomiting it back up chewing again and again ever more alienated. Knowing and appearing plus mind and memory = existential dilemma. Knowing and appearing mixed with the unutterable of silence = existentiality as divine wonderment.

Mind as body traveled across sky and owl, across dusk and into dark. Like daylight disappeared to dark I am disappeared to silence and the perfection of knowing become love. Untouched by birth or death, by any “I” or “other”, awareness holds appearance in the immeasurable delicacy and mystery of her hand. The darkness of night extends across the silence of mind and there is only…
– T.K.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling
they’re given wings.
– Rumi

The power of poetry:

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.
– Maya Angelou

Bathed in Grace (1975)

On a bus from Oxford to London with my wife. I’m feeling wretched because we’ve recently fought. She’s quiet and forlorn. Suddenly, I’m enveloped in glory and Light. Nothing subtle–this is full-out beatitude, and I intuitively know it’s being triggered by a source outside my psyche. I further somehow know that that source is someone seated somewhere behind me. There’s an element of embarrassment in all this for me–to have behaved so badly and madly with Leslie, yet to be held in such a state of grace feels like a vulnerable exposure. In his Poems of Innocence and Experience, William Blake wrote that “we are put on Earth a little space/That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” The bus bears us toward London. The love never lets up. It fills and eventually settles and soothes me.

When we arrive and are about to disembark, I know I must wait for passengers behind me to file out, so I can finally see the person who’s held me in such vast, beatified awareness. And sure enough, here she comes: a frail old grey-haired lady. I simply know she’s the one. She passes my seat without any kind of acknowledgement, and I maneuver myself into line right behind her. As she starts down the bus’s brief, steep stairway to the pavement, I watch her waver slightly. The climb down is a chore for her old body.

My body is still so charged up from our mysterious encounter (a “God-appointment” to be sure) that it’s possible for me to project a ray of energy from my solar plexus to hold and steady her as she descends the stairs. She stands a moment on the station pavement then turns around, beams brightly up at me, says “Thank you,” and is on her way.”
– Geoffrey Oelsner, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive: A Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature

During normal, nonemergency times, the capacity of the human mind to rationalize, to compartmentalize, and to be distracted easily is an important coping mechanism. (…) When it comes to rising to the reality of climate breakdown, however, these traits are proving to be our collective undoing. They are reassuring us when we should not be reassured. They are distracting us when we should not be distracted. And they are easing our consciences when our consciences should not be eased.
– Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal

When I talk to college administrators and college presidents, I say that ecology is not a course. It’s not a program. It’s a foundation for all courses, all programs, all professions. Because ecology is a functioning cosmology. It’s the way the universe functions. It’s the way the Earth functions. And to be able to think this way is the beginning of survival. Because right now we are not in a survival mode, because we are disrupting things.
– Thomas Berry

Let’s stop making the same old mistakes. Here are a few, but I trust that you will silently add your own: Projecting messianic fantasies onto politicians. Thinking the market will fix it. Building a movement made up entirely of upper-middle-class white people and wondering why people of color don’t want to join ‘our movement.’ Tearing each other to bloody shreds because it’s easier to do that than go after the forces most responsible for this mess. These are social change clichés, and they are getting really boring.

We don’t have the right to demand perfection from each other. But we do have the right to expect progress. To demand evolution. So, let’s make some new mistakes. Let’s make new mistakes as we break through our silos and build the kind of beautifully diverse and justice-hungry movement that actually has a chance of winning – winning against the powerful interests that want us to keep failing.
– Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Case for the Green New Deal

Only the everlasting No has neared
And stared into thy eyes and killed thy heart:
But where is the Lover’s everlasting Yes,
And immortality in the secret heart,
The voice that chants to the creator Fire,
The symbolled OM, the great assenting Word,
The bridge between the rapture and the calm,
The passion and the beauty of the Bride,
The chamber where the glorious enemies kiss,
The smile that saves, the golden peak of things?
This too is Truth at the mystic fount of Life.
– Sri Aurobindo, Savitri (CANTO II: The Adoration of the Divine Mother)

A new creation from the old shall rise,
A Knowledge inarticulate find speech,
Beauty suppressed burst into paradise bloom,
Pleasure and pain dive into absolute bliss.
A tongueless oracle shall speak at last,
The Superconscient conscious grow on earth,
The Eternal’s wonders join the dance of Time.
– Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

Do whatever brings you to life.
Follow your own fascinations,
obsessions, and compulsions.
Trust them. Create whatever
causes a revolution in your heart.
– Elizabeth Gilbert

My request of all of us is the same: Please use this time deeply and well. You can fall asleep, you can fall prey to your own unhappy story, and you can squander the precious opportunity to turn the light around and illuminate your mind, your heart, and discover how to end the suffering in this world. I urge us all to take responsibility for the privilege that we might have and use it well. I urge us to use our time well. Use this life well. We have much to do, and to “undo.”
– Roshi Joan Halifax

The sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope.
– Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
– Antonio Gramsci

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.
– Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems

She is on the horizon, says Fernando Birri.
I approach two steps, she walks away two steps. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further. As much as I walk, I will never, never reach it.

What is utopia for? That’s what it is for: to walk.

– Eduardo Galeano, The Walking Words

The answer is blowing in the wind
– Bob Dylan

I had to clap and sing. I used to be respectable and chaste and stable, but who can stand in this strong wind and remember those things?
– Rumi

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
– Ernest Hemingway’s 1954 Nobel Acceptance Speech

GOD

Thou who pervadest all the worlds below,
Yet sits above,
Master of all who work and rule and know,
Servant of Love!

Thou who disdainest not the worm to be
Nor even the clod,
Therefore we know by that humility
That thou art God.

– Sri Aurobindo

When valued personal relationships go silent, trouble often follows. I’m not talking about healthy ‘time-outs’ that are clearly expressed- I’m talking about silence that is reactive, or an attempt to do harm. This kind of silence ensures that the connection will not find its way back to health. Because silence fosters confusion, projections, and worst of all- assumptions about what the other is feeling or thinking. And assumption doesn’t get us anywhere good. Inquiry does. Assumptions ensure that the wall will only get larger, until there is no way to reconnect. Whatever you do, even if you are justifiably angry, try to keep the door to inquiry open. You may not be ready to process the experience, but allow for the possibility that you one day will. Because valued connections are hard to find in this crazy world. And anger doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Sometimes it’s the portal to a closer connection. Sometimes, it’s the way through to great learning. Inquiry is the bridge.
– Jeff Brown

HAIKU
~
Though they are shallow,
one tends to walk around them—
puddles filled with sky
– Clark Strand

But a great poet is a disturbance.
If poetry means anything,
it means heart, liver, and soul.
If great poetry means anything at all,
it means disturbance, secret disturbance….
It is bad enough to be miserable; but to be happy,
how far beyond shock it is.
To be alive, with all one’s unexpected senses,
and yet to face the fact of unhappiness….
I want poetry to make me happy,
but the poetry I want
should deal with the hell of our lives
or else it leaves me cold.
– James Wright

Until August 2003, the summer I was fifty,
I lived my life the way people typically do.
I had my desires and my worries, the usual supply of obsessions and bouts of anxiety.
In an effort to reduce stress and suffering
in my life, some years before, I had begun observing my daily experience—
its traumas, large and small—
with an eye to what I stood to learn.
I cultivated the ability to watch myself
react to circumstances and events.
This became my spiritual practice.
Despite my earnest attempt at self-awareness, I spent plenty of energy trying to hide
from myself, pretending my ego
wasn’t in the picture. Guilt and worry,
despair and anger, kept their nasty little fires going in my belly. Indeed, they were the very things I meant to look at, to learn from—
when I was conscious enough to notice them. While I longed to get less bogged down
in the various mires of my own making,
I never supposed it could happen
that I could become entirely free—
that the bog could just disappear.

I believed freedom was possible,
that enlightenment was the destiny
of every soul, but I surely did not seriously entertain the idea that it could happen to me,
in this lifetime. With no warning,
the transformation of all transformations
came to me. It came in stages; for all I know, there are more stages to come.
I have learned this much: to stop
being surprised. It began with the end of fear.
I can say that now—it began— but at the time,
I thought the end of fear was the whole story. What more could I wish for, after all?
Wouldn’t that have been enough—
transforming enough? Imagine it:
a life without fear. I couldn’t have,
not until it happened. Wasn’t fear
a part of being human, natural
and inevitable as breathing, as desire?
Yet it was undeniable.

Fear was gone. Too many days went by,
when all the familiar triggers were laid
in my path but didn’t affect me the way
they always had. The machinery
seemed to have simply been shut off, dismantled, the parts left to rust in a dump. The collapsing of the house of fear
would have been entirely sufficient
as a miracle. But then I started noticing
other things. I seemed to feel content
all the time. No matter what was going on,
fun or hard or neutral, I felt something quiet
but constant running beneath it, apart from it. That something had the quality of other,
of being outside the flow of familiar life.
It was quiet; still, it felt more substantial
than whatever was going on
in the familiar realm.

The sensation was qualitatively different
from any I had ever felt. It was not
a good mood; it was not joy exactly.
It was utterly independent of anything external—of praise, to-do lists, good news,
problems, wealth, daily routine, whatever.
It did not seem to have any existence in time.
I knew with absolute certainty that this condition was permanent. As the weeks gathered into months, it became irrefutable:
my suffering had come to a complete stop.
I could hardly remember what my old life
had been like. I barely recognized myself.

– Jan Frazier, When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening

Jan Frazier lived a life typical for a well-educated, middle-class American woman. A divorced mother of two teenagers, she was making a modest living writing and teaching writing.

Then, in August 2003, she experienced a radical transformation of consciousness. Fear fell away from her, and she was immersed in a state of causeless joy that has never left her. While she has continued her life as writer, teacher, and mother, she has discovered it is possible to live a richly human life free of suffering. Her wish now is to communicate the truth that within every person is a pool of calm well-being that waits patiently to be stirred to life.

Van Gogh’s ear sends me an urgent message
that the earth is about to collapse.
– Liu Xia

The more you know
about another person’s story,
the less possible it is
to see that person as your enemy.
– Parker J. Palmer

One of the most ancient Kabbalistic texts, the Sefer Yetzirah, states: Na-utz Sofan Be-tchilatan Ve-techilatan Bi-sofan, which is translated as “The end is embedded in the beginning and the beginning is embedded in the end.” The infinite which has “no-end” is at one end of the spectrum and on the other end of the spectrum we have a “dead-end”. This refers to the journey from the infinite in its most subtle through a series of contractions and expansions until we have the most finite material that we know of: physical matter.
. . .
The usual view is that physicality with its limitations, finitude, and materiality is a barrier to spirituality. Many religions see these things as barriers, and practices are therefore designed to transcend them. From the Kedumah [Hebrew for”Primordial”] point of view, in contrast, the whole purpose of creation is to be embodied and to experience finitude. The whole point is for the infinite to experience itself as finite, which is the original intention and fulfillment of the act of creation.
Instead of transcending into the infinite, we have to learn how to become more finite. Or we should say, to experience the material of finitude completely and thoroughly, through and through. Our teaching holds that if we know how to do that, then the truth of infinity becomes apparent. Ultimately, even the truth of that which is beyond the categories of infinite and finite can reveal itself to us as well.
Earlier we talked about how the infinite must possess the ability to manifest as finite, for if the infinite were not capable of manifesting itself as finite, then that would mean the infinite is limited in how it can manifest, which would be a non sequitur.
– Zvi Ish-Shalom, The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah

Peter Kingsley also asserts that Mongolia is a primary shamanic source of early mystical inspiration in the West, via Greece. The Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras was a contemporary of the Buddha Siddharta Gautama in India in the fifth century BCE. Kingsley’s research reveals that a shaman by the name of Abaris Skywalker appeared in Greece at this time from Hyperborea – “the lands beyond Borea”, surmised by scholars to be the Scytho-Siberian area, i.e., western Mongolia.

Abaris Skywalker was said to have arrived embodying the spirit of the deity Apollo, signifying light, truth, and prophecy. One might say he had merged with the deity – a common shamanic practice. Abaris was carrying a triple-edged arrow made of gold – a symbol of shamanic power, and perhaps of magical warfare. This arrow later became the Tibetan ritual dagger, or phurba, which is also used by Tamang shamans in Nepal. It is said that shamans rode this arrow on magiclan flights to fight disease and change the weather. Myth has it that the god Apollo’s mother came from Hyperborea in the form of a wolf, which was one of Mongolia and Chinggis Khan’s primary shamanic animals.

Kingsley explains that Abaris is the Greek version of “Avar”, meaning “Mongol”. Abaris’s mysterious epic walk from the Mongolian steppes to Greece may have been a kind of wind-walking, as it is known in Tibet. These monks practice lunggompa, a kind of meditation that allows them to effortlessly cover great distances on foot at an incredible speed while carrying a phurba dagger in their right had.

The Mongol Abaris reportedly brought this golden arrow to Pythagoras as a symbol of recognition that he was in fact one who had merged with the spirit of Apollo – in other words, a shaman. Pythagoras himself announced that Abaris was the Hyperborean Apollo.

Kingsley describes how both Tibetan lamas and Vatican priests, in their respective centers of power, were upset to discover that this ancient spiritual lineage from Asia predated their own. The church then distanced itself from the Greeks, establishing Latin as the only holy language for its liturgies. But the Tibetans took the further step of absorbing and adopting the tradition of reborn shamans – now a tradition of reborn lamas! The Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (pakshi is a cognate of bagshui, meaning “a master shaman chosen by spirits” in Buryat Mongolian) of Tibet, originated their tulku (reincarnated lama) system in the thirteen century after he had spent significant time in Mongolia.

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet?

The colonial-era notion that European culture is somehow separate from ( and superior to) that of Asia is belied by the fact that connections across the world are deeper and older than many would like to admit; Eurasia is a single continent, not two.
. . .
It should then not be too traumatic – though it might be surprising – for Eurocentric historians to admit that a significant portion of Greek mysticism quite possibly came from not only Egypt but from Hyperborea-Scythia-Mongolia. Kingsley mentions a painted portrait of a Mongol from Tarentum in southern Italy, where Plato visited the last stronghold of the Pythagoreans.”
– Kevin Turner, Sky Shamans of Mongolia: Meetings with Remarkable Healers

Friendship will be the soil from which a new Politics will emerge.
– Ivan Illich

Nyingma Masters:
It is difficult to learn the names of the vows,
let alone observe them.
So at least you should strive to be
loving to people, especially those
who are close to you such as friends, relatives, Dharma brothers and sisters, and neighbours. Try to avoid harming them.
Be respectful to them,
as all are enlightened in their true nature.
Then, in a simple way,
you are moving towards fulfilling
the pratimoksha vow of not harming others,
the bodhisattvas’ vow of being loving to others, and the tantric vow of pure perception.
– Dodrupchen Rinpoche

Rainer Maria Rilke:
Early Spring
Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,
hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.
– Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

The world will be saved
by the Western woman.
– The Dalai Lama

Many people report that when they experience a nondual state it is more like remembering something they experienced a long time ago but have forgotten. The Sufis use the term “self-remembering” to point to this.
. . .
The point is that the completion of the self-knowledge of the infinite must include both infinite and finite experiences, dual and nondual, because they are two sides of the same thing. In other words, you can’t have one without the other. Why not? because ultimately the finite is infinite and vice versa: they are inseparable.
– Zvi Ish-Shalom, The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah

You are the deep innerness of all things, the last word that can never be spoken.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Today’s movement must be so rich that it cannot be reduced to either one of two preset outcomes: victory or defeat. It must be so prolific that it spills through its containment, composting failure, reworking the meanings of success, celebrating with experimentation, unlearning mastery, and doing the tender work of listening to the perpetual conversation between hope and its many shadows. Today’s movement must go beyond an aspiration for a better world or publishing manifestos on how to arrive at a lovelier arrangement; in realising how those very desires and visions, however lofty, may be instigated by, conditioned within, and reinforcing for the familiar, it must press towards the strange, the yet-to-be-wanted, the ugly, the monstrous, the not-quite-fundable, the yeah-I-like-what-you-say-but-what-do-I-do and other such practicalities. It must bring together unholy alliances, plastic and activist, altar and faeces, fruit shavings and favelas, fugitives and money, gods and endings, rapture and rupture, hope and hopelessness. Somewhere in the compost heap of these loamy gatherings, this dirty assemblage, a young shoot might tenderly break through. An emissary from a world we do not yet know.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Deluded, ignorant beings like you and me are subject to karma and are therefore victims of karmic debt. Everything that happens to us in life and death – our successes, failures, even the manner of our death – happens as a result of our karmic debts. Basically, causes and conditions dictate everything we do. So one of the activities we could initiate on behalf of a dead loved one is a karmic debt-clearing ritual.
What is ‘karmic debt’? On paper, you own a flat, a car, wardrobes full of clothes and expensive accessories. Yet, if everything you own was acquired with borrowed money, technically, all your worldly goods belong to the bank. Karmic debt works in pretty much the same way. Everything we are, our situation in life, our health, our wealth and even our appearance is based on countless lifetimes of interaction with others.
The Buddhist teachings tell us that we are therefore karmically indebted to absolutely everyone. Every single sentient being has, at one time, been our father, mother, child,maid, driver, the horse or donkey we have ridden, our best friend and our worst enemy.As you read this book, you could be sitting on a spot that belongs to a ghost. Did you ask the ghost’s permission to sit there? We build houses without giving a second thought to the many animals that will be turned out of their homes as a result. We owe an unrepayable debt to our teachers, nurses, doctors, leaders and countries, and to our police forces for keeping us safe and bringing those who steal from and hurt us to justice. Some people don’t pay taxes on principle, yet they benefit from the security their country provides to live comfortably and securely. If you are one of those people, you owe your country’s social system far more than those who participate by paying their taxes.
All these karmic debts are the reason we experience sickness, family feuds and failure. And because we are all burdened with a colossal amount of karmic debt, we have almost no control over what we do, think, have, and how we live. Today you may be healthy, bright and energetic, but in a split second, a stupid accident could wipe out all your health and energy for good.Is there an antidote to karmic debt? Yes. A general antidote that is also very effective, is to create good karma.
There is no end of ways for creating and accumulating good karma, from donating a penny to a world ecology programme to volunteering to teach maths to child prostitutes in Cambodia. But according to the Buddhist teachings, the best remedy for karmic debt is to practise the Dharma. Take refuge, make the bodhisattva vow and practise bodhichitta. You could also do tonglen practice: as you breathe out, offer everything that is good to others, and as you breathe in, hoover up everything that is bad.
And always dedicate the merit you accumulate towards the enlightenment of others…
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Living is Dying

Every thought and action sends shivers of energy into the world around us, which affects all creation. Perceiving the world as a web of connectedness helps us to overcome the feelings of separation that hold us back and cloud our vision. This connection with all life increases our sense of responsibility for every move, every attitude, allowing us to see clearly that each soul does indeed make a difference to the whole.
– Emma Restall Orr

What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
– Walt Whitman

The Invention of Streetlights
Cole Swensen – 1954

noctes illustratas
(the night has houses)
and the shadow of the fabulous
broken into handfuls–these
can be placed at regular intervals,
candles
walking down streets at times eclipsed by trees.

Certain cells, it’s said, can generate light on their own.

There are organisms that could fit on the head of a pin
and light entire rooms.

Throughout the Middle Ages, you could hire a man
on any corner with a torch to light you home

were lamps made of horn
and from above a loom of moving flares, we watched
Notre Dame seem small.
Now the streets stand still.

By 1890, it took a pound of powdered magnesium
to photograph a midnight ball.

While as early as 50 BCE, riotous soldiers leaving a Roman bath
sliced through the ropes that hung the lamps from tree to tree
and aloft us this
new and larger room
Flambeaux the arboreal
was the life of Julius Caesar
in whose streets
in which a single step could rd.
We opened all our windows
and looked out on a listening world laced here and there with points of light,
Notre Dame of the Unfinished Sky,
oil slicks burning on the river; someone down on the corner
striking a match to read by.

Some claim Paris was the first modern city to light its streets.
The inhabitants were ordered
in 1524 to place a taper in every window in the dark there were 912 streets
walked into this arc until by stars
makes steps sharp, you are
and are not alone
by public decree
October 1558: the lanterns were similar to those used in mines:
“Once
we were kings”
and down into the spiral of our riches
still reign: falots or great vases of pitch lit
at the crossroads
–and thus were we followed
through a city of thieves–which,
but a few weeks later, were replaced by chandeliers.

While others claim all London was alight by 1414.
There it was worded:
Out of every window, come a wrist with a lanthorn
and were told
hold it there
and be on time
and not before
and watched below
the faces lit, and watched the faces pass. And turned back in
(the face goes on) and watched the lights go out.
Here the numbers are instructive:
In the early 18th century, London hung some 15,000 lamps.
And now we find (1786) they’ve turned to crystal, placed precisely
each its own distance, small in islands, large in the time it would take to run.

And Venice started in 1687 with a bell

upon the hearing of which, we all in unison
exit,
match in hand, and together strike them against an upper tooth and touch
the tiny flame to anything, and when times get rough (crime up, etc.) all we
have to do is throw oil out upon the canals to make the lighting uncommonly
extensive. Sometimes we do it just to shock the rest of Europe, and at other
times because we find it beautiful.

Says Libanius
Night differs us
Without us
noctes illustratas
Though in times of public grief
when the streets were left unlit, on we went, just
dark marks in the markets and voices in the cafes, in the crowded squares,
a single touch, the living, a lantern
swinging above the door any time a child is born, be it
Antioch, Syria, or Edessa–
and then there were the festivals,
the festum encaeniorum, and others in which
they call idolatrous, these torches
half a city wide
be your houses.

Otherworldly philosophies end up doing more damage to the planet (and human psyches) than the existential conditions they seek to transcend.
– Gary Snyder

Homesickness is our only guide.
– Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

Everything is real
– Gary Snyder

It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.
– Rumi

Andrea Gibson:
There is nothing on this earth that returns me more quickly to my heart than seeing a stranger cry.

Everyone experiences pain and most suffer from patterns that continue to make life miserable unless something or someone intervenes. The pain we feel comes from the cross-wise energies that keep curving back and cancelling the wise self and the good word that wait to be expressed from within us. Persistent pain is usually the indication that we have become trapped in a life too small for our true nature. That is the usual human fate and the common predicament where the little-self obscures the greater nature behind it. Until people realize what harms them and limits them from within, they are unlikely to call out for someone to help stop the pain. The remedy may be nearby, but until the pain becomes unbearable most remain caught in the agony of one form or another of self-inflicted wounds. As Rumi said, ‘The cure for the pain is in the pain.’
– Michael Meade

We were told we would see America come and go. This is the Hopi belief, this is our belief that if you are not spiritually connected to the land, and understand the spiritual reality of how to live on the land, you will probably not succeed.
Everything is spiritual, everything has a spirit, everything was brought here by the creator, the only creator. Some people call him God, some call him Buddha, some call him Allah, some call him the only creator. We call him Tunkaschila…….. Grandfather.
We’re here on earth only for a few winters, then we enter the spirit world. The spirit world is more real than most of us think.
The spirit world is everything. Over 95% of our bodies are made up of water. To stay healthy, you must drink good quality water…. Water is sacred, air is sacred.
Our DNA is made of the same DNA as the tree, the tree breathes what we breathe out, we need the tree to breathe out. So we have a common destiny with the tree.
We are all from the earth, and when the earth, the water, the atmosphere is corrupted then it will create its own reaction. The mother reacts.
In the Hopi prophecy, it says that storms and floods will become greater. For me, it’s not a negative thing to know that there will be big changes. It’s not a negative thing, it’s how it will evolve. When you look at it as an evolution, it’s time, nothing stays the same. You should learn how to plant something. That’s the first link.
You should treat all things like spirits, realise that we are one family. It’s never something like the end. It’s like life, there’s no end to life.
– Floyd Red Crow Westerman

the ego is the holder of the lineage of the real self inside. So the ego – I call it the maddened lover – it’s part of our soul that is madly in love with its Source. It is a part of our soul that is separated from our higher self and the programming in it is to go back to that higher self. So, in the journey I started offering this ego, to heal it in every kind of way. It enjoys this quality, that quality, but then leaves it. It’s just like a child: you try to give it this mother, or that mother… it doesn’t want them. It wants its own mother. So even with the Absolute, the ego survived the Absolute. It was there, hiding and next day, I’ll tell you, it shows up, “But how ‘bout me?” And you say, “I have no time, you’re still here – let’s kill the ego.” So then I realized no, you cannot kill the ego. The ego’s afraid for me, a lover, seeking its beloved. And when I had this realization, this guidance, the ego began to ease. The ego began to reveal what it’s longing for, but forgot. Then I realized it’s really longing for the individuated higher self, not the cosmic self. The cosmic self, the Absolute, yes, we need to all go back home, feel that we’re in the ocean, but each fish longs for its own uniqueness. And that’s when the teaching about the point of light, about the higher self, started opening. That’s when I shifted from being Absolutist, to being Pointist [laughing]

It’s about individuated soul, its uniqueness in existence, the soul journey – [that’s] what’s it about – and how to discover the soul, how to support it to know itself, awaken to itself, awaken to the holding environment we live in and then to walk our walk. That’s the shift of paradigm. In my teaching now, the human being, the human entity, the human soul, is the center of the mandala of existence, while the Absolute is our nature, is Buddhahood, is belovedness of who we are. But we are the beloved. You and I are the beloveds and [expanding arms to indicate the whole world] this is our ‘belovedness’ of our beloved nature. This shifted the paradigm and brought sanity, brought everything home, here, to everyday life – to deal with my children, living my life, to navigating a better life for now, and for the future.
– Faisal Muqaddam

These Buddhist teachings make an explicit distinction between an ontological assertion of non-existence and a practice of non-grasping through understanding the non-findability of inherent existence. But this vital distinction is too often ignored in the spiritual teachings in the West today. Today there is an almost gleeful celebration of non-existence, as if that were the ultimate truth about life. There has begun to be a “party line” in the contemporary spiritual field, an unthinking acceptance of this misleading teaching.
I consider this inaccuracy destructive because it encourages people to create an imaginary fragmentation in what is essentially whole. In psychological terminology, it encourages them to dissociate, to disown major elements of their inner life. In spiritual terminology, it enforces a
duality of self and object that obscures the fundamental unity of subject and object. It fragments being from emptiness. It inserts an artificial divide between our subjectivity and the contents of its experience. Often in the name of “nonduality” it submerges subjectivity into objectivity. To use the analogy of the moon reflected in the water, it denies the water and leaves us with just the moon. Instead of a unity of perceiver and perception, they claim that there can be perception without a perceiver, activity without an actor.
I said above that we can only theorize or imagine that we do not exist. We can never experience that we do not exist, because who would be experiencing it? That “who”exists.We can speculate that beyond experience there is non-existence, but anything that is beyond experience can only be speculation. And Buddhism is based on a rejection of metaphysical speculation.
As a psychotherapist and meditation teacher, I have seen many serious Buddhist practitioners actively pretending that they do not exist. They blank out their eyes, and flatten their emotional expression. They attempt to separate themselves from their sensations, feelings and thoughts, either by observing them from the outside, or by shutting down contact with them. They hold a fixed focus on “the moment” by which they mean whatever is happening outside of their body in the environment. But the clear light of the Wisdom Mind, the formless brightness that is who we actually are, does not require a fixed focus. It is not fixed at all; it is unattached (non-grasping)and spontaneously present.
When our consciousness is murky, it touches the surface of the objects it perceives. But the clear light of the wisdom mind pervades its objects.In other words, the spaciousness of the wisdom mind is not just experienced around objects, as physical space is. It is experienced pervading objects. Just as the moon reflected in the water seems to be made of water, we experience both our body and our environment as made of this subtle, sentient space. This is an experience of transparency, of being made of being and emptiness, and of everything around us as made of the same being and emptiness. The Japanese Zen philosopher, Yuasa, writes, “The ‘mind’ here is not the surface consciousness, but is the ‘mind’ that penetrates into the body and deeply subjectivizes it.” We feel both empty, made of space, and vividly present, deeply in touch with ourselves at the same time.
In order for us to experience this consciousness, we have to be this consciousness. We cannot experience it separate from ourselves. We can only experience it through deep contact with ourselves. Wherever this consciousness reaches within our body, we are in contact with our own internal form. At the same time, wherever this consciousness reaches in our body, we are open to the environment. For example, if we become conscious throughout the internal space of our chest, this present moment occurs inside and outside of our chest at the same time. When this consciousness reaches everywhere in our body, we are in contact with our whole internal form. And at the same time, we are clear-through open to our environment. This openness reveals the unified transparency of self and other, the vast expanse of being and emptiness.
Existence is the greatest mystery. I do not think that the Buddhist teachings are attempting to help us understand or solve this mystery, but to fully embody it.
– Judith Blackstone, Ph.D.

