Journal

To be a kid requires detective work. You have to piece together the entire universe from scratch.
– Karen Russell

Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.
– Germany Kent

Build a Road
by Acoustic Junction

When we build a road
Will it take us where we want to go
Where the oceans flow
Upon the sands where no one ever goes

This road we’re on is built on dreams
Driven by visions painted soft and serene
Crossing paths that we’ve taken all along
Our rhythm and music joining hands with a song

Take us someplace where the music can be heard
Natural sounds ringing true and preferred
A golden melody running through our hands
Brother to brother making music in the band

If trouble comes our way and the cold winds blow
We can’t stand still if it’s time we must go
You can’t be waiting for your ship to come in
While others talk of stories and places where they’ve been

If we build a road
Will it take us where we want to go
Where the oceans flow
Upon the sands where no one ever goes

There are no shortcuts
to anyplace worth going.
– Beverly Sills

The Red Book documents Jung’s journey to the rediscovery of his lost soul as well as his method of active imagination used to enter into dialogue with what he discovers.
– Murray Stein

Whenever I get lost, they find me in a poem.
Poetry is my four directions.
– Dunya Mikhail

The Zia believe that in this great brotherhood of all things, man has four sacred obligations: he must develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of his people.

Only by doing our inner work can we hope to be agents of change in the world. Yet working on ourselves is not enough. Love is the fire that burns down the structures that oppress people and degrade the planet. Justice is the phoenix that rises from those ashes.
– Mirabai Starr​​​​​​​​

Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.
– Frederick Buechner

Our spiritual intelligence searches for wholeness, coherence, and attunement to the universe. The mandala is a tool to accomplish this, and thus has continually appeared throughout human history in diverse forms and cultures. And we do not need to travel into the past or to other cultures to experience the mandala in our lives. Once you become aware of the mandala, you will see it in many situations in your daily life.
– Lama Tsultrim Allione

From inside the mandala of the wounded healer, there is a call emerging out from the central courtyard: Your grief, your longing, and that aching and burning inside your heart is not pathology, but path. It is the very path itself. Each feeling and image, each strand of sensitivity in your body and nervous system are stones on the path, pieces of light on the forest ground that illuminate the way ahead. They arise not to harm or take you down, but as emissaries of wholeness and allies of integration.
– Matt Licata

No poetic phantasy
but a biological reality,
a fact: I am an entity
like bird, insect, plant
or sea-plant cell;
I live; I am alive.
– H.D.

Psychology ideally means giving soul to language and finding language for soul.
– James Hillman

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

If you have not touched the rocky wall of a canyon. If you have not heard a rushing river pound over cobblestones. If you have not seen a native trout rise in a crystalline pool beneath a shattering riffle, or a golden eagle spread its wings and cover you in shadow. If you have not seen the tree line recede to the top of a bare crested mountain. If you have not looked into a pair of wild eyes and seen your own reflection. Please, for the good of your soul, travel west.
– Daniel J. Rice, This Side of a Wilderness

Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.
– Horace Greeley

It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.
– Lucille Ball

To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.
– Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Just like Christopher Columbus you just don’t know what you’ve found.
– The Nields

chutzpah definition:
a refusal to be limited by imaginary boundaries and physical resources; the confidence to pursue incredible ambitions; and a relentless attitude to never let actions be influenced by fear.

Your imagination needs to be broken in, I think, to become anywhere near as weird as the world.
– Alexander Chee

There are more things in heaven and earth, than you’ve even dreamed of, or are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet

I am not devaluing thoughts. Just do not mix up what we think with what actually is.
– Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice

By believing passionately in something
that still does not exist, we create it.
The nonexistent is whatever
we have not sufficiently desired.
– Franz Kafka

A great door opens every time we walk our own way. Not the way of the world, not the way of the other, but the way that is encoded in the bones of our being. It is not easy to open the great door in an inauthentic world, but open it we must. On the other side of the door, our real life awaits. There are many great doors to come as we shed our cloaks of falsity and embrace our deepest truths. Walk with your head high and your heart open. The universe responds to authentic transformation. Nothing false will do. Out with the old, in with the true…
– Jeff Brown

Unless we can restore poetry to somewhere in the center of our universe, we are going to lose a lot of stars, a lot constellations, a lot of light.
– Kamau Brathwaite

All teachings are mere references.
The true experience is living your own life.
– Deng Ming-Dao

Cherish that which is within you, and shut off that which is without.
– Zhuangzi

Woe to whoever chases satisfaction
it’s never like you thought
raven-black or parrot-bright or moon-colored like a dove.
– from Song of the Banu Sasan by 10th C. Iraqi writer Abu Dalaf

Lisa Broderick:
If you write your dreams down for twelve weeks, you’ll know the entire course of your life for the next ten years.

Settle in the here and now.
Reach down into the center
where the world is not spinning
and drink this holy peace.

Feel relief flood into every
cell. Nothing to do. Nothing
to be but what you are already.
Nothing to receive but what
flows effortlessly from the
mystery into form.

Nothing to run from or run
toward. Just this breath,
awareness knowing itself as
embodiment. Just this breath,
awareness waking up to truth.
– Danna Faulds

Aaron Force:
You don’t pursue authenticity—you find it by stripping away everything you are not.

If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.
– Tao Te-Ching

Look underfoot. You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don’t despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world.
– John Burroughs

To walk quietly till the miracle in everything speaks poetry, whether we write it down or not.
– Mark Nepo

Get off the main thoroughfares; you’ll see nothing there. For example, Kant’s Critique is a yawn but his incidental writings are fascinating.

Don’t be afraid to bring in strange quotations & graft them into your story. It enriches the prose. Quotations are like yeast.

– Sebald

Leave the roads; take the trails.
– Pythagoras

But what would I do on weekends, join the merry picnickers? I’d just hide up there beyond that beautiful meadow. I’d stay there forever.
– Jack Kerouac

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.
– William Stafford

It’s never too late to take a moment to look.
– Sharon Salzberg

Any time is the time to make a poem.
– Gertrude Stein

Exercises for a Nature Writer

Rise like a farmer at five,
and sit in kitchen silence
Shepherd thoughts.

Dress for the weather,
taking pen, paper, pocketknife.
Stay out all day.

Do not forget to eat
with your whole concentration
on eating.

Chew as cows do.
Ruminate.
Let everything be well-digested.

Ask: Are my ears good?
The tendons & intentions
that move my pen?

Work loose what is stuck in you
Through service
To whatever crosses your path.

Inspect the edge lands daily.
Make holes in every fence
For life to slip through.
– Tanya Shadrick

You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sitting quietly as rain pattered on the old tile roof, I reveled in the peace and solitude, the sense of coming into alignment with myself.
– anntashi slater

I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in.
– dorianne laux

Countless words count less
than the silent balance
between yin and yang.
– Taoist proverb

See those sensitive hills? They need to be talked to, sung to
– Joy Harjo

The Igbo people say, If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place.
– Chinua Achebe

We are just a speck of dust in the midst of the universe…our situation is very spacious, very beautiful & workable.
– Chogyam Trungpa

You may be capable of great things, but life consists of small things.
– Deng Ming-Dao

Keep your hands open and all the sands of the desert can pass through. Close them and all you can feel is a bit of grit.
– Taisen Deshimaru

Let us not allow otherness to bar the door to kinship, curiosity, and imagination. There is a bridge.
– David G. Haskel

Hang in the wind
Let your songs fill the air
Let the colors on your skin share the light

Hang in the wind
Let your dreams rise above
Let your notions of peace overcome

We still have a long way we gotta go
We still have a whole lotta love we gotta show

So, take my hand
And love me now
Don’t count the sand
You’ll never know

If I try to tell you that honesty comes naturally
Would you defy your mind, you put-upon?

That’s all you’d win again
That’s all you’d win again
That’s all you’d win again
That’s all you’d win again
– Amy Blaschke

Better to understand for a single day the fleeting nature of things than live a hundred years without such understanding.
– Thay

We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from the trees, in whose company we spend cool, silent, and intimate hours.
– Proust

Put down the paper, turn off the radio You’re only just hearing what you already know—that folks love blood and war and sex, and that the night sky is full of little diamond-shaped specks.
– Peter Himmelman

Nothing outside can cure you but everything’s outside.
– Bernadette Mayer

There is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care to know. Who can say what it is that’s going on? But I suspect that part of it, anyway, is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes something like this: “You’ve turned up in the right place at the right time. You’re doing fine. Don’t ever think that you’ve been forgotten.
– Frederick Buechner

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.
– Dave Barry

The surface layer elicits smiles, sometimes laughter. The deeper layer elicits tears. Holding both, it would seem, is the point of our practice.
– Frank LaRue Owen

Don’t be fooled,
these lines were not written by me
but, one day by a heron or a shower of rain,
another by an aspen.
A hint of love was enough
to set them alight.
– Phillippe Jaccottet

Questions are the creative acts on intelligence.
– Frank Kingdon

Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing.
– Lucille Clifton

The unseen and unspoken are only visible to the polished mind.
— Kari Hohne

The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
– James Baldwin

It’s not my heart which broke, no, it’s something so enormous that I’m blinded.
– Etel Adnan

Your Treasure House is in yourself it contains all you need.
– Hui Hai

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
– Nelson Mandela

We live in a dislocated chronology.
– Julia Kristeva – Proust and the Sense of Time

I really wanted it to be a grey day
– Robert Macfarlane

I wanted to bring you poems and toddies and peace of mind.
– Kevin MacNeil

Your eyes are clear. You’re not from here.
– David Wilcox

Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.
– Hafiz

For it was
you, who first
brought my voice out of the darkness

and made of it a moon

increscent in the firefly’s dream time ~

you, who brought echoes of roses

thrown like wildfire

into that unstilled water so close

to where you love – so close

that I remember not

its name. Yet you, indeed

remember well the bridge

you built between us – how many

falling angels have you caught

in that net of poems constellated,

before even all the stars

in their right places

were born ~ curled in a bud yet

unfolding, I bow to your radiance

uplifted.
– Peter Shefler

The Recurring Dream | A Poem
by L.M. Browning, from a working collection

In a land beyond the pervading dark,
in a state beyond the fever-pitch,
in a dialog beyond the finding of blame,
I’m hoping to find you
and build a home where we can
live the life we deserve.

Green I love you green. Green wind. Green branches.
— Lorka

Blue mountains fade like mist out of the water, reflections of each other, dawn to dawn, the haze of all horizons stretched over them. It seems these mountains are all water, that they are the sea and the sky at once; empty and cloudless yet full of something that is old and living. I stretch out my arms and try to become the same blue, water to water, sky to sky, to fade up like the mountains, the point that is both, sea and sky the same.
– Francesca Varela

There are some poets, different for all of us of course, that are like our tuning fork, we hold their words close to our ear and suddenly we can sing again , suddenly our own words return..
– Andrew McMillan

I long to earn my way towards some sense of home.
– Michael Wasson

If you go into silence with a silent tongue, the silence of mute beings will share with you their rest. But if you go into solitude with a silent heart, the silence of creation will speak louder than the tongues of men and angels.
– Thomas Merton

When I look at my life and its secret colours, I feel like bursting into tears.
– Albert Camus

Poets are wounded in the same ways as everyone else, but with one particular distinction–they are not wounded to the point of speechlessness. Instead, they are wounded into speech.
— Tony Hoagland, The Poet as Wounded Citizen

SINGULARITY
by Marie Howe
(after Stephen Hawking)

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
we once were?
so compact nobody
needed a bed, or food or money —
nobody hiding in the school bathroom
or home alone
pulling open the drawer
where the pills are kept.
For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you. Remember?
There was no Nature. No
them. No tests
to determine if the elephant
grieves her calf or if
the coral reef feels pain. Trashed
oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;
would that we could wake up to what we were
— when we were ocean and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space and space was not
at all — nothing
before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.
Can molecules recall it?
what once was? before anything happened?
No I, no We, no one. No was
No verb no noun
only a tiny tiny dot brimming with
is is is is is
All everything home

There’s nothing like what is

fragile and momentary
as the pale yellow light along the windowsill
in winter north
of nowhere yet
if not for winter, nothing
would get done

would finally get done

I’ve been all around this world

and not to die in hell
not to die in the flames of hell homeless with a cell phone
please

There’s nothing like today

And contributing one’s atoms to the green universe
how strange is that
– Franz Wright

Real love is one that triumphs lastingly, sometimes painfully, over the hurdles erected by time, space and the world.
– Alain Badiou

When I write I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths that are not your own but other people’s, the mottos, the slogans, the out-and-out lies of your nation, the myths of your historical moment – once you have removed all that warps experience into a shape you do not recognize and do not believe in – what you are left with is something approximating the truth of your own conception.
– Zadie Smith

If you wrestle an angel, you will grow muscle. There’s no doubt of that. You will also hurt in places that you didn’t know you had. There’s no doubt of that either. And you will lose, by the normal calculus of trying to engineer the life that you’re sure you deserve. It will not come out as you planned, wrestling angels. Your plans our usually the first casualty of the match. But here is that great secret of it: you will be able to boast of your defeat. You will be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be your certainty, your creed, your way of doing life’s business, and you can tell wild, true stories about how it all came to ruin. Whatever is left standing – and there is always something left standing when you wrestle angels – is the thing that was true about you and your life all along, as faithful a companion as the Earth that will one day cradle you again.
― Stephen Jenkinson

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out…
– Book of Numbers, Chapter 24

Aurobindo, to the God-wrestlers…
417. Thy soul has not tasted God’s entire delight, if it has never had the joy of being His enemy, opposing His designs and engaging with Him in mortal combat.
418. If you cannot make God love you, make Him fight you. If He will not give you the embrace of the lover, compel Him to give you the embrace of the wrestler.
– Sri Aurobindo

COSTUMES EXCHANGING GLANCES
The rhinestone lights blink off and on.
Pretend stars.
I’m sick of explanations. A life is like Russell said
of electricity, not a thing but the way things behave.
A science of motion toward some flat surface,
some heat, some cold. Some light
can leave some after-image but it doesn’t last.
Isn’t that what they say? That and that
historical events exchange glances with nothingness.
– Mary Jo Bang

Solitude is listening to the voice who calls you the beloved. It is being alone with the one who says, `You are my beloved, I want to be with you. Don’t go running around, don’t start to prove to everybody that you’re beloved. You are already beloved’. That is what God says to us. Solitude is the place where we go in order to hear the truth about ourselves. It asks us to let go of the other ways of proving which are a lot more satisfying. The voice that calls us the beloved is not the voice that satisfies the senses. That’s what the whole mystical life is about; it is beyond feelings and beyond thoughts.
– Henri Nouwen, Beloved

You are alive, I whisper to myself, therefore something in you listens.
– Ilya Kaminsky

So frequently
I speak of longing,
a language weighted with
impossibility,

but right now I say:
remember this moment—
how we mouth
hunger,
remember the way we
map ourselves anew.
– Casandra López, Continent of Desire

I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.
– Maggie Nelson

We want to read the elusive messages the wind writes
with ocean spray. We want to see heaven pivot on its axis
with every memory that breaks the surface. Here the moon
drags the dawn behind it. Eternity hides in the lost meanings
of these words. There are losses so deep, love so—I can’t say.
– Richard Jackson, Invisible Star Maps

The first poem I wrote that wasn’t about you
was in all capital letters,
like it was trying to compensate
for your absence.
– Caitlyn Siehl, A Letter to Love

Don’t the light from the moon outshine the sun sometime, oh baby?
– Taj Mahal

When the models of the parents are caution, fear, prejudice, codependency, narcissism and powerlessness, the first adulthood is contaminated by their domination or desperate over compensation for them. Differentiating one’s own knowing from the messages of the parents is the necessary prelude to the second half of life.
– James Hollis, PhD

This is what poetry is: not a kind of public posturing but a private language of music and imagery that is strange and compelling enough that it can speak privately to thousands of people at the same time.
– Ilya Kaminsky, Poets & Writers

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood
– Emerson

One asked, “How do you tell a real Master from a false one?”

That is easy, if the teacher is teaching a dharma where you hop in a raft and go down the river of samsara drifting along with the prevailing current…

Then know you are in the presence of a false teacher.

– Tian Xin

Somewhere in the world right now a single mom, or a dad with 2 jobs, or a kid that has been bullied, or a retired person or a person who has struggled for years or suffered great loss is WRITING – and they’re writing a great book that is going to dazzle us all.

I hope it’s you.

– Don Winslow

Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. The space around you is beginning to grow vast. Be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm.
– Rilke

What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come
– Erica Jong

Please, stop saying this generation will save the future.
Every generation,
Every race,
Every nationality,
Every ethnicity,
Every religion,
Every zip-code
Every one must work together to save our future.
Using love and education as our only weapon.
– D. H.

I guess it can’t be too often that two people can laugh and make love, too, make love because they are laughing, laugh because they’re making love. The love and the laughter come from the same place: but not many people go there.
– James Baldwin

I really enjoy being around smart, positive, encouraging, deep, loyal, nice, and mature people. And I love to lift them up. That’s literary citizenship. Lifting for no other reason but to lift.
– VICTORIA CHANG, OBIT

I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just for entertainment.
Don’t be fooled
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
– Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

RCA Victor
by Billy Collins

The dog is seated by the Victrola
listening, head cocked

to the voice of his master
and thinking

how different he looks today
smaller, like a box
and his head an ornate
megaphone.

Where are the legs
he needs to walk me
where are the hands
that throw my ball

the dog wonders
trembling slightly.

Between the anecdote and mystical enlightenment there is, to our way of thinking, a gulf, and the possibility of bridging it can at best be hinted at but never in practice achieved.
– Carl Jung

Those sage-masters leave the gate always ajar, and the gate-path swept clean in welcome. I can stop by anytime.”
– David Hinton, Hunger Mountain

Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up. Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the tail, drop it in the jar. And so on. Drop in any high-maintenance parental units, drop in any contractors, lawyers, colleagues, children, anyone who is whining in your head. Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit because you won’t do what they want – won’t give them more money, won’t be more successful, won’t see them more often. Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle. Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices. Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you. Leave it down, and get back to your shitty first draft. A writer friend of mine suggests opening the jar and shooting them all in the head. But I think he’s a little angry, and I’m sure nothing like this would ever occur to you.
– Anne Lamott

I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.
– Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

My only plea is that all artists have to range the full extent of their own lives freely. The rest of the world can censor and bury their private past. We cannot, and so have to remain partly green till the day we die . . . callow-green in the hope of becoming fertile-green.
– John Fowles

It was as if a morning-glory
had bloomed in her throat
and all that blue
and small pollen
ate into my heart
violent and religious.
– Anne Sexton, The Fury of Guitars and Sopranos

A Winter Blue Jay
by Sara Teasdale
Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstasy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstasy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstasy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
“Oh look!”
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?

The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.
— Cormac McCarthy

I remember how we first met here, and I will always love the time it seemed that the sky not only reflected but was your face.
— Richard Jackson

I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.
— Haruki Murakami

When I first started writing, I hated myself for being so uncertain, about images, clauses, ideas, even the pen or journal I used. Everything I wrote began with maybe and perhaps and ended with I think or I believe. but my doubt is everywhere … Even when I know something to be true as bone I fear the knowledge will dissolve, will not, despite my writing it, stay real. I’m breaking us apart again so that I might carry us somewhere else–where, exactly, I’m not sure.
— Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Days I feel like a human being, while other days I feel more like a sound. I touch the world not as myself but as an echo of who I was.
— Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

I worship you to the point of wanting to devour your memories. (…)
— Zeina Hashem Beck

I have yet to bloom a thousand times more…
– Qahar Aasi

How sad,
to think I will end
as only
a pale green mist
drifting the far fields.
– Ono No Komachi

You deserve to be more than medicine for someone’s loneliness.
– maxwelldpoetry

Florence Weinberger

NASCENT JANUARY, 2018, AFTER RAIN

What a disappointment this century has been—so far.
— David Bowie, 2012

This morning, after rain, I saw half a rainbow.
I mean, it aspired, it rose and spread and headed
higher, but instead banged into a cloud bank where
it got stopped dead.
The spread, though, was impressive,
bloody reds and purples and yellows, it was enough
rainbow for me. More rainbow would have asked me:
what color was your brief life.

music is not in the heart nor it is in the violin. music is in that place of the between where the heart and the instrument meet. art is not in the brush nor it is in the heart. art is in that place of the between where the heart and the colors meet. a person outside of a between is like a brush without paint, or a violin without the fiddler. each still exists, and each may endure for a long time. but in their isolation from one another, neither will ever be music nor art.
– hune margulies

Karisma Price:
– They stood apart/and hated us but loved our music, our rough-spun bodies/for the having (then).

Andrew Sweeny:
People forgive the narcissism of spring. It cannot help but gaze at itself and offer the world its excesses. Its superabundance is a danger to all our ideas. It is a garden of little creatures, devouring each other, and being saved. It is the simple orgy of dialectical materialism, a Marxist revolution in the nude. The ants come crawling up the dirtpile with their hammers, they think they have ‘won’. But really the great mother spider still rules the ceiling.

Nothing is perfect except the mask of death. Isn’t the function of symbols and ideals is to liberate themselves from symbols and ideas? Spring proves that zero doesn’t exist, while winter tries to crucify with minus signs—you will be a whorey peacock in the spring. It has been spoken thus. For wholeness is God, and not the diabolical perfection.

Why are we here if not for each other?
– Claudia Rankine

I don’t ask the poem to do anything but show up.
– Terrance Hayes

Tears and weeping indicate a significant frontier in the way of the desert. They bespeak a promise. In fact, they are the only way into the heart.
– John Chryssavgis

Kerouac:
But it was the evil city and I had my virtuous desert waiting for me.

Imagine a life of upward spiraling actions instead of the other way around. The result of every action reinforces the action further. This is the power of your intention and it is possible.
– Aaron Force

If you knew who walks beside you on this path you have chosen, fear would be impossible.
– Wayne Dyer

Any revolution demands a renewal of vocabulary. Humans have not been transformed so long as their way of speaking has remained unchanged.
— Georges Gusdorf, Speaking

My soulmate’s out there somewhere, completely avoiding everyone.
– Skye Linh

Man is a god when he dreams, a beggar when he reflects.
– Friedrich Holderlin

We do our twenty minutes of meditation a day in the hope that, properly stilled, our minds will stop just reflecting back to us the confusion and multiplicity of our world but will turn to a silvery mist like Alice’s looking glass that we can step through into a world where the beauty that sleeps in us will come awake at last. We send scientific expeditions to Loch Ness because if the dark and monstrous side of fairy tales can be proved to exist, who can be sure that the blessed side doesn’t exist, too? I suspect that the whole obsession of our time with the monstrous in general – with the occult and the demonic, with exorcism and black magic and the great white shark – is at its heart only the shadow side of our longing for the beatific, and we are like the knight in Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal, who tells the young witch about to be burned at the stake that he wants to meet the devil her master, and when she asks him why, he says, “I want to ask him about God. He, if anyone, must know.
– Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth

Hell is full of delicious flowers / and we keep scooping out / deeper hells for their decapitated stems.
– MARK BIBBINS

AMERICAN POETRY
Whatever it is, it must have
A stomach that can digest
Rubber, coal, uranium, moons, poems.

Like the shark, it contains a shoe.
It must swim for miles through the desert
Uttering cries that are almost human.
– Louis Simpson, The Owner of the House

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away. The far seeps in even to the nearest. After all we hardly know our own depths.
– Rebecca Solnit
A Field Guide To Getting Lost

They said, ‘You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.’
The man replied, ‘Things as they are
are changed upon the blue guitar.’
– Wallace Stevens
(The Man with the Blue Guitar)

‘Things as they are? Above? Below?
In hell or heaven? Fast or slow . . . ?’
They silenced him. ‘It’s not about
philosophy, so cut it out.
We want the truth and not what you
are playing on the blue guitar.
So start again and play it straight
don’t improvise, prevaricate.
Just play things as they really are.’
The man replied, ‘Things as they are

are not the same as things that were
or will be in another year.
The literal is rarely true
for truth is old and truth is new
and faceted – a metaphor
for something higher than we are.
I play the truth of Everyman
I play the truth as best I can.
The things I play are better far
when changed upon the blue guitar.’
– P. K. Page
from The Blue Guitar

Under the trees,
welcoming spring.
Things take care of themselves.

Filling the eye,
blue, blue mountains
in all directions.
– Gesshu Soko

PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Morning falls out of its orbit
and swims up through the blue.
Last night, when I heard the news,
I forgot my human hunger.
Now I am making calculations
with a row of ivy and old hibiscus.
I am silent as a shadow in the ferns,
I am frond green and curled.
It may be necessary to drink through
the roots; I could eat sunlight and air,
start a green factory in each finger;
I could make each arm a branch.
Let me begin as stem and leaf.
I’ll make something you can breathe.
 – Joyce Sutphen

Of all the arts, poetry is the most economical. It;s the one which is most secret, and the one which can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, and on scraps. As we reclaim our literature, poetry has been the major voice of the poor.
– Audre Lorde

I had come west to inhale the absolute weather.
– Seamus Heaney

A true solitude is not unbearable since it allows for otherness.
– Hélène Cixous

I like Simone Weil’s idea that writing is actually the translation of a text we already carry within us. That notion makes a heavy task lighter.
– Anna Kamienska, from In That Great River: A Notebook, trans. Clare Cavanagh

An unlabeled green tea from Korea
second pick from the foothills of summer
taste of distance and slight rustling of leaves
as I listen after heavy rain in the night
the taste is a hush from far away

at the very moment I sip it

trying to make it last in the knowledge

that I will forget it in the next breath

that it will be lost when I hear the cock crow

any time now across the dark valley.
– W.S. Merwin, DRINKING TEA IN THE SMALL HOURS

Is anything sadder than a train
That leaves when it’s supposed to,
That has only one voice,
Only one route?
There’s nothing sadder.
Except perhaps a cart horse,
Shut between two shafts
And unable even to look sideways.
– PML

All my desires are born of my dreams. And I have proven my love with words. To what fantastic creatures have I entrusted myself, in what dolorous and ravishing world has my imagination enclosed me? I am sure of having been loved in the most mysterious of domains, my own. The language of my love does not belong to human language, my human body does not touch the flesh of my love. My amorous imagination has always been constant and high enough so that nothing could attempt to convince me of error.
– Paul Éluard

One learns people through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.
– Mark Twain

Not all books received as gifts are transformative, of course. Sometimes the only thing a book gives its reader is a paper cut.
– Robert Macfarlane

Words That Matter
by Marilyn Nelson
Our airways are so full of explanitude,
its continuacious blowharding of thoughts,
worthy or un, impossibles silence.
We might speak smile, nod, Namaste eyetouch,
conversing in polyglot politesse.
We might rebounce to the original
vocabularies of community,
the names of our beloveds, thank you, please.
We might triple axel into new words
as yet unmaggotted, unfuckified,
to remunerate silence for our trespass.
We might sign up in the poliversity
for Communication Between Mysteries.
When I listen beyond words to silence,
your words matter more than their said meanings.

Everywhere
around me the birds are waiting
for the light. In this world of dreams
don’t let the clock cut up
your life in pieces.
 – Jim Harrison
Rumination, Songs of Unreason

Don’t ever let anyone steal your dreams.
– JRE

Real change will only happen when we fall in love with our planet. Only love can show us how to live in harmony with nature and with each other and save us from the devastating effects of environmental destruction and climate change.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before us will demand nothing less.
– Naomi Klein, address to Occupy Wall Street

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Planet
by Catherine Pierce
This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed

dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so

I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed

to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.

Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon

called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly

crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones

and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.

THINGS TO THINK
Think in ways you’ve never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
– Robert Bly, commonplace

Mo Thomas:
Jesus loves both the
Abused and abuser
Oppressed and oppressor
Victim and victimizer
Executed and executioner
Violated and violator.
This is shamefully unfair in our minds,
but His Love is expressed through
His Justice…
Restorative Justice.
He is LOVE…
And so He Loves
Wholly,
Unconditionally,
Eternally.
He is the Beautiful One.
One day we might find that…
To our shock…
We are all of the above.

Jesus said,
“I don’t want to save you.
I want to make you
what I Am.
Crucify your concepts.
Empty your heart.
Stop clinging to the cross
of opposites –
past and future,
heaven and hell,
body and spirit,
the damned and the elect,
ignorance and enlightenment.
If you need some redemption
get saved by wonder.
Resurrection is the pollen
where the rose began.
You are already fragrant
with compassion.
Through your next breath
dissolve in the virgin womb
of this sparkling moment
and be born again.
If you think that the Kingdom
is anywhere else
but here in the eye
of a thirsty sparrow,
the cry of a motherless
borderless child,
you have already fallen
into exile.
Listen.
Plant a very small tree.
Pick up someone’s trash.
Honor the wound
in your palm.
Here’s the good news
of my Gospel:
You are the food
God wants to eat.
A crisp and spicy crust,
tender inside.”
– Fred LaMotte

I cherish this description—an ars poetica, a way—of Langston Hughes by Gwendolyn Brooks:
“He considered literature not his private inch, but great acreage.”

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn’t deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you’ll have understood what these Ithakas mean.
– Constantine P. Cavafy

Your songs, when you sing them with your two eyes closed
As you always do, are like a local road
We’ve known every turn of in the past
– Seamus Heaney

Avoid small talk. Embrace conversation.
Buy a plant, water it. Make your bed. Make
someone else’s bed. Have a smart mouth,
and quick wit. Run. Make art. Create.
Swim in the ocean. Swim in the rain. Take
chances. Ask questions. Make mistakes.
Learn. Know your worth. Love fiercely.
Forgive quickly. Let go of what doesn’t
make you happy.
– Paulo Coelho de Souza

I am interested in almost everything,
and it can sometimes seem like a burden.
– Rebecca Solnit

The artist is the person who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or, probably, in the best sense, more wonderful. The ideal artist is he who knows everything, feels everything, experiences everything, and retains his experience in a spirit of wonder and feeds upon it with creative lust.
– George Wesley Bellows

PACKING FOR THE FUTURE: INSTRUCTIONS
Take the thickest socks.
Wherever you’re going
you’ll have to walk.

There may be water.
There may be stones.
There may be high places
you cannot go without
the hope socks bring you,
the way they hold you
to the earth.

At least one pair must be new,
must be as blue as a wish
hand-knit by your mother
in her sleep.

Take a leather satchel,
a velvet bag and an old tin box –
a salamander painted on the lid.

This is to carry that small thing
you cannot leave. Perhaps the key
you’ve kept though it doesn’t fit
any lock you know,
the photograph that keeps you sane,
a ball of string to lead you out
though you can’t walk back
into that light.

In your bag leave room for sadness,
leave room for another language.

There may be doors nailed shut.
There may be painted windows.
There may be signs that warn you
to be gone. Take the dream
you’ve been having since
you were a child, the one
with open fields and the wind
sounding.

Mistrust no one who offers you
water from a well, a songbird’s feather,
something that’s been mended twice.
Always travel lighter
than the heart.
– Lorna Crozier, What the Living Won’t Let Go

CUTTING LOOSE
Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path – but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.
 – William Stafford

. . . by playing it safe each subject got what it deserved—isolation rather than recognition. Human relations become significant only when one enters them without reserve, running the risk that one my be destroyed.
– Walter A. Davis

It felt like the right time to share this again:
Culture Makes Food:
“Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.” – Gospel of Thomas (44)
I’ve been thinking about this line from the Gospel of Thomas for a while and what it might mean. Surely, it might mean many things and, I am only working with the English translation.
But some cursory etymological research led me to understand that the word used for Father could also mean ‘ancestor’ and the word used for son could also mean ‘descendant’. And, what if the holy spirit referred to that which gives us life and allows us to live and that this might be understood as a certain kind of village-mindedness, a shared culture, the depth and strength of the relationships that exist between us in our human community and between us and the non-human and unseen world?
If that were so, it might read in this way:
“Whoever blasphemes against their ancestors will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against their descendants will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against village-mindedness will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.”
And so, could it be this: if you speak ill of or hurt those from whom you came, they will forgive you your madness and find some way to reach through to you from their world. Perhaps they would find you, a scribe of the Church, contending with the voices of your own old timers and their stories as they contend with the new voices of this new religion, and whisper to you some words that might appear in your texts like breadcrumbs for those hundreds of years to come in the future. Perhaps they might find some way to keep the culture alive inside of you so that those to come might have a chance. They may yet plant some yearnings inside of your heart that will tether you to them and lead you to some needed place.
If you speak ill of or hurt those to come, they may come to forgive you. They may yet shape the meaning of your life, however carelessly spent, in some finer way. “Yes,” they will say. “Those from whom I came were troubled. But I come from them. And I claim them as my own and I will, by the way I live, redeem the meaning of their life because without them, you would not have me and I will be sure that you are glad of my presence and those who come from me and surround me.” And others will see that it was too soon to cast judgment on your old timers. They will begin to see the longer story. You might behave badly, but those who come after you might yet write another chapter on the story you’d imagined over.
But, if by word or deed you manage to shatter the spirit of kinship that lives and breathes amongst us, there will be no ‘us’ left to forgive you. You will have destroyed the source of your own forgiving. When a community is fractured too deeply, the capacity for restorative justice goes into retreat and the need for punitive justice steps forward.
Perhaps this is why traditional communities have always been so strong on the understanding of what theft does to a village and how, if it is not contended with quickly and well, it can erode the trust amongst people, prompt the desire for revenge and escalate all too quickly into an out of control spiral that little will walk away from unscathed.
If you, like the missionaries of the world, hellbent on conversion, sow seeds of dissent against the elders, mockery on the old stories and ways of knowing, if you strike at this root of shared understanding, it may die and, in its dying, be unable to bring the healing that culture brings to the world.
This is one of the deep and unspoken consequences of too many of our actions in these modern times, instead of feeding culture, they kill it.
Traditional cultures from all around the world have known the deep importance of culture.
In most traditional diets you will find cultured foods (e.g. kefir, yoghourt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha etc.). They understood that this mysterious culture that lives inside of us must be fed and that, in feeding it, it keeps us strong. They strains of bacteria they used were prized and passed on from generation to generation. The sticks they used to stir their concoctions, kept in family lines.
We like to think that its all of our effort in chewing that digests the food but it’s not.
Like the culture in our guts, that lives within us without being a part of us, that digests our food and turn it into nourishment we can use, outer culture is that which we live within with is constantly, just by being itself, eating up all of the messes and problems we bring to it. Every dance moving stress from our bodies. Every song we sing, bringing healing to us. Every story we hear, helping us find ourselves in the world.
It is a stunning thing to realize that instead of needing to isolate every nutrient you need (e.g. fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals etc.) one can simply eat well and make sure one’s gut flora is strong and that gut flora will extract the nutrition you need from the food much more efficiently than you could isolate it and ingest it. We are only now coming to understand how vital this living culture inside of us is.
Individualism is like trying to take a pill for every nutrient. Individualism leaves us all to contend with our troubles alone – troubles that the culture would help us metabolize on its own. Simply by living in a deeply wrought culture, many of our troubles are met and turned into food for ourselves and others.
Consider it:
Without culture, we metabolize almost none of our food. Food must go through the medium of culture in order to nourish us.
Without culture, we metabolize almost none of our troubles. Our troubles must go through the medium of human culture in order to become food for us and the world.
“Whoever blasphemes against their ancestors will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against their descendants will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against village-mindedness will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.”
Not only will you not be forgiven, neither will others.
So many of us live unforgiven for the messes we have made; not because there isn’t the desire and not because you don’t deserve it but because there isn’t the capacity anymore.
As we swallow the anti-biotic notions of this culture, the bitter pills of individualism, heroism, punitive justice, essentialism, private property and the whole ungodly cabinet full of pills we are told to take and the pills we are told to take to deal with the symptoms of the first pills, there isn’t the capacity to digest those dodgier foods we maybe shouldn’t have eaten or even the healthiest ones; not because we don’t want to digest it or we don’t deserve the nourishment but because there isn’t the capacity anymore.
Culture eats what the sharp, teeth of our mouths can not.
Culture is the life giver and if, like an antibiotic, we speak in such a way that the living culture between us itself is killed off, we, in the end will be starved too as the food of our troubles rots inside the guts of the village giving us none of its nourishment.
And so perhaps one of the most pressing questions before us today is: what feeds culture and what kills it? And how might we live our days that something that is not us, and yet that grants us our days, might flourish?
– Tad Hargrave

Imagine a world where speaking or writing words can literally or directly make things happen, where getting one of those words wrong can wreak unbelievable havoc, but where with the right spell you can summon immensely powerful agencies to work your will. Imagine further that this world is administered: there is an extensive division of labour, among the magicians themselves and between the magicians and those who coordinate their activity. It’s bureaucratic, and also (therefore) chaotic, and it’s full of people at desks muttering curses and writing invocations, all beavering away at a small part of the big picture. The coordinators, because they don’t understand what’s going on, are easy prey for smooth-talking preachers of bizarre cults that demand arbitrary sacrifices and vanish with large amounts of money.
– Ken MacLeod, The Atrocity Archives

Contemplating Hell, as I once heard it,
My brother Shelley found it to be a place
Much like the city of London. I,
Who do not live in London, but in Los Angeles,
Find, contemplating Hell, that is
Must be even more like Los Angeles.
– Bertolt Brecht

Andrew Sweeny:
On meditation for kids:
The main risk of mindfulness for schools is to try to make children ‘calm, docile and mechanical’ (easy to manipulate) rather than ‘beautiful, wild, and expressive’. (easy to love).
The idea that real meditations for kids is about trying to make children calm and directive in attention is nearly as grotesque and less honest than medicating them.
The only possibility use for meditation for children—and this is the opinion of someone who has been meditating for 25 years—is to make them more exploratory of the phenomenological world. If that were the emphasis and not bullshit ‘inner peace’ then I would be less afraid.

In the marvellous month of May
when all the buds were bursting,
then in my heart did
love arise.
– Henirich Heine

Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.
– Gary Snyder

Last night I wept in a way I haven’t wept for some time. I wept until I aged myself. I watched it happen in the mirror. I watched the lines arrive around my eyes like engraved sunbursts; it was like watching flowers open in time-lapse on a windowsill.
— Maggie Nelson

There is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.
–Rilke

*

Make the effort and make the effort until you no longer need to, until we don’t need to keep having this conversation.

Change required intent and effort. It is really that simple.

– Roxane Gay

Don’t go off sightseeing.
The real journey is right here.
The great excursion starts
from exactly where you are.
You are the world.
You have everything you need.
You are the secret.
You are the wide opened.

Don’t look for the remedy for your troubles
outside yourself.

You are the medicine.
You are the cure for your own sorrow.
– Jalaluddin Rumi

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover? 5
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove. 10
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres 15
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life 20
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories, 25
And not a single regret.
– Edgar Masters

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.
– Gary Snyder

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
– C.S. Lewis

WALLACE STEVENS AND MOZART
Oh Wallace Stevens, dear friend,
You are such a pest. You are so sure.
You think everyone is in your family.

It is you and your father and Mozart,
And ladies tasting cold rain in Florence,
Puzzling out inscriptions, studying the gold flake.

It is as if life were a visit to Florence,
A place where there are no maggots in the flesh,
No one screaming, no one afraid.

Your job, your joy, your morning walk,
As if you walked on the wire of the mind,
High above the elephants; you cry out a little but never
fall.

As if we could walk always high above the world,
No bears, no witches, no Macbeth,
No one screaming, no one in pain, no one afraid.
– Robert Bly, Morning Poems

Duality is mockery but difference is Love. – t.k.

The future will either be green, or not at all.
– Bob Brown, Australian environmentalist

omnia sunt communia / “not all the works of Mozart worth 1 human life”
– diane di prima

I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity – to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.
– Edith Wharton

I’m frequently overwhelmed by the monotony of a typical day. Like most people, I pretend not to be excited by catastrophes. I prefer a life that won’t cohere, that scrutiny might destroy, to a life the populace might approve of. To my fellow prisoners I say, Just because the escape tunnel goes on forever is no reason to stop digging. Because I’ve often felt what I’ve said, I know that nobody’s problem was ever solved by feeling deeply about it. I’ve said the opposite of this, and stand by what I said. I am a pagan and enjoy a pagan’s tragic optimism. I’ll dance to almost anything, however awful, if the beat is good. I know several consolations for the letdowns and sorrows of experience, but intend to keep them to myself. Every secret I’ve ever told concealed another secret. I prefer relationships in which so little is asked of me I feel free enough to be generous.
– Stephen Dunn, Personal Riffs & Reciprocities

Reciprocity
I do not think that skies and meadows are
Moral, or that the fixture of a star
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
Have wisdom in their windless silences.
Yet these are things invested in my mood
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude,
That in my troubled season I can cry
Upon the wide composure of the sky,
And envy fields, and wish that I might be
As little daunted as a star or tree.
– John Drinkwater

In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.
– Mary Oliver

This unfinished business of my
childhood
this emerald lake
from my journey’s other
side
haunts hierarchies of heavens

a palm forest
fell overnight
to make room for an unwanted
garden
ever since
fevers and swellings
turn me into a river
– Etel Adnan, The Spring Flowers Own & The Manifestations of the Voyage

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
sleepless.
— through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks.
– William Carlos Williams

Even if you’re going to live three thousand more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you’re living now, or live another one than the one you’re losing. The longest amounts to the same as the shortest. The present is the same for everyone; its loss is the same for everyone; and it should be clear that a brief instant is all that is lost. For you can’t lose either the past or the future; how could you lose what you don’t have?
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

ONE SOURCE OF BAD INFORMATION
There’s a boy in you about three
Years old who hasn’t learned a thing for thirty
Thousand years. Sometimes it’s a girl.

This child had to make up its mind
How to save you from death. He said things like:
“Stay home. Avoid elevators. Eat only elk.”

You live with this child, but you don’t know it.
You’re in the office, yes, but live with this boy
At night. He’s uninformed, but he does want

To save your life. And he has. Because of this boy
You survived a lot. He’s got six big ideas.
Five don’t work. Right now he’s repeating them to you
– Robert Bly, Morning Poems

To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love.
— Donika Kelly

Unwilling to tolerate life’s ambiguity, its unresolvability, its inevitability, we search for certainty, demanding that someone else must provide it. Stubbornly, relentlessly, we seek the wise man, the wizard, the good parent, someone else who will show us the way. Surely someone must know. It simply cannot be that life is just what it appears to be, that there are no hidden meanings, that this is it, just this and nothing more. It’s not fair, not enough! We cannot possibly bear having to live life as it is, without reassurance, without being special, without even being offered some comforting explanations. Come on now! Come across! You’ve got to give us something to make it all right. The medicine tastes lousy. Why should we have to swallow it just because it’s the only thing we can do? Can’t you at least promise us that we will have to take it just once, that it won’t taste that bad, that we will feel just fine immediately afterward, that we will be glad we took it? No? Well then, surely, at least you have to give us a lollipop for being good. But what if we are talking to ourselves? What if there is no one out there listening? What if for each of us the only wise man, the only wizard, the only good parent we will ever have is our own helpless, vulnerable self? What then?
– Sheldon B. Kopp

Without reading Dante, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Cervantes, and their few peers, we cannot learn how to think. And if we cannot think, then the future belongs to the Trumps of the world – that is to say, to the apocalyptic beasts from the sea.
– Harold Bloom

I shall state silences more competently than ever a better man spangled the butterflies of vertigo.
– Samuel Beckett

Although at first glance there may appear to be a fairly thin line between them, there are significant differences between the attempt to somehow magically exert one’s will on tangible reality for one’s own benefit (manifestation), and the inspiration to imagine entirely new realities (sometimes to add color and bounce to the drab waltz of existence, sometimes to facilitate the recognition of wonder, sometimes just for the hell of it); between an attempt to mentally force fortune to alter its course for one’s personal gain (to manifest, say, a winning lottery ticket), and possessing the lightness of spirit and the freedom of mind to live as if such developments would pale in comparison to those one regularly experiences at the piano, the easel, the writing pad, or upon viewing a pattern of fallen leaves in the gutter; to live – against all evidence – as if advances in fortune were already here.
– Tom Robbins

If I have been given any gifts in this life, it’s my ability to live simultaneously in the rational world and the world of imagination. I’m in my eighties now, and if there’s one thing of which I am most proud, it’s that I have permitted no authority (neither civilian nor military, neither institutional nor societal) to relieve me – by means of force, coercion or ridicule – of that gift. From the beginning, imagination has been my wild card, my skeleton key, my servant, my master, my bat cave, my home entertainment center, my flotation device, my syrup of wahoo; and I plan to stick with it to the end, whenever and however that end might come, and whether or not there is another act to follow.
– Tom Robbins

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

soren kierkegaard said that “the function of prayer is not to influence god, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” that is to say: we take back from god exactly that which we brought to her. like the scarf you bring and take back form the lama. nothing changes, except for your own awareness. in other words, once we understand the utter theological futility of the act of prayer, we may awake in the awareness of faith. for faith is that which arises after we discard all beliefs.
– hune margulies

We’re the only creatures that claim to be anything
then build a house of facts around the claim

I’ve come for vindication    No point in trying
to disguise it as a lesser wish    Wake up   stop
while you still know where you are    Put away
your elusive country   Give your sleep a rest
– Dionisio D. Martinez, Rest Before You Sleep

Falling from a Height, Holding Hands

What was that?
storms of flying glass
& billowing flames

a clear day to the far sky –

better than burning,
hold hands.

We will be
two peregrines diving

all the way down

– Gary Snyder

…Enter each day
as upon a stage
lighted and waiting
for your step
Crave upward as flame
have keenness in the nostril
Give your eyes
to agony or rapture

Train your hands
as birds to be
brooding or nimble
Move your body
as the horses
sweeping on slender hooves
over crag and prairie
with fleeing manes
and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room
and the floor of earth
carpeted with sunlight
and hung round with silver wind
for your dancing place
– May Swenson

Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden,
free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer,
the birds in praise
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being
is caught up in being,
drunkenly forgetting the way back.
 – Jelaluddin Rumi

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

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or ever remember it. It is enough.
– Toni Morrison

Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.
– Toni Morrison

Ethan Nichtern:
Seriously, our cynicism does *absolutely* nothing for the next generation. They need us to work like hell for them, until the 2020 election AND the decade after that.

Please chill with the gloom and doom, and let’s imagine what could happen if we work together.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.
– Pablo Neruda

there is an interior dimension to silence, a sort of stillness of heart and mind which is not a void but a rich space.
― Sara Maitland, A Book Of Silence

To be whole is to be part; true voyage is return.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

Wondering at the storms –  those outside my window and those inside, behind my eyes – the distance between and the gratitude within.
– James McDowell

Boom Box by Amorak Huey

From “Portrait of My Brother as Indiana Jones”
All a young man has is his faith in hard work, / the belief that if only he can count / the grains of sand in a fist-sized sack, / things will turn out as he hopes— / that when he returns home / there will be quiet afternoons / and a girl in a sweater with love on her eyelids— / yet every adventure ends / in the same weary surprise, / the same aching temples / when the poison darts fly, / when the floor drops from beneath, / when fatherhood looms and the bills come due, / when vision closes in from the corners, / when the dark mass requires surgery, / when they cut open his skull / because the only threats that matter / were inside all along.

From “Cigarette vs. Cookie”
My mother is leaving. My father is leaving. / We are all leaving, that’s the only truth. Someone / rhymes their fists against the hood of a rusted white pickup: // knuckle-bruise and raised-voice—am I in the truck?

From “Crimes I Did Not Commit”
I have never been erased from the plot. / Never held a gun. Never climbed to the top / of the rusting girders to stare down / at the quiet water, the marking rocks. / Never imagined I could change the world / by disappearing. I did not pretend / to find God because I did not believe / this would persuade a girl to touch me. / If I did, it did not work. This is not / that kind of story. This is not a confession. / This is a heart growing wings and taking flight, / up above the scrub pine and water oak, / hurrying out ahead of the storm.

Where on earth did they get the idea that the spiritual quest for enlightenment was a heightened one, literally or metaphorically? That our purest point of consciousness is up there, floating above the human experience ? Why higher, instead of deeper, more grounded, or more authentic? Why top-down instead of bottom up? Why in the vast sky rather than down here on Mother Earth, breath in the body, hands in the dirt, where life is actually LIVED? 

As I looked up, I invited myself to feel into what it meant to look for it, up there. I stood more upright, replacing my habitual slouch with a heightened stance. I stayed poised for some time, allowing myself to settle into an odd sense of satisfaction that I no longer had to look for meaning down here, where it hurt so damn much, but, instead, up. In the cloudy sky and in the vast cosmic space. It was a great relief, albeit a momentary one. Soon I became bored; as beautiful as it was, there was only so much I could find up there. And then I became anxious, as I recognized that I could no longer connect with reality with my eyes pointed up above.

I got down on the ground and rubbed my feet and ass into the dirt. It felt good to be here. I was in human form, for a reason. And that reason was not to bypass my humanity vertically and stare into the void. It was not to imagine that the most evolved path was a heightened and metaphorically “higher than”. Again it was to live in the heart of everything. 

– Jeff Brown, Grounded Spirituality

I heard the lilies say, ‘The world is old,
to take things lightly here—is sweet.’

- Hafez

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.
– Frank O’Hara

Punishment Is Not Justice
By Tad Hargrave 

A deep thread of our confusion in my corner of the world in these times is that we have confused justice and punishment. The two have become synonymous; fused together. This is so much the case that, when harm occurs, unless someone is punished, then justice is not seen to have happened at all and, if the punishment ever ceases, then justice has vanished. The punishment must be immediate and eternal. It sounds not so different from the fire and brimstone exhortations of Hell and damnation for the sinners of this world in which the more intensely you demand punishment the more legit, real and radical you are. 

We are asked to wonder deeply: will justice be wrung from the binary of innocent and guilty in the form of punishment or rewoven from the torn tapestry of community in the form of restoration? Do we believe that safety will come from purity or wholeness? Must people be punished to stop them from harming others? Does punishment result in any genuine learning on the part of the one who caused the harm? 

Accountability, healing and village-making are hard. Punishment is easy. Punishment is where we go to avoid work. The craving to punish others is utterly understandable and deeply human it seems but it is not an achievement. It is more in the manner of reaction and reflex. 

As Amber Desmond put it, “The only way we are ever going to stop abuse in all its forms is by ceasing to believe that punishing people makes them “good”. “

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

On Disposability
By Tad Hargrave 

“Do you think it’s ever okay to kick someone out of a community?”

I had just come in from feeding his animals in the barn. He’d had me on morning duty since I’d arrived. Not being a morning person, this had not come easily to me and, even now, weeks into my visit, if I could have slept in I would have. But it was a part of what I was learning, how deeply the world did not center itself on me and my feelings about it. The animals need to be fed even if I’m tired. With every passing day of that work I had been feeling a strange combination of both a swelling pride and deep remorse for my past and how lazy I’d been and how much work that had left on the shoulders of others.

I had landed on his doorstep through the endorsement of a friend and the strange happenstance that this old man, who was standing with his back to me making us breakfast, had needed help on his property. The work arrangement, of my helping him, had been made explicit but the side of it where he was mentoring me, had never actually been spoken about.

He heard my question and turned around from the breakfast he was cooking.

“Do the animals give you these questions? Every morning you come in with some big question to start the day, and some of those questions have been might fine and I’m just beginning to wonder if you’re getting some help in this.”

I hung my head dejectedly. “It’s the cow.”

He turned back to breakfast and muttered to us both, “I always knew that damned cow was smarter than she let on…”

A few minutes later, breakfast was served, plated beautifully.

“Your breakfasts are always presented so beautifully. Did you every work as a chef?” I asked.

“Weeks! He’s been here weeks and he just notices!” he feigned mock indignation as he ate his food. “I did. I travelled around the world for a spell as a chef working for some very fine restaurants. Presentation is key. It’s a part of the meal. You’re feeding them with beauty too. It’s all part of it.”

I smiled. This man’s attention to detail was remarkable and consistent across the areas of his life.

“So, should a community ever kick someone out? In a word: yes.”

I sat back and looked at him puzzled.

“I assume you got a follow up question to this. Also, you should tell the cow that ‘yes/no’ questions are not great conversation starters.”

I nodded, “I’ll let her know first thing tomorrow morning.” After eating some more food I tried to come at it another way. “In which situations might you need to remove someone from a community? In which situations is it okay?”

“That’s a bit better. But it’s trading on some generic ‘okay’ that everyone might agree on. Let’s first say this: asking someone to leave a community is a big deal. This is one of the most weighty questions a community can deal with. Do you kill them? Do you banish them to never come back? Do you set them up alone on an island for a while until they realize they actually need the rest of the village? Do you keep them in your midst but refuse to acknowledge them? But a community must have a way to deal with behaviours the endanger the community. Another way to look at it is that, if you’re at that point, things have already become very bad in the community. In the dominant culture, we tend to look at bad behaviour in this individualistic kind of way, like they’re just innately a bad person. This lable ‘perpatrator’ or ‘predator’ or ‘liar’ or ‘cheat’ or… you get the idea… these lable get stuck on and that’s all there is to know. What’s the problem? This person. So, what’s the solution? Get rid of this person. But it ain’t that simple.”

We finished up our meal in silence. I could tell he wasn’t done but he was still finding the words.

I silently picked up our dishes and he nodded in thanks. I took them to the kitchen to wash them.

He kept going, “So it’s a big deal. This is the main thing. I remember seeing a video of an American right wing shock jock, you know the kind, inflammatory rhetoric constantly, all hat and not cattle, so much unearned swagger… anyway. He was on about how waterboarding wasn’t torture. And then, another media figure, left wing, made him a bet. ‘I’ll give you $10,000 for every second you last if you do it.” Well, him took him up on it and he lasted precisely ten seconds and when they pulled off the cloth and he sat up… he confessed it was absolutely torture and he would have told them anything they wanted to know. Banishing someone is a big deal. To be shunned is a horrible fate to endure. The only people who don’t believe that are those who’ve never gone through it. Humans are deeply social creatures. Solitary confinement is hell. Untouched babies die, you understand. So, as a village if you’re about to inflict this on someone it’s a very big moment. Because you know what this will do to them and you also know it to be a sign of something deeply unwell in the village. You know that they are a product of your community or culture in some way – they’re a flashing, red, neon sign saying, ‘Danger!’. If you have eyes to see it, you realize that… it’s like illness, in the western world we see it as an individual getting cancer. But in many indigenous cultures, it would be understood that the whole village had cancer. It was just appearing through this person for us all to see. So the appearance of bad behaviour from one person is not so much an indictment of them but of the culture. And then you might recognize that getting rid of this person might not really address the issue. It will just appear through someone else soon. These days people seem to get disposed of as a first resort and as if it’s nothing.“

“So, it’s okay to kick someone out of a community.”

“Look son, I ain’t in the permission giving business or here to say what’s okay and what ain’t. I’d rather say it this way – clearly that is an option afforded to us and sometimes it must be exercised. Sometimes even a restorative justice process won’t work, or your culture is too weak or overwhelmed to engage in it, or no one knows how and so the only viable option is this sort of triage of getting rid of the one who caused that harm. I get it. I ain’t saying they’re wrong for doing it. I’m just saying it’s a sign of something. It’s a sign of a culture in trouble – both that the trouble would appear and that it could not be mended.”

I nodded.

“You ever hear of environmental racism?” he asked me.

I shook my head. “Good! Come with me. We’re going for a drive.”

An hour later, having done some errands along the way, we found ourselves parked at the edge of a large lake. “You see that town over there across the water?”

I nodded. It was far off but visible.

“What you’re seeing is actually not the whole town, just one neighbourhood. Their asthma rates are off the charts. Almost every kids got it. Why you ask? Because they’ve got this huge toxic waste incinerator in their neighbourhood. Why is it there? Because it’s a low income, community of colour and they don’t have the money or connections to lawyers to keep it away. You notice you never see this shit in rich people’s neighbourhoods. There’s no dump, or nuclear power plant or toxic waste incinerators in Beverly Hills.”

I kept looking across the water.

“People of colour been putting up with this shit for years. It’s one more damn thing to add to the pile of shit they’ve got to deal with because of a deeply racist system. Middle and upper class white people don’t get this garbage where they live because they’re rich, you know? It’s environmental racism. It ain’t fair.” He shook his head. “Most white folks don’t even know about it. And if they do, they don’t give a shit. Not in my back yard, I guess. And then there’s that massive island of plastic in the ocean. We throw it away and it ends up there. None of it ever goes ‘away’ because there is no ‘away’.” He paused and then looked at his old, leather strapped wrist watch. “Well, time to go.”

We got back in the car and drove back to the farm. It was approaching lunch time.

“Diner?” I asked.

“Mandatory.” he replied.

We drove in silence for a while until we got into the Diner’s parking lot. As I went to get out of the car he put his hand on my arm to stop me. He was looking out the window.

“When we throw someone out, like garbage, and I’ll be the first to admit that some folks act like garbage and that I have thrown some of them out… Where do we imagine we are throwing them to? Or have we even thought that far ahead? Do we imagine they just go ‘away’ and… where is that exactly? No. I’ll tell you a hard truth to know. When we throw people away, sometimes they end up washing up on the shore of some other community with less resources and capacity to deal with them than ours. We’re off loading our troubles on others. At some point, and it’s far from me to dictate when or where or with whom, but at some point, if real culture is to be made, that has to stop. There has to be a refusal to throw people out or… for that to be the last resort and a moment of real consequence and grief that it has come amongst us. It can’t be casual. Culture is simultaneously that which helps us contend with these kinds of moments but also that which is made by contending with them. Community ain’t real until you’ve been through grief, or loss, or anger together. Until then it’s just ‘you scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours.’ No… who are we dooming to deal with this bastard if we send them off down the road?” He paused and looked out the window into the darkness that stretched out behind the diner. 

“I’ll say it another way… what if the reason the one who hurt you appeared in your life was because they were tossed out by some other community? They did the same thing elsewhere and, instead of dealing with it, they just got rid of him. So he left town and wandered down the road a while until he found your town and then he found you.”

We sat in silence for a few moments and then he patted my arm, “I’ll get us a table,” he said and got out of the car.

I sat back in my seat. I’d never thought that thought. I thought of all the people I knew who’d been ousted, I thought fairly, from our scenes and wondered where it was they’d ended up. I shook my head. “Oh no. What did we do?” I said outloud, to myself trying to imagine the other side of the lake of those experiences.

“Is shunning punishment?”
by Tad Hargrave

We were sitting out on the porch one night, each of us with a cold, craft beer in hand myself and this good old man I was now living with. We’d never spoken about rent but I helped out around the farm and this seemed to be working out.

Part of the arrangement was that I would bring him a new beer to try once a week.

“One of those hipster beers I keep hearing about. I’m out of the loop.”

Finally. A job I was actually good at. They weren’t all hits. And when they weren’t, I’d hear about it all week. We’d go to the diner and he’d tell everyone he knew how I’d try to poison him or how he’d made the most amazing discovery, “Did you know they bottled cats piss and sold it! It’s true! I tried some last week.”

But tonight I’d hit a homerun. After the first pull on the bottle he held it out to read the lable and inspect it, “Now that is something…”

“Can I ask a question?” I said.

He nodded. 

“Is shunning punishment?” I asked.

He nodded slowly, not in agreement but in consideration. 

“A good beer, a good open starlit night and a good question. Not a bad way to spend a night.” He took another pull. “Is shunning punishment… Well, I suppose that it might be good to start with wondering about what punishment is in the first place.” And then he sat quietly.

“And a good place to start with that might be wondering about all the things punishment isn’t?” I offered.

He gave me side eye. “Oh you been paying attention have you? Ok. Go ahead.”

I immediately regretted my wondering out loud. “Shit… Uh… Okay. It’s not the same as just stopping someone from doing harm.”

“And why not?”

“Well, if I stop a child from running into traffic or playing with a gun… I’m not punishing them.”

“But you are imposing force on them. You’re imposing your will on them.”

“I am but it’s not to shame them. It’s to protect them. So is punishment about shaming?”

He shrugged. “Keep going.”

“It’s not accountability… because accountability means the full story is told and heard and you don’t need that to punish people. Sometimes knowing the full story makes punishment… well, you just know it’s not the right thing. And it’s not restoration. It’s not healing. It’s not… I’m not sure. Does anything else come to mind?”

“Oh plenty. But that wasn’t bad. I remember years ago, I was a bit older than you and a fellow I knew from the community asked to come over. He was going through a hard time and I suppose he imagined that I had something to say that might be helpful. He was struggling in his relationship because his partner, she kept telling him that he was emotionally unavailable and… from where I was sitting that was deadly accurate. He was one of those socially awkward people but with a good heart and deeply committed to causes that mattered. A good man. He told me that he knew what she said was true but he couldn’t figure out the source of the dysfunction. Why couldn’t he empathize with people? “I wasn’t traumatized,” he told me. “I’ve read about how trauma can do this to people but I was never beaten as a child. I was never abused.” He was horrible confused by the whole thing. Not five minutes later he told me, offhandedly as if it was an insignificant detail, that his father was diagnosed with full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Until I reflect it back to him he’d never really considered that this kind of fathering might have had any sort of traumatic effect.”

“That sounds like a rough childhood.” I said.

He nodded. “I imagine it was. I remember someone telling me the difference between drip drip and boom boom trauma they called it. The boom boom is easy to see. The drip drip trauma is almost impossible to see. How could a drip be trauma? Ask the Chinese Water torture specialist I suppose. It also makes me think of visiting my mother one time. I’d grown up on the farm with her and, after I moved out, the dogs moved in. She had plenty of them. One day, I came over and there was a new dog. As soon as he saw me I saw terror in his eyes. He went under the couch as fast as he could. His body hugged the floor as he went. I looked at my mother and asked her, “Who beat this dog?” You know how it happens, if a dog is beaten by a man who looks a certain way then he’ll fear mean who look like that in the future. But my mother shook her head and said, “I think it was that he was never touched at all.” It’s a thing to come to learn that the absence of something can hurt you as much as the presence of something. Poison can kill you but so can starvation. You know there’s the violence of fists and then there’s the violence of people refusing to look at you. There’s physical violence and then there’s this social violence. There’s the violence of physically imposing yourself on someone and then there’s the violence of being utterly ignored. And I don’t know which one is worse. I suppose they both communicate the same thing in the end.”

“You don’t matter.”

“Bingo.”

“You see it all the time in old folks homes and animal shelters. The neglect. You see what it does to them. They go catatonic. They stop responding to the world. They just shrink into themselves. It’s like Alistair MacLeod wrote, “We’re all better when we’re loved.””

“I think of babies that die because they’re never touched.”

“And solitary confinement in prisons.” He sat up, remembering something. “I remember Jimmy. Damn. I haven’t thought about Jimmy in a long time. Shit…” he was quiet for moment. “We worked together at a restaurant in my early twenties. We were a wild crew and we all partied pretty hard and Jimmy was… insecure I guess. His energy felt heavy and negative sometimes he was… needy. He wanted everyone’s approval so bad and he tried too hard and it just rubbed us all the wrong way. And so a sort of social phagocytosis of silence and ignoring engulfed him. You know, how cells with wrapped up a foreign toxin in the blood – surround it and carry it to the trash. He wasn’t invited to parties. Late at night we’d go to a friend’s bar and sit around a table laughing and he’d sit by himself moping and feeling sorry for himself. No one would invite him over or add a chair at the table. Years later, I wrote him a letter apologizing. It was wrong what we did… but I wanted to be cool. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have a good time not be his therapist. None of us did but… we could have done better than ignoring him.”

“What do you wish you’d done differently?”

“I honestly don’t know but… if he wasn’t a fit to work at the bar, and I don’t think he was, he should have been fired. He just wasn’t a fit for the place. It was unkind to have him on the team but clearly not be wanted. And, while he was there, we should have included him. Or been his friend and told him what was up even if it was hard. But we were young punks. You got another one of these?” he held out the empty beer bottle.

I nodded, took it and went into the kitchen to pull out another beer from the fridge. 

“There was another friend… man this evening is a trip down memory lane. His name was Sparrow. He had this habit of insinuating himself in other people’s projects and events without asking. He’d just invite himself and assume that he was welcome. He was needy too. He tried too hard too. He rubbed some people the wrong way. But no one ever told him. One day, I sat him down and told him the impact he was having on others. How annoyed people felt. I asked him if anyone had ever told him before. No one had. It was all news to him. Imagine that.” 

I could tell his was well into the current of the great river of memory that would sweep him away sometimes, taking him to places he’d not visited in a long time. 

“And then there was Matador. What a piece of shit he was.”

I could feel my eyebrows go up. He almost never spoke about people that way.

“He hurt a lot of women. If I had to make a diagnosis, I’d say he was some toxic mix of narcissism and machismo. And he was proud of it. He would brag about it at the bar when I was working. He’d tell me his tactics for controlling women like he was giving me good advice. ‘Treat ’em mean to keep ’em keen’ he’d say. I wish I’d told him to leave and never come back but I was 18 and he was in his late twenties and he was friends with the bar manager and, thinking about it now, he might have been his drug dealer. Ha. Shit. Of course he was. The things you don’t see until later.” He took a pull on the beer. 

“I’ll always remember one night he let me in on one of his big secrets. When he had a woman alone and they were making out he’d try to escalate things by taking off their bra. But if they flinched or said ‘no’ he’d just stop. He’d go cold. He’d get up from the bed, turn on the lights and start playing video games. Poor women were so confused. “What’s wrong?” They’d ask. “Nothing,” he say. “You’re just not into it and so I’m stopping. It’s all good.” But he was punishing her. He’d shone his attention on her all night like the sun and the second she did something he didn’t like, the second she stated a boundary, he’d switch the Sun off and leave her cold. Eventually, the woman would convince him that they hadn’t meant that they wanted to stop entirely and he’d turn the lights off, come back to bed and try for the bra again. If they said ‘no’ again, he’d do the same thing. What a piece of shit.”

“It’s so manipulative,” I said. 

“Yeah. On the surface, he’s not going any further than she’s allowing. On the surface, it’s all about consent. But deeper down he was grinding away her capacity to consent to anything. He was gaslighting her by pretending to be okay when it was all a game to him. Piece. Of. Shit. But… I never told the women he was dating. I never warned them. Shit. The things I’d do if I could go back in time. I owe them all such an apology.” 

We were quiet for a while. It was a warm, clear, Summer night. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the nearest real city was a few dozen miles away and so there wasn’t much light pollution. One night he’d looked up and pointed out to me the arc of the Milky Way and helped me understand where we were in the Galaxy and, for the first time in my life, I could feel where I was in the bigger picture. I could almost feel it all moving. 

“I remember when I was a kid,” I said. “My friend’s parents would ignore him as punishment. They literrally wouldn’t respond to him. They’d talk to each other as if he wasn’t even there. I remember one night he was screaming and crying and pulling on them and they kept up the act it was so…”

“Cruel. That’s punishment,” he nodded. “You ever gotten a Dear John letter?”

“A what?”

“A Dear John Letter,” he repeated but the look on my face told him that it wasn’t that he’d mumbled but that I had no idea what he was talking about.

“You never heard of a Dear John Letter?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Are you serious?” he looked disgusted or appalled. I shrugged. “Shit. I’m getting old. It’s the letter a woman leaves you when she’s left you without saying goodbye.”

“Ah. No. I didn’t even get a letter. One day she was gone.”

“How long had you been together?”

“Only a few months. But it was beautiful. And then she just… she vanished. I wrote but she didn’t reply.”

“Did you ever hear from her?”

I shook my head. 

“So you still don’t know?”

“I don’t. But I think about her all the time. I know she’s got together with someone else right after. I suspect there was some overlap.”

“How long ago was that?” he asked.

“Five years and one month,” I said. “And thirteen days.”

“Shit son. She did a number on you.”

Silence for a while.

“Would you say she punished you?” he asked. I could hear the genuine curiousiy in his voice. 

I’d never thought the thought before. “I mean… I guess but… I’ve come to see that her leaving was mostly about her and where she was at. It was punishing but I don’t think she was trying to punish me.”

“But she shunned you.”

“She did.”

“Were you confused for a long time?” he asked.

“I still am but… less so. But yeah… there were a few years of torment. Every streetcorner I   thought I saw her. Dreams every night. Blaming myself. Wondering what I’d done.”

“Isn’t it amazing. It’s not something she did as much as what she never did. It was the absence of her saying goodbye properly that hurt. It’s like that. You ever been shunned by a community?”

I nodded. It had been recent. I hadn’t spoken of it to him directly. He’d never asked but we’d been speaking around it for months now. 

“Me too,” he said. “People just look right through you. One day, they were your friend and the next day their look tells you to never speak to them again. It’s a terrible feeling. You can tell you did something but you don’t know what it was for sure. Or maybe you didn’t do something and there was a whisper campaign or someone sent some poison pen letters through the rumour mill… Shit.” He looked at my face, “You never heard of a poison pen letter either, have you?”

“It’s a not a good thing?” I offered helpfully.

“Jesus Christ,” he shook his head. “Point is, at a certain point, you begin to realize that their ghosting was about them. That someone else, in the exact same situation, might have spoken about with you.”

“Why do people shun?” I asked him.

“That question might have some more heft if you stop having it be hypothetical. Why have you shunned people?”

I paused. Of course I’d shunned people. Shit. “I guess…” I stared into the beer bottle and swirled it around, remembering things I’d rather have forgotten. “It was too hard? I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say. That’s part of it.”

“And the other parts?”

“I wanted to hurt them. I wanted to punish them and it was the worst thing I could imagine doing to them aside from beating them up. I’d just cut them off. I’d cancel them. I’d refuse to acknowledge them. I knew it would hurt. It made me feel powerful. Better than them.”

He nodded, “Me too.”

“I wanted them to feel like trash. Like nothing. I didn’t think they deserved to exist and I wanted them to believe that too.”

“So… is shunning punishment?” I asked no longer sure of anything.

“What do you think?”

“I think… I think that it can be. Or… sometimes people vanish out of overwhelm and they’re not even thinking of the impact they have on you. They just go. Like the Sun goes from the sky. Maybe it has other work to do. But sometimes it is used as punishment. It’s used to hurt.” I turned to him and then looked out at his farm again. “I think some people would kill if they had the chance. They’d kill you if they could get away with it but they can’t and so they shun you. But, if they heard you were dead, they’d be happy.”

He nodded. “Anyone who doesn’t think that shunning causes harm has never been shunned. I’ll say that. It’s hellish. It’s an awful thing to endure. I’m not saying it’s not needed sometimes as a near last resort. I’m not saying it doesn’t have utility or that cultures can be so exhausted or unable to deal with it all that shunning makes sense. I’m just saying if you don’t think it’s that bad you ain’t never been shunned. Just like people who think racism isn’t that bad has never been black in some countries. I remember a video someone showed me of someone being beaten up. And he was crying as it happened. You know what he kept screaming?”

I shook my head.

“”Why?” it was so plaintive. He was severly beaten. But somehow it seemed like the emotional pain was worse that the physical. He was sobbing. “Why?” It made no sense to him. When I imagine myself in his shoes I can understand it. Physical pain is awful to endure – say falling and breaking a bone – but when you layer it with the very clear sense that those hurting you don’t see you as human at all… It becomes another kind of thing.”

“You remember that night when you told me about where we were in the milky way? You had me lay on the ground and look up at it all. I could feel it.”

He smiled, “I do remember that. I remember the first time someone showed me that too. Amazing stuff.”