I make it real by putting it into words.
It is only by putting it into words
that I make it whole;
this wholeness means that it has lost
its power to hurt me.
– Virginia Woolf, A Sketch of the Past

He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.
– Gabriel García Márquez

Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.
– Václav Havel, The Politics of Hope

When you’re deluded, every statement is an ulcer;
when you’re enlightened, every word is wisdom.
– Zen proverb

Ars Poetica
May the poems be
the little snail’s trail.

Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record

of the foot’s silver prayer.
I lived once.
Thank you.
It was here.
– Aracelis Girmay

To be a poet is to be a human being.
– Forough Farrokhzad

john zbigniew guzlowski:
Buddha finds
three coins
in the road

His purse
is empty
so he leaves it there
with the coins

it’s very nice when people like my poems, but honestly, praise for my sweaters is where it’s at, soul-wise.
– Chen Chen

And he who is forever talking about enemies

Is himself the enemy.
– Christopher Logue

As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency.
– Caroline Kennedy

You are far from the end of your journey.
The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.
See how you love.
– Teachings of the Buddha

aria aber:
woke up and remembered that my only crush is language

Ross White:
It’s been a long and emotionally taxing day, but I just need to say this:

I have a crush on every writer.

Your true Zen nature can never be gained or lost. It is what you are.
– Huang Po

Alicia E. Stallings:
But has anyone tried making sacrifices to Apollo?

yanyi:
people can really write so much in academia and yet say so little

Stepping into silence feels like I’m getting back to myself. Because from it I can find answers to life’s problems, creative ideas, and deep understanding.
– Chelsey Brooks, The Pathfinder

Bruce Cockburn:
Love’s supposed to heal, but it breaks my heart to feel
The pain in your voice
But you know, it’s all going somewhere
And I would crush my heart and throw it in the street
If I could pay for your choice
Isn’t that what friends are for?

Bruce Cockburn:
Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Bruce Cockburn:
One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home
One day I shall be home

Bruce Cockburn:
So we wait beside the desert
Nothing left to give away
Naked as the hanged man’s secrets
Praying for the break of day

Ethan Nichtern:
You can’t let the world go when you sit down to meditate. Especially not when the world is on fire.

But you can let the world BE for a little while.

For 10, 20, 30 minutes, you can just let everything BE.

Alexandria Villaseñor:
Centrism is bad for the climate.

Meditation on the Veranda
Bliss—right now:
beneath a blue jade
vine’s beaded bangs,

my sonar function
asleep, the I unstressed,
a syllable glided over.

(Except wherever
in the line it’s placed,
the I is stressed.)

Behind me, a lipstick palm.
In front of me, the early
stages of sunrise,

the world before
highlighter’s applied.
– Carol Moldaw

Perhaps you might be disposed to think that since a person has been practicing a long time, surely they must be in possession of the virtue or power of practice. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a totally complete practitioner. There just are no manufactured, “satorized” human beings. You know, that satori thing is very fast; it runs away very quickly. The satori you may have bagged in the morning is already beginning to smell bad by noontime. You have no choice but to get rid of this morning’s satori.
– Uchiyama Roshi

One of the most significant moments in my life occurred during my first Zen retreat. On the third day of the five-day program, the retreat leader, – Kwong Roshi

There’s no driving this thing, you know. Just be as beautiful as you can figure out, and life will find you. Seriously, there isn’t any more to it than that. Now put the internet down and go dancing.
– wise internet stranger

Zazen is both something one does – sitting cross-legged, with proper posture and correct breathing — and something one essentially is. To emphasize one aspect at the expense of the other is to misunderstand this subtle and profound practice.
– Eido Shimano Roshi

Simple lesson: If your message requires you to view yourself as an outsider, set against a majority which is the “establishment,” rather than explaining to that majority exactly how your vision includes them, you will always remain an outsider in the minority.
– Ethan Nichtern

There is no expression with deeper meaning than that of the word “just” in “just sitting.
– Motoko Ikebe

Why do you so earnestly seek the truth in distant places? Look for delusion and truth in the bottom of your own heart.
– Ryōkan

Where can I find a man who has forgotten words?
He is the one I would like to talk to.
– Chuang Tzu

You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.
– Eckhart Tolle

aria aber:
honestly hate how outer space is in the process of being colonized by white supremacists and venture capitalists, when outer space was, for such a long time, the place for a radical afro-futurist and anti-colonial imagination.

They say he’s too quiet.
They say she’s too inquisitive.
They say he’s too energetic.
They say she’s too sensitive.
They say these things thinking it will help,
But it doesn’t really.
It only causes worry and the pressure to conform.
The truth is, changing would be a tragedy.
Because when they say “too quiet,”
I see introspection.
Don’t change, thoughtful one.
You’re gonna bring quiet wisdom to the chaos.
Because when they say ”too inquisitive,”
I see problem solving.
Don’t change, little thinker.
You’re gonna to bring answers to the toughest questions.
Because when they say “too energetic,”
I see vitality.
Don’t change, lively one.
You’re going to bring love and laughter to desperate times.
Because when they say “too sensitive,”
I see heart.
Don’t change, deep feeler.
You’re going to bring compassion to hurting souls.
They might say change is needed.
But I ask that they look a little deeper and observe a little longer.
From where I stand, these individuals are just as they should be…
On their path to bring the world exactly what it needs to thrive.
Don’t change, extraordinary one.
You’re gonna light this place up.
– Rachel Macy Stafford, from ONLY LOVE TODAY

You cannot will intoxication, vertigo, a ravening, or wild / Love.
– Lucie Brock-Broido

There is no such thing as “a way”. Ways turn up merely as a result of awareness making itself understood in and through lived experience.
– Longchenpa

Practice is a living unfoldment within the existentiality of each practitioner and, the “way”, is an emergent phenomena arising from this lived event.  In every case it is an act of translation wherein the meaningns transmitted over centuries and continents are made understandable and practicable – embodied and enqworlded in the contextuality of individual present time and space.

Because of this, judgment of another’s path is always provincial –  intellectually unsophisticated and ethically suspect as it can not participate in  anything like existential honesty.
– T.K.

Practice is to remove the habit of practice. Then realize that freedom is already here. What is here right now needs no practice. Just see what the impediments are. What is the wall? The wall is imagining that you are not free. When you make an effort to be free, you accept the concept that you are not free, so you start from there. If you get rid of this concept that “I am not free,” what will happen? This imagination is your own creation.
– Papaji

Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.
– Gregory of Nyssa

LIFE is SUBVERSIVE
You can’t be with God and be neutral. As I see it, True contemplation is resistance. And poetry, gazing at clouds is resistance I found out in jail. We turn outward, attracted by the beauty we see in created things without realizing that they are only a reflection of the real beauty. And the real beauty is within us.
– Ernesto Cardenal

The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.
– Thomas Berry

That our breath can be a sanctuary for us is something wonderful to cultivate. After a big exhalation, haven’t we all experienced a feeling of release? Then, if we extend the pause a little, we can experience being comfortable and at home with nothing. It is a holy, delicious moment without requirements or expectations and with no ego protection needed. AAAAH! Best of all we can have it as often as we allow the experience.
– Gunilla Norris

It’s a poet’s secret…the magic of mis-hearing, mis-reading…brings such a creative splitting of the norm.
– Valerie A Szarek

You’re all wrong. Every damn one of you.

How do I know? I’m wrong too. I’m better at being wrong than you are. I’ve been wrong since the Big Bang. Even that is wrong. There was no beginning. We are eternally evolving microbial mistakes in a boundless green sea of Beauty.

When you add and subtract all the Buddha’s good deeds and little blunders, over thousands of Bodhisattva lives, the sum is neither greater nor less than one. Without the mistakes, there’s no dance. Any slip-up might be the serendipitous mutation that ensures our survival, O graceful sin of Adam!

How could we encounter a butterfly without the grisly mishap in the cocoon? Could we enjoy our popcorn were it not for the hunchbacked caveman who tripped over his enormous feet, spilling a handful of kernels into the fire? Where would you be without your mother’s carelessness concerning the moon?

Stumbling is sacred. It is better than dancing. Were it not for our holy awkwardness and miscalculation, no creatures would exist – nothing but unbroken symmetries of Zero, the fat frozen mouth of a silent God, yearning to say ‘O!’ through the dense white hole where no Word can escape.

As for me, I lie awake in the dark, surrounded by snoring animals. I’m always wrong. The people you need to watch out for are the ones who are right.
– Fred LaMotte

People and experiences come to us when we’re ready — and when they are ready to connect with us. There is a deeper plan and purpose at work.  Listen.  Learn.  Reach out.  Receive.  You are here for a reason — and so is every other person you meet.  Everyone in this life is precious.
– Cristina Raskopf Norcross

Surge
A long night I spent
thinking that reality was the story
of the human species

the vanquished search for the vanquished

Sounds come by, ruffling my soul

I sense space’s elasticity,
go on reading the books she wrote on the
wars she’s seen

Why do seasons who regularly follow
their appointed time, deny their kind of energy
to us?

why is winter followed by a few
more days of winter?

We came to transmit the shimmering
from which we came; to name it

we deal with a permanent voyage,
the becoming of that which itself had
become
– Etel Adnan

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,
and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper. 
– D.H. Lawrence

SINGULARITY
Fired from God’s .45 she tore a hole
in me black as a crow’s wing.
She found the universe dull as a sitcom, the laughtrack
louder with the voices of the dead than October
rain’s gallop across the roof, and so
collapsed. She languished, lilac, leopard;
I prayed to prowl with her, prey with her, lick
blood and meat with her, but God sucked
my tongue into His mouth and
bit. Rain, you are song when I long
for arms; the birds tuck heads
under wing, wings are weapons, like the wind
in the leaves; wings are choices, like the sea
throwing up stars on the sand. She tore
a hole in me the size of God
so heavy with gravity not even light
escapes me.
– Daniel Stewart

Take refuge in silence. You can be here or there or anywhere. Fixed in silence, established in the inner ‘I’, you can be as you are. The world will never perturb you if you are well founded upon the tranquility within. Gather your thoughts within. Find out the thought centre and discover your Self-equipoise. In storm and turmoil be calm and silent. Watch the events around as a witness. The world is a drama. Be a witness, inturned and introspective.
– Sri Ramana Maharshi

19th Amendment Ragtime Parade
Birthday, birthday, hurray, hurray 
The 19th Amendment was ratified today 
Drum rolls, piano rolls, trumpets bray 
The 19th Amendment was ratified today
Left hand bounces, right hand strays 
Maestro Joplin is leading the parade 
Syncopated hashtags, polyrhythmic goose-steps 
Ladies march to Pennsylvania Avenue! 
Celebrate, ululate, caterwaul, praise 
Women’s suffrage is all the rage 
Sisters! Mothers! Throw off your bustles 
Pedal your pushers to the voting booth 
Pram it, waltz it, Studebaker roadster it 
Drive your horseless carriage into the fray 
Prime your cymbals, flute your skirts 
One-step, two-step, kick-ball-change 
Castlewalk, Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear waltz 
Argentine Tango, flirty and hot 
Mommies, grannies, young and old biddies 
Temperance ladies sip bathtub gin 
Unmuzzle your girl dogs, Iowa your demi-hogs 
Battle-axe polymaths, gangster moms 
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton 
Lucy Burns and Carrie Chapman Catt 
Alice Paul, come one, come all!  
Sign the declaration at Seneca Falls! 

                                                                                                           
Dada-faced spinsters, war-bond Prufrocks 
Lillian Gish, make a silent wish
Debussy Cakewalk, Rachmaninoff rap 
Preternatural hair bobs, hamster wheels      
Crescendos, diminuendos, maniacal pianos 
Syncopation mad, cut a rug with dad!
Oompa, tuba, majorette girl power 
Baton over Spamalot! 
Tiny babies, wearing onesies 
Raise your bottles, tater-tots! 
Accordion nannies, wash-board symphonies 
Timpani glissando! 
             The Great War is over! 
Victory, freedom, justice, reason 
Pikachu, sunflowers, pussy hats 
Toss up your skull caps, wide brim feathers 
Throwing shade on the seraphim 
Hide your cell phones, raise your megaphones! 
Speak truth to power 
                          and vote, vote vote!

WARNING:  
Nitwit legislators, gerrymandering fools 
Dimwit commissioners, judicial tools 
Toxic senators, unholy congressmen 
Halitosis ombudsmen, mayoral tricks 
Doom calf demagogues, racketeering mules 
Whack-a-mole sheriffs, on the take 
Fornicator governators, rakehell collaborators 
Tweeter impersonators, racist prigs 
Postbellum agitators, hooligan aldermen 
Profiteering warmongers, Reconstruction dregs

 
Better run, rascals     better pray 
We’ll vote you out      on judgement day! 
Better run, rascals     better pray 
We’ll vote you out      on election day! 
– Marilyn Chin

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.
– Rumi

The poet is a pretender.
He pretends so profoundly
that he even pretends pain
is the pain he is feeling. 
And those who read his words
Will feel in his writing
Neither of the pains he has
But just the one they’re missing.
– Fernando Pessoa

Art is individualism,
and individualism is a disturbing
and disintegrating force.
There lies its immense value.
For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type,
slavery of custom, tyranny of habit,
and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.
It seeks to show new perspectives and other choices.
It is a way to help expand and liberate the consciousness;
our experiences, understandings, imaginings, options and thereby our lives.
– Oscar Wilde

America’s status as a world-class cultural hub, as a proponent of free thought and lively debate, as a country that celebrates our diversity and welcomes new voices and new ideas from all corners of the world, is crumbling. The image of a shining city on a hill is erased, and in its place rises a forbidding, angry, hostile country that talks of building walls and banning outsiders. We will all be poorer for it.
– Pen America

I have an addiction to music.. I know you might say, ” get help Ray, but I don’t think there is a cure.
Those of us who paint, dance, or just think beautiful thoughts know how cool it is to connect on another level…We all play music, no matter what you do you are a part of this very cool frequency. I hope you all fill your heads, and your spirits with the positive, but always carry your cosmic umbrella just in case it storms…Peace
– Ray White

Carl Jung defines shadow as:
the thing a person has no wish to be

SHADOW WORK IS THE PATH OF THE HEART WARRIOR.

Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.

Recognizing the shadow is what I call the apprentice piece, but making out with the anima is the masterpiece which not many can bring off.

Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle… The middle plane is the space or barrier between the conscious and the unconscious world.

Withdrawal of projections is obviously a truth whose validity is only of limited application. It is pretty certain that they can be withdrawn only to the extent that one is conscious. How far a man can become conscious nobody knows.

We are still certain we know what other people think or what their true character is.

We are convinced that certain people have all the bad qualities we do not know in ourselves.

If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow.

Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts.

He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against…

Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world.

He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.

The shadow is part of the personal unconscious ‘confronting the shadow’ is really Ego work. If you don’t integrate the shadow into the Ego, you will be often ‘out of control’ with unconscious affect or emotions that override all reason. Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality, and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life…

The shadow is that which has not entered adequately into consciousness. It is the despised quarter of our being. It often has an energy potential nearly as great as that of our ego. If it accumulates more energy than our ego, it erupts as an over-powering rage or some indiscretion that slips past us; or we have a depression or an accident that seems to have its own purpose. The Shadow gone autonomous is a terrible monster in our psychic house.
– Robert A. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow

Real shadow work does not leave us intact; it is not some neat and tidy process but rather an inherently messy one, as vital and unpredictably alive as birth. The ass it kicks is the one upon which you are sitting; the pain it brings up is the pain we’ve been fleeing most of our life; the psycho-emotional breakdowns it catalyzes are the precursors to hugely relevant breakthroughs; the doors it opens are doors that have shown up year after year in our dreams, awaiting our entry. Real shadow work not only breaks us down but also breaks us open, turning frozen yesterday into fluid now.
– Robert Augustus Masters

Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot.
For all darkness in the world
stems from darkness in the heart.
And it is there that we must do our work.
– Marianne Williamson

If a client comes to us hoping to experience “ecstatic healing” instead of “therapy”, we are open and ready to voice a mantra, offer a prayer, sing a sacred song, or ceremonially dance, but only if the time, space, ad feeling are right. The creative therapist only conducts such action on a big room stage when the whole atmosphere is favorable enough to inspire it. Even cursing can be as nourishing as praying when the context is right, just as a blessing can become a curse when given in the wrong kind of room. Rather than presumptuously exalt or ban any particular action, including what is presumed to be therapeutic or non-therapeutic, learn to build a big room and be guided by the pulse of the creative life force so that whatever serves change can freely come forth when the moment is right.
– Hillary Keeney and Bradford Keeney, The Creative Therapist in Practice

It was peace that had been purchased at the price of allowing mobocracy to reign supreme over democracy. It was peace that had been purchased at the price of capitulating to the force of darkness. This is the type of peace that all men of goodwill hate.
. . .
Peace is not merely the absence of some negative force—war, tension, confusion, but it is the presence of some positive force—justice, goodwill, the power of the kingdom of God.
. . .
1) If peace means accepting second-class citizenship, I don’t want it.
2) If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it.
3) If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace.
4) If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace. So in a passive, non-violent manner, we must revolt against this peace.
. . .
Jesus says in substance, I will not be content until justice, goodwill, brotherhood, love, yes, the Kingdom of God are established upon the earth. This is real peace–a peace embodied with the presence of positive good. The inner peace that comes as a result of doing God’s will.
– Martin Luther King, Jr., When Peace Becomes Obnoxious

Step by step by step by step get more in depth, don’t panic
Don’t panic, follow the rabbit.
– Bob Dylan

I was never aware of any other option
but to question everything.
– Noam Chomsky

Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

May you hear in your own stories
the moan of wind around the corners
of half-forgotten houses
and the silence in rooms you remember.

May you hear in your own poems
the rhythms of the cosmos,
the sun, the moon and the stars
rising out of the sea and returning to it.

May you, too, pull darkness out of light
and light out of darkness.
May you hear in your own voice
the laughter of water falling over stones.

May you hear in your own writing
the strangeness, the surprise of mystery,
the presence of ancestors, spirits,
voices buried in the cells of your body.

May you have the courage to honor
your own first language, the music of those
whose lives inhabit your own.
May you tell the truth and do no harm.

May you dare in your own words to touch
the broken heart of the world.
May your passion for peace and justice be wise:
remember – No one can argue with story.

May you study your craft as you would study
a new friend or a long time, much loved lover.
And all the while, lost though you may be in the forest,
drop your own words on the path like pebbles

and write your way home.
– Pat Schneider, Blessing for a Writer

Our whole spiritual transformation
brings us to the point
where we realize
that in our own being,
we are enough.
– Ram Dass

The Encounter with the Goddess
by Alicia Ostriker

There is one story and one story only
that will prove worth your telling
– Robert Graves, To Juan at the Winter Solstice

That one story worth your telling
Is the ancient tale of the encounter
With the goddess
Declares the poet Robert Graves

You can come and see
A sublime bronze avatar of the goddess
Standing in the harbor holding a book and lifting a torch
Among us her name is Liberty

She has many names and she is everywhere
You can also find her easily
Inside yourself—
Don’t be afraid—

Just do whatever she tells you to do

How can I pour the ocean
of praise into this thimble?
The lifespan of Shiva
just a breath in your eternity,
Earth spins on the spine
of your stillness.
Planets circle their stars because
your darkness is awake.
Our galaxy is your dripping bowl.
Give us this day our daily milk.
For you are El Shaddai,
Lord of Breasts.
Overflowing is your nature.
We drank from you
before we were created,
trillions of minds floating like dust
in the golden beam of your gaze,
silently, so silently.
When you close your eyes,
there is wholeness.
When you open them, we dance.
– Fred LaMotte

At the End of the Endless Decade
by Mark Bibbins
For years had anyone needed me
to spell the word commiserate
I’d have disappointed them. I envy
people who are more excited
by etymology than I am, but not
the ones who can explain how
music works—I wonder whether
the critic who wrote
that the Cocteau Twins were the voice
of god still believes it. Why not,
what else would god sound like.
Even though I know better, when I see
The word misericordia I still think
suffering, not forgiveness;
when we commiserate we are united
not in mercy but in misery,
so let’s go ahead and call this abscess
of history the Great Commiseration.
The difference between affliction and affection
is a flick, a lick—but check
again, what lurks in the letters
is “lie,” and what kind of luck
is that. As the years pile up
our friends become more vocal
about their various damages:
Won’t you let me monetize
Your affliction, says my friend
the corporation. When I try to enter
the name of any city
it autocorrects to Forever:
I’m spending a week in Forever,
Forever was hotter than ever
this year, Forever’s expensive
but oh the museums,
and all of its misery’s ours.

Many people believe that eliminating the apparent causes of fear will eliminate it, but fear, like beauty, is part of the world. The fear of fear results in the growth of terror as well as a loss of the beauty and wonder of the world. By fearing fear, we create the room for terror and panic to grow. People become blinded by fear, driven by anxieties, and increasingly ruled by phobias and obsessions. When we fail to recognize how fear works in the world, we become ruled by it. The point is not to become paralyzed with foreboding or be caught in the panic that can grip the collective and cause people to run blindly in the wrong direction. The point is to willingly go where most fear to go, to follow where the fear might lead and face the ways that the world roars at us.
– Michael Meade

You know these are not ordinary times
when you are walking through the woods
absorbed by the silver glint of a stream and
looking up you are startled to see
an elderly man wearing a face mask as
blue as fear against the oak branched sky.

As if someone would sneeze on him or
cough into his 10 foot circumference of
personal space within the
amplitude of outdoor woodlands.
Or maybe it is the reverse of that.
He doesn’t want to sneeze a contagion

upon the green grass starting to erupt,
over the first harvests of
younger bees in Spring whose
wingbeats compose a communal hum,
a benediction lavished upon us
in spite of mites.

Or maybe the mask is worn to not
cough out toward the happy dogs running
on the trail, upon their masters seeking
solace from this age of Aquarius that is not
how we envisioned it all those
years ago, back when we were sure

we could
or would
save the world.
– Margo Stebbing

You who are not yet aware,
become the possessor of awareness.
If you haven’t traveled,
how can you be a guide?
In the Academy of Realization,
pay attention to the adept of love,
so that one day, O son,
you may become a father.
Wash your hands of the cheap metals
of existence like the mature,
so that you may find the philosopher’s Stone
of love and be gold yourself.
Sleeping and eating has kept you
far away from your true level.
You will come to yourself
when you give up sleeping and eating.
If the light of the love of truth
falls on your heart and soul,
you will be more beautiful
than the sun of the skies.
For one moment drown yourself
in the sea of God, don’t think
the seven seas will wet a single hair of yours.
From head to toe
you will become the light of God
when you lose yourself
on his resplendent road.
Once God’s face
becomes the only thing you see,
you will surely become a master of vision.
When the basis
of your existence is overthrown,
empty your heart,
for you will also be overthrown.
O Hafiz, if your head is set
on the climax of union,
be the dust on the threshold
of those who can see.
– Hafiz, translated by Kabir Helminski

Why do so many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians–people who clearly honor the Bible–so often disregard two requirements that are central to the biblical text and central to the teachings of Jesus: peacemaking and justice for the poor?
– Richard T. Hughes

Roshi Joan Halifax:
This is not a matter of acting as a good friend, vainly gathering a congregation, and nurturing people. Simply make people penetrate the root source directly, and try to make them quickly accede to their original disposition.
– Record of the Transmission of Illumination (Denkōruku), Keizan Jōkin, Bodiford

Quite the imperative!

Tsoknyi Rinpoche:
Anything is possible.
The point is to keep your heart
and mind open to the likelihood of change.

Compassion or altruism is not about
being perfect or just doing good;
It’s about this daring heart
that cherishes others and life itself.
– Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Do Not Despair

The problem with the world
is that we draw our family circle too small.
– Mother Teresa

Many of us wrestle with our response
to the sufferings of the country and the world. What can we do in the face of poverty,
disease, war, injustice,
and environmental devastation?
With the torrent of news, it is easy to despair,
to become cynical or numb.
The Buddhist approach to this collective suffering is to turn toward it.
We understand that genuine happiness
and meaning will come
through tending to suffering.
We overcome our own despair
by helping others to overcome theirs.

We might hear this
and become afraid of being overwhelmed.
But each of us can contribute
to the sanity of the world.
In doing so we discover
the role of the bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit word
for a being who is devoted to awakening
and to acting for the benefit of all that lives. The way of the bodhisattva
is one of the most radical and powerful
of all Buddhist forms of practice.
It is radical because it states
that the fulfillment of our happiness
comes from serving the welfare of others
as well as ourself.
Our highest happiness is connected
with the well-being of others.

The bodhisattva’s path is a striking contrast with the excessive individualism of our culture. Everything can get focused around me:
my fears, my happiness, my needs.
We can get so caught in our own drama
that we stop our own growth.

Reflective self-absorption
can be valuable for a time,
but we don’t want to stop there.
Therapists talk about how clients
eventually become sick
of listening to themselves,
which is actually a good sign.
It means we are moving beyond
the identification with our personal suffering. We are ready to care for a world
larger than our own.

Every wisdom tradition tells us
that human meaning and happiness
cannot be found in isolation
but comes about through generosity,
love, and understanding.
The bodhisattva, knowing this,
appears in a thousand forms,
from a caring grandmother
to the global citizen.
Meditators often recite the bodhisattva vows when they sit, offering any benefit
of their practice for the sake of others: “Sentient beings are numberless;
I vow to bring liberation to us all.”
Like the ancient Hippocratic oath,
the vow to serve the sick
taken by every physician,
the bodhisattva vows
to serve the welfare of all.

Psychologically
this is an astonishing thing to say.
Does this mean that I am going to run around and save six billion humans
and trillions of other beings? How can I do so? When we think about it
from our limited sense of self,
it seems impossible.
But when we make it an intention
of the heart, we understand.
To take such a vow is a direction,
a sacred purpose, a statement of wisdom,
an offering, a blessing.
When the world is seen
with the eyes of a bodhisattva,
there is no I and other, there is just us.
“We are not separate, we are interdependent,” declared the Buddha.
Even the most independent human being
was once a helpless infant cared for by others.

With each breath we interbreathe
carbon dioxide and oxygen
with the maple and oak,
the dogwood and redwood trees
of our biosphere.
Our daily nourishment joins us
with the rhythms of bees, caterpillars,
and rhizomes; it connects our body
with the collaborative dance
of myriad species of plants and animals.

Nothing is separate.
Biologist Lewis Thomas explains,
“The driving force in nature,
on this kind of planet
with this sort of biosphere, is cooperation…
The most inventive and novel of all schemes
in nature, and perhaps the most significant
in determining the great landmark events
in evolution, is symbiosis,
which is simply cooperative behavior
carried to its extreme.”

Unless we understand this,
we are split between caring for ourselves
or caring for the troubles of the world.
“I arise in the morning,”
wrote essayist E.B. White,
“torn between a desire to save the world
and an inclination to savor it.”
Recognition of interdependence
helps to solve this dilemma.
Through meditation we discover
that the duality of inner and outer is false.
Thus when Gandhi was lauded
for all his work for India, he demurred,
“I do not do this for India,
I do this for myself.”

We are limited only by our imagination.
Yes, there will always be suffering.
Yes, greed and fear and ignorance
will be part of our collective psychology.
But there are ways we can live wisely.
Raising a family, running a conscious business, and righting an injustice
all can contribute to the fabric of the whole. Every one of us can sense this potential.
We human beings can live
with more compassion,
with more care for one another,
with less prejudice and racism and fear.
There are wise ways of solving conflict
that await our hands and hearts.
– Jack Kornfield

Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum.
– Paolo Coelho

I never appreciated ‘positive heroes’ in literature.
They are almost always cliches, copies of copies,
until the model is exhausted.
I prefer perplexity, doubt, uncertainty,
not just because it provides a more ‘productive’
literary raw material,
but because that is the way we humans really are.
– Jose Saramago

You are the only beauty in this
Celestial torture I will call my own.
– Lucie Brock-Broido

If you get into agreeable circumstances,
then shine through agreeable circumstances.

If you fall into adverse situations,
then shine through adverse situations.

When greed or desire arise,
shine through greed and desire;

when hatred or anger arise,
shine through hatred and anger;

when you act out of ignorance,
shine through ignorance.

When the three poisons of
hatred, greed, and ignorance

are not more, and the mind is pure,
shine through that pure mind.

At all times, in all places,
be it desires, senses,

gain, loss, right, wrong,
visions of Buddha or of dharma,

in all things shine through
with your whole body.
– Hakuin

Majid Naficy: Corpse of the Revolution
I do not wait for poetry
But go in search of it
Because my wings are broken
And I am left far from my nest
Where my sister
For the last few days
Has remained home with her granddaughter
Because air pollution
Doesn’t let her go to school;
Where my brother-in-law
For the last few days
Has remained in ICU
Because the sanction
Doesn’t let him find his heart medicine;
Where in the demonstrations
For the last few days
Thousands of people have been arrested
And hundreds have been shot;
Where the corpse of the Revolution
For the last forty years
Has remained on the shoulders of our people
And the earth does not accept it.

Everything is a footprint of Buddha, anything that goes on, whether we regard it as sublime or ridiculous.
– Chogyam Trungpa

I have already settled it for myself
so flattery and criticism
go down the same drain and I am quite free.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

Life Is Not What You
expected — cows
ruminate by the highway
even in rain or bat their
ears forward and back and how
you thought the story of your life
would get told: the children you thought
you’d already have by now partially grown
books and other accomplishments — houses
owned cities seen lakes traversed — and now
we’re stuck in traffic
and it’s not even rush hour
with the hurricane storm
moving slowly north from Alabama.
How come it’s raining here already
somewhere south of Albany — just one
damned thing after another and those
injections you’ve had to give yourself and
your dad’s bypass surgery. Just look:
Evening primrose all along the roadside match
the painted line and Queen Anne’s lace
on the other side rows of young corn
joe-pye weed blurred to Scottish heather.
When you go for a walk blackberries have started
ripening you pluck two
from each bush notice tadpoles suck air
along the fountain’s rim. Such small swishings
of joy maybe
this is it — every day puts forth a new song deer flies
dive-bombing your head when the breeze
lets up.
– Sharon Dolin

As it is, we are merely bolting our lives – gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in – because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more simple than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment – from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies – how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?
– Alan Watts

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
– Mark Twain

There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of [hu]man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty.
The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

I am convinced that capitalism has seen its best days in American [sic], and not only in America, but in the entire world…. It has failed to meet the needs of the masses…. There is a definite move away from capitalism, … capitalism finds herself like a losing football team in the last quarter trying all types of tactics to survive.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Emerging
by Pablo Neruda
A man says yes without knowing
how to decide even what the question is,
and is caught up, and then is carried along
and never again escapes from his own cocoon;
and that’s how we are, forever falling
into the deep well of other beings;
and one thread wraps itself around our necks,
another entwines a foot, and then it is impossible,
impossible to move except in the well —
nobody can rescue us from other people.

It seems as if we don’t know how to speak;
it seems as if there are words which escape,
which are missing, when have gone away and left us
to ourselves, tangled up in snares and threads.

And all at once, that’s it; we no longer know
what it’s all about, but we are deep inside it,
and now we will never see with the same eyes
as once we did when we were children playing.
Now these eyes are closed to us,
now our hands emerge from different arms.

And therefore when you sleep, you are alone in your dreaming,
and running freely through the corridors
of one dream only, which belongs to you.
Oh never let them come to steal our dreams,
never let them entwine us in our bed.
Let us hold on to the shadows
to see if, from our own obscurity,
we emerge and grope along the walls,
lie in wait for the light, to capture it,
till, once and for all time,
it becomes our own, the sun of every day.

This world is like a mountain. Your echo depends on you. If your speech is worthy, the world will reflect it back. If your speech fails you, the world will reflect it back. Even if someone speaks badly of you, speak well about them. Changing your own heart changes the world.
– Shams Tabrizi

When hearing something unusual, do not pre-emptively reject it, for that would be folly. Indeed, awful things may be true, and familiar and praised things may prove to be lies. Truth is truth unto itself, not because people say it is.
– Ibn al-Nafis

Continued trust follows testing & research & is given to those who have proven trustworthy.

One thing about me: I may not show up all shiny and radiant, I may show up wearing my trauma, but I will show up for social justice, with bells on. And I had a dream last night where I was with the Dalai Lama, and he said we are just going to hang out, and not do the teacher/student thing. I had the sense of urgency from him, that we don’t have time to play out the hierarchy of awakeness anymore. Just show up–however you come. Its good enough.
– Margo Stebbing

You have told me to keep on my guard against errors. What is your opinion of my recent higher experiences? I used to feel a Consciousness, a vast Wideness which has become each individual. This Consciousness contains all and is in all. I used to feel that each is a part of me since I am that vast Consciousness. I felt that whatever I was doing, I was doing for myself, which is above. Will you tell me what all this means and why you warned me to take care? Was there a chance of making an error?

Aurobindo – The experiences were all right – but they give only one side of the Divine Truth, that which one attains through the higher mind – the other side is what one attains through the heart. Above the higher mind these two truths become one. If one realises the silent Atman above, there is no danger, but there is also no transformation, only Moksha, Nirvana. If one realises the cosmic self, dynamic and active, then one realises all as the Self, all as myself, that self as the Divine, etc. This is all true; but the danger is of the ego catching hold of the “my” in that conception of all as “myself”. For this “myself” is not my personal self but everybody’s self as well as mine. The way to get rid of any such danger is to remember that this Divine is also the Mother, that the personal “I” is a child of the Mother with whom I am one, yet different, her child, servant, instrument. I have said that you should not stop realising the Self or the cosmic consciousness, but should at the same time remember that all this is the Mother.
– Sri Aurobindo, Letters on The Mother

The great yearning that sweeps eternity is a yearning to praise, a yearning to serve. And when the waves of that yearning swell in our souls all the barriers are pushed aside: the crust of callousness, the hysteria of vanity, the orgies of arrogance. For it is not the I that trembles alone, it is not a stir out of my soul but an eternal flutter that sweeps us all.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

Everything’s already been said,
but since nobody was listening,
we have to start again.
– André Gide

the present times, and in every continent, we find ourselves marred in malice and ill-will. just as it often happened in history, citizens seeking radical changes choose leaders that can only destroy the core values and the future prospects of their nations. eastern and western europe of the 20th century is one tragic example. what shall be our response and our challenge? one cannot be lead to faith, nor be led by it. we make our faith as we dialogue with the paths of our lives. face to face, and, as the poet machado said, “blow by blow”. for this we need to remember: prayer and poetry were not meant to protect us from dismay and despair. but they might help us understand the ways in which pain and despair, sometimes, can protect us too.
– hune margulies

Impatience is that irritable guest who shows up before we’ve established a sense of belonging, when we’re shy and awkward and prone to self-doubt. It can stay a good, long while. Impatience is our urge to bypass this awkward phase, when things aren’t yet comfortable or settled, and rush to redemption. Paradoxically, it is essential to really inhabit this awkwardness if we want to find our particular way of belonging.

It is before familiarity sets in that we are most alive and porous to our environment, our relationships, and even ourselves. If you’ve ever gone travelling with just a backpack, you’re familiar with this magic. Travelling where we don’t know anyone, or how to get about, we are forced into complete unfamiliarity. Though part of us is impatient to have community and other anchors in place, this clumsy period is full of potential. We could reinvent ourselves or meet different kinds of people outside our habitual type. Now imagine that we could be symbolic travellers every day of our lives by becoming friendly with the awkwardness of all that is unresolved in our hearts.
– Toko-pa Turner, Belonging

Perennials
Let us praise the ghost gardens
of Gary, Detroit, Toledo—abandoned

lots where perennials wake
in competent dirt and frame the absence

of a house. You can hear
the sound of wind, which isn’t

wind at all, but leaves touching.
Wind itself can’t speak. It needs another

to chime against, knock around.
Again and again the wind finds its tongue,

but its tongue lives outside
of its rusted mouth. Forget the wind.

Let us instead praise meadow and ruin,
weeds and wildflowers seeding

years later. Let us praise the girl
who lives in what they call

a transitional neighborhood—
another way of saying not dead?

Or risen from it? Before running
full speed through the sprinkler’s arc,

she tells her mother, who kneels
in the garden: Pretend I’m racing

someone else. Pretend I’m winning.
– Maggie Smith

The moment you give kids a space, they are able to turn tragedy into really profound wisdom.
– Avani Dilger

I am on a deadline. I wish I could write something new about how we might best come through this terrifying patch of time. But I decided to re-post a slightly rewritten piece from a few years ago. Maybe there is something in it that will help break the trance of fear a lot of us are feeling.
Where do we start?
We breathe, confused and stunned, pray, stick together.
Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.
I wish there was a website we could turn to called, “What it means, What is True, and What to do.” Lots of very tense religious people are going to insist that their Scripture answers all these questions. That’s nice. Lots of them will try to hustle us into joining them in Vengeance World. As that had just been so helpful before, right?
So where do we even begin today? What do we do when it feels like we are all doomed, and the future will only be worse, and we can’t remember anything that ever helped us come through? Well, we have shards of truth, and we can gather them up, bits of broken mosaic tile that shine.
We know that this is a dangerous place, that we are a vulnerable species, that Cain is still killing Abel, that the world is hotter. And yet also, that Love is sovereign here.
We know that “Why” is not a useful question; and “Figure it out” is not a good slogan. We know that the poor, the innocent, babies, the very old, and the LGBTQ community always bear the brunt of hardship and disaster.
So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, try some radical self-care: friendly self-talk, a cup of tea.
Grace always does bat last, and the light always overcomes the darkness–always, historically. But not necessarily later the same day, or tomorrow, after lunch. So kindness and encouragement to everyone, even to our very disappointing selves. This pandemic will be hard, but we’re good at hard. Wendell Berry told me 25 years ago, in Advent, the darkest days of winter, “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.” But you don’t have to believe in a God with socks and shoes on: maybe just Goodness? Love?
What is the answer? Gandhi is almost always the answer.
Jesus’s love for the poor and refugees is the answer.
Adding a bit of light and warmth to these cold dark days doesn’t hurt. Candles are beautiful and bring a soupçon of solace to our souls.
People living on the streets could really use a Hello, and a buck, and bottles of water.
Grace will always show up in the helpers, as Mr. Rogers’ mother used to tell him in times of tragedy. But today, right now, if you have a nice bumper sticker that explains or makes sense of it all, it’s probably best if you keep that to yourself. It is definitely best that you not share it with us. It will cause me to get a tic in my eye and will guarantee that the next time I see you, I will run for my cute little life. Everyone in his or her right mind will.
So how do we shelter in place in the midst of fear and fear?
We stick together in our anxiety and cluelessness. We reach out for any help at all; we share any truth and encouragement and humor we come upon. We feed the poor and send money to people who are helping save children around the world. These are good responses. I am going to recommend that we do that today, and tomorrow.
I notice we are being gentler, more patient and kind with each other. If people are patient and kind, that’s a lot. It means something of the spirit is at work.
We will come through this pandemic, but it will take time. I so hate this! Hate this, hate this, hate this, and do not agree to this, but have no alternative, because it is Truth: it will take time.
We’re at the beginning of human and personal evolution. Whole parts of the world don’t even think women are people. But we show up. Maybe we ask God for help. We do the next right thing. We buy or cook a bunch of food for the local homeless. We return phone calls, library books, smiles. We make eye contact with others, and we go to the market and flirt with people who seem lonely. This is a blessed sacrament. Tom Weston taught me decades ago that in the face of human tragedy, we go around the neighborhood and pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow. It is another blessed sacraments.
We take the action and the insight will follow: that we are basically powerless, but we are not helpless. We wash our hands, etc. We pray and/or hope for Grace, which is spiritual WD-40. I have no answers but know one last thing that is true: More will be revealed. Things are much wilder, weirder, richer, more insane, beautiful, and more profound than I am comfortable with. The paradox is that in the reality of this, we discover that in the smallest moments of amazement, at our own crabby stamina, at kindness, even to strange lonely people who worry us, and gentle attention, to breath and all the new blossoms, we will be saved.
– Anne LaMotte

Poet’s Response(ability)
Chisel a bee of truth
from the elephants
of headlines
Headlines that infect
that clear grocery shelves
Sacrificed trees
at both ends
(newspaper/ toilet paper)
Breathe….
Take 3 deep breaths
and look up
A Red-Tail Hawk
carries a twig to her nest
A few clouds carry spring rain
to the early lettuce
The sun
right where expected to be
Chisel 4 minutes
from the 1,440 in a day
And look up
– Valerie A Szarek

To be alive at this time means to be caught in a great unraveling that strands us near all the loose threads of creation; but it also means to be close to the revelation of the new design and the next paradigm. The old knowers say that the cave of knowledge can be found in the depths of the human soul, that each soul is threaded with inner qualities intended to be woven into the world and added to the garment of creation. They say that the creative energies of each soul become more important when the dark times come round again. In facing up to the enormous problems of the world and accepting the troubles that knock on our doors, we can better learn what hidden resources, deep resolves, and surprising designs we have hidden within us.
– Michael Meade

The Dalai Lama:
The Buddha doesn’t wash away our sins…
doesn’t give us liberation.
He shows us the way…
we can liberate ourselves.

Democracy works by a seemingly innocent idea: rule by the majority. Let the enlightened citizen decide how they want to live and how they want to be governed. If more people prefer that articulated choice, mount up a government on those principles. One person, one vote. Simple enough. But it has never worked this way mainly because the unit of democratic governance is not “a person” or the rational voter or the innocent vote, but a complicated and heterogeneous network of human and more than human processes that includes, among others, the mass media and its influential narrative-shaping biases masked as professional objectivism; the attraction of incumbent power; the huge role of money and the corporate consolidation of agency; the socioeconomic isolation and colonized imagination of the marginalized; the self-referential fragility and performative righteousness of the shamed oppressor class; collective addictions to the myth of the photogenic hero; a loveless technosocial landscape and ethical milieu (read: Twitter) that sterilizes identity, antagonizes difference and is unforgiving in its proliferation of sinners; an educational system that privileges the correct answer and linear thinking; the intoxicating tribalism of partisan politics; hope.

In short, democracy is based on the idea that the voter is free. But the voter is neither free nor rational. People will kick and scratch their way out of a conversation about healthcare and money in politics because they don’t like the way a candidate looks. More than rational processes are afoot in an electoral system that only has the algorithm to privilege or produce “rational choices” as an end product. But “choice” is the myth. The voter is an extension of the apparatus. The voter is a concept of the vote. The Vote. And the Vote gains its power by disconnecting the voter from the affective wilds that have always been, and are always implicated, when we vote. The printed page of the ballot is not blank or disinterested, it is already scribbled upon with invisible ink. A palimpsest of hidden scripts. Electoral politics will largely tend to leave things the same, to repeat itself. The more invisible the assemblage is (that is, the more we fail to notice how unfree we are), the more provincial and impoverished our politics will be.

We need a new politics, not by declaration or by violent endings and bloodshed. Not by victory or eloquent manifestoes. But by touching the matters the Vote performatively leaves out of view. We need small implosions of messianic im/possibility. Modest reappraisals of the claims and promises of conventional power. And sitting in the dark until something happens.

With grief,
Bayo Akomolafe

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

the present times, and in every continent, we find ourselves marred in malice and ill-will. just as it often happened in history, citizens seeking radical changes choose leaders that can only destroy the core values and the future prospects of their nations. eastern and western europe of the 20th century is one tragic example. what shall be our response and our challenge? one cannot be lead to faith, nor be led by it. we make our faith as we dialogue with the paths of our lives. face to face, and, as the poet machado said, “blow by blow”. for this we need to remember: prayer and poetry were not meant to protect us from dismay and despair. but they might help us understand the ways in which pain and despair, sometimes, can protect us too.
– hune margulies

The story of humanity is not a story of a few people who had huge, gigantic effects on the world. That’s only the story we hear, because it’s the easy story to tell. Caring for ourselves and other people is the only thing that has ever mattered to the future of our species.
– Hank Green

Things that remember themselves
are not forgotten, but rise on wings
of experience and paint our minds
with visions of our ancestors.
Things that remember themselves are pictures
without form and words without a tongue.
They give meaning to what we thought
we had forgotten in our youth.

Things that remember themselves give light
to the uncertain paths we used to take,
bringing beauty to the house
of our ripening old age.
– Nancy Wood

Chamtrul Rinpoche:
More self, more problem.
Less self, less problem.
No self, no problem.

What I’m witnessing is that this uncertainty is a great liberating gift to the psyche and the spirit,” she said. “It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.”
– Joanna Macy -On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture

There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not lead single issue lives.
– Audre Lorde

How to Cook Your Life
Translator’s Introduction

Sawaki Rōshi also used to say frequently, “Just sit―that’s all there is,” and “No matter how many years you sit doing zazen, you will never become anything special.”

The first time I heard these two expressions I thought to myself, well, finally I can just sit without having to do anything―no more reading, no more having to answer to anyone, no more anything. Needless to say, the conclusion that I had drawn upon hearing Sawaki Rōshi’s remarks was completely off the mark. Zazen is not an escape from the world. Behind Sawaki Rōshi’s statements were many, many years of hard study and practice.

But of practicing what? studying what? I was only interested in sticking to the letter of Sawaki Rōshi’s pronouncements, not realizing that the significance and ramifications of “just sit” went far beyond the physical act of folding one’s legs and facing the wall.

Uchiyama Rōshi helped me a great deal in not allowing me to use zazen as an escape. He said, “You must know that behind zazen are the teachings of Buddhism, and behind them, your own life experience.” These words went a long way in clarifying for me a passage in the Shōbō-genzō: Genjō Kōan (Actualizing the Koan): “To study Buddhism is to study the Self.” Of course, to study the Buddha’s Way includes practicing zazen. In fact, whenever the word “study” appears in Dōgen Zenji’s writings, it is inclusive of or based upon practice. Dōgen says here that to study Buddhism means to study one’s Self; to learn Buddhism is to learn one’s Self. Until I read that passage, I thought that studying meant learning about a lot of things that I did not yet know, and actually, did not really care about. Here, however, Dōgen equates the study and practice of the Buddha’s Way with the study and practice of one’s Self. Looking deeply into the writings and sutras of past teachers does not mean to learn something that is unrelated to us. Studying ancient writings means to study our lives. To study the Tenzo Kyōkun came to mean for me that I would be studying my own life. In reading the text over and over I have found the truth in a remark made to me by the senior monk at Antaiji at that time, “It’s not reading the Tenzo Kyōkun that takes all you’ve got!”

With the advice and encouragement of that senior priest, I was able to put together the first translation of the text in about a year. The next eight years I spent refining it, which means that I have continued to practice, using the text as a guide for my own life. One who engages in translating Buddhist texts (or religious texts of any kind), first of all, should know the basis from which those texts came into existence, and secondly, to understand them well, he must become intimate with their content by practicing what they teach. Otherwise, that person merely becomes a transliterator ―someone who simply exchanges the surface meaning of the letters of one language for those of another language.

At the time Dōgen Zenji was writing the Tenzo Kyōkun, he had already left Kennin-ji in Kyoto, and had set up his own monastery at Kōshō-ji in Fukakusa, just south of the city. At Kōshō-ji, Dōgen gained a reputation for being a strict teacher, and the number of disciples and followers increased rapidly. Hence, it was only natural that some sort of regulations be established to insure that everyone could practice with as few difficulties as possible. These regulations were born out of the situation as it developed.

Dōgen finished writing the Tenzo Kyōkun in the spring of 1237, at the age of 37. The remaining chapters of the Eihei Daishingi, which deal with other aspects of monastic life, were completed later on…

It goes without saying that the central practice of a person practicing Buddhism is zazen. However, the reader should not get the idea that here I am comparing zazen with the rest of our day-to-day activities. To do so would be to fall into the trap that many practitioners fall into of clinging to the idea that practicing zazen is most important; therefore, one should practice it twenty-four hours a day. The error here is in taking literally the idea of zazen being the most important activity in our life as opposed to all our other activities.

On the other hand, there is another trap that people can and often do fall into, and that is the one of thinking that we must practice zazen in all of our day-to-day activities. The obvious next step in this way of thinking is to equate all of one’s activities with zazen. That is, everything one does is zazen―eating, sleeping, drinking, being. The practical problem in this way of thinking is that all too often people simply wind up doing less and less zazen, deluding themselves into believing that since all their activities are zazen there is no need to sit and face the wall and do zazen.

To restate the problem, taking the idea of zazen as the central practice in a relative or comparative sense leads to an egoistical extreme eventually inviting suicide. On the other hand, taking the idea of zazen in a “broader” context leads to a kind of simplistic eclecticism having nothing to do with zazen. In other words, to state that zazen has a definite and particular form, and to cling to that position leads to one kind of trouble, while stating that zazen has no particular form sends one off in another confused direction. There is no logical resolution to this problem. And it is this illogical paradox with which a true practitioner of Zen must “sit,” both literally and spiritually…

HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment ZEN MASTER DŌGEN AND KŌSHŌ UCHIYAMA RŌSHI Translated by Thomas Wright

In the thirteenth century, Zen master Dogen—perhaps the most significant of all Japanese philosophers, and the founder of the Japanese Soto Zen sect—wrote a practical manual of Instructions for the Zen Cook. In drawing parallels between preparing meals for the Zen monastery and spiritual training, he reveals far more than simply the rules and manners of the Zen kitchen; he teaches us how to “cook,” or refine our lives. In this volume Kosho Uchiyama Roshi undertakes the task of elucidating Dogen’s text for the benefit of modern-day readers of Zen. Taken together, his translation and commentary truly constitute a “cookbook for life,” one that shows us how to live with an unbiased mind in the midst of our workaday world.

Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.
– Marian Wright Edelman

If you understand, things are just as they are.
If you do not understand, things are just as they are.

Si comprendes, las cosas son tal como son.
Si no comprendes, las cosas son tal como son.
– Zen proverb / Proverbio Zen

Love has no agenda.
Love doesn’t demand change;
does not require performance,
does not need validation.
Love simply is.
If you expect something from someone
in order to love them,
what you feel is not love: it is attachment.

If you can look to your beloved
and promise to love them the same
no matter what they are,
what they do, who they like,
no matter their reasons or their histories,
then you may be on the track to love.
If, however, there is any sort of qualifier
to your love, you are simply clinging,
and clinging is always destructive,
not constructive.
– Byron Katie

Every year the poem I most want to write, the poem that would in effect allow me to stop writing, changes shapes, changes direction. The poem never sleeps unless I do, for if I were to come upon it sleeping, I would net it. And that would be that, my splendid catch.
– C.D. Wright

“This is not what I expected,” you might say
on this endless day
in this particularly challenging season
of your most difficult hour.