“Who showed you? Some elder in your life?”

He laughed a hard, sharp laugh. 

“Shit no,” he took a swig of the beer. “It was my friend Barry. We were drunk off our tits in high school.”

I laughed too and said, “Well… I think that when people shun others, especially when a whole comunity does it… it’s like we lose our place in things. We lose track of where we fit in the bigger story. Like we’ve been kicked out of the universe. The lack of feedback like… a dolphin losing its sonar. I’ve know a few people who were shunned and never found out exactly why. We become less substantial. Maybe that’s what restorative justice is – having us lie on the ground, look up and see where we fit in it all?”

He made a face like he was impressed.

“The universe doesn’t shun us.” I said. “No matter how much we mess up somehow the universe doesn’t cancel us. I think only humans shun.”

He laughed and stood up slowly, the way old men stand up who’ve been sitting too long. “Oh my cat shuns me all the time. I’m off to bed. Thanks greatly for the fine beer tonight.”

And he wandered into the house and I heard him go upstairs to his room. I stayed up for a while looking up at the milky way trying to find my place in it all. After a few minutes, and maybe the beer helped, I could feel it all again. Motion. Being carried along in a story so much larger and older than everything I knew. It was my last thought before I went to sleep that night. Everyone deserved some good old man or some drunk friend named Barry to lie them down on the ground and to look up on a clear night at the star heavy sky. Everyone deserved to have this experience once.

The evolution of our species depends on our ability to recognize that aggression is not merely a physical act. It is that, but it is also a verbal act, a shaming act, a neglect act, a silence act, an act of betrayal and abandonment. As any trauma survivor knows, aggression comes in myriad forms. The first step of our accountability process was to illegalize physical violence. The next steps are to illegalize all other forms of aggression. When the day comes that verbal and non-verbal violence are crimes, we will have made real progress. Too many people hide their assaultive natures behind a passive-aggressive smokescreen. And yet, the suffering they cause is real. Our steps forward as a collective demand that everyone is protected against hate crimes, in all their shapes and sizes. Because an attack is an attack, no matter what form it comes in.
– Jeff Brown

No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan and Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces they had ranged against us,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.
― Adrienne Rich

‘Polarization’ and ‘long-standing hate’.
Yet I live here, I live here too, I sing,
Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
– Seamus Heaney

…inward, outward, up and down, nothing but emptiness and divine majesty.
– Jack Kerouac

If you don’t know another language, make it your mission, as I suggested earlier, to learn one. Translation is the very soul of poetry. Its mystery.
– Kent Johnson

Be quiet. Find acquaintances with silence. Go inside, delve into your heart. Take a day off from the clamor.
– Rumi

PHILIP METRES
Winner of the LYRIC POETRY AWARD in 2016

Devotional (after a Muslim Prayer)

Light my face and light the flesh of my flesh,
Light each my eyes and light inside my sight,
Light the light that makes me light in the bones,
And in my hands, light, and in my loins, light,

And light your light before and behind me,
Above and beneath me, light to my right
And light to left, light to my enemies
Who in the moral dark will use my light

Against me, light the dull swords of my ribs,
The thick fist within, light the blood-hot rooms
Pulsing there, light the gates when they swing wide
To the stranger, light more light on my tongue,

In the light, light more light, in the black, light,
and when it’s time to snuff this wick—light that light.

Don’t go in and hide;
don’t come out and shine;
stand still in the middle.
— Zhuangzi

We no longer live on the same planet at which the Apollo 8 astronauts gasped in awe just before snapping their iconic photo. There are fewer fluffy white clouds, less ice, more desert. We need to give this mutant planet a new name.
– Bill McKibben

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.
– W.B. Yeats

No, it’s never time to build walls to keep out desperate refugees. That’s unchristian, un-American and inhumane. It’s never time to separate children from their parents in an act of intentional cruelty to “send a message“ as your administration has evilly dine.
– Windhorse

Have hope for the future but beware projecting yourself there to avoid the present. Eventually you will have to reckon with what hurts, so you might as well face it here and now. Hold your hope close when you do. Keep moving.
– Dr. Thema

Healing requires breaking habits that numb you in the moment but that ultimately deepen your wounds.
– Ilya Kaminsky

I’ve always had a theory that some of us are born with nerve endings longer than our bodies
— Joy Harjo

My life has been the poem I would have writ
But I could not both live and utter it.
– Henry David Thoreau

Timber Hawkeye:
We are not all in a position to help others in big, life-changing ways, but we are all in a position not to harm them.

Katha Pollitt:
To each his/her/their own, but I don’t want to be “they.” There is only one of me, and let’s keep it that way.

Mediterranean Blue
by Naomi Shihab Nye
If you are a child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can’t swim.
My father couldn’t swim either. He swam through
sorrow, though, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated —a story, a food, or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don’t dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love
for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a very long time.

And if we can reach out a hand, we better.

PROMISE OF BLUE HORSES
A blue horse turns into a streak of lightning,
then the sun –
relating the difference between sadness
and the need to praise
that which makes us joyful, I can’t calculate
how the earth tips hungrily
toward the sun – then soaks up rain – or the density
of this unbearable need
to be next to you. It’s a palpable thing – this earth
philosophy
and familiar in the dark
like your skin under my hand. We are a small earth. It’s no
simple thing. Eventually
we will be dust together; can be used to make a house, to stop
a flood or grow food
for those who will never remember who we were, or know
that we loved fiercely.
Laughter and sadness eventually become the same song turning us
toward the nearest star –
a star constructed of eternity and elements of dust barely visible
in the twilight as you travel
east. I run with the blue horses of electricity who surround
the heart
and imagine a promise made when no promise was possible.
– Joy Harjo, How We Became Human

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
– Cormac McCarthy

The widespread cultural notion that science has explained most of the world is scandalously unjustified. For all we know, we’ve explained only very, very little; practically nothing. We just don’t know what kinds of fundamental causal forces and organizing principles may kick in when systems become complex enough to be seen with the naked eye outside a laboratory. Inability to acknowledge this represents a catastrophic failure of skepticism.
– Bernardo Kastrup, Brief Peeks Beyond

THE END OF SCIENCE FICTION
This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.

Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.

The genre is dead. Invent something new.
Invent a man and a woman
naked in a garden,
invent a child that will save the world,
a man who carries his father
out of a burning city.
Invent a spool of thread
that leads a hero to safety,
invent an island on which he abandons
the woman who saved his life
with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.

Invent us as we were
before our bodies glittered
and we stopped bleeding:
invent a shepherd who kills a giant,
a girl who grows into a tree,
a woman who refuses to turn
her back on the past and is changed to salt,
a boy who steals his brother’s birthright
and becomes the head of a nation.
Invent real tears, hard love,
slow-spoken, ancient words,
difficult as a child’s
first steps across a room.
– Lisel Mueller

there’s always a little joy, and even beauty
lies close at hand, beneath the bark
of every hour, in the quiet heart of concentration,
and another person hides in each of us –
universal, strong, invincible.
– Adam Zagajewski

In summer, waiting for night, we’d pose against the afterglow on corners, watching traffic cruise through the neighborhood. Sometimes, a car would go by without its headlights on and we’d all yell, “Lights!

“Lights!” we’d keep on yelling until the beams flashed on. It was usually immediate – the driver honking back thanks, or flinching embarrassed behind the steering wheel, or gunning past, and we’d see his red taillights blink on.

But there were times – who knows why? – when drunk or high, stubborn, or simply lost in that glide to somewhere else, the driver just kept driving in the dark, and all down the block we’d hear yelling from doorways and storefronts, front steps, and other corners, voices winking on like fireflies: “Lights! Your lights! Hey, lights!
– Stuart Dybek

To leave is to die a little./To arrive is never to arrive.
– Migrant Prayer. Epigraph of Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli.

You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.
— Maya Angelou

TEARS FOR LOTS WIFE

A righteous light is carrying a just man
over the black hill
and a restless voice is harrying you
It’s not too late

You can turn again
(don’t look back, don’t look back)
You can look back still
(don’t look back, don’t look back)
You can turn, turn, turn again
from the brow of the black hill
(don’t look back)

To the crimson towers of the city you were born in
To the square where you sang
To the spinning shed where you spun your thread
To the tall and empty windows of your home
where sons and daughters blessed your bed

You can turn etc.

One glance and a searing sting of pain
Stitched up her eyes before she made a sound
and the salt suffused her body
and her legs were rooted to the ground

Who’s gonna mourn?
(who’s gonna mourn?)
One woman in a storm?
(one woman in a storm?)
Who’s gonna mourn?
(who’s gonna mourn?)
One woman in a storm?
(one woman in a storm?)

Who will lament the life
(who’s gonna mourn?)
She left to burn
(one woman in a storm?)
Who will lament the life
(who’s gonna mourn?)
She left o burn?

You can turn etc.
– Karine Polwart

Shadowland
(cop. con. Mary Greene)

There are nights when I lie on my pillow awake
And my heart is aching for something I don’t know
I am more than willing to pull my weight.
I don’t rely on fate to get me something I can earn
I left my land behind and now I find it’s not the kind of life that I had hoped

Won’t you help me leave this shadowland
Help me leave this shadowland
This new frontier, this new frontier is a shadowland

I did not expect an instant home sweet home
A song, a sweet love poem, no icing on the cake
I just wanted to work real hard and make a life.
I’m on the edge of a knife, hands tied behind my back
And I feel so let down with all these walls around.
I want to reach the higher ground where the air is fresh and clean

Help me leave this shadowland
Help me leave this shadowland
This new frontier, this new frontier is a shadowland

Look at the face before you with open eyes.
Underneath the open skies we’re all turning towards the sun
And the light from the heavens is pouring down on every field, on every town to dispel the shadow way
Come on now cut some slack. Come on don’t turn your back
Come on step up to the mark and keep an open mind

Come on and leave this shadowland
Come on and leave this shadowland
This new frontier, this new frontier needs no shadowland

Anger is not a problem. We need spiritual and psychological tools to work with anger skillfully, but anger itself has never been a problem.

In its human intelligence, anger tells us that injustice is present.

Right now, if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.
– Ethan Nichtern

Rumi:
Now let me sit here, on the threshold of two worlds. Lost in the eloquence of silence.

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

– Basho, translated by Robert Bly

When someone understands deeply, the essential purpose of what he or she is attempting to accomplish on the planet they will often reveal a well-developed sense of gratitude.
– Peter Himmelman

Passion does not need to be expressed in a showy way. When it’s genuine, people can feel it.
– Susan Cain

I will continue
practicing your
name until it
stops sounding
like an apology.
– Brandon Melendez

Often I think about the people who were once my confidant, my rock, my love, or my best friend but for whatever reason we drifted apart. Rather than mourn that distance I try to appreciate how we got to grow & build & fall together at all.
– Brandon Melendez

The eve of Rosh Hashanah. At the house that’s being built,
a man makes a vow: not to do anything wrong in it,
only to love.
Sins that were green last spring
dried out over the summer. Now they’re whispering.
– Yehuda Amichai

Salamanders use the stars to find their way home. Who knew they could see that far, fix the tiny beads of their eyes on distant arrangements of lights so as to return to wet and wild nests?
– Aimee Nezhukumatathil

i’d like to take a moment. to tell you about my stuffed fren sebastian. he is my closest confidant. my brightest shadow. he has big floppy ears. a long skinny nose. and his arm has only fallen off twice. he is the definition of good company. and without him. i’d be lost.
– Thoughts of a dog

Iris Murdoch:
Love is the general name of the quality of attachment and it is capable of infinite degradation and is the source of our greatest errors; but when it is even partially refined it is the energy and passion of the soul in its search for Good, the force that joins us to Good and joins us to the world through Good. […] Its existence is the unmistakable sign that we are spiritual creatures, attracted by excellence and made for the Good. It is a reflection of the warmth and light of the sun.
– The Sovereignty of Good

The pull is so strong we will not believe
the drawing tide is meant for us,
I mean the gift, the sea,
the place where all the rivers meet.
Easy to forget,
how the great receiving depth
untamed by what we need
needs only what will flow its way.
Easy to feel so far away
and the body so old
it might not even stand the touch.
But what would that be like
feeling the tide rise
out of the numbness inside
toward the place to which we go
washing over our worries of money,
the illusion of being ahead,
the grief of being behind,
our limbs young
rising from such a depth?
…Tomorrow seen today, for itself,
the sea where all the rivers meet, unbound,
unbroken for a thousand miles, the surface
of a great silence, the movement of a moment
left completely to itself, to find ourselves adrift,
safe in our unknowing, our very own,
our great tide, our great receiving, our
wordless, fiery, unspoken,
hardly remembered, gift of true longing.
– David Whyte

Sitting with you in the kitchen
Talking of anything
Drinking tea
I love you
“The” is a beautiful, regal, perfect word
Oh I wish your body here
With or without bearded poems
– Elise Cowen – Sitting

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
– Nelson Mandela

It is not accurate or, for these times, bold enough to just say that America has a race problem… America is a race problem.
– H. Madhubuti

And if we are not here for each other, then why are we here.
– Shohreh Ansari

Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.
– John Lewis

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something.
– John Lewis

We’re family. We live in the same house. Not just the American house. The World house.
– John Lewis

Naima Cochrane:

It breaks my heart that Rep. Lewis spent these last years right back in the thick of the fight. It breaks my heart that he didn’t see us make it to the other side. It breaks my heart that he still had to carry the mantle.

But I’m thankful he can now take rest after his labor.

Marissa Glover:
When larger-than-life heroes pass on, like the incomparable John Lewis, it’s easy to feel bereft & hopeless. After all, if someone like Lewis can’t win the war, how can we? By taking up his mantle, finding a battle close to home & sharing his message/legacy with a new generation.

You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. […] Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.
– John Lewis

You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more. We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.
– John Lewis

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.
– John Lewis

Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.
– John Lewis

Depression is equal parts deeply boring and deeply embarrassing. Everyone’s always like, “reach out!” and “you can talk to me any time!” but let me tell you from my wealth of experience that 96% of people don’t want to hear you rehash your unstable self-image for the 371st time.
– Anne Thériault

Be nobody’s darling; Be an outcast.
– Alice Walker

Shifting Baseline Syndrome
by Mary Reynolds
Every generation has less and less awareness of what truly healthy living landscapes actually look like. People don’t realize, for example, that the bare grassy hillsides are not supposed to be bare, that they are over grazed and support almost no life other than sheep. They don’t know what a diverse native woodland looks like, or that a variety of life depends on them. They are accustomed to seeing stands of monoculture non-native, much poisoned, conifer plantations, which are dark and dead underneath for the most part.
People don’t remember what it was like to have shoals of fish in the rivers, to have crystal clear seas cleaned by the massive beds of oysters, to have oodles of birds, insects, frogs, butterflies, hedgehogs, etc. sharing our land. It is so quiet now. Eerily quiet. When you’re driving at night your windscreen is no longer covered in dead insects and moths like it used to be when you were a small child. As a species, we immediately forget what is lost and only see what exists right here, right now as the new normal. Every generation is experiencing huge shifts in what passes for a natural system. These changes have become more extreme over the last few generations. What we see as dead landscapes, our kids will see as natural and normal. There is a phrase for this and most of us these days suffer from it. It’s called ‘Shifting Baseline Syndrome’.
“Generational amnesia is when knowledge is not passed down from generation to generation. For example, people may think of as ‘pristine’ wilderness, the wild places that they experienced during their childhood, but with every generation this baseline becomes more and more degraded”
– Dr. E.J. Milner-Gulland

All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.
– Lao Tzu

I’d like to write you so simply, so simply, so simply. Without having anything ever catch the eye, excepting yours alone, … so that above all the language remains self-evidently secret
– Derrida

Marcescence
by Chelsea Dingman
What if death wasn’t easy. The bathtub, full of liquor. 
At some point, the arrows on the weathervanes
all point to another world. We should want to break,

not bend, I’ve read, but the boy broken over ice
in an ice-bath is as lost as the air that trembles
his lashes. Accountability often looks like kids standing

on one side of a locked door. The sound of running
water. The bank drafts my dying brother called
promises. Somehow, I want him to stand ungrateful with me.

The leaves have held on this long. A dream retained
as the body retains a compass. A yield sign
doesn’t stop anything from leaving. The streets,

abandoned again. Tell me how to lose someone 
who didn’t know he was lost. He’d already quit cocaine 
and food, his eyes swollen to shelters. Why bother

with love? It snowed overnight. The snow’s hush,
revolutionary. Estranged is water, midwinter.
I have no idea what any of this means.

Watch out for people who claim to be “spiritual” but if you look closely with clear eyes, it’s actually all about them feeling special, BETTER THAN, more powerful than, “a chosen one.” And if you look more closely, this is a bandaid for a very wounded part of themselves that they are likely not conscious of (hence project onto others) which feels worthless and not good enough as they are. So they need to be “spiritually awake” ie “special” in some way to protect themselves/bypass coming into contact with this aspect and they go around trying to enlighten everybody else because others aren’t good enough exactly as they are ;). 

Longing for genuine TRUSTWORTHY teachers/mentors/guides but not sure what to look for? Here’s my tried and true finding: the more ordinary, the more trustworthy. Look for teachers who talk about their own confusion and neurosis very openly, who laugh at themselves, who you call by their first name, who speak a whole lot about human wisdom (kindness, presence, grief, acceptance etc) and less or not at all about fancy spiritual states and concepts. 

Run from those who mostly talk spiritual concepts. Trust those who are able to sit with you in despair without trying to fix change heal or enlighten you at all. Run from those who make you feel like if you just do that next practice, wake up a little more, THEN you’ll get it, then you’ll be ok. Trust those who help you feel in your body and heart that you *exactly* as you are – mess and confusion and all – is actually ok and enough. The ones who help you remember you don’t need to get enlightened, your human self is sacred as is. 

And above all. Trust yourself. Radically. And take responsibility for yourself, radically. You are your number one teacher and guide.
– Leah Cooper

Love is service and charity to strangers, giving away freely what you have been so freely given, no matter if you have tiny opinions on their pit bull or personal hygiene.
– ANNE LAMOTT

All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.
– Lao Tzu

I believed I had reasons aside from nostalgia.
– MC Hyland

The thing I want to say to children across the country: no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you. It belongs to all of you.
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

This is your country.
– Luka Bloom

Life is so hard, how can we be anything but kind?
– Jack Kornfield

..now morning I face my lone shadow, I can’t study with both eyes full of tears.
– Jack Kerouac

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time.
– Betty Smith

Ode to the rituals that ground us, that keep us in our bodies, and make us feel safe when we’re alone.
– Brandon Melendez

Remember, thought creates reality, so if you’ve created a reality that you don’t like, don’t give it a second thought.
– Neale Donald Walsch

Writers are not only writers, they are also citizens.
– Chinua Achebe

a brick of earth, a block of sky,
there lay the world, wedged
between its premise & its conclusion
– Alice Oswald

Don’t let your heart be colonized by fear.
— Jack Kornfield

Don’t let your heart be colonized by fear.
— Jack Kornfield

Tao is strangely colorless.
Yet intense.
It grips like a tidal wave.
This is Tao.
— Ming-Dao Deng

The Tao is the center of the universe,
the good man’s treasure,
the bad man’s refuge.
— Lao Tzu

Rumi:
Stars burn clear all night. Do that yourself, and a spring will rise in the dark with water your deepest thirst is for.

Go Back
“Where I came from” is ionized hydrogen and interstellar dust
The sloughed-off remains of a giant star
Radioactive sparks in sunbeam suspension

“Where I came from” is a long-lost generation of suns
Those that lived and died and scattered their own remains
Nuclear detonations of compact matter, the death spiral plunges of neutron stars

“Where I came from” is the empty depths, the far-flung glints on the cosmic ocean

“Where I came from” is an eddy in an infrared-hot protoplanetary disk

“Where I came from” is a collision of worlds so violent it tore magma from the Earth to coalesce into the Moon

“Where I came from” is the sky, the ground, the sea, the very air we breathe

“Where I came from” is the infinite

“Where I came from” is the Universe

And one day, when I am good and ready, I will go back
– Katie Mack

Think about how you can do the most good today. What can you put into the world that wasn’t there when you woke up? What light can you shine and how wide can you make the beam? Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Being free of desires it is tranquil.
And the world will be at peace
of it’s own accord.
— Lao Tzu

Speak little, learn the words of eternity. Go beyond your tangled thoughts and find the splendor of Paradise.
– Rumi

In-between the sun and moon
by Pádraig Ó Tuama
In-between the sun and moon,
I sit and watch
and make some room
for letting light and twilight mingle,
shaping hope
and making single glances last eternity,
a little more,
extending love beyond the doors of welcoming,
while wedding all the parted people,
even sons to violent mothers,
and searching all the others finding light
where twilight lingers,
in-between the sun and moon.

Remembering to take a little time to ground yourself when the world is on fire is crucial.
– Ethan Nichtern

Live more, complain less.
More smiles, less stress.
Less hate, more blessed.

People keep asking me who I’m voting for: as always I support the Beowulf/Wiglaf campaign.
– Beowulf Poet

Seven Decades
by Edwin Morgan

At ten I read Mayakovsky had died,
learned my first word of Russian, lyublyu;
watched my English teacher poke his earwax
with a well-chewed HB and get the class
to join his easy mocking of my essay
where I’d used verdant herbage for green grass.
So he was right? So I hated him!
And he was not really right, the ass.
A writer knows what he needs,
as came to pass.

At twenty I got marching orders, kitbag,
farewell to love, not arms, (though our sole arms
were stretchers), a freezing Glentress winter
where I was coaxing sticks at six to get
a stove hot for the cooks, found myself picked
quartermaster’s clerk – ‘this one seems a bit
less gormless than the bloody others’ – did
gas drill in the stinging tent, met
Tam McSherry who farted at will
a musical set.

At thirty I thought life had passed me by,
translated Beowulf for want of love.
And one night stands in city centre lanes –
they were dark in those days – were wild but bleak.
Sydney Graham in London said, ‘you know
I always thought so’, kissed me on the cheek.
And I translated Rilke’s Loneliness
is like a rain, and week after week after week
strained to unbind myself,
sweated to speak.

At forty I woke up, saw it was day,
found there was love, heard a new beat, heard Beats,
sent airmail solidarity to Saõ
Paulo’s poetic-concrete revolution,
knew Glasgow – what? – knew Glasgow new – somehow –
new with me, with John, with cranes, diffusion
of another concrete revolution, not bad,
not good, but new. And new was no illusion:
a spring of words, a sloughing,
an ablution.

At fifty I began to have bad dreams
of Palestine, and saw bad things to come,
began to write my long unwritten war.
I was a hundred-handed Sindbad then,
rolled and unrolled carpets of blood and love,
raised tents of pain, made the dust into men
and laid the dust with men. I supervised
a thesis on Doughty, that great Englishman
who brought all Arabia back
in his hard pen.

At sixty I was standing by a grave.
The winds of Lanarkshire were loud and high.
I knew what I had lost, what I had had.
The East had schooled me about fate, but still
it was the hardest time, oh more, it was
the worst of times in self-reproach, the will
that failed to act, the mass of good not done.
Forgiveness must be like the springs that fill
deserted furrows till they wait
until – until –

At seventy I thought I had come through,
like parting a bead curtain in Port Said,
to something that was shadowy before,
figures and voices of late times that might
be surprising yet. The beads clash faintly
behind me as I go forward. No candle-light
please, keep that for Europe. Switch the whole thing
right on. When I go in I want it bright,
I want to catch whatever is there
in full sight.

Proposal to call this past decade “the ughs”
– Rebecca Makkai

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
– Robert Collier

This country… needs… no thin Idealist, no coarse Realist, but a man whose eye reads the heavens, while his feet step firmly on the ground, and his hands are strong and dexterous for the use of human implements… a man of universal sympathies, but self-possessed; a man who knows the region of emotion, though he is not its slave; a man to whom this world is no mere spectacle or fleeting shadow, but a great, solemn game, to be played with good heed, for its stakes are of eternal value, yet who, if his play be true, heeds not what he loses by the falsehood of others; a man who hives from the past, yet knows that its honey can but moderately avail him; whose comprehensive eye scans the present, neither infatuated by its golden lures, nor chilled by its many ventures; who possesses prescience, the gift which discerns tomorrow — when there is such a man for America, the thought which urges her on will be expressed.
– Margaret Fuller

Most of us find it difficult to know what we are feeling about anything. In any situation it is almost impossible to know what is really happening to us. This is one of the penalties of being human and having a brain so swarming with interesting suggestions and ideas and self-distrust.
– Ted Hughes

We must learn from things; we have everything to learn from them. How to let things make themselves known by themselves, before any translation…
– Hélène Cixous – Coming to Writing and Other Essays

Jackie Morris:
Sleep, and dream of the great snow leopard, spirit of the mountains, guardian of the land. Rest, warm beside her, as she watches over the shadows that ripple from her fur. Wake to a new day, bright and filled once again with hope in heart and courage.

A great task is accomplished by a series of small acts.
– Lao Tzu

Beware of your habits. The better they are the more surely they will be your undoing.
– Holbrook Jackson

Pursuing peace means rising above one’s own wants, needs, and emotions.
– Benazir Bhutto

In Satish’s epic pilgrimage for peace, he walked to the capitals of the four nuclear powers at the time, sojourning from India to USSR, France, England, and then by boat to New York and Washington, DC, arriving in 1963, the same year as Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech…

He wrote to Dr. King and said, ‘you have a great dream. I have a small dream. My dream is to meet you.’ …

Dr. King wrote back immediately saying that he had heard of Satish’s pilgrimage, and invited him to Atlanta where they met and conversed in Dr. King’s office, underneath the portrait of Gandhi that King had on his office wall.
King told Satish that while, for many, nonviolence was a tactic, for him it was the deepest of principles, a way of life.
– Drew Dillinger

Rumi:
Consider your life and consider your God. Take time like the river that never goes stale. Keep going and steady; no hurry no rush.

Reality can disclose itself in the most mind-bending extraordinary experiences.
But if we think that Reality is actually only disclosed in a powerful mind-bending spiritual experience then when that mind-bending spiritual experience ends—because all experiences do end, including spiritual experiences—then we will feel bereft.
Clinging is what produces delusion, whether it’s low level ego delusion or high level delusions in the world of realization.
– Adyashanti

I don’t see anger as an emotion to be cultivated and, in any case, it is not in short supply.
— Elizabeth Hardwick

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us. You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you.’
– Paul Valéry

Mystics seem to have no shame about contradicting themselves left and right. They blithely proclaim that the cure for pain is in the pain itself and that the cry of longing is the sigh of merging.
That’s because the path of the mystic reconciles contradictory propositions (such as harrowing sorrow and radical amazement) and blesses us with an extended capacity to sit with ambiguity, to treasure vulnerability, to celebrate paradox as the highest truth.
– Mirabai Starr

Sometimes, in order to truly heal, we have to stop trying to heal at all.
Sometimes, in order to connect, we have to begin by connecting with our feelings of disconnection.
Sometimes, to know love very deeply, we have to let go of all our second-hand concepts of ‘love’.
Sometimes, the light shines most brightly before it goes out.
Sometimes, when answers are not yet apparent, we need to hold the questions even more lovingly.
Sometimes, we just need to hear ourselves breathe.
– Jeff Foster

One should not use the name of God mechanically and superficially without the feeling of devotion.
– Ramana Maharshi, Be As You Are

Whatever your political perspective, now is the season to stand up for what matters. To stand against hate. To stand for respect. To stand for protection of the vulnerable. To care for the natural world.
Do not believe that meditation and contemplation are the fulfillment of the Buddhist Path. Inner peace, freedom and joy develop only when paired with the outer teachings of virtue, respect and mutual care. The foundation of Dharma is relational, built on generosity, virtue and loving-kindness. The Path to human happiness and liberation requires Right Intention, intentions that are free from greed, hatred and cruelty; Right Speech, speech that is true and helpful, not harsh, not vain, slanderous nor abusive; and Right Action, actions that are free from causing harm, killing, stealing and sexual exploitation.
In his life, the Buddha intervened to try to stop wars. He counseled kings and ministers, and guided those around him with teachings of peace and respect. In modern times, Maha Ghosananda of Cambodia joined the United Nations peace process and led years of peace walks of loving-kindness through the war zones and killing fields of Cambodia. Thai abbots have taken their robes and ordained the oldest trees as elders of the forest to protect whole ecosystems from logging. Burmese monks and nuns marched in the streets to protect citizens from the harsh military dictatorship. A.T. Ariyaratne in Sri Lanka enlisted hundreds of thousands in a 500-year peace plan. Vietnamese, Chinese and Tibetan monastics have stood up for peace, justice and compassion, even immolating themselves to stop the harmful actions around them.
Gandhi explains, “Those who say spirituality has nothing to do with politics do not know what spirituality really means.”
This is not about red or blue. It is about standing up for the most basic of human principles, for moral action and the prevention of harm. It is embodying Dharma amidst the troubles of the world.
You are not alone. You have generations of ancestors at your back. You have the blessing of interdependence and community. You have the great trees of the forest as steadfast allies. You have the turning of the seasons and the renewal of life as your music. You have the vast sky of emptiness to hold all things graciously.
You have been training for this for a long time. With practice you have learned to quiet the mind and open the heart. You have learned emptiness and interdependence. Now it is time to step forward, bringing your equanimity and courage, wisdom and compassion to the world. The Bodhisattva shows the way to alleviate suffering amidst it all.
As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains, “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.”
Across the world, storms of uncertainty and fear have arisen. It is time to collectively stand up, calm and clear. With peacefulness and mutual respect, our Buddhist communities can become centers of protection and vision.
Protection can take many forms. Protection can be providing sanctuary for those in danger. Protection can be skillfully confronting those whose actions would harm the vulnerable among us. Protection can be standing up for the environment. Protection can be becoming an active ally for those targeted by hate and prejudice.
Vision means carrying the lamp of the Dharma.
It means standing up for the truth—no matter what:
“Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”
“Greed, Hate and Ignorance create suffering. Generosity, Love and Wisdom bring happiness.”
“Mind is the forerunner. Speak and act with a pure mind and happiness will follow.”
“Plant seeds of goodness, and well-being will grow.”
Now a time of change has come.
We must listen deeply, bear witness, honor everyone, and choose our actions wisely and courageously.
Do not worry if the Right Action is not yet clear to you.
Wait in the unknowing with mindfulness and a clear heart.
Soon the right time will come and you will know to stand up.
I will meet you there.
Love in the Dharma,
– Jack Kornfield

When we are not fully present, we are not really living. We’re not really there, either for our loved ones or for ourselves. If we’re not there, then where are we? We are running, running, running, even during our sleep. We run because we’re trying to escape from our fear.
We cannot enjoy life if we spend our time and energy worrying about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow. If we’re afraid all the time, we miss out on the wonderful fact that we’re alive and can be happy right now. In everyday life, we tend to believe that happiness is only possible in the future. We’re always looking for the “right” conditions that we don’t yet have to make us happy. We ignore what is happening right in front of us. We look for something that will make us feel more solid, more safe, more secure. But we’re afraid all the time of what the future will bring—afraid we’ll lose our jobs, our possessions, the people around us whom we love. So we wait and hope for that magical moment—always sometime in the future—when everything will be as we want it to be. We forget that life is available only in the present moment. The Buddha said, “It is possible to live happily in the present moment. It is the only moment we have.”
Buried Treasure
The Bible tells the story of a farmer who discovered a treasure buried on his land. When he went back home, he gave up all the rest of his land and everything else he owned. He kept only that one small piece of land that contained the treasure. That treasure is the kingdom of God. We know that we should look for the kingdom of God in the present moment, because the present moment is the only moment that is. The past is gone, and the future is not yet here. So the place where you should look for the kingdom of God or the Pure Land of the Buddha, the place where you should look for your happiness, your peace, and your fulfillment, has to be in the present moment. It’s so simple and clear. But since we have the tendency to slide back into the past or to run into the future, we have to recognize that habit and learn how to be free from it to really establish ourselves in the present moment.
When the Buddha gave a talk to a large gathering of businessmen, the core of his message to them was, “It is possible to live happily right in the present moment.” The Buddha saw that most of the businessmen were very concerned about their future success and weren’t capable of enjoying the present moment. They didn’t have time for themselves or their families; they didn’t have time to love and make the people around them happy. They were continually being sucked into the future.
The Pure Land is in the present moment. The Pure Land is now or never. The same is true with the kingdom of God: it’s either now or never. The kingdom of God is not just a lovely idea. It is a reality. When you do mindful breathing and walking, you go home to the present moment, and you touch the many wonders of life in you and around you; and all of that belongs to the kingdom of God. If you have found the kingdom of God, you no longer need to run after fame and riches and sensual pleasures.
When we go home to the present moment, we understand there are so many conditions of happiness that we don’t need to go running after yet another one. We already have enough conditions to be happy. Happiness is entirely possible right in the here and now.
The Buddha’s teaching about living happily in the present moment is a very pleasant one. We can be happy right now. The practice is also very pleasant. When we climb the hill together, we don’t need to make an effort; we enjoy every step. Walking like that, if we are free of the past, free of the future, we can touch the kingdom of God, the Pure Land of the Buddha, with every step.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

We can all experience a feeling of deep admiration and love when we see the great harmony, elegance, and beauty of the earth. A simple branch of cherry blossom, the shell of a snail, or the wing of a bat—all bear witness to the earth’s masterful creativity. Every advance in our scientific understanding deepens our admiration and love for this wondrous planet.
When we can truly see and understand the earth, love is born in our hearts. We feel connected. That is the meaning of love: to be at one. Only when we’ve fallen back in love with the earth will our actions spring from reverence and the insight of our interconnectedness.
Yet many of us have become alienated from the earth. We are lost, isolated, and lonely. We work too hard, our lives are too busy, and we are restless and distracted, losing ourselves in consumption. But the earth is always there for us, offering us everything we need for our nourishment and healing: the miraculous grain of corn, the refreshing stream, the fragrant forest, the majestic snow-capped mountain peak, and the joyful birdsong at dawn.
We need to consume in a way that keeps our compassion alive. Yet many of us consume in a way that is violent. Forests are cut down to raise cattle for beef or to grow grain for liquor while millions in the world are dying of starvation.
Reducing the amount of meat we eat and alcohol we consume by 50 percent is a true act of love for ourselves, for the earth, and for one another. Eating with compassion can already help transform the situation our planet is facing and restore balance.
There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with the earth.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

What we most need to hear now, within ourselves, is the sound of the earth calling.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be.
It’s the way it is. The way you deal with it
makes the difference.
– Virginia Satir

Mayhap another song would burst from out my lips,
Overflowing with the happiness of future hopes
— Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Steve Silberman:
The notion that anyone who cares enough about America to criticize it should be forced to leave is one of the most anti-American ideas I’ve ever heard.

The funny thing
about magic, of
course is that the
more you learn
the less you
believe in magic.
– Phil Kaye

Note to self.
When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,

What I need flows to me, and without pain.

From this I understand that

What I want also wants me,

is looking for me and attracting me.

There is a great secret here

for anyone who can grasp it.
– Shams Tabrizi

I mean I get that yr a poet but are you also like, a person.
– Sam Herschel

Your ego will try to convince you to complicate everything. But as you transcend the ego things simplify and that’s when it becomes obvious that the simplest plans are the most successful.
– Aaron Force

A child does not question the wrong of grown-ups he suffers them!
– Chief Dan George

It’s a Planet not an Empire.

For Our World
by Mattie Stepanek
We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment
Before we forever lose
The blessings of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

The nazis took an ancient buddhist symbol and made it into a symbol of hate. The hippies took German Volkswagen’s and made them into a symbol of love.

Peace is always beautiful.
– Walt Whitman

The best author will be the one who is ashamed to become a writer.
– Nietzsche

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
– Wisława Szymborska

Everybody knows everything.
– Jack Kerouac

L’espace m’a toujours rendu silencieux.
– Jules Valles – L’enfant

to everyone else crying right now, we are the most beautiful sound i have ever heard.
– Diannely Antigua

Do we want to remind you of something? Yes: the world is good and we belong here.
– Richard Siken

MISSING THE MOON
life is all darkness
since you left
as if the moon
had gone missing
from the night sky
and left
a lunar lacuna
oh, hang on, forgot to open the curtains.
– Brian Bilston

UNSPEAKABLE ELEGY

Brother John is gone.
– The Wild Magnolias

There was the day, the world,
then—suddenly—the news
of you. No longer in it.
That world now one big less. One big hole
ripped in the fabric
of the whole of it.
There was the story of a lake, a place
you loved, the banks of that lake, and you
on those banks—and then you no longer.
And I cannot make myself un-imagine
the moment of your un-being. I can’t not
ask why? Or why that moment?
Or why not fight—for your life, the world, the love
of the lake, the people you loved, who love you.
I can’t make myself make that love past tense. I can’t
not wish for you to wait, to hang on—if not forever—at least until
that moment passes into another, so that other might pass
into now. With you still being in our time being.
At least I can imagine the possibility of beauty:
air thick with honeysuckle, the sun brilliant,
sky azure, perhaps a few stray clouds—
all of it reflecting on the calm surface of the water,
and bird song and flitter—the time being late
spring and such beauty thus common and likely—
though how unlikely it feels that summer has arrived
with you not here to see it. That the same sun now beating
down on those of us still missing
you—your laughter, your blue-green eyes as witness
to the world I know you loved as we did you (and do)
a world (meaning us, meaning me) that wishes
it could imagine you back into it, still and always with us.
The hole you left forever now. Part of the whole we are.

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
– Confucius

The Buddhist who isn’t willing to stand up strongly for immigrants is doing cognitive backflips around the foundation of all Buddhist teachings: the fact that all sentient beings are in a constant state of migration.
– Ethan Nichtern

One should do nothing other than what is directly or indirectly of benefit to living beings.
– Shantideva

What matters is not to know the world but to change it.
– Frantz Fanon

The best writing works from a simple premise: your experience is not yours alone, but in some sense a metaphor for everyone’s.
— Dorianne Laux

A good traveler leaves no tracks.
Good speech lacks fault-finding.
— Lao Tzu

The most beautiful
place on earth-
The very center
of your heart
is where life
begins.
– Rumi

Neale Donald Walsch:
Taking better care of yourself is not merely a matter of good health, it is a measure of spiritual evolution.

Somewhere in the universe is a palace/where each of us is imprinted with a map,/the one seared into the circuted of our brains
– Dorianne Laux

It took me years to grow a heart from paper and glue.
– Dorianne Laux

There are many paths to the good life and many ways to organize a society. We should never assume our own favored path is best, for it is a wide world, with many ways of being, and the jury is still out on what works best. This is why there are few conclusions in moral philosophy.
Good moderates know the good things in life are often at odds. Peace and justice, prosperity and equality, virtue and success are not always compatible. Hence, moderates are needed to help us compromise and see the limits of our own life paths.
And yet, moderation in the face of fascism is mindless, for fascism is extreme. And compromise with big money is corruption, for it sacrifices freedom for short term gain. Fake moderates cave into corporate lobbies and compromise with those who force us into extremism. It may look moderate but the end result is extremism and corruption.
Liberal democratic institutions help us pursue our own life paths – social safety nets extend this freedom to the poor. Some ways of living together support freedom more than others, some maximize the good things that are often at odds. But some just destroy the things that matter most.
Moderation in the face of evil paves the way for intolerance and hate. It neither makes us more civil nor able to live together. Born of laziness and political exhaustion, it is a temptation in the face heartless hate and a weakness that paralyzes the will.
In the end, we will have to compromise, within our parties and without, and we will have to learn to live together in mutual respect. This can be beautiful and it is often necessary. But in the words of Winston Churchill, we have to wake up to the fact that “you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.
– Theo Horesh

With the continuation of these strange values, in a few years, we can be assured that we will set a man on the moon, and with an adequate telescope, he will be able to see the slums on earth.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

James Tate Hill:
Yeah, those guys could land on the moon, but get back to me when they learn to braid a personal essay.

The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.
– Ijeoma Oluo

there is no end to our researches; our end is in the other world.
– Montaigne

Descartes’ well/known gesture of sweeping away the past as a doubtful authority was matched by Bacon’s unmasking of the false ideas, or idola ( of the Tribe, the Cave, the Marketplace, and the Theater), whose mystifying charms had produced only confusion in previous thinkers.
– Martin Jay

I think immigration reform should include a requirement to bring your mother’s recipes with you.
– Jonathan Byrd

There’s no private world that doesn’t include the dynamics of my political and social world.
– Claudia Rankine

… You know, really just a little closer to him. Stay there. Stay there. We can’t afford any more losses.
– Nina Simone

No drives, no compulsions, no needs, no attractions; when your affairs are under control you are free.
— Chuang Tzu

endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight.
– W.S. Merwin, Garden Time

…It drifts in from somewhere far away – a mirage of sound – a dream music that is both heard and imagined; that seems to be both itself and its own echo; a sound so alluring and so mesmeric that the afternoon is bewitched, maybe haunted, by it. And, what is so strange about that memory is that everybody seems to be floating on those sweet sounds , moving rhythmically, languorously, in complete isolation; responding more to the mood of the music than to its beat. When I remember it, I think of it as dancing. Dancing with eyes half closed because to open them would break the spell. Dancing as if language had surrendered to movement – as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness. dancing as if the very heart of life and all its hopes might be found in those assuaging notes and those hushed rhythms and in those silent and hypnotic movements. Dancing as if language no longer existed because words were no longer necessary…
― Brian Friel

You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don’t have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we’re not able to appreciate who they are. It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we’re at risk, because actually it’s the opposite that’s true.
― Sherry Turkle

We must seek out that which invigorates us, and engage it at all fronts. Art, music, literature, conversation, travel, nature—whatever it is that keeps the fire of our spirit bright—we must build our life around it; for, without our passions, the years ahead become a burden rather than a gift.
― L.M. Browning

…What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing up through the six days’ field,
kept in all the body’s years, the body’s
sorrow, weariness, and joy. By passing through
the narrow gate on the far side of that field
where the pasture grass of the body’s life gives way
to the high, original standing of the trees.
By coming into the shadow, the shadow
of the grace of the strait way’s ending,
the shadow of the mercy of light.
Why must the gate be narrow?
Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.
To come into the woods you must leave behind
the six days’ world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes.
You must come without weapon or tool, alone,
expecting nothing, remembering nothing,
into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf.
– Wendell Berry

When we direct our attention to certain elements of our consciousness, we’re “consuming” them. As with our meals, what we consume from our consciousness may be wholesome and healthy, or it may be toxic. For example, when we are having a cruel and angry thought, and we replay it over and over again in our mind, we are consuming toxic consciousness…
Every one of us has the capacity to love, to forgive, to understand and to be compassionate. If you know how to cultivate these elements within your consciousness, your consciousness can nourish you with this healthy kind of food that makes you feel wonderful and benefits everyone around you.
At the same time, in everyone’s consciousness, there is also the capacity for obsession, worry, despair, loneliness and self-pity. If you consume sensory food in a way that nourishes these negative elements in your consciousness-if you read tabloids, play violent electronic games, spend time online envying what others have done, or engage in a mean-spirited conversation-the anger, despair or jealousy becomes a stronger energy in your consciousness. You are cultivating the kind of food in your mind that isn’t healthy for you…
you can choose to cultivate things in your consciousness that will nourish you rather than the toxic things that will poison you and make you suffer… We can do a lot of damage to ourselves and to our relationships when we don’t pay attention to what we are taking into ourselves and cultivating in our minds.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

to obtain buddhahood we must scatter life’s aims and objects to the wind.
– Milarepa

These are extraordinary times for a spiritual seeker. Modern spiritual bookstores bulge with texts of Christian, Jewish, Sufi, and Hindu mystical practices. The many contradictory perspectives we encounter pose one of the great dilemmas of spiritual life: What are we to believe?
Initially, in our enthusiasm for our practice, we tend to take everything we hear or read as the gospel truth. This attitude often becomes even stronger when we join a community, follow a teacher, undertake a discipline. Yet all of the teachings of books, maps, and beliefs have little to do with wisdom or compassion. At best they are a signpost, a finger pointing at the moon, or the leftover dialogue from a time when someone received some true spiritual nourishment. To make spiritual practice come alive, we must discover within ourselves our own way to become conscious, to live a life of the spirit.
When we are faced with a variety of spiritual teachings and practice, we must keep a genuine sense of inquiry: What is the effect of this teaching and practice on myself and others? Am I being led to greater kindness and greater understanding, to greater peace or freedom?
Spiritual practice can never be fulfilled by imitation of an outer form of perfection. This leads us only to “acting spiritual”. In fact, initially, spiritual practice may feel like it is leading us in the opposite direction. As we awaken, we tend to see our faults and fears, our limitations and selfishness, more clearly than ever before. When we begin to encounter our own limitations directly, we may then try to look for another form of practice, a faster way, or we may decide to change our life radically – move our home, get divorced, join a monastery.
In our initial discouragement, we may blame our practice, or the community around us, or we may blame our teacher. This happened to me in my first year as a monk. I was practicing diligently, but I became quite frustrated after a time. The restlessness, doubt, reactivity, and judgmental mind I encountered were very difficult for me.
The more frustrated I became, the more the monastery looked sloppy and not conducive to enlightenment. Even my image of the master began to fit right in with this frame of mind. So I went to confront him. I bowed and paid my respects and told him I wanted to leave for a stricter monastery, that there wasn’t enough time to meditate where I was. “Eh,” he said, “there isn’t enough time to be aware?” “No,” I answered, somewhat taken aback by his question. But my frustration was strong, so I went on, “Besides that, the monks are too sloppy and even you aren’t silent enough. You are inconsistent and contradictory. This doesn’t seem like what the Buddha taught to me.” Only a Westerner would say something like this, and it made him laugh. “It’s a good thing I don’t appear like the Buddha,” he answered. Somewhat annoyed I replied, “Oh, yes, why is that?” “Because,” he said, “you would still be caught in looking at the Buddha outside of yourself. He isn’t out here!” With that he sent me back to continue my meditation.
“It is our very search for perfection outside ourselves that causes our suffering,” said the Buddha. Even the most perfect moment or thing will change just a moment later. It is not perfection we must seek, but freedom of the heart.
The Third Patriarch of Zen Buddhism explained that liberation arises when we are “without anxiety about non-perfection”. The world is not supposed to be perfect according to our ideas. We have tried so long to change the world, yet liberation is not to be found by changing it, by perfecting it, or ourselves. Whether we seek enlightenment through altered states, or in community, or in our everyday life, it will never come to us when we seek perfection. The Buddha arises when we are able to see ourselves and the world with honesty and compassion. In many spiritual traditions there is only one important question to answer, and that question is: Who am I?
What images do we hold of ourselves, of our spiritual life, of others? Are all these images and ideas who we really are? Is this our true nature? Liberation comes not as a process of self-improvement, of perfecting the body or personality. Instead, in living a spiritual life, we are challenged to discover another way of seeing, rather than seeing with our usual images, ideals, and hopes. We learn to see with the heart, which loves, rather than with the mind, which compares and defines. This is a radical way of being that takes us beyond perfection.
– Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

You can connect from all kinds of places- energetic harmony, sexual alchemy, intellectual alignment- but they won’t sustain love over a lifetime. You need a thread that goes deeper, that moves below and beyond the shifting sands of compatibility. That thread is fascination- a genuine fascination with someone’s inner world, the way they organize reality, the way they hearticulate their feelings, the unfathomable and bottomless depths of their being. To hear their soul cry out to you again and again, and to never lose interest in what it is trying to convey. If there is that, then there will still be love when the body sickens, when the sexuality fades, when the perfection projection is long shattered. If there is that, you will swim in love’s waters until the very last breath.
– Jeff Brown

He who loves the world as his body
may be entrusted with the empire.
— Lao Tzu

Deep in the Quiet Wood
by James Weldon Johnson
Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
From out the palpitating solitude
Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.

If writing is thinking and selection and order and meaning, it is also awe and reverence and mystery and magic. I suppose I could dispense with the last four if I were not so deadly serious about fidelity to the milieu in which my ancestors actually lived.
—Toni Morrison

In some poems the author is doomed to hear the voice of the violin that once helped her compose, in others the rumble of traincar that stopped her writing them. Poems can have the scent of flowers, smell of plums. In Pushkin I hear the waters of Tsarskoe Selo.
— Anna Akhmatova

Upon arrival to USA, Milosz wrote the following impression about the country:

“What splendor! What poverty! What humanity! What inhumanity! What mutual good will! What individual isolation! What loyalty to the ideal! What hypocrisy! What a triumph of conscience! What perversity!

Indya Moore:
For it to be “Politics” to you is a priviledge.
This isn’t politics to a lot of people. it’s their safety, it’s their future, it’s their health, it’s their employment, it’s their shelter, their freedom.
It’s their life.

Michelle Obama:
What truly makes our country great is its diversity. I’ve seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my America or your America. It’s our America.

You’ll never know
how every poem
before you was me
just trying to scratch
the words to reach
you. To speak you
into existence.
– Aja Monet

Frankie Love:
Everyday is a blank canvas, paint your life.

In a past life I was mistakenly a poet.
In a former existence I must have been a painter.
And I am unable to throw off my remnant habits…
– Wang Wei

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Go outside – can you feel how deeply your presence is craved there?
– Asia Suler

There is always a need for experience and knowledge rooted in traditions, but it is not a spiritual given that these are the places where peace, union, and spiritual awareness are found.
— bell hooks

Claudia Cortese:
Poetry isn’t therapy but every poet I know was saved, in some way, by poetry.

Thou that art cloth’d in mistery
More startling and more glorious than
thine own
Encircling fires—profound as the oceans
Of shoreless space through which now thou flyest!
— Tso-le-oh-woh, on the 1853 Klinkerfues comet

Is sorrow the true wild?

And if it is—and if we join them—your wild to mine—what’s that?

[…]

What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying.

I’m saying: What if that is joy?

— Ross Gay, from “‘Joy Is Such a Human Madness’” in The Book of Delights

No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
– James Baldwin

And so I go to the woods. As I go in under the trees, dependably, almost at once, and by nothing I do, things fall into place. I enter an order that does not exist outside, in the human spaces….I am less important than I thought. I rejoice in that.
– Wendell Berry (1969)

W. B. Yeats:

1/2
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:

2/2
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Rumi:
Oh soul, you worry too much. Your arms are heavy with treasures of all kinds.

Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.
– Dalai Lama XIV

Neale Donald Walsch:
Take the day off once in a while – when it’s not scheduled. Take a nap – when it’s just not possible. Stop and be good to yourself.

Diannely Antigua:
to everyone else crying right now, we are the most beautiful sound i have ever heard

When You Don’t Know What To Do Just Do The Next Right Thing
When you’re hurting or in a dark and scary space, just do the next right thing. When you aren’t sure how you’ll recover or come up for air again, and you can’t see your way forward, just do the next right thing in front of you.
Breathe.
Hug your partner.
Laugh with your child.
Practice gratitude.
Savor your coffee.
Remember to eat.
Accept help.
Drink water.
Don’t quit.
Go to bed.
Text your sister.
Challenge fear.
Go out for a walk.
Refuse to wear shame.
Just do the next right thing.
Get out of bed for your kids.
Keep asking for help even though it’s hard.
Inhale the gorgeous scent of spring blossoms.
Spend some time outside on the grass, bare toed.
Advocate stubbornly when people aren’t listening.
Put in a load of laundry. Do the dishes. Pack lunches.
Release judgment of yourself over and over and over.
When you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing.
Watch Netflix and laugh or cry your way through a box of Kleenex.
Ask someone over. It’s OK that you don’t want to be alone right now.
Even though you are hurting, offer the bit of light you have to another.
Ask for help – from a coach, psychologist, doctor. Whoever you can access.
Challenge your thoughts – your thoughts can drown you if you’re not careful.
Allow yourself to grieve without judgment. Even if it scares you, we need to grieve.
Pull your brain back when it goes to the future. Right now it’s OK to focus on today.
Remember that you have what it takes to survive this and there is good yet to come.
Write or paint or dance – even if it’s hard and your creative efforts are lackluster. Do it anyway.
Borrow a novel from the library. And if you can’t concentrate right now return to Netflix, guilt free.
Unclench your jaw. Roll your shoulders back. Loosen your grip – not everything is in your control.
Feel deeply without numbing the full, raw truth of your life at the moment.
Release your grip on what was to make peace with where you are today.
Remember that you cannot choose for another but you can keep living.
Play music – music that is hopeful and reminds you to trust.
Be honest about your pain. You have nothing to prove.
Scan for beauty and choose joy.
Take a shower. Brush your teeth.
Don’t apologize for your anger.
Just do the next right thing.
Speak kindly to yourself.
Make a pot of soup.
Sit in the sunshine.
Plant new flowers.
Forgive yourself.
Pick yourself up.
One small step.
And another.
– Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui

Strong in the Rain by Miyazawa Kenji (November 3rd, 1931 [?] – published posthumously)
Strong in the rain
And in the wind
And in the snow and in the summer heat

Robust

Lacking desire

Never angry

Always smiling quietly

Eating only four cups of brown rice daily

With miso and some vegetables

Watching, hearing, and understanding carefully in all things

Without including oneself in the equation

And never forgetting

Tucked away in a small thatched hut

In the shade of a primordial pine forest

When a child falls sick to the east

Going to care for them

When a mother grows weary in the west

Going to shoulder her bundles of rice stalks in turn

When someone is dying in the south

Going to tell them that they have nothing to be afraid of

When there is a fight or a dispute in the north

Going to tell them to stop bickering because it’s foolish

Crying in times of drought
Walking falteringly in cold summers

Called simple by everyone

Never praised

Never worried over–

That is the kind of person

That I want to be

The City’s Love
by Claude McKay
For one brief golden moment rare like wine,
The gracious city swept across the line;
Oblivious of the color of my skin,
Forgetting that I was an alien guest,
She bent to me, my hostile heart to win,
Caught me in passion to her pillowy breast;
The great, proud city, seized with a strange love,
Bowed down for one flame hour my pride to prove.

HIGH TREASON
I do not love my country. Its abstract splendor
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, 
varios figures from history
mountains
(and three or four rivers).
– Pacheco

Jack Kerouac:
It was the work of the quiet mountains, this torrent of purity at my feet.

The farther the source, the longer the stream.
– Nichiren

It’s not about “letting it go.” It’s about letting it in. It’s about letting it deep. It’s about letting it through. It’s about being true to your feelings. It’s about giving your experiences the attention they deserve. And that may take a moment, or it may take years. The trick is not to shame your need to hold on to what has yet to be resolved. “Let it go” is the mantra of the self-avoidant, feigning resolution because they lack the courage or the preparedness to face their feelings. Let’s not play that game. Let’s let things in and through, until they are fully and truly ready to shift. Let’s let it grow into the transformation at its heart. We write our story by fully living it. Not by “letting it go” before its time.
– Jeff Brown

All poetry is a form of hope. / Not certain, just actual / like love and other traffic circles.
– Dean Young

Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance, they live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.
– Elizabeth Warren

/
we small talk each
other through a marriage
through a child
a cultural revolution
and promise
all the remaining time
to hold each other
in a room
downloaded
from the Internet
you hold me closer
than ever before
you say the word earth
as if it has already ended
– Noah Falk

Kerouac:
Not courting talk – real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.

Neale Donald Walsch:
Don’t stand still. Keep the energy coursing through your body. Don’t stand still for anything. Move, move, move!

The Bodhisattva does not act in a premeditated way, he just communicates.
– Chogyam Trungpa

Leadership:
Go to the people.
Live with them.
Learn from them.
Love them.
Start with what they know.
Build with what they have.
– Lao Tzu

Pure Land Poetry
Zen Cowboy Grocery Store Checkout Line Practice:
by Frank Larue Owen
This is my standard routine now. When the person of color in the checkout line, African-American, Asian, First Nations~Indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, Muslim, asks me: “How are you this evening?” I respond: “I’m really ready to stop watching the world go crazy under this ignorant, racist buffoon of a President.”

It always gets a smile. Sometimes their mouth falls open; they’re shocked to hear a white boy speak the unbridled truth.

I do this to communicate my stance as a Universal Ally of the marginalized. I do this to quietly acknowledge any pain they may feel,…to let them know they are not alone…living in a nation whereby whole sections of the citizenry, nearly a whole political party of government, and whole swaths of a so-called “loving religious tradition” feel this should be a white-only or whites-in-power only country, who justify the words and actions of this President.

This invariably leads to a very candid conversation, and a sense of newfound solidarity. That solidarity is the only kind of America I am interested living in, and, like my ancestors before me, I will fight to ensure it remains THE standard of what it means to be a citizen.

Disagree? Please please please: do us both a favor— even if you are a coworker, family or friends of family — unfollow my Page and unfriend me.

Ryan Adams:
You know what’s better?
Dialog.
Cause you can war all you want but it can’t solve shit.
The privilege of being a human being is to error. Or being lessened for things you arent.
Compassion is an art. The colors in your soul don’t always have to start dark.

FRANTZ FANON: Comrades, have we not other work to do than to create a third Europe?… Humanity is waiting for something other from us than such an imitation.

Rumi:
The ocean pours through a jar, and you might say it swims inside the fish! This mystery gives peace to your longing & makes the road home.

Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.
– G. K. Chesterton

There is a meaningful distinction between inquiry and assumption in personal relationships. Those connections that remain inquiry based- where each person asks the other about their intentions, motivations, and actions- have a tendency to last far longer than those based on assumption. When we can allow ourselves to remain genuinely curious about why someone behaved as they did, we keep the gate between our hearts open. We co-create an ongoing opportunity to grow individually and together. When we rely on assumptions as our interpretive structure- particularly those lodged in our own issues and limiting beliefs- we are far more likely to close the door to the connection and miss the opportunity for growth. The simple truth is that there are often countless possibilities for why someone behaved as they did. And the assumption that we make is often misguided. Better we inquire- wherever possible- so that the connection has an opportunity to grow in awareness and understanding. Being curious about those that matter to us, keeps the fires of relatedness alight.
– Jeff Brown

The Suffering of Rejecting Desire
– Tara Brach
We have been raised to fear…our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for…many facets of our own oppression.” – Audre Lourde

In the myth of Eden, God created the garden and dropped the tree of knowledge, with its delicious and dangerous fruits, right smack dab in the middle. He then deposited some humans close by and forbade these curious, fruit-loving creatures from taking a taste. It was a set up. Eve naturally grasped at the fruit and then was shamed and punished for having done so.

We experience this situation daily inside our own psyche. We are encouraged by our culture to keep ourselves comfortable, to be right, to possess things, to be better than others, to look good, to be admired. We are also told that we should feel ashamed of our selfishness, that we are flawed for being so self-centered, sinful when we are indulgent.

Most mainstream religions—Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Confucian—teach that our wanting, passion, and greed cause suffering. While this certainly can be true, their blanket teachings about the dangers of desire often deepen self-hatred. We are counseled to transcend, overcome or somehow manage the hungers of our physical and emotional being. We are taught to mistrust the wildness and intensity of our natural passions, to fear being out of control.

Equating spiritual purity with elimination of desire is a common misunderstanding I also see in students on the Buddhist path. This is not just a contemporary issue. The struggle to understand the relationship between awakening and desire in the context of the Buddhist teachings has gone on since the time of the Buddha himself.

A classical Chinese Zen tale brings this to light: An old woman had supported a monk for twenty years, letting him live in a hut on her land. After all this time she figured the monk, now a man in the prime of life, must have attained some degree of enlightenment. So she decided to test him.

Rather than taking his daily meal to him herself, she asked a beautiful young girl to deliver it. She instructed the girl to embrace the monk warmly—and then to report back to her how he responded. When the girl returned, she said that the monk had simply stood stock still, as if frozen.

The old woman then headed for the monk’s hut. What was it like, she asked him, when he felt the girl’s warm body against his? With some bitterness he answered, “Like a withering tree on a rock in winter, utterly without warmth.” Furious, the old woman threw him out and burned down his hut, exclaiming, “How could I have wasted all these years on such a fraud.”

To some the monk’s response might seem virtuous. After all, he resisted temptation, he even seemed to have pulled desire out by the roots. Still the old woman considered him a fraud. Is his way of experiencing the young girl—“like a withering tree on a rock in winter”—the point of spiritual practice? Instead of appreciating the girl’s youth and loveliness, instead of noting the arising of a natural sexual response and its passing away without acting on it, the monk shut down. This is not enlightenment.

I have worked with many meditation students who have gotten the message that experiencing desire is a sign of being spiritually undeveloped. While it is true that withdrawing attention from certain impulses can diminish their strength, the continued desire for simple pleasures—delicious foods, play, entertainment or sexual gratification—need not be embarrassing evidence of being trapped in lower impulses.

Those same students also assume that “spiritual people” are supposed to call on inner resources as their only refuge, and so they rarely ask for comfort or help from their friends and teachers. I’ve talked with some who have been practicing spiritual disciplines for years, yet have never let themselves acknowledge that they are lonely and long for intimacy.

As the monk in the Zen tale shows, if we push away desire, we disconnect from our tenderness and we harden against life. We become like a “rock in winter.” When we reject desire, we reject the very source of our love and aliveness.

Fred LaMotte:
I want to hug you.
You will not survive.
When my arms release you
as from a cocoon,
two rainbows will spread
over heaven and earth,
all that remain
of your laughter and tears.
People will whisper,
“Love destroys everything!”

Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.
– Buddha

The world has gone insane with work.
You alone have the courage to rest.
The world has lost its playfulness,
its joy of being.
You alone have the courage to live
like a free child.
To touch life at the point of creation.
To laugh at cats and snow.
People seem busy, but they are running.
Running from their feelings.
Running from shame and guilt.
Running so they don’t have to stop.
And meet themselves.
And wonder who they really are.
You alone have the courage to stop.
To feel your feet
in contact with the sacred ground.
To notice your breath rising and falling.
To feel yourself caressed by the morning sunshine,
filled by the afternoon,
and entered by the evening.
The world needs you,
because you are not fully in this world.
You bring a presence that warms this world.
Your innocence is a balm
for this world’s certainties.
The world has become jaded,
but you are like new.
– Jeff Foster

Islandia
Qué dicha para todos los hombres,
Islandia de los mares, que existas.
Islandia de la nieve silenciosa y del agua ferviente.
Islandia de la noche que se aboveda
Sobre la vigilia y el sueño.
Isla del día blanco que regresa,
Joven y mortal como Baldr.
Fría rosa, isla secreta
Que fuiste la memoria de Germania
Y salvaste para nosotros
Su apagada, enterrada mitología,
El anillo que engendra nueve anillos,
Los altos lobos de la selva de hierro
Que devorarán la luna y el sol,
La nave que Algo o Alguien construye
Con uñas de los muertos.
Islandia de los cráteres que esperan,
Y de las tranquilas majadas.
Islandia de las tardes inmóviles
Y de los hombres fuertes
Que son ahora marineros y barqueros y párrocos
Y que ayer descubrieron un continente.
Isla de los caballos de larga crin
Que engendran sobre el pasto y la lava,
Isla del agua llena de monedas
Y de no saciada esperanza.
Islandia de la espada y de la runa,
Islandia de la gran memoria cóncava
Que no es una nostalgia
Jorge luis Borges
Iceland

What a joy for all men,
Iceland of the seas, that exist.
Iceland of silent snow and fervent water.
Iceland of the night that is aboveda
About the vigil and the dream.
White day island that returns,
Young and deadly like baldr.
Cold Rose, secret island
That you were the memory of germania
And you saved for us
Its off, buried mythology,
The ring that breeds nine rings,
The High Wolves of the iron jungle
That will devour the moon and the sun,
The ship that something or someone builds
With nails of the dead.
Iceland of the craters waiting,
And the quiet majadas.
Iceland of the motionless afternoons
And the strong men
Who are now sailors and boatmen and pastors
And that yesterday they discovered a continent.
Island of the long mane horses
That breed on the grass and lava,
Water Island full of coins
And of not quenched hope.
Iceland of the sword and the rune,
Iceland of the great concave memory
That is not a nostalgia
– Jorge Luis Borges

The House Culture Lives In
by Tad Hargrave
Gustav Mahler, though some debate that it was him, once said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes. It is the preservation of fire.”
It is easy to idealize the past and to keep things locked in the old forms of how it was. But every culture must somehow wrestle out the twin impulses of tradition, with its conservative, fetishizing, don’t-change-much approach and innovation with its wild urge to change everything, to ferment and foment, and experiment constantly. Every culture threads that needle, which sews together the regalia it wears, differently.
And it’s clear that he is speaking of fire and warmth in this because ashes serve many life affirming purposes too from feeding the soil to giving us the basis for soap. Ash has been used in the sacred ceremonies of many cultures. It is not the detritus left over from the ‘real’ thing of fire. It’s another someone, alive in his own way.
But if we were to imagine fire as the living one we are trying to foster and coax out of the wood, as those who make fermented drinks try to coax the fermentation from the liquid in just the right way, then I think the statement stands.
The ashes will not keep us warm on a cold night. They won’t provide light to us.
I think what Mahler pointed to was that the point of tradition is to foster life. It’s a living something and any of its structures that exist must serve life.
*
I’m in Northern Alberta speaking with a farmer who practices what’s known as Holistic Management. I tell him what I’ve heard about the bacteria and mycellial networks in the soil.
“That’s true,” he says. “But it’s not the first thing you need to do.”
“Oh? What’s that then?”
“You need to get the mineral balance in the soil right. If you don’t get that the bacteria and fungal networks won’t thrive.”
“And what’s the relationship between the life in the soil and the mineral balance?”
Without pausing he says, “It’s the house they live in.”
*
I’m in Calgary and my friend who is driving me to my workshop this morning at a sweet little venue in Kensington which, along with Inglewood and Bowness, is the only redeeming feature of this corporate oil and gas town.
I ask her how her work is going. She’s of European descent but does a lot of work with young people in Indingeous Communities around Alberta. I asked her how she went about her work to support the young people.
“Well, I find that it’s important to pull aside the older kids and say, ‘Look, all those younger kids are looking up to you. They will want to do whatever you do.’ And this often straightens them out. They often change immediately because they know it’s true. They see themselves in this position of leadership. And then we have to bring the elders in too and find ways to honour them, have them tell their stories.”
I shake my head. My instinct would have been to talk to them directly about colonization and the terrible history of what happened to their people. I’d want to remind them of the preciousness of their pre-conversion ways. I confess this to her.
She shrugs, “Most of them are Christian now.”
Somehow I imagined that no living culture could thrive until the colonization was dealt with. I would have gone in focusing on the content and here she was helping to set up a context. I would gone in wanting to talk about the legal histories and here she was setting up the latice work upon which the culture could grow. I would have talked about freedom and she helped them build a framework, an architecture.
*
Robert Bly wrote a book called The Sibling Society. In it, he makes the case that modern culture has largely lost its vertical axis. The horizontal axis is everyone your age and rank in the culture. The vertical axis are those who are older and younger than you, those who came before you and those who will come after and those who might have more rank than you in certain things and those who have less – the hierarchy of the culture.
What we are left with is what he called The Sibling Society in which everyone goes to school with only people their age and in which intergenerational relationships are scarce and respect for elders and all those who walked before us and reverance for the young and all of those who will walk behind us is largely absent.
In its own way, the book makes the case for the need to re-establish the vertical axis.
It might be the center pole of that Big Tent of our days.
Without it there’s no house to live in.
And culture needs a house to live in.
*
In the old story of Parzival and the Holy Grail we find Parzival (a name that means ‘young fool’) stumbling across the Grail Castle. The land is ailing because the king is wounded and ailing. But the Grail castle is a palace of delights. Everyone is partying while the land is ailing. And no one seems to be asking anything much of the king who lies there suffering. In his first vist, Parzival chokes.
He is supposed to ask the question.
His coming was prophesized. But he, following his mother’s advice to not ask too many questions, says nothing. The next morning the castle is empty and he spends the next twenty years searching for it again and being yelled at by those older and wiser than himself for his failure.
When he returns, a humbled man, there is the king, still ailing. And he asks him a big question. Now there are a few different versions of what he asks the king but it seems to me that the question itself isn’t the thing. It could be almost any big question. But it has to be the kind of a question to which a younger man needs an answer – an answer he can’t seem to come to on his own.
*
I was speaking with a friend whose life’s work is about helping people to heal their guts and the culture in it.
I asked her if she ate a lot of sauerkraut and kimchi and the like. She shrugged. “I used to. But once you heal your gut and get the culture right you don’t need it as much.”
And I think about this farmer, so knowledgable about soil, and how he’d said the same thing. Once you’ve got the mineral balance right and the culture is set, it self perpetuates itself without a lot of labour for you. You just have to make sure you don’t kill it.
*
Stephen Jenkinson, author of Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble. In it, and when he speaks, he makes the case that elders are not self-made. That one can’t, or at least properly shouldn’t, announce themselves as an elder anymore than one should announce one’s self as a shaman. Nor does it seem fitting for older people to get together and form an Elder’s Club – each annointing each other as elders. It seems that the architecture of it, or the chance that any architecture appearing at all, might come from this: young people make elders.
But that’s too barely laid out. After all, if that were true then the bringing together of the old and the young (a miracle in this modern culture) would catalyze some chemical chain reaction and boom! You’d have an elder in your midst. But, of course, even on those rare occassions when the old and the young are together, this is not a given.
So, to render it more deeply – it might be that it’s the need of the young people for the old, it’s the sorrow of young people, their overwhelm and lostness and their willingness to ask something of the older ones in their midst that lays the table for wisdom to finally appear. The heartbreak of younger people might be a precondition to the medicine of older people, unsure that they have anything to give at all, appearing.
Stephen Jenkinson writes, “The elder proceeds as if he or she is needed, rarely with any invitation to do so, that lack of invitation being as close to authorization as he or she is likely to get. The elder proceeds as if the sorrowing insignificance of the younger ones is all the prompt that is necessary or likely. That inarticulate sorrow and the poverty that beggars and mutes it is what makes the case for elders in our midst.”
And once I recall him saying, “The fundament of elder hood is not your capacity to be one it’s your capacity to have one in your midst. The whole event of elderhood is in the recognition. Elders don’t make elders. Young people do that. You don’t just get to name yourself one. The default striving of older people is to get respected which is covering the poverty. They are waiting, not for each other, but for young people. Young people create elders by seeking them out. When a young person looks at you in this way, it does something to you. The ultimate consequence of kids not seeking elders is old folks homes.”
Culture needs a house but, when we put all of the old people in a house together, away from everyone else, this is the ending of culture.
Might the day come when instead of this, we take a knee next to some older ones and say, “Old timers. You have seen so much and grown so tall. Would you be willing that we might plant ourselves next to you, in the shade of your branches? And hidden from the Sun as we are, might you feed us a little of the abundance you’ve gathered under the soil? The Sun is too glaring. It’s too hot. It has tempted some of us but they grew too fast and died to young. Will you be the forest house under which we might grow that there might be a chance for a forest again?”
*
So there it is, the young people hitting their knees and the older people, seeing this and proceeding as if their appearance matters now, those are the two sides of the mighty arch leaning against each other and held together by that keystone of community. Or maybe the elders are the foundation stones on which both sides of the stone gate are stacked, the masons finding they could get no solid foundation on the soil. I don’t know.
But I imagine Parzival standing there, bereft and bruised by the decades and I imagine the king lying there with his own decades of suffering. And no one has asked anything of this king and his suffering and so no wisdom has appeared. Suffering does not automatically becomes wisdom until someone asks something of it. And something is rarely asked for until it is needed.
Perhaps unknown to him, Parzival is reconstituing the vertical axix of culture. He is, with his undoneness, helping to encourage that old, sturdy beam into standing again so that the canopy of culture might be draped over him once more, or, perhaps for the first time – the king, become an elder, finally the central pole in the Big Tent of our mutual lives.
Culture needs a house to live in.
*
It’s easy to look at our ancestral cultures and turn what we find into archetypes in our head.
It’s easy to fetishize it as something that happened back there. Or to try to recreate it exactly as it was.
But I think what is needed is living culture, now.
I think this world needs cultured humans desperately and the living fire of culture will not come from worshipping the ashes of bygone days and weeping that it isn’t so anymore.
The ash of our ancestral cultures won’t keep us warm. The ash heap continues to grow – and has its own utility but fire must be made anew in every generation and fire needs wood or coal – those are the houses that fire can live in.
Fire must be made fresh and, if there are coals of our ancestral lines that have been smoored but not extinguished, then they must be gently blown upon and given the tiny shack of new kindling, and then sticks and until, if we are lucky, that fire lives on in its regal, bonfire hut in the center of our nights, keeping us warm.
Culture needs a house. Might it be that we build it.

The Poor Man’s Architecture
Tad Hargrave
Introduction:
In 1991, Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette wrote a seminal book for what would become known as the mythopoetic men’s movement: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.
What I’m about to write is, perhaps, another lens of looking at their material. And, it must be said, it is an honour and deep privilege to have something so well wrought upon which to work and reflect even if my conclusions might differ from the authors. What they have crafted in their book is a life’s work worthy of deep praise. It is the result of untold hours of scholarship and a lifetime of experience working with men in therapeutic contexts.
The book asserts that there are four core archetypes, the title of their book, in the psyches of men. It offers that each archetype has immature, toxic versions and mature, tonic versions.
King. Warrior. Magician. Lover.
The book offers a map of the interior world of men. If the inner masculine were a table, these would be its four legs.
And so, with all due deference to the authors and all those who contributed to the fruition of this fine book I hope to refer to for many years to come, I humbly submit to you a counter notion: We need less archetypes and more architecture.
Said another way: When important cultural roles vanish from the architecture, they appear as archetypes. When they vanish from the outside, this culture encourages us to find them on the inside.
In a culture without chiefs and leaders we can trust, we are told to find our inner Kings and Queens. In a culture with no real warriors, we are exhorted to cultivate the warrior inside ourselves. In a culture with too few beauty makers, we are told to find out inner Lover. In a culture with too few elders, shamans, and medicine people, we are told to find the Magician within.
This interiorization of the world, the promise of some internal self-sufficiency (and the assurance that this is a worthy goal), is one of the central poverties of our time, masquerading as psychology and spirituality. We are told that these are all inherent parts of ourselves and that the point of our spiritual lives is to get in touch with those, already fully developed archetypes, inside of ourselves. We are told that they are just waiting for us to show up. It is never said but it is implied that our neglect of them has had no consequences on them – that they wait there for us as whole, self-sufficient, eternal and intact as we are told that God is and that we, in our essence, are.
And it may be that there is truth in all of that.
But perhaps what is needed is a rebuilding of culture, not imagining that we can vanish our need for it. Perhaps what is needed is that we learn to need each other once more. Perhaps what is needed are fewer voices urging us to become the entire village and more voices imploring us to step into some real and meaningful role in what might, one day, become a village.
The ideal of the New Age scene seems to be all archetypes and no architecture. After all, this world isn’t real, it’s all energy and the point of it all is to just transcend this illusion and evolve into beings of pure energy.
What I’m suggesting is that archetypes are distilled and dead and that what’s needed is culture; these ideas incarnated, practiced and translated into our current place and time.
What I’m suggesting is that the ‘inner world’ our modern culture worships, and the pull to know it so deeply, is not innate in humans. It’s not born into us. What if our current obsession with cultivating a rich interior life is actually a response the the poverty of our shared outer lives? What if modern man’s inner enemies are the results of outer deficiencies?
An acquaintance of mine, pointed out the wealth that Carl Jung and the Buddha brought to the world by going deep inside themselves. I replied to him that, in both cases, they did so as a result of the immense spiritually and cultural impoverishment of their times.
Fewer archetypes. More architecture.
Disclaimer:
On Time and Place: It’s important to acknowledge that this book pulled largely from examples from civilized cultures (many of them Western, Indo-European). It pulled mostly from cultures who were settled. So, I would hesitate to say that these archetypes would apply as strongly to other cultures at other times (e.g. a nomadic, hunter-gatherer culture). I wouldn’t know anything about that. I am cautious when authors say things like what David Wagner said of these four archetypes in in his book Backbone, “The great thing about working with these energies is that they are universal. No matter what kind of man you are, or what culture you come from, you will have these four facets.”
On Sex and Gender: It’s also important to lift up that there isn’t anything particularly ‘male’ about these roles. We might say that a King is the sovereign, or a chief of community. And that could be a man or woman. Certainly, a Queen plays much the same role. There are many examples of women warriors of renown (e.g. Boudica, Scáthach, the Amazons etc.). For the magician, there have been countless female shamans, sorcerers, witches and wise women). And lovers? Well… say no more. These archetypes certainly appear in the lives of men, but not exclusively so.
On Other Functions: Certainly, a culture requires more functions than these four. Certainly there might be many that don’t fit so handily into the framework given but, as frameworks go, I think it’s a fine one that gives a sturdy foundation to explore.
The Grandmother in His Mind
I’m sitting in a men’s group and a one of the men is sharing his struggle with a pattern he sees in himself in his relationships. He’ll meet a woman. He’ll feels wonderful about it and then he’ll begin to notice everything that’s not perfect and sabotage it. This had happened a few months before and he’d been regretting it ever since.
The man leading the workshop set up three chairs at the front of the room and invited him to sit in the center chair; the King chair. From that place, he identified two parts of himself that were at war. One of them had been running the show for years. The dialogue between those two ensued and, after it was done, I pointed out that his inner world has been a dictatorship and that the antidote to this might be more diversity. I pointed out that King Arthur had a round table with many knights and advisors.
“Who else might you want as an advisor at that table?”
He sat and thought about it, “Hrmm… A zen master would be nice…” he continued to think about it and named a few more and then his face broke into a beaming smile, “A grandmother, actually!”
We spoke later and he related how he imagined this inner grandmother being so incredibly loving to him and that had him realize that his patterns weren’t so heavy. They weren’t the end of the world. He looked like a new man.
And, I couldn’t help but think how much better an actual, real, live grandmother would be.
I recall years ago, a friend of mine, a young woman in her early twenties, was supporting an indigenous grandmother. Late one night, she’d tucked the grandmother into bed and the grandmother asked her how she was doing. She burst into tears. The grandmother lifted up her blanket and patted the bed. My friend crawled in, let herself be held and sobbed.
Of course, in many traditional cultures, grandparent wasn’t just a biologically signified term. It was also an honourific. Grandparent was a role in the community. But role doesn’t quite say it. Role implies static. Role implies fixed. Role implies no movement. It might be better said that Grandparent was a needed function played in the moving architecture of village life, not a particular person. Many people could play that function whether they were related to the little children or not. And, because it’s a function, anyone might play that function. Certain functions might tend to accrue along lines of sex and gender for all the reasons there might be, but a man could play a grandmother role if needed. A man might play the role of initiating young women if needed.
To put it another way, these are verbs, not nouns.
To put it another way, these are verbs, not nouns. They’re not owned by the one doing the motion, they are the motion. So the architecture is the incarnation not of a distilled essence, Platonic ‘ideal type’ or prime form but of a movement, of a relationship. They are a way that human culture is faithful and deeply obedient to the natural world.
“The family in Africa is always extended. You would never refer to your cousin as ‘cousin,’ because that would be an insult. So your cousins are your sisters and brothers. Your nieces are your children. Your uncles are your fathers. Your aunts are your mothers. Your sister’s husband is your husband, and your brother’s wife is your wife. Children are also encouraged to call other people outside the family mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers… The concept of the big family is really helpful. I remember when I was a kid, I had the choice of a different father every day, depending on my mood. So, if I wanted one of my uncles to be my father for the day, I would focus all my attention on that person and ignore the others. And the person wouldn’t take it personally, because they say it as an opportunity for me to decide what I wanted. This also allows a large number of people in the village to acknowledge the child and to see her or his spirit.” – Sobonfu Some, The Spirit of Intimacy
Archetypes are the poor man’s architecture.
It occurred to me a few years ago that the opposite of life was not death.
Death feeds life. Life counts on death for its food. No, the opposite of life isn’t death.
It’s abstraction. It’s theory.
That’s what archetypes and models run the risk of becoming. Dead.
They might be helpful maps but a map is drawn up, fundamentally, so that you don’t have to remember the land by traveling it. A story is written so you don’t have to remember by telling it. Literacy wasn’t created to help us remember but so that we could forget. Archetypes become this to: codified ways of thinking so that you never have to actually practice them. Our goal must be to look at the theories and maps and then translate them into our time and place and bring them alive in this way.
The risk of staying in the world of archetypes is that we talk them to death.
Archetypes must be practiced to be kept in the world; they must be lived into being.
“Tradition is not the worshipping of ashes. It is the preservation of fire.” – Gustav Mahler
The Prairie Noodle House
I’m talking with my friend Jennifer Summerfeldt at the Prairie Noodle on 124 Street in Edmonton. These days I can’t get enough of their Spicy Garlic Pork bowl.
She brings up the psychological term self-regulation. The idea is that, when our nervous systems are triggered, we have the capacity to return ourselves to a more calm and alert state. We can soothe ourselves. Another way of saying this is that we can learn to be more self-sufficient.
It’s a term I’ve only heard used in positive ways and not one that ever occurred to me to question.
Of course, what many people call ‘self-regulating’ is a form avoiding, covering up, or bypassing the issues.
But then Jennifer points out that recent studies have been finding that even when people are self-regulating properly what goes hand in hand with that can be isolation.
She pointed to new studies being done in co-regulation. The idea that humans return to homeostasis faster and better in the presence of other humans; that touch, eye-contact, breathing and talking things through help restore us to a more balanced place inside. Mammals seem to be designed to return to emotional balance in the presence of other mammals.
If my nervous system and spirit is out of balance and yours in more strongly in balance, just by being in your presence, I will be soothed. If my nervous system and spirit is out of balance and I am surrounded by a community of people who are more strongly in balance, then, just by being in their presence, I will be soothed.
It looks like freedom but it feels like loneliness.
This culture is a monotheism.
Of course, the big three monotheisms of the modern world, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, grow and shrink and change as they do. But, in the background, a new one has been growing and silently taking its place on the throne of the modern world. A new palace, all sharp angles and big glass windows, has been constructed around it.
And the coronation has given us a new sovereign, a new God at whose altar we collectively worship in larger and larger numbers. On the throne sits, The Inner Self.
Village life collapsed to family life. Family life collapsed to the Self. And now we are left with only The Inner Self.
And so we are taught to be self-sufficient. We are taught that we have everything we need inside ourselves.
It looks like freedom but it feels like loneliness.
And it’s killing us.
“Because cultural myths no longer guide many people through predictable life stages, ‘personal myths’ increasingly organize their identity and reality.” – Carl Jung
On The Bad Behaviour of Grown Men
Could it be that one of the central tragedies of modern culture is that young men are left alone to ‘figure it out on their own’? Could it be that too few boys have ever seen an incarnated version of a good man in their lives? Could it be that they have never seen in articulated before them in the way that a dancer articulates their body, a craftsman with their hands and a poet articulates with their words? Could it be that there is no consistent pattern or what is honoured and what is shamed or that this system is so skewed in this modern world that it distorts young men’s understanding of what’s appropriate in a way that is miles away from anything our ancestors might recognize as courteous or worthy? Could it be that the absence of the moving architecture of initiation has left young men utterly without interruption or instruction in what it might mean to be a man?
It’s All Inside You
The implication of this kind of archetype work is that we’ve all got this King, Warrior, Magician and Lover inside of us. We’re already complete.
But any approach to these archetypes that suggests that they are innate, inborn and that we are simple supposed to know how to embody these archetypes because they’re already inside of us is doomed to fail.
You might be able to reduce an archetype can be reduced to an inner image or feeling, but architecture is a crafted thing. To fulfill a function in a community takes apprenticeship. It takes hard learning. It takes time.
How do we translate these archetypes into the times and places in which we live? This takes learning too, a learning made much easier when taught by another human than trying to figure it out on our own.
Perhaps it is all there in our DNA, perhaps we have some deep, ancestral memory of these archetypes but how do we access that and differentiate our ancestral trauma from our ancestral wisdom? This can take apprenticeship too.
We need mature, well articulated examples of these in action to learn. Ideally this would be provided by the culture. When this doesn’t exist, and because those functions are still needed in our lives, we learn to cultivate them internally. This is a sign of the poverty of our times masquerading as being us being psychologically mature and culturally more savvy than our primitive ancestors were about their inner worlds. This kind of internal, self-learning is a response to the trauma that destroyed the architecture of our tribal life and, in its own way, is a traumatizing act that has us retreat further and further inside to the ‘rich, interior life’ the workshops keep promising will be our salvation.
The goal of so much inner work is self-sufficiency.
Stated differently: the goal of a man’s life is to perfectly cultivate all four of these archetypes.
Stated differently: if we do that then, maybe, we don’t need anyone else.
Self-sufficiency needs to be properly contextualized. It is not a goal but a limited capacity. It is sprinting, not a marathon. It is the anti-anxiety medication but it’s not a shift in lifestyle. It’s racking up money on the credit card rather than getting one’s financial house in order. It works but it is not sustainable. It’s got a shelf life and the side-effects of it are often worse than the original affliction. Self-sufficiency is the temporary triage approach that we have learned as a response to the sometimes slow and sometimes rapid ending of communal life. The fact that we have this capacity to tend to ourselves and our own wounds and to self-soothe in times of distress is a miracle. But we’ve deified this legitimate response to crisis. We have turned it into the God we worship and the ideal we aspire to.
When The Architecture Vanishes
What if having all four archetypes perfectly cultivated inside of ourselves wasn’t our work as men?
When missing these four functions in the culture, we internalize them as archetypes. But, they are all, primarily, real functions in a community. There were actual chiefs so that you didn’t have to make every decision. There were actual elders. Actual warriors. And actual beauty makers. You didn’t have to do them all to be fed by them all.
My friend Craig Martin put it in this way, “Every part of the body needs every other part of the body to survive, even though every part of the body already has the archetype (DNA) of the entire body within it. We as people need everyone else in the community – we need the architecture of the community – to play all the other roles that we cannot effectively play. I may have the archetype of teacher, healer, lover, warrior, king, etc in me, but if I try to be all those things to all people, I would be about as effective as trying to walk on my hands or “see” with my fingertips. We can learn to do those things, but never as effectively as using the parts of the body that do it best. I need everyone else to play their roles because I cannot do them as well as they can.”
And, of course, there are those who play those functions today. I think of those who stood at Standing Rock, or at Oka, or in the American Civil Rights movement. Actual warriors standing in defense of life.
And there are those who stand in the role of Chief, who bring order and generativity to communities. There are those around whom good things always seem to be happening.
There are those who are healers.
There are those who continue to make beauty.
Our modern culture mostly has toxic mimics of these things and we’re left to find the tonic version inside of ourselves as if it were inherently there in some pure and untouched way. Maybe it’s not there but the memory of it is there of times we didn’t live and people we never saw. We haven’t lived in times where these functions were incarnated in our midst but we might have a memory of them. A memory of a time that had not only a horizontal understanding of itself so familiar to modern culture (e.g. those people our age) but also a vertical axis (e.g. that there are those older than you and those younger than you, those who have come before you and those who might come after).
That men spend weekends trying to find them on the inside might be the surest sign we will ever get that they are no longer there on the outside.
When the architecture vanishes, the archetypes appear.
Our modern culture spins this as progress but it is a poverty so deep we can’t see out of it.
And so, what if the solution wasn’t to go out into the forest to get back in touch with these archetypes on the inside but, instead, was about re-fostering them in the world. What if the work before us wasn’t cultivating archetypes but constructing architecture?
What if what was being asked of us wasn’t to step into playing all four of these functions so that they might be there? After all, be there for whom? What if we’re not being asked to be heroes here, rescuing our community by providing all that it needs but, instead, something more akin to courting those in the community to begin to play these functions once again and to court the community to employ them?
If we want warriors again, give the young men something worthy of protection and court their help in the protecting of it. We must employ them. I think of my friend Brandon Bays who was on a subway late at night one night. She looked up from her book to realize she was all alone except from a group of young men who were leering at her. She felt the lurch of fear inside of her but decided to change the story. So she stood up and walked towards them, “Hi there. My name is Brandon. I’m really scared being on this subway alone. Will you protect me?” A confused look came over the men’s faces as the pattern they were used to was so thoroughly interrupted. “Yeah!” said one of them. “We’ll protect you.” And so she sat down next to them and they began to talk, each other man quickly falling in line with the new story. At the next stop, another group of young men got on, far more dangerous and unstable looking than the first. They eyed Brandon. A young man in the first group, seeing this, shouted, “Hey! The lady’s under our protection!” And the second group backed off and went about their business. In that moment, a small amount of the village architecture was rebuilt and young men found an old, trustworthy form of employment.
My friend Caroline Casey, told the story of a friend of hers travelling in South America who was kidnapped and, realizing the deep danger he was in, attempted to change the story and began profusely thanking his would be captors. “Thank God you’re here! You’ve rescued me. Thank you! Thank you!” he said, laying out a new scaffolding for them to build upon with his words. To his immense good fortune, his new story, strangely and magically, took root and they released him again shortly, agreeing with him that they had, indeed, protected him.
And, if we want warriors, then we must support the ones who are standing up. This means sending money for their legal fees when they’ve been arrested at a protest. It might mean offering them a massage. It might mean continuing to praise them in public for their important and brace work. If we don’t support the ones we have, why would anyone else step into such a dangerous function? If we don’t give them social status, why would young men want to be them? We live in a culture that gives status to predators but not protectors.
If we want more of the Magician, then we might ask young men for their wisdom and to share with us what they see. And we must support those elders, healers, and medicine people who live amongst us now.
If we want more of the Lover then we might ask young men to help make more beauty in the world. We might ask them to help with a mural, or to write a song for an important moment, or to turn their pain into poetry. And we must support, visibly, those beauty makers who already walk in this world, making beauty where they go.
If we want to see more of this King archetype in the world then we must give young men responsibility in small doses. We must ask them to help us create order where there is chaos that doesn’t serve. We must ask their help in finding out how the people are doing and asking what they think might be needed there. We must give them jobs upon which many depend. We can ask them to pay attention to how nature works, how people seem to behave, to notice the reality of things. In the end, the chief is not the source of structure and order but obedient to the way things are. Said another way: successful cultures were modeled on nature. This is the poverty of the times we are in: the heavy lifting of this learning has been done in deep cultures over thousands of years. The structures, ceremonies, seasonal rituals and ways of being of a tribe or clan were deeply trusted. The culture did not need to reinvent itself with every generation. And so, if we want more young chiefs helping to foster some life-affirming order, then they must also be taught and instructed in this. And we must give status to those who are already stepping into this, often thankless job of leadership in their communities.
To say this all another way: none of these functions are self-made. It is rare that they will appear on their own in a fully mature way. They must be courted and fostered.
To say it another way still: all of these functions need some semblance of a village into which they might appear. Someone needs to be willing to be that village for them. Someone has to be willing to lean on them and depend on them to appear. Someone must be willing to instruct them.
My friend Tal Rachlief put it this way, “I’ve heard it said (by Jon Young) that we don’t actually have a ‘culture’ now in the West — because a culture implies a deeper level of cohesion and connection than we have. In Jon’s view, we are actually a ‘society’ (and a ‘sibling society’ at that, as Robert Bly wrote in his book of that title) — people organized in various ways to accomplish various tasks, but there is no healthy culture supporting our development into fully expressed human beings.”
Maybe Archetypes
Maybe archetypes are smoored coals and architecture is fire.
Maybe archetypes are seeds and architecture is the flower. Perhaps they are the seeds of needed food wanting to sprout into the human world, not be worshipped in jars until they rot. But, for them to grow, they need to be planted into the time and place where we live, fed and cultivated.
Maybe archetypes are our hunger. And maybe they are food. Or both. An indication to us that something in architecture is missing.
As my friend Matthew Stillman once said, “It seems as if we are left with using the archetypes to get to the architecture in the way that we use a thorn to take out a thorn in our foot.”
The Honour Code
We live in a day and age where men go to workshops and learn how to create their own honour code. That this needs to happen, that this isn’t handed to them explicitly in instruction and implicitly in stories and ritual and modelled all around them as they grow up is a sign of the poverty of our times. An honour code should be something we live inside of, not something that lives inside of us. In intact cultures, it would be articulated in how things were made, in how food and materials are gathered and how people spoke to and about one another.
The Mighty Untethered:
Of course, the opposite of all of this could be true. An acquaintance of mine commented on this topic saying, “The issue, I think, is that we have an architecture that does not stem from archetypes, but rather is super-impositional and therefore inauthentic. Yes, turn inward, cultivate your inner Love, inner Sovereignty, and then begin outward from that place of integrity. That is no ‘masquerading poverty.’ But without doing that self examination first, any subscription to or projection of external authority will be valueless. Unless you just want to build a cult, and not a culture. More archetypes. Less architecture.”
And it’s a fine consideration.
The challenge is that, when I look at the world, I see that the Self has become enthroned above all else. This is a very new development in the human world which would have understood, and in many corners of the world still understands, itself communally. There are many cultures have been and still are baffled with our obsession with our inner life and would understand it for the impoverished version of village life that it is. We try to make room for all the function of a village inside ourselves and it drives us mad. It’s too big. It’s too vast. It needs more room. Some try to shoehorn these archetypes into their nuclear family life where the father plays all four roles. But it’s just too big. These old gods of human culture need more room to breathe.
The second challenge is that we are asking the same Self that struggles with the sickness of modern culture to heal the Self afflicted by modern culture. It’s like asking a doctor with tuberculosis to cure themselves by putting themselves in an environment with no tuberculosis but, of course, they bring it with them everywhere they go.
The third challenge is, to whom is that all in service? There sits the Self, on the throne of the mighty temple of our modern attention. But to what is it tethered? Or, perhaps more precisely and practically stated, to where and when is it tethered? To what place and time is this Self obligated?
It isn’t hard to find the answer to those questions.
For many in this modern world, the Self, and thus all of these archetypes, King, Warrior, Magician and Lover have all been pressed into the service of Empire, modernity, progress and linear time.
“Men gave the world landing on the moon and roads, ancient Rome and Greece. Men have given this world capitalism and industry. Men have given this world the machine and the computer.” the male, white nationalists boast.
The Self is no longer tethered to anything at all.
I see so many workshops on helping men to find their purpose.
But centering your life on ‘your purpose’ is so abstract. What is our purpose is in place to sustain? At what altar is our purpose laid?
I see so many marketing workshops about ‘starting a movement’ as if there weren’t already worthy movements to join.
In this culture, in my corner of the world, our purpose is tethered to the Self and nothing more. The Self is no longer tethered to anything at all. The Self is free.
I submit that there’s a core human purpose that’s been lost and replaced with ‘My Purpose TM’ in life. This function in the world might be understood as the heart of what was and is understood by indigenous peoples. This purpose, to large and unwieldly for an essay such as this, might have had something to do with being bound to Life and obligated to feed that which has sustained us all along.
Without the house of this larger human purpose, our personal purposes are homeless. There is no shelter for them or anything to shelter others from them. This homeless human is the most dangerous thing the modern world have ever seen.
Instead of Warriors defending land and people we see a rise of internet trolls and lifestyle entrepreneurs.
Instead of Magicians, we see online gurus dispensing the ghosted remnants of spiritual wisdom to people to help them succeed in their lives.
Instead of Lovers, we see workshops on seduction and manipulation.
Instead of Kings, we see cult leaders, narcissists holding the reigns of power, psychopaths in office and a child as President.
If these archetypes are not planted into the real world of time and place in service to the ground into which they’ve been planted, they end up housed in our ribcages, rotting.
It was not this way in traditional cultures.
The King, in order to create order in culture, had to learn the natural order and become married to the land.
The Warriors fundamental orientation was to protecting their people and the land.
The Magicians were those who discerned the natural order, the deep architecture of how it is and learned how to work and negotiate with it.
The Lover was the one with the deep capacity to appreciate and admire the natural world and to create the kind of beauty that might feed it.
Perhaps one doesn’t feed one’s heart by putting it in the centre of things and worshipping it. Perhaps the center is too much for it to bear. Perhaps we feed our hearts best by feeding all that feeds him so that he is strong, clear, open and full. Perhaps we make room for those sources of strength to appear and flourish.
Perhaps, one doesn’t learn how to build culture by looking at culture, but by looking at nature.
Poet and essayist Will Falk put it this way, “So many indigenous people have told me that the levels of sustainability their traditional cultures achieved prior to the arrival of colonizers were based on lessons learned from non-humans. Implicit in these lessons is the truth that humans depend on non-humans. This dependence is not limited to the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food we eat. This dependence sinks into our very souls. For many indigenous people I have listened to, the basic reality of human dependence demands that humans regard non-humans, regard life, regard the universe with deep humility. If we simply learn to listen, we will hear non-humans demonstrating humility everywhere. Trees know they are nothing without soil, so they build forests as monuments to soil health – collecting, storing, and restoring nutrients to their life-giver. Salmon know they are nothing without forests to hold river banks together, so they swim deep into the cold oceans to feed, bring their bodies back upriver to die, and, in death, feed the forests. Phytoplankton know they are nothing without a climate that allows warm and cold ocean waters to mix, producing currents that bring them their food. So, phytoplankton feed the salmon that feed the forests that store carbon that has the potential to destroy the climate that feeds the phytoplankton. Approach non-humans with humility, and you may find them willing to teach you.”
The Source of Human Culture:
“As Jung suggested, when the declining myths of earlier generations begin to fade, the mythmaking process resides in individuals. The birth of a personal myth in the imagination of a single individual, or a group of individuals, may lead to the rebirth of new myths in the imagination of the culture.” – Sharon Blackie
We sit by the fire at night, the backs of our neck chilled by the cooling evening air and our faces warmed by the fire. Something deep inside of us is satisfied. We know that sitting around a fire is a very human thing to do. It’s what we’ve done since we discovered fire many thousands of years ago.
Why is that?
Perhaps there is something archetypal about it.
But from whence do these archetypes come? What part of us remembers and is soothed by the architecture of this sitting around a fire?
The story of Buddha tells us that he went out alone and sat under the tree. The fallacy in this story is that he was alone. That, when humans go out into nature, they are the only living thing there. That there’s nothing there before they arrive. Buddha sits under a tree, but the tree is, often, forgotten.
It lifts up a question that I am sure we are not the first humans to contend with: if you don’t have wholeness in yourself and your culture is fractured as well… how do you find healing? How does the cycle get broken? Do we go deep inside or do we look outside for examples of intact cultures (even those of our own ancestors) and import their practices to where we live? Of course, while both approaches have merit and much to commend them, neither of those approaches work entirely because what’s needed is not so much a novel thing to approach but an entirely different manner of approaching the times and places in which we live. To go inside is to find solutions with no roots. To borrow wholesale from other cultures is to find solutions that do not have roots in the times and places we live.
Mohawk scholar, Taiaiake Alfred spent years advocating for the return of indigenous models of governance only to realize that you couldn’t put unhealthy people into healthy structures and have it work. He saw the deep need for healing and decolonizing of his people as an important first step and so wrote his book Wasáse to address this.
So, I’m not saying that internal healing isn’t needed. I’m not saying these archetypes, King, Warrior, Magician and Lover (and all the others that I hope will not be too offended that I couldn’t make space for them in this essay as is properly their due) are not inside us. Clearly, there are certain images that, when we see them, strike a deep chord in us. For men of European descent, and with deeper ancestry in the modern, civilized world, these four certainly seem to resonate. Are they in us? For many, it seems so.
What I am suggesting is that we are not the source of them. I am saying that we have been on the receiving end of it all.
Are archetypes a memory of a time we never lived or a dream implanted in us by those old ones of what we might be and a warning of what not to become? Are they recollection or are they simply DNA coding of what functions are needed to sustain a village and which ones threaten it because, for so long, those things did sustain and threaten us? Are they the source of human culture or is human culture the source of them? Are they, not so much inherent in us as the world’s dream for us around which we cohered? Are they a song we remember, though we were never there to hear it sung by those old timers who fashioned it or is is that we are constantly being sung into existence by life? Are archetypes our memory or are they the imagination of the gods? And does that need to be a choice?
Why is it that, if these four archetypes are indwelling in all men, that so many grown men behave so badly? Do these archetypes not give a shit? Are they unaware of what is happening in the outside world? Must they be invited to appear, and, if so, what form might that invitation take so that it would be recognized and responded to? What sort of structure must be built that might be worthy of their appearance? What manner of moving through the world and relating to each other might invoke their presence?
These may be some of the most precious mysteries with which humans have been entrusted.

May all beings have happy minds.
– Buddhist Proverb

Union is a raging river running toward the sea. Tonight the moon kisses the stars. O beloved, be like that to me.
– Rumi

It is not easy to refrain from repressing or indulging our anger. Our challenge is to embrace it with mindfulness and genuine caring.
– Jules Shuzen Harris, Holding Anger

Rumi:
Know then that the body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.

Thoughts of Dog:
sometimes. i will go outside. only to realize. it is inside that i desired all along.

Poetry rescues nothing and no one, but it embodies that helpless, necessary will to rescue, which is a kind of love, my love for the world and the things and people in the world.
– Reginald Shepherd, Why I Write

I’ve only been to a few poetry readings I could bear.
– Elizabeth Bishop

Look to your own means, leave everything that isn’t yours alone. Make use of what material advantages you have, don’t regret the ones you were not allowed.
– Epictetus

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
– Proverbs 4:23

Capitalism is entirely without precedent, in that it is a religion which offers not the reform of existence but its complete destruction. It is the expansion of despair, until despair becomes a religious state of the world in the hope that this will lead to salvation.
– Walter Benjamin

Having the rug pulled out from under you is a big opportunity to change your fundamental pattern . . . This approach is very different from practicing affirmations, which has been a popular thing to do in some circles. Affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome this whisper that you’re not. That’s a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it’s a passing memory, and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. It’s not just one way. We are walking, talking paradoxes.
– Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are

The Heat of Midnight Tears
by Mirabai

English version by Robert Bly

Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
Kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night.

If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through nothing but berries and wild nuts,
Then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves,
Then the goats would surely go to the Holy One before us!

If the worship of stone statues could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

To anyone who needs to hear it today:

You are not a shitty person.
You are not a shitty friend.
You are not a waste of space.
You are not a waste of life.
You are not lazy.
You are not worthless.

You are not all the horrible things your mind tells you.

Remember that.
– Hattie Gladwell

Poetry rescues nothing and no one, but it embodies that helpless, necessary will to rescue, which is a kind of love, my love for the world and the things and people in the world.
– Reginald Shepherd, Why I Write

As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.
– Earnest Hemingway

Librarians save lives: by handing the right book, at the right time, to a kid in need.
– Judy Blume

The Fear and Naiveté At The Heart of Most Scenes:
Too often we treat others in vicious ways because we are scared that if we don’t, we will be treated with the same viciousness. People call others out with such mean-spiritedness because they fear that if they don’t, they will be called out (and possibly called out for not calling out the one who deserved it).
And so the cruelty becomes an act of self-protection and badge of belonging that says ‘See? I’m one of you!’ People become so rigid, hardcore and and dogmatic in their positions because they see what happens to those to slip, or stray or err, to those who don’t tow the line or who question things.
This happens in religious communities. It happens regarding food choices. it happens in activist communities on the right and the left.
There’s an incredible fear that people walk around with that they might be next and so they do everything they can to be seen as part of the group, down with the cause, definitely an ally, pure and clean and deserving of membership amongst the elect. But everyone’s scared of being publicly shamed and kicked out of the scenes.
Or they’re not because ‘it could never happen to me’ and then it does. And they are shocked. They were the standard bearer for the cause. It never crossed their mind that they would be come for, cancelled and crushed under the heel of this relentless drive for purity fueled by notions of justice that must always end in punishment and retribution. But the King is dead. Long live the King. Say ‘hi’ to the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Some are fearful. Some are naive.
It seems to be this way so often. And this kills culture. It ends the chance for real community. You can’t live amongst people you are afraid of or fearless of and call that a community. You can’t go through your days playing Game of Thrones with those closest to you and call that a community. Paranoia and entitlement to power do not a community make.
These days, if I don’t see a commitment to restorative or transformative justice at the heart of an endeavour, I slowly back away or never step forward. If I don’t see a commitment to wholeness over purity, I want nothing to do with it.
I’ll take a community that values love and wisdom over fear and naiveté any day of the week.
– Tad Hargrave

Fred LaMotte:
Put some space
around your story.
This tale of lack,
betrayal,
perpetually unfulfilled
desire,
is always a tale
of the past.
The space
you hold around it
is now,
the blue sky
more vast and still
than any storm.
Don’t try to stop
the whirl and chatter
of the mind.
Just stop believing it.
You could fill the hollow
in every cell,
the star-strewn emptiness
in each atom of your body
with this delicious breath.
What is real?
The Ancient Presence,
pulse of tranquility,
deepening
sea of namelessness
turning to honey,
drowning the myth
of ‘me’
in the nectar of silence.
Friend, this secret work
refreshes the earth
and nourishes
many souls.

The humiliation I go through
when I think of my past
can only be described as grace.
We are created by being destroyed.
– Franz Wright

[E]very generation of poets and thinkers attempts to make sense of the enigmatic, unfathomable face of life, with its laughing mouth and mournful eyes. This will remain an unending task.
– Wilhelm Dilthey

Humans may be hard-wired to feel at peace in the countryside and confused in cities – even if they were born and raised in an urban area.
– Ian Johnston

No one can conjure the proper direction of your next book or song or experiment for you, any more than they can conjure the very dreams you wake with in the morning. There are sleeping intimacies yawning inside you. A mathematics more fragrant than knowing. Unclutch your wilderness.
– Shira Erlichman

POEM FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE UNDERSTANDABLY TOO BUSY TO READ POETRY
Relax. This won’t last long.
Or if it does, or if the lines
make you sleepy or bored,
give in to sleep, turn on
the T.V., deal the cards.
This poem is built to withstand
such things. Its feelings
cannot be hurt. They exist
somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.
Pick it up anytime. Start it
in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like. Look,
there’s a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he’ll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you’re busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it’s sex you’ve always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party’s unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don’t think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this
is a poem for the entire family.
Right now, Budweiser
is dripping from a waterfall,
deodorants are hissing into armpits
of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
saying farewell.
I don’t know what music this poem
can come up with, but clearly
it’s needed. For it’s apparent
they will never see each other again
and we need music for this
because there was never music when he or she
left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I’ll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don’t give anything for this poem.
It doesn’t expect much. It will never say more
than listening can explain.
Just keep it in your attache case
or in your house. And if you’re not asleep
by now, or bored beyond sense,
the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at
yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry.
Come on:

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.
 – Stephen Dunn

In the sunlight of awareness, everything becomes sacred.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

This, then, is salvation:
When we marvel at the beauty of created things and praise their beautiful
Creator.
– Meister Eckhart

Let go of the battle.
Breathe quietly and let it be.
Let your body relax and your heart soften.
Open to whatever you experience
without fighting.
-Jack Kornfield

In this world of onrushing events the act of meditation – even just a “one-breath” meditation – straightening the back, clearing the mind for a moment – is a refreshing island in the stream.
– Gray Snyder

Some ask if lowering one’s pride is conceding defeat.
I think not. Humility is a sign of inner strength and wisdom.
— Haemin Sunim

I hope you find or create spaces where every part of you is welcome, where you can breathe, where you can rest, where you can soar.
– Dr. Thema

You may have a million desires to be in other places,
doing other things, but you are not there, you are here.
— Zen proverb

Morning
by Jason Shinder

There are stones on the beach
I should have guessed

were birds blown away from the rest

They are speckled with white and gray and green
as if a painter overpainted.

If you ask me anything about it,

I will go on telling you the same thing—
to be in love is like going outside

to see what kind of day it is.

Look outward, not inward. Support other writers. Go to their readings. Promote their books. We are your tribe, so don’t be a diva. Everyone knows who they are, and nobody likes them.
– Susan Muaddi Daraj

Maybe every strange, alienated kid is presumed to write, because people had always said to me, Do you write?
– Deborah Eisenberg

whatever you put into the Universe
eventually returns.
– Mai Der Vang

goal for today/ the rest of my life: weaponize happiness.
– fatimah asghar

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

Losing Track
by Denise Levertov

Long after you have swung back
away from me
I think you are still with me:

you come in close to the shore
on the tide
and nudge me awake the way

a boat adrift nudges the pier:
am I a pier
half-in half-out of the water?

and in the pleasure of that communion
I lose track,
the moon I watch goes down, the

tide swings you away before
I know I’m
alone again long since,

mud sucking at gray and black
timbers of me,
a light growth of green dreams drying.

I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space.
– Jack Kerouac

Words can be very confusing. We can use them without permission – wildly, madly and get into terrible muddles.
– Jane Elliott

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke 
I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
    enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
    enough
to be to you just object and thing, 
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.
I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection, 
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be 
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed 
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug, 
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

A writer needs his poisons. The antidote to his poisons is often a book.
– Philip Roth

The dawn was apple-green,
The sky was green wine held up in the sun,
The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green
They shone, clear like flowers undone
For the first time, now for the first time seen.
– D. H. Lawrence

Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously.
– Og Mandino

We really have to turn against the selfishness of the individualism that sees everybody as a competitor of everybody else. When we see how destructive that is, and we turn against it, then we have our life’s work.
– Wendell Berry

We like to be out in nature so much because it has no opinion about us.
– Nietszsche 

The binary mind says you must choose a side in a conflict – the one person is right and the other is wrong. I’m saying that choosing the side of the community and its wholeness and healing is a legitimate and needed choice.
– Tad Hargrave

There’s nothing ornamental about the style of the real poet: everything is a necessary hieroglyph.
– Friedrich Schlegel

I consider myself a student of colours and shades and hues and tints.
– Gerald Murnane, Border Districts

I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store
by Eve L. Ewing

looking over the plums, one by one
lifting each to his eyes and
turning it slowly, a little earth,
checking the smooth skin for pockmarks
and rot, or signs of unkind days or people,
then sliding them gently into the plastic.
whistling softly, reaching with a slim, woolen arm
into the cart, he first balanced them over the wire
before realizing the danger of bruising
and lifting them back out, cradling them
in the crook of his elbow until
something harder could take that bottom space.
I knew him from his hat, one of those
fine porkpie numbers they used to sell
on Roosevelt Road. it had lost its feather but
he had carefully folded a dollar bill
and slid it between the ribbon and the felt
and it stood at attention. he wore his money.
upright and strong, he was already to the checkout
by the time I caught up with him. I called out his name
and he spun like a dancer, candy bar in hand,
looked at me quizzically for a moment before
remembering my face. he smiled. well
hello young lady

hello, so chilly today

should have worn my warm coat
like you
yes so cool for August in Chicago

how are things going for you
oh he sighed and
put the candy on the belt
it goes, it goes.

Follow the stream, have faith in its course.
– Sheng-yen

Truth lifts the heart, like water refreshes thirst.
– Rumi

Come love, make me better than I was. Come teach me a kinder way to say my own name.
– Andrea Gibson

The dawn was apple-green,
The sky was green wine held up in the sun,
The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green
They shone, clear like flowers undone
For the first time, now for the first time seen.
– D. H. Lawrence

Brandon Melendez:
Have you ever listened to a song that makes you want to go back to a town you used to live in & cry at all your old haunts. But not like in a sad way, more just to remind those places that you made it out & you’re doing okay.

Show me someone for whom success is less important than the manner in which it is achieved.

Of concern for the means, rather than the ends, of their actions…I want to see him. This is the person I have looked for a long time, the true genius.
– Epictetus

If the end goal is happiness, strength in adversity, perspective, virtue—the kinds of traits you see in the people you truly admire—then philosophy has to be the priority, not the side hustle. It has to be the main thing. Everything else can come after…
– daily stoic

We in America like to say ‘that’s too political.’ But in fact just to breathe is political, because some people can’t. They can’t for a reason, and that is political. The idea of political and not political is only an American way of avoiding reality.
– Jamaica Kincaid 

Gnight. 
Get what you need—sleep, quiet, a phone call with a friend, tea—
so that you have the capacity to be kind. The space to do better tomorrow. 
Make room for the miracle. 
Make way for the miracle. 
(Allow to yourself that you are also the miracle.
– Lin-Manuel Miranda

I am good to people who are good. I am also good to people who are not good.
— Lao Tzu

the library haunter:
Bizarre that some boys and girls complain about being “friend-zoned” when I celebrate my friends and send them books in the mail and cry with them over skype. If I’ve ever friend-zoned you, congratulations! There are few things in this world more rewarding than deep friendship.

In the dojo, aim for truth. 
At home, aim for harmony.
At work, aim for progress. 
Among friends, aim for trust.
In the world, aim for sincerity. 
– Zen Bow, Zen Arrow

If you teach me something/ beautiful    I will name it quickly before it floats away
– Kaveh Akbar

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: 
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
– Edna St. Vincent Millay

Rock is more, this rock, is more than – but still is –  its properties, more than its beginnings, it’s qualities, more than the sum of its parts. It is a living, implacable presence rising up through our senses, minds, and lives. It is totally its own. And that, for me, is it’s magnetism, it’s mystery. In the words of Robinson Jeffers: “ We will live and die, our world will go on through its rapid agonies of change and discovery; this age will die,
And wolves have howled in the snow around a new Bethlehem: this rock will be here, grave, earnest, not passive: the energies
That are its atoms will still be bearing the whole mountain above: and I, many packed centuries ago
Felt its intense reality with love and wonder, this lonely rock. 
– William Henry Searle

We are all indigenous. We all come from the same land, and return there to water our roots, to touch our seeds. The land is under the furrows of your brow, behind the ridges of your all too outward gaze. A green darkness containing the wellspring of breathing, the ancient forest of your body mantled vast silence before any color was seen, before any concept of self or other arose. Here dwells one human tribe, and it includes the angels, the star beings, the daemons of loam and firelight, undines of the waterfall, dragonflies of the sunbeam, maggots of the tomb. My sister is a lady bug. My brother lies in his cocoon of gelatinous expectancy. We are each other’s prayers. Our eyes and ears emit the same rainbow. There is no path, only the pungent unfolding of what Is. We are not strangers and pilgrims. We are natives in the wilderness of the heart. We meet here, and share food.
– Fred LaMotte

When the Harry Potter world teaches you so much about ours:

Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.
– The Half-Blood Prince

Reward and punishment
is the lowest form of education.
– Zhuangzi

I’ll only hold on if I write. And anyway here or elsewhere, what’s the difference. My life, I have no life. I didn’t know of one. So here or elsewhere. But elsewhere is always better. So I’m just leaving and leaving again and coming back forever.
– Chantal Akerman: My Mother Laughs

The actions of our daily life — like walking, washing, lighting incense — do not seem very important, but they comprise the whole cosmos.
– Taisen Deshimaru

Feel Good List
by Matthews & While

I’ve got a list in rows and numbers to hang up on the wall
A reminder of the things that lift me when my spirits fall
Like chocolate ice cream
Thunder and lightening
Sold out on the door
And empty coastline
Really cold wine
A crown that shouts for more

Theses are the things that make me feel the way I should
Theses are the things that make me feel good

In no particular order or preference the list goes on and on
A perfect guide a feel good reference for me to draw upon
Like the twelve apostles
The Indigo girls
And any Beatles song
Love and laughter
Friends that matter
Feeling like I belong

Theses are the things that make me feel the way I should
Theses are the things that make me feel good

Fly my kite on a windy day – when the traffic lights go my way
Stephen King and Carole too – Joni Mitchell singing Blue
Films and books than seem so real – Mrs. Miller, Spinning Wheel
The way that music makes me feel

Like finding the last line – making it rhyme
Receiving a hand written letter
But nothing makes me feel as good as making you feel better

Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
– Louise Glück

It’s incredibly touching when someone who seems so hopeless finds a few inches of light to stand in and makes everything work as well as possible. All of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.
– Anne Lamott

i’m so introverted i had to put down the book i was reading because it was describing too many social gatherings.
– Chen Chen

It’s incredibly touching when someone who seems so hopeless finds a few inches of light to stand in and makes everything work as well as possible. All of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.
– Anne Lamott

Here is the definition of things I like best: they are what I do not speak about, what I would like to speak about, and what I never arrive at the point of speaking about.
– Francis Ponge

To meditate philosophically is to return from the familiar to the strange and in strangeness confront the real.
– Valéry

Nobody knew where I was and now I am no longer there.

The only sanity is a cup of tea.
The music is in minors.

— Gwendolyn Brooks

People have heard we had many
slanderers who tried to come
between us – but I enjoyed
advice from the wound-snake’s reddener.
Though men’s hatred I have felt,
I will remember nothing
but good between me and him,
the steer of wave-beasts.
– The Saga of the Sworn Brothers/Fóstbræðra saga

Here I’m staying
speaking verses
loudly, amusing
your lady in style.
We will not get
a word of blame;
my heart is honest.
Here I’m staying.
– The Saga of Bjorn,
Champion of the Hitardal People
Bjarnar saga hítdælakappa

Dara McAnulty:
The thing about anxiety is that it’s insidious – by definition feeling anxious can’t be explained sometimes. Nature. Walks. Journaling. Taking the focus away from difficulties is for me, the only way. Hugs

It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.
– Marcus Aurelius

Have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
– 1 Peter 4:8

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
– Joyce Carol Oates

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was a spring breaking out in my heart.
I said, “Along what secret aqueduct are you coming to me
Oh water, water of a new life that I have never drunk.”
Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was a beehive here in my heart.
And the golden bees were making white combs
and sweet honey from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping I dreamt a marvelous illusion
that there was God here in my heart.
God, is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives who labor by night stopped, and
the water wheel of thought, is it dry?
The cup’s empty, wheeling out carrying only shadows?
No! My soul is not asleep! My soul is not asleep!
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its clear eyes open,
far off things, and listens, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.
It listens at the shores of the great silence.
– Antonio Machado

My Philosophy of Life
by John Ashbery

Just when I thought there wasn’t room enough
for another thought in my head, I had this great idea—
call it a philosophy of life, if you will. Briefly,
it involved living the way philosophers live,
according to a set of principles. OK, but which ones?

That was the hardest part, I admit, but I had a
kind of dark foreknowledge of what it would be like.
Everything, from eating watermelon or going to the bathroom
or just standing on a subway platform, lost in thought
for a few minutes, or worrying about rain forests,
would be affected, or more precisely, inflected
by my new attitude. I wouldn’t be preachy,
or worry about children and old people, except
in the general way prescribed by our clockwork universe.
Instead I’d sort of let things be what they are
while injecting them with the serum of the new moral climate
I thought I’d stumbled into, as a stranger
accidentally presses against a panel and a bookcase slides back,
revealing a winding staircase with greenish light
somewhere down below, and he automatically steps inside
and the bookcase slides shut, as is customary on such occasions.
At once a fragrance overwhelms him—not saffron, not lavender,
but something in between. He thinks of cushions, like the one
his uncle’s Boston bull terrier used to lie on watching him
quizzically, pointed ear-tips folded over. And then the great rush
is on. Not a single idea emerges from it. It’s enough
to disgust you with thought. But then you remember something
William James
wrote in some book of his you never read—it was fine, it had the
fineness,
the powder of life dusted over it, by chance, of course, yet
still looking
for evidence of fingerprints. Someone had handled it
even before he formulated it, though the thought was his and
his alone.

It’s fine, in summer, to visit the seashore.
There are lots of little trips to be made.
A grove of fledgling aspens welcomes the traveler. Nearby
are the public toilets where weary pilgrims have carved
their names and addresses, and perhaps messages as well,
messages to the world, as they sat
and thought about what they’d do after using the toilet
and washing their hands at the sink, prior to stepping out
into the open again. Had they been coaxed in by principles,
and were their words philosophy, of however crude a sort?
I confess I can move no farther along this train of thought—
something’s blocking it. Something I’m
not big enough to see over. Or maybe I’m frankly scared.
What was the matter with how I acted before?
But maybe I can come up with a compromise—I’ll let
things be what they are, sort of. In the autumn I’ll put up jellies
and preserves, against the winter cold and futility,
and that will be a human thing, and intelligent as well.
I won’t be embarrassed by my friends’ dumb remarks,
or even my own, though admittedly that’s the hardest part,
as when you are in a crowded theater and something you say
riles the spectator in front of you, who doesn’t even like the idea
of two people near him talking together. Well he’s
got to be flushed out so the hunters can have a crack at him—
this thing works both ways, you know. You can’t always
be worrying about others and keeping track of yourself
at the same time. That would be abusive, and about as much fun
as attending the wedding of two people you don’t know.
Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the gaps between ideas.
That’s what they’re made for! Now I want you to go out there
and enjoy yourself, and yes, enjoy your philosophy of life, too.
They don’t come along every day. Look out! There’s a big one…

If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.
– Arthur C. Clarke

Spirituality is about waking up, reaching in, finding, and identifying the things that are unconscious within you—things that you don’t want to see or deal with. If you want to come even close to enlightenment, you don’t get to hide from anything. You have that unquenchable thirst for truth and love, and you will look into anything in order to bring truth to it, in order to bring non-separation to it. There’s no hiding. No form of self-deception will work. All along the way, it requires this willingness to access your experience of where you are and what’s happening, and to make the necessary adjustments.
– Adyashanti

Protect me from knowing what I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decide not to know about. Amen.’ That’s it. It’s what you pray silently inside yourself anyway, so you may as well have it out in the open.

There’s another prayer that goes with it that’s very important.

‘Lord, lord, lord…’ It’s best to put that bit in just in case. You can never be too sure. ‘Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen.’ And that’s it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from leaving out that last part.
– Douglas Adams

The spectacle of Nature is always new, for she is always renewing the spectators. Life is her most exquisite invention; and death is her expert contrivance to get plenty of life. […] We obey her laws even when we rebel against them; we work with her even when we desire to work against her. […] She has isolated all things in order that all may approach one another. She holds a couple of draughts from the cup of love to be fair payment for the pains of a lifetime. […] She is complete, but never finished.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Gary Snyder:
Meditation looks inward, poetry holds forth. One is private, the other is out in the world. One enters the moment, the other shares it. But in practice it is never entirely clear which is doing which.

Rumi:
Don’t let the sky turn without me. Don’t let the moon shine without me. Don’t let the earth spin without me. Don’t go without me.

We wove closer to the abyss, a maze of sunflowers.
— John Ashber

Be careful who you mistreat in your flesh; you have no insight of their rank in the spirit.

The lady who runs this town in southern Mexico is an old indigenous woman with two teeth who wanders around town barefoot, begging, or sits on the sidewalk selling fresh garlic or handicrafts. I always make sure to give her a handful of pesos when I see her. In return she gives me her blessing, with the biggest, sweetest smile.

– Elliott Freed

Advice From a Mountain:
Reach for new heights
Rise above it all
There is beauty as far as the eye can see
Be uplifting
Patience, patience, patience
Be well rounded
Rock on!”
– Ilan Shamir

I think I am trying to reproduce the polyphony that goes on inside me, which I don’t think is radically different from that of other people. After all, one is constantly changing one’s mind and thereby becoming something slightly different.
– John Ashbury

Very few artists enter their chosen fields with thoughts of creating wealth. They come with thoughts of creating meaning.
– Peter Himmelman

The transformation of consciousness in Taoism is like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease.
— Alan Watts

Rajiv Mohabir:
If you’re only quoting white folks in your craft essays and arguments then you’re the one who isn’t reading enough.

Poetry heals wounds inflicted by reason.
– Novalis

Kelli Russell Agodon:
Question: Are you living in a social construct that makes you be who you don’t want to be?

Answer: This is all temporary. Live your best life.

Kelli Russell Agodon:
I am so sick of the news. I want to create a neighborhood of poets, artists, and people who care nothing about hurting others, but just want to write, draw, and make art.

…..years from now if someone carved an opening into your chest they might be able to make out the faintest outlines of where a long forgotten people once lived….
– Luke ONeil

The truest direction comes from inside. I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself, and by being honest with them about what I find there.
— Audre Lorde

The mind that is not relative is silent. With a truly silent mind, the self is forgotten, and the myriad things are our own essential nature.
– Robert Aitken

Questioning makes one open, makes one sensitive, makes one humble. We don’t suffer from our questions, we suffer from our answers. Most of the mischief in the world comes from people with answers, not from people with questions.
— Jacob Needleman

Those who seek to satisfy with ceremonies,
music, and devotion have lost their original nature.
— Zhuangzi

Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.
― Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m thankful for my ancestors and all the love, hope, and music that they poured into me.
“Be still. Watch and Listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
– Linda Hogan

The places in which we are seen and heard are holy places. They remind us of our value as human beings. They give us the strength to go on.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

When these techniques fail, they fail in ways that are not human. AI is simple math, there’s no room in it for ethics, or common sense, or empathy. Some of the egregious errors we will catch, but a lot of them we will not. These systems, which would require an extraordinary level of oversight to run safely, are being deployed across the planet by naive Stanford grads with almost no human supervision, for profit, and have the potential to profoundly reshape our society.
— Poynter.org interviews Maciej Ceglowski: Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning

If we keep pounding on the wedge of inequality and chewing through our living planet, the whole thing is going to implode. The choice is stark, and it seems people are waking up to it in large numbers: Either we evolve into a future beyond capitalism, or we won’t have a future at all.
— Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk at P2P Foundation. Are You Ready To Accept That Capitalism Is the Real Problem?

Animal
by Francesca Varela

How long has it been
since you sat with your back against a tree,
and looked up at the dark, straying rivers
in the sky?

How long has it been
since you knelt at a streamside,
and listened to the soft water
sing of mountain snow,
of old times and canyons walls,
and the kind, red belly of the Earth?

How long has it been
since you felt the wind between stars,
and traced your own pictures there,
faint but warm in the light,
and held each star
one by one,
solid in your animal gaze?

The storehouse of memory is kept and watched over by the poets, whose business it is to find and make the words we live by.
— Hannah Arendt

Billa Lauiti-kolkr:
You know the greatest difference I have noticed between the west and Traditional people- the west is an economy and the Indigenous live IN A COSMOLOGY. Cosmologies include all sorts of dynamic exchange between all elements of the living earth and the universe- the human role is to tend, reciprocate, celebrate, show gratitude , protect and maintain balance. An economy on its own without the guidance of a cosmic and living perspective of Ancient wisdom passed on by endless generations of living culture is destined to fail, and it is.. There is a Climate crisis…

Caspar Henderson:
All things [in the universe] are ordered together somehow, but not alike — both fishes and fowls and plants, and the world is such that one thing has nothing to do with one another but they are connected. For all are ordered together to one end…all share the good of the whole.

I am gazing 
into the summer rose
growing from a pot 
on my porch.
I need this rose
in order to be 
who I Am.
I don’t need to be a Democrat
or Republican right now. 
I don’t need to believe in Allah, 
Jesus, or Krishna, 
nor claim citizenship in 
this nation or another, 
nor membership in
this race, this tribe, 
or another.
Right now, I only need
to breathe this rose.
Because it Is, I Am.
And if you would know me,
you too must blossom 
as You Are,
your colors and shadows,
your petals and thorns.
Be present here.
Be utterly present here.
Create me.
– Fred LaMotte

The Buddha is visiting my town. He is a great disappointment. He doesn’t talk about Dukkha, Anicca, or the Four Noble Truths. He doesn’t make us sit in the lotus chanting the Heart Sutra. No robes. No glamorous antiquated gobbledegook. And his name isn’t “Buddha.” It’s Raymond Something. 

He invites us to a gathering in a dilapidated rancher with moss on the roof. But it has a large living room and the eldering hippie who lives there is kind. We sit silently for fifteen minutes and, since nothing happens, we get restless. Then Raymond the Buddha says, “Let’s cut the bullshit. None of you are really happy. You try hard, but its all pretend. Right?”

No one replies. 

Then he says, “If you want a workshop in Calling Your Guardian Angels, or Finding the Wisdom of Past Lives, or Using the Law of Attraction for Abundance, then go somewhere else.” 

Looking at our iWatches, half of us leave. 

Fifteen more minutes of quiet sitting. Then he says, “I’m not here to discuss your tribal politics either. If you want to blame the rich for the problems of the poor, or blame one race for the problems of another, or blame the military industrial complex, then you should go to a peace demonstration, though you won’t find much peace there. Because blame only isolates the mind, and the more you blame, the lonelier and more desperate you become.”

About half the remaining people snort indignantly and leave. The ruffled atmosphere settles down into a deeper silence. He says, “I’ll level with you. None of that stuff interests me, because none of it makes anyone free. I’m only here to discuss one thing: how to be free. Right now.” 

More silence. Finally someone says, “Sir, are we supposed to be doing something?”

“No,” replies Raymond. A few more people walk out. A few remain. The silence gets thick and gold, like honey. 

“Who can add one moment to life by worrying about it?” Raymond asks. “So let’s just sit in no particular posture and watch this breath.”

After a few more minutes he says, “Watch this breath entering your nostrils, your throat, your chest. Is it you who makes this breath happen? Did you create your breath?” Silence.

“Your breath is a gift,” he says. “What did you do to deserve it? Nothing. Notice this, and be thankful.” Silence.

“Now perhaps your mind is trying to ‘do’ something. Just observe how that is. See the humor and absurdity of it. Then come home to your breath. Receive a breath, and give it back. Smile deeply. This is worship, isn’t it?” 

Over the next ten minutes, most of the remaining guests leave. Then Raymond Buddha says, “When you exhale, all you can give back is gratitude.”

Maybe twelve are left, a remnant. None of them are scholars.

Raymond says, “I’m not telling you, when you leave here, go and believe in the light. I’m not telling you, when you leave here, go and make the light shine. I’m telling you, go and Be the light. Then just work softly at your work,whatever it is. Let your breath touch the heart of every atom in the cosmos. This world is not transformed by thinking. This world is not transformed by doing. This world is transformed by Being.” 

Raymond stands up. He is dressed in a ragged golf shirt, blue genes, and sneakers. Yet his presence is like a sunlit cloud on a mountain. Flowing like a river, he moves quietly around the room. Ever so gently, he touches each person with two fingers of his right hand.

Some of us he touches between the eyebrows. We barely feel it on our skin. But inside, a cool breeze of emptiness.

Others he touches on the chest, soft as a feather. Deep between heartbeats, we sink through an abyss of stillness.

Some he touches on top of the head. It feels like a drop of dew, melting upward into the sky. 

With this touch, you hear the voices of all flowers on earth as they open in the morning. With this touch, you see ten thousand golden suns silently birthed from the center of a galaxy, and it happens in the core of your chest. With this touch, you taste the inebriating nectar of clarity. You are falling, falling through no distance, into the groundless immeasurable beauty that you Are.

– Alfred LaMotte

Every being, every bit of matter, is at the center of its universe. An endless plurality of centers overlap and interact. We travel like turtles, our homes on our backs, pulling a universe along with us.

When I enter your home, I bring mine in with me.

Treat everyone like an invited guest. Behave like an invited guest. Help others meet their needs. Provide them with comfort. Enter others’ spaces politely and respectfully. Remove your shoes if asked. Help with the dishes. Play with the children.

Wherever you are, remember, you are in someone’s home.
– Adam Michael Krause

The only way you will ever awaken is through silence, not through analyzation of facts. Not by sorting out good and bad, but through simple silence, letting go. Letting go of all thoughts, all the hurts, all the dogmas and concepts. Letting go of these things daily.
– Robert Adams

Take chaos more lightly. From chaos comes a new creation.
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

No one seems to know how useful it is, to be useless.
– Thomas Merton

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.
– Allen Ginsberg

Fred LaMotte:
EVENING MEDITATION
A simpler way –
rest the mind in the heart.
Love has no name.
The So’ham swan
will take you there,
alighting without a sound
on the unfathomable stillness
in your chest,
where a mist of
secret longing
goes up from the earth
to kiss the sky,
healing every creature
who bows to drink
from these waters.
Cherish your gift.
Greet this breath
as a golden flame
consuming every thought.
What burns you away
completely,
you become.

Ar scath a cheile a mhaireas na daoine.

(It is in the shelter of each other that people live.)

– Irish Proverb

A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.
– The Dhammapada

We are not responding to this instant if we are judging any aspect of it. The ego looks for what to criticize, searches for shortcomings and weaknesses. This always involves comparing with the past. But Love looks upon the world peacefully and accepts. How simple it is to Love, and how exhausting it is to always find fault! Love knows that nothing is ever needed but more Love.
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

On James Baldwin:

Gracious and tender, a man who had no idea or concept of his place, who nurtured conversation with Black Panthers and the white literati all in the same afternoon.

Searching for the Dharma
by Hsu Yun

You’ve traveled up ten thousand steps in search of the Dharma.
So many long days in the archives, copying, copying.
The gravity of the Tang and the profundity of the Sung
make heavy baggage.
Here! I’ve picked you a bunch of wildflowers.
Their meaning is the same
but they’re much easier to carry.

Something I wrote a few years back, in the springtime…

Walking yesterday, the trees are shyly showing their green buds, returning color to the world. I turned a corner and was bathed in the honey scent of new plum blossoms. These are the true books of the Dharma.

The great masters don’t wear an academic scowl; a silly grin sits easy on their faces. Must be from so much study on such a Spring day…

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate his experience.
– James Baldwin

Whether I go east or west,
or fly to the heavens,
there is no sign of life in me,
until I see a sign of you.
I was a devout leader of a country.
I held a pulpit.
Fate made my heart fall in love
and follow You dancing.
– Rumi

A liar always knows he is lying and that’s why liars travel in packs: in order to be reassured that the judgement day will never come for them. They need each other for the well-being, the health, the perpetuation of the lie.
– James Baldwin

I am more interested in the state of the perceiver, than the perception itself. I believe that our experience of this thing called ‘absolute consciousness’, ‘pure consciousness’, ‘unity consciousness’ is only as inclusive as we are. If we are emotionally fractured, so is our perception. If we have chopped off the ego, we have chopped up our awareness. If we have bypassed our story, we have bypassed the moment, all-together. That’s why teachings that deny elements of our humanity under the guise of enlightenment are so dangerous. They lock us into a self-limiting framework of possibility. What a spiritual bypasser calls ‘the moment’ is entirely different from the moment as experienced by someone in a more inclusive state. If you want a shot at unity consciousness, unify your self first. That’s where the everything begins.
– Jeff Brown

Wean yourself

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say ‘The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.’

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer.

There is no ‘other world’
I only know what I have experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

– Rumi

Since, after all, this floating world is unreal, instead of holding onto things in your mind, go and sing!
— Bankei

Leonard Cohen:

From 1994-1999 (roughly ages 60-65) he “withdrew” to a Zen monastery was ordained as a Buddhist priest.

But upon his “return” discovered his trusted financial manager had stolen all his money. He was financially forced to write, compose, and eventually tour.

The open wound of misplaced trust became a portal to one of the most productive times in life. This is often the way with wounds: not a tomb but a womb.

He died at age 82 and never retired.

May it be so.

IF IT BE YOUR WILL (L. Cohen)

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

There is one more thing: I may be interested in Oriental religions, etc., but there can be no obscuring the essential difference-this personal communion with Christ at the center and heart of all reality. As a source of grace and life. “God is love” may be clarified if one says that “God is void” and if, in the void, one finds absolute indetermination and hence absolute freedom. (With freedom, the void becomes fullness and 0 = Infinity.) All that is “interesting”, but none of it touches on the mystery of personality in God, and His personal love for me. Again, I am void too, and I have freedom, or am a kind of freedom, meaningless unless oriented to Him.
– Thomas Merton

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? You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly – once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.
– Toni Morrison

I speak from the depths of a vision of truth when I say that this continual jockeying for position is the enemy of life in itself.
– Jack Kerouac

You must learn to stop being yourself. That’s where it begins, and everything else follows from that. You must let yourself evaporate. Let your muscles go limp, breathe until you feel your soul pouring out of you, and then shut your eyes. That’s how it’s done. The emptiness inside your body grows lighter than the air around you. Little by little, you begin to weigh less than nothing. You shut your eyes; you spread your arms; you let yourself evaporate. And then, little by little, you lift yourself off the ground.
Like so.
– Paul Auster

THE OBLIGATION TO BE HAPPY
It is more onerous
than the rites of beauty
or housework, harder than love.
But you expect it of me casually,
the way you expect the sun
to come up, not in spite of rain
or clouds but because of them.

And so I smile, as if my own fidelity
to sadness were a hidden vice –
that downward tug on my mouth,
my old suspicion that health
and love are brief irrelevancies,
no more than laughter in the warm dark
strangled at dawn.

Happiness. I try to hoist it
on my narrow shoulders again –
a knapsack heavy with gold coins.
I stumble around the house,
bump into things.
Only Midas himself
would understand.
– Linda Pastan

two poets, moses and siddhartha: they both lived at similar times in history. both poets felt the need to abandon their family homes to seek liberation. for siddhartha and moses radical pilgrimage was a precondition to their spiritual practices. but this is the essential distinction: moses’ pilgrimage to the desert was different from siddhartha’s pilgrimage to the forest, for moses did not leave alone and did not leave his family behind. moses left with all the people, with all the families, and with all the animals. moses knew this well: as long as one person is not at-peace, we are all trapped within the bondages of dukkha. but especially this: if one person is left behind in bondage, we will never reach the land of promise. siddharta, the sage of the sakia tribe, after becoming the exalted buddha, he also came to realize this truth. the liberated siddhartha left his tree of enlightenment behind and went forth to the marketplace to meet the people. for he also did not want to leave anyone behind. if one person is left behind in samsara, we will never reach the land of nirvana. and this is the true practice of a prophet, and the true practice of a bodhisattva.
– hune margulies

Gary Snyder:
The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both.

There was a reading of the United Farm Workers Prayer:
Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I may know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others, for you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life, so that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others, for in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience, so that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration, so that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us, so we can change the world.
Amen.

A book… is like a friend, a shelter, advice, an argument with someone who cares enough to argue with me for a better answer than the one we both already have.
– Alexander Chee

This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn’t matter to me what your position is. You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.
– Toni Morrison

The other shore is right here, forgive and forget, protect and reassure.
– Jack Kerouac

It was when fish became terrestrial amphibians that the body’s lacrimal system first evolved. We left the water and began to weep the home we’d abandoned.
– Heather Christle, The Crying Book

It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent—lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It’s as simple as that.
– Tove Jansson

Maurice Carlos Ruffin:
The worst thing a writer can do is let life paralyze you into inaction.

Yes, people are being locked up for fun and you are short on funds and anxiety is tearing you apart.

But your words mean something and only you can write them.

You, whose moments are gone,
who drift like smoke in the afterlife, tell me something, tell me anything.
— Mark Strand

I do not feel like writing what I have written here, and I do not feel like erasing it either.
– Soren Kierkegaard

after drinking matcha
a rorschach test
in the bowl
1872

Hope is a discipline, not a feeling… When hope is alive it breaks things—in order to make things better.
– Tim Winton

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,

butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

– Denise Levertov

Dear Hearing World
by Raymond Antrobus
after Danez Smith
I have left Earth in search of sounder orbits, a solar system where the space between a star and a planet isn’t empty. I have left a white beard of noise in my place and many of you won’t know the difference. We are indeed the same volume, all of us eventually fade. I have left Earth in search of an audible God. I do not trust the sound of yours. You would not recognise my grandmother’s Hallelujah if she had to sign it, you would have made her sit on her hands and put a ruler in her mouth as if measuring her distance from holy. Take your God back, though his songs are beautiful, they are not loud enough. I want the fate of Lazarus for every deaf school you’ve closed, every deaf child whose confidence has gone to a silent grave, every BSL user who has seen the annihilation of their language, I want these ghosts to haunt your tongue-tied hands. I have left Earth, I am equal parts sick of your “oh, I’m hard of hearing too” just because you’ve been on an airplane or suffered head colds. Your voice has always been the loudest sound in a room. I call you out for refusing to acknowledge sign language in classrooms, for assessing deaf students on what they can’t say instead of what they can, we did not ask to be a part of the hearing world, I can’t hear my joints crack but I can feel them. I am sick of sounding out your rules—you tell me I breathe too loud, and it’s rude to make noise when I eat. Sent me to speech therapists, said I was speaking a language of holes, I was pronouncing what I heard but your judgment made my syllables disappear, your magic master trick hearing world—drowning out the quiet, bursting all speech bubbles in my graphic childhood, you are glad to benefit from audio supremacy, I tried, hearing people, I tried to love you, but you laughed at my deaf grammar, I used commas not full stops because everything I said kept running away, I mulled over long paragraphs because I didn’t know what a “natural break” sounded like, you erased what could have always been poetry (strike that out). You erased what could have always been poetry. You taught me I was inferior to standard English expression, I was a broken speaker, you were never a broken interpreter, taught me my speech was dry for someone who should sound like they’re under water. It took years to talk with a straight spine and mute red marks on the coursework you assigned.
Deaf voices go missing like sound in space and I have left earth to find them.

I love it when I finally learn something a teacher told me eons ago, love it when I can see the years over which a lesson stretched, love the patience and hope of this work.
– Heather Christle

Spent the entire weekend chasing waterfalls. What a waste of time. Wish someone had warned me of this.
– Jake Vig

Look to the ocean and watch its message. It will come. It will come.
– Rumi

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.
– Rumi

Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind.
– Jack Kerouac

Joy Harjo:
Early this week, during a particularly stressful moment, I became aware of someone praying for me. I could literally feel how the words and their intent became like a gentle rain. I took a deep breath and took it in. Mvto. Thank you. I was reminded to make every thought a kind of prayer.

The other shore is right here, forgive and forget, protect and reassure.
– Jack Kerouac

The Right Place

Some know what they want. Yes, maybe it is to be among the trees. Or, to be in a garden in some place where a garden is an act of defiance of something.

You advise: Try to find the right place for yourself.

But, I don’t think that’s it. I think we want to be found. I think we need to be found. That’s harder than finding, don’t you agree? To be found, you have to be still. You have to be vulnerable to something that wants you. It could be dangerous. You’re lucky if it is.

People are not alone, but they are lonely. The body has forgotten what it is made of. So has the spirit. I watched a meteor shower last night. I’m not going to go into the details, but that’s some of the stuff.

Here is a good place to be, especially when I take notice of the fact that I’m breathing and muster the gratitude for it. When was the last time you heard your breath? We were given ways of knowing that we are alive and well.

When I talk to the gods, they don’t say much. Why utter lies? I think they are well aware that we are not yet ready for the truth. It’s an interesting thought, that.