“This is not what I expected,” you might say about
your fragile situation
your withering spirit
your cancelled plans
your distant child
your shaky relationship
your diminishing hope

“This is not what I expected,” you might say.
But it doesn’t mean it won’t eventually be okay… or become something worth celebrating, in time.

In these diversions from the path you imagined, expected, or hoped for,
there are opportunities to see silver linings on your soul you didn’t even know you had.

In the shakiness, you shine.
In the unpredictableness, you persist.
In the storm, you surface.

But now, you must breathe.

Breathing… being… and collecting oneself is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

This is how we figure out next steps: we stay still for a moment and breathe.

– Rachel Macy Stafford

If you can remember to say
“everything is a dream,
everything is an illusion,”
even if you are kind of faking it,
even if you are not buying it wholeheartedly,
it would have so much benefit.
You could recite and contemplate,
“What I am looking at is just my dream,
my illusion, my projection,” every day,
maybe once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the night.

And if you want to elaborate, you can face toward Bodhgaya and bow down three times while you think this. You could even roll out
a small carpet and do all sorts
of exotic mudras, if it helps you.
As long as you are thinking
everything is a dream.
Then also immediately ask,
who is thinking “everything is an illusion?”

After two or three years, if you do it properly every day, your way of looking at the world
will change. The way an adult no longer cries over a wave taking a sandcastle,
the normal things that used to make you worked up might not work you up so much. And that’s quite an achievement.
That is better than a halo. A halo is useless, what will you do with a halo?

Especially if you need to be incognito,
carrying a halo around with you doesn’t help. But this attitude is useful. People will notice that you have become quite stable.
Then the bonus is that you become
a good leader, a good manager, a good spouse.
Those are the bonuses, we aren’t aiming for that. Our aim is the big vision:
to realize the truth.

– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Two Poems by CARL PHILLIPS

In this Light

Sure, I used to say his name like a truth that, just
by saying it aloud, I could make more true, which
makes no more sense than having called it sorrow,
when it was only the rain making the branches hang
more heavily, so that some of them, sometimes,
even touched the ground…I see that now. I can see

how easy it is to confuse estrangement with what
comes before that, what’s really just another form
of being lost—lost, and trying to spell out wordlessly,
hand-lessly, the difference between I fell and Sir,
I’m falling. As for emptiness spilling where no one
ever wanted it to, and becoming compassion, as for

how that happens—What if all we do is all we
can do? What if longing, annihilation, regret are all this
life’s ever going to be, a little music thrown across and
under it, ghost-song from a cricket-box when the last
crickets have again gone silent, now, or be still forever,
as the gathering crowd, ungathering, slowly backs away?

Since You Ask

Through the air, over water,
five crows are taking down a falcon–

it’s like a dream:

dream-falcon
deposition
mercy-falcon

the wings folding and unfolding like
any childhood looked at

then looked away from, across it

warriors spurring on forever their still half-wild horses,
rivers to ford, still,
slaughter ahead—bullet, arrow—horses

included, if you must,
then swiftly, despite whatever in a horse might count

as innocence, X, but glittering, let it

split the fair steed’s forehead clean in two.

The goal of meditation is not to suspend you
in prolonged states of altered consciousness
but to undergird the awakening process
so that you can be fully conscious
and present in daily life.
– Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing

Please do not build a stupa for me.
Please do not put my ashes in a vase,
lock me inside and limit who I am.
I know this will be difficult for some of you.
If you must build a stupa though,
please make sure that you put a sign on it
that says, ‘I am not in here.’
In addition, you can also put another sign
that says, ‘I am not out there either,’
and a third sign that says, ‘If I am anywhere,
it is in your mindful breathing
and in your peaceful steps.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Beauty

Frugal musicality is how Kristeva described depression’s speech

Cleaning out the sink drain

The melted cheese

The soggy muesli

My life can pass like this

Waiting for beauty

Tomorrow—I say

A life is a thing you have to start

The fridge is a thing with weak magnets, a little sweaty on the inside

A bag of shriveled lime

Arugula frozen then thawed then frozen again, still sealed

I haven’t touched anyone in a year

You asked for beauty, and one morning, a small blue eggshell on the stoop, shattered open, its contents gone

Likely eaten

M asked if I’ve ever made a choice to live and why

I lied the way you lie to the suicidal

A few times, I said—not Most days

Most mornings

No, not morning

Morning I am still new

Still possible, I’m still possibly

Usually by 3:00

When grandmother died, she hadn’t been called beautiful in at least half a century

Is never described as such

Her fallen stockings, the way she spit, thwack of the meat cleaver, the little bones she sucked clean and piled on her plate, not really looking at anyone, and certainly not me.

– Solmaz Sharif

Abandon the view of self

As long as one is not free
from the wrong view of self,
one cannot expect to escape
from the risk of falling into
the miserable realms of the hells,
the animals or the petas.
Though one may be leading a happy life
in the human or deva world
by virtue of one’s merits,
yet one is liable to fall back
into the miserable states of existence
at any time, when one’s demerits operate.
For this reason, the Buddha pointed out
that it is essential to work
for the total removal of the wrong view of self: “Let a monk go forth mindfully
to abandon view of self.
– Mahasi Sayadaw

Shaddai is connected with strength and protection, which is why the mezuzah on the door posts of Jewish homes have the letter shin on it. (Shaddai is spelled shin, dalet, yod). Shaddai also is connected with nurturing for it is associated with the Hebrew word shad, which means breast—so Shaddai is at times called “the breasted God,” which could also be interpreted as the “protector of the hearth.”
– Rabbi David Cooper, Ecstatic Kabbalah

The Blue Rose is related to the Shekinah, to accessing the forgotten and buried Sophianic presence to be found in the body, in the black hole at the center of the galaxy as the Cosmic Womb – the place of creation and creativity, in the processes of alchemy, in the mysteries of life, death, and rebirth practices, and in silence. “It is time when, once again, we must try to bring the feeling heart into reality, in the midst of warring opposites and much suffering, to balance the hegemony of the rational mind,” she says. “In these dark times, new seeds are being sown.”

Various movement exercises and earth-based rituals fire up the kundalini serpent energy in the body to facilitate this connection with the Wise Women Ancestors, and to stimulate oracular knowing, knowing as gnosis (direct knowledge) that comes from the deep intelligence of the womb, a sacred center considered a ‘second brain.’
.
But in all these resonances, MM said that one of the centrally important facts is how in her current presence she is pointing towards the Celestial Sophia, a cosmic being, also known as the heavenly or celestial rose. The work of Sophia in our own time is helping to prepare the way for a new culture of love and wisdom that is being seeded at this time of terrible disintegration and environmental stress, a cultural nigredo and ‘dark night of the soul’ which is, at the same time, an opportunity to transform and work on our own shadows, listen to our dreams, as well as becoming more aware of the sacred in our lives.
– Veronica Goodchild

And raise your eyes skywards, and raise your left and right hands in the image of the raising of the hands of the priest which is the priestly blessing, who divides his fingers, five from the right and five from the left.
And the two little ones (the little and ring fingers) close and cleaving together and the middle and index fingers near them cleaving. And divide in the middle and the thumb spread by itself.
– Abraham Abulafia, Path of the Divine Names
– Blessing, Mati Klarwein

The first thing a writer has to do
is find another source of income.
Then, after you have begged, borrowed,
stolen or saved up the money to give you time
to write and you spend all of it
staying alive while you write,
and you write your heart out,
after all that, maybe no one will publish it,
and if they publish it, maybe no one will read it.
That is the hard truth,
that is what it means to be a writer.
– Ellen Gilchrist

When facing death, kings and beggars are treated in the same manner. After death, every sentient being will be thrown around in samsara by their positive and negative karma. Therefore, it is very unwise to commit a negative action, while thinking solely about benefiting this present life.
– Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche

Get out of the construction business! Stop building bridges across the raging waters of samsaric existence, attempting to reach the “far shore,” nirvana. Better to simply relax, at ease and carefree, in total naturalness, and just go with the primordial flow, however it occurs and happens. And remember this: whether or not you go with the flow, it always goes with you.
– Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

the present times, and in every continent, we find ourselves marred in malice and ill-will. just as it often happened in history, citizens seeking radical changes choose leaders that can only destroy the core values and the future prospects of their nations. eastern and western europe of the 20th century is one tragic example. what shall be our response and our challenge? one cannot be lead to faith, nor be led by it. we make our faith as we dialogue with the paths of our lives. face to face, and, as the poet machado said, “blow by blow”. for this we need to remember: prayer and poetry were not meant to protect us from dismay and despair. but they might help us understand the ways in which pain and despair, sometimes, can protect us too.
– hune margulies

I Tried to Write a Poem Called “Imposter Syndrome” and Failed
Emilia Phillips
The way that the sea fails
to drown itself everyday. And entendre alludes all those not listening.
The way unfertilized chicken eggs fail to have imagination,
dozened out in their cardboard trays,
by which I mean they will never break
open
from the inside. The way my imagination (née anxiety) has
bad brakes and a need
to stop sometimes. The way I didn’t believe
it when he told me we were going to crash into the car idling
at a red light
ahead of us. To know our future like that seemed unlikely.
But to have time to tell me?
—Nearly impossible. I may have broken
several ribs that day
but I will never know for sure. I’m okay,
I guessed aloud to the paramedic. It doesn’t matter
if you’re broken if you’re broke,
I moaned in bed that night, after several glasses
of cheap red. I thought it would make a good blues
refrain. I made myself
laugh and so I made myself hurt—
MEMOIRS BY EMILIA PHILLIPS, goes the joke.
A friend of mine competes in beard and mustache tournaments,
even though she can’t grow one herself—
Once, she donned a Santa Claus made entirely out of hot-glued tampons.
It was as white as the spots in memories I doubt.
The first woman
I kissed who had never kissed a woman before
couldn’t get over how soft my face is,
even the scar. Once,
a famous poet said what’s this and touched my face
without asking—
his thumb like a cat’s tongue on the old wound.
He must have thought he was giving
me a blessing.

Words, too, changing shape into speech
cling to this planet.

So do I.

– Shuntaro Tanikawa
tr. W.I. Elliott and K. Kawamura

I care for myself.
The more solitary,
the more friendless,
the more unsustained I am,
the more I will respect myself.
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

I wonder why it should be so very difficult to be humble. I do not think I am a good writer; I realize my faults better than anyone else could realize them. I know exactly where I fail. And yet, when I have finished a story about before I have begun another, I catch myself preening my feathers. It is disheartening. There seems to be some bad old pride in my heart; a root of it that puts out a thick shoot on the slightest provocation…This interferes very much with work. One can’t be calm, clear, good as one must be, while it goes on. I look at the mountains, I try to pray and I think of something clever. It’s a kind of excitement within, which shouldn’t be there. Calm yourself. Clear yourself. And anything that I write in this mood will be no good; it will be full of sediment. If I were well, I would go off by myself somewhere and sit under a tree. One must learn, one must practice, to forget oneself. I can’t tell the truth about Aunt Anne unless I am free to look into her life without self-consciousness. Oh God! I am divided still. I am bad. I fail in my personal life. I lapse into impatience, temper, vanity, and so I fail as thy priest. Perhaps poetry will help.
– Katherine Mansfield, Journal entry from October of 1922

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
– Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poem Lorca wrote to Verlaine:

The song
I’ll never sing
fell silent on my lips.
The song
I’ll never sing

Song filled with lips,
welling up from afar.

Song filled with hours
counted off in the shade.

Song of the star alive
above perpetual day

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
– Terry Pratchett

This is the great secret of joyful effort and perhaps its most important aspect: Joyful effort isn’t something you do. Joyful effort is life, it’s sharing life. It comes to you from elsewhere, flows through you when you are ready to allow it.

Once you stop getting in its way, stop straining, stop thinking your life is yours and up to you, energy somehow appears – just enough energy, given the condition of your body and circumstances. If you have to do something, you will do it. If you have to rest, you will rest.
– Norman Fischer

I just have to say that “social distancing” are two words that shouldn’t go together. It hurts my soul.
– LaRue Owen

A saint (is one) who does not know how it is possible not to love, not to help, not to be sensitive to the anxiety of others.
– Abraham Heschel

I’ve found that whatever I go through opens me to what others have gone through. This is the gut and sinew of compassion. Our own ounce of suffering is the thread we pull to feel the entire fabric. Having pinched a nerve in my back, I can feel the steps of the elderly woman who takes twenty minutes to shuffle from the bread aisle to get her milk. Having lost dear ones to death, I can feel the weight of grief that won’t let the widower’s head lift his gaze from the center of the Earth where his sadness tells him his wife has gone. Having tumbled roughly through cancer, I can feel fear arcing between the agitated souls who can’t stand the wait. The fully engaged heart is the antibody for the infection of violence in the waiting room. I’ve begun to meet the cries of the world by unfurling before them like a flag.
– Hearing the Cries of the World, Mark Nepo

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
– Albert Einstein

BR. DAVID STEINDL-RAST:
The mystic is not a special human being
– every human being
is a special kind of mystic.

Love is not enough to see the journey through. Not the kind of love this apparently outrageously important song as of late for me tries to surrender or slay. This love is still overvalued and overburdened: may I radically adjust in this adjustment by deconstructing the singular purpose around which my heart used to swivel!
– Sarah McKelvey

A king who rules with self-interest is not worthy of being the protector of the kingdom. Likewise, a sectarian person is not worthy of being a holder of the dharma.
– Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

Telemachus
Ocean Vuong
Like any good son, I pull my father out
of the water, drag him by his hair
through sand, his knuckles carving a trail
the waves rush in to erase. Because the city
beyond the shore is no longer
where he left it. Because the bombed
cathedral is now a cathedral
of trees. I kneel beside him to see how far
I might sink. Do you know who I am,
ba? But the answer never comes. The answer
is the bullet hole in his back, brimming
with seawater. He is so still I think
he could be anyone’s father, found
the way a green bottle might appear
at a boy’s feet containing a year
he has never touched. I touch
his ears. No use. The neck’s
bruising. I turn him over. To face
it. The cathedral in his sea-black eyes.
The face not mine but one I will wear
to kiss all my lovers goodnight:
the way I seal my father’s lips
with my own and begin
the faithful work of drowning.

Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world…
– Joanna Macy

The Age of Tremendous Opportunity to Create a Healthier World!

All of humanity’s problems are the result of our collective conditioning patterns throughout history. Where there is pattern disruption, there is the opportunity for pattern divergence. Where there is movement, there are gaps. Where there are gaps, there is an opportunity for light to get through.

The clear-eyed rebel’s job, therefore, is to watch for opportunities to help lead us as a collective along a brand new, healthy trajectory. There’s no way to know in advance what those opportunities will look like, because predictability is premised on pattern consistency. But they will appear, from unpredictable and unanticipated new directions. Wherever you see a gap, your job is to pour as much truth and wisdom and health into it as you can possibly muster.

Watch for gaps in the armor of the establishment oppression machine. Watch for gaps in the deluded nature of our society. Watch for gaps in the patterns, and use your wisdom and creativity to assist them in unpatterning as the opportunity presents itself.
2020 is still just getting warmed up.
– C Johnstone

Light on the Mountain” / “Slow-Shedding

Here’s to our psychic scars.
The places where the
arrows went in;
where our soul’s sweet honey
leaked out and left us dried up
and soured for a time.
Here’s to all the seismic slicing we’ve known.
The crags and crevices left
from when razor-sharp ice floes
cut deep rivers through us.
Here’s to the fierce tumbling
when our very structures
were thrown down as rubble;
when we were set to wandering, again, looking for shelter, exhausted,
yet somehow grateful to be reminded
of the ancient language of resiliency.

It could be that in the end
we will all find ourselves alone,
orphaned —
the ones who remain
after all others have traveled on.

Hold fast.
We are still breathing for a reason.
We are still walking in moonlight.
Birdsong still passes through us.
We are still woven-in.

An endless line of unseen faces
carry rustic lanterns of mountain light.
They’ve gone ahead to light the path.
There is a light on the mountain.
There is light on the mountain.

>|<
A cloudy-eyed snake
shedding skin,
I am.

Slowly, slowly, shedding skin.

A cloudy-eyed snake
shedding skin,
I am.

Down paths and rivers, I go.
Over horizons, I go.
Slowly, I go —
eyes becoming clear again.
– Frank LaRue Owen, Pure Land Poetry

Buddha said:
”All your notions are wrong.“
Please notice he didn’t say “some.“
– Samuel Long

WE’RE ALL IN RECOVERY FROM WESTERN CIVILIZATION Sooner or later, we each must address the paramount addiction in the Western and Westernized worlds: our psychological dependence on the world-view and lifestyle of Western civilization itself.6 The Western worldview says, in essence, that technological progress is the highest value, and that we were born to consume, to endlessly use and discard natural resources, other species, techno-gadgets, toys, and, often, other people, especially if they’re poor or from the global South. It’s a world of commodities, not entities; of consumers, not human beings; and economic expansion is the primary measure of progress. Profits are valued over people, money over meaning, our national entitlement over global peace and justice, “us” over “them.” This addiction to Western civilization — especially now that the Chinese, too, are hooked — is by far the most dangerous one in the world because of how rapidly and extensively it’s undermining the natural systems of Earth. Addiction to Western civilization protects us from seeing and feeling the staggering price all Earthly life pays for our consumer habit. And it protects us from having to make any radical changes in lifestyle,7 or from having to grow up, leave the “home” of our adolescent comforts, and embark upon the hazardous journey of initiation that leads to an existence that’s life enhancing, meaningful, and fulfilling. The more we live in a materialistic flatland, the more we need it in order to keep from experiencing the agony of our alienation. Each of us has the opportunity to carefully examine our lives, uncover the ways in which our addiction to Western civilization operates, and make the biggest, most courageous changes we’re capable of.
– Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche

From the perspective and experience of the Wild Indigenous One, we are enchanted, and in two ways. First, the South Self is utterly moved by, deeply touched by, the things of this world — its creatures, greenery, landforms, weather, and celestial bodies — and recognizes that each thing has its own voice and presence. It’s as if we’re under a spell — enchanted — captured by the magic and utter mystery of each thing. And when we’re alive in our South facet, all that we do, even “work,” becomes play. The world fills us with wonder and awe. Sometimes we’re terrified by the deadly potential of terrestrial forms and forces such as tornadoes, grizzlies, and hornets, sometimes simply exhilarated, sometimes both at once. We’re also enchanted in a second, reciprocal sense: The things of the world are allured by us and to us! We ourselves, individually and as a species, are a magical power or presence in this world. The other-than-humans recognize in us a form of mystery no less stunning than their own. We, too, place other beings under a spell (including each other).
― Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche

In common parlance, “fool” and “sage” appear to be opposites, one connoting ignorance and the other wisdom. At their depths, however, both exhibit a nonattachment to form or outcome. The Sacred Fool acts from what often seems to be innocence, insanity, or lampoonery but is no less wise for it. We think of a Sage, in contrast, as strictly sober; but because she doesn’t strive and doesn’t seek positions of elected or hired leadership, the true Sage has neither investment in sobriety nor compulsion to comply with rules. The Sacred Fool dimension of our own psyches merges the innocence of the child and the wisdom of the elder. Both draw on the capacity to perceive simply and purely, to be fully present to the moment and to all things existing and happening within it. The Sacred Fool — in others or in ourselves — helps us grasp the big picture by poking fun at himself (and, in so doing, at all of us) or by making fun of us directly. He also might respond to our solemn questions and conceptions with perspectives that reject or reframe our most cherished assumptions.
– Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche

Egocentrism is the problem, then, not Egos. Egocentric people are agents for themselves only (and perhaps also for their immediate families), without awareness of or tending of the social and natural environments that sustain their lives. Their consciousness is Ego-centered. A person with a healthy, mature Ego, in contrast, is ecocentric; she understands herself as, first and foremost, an agent for (the health of) her ecosystem (and second, as an agent for the health of her human community, which dwells within that ecosystem; and third, as an agent for her immediate family and self). Spiritual practice helps mature our Egos. Faced with the assertion that the goal of spiritual practice is to eliminate the Ego, the East facet of the Self might respond with a hearty laugh and the blended perspectives of the Trickster, Fool, and Sage, as, for example, expressed by Jay Leeming: Trying to get rid of your ego Is like trying to get rid of your garbage can. No one believes you are serious. The more you shout at the garbage man The more your neighbors remember your name.6 Rather than attempting to jettison the Ego, a sensible person draws on the resources of her East Self to cultivate her relationship to innocence, wisdom, humor, and the great, transpersonal, and universal mysteries of life.”
– Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche

Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.
– Bertrand Russell

Tomm Moore:
It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind

Claim your authentic, true being, which is not culturally given to you.

The culture will not explain to you how to be a real human being.

Culture will tell you how to be banker, politician, Indian chief, masseuses, actress . . . …but it will not give you true being.
– Terence McKenna

That’s all anybody can do right now. Live. Hold out. Survive. I don’t know whether good times are coming back again. But I know that won’t matter if we don’t survive these times.
– Octavia E. Butler

I have loved tenderly
some very sweet lovers
without them knowing
anything about me.

I’ve woven spiderwebs
out of loves like this.
I have fallen prey
to my own creations.
– Alda Merini (alternate trans. by Susan Stewart below)

We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.
– Fred Rogers

I love that NOW is the only real forever.
– Byron Katie

let the time
be wrested from the war
let the war be won
let love be
at the end
– Lucille Clifton

Remember to breathe.
Listen to some music you love.
Take a walk.
Sink into a project and concentrate.
Dig in the dirt.
You are absorbing so much new information and feelings while imagining dozens of plausible futures.
Take the time to integrate all of your intelligences.
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people.

Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

When Giving Is All We Have
One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.
– Alberto Ríos

The one who follows the thought is also a thought! The one who follows the thought IS in thought.

When you know that both are thoughts, you are home.
You are not in Home, you ARE Home.

Then allow thoughts to arise and allow them to be followed. You remain as That unmoved and unconcerned Being. This is the highest understanding.
– Papaji

Jetsünma Tenzin Palmo:
We have been filling our minds with junk
since we were tiny children.
Dust comes in through television, books, movies, and idle conversation,
and we never clear it out.
We are so careful
about keeping our houses clean…
but our mind, which is our real home,
we do nothing with. We never clear it out.

The basic principle seems to be: everything in nature is here for a reason. And until we understand that reason, we better not just go around destroying things.
– Charles Eisenstein

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.

– Leonard Cohen, Democracy

Here is today’s excerpt. It is from Dreams:

Wisdom is not free. This is one reason among many that there are so few wise people in this culture. In a culture predicated on attempting to get others to pay all costs—in a culture where forcing others to jump through hoops on command is not merely an accurate statement of governing political and economic and social theory, not merely a statement of religious ideals, not merely a manifestation of moral emptiness, not merely a psychotic obsession, but an epistemological statement, a statement detailing how we determine what is true— wisdom, requiring as it does self-sacrifice, will be rare indeed.

One of the roles of any myth, as is true for dreams (and life, really) is to teach us how to live. What does science teach us about how to live? I don’t mean how to dominate, but rather, how to live. How to live in community. How to live sustainably (which means how to live on a land-base). Statements such as, “Science boosts its claim to truth by its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when,” teach us certain behavioral lessons. What are some of those lessons? To bring this back to wisdom, what is the relationship between the lessons taught by statements equating truth with the ability to dominate, and wisdom?

Faulkner’s metaphor above teaches us other behavioral lessons. What are some of the lessons taught by that metaphor? What does this teach us about wisdom, and how to gain it?

In a culture bereft of wisdom, and in a world being murdered by this wisdomless culture, maybe we should ask, what must we give up in order to gain at least some measure of wisdom?

I am dreaming. In this dream I am at my mother’s home. It is not her home in waking reality. But it is her home. I look out the front, see a view out the window of my childhood home. But this is not my childhood home. I see two dogs, in waking reality dead for many years, running in the driveway. I search for the dog who right now shares my waking reality, but I do not see him. A dog I don’t know runs toward the door. He wants to know me. It is night. I hear a sound to the rear of the house. My mother points to a place where the venetian blinds are bent. This is her spying spot, where she looks out when she hears this particular sound. I look out, see a man I think is a burglar. I tell him not to break in. He says he wasn’t going to do that, waves me off. I walk to the back door, open it, walk out, see him. He is staggering, and looks drugged, says he’s going to go home. I tell my mother he is a burglar. She, too, waves me off. I open her mailbox. Inside is another mailbox, and inside that another, nested mailbox after nested mailbox after nested mailbox. The mailboxes have no tops. They are open to the sky. But I could not see that until I opened them. A package is in the innermost mailbox. I leave it, go back inside. The door won’t latch, so I clumsily close it with a hook and eye. Seeing these nested mailboxes reminds that where I live now I have no mailbox, but rather a mail drop with keys, preventing open access to the post. I suddenly remember a place I lived for a few months twenty years ago, in Idaho, where I did have a mailbox. I remember how important this place was to my development as a human being and as a writer. I remember how much I enjoyed being there. I remember what I did there, and what I wrote there. I remember so much about it. It is so familiar. It is one of the places I will always call home. I talk to my mother about this place, ask her if she remembers it. She looks at me strangely. The windows are now open and it is now day outside. I see an immense bulldozer pass by, flattening everything in its path. It barely misses my mother’s house. And suddenly I remember that in waking reality I never lived in that home in Idaho. I’ve lived in that place, visited that place, known and loved and written in that place, only in my dreams.

I know even as I’m dreaming that this dream is important, and I know why. I swim as hard and as fast as I can to the surface of this dream. I reenter waking reality, reach for my glasses, reach for a pen, reach for scratch paper I salvaged from the library of a local community college. The paper I pick up to use is someone’s research paper for an English class. It begins, “The Internet is an essential part of life; it is what it needs to be. It is always there, 24/7. When an individual needs comfort they can find it at their fingertips.” I begin to write. The phone rings (in waking reality). I pick it up. No one is there.

Here is one message of this dream: if science is progressive, it progresses in one area, at best ignoring and at most destroying other areas of life and of knowledge. The knowledge of science, while powerful, is crude, like a giant bulldozer. It is not subtle. It is not textured, like a personality. It is not personal. It is not deep. It is not layered, like nested mailboxes open to the sky. It takes but does not give in return. If your idea of progress is the capacity to flatten ever-larger areas and to destroy ever more diversity, ever more forms of life, ever more forms of knowledge, then I suppose I’ll grant you that science is progressive. But deep? No. Never.

I am dreaming. I am in a room filled with aquariums. In my dreams, I often enter rooms and find forgotten aquariums still filled with water, with fish barely hanging on to life, having been ignored, starved, for year after year, decade after decade. Some fish still live, and when I see them I feed them. These dreams often speak to me of our relationship to nonhuman others. We as a culture cage them, ignore them, and still, somehow, because life wants to live, some of them survive. And with my work and with my life, I want to do everything I can and even more, to feed them, to nurture them, to help them live, to help them flourish, and ultimately to help them escape these cages.