The experts say that when you are lost, you should just stay put. Sit. Wait. I haven’t been particularly good at waiting. Maybe that’s because, up until now, I hadn’t really realized what I was waiting for.
– Jamie K. Reaser

To romanticise the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.
– Novalis

Life’s three best teachers: heartbreak, empty pocket, failures.
– Haemin Sunim

There came a cloven gleam,
Like a tongue of darkened flame,
To burn in me.

And so I seem
To have you still the same
In one world with me.
— D. H. Lawrence

What Good Does It Do?

What good does it do to live and write
from Judevine Mountain
when no one anymore knows or even
cares about the seasons?

When my ancient-Chinese brothers
made their poems people knew
what spring meant; they knew
the verdant and salubrious grace

of summer, the autumnal melancholy
of the cricket and the
chrysanthemum. But now, every day
for everyone is just the same,

a time to get and spend. No one cares about
or even notices the clouds,
the angle of the sun, or in the summer
how green things strive

and so often fail to become
what they were meant to be.

– David Budbill, Moment to Moment, Copper Canyon Press

The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.
– James Baldwin

We need poetry – language that can strip away the walls and fences and cages… the most impenetrable cages are constructed with words, not steel.
– Theodore Richards, The Climate & The Cage

There’s too much negative energy out there. Slouched shoulders. Puppy eyes. Excessive exhales. Too many people with fixable problems that they don’t want to fix. For some reason people love to identify themselves by their problems. They just don’t know who they are without some major issue. They love to say ‘I cant.’ Or: ‘If I was this, then I could be that.’ Or ‘I’ll always be this way because of xyz.’ But that kind of thinking never ends. You’ll always have another box you can check. You can always qualify for victimhood. There’s always a reason to opt out of self-responsibility. Because God forbid the problem is you. It’s toxic thinking. I can’t be around it. It’s too draining. I’m trying to grow. I’m trying to be great. I’m trying to be thankful for all that I have. So when I feel negative energy, I’m looking for an exit strategy. I’m not going to give up on you right away. I’m going to speak my truth. But if you have no interest in helping yourself, I’m out.
– Humans of New York

North Is Nowhere

The solitude of the mountains is so great that not even the poet himself is present.
– Octavio Paz

North is nowhere, nihil, emptiness, and Judevine Mountain is north.
Come to Judevine Mountain and step into oblivion.
Lose yourself

in this remote and lonely wilderness. There is no mirror here, no way to tell where you might end, the others begin.
Here you are no one,

only one–with everyone. Come to Judevine Mountain and find out who you are.
Come to Judevine Mountain and disappear.

– David Budbill, Moment to Moment, Copper Canyon Press

All Summer
All summer, while poets go from one writer’s conference to another teaching the ways of poetry,
Judevine Mountain stays home.
He tends his broccoli and tomatoes, rears his potatoes and beans, cultivates his corn and cuts a year’s supply of firewood.
He has a summer conference of his own with his vegetables,
and he is well-known to the hummingbirds, resident robins,
cedar waxwings, and a family of tree swallows who live above the garden in a box that he provided for the bluebirds. Each
morning he whistles a duet wit the white-throated sparrow who lives in the balsam fir just below the road, and late in the afternoon
an indigo bunting comes to eat the seeds of the tall grass that grows beside his house, and never does he utter a word to anyone about poetry.
– David Budbill, Moment to Moment, Copper Canyon Press

David Roberts:
Compassion works. Kindness, mutual care, loving solidarity — they work. They are more practical, more hard-headed, more cost-effective than their opposites. We pass punitive policies because they satisfy our atavistic impulses, not out of “realism.”

My sack is empty of deeds
and i have nothing
to present to You,
O my Lord,
except a heart
that aches in every sea,
that beats in every wave
for You.
– v.p

Because the sage doesn’t display himself, people can see his light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words.
— Lao Tzu

When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique.
– Alan Watts

It can be surprising when you realise that everything your mind is trying to attain, the peace, the stillness, the presence, everything the mind, the meditator is trying to get to is actually already here, naturally occurring. Needing no maintenance at all.
– Adyashanti

The dialectic of hard and soft governs every image with which we picture to ourselves the inner nature of things . . . From hard and soft we learn of the multiple paths of progress, acquiring quite different measures of temporal efficiency. The hardness and softness of things engage us in an entirely other kind of dynamic life. The resistant world lifts us out of our static reality, beyond ourselves, initiating us into the mysteries of energy. Henceforth we are awakened beings. Hammer or trowel in hand, we no longer stand alone–we have an adversary, something to accomplish. However insignificant it may be, we have, as a result of this, a cosmic destiny.
– Gaston Bachelard

Remember, the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance.
On thick white snow

you vow fresh footprints
then watch them go
with the wind’s hearty gust.
So fill your glass. Here’s tae us. Promises
made to be broken, made to last.
– Jackie Kay

Watching My Friend Pretend Her Heart Isn’t Breaking
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.
The equivalent weight of how much railway
it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.
It’s the collective weight of every animal
on earth. Times three.

Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief—
just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.

There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see what
anyone else has swallowed.

Ilya Kaminsky
from LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

Snow has eaten one-fourth of me

yet I believe
against all evidence

these snowflakes
are my letters of recommendation

here is a man worth falling on.

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
Spending my rainy Sunday evening in a gay pub drinking scotch and reading fantasy.

Q. How are we supposed to treat others?

A. There are no others

– Ramana Maharshi

Lisa Broderick:

When our awareness shifts, we’re not bound by time and space. I know this from my experiences and research.

To meet the challenges of today, we need to develop a greater sense of responsibility for one another.

Want to change your life? Get a handle on the thoughts you think each day.

I’m addicted to the entire planet. I don’t want to leave it. I want to get down into it. I want to say hello. On the beach, I could have stopped all day long and looked at those damned shells, looked for all the messages that come not in bottles but in shells.
– John McPhee

Vespers
by Louise Glück

In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

When you’ve lived as long as I have, you tend to think you’ve heard everything, that there’s nothing left that can shock you anymore. You grow a little complacent about your so-called knowledge of the world, and then, every once in a while, something comes along that jolts you out of your smug cocoon of superiority, that reminds you all over again that you don’t understand the first thing about life.
– Paul Auster

The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome. I mean the idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity, but probably absolutely out of nothing, is the most fabulous extraordinary idea. And once you get some kind of inkling of how that might have happened, it’s just wonderful. And I feel, you know, the opportunity to spend seventy or eighty years of your life in such a universe is time well spent as far as I am concerned.

Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.
– Douglas Adams

The reality of our day-to-day waking consciousness and these moments of liberation are so different it is almost as if a mental fence divides the two. On one side of the fence I am caught in my mind; in my thoughts, my anxieties, my judgments, and my fears. I may on occasion recognize that this is all unnecessary, and that it removes me from the present moment; but such passing insights are seldom sufficient to release my mind from the grip of my conditioning. So deeply ingrained is my attachment to what I believe I should be thinking and doing there seems no way over that fence. Indeed, for much of the time I have totally forgotten there is another way of being.
– Peter Russell

BARGAIN HUNT
Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.
– Ron Padgett

This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn’t matter to me what your position is. You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.
– Toni Morrison

The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered, nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves.
– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas, Saying 39

I spent the last two days in the wilderness. How amazing to discover that the world survived without my political opinions!
– Alfred K. LaMotte (aka Fred)

Jeff Vande Zande
IN EARLY DRAFTS, ROBERT FROST RELIED HEAVILY ON THE THESAURUS
Discontinuing By Timberland
on a Fleecy Eventide
—Robert Frost
Whose copse this is I speculate I get.
His domicile is in the township, yet;
He won’t monitor me refraining here
To observe his pines congesting with wet.

My petite steed must reckon it bizarre
To knock off with the next shanty so far
Flanked by boscage and glaciated loch
The blackest eve of Earth’s loop around star.

He gives his tackle’s carillon a flap
As though he’s inquiring, “What the crap?”
The single other racket is the zoom
Of cozy zephyr and pubescent scrap.

The thicket is cute, sooty and abstruse.
But I’ve contracts that I don’t want to lose,
And 5,280 feet more until I snooze,
And 5,280 feet more until I snooze.

We’ll just have to sleep now. Let’s stop the machine. You can’t stop the machine!
– Jack Kerouac

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

Cities are taken by the ears.
– George Herbert

Kelli Russell Agodon:
It would be so easy to say poetry doesn’t matter, but when I check in with myself and the circle of people around me, I realize, of course it does.
I see a sunset and I think “poem.” I read a poem and know we are connected. I mean, poetry is a liferaft that keeps lifting us.

Franki Love:
When a man loves a woman….. he fully supports her dreams, believing in her sometimes more than she believes in herself.

Rumi:
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you and you feel joy.

Daily Kerouac:
The only truth is music.

Jack Kerouac:
I spun around till I was dizzy; I thought I’d fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. Oh where is the girl I love?

Jessica J. Lee:
I had that dream again last night where Berlin and London merged. I rode the Ringbahn to Storkower Straße and disembarked in the City.

Jack Kerouac:
To this boy of New England the May morning was like faint music in the woods again, some unspeakably exciting foregathering of events…

The outer eyes cannot see themselves.
The inner eye is its own reflection.
This is Tao.
— Deng Ming-Dao

It’s always with another key that you unlock the house—inside: the snowdrifts of what’s never spoken.
– Paul Celan

It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

– Gwendolyn Brooks

Isn’t life like that? We live it, only half-knowing what it is, aware of possibilities all along but often mistaken as to their full meaning. Then time may change it all, throw it in a new perspective.
– Elizabeth Spencer

My mind is what I see, what I feel, what I imagine, what I know. Nothing of the speculative.
– Aharon Appelfeld

Dreams
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Dream on, for dreams are sweet:
Do not awaken!
Dream on, and at thy feet
Pomegranates shall be shaken.

Who likeneth the youth
of life to morning?
’Tis like the night in truth,
Rose-coloured dreams adorning.

The wind is soft above,
The shadows umber.
(There is a dream called Love.)
Take thou the fullest slumber!

In Lethe’s soothing stream,
Thy thirst thou slakest.
Sleep, sleep; ’tis sweet to dream.
Oh, weep then thou awakest!

how small the day is
the time of color
the rush of brightness
– W. S. Merwin

One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.

The more you realize, the more you realize there is nothing to realize. The idea that there’s somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion…

JC: Is it possible, because true nature is present here and now―though covered over―that this can show up unexpectedly even though we have not gone through the same extensive training as the great masters we admire?

JTP: Usually we get glimpses into the nature of mind when we are not expecting them. As long as one strives and makes getting a glimpse into a goal, one will never achieve it. It is when the ego relaxes and is not interested in gaining anything that these glimpses spontaneously occur. The problem then is that the ego grasps at it as its own accomplishment. It then seeks to reproduce the experience. The trouble is, so long as the ego is in charge, a glimpse is not going to reoccur. This is why in mahamudra and dzogchen there is such an emphasis on relaxing and not striving to achieve. Often when people first start to meditate they don’t have specific expectations, and then they get a very powerful experience. Then they spend the next twenty years trying to reproduce it.

JC: Sometimes I also think that these early experiences reinstate past development into one’s present life.

JTP: Yes, that too.

JC: I also notice that any little experience can be so inflating and one feels so good about one’s achievement whereas what one experienced was more like not being in the way.

JTP: I think it is very important not to judge one’s meditation practice in terms of good or bad. You just do it and how it is how it is. Judging our meditations one way or another just keeps us trapped in the same old process. If the mind is distracted, it is distracted—tomorrow it may be distracted or maybe not. So what. This attitude fosters acceptance. You are working towards something but doing it without a lot of judgment.

JC: On another point, when you speak of the process of increasing awareness in Into the Heart of Life, do you mean we need to increase the amount of attention that we place on awareness?

JTP: Yes, we need to pay more attention to awareness and less on the discursive process. Normally our minds just go on and on and we are lost in the thoughts. As awareness increases, thoughts part, like clouds in the sky. Then you get a glimpse of the clear, spacious nature of awareness.

This is why the Buddha taught the four foundations of mindfulness. It doesn’t matter which one you choose to practice. The Tibetans choose to focus on mind, on how the thoughts work, on who is thinking. Goenka chooses to teach mindfulness of sensations; the Burmese focus on breath and walking. Once we put our attention on the object of mindfulness, we begin to see that it is not solid and enduring; it is momentary and flowing and not who we are. And the ego, which seems so much at the center of our universe―when you look for it, it is gone―you can never find it.

JC: The skandha referred to as impulses we normally think of as our will. When you look carefully at the process of willing can you say that it is really just a process of impulses arising and moving into action?

JTP: And it is often very habitual, like Pavlov’s reflex response. In mindfulness training, everything is slowed down so one becomes conscious of that link between the impulse and the action. Once you are conscious of this linking, you can choose which way to go.

JC: And you cannot loosen your identity with these processes without that strength of awareness, as you put it?

JTP: All Buddhist schools understand that. It is amazing when you think about all the years that the various Buddhist schools have been separate that they are still so similar in their basic view. People have passed on the tradition with very little impulse to innovation, as is true in traditional societies, and they have passed it on purely. And, of course, the system works!

JC: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

JTP: I am quite impressed with how sincere Buddhists in the West are. In the West, when people think of Buddhism, they think of meditation, but in the East only a small minority of Buddhists ever meditate.

And it is only a small minority who actually practice, even among monks. They recite mantras and so forth. For most, the power of the mantra is enough; they may not be doing the visualizations and everything that goes along with it. We should not idealize or romanticize what is going on in the Buddhist world in Asia. Westerners are much more interested in meditation and many more are making progress in meditation than the average Asian. Except perhaps in Burma.

– Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a fully ordained nun in the Drukpa Kagyü school of Tibetan Buddhism. She is an author, teacher and founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India. She is best known for being one of the very few Western yoginis trained in the East, having spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation retreat. She said, “I have made a vow to attain enlightenment in the female form—no matter how many lifetimes it takes.

Reading or writing poetry creates a space for empathy, for seeing another person, for bearing witness to our common humanity.
– Rafael Campo

What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.
– Rumi

We live in an era of furious soundbite; where the very engines of conversation—I’m thinking of Twitter—actually profit by feeding off and amplifying anger and discontent. Yet what will amplify our tenderness?
– Tessathon

Country that is missing,
strange country
…It seems like a fable now
that I’ve learned it
dreaming to stay
and dreaming to fly.
But it is my country
where I live and I die.
– Gabriela Mistral
translated by Langston Hughes

Change how you see and see how you change.
– Buddhist proverb

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…
– C.W. Eliot

In fact I realized I had no guts anyway, which I’ve long known. But I have joy.
– Jack Kerouac

The older I get, the more attracted I am to working with other art forms and collaborations. The best one I’ve found is music combined with images. The combination of these three worked so beautifully.
– Rody Gorman

Diannely Antigua:

might be allergic to white upper middle class customers who insist on splitting a caesar salad between two people, and upon handing them an extra plate they instead make me take the salad back to the kitchen to split it for them

i can’t.

Every question I ask is about you. Every step I take is toward you.
– Rumi

Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.
– Sharon Salzberg

Duplex
by Jericho Brown

A poem is a gesture toward home.
It makes dark demands I call my own.
               Memory makes demands darker than my own:
               My last love drove a burgundy car.
My first love drove a burgundy car.
He was fast and awful, tall as my father.
              Steadfast and awful, my tall father
              Hit hard as a hailstorm. He’d leave marks.
Light rain hits easy but leaves its own mark
Like the sound of a mother weeping again.
              Like the sound of my mother weeping again,
              No sound beating ends where it began.
None of the beaten end up how we began.
A poem is a gesture toward home.

Fred LaMotte:
Chanting Om is too stuffy.
Let’s just hum like bees
drawn by the fragrance
of a wild dilapidated rose.
Of course those petals
are countless galaxies.
To caress them you must
swarm through the infinite
spaces of your wild
dilapidated heart.
The scent that drives
you crazy is the breath
of your Creator.
Forget your own name
in That.

BEING HERE
Transcending down into
the ground of things is akin
to sweeping the leaves that cover a path. There will always be more leaves. And the heart of the journey, the heart of our awakening, is to discover for ourselves that the leaves are not the ground, and that sweeping them aside will reveal a path, and finally, that to fully live, we must take the path and keep sweeping it.
– Mark Nepo

The idea of enlightened society is like any ordinary society. There are all kinds of challenges, the thing is that we, as individuals and as a society, are continually rising to the occasion to meet those challenges. With gentleness for ourselves and others, discipline, courage, compassion, and fearlessness.

And we don’t mind that every day we get up and it starts all over again.

Even though we did a really good job washing the dishes yesterday doesn’t mean we don’t have to wash the dishes today and tomorrow. Even though we may have done a really enlightened job of washing our clothes, folding it neatly and putting it way it doesn’t mean we’re done, right? We have to do again this week.

So, as warriors, we’re able to embrace that without resentment.
– Fleet Maull

To speak one word of truth is better than a lifetime of wrong speech. Do you understand? One who studies and doesn’t practice is like a ladle in a soup pot. It’s in the pot everyday but it doesn’t know the flavor of the soup. If you don’t practice, even if you study till the day you die, you’ll never know the taste of freedom!
– Ajahn Chah

Ever notice how everything that is good for our bodies, our communities, our world and our planet is called “the alternative?”
– Julia Butterfly Hill

TILL SHE APPEARED AND THE SOUL FELT ITS WORTH
by Craig van Rooyen
If I could, I’d stop loving
this promiscuous world.
It should be easy to loathe
the trashy lush with her
plastic oceans and brimstone eyes
reminding me I slept with her
one too many times. But I can’t.
I know the sky burns over concrete
rivers, but Aretha died today
and she won’t let me go. She’s
demanding my respect, commanding
me to come back to her, take her to heart.
She’s on every channel, smashing
FOX into CNN, making alphabet soup
from our bitterness. She’s shrugging
a mink stole off her shoulder,
calling down judgment, then
singing us back together
one bent grace note at a time.
For in her chest dwelt
the voice of the Almighty.
For in her throat thunder came
to lie down with laughter. For
her tongue gave shape to the song
of a child born to an unwed girl,
and the blues dwelt among us.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat down
and wept, yet in the Voice
we took refuge. Look to my right
and see trash cans pulled curbside
for pickup. Look to my left and see
the neighbor’s dead lawn.
But look here between my feet,
a dandelion’s perfect afro, pushed up
through buckled concrete. Then I know
it’s true. This world never loved a man
the way she loves me.

The Second Shelf:
If we had a rock band comprised of bookselling women it would be called The Spines.

Richard Siken:
We can do anything. It’s not because
our hearts are large, they’re not, it’s what we
struggle with.

Clear mind. Clear thoughts.
– B. D. Schiers

Neale Donald Walsch:
The secret of life is not to have everything you want, but to want everything you have.

The Passionate Freudian to His Love
Only name the day, and we’ll fly away
In the face of old traditions,
To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot,
Where we’ll park our inhibitions.
Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies
As it psychoanalyzes,
And when once you glean what your fantasies mean
Life will hold no more surprises.
When you’ve told your love what you’re thinking of
Things will be much more informal;
Through a sunlit land we’ll go hand-in-hand,
Drifting gently back to normal.

While the pale moon gleams, we will dream sweet dreams,
And I’ll win your admiration,
For it’s only fair to admit I’m there
With a mean interpretation.
In the sunrise glow we will whisper low
Of the scenes our dreams have painted,
And when you’re advised what they symbolized
We’ll begin to feel acquainted.
So we’ll gaily float in a slumber boat
Where subconscious waves dash wildly;
In the stars’ soft light, we will say good-night—
And “good-night!” will put it mildly.

Our desires shall be from repressions free—
As it’s only right to treat them.
To your ego’s whims I will sing sweet hymns,
And ad libido repeat them.
With your hand in mine, idly we’ll recline
Amid bowers of neuroses,
While the sun seeks rest in the great red west
We will sit and match psychoses.
So come dwell a while on that distant isle
In the brilliant tropic weather;
Where a Freud in need is a Freud indeed,
We’ll always be Jung together.
– Dorthy Parker

Characteristics of Life
A fifth of animals without backbones could be at risk of extinction, say scientists.
– BBC Nature News
Ask me if I speak for the snail and I will tell you
I speak for the snail.
speak of underneathedness
and the welcome of mosses,
of life that springs up,
little lives that pull back and wait for a moment.

I speak for the damselfly, water skeet, mollusk,
the caterpillar, the beetle, the spider, the ant.
I speak
from the time before spinelessness was frowned upon.

Ask me if I speak for the moon jelly. I will tell you
one thing today and another tomorrow
and I will be as consistent as anything alive
on this earth.

I move as the currents move, with the breezes.
What part of your nature drives you? You, in your cubicle
ought to understand me. I filter and filter and filter all day.

Ask me if I speak for the nautilus and I will be silent
as the nautilus shell on a shelf. I can be beautiful
and useless if that’s all you know to ask of me.

Ask me what I know of longing and I will speak of distances
between meadows of night-blooming flowers.
I will speak
the impossible hope of the firefly.

You with the candle
burning and only one chair at your table must understand
such wordless desire.

To say it is mindless is missing the point.

– Camille Dungy

Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.
– American short story author, poet, teacher, and political activist, Grace Goodside Paley

We have to try to cure our faults by attention and not by will.
Love is the teacher of gods and men, for no one learns without desiring to learn. Truth is sought not because it is truth but because it is good.

Attention is bound up with desire. Not with the will but with desire—or more exactly, consent.
– Simone Weil, Gravity & Grace

When one who is lost knows that it is time to turn back,
one is not far from having found the Way.
– Zen proverb

The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it, is what turns one’s humdrum life into one of art.
– D. T. Suzuki

The scholar gains every day.
The Taoist loses every day.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The image, in its simplicity, has no need of scholarship.
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Every time I give something away, what comes back to me is freedom.
– Byron Katie

I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.
– Jack Kerouac

All I had to do was lean back and relax my soul and roll on.
– Jack Kerouac

Don’t tell them too much about your soul. They’re waiting for just that.
– Jack Kerouac

Ethan Nichtern:
When you meditate, don’t expect to become a robot. Let robots be robots. We are humans.

When you meditate, expect to encounter a human mind. Thinking, moving, feeling, knowing, not-knowing.

A human mind is a bit messy and very deep, and that’s exactly what awakening is about.

Sion Dayson:
Just got an email from a lovely friend who:

1) asked what support I needed
2) proposed a creative way to promote my book
3) told me to ignore her email and not respond if I was too overwhelmed

This is the perfect way to check in with your friend who is 2 weeks from pub day!

When your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.
– Ajahn Chah

The sound of rain
says what I think.
– Zhuangzi

I think none of us realize the importance, nay the sweetness, of admiration; it is one of the dying virtues of character.
– Jack Kerouac

Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart…
– D.H. Lawrence
(excerpt from Know Thyself, Know Thyself More Deeply)

Louis L’Amour:
There, where those lights glowed softly in the evening, was the only girl he had ever loved. There, no more than two hundred yards away, with all her warmth, her beauty, her tenderness, and her humor. A girl to walk beside a man, and walk with him, not behind him.
Kilkenny, 1974

I feel like a small battlefield in which the problems, or some of the problems, of our time are being fought out. All one can hope to do is keep oneself humbly available, to allow oneself to be a battlefield. After all, the problems must be accommodated, have somewhere to struggle and come to rest and we, poor little humans, must put our inner space at their service and not run away.
– Etty Hillesum

Call it want,

or dependence, or sleep. Call it eventide or
home; how to summarize a galaxy

with a night
—we are impossible

to fix. Dust motes and a million paths of light.
I know.

– Keith S. Wilson

Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.
– American painter, printmaker, sculptor, writer, and poet, Dorothea Tanning

It seemed like one smiling smile, one adorable adoration, one gracious and adorable charity, everlasting safety…
– Jack Kerouac

Come! into the open, friend! admittedly only a little is gleaming today / down and narrowly the heaven is enclosing us.
– Hölderlin

Writing a poem is not so different from digging a hole. It is work. You try and learn what you can from other holes and the people who dug before you. The difficulty comes from people who do not dig or spend time in holes…
– Christl, The Crying Book

My left side is
my best side. I
have a best side.
I have a better
half. I am a half.
– Shay Alexi

The sigh of all the seas breaking in measure round the isles soothed them, the night wrapped them.
– Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse.

I was one of the few people in the world who believed in these things without going around making a dull middle class philosophy out of it.
– Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac:
Your only trouble is you never learned to get out to spots like this, you’ve let the world drown you in its horseshit and you’ve been vexed.

Dreams are / embroidered from people that exist.
– James Byrne

My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.
– Byron Katie

There is blessedness in adversity.
– Japanese proverb

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
– Alan Watts

I didn’t grow up active. Not until I found a dog, and not until together, we found the outdoors. In five years, we have traveled thousands of miles—in cars, on splitboards, on bikes, in climbing shoes, and on foot and paw.
– Nicole Handel

In the next world, I shan’t DO music. I shall BE it.
– Vaughan Williams

one wants in the end just once to befriend

one’s own loneliness,

to make of the ache of inwardness –

something,

music maybe,

or even just believing in it,

and summer…

– Christian Wiman

There comes a moment when the silence between two people can have the purity of a diamond.
– Philippe Djian

I happen to be his…friend!
– Hermione Granger

MOTHERLAND

My Fatherland is dead.
They buried it
in fire

I live
in my Motherland—
Word

– Rose Auslander
Translated from the German by Eavan Boland

SONG 35
I think now—at midnight—
that I never slept in my life,
that when from time to time I closed
my eyes and submerged all I saw
in the semblance of sleep,
I didn’t sleep.
– Rafael Alberti
Tr from Spanish by José A. Elgorriaga & Martin Paul

QUEEN ME BY KELLI RUSSELL AGODON
Playing chess I realize how tired I am
of the patriarchy, how the winning move
involves the king, the useless piece
who can only skate square to square.
When playing checkers, I taught my daughter
to say as she slides her plastic red chip
the full-length of the board: Queen me.
It returns to my youth when I wanted
to play baseball and the coach said,
Girls can only play softball and tossed me
what looked like a small leather planet.
Queen me, I wanted to say when I couldn’t
be captain of the kickball team, couldn’t
play Santa in the school show. Queen me,
my daughter says to the neighbor boy,
who without question places another checker
on her piece. Later I hear him say
to my daughter, Queen me as they begin
another game. Queen me, he says again
and again as the universe begins to shift
like a tilted tiara finally made right. Queen me,
I say to the moon while sitting on my porch,
my family asleep, unknowing how
sometimes my crown is made from worry
while all the gems are made from hope.

There are no national frontiers to learning.
– Japanese proverb

Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
Go to the desert at night and look at the stars.
This should answer the question.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Be really whole and all things will come to you.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Matt Haig:
Seems the new divide in politics is between those who identify as a human first, living on a planet that needs looking after, and those who identify as a nationality, living on a planet that exists solely to serve them.

Lisa Broderick:
Each place along the way is somewhere you had to be in order to be here. #inthenow

Gazing to the south, from the eastern peak, the moon appears through the raindrops.
– Li Qunyu (Tang dynasty poet)

Writing is an integral part of the process of understanding.
– Hannah Arendt

Some kinds of understanding or realization are hard to take, but we need to push further, to take an immense leap all the time. We need very much to take that kind of leap. Sometimes, looking back, we wonder why we are doing all this, and sometimes we think, why not? Sometimes there is no choice, and sometimes there is a choice, but we would like to find some contrast to that choice. So we have all kinds of relationships to the spiritual path, almost love affairs…

We have to be so genuine and gentle. Otherwise, there is no way to work with the universe at all. You have a tremendous responsibility: the first is to yourself, to become gentle and genuine; the second is to work for others in the same way. It is very important to realize how powerful all of us are. What we are doing may seem insignificant, but this notion of dharma art will be like an atomic bomb you carry in your mind. You could play a tremendous role in developing peace throughout the world.
– Chögyam Trungpa

If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.
– Federico Fellini

Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style.
– Rebecca Solnit

Footsteps in the sand,
quickly washed away:
The seashore mind.
– Deng Ming-Dao

Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I don’t think…
Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter.
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.
– Edith Sitwell

… men cannot know what it is to be together without otherwise knowing what it is to be apart.
– Jack Kerouac

A clown car is too small for a clown: that’s how we know a clown is driving it. A poem is too small for a poet: that’s how we know a poet is making it.
– Anne Boyer

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.
– Isabel Allende

Love And Solitude
I hate the very noise of troublous man
Who did and does me all the harm he can.
Free from the world I would a prisoner be
And my own shadow all my company;
And lonely see the shooting stars appear,
Worlds rushing into judgment all the year.
O lead me onward to the loneliest shade,
The darkest place that quiet ever made,
Where kingcups grow most beauteous to behold
And shut up green and open into gold.
Farewell to poesy–and leave the will;
Take all the world away–and leave me still
The mirth and music of a woman’s voice,
That bids the heart be happy and rejoice.
– John Clare

A fixed Star had not been visible unto all the Globe, and so of too narrow a signality in a Covenant concerning all. But Rain-bows are seen unto all the world, and every position of sphere.
– Sir Thomas Browne

Lisa Broderick:
No matter how divided we may seem as a society, the truth is that we have one very important thing in common: we feel overwhelmed by the busyness of our lives, and we feel alone in our overwhelm.

Emily Dickinson was an enigma, unknowable to a point, and truly eccentric, and it’s really bizarre that we keep trying to make up such banal biographies for her instead of just embracing the mystery.
– Amber Sparks

Neale Donald Walsch:
The point of life is not to get anywhere – it is to notice that you are, and have always been, already there.

Neale Donald Walsch:
Love is the energy which expands, opens up, sends out, reveals, shares, and heals.

…each found her greatest safety in silence…
– Jane Austen

We have forgotten that democracy must live as it thinks and think as it lives.
– Elisabeth Meyer

My library is an archive of longings.
– Susan Sontag

So what the heck do we do? How do we find some sanity for ourselves in a culture that’s experimenting with extremes? For me, I go back to the land. I return to the places which remind me of the vast sweep of time so I can remember that this year, this decade, this century is just a fleck of dust. I let the land soothe my shattered nerves and bolster my battered spirit…. Because we’ve got a long road ahead and I need to remember how to be firm and gentle, kind and wise. I need to feel supported so that I can write another blog post or book, so that I can sit in a circle and hold space for others searching and suffering, so that I have the strength to use my particular gifts and medicines to the best of my ability (because at the end of the day, this is what each of us can do)…. I too am feeling my way through, looking for laughter and the deep embrace of the land to light my way.
– Maia Toll, Herbiary

You can chew gum, wash up and listen to the radio at the same time, and still be aware.
– Ajahn Sumedho

It’s very hard to figure out this paradoxical wildness.
– t.k.

I study Jung for the same reason that I paint.
It’s a fruitless endeavor that deeply nourishes my soul.
and if I can’t nourish my soul, there is NO point in living this life…
– Ari Annona

A Poignant Chapter in Emily Carr’s Autobiography, “Growing Pains”.

Any creative person, artists of all sorts, whether the medium is culinary, canvass, sculpture, dance, music, gardening, writing, carpentry, design, teaching – no matter the medium, if you consider yourself an artist or a creative person you should appreciate the poignancy of this short chapter in Emily Carr’s autobiography.

Remember also as you read this that the time is the end of the 19th century and Emily Carr’s favorite sister has travelled from the west coast of Canada by train, ship and likely horse drawn carriage for at least a month to visit her sister in London.

“My Sister’s Visit”

“I had been a year in England when my favorite sister came from Canada to visit me.

“Wild with excitement I engaged rooms in the centre of the sightseeing London. Houses and landladies had to be approached through a rigorous reference system of (my friend) Mrs. Radcliffe’s. I pinned my best studies on the wall of the rooms, thinking my sister would want to see them.

“She came in the evening. We talked all through that night. At five A.M. my senses shut off from sheer tiredness. My last thought was, “She will want a pause between travel and sightseeing.”

“At seven the next morning she shook me.

“’Wake! What sight do we see today?!’

“We started off. She entered the sights in her diary every night—date, locality, description.

“At the end of a week I remarked, “Not interested in my work are you?”

“’Of course, but I have not seen any.’

“’I suppose you thought these were wallpaper?’ pointing to my studies on the wall. My voice was nasty. I felt bitter. My sister was peeved. She neither looked at nor asked about my work during the whole two months of her visit. It was then that I made myself into an envelope into which I could thrust my work deep, lick the flap, seal it from everybody.’”

When I read this I felt Emily Carr’s hurt, but I also felt very sorry that Emily was too young and in need of affirmation by her beloved sister to realize that – well, like it or not, there are lots of people that don’t even see art or creativity, especially if it is not their own. It would have been better if Emily had given her sister a chance introducing her art. “Sis, these are some of my art studies. When I heard you were coming I put them up on the wall because I wanted you to see some of my work.” Such an introduction would have given her sister a chance to save face and at least to be gracious in her response to Emily’s art. By immediately going to nasty Emily turned her art into a condemnation of her sister that then would have required an apology from her sister, which her sister in turn was not mature enough to offer. Consequently and sadly Emily turned her art into a wall, not only between herself and her sister, but between her and much of the world. Nevertheless, when I read this I very much identified with Emily’s hurt.

Our house is covered wall to wall with Susan’s art and other art as well from artist friends and purchased. When someone comes into our house and takes no notice I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed, but I’m not surprised. It is the person who notices that is the exception, not the other way around.

I don’t think of myself as the artist in our family, but I do some writing and, in my day I enjoyed crafting sermons. I long ago learned not to expect observations or comments that indicate real appreciation. Still, as with anyone who creates it it has always meant a great deal to me when another let me know that what I had written or that the words I spoke meant something to them.

I’ve always tried to remember toxpress meaningful appreciation for the creativity of others. And it need not be “a work of art.” If a waiter or waitress is especially attentive, helpful or delightful I compliment them for adding to the joy of my dining experience. If the person that mows our lawn or the worker who paints our deck takes special care I compliment them for their good work.

my only response now is to address the world with as much clarity of mind and heart as I can and to be keenly vigilant and offer up whatever awareness I can muster
– E. J. Evans

He looked at her and for a moment she lived in the bright blue worlds of his eyes.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think about all the roads I could have gone down….. if I was coming from “fear”… or “lust”…. or “ego”. I’m glad I chose the road I’m on. Because I took the “zen” road…. “the brave road….” I didn’t know if it was right at the time, but now I know it was right.
– Franki Love

In September dawns I hardly breathe – I am an image in a ball of glass. The world is suspended there, and I in it.
– Nan Shepherd

The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now — to be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you.
– Eckhart Tolle

Neale Donald Walsch:
You may think that people do not look to you, but they do. Everyone whose life you touch is touched by your example.

Neale Donald Walsch:
Do whatever it takes – meditate, exercise, pray, read, write, listen to music, whatever you find that works – to ignite your awareness daily.

When you want nothing from anyone else, you’re safe for anyone to be with. Including yourself.
– Byron Katie

In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.
– Rumi

Matt Haig:
I can’t keep up with all the crap that is happening in the world. It seems like stability is crumbling almost everywhere on the planet.

Jack Kerouac:
They went on forever and were forever incomplete, far from perfect…

What is the most important quality in a spiritual teacher? Cheerfulness.
– The Dalai Lama

You are in charge of your own karma, your own life, your own spiritual path, and your own liberation, just as I am in charge of mine.
– Lama Surya Das

There is no sword that can oppose kindness.
– Japanese proverb

Happiness runs in a circular motion.
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.
Everybody is a part of everything anyway.
You can have everything if you let yourself be.
– Donovan

We saw to the edge of all there is—
So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.
– Tracy K. Smith (My God, It’s Full of Stars)

spanish flowers
by Andrew Sweeny
In andalusia there are bright flowers everywhere
in every dark awning, every orifice
They are immodest flowers, bright pink and orange and obscenely red
They are indelicate spiky flowers with petals like switchblades
flowers on rank boardwalks, beside oily palms
flowers in towering tenement blocks
draped over rotting fascist architectures
in triumphant humor

The population insists on flowers
they are more important that peace and war, pork and cigarettes
they say: ‘since there is sunshine and rain let there be flowers’
flowers for old men who play chess on the boardwalk
flowers for the virgins girls and boys who play on the beach
flowers for gossiping old ladies who keep the ancient law –
the ancient law being: ‘let there be in all time and in all places
a profusion of flowers’

For there are flowers then everything is well
And however heavy the afternoon may be
the balm of evening will come
However rank grow the works of man
still the wives will take care of the flowers
still the old women will bring flowers
for jesus or francos or whoever
It doesn’t matter, what matters
is that the cool perfumed darkness come
and that we are redeemed in that
bright profusion

Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything.
People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.
– Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-395)

Charles Eisenstein:
The truth is, has always been, and always will be that we are utterly and hopelessly dependent on each other and on nature.

Arianna Huffington:
Meditation, yoga, sleeping, recharging and renewing ourselves make us better at our jobs. At the same time they also make us aware that our jobs don’t define the totality of who we are.

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.
– Julian of Norwich

Good poets are the explorers of the world. Out on the frontiers, they send back bulletins.
– Eamon Grennan

If you’re not in transition, then what the hell are you doing?
– Peter Himmelman

Gary Snyder:
Dream, Dream,
Earth! those beings living on your surface
none of them disappearing, will all be transformed.

Kelli Russell Agodon:
Today at the post office a man asked me why it mattered what stamps I bought and I said, “Because I’m a poet.” And that seemed to make sense to him.

Shira Erlichman:
If you could have seen the cloud I saw tonight—pink tower billowing pinker in a swath of purple—you would have felt, inexplicably, that all was in order & vaster than possible. You know what, here, take a shortcut: imagine it.

Gia Peppers:
At some point, life will take you places that affirm the vision you have for it. It will slowly start of reveal the sum of your prayers, discredit the doubts that creep into your mind & forgive you for the times you almost gave up on everything you worked so hard for.

keep going

… men cannot know what it is to be together without otherwise knowing what it is to be apart.
– Jack Kerouac

They found it, they lost, they wrestled for it, they found it again, they laughed, they moaned…
– Jack Kerouac

Danielle Rose:
A poem is just the part of the iceberg you can see.

Third Place Books:
We need more films about bookstores and booksellers.

It’s very common that people want to be free of suffering and go about it in ways that just increase their suffering. But it’s less common for people to want to be free of suffering because they really have a longing to help.
– Pema Chödrön

As confusion disappears,
so does suffering.
– Buddhist proverb

Richard Siken:
which brings us back
to the hero’s shoulders and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it.
Loving-kindness

Always think of how others are kind and precious. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
– Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Maggie Smith:
Let go of the narratives you’ve dragged around for years—the ones that say you are this kind or that kind of person, the ones you’ve outgrown but still half-believe. Set them down. Be yourself here and now. Keep moving.

No one sees his own hunchback.
– Yiddish proverb

Good poets are the explorers of the world. Out on the frontiers, they send back bulletins.
– Eamon Grennan

If you’re not in transition, then what the hell are you doing?
– Peter Himmelman

Dream, Dream,
Earth! those beings living on your surface
none of them disappearing, will all be transformed.
-Gary Snyder

I rarely hear anything about the work of sitting down at the desk and writing. The actual, physical process of occupying that space and creating. That’s where the sunshine happens.. [N]othing happens without the sitting.
– Paul Crenshaw

Expect that what you tend to will grow. What you feed with your attention, devote time to, shine your light on—these things will thrive. Choose carefully, but once you do, care generously. Tend to the roots, not just the flowers. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.
– Chuang Tzu

I don’t want to shovel poetry into people like it’s information.
– Eileen Myles

If you keep on talking, you will end up saying what you didn’t intend to say.
– Yiddish proverb

Tara, Goddess of Compassion
If she is called, she will come, it is said.

It is said that the Buddha gazed around the world with the eyes of compassion that could see at great distances. When he did this he saw beings everywhere who wanted to be happy, but many of them were doing the very things that create suffering. Tears began to stream down his cheeks and when they hit the ground it is said that they turned into the Goddess Tara – who became the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

– Jack Kornfield, The Heart of Compassion

Language is the most impure, the most contaminated, the most exhausted of all the materials out of which art is made…It’s scarcely possible for the artist to write a word (or render an image or make a gesture) that doesn’t remind him of something already achieved.”
– Sontag

The most dangerous people are those who have passion but lack wisdom.
– Haemin Sunim

I have abandoned the moral point of view. Morals lead to abstraction and to injustice. They are the mother of fanaticism and blindness. Whoever is virtuous must cut off the heads.
– Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959

The only thing was to go to bed and stick my head under the down.
– Jack Kerouac

In 2016, I walked 500 miles across Ireland, Wales and England – everywhere I went I was met with kindness and generosity from strangers. At the end of a tumultuous week of anger and division it’s good to remember we are a collection of nations founded on kindness.
– Mary Colwell

Democracy is not the rule of the majority but the protection of the minority.
– Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
– Aristotle

We could not have made the progress we made if we had done what they wanted us to do. They wanted us to talk about violence, so they could destroy us. So long as we were adhering to nonviolence, they could not destroy us.
– Bayard Rustin

Rushed, manipulative, or opportunistic people find silence impossible, even a torture.
– Robert Sardello

Rather than act like the lord of the manor, I would rather behave like a guest.
– Lao Tzu

Thinking is painful business.
– Chinese writer, Eileen Chang

Indian summer
the toad lily
in full bloom
– Cindy S. Bene

Devin Gael Kelly:
I love the feeling of picking up a book I once read & opening it to find all sorts of words underlined & notes in the margins. Who is this person, I wonder. Why did they love what they loved? Why were they surprised by such a phrase? I pause before realizing — oh shit, that’s me.

[F]or me, writing is part of what it is to be involved in reading.
– Fred Moten

In a sense ‘language is an analysis of thought: not a simple patterning, but a profound establishment of order in space.
– Michel Foucault, The Order of Things

I am that cedar, shake me not too much
– Christopher Marlowe

On Grief
by Matt Licata

Sometimes I wonder if all therapy isn’t grief therapy when all is said and done.

The original Greek ‘therapeia’ referred to attending, caring for, sending breath into. Not “curing,” “fixing” or even “healing,” not these heavy clinical words. But by way of our own tenderness, to infuse with life. To surround with warmth, to take the risk that this holding will always ask of us.

To be a midwife for psychic and somatic reorganization, to bear witness to the birth of a new heart, one which will inevitably ache and long and break and shatter and open and crumble in the face of it all. For that is the nature of this human form, which is crafted of particles of mystery, of mercy, of grace.

Things tend to not turn out the way we thought they would, for they are too alive, too magical, too majestic. This “not turning out the way we thought” is not evidence of mistake or that we’ve failed or done life wrong, but of the beloved and her activity here. And her outrageous care for form.
To fall to the ground, to stand back up again, to fail well, to be lost, to be found, realizing that love will assume any of these forms, shifting shapes as it spirals out of the stars and makes its way into this miracle world of time and space.

To grieve the crumbling and ending of one world, the death of a dream that has finished its time here. To allow that dissolution and provide sanctuary and safe passage for these forms to continue their journey into the other world.

The grief of knowing on some deep level that all form must reorganize, for it is its nature to do so: The people in our lives, what we have come to think we are, what has previously provided meaning, our bodies, our own worlds of experience, with even our greatest revelations ground into dust and sent back into the galaxies from which they came.

To turn toward the broken and grieve consciously, to honor the uncertainty, collecting the shards and the ashes and shepherding them. To dare to see the dissolution not as error but as holy, painfully and preciously whole, and to stand in awe as the pieces reassemble.

I have an independent existence. But I experience living as a part of a collective of loving individuals. I am not alone. I am so much a part of others that I live inside the people that love me, and they in turn, live inside me. My identity is not singular, it encompasses the many —as does love itself.
– Peter Himnelman

The attitude of maintaining oneself in permanent happiness is actually the expression of ego or confused neurotic mind.
– Trungpa

This is a zero-gravity poem
that grows less comprehensible
each moment as we spiral
outward on whatever it is
that beats the heart,
this trapped falcon in her
cage of bones.

Over the widening brim
of silence, out beyond the last
event horizon of the Word,
some lost creator still tries
to call home, shouting,
“Relax! Love has already happened!”

We don’t hear the good news
because the density of the void
fiercely expands between
our electrons too,
drowning out otherness
with the ineffable gift
of Unknowing.

But entropy conceals
a secret counter-force
that organizes everything
through astonishment.

This is why, to the amazement
of gardeners here on earth,
buds open by themselves.
Fallen petals navigate
our woodland streams:
we call it “drifting.”

Wind currents rise, the wings
of the graceful never beating,
but soaring. No warmth
is ever lost that does not lift
some lonely creature.

Who shouted “ooze” to the grape,
“ferment” to the nectar?
Don’t make up stories about it:
Ordinary magic
simply befalls us.

The ancients say it must have
sounded like the continuum
of Yes
whispered in emptiness.

The unborn say the cure
for our dis-ease
is ease.

Narratives of eternity,
every color, every tribe,
are tangled in our grandmother’s
Quaker quilt.

Spiders, rug-makers, crones –
they read the weaving with no eyes.

I don’t say, “Never dance.”
I don’t call the cosmos a lullaby.
Its a Godspell, a lightning bolt
in your spine of blossoms
where galaxies burst without trying,
flinging out stars with no intention
of ever getting them back.

That is how you must throw
your cares away
if you want to be like God,
abandoned by all
that is not.

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
– Robert Frost, from The Gift Outright

The way of heaven is to help and not harm.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Ceasing to do evil, / Cultivating the good, / Purifying the heart: / This is the teaching of the Buddhas.
– The Dhammapada

I see real love as the most fundamental of our innate capacities, never destroyed no matter what we might have gone through or yet go through.
– Sharon Salzberg

Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death.
– William Faulkner

One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.
– Andrew Wyeth

Isabelle Letellier:
Each time I meet a new activist I feel amazed. Amazed that we are standing together to save life on Earth; amazed that together we care, that we manage to extract ourselves from the absurd banality of self-destruction, just because truly we care, we love, and it matters.

Samantha Shannon:
Maybe every time my societally affected brain informs me that I have too many women and queer people in my books, I should just add another character who is queer and/or a woman

Come at me, brain

Be who you are and your life will transform forever.
– Deepak Chopra

Writing is writing.

But so is thinking, revising, deleting, pondering, trying, scribbling, and staring at the place where the ceiling meets the wall.
– Victoria/V.E. Schwab

Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Natalie Diaz:
some of this living (I don’t mean survival or resilience, I mean living: loving while carrying these wounds) requires return to what is old & before the “beginning.” some of it requires us to leap toward what is yet unsaid. we are what has happened, what is, & always becoming.

Richard Siken:
If you love me, you don’t love me in a way that I understand.

I will write every day to an unknown beloved, unnamed, or divine journal which is really who / what I wish to absorb all of my news. How disappointing though, when the imaginary does not write back! Otherwise there would be no need for actual persons to exist.
– Laynie Browne

You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky.
– Sandra Cisneros

You can’t buy yourself off from me. You can buy me only with the whole sky in yourself. The whole sky in which, perhaps, there is no place for me.
– Marina Tsvetaeva

Nurturing your beloved,
you become impartial.
Opening your heart,
you become accepted.
Accepting the World,
you embrace Tao.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Shira Erlichman:
Something I keep learning from Angel, my partner of 8+ years, is: the more you learn about friendship, the more you learn about love. The way she upholds friendship, its non-negotiable sacredness, rhythms & permissions. She studies & honors it, seriously joyful. What vastness

Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”

Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.

Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.

Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can’t see it.

Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in its reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all “So worth the wait.”

Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminosity is pervasive in the ether, and is accessible to you.

Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.

Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity.
Someone is coming back from the dead.
Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.
Someone is curing the incurable.

You. Me. Some. One. Now.
– Danielle LaPorte (born 1969) is a bestselling Canadian author, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger…

Words tend to last a bit longer than things, but eventually they fade too, along with the pictures they once evoked. Entire categories of objects disappear – flowerpots, for example, or cigarette filters, or rubber bands – and for a time you will be able to recognize those words, even if you cannot recall what they mean. But then, little by little, the words become only sounds, a random collection of glottals and fricatives, a storm of whirling phonemes, and finally the whole thing just collapses into gibberish.
– Paul Auster
In the Country of Last Things

The silence is so intense that you can hear your own blood roar in your ears but louder than that by far is the mysterious roar which I always identify with the roaring of the diamond wisdom, the mysterious roar of silence itself, which is a great Shhhh reminding you of something you’ve seemed to have forgotten in the stress of your days since birth.
– Jack Kerouac
the vale of soul-making

Well, the terrible fact is that though we are all more or less thinking of something or other all the time, some of us are thinking more and some less.
Some brains are battling and working and remembering and puzzling things over all the time and other brains are just lying down, snoring and occasionally turning over. It is to the lazy minds that I am now speaking, and from my own experience I imagine this includes nineteen people out of every twenty. I am one of that clan myself and always have been.
– Ted Hughes

Love is a flame
that burns everything
other than itself.
It is the destruction of all that is false
and the fulfillment of all that is true…

True Love is far greater
than anything that could be called personal. True Love is a non-personal miracle.
It is the nature of reality itself.
It is the natural and spontaneous expression
of the undivided self……

Intuition of this degree of Love
magnetically draws the individual toward it, and at the same time, causes fear to arise.
This Love is seeking
the dissolution of all separateness,
all me-ness, all self concern…..

Love cares not for the me,
it cares only for that which is true,
undivided and whole.
When the me dissolves,
when it surrenders itself
to a unity
far greater than anything
the mind can comprehend,
that is Love…..

Non-personal Love is not a feeling,
yet within it there can be, and there is,
feeling and emotion.
But the feeling and emotion
are not derived from a personal me.
The feeling and emotion
are derived from the absence
of a personal me…..

‘There is profound responsibility in being Love,’ …more than the mind could imagine
or hold up under.
If most human beings truly realized
the impact that they have on the whole,
they’d be crushed by the realization of it.
– Adyashanti, The Impact of Awakening

It’s easy to be kind when others treat you well. The challenge is to preserve your loving-kindness when they treat you badly—to preserve goodwill in the face of ill will.
– Rick Hanson

If the Tao could be spoken of, there is no one in the world who would not speak of it to their brothers & sisters.
– Chuang Tzu

Ashley C. Ford:
I’m not interested in watching the world burn because spoiled and angry old men are still trying to impress their dead fathers.

gathering words
para mami

One day I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
I have heard
pop! pop! pop!
like little soap bubbles escaping
the animated mouths
of the women who share
pieces of gossip like bombones
in la lavandería every Sunday

One day I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
that blossom without thorns
in painted mouths, in someone else’s countries…
In my corner, I listen to how voices ring
without the sting of bofetadas
and how they undulate above
gushing water and swirling clothes
in machines that vibrate in la lavandería

One day, I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
and enough courage
to let them ring in my mute dreams
until they sing to me: Write us. Así.
In your childhood tongue. Recóbranos. Recover us.
At that time, I will be able to return without fear
to la lavandería with my bags of clothes
and enough words and surrender myself to the bubbles.

You’ve been
borrowing me
for so long
that I forgot
to demand
myself back.
– MsWise

Kind hearts are the gardens.
Kind thoughts the roots.
Kind words the flowers.
Kind deeds the fruits.
Take care of your garden.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To every man is given a key to the gates of heaven.
The same key opens the gates of hell.
– Buddhist proverb

To be a poet is not my ambition, / it’s my way of being alone.
– Fernando Pessoa

Yoko Ono:
Be nice to yourself and people you love and have fun.

The next time you want to “educate” communities of color about climate change, remember that they have even more to teach you about building movements, about courage, about survival.
– Mary Heglar

Julian Hoffman:
Watering the late-summer garden to a field-cricket hymn. The hills swallow the sun earlier each day. Memory of its heat in the ripeness all around. A band of long-tailed tits whistling through the willows.

Jack Kerouac
You’d be surprised how little I knew even up to yesterday.

peter himmelman:
If I have any regrets it’s that I can’t fully empathize with the danger people feel is waiting for them when they open their hearts to the people they love. I know this: The danger doesn’t lie in love’s revelation, but in its concealment.

Battles fought with kindness, are battles won from the start.
– B. D. Schiers

Daily Kerouac:
This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.

There’s no delight in owning anything unshared.
– Seneca

Get yourself a hut house not too far from town, live cheap, go ball in the bars once in awhile, write and rumble in the hills…
– Wu Wei Master

[Taoism] isn’t a process of learning more facts or greater skills, it is the unlearning of wrong habits and opinions.
– Alan Watts

Shira Erlichman:
Who are musicians with mental illness that didn’t die because of (or related to) their illness? Thank you!

In trying to make a mix of my faves, I only find musicians with mental illness whose lives ended tragically. I need those voices & love them; I cherish their gifts & hearts, of course.

I also need to imagine us surviving & thriving. I want to add those voices to my headphones.

It‘s important for those of us living with mental illness to be able to envision ourselves getting old, getting through struggles unrelated to illness, winning, tripping up, slam dunking, being gorgeous, being fallible, living, living. We need examples of long full lives.

I think that every step, every breath, every word that is spoken or done in mindfulness—that is the manifestation of the Buddha. Don’t look for the Buddha elsewhere. It is in the art of living mindfully every moment of your life.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

A quiet mind cureth all.
– Robert Burton

I swam with the silence / in my mouth.
– Mary Ruefle

It always makes me proud to love the world somehow- hate’s so easy compared.
– Jack Kerouac

It is a delicious thought that what might save us, in the end, will not be a new economic arrangement or new politics or another revolution or a series of wonder technologies, but our own inner wildness, pushed under so hard and for so long that it finally bursts to the surface again, hungry for what it has lost.
– Paul Kingsnorth

Telling people you love them is the whole point for us. I say fill your pen with love or don’t bother picking it up.
– Luis Alberto Urrea

I think it’s one of the hardest things in the world to somehow make sure that the ones you love receive your care for them as physical information, as definite as—raindrops hitting your palm. Like when you hold out your hand to check if it’s raining and it is.
– Helen Oyeyemi

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

Gary Snyder:
In Western Civilization, our elders are books.

Samantha Shannon:
Started my day swimming under a dawn moon and a lilac California sky, lights in the trees and in the water. It was a little bit of magic.

Matt Haig:
Do people really have ‘dream jobs’? I only have dream holidays.

Shira Erlichman:
What the mind can’t lift, the heart can.

peter himmelman:
Creativity is born of a mind which senses itself as part of a larger whole.

The Paris Review:
Women are less likely to call themselves ‘collectors’ than men, even when those women have spent years passionately collecting books.

Even if we were very good at making everything outside of ourselves be just the way we ourselves want it to be (a ludicrous thought, you must admit), we could fundamentally never get everything perfect: because our desires are always changing, because they are often conflicting, and because the changes of the environment can never keep up with the pace of the wanting mind. The satisfaction of desire as a strategy for happiness will always be a doomed enterprise.
– Andrew Olendzki

THE SEVEN SORROWS
The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening –
A brown poppy head,
The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.

The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his brothers.
The woodland of gold
Is folded in feathers
With its head in a bag.

And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy
Ground of the picture.

The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water –
The beetle’s palace,
The catacombs
Of the dragonfly.

And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it’s gone.
It has only left litter –
Firewood, tentpoles.

And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox’s sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear
To the fox’s prayer.

And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.
– Ted Hughes

Words tend to last a bit longer than things, but eventually they fade too, along with the pictures they once evoked. Entire categories of objects disappear – flowerpots, for example, or cigarette filters, or rubber bands – and for a time you will be able to recognize those words, even if you cannot recall what they mean. But then, little by little, the words become only sounds, a random collection of glottals and fricatives, a storm of whirling phonemes, and finally the whole thing just collapses into gibberish.
– Paul Auster

In praise of Winter: Notes from Montana, as Bass puts it, the lower, slower state: where you’re sure to live twice as long, and see twice as many things, and be two times as happy at the end. Where snow is more wonderful than rain, than anything.

The Last Thoughts of Jeff Buckley in Memphis
I have that precious and irreplaceable luxury of failure, of risk, of surrender
– Jeff Buckley

If something happens to me, then you’ll be free!
And I want you to be free: how does that Presley
Song go? I want to be free, free, free, yeah
Free—I want to be free… like a bird in a tree.
And here by the river alone, by the Mississippi,
There’s one last song I’m gonna wade into. See,
I was raised to sing wherever I was in a house
And now, it seems, I have no house. How does
That Tom Waits song go? Wherever I lay my
Head, that’s where I call home. I say
I have no house, but that’s really a big lie.
I’m renting down here. I can sing in this place,
So maybe I’ll buy. That is, if I don’t die
First. Why so grim, you ask? There’s joy,
I suppose, in my voice somewhere. So they say.

I don’t hear it, myself. And that’s because
I get myself all hung up in the blue, or weigh
Myself down in the freighted churn, heavy currents
That I hope to God will carry me to our unchained redeemer,
Jesus.
My last thought is… that I had no last thought.
I’m just singing along. Whole lotta love! But… But…
The Hallelujah is what you can’t put into a poem.
Now I have no house but the waves (the river has waves).
I’ve left no notes: only some sketches for an album
Of tunes that was, I guess, intended to save
Me from going down, or out, or into the hurling rain—
From the pain that I worked so hard to earn.
Where it came from, where I come from, doesn’t concern
You, but please listen to these wild thoughts I’ve hung
On staves, that are fit to garland the graves
Nobody thinks to visit, in places I confess I never
Went to except in a nightmare, and in the posthumous release
Of this song.

Ethan Nichtern:
Most of the time, all you gotta do is show up.

In meditation practice and almost everything else, 90% of the work is getting there.

Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don’t mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, “It’s hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,
and there’s no one
to say what a good job you’re doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache.”
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world
day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.

There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world’s heart.
There is no other art.

– Invisible Work, by Alison Luterman

We experience glimpses of goodness all the time, but we often fail to acknowledge them. When we see a bright color, we are witnessing our own inherent goodness. When we hear a beautiful sound, we are hearing our own basic goodness. When we step out of the shower,

We feel fresh and clean, and when we walk out of a stuffy room, we appreciate the sudden whiff of fresh air. These events may take a fraction of a second, but they are real experiences of goodness. They happen to us all the time, but usually we ignore them as mundane or purely coincidental. According to the Shambhala principles, however, it is worthwhile to recognize and take advantage of these moments, because they are revealing basic nonaggression and freshness in our lives—basic goodness.

Every human being has a basic nature of goodness, which is undiluted and unconfused. That goodness contains tremendous gentleness and appreciation. As human beings we can make love. We can stroke someone with a gentle touch; we can kiss someone with gentle understanding. We can appreciate beauty. We can appreciate the best of this world. We can appreciate the yellowness of yellow, the redness of red, the greenness of green, the purpleness of purple. Our experience is real. And when we appreciate reality, it can actually work on us. We may have to get up in the morning after only a few hours’ sleep, but if we look out the window and see the sun shining, it can cheer us up. We can actually cure ourselves of depression if we recognize that the world we have is good.

It is not just an arbitrary idea that the world is good, but it is good because we can experience its goodness. We can experience our world as healthy and straightforward, direct and real, because our basic nature is to go along with the goodness of situations. The human potential for intelligence and dignity is attuned to experiencing the brilliance of the bright blue sky, the freshness of green fields, and the beauty of the trees and mountains. We have an actual connection to reality that can wake us up and make us feel basically, fundamentally good. Shambhala vision is tuning in to our ability to wake ourselves up and recognize that goodness can happen to us. In fact, it is happening already.

There is a basic human wisdom that can help solve the world’s problems. It doesn’t belong to any one culture or region or religious tradition—though it can be found in many of them throughout history. It’s what Chögyam Trungpa called the sacred path of the warrior. The sacred warrior conquers the world not through violence or aggression but through gentleness, courage, and self-knowledge. The warrior discovers the basic goodness of human life and radiates that goodness out into the world for the peace and sanity of others.
– Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

In these mountains I am made whole again
by birds and rocks and trees which speak to me
of their own difficulty in surviving storms. The earth reaffirms
my brief connection to her holy body and in this wild place
I find a lasting grace, unheeded in the daily shove of life.

The sun kneads my back with reassurance and the stream
sings of simplicity overlooked in my struggle to be brave.

Deep in these mountains solitude soothes my rage,
and I know that no one notices my importance,
not even me.

The Solace of Wild Places
from Wild Love (unpublished), 1996, by Nancy Wood

Old Relationships, New Possibilities

WE ALL HAVE SOME rough relationships in our lives that seem held together by the stickiness of attachment and expectation. It is true that we have love and care for these people, but, at the same time, it’s not so clean; there’s plenty of complexity. Inside, we feel an emotional tug when we see or think of them. This is often exaggerated with the people we are close to and with whom we share a strong dynamic, such as our parents, children, close friends, or spouse—all relationships where a lot of expectations tend to arise. There are many unspoken demands. In the midst of our romance, marriage, or parenting, we find ourselves responsible for someone else’s loneliness and their emotional or physical pain.

There is a Tibetan term that describes this kind of dynamic: lenchak, commonly translated as “karmic debt.” Len literally means “time” or “occurrence,” while chak refers to “attachment,” “attraction,” or the notion of a karmic pull toward someone, usually in an unhealthy way. So lenchak could be understood as the residue that revisits us from the dynamic of a relationship from what some would call a past life, a dynamic now strengthened by habitual responses. Lenchak is most often used to explain or describe why a particular relationship is how it is.

In the Buddhist texts, we read that in certain hell realms beings experience the negative results of past unwholesome relationships. They hear their name being called out and experience a pull toward the voice of the person they once knew. They travel toward that voice but end up encountering horrendous creatures and experiencing intense physical and mental anguish. This is interesting because, with those with whom we have lenchak, we feel an immediate pull beyond our control or sense of resistance. Our name is called, and we jump at once to serve them. This is not a conscious decision—not a joyous decision—but more like being propelled by a strong wind. Our reaction— whether with anger, jealousy, attachment, or what have you—only serves to reinforce the dynamic. People have done many things “in the name of love.” But if this is love, it’s not a healthy kind of love.

In Tibet they say there is a lake where, during a particular full moon each year, the seal-like creatures who live there gather fish in their mouths and offer them up to hordes of owls who hover in the trees above, waiting to eat. There is no apparent reason for the seals to offer the fish other than the fact that the owls seem to expect it. As the story goes, the seals gain nothing from offering the fish, and the owls are never satisfied. So, they say, since there is no obvious reason for this dynamic to be as it is, “it must be lenchak.”

The lenchak dynamic has two sides: the seal side and the owl side. If we are the seal, we feel an unspoken emotional responsibility for someone else’s mind and well-being. We feel pulled toward this person as if they have a claim on us. It’s a strong visceral experience, and we have a physical reaction to it: the phone rings and we check our caller ID—it’s “the owl.” We should pick it up, but we are overcome by a strong wave of anxiety and repulsion, as if we are being attacked by our own nervous system. We brace ourselves for a problem or a strong emotional download. As much as we want to detach ourselves from this person, we can’t break loose; it’s as if they have captured us, and there’s no escape— checkmate! Of course, this is not the case. In truth we are held hostage by our own attachment, guilt, and inability to resist the pain that comes from feeling unreasonably responsible for them. On one hand, we can’t bear watching the owl struggle. On the other hand, we can’t let go. This dynamic brings us down; it makes us lose our luster as human beings.

Meanwhile, the owl is never satisfied, no matter how many fish the seal tries to feed it. Of course, when caught in the owl syndrome we don’t see it in this way. We feel neglected, isolated, and weak. The reason for this is that we are depending on someone else in hopes that they will manage our fears. We have so many unspoken demands, although we often express these demands in a meek and needy way. The owl syndrome reduces us to a childlike state. We begin to question whether or not we can do things on our own, and we lose confidence in our ability to face our mind and emotions. Interestingly, the owl—so frail, needy, and insecure—is not necessarily as feeble as it seems to be. In fact, the owl has the upper hand. It’s a little manipulative, if you want to know the truth. The owl just doesn’t want to clean up its own mess. This is a privileged attitude. If the owl couldn’t afford to be weak—if it didn’t have the seal—it would naturally rise to its own challenges.

The irony of this dynamic is that, in most cases, the more fish the seal offers the owl, the more resentful, demanding, and dissatisfied the owl gets. For both the seal and owl, this kind of dependence and expectation gives way to a lot of ugliness. At work we may have to hold our tongues and swallow what our boss has to say, but there is no holding back with our loved ones. We let our guard down and allow ourselves to get ugly, spreading our web of ego anxieties all over the place. It’s true, the seal may temporarily pacify the owl, but no mutual respect arises from this kind of arrangement. And in truth, isn’t it respect that we want most of all? Everyone wants love and care, but, more than these, human beings want respect for who they are. Even an enemy can respect another enemy. There is a sense of human dignity in this.

In this confusion of lenchak for love, we fear that without the lenchak dynamic our relationships will completely fall apart. What is there beyond all the obligations, all the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts,” and all the fantasies we try to live up to? The distinction between love and lenchak needs to be examined carefully. Love and care toward others warms the heart and makes us generous and giving. Feelings of love and care arise naturally; they are not the product of pressures and demands. Think about the attachment and pain of lenchak. Think of all the insecurities and resentment that come with it. Lenchak makes us feel like we are not up for our own life and its challenges or that we can’t handle seeing others in pain. And yet we don’t trust that they can handle their own lives, either!

WHEN IT’S TIME for a child to start walking, a mother needs to let her child walk. She needs to let the child lose his or her balance, fall down, and then find balance once again. Alone, the child needs to get up and stand on his or her own two feet. Although children need protection, we need to have confidence in their potential to flourish. We don’t want to hold them captive by our own fears and doubts—this creates the unhealthy dependence we have been talking about. Letting children immerse themselves in a challenging situation or obstacle for a while gives the child confidence. It gives the mother confidence, too. It’s one of the early steps a mother takes in letting the child become a citizen of the world.

When challenges or obstacles arise for us, we don’t have to get so intimidated; we can say, “Yes, it’s an obstacle, but it is not intrinsically bad; it’s not going to destroy me.” To create a relationship with the obstacle, learn about it, and finally overcome it is going to be a helpful thing to do. It gives us a chance to cultivate wisdom and skillful means. It gives us confidence. We cannot eliminate all of the challenges or obstacles in life— our own or anyone else’s. We can only learn to rise to the occasion and face them. Shantideva suggests that we need to cultivate a “Can do! Why not? No problem!” kind of attitude toward our neuroses and obstacles in order to overcome them. If we have no confidence, we’ll already be defeated, like a dead snake lying on the ground. Around a dead snake, even a sparrow can act like a garuda! (This ancient mythological Indian bird, said to be able to travel from one end of the universe to the other with a single movement of its wings, is also said to hatch from the egg fully developed, and is thus used as a symbol for the awakened state of mind.) In the same way, the smallest fear or neurosis will entirely overpower us.

The great deception of lenchak is that it doesn’t even occur to us that our suffering is our own. We automatically expect that others should share in it or take it on themselves. In this way, lenchak gets in the way of our owning up to the responsibility of our lives. There are times when we try to pull others in for sympathy. If asked, “How are you?” we will review our full history. It starts off, “I’m okay, but . . . .” We feel a need to share everything. At the end of the conversation, others know all our troubles and ailments. We just can’t seem to go through the process on our own with our own strength.

But do we really need to be transparent as glass? Do others really want this kind of honesty? People often can’t handle all the details and confusion in their own lives. It is safe to assume that they have emotional ups and downs and uncomfortable physical sensations like we do. Furthermore, unless they are our doctor, what can they actually do for us?

At the end of my mother’s life, when she was quite sick, an old friend came to see her. When he asked how she was feeling, she said, “I’m fine.” I later asked her why she said that, and she replied, “What else should I say?” When you ask accomplished teachers how they are, they always say, “Good, good, very good”—always good. Many people say that they feel dishonest saying they are good when in fact they have problems. But what we are talking about here is developing a fundamental sense of strength and wellbeing. Wouldn’t it be better to associate our mind with that rather than with all the fleeting emotions and physical sensations we experience throughout the day? What is the point of being honest about something so fleeting and impossible to pin down? If your well-being is so dependent upon your emotions and physical sensations, you will have little opportunity to say, “I am well.” So when people ask how you are, say, “Good!” You may need to pump yourself up a little bit in the beginning, but soon you will start to believe it yourself. You will begin to see that people feel more attracted to you. They won’t feel that subtle tug when they see you coming. And they will be less hesitant to ask how you are!

WHEN WE ARE BOUND by the emotional needs of others, or simply afraid of our own, how can we entertain the idea of engaging a spiritual path? And when our relationships with others are so unclean and confused, how can we expect to extend kindness to others and work for their benefit? Lenchak goes against the most fundamental principles of spiritual practice. We are always seeking something from the outside and forgetting that our fundamental well-being and strength depend on how we relate to our own minds. Falling under the sway of the lenchak dynamic is like losing possession of our very lives. It’s like letting others lead us around by the nose ring as if we were a buffalo or a cow. What could be more detrimental than losing our freedom in this way?

All the great practitioners know the consequences and pitfalls of lenchak, so they fiercely guard their independence. They are savvy when it comes to working with others because they know that whether it concerns their students, parents, family, or whoever, if they fell prey to the lenchak dynamic, it would eat up their time and their peace of mind. Moreover, because it is a dynamic based on neurosis, lenchak leaves no supportive ground on which to serve others. In the end, they would find themselves leading an entirely different life from the spiritual life of practice they envisioned for themselves.

Knowing this, many yogis have steered clear of societal demands and led simple lives, traveling alone without the complications that come with having many sponsors and attendants. The great Nyingma teacher Patrul Rinpoche [1808–1887] had a strong, uncompromising presence and was completely immune to any kind of deception or partiality. There are stories that when important dignitaries would come for an audience—some of them so proud it would have taken a bulldozer to get their heads down—they would shake like prayer flags in his presence. But don’t think for a moment that Patrul Rinpoche, even though he was free of entanglements, had even a trace of indifference! He was known as a loyal and kind friend, a compassionate friend, who dedicated his life solely to benefiting others. Because he was able to see the greater potential of the human mind’s ability to awaken, he spent his entire life expounding the teachings with great care and tenderness. Through his wisdom and compassion, he was able to preserve his independence and serve others, perfecting his own mind through the jewel of bodhicitta (“enlightened heart”). On the relative level, bodhicitta has two aspects: aspiration bodhicitta, which is the wish to attain enlightenment in order to bring all living beings to liberation; and engaged bodhicitta, which includes such practices as generosity and patience. On the absolute level, bodhicitta is insight into the nature of all phenomena.

Wisdom and compassion are the two components of bodhicitta. When we begin to discover the mind’s natural potential and strength, we are cultivating wisdom. This doesn’t mean we become hard-hearted and indifferent. It doesn’t mean we have to cut our family ties, quit our job, or live in a cave. It simply means we refuse to give in to lenchak because we see that it doesn’t serve us and that it makes it impossible for us to serve others. We recognize lenchak, and we can “just say no”! We can see it as a form of civil disobedience— a nonviolent approach in which we refuse to succumb to our own and others’ ignorance. When we can reclaim our nose ring, we are left with no real reason to resent others. With a mind free from lenchak, we have a lot of room to expand the heart through serving others. This is how wisdom can protect us, so that we can be soft and caring. This is the bodhisattva’s way.

In the sutras it says that a bodhisattva is like an immaculate lotus that floats on muddy water. The lotus is a metaphor for the bodhisattva, who engages the world of confusion in order to serve beings. But how is it that the bodhisattva stays afloat without sinking into the muddy water of confusion? It is due to the wisdom of knowing the mind—how it can serve us or how, if left unchecked, it can spin in the direction determined by confusion. This kind of clarity may seem a long way off for us, but it all begins with rising to the occasion of our lives and facing our minds. We need to think clearly about this. Since this is our life, we must find some determination to rise to it in a way that supports our aims. Once we taste the freedom that comes with independence, it gets easier. We realize how much we have lost by desperately holding on, and we know how much there is to gain through disengaging from confusion. We can do this while expanding our most precious qualities: our good heart and our compassion for others. Through our innate qualities of wisdom and compassion, we can burn the seeds of lenchak once and for all, ensuring benefit for both self and other. This knowledge has been of great personal value to me in my life as a teacher, householder, and friend. I hope that it serves you well, too.

Buddhahood, says Dzigar Kongtrül, is nothing but an unobstructed experience of the nature of mind, boundlessly spacious and limitlessly compassionate. The trick is that in order to see the mind accurately, we must use the particular aspect of mind he calls natural intelligence. Natural intelligence enables us to discriminate between what helps or hinders us. But most of all, it’s the part of us that searches for happiness and meaning. In Light Comes Through, he shows us how to skillfully use our wish for happiness as a tool in awakening to the joyous wisdom of mind.
– Dzigar Kongtrul, Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence

Fred LaMotte:
In the land of truth
there is only one law:
Mind your own business.
What is your business?
The quality of your heart.
All that you know, all that you do,
all that you are,
depends upon the quality
of your heart.
Mind the heart
and the world will flower,
making honey through you.
Impose no religion
or utopia
on another.
Just tend your garden
which contains the seeds
of all gardens.
Dear friend,
mind your own business.
Mind the heart.

Today, the sky’s the soft blue of a work shirt washed a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. On the interstate listening to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist say, “The universe is not only stranger than we think, it’s stranger than we can think.” I think I’ve driven into spring, as the woods revive with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy scarves flung over bark’s bare limbs. Barely doing sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound, and aren’t we just? Just yesterday, I read Li Po: “There is no end of things in the heart,” but it seems like things are always ending – vacation or childhood, relationships, stores going out of business, like the one that sold jeans that really fit – And where do we fit in? How can we get up in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do, put one foot after the other, open the window, make coffee, watch the steam curl up and disappear. At night, the scent of phlox curls in the open window, while the sky turns red violet, lavender, thistle, a box of spilled crayons. The moon spills its milk on the black tabletop for the thousandth time.
– Barbara Crooker

More than any other media in our country, literary magazines model critical thinking and arrange an exposure to the unorthodox, both of which can provide inoculations against where we seem to be headed as a collective.
– Jim Shepard

Song for the Turtles in the Gulf
We had been together so very long,
you willing to swim with me
just last month, myself merely small
in the ocean of splendor and light,
the reflections and distortions of us,
and now when I see the man from British Petroleum
lift you up dead from the plastic
bin of death,
he with a smile, you burned
and covered with red-black oil, torched
and pained, all I can think is that I loved your life,
the very air you exhaled when you rose,
old great mother, the beautiful swimmer,
the mosaic growth of shell
so detailed, no part of you
simple, meaningless,
or able to be created
by any human,
only destroyed.
How can they learn
the secret importance
of your beaten heart,
the eyes of another intelligence
than ours, maybe greater,
with claws, flippers, plastron.
Forgive us for being thrown off true,
for our trespasses,
in the eddies of the water
where we first walked.
– Linda Hogan

Imagination is just some remembering, from the other side, of course.
– Tony Piccione

Victory Chang:
One of the most important collectives the internet can build is between those without hope and those with it…In societies where the body and speech are not restricted, though, the internet can sharpen the damage of tyranny…
– Freeman, Dictionary…

Victoria Chang
The internet is not the world; it is a dream that distracts us from the world itself…when we blinked our eyes and finally looked up…our local bookstores had gone, our pubs, our post offices…anything requiring the word our…
– Freeman, Dictionary…

Eloisa Amezcua:
POETS OVER EVERYTHING

The future is made up of only one substance and that is the present moment. By taking care of the present, you are doing everything you can to assure a good future.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Dalai Lama:
It’s quite right that students and today’s younger generation should have serious concerns about the climate crisis and its effect on the environment. They are being very realistic about the future. They see we need to listen to scientists. We should encourage them.

Hazel Chu:
I’ve heard people say tmrw’s #ClimateStrike students are brainwashed & Greta Thurnberg is being used as a tool. Here’s some facts:

-Climate change is real.
-Our planet is dying.
-Young people are doing more to raise the issues than those in power.
-Greta & her mates are heroes!

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
Other people dream of marriage, of children.

I dream of an old stone house in the Scottish highlands where I can live, surrounded by wolfhounds.

Jack Kerouac:
Somebody had tipped the American continent like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling to LA in the southwest corner.

aria aber:
my mom just went like “gosh don’t you just love the earth? she’s so fat. so round. so good at just spinning around with all that shit on her, planes and buildings and so many humans. and she’s an artist too. all that fruit she creates? beech trees? cats? wow. a master.”

Ethan Nichtern:
Most of the time, all you gotta do is show up.

In meditation practice and almost everything else, 90% of the work is getting there.

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.
– Anton Chekhov

Keith S. Wilson:
one of my absolute favorite things is seeing someone be talented at something that our culture doesn’t usually praise, like interviewing/moderating, or deescalating a confrontation, or ringing up customers really fast, or calmly and lovingly explain something to a child

Social change, much like climate change, is caused by multiple chain reactions that occur simultaneously. Both cause, and are caused by, feedback loops. No single factor can be credited for a hurricane, drought, or wildfire, just as no single factors can be credited for a decline in cigarette
smoking—and yet in all cases, every factor is significant. When a radical change is needed, many argue that it is impossible for individual actions to incite it, so it’s futile for anyone to try. This is exactly the opposite of the truth: the impotence of individual action is a reason for everyone to try.
⁠- Jonathan Safran Foer, Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

If it happens that the human race doesn’t make it, then the fact that we were here once will not be altered, that once upon a time we peopled this astonishing blue planet, and wondered intelligently at everything about it and the other things who lived here with us on it, and that we celebrated the beauty of it in music and art, architecture, literature, and dance, and that there were times when we approached something godlike in our abilities and aspirations. We emerged out of depthless mystery, and back into mystery we returned, and in the end the mystery is all there is.
– James Howard Kunstler

Song (“The world is full of loss … ”)
BY MURIEL RUKEYSER
The world is full of loss; bring, wind, my love,
my home is where we make our meeting-place,
and love whatever I shall touch and read
within that face.

Lift, wind, my exile from my eyes;
peace to look, life to listen and confess,
freedom to find to find to find
that nakedness.

You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,

catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,

but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift

the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.

Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job —
it all stacks up while you keep hoping

for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.

Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.

But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…

and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom —

when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,

and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die —

and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it’s because the thing is too small, too small,

and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom

that this is what transformation looks like —
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,

the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day

you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn

and the dusk of the body,
glistening, beautiful

just as you are.
– Leza Lowitz

And if we can’t save the world,
and who says we can’t, then
let us try anyway. Perhaps
we have no superhuman powers—
can’t see through buildings,
can’t fly, can’t bend the bars of cages—
but we have human powers—
can listen, can stand up to,
can stand up for, can cradle.
And if we can’t imagine
a world of peace, and who
says we can’t, then let us
try anyway. Perhaps we start
tonight—on a Wednesday.
Thursday works, too. Or Friday.
Doesn’t much matter the day.
All that matters is the choice
to meet this moment exactly
as it is, with no dream of being
anyone else but our flawed
and fabulous very self—
and then, wholly present,
bringing this self to the world,
touching again and again what is true.
What if we do? And if we can’t
save ourselves, and who
says we can’t, let’s try anyway.
There was a time I thought
I could never be healed. That
was only because it hadn’t happened yet,
so I decided it wasn’t possible.
Healing happened anyway.
What have we decided isn’t possible?
What if we stopped believing
that limit? What if, right now,
we used our human powers
of compassion, clarity, gratitude,
praise? What if we did it together—
opened all those closed doors inside
us? What if we let the opening do
what opening does?
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

It’s good to be just plain happy,
it’s a little better to know that you’re happy;
but to understand that you’re happy and
to know why and how and still be happy,
be happy in the being and the knowing,
well, that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.
– Henry Miller

Ode to Blueberries
Now that it’s September, I want to thank blueberries.
I want to thank peaches, cantaloupes, cherry tomatoes
and corn on the cob. All summer long while we griped

about the Republicans, you were lying there in baskets,
blue eyes silently watching, blinking back tears.
Some of you were whole crimson sunsets in my hand.

I’m not sure what antioxidants are, but thank you:
I know that you were full of them.
I loved your fuzz, buxom peach, your sass, blackberry.

I loved your smile, honeydew, halved and split
as we slobbered together. Local strawberry,
just one of you gushing on my tongue was almost

too much to bear. Next summer you could do a better job
of staying under three dollars a pint; otherwise, no complaint.
How erotic you are, plum, lounging in a sunbeam,

your crimson still-life, your sweated drops of fever!
You should be ashamed the way your waves imploded
on the beaches of my mouth: well, it was a scene!

But thank you. I also want to thank some of you flowers:
begonia, peony, chrysanthemum and lucifer crocosmia.
I do not forget the morning glory, that soft trumpet

made of sky, calling us inward toward granaries
of moonlight. And now, just as the rest of you languish,
the apples arrive! Round crimson shouts

from green caverns of Autumn afternoon.
O humans, we too might burst, an orchard of longings,
wild but rooted, globe-laden, corridored with fruit.

We might drop at the edge of the meadow,
silvered in flurries of milkweed and thistle-down.
Why not bend to our ripening, the pungent smolder

of our inward sugars, the grace and gravity of Fall?
Why not bow to the blessed sag of our limbs
in the gentle bruise of surrender on our knees?

We could lie on the bee-festered earth, hollowed, wormed
out with inner paths, free from every striving to rise. Why not let
this turning planet have her way with us, and do what she loves?
– Fred LaMotte

Out
of a great need
we are all holding hands
and climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen,
the terrain around here
is
far too
dangerous
for
that.
– Hafiz

Thomas Lloyd Qualls:
The Dalai Lama once famously explained, “My religion is kindness.” Part of the beauty in this is that, though it seems simple, it is not. And that fact keeps it out of the realm of spiritual bypasses. And keeps us striving to get it right.
This has been a hard day for me. For all kinds of reasons I won’t go into too much detail about, but it included about 4 hours of sleep, too many deadlines, a sick little boy, and the anniversary of the death of a friend. And I failed the kindness test many times today. And so maybe the recycling of this article from June of 2015, originally published in Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine (RIP), will help to counter some of that.

Especially in the wake of 9/11, it is more important than ever to remember kindness. Instead of remembering that day with hatred or animosity or divisiveness. Instead of imagining there is any “them” to counter the imaginary “us.” Instead, remember that if we were all just a little (or a lot) more kind, if we could take to heart that there are no others, if we could understand that anything we do to another (or to the planet) we do to ourselves, there would never be another 9/11.

Here you go. Hope you enjoy:

Be Kind.

This may be the single most important thing you can do in your life. Just be kind. All we have to do is think about being kind and it instantly makes us happier. Being kind to another creature, human or not, also has instant gratification. We instantly feel better about ourselves. Smiling at someone gives us virtually the exact same positive result as if someone smiled at us.

One of the casualties of the modern age is the lost art of civility. In this age of instant gratification, unfortunately we’ve forgotten one of the most gratifying acts of all, common courtesy. And there is not a single person that can say this rule doesn’t apply to them. Though everyone from professors to politicians forget it. Whether you are serving food or sitting on a modern throne, you, too, need to be more kind more often.

What ever your occupation, be it a magistrate or a metal worker, a senator or a city councilperson, a janitor or a judge, your first job is to be kind. Whether you’re in the grocery store or online, in traffic or on the phone, be kind. Be kind to everyone you meet, no matter the circumstances. Be kind to your co-workers. Be kind to those who work for you. And be kind to those you work for. Because we all work for someone. And far too many of us forget this far too often.

Police officers be kind to those you stop. And drivers be kind if you’re pulled over. Politicians be kind to your constituents, even though it’s not election time. Neither the black robe nor the council chair change who you are. But if you’re not careful, they change who you think you are. Be mindful that words have power. And be kind to all who come before you, be they counsel or convict, whether they’re being sentenced or just seeking official approval.

Smile while you’re mopping the floor. And smile when you’re behind closed doors. Even though you don’t have to. Especially because you don’t have to. Make up your mind to be someone who smiles at people on the street. Even if they don’t smile back. Remember that you have a choice. You always have a choice. Choose kindness.

I’m not naïve. In addition to being the best writer nobody’s heard of, I’m a criminal defense lawyer. I often see people at their lowest. And I know that life is hard. I read the news. I know how ugly and mean and scared the world can be. I know about political and economic and judicial systems that too often crush the human spirit. And I understand that even the people in charge of those systems are broken.

Part of the reason we’re not more kind, more of the time, is because we’re fed up. We’re tired of the selfish, tight-assed meanness that we see in the world, in government, in our own neighborhoods. But guess what, being fed up and acting out because you’re fed up doesn’t help. It only adds to the lack of kindness.

Yes, the world is kind of fucked up. But it’s also beautiful. There’s an old tale of two wolves that battle inside each of us. And the young child who wants to know which wolf wins. The answer his grandfather gives him is important to remember: The one you feed.

So lets all sign up for CSA baskets for our kindness wolves. Baskets filled with wonderful things grown and raised by wonderful people with wonderful intentions. Let’s buy those local farm baskets for our friends and neighbors, so they’ll feed their kind wolves, too.

Some of you may still dismiss this as utopian dreaming. But it’s really not that crazy. Just stop being afraid of what people will think. Kindness does not make you weak. Or stupid. Or naïve. That’s where meanness comes from. Meanness is a defensive tool. It’s a weapon for those not brave enough to put down their shields.

What I am saying is not new. And I am not the first to say it. Plato, Lao Tzu, Gandhi, Einstein, Anne Frank, Emerson, FDR, Kahlil Gibran, Dalai Lama, Mark Twain, Aldous Huxley, Kerouac, Vonnegut, and countless others have offered us this same wisdom. It is up to us to take it up. It is up to us to remind each other. It is up to us to practice it. It is up to us to pass it on.

We have a choice. We always have a choice. Choose kindness.

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding!”—that is the motto of enlightenment.
– Immanuel Kant

It is on this moment of balance I must end: the strange moment when spirituality rejects ethics, when happiness springs from the absence of hope, when the mind finds its justification in the body. If it is true that every truth carries its bitterness within, it is also true that every denial contains a force of affirmations.
– Albert Camus

Keith S. Wilson:
one of my absolute favorite things is seeing someone be talented at something that our culture doesn’t usually praise, like interviewing/moderating, or deescalating a confrontation, or ringing up customers really fast, or calmly and lovingly explain something to a child.

Often we cling to habits that aren’t even comforting or satisfying, simply because we are unable to let go or explore new ways to do things.
— Lama Surya Das

Earth is a solar powered jukebox.
– Gordon Hempton

Everyone knows this.
The voyage into the interior is
all that matters,
Whatever your ride.
– Charles Wright

Self-Portrait
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand
the great philosophers—but usually catch just
scraps of their precious thoughts.
I like to take long walks on Paris streets
and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy,
anger, desire; to trace a silver coin
passing from hand to hand as it slowly
loses its round shape (the emperor’s profile is erased).
Beside me trees expressing nothing
but a green, indifferent perfection.
Black birds pace the fields,
waiting patiently like Spanish widows.
I’m no longer young, but someone else is always older.
I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist,
and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses
dissolve like cumuli on sunny days.
Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me
and irony suddenly vanishes.
I love gazing at my wife’s face.
Every Sunday I call my father.
Every other week I meet with friends,
thus proving my fidelity.
My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don’t know.
I’m truly not a child of the ocean,
as Antonio Machado wrote about himself,
but a child of air, mint and cello
and not all the ways of the high world
cross paths with the life that—so far—
belongs to me.
– Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh

These forms we call ‘you’ and ‘me’
are only the surface we see.
And though Love came
wearing your name
it’s omnipresent, now, and free…

So drown me in your darkest pain,
your softest kiss, your sweet despair.
I’ve seen Your face now, and I know your name,
and I can find you anywhere.
– Kirtana

I propose a conspiracy of orphans. We exchange winks. We reject hierarchies. All hierarchies. We take the shit of the world for granted and we exchange stories about how we nevertheless get by. We are impertinent. More than half the stars in the universe are orphan-stars belonging to no constellation. And they give off more light than all the constellation stars.
― John Berger

There is a danger. Don’t fall in love with yourselves. We have a nice time here. But carnivals come cheap. What matters is day after day, when we will have to return to normal lives. Will there be any changes then?
– Slavoj Zizek, shouting in the crowd at 2013 Occupy Wall Street

Don’t let anyone make you feel that making art—writing, painting, performing—is frivolous, self-indulgent, a “hobby.” Collecting something is a pastime; making art is a vocation, a calling. Do the work. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

The land knows you, even when you are lost.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

Ian McMillan:
Be careful where you step
Along the morning’s way;
The paint has not yet dried
Across this brand new day.

On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.
– Adlai E. Stevenson

Dalai Lama:
If you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion and respect, then you can do any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you will ultimately reach your goal.

The spiritual journey can be very tricky.
It can start with great power, energy, intellect, skepticism, and inquisitiveness. Nonetheless, it can ultimately result in nothing more than a kind of religion based completely on blind faith.

That is the principal danger for Buddhist practitioners. It is easy to fall into this trap without really noticing it. We think we are being very skeptical and inquisitive. Then suddenly we find ourselves in a totally blind tradition of religious dogma. We find ourselves in the midst of a great darkness—still walking, but not knowing where we are going.
There is a tremendous need to reflect again and again on the nature of our spiritual path. What is our purpose in being here? What is the basic motivation that brought us to this path? Is it a genuine interest in awakening, in enlightenment, in freedom? Or do we have other reasons? Every now and then we have to remind ourselves of our purpose and motivation. We have to go back to the most basic questions: Do I really want to attain enlightenment? Am I really willing to achieve that? It is not a question of how difficult it is or how long it takes to become enlightened. The question is, Do I really want to wake up from this dream?..
When we understand that suffering is the real truth of samsaric existence, we develop a genuine feeling of revulsion, which leads to renunciation. Seeing this reality becomes the primary motivation for us to connect with the pure Dharma, the genuine path. Revulsion and renunciation are similar. Revulsion is the state of feeling disgust with the suffering of samsara. Renunciation is simply seeing samsaric suffering clearly and wanting to be free from such suffering, wanting to achieve ultimate happiness and peace.
Such an understanding of samsara leads us onto the path of liberation. We could say that developing renunciation helps us to start the engine of our vehicle so that we can navigate on the road and find a suitable exit from suffering. We do not want to take just any exit. We do not want to get off at an exit that leads to the local bar, or at one that leads to a Himalayan cave. Simply being physically present in a Himalayan cave will not help, because we inevitably bring our whole samsaric mind with us. Instead, when we develop true revulsion, we can renounce our habitual tendencies, the deeply ingrained, subtle habits of mind that are ignorant, disturbing, and harmful to our mental well-being. When we develop a genuine understanding of suffering, renunciation, and the selfless nature of ego, we can properly enter the path of Mahayana.
The Mahayana, which is known as the “greater vehicle,” is associated with the second and third cycles of the Buddha’s teachings. These cycles contain the Prajnaparamita sutras, or the sutras on transcendental knowledge, and the teachings on buddha nature. At this point, we are saying that we are working not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of all living beings. However, if we cannot work with our own ego-clinging, how can we work with genuine compassion for the benefit of others? We will be pretending. It will be as if we are making ourselves a great T-shirt that says “Bodhisattva” or “Mahayanist,” but it will not mean anything. We will simply be wearing a T-shirt displaying a label that says “Bodhisattva” or “I Am Compassionate. I Work for You Guys.”
It is only when we have properly understood the Hinayana notion of suffering and the view of selflessness that it becomes possible to generate genuine loving-kindness and compassion. When we have directly recognized our own suffering and its causes, we can easily understand that other beings are also suffering in samsara, just like us. With this understanding, compassion is not very difficult to develop. It requires only a slight shift in our motivation, a slight shift in our point of reference, from a self-centered view to the view of caring for all sentient beings. We shift from being concerned solely with our own welfare to having concern for the welfare of all living beings around us. Therefore, when we truly enter the Mahayana path, we become genuine practitioners of compassion, practicing our whole path for the benefit of others. Our concern for the happiness and welfare of all beings surpasses our concern for our own happiness.
This kind of motivation is called bodhichitta, which is translated as “the heart of enlightenment.” The heart of enlightenment has two aspects: relative and ultimate. Relative bodhichitta is the desire to achieve enlightenment in order to benefit all living beings. We want to bring all sentient beings into the state of buddhahood. Ultimate bodhichitta is the realization of emptiness combined with compassion. Emptiness, or shunyata in Sanskrit, refers to the true nature of all phenomena. That nature is devoid of true, inherent, and independent existence and is beyond all levels of conceptual elaboration. This genuine understanding of shunyata is not limited to knowing the emptiness of self, but also includes knowing the selfless nature of the whole universe. Thus, the Mahayana path leads us one step further than the Hinayana path. It leads us to the development of genuine compassion and love and to a deeper understanding of emptiness. Once we have established the fundamental groundwork of the Hinayana and Mahayana paths, we can enter the path of Vajrayana.
The goal of Vajrayana practice, which is the realization of complete freedom, is not different from the goal of any other Buddhist path. However, the approach of this yana is quite distinct. In Vajrayana practice, we are not aiming toward attaining enlightenment. Rather, enlightenment is seen as existing in every state of being. There is a basic sense of the continuity of enlightened mind that is like the thread that runs through a string of prayer beads. This thread runs through beads of all different sizes and forms. In a similar way, the continuity of the enlightened heart is present in every state of mind and in every situation of samsara. In the Vajrayana, we do not see enlightenment as our final goal because it is here already. It is present in every state of mind: in every state of confusion as well as in every state of clarity and wisdom.
From the Vajrayana point of view, whenever we are fully experiencing the chaos of samsara and of our emotions, we are experiencing complete enlightenment, or full awakening. It does not matter how we label these experiences. There is a basic sharpness in our emotions that awakens us by itself. No outer method or remedy is required to wake us up. The basic sharpness and basic space of experience awaken us to the reality of enlightenment.
From a conventional point of view, the Vajrayana view is a little bit insane. For example, it does not see any difference between being awake and being asleep. The very experience of sleep is awake. Sleep is nothing but dense clarity. The very experience of emotions is the very experience of enlightenment. Essentially, the Vajrayana approach toward our whole environment and our emotions is to see them as our guru. What is the function of a guru? A guru wakes us up from the sleep of samsara. What is the function of emotions? They wake us up as well.

Therefore, Vajrayana practitioners see opportunities for awakening in the nature of all experiences, all emotions, and all environments.
There is no awakening outside these very experiences. What we variously call buddhahood, enlightenment, or buddha mind is present in this very moment…”
– Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen

We’ve come this far, survived this much. What // would happen if we decided to survive more? To love harder?
 – Ada Limón

Jack Kerouac on The Golden Eternity, in a letter to his former wife

I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night.

It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds.

But in our true blissful essence is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all.

It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect…

Practice kindness all day to everybody, and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.
– Jack Kerouac, 1957
The Scripture of the Golden Eternity. Poetic meditations on joy, consciousness, and becoming one with the infinite universe. A much loved book in my library.

Everyone’s so judgy about Harry’s temper tantrums in book 5 but lbh the alternate title should’ve been Harry Potter and the Literal PTSD He Was Suffering From Seeing a Peer Murdered and Almost Being Murdered Himself, Good God Everyone, He Was Only 15 Years Old.
– Sophie Gonzales

Because people try to conquer others instead of gaining victory over themselves, there are problems. The Buddha taught that one should simply gain victory over oneself.
– Sayadaw U. Pandita

Pema Chodron: 

I’ve  known many people who have spent years exercising daily, getting massages, doing yoga, faithfully following one food or vitamin regimen after another, pursuing spiritual teachers and different styles of meditation, all in the name of taking care of themselves. 

Then something bad happens to them and all those years don’t seem to have added up to the inner strength and kindness for themselves that they need to relate with what’s happening. And they don’t add up to being able to help other people or the environment. 

When taking care of ourselves is all about me, it never gets at the unshakable tenderness and confidence that we’ll need when everything falls apart.

– Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chodron


This path entails uncovering three basic human qualities,” explains Pema. “They are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has these qualities and can call on them to help themselves and others.

Pema shares insights and exercises from her lifetime of practice that we can immediately put to use in our lives to awaken these essential qualities and help us to take a bold leap toward a new way of living—one that will bring about positive transformation for ourselves and for our troubled world.

At the end of the day, we’re talking about embodying the deep spiritual realities of life into our human expression.
– Adyashanti

It is sweet to think I was a companion in an expedition that never ends.
– Czeslaw Milosz

In 6 seconds you can kiss someone like you mean it.
In 6 seconds you can hold open a door.
In 6 seconds you can wait for a little straggler to catch up. “I’ll wait for you,” you can even say. 

In 6 seconds you can take a deep breath.
In 6 seconds you can let it go. “It’s not worth it,” you can say.
In 6 seconds you can tuck a note in a lunch box or in a pocket. It takes 2 seconds to draw a heart.

In 6 seconds you can say you’re sorry.
In 6 seconds you can cut yourself some slack.
In 6 seconds you can throw away that picture, that pair of pants, that inner bully that keeps you from loving this day, this you. 

In 6 seconds you can feel the sunshine.
In 6 seconds you decide it’s time to stop looking back.
In 6 seconds you can whisper, “It’s gonna be okay,” to yourself or someone who’s scared. 

I used to sound like a broken record. “I don’t have time,” I’d always say. 
But then I realized what could happen in a mere 6 seconds. 

It’s enough to make a bad day good … 
It’s enough to bring life back to your weary bones … 
It’s enough to remember what really matters in the midst of so much that doesn’t.   

It’s enough to change history. 

In 6 seconds, we can put back into the world what fear and hate threaten to take away: goodness, kindness, compassion, unity, hope, peace, & love. These commodities are not too scarce, and the world is not too big. 

I have 6 seconds. Do you? Let’s use them to send a ripple of goodness out into the world today. Thanks for being the change, my friends of The Hands Free Revolution. 

– Rachel Macy Stafford, only live today

I’m afraid I wasn’t much of a student, but my casual reading was enormous.
– Conrad Aiken

The Truce
Pluck a strand of wind
And listen to the trees quiver.

Run until your heart pounds
And watch the stagnant surface
Of the pond ripple.

Throw back
The suffocating blankets of false comfort
And let yourself feel the renewal of the rain.

Only when we overcome
Our fear of being alone,
Can we come to know the company
That is always with us.

In surrendering, we are cradled.
In accepting, we are able to impart.
In kneeling, we stand taller.


Gather what is worthy of your devotion
And never betray it.

So that, in the end,
You will know that,
Though you be small,
You poured out all that you are
Into what is greater

And in doing so,
Became a part of it.

– Leslie M. Browning
FLEETING MOMENTS OF FIERCE CLARITY

I have heard that 
even in space you 
can hear the scratch 
of an I I I I I I I I love you.

– Phil Kaye

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m just like a pile of leaves.
– Frank O’Hara

ann daramola:
Wait till y’all find out self care doesn’t work without a community.

The happiness you are seeking is not to be found in the flow of life, but in your attitude toward whatever life brings.
– Ramesh Balsekar

An owl is mostly air.
– Ursula Le Guin

And do not
take cover. Instead, curl your toes
into the grass, watch the cloud
ascending from your lips. Walk
through the garden’s dormant splendor.
Say only, thank you.
Thank you.
– Ross Gay

We do not stumble over mountains, we stumble over anthills.
– Japanese proverb

the library haunter:
I want men to know they can be tender and sensitive and soft like Sufjan Stevens and women to know they can be bold and passionate and angry like Greta Thunberg.

Our thoughts and ideas are nature, just as much as waves on the ocean or clouds in the sky.
– Alan Watts

It doesn’t matter how you see it, it doesn’t matter how your mind perceives it, the moon is always full.
– B. D. Schiers

It is sweet to think I was a companion in an expedition that never ends.
– Czeslaw Milosz

The older I get, the more convinced I am that the space between people who are trying their best to understand each other is hallowed ground.
– Rogers

Andrew Hagel:
Treads lightly on the cobbles of words & ideas
–cobbles form footpaths and bridges.
Words, definitions, and ideas serve as fluid and provisional stepping stones for bridging that abysmal barrier of human language.
They’re not concrete – artificial and unsightly,
even concrete is impermanent.
Seeing as that’s the way things are,
I’d just as soon make use of more natural materials
because the real goal is just getting across

sophie gonzales:
Everyone’s so judgy about Harry’s temper tantrums in book 5 but lets be honest the alternate title should’ve been Harry Potter and the Literal PTSD He Was Suffering From Seeing a Peer Murdered and Almost Being Murdered Himself, Good God Everyone, He Was Only 15 Years Old

claire schwartz:
I love when someone has been kind to me in this deeply present way I hold close to my chest & then I learn they’ve been kind to another person in that way. & another. & another. & sometimes it feels like a whole constellation lit by their kindnesses.
@ilya_poet is like that.

Ian McMillan:
Be careful where you step
Along the morning’s way;
The paint has not yet dried
Across this brand new day.

Roseleda
Orange groves lining the side of the road in the sun

faces are beaten by warmth that will not come undone, hollowed out cliffs will embrace them as we come to see her, and me and Jose will sing songs in the bar Roseleda. Oh Pedro once told me that he liked the old Glasgow rain, and he had a passion for songs that he`d sing again, and took his way down through the small streets of old Torreveja, and me and Jose would sing songs in the bar Roseleda.

Oh the streets of Denia would welcome you home in the rain, Fruitales will greet you so happy to see you again, and John Joseph Rush he would buy you a beer in Casada, and me and Jose would sing songs in the bar Roseleda. Markets would bustle with people from all around town, and stalls that are laden with shades of blue red and brown, and dusty old roads that would take you as far as La Manga, and me and Jose would sing songs in the bar Roseleda.

Snotty nosed kids round the playa Flamengo would dance, fireworks tossed in the air that would leave you entranced, and boats that would sail their way round the costa, and me and Jose would sing songs in the bar Roseleda. I`ll meet you again with Javier down at old los Fruitales, we`ll sit down together and we`ll share a beer in the sand, we`ll wander together through the old streets of old Torrevecia, and me and Jose would sing songs in the bar Roseleda.

So lay your heartbeat down, and take, take your memories home, and maybe I will see ya, one day in the bar Roseleda.
– Ivan Drever

Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.
– Rogers

The winds which passed over my dwelling were such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the broken strains, or celestial parts only of terrestrial music.
– Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN

Mountainal
By JANE HIRSHFIELD
This first-light mountain, its east peak and west peak.

Its first-light creeks:
Lagunitas, Redwood, Fern. Their fishes and mosses.

Its night and day hawk-life, slope-life, fogs, coyote, tan oaks,
white-speckled amanita. Its spiderwebs’ sequins.

To be personal is easy:
Wake. Slip arms and legs from sleep into name, into story.

I wanted to be mountainal, wateral, wrenal.

Sometimes, especially when I’m reading them out loud, I can sort of ride the poems back into that other person’s head for a few moments. It’s disorienting, and it often takes me a minute after readings before I’m fully inhabiting myself again.
– Kaveh Akbar

The form of a horse represents what is best in human beings. I have a horse inside me that rarely manifests itself.
– Clarice Lispector

Melissa Crowe:
No, I don’t think a poet should marry another poet. I think she should marry somebody with the skills to help her start numbering on a page other than the first page.

My life itself is sacred. It is not sacred merely in small doses. It is not sacred only on weekends or on special occasions when I feel at one with things. It is not sacred because it is consecrated to some lofty ideal or because I am special or holy. It is sacred when I am confused, when I’ve just messed up and acted like a jerk, when I put myself on a pedestal, or when I pretend I have it all together. Why? Because my life is not personal. It is not mine.
Oh no…I do not mean to evade the responsibilities of living in the ways I do. I do not mean to throw my agency away to some nebulous hive mind that steals my specificity. When I say my life is not mine, I mean to say that my life is lived through many others, because of many others, by many others, and in lieu of many others. I breathe only because the air moves and because some tree somewhere did not withhold its breath; I stand because the ground does not withhold its endorsement; I eat and digest and defecate because of the hard invisible work done by micro-critters in my belly; I speak even though I didn’t invent alphabets.
I am part of a commonwealth of movement, and the boundaries I am used to – where I stop and where you begin, what I believe and what you disavow – beguile me from noticing the haunting length, breadth, warp and woof of the nameless thing living partially as me. Something else, flung out across the bumpy terrains of spacetime, needs my failure in order to gestate; someone else, in another time and place, may be stunted and crushed by the accolades I accrue to myself today; and my tears may ripple out into rivers in ways I cannot anticipate.
My life is sacred because it is delicate, because it spills through, because it is necessarily incomplete, and because it is not mine. It is manifold. And I can’t figure it out.
– Bayo Akomolafe

I love books far too much to be content with my own. Kafka said ‘I am made of literature,’ and I would like to borrow that. There is nothing else of worth. Translating is my way of making more books.
– Michael Hofmann

Stiffness is thus a companion of death;
flexibility a companion of life.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:

How do people talk to people all day every day???

My entire body hurts from trying to keep my insides inside of my outsides in front of other people.

Mary Annaïse Heglar:
Y’all don’t seem to realize that these kids only seem fearless because they’re scared shitless.

You once told me that the human eye is god’s loneliest creation. How much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn’t even know there’s another one, just like it, an inch away
– Ocean Vuong

Matt Haig:
The way we frame environmentalism is negative. It’s always seen as a sacrifice to save the planet. As though walking and using bikes more and eating naturally and breathing clean air and having improved mental health would be terrible.

We must not wish for the disappearance of our troubles but for the grace to transform them.
– Simone Weil

Helpless Heart
by Bryan White
I’m sitting here inside this stranger’s place
And time is racing by
I’ve been way out here for a month or more
Tonight I’m wondering why
You try to understand the things that I feel
Maybe this time I’ll find a way to explain it
Cause there is a dream deep inside my head
And it may seem like it’s breaking the thread
That holds me to you
Still you have never wanted to change me
But darling I know though we’re far apart
The signal is strong
This helpless heart will always belong to you
To you
This power takes me from the place I belong
To where only the strong get through
You’ve got keep on believing or you’ll lose your way
Cause it slips right out of view
Though there are days the light can flicker and fade
Here in this place tonight a fire is burning
Cause there is a dream deep inside my head
And it may seem like it’s breaking the thread
That holds me to you
Still you have never wanted to change me
But believe me I know though we’re far apart
The signal is strong
This helpless heart will always belong to you
This helpless heart will always belong to you
Will always belong to you
To you
Only to you
To you

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.
– Li-Young Lee

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
How do people talk to people all day every day???

My entire body hurts from trying to keep my insides inside of my outsides in front of other people.

Mary Annaïse Heglar:
Y’all don’t seem to realize that these kids only seem fearless because they’re scared shitless.

You once told me that the human eye is god’s loneliest creation. How much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn’t even know there’s another one, just like it, an inch away
– Ocean Vuong

Matt Haig:
The way we frame environmentalism is negative. It’s always seen as a sacrifice to save the planet. As though walking and using bikes more and eating naturally and breathing clean air and having improved mental health would be terrible.

We must not wish for the disappearance of our troubles but for the grace to transform them.
– Simone Weil

I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me. So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.
– Jeanette Winterson

Jaz Allen-Sutton:
Scatter memories
On paths that lead to the sand and sea
With pine needles
And the salt in the air

Rob Hudson:
I think I’m old enough now to realise that the real beauty in art is in the journey of self discovery. There is no destination, it is simply the way we manifest our humanity.

Ada Limón:
The moment when you realize your pen is on the other side of the room so you just decide to give up on writing for the rest of your life.

Instead of suffering together, we should be happy together. And we will, once we put our minds to it.
— Yoko Ono

Lament by Rilke: I would like to step out of my heart / and go walking beneath the enormous sky.” Yes. And yes. And yes…

We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.
— Rumi

Harry Potter:
You won’t have to do all the work alone this time, Hermione. I’ll help. (Ron, Book 3)

We are fast moving into something, we are fast flung into something like asteroids cast into space by the death of a planet, we the people of earth are cast into space like burning asteroids and if we wish not to disintegrate into nothingness we must begin to now hold onto only the things that matter while letting go of all that doesn’t. For when all of our dust and ice deteriorates into the cosmos we will be left only with ourselves and nothing else. So if you want to be there in the end, today is the day to start holding onto your children, holding onto your loved ones; onto those who share your soul. Harbor and anchor into your heart justice, truth, courage, bravery, belief, a firm vision, a steadfast and sound mind. Be the person of meaningful and valuable thoughts. Don’t look to the left, don’t look to the right; we simply don’t have the time. Never be afraid of fear.
– C. JoyBell C.

He was crazy of course
From the first she must have known it
But still she went on with him
And she never once had shown it
And she took him off the street
And she dried his tears of grieving
She listened to his visions
She believed in his believe-ins

Oh, he was the sun burning bright and brittle
And she was the moon shining back his light a little
He was a shooting star
She was softer and more slowly
He could not make things possible
But, she could make them holy

He was dancing to some music
No one else had ever heard
He’d speak in unknown languages
She would translate every word
And then when the world was laughing
At his castles in the sky
She’d hold him in her body
Till he once again could fly

Oh, he was the sun burning bright and brittle
And she was the moon shining back his light a little
He was a shooting star
She was softer and more slowly
He could not make things possible
But, she could make them holy

Well, she gave him a daughter
And she gave him a son
She was a mother, and a wife,
And a lover when the day was done
He was too far gone for giving love
What he offered in its stead
Was the knowledge she was the only thing
That was not in his head

He took off East one morning
Towards the rising sun’s red glow
She knew he was going nowhere
But of course she let him go
And as she stood and watched him dwindle
Much too empty to be sad
He reappeared beside her saying,
“You’re all I’ve ever had”

Oh, he was the sun burning bright and brittle
And she was the moon shining back his light a little
He was a shooting star
She was softer and more slowly
He could not make things possible
But, she could make them holy
Holy ”
– Harry Chapin

Joseph Fasano:
Poetry ruins one life in us and saves another.

Ellie Cooper:
I rarely actually tweet, especially about politics – am more of the silent retweeter – but after the chilling scenes in Parliament last night I just don’t think I can stay quiet anymore. There’s a group of young people and children that need to be spoken for. (A thread.)

Renounce unethical forms of livelihood, and sustain yourself according to the Dharma.
– Atisha Dipamkara

Lisa Broderick:
I don’t have problems—I have dreams. Problems are when you don’t like the way things are. Dreams are when you know you can change them.

Intense love does not measure. It just gives.
– Mother Teresa

KABOOM PANTOUM
I’ll ring the bells,
Ohio, tomorrow,
when the stars come due
like lice to a gravel.
Ohio, tomorrow
is winter & every winter,
like lice on a grackle,
we must drive defensively.
This winter & every winter,
I wait too long to wear a coat.
We must dress defensively,
but last minute still counts.
If I wait to wear a coat,
will you wait with me?
Last minutes still count,
maybe more than last words.
Will you wait with me?
Take sequoia, for example—
maybe more than last words
word games reveal a lot—
sequoia, for example, is
the shortest word to use each vowel one.
Word games reveal a lot.
Short word. Tall tree. AEIOU.
The tallest tree to use each vowel once.
Does not thrive in Ohio.
Short word. I. Double. O. No UAE.
Bell in the mouth at either end.
– Kathy Fagan

Vow Of Silence – Poem by Amy Sutton
Now I see why
We kept that vow between us;
Some quiet thing inside
That knew just how thin
Those eggshells were
That we were walking on.

Falling wordlessly
Into each others arms
And hearts,
Sometimes gently,
Sometimes hard enough
To knock the breath out of us.

The point was
We were always there
To catch each other.
We fitted;
A bizzare
Emotional jigsaw
Of two pieces.

A perfect symbiosis,
Where the love ran so deep
It was beyond pain;
Beyond need;
Beyond speech.

And we sleepwalked
Our stuttering,
Tumbling,
Beautiful ballet
For how long?
Years.

Just don’t speak.
Don’t say it.
Because when you do,
It flits between your fingers
Like a golden butterfly
And crumbles into dust.

Don’t speak.
You’ll wake the dreamers.
And I’d have slept for years
By your side,
Not knowing
What we had already taken as given.

And now it seems
To make up for
The terrible words I spoke –
Those tiny words that shattered us
Into the two broken shards
Of you and me –

To make up for me
Breaking my vow,
You’re keeping silent for two.
– Amy Sutton

You can safely assume that you’ve created God
in your own image
when it turns out
He hates the same people as you.
—Anne Lamott

Another way to put it:

We don’t see things as they are;
we see them as we are.
— Anis Nin

Wake up, you poets:
let echoes end,
and voices begin.
– Antonio Machado

Through the study of books
one seeks God;
by meditation
one finds him…
Do not fear.
Jesus is more powerful
than all Hell…

– “As a child Francesco Forgione saw his guardian angel so frequently that he referred to the angel fondly as “the playmate of my childhood.” The guardian angel would play such a prominent role in Padre Pio’s adult life that one of his Capuchin confreres would fill an entire book with incidents where Padre Pio interacted with his own angel and the guardian angels of others.

When he moved into adolescence, He did not long for power, riches, sexual conquests, or wild living. Instead, it was the true riches the world offers that drew Franci: to remain with his family, so strong in their love for one another, and to seize the joys he had learned among them. Chief among these was family life itself, with its innocent pleasures of laughter, food, a glass of wine, sharing a good story, praying together, and, above all, knowing they were there for each other in good times and bad. To give up all this and leave the ones he so deeply loved to enter the Franciscans and study for the priesthood seemed beyond the fifteen-year-old’s strength.

Meditating on his calling by God to become a priest, he suddenly had an unforgettable experience. Padre Pio wrote under obedience to his spiritual directors, speaking of himself, as always, in the third person: ‘He saw by his side a majestic man of rare beauty, splendid as the sun. This man took him by the hand and he heard him say:

“Come with me, because you will have to fight as a valiant warrior.” Then he was led to an area of very spacious countryside. Here there was a great multitude of men divided into two groups. On one side he saw men of most beautiful countenance … in snow-white garments. On the other … men of hideous aspect, dressed in black like so many dark shadows. As he stood between the two groups, a giant man appeared with his forehead seeming to touch the heavens and a face that was horrible. This strange personage approached nearer and nearer and the guide who was beside the soul informed him that he would have to fight with that creature.

At these words the poor little soul turned pale, trembled all over and was about to fall to the ground in a faint, so great was his terror. The guide supported him with one arm until he recovered somewhat from his fright. The soul then turned to his guide and begged him to spare him from the fury of that eerie personage, because he said the man was so strong that the strength of all men combined would not be sufficient to fell him. [The guide answered:]

“Your every resistance is vain. You must fight with this man. Take heart. Enter the combat with confidence. Go forth courageously. I shall be with you. In reward for your victory over him I will give you a shining crown…” The poor little soul took heart. He entered into combat with the formidable and mysterious being. The attack [of the giant being] was ferocious but with the help of his guide, who never left his side, [the soul] overcame his adversary, threw him to the ground, and forced him to flee.

As promised, a crown was placed on the soul for a moment but almost immediately it was removed and the guide said: “I will reserve for you a crown even more beautiful if you fight the good fight with the being whom you have just fought. He will continually renew the assault to regain his lost honor. Fight valiantly and do not doubt my aid. Keep your eyes wide open, for that mysterious personage will try to take you by surprise. Do not fear his … formidable might, but remember what I have promised you: that I will always be close at hand and I will always help you, so that you will always succeed in conquering him.” And so the vision ended.

A day or so later a second spiritual experience confirmed that Francesco’s whole life as a priest would require combat with his mysterious adversary from hell. Demons would be present at his battles to jeer, but he must never fear, for the angels would also be there to applaud his victories over the evil one. He understood furthermore that the heavenly guide was Jesus Christ himself, who would sustain him in the battle so long as he trusted in the Savior and fought valiantly.

In 1903, fifteen-year-old Francesco Forgione left Pietrelcina with two other boys from his area. His mother, blessing him through her tears, said he belonged now no longer to her but to St. Francis. An hour’s train ride brought him to the town of Morcone, where the boys found their way to the friary of Saints Philip and James. The door was opened by Franci’s hero, Fra Camillo of S. Elia a Pianisi, who welcomed them warmly. This young friar had usually been the Capuchin sent out to beg in places like Pietrelcina, picking up not only eggs, grain, wine, and other foodstuffs, but the admiration of little boys as well. Francesco, for instance, spurned the other religious orders he might have entered because he insisted he wanted to have a beard, like Fra Camillo did.

One of the Scriptures in Pio’s cell was “You are dead and your lives are hidden with Christ in God.” Given a new name symbolizing his new “birth” as one given utterly to God, Francesco Forgione would be known for the rest of his life as Pio. After an introductory period of just over two weeks, he began a year of novitiate under a novice master who was severe but also a man “with a heart of gold,” full of charity and understanding for the young men he guided. Padre Leone of San Giovanni Rotondo was the supervisor of studies at one of the friaries where Pio did part of his studies for the priesthood. Padre Leone says

“I … would often go to visit him in his cell and I almost always found him praying on his knees with his eyes red from crying. I could say that he was a student who prayed continually, and these prayers were made up of tears as it was enough to look at his eyes to understand that tears were habitual visitors.” While the supervisor of studies confesses that he found Pio praying instead of studying, he witnesses, “However, in school he always knew the lesson in spite of the fact that we were of the opinion that he studied very little.” Was this because Pio was an intellectual genius? Padre Leone does not think so, characterizing Pio as “of average intelligence.” It is Pio’s spiritual rather than intellectual genius that seems to account for his ability to master subjects more through prayer than study.

If Pio’s spiritual genius was first hinted at by his exemplary behavior (he himself admitted he was never scolded even once as a novice), it was further confirmed in his gift of tears. Not only Padre Leone saw that Pio wept a great deal when praying. Padre Damaso of S. Elia a Pianisi recalls, “One evening (this would be around 1904), we were praying silently in the choir…. Spurred on by devotion mixed with curiosity, I stealthily placed my finger on a large white handkerchief that Frater Pio had at his side, and I thought of the gift of tears (it was said that he had an eye problem as a result of the many tears he shed). I withdrew my finger, which was now completely soaked, as the handkerchief was drenched with tears. From that moment, something particular was conceived in my soul for Frater Pio’s goodness.”

Finally, Padre Antonio of San Giovanni Rotondo recalls Pio shed “enough tears to form a dent in the floor, during prayer time, and especially after Holy Communion. When asked the reason for those tears, the little Frater would always withdraw into himself and become silent. As his spiritual director, I finally obliged him to speak: ‘I cry,’ he said, ‘for my sins and those of mankind.’”

Sometime during those years of studies, Pio made an interesting prophecy to a fellow student, Romolo of San Marco in Lamis, who was just a year and a few days older than Pio. Handed a piece of paper, Romolo saw that Pio had written in Latin “Romolo, statutum est te mori post me et mori senem,” which in English means, “Romolo, it is established that you will die after I do and you will be very old.” Many years later, Padre Romolo died on February 1, 1981, at the age of ninety-five. Although a year older than Pio, he had outlived him by thirteen years.

Frater Pio spent time over a period of several years at various Capuchin houses as he progressed through his studies toward priestly ordination. Everywhere he went, he was esteemed and loved, but no one thought of him as a saint—or even a saint in the making. For instance, in 1907, Padre Agostino of San Marco in Lamis, who some years later would become Frater Pio’s spiritual director, noted that Pio—who was then studying philosophy—was “good, obedient, studious, even if [as was already often the case] he was ailing.” Still Padre Agostino did not see “anything extraordinary or supernatural in him.” Pleasant and good-humored to others, during this time from age eighteen to twenty-one, Pio suffered horribly from scruples, worrying constantly that he was not pleasing to God.

Yet, even while suffering greatly both from poor health and scruples, hidden supernatural phenomena continued to be part of Pio’s life. The best-known incident, revealed under obedience to Padre Agostino years later, was already two years past at the time Agostino took Pio for just a good little friar. It had taken place on the night of January 18, 1905. As was his custom, at about eleven at night, rather than hitting the philosophy books, Pio was praying in the choir. He later wrote under obedience:

I suddenly found myself far away in an elegant house, where the father was dying while his child was being born. Then Most Holy Mary appeared to me and said: “I confide this creature to your care; it is a precious stone in the unpolished state. Work on it; polish it; make it as shiny as possible, because one day I want to adorn myself with it…” “How will this be possible when I am still a poor student and don’t even know whether I will have the joy of becoming a priest? And even if I do become a priest, how will I be able to think of this baby girl, being so far away from here?” The Madonna replied: “Do not doubt. It will be she who will come to you, but beforehand you will meet her in Saint Peter’s….”

– Patricia Treece, Meet Padre Pio: Beloved Mystic, Miracle Worker, and Spiritual Guide

“Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 – 1968), was a friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic, now venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. Born Francesco Forgione, he was given the name of Pius (Italian: Pio) when he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Padre Pio was said to have had the gift of reading souls, the ability to bilocate (according to eyewitness accounts), among other supernatural phenomena. He was said to communicate with angels and worked favors and healings before they were requested of him. The reports of supernatural phenomena surrounding Padre Pio attracted fame and legend. The Vatican was initially skeptical. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by John Paul II.

Padre Pio became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience.

When you concentrate, even a phone book becomes interesting. Perhaps your life is boring because you are not concentrating.
— Haemin Sunim

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be.
— Ajahn Chah

Fred LaMotte:
I am thrilled by
your wonder,
not your opinion.
Last night a half moon
caught in the glittering web
of a patient spider.
Today a drunken worm
in a golden apple.
No one debated
any of this.
It just happened.
Please don’t tell me
what is right or wrong.
Just meet me
in the silence
of a fallen leaf.

Understanding love is one of the hardest things in the world.
Love and trust, in the space between what’s said and what’s heard in our life, can make all the difference in this world.
When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.
I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.
The best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.
– Fred Rogers

I love this earth. I don’t want a new one, I just want this one fixed. I want frosty mornings like I had as a kid….It hasn’t gotten that cold around here in years.
– Kelsey Lahr

Rumi:
Truth lifts the heart, like water refreshes thirst.

Kindness, kindness, kindness
– Susan Sontag

Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.
– Lao Tzu

The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be.
— Ajahn Chah

Wake up, you poets:
let echoes end,
and voices begin.
– Antonio Machado

Every soul
has a definite task,
and the fulfillment of each
individual purpose
can alone lead man aright;
illumination comes to him
through the medium
….. of his own talent.
– Hazrat Inayat Khan

With your reaction to each experience, you create the karma that will color your future. It is up to you whether this new karma is positive or negative. You simply have to pay attention at the right moment.
— Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the Unseen singing softly to itself and you.
– Rachel Naomi Reme

This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
– Catherine Pierce

Michael Collins:
A broken heart is quite possibly the most beautiful mountain to have to climb.

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of 10 years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
– Confucius

Keeping the body in good health is a duty. Otherwise we will not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
– Teachings of the Buddha

Yoko Ono:
Some of us will fall in love with a heart or hearts and see eternity, before the end. Choose your ending.

Yoko Ono:
Some of us will fall in love with nature and realize that nature does not care about you.

If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be.
– Antonio Porchia

Alastair Humphreys:
Sonder: the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground.

Don’t return to your native town:
you can’t teach the truth there.
By the village stream an old woman
is calling you by your childhood name.
― Ma-Tsu

Alastair Humphreys:
5 regrets of the dying:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends
I wish that I had let myself be happier

You can have a Ramana-like
experience of emptiness,
but have a hell of time returning from that…
The completion of space is love…
There is a love
that comes out of being connected
out of our humility,
where we connect
from the very foundation…
– Adyashanti, Emptiness and Love

I have clawed my way to ‘okay’ and it will just have to do for now.
– Rachel Wiley

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
– T.S. Eliot

Love is what we were born with.
Fear is what we learned here.
– Marianne Williamson

Frankly, a writer should be a hero of consciousness.
– Jim Harrison

Your heart is the light of this world. Don’t cover it with your mind.
– Mooji

Let the Tao be present in the universe and the universe will sing.
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
— Frederick Seidel

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

LONG AFTERNOONS
Those were the long afternoons when poetry left me.
The river flowed patiently, nudging lazy boats to sea.
Long afternoons, the coast of ivory.
Shadows lounged in the streets, haughty manikins in shopfronts
stared at me with bold and hostile eyes.

Professors left their schools with vacant faces,
as if the Iliad had finally done them in.
Evening papers brought disturbing news,
but nothing happened, no one hurried.
There was no one in the windows, you weren’t there;
even nuns seemed ashamed of their lives.

Those were the long afternoons when poetry vanished
and I was left with the city’s opaque demon,
like a poor traveler stranded outside the Gare du Nord
with his bulging suitcase wrapped in twine
and September’s black rain falling.

Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze
that sees but doesn’t penetrate; tell me how to cure myself
of silence.
– Adam Zagajewski

Lauren Worsh:
The trick is to learn how to wind up your vibration,
without winding up your nervous system.

you and the sun were all that i could see.
– Loudon Wainwright

Darden Smith:
Songwriting is there for you no matter what you do.
As a matter of fact, the weirder life gets, the more you need to know how to write songs. It’ll save your life.

Detachment is not
that you should own nothing,
… but that nothing should
own YOU.
– Ali Ibn Abi Talib

The Other Kingdoms
by Mary Oliver
Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

Only Once
All which, because it was
flame and song and granted us
joy, we thought we’d do, be, revisit,
turns out to have been what it was
that once, only; every invitation
did not begin
a series, a build-up: the marvelous
did happen in our lives, our stories
are not drab with its absence: but don’t
expect to return for more. Whatever more
there will be will be
unique as those were unique. Try
to acknowledge the next
song in its body — halo of flames as utterly
present, as now or never.
– Denise Levertov

SWEEP THE DUST

I learnt the rules, then I broke them, then threw even the broken parts away. I searched for fragments and shards, swept up the dust. Sweeping again, again and again, until not even the concept of a speck of dust or an I to sweep remains.

There are no rules.

#zen


– Ando McDonnell

Who is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Let silence be the art you practice.
– Rumi

Meditation does not ‘by-pass’ pain. Meditation penetrates into the nectar of pain. Meditators do not rise above pain, they surrender to its core. At the center of pain is the flowering of boundless energy. The same sap pervades both rose and thorn. The rose is happiness, the thorn is sorrow, the sap is bliss. Ananda isn’t a passing mood or a temporary emotional state. Ananda is the juice of pure existence. It glows in the dark, the beyond within. Transcendence is not above. It is the hollow in the seed.
– Fred LaMotte

I could not rid myself
of my addictions,
so I transmuted their yearning
into You.
I thought that the hollow place
inside my chest
could only be veiled by the smoke
of Habana robustos,
the oaky bouquet
of the reddest wine.
Now the fragrance of the
merest breath delights me
with the musky finish
of your love.
Emptiness rejoices
in the fullness of thanksgiving.
Longing itself
is inebriation,
for I have met the Friend
whose glance changed
everything.
Solitude became a wedding,
night a darker sweetness
than desire.
I have too many
radiant centers now
to be alone.
Silence has been swallowed up
in the music of namelessness.
You flow into me
and I flow out beyond edges.
I am the self-luminous One
to whom I have been praying
for ten thousand lives.
Only the crazy, the foolish,
the naked and lost
can taste these words.
They alone are worthy
to beg.
– Fred LaMotte

When I cannot bear to read the news, I read poetry instead. I listen to recordings, recite my favorite poems, mutter them to myself in supermarket aisles, and quote them on social media or in letters or emails to my friends.
– Aria Arber

The thing that sits self-conscious in the intellect and longs to be great is not the soul. The soul wants only a gentle planet.
– Carl Rakosi

I believe
in the world
because it is
impossible.
– George Oppen

Most of my life has been lived in hell – a hell of repression lit by flashes of inspiration, when a poem such as this or that would appear.
– William Carlos Williams

To refine, to clarify, to intensify that eternal moment in which we alone live there is but a single force – the imagination.
– William Carlos Williams

The library haunter:
hoping to become one of those wholesome souls who is quick to lend a warm ear or a pot of tea and is beloved of woodland critters and old ladies and reads much but loves more and leaves the world a spookier, more gentle, more hopeful place.

There is nothing that men desire more than life – the fullness of life, Reality itself.
– Alan Watts, Zen

Presence is a present. It’s a gift you give to others, and more importantly, a gift your give yourself.
– B. D. Schiers

I look into my mind; A lotus emerges from the dark mud.
– Han-shan

Erica Lenti:
A woman dropped her groceries when she saw me kiss my girlfriend goodbye today, and that’s the change I want to be in this world.

What other knowledge will my solitude and muteness bring? What other worlds?
– Kathy Acker

I come from that primary fiction created by words holding each other’s hands.
– Takashi Hiraide

Keith Leonard:
My HS students felt that their lives are way too busy for the quiet it takes to write poetry, so we’ve started spending every third class sitting around a conference table and writing in silence for 80 mins. The glow in the room at the end of period could substitute the sun.

Finding Nirvana is like locating silence.
– Jack Kerouac

Ethan Nichtern:
You can totally love Bernie and still be supporting
as the better and more timely candidate.

Joseph Fasano:
I, too, once stood at the door of the wilds of my life.
Go in.

Days pass here, weeks slip away,
and even when it isn’t,
it seems to be Sunday,
irreal, subdued, the queer, slowed-down
feeling of late afternoon
spreading through the hours
of an entire day. Impersonal, yet benign,
the sun rains indiscriminately down
on everything, instead of singling out
particular objects, so that
even the rocks out by the tide line,
normally gray-brown, become heightened,
false, and I have to turn away.
– Elizabeth Spires

“There is a New Earth man and he walks on the earth, doing what he loves to do, while extending his gifts, empowering the Goddess. Fred LaMotte writes,
“MEN
“Men who believe women.
Men who honor women in pain.
Men who praise women
when their bodies grow old.
Men who listen to women
even when they repeat themselves.
Men who hear women when they do not speak.
Men who grasp women whole with their hearts, not parts of women with their hands.
Men who hug women long, breathing radiance.
Men who linger by forest ponds
and gaze into green stillness,
speaking to the great Mother.
Men who travel deep into the wilderness,
not to hunt or kill,
not to climb the highest peak,
but just to be still.
Men who know valleys,
observing the etiquette of mist,
the customs of cedar and willow.
Men who understand
that the fire in their belly
is the Goddess.”
– Poet Fred LaMotte

If we begin to realize that who we are is the depth of the ocean, then what’s going on on the surface is not really that compelling.
– Reggie Ray

In a Country
by Larry Levis
My love and I are inventing a country, which we
can already see taking shape, as if wheels were
passing through yellow mud. But there is a prob-
lem: if we put a river in the country, it will thaw
and begin flooding. If we put the river on the bor-
der, there will be trouble. If we forget about the
river, there will be no way out. There is already a
sky over that country, waiting for clouds or smoke.
Birds have flown into it, too. Each evening more
trees fill with their eyes, and what they see we can
never erase.

One day it was snowing heavily, and again we were
lying in bed, watching our country: we could
make out the wide river for the first time, blue and
moving. We seemed to be getting closer; we saw
our wheel tracks leading into it and curving out
of sight behind us. It looked like the land we had
left, some smoke in the distance, but I wasn’t sure.
There were birds calling. The creaking of our
wheels. And as we entered that country, it felt as if
someone was touching our bare shoulders, lightly,
for the last time.

Meg Ruttan Walker:
The introvert hangover after hanging out with 4k+ people is something else.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
ntie your knots,
soften your glare…
this is the primal identity.
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Language
Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture. Like our marrow, and the color in our veins. We shine the lantern of our sleep on them, to make sure, and there they are, trembling already for the day of witness. They will be buried with us, and rise with the rest.
– W.S. Merwin

Rachael de Moravia:
Autocorrect changed my email sign off from “kind regards” to “Kierkegaards”

Pay more attention to the silence than to the sounds. Paying attention to outer silence creates inner silence: the mind becomes still.
– Eckhart Tolle

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.
– Dumbledore

When I look at clouds, I see our beauty and transcience. What do you see?
– Yoko Ono

Hafizah Geter:
Dear Lord, Let there be no email in heaven.

And yet we are determined to speak across borders,
even if borders pass through every word
– Ingeborg Bachmann, Of a Land, a River and Lakes

Seamus Heaney:
You might think that the sea is company,
Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
The very windows, spits like a tame cat
Turned savage.

When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.
– Byron Katie

Spiritual, not-spiritual, same. If we are on a spiritual path, and we are all one, then we are all on a spiritual path. This includes the least spiritual people you know or can imagine.
– B. D. Schiers

Joseph Fasano:
Once, when I was struggling with my first book, Mark Strand said to me, in his ever measured way, “It will be fine. Just get out of its way.” I love that man and the abiding wisdom he left. “The wind,” he wrote, “will sing and be your voice as if for the first time.”

Please help me to get down under things and find where You are.
– Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal

Caroline Holland:
expecting PhD students to graduate with publications in ridiculously competitive journals that take forever to even reply to submissions is unrealistic and places a dangerous amount of pressure on students and seriously academia can just fuck off with that expectation

Shira Erlichman:
When I observe the world I lose myself & gain the world. Sound waits for no invitation. It arrives, decomposing into music. Light bites the air. Color tells at least 500 stories: orange cautions, green froths forests forth. When I observe the world I lose myself & gain the world.

I was having lunch with Leonard Cohen when I jokingly asked if he knew the secret of life. He said ‘just eat your desert.’ I don’t know if he was joking or not, but I took his advice.
– B. D. Schiers

Book smarts is needed when you’re dealing with machines. Compassion is needed when you’re dealing with people. You can’t help people with book smarts any more than you can fix a car with compassion.
– B. D. Schiers

the library haunter:
When friends are in distress, sometimes instead of offering advice you just need to say “here’s a pot of tea and a warm shoulder and you’re welcome to cry or rage and I will love you through it.

Noah’s wife, I am wringing
my hands not knowing how to know
and move forward. Was it you
who gathered flowers once the earth
had dried?
– Maya C Popa

The whole challenge of poetry is to keep language open, so that what we don’t yet know can pass through it.
– Alice Oswald

Maggie Smith:
Maybe you don’t know what kind of work you should be doing in the world. Maybe you think everyone else has it figured out. (They don’t.) Your work is being yourself, offering what you can to others. You’ve been doing it all along. Now do it with intention. Keep moving.

You may have a million desires to be in other places,
doing other things, but you are not there, you are here.
– Zen proverb

It is very easy to pretend to understand 
what one does not understand. 
Often the degree to which we oppose a thing marks the degree to which we do not understand it. 
Sometimes we use our opposition 
to an idea to cover our own ignorance. 
We express our dislike for things, 
sometimes for people, 
when we do not understand 
the things we pretend to dislike; 
when we do not know the people 
for whom we have the antagonism.

If I knew you and you knew me,
And each of us could clearly see
By that inner light divine
The meaning of your heart and mine;
I’m sure that we would differ less
And clasp our hands in friendliness,
If you knew me, and I knew you.

– Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart
Author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

—As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, & become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
– Robinson Jeffers

Inside this new love, die. 
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Escape.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now. 
You’re covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die and be quiet. 
Quietness is the surest sign that you’re dead. 

Your old life was a frantic running from silence. 

The speechless full moon comes out now. 

– Jelaluddin Rumi

Poetry is an investigation, not an expression, of what you know.
-Mark Doty

At times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages’ way,
And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
Ages ago; and in that act a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest, so
Instinct with better light let in by death,
That life was blotted out — not so completely
But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
The goal in sight again.
– Robert Browning

I’ve looked, but I cannot find a poem
that Mary Oliver has written about
a rushing mountain stream, the
kind that takes on the tongues
of gods after storms have done
their cleansing and prepared the
land for what is next to come. How
could she not? How could her pen not
have stopped here, so many times
before, wondered, listened, and then
told the stories that the gods want
us to hear, want us to live?

I have written one for her.

– Jamie K. Reaser

If your name suggests a country where bells
might have been used for entertainment

or to announce the entrances and exits of the seasons

it’s probably best to dress in plain clothes
when you arrive in the United States.
– Li Young Lee, Self Help for Fellow Refugees

I like the sea: we understand one another. It is always yearning, sighing for something it cannot have; and so am I.
– Greta Garbo

These October days are to me a little strained and surrounded with silence. What I mean by this last word I don’t quite know, since I have never stopped ‘seeing’ people—No, it’s not physical silence; it’s some inner loneliness—interesting to analyze if one could.
– Woolf

I will cut adrift—I will sit on pavements and drink coffee—I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim—this fine October.
– Virginia Woolf

As Dogen says, people like what is not true and they don’t like what is true.
– Shunryu Suzuki

When we finally learn to harness our personality and ride it like a great steed, then our most tragic woundings become our greatest gifts.
– Lisa Broderick

I also knew that I was the worst bum in the world. The diamond light was in my eyes.
– Kerouac

When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.
– Andrew Boyd

AND NOW IT’S OCTOBER
the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run
to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy
pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells,
the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright
as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery
grasses shine in the slanted light. It’s time to bring in the lawn chairs
and wind chimes, time to draw the drapes against the wind, time to hunker
down. Summer’s fruits are preserved in syrup, but nothing can stopper time.
No way to seal it in wax or amber; it slides though our hands like a rope
of silk. At night, the moon’s restless searchlight sweeps across the sky.
 – Barbara Crooker

We…

you, me.

We’re moving through quite a stretch,

aren’t we?

I can feel the waves now

30 days out.

Waves.

They come, they go —

one after another.

Beyond the control

beyond the control

even of the moon


or endless lineages of tathagatas.

Cycling

cycling

cycling appearances.

Appearances.

Appearances.

Here we are…

again.

What is this traveling that we do?

We come, we go, we return.

We come, we go, we return.

We come, we go, we return.

We spend a lifetime

trying to remember each other’s faces,

each other’s souls.

We come, we go, we return.

We put on different labels

and all of them fail us.

We come, we go, we return.

We come,

we go,

we return.
– Frank LaRue Owen

Andrew Sweeny:
What if polarities were more important than equalities in you life?

Christians rarely consider that they are the pagans to other people.
– tk

I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan, de todos.
– Roque Dalton

There’s no switch that turns on enlightenment. You move toward it with your effort. It’s an effort that might be unrecognizable to those who think “effort” means trying hard. You have to try soft—to be curious and open to whatever it is that results.
– Nancy Thompson

If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.
– Linji Yixuan

Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.
– Milarepa

Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it.
– Hannah Arendt

Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling.
– Simone Weil

Joseph Fasano:
If you can’t be a story, be a song.

Every being cries out silently to be read differently.
– Simone Weil

The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, ‘What are you going through?
– Simone Weil

I think about my
name, how it is the
first gift I gift to a
stranger, the first
thing that was mine
I ever gave willingly
to the world.
– Porsha Olayiwola

The blue sky in a drop of nectar
on the tip of a hummingbird’s beak
is the blue sky in the center of your forehead
is the blue sky in the gaze of a homeless stranger
is the blue sky that contains the sun
the blue sky inside your eyeball
the blue sky in your nostrils
the blue sky in your throat
the blue sky in your lungs
the blue sky in your left ventricle
in your belly in your womb
the blue sky in the bell of John
Coltrane’s Selmer Mark VI tenor
the blue sky in each cell of your body
the blue sky in one atom
the blue sky in a proton containing
a crazed spinning quark that encircles
a neutrino enfolding ten
trillion stars in the green-gold glimmer
of the sky on the tip of the beak
of a hummingbird.
Blues.
– Fred LaMotte

Not just any talk is conversation; not any talk raises consciousness. Good conversation has an edge: it opens your eyes to something, quickens your ears. And good conversation reverberates: it keeps on talking in your mind later in the day; the next day, you find yourself still conversing with what was said. That reverberation afterward is the very raising of consciousness; your mind’s been moved. You are at another level with your reflections.
– James Hillman

When Mirabai comes to meet you,
you’ll have to be prepared for excess.
She formed her opinions
in the very teeth of the storm,
fighting in her family,
and succeeded in establishing
her personal life against great odds.
Mirabai pushed her way out of her family,
out of many social demands,
and ignored many commands
given to her as a woman of her time.
Her religious passion carried her
into intensities
that make most people turn pale.
– Robert Bly, The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations

Something has reached out
and taken in the beams of my eyes.
There is a longing, it is for his body,
for every hair of that dark body.
All I was doing was being,
and the Dancing Energy came by my house.
His face looks curiously like the moon,
I saw it from the side, smiling.
My family says: “Don’t ever see him again!”
And they imply things in a low voice.
But my eyes have their own life;
they laugh at rules, and know whose they are.
I believe I can bear on my shoulders
whatever you want to say of me.
Mira says: Without the energy that lifts mountains,
how am I to live?

The Dark One threw me a glance like a dagger today.
Since that moment, I am insane;
I can’t find my body.
The pain has gone through my arms and legs,
and I can’t find my mind.
At least three of my friends are completely mad.
I know the thrower of daggers well;
he enjoys roving the woods.
The partridge loves the moon;
and the lamplight pulls in the moth.

You know, for the fish, water is precious;
without it, the fish dies.
If he is gone, how shall I live?
I can’t live without him.
Go and speak to the dagger-thrower:
Say, Mira belongs to you.
O friends on this path,
My eyes are no longer my eyes.
A sweetness has entered through them.
– Mirabai, Ecstatic Poems

Mirabai is a literary and spiritual figure of legendary proportions. Born a princess in the region of Rajasthan in 1498, Mira (as she is more commonly known) fought tradition and celebrated a woman’s right to an independent life in her ecstatic poems.

Mira or Mirabai, one of the best-known female holy poets of northwest India, dedicated her life to the love of Krishna. Her bhajans (songs of devotion) tell of her expulsion from the royal court and her search for union with her beloved god.

Mirabai is both an object of projection and identification. Her songs, passed down in several languages, testify to the conflicting social milieus in which she lived as a widow. For some, she is a subversive mystic who deliberately flouts the norms of society, for others she is a perfect Yogini (ascetic).

Mirabai is consumed by her desire for Krishna. But the one who has aroused the passion in his admirer is as ephemeral as he is multiple. Sometimes he appears as Yogi, another time he manifests himself as real lover, but one who always keeps her waiting.