But in this dream the aquariums, ignored though they may have been for decades, for centuries, are filled with vibrant, healthy fish, fish who swim vigorously, huge fish who slap their tails against the water, fish who are ready to explode from their tanks and, with or without my or anyone else’s help, find their way home.

I am dreaming. In this dream I see a pond. I see frogs. I see underwater worms. I see underwater insects. I see snails. I walk away from this pond. I am walking through a city. A woman, who I know in the dream represents this culture, the culture of my birth, wants to find this pond, find these frogs, find these worms, insects, snails, wants to cut them all in two—like Mrs. Coulter and the Magisterium in the novel The Golden Compass, who wanted to separate children from their daemons, their souls—to steal their knowledge, to harness the energy she could gain by splitting them into component parts and thereby not just killing, but destroying them. She asks me where they are. I will not tell her. She tries to get inside my mind, tries to read my thoughts, tries to influence my thoughts and behavior, tries to make me tell her, tries to steal my knowledge from me. In this dream I have been taught— somewhere, by someone—how to not let her inside my mind, and I am grateful for having been taught this lesson. When she cannot read my thoughts, she rages at me, tells me I know nothing, tells me I am nothing without her, tells me she will harm me, tells me she will split mebody from soul, tells me she will not just kill, but will destroy me, too. When still I do not tell her where to find the pond, those frogs, worms, insects, snails, she tries to seduce me, tries to bribe me, tries to give me power, money, anything she can think of to try to get me to tell her. I do not. Then her rage returns. I walk away. I wake up.
– Derek Jensen, Dreams, The Bear Chapter

The Century’s Decline
by Wislawa Szymborska

Our twentieth century was going to improve on the others.
It will never prove it now,
now that its years are numbered,
its gait is shaky,
its breath is short.

Too many things have happened
that weren’t supposed to happen,
and what was supposed to come about
has not.


Happiness and spring, among other things,
were supposed to be getting closer.

Fear was expected to leave the mountains and the valleys.
Truth was supposed to hit home
before a lie.

A couple of problems weren’t going
to come up anymore:
humger, for example,
and war, and so forth.

There was going to be respect
for helpless people’s helplessness,
trust, that kind of stuff.

Anyone who planned to enjoy the world
is now faced
with a hopeless task.

Stupidity isn’t funny.
Wisdom isn’t gay.

Hope
isn’t that young girl anymore,
et cetera, alas.

God was finally going to believe
in a man both good and strong,
but good and strong
are still two different men.

“How should we live?” someone asked me in a letter.
I had meant to ask him
the same question.

Again, and as ever,
as may be seen above,
the most pressing questions
are naïve ones.

Thank Goodness
A love poem for Buddy Wakefield

At the end of your ten day meditation retreat
you got in your car drove thirty peaceful feet and ran over a bird.
Splayed its holy guts on the pavement like God
finger-painting “Fuck you” across that deep breath
you were holding the way your mother held her first born.

You, thank goodness were torn from the Bible the day before they burned it for the verse about dancing to tambourines.
Once you saw the blood of Christ on a knife carving redwood trees into church pews.
Now every Sunday morning you hear glaciers melting and you cry easy
as a one night stand never ever is
when you see the feathers in your rear-view mirror scattering like prayers
searching for a safe place to land.

Hold me to my word when I tell you I will leave today,
catch a bus ticket west just to stand in the center of your highway
blocking traffic ‘til every feather’s answered.
I’ve see too many prayers caught in the grills of 18 wheelers and folks like us
have shoulder blades that rust in the rain,
but they’re still g sharp whenever our spinal chords are tuned to the key of redemption.
So go ahead world pick us
to make things better.

We’ve been building a bridge through the center of this song since Mother Theresa replaced the walls of her church with the weeping cries of Calcutta’s orphaned ghettos.
You wanna know what the right wing never got?
We never questioned the existence of God.
What we questioned is his bulldozer turning Palestine into a gas chamber.
What we questioned is the manger in Macy’s
and the sweatshops our children call the North Pole.
What we question are the sixty swollen lashes on the back of a girl found guilty
of the crime of allowing herself to be brutally raped.
What we question is the idea of a heaven having gates.
Silly.

Have you never stood on the end of pier watching the moon live up to her name?
Have you never looked in the eyes of a thief and seen his children’s hungry bellies?
Some days my heart beats so fast
my ribcage sounds like a fucking railroad track
and my breath is a train I just can’t catch.

So when my friends go filling their lungs with yes.
When they’re peeling off their armor and falling like snowflakes on your holy tongue.
God collects the feathers.
We are thick skin covering nothing, but wish bones.
Break in.
You’ll find notebooks full of jaw lines we wrote to religion’s clenched fist.
Yeah, We bruise easy.
But the sound of our bouncing back is a grand canyon full of choir claps.
And our five pointed stars have always been open to the answer
whatever it is.

I know David argued with the chisle.
I know he said make me softer
When those tourists come looking for a hero
I want the rain to puddle in my pores.
Build me holy like that.
Build me a kite flown out a bedroom window at midnight
the day freedom set its curfew to 9:11.

My heaven is a snow globe.
The blizzard will always be worth the touch of your hand,
shaking me awake like a boy taking deep breaths
all the way down to the dents in his shins
like he’s building a telephone from a string and two tin cans.
He knows God’s number by heart.
He knows it isn’t listed in any book.
Look me in the bull’s eye,
in the laws I broke and the promises I didn’t
in the batteries I found when the lights went out
And the prayers I found when the brakes did too.
I got this moment and no idea when it will end.
But every second of this life is scripture
and to know that
trust me, we don’t need to be born
again.

sven birkerts:
There is no vocabulary that reaches deep enough into the molten pits of hell that we might tell this story as it needs to be told.

Nadia Bolz-Weber:
If there was a time to be gentle with ourselves and one another, it’s now.

One Flower

One flower
on the cliffside
Nodding at the canyon

– Jack Kerouac

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg:
And connecting to something bigger than your small self can help you not feel burnt out & used up, help draw from the wellspring, tap in, connect, whatever language works.

If God isn’t your language, maybe creativity, intuition, love, the universe, our interconnectedness is.

In a time of destruction, create something.
– Maxine Hong Kingston

Mindfulness can help facilitate both individual and social change.
– Daniel Goleman

That’s all anybody can do right now. Live. Hold out. Survive. I don’t know whether good times are coming back again. But I know that won’t matter if we don’t survive these times.
– Octavia E. Butler

We need to think of each other as true brothers and sisters, concerned for each other’s welfare.
– Dalai Lama XIV

A child learns quicker to talk than to be silent.
– Norwegian proverb

For a time the new world still makes reference to the former world.
– Sven Birkets

Lovingkindness prayer:

May All Republican Elected Officials Be Safe(ly Unemployed).
– Ethan Nichtern

Amber Sparks:
There will always be people who think talking about art in a crisis is frivolous. Those people are wrong. Care of the soul is just as important as care of the body, and our souls need art to survive. Art is an *essential* societal need in times of crisis.

Ethan Nichtern:
If your anxiety is strong, send thoughts of compassion and metta (lovingkindness) to someone who is more vulnerable than you right now.

If they are safe, you will be, too.

Imagine that your teachers and heroes are also holding you with that same sense of care and compassion.

A useful advice for this moment. Don’t give up—

Just because the world often seemed to reward ugliness was no excuse to give up on beauty.

– Kathryn Davis

Mary Annaïse Heglar:
Look, I’m not in some cult of personality or driven by some idealistic hatred of “the establishment.” I just want to live. And yes, it is that fucking serious.

Sarah Gerard:
I am a slow writer. That’s okay. It’s okay if you’re a slow writer, too. We are thinking. We’re not machines.

Jia Tolentino:
How on earth can anyone live through any moment, let alone this particular moment, and conclude there is literally any other answer other than to requisition multimillionaire and billionaire wealth to create a universal safety net

At any given point in time, you are either being kind or not kind. Livingkindness requires a 24/7 effort.
– B. D. Schiers

For long, I have said “the times are urgent, let us slow down,” and I have uttered those words within the context of a post-human understanding of decolonization. I have spoken generously about fugitivity, about the ground beneath our feet shaking, about making sanctuary. But I have never really understood what those words and concepts mean as fervently as I do right now.
– Bayo Akomolafe

An interesting, spiritual response to the corona virus (as metaphor)How many millennia
have intervened
since the sages
have encouraged
social distancing and all to host
a witnessnessing
of oneness
in their inner being Limiting engagement with
those enamored by the glittering-
gold-wrapping over emptiness
that shimmers in this
living dream For they may be infected
and pass to you unwittingly
that from which
you aren’t protected
So don’t assume immunity On the TV screen the CDC says
Khalwa must immediately
be imposed on anyone
who hopes to spare themselves emergency There’s an urgency to purify
and guard your mouth and ears and eyes
And cleanse oneself of what infects you
every time you go outside Wash your hands of this world
Or your very hands will testify
It rests upon the surfaces
So it’s best if you retreat inside Best to try and get some rest
And take yourself account and test
The pulsing of your heart
and what has spread
inside your very chest Prepare for the worst, they say
while always praying for the best
For even though our hopes are long
each one of us is short of breath
– Barka Blue

Pandemic
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
– Lynn Ungar

Bobby LeFebre
The sirens are sounding
The screams are loud

The virus has packed its bags;
world traveler without a passport

Borders are man-made
Walls cannot contain life on the move

But that’s another story

Asian businesses were empty before streets
Racism

The toilet paper is gone
Panic begets panic

My 3pm meeting is now an email
Tom Hanks is raising his hand

Let’s talk about the poor
30 million uninsured

Ends meet, public transportation to get there
Self-quarantine. Privilege. Paradox

Blue collars can’t work remotely
Hourly wages side-eye the salaried

Go ahead and cancel school
Child care is a killer too

Industrialized without a heart
Developed without a conscience

Capitalism gaslights
Blames our bodies instead broken systems

Wash your hands, cough into your sleeve
Plutocracy lampooning Universal Healthcare

Call on your God or whatever
Just don’t touch your face when you make the sign of the cross

Don’t burden others with your expectations. Understanding their limitations can inspire compassion instead of disappointment, ensuring beneficial and workable relationships. Remember that you have only a short time together. Be grateful for each day you share.
– Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

Joan Halifax:
Please avoid magical thinking. Be upright and make decisions and engage in behaviors that are caring and deeply sensible. Keep your ego out of this please and not spread fear. Be a role model of responsibility and compassion.

If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.
– Marcus Aurelius

No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.
– Seneca

War creates two categories of persons: those who outlive it and those who don’t.

Both carry wounds.

– Anne Carson

However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
– Buddha, Dhammapada

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.
– William Shakespeare

Do only what needs to be done without using violence.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

From the nightstand (Lust for Life; Irving Stone):
One day she ashed him, as he was preparing to attack
a new canvas, “How can you be sure that the spot you
choose will come out right on the canvas ?”
Vincent thought for a moment and then replied, “If
I want to be active, I must not be afraid of failures.
When I see a blank canvas staring at me with a certain
imbecility I just dash something down.”
“You certainly do dash. I never saw anything grow
as fast as your canvases.”
“Well, I have to. I find paralysing the stare of a blank
canvas which says to me, ‘You don’t know anything!”
“You mean it s a sort of challenge ?”
“Exactly. The blank canvas stares at me like an idiot,
but I know that it is afraid of the passionate painter who
dares, who once and for all has broken the spell of that
’you cannot.’ Life Itself turns towards a man an infinitely
vacant, discouraging, hopelessly blank side on which
nothing is written, Margot, no more than on this
blank canvas.”
“Yes, doesn’t it.”
“But the man of faith and energy is not frightened by
that blankness ; he steps in, he acts, he builds up, he
creates, and in the end the canvas is no longer blank
but covered with the rich pattern of life..”

DEMOCRACY
It’s coming through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tiananmen Square
It’s coming from the feel
That this ain’t exactly real
Or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is coming to the USA
It’s coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don’t pretend to understand at all
It’s coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the USA
It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USA
Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on
It’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA
It’s coming from the women and the men
O baby, we’ll be making love again
We’ll be going down so deep
The river’s going to weep,
And the mountain’s going to shout Amen
It’s coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA
Sail on, sail on
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay
I’m junk but I’m still holding up
This little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA
– Leonard Cohen

Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.
– Albert Einstein

DEBTORS
They used to say we’re living on borrowed
time but even when young I wondered
who loaned it to us? In 1948 one grandpa
died stretched tight in a misty oxygen tent,
his four sons gathered, his papery hand
grasping mine. Only a week before, we were fishing.
Now the four sons have all run out of borrowed time
while I’m alive wondering whom I owe
for this indisputable gift of existence.
Of course time is running out. It always
has been a creek heading east, the freight
of water with its surprising heaviness
following the slant of the land, its destiny.
What is lovelier than a creek or riverine thicket?
Say it is an unknown benefactor who gave us
birds and Mozart, the mystery of trees and water
and all living things borrowing time.
Would I still love the creek if I lasted forever?
– Jim Harrison

Why do you worry about the world before taking care of yourself? You want to save the world, don’t you? Can you save the world before saving yourself? And what means being saved? Saved from what? From illusion. Salvation is to see things as they are. I really do not see myself related to anybody and anything. Not even to a self, whatever that self may be. I remain forever — undefined. I am — within and beyond — intimate and unapproachable.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

There is only one thing, ONE vibration that seems to be really universal: the Vibration of Love. I am not saying its manifestation, no, nothing of the sort! But the something which is pure Love. That seems to me to be universal.
But as soon as you try to express it, it’s over.

But I tell you, only that Vibration seems essential and primordial enough to be really universal.
That Vibration which is both the need and the joy to unite.
And deep within it, there is an identity of vibration – the RECOGNITION of an identity of vibration.
– The Mother (Mirra Alfassa), Agenda

Gratitude is not just for each gift, acquisition, accomplishment or beloved in our lives but for life & Life Itself 🌾🌿
Alligator Poem
I knelt down
at the edge of the water,
and if the white birds standing
in the tops of the trees whistled any warning
I didn’t understand,
I drank up to the very moment it came
crashing toward me,
its tail flailing
like a bundle of swords,
slashing the grass,
and the inside of its cradle-shaped mouth
gaping,
and rimmed with teeth—
and that’s how I almost died
of foolishness
in beautiful Florida.
But I didn’t.
I leaped aside, and fell,
and it streamed past me, crushing everything in its path
as it swept down to the water
and threw itself in,
and, in the end,
this isn’t a poem about foolishness
but about how I rose from the ground
and saw the world as if for the second time,
the way it really is.
The water, that circle of shattered glass,
healed itself with a slow whisper
and lay back
with the back-lit light of polished steel,
and the birds, in the endless waterfalls of the trees,
shook open the snowy pleats of their wings, and drifted away,
while, for a keepsake, and to steady myself,
I reached out,
I picked the wild flowers from the grass around me—
blue stars
and blood-red trumpets
on long green stems—
for hours in my trembling hands they glittered
like fire.
– Mary Oliver

The Trail can be trusted.
Always.
It has never let me down.
It’s led me across streams,
across the saddles of hills,
threaded through stands of trees,
blazed and reassuring.
I can always trust the good Trail
beyond even the need for trust.
The farther I go, the deeper-in to holy forest,
more the good and silent air surrounds me.
A benediction of March wind whispers through high tree tops
as my shoes kick through November’s leaves
and step smartly over outcrops of ledge
walking toward the center where I can clearly hear,
“What may lie outside the Trail head and down the road a bit
will never encroach upon
even one
good and trusted Trail.”
– Stephen Drew

You can be both soft and intense. Both vulnerable and strong. Both traditional and rebellious. Both romantic and realistic. Both feminine and oceanic yet filled with slow burning fire. There is possibility inside of paradox. There is a universe of different perceptions.
– Victoria Erickson

The One by Patrick Kavanagh:

Green, blue, yellow and red-
God is down in the swamps and marshes
Sensational as April and almost incred-
ible the flowering of our catharsis.
A humble scene in a backward place
Where no one important ever looked
The raving flowers looked up in the face
Of the One and the Endless, the Mind that has baulked
The profoundest of mortals. A primrose, a violet,
A violent wild iris- but mostly anonymous performers
Yet an important occasion as the Muse at her toilet
Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog.

The Teacher Appears

I am afraid

Notice what you value enough to be fearful for.
Put the same list under the word gratitude.

I feel vulnerable

If you lean into your vulnerability, you’ll find empathy.

I am alone

Who or what are you not being attentive to?

I am lonely

There are so many ways to reach out, aren’t there?

I have to take care of others

You don’t have to do anything.
Thank you for your tending spirit.

I want something

Consider how many people over how
great a distance are needed for you to have that.

I don’t have enough

You have something that someone else needs.

I don’t want to stay home anymore

Haven’t you spent your entire life trying
to find your way home?

When the student is ready,

– Jamie K. Reaser, Truth and Beauty

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
– Morrie

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
– Woodrow Wilson

C.G. Jung:
The knowledge of the heart
is in no book
and is not to be found
in the mouth of any teacher,
but grows out of you
like the green seed
from the dark earth.

That brief, piercing insight, that moment of haiku enlightenment, strips you of the thousand and one items that are the jigsaw of your ego, the patchwork of your identity.
– Gabriel Rosenstock, Haiku Enlightenment

I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.
– Michael Scott

The rise of the novel in the West has to do with the deep spiritual crisis that unfolded after the Middle Ages. It was religious in that values were clear-cut and solid and then moved on into a profane era in which everything was to be put on trial and anguish and loneliness were to become more and more the attributes of alienated man. If we are to specify when this took place, I believe we can set it in the thirteenth century when the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire began and when the Papacy, like the Empire, began crumbling in its universality.

It is the tragic testimony of an artist for whom the secure values of a sacred community have collapsed. And the entry of a society into a crisis of ideals is like the ending of adolescence for a child; the absolute has broken to pieces and the soul remains facing despair or nihilism. Perhaps for that very reason the end of a civilization is felt more keenly by the young who do not wish to resign themselves ever to the collapse of the absolute and by the artists who are the only ones among adults who resemble adolescents. And so, this collapse os a civilization is attested to by the suffering youths who travel the roads of the West and the artists who in their works describe, investigate, and bear poetic witness to the chaos.
– Ernesto Sábato

Keeping Quiet
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.


Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
– Pablo Neruda

In Praise of Sophia
(From Proverbs: 3:11-20)

Friend, don’t be angry at the Teacher’s discipline,
nor lose your taste for his rebukes,
for the Teacher only corrects those who he loves,
as a mother watches constantly her favorite son.

The man who finds the ecstatic mother is a joyful man,
and the man who gains consciousness from her,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver,
and the profit from that acquisition better than gold.

She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
She has long life in her right hand,
and riches and reputation in her left

Along her path there is much pleasure,
and her path goes through the places of peace.
She is a tree of life for those who bring her inside,
those who hold her firmly inside are called happy.

The Secret One through the ecstatic mother founded the earth,
through consciousness he made the skies go around,
by secret knowledge the oceans broke open,
and the clouds let the dew down.

– Translated by Aaron Blon

NOBODY TOLD ME
Everybody’s talking and no one says a word
Everybody’s making love and no one really cares
There’s Nazis in the bathroom just below the stairs
Always something happening and nothing going on
There’s always something cooking and nothing in the pot
They’re starving back in China so finish what you got

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
No one told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed-most peculiar, mama

Everybody’s runnin’ and no one makes a move
Everybody’s a winner and no one seems to lose
There’s a little yellow idol to the north of Katmandu
Everybody’s flying and no one leaves the ground
Everybody’s crying and no one makes a sound
There’s a place for us in movies you just gotta stay around

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed-most peculiar, mama

Everybody’s smoking no one’s getting high
Everybody’s flying and never touch the sky
There’s UFO’s over New York and I ain’t too surprised


Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed-most peculiar, mama
– John Lennon

Isn’t it wonderful to be alive?

You know, you can forget all about it.

Then suddenly you remember, and think of all the things you can do. Here I am. I can walk around. I can talk. I can see things and remember things.

I am alive.

How wonderful.
– Sophia Loren

You diet is not
only what you eat.

It’s what you watch,
what you listen to,
what you read, the people
you hang around.

Be mindful of the things
you put in your body
emotionally, spiritually,
and physically.
– Tiny Buddha

When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

The Candle A Saint
Green is the night, green kindled and apparelled.
It is she that walks among astronomers.
She strides above the rabbit and the cat,
Like a noble figure, out of the sky,
Moving among the sleepers, the men,
Those that lie chanting green is the night.
Green is the night and out of madness woven,
The self-same madness of the astronomers
And of him that sees, beyond the astronomers,
The topaz rabbit and the emerald cat,
That sees above them, that sees rise up above them,
The noble figure, the essential shadow,
Moving and being, the image at its source,
The abstract, the archaic queen. Green is the night.
– Wallace Stevens

The great thinker died
after forty years of poking about
with his little torch
in the dark forest of ideas,
in the bright glare of perception,
leaving a legacy of fourteen books
to the world
where a hen disappeared
into six acres of tall oats
and sauntered unerringly
to the nest with five eggs in it.
– Norman MacCaig, Ibid

Fred LaMotte:
I was wounded in this battle too.
There are bits and pieces
of the world in my vital organs.
Yes, it is painful, but the doctors
say it would be dangerous
to remove them.
So we carry on as best we can,
with fragments of ourselves
lodged in each others hearts.

I’ve been freed from the self that pretends to be someone;
And in becoming no one, I begin to live.
It is worth while dying, to find out what life is
– T.S. Eliot

Creativity… is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.
– Sir Ken Robinson

In the life of man,
his time is but a moment,
his being an incessant flux,
his senses a dim rushlight,
his body a prey of worms,
his soul an unquiet eddy,
his fortune dark,
and his fame doubtful.

In short, all that is of the body
is as coursing waters,
all that is of the soul
as dreams and vapours,
life a warfare,
a brief sojourning in an alien land;
and after repute, oblivion.
– Marcus Aurelius

reach deep into the empty
and find that love fills
every inch of it
hold onto the comfort
even when you feel
you have lost greatly
you will be overflowing
with certain awakening
for that is what real love brings
– Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg

Adyashanti:
The greatest gift that any of us have
is our state of consciousness.
We are all transmitting
our state of consciousness
whether we want to or not.

The most beautiful thing in life
is not being liberated —
it’s helping everybody else along the way.

one who is not befooled, in dyeing’s unmaking, that final unlearning, there is such sweet wonderment that the bride and the bridegroom on the bed of true love can not imagine.
– Traktung Khepa

Silk

Loosening the ropes,
the cherry blossoms are having unusual
gutsiness this year without the usual storms appearing to halt
the pageantry. Until now.

Perched on the edge of mortality as we are,
I marinate in the delicious irony of long-lasting
cherry blooms, those willing to tell a brief story
but the wind gusts and
pink petal rain ensues.

We all know the Japanese have words for nuance:
mono no aware,
the ahh-ness of things, brief moments of
beauty, of life. Being burned on fruit-bearing wood.

My thoughts are turned toward brevity.
This is the life I have lived and what a small footprint!
There is something right-sized about
being with the small,
now.

We plant seeds as tiny as poppy seeds in the soil,
in this imperfect and incomplete beauty of our lives.
Hello, wabi-sabi.

‘It can’t be helped’ translated from Shoganai like rain.
Or Nekojita that literally means cat tongue-
someone sensitive to hot food & drinks
or in my case

sensitive to a palate of words that I am ever
trying to cook, mixed with Kudzu, an ACE
inhibitor or elder leaves for contagion,
even as another flurry of pink gusts by

my window. Silky petals offered by
our prolific neighbor the cherry
weeping many tens of thousands of things
to greet the shining hands.

Oh, but here comes the rain, the
archer herself, to sing a pointed duet
straddling the span of endings and
the wetting of the tiniest of seeds.
– Margo Stebbing

I then moved deeper into the unified field of existence and experience the dynamics of humanity’s awakening as movements initiated and orchestrated by a single, integrating Intelligence. Previously my frame of reference for understanding these processes have been individual human beings, and the themes of individual evolution are the skilful exercise of free will over vast epochs of time. Now I was drawn into a superordinate level of reality that revealed a deeper organisational pattern, a pattern that paradoxically did not contradict the reality of individual agency. From this perspective, I experienced the evolution of our species as the systematic growth of a single organism, a unified and unifying Being that all of us were part of.

The subtlety of the co-operation of the parts with the whole was extraordinary. Nothing in our theological or philosophical systems does justice to the facts. To experience the incredible diversity of our species as a single unified field made many events clearer. New patterns sprang into view and the patterns made transparent sense.

What I “saw” was that the unified field was moving decisively and precipitously to become more aware of itself in spacetime. Whereas previously it had existed as an extended fabric of being, largely unconscious of itself at the physical level, it was now waking itself up. Visually this took the form of energy coming together in swift, contracted spasms that created bright flashes of awareness. I repeatedly saw extended webs of energy suddenly contract and explode in brilliant flashes. In the past these flashes had not endured long and had been swallowed by the inertia of the collective unconscious of our species. Now, however, the flashes were beginning to hold their own. Not only were they not dissolving, but they were beginning to connect with other flashes occurring around the planet…

The next theme was that of purification. When an organism is called upon from within to become more conscious, it must first cleanse itself of the psychological by-products of living at its lower level of awareness. It must bring forward the residue of its past and purge that residue from the system in order to lay the foundation for a more refined level of operation. Our species was doing this in a wholesale manner and with greater determination by crystallising within itself generations that embodied this legacy. What I have previously seen simply as individuals reincarnating in order to clear individual Karma, I now experienced as a highly centralised decision to cleanse the human mindfield of its collective karmic legacy in order to prepare humanity for what is to come.

It was the coordinated exercise of the self-evolution of the species as a whole. At a deeper level it was the deliberate movement of the Divine Being that was evolving Itself through the experiences of our species. All our individual histories were expressions of this Being’s larger history, our individual struggles were aspects of its larger struggle. The process was so beautiful and so elegant that it swept me into a deep ecstasy and almost took me beyond my capacity to maintain coherence. It was not a vision but an experience of the reality itself.

– Christopher Bache, Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to A Deep Ecology of Mind

…I then felt myself being whisked off into the cosmos, further and further, beyond the sun, beyond our solar system, beyond the Milky Way. And even further until I was in the edge of the universe, and still further until I was at such vantage point that I could see the universe in its entirety. I was stunned by what I saw: the universe was alive! And it was a single organism of awesome complexity, but whole and totally integrated. I recognized that it was still in the stage of its early development, comparable to a fetus, still differentiating the various aspects of itself. I saw how everything that exists, including me and every being was a part of that awesome being. We were aspects of its components just like the various parts of own our being are aspects of who we are. I saw that everything that exists is part of a greater whole and that the whole requires every part in order to be fully who it is. Every part is essential. And out of this a harmony ensues….