In her songs, which are accessible and direct, Mirabai reflects the whole spectrum of human emotions. In her role as Krishna’s lover she shows similarities with the Christian bride of God Mechthild of Magdeburg and other female Christian mystics of the Middle Ages.
– Museum Rietberg

I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often–because I’m paying attention.
– Glennon Doyle

How We Met
I very much dislike being at a buffet

The first time I saw
the little man in the radish swing
swinging out over the vegetable tray
was himself a radish,
I was happy

I would be happiest if there were
a whole village of radish people,
as many radish people
as there are buffet people
I hope for each radish person
a ‘sister person’ in the room

I am half radish myself

Some say the best thing you can do
is carry a pair of little scissors,
snip small pieces of the world
and take them home with you

These scissors have cut hair
The scissors have cut string
From these scissors come my fragments

You can cut a rose from a radish
or little people who are happy swinging
in a room of bigger people, the excited throng
cut from cloth

At the banquet I stood next to him
When I pushed the swing he smiled at me
Fast friend are the best
It is good to have a bunch of them

We each chose a piece of
preposterous melon and
for the sake of a little quiet
removed the seeds

You see?
From radishes come joy
– Mary Ruefle

Golden Crumbs
Ever, when the two ladies were having a quiet cup of tea in the great, big, uncomfortable drawing-room on the first floor, with its conventional wilderness of chairs and silly little tables laden with uninteresting bric-a-brac, they heard the front door bell ring, and began to speculate who the visitor might be. Week after week, on a Tuesday a little after four, the bell rang once and once only, there was silence thereafter, and as the years passed the two ladies came to regard this event as the great mystery of their lives.
– Mary Ruefle

Softly, Very Softly
One of the loveliest possibilities
is that the truth is made of glass
but shaped like a hammer
by using it you’ve broken it
think of it! & it lies broken
at your feet not in your hands
never can you hold it, lassie
it will not come back
but there it is, verily
no matter what matter is
wonderful quiet white clouds
in the night sky
– Mary Ruefle

We text each other
when we get home
safe and it does not
occur to us that not
all of our guy friends
have to do the same.
– Blythe Baird

Salvation comes to you
from the discarded.
Your sun will rise
from muddy swamps.
Like all others,
you are annoyed
at the lowest in you
because its guise is uglier
than the image of yourself
that you love.
– C. G. Jung The Red Book

‘and the gentle light that strays and vanishes…’
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.
Try to Praise the Mutilated World
– Adam Zagajewski
Translation – Clare Cavanaugh

How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.
– Mr. Fred Rogers

Love is being able to view a situation without adding duality to it.
– Alaric Hutchinson

When the student asked, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Zen master Soen Nakagawa replied, “Encourage others.”

The sage knows without traveling.
He sees without looking.
He works without doing.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Do only one thing at a time. When you walk, just enjoy walking. When you listen, really listen. You will become happier and more centered.
– Haemin Sunim

You too

hold a doctorate
in Warmth

– Lorine Niedecker

jami attenberg:
hello all writers are nervous and neurotic and weirdos, thank you, have a nice day.

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
– Robert Frost

Dalai Lama:
As human beings we are all the same. We have this marvellous intelligence, which sometimes creates problems for us, but when influenced by warm-heartedness it can be really creative and helpful. This is the context in which having moral principles is of such great value.

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
In this business, you can listen with your head, your heart, or your gut. At different times, I’ve let the first two lead me. But these days, I’ve truly leaned in to the power of a gut reaction, and it hasn’t led me wrong.

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
– Robert Lynd

Joel Leon:
new rules:

if you love them, say something
if they hurt you, say something
if you miss them, say something
if you want them, say something
if you need space, say something
if you need time, say something
if you are tired, say something

open mouth, open heart

Thoughts of Dog:
if you leave the room i’m in. i will always follow you to the next one. whatever this adventure is. you don’t have to do it alone

Our respect for other people…can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it…and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of being.
– Vaclav Havel

Adyashanti:
Ever since I stepped out of imagination
and into the Heart of things
I have become so much less spiritual.
Heaven, hell and earth
hold no meaning for me anymore .
For I am neither coming nor going
nor staying put. All I do is notice
all the various ways that
Light weaves itself into dreams.
When someone asks me who they are
or what God is I smile inside
and whisper to the Light:
‘There you go again pretending…

Reality melts away and I forget that life here is strikingly different. I haven’t heard from you in weeks. There’s a wall between us that a bulldozer can’t demolish. No memories of me can breathe there, so how can you still like me in a world where I don’t even exist? Then I remember that there’d be no wall if there were no feelings. But where does this leave us?
– Jaymie Yang

The body trembles,
the tongue falters,
the mind is weary.

Forsaking them all,
I pursue my purpose happily.

Knowing I do nothing,
I do whatever comes my way,
and I am happy.

– Ashtavakra Gita

Valzhyna Mort:
Some mornings, Adelia Prado is the only consolation:

Faith or no, I ask where my people who are gone; because I’m human, I zealously cover the pan of leftover sauce. How could we know how to live a better life than this? Suffering belongs to no language.

My thesis is this

I want to believe to believe

to believe in

a universe

– Chase Berggrun

Amy Liptrot:
O scrap of dreadful beauty: realised just too late that I was hoovering up a butterfly.

Take care of your garden…fill it with sunshine kind words and kind deeds.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach

The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.
– Werner Herzog

Everybody loves something, even if it’s only tortillas.
– Pema Chödrön

Political questions are far too serious to be left to the politicians.
– Hannah Arendt

Live authentically. Why would you continue to compromise something that’s beautiful to create something that is fake?
– Steve Maraboli

what to do? think & create & love people & give of self like mad.
– Sylvia Plath

For I think that wraith of meaning exists not only when you cannot find the right word but also after you have found it—in the release of meaning surrounding a verbal breakthrough, the ghost of competing words invisibly surrounding the finally chosen ones.
– Philip Davis

While the brain is rooted in the world of duality and its desires create an equal and opposite reaction, the heart is rooted in oneness and unity.
– Lisa Broderick

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound!
– Zen proverb

When you become a lover of what is, the war is over.
– Byron Katie

The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence.
– Marianne Moore

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?
– Thomas Merton

Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.
– Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.
– French proverb

I never realized how beautiful this place was.
– Harry Potter

If too much energy is used,
exhaustion follows.
This is not the way of Tao.
Whatever is contrary to Tao will not last long.
– Taoist proverb

Franki Love:
Good things are on their way.

Believe it.

Our respect for other people…can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it…and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of being.
– Vaclav Havel

when you’re ready my dear
to let go of the fear
when you’re ready
when you’re ready
when you’re ready
i’m here
you’ve been silent too long
too shy for the song
when you’re ready
when you’re ready
i’ll be singing
along
when the world has got the best of you
i can help you with the rest of you
everybody knows the truth
everybody knows but you
when you wonder what there’s left to say
i’ll still listen to you all damn day
when you’re ready my dear
to let go of the fear
when you’re ready
when you’re ready
when you’re ready
i’m here
– Cary Cooper

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.
Nature’s wardrobe
holds a fair supply of costumes:
spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
Each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.
I didn’t get a choice either,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
Someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I’d prompted only fear,
loathing,
or pity?
If I’d been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments.
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.
– Among The Multitudes — Wislawa Szymborska

Fred LaMotte:
Fear resists. Resistance thickens. Allow your veils to thin. Let pure awareness glow through Autumn rind. Get hollow.
Wake up, let dream go. Wake down, let mind go. Be, through brittle leaf, the least of a perishing star. The grace of death will hold you almost weightless in your fall.
A radiance on the far side of your face – don’t name it. On the far side of this radiance, the un-created dark. Polish it with breathing.
And on the far side of emptiness? Your barefoot kiss upon the earth, this round green mallet in the gong of silence.
Again and again, stand here, mud moment where it all began. No Word and not yet dawn, the stinging grass, the wetness.
Through the crystal lens between your thoughts, Beauty unfolds wild wings of gold and burgundy, joy and sorrow.
Penetrate the opposite to touch the other’s axis, wounding your heart too. Return to the tremor of genesis.
Shatter the Imperishable to purer fragments of yourself, each whole. No abstractions, just fire in the synapse, continuum of the instantaneous. Witness this.
A nipple of purple chanterelle, shivering upward in the mist. Vulva of a broken apple, bubbling in a sunbeam. Ferns remembering to bow.
At the bindhu between out-breath and in, let a new creation shine like death, telling no tale of the past nor vision of the future, but a history of this moment.
The Goddess whose body is a blinding flame of emptiness, more solid than the diamond in your palm, rides upon the lion whose jaws are terror and play.
Her belly is spacious. Her teeth drip the blood of the pomegranate. She stalks the shadow’s edge, between the mist of the ancestors and the mirage of the unborn.
Between bright threads, she shape-shifts blackness, the vacuum in the web. She is the spider’s sister.
Would you become an artist? Then don’t untie this knot. Just be a servant of wonder, recording the annals of Presence.
Silence is the mother of poetry. One tear of compassion encircles the red tongues of outrage. It is very important to find this tear, and weep.

Sometimes it was hard to say things. Things were so complicated. People might resent what you said. They might use your remarks against you. They might take you seriously and act upon your words, actually do something. They might not even hear you, which perhaps was the only thing worth hoping for. But it was more complicated than that. The sheer effort of speaking. Easier to stay apart, leave things as they are, avoid responsibility for reflecting the world and all its grave weight. Things that should be simple are always hard. But hard things are never easy.
– Don DeLillo

To love me is to love a haunted house. It’s fun to visit once a year, but no one wants to live there.
– Brenna Twohy

Ultimately I see mindfulness as a love affair with life, with reality and imagination, with the beauty of your own being, with your heart and body and mind, and with the world.
If that sounds like a lot to take in, it is. And that is why it can be so valuable to experiment systematically with cultivating mindfulness in your life, and why your intuition to enter into this way of being in relationship with your experience is so healthy.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Everyone is capable of sensing the situation in the world today. There is no one who cannot sense the very deep despair that everyone feels. But it is not a question of only fixing what is external. It is a question also of going within and taking care of the egoistic source of these external problems…
Today there are a lot of things that are being taken care of on the outside. There is a lot of healthy food being eaten. There is a lot of care being taken to preserve our planet. People are coming to the consciousness that is needed to address these external social problems…but even if these efforts go to even greater lengths than they are going to now, if we don’t take care of the problem within ourselves, it’s not going to work…
No matter how much external work is done, if what’s happening inside isn’t being repaired, then it’s not going to work… It’s not going to solve the inner problem. The inner problem is something that each person has to do for themselves. And that is the problem of the heaviness of the ego. There is no one who doesn’t feel that.
– Shodo Harada Roshi

Literature is larger than anything we can say about it, than any craft we can devise. Read everything.
– Garth Greenwell

Sufism and Christianity are joined at the heart—perhaps literally, and certainly spiritually and symbolically. They are kindred pathways of transfiguration through love.
Both traditions picture the spiritual journey with the same core metaphor: as a cosmic love song that begins in exile and ends in divine intimacy. From the soul-wrenching cry of Rumi’s reed flute to the profound theological metaphors of Teresa of Avila’s interior mansions and Julian of Norwich’s hazelnut; from The Conference of the Birds to The Cloud of Unknowing, both traditions acknowledge the anguish of separation while radiating the assurance of ecstatic reunion when that which had been misperceived as two is recognized as sublimely One.

As my own teacher, Father Thomas Keating, puts it: “The notion that God is absent is the fundamental illusion of the human condition.” Prayer is the pathway toward exposing that illusion and is itself a direct gateway into what another of my esteemed Sufi mentors, Kabir Helminski, calls “the great electro-magnetic field of love.” In the teachings of the Christian East on Prayer of the Heart and in the foundational Sufi practice of dhikr, the ecstatic devotion arising out of the fully-embodied recitation of the names of God, we find a common pathway of prayer that overcomes egoic selfishness and drama and ultimately catapults us into the blue of the flame of pure self-oblation, where miraculously we are not destroyed but rather birthed into true personhood.

With the understated simplicity of a true spiritual master, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee seamlessly weaves these complementary traditions into a single tapestry of singular power and beauty. Pay particular attention to the things he has to say about breath; if you find them as astonishing as I did, you will sense yet again what gifts Sufism may have to offer to a Christianity struggling to reawaken to its ancient understandings of the crucial role of embodiment in prayer. A renewed appreciation for embodiment, particularly as carried in the breath, the missing link that releases us from those endless tedious discussions about whether prayer (understood as verbal petition) “works” and instead plunges us into the dynamic ground of that “great electro-magnetic field,” where our absence has been noticed and is sorely missed…

They have been feasting by those same Sufi streams, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee offers a nearly identical image in one of his earliest books, The Bond with The Beloved (1993):
“As we silently work upon ourselves, the energy of our devotion becomes a point of light within the world. At the present time a map is being unfolded made of the lights of the lovers of God. The purpose of this map is to change the inner energy structure of the planet. In previous ages this energy structure was held by sacred places, stone circles, temples, and cathedrals. In the next stage of our collective evolution it is the hearts of individuals who will hold the cosmic note of the planet. This note can be recognized as a song of joy being born within the hearts of seekers. It is a quality of joy that is being infused into the world. It is the heartbeat of the world and needs to be heard in our cities and towns.”

With this most recent book, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee offers yet another profound contribution to the “collective evolution of our hearts,” and it is with joy, indeed, that I receive it.
– Cynthia Bourgeault

Respond …..
to the Music of the Spheres
be a Mevlevi, and you will
meditate and you
…. will turn.
– Seyh Galib

Mooji:
My love,
leave behind
all this fruitless thinking
And come lay down here
in the silence of Being.

Waking at Night

The blue river is gray at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

– Jack Gilbert

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.
― Byron Katie

Shira Erlichman:
Sneaking up on the truth is a valid way of discovering it. You dont have to be a master. You dont have to sing a song pledging allegiance to a particular country of Excellence. Take up your tools—pen, paper, silence, nonsense, hope—walk tenderly into the thicket. Leap abundantly.

Richard Siken:
It should be enough. To make something
beautiful should be enough. It isn’t. It should be.

You’ll find in stories from indigenous people not only the affirmation of scientific discoveries, but the profound truth and beauty of our cosmos. Working among the Inuit of Greenland’s polar north a hundred years ago, ethnologist Knud Rasmussen, published these words from his informant Osarqaq, ‘Our tales are narratives of human experience, and therefore they do not always tell of beautiful things. But one cannot both embellish a tale to please the hearer and at the same time keep to the truth. The tongue should be the echo of that which must be told, and it cannot be adapted according to the moods and the tastes of man. The word of the new-born is not to be trusted, but the experiences of the ancients contain truth.’
– Linda Williamson

She very obviously was a master, but she was humble before the poem.
– Terrance Hayes on Lucille Clifton

Zhuangzi is one of my favorite mystics. He embodies a rare combination of radical openness mixed with radical skepticism. And he can be quite funny.
– Wise and Shine

I am so grateful for the many times God has shown me the mercy of not giving me what I want.
– Steve Maraboli

To discover the thread that goes through everything is not only how we survive the tumble through life, it is also the way we inhabit our connections.
– Mark Nepo

Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.
– French proverb

—Hello. Is this the Bureau of Quiet?
—Shhhhh!

(Daniel Oz)

We don’t know where we belong, but in times of sorrow it doesn’t seem to be here… where space is curved… we’re all going to die, and it seems as wise to stay in bed as budge.
Only Annie Dillard can write something so sobering yet consolatory.

We take
unholy risks to prove
we are what we cannot be
– Amiri Baraka

I used to believe that the only way I could change was if I had a peak experience, or a nervous breakthrough, or won a noisy battle with a relentless pattern. This emphasis on dramatic transition was a reflection of my dramatic early life, one where nothing ever seemed to happen subtly. But I was wrong. Some transitions do have to happen in the heart of intensity, but not all do. In fact, many cannot happen that way- the drama just intensifies the armor that surrounds the pattern. Instead, some patterns transform slowly, carefully, subtly over time. We work one thread, then another, then another…. until the structure melts into the next way of being on our path. So much happens in the quiet within. So much.
– Jeff Brown

Mightily did he use the street. He found its multiple heart, its tastes, smells, alarms, formulas, flowers, garbage and convulsions. He brought them all to his table-top. He crushed them to a writing-paste. He himself became the pen….
– Gwendolyn Brooks on Langston Hughes

I ought to stop it, she thought.
You end up nowhere, that way.
It would all be simpler if they hadn’t hammered into you this business of ending up somewhere, if they had taught you, rather to be happy standing still. All that nonsense about your road. Finding your road. Taking your own road. Maybe we were made to live in a plaza, or a park, instead, to stay there, as our life passes, or maybe we are a crossroads, and the world needs us to stand still, it would be a disaster if, at some point, we were to go off on our road, what road?, others are roads, I am a plaza, I lead nowhere, I am a place.
– Alessandro Baricco

In a Dark Time
by Theodore Roethke
In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood —
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks — is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is —
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone …

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

Vocation to Solitude — To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls up on that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars… to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into the bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of life into a living and vigilant silence.
– Thomas Merton from “Thoughts In Solitude” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1956).

Don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach. Today. And always.
– Marc and Angel

We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.
– Desmond Tutu

Walk through life
Beautiful more than anything
Stand in the sunlight
Walk through life
Love all the things
That make you strong,
be lovers, be anything
For all the people of
Earth

You have brothers
You love each other, change up
And look at the world
Now, it’s
Our’s, take it slow
We’ve got a long time, a long way
To go,

We have
Each other, and the
World,
Don’t be sorry
Walk on out through sunlight life
and know
We’re on the go
For love
To open
Our lives
To walk
Tasting the sunshine
Of Life.
– Amiri Baraka

How painful the light must be for the night.
– Kim Hyesoon

You can choose to go through life consciously or unconsciously. Most choose the latter. It’s called auto-pilot. Go to work. Come home. Repeat. It doesn’t leave much to tell your grandchildren about.
– B. D. Schiers

It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly.
– Epictetus

Translation is the most intimate act of reading.
– Gayatri Spivak

But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.
– Thomas Merton

Ada Limón:
There is a woman in the airport who looks like she is knitting a flour tortilla. I mean, I’m sure that’s not what it is. But she will forever remain in my mind as the woman knitting a flour tortilla.

I’ve always thought you should concentrate on paddling your own canoe.
– John Dos Passos

A very great vision is needed, and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.
– Crazy Horse

Loneliness is transmuted to solitude, & then to companionship with nonhuman beings; The more we attend to the world a different wish grows: to become a ‘plain member & citizen’ of the land community. Wonder grows…
– David Abram

Kerouac:
Who were all these strange ghosts rooted to the silly little adventure of earth with me?

Jesse Zook Mann:
My favorite thing about Twitter culture is that you can make it disappear from your life by going outside and leaving your phone at home.

I’ve been going outside for the first time in a long time. To my shock no one out there even knows what happens on this website.

Try to love someone who you want to hate, because they are just like you, somewhere inside.
— Margaret Cho

A lot of thinking without wisdom is extreme suffering.
— Ajahn Chah

Your comfort zone is a place where you keep yourself in a self-illusion and nothing can grow there but your potentiality can grow only when you can think and grow out of that zone.
― Rashedur Ryan Rahman

I was shy, solitary, awkward in company. Alone by the river, alone through the fields, alone on the top of the Forest. Sitting alone on the grass in the sunshine. Walking alone through the woods at night. Alone with myself. Alone – yet never lonely.
– C.R. Milne

Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either.
— Bodhidharma

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
– Mary Oliver

The instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.
— Buddhist proverb

Do not expect that if your book falls open
to a certain page, that any phrase
you read will make a difference today,
or that the voices you might overhear
when the wind moves through the yellow-green
and golden tent of autumn, speak to you.

Things ripen or go dry. Light plays on the
dark surface of the lake. Each afternoon
your shadow walks beside you on the wall,
and the days stay long and heavy underneath
the distant rumor of the harvest. One
more summer gone,

and one way or another you survive,
dull or regretful, never learning that
nothing is hidden in the obvious
changes of the world, that even the dim
reflection of the sun on tall, dry grass
is more than you will ever understand.

And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things.
– Dana Gioia

On Prophets
The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same royal consciousness that makes it possible to implement anything, and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one. . . .
– Richard Rohr

We all must create—that is, we all must root and break ground until we flower.
– Mark Nepo

When we talk about empowering people, is it about empowering people with continuing the project of capitalism and white supremacy, is that the power we just want to reverse who is in those systems? Or is the power we’re talking about, and the energy justice, the spiritual kind of energy justice we’re talking about, in where that merit is determined by an accountability to our ecosystems and to one another…an accountability and power that is about being balanced, being in what is ours to do at this moment…
– Brontë Velez on The Pleasurable Surrender of White Supremacy

women are shown in all their variety; beautiful, loyal, quiet, vocal, mothers and lovers. They are warriors, saviours and occasionally victims, but they often express their feelings silently. – Julie Barham on Foxfire Wolfskin

Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat.
– Buddha

Rachael Redgate:
You are the CEO of your own life. Act like it.

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together…
– Thomas Carlyle

You are alive, so be fully alive.
— Wendy Egyoku Nakao Roshi

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Poems are special because they make a space, a real space, where we can all go. This place is a city called The Imagination.
– Dorothea Lasky

Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing.
– Lucille Clifton

Go, then, citizen
Of the wind.
Go with the flow.
– Seamus Heaney

The more we genuinely care about others the greater our own happiness and inner peace.
― Allan Lokos

James Tate Hill:
Know what would be awesome? If there were writers that were like session musicians, people who come into the studio for a day and lay down some plot on your novel.

the owl is happy
in his solitude…
autumn dusk.
– Issa

The wind has settled, the blossoms have fallen; Birds sing, the mountains grow dark. This is the wondrous power of Buddhism.
– Ryokan

Whatever your goals are, if they get in the way of being kind to others, they’re not worthy of chasing.
– B. D. Schiers

Family quarrels sow the seeds of poverty.
– Japanese proverb

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
— Stanley Kunitz

I was slowly learning that #love did not mean holding on, which I had always thought, but rather letting go.
— Ken Wilber

Kerouac:
Don’t dispute with the authorities or with women. Beg. Be humble.

The soul has been given its own ears
to hear things the mind does not understand.
— Rumi

Don’t chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. Just chew your food.
– Thich Nhat Hahn

The so called self-realization is the discovery for yourself and by yourself that there is no self to discover. That will be a very shocking thing because it’s going to blast every nerve, every cell, even the cells in the marrow of your bones.
— U.G. Krishnamurti

Victoria/V.E. Schwab:
I used to be afraid I’d run out of stories. Now I’m afraid I’ll run out of time to tell them all.

Know that changing one thing can change everything. Let some light in to this particular moment of this particular day—even if it feels like a dark day, or one smothered in a kind of fog—and watch how many things start glowing. Start with this moment. Yes, right now. Keep moving.
– Maggie

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.
– Maya Angelou

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality. Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art…
– The far-seeing wisdom of Ursula Le Guin

Just stop for a moment and sense into the space in the room right now. What do you notice in your experience? What is the field of presence like in the room right now? Notice how it is impacting you. It is a very subtle kind of presence. In the Kabbalistic tradition, it is referred to with the term Olam Ha-Avanah, which is best translated as the dimension of love. The word olam means “space”, “world”, or “dimension”, and avanah is the Hebrew word for “love”. They are referring to a particular dimension of Being that has the quality and texture of Divine Love.

This is a particular kind of love that has a particular effect on the soul when we perceive it, recognize it, and experience it. The key characteristic of this sublime love is that it is radically unconditional. That is, it is clear in the experience of it that there is nothing that we need to do to deserve this love. It is not dependent on anything we do or do not. It is an inherent quality of Being, of reality. The sense of it is that all is accepted and all is forgiven. There is nothing that we can do to somehow make us worthy or unworthy of this love. In English, the word “grace” captures the essence of this kind of love. There is nothing that we can do to get it. It is freely offered and it is ours if we know how to receive it.

Our distorted actions may contribute to the occlusion of our perception and our capacity to receive this love, which means more suffering for others and ourselves, but the realization of this love is that it is indeed radically unconditional. It is present in the hearts and minds of all beings; it is the very substance of which our bodies and souls are constituted. Its presence permeates all of reality.
– Zvi Ish-Shalom

The heavy-handedness of the Spiritual Friend is both appreciated and highly irritating.
~ Chögyam Trungpa

To be an artist, you need to exist in a world of silence.
– Louise Joséphine Bourgeois

Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be. It is an intrinsic but unmanifested part of every sound, every musical note, every song, every word. The Unmanifested is present in this world as silence. This is why it has been said that nothing in this world is so like God as silence. All you have to do is pay attention to it.

Even during a conversation, become conscious of the gaps between words, the brief silent intervals between sentences. As you do that, the dimension of stillness grows within you. You cannot pat attention to silence without simultaneously becoming still within. Silence without, stillness within.
– Eckhart Tolle

Duality is the real root
of our suffering
and of all our conflicts.
All our concepts and beliefs,
no matter how profound they may seem,
are like nets which trap us in dualism.
When we discover our limits
we have to try to overcome them,
untying ourselves
from whatever type of religious, political,
or social conviction may contain us.
We have to abandon such concepts
as ‘enlightenment’, ‘the nature of the mind’,
and so on, until we no longer
neglect to integrate our knowledge
with our actual existence.
– Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

In an older time, we’d have written letters, waited for weeks for handwriting, but our love is kept alive by electricity now. Our love in the shaky hands of the wi-fi.
– Talia Young

Bring to me, it said, continual proof / you’ve been alive.
– Stephen Dunn

On the one hand, it’s poetry! On the other, it’s just poetry.
– Marvin Bell

If there is something to desire, / there will be something to regret.
– Vera Pavlova

Poetry is an orphan of silence.
– Charles Simic

Put stuff in your poems.
– Joseph Millar

When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.
– Kahlil Gibran

The darkness, a magician, finds quarters // behind our ears.
– Ilya Kaminsky

Writing, for me, means humility. It’s a process that involves fear and doubt, especially if you’re writing honestly.
– Kiran Desai

I labour to please the touchy tribe of poets.
– Horace

The one who bows into service is an artist. To see work as sacred is to bow into service to it, and thus become its instrument.
– Charles Eisenstein, From Sacred Economics

Don’t let your spirituality
numb your humanity,
your humility,
and most importantly,
your sense of humor.
– Jeff Foster

One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know that I used my voice so that they could have a future.
– Autumn Peltier

JEFF BROWN:
People often ask me whether they should turn toward, or away from, intimate relationships at particular stages of their journey. In other words, when is it time to explore connection, and when is it time to go it alone? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer or formula. It really depends on where you are at with respect to your own development and unhealed wounds. Some do need to do more work inside to establish the kind of integrated center that can withstand the rigors of love relationship. Without a solid core to move from, relational triggers and challenges can lead to further dissolution and re-traumatization. It’s destabilizing for that that which is already fragmented. Others actually need to turn toward intimate relationship in order to form that sturdy center. Perhaps they didn’t get enough attunement and nourishment to prepare them for their own autonomy, or perhaps they actually need the triggers that come up in relationship to fuel their self-awareness and development. There is nothing wrong with either path, but it is essential that you clarify which direction will serve you at any given moment. Because if you seek connection when what you most need is separateness, or if you seek solitude when what you most need is relationship, you may miss the opportunity to find your way home. Timing is everything, but so is attunement to what will serve you at each stage of your journey.

In Switzerland I was educated in line with the basic premise: work work work. You are only a valuable human being if you work. This is utterly wrong. Half working, half dancing – that is the right mixture. I myself have danced and played too little…

Those who have been immersed in the tragedy of massive death during wartime, and who have faced it squarely, never allowing their senses and feelings to become numbed and indifferent, have emerged from their experiences with growth and humanness greater than that achieved through almost any other means…

Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences; all events are blessings given to us to learn from. There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub…
When we have passed the tests we are sent to Earth to learn, we are allowed to graduate. We are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our souls…
The truth does not need to be defended.
– Elisabeth Kübler

AN ABECEDARIAN FOR THE UNMENTIONABLE
– Morgan Kovacs
About the time I turned 20
babies began looking cute. When my future looks empty, I imagine someday
cuddling my own baby to my chest and feeling her new and tiny heartbeat
drum against mine. So much possibility and hope in
eight pounds. For a minute the world shrinks. I
forget that life is complicated and sometimes bleak. The earth rotates at 23.5 degrees, and the heaviness of my heart sometimes makes it tilt a little more, but my baby in my arms
giggles, and there is nothing more pressing than letting her wrap her fingers around my thumb.
Hi
I mumble in a language she does not yet understand. And
just how much beauty is in that? In the naivety of not yet knowing. In all the peacefulness of not yet
knowing all that there is to know and fear and cry about. There is something grimly optimistic about holding my baby.
Like she is the answer to the great search of my life. And maybe, despite all the ways I have messed up and all the ways I still can, I created something more than myself.
My friends and I used to complain about our periods. Hoping to get out of gym class, and lie in the
nurse’s office. The blood between our thighs
our burden and excuse. But about the time I turned 20, I felt comfort in my
period, and I
quit hating my body, grateful for the width of my hips, that gateway to hope and reason. Life is scary, and I am not good at much, but I know how to love, and I could
raise what the world might need. What I need. But life is also cruel,
so when my blood spills down my legs and pools at my ankles, understand that it is mocking me.
That it is heavy and thick and sometimes does not come for three months. That it is the result of a war happening in my
uterus between the future I want versus the future I get. A
virgin got pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby boy in a dirty stable and someone please tell me
why is giving birth referred to as “The Miracle of Life” when it seems every other
XY chromosome sculpted by God to create life can do that like it is ordinary. Even by accident. The Miracle should be me:
young but defective. A walking contradiction. I miss being 20 and ignorant. Now, since the thought of my future no longer fills me with that hope, I like to pretend that in another dimension I am more
Zen than this. That I walk around with my eight-pound-baby girl, and my world is shrunk to her size, and everything is okay. And the future I want wants me back.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize
there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
– Lao Tzu

Poetry is like truth: on one level it simply is, and as such it is available to anyone. Anyone, that is, who will spend himself or herself to receive it, for no one has an inherent right to truth. One must earn it, and one earns the truth by honoring it, by treasuring it in a thousand daily acts, by shaping one’s life to both give it and receive it. The emperors have their treasures, and we have ours. Larry Levis said it perfectly when he spoke in the voice of Whitman, which is the voice of American poetry; ‘To find me now will cost you everything.’
– Philip Levine

Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets
trying to find you.
– Hafiz

He drew a circle that shut me out –
heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in.

– Edwin Markham

Living someplace else is wrong
in Jerusalem the golden
floating over New England smog,
above paper company forests,
deserted brick textile mills
square brooders on the rotten rivers,
developer-chewed mountains.

Living out of time is wrong.
The future drained us thin as paper.
We were tools scraping.
After the revolution
we would be good, love one another
and bake fruitcakes.
In the meantime eat your ulcer.

Living upside down is wrong,
roots in the air
mouths filled with sand.
Only what might be sang.
I cannot live crackling
with electric rage always.
The journey is too long
to run, cursing those
who can’t keep up.

Give me your hand.
Talk quietly to everyone you meet.
It is going on.
We are moving again
with our houses on our backs.
This time we have to remember
to sing and make soup.
Pack the Kapital and the vitamin E,
the basil plant for the sill,
Apache tears you
picked up in the desert.

But remember to bury
all old quarrels
behind the garage for compost.
Forgive who insulted you.
Forgive yourself for being wrong.
You will do it again
for nothing living
resembles a straight line,
certainly not this journey
to and fro, zigzagging
you there and me here
making our own road onward
as the snail does.

Yes, for some time we might contemplate
not the tiger, not the eagle or grizzly
but the snail who always remembers
that wherever you find yourself eating
is home, the center
where you must make your love,
and wherever you wake up
is here, the right place to be
where we start again.
– Marge Piercy

You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation…and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.
– Herman Hesse

A gentler world begins
in the way you touch your heart.
Be soft with the light inside you.
Caress your body with this breath.
God is nothing else
but the place where the sun comes up
in your chest.
You are the glimmering destination.
You are the golden honey daubed
on the bread of the ordinary.
Whatever is perfect,
whatever is heavenly,
begins here.

– Alfred K. LaMotte

Put some space
around your story.
This tale of lack,
betrayal,
perpetually unfulfilled
desire,
is always a tale
of the past.

The space
you hold around it
is now,
blue sky
more vast and still
than any storm.

Don’t try to stop
the whirl and chatter
of the mind.
Just stop believing it.

You could fill the hollow
in every cell,
the star-strewn emptiness
in each atom of your body
with this delicious breath.

What is real?
The Ancient Presence,
pulse of tranquility,
deepening
sea of namelessness
that turns to honey,
drowning the myth
of ‘me’
in the nectar of silence.
Friend, this secret work
refreshes the earth
and nourishes
many souls.
– Alfred K. LaMotte

Every moment is a moment of practice.
What are we practicing?
I am practicing transforming the habits of my heart
from contentious to compassionate….

There are just two or three things to say:
May I meet this moment fully,
may I meet it as a friend.
And,
may all beings be peaceful and happy
and come to the end of suffering.
That’s about it.
What else are we going to say?
– Sylvia Boorstein

Always be joyful, no matter what you are. With happiness you can give a person life. Every day we must deliberately induce in ourselves a buoyant, exuberant attitude toward life. In this manner, we gradually become receptive to the subtle mysteries around us. And if no inspired moments come, we should act as though we have them anyway. If you have no enthusiasm, put up a front. Act enthusiastic, and the feeling will become genuine.
– Rebbe Nachman

Make a list of things you love.
Make a list of things you do everyday.
Compare the lists.
Adjust accordingly.
– Dallas Clayton

Time wants to show you a different country. It’s the one
that your life conceals, the one waiting outside
when curtains are drawn, the one Grandmother hinted at
in her crochet design, the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It’s the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then, violated
in various ways. (And sometimes it’s turn about.)
You get tired of that. Long-suffering, you wait
and pray, and maybe good things come- maybe
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. It is called happiness.

It’s a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you’ve been and how people
and weather treated you. It’s a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, “Here, take it, it’s yours.
– William Stafford

And Yet It Is Always Itself
The stomach replaces its lining
every four days. Every four days.
Because it’s so highly corrosive,
every four days it remakes itself
and becomes completely new.
Love, this is what I want to do.
Because sometimes we are acid.
Because sometimes we are cruel.
I want to start over every four days.
Every four days, let us be new.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Your true passion should feel like breathing; it’s that natural.
– Oprah Winfrey

Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.
– Albert Camus

Libra Szn:

someone said: “the version of me you
created in your mind is not my
responsibility”

WOAH…just wow

Fred LaMotte:
Stars are gazing back
at you tonight. They have
forgotten their words.
That your tiny empty cup
of amazement could 
contain their rimless 
empyrean of distant fire 
awakens the black beyond 
with a trembling like yours, 
and all without anyone 
having to say, 
let there be light!

And now I understand why humans tell each other to look up when something ordinary is needed to assure us that nothing is ordinary.
– JKR

None of my work has met my own standards.
– William Faulkner

Yoko Ono:
Replace a sudden void with love.

Give until it feels good.
– Byron Katie

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
– Bob Hope

Something has to be done about the way in which this world is set up.
– June Jordan

The Cure were the first band I saw live, in 1989. Pleasing to see they are still the greatest band on earth.
– Matt Haig

Night-blooming Cereus

FLOWER of the moon!
Still white is her brow whom we worshiped on earth long ago;
Yea, purer than pearls in deep seas, and more virgin than snow.
The dull years veil their eyes from her shining, and vanish afraid,
Nor profane her with age—the immortal, nor dim her with shade.

It is we are unworthy, we worldlings, to dwell in her ways;
We have broken her altars and silenced her voices of praise.
She hath hearkened to singing more silvern, seen raptures more bright;
To some planet more pure she hath fled on the wings of the night,—
Flower of the moon!

Yet she loveth the world that forsook her, for, lo! once a year
She, Diana, translucent, pale, scintillant, down from her sphere
Floateth earthward like star-laden music, to bloom in a flower,
And our hearts feel the spell of the goddess once more for an hour.

See! she sitteth in splendor nor knoweth desire nor decay,
And the night is a glory around her more bright than the day,
And her breath hath the sweetness of worlds where no sorrow is known;
And we long as we worship to follow her back to her own,—
Flower of the moon!

– Harriet Monroe
She founded Poetry magazine in 1912, giving voice to T.S. Eliot, Carl Sandburg, and Ezra Pound, among others

Juxtaposition

by Karla L. McCullough, Ph.D.

Be still my heart

I’m proud

I’m scared
I listen to his breath while he lay
Only half a dozen years of life to the day

and all I do is cry and pray
Be still my heart
No……please beat again
My son
He needs me
But how can I give you hope
in a world filled with hopelessness
How can I protect you in that beautiful skin
that causes so much uneasiness
How can I teach you to be independent when I need you to depend on me
How can I teach you to be honest
Although it doesn’t mean you’ll go untouched
Be still my heart
No…..please beat again
My eyes swell with tears and my soul is injured
How can I teach you about the great strides that Martin and Medgar have made
When the evidence of hate has only transformed its state
Be still my heart
No…..please beat again
How do I defend your right to live a life free from fear
While fearing for your life
How do I teach you to be strong when your strength can get you killed
How do I help you find your voice when your voice could offend the shield
Don’t wear the hoodie
Don’t speak so loud
Don’t ask too many questions
Don’t act too wild
Don’t get an attitude
Don’t appear to be rude
Don’t wear your hair like that
Don’t just stand around and chat
Don’t run anywhere
Don’t stand still and stare
God….
Hold my heart….
Its still
It breaks
It arches
Its numb
But the love of my son
is way too great
Our next steps are not clear
but I’ll lead with my heart
It beats

The sages do not wash sin away
with water;
They do not rid beings of suffering
with their hands;
They do not transfer
realizations of suchness onto others.
They liberate
by teaching the truth of suchness.
– Pabongka, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path

Pabongka Rinpoche was one the twentieth century’s most charismatic and revered Tibetan lamas, and in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand we can see why. In this famous twenty-four-day teaching on the lamrim, or stages of the path, Pabongka Rinpoche weaves together lively stories and quotations with frank observations and practical advice to move readers step by step along the journey to buddhahood. When his student Trijang Rinpoche first edited and published these teachings in Tibetan, an instant classic was born. The flavor and immediacy of the original Tibetan are preserved in Michael Richards’s fluid and lively translation, which is now substantially revised in this new edition.

I advise all practitioners who are interested in Buddhism not to become Buddhists immediately. Becoming Buddhist (or not) is a passionate desire. In general, Westerners want to become Buddhists and then decide they are. In my opinion, however, it is wrong to immediately want to become a Buddhist and already start receiving initiations, different types of transmissions, going around circuits, visiting temples and lamas, offering mandalas and incense sticks, etc. If you believe that this is Buddhism, you will have problems later and you will be very shocked. It will not work. The reason is that these things do not correspond to the essence of Dharma practice: they are merely means used to accumulate merit.
What we really want is to develop a good heart – bodhicitta – to have perfect vision and to understand emptiness, wisdom.
– Khadro-la

The more we believe things should be a certain way, the more aggressive, arrogant and mean we are. The more we begin to realize that our beliefs, our expectations, are hopeless; the more we let go, the more kind, gentle, aware and accurate we are.
– Reggie Ray

Just as music, once heard, stirs our very being, voicing our feelings stirs our consciousness.
– Mark Nepo

What I Have Learned So Far

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

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

Be ignited, or be gone.
– Mary Oliver

Carl Jung wrote,

“All projections provoke counter-projection when the object is unconscious of the quality projected upon it by the subject.”

Thus, what is unconscious in the recipient will be projected back onto the projector, precipitating a form of mutual acting out…”

The student may take a significant step along the road to healing the wound of separation with the realization that, despite the gratitude he or she may feel toward the teacher, the guru’s teachings are nevertheless inadequate in certain respects; or that some of the guru’s actions are wrong, destructive, or indefensible. This requires a recognition that although the teacher may have taught the disciple much about spirituality, love, or meditation, the guru is not necessarily the final authority in all matters.

For example, the guru’s teachings may not adequately illuminate other important aspects of the disciple’s life such as sexuality and relationships, the need to find fulfilling labor and pursue other forms of education, or the anger and despair so often felt today about ecological destruction and social injustice. An important stage in the resolution of discipleship is reached when the disciple recognizes and accepts that he or she will have to look outside the guru’s teaching for guidance in these areas.

In other cases, resolution of the relationship with a spiritual teacher may be facilitated through the activity of the unconscious. A client of mine who had spent years in an ashram in which many disciples had taken monastic vows of celibacy and poverty and who was now grappling with issues of separation from the teacher and his desire for marriage, had the following two dreams: In the first, he was walking through the ashram and noticed several of the swamis lifting weights, while another, a usually austere and very dry monk, was walking hand-in-hand with a woman and wearing an expensive tennis outfit. His guru stood on the roof of the ashram spraying everyone with a hose.

In the second dream, he walked into a large meditation hall in which hundreds of seats were arranged facing away from the guru’s seat at the front of the room. The first dream seemed to say that the dryness of his inner life was ready to receive the waters of life; clearly the tendency here was for the swamis to embrace the life of the body, sexuality. and the company of women…

The guru-disciple relationship is not an end in itself, although it may remain a continuing source of inspiration and joy. Instead, as both Levinson and Wilber have suggested, it is a transitional relationship that is intended to lead beyond itself. Kegan (1982) has characterized human development as a passage through a series of “cultures of embeddedness,” or holding environments–such as the symbiotic tie with the mother, the structure of the family, educational institutions, and interpersonal relationships-that nurture and support us, and that let go of us when we are ready to differentiate from them.

For Kegan, growth means the emergence from “ernbeddedness cultures” and the subsequent re-appropriation of the objects of that culture. These objects, which were formerly part of the self, are now recognized to be other, apart from the self, yet also an environment with which the differentiated self can be in relationship. Nevertheless, the tendency is for a person to repudiate a culture of embeddedness, such as the family, in the process of separating from it. Kegan notes that Growth itself is not alone a matter of separation and repudiation, of killing off the past. This is more a matter of transition. Growth involves as well the reconciliation, the recovery, the recognition of that which before was confused with the self (p, 129).

A disciple or apprentice is sustained and nourished by a mentoring relationship but must ultimately emerge from that culture of embeddedness into his or her enlightenment and/or independent functioning in the world. For Rank, the emergence from Freud’s circle was the source of a wound that never healed completely. We have also seen the difficulties Robert has faced in completing this process. But such an outcome is not inevitable. Ideally, separating from a spiritual teacher does not require that the guru be completely repudiated but rather allows the teacher to be maintained as a valued inner part of the student’s emergent self.

Assuming the mentor or guru is willing and able to relinquish his role of control and authority, and accept the student’s independent selfhood, a mature relationship between the two can develop. As I tried to suggest with the case of Chris, this also seems to necessitate that the student recognize that the love, power, wisdom, and other spiritual qualities that were once thought to be embodied only by the teacher can now be internalized. In such a case, the transformational relationship has achieved its purpose, and the two participants can take their leave of one another with mutual affection and gratitude, free to walk their respective paths without regret. When the disciple is ready, the guru disappears.
– SEPARATING FROM A SPIRITUAL TEACHER by Gregory C. Bogart

Greg Bogart, Ph.D, LMF is a psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area and a lecturer in psychology at Sonoma State University, where he teaches courses in depth psychology, adult developmental psychology, and psychology of Yoga. Greg’s writings bridge clinical research, dream studies, astrology, meditation, hatha yoga, developmental theory, Jungian archetypal psychology, and transpersonal psychology.

A microadventure is just an adventure. The difference is that a microadventure is sufficiently short, simple, local, affordable, that you can can fit it in around the margins of real life.
– Alastair Humphreys

The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young.
– James Hollis

A true vocation calls us out beyond ourselves; breaks our heart in the process and then humbles, simplifies and enlightens us about the hidden, core nature of the work that enticed us in the first place.
– David Whyte

We made people listen. Even our elderly. We made them stop fighting each other, and start fighting for each other.
– How Indigenous activist Jasilyn Charger channels anger Into the fight for survival.

boys today: *sliding into your DMs to hit on you and tell you that your film opinions are wrong*

boys back then: *mysterious, cloaked, writer of songs, carries you off-stage to their subterranean lair beneath the opera house*
– the library haunter

If you are middle class, they call you a champagne socialist
If you are working class, they say it’s the politics of envy
If you wear leather shoes, they call you a hypocrite
If you don’t, they call you a hippy
Everyone, apparently, is disqualified from challenging the system.
– George Monboit

You are too full of gibberish, you know too much. Because of your borrowed knowledge and too many words moving inside you, you cannot see the wordless beauty that can only be experienced in silence.
– Osho

The universe is made up of experiences that are designed to burn out your attachment, your clinging, to pleasure, to pain, to fear, to all of it. And as long as there is a place where you’re vulnerable, the universe will find a way to confront you with it.
– Ram Dass

A library at night is full of sounds: the unread books can’t stand it any longer and announce their contents, some boasting, some shy, some devious.
– Helen Oyeyemi

No matter what we write, we must proceed from life and describe it in depth, warm-heartedly and in a detailed and bold fashion. No matter how much we shock or anger the readers, in the end we must give them strength, leaving them with a picture of the future. Our literature must be thought-provoking and encourage people to march forward.
– Ding Ling (born on this day in 1904)

The Green is always local. It is never in general. Never in the State, the system, the all-regulating bureaucracy. Every true action is small, and it is here, right Here, a barefoot step on dewy grass. To be awake is to carry a little lamp in the night forest, illuminating no more than the next footfall. There is no destination. There is no solution. There are only steps. Solvator ambulando: ‘It is solved by walking.’ Not marching – walking. I don’t protest what is, any more than I resist this breath. I protest the concept, the generalization, the program your mind imposes on me. I celebrate the incomprehensible dance of our molecules when we gaze into each other without ideas. Now let us take a walk, plant a tree.
– Fred LaMotte

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
– Philip Levine

The Pacific Is the Sky
by Raúl Zurita
Issue no. 201 (Spring 2012)

The Pacific Is The Sky
So torrents of the Seventh,
Fifth and Ninth. Riverbeds of
Bach, Beethoven and Amadeus
rapids of the sky, peaks and pastures

Estuaries and waterfalls of the Fourth
tributaries and sounds
of air, organs, summits
of Michimahuida, Aysén and oceans:

 – The Pacific is the sky

Torrents of the sons of Espolón
Yelcho, lake and surroundings:

  – The sky of Chile alive,
                  spuming

The Pacific is the sky    bearing themselves then the rivers
that love each other    opening themselves

Like fans    swelling until they smash down in the waves 
of the ocean that shatters over the horizon    They are the
ancient rivers note the men looking at them  No: they are 
the tides of the sky answer the crests of the Pacific 
squalls    coming on among the clouds

In the foreground    receiving the thousands of rivers 
that once went to the encounter of those beaches    It 
is the ocean they repeat coming in    No: they are the 
beaches of the horizon    it is the snow    it is us rising

to find each other in the final torrent of all souls 
the flayed of Chile scream revived among the waters
This is because I am the sky the Pacific repeats again
alive    blue    spuming with love above the mountains

– Translated from Spanish by Anna Deeny

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

– Mary Oliver, Devotions, From The Book of Time

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness – that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.
– Bertrand Russell

“And then a man of forty or so, with a French accent, asked, “How do you achieve the presence of mind to initiate the writing of a poem?” And something cracked open in me, and I finally stopped hoarding and told them my most useful secret. The only secret that has helped me consistently over all the years that I’ve written. I said, “Well, I’ll tell you how. I ask a simple question. I ask myself: What was the very best moment of your day?” The wonder of it was, I told them, that this one question could lift out from my life exactly what I will want to write a poem about. Something I hadn’t known was important will leap out and hover there in front of me, saying I am – I am the best moment of the day. “Often,” I went on, “it’s a moment when you’re waiting for someone, or you’re driving somewhere, or maybe you’re just walking across a parking lot and admiring the oil stains and the dribbled tar patterns. One time it was when I was driving past a certain house that was screaming with sunlitness on its white clapboards, and then I plunged through tree shadows that splashed and splayed across the windshield. I thought, Ah, of course – I’d forgotten. You, windshield shadows, you are the best moment of the day.”
 – Nicholson Baker

Ian Duhig:
Lots of things going for Switzerland.

The flag’s a big plus for a start.

D. A. Powell:
Living on a fault line for so many years, I realize that most earthquakes aren’t upheavals; they are shifts and settlings.

Maggie Smith:
Evergreen note-to-self:
Don’t overthink it.

In silence we must wrap much of our life, because it is too fine for speech, because also we cannot explain it to others, and because somewhat we cannot yet understand.
– Emerson

Man is a pine tree, woman a wisteria vine.
– Japanese Proverb

Hannah VanderHart:
Women poets, women critics—I’ll never regret writing a dissertation that focused on several of Shakespeare’s many sisters.

Poetry for Living
by Heidi Barr
What if you dropped
into your life
like rain drops
to a thirsty earth
a return of life force,
awakening,
refreshment,
the arrival of
just enough abundance
to seep deep into your pores,
claiming you as an unfolding map
claiming you as one of the wild
claiming you as yourself?

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
– Emerson

You are loved, someone said.
Take that and eat it.
– Mary Karr

It is a function of poetry to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so.
– CD Wright

I grabbed the bucket, trimmed the cuttings into sticks, potted them in a plastic bag, and set them on the counter, where they sat like promises. Little converters. Little dreamers of coming back into bloom. And how we might carry that with us wherever we go.
– Ross Gay

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Among all the imagery, keep in mind we don’t all look like extras from Dances With Wolves. We do everything, we look and live every way possible, and we aren’t going anywhere.
– Chris La Tray

Ashley C. Ford:
I’d definitely read a conversation between Jane Fonda and Greta Thunberg focused on inter-generational climate activism. And really whatever else they wanted to chat about.

帅哥 / 陈琛:
really just wanna hang out with the moon

The mind that does not understand,
is the Buddha.
There is no other.
– Zen proverb

Seamus Heaney:
And heading back for home, the summer’s
Freedom dwindling night by night, the air
All moonlight and a scent of hay

Kamran Javadizadeh:
I am not complaining of your absence. / Without absence, there is no pleasure in presence.” Iranians do something called fal-e Hafez, where we open his poetry at random and take what we see as a fortune. This is what I got today. Hafez

Forget the years, forget distinctions.
Leap into the boundless and make it your home!
– Zhuangzi

Give until it feels good.
– Byron Katie

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.
– Ellen Bass

The restlessness in the human heart will never be finally stilled by any person, project, or place. The longing is eternal. This is what constantly qualifies and enlarges our circles of belonging. There is a constant and vital tension between longing and belonging. Without the shelter of belonging, our longings would lack direction, focus, and context; they would be aimless and haunted, constantly tugging the heart in a myriad of opposing directions . . . Belonging without longing would be empty and dead, a cold frame around emptiness . . . There is something within you that no one or nothing else in the world is able to meet or satisfy. When you recognize that such unease is natural, it will free you from getting on the treadmill of chasing ever more temporary and partial satisfactions. This eternal longing will always insist on some door remaining open somewhere in all the shelters where you belong . . . it will intensify your journey but also liberates you from the need to go on many seductive but futile quests.
– John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes

Everything you’ve ever dreamed of will often show up in different packaging than you were envisioning.
– Brenden Dilley

Compassion for others isn’t an abstract feeling you cultivate in your heart out of nowhere.

When I see people speak about compassion in that way it’s usually denial, spiritual bypassing and a deep discomfort with being angry. Compassion isn’t a cause. It’s an effect. It’s not a phenomenon. It’s an epiphenomenon. It’s not the seed. It’s the the fruit.

Real compassion never begins with the decision to ‘be compassionate’. Real compassion usually starts with some level of anger or judgment about the actions of another. We see them as a perpetrator. We demonize them. We lable them. We write them off. We ask ourselves, “How could they have done that?”

And then comes the learning – almost always unasked for, almost always unwelcome. And what is the learning about? It’s about what they had to go through to get to where they are today. It’s about learning all the ways in which they were victimized by life and defeated by forces and institutions so much bigger than them.

Compassion sounds less like, “I forgive you,” and more like, “Fuck… you never had a chance. My God.” We ask ourselves, “How could they not have done that?”

Self-compassion comes from the same place. It begins with a fierce and burning self-hatred and shame for all the things you’ve done and not done and then, if you’re lucky, you come to realize that, given what was going on in your life, given what happened in the life of your parents and community, given what happened in the lives of your ancestors… you never had a chance either. And that is nothing but heartbreaking to see. You got let down by your culture. But it’s also a relief. You give yourself a fucking break for not being able to, all by yourself, stand up to the evils, poverties and oppressions of your day. This kind of learning is the breaking of the spell of competence (that you should always know what to do and do it well) and self-sufficiency (all by yourself).

Compassion doesn’t come from a decision to be compassionate. That’s where repression comes from. It comes from learning.

In seeing this all, you see what was missing and, in seeing this, the world has a chance to be different. You wake up one day and you see that you might have some role to play in changing those things. You might have a role to play in making sure the next generation has a better shot than you did.
– Tad Hargrave

Autumn Rain
There have been years, when the summer has
been so dry, that this wish arrives deep

in the soul, wanting autumn rains to yield to prayers.
I think that there are within us certain longings

that, no matter the rules of the times, find us
embodying our animal ways, the longings

that take us back to the realization that this
isn’t ours to control, that there is something else
out there that we depend on. Today, it’s the

rain and whoever it is that caretakes the rain.
And too, there is this thing that happens when

you realize that the earth is rejoicing along with
you—listen to the way it praises!—that some of our
desires are shared with things that are still enlivened
though it has become convenient to think them not.

So, this is what it is like to light the first fire in the
woodstove as the rain pelts the metal roof and
I consider that here too is another day to be grateful
for the company that keeps me.
– Jamie K. Reaser

For if I believe anything, it is that the primary business of literature and art is cognitive, a kind of finding out and knowing and telling, both in good times and bad; a celebration of the way things are when they are right, and a diagnostic enterprise when they are wrong.
– Walker Percy

My theory is that the purpose of art is to transmit universal truths of a sort, but of a particular sort, that in art, whether it’s poetry, fiction or painting, you are telling the reader or listener or viewer something he already knows but which he doesn’t quite know that he knows, so that in the action of communication he experiences a recognition, a feeling that he has been there before, a shock of recognition. And so, what the artist does, or tries to do, is simply to validate the human experience and to tell people the deep human truths which they already unconsciously know.
– Walker Percy

I can only speak for myself. But what I write and how I write is done in order to save my own life. And I mean that literally. For me literature is a way of knowing that I am not hallucinating, that whatever I feel/know is.
– Barbara Christian

Eve Remembering
by Toni Morrison

1

I tore from a limb fruit that had lost its green.
My hands were warmed by the heat of an apple
Fire red and humming.
I bit sweet power to the core.
How can I say what it was like?
The taste! The taste undid my eyes
And led me far from the gardens planted for a child
To wildernesses deeper than any master’s call.

2

Now these cool hands guide what they once caressed;
Lips forget what they have kissed.
My eyes now pool their light
Better the summit to see.

3

I would do it all over again:
Be the harbor and set the sail,
Loose the breeze and harness the gale,
Cherish the harvest of what I have been.
Better the summit to scale.
Better the summit to be.

I must not think of the past. I must go on, destroying my memory. If only I felt some real energy in the present (something more than stoicism, good soldierliness), some hope for the future.
– Susan Sontag

Health, South wind, books, old trees, a boat, a friend.
– Emerson

Wisdom grows in quiet places.
– Austin O’Malley

I sat there singing her
Songs in the dark.

She said,
I do not understand
The words.

I said,
There are
No words.
– Langston Hughes

The sky is eternity, but the clouds are brief.
– Jennifer Chang

none of this is funny

it’s not entertainment

it’s dangerous for the world

it’s harming our country

it’s life and death for allies
– John Harwood

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.
– Buddha

Alternate between the solitary and the social.
Whether alone or with others, keep serenity.
– Deng Ming-Dao

October :: Louise Glück
1.
Is it winter again, is it cold again,
didn’t Frank just slip on the ice,
didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted
didn’t the night end,
didn’t the melting ice
flood the narrow gutters
wasn’t my body
rescued, wasn’t it safe
didn’t the scar form, invisible
above the injury
terror and cold,
didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden
harrowed and planted–
I remember how the earth felt, red and dense,
in stiff rows, weren’t the seeds planted,
didn’t vines climb the south wall
I can’t hear your voice
for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground
I no longer care
what sound it makes
when I was silenced, when did it first seem
pointless to describe that sound
what it sounds like can’t change what it is–
didn’t the night end, wasn’t the earth
safe when it was planted
didn’t we plant the seeds,
weren’t we necessary to the earth,
the vines, were they harvested?

2.
Summer after summer has ended,
balm after violence:
it does me no good
to be good to me now;
violence has changed me.
Daybreak. The low hills shine
ochre and fire, even the fields shine.
I know what I see; sun that could be
the August sun, returning
everything that was taken away —
You hear this voice? This is my mind’s voice;
you can’t touch my body now.
It has changed once, it has hardened,
don’t ask it to respond again.
A day like a day in summer.
Exceptionally still. The long shadows of the maples
nearly mauve on the gravel paths.
And in the evening, warmth. Night like a night in summer.
It does me no good; violence has changed me.
My body has grown cold like the stripped fields;
now there is only my mind, cautious and wary,
with the sense it is being tested.
Once more, the sun rises as it rose in summer;
bounty, balm after violence.
Balm after the leaves have changed, after the fields
have been harvested and turned.
Tell me this is the future,
I won’t believe you.
Tell me I’m living,
I won’t believe you.

3.
Snow had fallen. I remember
music from an open window.
Come to me, said the world.
This is not to say
it spoke in exact sentences
but that I perceived beauty in this manner.
Sunrise. A film of moisture
on each living thing. Pools of cold light
formed in the gutters.
I stood
at the doorway,
ridiculous as it now seems.
What others found in art,
I found in nature. What others found
in human love, I found in nature.
Very simple. But there was no voice there.
Winter was over. In the thawed dirt,
bits of green were showing.
Come to me, said the world. I was standing
in my wool coat at a kind of bright portal —
I can finally say
long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure. Beauty
the healer, the teacher —
death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me,
my beloved life.

4.
The light has changed;
middle C is tuned darker now.
And the songs of morning sound over-rehearsed. —
This is the light of autumn, not the light of spring.
The light of autumn: you will not be spared.
The songs have changed; the unspeakable
has entered them.
This is the light of autumn, not the light that says
I am reborn.
Not the spring dawn: I strained, I suffered, I was delivered.
This is the present, an allegory of waste.
So much has changed. And still, you are fortunate:
the ideal burns in you like a fever.
Or not like a fever, like a second heart.
The songs have changed, but really they are still quite beautiful.
They have been concentrated in a smaller space, the space of the mind.
They are dark, now, with desolation and anguish.
And yet the notes recur. They hover oddly
in anticipation of silence.
The ear gets used to them.
The eye gets used to disappearances.
You will not be spared, nor will what you love be spared.
A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity.
How priviledged you are, to be passionately
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.
Maestro, doloroso:
This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.

5.
It is true that there is not enough beauty in the world.
It is also true that I am not competent to restore it.
Neither is there candor, and here I may be of some use.
I am
at work, though I am silent.
The bland
misery of the world
bounds us on either side, an alley
lined with trees; we are
companions here, not speaking,
each with his own thoughts;
behind the trees, iron
gates of the private houses,
the shuttered rooms
somehow deserted, abandoned,
as though it were the artist’s
duty to create
hope, but out of what? what?
the word itself
false, a device to refute
perception — At the intersection,
ornamental lights of the season.
I was young here. Riding
the subway with my small book
as though to defend myself against
the same world:
you are not alone,
the poem said,
in the dark tunnel.

6.
The brightness of the day becomes
the brightness of the night;
the fire becomes the mirror.
My friend the earth is bitter; I think
sunlight has failed her.
Bitter or weary, it is hard to say.
Between herself and the sun,
something has ended.
She wants, now, to be left alone;
I think we must give up
turning to her for affirmation.
Above the fields,
above the roofs of the village houses,
the brilliance that made all life possible
becomes the cold stars.
Lie still and watch:
they give nothing but ask nothing.
From within the earth’s
bitter disgrace, coldness and barrenness
my friend the moon rises:
she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?
[From Averno]

Lisa Broderick:
The research of HeartMath has shown that when we’re in utero, the first organ to develop is our heart, when we’re just sixteen cells. We are literally grown out of our own heart.

“Not spew,” said Hermione impatiently, “It’s S-P-E-W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.”

Eloisa Amezcua:
i love this time in ohio when you see people wearing puffy coats & hats & scarves

& then someone walks by wearing shorts & a t-shirt

If people just took it a day at a time, they’d be a lot happier.
– Richard Bachman

Gary Snyder:
Plants are all chemists, tirelessly assembling the molecules of the world.

Yoko Ono:
Don’t be afraid of what others seem to be thinking. Be afraid of not putting out an extraordinary communication that could grow one day into a tree of love.

Amanda Smith:
Cory Booker managed to work his veganism into an answer about breaking up big tech, which is how you know he’s really a vegan.

Kerouac:
Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world…

In the end it’s all very simple. Either we give ourselves to Silence or we don’t.
– Adyashanti

Jesse Zook Mann:

I’m exhausted by our disposable swipe left society.

Disposable media.

Disposable tech.

Disposable dates.

And if we see anyone we don’t agree with completely on social instead of communicating our feelings authentically we use them to dump our rage.

People are not disposable.

Ethan Nichtern:

Every time a so-called moderate talks about how progressive policies can’t happen here, when they work in pretty much every other wealthy country on Earth, it genuinely hurts.

It’s just so painful to watch this lack of imagination masquerade as rational intelligence.

Without the ability to be present we are missing much of what the adventure has to offer.
― Allan Lokos

No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
— Alan Watts

I already once quit writing. It lasted a decade. There is little that can dissuade me from continuance. I’ll use anything that is shaped like a rung on a ladder to move in this life-long direction.
– Danielle Rose

Rob Hudson:
I feel like that kid again, helplessly watching Thatcherism destroy lives and communities around me as their ideology exceeded their imagination and their humanity.

You want love but not to give up anything/ of your life.
– Karen Solie, Emergency Response

Ethan Nichtern:
Sometimes I get ready to give a dharma talk by listening to A Tribe Called Quest and I’m cool with you knowing that.

Our neurons must be used … not only to know but also to transform knowledge; not only to experience but also to construct.
– Maria Popova

Silence is an empty space, space is the home of the awakened mind.
— The Buddha

The lyric poet is a person who says, ‘I am not sure the language
I write in is spoken here, or anywhere.’
– Ilya Kaminsky

Our root is quietude.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

By nature we are creatures of hope, always ready to be deceived again, caught by the marvel that might be wrapped in the grubbiest brown paper parcel.
– J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country

Let go and make yourself independent and free, not being bound by things and not seeking to escape from things.
– Yuanwu

She wanted them to go together to some hopelessly disreputable bar and to console one another in the most maudlin fashion over a lengthy succession of powerful drinks of whiskey, to compare their illnesses, to marry their invalid souls for these few hours of painful communion, and to babble with rapture that they were at last, for a little while, they were no longer alone.
– Jean Stafford

Autumnal
ROSEMERRY WAHTOLA TROMMER
after a line from William Stafford

When the leaves are about to yellow and fall
ask me then how I tried to hold on to what was green,
how I thought perhaps I was different,
how everything I thought I knew about gold
turned brittle and brown. Ask me what it was like
to fall then. Sometimes the world’s workings feel transparent
and we know ourselves as the world. Sometimes
the only words that can find our lips are thank you,
though the gifts look nothing like anything
we ever thought we wanted. Sometimes, gratitude
arrives in us, not because we are willing,
but because it insists on itself, like a weed,
like a wind, like change.

Medicine and disease cure each other.
The entire earth is medicine.
What is the self?
– Yunmen Wenyan

Art is the means by which we communicate what it feels like to be alive – in the past that was mixed up with other illustrative duties but that was still its central function that has been liberated in the art called modern. Art is not necessarily good for you or about communicating “good things.

Making beautiful things for everyday use is a wonderful thing to do – making life flow more easily – but art confronts life, allowing it to stop and perhaps change direction – they are completely different.
– Antony Gormley

I face the mountains
Speechless.
I owe these mountains everything.
– Takuboku Ishikawa

I used to believe the document tethered the poem to the earth, to soil that one could taste, that could be nutrient to more than one.

But a document can pull a nation from under you.
– Susan Briante

Susan Sontag’s Diary:
I’m floating in an ocean of pain. Not floating—but swimming, badly—no style. But not sinking,

Like being run over by a truck. Lying in the street. And nobody comes. 10/19/70

I refuse to perpetuate… silence.
– Tempest Williams

I challenge you to acknowledge your sacredness. Remember anyone you deal with has a lineage. We must call to our lineage, recognize that when you hurt, I hurt, and when you heal, I heal. We must take the opportunity to bless each other.
– Jerry Tello

When people are related to you, you treat them different.

My grandma knows what you do with someone who is disconnected.

How courageous are we to embrace those who are looked at as un-embraceable?
– Jerry Tello

We need to decide what future we want, and act like our lives depend on it.
– Kenny Ausubel

1/2 What if the darkness in our world right now is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead but a country still waiting to be born?…
– Valarie Kaur

Who you grieve with is who you fight with.
– Valarie Kaur

People are supposed to get old in 30 years, but planets are not supposed to get old in 30 years.
– Bill McKibben

It’s easier for some people to imagine the end of the world, than the end of capitalism.
– Kenny Ausubel

Today, the world war is to save human civilization from ourselves.
– Kenny Ausubel

We have a crisis and we have a solution, and we have a movement.
– Kenny Ausubel

Problems need to be spoken and understood in the language of solutions.
– Paul Hawken

I don’t think this is going to be the climate movement, I think this is going to be an everybody movement.
– Naomi Klein

I don’t think our anger ought to be directed solely at Donald Trump. What he did was highlight everything that was wrong and needed to be fixed… We don’t need to repair our democracy so much as we need to invent a democracy.
– David Orr

What is beauty if not stillness; what is stillness if not sight; what is sight if not awakening; what is awakening if not now.
– Tempest Williams

Jake Vig:
People who haven’t completely given up are adorable.

. . . time and the world are ebbing away
In twilights of dew and of fire.
– W.B. Yeats

Proof that you lived is that you kept notebooks.
– Fanny Howe

Be quiet.
Find acquaintances with silence.
Go inside, delve into your heart.
Take a day off from the clamor.
– Rumi

Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Adoration is not love. Adoration is someone forcing you to live up to their idealized image at the expense of your own humanity.
– Eve Ensler

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
– Marcus Aurelius

It is most true, that eyes are found to serve
The inward light: Sir Philip Sidney

Elizabeth Warren:
We are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started.

We need big, structural change—and I’m not afraid to fight for it.

I’d woken up early, and I took a long time getting ready to exist.
– Fernando Pessoa

The greatest patience is humility.
– Atīśa Dīpa kara Śrījñāna

The sage shuns excess,
shuns grandiosity,
shuns arrogance.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

There’s a huge difference between visualization and fantasy.

Fantasy is escapism. But visualization is an intentional practice where we let ourselves imagine a more confident and compassionate manifestation of ourselves and our world.

Imagination is crucial to awakening.
– Ethan Nichtern

I’m a natural reader, and only a writer in the absence of natural writers. In a true time, I should never have written.
– Emerson

The path to wisdom is paved with humility.
– Tim Fargo

Once, a long time ago, a Tibetan lama wanted to go to India to see his guru there. One of his disciples said to him, 

For what reason are you going to India? There is no reason to go. The inner guru is within your nervous system, and if you want to see the deities and create good karma, make offerings to the body mandala within your nervous system, to the dakas and dakinis in your nervous system.”

The disciple said many things like that, and his guru could not answer.

We can also make the similar observation that our Western minds are often bored within one place, and we desire to go to another. “Oh, I’ve heard that the beaches in Greece are so nice. So are those in Bali and Hawaii.” People consider these good places to go to, but actually the good places of Greece, Bali and Hawaii are inside our nervous systems, which interprets these places as good. Similarly, we always look outside to see physically beautiful sense objects, although there is beauty also within us. Where outside is that quality we consider beautiful? Show me where outside that quality is. In Greece? Not possible. It’s not possible that you can find the Vajrayogini quality on Greek beaches.

We think about Bodhgaya, where Shakyamuni became enlightened. So, we go there, look around and feel something too. Enlightenment? We feel something, but we never feel that we have the potential of enlightenment. Perhaps enlightenment exists within us right now. That we ignore. But we go on pilgrimages, hassling with airplanes, hotels and all our heavy luggage. Well, perhaps it is good for some people, but my lazy mind is completely convinced that instead of going on pilgrimage, it is better for me to do just one hour of OM MANI PADME HUM mantras. No, not even one hour, perhaps for only ten minutes. By comparison, I think the energy I would expend in going from here all the way to the East, going round stupas and seeing such things, is rubbish. That’s what my lazy mind thinks. I’m not saying this is so for everyone.

For example, we stay in Kathmandu. In Nepal there are incredible holy places, such as the place where Lord Buddha gave his body to the tigers, or stupas like the one in Swayambhunath, where relics from the bodies of Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu are stored. I’m lucky if my lazy mind sees those things once a year. Inside I feel no encouragement to go to those places. Nor do I feel guilty. Maybe I’m sick, but I’m convinced. I also don’t do the mantras, but I feel that if I did just ten minutes of mantra with contemplation, it would be much more powerful than going around looking. Of course, I believe that such pilgrimages can have some good karma, but there’s no shaking inside, nothing is stirred up enough.

So actually, Bodhgaya, the real essential place where Lord Buddha gave the paramita, is inside you. In tantra we have the 24 holy places on earth, where many dakas and dakinis live. So also, we have 24 holy places within us. 

Whatever place in the external world 
we think is holy is, in reality, 
within this precious human body.

We are eroding together. We are evolving together. This is the place we create from. With love, with courage, in grief, and with anger.
– Terry Tempest Williams

Spiritual people often want unconditional support and understanding from their friends, family, and mates, but all too often seem blind to their own shortcomings when it comes to the amount of unconditional support and understanding that they give to others. I have seen many spiritual people become obsessed with how unspiritual others are and assume an arrogant and superior attitude while completely missing the fact that they themselves are not nearly as spiritually enlightened as they would like to think they are.

Enlightenment can be measured by how compassionately and wisely you interact with others—with all others, not just those who support you in the way that you want. How you interact with those who do not support you shows how enlightened you really are.

As long as you perceive that anyone is holding you back, you have not taken full responsibility for your own liberation. Liberation means that you stand free of making demands on others and life to make you happy. When you discover yourself to be nothing but Freedom, you stop setting up conditions and requirements that need to be satisfied in order for you to be happy.

It is in the absolute surrender of all conditions and requirements that Liberation is discovered to be who and what you are. Then the love and wisdom that flows out of you has a liberating effect on others. The biggest challenge for most spiritual seekers is to surrender their self importance, and see the emptiness of their own personal story. It is your personal story that you need to awaken from in order to be free.

To give up being either ignorant or enlightened is the mark of liberation and allows you to treat others as your Self. What I am describing is the birth of true Love.
– Adyashanti

Fred LaMotte:
Sometimes the ones who can’t speak 
say it all.

Edward Abbey:
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. 