The profound and mysterious complexity of the Universe accompanies me to this day, its unity, its aliveness, and the impossibility of ever expressing in words haunts me. Every aspect of the Universe, including us, has a place of relationship with it. We are perhaps the only beings who think that we are somehow independent, not realizing that our most profound task is to remain aligned with the Universe, in relationship with this awesome, vast being. And that our own wholeness is vital for the wholeness of the Universe. And only in this way do we ultimately come to experience our own place of belonging in the Universe.

– Eligio Stephen Gallegos PhD, Into Wholeness: The Path of Deep Imagery

J. Krishnamurti:

Unless you have an insight
into the whole machinery of thought
you cannot possibly go beyond it.

Absolutes don’t exist in the quantum sense
Use words like Always & Never
at your own risk.
– Kerry Milan

Through a leaf, even without ingesting it, one can speak to the spirit of the species, give thanks, make requests for intervention or insight, and observe alliances. In fact, the spirit is the medicine, and it can be invoked without the plant material, if necessary. The healers’ divination and healing skills do not arise solely from the psychoactive chemistry of some of these plants, although they are powerful teachers.
– Kathleen Harrison, Roads Where There Have Long Been Trails

With a pure heart, a noble aim,
…. a poignant soul.
I care not for Solomon’s wealth
or Plato’s thought.
– Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Grief is the midwife of your capacity to be immensely grateful for being born.
– Stephen Jenkinson

…since we create our own gods, we must also create the prayers we pray. i write my own prayers. no words are necessary. but i should say: i do my own prayers, for true prayers are written with the deeds of our lives. sometimes i just stare at a blank page for the entire night, and in that case, i simply make this emptiness my prayer. and that is the meaning of peace. for prayer, like poetry, like love, (like god) is not only a particularly beautiful way of arranging words, or colors, or sounds around the things of the world and the feelings in our hearts. prayer, poetry, love (and god) are particularly beautiful ways of arranging our lives in relation to every being that exists. and with everything that yearns to be alive. what can teach us how to pray? and who can teach us how to to write the poems of our lives? in our-betweens we create the god that creates us, and this god can teach us everything…
– hune margulies, will and grace

The Way is easy.
Stay on the path.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification. (Terence sent me this quote the other day. A good battle cry, I believe… and one I wholeheartedly respect.)
– Italo Calvino

The Romans, by that means, made pagans out of indigenous people. The moral syntax of the Roman word pagan means having the quality of village life and village mindedness. It means living at a distance from the seat of power and the arbiters of orthodox belief and observance, and living at the shadowy edge of a ploughed field.

It designated undomesticated, unbroken bush dwellers, those for whom the light of culture of the eastern Mediterranean kind had not yet dawned. It is a powerful distinction to make, with powerful, enforceable criteria. The Romans didn’t invent pagan, but they did make pagans out of the country people they conquered. Though the word at this time meant something like “those on land unbroken,” the change in meaning to the modern European sense of pagan as “enemy of the true religion” tracks the arc from agricultural practice to systematic ethnic cleansing. Through a programme of shame and systematic desecration, they marginalized traditionalists, drove wedges of privilege between families, rewarded collaborators, confounded and demeaned the local languages, compromised indigenous lifeways. They made another kind of war on the indigenous aptitude for living alongside ancestors.

Though certainly not the history many of us were taught to emulate or admire, it is there, stones in the sediment of the Europe that founded America. As the Romans went their civil, ruinous way, they made a point of learning from the newly conquered something of the traditional histories, alliances, and enmities of the area. They learned these enmities not to conclude them but to collude with them and deepen them, to further them, prey upon them, employ them, turning the conquered against the not-yet conquered, holding themselves out as the new, powerful ally who would right ancestral wrongs, securing and obliging and forcing the newly conquered to raise the foreign conqueror to the status of a mysteriously benevolent foreign God. Sleeping with the enemy began in earnest.

This is a lesson and example relied upon heavily by Hernando Cortes as he made his ruinous way across Mexico early in the sixteenth century, and it made Cortes a dark legend in the old and new worlds.”
– Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble

Buddha points to the earth
Zen master points to the moon
Arjuna points to the target
Mary points to her child
Jesus points to the heart
Rumi points to Shams

We all look
until we see

– Ellen Grace O’Brian

If love is under siege,
it is because it threatens
the very essence of commercial civilisation.
Everything is designed to make us forget
that love is our most vivid manifestation
and the most common power of life that is in us.
Shouldn’t we wonder how the lights that glimmer
in the eye can blow a fuse for a time,
even as barriers of oppression break
and jam our passions?
– Raoul Vaneigem

Villanelle #1
Incendiary Heart

Incendiary heart, flames that would follow,
it is not my choice but fate;
charred footprints, in quietude, the burning embers I swallow.

If you crave fire, hold my hand to your hollow
can you hear the stars and sun conflate?
Incendiary heart, flames that would follow.

Campfires under the velvet night,
to god we dangle ourselves as bait,
charred footprints, in quietude, the burning embers I swallow.

Are we stardust that the fates would blow low,
and what choices can we retrieve from hate?
Incendiary heart, flames that would follow…

Spark, flame, burn into tomorrow,
the ashes on your brow, sign of the phoenix innate,
charred footprints, in quietude, the burning embers I swallow.

And so I open like a leaf, my love of wind will borrow,
to make friends with what is unkind, thus let the soul translate;
incendiary heart, flames that would follow
charred footprints, in quietude, the burning embers I swallow.

– Margo Stebbing

Just as with her own life,
A mother shields from hurt,
Her own son, her only child,
Let all-embracing thoughts
For all beings be yours.
– Buddha, Metta Sutta

Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

To know what a person says, we must hear what remains unsaid. If we cannot hear silence, we do not know how to listen.
– Mark C. Taylor

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
– Anais Nin

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
– Virginia Woolf

It’s inevitable that your work will express your view of life—and that’s desirable.
– Deborah Eisenberg

Make it your ambition to take heart.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, in a letter to Magdalena Schwammberger

Chris Gonzalez:
Would invest a hefty penny into a set of thought-canceling headphones.

We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds.
– Pema Chödrön

Who can utter
the poignance of all that is constantly
threatened, invaded, expended

and constantly
nevertheless
persists in beauty,

tranquil as this young moon
just risen and slowly
drinking light
from the vanished sun.

– In California by Denise Levertov

A Center
by HA JIN
You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues.
If some praise your perseverance,
don’t feel too happy about it—
only solitude is a lasting friend.

You must hold your distant center.
Don’t move even if earth and heaven quake.
If others think you are insignificant,
that’s because you haven’t held on long enough.
As long as you stay put year after year,
eventually you will find a world
beginning to revolve around you.

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
– Sophia Loren

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.
– Frank O’Hara

Life is from the inside out. When you shift on the inside, life shifts on the outside.
– Kamal Ravikant

Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time. It comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love.
– Painted Brain

One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self. Of all the mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

There are no curses, only mirrors
held up to the souls of gods and mortals.
[…] Believe in yourself,
go ahead–see where it gets you.
– Rita Dove

Encounter
by Czeslaw Milosz
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
Wilno, 1936

The End of March by Elizabeth Bishop
It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.

The sky was darker than the water
–it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints). Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over. Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost…
A kite string?–But no kite.

I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of–are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.)
I’d like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l’américaine.
I’d blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
–at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by–perfect! But–impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.

On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
were multi-colored,
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
–a sun who’d walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.
– Elizabeth Bishop

Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear.
Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.
– Toni Morrison

Little Fires for the One Who Was Lost
by Alejandra Pizarnik
Poetry is where everything happens. Like love, humor, suicide, and every fundamentally subversive act, poetry ignores everything but its own freedom and its own truth. To say “freedom” and “truth” in reference to the world in which we live (or don’t live) is to tell a lie. It is not a lie when you attribute those words to poetry: the place where everything is possible.

In opposition to the feeling of exile, the feeling of perpetual longing, stands the poem—promised land. Every day my poems get shorter: little fires for the one who was lost in a strange land. Within a few lines, I usually find the eyes of someone I know waiting for me; reconciled things, hostile things, things that ceaselessly produce the unknown; and my perpetual thirst, my hunger, my horror. From there the invocation comes, the evocation, the conjuring forth. In terms of inspiration, my belief is completely orthodox, but this in no way restricts me. On the contrary, it allows me to focus on a single poem for a long time. And I do it in a way that recalls, perhaps, the gesture of a painter: I fix the piece of paper to the wall and contemplate it; I change words, delete lines. Sometimes, when I delete a word, I imagine another one in its place, but without even knowing its name. Then, while I’m waiting for the one I want, I make a drawing in the empty space that alludes to it. And this drawing is like a summoning ritual. (I would add that my attraction to silence allows me to unite, in spirit, poetry with painting; in that sense, what others might call the privileged moment, I speak of as privileged space.)

They’ve been warning us, since time immemorial, that poetry is a mystery. Yet we recognize it: we know where it lies. I believe the question “What does poetry mean to you?” deserves one of two responses: either silence or a book that relates a terrible adventure—the adventure of someone who sets off to question the poem, poetry, the poetic; to embrace the body of the poem; to ascertain its incantatory, electrifying, revolutionary, and consoling power. Some have already told us of this marvelous journey. For myself, at present, it remains a study.

If they ask me who do you write for, they’re asking about the poem’s addressee. The question tacitly assumes such a character exists.

That makes three of us: myself; the poem; the addressee. This accusative triangle demands a bit of examination.

When I finish a poem, I haven’t finished it. In truth, I abandon it and the poem is no longer mine or, more accurately, it barely exists.

After that moment, the ideal triangle depends on the addressee or reader. Only the reader can finish the incomplete poem, recover its multiple meanings, add new ones. To finish is the equivalent, here, of giving new meaning, of re-creating.

When I write, I never imagine a reader. Nor does it ever occur to me to consider the fate of what I’m writing. I have never searched for a reader, neither before, nor during, nor after writing the poem. It’s because of this, I think, that I’ve had unforeseen encounters with truly unexpected readers, those who gave me the joy and excitement of knowing I was profoundly understood. To which I’ll add a propitious line by Gaston Bachelard:

The poet must create his reader and in no way express common ideas.

Nothing in sum. Absolutely nothing. Nothing that doesn’t diverge from the everyday track. Life doesn’t flow endlessly or uniformly: I don’t sleep, I don’t work, I don’t go for walks, I don’t leaf through some new book at random, I write badly or well—badly, I’m sure—driven and faltering. From time to time I lie down on a sofa so I don’t look at the sky: indigo or ashen. And why shouldn’t the unthinkable—I mean the poem—suddenly emerge? I work night after night. What falls outside my work are golden dispensations, the only ones of any worth. Pen in hand, pen on paper, I write so I don’t commit suicide. And our dream of the absolute? Diluted in the daily toil. Or perhaps, through the work, we make that dissolution more refined.

Time passes on. Or, more accurately, we pass on. In the distance, closer every moment, the idea of a sinister task I have to complete: editing my old poems. Focusing my attention on them is the equivalent of returning to a wrong turn when I’m already walking in another direction, no better but certainly different. I try to concentrate on a shapeless book. I don’t know if this book of mine actually belongs to me. Forced to read its pages, it seems I’m reading something I wrote without realizing I was another. Could I write the same way now? I’m disappointed, always, when I read one of my old pages. The feeling I experience can’t be precisely defined. Fifteen years writing! A pen in my hand since I was fifteen years old. Devotion, passion, fidelity, dedication, certainty that this is the path to salvation (from what?). The years weigh on my shoulders. I couldn’t write that way now. Did that poetry contain today’s silent, awestruck desperation? It hardly matters. All I want is to be reunited with the ones I was before; the rest I leave to chance.

So many images of death and birth have disappeared. These writings have a curious fate: born from disgrace, they serve, now, as a way to entertain (or not) and to move (or not) other people. Perhaps, after reading them, someone I know will love me a little more. And that would be enough, which is to say a lot.
– Translated from the Spanish by Cole Heino

Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.
– Adam Zagajewski

Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.
– Hannah Arendt

Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.
– Hannah Arendt

You can try to become happy by controlling your environment, or by cultivating quietude/gratitude in your mind. The latter is much easier.
– Haemin Sunim

Write on behalf of the smells and the wind
Write on behalf of the leaf’s silver
You don’t want any donkey-faced human
Doing the looking or understanding or breathing
– Pierre Jean Jouve, translated by Charles North

Knowing is delusion;
now knowing is confusion.
The true Way is as vast and
boundless as outer space.
– Taoist proverb

If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.
– Alan Watts

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.
– Lin Yutang

Obsessed, bewildered

By the shipwreck
Of the singular

We have chosen the meaning
Of being numerous.
– George Oppen. Of Being Numerous

If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.
– B. D. Schiers

You had no language.
History had sliced
the beauty of your lips
with a knife from inside.
– Galician poet Lupe Gómez

sven birkerts:
I accept the ‘what was I doing just now?’ gap, but let’s not have it get any longer…

Ethan Nichtern:
I gave my daughter a dollar bill. She ripped it in half to share the money with her best friend.

Two points:

1) next time I’ll give her quarters instead.

2) the kids understand the problem of wealth inequality better than we do.

Yoko Ono:
Imagine Peace
Trust in what we are
We are all together
Our hearts are beating in unison
I love you!

Everybody has that feeling when they look at a work of art and it’s right, that sudden familiarity, a sort of…recognition, as though they were creating it themselves, as though it were being created through them while they look at it or listen to it…
– William Gaddis

Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong?
… Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story.
– Toni Morrison

Yoko Ono:
Next time you meet a ‘foreigner’
remember it’s only like a window
with a different shape to it
and the person who’s sitting inside
is you.

I do not make undue connections though my heart wrenches daily against the unknowable, almighty throb and heave of the universe against my skin and sings a song for which we haven’t quite found the words.
– Jim Harrison, Geo-Bestiary

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.
– W. Somerset Maugham

Róisín Á Costello:
As any PhD student will tell you, its the second year of social distancing that will really get to you.

When I go toward you. It is with my whole life.
– Rilke

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember.
– Joy Harjo (How We Become Human)

Nature Aria
translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi

Autumn wind chases in
From all directions
And a thousand chaste leaves
Give way.

Scatter in me the seeds
Of a thousand saplings.
Let grow a grassy heaven.
On my brow: a sun.
This bliss is yours, Living
World, and alone it endures.
Music at midnight.
Young wine.
Lovers hand in hand
By daylight, moonlight.
Living World, hold me
In your mouth,

Slip on your frivolous shoes
And dance with me. My soul
Is the wild vine
Who alone has grasped it,
Who has seen through the awful plot,
Who will arrive in time to vanquish
The river already heavy with blossoms,
The moon spilling light onto packs
Of men. What is sadder than witless
Wolves, wind without borders,
Nationless birds, small gifts
Laden with love’s intentions?

Fistfuls of rain fall hard, fill
My heart with mud. An old wind
May still come chasing in.
Resurrection fire. And me here
Laughing like a cloud in trousers,
Entreating the earth to bury me.

Somewhere in the World
by Linda Pastan

Somewhere in the world
something is happening
which will make its slow way here.

A cold front will come to destroy
the camellias, or perhaps it will be
a heat wave to scorch them.

A virus will move without passport
or papers to find me as I shake
a hand or kiss a cheek.

Somewhere a small quarrel
has begun, a few overheated words
ignite a conflagration,

and the smell of smoke
is on its way;
the smell of war.

Wherever I go I knock on wood—
on tabletops or tree trunks.
I rinse my hands over and over again.

I scan the newspapers
and invent alarm codes which are not
my husband’s birth date or my own.

But somewhere something is happening
against which there is no planning, only
those two aging conspirators, Hope and Luck

Teshuvah.
Return.
Return to the silence
that was here before God said
Let there be light.
Return to the miracle
of this breath.
Return to this moment.
Rest in the heart,
the miracle you Are.
Teshuvah.
Return.
תשובה

Medicine and disease subdue each other. The whole earth is medicine. Where do you find yourself?
– Yunmen (Chinese Chan master, c. 860–949)

REMEMBER
the way mere mortals are overwhelmed
by circumstance, how great reputations
dissolve with infirmity and how you,
in particular, stand a hairsbreadth from losing
everyone you hold dear.

Recall the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons
whether you reach them or not.

Admit that once you have got up
from your chair and opened the door,
once you have walked out into the clear air
toward that edge and taken the path up high
beyond the ordinary you have become
the privileged and the pilgrim,
the one who will tell the story
and the one, coming back
from the mountain
who helped to make it.

Every time an old person dies, a library burns.
– Proverb

Usually, we immediately try and get rid of our problems. We think there are forces operating against us we have to over power. The important thing is to learn to be friendly toward our problems, by developing what is called maitiri in Sanskrit, or loving-kindness in English translation. All of these problems and difficulties are fundamentally generated from the concept of duality and separatedness.
– Chögyam Trungpa

The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
– Carl Sagan

Now That We Know
by Deena Metzger

Now that we are sequestered,
an entire globe aware
we are sharing a common fate,
which has always been the case,
now that we, so frightened
without our things,
know we are all mortal,
while grabbing our last meals
from the emptying shelves,
imagining our last suppers,
how we will spend
the final weeks of our lives,
Now that we are aware
that the gift of breath
we have always received from the trees
may not serve us —
Is it because we
relentlessly cut them down?

Now that Water,
who is one of the Immortals,
is dying at our hands,
but without planning
for Her last waves and tides,
is remaining Water
for whoever swims within her,
And now that Air,
another threatened Deity
is still holding whatever birds yet fly,
and Earth, Great Mother,
is continuing despite
all her open wounds,
is remaining Earth,
and Fire, Oh!
He will burn and burn
until every tree,
or the very sun, goes out,

Now that we have succumbed
to each other’s downfall,
no difference,no differences,
and we, the ones who have done
such great harm, who tried
to rival the Gods
with all our weapons,
are taken down
by the most invisible and minute,
the very littlest one,
such is our common jeopardy,
our fate,

Now that we know we are mortal,
might we, for this just moment,
hold a broken prayer,
that our hearts open wide
and with such wisdom
that Life will pity us,
will restore the thousand beings,
and give us another
humbler round.

As all mountains stand on the ground,
As all trees root in the soil,
As all rivers flow to the sea,
there’s a substance under all life
that joins us and holds us up.
– Mark Nepo, What Holds Us Up, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky

If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.
– Ivan Illich

And there came that day
when our world was turned upside-down,
inverted – The river still flowed
yet opposite the direction we were used to;

Springtime’s budding blooms burrowed
into ground with those souls planting them,
diverted – The gulls still found
fish on which to feed, plunging into heaven;

As passers-by observed the scene
aside their own skyward reflection –
All continuing onward, across the horizon
and forward-moving, still walking

Together, only much more separately.
– Hollace M Metzger

Government
by Marie Howe

Standing next to my old friend I sense that his soldiers have retreated.
And mine? They’re resting their guns on their shoulders
talking quietly. I’m hungry, one says.
Cheeseburger, says another,
and they all decide to go and find some dinner.

But the next day, negotiating the too narrow aisles of
The Health and Harmony Food Store — when I say, Excuse me,
to the woman and her cart of organic chicken and green grapes
she pulls the cart not quite far back enough for me to pass,
and a small mob in me begins picking up the fruit to throw.

So many kingdoms,
and in each kingdom, so many people: the disinherited son, the corrupt counselor,
the courtesan, the fool.
And so many gods — arguing among themselves,
over toast, through the lunch salad
and on into the long hours of the mild spring afternoon — I’m the god.
No, I’m the god. No, I’m the god.

I can hardly hear myself over their muttering.
How can I discipline my own army? They’re exhausted and want more money.
How can I disarm when my enemy seems so intent?

…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
– The Gospel of St. Luke

True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

KEEPING THE SMOKE HOLE OPEN:
Seek Vigil Not Isolation

In Siberian myth, when you want to hurt someone, you crawl into their tent and close the smoke hole.

That way God can’t see them.

Close the smoke hole and you break connection to the divine world. Mountains, rivers, trees.

Close the smoke hole and we become mad.

Close the smoke hole and we are possessed by ourselves and only ourselves.

Close the smoke hole and you have only your neurosis for company.

Well, enough of that. Really, c’mon. We’re grown ups. Let’s take a breath.

We may have to seek some solitude, but let’s not isolate from the marvellous.

High alert is the nature of the moment, and rightly so, but I do not intend to lose the reality that as a culture we are entering deeply mythic ground.

I am forgetting business as usual. No great story begins like that.


What needs to change? Deepen? What kindness in me have I so abandoned that I could seek relationship with again?

It is useful to inspect my ruin.

Could I strike up an old relationship with my soul again?

You don’t need me to tell you how to keep the smoke hole open. You have a myriad of ways.

We are awash with the power of words – virus, isolate, pandemic – and they are pointing towards very real things. To some degree we need the organisational harassment of them.

But do they grow corn on your tongue when you speak them?

Where is the beauty-making in all this?

That is part – part – of the correct response.

Before we burn the whole world down in the wider rage of Climate Emergency, of which this current moment is just a hint, could we collectively seek vigil in this moment?

Cry for a vision?

It’s what we’ve always done.

We need to do it now.

Lot’s of love,

– Martin Shaw

This is a time when I think of W.H.Auden’s magnificent lines around the onset of World War II:

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

– September 1,1939
Let us show an affirming flame.

We all want to manifest our callings, but timing is everything. I learned this the hard way. I always knew I would write, but I didn’t understand that I needed to build the foundation first. So, I sat down to write, time and again, and I couldn’t quite find it. I knew there was a writer living in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find him. I needed a little more time, a little more suffering, a lot more lessons. I hadn’t lived enough to manifest him.

In this driven world, we are often pushed to manifest too early. We are shamed for our uncertainty, insulted for our confusion, called lazy and selfish. But some callings need time to be cultivated. Some gifts cannot be opened too quickly. We have to craft them first, over time, in the fires of lived experience.

If you have a calling living inside of you, don’t rush to manifest it. Trust your own instincts as to the steps you need to take. Build the inner foundation you will need to see it through. Better to offer this ailing world one remarkable thing, than a hundred fragments of possibility. We need what you have to offer desperately.
– Jeff Brown

However industrious you may be,
There is no end to worldly activities;
But if you practice the Dharma
You will swiftly conclude everything.

However nice they may seem,
Samsaric affairs always end in disaster;
But the fruits of practicing the Dharma
Will never deteriorate.

Since beginningless time you have collected and encouraged
Karma, negative emotions, and habitual tendencies,
Which force you to wander in samsara.
If you continue like that, when will liberation arrive?

If you only see all this at the moment of death,
It’s rather too late –
When the head’s already been severed,
What use is any medicine?
Recognizing the suffering of samsara,
Turn toward the peace of nirvana.
– Guru Rinpoche

Love is the astrolabe
of God’s mysteries.
– Rumi

Adults can be more confused than children.
The way that adults act
doesn’t tell you about you.
There is something pure and simple
about you that is what you really are.
Look to that and remind yourself
that nothing ‘they’ do
can take this inner spark away.
– Adyashanti, A Quiet Place within You

As you proceed through life,
following your own path,
birds will shit on you.
Don’t bother to brush it off.
Getting a comedic view of your situation
gives you spiritual distance.
Having a sense of humor saves you.
– Joseph Campbell

no stars have come for us

no birds align in coded message

there is only us and all the ways
I say without saying

that I am both broken
and blooming, and uncertain

how to welcome hope and despair
on such unequal footing
– Sarah Whiteley

Yeshe Tsogyal:
I reside in the hearts
of all beings.
Just summon me
and I will return!

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
– John Quincy Adams

LOCKDOWN
By Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th 2020

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
– Kitty O’Meara

Go for broke. Always try to do too much.
Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath
before you begin talking. Aim for the stars.
Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded.
Argue with the world. And never forget
that writing is as close as we get
to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things—
childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams,
instants, phrases, parents, loves—
that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.
– Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands:
Essays and Criticism 1981-1991

The most beautiful place on earth:
The very center of your heart
is where life begins.
– Rumi

I slip through the door to the roof outside
To gaze at the sign hanging in the sky
That sailor on the billboard looks so self-possessed
Doesn’t have a thing to forgive or forget
All’s quiet on the inner city front.
– Bruce Cockburn

Where does a writer’s authority come from? Where does my authority come from?
– Susan Sontag, Exemplary people, exemplary acts.

Fiction
by Mark Strand

I think of the innocent lives
Of people in novels who know they’ll die
But not that the novel will end. How different they are
From us. Here, the moon stares dumbly down,
Through scattered clouds, onto the sleeping town,
And the wind rounds up the fallen leaves,
And somebody—namely me—deep in his chair,
Riffles the pages left, knowing there’s not
Much time for the man and woman in the rented room,
For the red light over the door, for the iris
Tossing its shadow against the wall; not much time
For the soldiers under the trees that line
The river, for the wounded being hauled away
To the cities of the interior where they will stay;
The war that raged for years will come to a close,
And so will everything else, except for a presence
Hard to define, a trace, like the scent of grass
After a night of rain or the remains of a voice
That lets us know without spelling it out
Not to despair; if the end is come, it too will pass.