May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls…

Let us therefore steal a slogan from the Development Fever Faction in the Park Service.  The parks, they say, are park and national monument we shall erect a billboard one hundred feet high, two hundred feet wide, gorgeously filigreed in brilliant neon and outlined with blinker lights, exploding stars, flashing prayer wheels and great Byzantine phallic symbols that gush like geysers every thirty seconds.  (You could set your watch by them.)  Behind the fireworks will loom the figure of Smokey the Bear, taller than a pine tree, with eyes in his head that swivel back and forth, watching You, and ears that actually twitch. Push a button and Smokey will recite, for the benefit of children and government officials who might otherwise have trouble with some of the big words, in a voice ursine, loud and clear the message spelled out on the face of the billboard. To wit:

HOWDY FOLKS. WELCOME. 
THIS IS YOUR NATIONAL PARK, ESTABLISHED FOR THE PLEASURE OF YOU AND ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.  
PARK YOUR CAR, JEEP, TRUCK, TANK, MOTORBIKE, SNOWMOBILE, JETBOAT, AIRBOAT, SUBMARINE, AIRPLANE, JETPLANE, HELICOPTER, HOVERCRAFT, WINGED MOTORCYCLE, ROCKETSHIP, OR ANY OTHER CONCIEVABLE TYPE OF MOTORIZED VEHICLE IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST PARKINGLOT BEHIND THE COMFORT STATION IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR REAR. 
GET OUT OF YOUR MOTORCIZED VEHICLE, GET ON YOUR HORSE, MULE, BICYCLE OR FEET, AND COME ON IN. 
ENJOY YOURSELVES. 
THIS HEAR PARK IS FOR people.

– In 1956 and 1957, Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service at Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park), near the town of Moab, Utah. Abbey held the position from April to September each year, during which time he maintained trails, greeted visitors, and collected campground fees. He lived in a house trailer provided to him by the Park Service, as well as in a ramada that he built himself. The area around Moab in that period was still a wilderness habitat and largely undeveloped, with only small numbers of park visitors and limited access to most areas of the monument.

During his stay at Arches, Abbey accumulated a large volume of notes and sketches which later formed the basis of his first non-fiction work, Desert Solitaire. These notes remained unpublished for almost a decade while Abbey pursued other jobs and attempted with only moderate success to pursue other writing projects, including three novels which proved to be commercial and critical failures. Eventually Abbey revisited the Arches notes and diaries in 1967, and after some editing and revising had them published as a book in 1968.

Although Abbey rejected the label of nature writing to describe his work, Desert Solitaire was one of a number of influential works which contributed to the popularity and interest in the nature writing genre in the 1960s and 1970s. Abbey cited as inspiration and referred to other earlier writers of the genre, particularly Mary Hunter Austin, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, whose style Abbey echoed in the structure of his work. However, Abbey’s writing in this period was also significantly more confrontational and politically charged than in earlier works, and like contemporary Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, he sought to contribute to the wider political movement of environmentalism which was emerging at the time. Abbey went on to admire the nature writing and environmentalist contemporaries of that period, particularly Annie Dillard.

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.
– Lawrence Block

I have lost my faith in fiction, which was supposed to be able to hold and transform everything.
– Jenn Ashworth

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed //
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely //
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
– Adrienne Rich

Whether we like it or not, we’re all connected, and it is unthinkable to be happy all by oneself.
— Dalai Lama XIV

I AM LEARNING TO ABANDON THE WORLD
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.
– Linda Pastan

All of us have to ask this simple but piercing question of our relationships, our affiliations, our professions, our politics, and our theology: “Does this path, this choice, make me larger or smaller?” Usually we know the answer immediately because we always intuitively know, and yet are afraid of what we know, and even more afraid of what it may ask of us. If we do not sincerely know, then we need to continue asking the question until it reveals itself to us, as it inevitably will.

Then the real task begins.

We recognize in those moments of revelation what life is asking us to do, where we need to grow up. And what then are we going to do about it? Are we going to deny, repress, blame others, shuffle about a bit, dance some dilatory doo-dah until we die, or finally grow up, step into largeness, become an adult?
– James Hollis

Apprentice yourself
to the curve of your
own disappearance.
– David Whyte

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
– Maya Angelou

Because I am neither
“for” nor “against,”
I have outraged everyone
but the Goddess…
She and I quietly
recline by a stream
eating whatever berries
are in season.
It’s the flow of stillness
we all know,
some of us carried
along by the current,
some of us just watching.
Please don’t call me
“irresponsible.”
I respond to mothwing,
breath of raindrop,
thistletouch of purple
evening, mourning cry
of mother raven
just as she dissolves
into a Winter mist.
If you want the “answer,”
friend, just rest
more passionately
in the darkening meadow
of this moment,
this silence
where the question
never arises.
– Alfred K. LaMotte

A world of grief and pain
but the flowers bloom
even then
– Kobayashi Issa

Who knew that the sweetest pleasure of my fifty-eighth year
would turn out to be my friendship with the dog?

That his trembling, bowlegged bliss at seeing me stand there with the leash
would give me a feeling I had sought throughout my life?

Now I understand those old ladies walking
their Chihuahuas in the dusk, plastic bag wrapped around one hand,

content with a companionship that, whatever
else you think of it, is totally reliable.

And in the evening, at cocktail hour,
I think tenderly of them

in all of those apartments on the fourteenth floor
holding out a little hotdog on a toothpick

to bestow a luxury on a friend
who knows more about uncomplicated pleasure

than any famous lobbyist for the mortal condition.
These barricades and bulwarks against human loneliness,

they used to fill me with disdain,
but that was before I found out my metaphysical needs
could be so easily met

by the wet gaze of a brown-and-white retriever
with a slight infection of the outer ear
and a tail like a windshield wiper.

I did not guess that love would be returned to me
as simply as a stick returned when it was thrown

again and again and again—
in fact, I still don’t exactly comprehend.

What could that possibly have to teach me
about being human?
– Tony Hoagland

To be wronged is nothing,
unless you continue to remember it.
– Confucius

How many of you believe you can
quiet the mind through effort?
You can’t do that.
It’s not the effort that makes you quiet your mind.
It’s the intelligent understanding
that you have no mind to begin with.
Then you just keep still and
everything takes care of itself.
– Robert Adams

Gary Snyder:
The wild – often dismissed as savage and chaotic by “civilized” thinkers, is actually impartially, relentlessly, and beautifully formal and free.

Meditation practice is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect.
– Pema Chödrön

It’s when we look within that we find our way. That we find our balance. The sense of being whole. The beauty. The strength in the unity of opposites Knowing happens directly—when not even a though stands between you & what you know. Then you have wisdom.
– Lisa Broderick

The Republic of Poetry
For Chile
In the republic of poetry,
a train full of poets
rolls south in the rain
as plum trees rock
and horses kick the air,
and village bands
parade down the aisle
with trumpets, with bowler hats,
followed by the president
of the republic,
shaking every hand.
In the republic of poetry,
monks print verses about the night
on boxes of monastery chocolate,
kitchens in restaurants
use odes for recipes
from eel to artichoke,
and poets eat for free.
In the republic of poetry,
poets read to the baboons
at the zoo, and all the primates,
poets and baboons alike, scream for joy.
In the republic of poetry,
poets rent a helicopter
to bombard the national palace
with poems on bookmarks,
and everyone in the courtyard
rushes to grab a poem
fluttering from the sky,
blinded by weeping.
In the republic of poetry,
the guard at the airport
will not allow you to leave the country
until you declaim a poem for her
and she says Ah! Beautiful.
– Martín Espada

No one can find inner peace except by working, not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.

In my early life I made two very important discoveries. In the first place I discovered that making money was easy. And in the second place I discovered that making money and spending it foolishly was completely meaningless…

After having walked all one night through the woods, I came to what I now know to be a very important psychological hump. I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life, to dedicate my life to service. I tell you, it is a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.

And so I went into the second phase of my life. I began to live to give what I could, instead of get what I could, and I entered a new and wonderful world. My life began to become meaningful… From that time on, I have known that my life-work would be work for peace; that it would cover the entire peace picture – peace among nations, peace among groups, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace. However, there’s a great deal of difference between being willing to give your life, and actually giving your life, and for me, 15 years of preparation and of inner seeking lay between.

During this time I became acquainted with what Psychologists refer to as Ego and Conscience. I began to realize that it’s as though we have two selves or two natures or two wills with two different viewpoints. Because the viewpoints were so different, I felt a struggle in my life at this period between the two selves with the two viewpoints. So there were hills and valleys – lots of hills and valleys. Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountain-top experience, and for the first time I knew what inner peace was like. I felt a oneness – oneness with all my fellow human beings, oneness with all of creation. I have never felt really separate since. I could return again and again to this wonderful mountaintop, and then I could stay there for longer and longer periods of time, and just slip out occasionally. Then came a wonderful morning when I woke up and knew that I would never have to descend again into the valley. I knew that for me the struggle was over, that finally I had succeeded in giving my life, or finding inner peace. Again this is a point of no return. you can never go back into the struggle. The struggle is over now because you will do the right thing, and you don’t need to be pushed into it.

However progress is not over. Great progress has taken place in this third phase of my life, but it’s as though the central figure of the jigsaw puzzle of your life is complete and clear and unchanging, and around the edges other pieces keep fitting in. There is always a growing edge, but the progress is harmonious. There is a feeling of always being surrounded by all of the good things, like love and peace and joy. It seems like a protective surrounding, and there is an unshakeableness within which takes you through any situation you may need to face.

The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome these problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness – no more striving or straining about anything. Life is full and life is good, but life is nevermore overcrowded. That’s a very important thing I’ve learned: If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then your life is full and good but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.

Now there is a living to give instead of to get. As you concentrate on the giving, you discover that just as you cannot receive without giving, so neither can you give without receiving – even the most wonderful things like health and happiness and inner peace. There is a feeling of endless energy – it just never runs out; it seems to be as endless as air. You just seem to be plugged into the source of universal energy.

You are now in control of your life. You see, the ego is never in control. The ego is controlled by wishes for comfort and convenience on the part of the body, by demands of the mind, and by outbursts of the emotions. But the higher nature controls the body and the mind and the emotions. I can say to my body, “Lie down there on that cement floor and go to sleep,” and it obeys. I can say to my mind, “Shut out everything else and concentrate on this job before you,” and it’s obedient. I can say to the emotions, “Be still, even in the face of this terrible situation,” and they are still. It’s a different way of living. The philosopher Thoreau wrote: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps he hears a different drummer. And now you are following a different drummer – the higher nature instead of the lower.

IT WAS only at this time, in 1953, that I felt guided or called or motivated to begin my pilgrimage for peace in the world – a journey undertaken traditionally. The tradition of pilgrimage is a journey undertaken on foot and on faith, prayerfully and as an opportunity to contact people. I wear a lettered tunic in order to contact people. It says ‘PEACE PILGRIM’ on the front. I feel that’s my name now – it emphasizes my mission instead of me. And on the back it says ‘25,000 MILES ON FOOT FOR PEACE.’ The purpose of the tunic is merely to make contacts for me. Constantly as I walk along the highways and through the cities, people approach me and I have a chance to talk with them about peace.

I have walked 25,000 miles as a penniless pilgrim. I own only what I wear and what I carry in my small pockets. I belong to no organization. I have said that I will walk until given shelter and fast until given food, remaining a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace. And I can truthfully tell you that without ever asking for anything, I have been supplied with everything needed for my journey, which shows you how good people really are.

With Me I carry always my peace message: This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. There is nothing new about this message, except the practice of it. And the practice of it is required not only in the international situation but also in the personal situation. I believe that the situation in the world is a reflection of our own immaturity. If we were mature, harmonious people, war would be no problem whatever – it would be impossible.

All of us can work for peace. We can work right where we are, right within ourselves, because the more peace we have within our own lives, the more we can reflect into the outer situation…

NOW, when I talk about the steps toward inner peace, I talk about them in a framework, but there’s nothing arbitrary about the number of steps. They can be expanded; they can be contracted. This is just a way of talking about the subject, but this is important: the steps toward inner peace are not taken in any certain order…

1. Assume right attitude toward life

Stop being an escapist or a surface-liver as these attitudes can only cause inharmony in your life. Face life squarely and get down below the froth on its surface to discover its verities and realities. Solve the problems that life sets before you, and you will find that solving them contributes to your inner growth. Helping to solve collective problems contributes also to your growth, and these problems should never be avoided.

2. Live good beliefs.

The laws governing human conduct apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. Obedience to these laws pushes us toward harmony; disobedience pushes us toward inharmony. Since many of these laws are already common belief, you can begin by putting into practice all the good things you believe. No life can be in harmony unless belief and practice are in harmony.

3. Find your place in the Life Pattern.

You have a part in the scheme of things. What that part is you can know only from within yourself. You can seek it in receptive silence. You can begin to live in accordance with it by doing all the good things you are motivated toward and giving these things priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily occupy human lives.

4. Simplify life to bring inner and outer well-being into harmony.

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. Many lives are cluttered not only with unnecessary possessions but also with meaningless activities. Cluttered lives are out-of-harmony lives and require simplification. Wants and needs can become the same in a human life and, when this is accomplished, there will be a sense of harmony between inner and outer well-being. Such harmony is needful not only in the individual life but in the collective life too.

FOUR PURIFICATIONS

1. Purification of the bodily temple.

Are you free from all bad habits? In your diet do you stress the vital foods – the fruits, whole grains, vegetables and nuts? Do you get to bed early and get enough sleep? Do you get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and contact with nature? If you can answer “Yes” to all of these questions, you have gone a long way toward purification of the bodily temple.

2. Purification of the thoughts.

It is not enough to do right things and say right things. You must also think right things. Positive thoughts can be powerful influences for good. Negative thoughts can make you physically ill. Be sure there is no unpeaceful situation between yourself and any other human being, for only when you have ceased to harbor unkind thoughts can you attain inner harmony.

3. Purification of the desires.

Since you are here to get yourself into harmony with the laws that govern human conduct and with your part in the scheme of things, your desires should be focused in this direction.

4. Purification of motives.

Obviously your motive should never be greed or self-seeking, or the wish for self-glorification, you shouldn’t even have the selfish motive of attaining inner peace for yourself. To be of service to your fellow humans must be your motive before your life can come into harmony.

FOUR RELINQUISHMENTS

1. Relinquishment of self-will.

You have, or it’s as though you have, two selves: the lower self that usually governs you selfishly, and the higher self which stands ready to use you gloriously. You must subordinate the lower self by refraining from doing the not-good things you are motivated toward, not suppressing them but transforming them so that the higher self can take over your life.

2. Relinquishment of the feeling of separateness.

All of us, all over the world, are cells in the body of humanity. You are not separate from your fellow humans, and you cannot find harmony for yourself alone. You can only find harmony when you realize the oneness of all and work for the good of all.

3. Relinquishment of attachments.

Only when you have relinquished all attachments can you be really free. Material things are here for use, and anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you. You can only live in harmony with your fellow humans if you have no feeling that you possess them, and therefore do not try to run their lives.

4. Relinquishment of all negative feelings.

Work on relinquishing negative feelings. If you live in the present moment, which is really the only moment you have to live, you will be less apt to worry. If you realize that those who do mean things are psychologically ill, your feelings of anger will turn to feelings of pity. If you recognize that all of your inner hurts are caused by your own wrong actions or your own wrong reactions or your own wrong inaction, then you will stop hurting yourself.

In the final analysis you find spiritual truth through your own higher nature. Your higher nature is a drop in the ocean of God – and has access to the ocean. Sometimes your higher nature is awakened through the inspiration of beautiful surroundings or beautiful music, bringing you insights of truth. Sometimes you see the truth written or hear the truth spoken, and your higher nature confirms it.

Or you directly perceive the truth from the inside through an awakening of the higher nature, which is my way. All the inspired writing came from the inner source, and you too can receive from that source. Be still and know.

– Peace Pilgrim, Steps Toward Inner Peace

Sometimes true learning surprises you when it emerges.
— Chungliang Al Huang

(a) Are the skies you sleep under likely to open up for weeks on end?
(b) Is the ground you walk on likely to tremble and split?
(c) Is there a chance (and please check the box, no matter how small that chance seems) that the ominous mountain casting a midday shadow over your home might one day erupt with no rhyme or reason?

Because if the answer is yes to one or all of these questions, then the life you lead is a midnight thing, always a hair’s breadth from the witching hour; it is volatile, it is threadbare; it is carefree in the true sense of that term; it is light, losable like a key or a hair clip. And it is lethargy: why not sit all morning, all day, all year, under the same cypress tree drawing the figure eight in the dust? More than that, it is disaster, it is chaos: why not overthrow a government on a whim, why not blind the man you hate, why not go mad, go gibbering through the town like a loon, waving your hands, tearing your hair? There’s nothing to stop you – or rather anything could stop you, any hour, any minute. That feeling. That’s the real difference in a life.
 – Zadie Smith

At the surface, the mind plays so many games—thinking, imagining, dreaming, giving suggestions. But deep inside, the mind remains a prisoner of its own habit pattern; and the habit pattern of the deepest level of the mind is to feel sensations and react. If the sensations are pleasant, the mind reacts with craving; if they are unpleasant, it reacts with aversion.

The enlightenment of the Buddha was to go to the root of the problem. Unless we work at the root level, we will only be dealing with the intellect and only this part of the mind will be purified. As long as the roots of a tree are unhealthy, the whole tree will be sick. If the roots are healthy, then they will provide healthy sap for the entire tree. So start working with the roots. This was the enlightenment of Buddha.

When he gave Dhamma, the path of sīla (morality), samādhi (mastery over the mind) and paññā (experiential wisdom)—the Noble Eightfold Path—it was not to establish a cult, a dogma, or a belief. Dhamma is a practical path. Those who walk on it can go to the deepest level and eradicate all their miseries.

Those who have really liberated themselves will understand that going to the depth of the mind—making a surgical operation of the mind—has to be done by oneself, by each individual. Someone can guide you with all the love and compassion; someone can help you in your journey on the path. But nobody can carry you on their shoulders and say: I will take you to the final goal. Just surrender to me; I will do everything.

You are responsible for your own bondage. You are responsible for making your mind impure, no one else. You are responsible for purifying your mind, for breaking all the bondages. No one else can do that.
– S. N. Goenka, Chronicles of Dhamma

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, When from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name.
– William Bliss

Uninterrupted and whole-minded concentration on the Self, our true, non-dual Being, this is silence, pure, supreme, the goal; Not the lazy mind’s inertia, which is but a state of dark illusion.
– Sri Muruganar

The next paradigm of teachings will be revealed through the kehillah and the sangha – through the vehicle of the collective soul that we call in Kedumah the Soulship.
. . .
The next generation seems to intuit and know the nonhierarchical truth, but they cannot articulate it yet. It is the emerging reality, the emerging generation knows this on some level, the earth knows this. The hierarchies are dissolving.
– Zvi Ish-Shalom, The Kedumah Experience: The Primordial Torah

But when people stopped wandering and began to build towns and cities and lived without taking long walks together they began to have ideas that everybody’s Inner Reality should be the same, and they argued about it rather than respecting that every person has a unique experience in their Inner Reality.

They began to think that Inner Reality should be as consistent as Outer Reality. This was their great mistake, for then the inner richness of every person began to be eroded, worn down, compared and argued about. And occasionally a strong leader would appear in a city or town who would insist that there was only one Inner Reality and that everyone should see the same thing in it. This was the greatest assault ever upon the most creative roots of the individual person.

You see, this began to destroy the very glue that held people together and that enriched the entire community. The Outer Reality held people together only when there was danger or when people were in need and had to cooperate in order that everyone would be fed and could survive. But the Inner Reality was the source of each other’s gifts and when they were properly shared with each other there was tremendous abundance in the community.
– Steve Gallegos, Dream Visits. Stories for the Inner Child

one continuum of togetherness
Our relationship with nature is intimately vital, we function within the benefits of nature since we have to breath, eat and walk on earth. The whole organizational components of nature, such as fire, water, air, earth and how they combine into and nurture human life is also tied closely to the experience of awakening. I see that the divine and earthly strata of my consciousness arise from nature’s organizational configurations within my consciousness. The physical and heavenly organizations of nature are the driving forces that create our hearts, mind, bodies, societies, worlds, and galaxies. They are all aligned with our individual awareness. Physical and material life is often called the surface values of consciousness, but they are part of one continuum of togetherness. I do not experience a surface separate from any other layer of my awareness.

Perceiving the spontaneous transformation of universal awareness into our daily awareness, into celestial and cosmic values is the expanded story of all our lives. It is the subject of the rise to enlightenment. My physical life began to be known and perceived as part of an over-all continuum. Then all the differences became a unity of awareness, where the space between unbounded consciousness and material existence had found a delightful common ground in my awareness.

There is no real difference between pure-awareness, its knowledge make-up, cosmic, heavenly and personal levels of existence. How they are inter-woven as one phenomenon is really discovered to be our awakening process. The self-aware human being has a see-through, know-through and hear-through relationship with all these inter-acting layers of consciousness and with the all-mighty powers of universal and cosmic activity.
– Harri Aalto, The Environment and Me

Even more important
than the warmth and affection we receive,
is the warmth and affection we give.
It is by giving warmth and affection,
by having a genuine sense of concern
for others,
in other words through compassion,
that we gain the conditions
for genuine happiness.
More important than being loved,
therefore, is to love.
– H.H. Dalai Lama

No, this is not a wound: this is an origin.
– Muriel Rukeyser

My Invisible Horse and the Speed of Human Decency
People always tell me, “Don’t put the cart
before the horse,” which is curious
because I don’t have a horse.
Is this some new advancement in public shaming—
repeatedly drawing one’s attention
to that which one is currently not, and never
has been, in possession of?
If ever, I happen to obtain a Clydesdale,
then I’ll align, absolutely, it to its proper position
in relation to the cart, but I can’t
do that because all I have is the cart.
One solitary cart—a little grief wagon that goes
precisely nowhere—along with, apparently, one
invisible horse, which does not pull,
does not haul, does not in any fashion
budge, impel or tow my disaster buggy
up the hill or down the road.
I’m not asking for much. A more tender world
with less hatred strutting the streets.
Perhaps a downtick in state-sanctioned violence
against civilians. Wind through the trees.
Water under the bridge. Kindness.
LOL, says the world. These things take time, says
the Office of Disappointment. Change cannot
be rushed, says the roundtable of my smartest friends.
Then, together, they say, The cart!
They say, The horse!
They say, Haven’t we told you already?
So my invisible horse remains
standing where it previously stood:
between hotdog stands and hallelujahs,
between the Nasdaq and the moon’s adumbral visage,
between the status quo and The Great Filter,
and I can see that it’s not his fault—being
invisible and not existing—
how he’s the product of both my imagination
and society’s failure of imagination.
Watch how I press my hand against his translucent flank.
How I hold two sugar cubes to his hypothetical mouth.
How I say I want to believe in him,
speaking softly into his missing ear.
– Matthew Olzmann

Give your attention to that which lights you up with aliveness. To that which leaves you bursting with radiance…. Find delight. Revel in pleasure.
– Heidi Barr

Fred LaMotte:
Sometimes the ones who can’t speak
say it all.

Yoko Ono:
We are all activists in varying degrees. We have to save ourselves from this horrible polluted and war-torn world, and we all know it and knew it.

Ethan Nichtern:

Nobody is inherently selfish. Of course we have limbic systems and amygdalas to deal with, but at heart we are caring, social creatures capable of thinking beyond immediate concerns toward something larger and more interdependent.

One thing that really needs to die in 2020 is the constant assumption in political messaging that we are each fearful and irrevocably SELFISH. The assumption in the message is almost always “What is a politician going to do for ME and MY family.

That’s why we need more messages like “I’m willing fight for someone I don’t know.” All the progressive candidates for everything ought to adopt similar messages, to go straight at the heart of the assumption of fearful selfishness.

Maggie Smith:
Think of this as a time of reclamation. Make new memories on days that were once significant to you. Take back a place, an object, a song that stings. Give them new meaning. Keep moving.

Gratitude is the sweetest thing in a seeker’s life– in all human life. If there is gratitude in your heart, then there will be tremendous sweetness in your eyes.
– Sri Chinmoy

Kerouac:
The bus roared on. I was going home in October. Everybody goes home in October.

Going back to climate communications being all head and no heart, you can’t empathize with a molecule of carbon or gigaton of carbon. But you can empathize with a human being, right?”
– Mary Heglar

aria aber:
will i ever, in my life, write a poem again

Nightcap
by Adam Clay

Some mornings I read poems
and my first impulse is to remain silent,

as if even the simple act

of conversing would further complicate
a world continually unfolding before us.

Perhaps like an observer on the outside of a field,
perhaps like an observer on the outside of a field,
the field has somehow clouded the space around me.

In moments like last night, one can’t help but wonder
about the sharp edge of a year and the dullness

of them adding up, one by one. It’s certain
I’m not the same person I was back then and even now
I have a temptation to swerve this life off

into another one. If life is a flight
where I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion
then I can live with that. After all, what choice

do we have? An observer on the outside of a field,

I am a different person altogether.

I am suddenly standing
there with you, your hand touching my arm.

Instructions
by Eavan Boland
To write about age you need to take something and
break it.
(This is an art that has always loved young women.
And silent ones.)
A branch, perhaps, girlish with blossom. Snapped off.
Close to the sap.
Then cut through a promised summer. Continue. Cut
down to the root.
The spring afternoon will come to your door, angry
as any mother. Ignore her.
Now take syntax. Break that too. What is left is for you
and you only:
A dead tree. The future. What does not bear fruit. Or
thinking of.

Feel the pain that grows
out like a nettle
from injustice,
and take that thorn
out of your paw, little one,
and keep walking north
through the snow.
– Sandra Simonds

Silence is pure and holy. It draws people together…
– Nicholas Sparks

No, this is not a wound: this is an origin.
– Muriel Rukeyser

In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.
– Daniel Goleman

Tao is strangely colorless.
Yet intense.
It grips like a tidal wave.
This is Tao.
– Deng Ming-Dao

The creative process always gives you great energy and healing. It never rips you apart.
– Yoko Ono

Ethan Nichtern:
I have some real respect for classic conservative values, especially the doctrine of ‘personal responsibility.’

But let’s be honest: modern conservative thought is nothing but an absurd dumpster fire of white people’s most irrational fears of self and other.

We must defeat it.

There are those who love to get dirty
and fix things.
They drink coffee at dawn,
beer after work,

And those who stay clean,
just appreciate things,
At breakfast they have milk
and juice at night.

There are those who do both,
they drink tea.
– Gary Snyder

The Zen master Chao-chu was asked, “What is the Tao?” He replied, “Everyday life is the Tao.” “How,” pursued the inquirer, “does one get into harmony with it?” “If you try to get into harmony with it, you will get away from it.”
– Alan Watts, Zen

Yes change and loss is everywhere but miraculously, so is joy, love, genuine connection and hope.
– Lama Surya Das

Literary Interest:
‘Pandora’s box’ was actually Pandora’s jar: it only became a box in the 16th century, when the Dutch scholar Erasmus mistranslated the word pithos (‘jar’), confusing it with another Greek word pyxis (‘box’).

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
– Ansel Adams

… I loved to sit under on those cool perfect starry California October nights unmatched anywhere in the world.
– Jack Kerouac

Those who seek to satisfy with ceremonies, music, and devotion have lost their original nature.
– Zhuangzi

Lisa Broderick:
Want to manifest reality? Desire something for someone else.

Kelli Russell Agodon:
And remember what Carolyn Kizer & Theodore Roethke say:

…be very careful when you criticize…, because it may be the hallmark of an emerging style.

We live and die for a beauty which we wronged ourselves in thinking alien.
– Emerson – Journal, May 1845

the library haunter:
kids today will never know how hard it was to keep up with friends in the ‘90s. you’d lose someone in the department store and they’d return the next day a wizened old man, having spent three hundred years in the thrall of the faerie queene.

I face the mountains
Speechless.
I owe these mountains everything.
– Takuboku Ishikawa (trans. Roger Pulvers)

I used to believe the document tethered the poem to the earth, to soil that one could taste, that could be nutrient to more than one.

But a document can pull a nation from under you.
– Susan Briante

Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
But
It will be our brave space together,
And
We will work on it side by side.
– Micky ScottBey Jones

Only someone who is ready for everything,
who doesn’t exclude any experience,
even the most incomprehensible,
will live the relationship with another person as something alive
and will himself sound the depths of his own being.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Richard Siken:
History throws its shadow over the beginning, over the desktop,
over the sock drawer with its socks, its hidden letters.

Richard Siken:
Take it or leave it, and for the most part you take it.
Not just the idea of it but the ramifications of it.

Richard Siken:
Dangerous thing: an open arm, an open channel.

Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable and finally has come to look and not to buy. So shoes are worn and hassocks are sat upon and finally everything is left where it was and the spirit passes on, just as the wind in the orchard picks up the leaves from the ground as if there were no other pleasure in the world but brown leaves, as if it would deck, clothe, flesh itself in flourishes of dusty brown apple leaves and then drops them all in a heap at the side of the house and goes on.
– Marilynne Robinson

For many of us, wound means truth. In a sugared world, holding your gaze to something broken, bereft or damaged seems like the deepest, most articulate position we can take. We see this move all the way through the modern arts. It’s what gets the big grants. Myths say no. The deepest position is the taking of that underworld information and allowing it to gestate into a lived wisdom that, by its expression, contains something generative. The wound is part of a passage, not the end in itself. It can rattle, scream and shout, but there has to be a tacit blessing, or gift, at its core.
– Martin Shaw

Many of us seek that which we will flee if we find it. I have seen this time and again, both in myself and in others. We seek, we search, and then we find a calling or a relationship that is a perfect reflection of our yearning and we turn away and go back to seeking, almost as though the light of our true-path was too bright for us, too vulnerable for us, too real for us. This is a pattern that we have to recognize and heal or else we will never stop looking for what is already there. True-path is not always around the next corner. Sometimes it’s right under our feet.
– Jeff Brown

White privilege, brown privilege,
the privilege of seeing, tasting a rainbow,
the privilege of a caterpillar whirling
all Winter in the chrysalis,
the privilege of an eagle soaring over mountains,
the privilege of a worm in the apple core,
the privilege of the last rose, frost scented,
the privilege of a maggot devouring death,
the privilege of pausing
to hold up your grandmother’s cup
in a sparkle of soapsuds,
the privilege of clinging
to your grandfather’s hoe every Spring,
the privilege to own hands,
to spin clay and throw a pot,
the privilege to shape your story,
the privilege to remember and forget,
the privilege to blame and forgive,
the privilege that loss brings, awakening the heart,
the privilege of taking one step on this earth,
the privilege of a human birth,
the privilege of listening at midnight,
praying the silent blackness,
the privilege of giving your breath away
to trillions of invisible stars
whose light is tomorrow.
– Fred LaMotte

The human souls which have descended into corporeality are those which have allowed themselves to be ensnared by sensuality and overpowered by lust.

They now seek to cut themselves loose from their true being; and, striving after independence, they assume a false existence. They must turn back from this; and, since they have not lost their freedom, a conversion is still possible.

Here, then, we enter upon the practical philosophy. Along the same road by which it descended, the soul must retrace its steps back to the supreme Good. It must first of all return to itself. This is accomplished by the practice of virtue, which aims at likeness to God, and leads up to God. In the ethics of Plotinus all the older schemes of virtue are taken over, and arranged in a graduated series. The lowest stage is that of the civil virtues, then follow the purifying, and last of all the divine virtues. The civil virtues merely adorn the life, without elevating the soul. That is the office of the purifying virtues, by which the soul is freed from sensuality, and led back to itself, and thence to the nous. By means of ascetic observances the man becomes once more a spiritual and enduring being, free from all sin. But there is still a higher attainment; it is not enough to be sinless, one must become “God.” This is reached through contemplation of the primeval Being, the One; or, in other words, through an ecstatic approach to it. Thought cannot attain to this, for thought reaches only to the nous, and is itself a kind of motion. Thought is a mere preliminary to communion with God. It is only in a state of perfect passivity and repose that the soul can recognize and touch the primeval Being. Hence in order to this highest attainment the soul must pass through a spiritual curriculum. Beginning with the contemplation of corporeal things in their multiplicity and harmony, it then retires upon itself and withdraws into the depths of its own being, rising thence to the nous, the world of ideas. But even there it does not find the Highest, the One; it still hears a voice saying, “Not we have made ourselves.

The last stage is reached when, in the highest tension and concentration, beholding in silence and utter forgetfulness of all things, it is able as it were to lose itself. Then it may see God, the fountain of life, the source of being, the origin of all good, the root of the soul. In that moment it enjoys the highest indescribable bliss; it is as it were swallowed up of divinity, bathed in the light of eternity.
– Plotinus, Hellenistic philosopher, 2nd century A.D.

Just like people who come here; to some I say, “Go”, so also the same goes for thoughts. Some are of no use — so send them away. Retain the useful ones. Just like if you get a wrong telephone call — you say so and, put down the phone. Similarly, don’t entertain unwanted thoughts. Don’t entertain them, but do give attention to them. Make it a habit; reject unwanted thoughts, by giving them attention – then it becomes natural. Since childhood, the mind-body gets engrossed in unwanted thoughts.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

In a sense, we’re homesick for our true nature.
– Mingyur Rinpoche

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
– Mother Teresa

aria aber:
it’s just one of those nights where i’m incredibly moved by poems. so moved i am actually weeping. how incredible the elasticity of language, how brilliant what poems can compose, and like god’s own hand, re-create in meaning, in music. may i be the eternal student of poetry.

The whole point of Zen is to suspend the rules we have superimposed on things and to see the world as it is.
– Alan Watts

Seamus Heaney:
It was a fortunate wind
That blew me here. I leave
Half-ready to believe
That a crippled trust might walk
And the half-true rhyme is love.

Sarah Jaffe:
All Organizing is Magic” “Magic, Silvia Federici wrote, was “an instrument of grassroots resistance to power.”

I don’t need other people to have an open mind. The question is “Is my mind open?”
– Byron Katie

I too dream of ‘times / We’ll share.
– James Merrill

Ethan Nichtern:
I don’t spend much time arguing with folks who say Buddhist practice should be apolitical. Just try to live my practice as best I can, stay engaged, and connect with folks who are engaged, too.

This seems the best way to shift the conversation about what modern Dharma will be.

Prayer to be Still and Know
Lord, let my ears go secret agent, each
a microphone so hot it picks up things
silent, reverbing even the hum of stone
close to its eager, silver grill. Let my ears forget
years trained to human chatter
wired into every room, even those empty
except of me, each broadcast and jingle
tricking me into being less
lonely than I am. Let my ears forget
the clack and rumble, our tambourining and fireworking
distractions, our roar of applause. Let my hands quit
their clapping and rest in a new kind of prayer, one
that doesn’t ask but listens, palms up in my lap.
Like an owl, let me triangulate icy shuffling under snow as
vole, let me not just name the name
when I spot a soundtrack of birdsong
but understand the notes through each syrinx
as a singular missive—begging, flirting, fussing, each
companion call and alarm as sharp with desire and fear
as my own. Prick my ears, Lord. Make them hungry
satellites, have your way with their tiny bones,
teach the drum within that dark to drum
again. Because within the hammering of woodpecker
is a long tongue unwinding like a tape measure from inside
his pileated head, darting dinner from the pine’s soft bark.
And somewhere I know is a spider who births
a filament of silk and flies it to the next branch; somewhere,
a fiddlehead unstrings its violin into the miracle of
fern. And somewhere, a mink not made into a coat
cracks open a mussel’s shell, and with her mouth full
of that gray meat, yawns. Those are your sounds, are they not?
Do not deny it, Lord, do not deny
me. I do not know those songs. Nor do I know the hush
a dandelion’s face makes when it closes, surrenders, then goes
to seed. No, I only know the sound my own breath makes
as I wish and blow that perfect globe away;
I only know the small, satisfactory
popping of roots when I call it weed and yank it
from the yard. There is a language of all
you’ve created. Hear me, please. I just want to be
still enough to hear. Right here, Lord:
I want to be.
– Nickole Brown

I am made up of substance and what animates it, and neither one can ever stop existing, any more than it began to. Every portion of me will be reassigned as another portion of the world, and that in turn transformed into another. Ad infinitum.
– Marcus Aurelius

Reading Rilke at Lake Mendota, Wisconsin
BY ARIA ABER
I HAVE RELINQUISHED my shame
now that I have mastered what wasn’t lent
to my name: three languages, one of them
dead. It is hard to misbelove
all that isn’t as absurd as my forked
childhood—first of the menses, padar’s
stethoscope, to have hours upon hours
to marvel at words like driftwood, trope,
misbelove. To miss my life in Kabul is to tongue
pears laced with needles. I had no life
in Kabul. How then can I trust my mind’s long corridor,
its longing for before? I have a faint depression
polluting my heart, sings the lake. That there is music
in everything if you tune in to it
devastates me. Even trauma sounds like Traum,
the German word for dream. Even in the dirty
atrium, Lou was waiting, tenderly, for Rilke—René,
he signed his letters, the apostrophe arced with love. Oh—
in love, I was always and providential, but what
I want is not of love. Its meatless mojo and limen
bore me. I do not want to open, neither for food
nor men. For loneliness, I keep a stone
to kiss. At night the entirety of me arches
not toward the black square
of absence, but toward you.

Gary Snyder:
O, ah! The awareness of emptiness brings forth a heart of compassion!

There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen.
– Shunryu Suzuki

Harry Potter:
You have shown bravery beyond anything I could have expected of you tonight, Harry. (Dumbledore, Book 4)

If you put your happiness on self-start, and if you are happy by your own nature, relationships will become a means for you to express your happiness, not to seek happiness. If you are forming relationships to seek happiness, you trying to squeeze happiness out of somebody and that person trying to squeeze happiness out of you, this is going to be a painful relationship after some time. But if you have become a joy by yourself, nobody is going to complain about you because you are in the process of expressing your joy, not seeking joy from the other person. You can hold a million relationships and still hold them well. Now, this whole circus of trying to fulfill somebody else’s expectations does not arise, because if you are an expression of joy, they anyway want to be with you. If you are trying to extract joy from them, then they want to avoid you. Isn’t it so? Shifting your life from pursuit of happiness to an expression of joyfulness is what needs to happen if relationships really have to work on all levels.
— Sadhguru

One of the most important things we can do as people who live on this planet is to return our hearts and minds back to the land so that we can learn to listen again to what the land has to say. Such a practice doesn’t always make sense in a modern, technological society that grabs onto quick solutions, but truly, when we listen intently to the land, unpredictable insights begin to emerge and we remember the ancient truth that psyche is not only that which lives inside of us humans, but extends to all things: rock, river, and tree. The entire cosmos is alive and we are simply members in her vast community. If we all lived this to the fullest, imagine what the world would look like today.
– Betsy Perluss

The whole point of Zen is to suspend the rules we have superimposed on things and to see the world as it is.
– Alan Watts

In a sense, we’re homesick for our true nature.
– Mingyur Rinpoche

My birthday began with the water –
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days



These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singing birds.
– Dylan Thomas

Beware of teachers
who say they are self – taught.
They have mythologized themselves.

Just continue to meditate on the thought:
who is my teacher?
— and let yourself be guided.

When I met Maezumi Roshi I lived three states away. I attended a retreat not to meet a teacher (Lord, no!) but just to get instruction in how to sit. So imagine my surprise and deep recognition when I saw him standing in front of me.

Right in front of you
is the only place you’ll ever find your teacher.
– Karen Maezen Miller

One of the hardest and also perhaps the most rewarding thing is to make our daily rounds into an adventure. The moment we think of our routine as stale is the moment to do what we always do with more attention or by giving it some flare or goofiness. We can change the order in which we do things or simply bless the patterns we are in for their established beauty. The adventure is living in the ordinary as if it were extraordinary. It’s already amazingly so if we could just see it.
– Gunilla Norris

Stretching your imagination is critical if you want to radically change your life. You must be more available for the ridiculous than your reality.
– Jen Sincero

In my craft or sullen art
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
– Dylan Thomas

Sarah Whiteley:

at the sill, I count
birds like blessings –

even the wisp of a junco
with the withered foot –

both of us recite
the words for sky

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.
– James Baldwin

I dream of a world in which, as soon as the first evidence of climate change was discovered by fuel companies, those companies decided that protecting our planet was more important than generating profits.
– Ward Q. Normal

Everyone wonders how we can achieve world peace but I think starting negotiations by talking about how much we all love the Princess Bride will inevitably bring all of humanity together.
– Megan Rebekah

I would rather write nothing at all than propagandise for the world as is.
– Anne Boyer, The Undying

I never find words right away. Poems for me always begin with images and rhythms, shapes, feelings, forms, dances in the back of my mind.
– Gary Snyder

Things you control:
Your effort.
Your beliefs.
Your identity.
Your actions.
Your attitude.
Your integrity.
Your thoughts.
The food you eat.
How kind you are.
The media you read.
How reflective you are.
How thoughtful you are.
The people you listen to.
The type of friend you are.
– Shane Parrish

The more mature and open we become, the more we naturally want to see every possible illusion within our system, and this gives us humility.

We recognize that we are not an “awakened person,” and that we are not “special.” We basically get to see that we are essentially nothing!

One of Amma’s most well-known quotes is, “When we become a zero, then we can become a hero.” Feel free to interpret this for yourself. I have never heard of Amma calling herself enlightened; and I have also never seen her call anyone else enlightened!

From her perspective, there is no-one who is enlightened; there is only the one true reality that is everywhere and always. As we mature, we recognize that the spiritual process is about our systems being opened. And the degree that we are opened is relative to our willingness to be absolutely nobody. It’s another safety mechanism within the design of evolution…

There is a beautiful, organic process that takes place when we continue choose, to know what’s True, before anything else. Of course, by choosing to know what is True, we are allowing a new perspective to take place in our being. And even though this is what we are looking for, maybe even hoping for, there is another deeper, unseen event taking place each time we choose.

When we choose Truth, our heart-our spiritual hearts-which is our true nature in our body, is opened. Each time we allow ourselves to choose what is True, we are in essence choosing our own heart. And this is vital. Our hearts need to open, to get really large to absorb the habits and tendencies of our old perceptions.

And when we completely fall in Love with what is True, we are, again, falling in Love with our own heart. It may not feel like it ~ in fact, we may at first deny our own heart’s divinity, yet, as our heart is opened it begins to reveal itself. And each time we fall in Love with Truth, our own heart responds, by opening.
Some of you may know what I am speaking of. Maybe you have experienced some rather large heart openings. It can be quite wonderful, and powerful. What is happening, each time the heart is opened up, again and again, is one of the most essential parts of our unfoldment.

Because it is this opened heart, that brings the mind back home.

We all know how tenacious and distracted the mind can be. And also how full of ideas, projections, judgements and fears it harbors. That’s a lot of stuff.

But what if the heart were able to accommodate the mind and all its luggage. What if there is, within the open heart, an innate capacity to bring the mind home. Like a wild dog on a leash. And when the dog-mind gets too tired, the leash shortens a bit.

And then, one day, the dog-mind recognizes that the leash is the security that it’s been looking for, and starts to return home to the heart with just a little tug on the leash. And then there comes a point, when there might not need to be a tug, or a leash, because the mind has found its true abode.

– Joi Sharp is a disciple of Amma, or Mata Amritanandamayi. With Amma’s blessing, She began teaching in 2006. Joi encourages people to begin to recognize the key role that our Nervous System plays in the actual embodiment of Consciousness.

She loves to use every little human experience to open up the Nervous System, in order that our transformation goes beyond needing a certain perception or experience. She emphasizes our capacity to receive the Infinite Reality deeply into our bodies, so that our bodies no longer experience themselves as separate. Rather our entire beings become informed by the flow of Life, thus feeling supported by life. We live and act for the benefit of all.

Heather Christle:
Going to sleep with hair smelling of woodsmoke aka I am happy.

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

And if you are eating my quotes, they are still fresh

(what you are eating is your own imagination).
– Rumi

If you don’t put on the armor of the bodhisattvas who willingly embrace others’ ingratitude, happiness will never come to those in cyclic existence.
Therefore, willingly accept all that is undesirable.
– Dharmaraksita

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.
– Mary Oliver

There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song – but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.
– Pablo Neruda

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, X
The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.
To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that – when you feel it – brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.
– Rainer Maria Rilke, In Praise of Mortality
(trans. A. Barrows and J. Macy)

Then as regards the actual connection between spirit and body I consider that the body by reason of being a living body can “attract” and hold on to a “spirit” whilst the body is alive and awake and the two are firmly connected. When the body is asleep I cannot guess what happens but when the body dies the “mechanism” of the body, holding the spirit, is gone and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later perhaps immediately.

As regards the question of why we have bodies at all; why we do not or cannot live free as spirits and communicate as such, we probably could do so but there would be nothing whatever to do. The body provides something for the spirit to look after and use.
– Alan Turing

ALL HALLOW’S EVE
In the great silence of my favorite month,
October (the red of maples, the bronze of oaks,
A clear-yellow leaf here and there on birches),
I celebrated the standstill of time.

The vast country of the dead had its beginning everywhere:
At the turn of a tree-lined alley, across park lawns.
But I did not have to enter, I was not called yet.

Motorboats pulled up on the river bank, paths in pine needles.
It was getting dark early, no lights on the other side.

I was going to attend the ball of ghosts and witches.
A delegation would appear there in masks and wigs,
And dance, unrecognized, in the chorus of the living.
– Czeslaw Milosz

Authentic humanism, in Pierre Furter’s words, “consists in permitting the emergence of the awareness of our full humanity, as a condition and as an obligation, as a situation and as a project.”
– Paulo Freire – Pedagogy of the Oppressed

here is a statement i hold to be unwarranted: indian sage nisargadatta maharaj repeats this commonly held belief within his spiritual tradition: “suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.” but why is this the source of suffering? and how can we know this to be “entirely” true? this principle cannot apply equally to all peoples in all different conditions, times, places and circumstances. i’ve seen suffering because of poverty, i’ve seen survivors of genocide, i’ve seen refugees, and i’ve also seen “plain” broken-heartedness. for many of us, one fundamental source of suffering is not our “clinging” or “resisting”, it is precisely the opposite: it is our alienation from all sources of relationship and connection with our fellow human beings. unless we create the societal conditions that allow for true detachment and freedom, these spiritual teachings will remain largely inconsequential.
– hune margulies

What makes an elder, a heartfelt spirit, a clear mind, a talented heart, one who is young while old and old while young, an activist for the Soul? Is it formulae, schemas, lexicons? It could be. But also, and often more so, I think it is very like the flowering of the trees in the forest, as we gather more years: we straggle and stride onward in our better learned ways to give out even more seeds for new life, and to blossom wildly in so doing for self and others…
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
– Bertrand Russell

I want you to know
one thing.
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
. . . .
…if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
– Pablo Neruda

STAY WILD
Stay wild and local, small and green.
Love needs no government.
The power that guides you is unseen,
unfathomed and unspent.
You are the sovereign of your heart,
a miracle of chaos.
Blossom in the holy art
of Now, embrace the loss
of all the light that you desire
and be just what you are –
a darkness at the root of fire,
the black hole in a star.
Let yourself happen, gently rest
as a path with no follower.
You are the dust already blessed,
already hollower
than God, whose sigh created you
more whole, more pure than One
entangled in this dance of Two.
Then leave the chrysalis unspun,
your wings already warming in the Sun.
– Fred LaMotte

Spiritual maturity is being ready to let go everything. Giving up is a first step, but real giving-up is the insight that there’s nothing to be given up, since nothing is your property.

When you know thoughts and their wonderful powers, and liberate them from what has poisoned them – the idea of an own, separate person -, you just let them alone, such that they can perform their appropriate work. Letting the thoughts do their own work at their own place is freedom.

When you don’t require anything from the world and nothing from God, when you don’t desire anything, when you don’t strive for anything, don’t expect anything, the divine will enter you, unasked and unexpected.

The wish for truth is the best of all wishes, but it’s still a wish. All wishes must be given up, that the truth can enter your life.

When you encounter sorrow and suffering, remain with it and don’t try to escape from it. Don’t throw yourself into blind activity.
Neither learning nor acting can really help. Be with the presence of sorrow and uncover their roots – help with insight is real help.

Understanding confusion means becoming free of it.

The world and the thinking are states of being. The divine is not.a state, it penetrates all states, but is no state of anything else.

Nothing extraordinary can happen to a consciousness knowing exactly what it wants.

Delayed reaction is wrong reaction. Thinking, feeling and action must be a unity and happen together with the situation requiring them.

What is the worth of a hapiness for which you must strive and work? Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.

In my view, everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously..But humans think they would work for a win, towards a purpose.

There’s nothing from which the world could profit more than from giving up profit. A man who’s no longer thinking in terms of winning
and loosing is truly non-violent man, since he’s above all conflicts.

It’s the nature of thinking to differentiate things and specialize itself. There’s no harm to that, but it isn’t true when one thinks of oneself as separate from things. Things and humans are different, but not separate. Nature is one, reality is one. There are opposites, but no contradictions.

You will receive everything you need when you stop asking for what you do not need.

There’s no state in which one is seeing reality. WHO is seeing WHAT? You can only BE real. (And that you are always.) The problem exists
only in thinking. Let all false ideas go, that’s all. There’s no need for true ideas. (Since there are none.)

Suffering is exclusively the result of attachment or resistance, it is a sign of lacking readiness to go on, to flow with life.”

– from “The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj”, by Robert Powell

The question sacrifice ask is; “What are you willing to give up to ensure your own unfolding, and the unfolding of what is holy in your life?” Each time we sacrifice — each time we let go of something, die to an old way of being, relinquish our grip on the fruit– we are practicing for bigger and bigger surrenders, and eventually for growing old gracefully and — a tough one– dying. We all owe god a death, Shakespeare once said, so we owe it to ourselves to practice for the occasion whenever possible.
– Gregg Levoy

Writing a poem isn’t my job. My job is the human job of waiting and listening, and language is just what poets use—like wind chimes—to catch the sound of the larger, more essential thing. Wind chimes themselves are not the point. The point is the wind.
– Jenny George

Rilke wrote: These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.
– Gaston Bachelard

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.
– William Arthur Ward

Rumi:
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. Try something different.

My teachings are older than the world.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

The closer we get to someone, the more we must stand humbly before his freedom.
– Unitarian priest

If one were to give an account of all the doors one has closed and opened, of all the doors one would like to re-open, one would have to tell the story of one’s entire life.
– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

When the mind is kept away from its preoccupations, it becomes quiet. If you do not disturb this quiet and stay in it, you find that it is permeated with a light and a love you have never known; and yet you recognize it at once as your own nature. Once you have passed through this experience, you will never be the same man again; the unruly mind may break its peace and obliterate its vision; but it is bound to return, provided the effort is sustained; until the day when all bonds are broken, delusions and attachments end and life becomes supremely concentrated in the present.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

We are not here to carry the pain, the grief, the blood-guilt of our ancestors. We are here to free them. Our life is not an act of penance, but an act of bold forgiveness.

At the root of our literature and our politics is the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus. The Furies drive Orestes mad with their infernal history of unreleased trauma, through the relentless cycle of retaliation. But the new Goddess of civilization, Athena, descends to cast the deciding vote in the Assembly of Athens, the original rite of democracy. Our freedom is a choice, and it frees others as well as ourselves. Orestes awakens from the dark stupor of the past.

I am Orestes. I am the punishing Furies. I am Athena. I descend into the Assembly of my own heart, where all are gathered. I cast my vote for absolution, and pure joy.
– Fred LaMotte

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

My time does not come in large, focused blocks, but in fragments and shards. The fault is my own, arguably, but it’s yours too – it’s the fault of everyone I know who rarely finds herself or himself with uninterrupted hours. We’re shattered. We’re breaking up. It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.
– Rebecca Solnit, bufflehead cabin

I feel as though, if I were to extend my hand just a little toward the pool where the ideas ferment, I could grab at the idea and pull it out of the pool and onto the floor where ideas must stand before the jury of the brain. There, it must present itself, still from the pool, and a bit shivery because new ideas are not given a towel to dry off with, towels being reserved for proven theories; new ideas are simply pulled and stood up, and asked to explain themselves – not a very pleasant thing really, which is why so many people go into the room where the pool is. The exercise is exhausting not to mention a bit difficult to watch, if you are at all a sympathetic creature. What was my idea, anyways?
– Emilie Autumn

One of the most solid pieces of writing advice I know is in fact intended for dancers – you can find it in the choreographer Martha Graham’s biography. But it relaxes me in front of my laptop the same way I imagine it might induce a young dancer to breathe deeply and wiggle their fingers and toes. Graham writes: ‘There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
– Zadie Smith

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.”
– Bertrand Russell

I stand at the seashore, alone,
and start to think:

There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.

For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest, tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.

A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.

They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity,
living things,
masses of atoms,
DNA, protein,
dancing a pattern ever more intricate,
out of the cradle,
onto dry land,
here It is standing:

atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering:

I, a universe of atoms,
an atom in the universe.
– Richard Feynman

If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy,
can be our teacher.
– Pema Chödrön

Buddhism is saying:
you don’t need any gizmos to be ‘in the know.’ You don’t need a religion.
You don’t need any buddha statues.
You don’t need temples.
You don’t need any Buddhist bondieuserie, rosaries, and all that jazz.

But, when you get to the point that you know you don’t need any of those things—that you don’t need a religion at all—then it’s fun to have one.

Then—as it were—you can be trusted to use rosaries, and ring bells, and clappers, and chant sutras, you see?

But those things won’t help you a bit… they’ll just tie you up in knots… if you use them as methods of catching hold of something. So, every teacher of Buddhism is a debunker. But, he does it not to be a smart aleck and show how clever he is, but out of compassion. Just as, when a surgeon chops off a bad growth, or a dentist pulls out a rotten tooth, so the Buddhist surgeon (or guru) is getting rid of your crazy ideas for you, which you use to cling on to life and make it dead.”
– Alan Watts, The Journey to India

Universe
Susan Steinberg
One does not start with mourning doves.
One cannot start with doves surrounding the bedroom.
One starts with the trip to Sausalito, the quick ride over the bridge, the city shrinking in the sideview.
One starts with the trip as the details of the trip are simple: Mexican food, espresso.
The details are simple: houseboats and the theater where one remembered seeing a film on a first date, a blind date, some years back.
The date, himself, one remembered, was beautiful, the night itself, and if one felt to sleep with him on the first date, if one felt to sleep with anyone on a first date, one would have gotten, one would get, one would guess, the second date.
The film was foreign, fine; two perfect people falling in love.
One cannot start with mourning doves surrounding the bedroom, several in windows sitting on branches, making their hollow sound.
One cannot start with doves looking through the windows to where one lay in one’s bed, still, too late to be lying still in one’s bed.
One starts with something lighter, light, the Mexican food, the espresso, and walking past the theatre, one told one’s friend about the blind date from years back, how beautiful his face was; how sentimental the film; how one fell for it, still, the perfect people falling in love; how after the date, one went back to his place; how one was asked to take off one’s shoes; how one was asked to lie in his bed; how one doesn’t go all the way on first dates; how there’s a stigma to this; how there’s a stigma, as well, as it turns out, to not.
One’s friend laughed, and all that mattered, in this moment, was this moment.
All that mattered in the next moment was the pulling in one’s gut as one laughed too.
One mentions the pulling as it too is a detail, the detail that made one stay in one’s bedroom, shades drawn, the following day and the following day, but it was a great day, this day, to be on the other side of the bridge.
Everything was a metaphor this day.
Like the bridge itself.
Like the lack of traffic on the bridge.
Like the doves cooing from every branch that morning in bed, and one read the doves as a sign of something to come.
One was right to do so; everything that day was a sign.
Not from the universe, as one now knows the universe is not in control, as one now knows the universe is not calling the shots, as one now knows that neither is there human control and neither is there fate and neither is there an explanation for what there is.
There is just the endless dialogue between one’s own soft brain and one’s own soft brain.
One has to accept this.
It was just a morning.
It was just a visit one had to get to, like any visit, and as the birds flew off the branches, one by one, one got out of bed, one pulled on clothes, one left.
It was just the usual: one’s body transported as if pulled on strings.
Then the wait, feet up, for the doctor to enter, the doctor who called one Baltimore; How’s it going Baltimore, he’d say and laugh.
After, one felt the need to leave the city, to see it shrinking in the sideview.
And when one’s eyes teared up, one politely left one’s friend at the table, one teared politely, outside, in the wind, looking toward the houseboats, feeling half-pathetic, half-heroic.
Which is to say half-oneself, half-someone else.
Once inside, one didn’t explain the events of outside, that while one’s eyes were tearing, while one’s hair was whipping about the way one would imagine, there was a pulling in one’s gut.
One only said one saw the houseboats, a man in a straw hat standing on one, sweeping its floor, and this seemed a metaphor too.
But for what.
One doesn’t know.
Perhaps something about out with the old.
Perhaps something about each man for himself.
Perhaps something about something about that.
The story itself is a force inside; the doctor afraid to move closer; one’s insides afloat, quivering black and white on a screen.
The doctor said nothing, kept his distance.
One knew what he was thinking.
One now was fluent in the doctor’s face.
One now was fluent in one’s insides.
One now knew where to find this and that: the cord, the head, the spastic flicker of the heart.
When the doctor sighed, looked down, one thought, Now what.
The nurse, as well, looked down.
There was nowhere else to look.
This was not the time for words.
This was not the time to say something dumb.
Anything would have been dumb.
Fuck this would have been dumb.
Why would have been pathetic.
It was supposed to happen to others.
It was not supposed to happen.
One was only trying to be an adult.
Check again, one said.
One said, Check again.
Check again, one said.
The heart wasn’t beating.
One said, Check again.
The doctor held out his hand for a handshake and anyone would have been confused.
It was not a handshake but a way to help one up.
Tomorrow, he said.
One did not want to get up.
The technical term was aspiration, and this was not the time to deconstruct words.
Get dressed, Baltimore, he said.
One left him hanging, hand in the air, and he left.
When one’s phone rang, one was still undressed, standing barefoot by the screen.
One’s friend said, What do you need.
It was too big a question.
There were machines in the room one did not understand.
There were jars of sticks one could not figure out, not the jars, but the sticks.
One’s man was supposed to be there, helping to pull one’s underwear on.
One’s man was supposed to tell one what now.
One’s man was only in one’s mind.
In one’s mind he had those long legs one loved, ragged jeans, a t-shirt, hair hanging into his eyes.
One’s friend said, What.
It was too hard a question.
One had a sudden need to be melodramatic.
One had a sudden need to be difficult, loud, one’s default before one learned to perform.
Then came the need to be driven fast across the bridge, the need to see water, seabirds, houseboats moored to a dock.
A sign on the wall said to avoid drinking liquor.
A sign on the wall said to avoid eating swordfish and shark.
But one could now do shots.
But one could now devour a shark.
One would try to remember to say this to one’s friend.
I can now eat a whole fucking shark, one would say.
But one would forget this joke until now.
And what good is it sitting here now.
One stayed undressed until the nurse knocked on the door, knocked again, said one’s name, knocked again, opened the door still saying one’s name, still knocking.
The menu said the espresso was the best in Sausalito, and not having tried it elsewhere, one believes it was.
The Mexican food, too, one feels was the best.
One liked to see the theater again.
To be reminded that one cannot force a spark in another.
That one can get undressed, get into his bed, and still get sent home in a cab.
That one can watch a clichéd sunrise by oneself on one’s living room floor.
That one can make some decisions about one’s future on one’s living room floor, as the sun moves from chair to couch to wall.
And the silent melodrama of this.
One used to think mourning was spelled morning, and then, as morning, it was a different kind of dove, a different sound they made.
That was in Baltimore, and then one was young and one was dumb.
And then one thought one was tough.
And that was then, and everything then was Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore.
And the brilliance of this.
Now though.
This is the west.
This is what it is to be an adult.
And one cannot handle the accuracy of these birds.
One cannot handle the sentimental fuckload that is these birds.
One cannot even write these birds without feeling like one of those people one detests.
One of what people.
You know what people.
This is not the time to be a snob.
The café would close and the ride back to the city was looming.
There would first be a joke about cigarettes, about picking up smoking.
There would first be a joke about whiskey, about drinking oneself sick, about drinking oneself under the fucking table.
There would first be the hope that one’s friend would head the car north instead, along the coast, that one would never return.
But one’s friend needed to get back to the city.
One’s friend had a wife, kids, waiting on the other side of the bridge.
For one’s friend, there was dinner waiting, warm, and talk of the safe and dull events of a day.
And for one there was night, then later night.
And the melodrama that was a ceiling coming into view.
And the melodrama that was one’s brain considering the ceiling.
And the sudden deep thoughts one had that only seemed deep, that only seemed sudden.
About each man for himself.
About out with the old.
And so on and so on.
Listen to this, friend.
One had it going on in Baltimore.
One was never safe, never dull.
One had different aspirations.
But that was then, and now a new city forced its way through the windshield.
And one could pretend one was tough, still.
One could pretend one could handle it all.
One could say, Beautiful, and point to the skyline.
One could pretend one had never fallen in love.
With a brilliant thought.
A nameless man.
A rapid flicker on a screen.
It’s all heart at this point, the doctor once said and shook one’s hand.
And one could laugh out the window, not one of those people, not one of those sentimental fucks, and pretend one’s own heart hadn’t stopped.

If anger, despair, or sorrow accumulate in our hearts, we have to do something about it. Exercise, talk to your mentor, meditate on loving-kindness.
– Haemin Sunim

claire schwartz:
I really want to read and/or edit an anthology about literary friendships—who read the drafts, who brought over groceries, who gave the pep talk, who loved through the not-making, who made the making possible.

Ethan Nichtern:
The thing about meditation:

It helps you get so much better at not needing to be good at everything.

Leah Barclay:
Every morning, ecosystems around the world break out in song. In terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, insects, fish, shrimp, frogs, birds and mammals join, a rich tapestry — a community of many players and layers.

The highest form of grace is silence. It is also the highest spiritual instruction.
– Sri Ramana Maharishi

If you become a little alert you will find love, light, laughter, everywhere!
– Osho

[L]anguage is just what poets use—like wind chimes—to catch the sound of the larger, more essential thing. Wind chimes themselves are not the point. The point is the wind.
– Jenny George

Gary Snyder:
A reading is a kind of communion. The poet articulates the semi-known for the tribe.

Even though I’m a poet, the least I do is on the page. That doesn’t mean what I do with a poem won’t be an act of revolution, but what happens on the other side of what we’ve written, those are the actual gestures of activism.
– Natalie G Diaz

I throw my passport in the sea, and name you my country. I throw all my dictionaries in the fire, and name you my language.
– Nizar Qabbani

I pray that we can see that we are still worthy of taking a hold
of our medicine bundles—wether it is made of eagle feathers
and sacred songs, paint brushes and canvases, calculators and
rulers, keyboards and mice, guitars and drums, spatulas and
griddles, seeds and dirt, thread and needle, salons and scissors,
tripods and prisms or your voice and a dream—we are all
medicine people and we are all given our unique medicine
bundles that can be used for love and life, instead of fear and
destruction. it is time to break them out from the dusted shelves
and reclaim our place as beautiful children of the Diyin Diné’é.
No matter what has been done to us, or what has been done to
others through us, we can always choose in this moment to be
what we are: precious and beautiful Creations.
– Lyla June Johnston

These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too is increased.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

The goal is not to cheat death, but to live in the stream with a humility and aliveness that only acceptance of death can release…. Even within one life, we shred and re-root. We break, bleed, and rearrange into yet another beautiful thing that learns how to reach. Resisting this process doubles our pain. Singing our way through, it is the source of wisdom and beauty.
– Mark Nepo

The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.
– Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder

The main difference between happy people and sad people is that sad people know that everything they do and feel is controlled by others and happy people are under the opposite illusion.
– Lisa Taddeo

We all got holes in our lives. Nobody dies in a perfect garment. We all got to face the nothingness before us and behind. Call it sleep. We all begin in sleep and that’s where we find our end. Even in between, sleep keeps trying to claim us. To stay awake in life as much as possible – that may be the point.
Pain comes to us from deep back, from where it grew in the human body. Pain sucks more pain into it, we don’t know why. It lives and we harbor its weight. When the worst comes, we will not act the opposite. We will do what we were taught, we who learnt our lessons in the dead light. We pass them on. We hurt, and hurt others, in a circular motion.
There is no trace where we were. No arrows pointing to the place we’re headed. We are the trackless beat, the invisible light, the thought without a word to speak. Poured water, struck match. Before the nothing, we are the moment.
– Louise Erdrich

Conversation with Immigration Officer
BY AE HEE LEE
She looks at your papers.
She asks your husband to step out.
She asks you where your husband’s birthplace is.
She is testing you. You answer:

we were made in water in free-flowing

salt water rich with plankton

& we keep a fire

in our lungs it burns white

red in the center like a hibiscus

you must know we are all manic

you must know we are not ink

more than pencil-point residue

graphite …

She asks for the address of your current home.
You clear your throat and fold your hands on your lap.
Secretly, you imagine you have just met her
in a train, on the way to some undecidedly beautiful place.

we are living

in this continent for now

we had to leave paradise

when we became of age a common ritual

how about you? did you know

this continent is but a well-rooted boat?

did you know roots are easy

to snap?

The officer has a catalog of potential questions in her eyes.
You are the last question mark inside that list.
She asks if you have committed any crimes.

i have lied before

my memories

& my world are always


being devoured

by bright lime groves

but i am committed to lie

with love

to live

i thought everyone

committed lies

& wants

She asks what you had for breakfast.
What your husband had for breakfast.
You smile at what could have been
a question asked by a friend.

i pressed pearly remains

of snow into my mouth

drop drop drop …

i didn’t share

he peeled & ate a secret

he didn’t share

either

But the officer doesn’t smile back.
She asks if you understand what she is saying.

i don’t dream in languages

only in prophecies

& whale songs

Your lawyer, sitting behind you,
says everything is going to be all right.

i believe stories

become real

when you hunger

yes, yes, don’t words make you want

to believe?

But she isn’t smiling either. You shiver.
The air conditioner is always too cold, too powerful
in this country.

see how inside my thorax

minute icicles

prickle and shake

slightly at each hiccup

no … yes … no …

The officer says you will hear from them
in a couple of months. She asks you to leave.
She asks your husband to step in.


yes …

don’t grieve so, chirping crickets
this long autumn night
my prolonged sorrows
are greater than yours
– Fujiwara no Tadafusa

Hammond B3 Organ Cistern
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
The days I don’t want to kill myself
are extraordinary. Deep bass. All the people
in the streets waiting for their high fives
and leaping, I mean leaping,
when they see me. I am the sun-filled
god of love. Or at least an optimistic
under-secretary. There should be a word for it.
The days you wake up and do not want
to slit your throat. Money in the bank.
Enough for an iced green tea every weekday
and Saturday and Sunday! It’s like being
in the armpit of a Hammond B3 organ.
Just reeks of gratitude and funk.
The funk of ages. I am not going to ruin
my love’s life today. It’s like the time I said yes
to gray sneakers but then the salesman said
Wait. And there, out of the back room,
like the bakery’s first biscuits: bright-blue kicks.
Iridescent. Like a scarab! Oh, who am I kidding,
it was nothing like a scarab! It was like
bright. blue. fucking. sneakers! I did not
want to die that day. Oh, my God.
Why don’t we talk about it? How good it feels.
And if you don’t know then you’re lucky
but also you poor thing. Bring the band out on the stoop.
Let the whole neighborhood hear. Come on, Everybody.
Say it with me nice and slow
   no pills  no cliff  no brains onthe floor
Bring the bass back.    no rope  no hose  not today, Satan.
Every day I wake up with my good fortune
and news of my demise. Don’t keep it from me.
Why don’t we have a name for it?
Bring the bass back. Bring the band out on the stoop.
Hallelujah!

WAIT
by Julie Hart
The house is quiet and the air is calm:
dust settling on the books so evenly,
dead thoughts moulder both outside and inside
your head. Perhaps you are only fifty
percent good, the rest bad, like everyone
else, certainly you don’t want to be the one
to get out the feather duster and stir
this mess up, someone will volunteer so
you won’t be the witch who orders a loved
one to do that which you refuse to do
yourself, willing to wait for them to notice
this dust, awaiting the threshold you might
cross, get up and do it yourself. Wait. Get up.
Wait. Get up. How can this be your life?

I don’t like people who ask you to follow or believe. I like people who ask you to think independently.
– A. S. Byatt

Earnestness, above all, is durable. Hate burns itself out and exhausts; indignation yields eventually to acclimatization; hope is bound to be disappointed. Earnestness expects to be around for a while, and knows it won’t have it easy.
– Grace Paley

Ethan Nichtern:
Regarding the whole #OkBoomer thing: as a late GenX, my hope is that as I age, my actions help empower younger generations, and that I always stay humble to my blind spots. As a teacher, I know the second you grow defensive toward those who come after, you missed the point.

Robyn Hammontree:
Broke: writing off the South, saying it can never turn blue, diverting all resources to “winnable” states.

Woke: Understanding the South, one of the most diverse places in the nation, is already blue and only looks red because of voter suppression and gerrymandering.

Vincent Horn:
I think that “Traumatized, Not Toxic” is a good rallying cry for collective healing of the masculinity/femininity split, from the masculine side. It acknowledges there are real problems, without becoming self-destructive, or denying the truth of interdependence.

But compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got.
– Cheryl Strayed

Real avant-garde writing today would frame and reflect our misuse of the world, our destruction of its beauties and wonders.
– Joy Williams

In Australian stories we trust loss and we are very suspicious of success.
– Peter Carey

Langston Hughes:
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.

More than machines, we need mindfulness — more than likes, we need kindness — more than connections, we need commitment — more than advancement, we need enlightenment.
– Abhijit Naskar

A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities.
– Gilles Deleuze

Poets, the best of them, are a very chameleonic race; they take the colour not only of what they feed on, but of the very leaves under which they pass.
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Complete Poems

Gary Snyder:
Read carefully, then don’t read; work hard, then forget about it; know your tradition, then liberate yourself from it; learn language, then free yourself from it.

Finally, know at least one form of magic.

Keith S. Wilson:
i think poetry as a practice often involves sharp focus and a great attention to detail. joy is a kind of movement, and misery slows time down. you can remember every detail of an endless-seeming depression but joy moves at the speed of light and you want to let it.

Airea D. Matthews:
The hardest poem to write is one of joy. I don’t know why. Maybe because we sense it in our bodies as loss? Maybe because as soon as joy comes something has to replace it? Maybe because we privilege the thieves of joy above joy itself?

Maybe stop doing that.

If you write in a troubled part of the world, everything is interpreted allegorically.
– Amos Oz

Mary Annaïse Heglar:
I just saw a meme of Greta with bob marley lyrics and I’m too tired to explain the problem

To write about the monstrous sense of alienation the poet feels in this culture of polarized hatreds is a way of staying sane. With the poem, I reach out to an audience equally at odds with official policy, and I celebrate our mutual humanness in an inhuman world.
– Maxine Kumin

It’s easy to make someone feel special. Ask open-ended questions and listen with genuine interest. Attention is the expression of love.
– Haemin Sunim

Matt Haig:
Criticising your own side doesn’t make your side look weak. Not being able to does though.

Inver and Aber are synonymous and are applied to places situated at the junction of a river with a lake or the sea, or with a large river. Thus Inver-ary, Inver-ness, […] Aber-brothick, Aber-deen…
– Wm. MacGillivray, A Walk to London

There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realise that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else’s terms.
– Jeanette Winterson

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.

If I stopped
the pain
was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe
the world
can’t be saved,
the pain
was unbearable.
– Mary Oliver

Like a cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can you learn wisdom unless you first empty your cup?
– Nyogen Senzaki

If anger, despair, or sorrow accumulate in our hearts, we have to do something about it. Exercise, talk to your mentor, meditate on loving-kindness.
– Haemin Sunim

Ethan Nichtern:
The thing about meditation:
It helps you get so much better at not needing to be good at everything.

POEM WRITTEN IN STOLEN POLLING PLACE PEN
by James D’Agostino
Ever watch a sunset against a headstone
what kind civil war what kind well I’ll tell
but how many words between orange
and red had I better come up with? That
one’s second-degree jelly bean. That ain’t
fireflies it’s headlights I’ve got my back to
on the headstone I face. Hey, down here
if you got a belly button you got half
a chance but the sherbet sure burns hotter
the shallower it gets. Told you you’d need
more reds before bed. Col. Andrew Porter,
I should probably apologize for my tail
bone ass cheek imprint I left in your soft
dirt there. Beware. Though I could see
why you like the place. All that sky all day.
The heavens you called it. Comes down
to a little bit of blood at the end.
James D’Agostino: I had been talking with my friend Monica about the moment she realized Trump wasn’t going to be impeached. For her it was watching a square dance pour its form across our town’s Moose Lodge dance floor. For me it was when half my students (college juniors) told me they were too busy to vote. I cancelled class on election day to free a few up. Leaving the polling place I wandered out to our town cemetery and realized I’d pocketed the pen I voted with.
– Poets Respond, November 11, 2018

MUCH HAS BEEN SAID
by David Whyte
Much has been said about the eternal
and untouchable nature of love,
its tidal ungovernable forces
and its emergence from far beyond
the ordinary, but love may find
its fullest, most imagined
and most courageous form
when it leaves the abstractions
and safety of the timeless
and the untrammeled
to make its promises
amidst the fears, vulnerabilities,
and disappearances of our difficult,
touchable and time bound world.
To love and to witness love
in the face of possible loss
and to find the mystery of love’s
promise in the shadow of that loss,
in the shadow of the ordinary
and in the shadow of our own inevitable
disappearance may be where the eternal
source of all our origins stands
in awe of the full consequences
of everything it has set in motion.

Two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time.
If the clear light of mindfulness is present,
there is no room for mental twilight.
– Nyanaponika Thera

There’s actually no such thing as an adult. That word is a placeholder. We never grow up. We’re not supposed to. We’re born and that’s it. We get bigger. We live through great storms. We get soaked to the bone. We realize we’re waterproof. We strive for calm. We discover what makes us feel good. We do those things over and over. We learn what doesn’t feel good. We avoid those things at all cost. Sometimes we come together: huge groups in agreement. Sometimes we clap and dance. Sometimes we look like a migration of birds. We need to remind ourselves – each other – that we’re mere breaths. But, and this is important, sometimes we can be magnificent, to one person, even for a short time, like the perfect touch – the first time you see the ocean from the middle. Like every time you see the low, full moon. We keep on eating: chewing, pretending we know what’s going on. The secret is that we don’t. We don’t, and don’t, and don’t. Each day we’re infants: plucking flower petals, full of wonder.
– Micah Ling, Hobart

You’ll be driving along depressed when suddenly
a cloud will move and the sun will muscle through
and ignite the hills. It may not last. Probably
won’t last. But for a moment the whole world
comes to. Wakes up. Proves it lives. It lives –
red, yellow, orange, brown, russet, ocher, vermilion,
gold. Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations
of burning. You’re on fire. Your eyes are on fire.
It won’t last, you don’t want it to last. You
can’t stand any more. But you don’t want it to stop.
It’s what you’ve come for. It’s what you’ll
come back for. It won’t stay with you, but you’ll
remember that it felt like nothing else you’ve felt
or something you’ve felt that also didn’t last.
– Lloyd Schwartz

To write about the monstrous sense of alienation the poet feels in this culture of polarized hatreds is a way of staying sane. With the poem, I reach out to an audience equally at odds with official policy, and I celebrate our mutual humanness in an inhuman world.
– Maxine Kumin

Albert Camus:
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.

The reason it takes so long to become self-realized and become free is you’re looking to do something and in truth there is absolutely nothing to do. There is nothing to do to become free and liberated. What is there to do? If you say: “I have to try”, you’re saying the hallucination has to try. You’re believing in the hallucination, the falsity, the mirage. Thinking that this is the truth and you have to identify with something to become higher. No, all you have to do is remain still, that’s all. Remain quiet, still. Nothing to do. Nothing to become. If you try to become something you get caught in the world of cause and effect and you will have all kinds of problems. But if you’ve made the mind still and quiet then there is no-one to identify with anything and you become free. You don’t become free, you awaken to the freedom that you already are. Ponder this.
– Robert Adams

You touched me in places so deep
I wanted to ignore you.
– Adrienne Rich

Multitude, solitude: identical terms, and interchangeable by the active and fertile poet. The man who is unable to people his solitude is equally unable to be alone in a bustling crowd.
– Charles Baudelaire

What you remember saves you.
– W. S. Merwin

I believe our task is to develop a moral and aesthetic imagination deep enough and wide enough to encompass the contradictions of our time and history, the tremendous loss and tragedy as well as greatness and nobility, an imagination capable of recognizing that where there is light there is shadow, that out of hubris and fall can come moral regeneration, out of suffering and death, resurrection and rebirth.
– Richard Tarnas

Evening Room
I can hear those strange words now
that come completely to one as though
the very soul could speak its desires.
Bees murmur on white chrysanthemum,
and I can smell old musty sachet.
The rooms narrowed vision
Preserves a history of love
while over the bed in enormous letters
reads the French inscription:
“Seigneur, ayez pitie de nous.”
O my heart, don’t examine, don’t search
for sorrowful names of a bygone drama….
I see bright statuettes fade and are gone
even as their last great cloaks are taken off.
But a last heavy ray of yellow sun
will fall upon the eternal formation:
as a remembered dream, upon loud dahlias.
And I can hear the matter of the viol and clavicin
dimly adorn the wide heart of the window.
– Anna Akhmatova, Translated by Robin Sparks

You and I know many people who have been searching for many, many years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years, for the answers to life, for reality, yet they’re still in the same place they started twenty years ago. They have gone through all kinds of things. They’ve been to many places. They met certain teacher, but they’re still the same. For they’ve never really investigated themselves. They say they do. They say they’ve been working on themselves for years, nothing has happened. But have they really been working on themselves? What they’ve been doing is sort of just thinking about it a little bit, reading books. But they’ve never dived deep enough in the Self to find the answers. And this is exactly what you have to do. You have to dive deep, deep, deep within yourself, deeper than you can ever imagine. And the only way you can do this is by giving up the external world, mentally, not physically. In other words, by not reacting to things. To observe things, watch the world go by, leave it alone. It’s neither good nor bad. It has nothing to offer you.



There is no one called ‘you’. You don’t exist. No thing that you can imagine exists. Realization doesn’t exist. Liberation doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because you’ve got to think about it. And of course, everything you think about is false imagination. You can only confirm this truth in the silence.
– Robert Adams

Art is not in some far-off place.
– Lydia Davis

You do not have to experience death or destruction or agony to write. You simply have to care about something. Perhaps what you care about is joyful.
– Kurt Vonnegut

There is so much Everything
that nothing is hidden quite nicely
– Szymborska

Paths and their markers have long worked on me like lures: drawing my sight up and on and over. The eye is enticed by a path, and the mind’s eye also. The imagination cannot help but pursue a line in the land – onwards in space, but also backwards in time to the histories of a route and its previous followers. As I walk paths I often wonder about their origins, the impulses that have led to their creation, the records they yield of customary journeys, and the secrets they keep of adventures, meetings and departures.
– Robert Macfarlane

Be an arrow floating back to the bow.
Be breath returning to the archer.

Whatever you inflicted in your enemy’s flesh,
wash with your tears

until the wound mysteriously closes
like the bones in a baby’s crown.

But keep it soft.
That’s the door we leave by.

Like peonies unbursting,
let us spiral inward toward our buds.

Only in appearance
may we escape the seed.

When creatures repose in themselves again,
that is the healing.

This poem is an echo of the cry
of a stricken breast already whole.

Beads of gratitude fall from these eyes,
pearl worlds on a thread of silence.

I just keep whispering,
‘Grace, grace…’
– Fred LaMotte

When inquiry is authentic,
it brings you into the experience
of here and now…
If your mind is honest,
it knows it doesn’t have the answer. … eventually the inquiry wears itself out….

You’ve inquired yourself out of this whole thing, and you’re disappearing faster
than you can put yourself together…

As Nisargadatta Maharaj said
so brilliantly and beautifully,
“The ultimate understanding
is that there is no ultimate understanding.
– Adyashanti

Alexandria Villaseñor:
Climate is a biodiversity issue.
Climate is an agricultural issue.
Climate is a race issue.
Climate is an immigration issue.
Climate is a healthcare issue.
Climate is a disability issue.
Climate is a human rights issue.
Climate is an economic issue.

Climate is everything.

TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD REQUIRES
To live in this world requires
that you leave your house every morning
and step into the wind
Every morning: with all your memories
on file and the future pinned to some wall
you will have to build and tear down and
build again. If you get there. If. If.

Into the wind: first you walk the dog whose
blessed face belies the beast it is built upon
Millennia behind you, that beast enters a cave
and decides whether or not to kill a child sleeping
by a fire. It does not kill the child
because its heart has been surprised by love
Both softened and sharpened by it, inexplicably
Inexplicably, to this day

And on this day, the wind relents
The morning star lifts itself into a changeable sky
and you, carrying extra weight, wearing
last year’s clothes, start walking towards the train
Seeds that grew from ancient science digest in your stomach;
your bones begin to separate because science did not plan
this length of life; your heart slows down and you feel
the pressure of dragging a million, billion years
behind you. A million, billion lie ahead that you
will know nothing about

Thus, harnessed to time, facing the inevitable,
constructed by science and fed on inexplicable events
taking place somewhere in the middle of history,
your day goes by. Miles away, the ocean
murmurs to its own beloved creatures, a mountain
applies pressure to the weaving of a golden seam
And in your house, the dog wonders
if you will make it home again. And each day,
despite or because the performance of this feat
is both a mystery and a triumph, somehow
you will. You do
– Eleanor Lerman

I have to admit: my life changed because I’d made myself an author. Or to be precise, it wasn’t exactly me who did that, I was made an author by the sentences I’d written, and that wasn’t even the end of the story: each result gave birth to the next, and I found myself being transported to a place I hadn’t known existed. Writing was a more dangerous acrobatic stunt than dancing atop a rolling ball. To be sure, I’d worked myself to the bone learning to dance on that ball and actually broke some bones rehearsing, but in the end I attained my goal. In the end I knew with certainty that I could balance on a rolling object – but when it comes to writing, I can make no such claims. Where was the ball of authorship rolling? It couldn’t just roll in a straight line, or I’d fall off the stage. My ball was supposed to spin on its axis and at the same time circle the midpoint of the stage, like the Earth revolving around the sun.

Writing demanded as much strength as hunting. When I caught the scent of prey, the first thing I felt was despair: would I succeed in catching my prey, or would I fail yet again? This uncertainty was the hunter’s daily lot. When my hunger grew too strong, I was incapable of hunting. All I wanted to do was stop – before the hunt – at a first-class restaurant for a three-course meal. I also wanted to make sure my limbs were adequately rested before each big hunt. My ancestors had spent entire winters slumbering in their sheltered caves. How pleasant it would be to withdraw once a year until spring came to wake me. A true winter knows no light, nor sound, nor work. In the big city, winter shrank and shriveled, and the dimensions of life grew narrow too.
– Yoko Tawada

A golden buddha can’t survive the furnace.
A wooden buddha can’t survive the fire.
And a clay buddha can’t survive the water.

Listen to my song:

Three buddha statues and none of them is real /
I see a boy then meet a man /
Once people believe in their own jewels /
Birds will sing and flowers will bloom in spring.

– Tao-ch’uan

Do not remain in the dualistic state

avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace

of this and that, of right and wrong,

the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,

do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,

nothing in the world can offend,

and when a thing can no longer offend,

it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,

the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,

the thinking-subject vanishes,

as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind);

the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).

Understand the relativity of these two

and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable

and each contains in itself the whole world.

If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine

you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way

is neither easy nor difficult,

but those with limited views

and fearful and irresolute:

the faster they hurry, the slower they go,

and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited;

even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment

is to go astray.

Just let things be in their own way

and there will be neither coming nor going.

– Hsin Hsin Ming (Verses on the Faith Mind)
by Seng-ts’an, Third Zen Patriarch (606AD)
translated by Richard B. Clarke

Rationalism is the suburbia of the universe.
– Cecil Collins

Stephen Dobyns: Napatree Point
A mile from where I live is a beach where in winter

I walk the dog, console myself with the ocean’s beauty

and ponder the imponderables, like what to do about

living in a country that has become an embarrassment,

disliked and even hated around the world, a constant

source of bickering among its people and led by men

and women who seem stupid, but are probably only

scared, greedy, egotistical and ignorant. Forgive me

if I forget a few. How it got that way and what to do

becomes one of the imponderables and can keep me

busy for a long walk, while being unable to work out

an explanation makes me feel like a Good German

of the late 1930’s. I mean, if only I thought the FBI

were tapping my phone, I’d take it as a compliment.

Regrettably the commissars of modern poetry don’t

like poems to talk about bloodshed and babies blown

to smithereens, so I expect I should hold my tongue.

Not so long ago Harvard’s top poetry critic told me

and a few others that she took pride in never once

having voted. It was hard to feel more than sad, but,

to me, she vanished, she became a non-person, as if

she had walked out on the human race, her writings

also, since what truth could she say about poetry if

she separated poetry from the world? I know I can’t

just rant in a poem, although it’s hard to stop myself,

but given the problem I hate going back to writing

about flowers and sex. Yet none of that affects being

ashamed of the country in which one lives and not

knowing how to fix it. The Great Twitterer is famous

for saying poetry makes nothing happen, other things

also, but even if that were the case, one must, I think,

still raise one’s voice. It would be dreadful to be merely

a good German, turning my back as Jews were carted off.

Is it the enormity of the daily calamity that makes so many

contemporary poets write lines without meaning or use

language to hide meaning? Take Ashbery, for instance,

not to beat a dead horse, and surely other names might

do as well, but is non-meaning intended to conceal

the awfulness of meaning, just as Dadaists made snappy

responses to World War One? At times it seems the only

sane answer is a joke. Even slapstick can be an answer,

as if to slip on a banana might form a rational response

to the trenches of the Somme. But despite the jokes,

non-meaning seems a kind of shirking, to duck what

somebody lacks the capacity to express. And the value

of non-meaning? Totally zip. Do you see how these

imponderables can get a grip? In a letter, Chekhov wrote

that he didn’t need to say stealing horses was wrong,

he only had to describe a horse thief exactly. But even

Chekhov couldn’t write about the Czar without landing

in a Russian clink. That at least tells us a lot about

the power of language in Russia, whereas I could write

about the president to my heart’s content and not make

the slightest dent on the escutcheon of his indifference,

which is still no reason to write about flowers and sex.

So in fact it’s the frustration of being unable to describe

the horror without just shouting, Look at the horror!

I mean, people aren’t dumb. Even if they turn away

to scribble non sequiturs they know something nasty

is creeping up behind them. How these imponderables

can age us, like dragging a dead horse up a mountain,

what do I get but a dead horse up a mountain? And I’m

still no closer to understanding how to live in a country

that’s become an embarrassment, which occurs in part

from weighing the idealism of the constitution against

the cynicism of the present administration, much like

comparing a bathing beauty to a drag queen, which is

not to insult drag queens. But what to do except make

inept and fretful remarks remains unclear when really

I’d like to skirt the defects of language and hurl a rock—

another useless gesture meant to make me feel better.

Were I walking along that winter beach I would now

have walked a mile at least with nothing to show for it

but a wrinkled brow and a vague wringing of hands,

while the question remains as fresh as ever—what

to do about the horror? Then the subject is no longer

about a solution but about the question itself hanging

in the air at the end of Napatree Point with the surf

beating against it, not to wear it down, but to keep it

bright, till at last I whistle for the dog and walk back.

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns, again and again, to say It is yet more difficult than you thought. This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
– Wendell Berry

one of the best loved religious practices is prayer. but we should ask: why disclose to god what god already knows? god knows of my needs, my hopes, my fears and my deepest desires. god could grant my prayer even before i know what it is i am praying for. a father or mother do not wait to be asked before feeding their child. why god does? my belief is that true prayer is not a petition to god. not it is an exercise in inner development or spiritual transformation. prayer is a deed we do. we pray with our deeds of embrace of the neighbor. in other words: do not ask me if i prayed or not, ask my neighbor.
– hune margulies

I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to make red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that make me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating – always anticipating. I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around me. I write because I believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness. I write with a knife, carving each word from the generosity of trees. I write as ritual. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write for the love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by understanding and misunderstanding. I write past the embarrassment of exposure. I trust nothing especially myself and slide head first into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it into shreds – and then I realize it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are splinters from cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.
– Terry Tempest Williams

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal..
– Toni Morrison

Men like women who write, even though they don’t say so. A writer is a foreign country.
– Marguerite Duras

Please don’t try to make my father’s dream about false peace, where we live with injustice and inhumanity as long as we’re “civil.” He was a drum major for justice, which is a part of true peace.
– Bernice King

Austin Channing Brown:
I wish GenX and older millennials were given more space to talk about the impact of the recession on our lives. Wiped out savings, career paths diverted, homeownership delayed, debt everywhere we turn, the feeling of being perpetually behind what your parents accomplished.

everything matters:
Rage + creativity equals activism. Throw awareness in the mix and will become radical agents of transformation.

A. N. Devers:
Well I am now 43 and if 42 was the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and it was become a single mom and open a bookstore, and not quite finish my very over due book I NAILED IT.

Kirsten Shiel:
The name of your craft ale is your grandfather’s job and a word you don’t quite fully understand.
Mine would be “Fisherman’s Prerogative”

Airea D. Matthews:
If I were exceedingly wealthy–like, Richard Branson rich–I would start a foundation that grants unlimited healthcare to artists, fund a large prize for late-start writers, and start calling about 54.8% of all people I know outside their given name.

That there is music
in everything if you tune into it
devastates me.
– Aria Aber

Apply them constantly, to everything that happens: Physics. Ethics. Logic.
– Marcus Aurelius

Chris La Tray:
Growing up, there tended to be fields, forests, mountains, creeks, and streams between me and just about anywhere I wanted to go.

Summer Brennan:
Feeling hurt that someone didn’t appreciate some of my efforts … then thought, huh, this is a good opportunity to look around at what I myself might not be adequately appreciating.

Daily Kerouac:
I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I

Maggie Smith:
Be your own best compass in the wilderness. Listen to the small, quiet voice inside that tells you when you’re going the right way and when you’ve strayed from the path. Don’t ignore it until it shouts. Keep moving

Maggie Smith:
If you’re waiting for someone else to light up your life, stop. You know the answer: you’re going to have to do it yourself. Go places, seek adventure and connection, create, be your own good company. Keep moving.

Ellie Roscher:
Look at your home and see something new.

Had a moment of total stillness. On a deserted Brighton street. Out walking the dog. Love that. When the world allows you to stop a moment and just take it in, without thinking of time or the next activity. Where you can just witness the remarkable in the unremarkable. It’s cool.
– Matt Haig

Yesterday my husband pointed to a blur
in the field and said fox
but dusk had taken all the colors
into its dark mouth and I had to conjure red
from my own heart.
– Lisa Zimmerman

The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out, the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
– R Pausch

From the pine tree, learn of the pine tree.
From the bamboo, learn of the bamboo.
– Zen proverb

Melissa Ann Hughes:
Shostakovich impresses me. He lived in constant fear of arrest and could write whole symphonies in his head before quickly transcribing them to paper.

Jill Talbot:
I love eating in restaurants when they’re empty, slow, late afternoon. I just realized I’m one of four women alone in this one. A glass of wine, a tea, something pinkish, water with lime. We’re all taking a minute. For ourselves.

Gertrude Stein:
There are so many ways of earning a living and most of them are failures. She thought it was best to begin with one way which would be most easy to leave. So she tried photography and then she tried just talking.

melissa ann:
There is a force that wants to help you speak. It is the same energy as love.

melissa ann:
All the help I received from strangers came from artists. It came from the simple act of another human extending their essence freely into the atmosphere. That kind of thing alters atomic structures. It lingers, changes bodies, moves mountains.

melissa ann:
To speak clearly through any device or with any digital interference running through your body (which is always) you have to be completely sure of who you are — what is you, what is your feeling, and what belongs to someone or something else.

Alison Stevenson:
Stop comparing yourself to other people!

Instead, do what I do. Only compare yourself to cats.

If I’m not sleeping 16+ hours a day, or acting indifferent toward people who love me, or frightened when I see certain vegetables, I know I’m not good enough and strive to fix it.

God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers.
– Yiddish proverb

Jericho Brown:
S/O to all the librarians & libraries & bookstores & buyers & readers of books south of the Mason-Dixon, all the kids in Louisiana who love to read & want to write, all the poets with a twang & a lilt, all the literate people who know better than what anybody else says about us!

Maggie Smith:
If it doesn’t excite you, inspire you, challenge you, ask yourself why you’re still investing your time and energy in it. Yes, this means relationships and work and creative projects. Take stock. Clean house if you need to. Make room. Keep moving.

Writing, for me, means humility. It’s a process that involves fear and doubt, especially if you’re writing honestly.
– Kiran Desa

If you trace the origin of the word “recovery,” you’ll arrive at “get back.” So recovery is as much about retrieval as recuperation. Chances are, whatever you think you’ve lost isn’t lost at all—it’s inside you, waiting to be brought back into the light. Go find it. Keep moving.
– Maggie Smith

Where the people can sing, the poet can live – and it is worth saying it the other way around, too: where the poet can sing, the people can live. When a civilization treats its poets with the disdain with which we treat ours, it cannot be far from disaster.
– James Baldwin

Jaimal Yogis:
Bent trees are beautiful.
Bumpy, gnarled, struggling-towards-sun trees are beautiful.
Straight, tall trees are beautiful.
Old trees are beautiful.
New trees too.
You’re a tree in the woods of humanity.
Love your bumps & knots.
Don’t compare yourself.
You’re beautiful.

the library haunter:
Let’s cancel this idea that it’s cool to be “detached” and uncaring. It’s good to love things, it’s good to be invested in others, it’s good to embrace your enthusiasms passionately and without shame.

[A poet is] an unhappy person who conceals a profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.
– Kierkegaard

Ethan Nichtern:
One of the harshest consequences of living in a world that has over-emphasized individualism is that so often we mistake structural failures for personal ones.

All The Diamonds In The World
by Bruce Cockburn
All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed.

If you, not just you in this room tonight but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as but individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.

In one generation, all the Napoleons and Hitlers and Caesars and Mussolinis and Stalins, and all the other tyrants who want power and aggrandizement, and all the simple politicians and time-servers who themselves are merely baffled or ignorant or afraid, who have used, or are using, or hope to use, man’s fear and greed for man’s enslavement, will have vanished from the face of it.
– William Faulkner

Shira Erlichman:
We are vast. It’s not an opinion, or pop psychology, or wishful positivity. We’re deliciously inexplicable. Where even 1% is mapped, the rest is oceanic depth & darkness. We’re contained, yet uncontainable. Even when I ache, I find music & magic in this: I am everything, plus.

The language with which I make my poems has nothing to do with one spoken here, or anywhere.
– Paul Celan

Yoko Ono:
I am an intuitive artist. So things happen and end naturally, I don’t like to force it to happen. Then it becomes contrived.

melissa ann:
There’s nothing wrong with being a hermit. You don’t have to “go out and be social” in a world you don’t fundamentally like or agree with.

IN their precise tracings-out and subtile causations, the strongest and fieriest emotions of life defy all analytical insight.
– Melville – Pierre

Speech is also a form of action.
– Hannah Arendt

Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?
– Tao te Ching

Wild geese are flying and the cicada
in the tree outside my window
sings louder, early.
I hear of comfort happening to people.
– Julia Knobloch

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
– Paul Laurence Dunbar

Trying to suppress delusion is delusion too. Delusions have no original existence; they’re only things you create yourself by indulging in discrimination.
– Bankei

That great triangular mountain is not the Sierra, ravaged by treecutters and sheepherders and goldminers and dams and highways and dollars.
It is a serene place, its steep faces and green whitewatered ravines full of waterfalls, it’s foothills one vast apple orchard… no oaks no shimmering heat no dust – it rises on shimmering Truth.
– Nicholas Pierotti

I used to live in a tipi in a large bison pasture.

Most of those who know me well know that a herd bull I called, “Number 8” changed my life, including my definition of what it means to be a man. In fact, an essay I wrote called, “Number 8 and What It Means To Be A Man” won first place in the Central Oregon Writers Guild contest that year.

When I hear this song, it reminds me that a real man, one who is confident in his masculinity and knows how to wield it in a healthy way, facilitates the success and fulfillment of those around him. Number 8 did that. I seldom saw him at the front of the herd. Instead, he was in the middle, watching the cows be cows and the calves be calves. Only twice did I see him jump into “Protector Mode;” and both times it was to protect the herd from me.

I never saw him do anything analogous to calling for a beer from the fridge, or flexing his biceps. Instead, he was the silent anchor to the herd. They were safe to be who they were because he, and a few others like him (his brother, Number 42, was among them), knew their job was that of facilitation, not domination.

In the end, Healthy Masculinity serves. It supports. It loves and sacrifices.

– Eric Marley, Speaking about a song that reminds him of this.

WHAT WE WANT
What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names –
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don’t remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.
– Linda Pastan

Learning: If you plant a seed of mystery it doesn’t grow you a solution. It grows a strange plant bearing fruits you can’t eat, each one filled with a dozen more seeds. Mystery seems to beget mystery. Worthwhile questions seem to beget more questions. You can’t dissect the seeds and expect to find a solution without killing the plant inside it. Our need to know everything makes a sacrifice of what we say we want to know. Our manner of admiring is often the end of that which we profess to admire. The heartbreaking truth of modern culture is that our manner of loving is often deadly and our curiousity another form of acquisition. How do we admire in a way that ennobles and behold without seeking to remove the space between ourselves and those we claim to love? For many of us, our past is a consequence laden testimony to our not knowing another way. And maybe that past and the ways it echoes on in the world is a mystery too, waiting for us to learn some slower, older and more gracious manner of approach. It’s not so much that we ask too much of it but that there is something mystery asks of us that is all but unknown in this culture – the capacity to be in the presence of something unfamiliar without grasping at it or mauling it with our desire to turn it into something familiar. Mystery is a small village in a foreign country that you let embrace you as they come to know you slowly. It’s their dinner table at which you sit, attentive, not asking questions but trusting that when you need to know something they will tell you because we know that we are the stranger here, we are the guest, and mystery is the host of everything.
– Tad Hargrave

It is possible to hold the frequency Christ held. It is possible not just for a few but for many.
– Melissa Hughes

Force Field
The way to arrive and remain within “the force field of the Holy Spirit,” which is one way of describing consciousness, is both very simple and very hard: you’ve got to remain in love, with a foundational yes to every moment. You can’t risk walking around with a negative, resentful, gossipy, critical mind, because then you won’t be in the force field. You will not be a usable instrument. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love. It’s that urgent. It’s that crucial.
– Richard Rohr

May our philosophies keep pace with our technologies.
May our compassion keep pace with our powers.
And may love, not fear, be the engine of change.
– Dan Brown, Origin

Strange Miracle
O wondrous creatures,
by what strange miracle
do you so often
not smile?
– Hafiz

Push far enough towards the Void,
hold fast enough to Quietness,
and of the ten thousand things
none but can be worked on by you.
I have beheld them, whither they go back.
See, all things howsoever they flourish
return to the root from which they grew.
This return to the Root is called Quietness;
Quietness is called submission to Fate;
what has submitted to Fate becomes part of the always-so;
to know the always-so is to be illumined;
not to know it means to go blindly to disaster.
– Lao Tzu

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

Emerson, I am trying to live, as you said we must, the examined life. But there are days I wish there was less in my head to examine, not to speak of the busy heart.
– Mary Oliver

It is better to practice a little than to talk a lot.
– Musō Soseki

May my silences become more accurate.
– Theodore Roethke

Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.
– J.K. Rowling

With the time you’ve got, choose to make your life bigger. Opt for expression over observation, action instead of passivity, risk over safety, the unknown over the familiar. Be deliberate, act with intention. Chase the sublime and the absurd. Make each day one where you emerge, unlock, excite, and discover. Find new, reconsider old, become limber, stretch, lean, move  . . .  I say this with love: shut up and dance.
– Twyla Tharp

This Morning
This morning was something. A little snow
lay on the ground. The sun floated in a clear
blue sky. The sea was blue, and blue-green,
as far as the eye could see.
Scarcely a ripple. Calm. I dressed and went
for a walk – determined not to return
until I took in what Nature had to offer.
I passed close to some old, bent-over trees.
Crossed a field strewn with rocks
where snow had drifted. Kept going
until I reached the bluff.
Where I gazed at the sea, and the sky, and
the gulls wheeling over the white beach
far below. All lovely. All bathed in a pure
cold light. But, as usual, my thoughts
began to wander. I had to will
myself to see what I was seeing
and nothing else. I had to tell myself this is what
mattered, not the other. (And I did see it,
for a minute or two!) For a minute or two
it crowded out the usual musings on
what was right, and what was wrong – duty,
tender memories, thoughts of death, how I should treat
with my former wife. All the things
I hoped would go away this morning.
The stuff I live with every day. What
I’ve trampled on in order to stay alive.
But for a minute or two I did forget
myself and everything else. I know I did.
For when I turned back I didn’t know
where I was. Until some birds rose up
from the gnarled trees. And flew
in the direction I needed to be going.
– Raymond Carver

For the Record
It is this constant flux, breathing in, breathing out. Sometimes there is no one there at all. In town, everyone smiles at no one, and no one smiles back and no one knows no one isn’t there. Sometimes, at home, no one goes to the wood shed and comes back with an armful of logs, different shapes, different sizes, so no one gets cold where no one is living. No one calls, so the telephone doesn’t ring, but it doesn’t matter because no one is there to answer it anyway. One day, not long ago, no one went to the woods so there weren’t any tracks to follow in case of a suspected disappearance. No one would think to look anyway because no one even lives near there anymore. It was no surprise when no one came back unbeknownst since no one knew anyone had left in the first place. No special occasion. Just breathing out and breathing in. Nothing notable. Sometimes no one goes to the grocery store for provisions, mostly when there is nothing left to eat. It is a six-mile trip. It takes no time at all. The store is never crowded when no one is there. Off hours. No one cooks much anymore so shopping is simple. Some nights before bed, no one sets the alarm because it isn’t necessary to wake up at any particular time. No one is there to wake up. So waking up is no problem as it happens by itself. Nothing alarming. Just breathing in and breathing out. When no one is laughing, nothing much happens. When no one isn’t laughing, it is the same. Only variations in the passing air. No one is particularly puzzled by this. It seems so natural. Nothing noteworthy. No one wonders if it has always been this way. No one can’t remember. It is a gift everyone has. Memory. No one remembers this. It is as natural as breathing out and breathing in. No one comes and goes but no one is there to notice, so no one takes note of it here so nothing will be missed. This is just for the record.
– Joan Ruvinsky

If you love it, do not photograph
the woods as it now is, the leaves
in sunlight and shadow hardly stirring
in the air of the hot afternoon.
Do not try to remember it, stopping
the flutters of leaves and wings,
the dead leaf slowly spinning
on an invisible thread. Do not ask
the trees to linger even to be named.
You must live in the day as it passes,
willing to let it go. You must set it
free. You must forget this poem.
Then, into its own time forever
gone, it is forever here.
– Wendell Berry

The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land. The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy. When one tree in the garden is sick, you have to care for it. But don’t overlook all the healthy trees. Even while you have pain in your heart, you can enjoy the many wonders of life — the beautiful sunset, the smile of a child, the many flowers and trees. To suffer is not enough. Please don’t be imprisoned by your suffering.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all…

Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
– Hermann Hesse

Apprentice yourself
to the curve of your
own disappearance.
– David Whyte

Because I am neither
“for” nor “against,”
I have outraged everyone
but the Goddess…
She and I quietly
recline by a stream
eating whatever berries
are in season.
It’s the flow of stillness
we all know,
some of us carried
along by the current,
some of us just watching.
Please don’t call me
“irresponsible.”
I respond to mothwing,
breath of raindrop,
thistletouch of purple
evening, mourning cry
of mother raven
just as she dissolves
into a Winter mist.
If you want the “answer,”
friend, just rest
more passionately
in the darkening meadow
of this moment,
this silence
where the question
never arises.
– Alfred K. LaMotte

If I look at my most vulnerable places and acknowledge the pain I have felt, I can remove the source of that pain from my enemies’ arsenals. My history cannot be used to feather my enemies’ arrows then, and that lessens their power over me. Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. I am who I am, doing what I came to do, acting upon you like a drug or a chisel to remind you of your me-ness, as I discover you in myself.
– Audre Lorde

Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.
– Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

Life is just better for everyone if you’re cool to people…
– Chris La Tray

All ages have said and repeated that one should strive to know one’s self. This is a strange demand which no one up to now has measured up to and, strictly considered, no one should. With all their study and effort, people are directed to what is outside, to the world about them, and they are kept busy coming to know this and to master it to the extent that their purposes require. How can you come to know yourself? Never by thinking, always by doing. Try to do your duty, and you’ll know right away what you amount to. And what is your duty? Whatever the day calls for.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tad Hargrave:
Learning: If you plant a seed of mystery it doesn’t grow you a solution. It grows a strange plant bearing fruits you can’t eat, each one filled with a dozen more seeds. Mystery seems to beget mystery. Worthwhile questions seem to beget more questions. You can’t dissect the seeds and expect to find a solution without killing the plant inside it. Our need to know everything makes a sacrifice of what we say we want to know. Our manner of admiring is often the end of that which we profess to admire. The heartbreaking truth of modern culture is that our manner of loving is often deadly and our curiousity another form of acquisition. How do we admire in a way that ennobles and behold without seeking to remove the space between ourselves and those we claim to love? For many of us, our past is a consequence laden testimony to our not knowing another way. And maybe that past and the ways it echoes on in the world is a mystery too, waiting for us to learn some slower, older and more gracious manner of approach. It’s not so much that we ask too much of it but that there is something mystery asks of us that is all but unknown in this culture – the capacity to be in the presence of something unfamiliar without grasping at it or mauling it with our desire to turn it into something familiar. Mystery is a small village in a foreign country that you let embrace you as they come to know you slowly. It’s their dinner table at which you sit, attentive, not asking questions but trusting that when you need to know something they will tell you because we know that we are the stranger here, we are the guest, and mystery is the host of everything.

melissa ann:
I’m deeply sorry for whatever opportunities and friendships I destroyed while I was distracted trying to get approval from people who hate me.

as I’ve gotten older, brought me to a really acute sense, not only of the beauty of the world, but the grief that we feel for it, for her, for ki. That we can’t have an awareness of the beauty of the world without also a tremendous awareness of the wounds. That we see the old growth forest and we also see the clear cut. We see the beautiful mountain and we see it torn open for mountaintop removal. So one of the things that I continue to learn about and need to learn more about is the transformation of love to grief to even stronger love and the interplay of love and grief that we feel for the world. And how to harness the power of those related impulses is something that I have had to learn.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

Ode to Dirt
– Sharon Olds
Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,
I thought that you were only the background
for the leading characters—the plants
and animals and human animals.
It’s as if I had loved only the stars
and not the sky which gave them space
in which to shine. Subtle, various,
sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,
you’re our democracy. When I understood
I had never honored you as a living
equal, I was ashamed of myself,
as if I had not recognized
a character who looked so different from me,
but now I can see us all, made of the
same basic materials—
cousins of that first exploding from nothing—
in our intricate equation together. O dirt,
help us find ways to serve your life,
you who have brought us forth, and fed us,
and who at the end will take us in
and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.

Wake Up
by Carl Phillips

The road down from everything even you had hardly dared
to hope for has its lonely stretches, yes, but it’s hard to feel alone
entirely: there’s a river that runs beside it the whole way down,
and there’s an over-song that keeps the river company: I’m leaves,
you’re the wind…

I used to think the song had to do with the leaves’
confusion, the wind letting up, their mistaking this for something
like courtesy on the wind’s part, or even forgiveness. But leaves don’t
get confused. Silly, to think it. And what can leaves know of courtesy,
let alone forgiveness? What’s forgiveness?

Wake up, for the falconer
has lost his falcon. He has heard that falcons are like memory, they
come back. But not all memories do, not all memories should. If
anyone knows this, it’s the falconer. How long ago that was…Yet

all the varieties of good fortune he’s come upon, as a hand comes
idly upon an orchard’s windfalls, how different he’s become since –
none of it matters, when the falconer steps back into memory as into
a vast cathedral, which is to say, when he remembers.

How cool it is,
inside the cathedral. And at first, how dark. Soon, though, he can see
a chapel set aside for prayers specifically to the virgin whose story he’s
always resisted. He sees a corner where people have lit candles,
sometimes for another’s suffering, sometimes for their own. He sees
the altar with the falcon sitting on top of it.

The weight of grief over what’s lost,
versus the shadow of what’s lost – forever struggling to return,
and failing: who can say which is better? The falconer’s eye meets the
falcon’s eye:

I have a story, the falcon says, seems to, the wings lifting, the feathers
rippling with a story’s parts – I have a story; I can’t wait to tell you.

Makebelieve
by Pádraig Ó Tuama
And on the first day
god made
something up.
Then everything came along:
seconds, sex and
beasts and breaths and rabies;
hunger, healing,
lust and lust’s rejections;
swarming things that swarm
inside the dirt;
girth and grind
and grit and shit and all shit’s functions;
rings inside the treetrunk
and branches broken by the snow;
pigs’ hearts and stars,
mystery, suspense and stingrays;
insects, blood
and interests and death;
eventually, us,
with all our viruses, laments and curiosities;
all our songs and made-up stories;
and our songs about the stories we’ve forgotten;
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve forgotten;
and to hold it all together god made time
and those rhyming seasons
that display decay.

The only war is the war against the imagination.
– Diane Di Prima

I believe poetry is an essential language. It helps us slow down, see clearly, feel deeply, and envision what truly matters.
– Arthus Sze’

PLEASE BRING STRANGE THINGS
Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
And the ways you go be the lines of your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
And your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
Walk mindfully, well-loved one,
Walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
Be always coming home.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tommorow
no today.
– Sengstan

But when people stopped wandering and began to build towns and cities and lived without taking long walks together they began to have ideas that everybody’s Inner Reality should be the same, and they argued about it rather than respecting that every person has a unique experience in their Inner Reality.

They began to think that Inner Reality should be as consistent as Outer Reality. This was their great mistake, for then the inner richness of every person began to be eroded, worn down, compared and argued about. And occasionally a strong leader would appear in a city or town who would insist that there was only one Inner Reality and that everyone should see the same thing in it. This was the greatest assault ever upon the most creative roots of the individual person.

You see, this began to destroy the very glue that held people together and that enriched the entire community. The Outer Reality held people together only when there was danger or when people were in need and had to cooperate in order that everyone would be fed and could survive. But the Inner Reality was the source of each other’s gifts and when they were properly shared with each other there was tremendous abundance in the community.
– Steve Gallegos, Dream Visits. Stories for the Inner Child

lonely, ain’t it?

yes, but my lonely is mine. now your lonely is somebody else’s. made by somebody else and handed to you. ain’t that something? a secondhand lonely.
― toni morrison, sula

Keep looking. Keep looking, even when there’s not much to see.
– Kathleen Jamie – Sightlines

Truth is the pearl without price. One cannot obtain truth by buying it — all you can do is to strive for spiritual truth and when one is ready, it will be given freely. Nor should spiritual truth be sold, lest the seller be injured spiritually. You lose any spiritual contact the moment you commercialize it. Those who have the truth would not be packaging it and selling it, so anyone who is selling it, really does not possess it.
– Peace Pilgrim

There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.
– Gustave Flaubert

The Blanket
I have been thinking about the happiness
we had during our first year together––
something about being in that small town,
something about being thirty-one.

We sang often because it pleased us,
pulled funny faces for the camera––
when we jumped on the blanket,
friends held the edges secure.

Over the years, the friends moved away––
or did we? There was no one to hold
the blanket. We still jumped,
but the landings got harder.

And sometimes we forgot to be friends
to each other. There was less singing
the mandolin-top grew dusty, our
thirties were gone, and then––

Stories with only two people end sadly.
In our story there was a third who
dusted off the mandolin, called
back the village of friends

With a song: something about our faces
rising out of a pot of yellow tulips,
something about holding the edge of a
blanket, something about singing.
– Thomas R. Smith, The Dark Indigo Current

Gratitude is not a spiritual practice. It is a subtle thread of flame that binds your pulse, through sensations of sweetness, to the heart of God. Gratitude is not something you need to “do.” Just follow one faint breath of thanks until you dissolve.

Into what? There is no answer. You must find out for yourself, with the quietest kind of courage. Be grateful for the least most insignificant blessing: last petal on the autumn rose, a lock of golden fur from the little dog who died, a tear for no reason, the sound of a hummingbird on a Winter afternoon.

You’ll spiral down a dark stairwell to the wine cellar, where Jesus has been aging his careful blood in a cask of delicate unbroken bones. Don’t look for his face. The grape was crushed long ago. Meet him in the pure bouquet of silence, the hollow of not knowing. This is the poverty that makes you rich.

The secret? In the smallest is the vast. An atom filled with stars. The flavor of God in a sip of wine, a morsel of bread. You have everything, my friend, absolutely everything, in one faint breath of thanks.
– Fred LaMotte

I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole.
– Lauren Oliver

In traditional Zen writings, the term “monk” is not used; rather, there is the word “unsui”. Unsui translates as “clouds and water”. Clouds and water are free. Clouds follow the wind, water the shape of the terrain. Nothing holds them back. If you try to stop a stream, it just builds up behind the obstruction and goes over it. The journey of the ocean is unstoppable. The biggest dam in the world in creation can’t hold back the river in its flow. It is persistent, continuous, flexible.
– John Daido Loori

We inhabit, in ordinary daylight, a future that was unimaginably dark a few decades ago, when people found the end of the world easier to envision than the impending changes in everyday roles, thoughts, practices that not even the wildest science fiction anticipated. Perhaps we should not have adjusted to it so easily. It would be better if we were astonished every day.
– Rebecca Solnit

Ethan Nichtern:
Connection—not consumption—is what makes human society great.

You don’t have to be for or against #BlackFriday. But if you’re not clear on your intention for buying something, it might be best to contemplate a little further.

I have an innate trust that if we go humbly and respectfully to nature with our questions, prayers, and longings we will be met by it. Because we are it and it is us and the conversation between us is aching to be remembered in a world that has taught us to forget it.
– Will Scott

…Perhaps when all the tears have been shed
the earth will be more fertile
Perhaps when we sing praises to the sun
the sun will praise us in return
Perhaps these heavy burdens
will strengthen our philosophy
Perhaps when we weep for those in misery
we must be silent about miseries of our own
Perhaps
Because of our irresistible sense of mission
We have no choice
– Shu Ting
(Translated by K. Kizer in Cool, Calm & Collected)

Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

As we step out of the way new things are born.
– Jack Kornfield

Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.
– Rumi

Leah Callen:
People who have no one rooting for them and maybe even have others throwing rocks and flaming daggers at them, but make it to the finish line anyway are the real heroes.

You have the catchweed of quiet on your tongue, I have
The power of speech.
– Lucie Brock-Broido

One of my teachers at Columbia was Joseph Brodsky…& he said, ‘Look.’ He said, ‘You Americans, you are so naïve. You think evil is going to come into your houses wearing big black boots. It doesn’t come like that. Look at the language. It begins in the language.’
– Marie Howe

Matt Haig:
Anxiety does not mean you are weak. Anxiety forges you. Living with anxiety, turning up and doing stuff with anxiety, takes a strength most will never know.

Yoko Ono:
I feel everything is possible when I see the sunrise on the horizon! And of course, everything seems possible late night, too. You should be in dreamland inbetween. Dream well.

a poet is not a flower, it’s a bee.
– Dorothea Lasky

I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole.
– Lauren Oliver

Gary Snyder:
Earth-sky-bird patterns
idly interlacing

The world does what it pleases.

Wisdom grows in quiet places.
– Austin O’Malley

We are relying on Hannah Arendt today, the way Hannah Arendt relied upon the Greeks.
– Arendt Center

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
– Taoist proverb

When you accept everything, everything is beyond dimensions. The earth is not great nor a grain of sand small. In the realm of Great Activity picking up a grain of sand is the same as taking up the whole universe. To save one sentient being is to save all sentient beings. Your efforts of this moment to save one person is the same as the eternal merit of Buddha.
– Shunryu Suzuki

Swear by the olive in the God-kissed land—
There is no sugar in the promised land.

Why must the bars turn neon now when, Love,
I’m already drunk in your capitalist land?
– Agha Shahid Ali, Land

But to take delight in our generosity helps us immeasurably in our spiritual practice.
– Sharon Salzberg

Kindness is not just for the sake of others.
– Japanese proverb

bumper cars
all facing the same way
summer’s end.
– Dan McCullough

A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him. To remain a poet after forty requires an awareness of your darkest Africa, that part of yourself that will never be tamed.
– Stanley Kunitz

Forward my mail to Mars.
– Stanley Kunitz

Mind’s acres are forever green: Oh, I
Shall keep perpetual summer here; I shall
Refuse to let one startled swallow die,
Or, from the copper beeches, one leaf fall.
– Stanley Kunitz

…few young poets [are] testing their poems against the ear. They’re writing for the page, and the page, let me tell you, is a cold bed.
– Stanley Kunitz

I want to write poems that are natural, luminous, deep, spare. I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.
– Stanley Kunitz

I dropped my hoe and ran into the house and started to write this poem, ‘End of Summer.’ It began as a celebration of wild geese. Eventually the geese flew out of the poem, but I like to think they left behind the sound of their beating wings.
– Stanley Kunitz

How one is to contribute to and draw from the commonwealth
while still being oneself
has been and remains
the hammer and anvil of the human enterprise
wherein soul may be foiled or forged.
– James Hollis, Tracking the Gods

The question becomes:
Who or what then is the smithy of one’s soul, one’s character?
And can you take the heat and beatings
becoming crafted into something greater than
one’s own limited idea of self identity?
– Andrew Hagel

Tim McCallum:
Some people complain that Maui is basically a small town immured in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I actually like that this is so —

If I had to choose my place of birth, I would have chosen a place in which everyone knew everyone else, so that neither the obscure tactics of vice nor the modesty of virtue could have escaped public scrutiny and judgment.
– Rousseau

Reflecting over seventy years,
I am tired of judging right from wrong.
Faint traces of a path trodden in deep night snow.
A stick of incense under a rickety window.
– Zen master Ryokan, written in my hut on a snowy evening

Anandamayi Ma:
All men hanker after peace but it occurs only to a very few that unless He awakens in our heart, nothing at all will bring perfect peace. Neither through wealth nor through family, position or fame can peace be won, for these, as all earthly things, are subject to constant change like day and night: they come and quickly flee away.

This is why it is so important to gather wealth which cannot be destroyed and when gained will once for all blot out desire. This wealth is none else but God alone whom we do not know although He dwells in everybody’s heart.

When, through Satkarma (spiritual exercises and the service of God) the darkness that clouds our consciousness is made to dissolve, He stands revealed in His bewitching beauty: thus will be ushered in the reign of perfect peace.

The personal papers of Anandamayi are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When I was young
there were beatniks.
Hippies. Punks.
Gangsters.

Now you’re a hacktivist.
Which I would probably be
if I was 20. Shuttin’ down
MasterCard.

But there’s no look to
that lifestyle! Besides
just wearing a bad outfit
with bad posture.

Has WikiLeaks caused a look?
No! I’m mad about that.
If your kid comes out of
the bedroom and says:

he just shut down the
government; it seems
to me he should at least
have an outfit for that.”
– John Walters, On the sorry style of today’s rebels.

Indifference is a misguided way of defending ourselves.
– Jack Kornfield

We are relational beings. I think we need the kind of cosmovision that Indigenous peoples are talking about. To not only seek to transform things outside of ourselves, but to also allow ourselves to be transformed by them.
– Sanjay Bavikatte

Portate bien,
behave yourself you always said to me.
I behaved myself
when others were warm in winter
and I stood out in the cold.
I behaved myself when others had full plates
and I stared at them hungrily,
never speaking out of turn,
existing in a shell of good white behavior
with my heart a wet-feathered
bird growing but never able to crack out of the shell.
Behaving like a good boy,
my behavior shattered
by outsiders who came
to my village one day
insulting my grandpa because he couldn’t speak
English
English-
the invader’s sword
the oppressor’s language-
that hurled me into profound despair
that day Grandpa and I walked into the farm office
for a loan and this man didn’t give my grandpa
an application because he was stupid, he said,
because he was ignorant and inferior,
and that moment
cut me in two torturous pieces
screaming my grandpa was a lovely man
that this government farm office clerk was a rude beast-
and I saw my grandpa’s eyes go dark
with wound-hurts, regret, remorse
that his grandchild would witness
him humiliated
and the apricot tree in his soul
was buried
was cut down
using English language as an ax,
and he hung from that dead tree
like a noosed-up Mexican
racist vigilante strung up ten years earlier
for no other reason than that he was different,
than that they didn’t understand
his sacred soul, his loving heart,
his prayers and his songs,
Your words, Portate bien,
resonate in me,
and I obey in my integrity, my kindness, my courage,
as I am born again in the suffering of my people,
in our freedom, our beauty, our dual-faced,
dual-cultured, two-songed soul
and two-hearted
ancient culture,
me porto bien, Grandpa,
your memory
leafing my heart
like sweetly fragrant sage.

But the scene of my grandpa in that room,
what came out of his soul
and what soared from his veins,
tidal-waving in my heart,
helped make me into a poet
singing a song that endures and feeds
to make my fledgling heart
an eagle,
that makes my heavy fingers
strum a lover’s heart and
create happiness in her sadness,
that makes the very ground in the prairie
soil to plant and feed the vision of so many of us
who just want to dance and love and fly
that makes us loyal to our hearts
and true to our souls!

It’s the scene
that has never left me-
through all the sadness
the terrors
the sweet momentary joys
that have blossomed in me,
broken me, shattered my innocence
I’ve
never forgotten the room that day,
the way the light hazily filtered in the windows,
the strong dignified presence of my grandfather
in his sheepskin coat and field work boots,
that scene,
the way the boards creaked under his work boots,
haunted me
when my children were born at home
and my hands brought them into this world,
that scene was in my hands,
it echoed in my dreams, drummed in my blood,
cried in my silent heart,
was with me through hours of my life,
that man behind the counter,
his important government papers rattling in the breeze,
disdainful look on his face,
that scene, the door, the child I was,
my grandpa’s hand on the doorknob, his eyes on me like a voice
in the wind
forgiving and hurtful and loving,
to this moment-
his eyes following me
where I swirl in a maddened dance
to free it from my bones,
like a broken-winged sparrow yearning for spring
fields,
let the scene go, having healed it in my soul,
having nurtured it in my heart, I sing its flight, out, go,
fly sweet bird!

But the scene that dusty day
with the drought-baked clay in my pants cuffs,
the sheep starving for feed
and my grandfather’s hopes up
that the farm-aid man
would help us as he had other farmers-

that scene framed in my mind, ten years old
and having prayed at mass that morning,
begging God not to let our sheep die,
to perform a miracle for us
with a little help from the farm-aid man,
I knew entering that door,
seeing gringos come out smiling with signed
papers to buy feed,
that we too were going to survive the
drought;

the scene with its wooden floor,
my shoes scraping sand grains that had blown in,
the hot sun warming my face,
and me standing in a room later
by myself,
after the farm-aid man turned us down
and I know our sheep were going to die,
knew Grandfather’s heart was going to die,
that moment
opened a wound in my heart
and in the wound the scene replays itself
a hundred times,
the grief, the hurt, the confusion
that day changed my life forever,
made me a man, made me understand
that because Grandfather couldn’t speak
English,
his heart died that day,
and when I turned and walked out the door
onto Main Street again,
squinting my eyes at the whirling dust,
the world was never the same
because it was the first time
I had ever witnessed racism,
how it killed people’s dreams, and during all of it
my grandfather said, Portate bien, mijo,
behave yourself, my son, Portate bien.
– Jimmy Santiago Baca

Creeley once remarked that his voluminous correspondence with Olson leading up to their first meeting at Black Mountain was “of such energy and calculation that it constituted a practical ‘college’ of stimulus and information.” The profound creative and personal relationship between Olson and Creeley, both teachers at the college, is one window into the poetry and poetics associated with Black Mountain. Yet the story goes much deeper. As Olson says, it was “Charlie Parker”; it was improvised, open-ended, subject to chance and change.
– Paris Review

If the sacred were far away, we will abuse the nearby. If the sacred were in the future, we will discountenance the present, spit on the elderly, and steel ourselves against dying as if it were a pathology. If the sacred were hidden in the inner worlds of our minds, we will think of the material world as an obstacle in the way of our promised transfigurations. How we think the sacred has startling consequences for how we frame our economies, political lives, and hopes.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for the struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.

This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power, the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any attempt to ‘soften’ the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their ‘generosity’, the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this ‘generosity’, which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why its dispensers become desperate at the slightest threat to the source of that false generosity.

– PAULO FREIRE, PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. –Luke 6:35-36
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.
– Romans 8:15

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
– Matthew 7:9-11

… What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing up through the six days’ field,
kept in all the body’s years, the body’s
sorrow, weariness, and joy. By passing through
the narrow gate on the far side of that field
where the pasture grass of the body’s life gives way
to the high, original standing of the trees.
By coming into the shadow, the shadow
of the grace of the strait way’s ending,
the shadow of the mercy of light.

Why must the gate be narrow?
Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.
To come into the woods you must leave behind
the six days’ world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes.
You must come without weapon or tool, alone,
expecting nothing, remembering nothing,
into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf.
– Wendell Berry

While resting free of anything to imagine, like space,
do not be distracted for even one instant.
The one who trains like that
can truly be called a ‘space yogi’.
A yogi is an individual who connects
with that which is naturally so.
Space means that which always is.
Remain without imagining anything at all,
not meditating on anything.
Once you start to meditate on space,
it becomes an imitation.
Simply allow the space to not wander.
Remain undistracted.
There is no impetus for any thoughts to reoccur.
A thought is a mental way of formulating something —
in other words, our attention formulates a thought.
The thought doesn’t come from anywhere else.
If we don’t think, where would a thought come from?
In the basic space that is unimaginable,
remain undistractedly.
Let your indescribable awareness
remain undistracted
in the naked state of basic space.
It doesn’t have to be imagined,
because this basic space
that is utterly naked is our own nature already.
You don’t have to imagine that this is so.
– Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

The difference between buddhas
and sentient beings
is that sentient beings are busy fabricating.
Our self-existing wakefulness
is being altered and contrived
and as long as it continues to be so,
that long we will wander in samsara.
Instead,
we need to recognize the nature of mind.
Here I am explaining this
to give you the idea, of how it is.
The next step is for you to experience;
intellectual understanding is not enough.
You need to actually taste it and realize it.
Train till it becomes uninterrupted.
– Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Form your letters carefully and well.
Making things carefully
Is more important than making them.
– Antonio Machado

A willingness to be inspired and a tendency to be turned off are both relative reactions: some people are inspired by the sight of a serene monk with a begging bowl; others by a half-drunk, half-naked yogi.
Certain vajrayana students derive far more inspiration from the sight of a bizarrely dressed guru sporting a good deal of gold jewelery and breaking all the rules of social etiquette than a perfect monk, which, again, shows that the sources of our inspiration are both relative and subjective.
Not only does each one of us find inspiration in different places, but what inspires a fifteen-year-old will no longer have the same effect once that person hits forty.
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Today I’m thinking about this child’s life –
the rags of it, the ragged waves of it, the vaporous
fumes of it, the split tree, stomped out spark,
the one-eyed, peg-legged pirate of it, the over-ripened
kissed to bruises fruit, the exposed
negative, the burned out bulb marquee. And then
I start thinking maybe there’s hope.
Maybe her life could be like jazz
that starts out with a simple melody,
nothing complicated, nothing jittery or twisted,
and then breaks off, kisses it, waves goodbye,
ripens the notes, tears the tune to rags,
strips it, pokes out an eye, burns it,
sends it up in smoky wreaths,
reaches inside and steals the honey,
bees streaming in black ribbons from the hive,
and when it seems as though it’s long gone, ashes and bone,
when it’s strung out, wrung out, blasted
with a wrecking ball, bombed out, concrete dust,
it slides over and spirals up in one high thin note
stretched so far you can’t tell if the ache
is bitter or sweet, it returns
to the melody, rinsed pure and clean of the past,
you almost can’t bear it, the deliverance,
the song come home.
– Ellen Bass

Gary Snyder:
wet rocks buzzing
rain and thunder southwest
hair, beard, tingle
wind whips bare legs
we should go back
we don’t

Aging gracefully is the toughest thing for a rebel. As the years pile on, you have two choices: being fat or gaunt.
– John Waters

Bayo Akomolafe:
As a black man from Africa, a son of colonial interruptions, English is my second language. Shock is my first.

Radiate boundless love towards the entire world —
above, below, and across —
unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.
– Buddha, Metta Sutta

Eckhart Tolle:
Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.

Ross White:
Am I the only one who is tremendously comforted by watching old episodes of The West Wing? Tell me I’m not the only one.

Hannah VanderHart:
One of Ross white’s (amazing) students told me that he likes to say:

Being a famous poet is like being a famous mushroom.

And I love that so much.

Amazement
By Shirley Kaufman
Nothing makes any sense where
I live and nothing made much sense
where I came from, the parts
didn’t work.

What I learned best
was to pretend. That made me feel
different from everyone else.
They skipped me in school

from the third grade to fifth
which was even more different
so it was impossible for me
to fit. Fitting is what matters

like sharing your bed
with the right one. Try telling
the non-fitters. Everyone else
is already in the corrective

facility, everyone else is already
being programmed. So what
can you do? It’s like flunking
the course in self-improvement.

You’ll have to stay with the dummies
in the used-car lot that’s non-corrective.
Rust your heart out. There’s nowhere
to go. Old maps have been folded
so long they split at the crease.
If everyone’s lost on the roads,
you might as well fly. You might even
enjoy what’s left of your life

in a state of amazement. I meant
to say “acceptance.” But it came out
like this. My slips are the best
part. The part that’s true.

But what would I do on weekends, join the merry picnickers? I’d just hide up there beyond that beautiful meadow. I’d stay there forever.
– Jack Kerouac

I’m not naive, family.

I know we’re engaging each other and the earth far below how we should and how we could if we had the will.

But if we can live low, we can live high.

Relationally, culturally, systemically.

I’m hopeful.
– Bernice King

Wasting energy to obtain rare objects
only impedes one’s growth.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Notes on the Mystery
BY NOAH WARREN
Younger, I could go to my friend
when her heart had been pierced

and she was gasping for breath,
and I could tell her, nothing is lost

entirely, all experience
in time becomes a window.

She was twisting the wheel
of  a wooden toy. I’d said more

than I believed.
Two blocks down, fine pins

of  ice slurred the brackish water, slowed
the small waves, until on a last

heave, one
froze, a sheer shell

in the dark between the reeds.
When I search

my journals for her,
who melted from my life,

I’m searching for you, and for this
special faithlessness, I apologize;

there are so few people
in those soft covers, so many

descriptions of our four rooms—how they remain
the same, tall and old, quietly beautiful,

and yet change utterly as the sunlight
fills and abandons them on a clear afternoon.

Today was cooler. A high film of cloud
calmed me; a letter and an offer came.

Though I was tired, I brushed varnish on the floors,
let it thicken, then buffed it until it glowed

with cloths cut from a green flannel shirt
my father sometimes wore.

EARLY MORNING IN YOUR ROOM
It’s morning. The brown scoops of coffee, the wasplike
Coffee grinder, the neighbors still asleep.
The gray light as you pour gleaming water –
It seems you’ve traveled years to get here.

Finally you deserve a house. If not deserve
It, have it; no one can get you out. Misery
Had its way, poverty, no money at least.
Or maybe it was confusion. But that’s over.

Now you have a room. Those lighthearted books:
The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kafka’s Letter
to his Father, are all here. You can dance
With only one leg, and see the snowflake falling

With only one eye. Even the blind man
Can see. That’s what they say. If you had
A sad childhood, so what? When Robert Burton
Said he was melancholy, he meant he was home.
– Robert Bly

It seems to me that angels and bodhisattvas are everywhere available for consultation if only we can see them clear; they are unadorned, and joyous, and patient, and radiant, and luminous, and not disguised or hidden or filtered in any way whatsoever, so that if you see them clearly, which happens occasionally even to the most blinkered and frightened of us, you realize immediately who they are, beings of great and humble illumination dressed in the skins of new and dewy beings.

And you realise, with a catch in your throat, that they are your teachers, and they are agents of an unimaginable love, and they are your cousins and companions in awe, and they are miracles and prayers and songs of inexplicable beauty whom no one can explain and no one own or claim or trammel, and that simply to perceive them is to be blessed beyond the reach of language, and that to be the one appointed to tow them along a beach, or a crowd, or home through the brilliant morning from the muddy hilarious peewee soccer game, is to be graced beyond measure or understanding.

Which is what I was, and I am, and I will be, until the day I die, and change form from this one to another, in ways miraculous and mysterious, never to be plumbed by the mind or measures of man.
– Brian Doyle

It is, after all, not necessary to fly right into the middle of the sun, but it is necessary to crawl to a clean little spot on earth where the sun sometimes shines and one can warm oneself a little.
– Franz Kafka

I read poetry to forget that I am reading.

I write poetry to forget that I am writing.

By reading poetry we change our way of reading the world.

– Wong May

I am a Poet and have been one for many more years than I have been anything else. I started out as a youth roaming the fields and woodlands of my United States, and I continue to write and dream my way across this entire Planet.

I was born in a dry suburb, and was raised in the big yellow country, the Sacramento Valley, wild oat covered hillsides crawling with ancient oaks. In adolescence I escaped the hops and the walnut groves for the San Gregorio seacoast, when the White Goddess beckoned. I found my voice in the roar of the surf.

Now I roam the Sierra, hop up and down in my Teva sandals. Wade the great streams as they roar over round stones down from ancient peaks… dance the silver dance of the wild rainbow… and find a place in my ultralight backpack for my spattered poetry notebook. It deserves a place next to that bag of nuts, my titanium cup; worth its weight in gold dust from the river, split pea soup from the pouch. Ancient shaman tales and woodcut journeys… yamabushi of the mind, and lots of white space for taking my own cryptic outerspace trailnotes…

I am the Poet of the Ancient. You’ll find me riding on Mexican second class buses, slouching in roadside quesadillarias high in smoky Mexican mountain passes, eating squashblossoms and green corn, while scribbling in notebooks that are rainspotted from windy beaches; trudging the last mile to Delphi with donkeys all around me, or busking with my guitar by the Beaubourg on frozen Parisian Winter days.

I like the lower galleries of the Louvre, where armless women dream of Pharaohs and Codes of Law.

– Nicholas Pierotti

The intellectual is always showing off;
The lover is always getting lost.
The intellectual runs away, afraid of drowning;
the whole business of love is to drown in the sea.
– Rumi

TURNS OUT, I’M STILL ASLEEP
by Jamey Hecht
Mostly my fault, the fault I’m built around.
We were a pair again until we weren’t one.
You made me laugh. We made that sound
in bed when we flew too close to the sun.
You made my story make some sense again,
assembled fragments of my memory;
you joined the edges of what happened, when.
Our last attempt is lost. The melody
of “I Will” by the Beatles won’t let up,
though now we know you Won’t. I failed.
I turned the Holy Grail into a paper cup,
our wine to water, and the garbage pail
of time is home to what we wanted, now.
You tried to wake me up. I don’t know how.

Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth.
– William S. Burroughs

melissa ann hughes:
If you love them — all of them, every single last one — the spell will be broken.

Ethan Nichtern:
May the future of this country and the future of this planet be much more interconnected, compassionate, brave, and open hearted than the present.

Let’s make it happen.

Maggie Smith:
Do your best to ignore the static today. Instead tune in to the gentlest frequency you can find. Focus on the small acts of kindness you notice between strangers, the tenderness people offer you without expecting anything in return. Pay attention. Keep moving.

Daphne Frias:
When you fight 365 days a year, you deserve one day to not necessarily rejoice, but to remember how to breathe again, if just for a moment

No matter what happens next; take this moment to breathe.

You earned it

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.
– F.Scott Fitzgerald

Michelle Goldberg:
Is there a German word for the desperate desire to have the era in which you’re living be over so you can be in the future, looking back on it?

Jackie Brennan:
“I decided to leave Montana by asking myself, ‘Who would you talk to if you stayed here? And what would you talk about? Fishing?’”

As a Macleaniac, I have to believe it’s significant that he ultimately swam back upstream.

When you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Leah Callen:
So many social groups swing back and forth between love bombing and shunning. There seems to be less and less healthy middle ground these days. Either you’re beloved or ignored. Kind of exhausting on the soul.

Jaimal Yogis:
Friendly reminder that you’re not a Twitter persona, resume, or bank account. You’re an infinitely complex, feeling, creating, breathing, eye-contact-making, potentially-boogieing life force interconnected with every atom, whirling galaxy & other living thing. Unplug. Feel it.

Zen is not a philosophy, it is poetry. It does not propose, it simply persuades. It does not argue, it simply sings its own song.
– Osho

The word the world loves most is LOVE.
The word the world hates most is HATE.
– MarIanne Williamson

She read anything that was printed that came her way and a great deal came her way.
– Gertrude Stein

Friends show their love in times of trouble.
– Euripides

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
– Dalai Lama XIV

If a man makes a slip, enlighten him with loving-kindness, and shew him wherein he hath seen amiss
– Marcus Aurelius

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm & constant.
– Socrates

The calmed say that what is well-spoken is best;
second, that one should say what is right, not unrighteous;
third, what’s pleasing, not displeasing;
fourth, what is true, not false.
– Buddha, Sutta Nipata

Seamus Heaney:
The surface of a slate-gray lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.

Daily Kerouac:
This can’t go on all the time…all this franticness and jumping around. We’ve got to go someplace, find something.

Dr. Thema:
Sometimes you’re chasing them because you lost sight of you. Reconnect with who you are and everything will shift.

The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.
– Yoshida Kenkō

It’s easy to be heavy; hard to be light.
– Gretchen Rubin

We have heard this sad song for many centuries now: a seductive song, turning protest into retrospect, until we die of time.
– Raymond Williams

we listen underneath our throats, not with our ears. we listen across the planet. we can hear each other click from opposite sides of the globe. though we may seem alone, we never are.
– alexis pauline

…Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you
will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too,
be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering,
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,
wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and
forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.
– Fra Giovanni

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

A Poem for the New Year from Anam Thubten:

Welcoming the New Year

The times are getting darker,
The world descends,
Castles crack,
Bridges fall apart,
Flowers decay,
Music loses its magic,
The Divine is crying.
Such times have always been part of our history,
Humanity,
A giant messed up family.
In the entire galaxy,
The only species who think they know.
What a curse!

The big mountains,
The hundred year old trees,
The ever flowing rivers,
Those great witnesses say,
“This is not the first time.”

In such times,
It is hard to be a dreamer.
Optimism is gone,
Our hearts are frozen,
Our confidence is shaken,
Signs of “dead end” everywhere.
All the roads lead nowhere,
The future is bleak.

Only one thought can lift up our spirit,
The grand scheme of all things,
That cosmic energy in the sky,
When it makes a slight move,
The world will renew.
Light will return,
A big spring will bless our people,
May it happen quickly!

Let’s welcome this New Year,
While holding a sacred torch,
Of hope,
The hope for change

THE STONES
The stones we have thrown I hear
fall, glass-clear through the year. In the valley
confused actions of the moment
fly howling from tree-top
to tree-top, quieting
in air thinner than now’s, gliding
like swallows from mountain-top
to mountain-top till they
reach the furthest plateaus
along the edge of existence. Where
all our deeds fall
glass-clear
to no ending
except ourselves.
– Tomas Tranströmer

We have sooner or later to come to terms with the world around us—and I mean especially the physical world, not only as it is revealed to us immediately through our senses, but also as it is perceived more truly in the long turn of seasons and of years. And we must come to moral terms. There is no alternative, I believe, if we are to realize and maintain our humanity, for our humanity must consist in part in the ethical as well as in the practical ideal of preservation. And particularly here and now is that true. We Americans need now more than ever before—and indeed more than we know—to imagine who and what we are with respect to the earth and sky. I am talking about an act of the imagination, essentially, and the concept of an American land ethic.

One effect of the technological revolution has been to uproot us from the soil. We have become disoriented, I believe; we have suffered a kind of psychic dislocation of ourselves in time and space. We may be perfectly sure of where we are in relation to the supermarket and the next coffee break, but I doubt that any of us knows where he is in relation to the stars and to the solstices. Our sense of the natural order has become dull and unreliable. Like the wilderness itself, our sphere of instinct has diminished in proportion as we have failed to imagine truly what it is. And yet I believe that it is possible to formulate an ethical idea of the land—a notion of what it is and must be in our daily lives—and I believe moreover that it is absolutely necessary to do so.
It would seem on the surface of things that a land ethic is something that is alien to, or at least dormant in, most Americans. Most of us have developed an attitude of indifference toward the land. In terms of my own experience, it is difficult to see how such an attitude could ever have come about.

Surely that ethic is merely latent in ourselves. It must now be activated, I believe. We Americans must come again to a moral comprehension of the earth and air. We must live according to the principle of a land ethic. The alternative is that we shall not live at all.
– N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

If by Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
– Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living

Love life first, then march through the gates of each season; go inside nature and develop the discipline to stop destructive behavior; learn tenderness toward experience, then make decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell you; act accordingly.
– Gretel Ehrlich

As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.
– Margaret Mead

What matters most is how we move through this world and relate to others—with sincere compassion, love, empathy, understanding, and deep gratitude. What is here today, might not be here tomorrow—whether it’s your health, your memory capacity, your financial reserves, or your strength. What remains, when everything else is stripped away, is your kindness towards others, your willingness to make allowances, and your ability to love yourself through disappointments—just as much as during the bright spark days of good news.
– Cristina Raskopf Norcross

May you find the eyes to see the threads that sew the damaging patterns of behaviour within the tapestry of your being.
May you find the courage and kindness to light a fire within, unpick those threads, and re-sew new patterns, new ways and new beliefs. With golden threads, made from bravery, truth and care.
– Brigit Anna McNeill

This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.
– Howard W. Hunter