A really good poem—
or should I say a good poem—
poses a question and then answers it.
A very good poem poses a question
and then thinks
through the possible ways to answer that question.
But the great poem poses a question…
and then forgets the question.
It moves into something
that we would call a sense of mystery.
It moves beyond the kind of logic
that makes us want an answer.
– Paisley Rekdal

It’s not a new idea that living things have immanent beauty, but it is revolutionary to assert, as a scientist, that matters of beauty are highly formal, very real, and crucial to the entire political and ethical system in which we live.
– Gregory Bateson

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

It’s the power of art. It’s the power of artistic communication, even if that communication doesn’t fall into what we traditionally call the arts. It’s learning the lesson of relationship and interactivity with the world and learning that no matter how wise we think we are, we can’t control the world and we can’t communicate one way and be listened to without the feedback loops cycling back, without the interaction and the consequences. The more we learn that, the more humble we get in our connection to the physical, social and biological world.
– Stephen Nachmanovitch

Ask the animals and they shall teach you; and the birds of the sky, and they shall inform you. Or speak to the earth and she shall show you; and the fishes of the sea shall declare to you.
– Book of Job

Experience: that most brutal of teachers.
But you learn, my God do you learn.
– C.S. Lewis

The worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.
– Jean-Paul Sartre

The ancient sense of transformation assumes that there is something essential within us that we can turn to and learn from; that we can draw upon repeatedly and grow from continuously. Besides involving a change in consciousness, such a deep inner change also includes a process of self-healing that can occur in moments of wholeness arising from the source of the deep self and soul within us. The old reason for not giving up on someone, even if they have failed repeatedly, is because a genuine turnaround in life is possible at any time and at any age. Because such moments are timeless, when it comes to waking up and turning things around, it is never too late.
– Michael Meade, Awakening the Soul

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live.
– W. S. Merwin, The River of Bees

I don’t consider devotion to the past
a form of snobbery.
Just one of the more disastrous forms
of unrequited love.
– Susan Sontag

My soul tells me,
we were all broken
from the same nameless heart,
and every living thing
wakes with a piece
of that original heart
aching its way into blossom.
This is why we know each other
below our strangeness,
why when we fall, we lift each other,
or when in pain, we hold each other,
why when sudden with joy, we dance together. Life is the many pieces of that great heart loving itself back together.
– Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live an Authentic Life

Peace will only prevail if it is born within the mind.
– Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche

The ancient Hindus call them ‘chakras’ (wheels of energy). I think for our purposes today, in our culture, we need to recognize: they are different alivenesses. And one of our jobs is we have to gather these alivenesses and bring them together. We have a core of aliveness in us that is a single unity, but it needs to be together. And we’ve learnt – we learn as children – to separate these alivenesses out. And we’ve learnt to judge them, to say some of these alivenesses are good, others are bad.

What I’ve seen in the work that I’ve been doing for the last thirty years, or more, is that we need all of our alivenesses, and when we gather them together, we come back into balance. We need of all our alivenesses for our own wholeness. Then, we experience our own center. So, this thing about the ego having to go…I think the ego has a job. The ego is the core that needs to survive so that it can gather together the alivenesses that we are, so we can grow fully into the wholeness and completeness of who we are.

What I’ve learnt is fright is full of energy, full of aliveness. As long as is pushed away, it’s not available to the person. When it’s finally brought back into the realm of aliveness, it comes back into its own balance and the person stops being afraid.

So we have judgments and attitudes towards different aspects of who we are, and what the animals have taught me, and have taught others also: You have to love every aspect of who you are. You need every aspect of who you are. If any part is missing, you are out of balance. We need that balance, we need that wholeness.

So, what I did was to start writing because I felt that these animals came not just for me, but they came through me, to be out in the world. We need them for our own growing, our own maturation. we have to become truly the deep human beings that we are. We’ve lived on the surface long enough. We are lonely, we long for those depths of who we are, in our full aliveness. And we need to relearn to trust who we are. When we were newly born, we trusted who we were. And then we learnt, little by little, to distrust.

In fact, any aspect [of who we are], we can ask our imagination, ‘Would you show me this…?’. And then, what we need to do is to develop a relationship with it. And that relationship is what heals. And once we’ve developed a relationship inside of who we are, with all of who we are, there is a natural relationship that happens on the outside.
– Steve Gallegos

Anam Thubten:
We are perfect as we are.
When we realize this, we are perfect.
When we do not realize this,
we are also perfect.

I want to tell what the forests
were like

I will have to speak
in a forgotten language

– W.S. Merwin, Witness

No good sittin’ worryin’ abou’ it. What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.
– Hagrid

Thrown all together, in one unrelenting present, we are made to recognize in one another what we deny most vehemently about ourselves: In the end, it’s our vulnerability that connects us.
– Jon Mooallem

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.
– Pueblo prayer

To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
– Mary Oliver

Happiness isn’t something you experience;
it’s something you remember.
– Oscar Levant

This world is like a mountain. Your echo depends on you. If your speech is worthy, the world will reflect it back. If your speech fails you, the world will reflect it back. Even if someone speaks badly of you, speak well about them. Changing your own heart changes the world.
– Shams Tabrizi

The Free Mystery

Here’s to the free mysticality
Of unconditioned reality!

Though always conditioned
The reality still
Transcends every limit
As poetry wears the Greek root
Of every Latinate proposition

Which ain’t even half of it
Since at least two-thirds
If not seven-eighths
Is how it feels

So, as Bobbie said when being Blake:
“Throw away the measuring tools!”
– George Gorman

I call upon my intangible wealth
And yours also, arrayed by love
In veins of deep alliance

Come into play
Not as a master or slave
Amid storm and doom commanding
But with the faith of flowers

Come gushing, wafting, tumbling, reaching
Wizard minds meeting in thrust and parry
Through fierce challenge and pure play

Come truth, come hope, come all the way
From the pooled reserves each spirit carries
Amid the times when despair is preaching
The apologetics of habitual predictions

Come flooding forth, oh, thrilling powers
Oh, plumbless depths of understanding
Oh, barefoot hunches, pounding faster
With relevant leaps of sure defiance

We come with the living powers
Of love’s great wealth
– George Gorman

Hagia Sophia:
In the philosophical cathedral of the mind
Hopeful possibilities rattle like bamboo

One searches for the poetry of the moment
Where the song is more of a prayer

Every attempt at prophecy
Closes doors

But pretty sneakily
Probabilities alchemize

While communication outshines
Each philosophical cathedral
Of consciousness

The holiest thing

Disease empties a sector, a billion sectors.
People look at the sky and at the other animals. They make beautiful objects, beautiful sounds, beautiful motions of their bodies beating drums in lines. They pray; they toss people in peat bogs; they help the sick and injured; they pierce their lips, their noses, ears; they make the same mistakes despite religion, written language, philosophy, and science; they build, they kill, they preserve, they count and figure, they boil the pot, they keep the embers alive; they tell their stories and gird themselves.

Will knowledge you experience directly make you a Buddhist? Must you forfeit excitement per se? To what end?

Say you have seen something. You have seen an ordinary bit of what is real, the infinite fabric of time that eternity shoots through, and time’s soft-skinned people working and dying under slowly shifting stars. Then what?
– Annie Dillard

Wade in the Water
by Tracy K. Smith
for the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters
One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her,
And a terrible new ache
Rolled over in my chest,
Like in a room where the drapes
Have been swept back. I love you,
I love you, as she continued
Down the hall past other strangers,
Each feeling pierced suddenly
By pillars of heavy light.
I love you, throughout
The performance, in every
Handclap, every stomp.
I love you in the rusted iron
Chains someone was made
To drag until love let them be
Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring.
I love you in the water
Where they pretended to wade,
Singing that old blood-deep song
That dragged us to those banks
And cast us in. I love you,
The angles of it scraping at
Each throat, shouldering past
The swirling dust motes
In those beams of light
That whatever we now knew
We could let ourselves feel, knew
To climb. O Woods—O Dogs—
O Tree—O Gun—O Girl, run—
O Miraculous Many Gone—
O Lord—O Lord—O Lord—
Is this love the trouble you promised?

Music Is In The Piano Only When It Is Played
by Jack Gilbert
We are not one with this world. We are not
the complexity our body is, nor the summer air
idling in the big maple without purpose.
We are a shape the wind makes in these leaves
as it passes through. We are not the wood
any more than the fire, but the heat which is a marriage
between the two. We are certainly not the lake
nor the fish in it, but the something that is
pleased by them. We are the stillness when
a mighty Mediterranean noon subtracts even the voices of
insects by the broken farmhouse. We are evident
when the orchestra plays, and yet are not part
of the strings or brass. Like the song that exists
only in the singing, and is not the singer.
God does not live among the church bells
but is briefly resident there. We are occasional
like that. A lifetime of easy happiness mixed
with pain and loss, trying always to name and hold
on to the enterprise under way in our chest.
Reality is not what we marry as a feeling. It is what
walks up the dirt path, through the excessive heat
and giant sky, the sea stretching away.
He continues past the nunnery to the old villa
where he will sit on the terrace with her, their sides
touching. In the quiet that is the music of that place,
which is the difference between silence and windlessness.

Weary Rings
by César Vallejo
There are desires to return, to love, to not disappear,
and there are desires to die, fought by two
opposing waters that have never isthmused.
There are desires for a great kiss that would shroud Life,
one that ends in the Africa of a fiery agony,
a suicide!
There are desires to. . .have no desires, Lord;
I point my deicidal finger at you:
there are desires to not have had a heart.
Spring returns, returns and will depart. And God,
bent in time, repeats himself, and passes, passes
with the spinal column of the Universe on his back.
When my temples beat their lugubrious drum,
when the dream engraved on a dagger aches me,
there are desires to be left standing in this verse!

Let fatigue, weather, habitation, the old bones, finally,
Be nothing to me,
Let all lights but yours be nothing to me.
Let the memory of tongues not unnerve me so that I stumble or
quake.
~
But lead me at times beside the still waters;
There when I crouch to drink let me catch a glimpse of your image
Before it is obscured with my own.
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,
At the end of which I have vanished,
So that those who track me for their own twisted ends
May be rewarded only with ignorance and failings.
But let me leave my cry stretched out behind me like a road
On which I have followed you.
And sustain me for my time in the desert
On what is essential to me.
– W.S. Merwin, Lemuel’s Blessing

Yes by William Stafford
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out—no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone.
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, ‘O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.’
And Phidias thundered on him: ‘Silence thyself,
Men will not see, but the Immortals will!’
– Edwin Markham

Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.
– James Baldwin

A little St. Patrick’s Day poem written 19 years ago:

Shamrock

The plans for St. Patrick’s Day were elaborate.
ten year old Sierra pulling out green yarn and scissors,
emerald words written on a mirror in earnest green marker.
“How do you spell lepercon?”

Another note in ink on lime green paper:
“the cookies are for you, the water, too, but
don’t look in the glass,” where, we were told later,
the quarter, a silver lure, lies on the bottom:
“to catch him, of course, and get three wishes.”
– Burt Bradley

Parachute men say . .
Parachute men say
The first jump
Takes the breath away
Feet in the air disturb
Till you get used to it.

Solid ground
Is not where you left it
As you plunge down
Perhaps head first

As you listen to
Your arteries talking
You learn to sustain hope.

Suddenly you are only
Holding an umbrella
In a windy place
As the warm earth
Reaches out to you
Reassures you
The vibrating interim is over

You try to land
Where green grass yields
And carry your pack
Across the fields

The violent arrival
Puts out the joint
Earth has nowhere to go
You are at the starting point

Jumping across worlds
In condensed time
After the awkward fall
We are always at the starting point
– Lenrie Peters

From a Buddhist point of view,
each aspect and moment of our lives
is an illusion.
According to the Buddha,
it’s like seeing a black spot in the sky
that you are unable to make sense of,
then concentrating on it intensely
until finally you are able to make out
a flock of birds; or hearing a perfect echo
that sounds exactly like a real person
shouting back at you.

Life is nothing more than
a continuous stream of sensory illusions,
from the obvious ones, like fame and power,
to those less easy to discern, like death, nosebleeds and headaches.
Tragically, though,
most human beings believe in what they see, and so the truth Buddha exposed
about the illusory nature of life
can be a little hard to swallow.
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Choosing to risk one’s own authority, to step into the fearful place, to realize that one will be supported by something deep within each of us, is what brings us home to ourselves.
– James Hollis PhD

Fine plaintive fairy music,
going from kingdom to kingdom,
drinking mead from bright vessels,
talking with the one you love.
– Echtra Laegairi (The Adventure of Laegaire), 9th century CE

By taking time off from our technologies, turning away from our gleaming screens that hold us hypnotized within an almost exclusively human sphere, we begin to loosen our creaturely senses from the over-civilized assumptions that stifle our experience of the breathing world. Slowly, quietly, our skin begins to remember itself to the earthly sensuous. As our ears adjust to the wordless silence, we slowly become aware that other voices are speaking, not in words but in quiet sighs and softly swelling rhythms, in distant howls and nearby trills and cascading arpegios of sound. We come into the presence of an earth much wider and deeper than our human designs.
– David Abram

A while ago I got sick.
It was a thorough and major sick.
Lost use of the old hands and feet,
Which was, as you can imagine, weird.
My kids called the sickness The Thing.
The Thing went on for months and months.
I could tell you lots of stories about The Thing,
But there’s only one story that I want tot tell you:
Every morning my son got up early to help me
Put my socks on. I would sit on the back stairs
In the dark and he would wrestle my socks on
And neither of us would say any words and I
Still can’t think of anything cooler than that.
I have racked my brains and considered
All the possibilities of love and I still
Return to that boy and those socks.
No matter what happens to me,
That happened to me.
– Brian Doyle

And when fear comes to the door bringing flowers
acting as if it’s a friend,
it’s okay to not want to let it in.
It’s okay to lock the door—
it’ll make you feel as if you’re doing something.
Fear will enter anyway.
At least it won’t expect a hug.
It won’t wash its hands,
not even when you ask nicely.
And it is more contagious than any virus—
spreads without sneezes or coughs.
It won’t leave when you ask, but
there are ways to make it quieter—
like inviting a few others to join you,
preferably gratitude, compassion, love,
kindness, vulnerability. These friends
always come when asked, wearing
the loveliest perfume. They change
the conversation, the way lemon
and honey change the bitter tea.
They remind you who you are,
invite you to look out the window
and see how beautiful the world
when the shadows are long.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Joseph Fasano:
ST. VITUS’ DANCE
In 1518, hundreds of citizens of Strasbourg danced uncontrollably and apparently unwillingly for days on end; the mania lasted for about two months before ending as mysteriously as it began … Such outbreaks take place under circumstances of extreme stress … [such as] famines … diseases … and overwhelming stressors.
– Encyclopedia Britannica

Given affliction, the body will find
a way; the body will turn itself
to music.
1518, and when the first of the dancers takes
to the streets, starving arms
akimbo, it is because
the crops have failed, the thresholds are plagued
with ashes; it is because, in the black mass
of the body’s sacrament, the remedy is fiercer
than the curse—and when the searchers found
the neighbor girl deep in the forest
last winter, the blizzard lifting the worried fur
of their collars, she had stripped
naked, wholly, as the freezing
will do, the body gone mad in the last blaze
of being here, the body blossoming into music.
Once, the body says. Once
I knew a woman
whose madness took the shape of infinite music
filling her body
until nothing was left to her, and she became
water, fire, a palace where her ghosts could enter,
departing and hollowing her
at will. It was not grace,
exactly. And when
they left, for good, and left her
with nothing, she became
the same song that the world would have sung
without her. She stood
above the promise of some river
and looked back into the city
of her one life, its fallow fields
and endless choirs of fire,
and she heard, in time, the music,
and she became, in time, the music,
and she listened for how it asked itself
to end.
Think of it: the first step
forward, the tired soul like its own plague
in its blazing, lifting up its mild eyes
for the dancing.
Think of it: the rising up, the wonder.
Think of it: the brokenness,
the holding. And then the moment
when you look up at the wild skies,
your one life
in blazing flames around you—
the moment
when you do it, then, you do it:
the one thing the flesh can do
with ruin, the one thing
the doomed can do
in ruin,
the ruined ones, who rise
again, in fever,
and are briefly, briefly
like the saved ones,
whose maddened dance of splendor
is their rest.
– from Poets Respond

José Luis G. Soler:
it’s lying what brought us here.
it’s truth-telling=trust-building, that will seed a livable future.

Sociability is a big smile, and a big smile is
nothing but teeth. Rest and be kind.
– Jack Kerouac

I don’t believe that “scientific genius”
in its naïve assertions of power
is equal either to nature or
to human culture. Its thoughtless invasions
of the nuclei of atoms and cells
and this world’s every habitation
have not brought us to the light
but sent us wandering further through
the dark. Nor do I believe
“artistic genius” is the possession
of any artist. No one has made
the art by which one makes the works
of art. Each one who speaks speaks
as a convocation. We live as councils
of ghosts. It is not “human genius”
that makes us human, but an old love,
an old intelligence of the heart
we gather to us from the world,
from the creatures, from the angels
of inspiration, from the dead –
an intelligence merely nonexistent
to those who do not have it, but
to those who have it more dear than life.
– Wendell Berry, Some Further Word

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

The poisonous emotions that saturate people’s minds in this dark era are the principal cause of their wandering in the endless cycle of samsara. To deal with those emotions we need to keep a constant vigilance, following the example of the Kadampa masters, who used to say:
I will hold the spear of mindfulness at the gate of the mind,
And when the emotions threaten,
I, too, will threaten them.
When they relax their grip, only then will I relax mine.
– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

It (Nature) is the organ through which the universal spirit speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back the individual to it.
– Emerson

Poem Written At Morning
– Wallace Stevens
A sunny day’s complete Poussiniana
Divide it from itself. It is this or that
And it is not.
By metaphor you paint
A thing. Thus, the pineapple was a leather fruit,
A fruit for pewter, thorned and palmed and blue,
To be served by men of ice.
The senses paint
By metaphor. The juice was fragranter
Than wettest cinnamon. It was cribled pears
Dripping a morning sap.
The truth must be
That you do not see, you experience, you feel,
That the buxom eye brings merely its element
To the total thing, a shapeless giant forced
Upward.
Green were the curls upon that head.

Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive.
And life is pain, and life is suffering,
and life is horror but my God you’re alive
and it’s spectacular.
– Joseph Campbell

We Are Not At War by Sophie Mainguy, ER doctor
WE ARE NOT AT WAR and we don’t have to be…
It is interesting to note how we only know how to look at each event through a prism of defence and domination.
The measures decreed last night by our government are, from my sensitivity as a doctor, quite appropriate. However, the announcement effect that accompanied it is much less so.
We are not at war, nor do we have to be.
There is no need for a systematic idea of struggle to be effective.
The firm ambition of a service to life is enough.
There is no enemy.
There is another living organism in full migratory flow and we must stop so that our respective currents do not clash too much.
We are at the pedestrian crossing and the light is red for us.
Of course there will be, on the scale of our billions of humans, crossings off the nails and accidents that will be painful.
They always are.
We have to be prepared for that.
But there is no war.
Life forms that do not serve our interests (and who can say?) are not our enemies.
This is yet another opportunity to realize that humans are not the only force on this planet and that they must – oh so many – sometimes make room for others.
There is no point in living it in a confrontational or competitive way.
Our bodies and our immunity love truth and PEACE.
We are not at war and we do not have to be to be effective.
We are not mobilized by weapons but by the Intelligence of the living that compels us to pause.
Exceptionally we are obliged to push ourselves aside, to leave the place.
It is not a war, it is an education, that of humility, interrelation and solidarity.

Someone asked me, “Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?” I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, “What is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.” …Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and the state of the world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

New rules: Everything that has made you an outsider in the dying culture has now prepared you as a leader for the new earth.
– Tanya Taylor Rubinstein

THE QUESTION HOLDS THE LANTERN
Once you start to awaken, no one can ever
claim you again for the old patterns.
Now you realize how precious your time here is.
You are no longer willing to squander your essence on undertakings that do not nourish your true self; your patience grows thin with tired talk and dead language.
You see through the rosters of expectation which promise you safety and the confirmation of your outer identity.
Now you are impatient for growth,
willing to put yourself in the way of change.
You want your work to become an expression of your gift.
This too shall pass, although we don’t know when, so in the meantime, stay awake and conscious of your thoughts, feelings and choices. It’s time to take great care of your self.
You want your relationship to voyage beyond the pallid frontiers to where the danger of transformation dwells.
You want your God to be wild
and to call you to where your destiny awaits.
– John O’Donohue

I have committed the worst sin of all
that a man can commit.
I have not been Happy.
– Jorge Luis Borges

The world will not end with a bang, but a whimper.
– T.S Eliot

Good and Evil
by Kahlil Gibran

And one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil.
And he answered:
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, “Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.”
For the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.
Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”
For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?”

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger:
I like this meditation on good and evil. It challenges assumptions and and raises important questions. Gibran suggests there is only good, for that is everyone’s inherent nature, and what we call evil is simply being lost and uninspired. He calls us to be compassionate to those who are selfish and cruel, for they suffer from greater poverty than the homeless and greater hunger than the starving; they suffer from poverty of the soul.

I strongly feel one should never passively allow the hard-hearted to inflict harm or hoard what belongs to all. Such actions must be opposed with strength and courage and cunning. The vulnerable must always be protected. That is a basic duty. But even complete success in one action does not stop the fundamental dynamic of harm, just that particular instance. We must always remember that those who inflict harm and encode selfishness into systems and institutions, those people are also seeking their way, just blinded by their spiritual poverty. That’s where the real, patient work of the ages is found… finding how to open eyes and hearts long used to to being shut, finding how to redirect them toward the forgotten goodness and generosity held within.

This is where I have to take issue with the Gibran’s line, “Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.” We are neither stags nor turtles, and the speed of our spiritual unfolding is not fixed at birth. Every human being harbors something of the heavenly within. There is no speed to the process. All that is needed is the right reminder of what we already are. Then begins the steady process of discovering how to encourage that ember and let its warmth permeate all aspects of our lives. Turtles don’t need to become stags. Humans simply need to become themselves. Humans just need to become more human.

But how to reach those who would armor themselves against the urging of their own hearts? No simple formula, nor single action nor organization can accomplish this. Not a year nor a generation nor a century will accomplish this. Still, that is what must be done. That is the real, hard, slow work given to us all to accomplish, each in our own lives, our work, our world.

Knowing our work, let’s be impatient to begin and supremely patient in its accomplishment. Knowing our work, what cause is there for anything but joy in turning to it each day?

In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.

key takeaway: humans aren’t the problem—it’s our systems. we don’t need to vanish to heal the earth, we need a revolution of policy and ideology that changes the way we interact with the earth. the problem is our methods, not *us,* and to think otherwise veers into ecofascism
– Talia Vogt

So that became actually perhaps the most pivotal point in, I don’t know, the landscape of my life, that dance with despair, to see how we are called to not run from the discomfort and not run from the grief or the feelings of outrage or even fear and that, if we can be fearless, to be with our pain, it turns. It doesn’t stay static. It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it. But when we look at it, when we take it in our hands, when we can just be with it and keep breathing, then it turns. It turns to reveal its other face, and the other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world, our absolutely inseparable connectedness with all life.
– Joanna Macy

just because the message is not being received does not mean it isn’t worth sending
– Ari Annona

Wrestle with Kali, if you will, she loves a good wrestler; but wrestle not with her unlovingly, or in mere disgust & hate; for her displeasure is terrible and though she loves the Asuras, she destroys them. Rather go through her & under her protection, go with a right understanding of her and with a true & unfaltering Will; she will lead you on with whatever circlings, yet surely & in the wisest way, to the All-Blissful Personality & the Ineffable Presence. Nature is the Power of God Himself, leading these multitudes of beings, through the night & the desert & the tracts of the foeman to their secret & promised heritage.

Supernature, then, is in every way our aim in Yoga; being still natural to the world, to transcend Nature internally so that both internally and externally we may possess and enjoy her as free & lord, swarat and samrat; being still the symbol in a world of symbol-beings, to reach through it to that which is symbolised, to realise the symbol; being still a figure of humanity, a [hu]man among men, a living body among living bodies, manus, mental beings housed in that living matter among other embodied mental beings; being & remaining in our outward parts all this that we are apparently, yet to exceed it and become in the body what we are really in the secret self, — God, spirit, supreme & infinite being, pure Bliss of divine joy, pure Force of divine action, pure Light of divine knowledge. Our whole apparent life has only a symbolic value & is good & necessary as a becoming; but all becoming has being for its goal & fulfilment & God is the only being. To become divine in the nature of the world and in the symbol of humanity is the perfection for which we were created.
– Sri Aurobindo, Essays Divine and Human

When I became one with the Supreme Word, my body blazed as red hot coal.
– Lalla

THE SOUL, LIKE THE MOON
The soul, like the moon
is now, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing,
live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.
– Lalleshwari

From nothingness to nothingness.
But sure, a mystery here abides,
A Something is there for us to know.
(It cannot all be meaningless).
– Lalla

On the way to God the difficulties
feel like being ground by a millstone,
like night coming at noon, like
lightning through the clouds

But don’t worry!
What must come, comes,
face everything with love
as your mind dissolves in God
***
Lord, you exist
as me. Your power moves,
and I start walking.

A prior impulse is the only difference
between us.
Other than that,
everything I am is You.
– Lalla

Unconscious people read the scriptures
like parrots saying Ram, Ram,
in their cages.

It’s all pretend-knowledge.
Read rather, with me, every
living moment as prophecy.
– Lalla

How do we effect change in our lives? How do we correct ourselves, improve ourselves? By layering our patterns, our old not-so-wonderful habits with newer and better ones. Personal transformation, the Torah is teaching us, is not achieved by beating our chests in remorse alone, or by brooding over past mistakes. Rather, it is achieved by moving forward, layering it over with fresh ways of being, new and improved ways of conducting ourselves, terracing rather than excavating. Like David put it some 3000 years ago: “Flee from what’s bad for you, from what no longer works, and pursue something that’s good for you, that works for you” (Psalms 34:15 and 37:27) – meaning, let go of the mistakes and layer them over with positive action instead of wasting a lot of time excessively uprooting and un-doing to the neglect of actually planting anew, of making some real-time changes.
– Gershon Winkler

Take the I Out
But I love the I, steel I-beam
that my father sold. They poured the pig iron
into the mold, and it fed out slowly,
a bending jelly in the bath, and it hardened,
Bessemer, blister, crucible, alloy, and he
marketed it, and bought bourbon, and Cream
of Wheat, its curl of butter right
in the middle of its forehead, he paid for our dresses
with his metal sweat, sweet in the morning
and sour in the evening. I love the I,
frail between its flitches, its hard ground
and hard sky, it soars between them
like the soul that rushes, back and forth,
between the mother and father. What if they had loved each other,
how would it have felt to be the strut
joining the floor and roof of the truss?
I have seen, on his shirt-cardboard, years
in her desk, the night they made me, the penciled
slope of her temperature rising, and on
the peak of the hill, first soldier to reach
the crest, the Roman numeral I–
I, I, I, I,
girders of identity, head on,
embedded in the poem. I love the I
for its premise of existence–our I–when I was
born, part gelid, I lay with you
on the cooling table, we were all there, a
forest of felled iron. The I is a pine,
resinous, flammable root to crown,
which throws its cones as far as it can in a fire.
– Sharon Olds

What should one do during the twelve hours of day and night?
Every step should tread on this question.
– Fa-yen

Ballad
(after the spanish)

forgive me if i laugh
you are so sure of love
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.

the rain exploding
in the air is love
the grass excreting her
green wax is love
and stones remembering
past steps is love,
but you. you are too young
for love
and i too old.

once. what does it matter
when or who, i knew
of love.
i fixed my body
under his and went
to sleep in love
all trace of me
was wiped away

forgive me if i smile
young heiress of a naked dream
you are so young
and i too old to learn of love.
– Sonia Sanchez

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:
Small things with great love
reach further than we can see,
because they become
part of the fabric of creation.

Trying not to get angry thinking this is all caused by speciesism. I’m not being xenophobic – the idea that eating a bat is worse or “dirtier” than eating a new born baby lamb is ridiculous. But It’s hard to believe the suffering in the world wouldn’t be drastically improved by turning away from animal exploitation is pretty hard for me to stop thinking about. I try to think compassionately – “ if we were told it was all coming from coffee or bananas how would I feel” and yeh I’d be defensive so I try to understand how people push back against the idea that exploiting animals has to stop . But I can’t help but think how many viruses have come from animal agriculture and think how insane it is that it’s not fundamentally questioned in the light of the current crisis.
– Tomm Moore

Khandro Rinpoche:
Our fundamental nature is intrinsic.
No sane, intelligent human being
is impeded from being in touch
with this basic nature.
There is no one standing between you and it, no one is appearing like a mara
to perform dances of distraction.
At any given moment, each one of you —
even with no understanding of Buddhism — has the natural potential to realize
you are completely and inseparably united
with your intrinsic wisdom nature.
You have never been separate from it
for a moment.
It is not a
sometimes-there-sometimes-not quality
or an adornment
that’s been attached or added on to you.

I promised the Beloved
that as long as my heart beats,
I’d love His lovers as much as
I love my own life …. here in His
street.
– Hafez

When morning dawns
on the slave,
he should contemplate upon
the darkness of the night
and brightness of the day, and recognize
the arrival of one brings about
the arrival of the other.
So too with the light
of proximate knowledge: when it appears,
it extinguishes the darkness of sin
from the limbs.
– Imam al Ghazali

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.
– Anne Lamott

Bathed in Grace (1975)
On a bus from Oxford to London with my wife. I’m feeling wretched because we’ve recently fought. She’s quiet and forlorn. Suddenly, I’m enveloped in glory and Light. Nothing subtle–this is full-out beatitude, and I intuitively know it’s being triggered by a source outside my psyche. I further somehow know that that source is someone seated somewhere behind me. There’s an element of embarrassment in all this for me–to have behaved so badly and madly with Leslie, yet to be held in such a state of grace feels like a vulnerable exposure. In his Poems of Innocence and Experience, William Blake wrote that “we are put on Earth a little space/That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” The bus bears us toward London. The love never lets up. It fills and eventually settles and soothes me.
When we arrive and are about to disembark, I know I must wait for passengers behind me to file out, so I can finally see the person who’s held me in such vast, beatified awareness. And sure enough, here she comes: a frail old grey-haired lady. I simply know she’s the one. She passes my seat without any kind of acknowledgement, and I maneuver myself into line right behind her. As she starts down the bus’s brief, steep stairway to the pavement, I watch her waver slightly. The climb down is a chore for her old body.

My body is still so charged up from our mysterious encounter (a “God-appointment” to be sure) that it’s possible for me to project a ray of energy from my solar plexus to hold and steady her as she descends the stairs. She stands a moment on the station pavement then turns around, beams brightly up at me, says “Thank you,” and is on her way.
– Geoffrey Oelsner, A Country Where All Colors Are Sacred and Alive: A Memoir of Non-Ordinary Experience and Collaboration with Nature

MAGDALENE
Magdalene.
She is the daughter of the Earth.
She is her Mother’s child.
She is the embodiment of tender love.
She is the Nurturer.
She is Nature itself.
She is the bestower of life.
She is tenderness.
She tends to the fallen male
for she knows that he is her fallen Father
and he is her fallen Son.
What else can she do but love him
and tend to him.
And wait until he recognizes her
and remembers
who he is.
– Leonard Jacobson, Bridging Heaven & Earth

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.

Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

If other people do not understand
our behavior—
so what?
Their request that we must only do
what they understand
is an attempt to dictate to us.
If this is being ‘asocial’
or ‘irrational’ in their eyes, so be it.
Mostly they resent our freedom
and our courage to be ourselves.
We owe nobody an explanation
or an accounting,
as long as our acts do not hurt
or infringe on them.
How many lives have been ruined
by this need to ‘explain,’
which usually implies that the explanation be ‘understood,’
i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged,
and from your deeds, your real intentions,
but know that a free person owes an explanation
only to himself—
to his reason and his conscience—
and to the few who may have a justified claim
for explanation.
– Erich Fromm

Work of the eyes is done, now
go and do heart-work
on all the images imprisoned within you; for you
overpowered them: but even now you don’t know them.
Learn, inner man, to look on your inner woman,
the one attained from a thousand
natures, the merely attained but
not yet beloved form.
– Rilke, Turning-Point

This is also what
mountains do, they
let the light fade early
in the houses to the
east of them.
– Kerrin McCadden

i am glad that the planet is getting a very slight respite, however brief, from industrial civilization’s war on nature. No, that doesn’t make me glad that there are some people sick or dying from this particular disease. It makes me glad that industry has been shut down in some places and the planet is getting a very slight respite from industrial civilization’s war on nature.

If that makes you think I’m a fascist, defriend or block me now, and make room for me to accept other friend requests.

Being glad for blue skies and reduced carbon and clean water does not make someone a fascist.

Industrial civilization is based on systematically destroying the planet. If you don’t understand that, read Endgame.

Every cell in my body wants for us to have a voluntary transformation to a way of life that isn’t based on destroying the planet. And if you aren’t working hard to make that happen, you have no right to complain when nature forces that transformation upon us. And you have no right to call anyone a fascist simply because that person’s loyalty is with the living planet and the humans and nonhumans who come after–and NOT with the economic and social system that is killing the planet.

I’ll conclude this rant with something i wrote fifteen years ago or so in Endgame.

If you’ve gotten this far in this book—or if you’re simply anything other than entirely insensate—we probably agree that civilization is going to crash, whether or not we help bring this about. If you don’t agree with this, we probably have nothing to say to each other (How ‘bout them Cubbies!). We probably also agree that this crash will be messy. We agree further that since industrial civilization is systematically dismantling the ecological infrastructure of the planet, the sooner civilization comes down (whether or not we help it crash) the more life will remain afterwards to support both humans and nonhumans.

If you agree with all this, and if you don’t want to dirty your spirituality and conscience with the physical work of helping to bring down civilization, and if your primary concern really is for the well-being of those (humans) who will be alive during and immediately after the crash (as opposed to simply raising this issue because you’re too scared to talk about the crash or to allow anyone else to do so either), then, given, and I repeat this point to emphasize it, that civilization is going to come down anyway, you need to start preparing people for the crash. Instead of attacking me for stating the obvious, go rip up asphalt in vacant parking lots to convert them to neighborhood gardens, go teach people how to identify local edible plants, even in the city (especially in the city) so these people won’t starve when the proverbial shit hits the fan and they can no longer head off to Albertson’s for groceries. Set up committees to eliminate or if appropriate channel the (additional) violence that might break out.

We need it all. We need people to take out dams, and we need people to knock out electrical infrastructures. We need people to protest and to chain themselves to trees. We also need people working to ensure that as many people as possible are equipped to deal with the fall-out when the collapse comes. We need people working to teach others what wild plants to eat, what plants are natural antibiotics. We need people teaching others how to purify water, how to build shelters. All of this can look like supporting traditional, local knowledge, it can look like starting roof-top gardens, it can look like planting local varieties of medicinal herbs, and it can look like teaching people how to sing.
The truth is that although I do not believe that designing groovy eco-villages will help bring down civilization, when the crash comes, I’m sure to be first in line knocking on their doors asking for food.

People taking out dams do not have a responsibility to ensure that people in homes previously powered by hydro know how to cook over a fire. They do however have a responsibility to support the people doing that work.
Similarly, those people growing medicinal plants (in preparation for the end of civilization) do not have a responsibility to take out dams. They do however have a responsibility at the very least to not condemn those people who have chosen that work. In fact they have a responsibility to support them. They especially have a responsibility to not report them to the cops.
It’s the same old story: the good thing about everything being so fucked up is that no matter where you look, there is great work to be done. Do what you love. Do what you can. Do what best serves your landbase. We need it all.
This doesn’t mean that everyone taking out dams and everyone working to cultivate medicinal plants are working toward the same goals. It does mean that if they are, each should see the importance of the other’s work.

Further, resistance needs to be global. Acts of resistance are more effective when they’re large-scale and coordinated. The infrastructure is monolithic and centralized, so common tools and techniques can be used to dismantle it in many different places, simultaneously if possible.
By contrast, the work of renewal must be local. To be truly effective (and to avoid reproducing the industrial infrastructure) acts of survival and livelihood need to grow from particular landbases where they will thrive. People need to enter into conversation with each piece of earth and all its (human and nonhuman) inhabitants. This doesn’t mean of course that we can’t share ideas, or that one water purification technique won’t be useful in many different locations. It does mean that people in those places need to decide for themselves what will work. Most important of all, the water in each place needs to be asked and allowed to decide for itself.
I’ve been thinking a lot again about the cell phone tower behind Safeway, and I see now how these different approaches manifest in this one small place. The cell phone tower needs to come down. It is contiguous on two sides with abandoned parking lots. Those lots need to come up. Gardens can bloom in their place. We can even do our work side by side.
– Derrick Jensen

How wide is my heart?
Each pulsing atom in this ancient
hologram of blood and muscle
threads its yearning to a distant star.
The thread is love, glistening like silk.
My body must be woven out of That.
Deeply in touch with
the crimson creature in my chest,
I contain galaxies.
They breathe through me,
and the earth grows green.
My pollen riots the meadows.
The healing song of the hive
is hidden in my ribs.
What warms the heart, I follow.
What expands, I go that way,
and I depart from what contracts me,
like an emerald worm without eyes
traveling surely, tender and slow,
down the vein of a fern.
It is better than philosophy.
It is carrying a candle
through the forest at night.
I may not see around the bend,
but each step is illumined.
Who is my Guru?
This throb beneath my sternum.
Don’t look for the mystical door.
Friend, You are the door.
– Fred LaMotte

When something takes us to our depths, our depths reach up to meet us.
Have you noticed?
– David Bedrick

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.
– David W. Orr – Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

We are evolving so rapidly, there is such increase of frequency, of possibility, it is mind blowing…the level of surrender that it requires is increasing, but the softer we are in the inside, the more willingly are, the more easily we can change, and the more easily we will flow with this high frequency-light that is upon us, within us. and that means letting go of so many ways that we have framed our reality.
– Kristin Kirk

We are evolving so rapidly, there is such increase of frequency, of possibility, it is mind blowing. And so, the softer we can allow ourselves to be inside, the more easily and readily we can allow ourselves to surrender, more rapidly we will make the changes internally with the shifts that are happening in consciousness in a larger scale.

And so, the level of surrender that it requires is increasing, but the softer we are on the inside, the more willingly are, the more easily we can change, and the more easily we will flow with this high frequency-light that is upon us, within us. And that means letting go of so many ways that we have framed our reality.

And so, the letting go is becoming larger, leting go of a whole framework of perception, of what’s actually happening, how we interpret things and when we let go of how we interpret things, it changes how we respond to things, and that changes the field of frequency we generate, which then goes into the larger collective, and changes the collective.
– Kristin Kirk

Fishmonger
I have taken scales from off
The cheeks of the moon.
I have made fins from bluejays’ wings,
I have made eyes from damsons in the shadow.
I have taken flushes from the peachlips in the sun.
From all these I have made a fish of heaven for you,
Set it swimming on a young October sky.
I sit on the bank of the stream and watch
The grasses in amazement
As they turn to ashy gold.
Are the fishes from the rainbow
Still beautiful to you,
For whom they are made,
For whom I have set them,
Swimming?
– Marsden Hartley

This is not the heralding of the arrival of the star people. This is not the entry-way to the 5th dimension. This is not the final chapter of the matrix. This is not a massive cosmic recalibration. This is not your initiation to the higher realms. This is not the opportunity the pleiadians have all been waiting for. This is not a new dawning. This is a virus, friends. Protect yourself.
– Jeff Brown

The joke of it all is that you are looking
from your true nature right now
without knowing it. If you would stop
being fascinated with the contents
of your mind, you would experience
what I am saying.
Feel your way into
what I am saying
rather than thinking about it.
– Adyashanti, My Secret Is Silence

Thou hast to learn to bear all the gods within thee and never stagger with their inrush or break under their burden.
– Sri Aurobindo

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
– Emily Dickinson

What could be more futile, more insane,
than to create inner resistance
to something that already is?
– Eckhart Tolle

Setting out from my house in the twilight,
Oak forests darkened as I drove
Through yearning beds of dry arroyos,
Mule deer dreams in moonlight silver meadows,

Owls wings flash in golden headlights
As I penetrate the roiling dust.
I have come to know this land.
I have come to be this land.
I am of the West.
I am the West.

You need not ask whose face this is,
This evening, seafog loud with foghorns.
Though the grasses are like the skeletons of grasses
About my doorstep,
Making shaking noise
In the wind from the blue emptiness mountains,

They are ready for your paint pony,
Should you choose to come.

I need not comment on my feelings for you…
Waves that come in together go out together.

I long for one who knows all the country sounds,
Who will listen to my guitar and understand.

We will dwell in the deep mountains.
Our house of cedar, the rafters of pine.
Yams grow.
Their vines are green and twining.

Your swinging whitepainted gate is hard to pass.
Your golden porch light is difficult to pass.
Like a scrub jay hunting a tree in the wet dust of First rain,
Might I not come inside?

Who plays the ancient harmonies?
The tarantula dance music of the dry country.

Spin your partner,
Become the spin,
Dance the courtship dance of the bees,
Dance directions to the finest flower fields.

Who waits for me in the doorway
In a gingham dress?

At night I dream of home.
And listen to the cries of sailors and their
Strumming guitars
Over the distant booming surf.

And am certain they are singing of home.

And am certain I will find you there.
– Nicholas Pierotti

How few up to now have immersed themselves in the mysteries of fluidity.
– Novalis, The Disciples at Sais

With all its eyes the natural world looks out
into the Open. Only our eyes are turned
backward, and surround plant, animal, child
like traps, as they emerge into their freedom.
We know what is really out there only from
the animal’s gaze; for we take the very young
child and force it around, so that it sees
objects–not the Open, which is so
deep in animals’ faces. Free from death,

….Never, not for a single day, do we have
before us that pure space into which flowers
endlessly open. Always there is World
and never Nowhere without the No: that pure
unseparated element which one breathes
without desire and endlessly knows….
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Eighth Elegy, trs. by Stephen Mitchell..

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
– William Butler Yeats

All directions are within the mind!

I am not asking you to look in any particular direction. Just look away from all that happens in your mind and bring it to the feeling ‘I am’. The ‘I am’ is not a direction. It is the negation of all direction.

Ultimately even the ‘I am’ will have to go, for you need not keep on asserting what is obvious. Bringing the mind to the feeling ‘I am’ merely helps in turning the mind away from everything else.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

This is our inheritance.
All that is heavy….will reveal
that the path of tenderness
is endless.
– Rilke

Practitioners who train in courage become true warriors. The war we wage is not with enemies outside ourselves but with the powerful forces of our own habitual tendencies and negative emotions. The greatest of these is fear. In order to become fearless, we need to experience fear. Facing fear changes our perespective and gives rise to the courage to face our neuroses as well as our enlightened qualities.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

There is only one thing, ONE vibration that seems to be really universal: the Vibration of Love. I am not saying its manifestation, no, nothing of the sort! But the something which is pure Love. That seems to me to be universal.
But as soon as you try to express it, it’s over.
. . .
But I tell you, only that Vibration seems essential and primordial enough to be really universal.
That Vibration which is both the need and the joy to unite.
And deep within it, there is an identity of vibration – the RECOGNITION of an identity of vibration.
– Mirra Alfassa, Mother’s Agenda

Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros:
Check on the poets,
even the ones world-famous
or the got it together ones.

Poets absorb the world
into our skin. We carry
the universe like a liver, heart, spleen.

The hurt of the world becomes
skin, tissue, marrow, the bones.
We translate agony into hope,

fear, or a combination of both.
Billions of words and emotions,
like estrellitas, attach themselves

to our bodies yearning to be articulated.
Poets live between lands,
worlds, languages, artistic expressions,

identities. Check on the poets.
Sheltered-in-place ones,
self-quarantined ones, getting it together ones.

That Which is Enough
On most days, we move

well beyond the speed of necessity,

adrift in so many wants and not wants –

rushing toward,

running away from.

But there are also days that arrive,

slowly, often by surprise;

here to remind us to stand still,

to be attentive,

to let the world move through us,

to encompass us as if in an embrace

that we remember from somewhere below our skin,

though we’re not sure how, or why.

We learn to stay, if only for a moment,

empty of everything

but that which is enough.
– Jamie K. Reaser

Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. “Exclusivity is not the love of God but the “love” of ego.
– Eckhart Tolle

Speak to me: I will spend my lifetime trying to understand you.
– Kamand Kojouri

Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.
– German proverb

“The world seems broken,” he said, “I want a spell that can fix it.”

“Yeah, me too,” the witch said.

“You can’t help?”

Magic can’t. I recommend empathy.
– A Small Fiction

If you want to know me, look inside your heart.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

And when the fog’s over and the stars and the moon come out at night it’ll be a beautiful sight.
– Kerouac

No one … can entirely step out of his time … despite his keenness of vision his thinking is in many ways bound to be influenced by the mentality of his time.
– Karen Horney

The individual solution to climate change – shrink your carbon footprint even though you live in a high carbon society

The individual solution to coronavirus – shrink the space you move through in the world.
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

Amy Liptrot:
I’d like to report that, up on the moor, the lapwings’ mating displays are just as audacious as ever.

I love you with what in me is unfinished.
I love you with what in me is still
Changing.
– Robert Bly, In the Month of May

Anand Giridharadas:
What have you watched, read, or heard in this strange, dark time that has given you comfort and joy?

Shout out to anyone who has the energy for poetry careerism at the moment…utterly remarkable.
– Sandra Isabel

Phillip B. Williams:
Post your poems. Post other people’s poems. Believe in poetry. Especially if you’re a poet. I want to see dancers dance, hear singers sing, & read/hear your poems. Art showed me alternative ways of being in this hard ass world. Poetry didn’t save my life, it gave me my life.

An outside enemy exists only if there is anger inside.
– Thubten Zopa Rinpoche

The Library Owl:
let’s agree to ignore anyone who says the world is a hopeless place, that fantasy and fiction and storytelling and song have no value, that there’s no point in seeing or celebrating the beauty that shines all around us.

Eric Smith:
Can I request a big resurgence in “quiet” novels, because the world is VERY loud lately.

aria aber:
my students writing poems about their ancestors is the only thing that matters to me right now

When you are silent, it speaks; When you speak, it is silent.
– Yoka

Please, in all this muddle of life, continue to be a bright and constant star. Just a few things remain as beacons: poetry, and you, and solitude.
– Vita

Whatever you are seeking, all becomes suffering. It is better to have nothing further to seek.
– Rinzai

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for……
– Naomi Shihab Nye

peter himmelman:
Without question, our novel world-wide challenge has brought people in closer proximity to their priorities. If I were one to second guess God, I’d suppose that was the point.

Dr. Thema:
May this season of isolation be one of clarity so your heart doesn’t get confused and start longing for the ones who broke it.

Even though we sometimes would not get a thing, we were happy with the joy the day would bring.
– Stevie Wonder

Kelly Davio:
Anybody else find that reading—and enjoying it—is hard right now? My focus is totally spent after the working day. Books are my safe spot, so it’s discouraging not to be able to enjoy them when I need them most.

From tiny experiences we build cathedrals.
– Orhan Pamuk

I can assure you that my personal needs as an individual are fulfilled when I have good books, good music, and good friends.
– Hannah Arendt

Concern should drive us into action, not into a depression.
– Karen Horney

As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.
– Ram Dass

Terence McKenna:
Our own society suffers from a failure to adequately model and reflect the true nature of human beings.

It is easier to tell a story of how people wound one another than of what binds them together.

They were two superior eels
at the bottom of the tank and they recognized each other like italics.
– Anne Carson

Shailja Patel:
Tired: fear, uncertainty, loss, disaster profiteers

Wired: capitalism fissuring before our eyes, and we’re pushing progressive victories through every crack

Inspired: this is the great upheaval that will overthrow the oligarchs and birth the planetary transformation we dream of

There is no time left for anything but to make peacework a dimension of our every waking activity.
– Elise Boulding

Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.
– Sigmund Freud

One small crack does not mean that you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and you didn’t fall apart.
– Linda Poindexter

Shira Erlichman:
We are in the lineage of grace. If you were born, you’re the result of a trillion & one things going right. Your accordion inhale/exhale, your fused bones, your refusing rage, your fundamental grapplings: heirlooms passed down from countless stars & stars. Don’t forget it.

Don’t get lost in your pain,
know that one day your pain
will become your cure.
– Rumi

If you can’t be free, be a mystery.
– Rita Dove

let the time
be wrested from the war
let the war be won
let love be
at the end
– Lucille Clifton

We point at the decline of civilization into illiteracy, and ourselves forget the art of letter-writing, or of reading a text…
– Theodor Adorno

Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.
– Doris Lessing

If you can’t take time every day to learn something and advance your growth, then you’re mismanaging your life.
– Brendon Burchard

It is only with total humility, and in absolute stillness of mind that we can know what indeed we are.
– Wei Wu Wei

Painted Brain:
It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.

Terence McKenna:
It never enters their mind that such a state even exists: a state not of alienation, exactly, but of ironical, sophisticated insight into the mechanisms of one’s own culture and the cultural games that are being played.

The man who desires to know, knows more than the man who knows everything already.
– Yiddish proverb

quiet here
no cars…….. nothing
just the spring flowers
– Joan Halifx

How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake.
– Virginia Woolf

Seamus Heaney:
Believe that a farther shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Our life has not been an ascent
up one side of a mountain and down the other.
We did not reach a peak,
only to decline and die.
We have been as drops of water,
born in the ocean and sprinkled on the earth
in a gentle rain.
We became a spring,
and then a stream,
and finally a river flowing deeper and stronger,
nourishing all it touches
as it nears its home once again.

Don’t accept the modern myths of aging.
You are not declining.
You are not fading away into uselessness.
You are a sage,
a river at its deepest
and most nourishing.
Sit by a river bank some time
and watch attentively as the river
tells you of your life.
– We Are a River, from The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life, William Martin’s free-verse interpretation of the classic work by Lao Tzu (The Experiment, 2010).

may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
– Lucille Clifton

If we wish to alleviate injustice and suffering, we have to do it with an unprejudiced mind.
– Pema Chödrön

Either war is obsolete or men are.
– Buckminster Fuller

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.
– John Lennon

For thousands of years now, the beginning of western philosophy has systematically been split off and dissociated from the kind of practices we’ve come to think of as ‘magical’. The process has been a long and determined one; it almost succeeded. But those ancient connections are calling out again to be acknowledged–and it’s good to have some sense of the real issues involved.
Talking about how philosophy and magic once were two halves of a whole might sound an interesting historical topic. But basically it’s not a matter of history at all. And neither does it mean we just need to be more aware of how irrationality has come to be separated off in our lives from rationality; nor does it even mean we should be making a greater effort to bring everything that seems unreasonable into some harmony with reason.

If we think it’s enough to do any of that we’re still missing the main point, because all these distinctions between rational and irrational are only valid from the limited standpoint of what we call reason.
When rationality is really combined with irrationality, then we begin to go beyond them both. something else is created, something quite extraordinary that’s timeless–and yet entirely new. Then we start seeing the illogicality of everything that normally is considered so reasonable. And we come face to face with an implacable fascinatingly coherent logic.
This is the logic that Parmeneides tried to introduce to the West: a logic that questions everything, that was meant to turn people’s lives and values upside down. But we managed to take the easy way our, the reasonable way.
We turned his teaching upside down instead.

It’s quite an achievement. We’ve actually succeeded in creating the illusion that we’re wiser than people used to be.
– Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom

You are not surprised at the force⁣
of the storm—⁣
you have seen it growing.⁣
The trees flee. Their flight⁣
sets the boulevards streaming. ⁣
And you know:⁣
he whom they flee is the one⁣
you move toward. All your senses⁣
sing him, as you stand at the window.⁣

The weeks stood still in summer.⁣
The trees’ blood rose. Now you ⁣
feel⁣
it wants to sink back⁣
into the source of everything. You ⁣
thought⁣
you could trust that power⁣
when you plucked the fruit:⁣
now it becomes a riddle again⁣
and you again a stranger.⁣

Summer was like your house: you ⁣
know⁣
where each thing stood.⁣
Now you must go out into your ⁣
heart⁣
as onto a vast plain. Now⁣
the immense loneliness begins.⁣

The days go numb, the wind⁣
sucks the world from your senses ⁣
like withered leaves.⁣

Through the empty branches ⁣
the sky remains.⁣
It is what you have.⁣
Be earth now, and evensong.⁣
Be the ground lying under that ⁣
sky.⁣
Be modest now, like a thing⁣
ripened until it is real,⁣
so that he who began it all⁣
can feel you when he reaches for ⁣
you.⁣
– Rainer Maria Rilke⁣

For us a song and a road are very different things. But in the language of ancient Greek epic poetry the word for ‘road’ and the word for ‘song,’ oimos and oime, are almost identical. They’re linked, have the same origin. Originally the poet’s song was quite simply a journey into another world: a world where the past and future are as accessible and real as the present. And his journey was his song. Those were the times when the poet was a magician, a shaman. [. . .] The words shamans use as they enter the state of ecstasy evoke the things they speak about. The poems they sing don’t only describe their journeys; they’re what makes the journeys happen.
– Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom

SPRING
Something new in the air today, perhaps the struggle of the bud
to become a leaf. Nearly two weeks late it invaded the air but
then what is two weeks to life herself? On a cool night there is
a break from the struggle of becoming. I suppose that’s why we
sleep. In a childhood story they spoke of the land of enchant-
ment. We crawl to it, we short-lived mammals, not realizing that
we are already there. To the gods the moon is the entire moon
but to us it changes second by second because we are always fish
in the belly of the whale of earth. We are encased and can’t stray
from the house of our bodies. I could say that we are released,
but I don’t know, in our private night when our souls explode
into a billion fragments then calmly regather in a black pool in
the forest, far from the cage of flesh, the unremitting “I.” This was
a dream and in dreams we are forever alone walking the ghost
road beyond our lives. Of late I see waking as another chance at
spring.
– Jim Harrison, Songs of Unreason