Thursday, January 12, 2017

all of a sudden






All my life perplexed by truth and falsity, right and wrong;
Now amusing myself in the moonlight,
Laughing at the wind,
Listening to the song of birds -
So many years spent idly contemplating
The immense white layer on the mountains;
This winter, all of a sudden,
I see it for the first time as a snow-mountain.



~ Dogen
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen by Steven Heine

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

generosity of self







We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to our inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence. A dramatic example of this kind of transfiguration is the one all parents know. You watch your children carefully, but one day they surprise you; you still recognize them, but your knowledge of them is insufficient. You have to start listening to them all over again.

It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalistic and violent. It brings you falsely outside your own self and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to your self. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home.






~ John O’Donohue 
from Anam Cara 



the thing with feathers






"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.


~ Emily Dickinson

from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Edited by R. W. Franklin
 with thanks to Love is a Place

Monday, January 9, 2017

many shapes










You come and go. The doors swing closed 
ever more gently, almost without a shudder. 
Of all those who move through the quiet houses, 
you are the quietest. 

We become so accustomed to you, 
we no longer look up 
when your shadow falls over the book we are reading 
and makes it glow. For all things 
sing you: at times 
we just hear them more clearly. 

Often when I imagine you 
your wholeness cascades into many shapes. 
You run like a herd of luminous deer 
and I am dark, I am forest. 

You are a wheel at which I stand, 
whose dark spokes sometimes catch me up, 
revolve me nearer to the center. 
Then all the work I put my hand to 
widens from turn to turn. 



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Love Poems to God, 
The Book of Monastic Life



Sunday, January 8, 2017

expands His being







All beings
are words of God,
His music, His
art.

Sacred books we are, for the infinite camps
in our
souls.

Every act reveals God and expands His Being.
I know that may be hard
to comprehend.

All creatures are doing their best
to help God in His birth
of Himself.

Enough talk for the night
He is laboring in me;

I need to be silent
for a while,

worlds are forming
in my
heart.


~ Meister Eckhart
from Love Poems from God
translation by Daniel Ladinsky
 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

late ripeness







Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered 
the clarity of early morning. 
One after another my former lives were departing, 
like ships, together with their sorrow.
And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas 
assigned to my brush came closer, 
ready now to be described better than they were before. 
I was not separated from people, 
grief and pity joined us. 
We forget — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King. 
For where we come from there is no division 
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be. 
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part 
of the gift we received for our long journey. 
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago - 
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror 
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel 
staving its hull against a reef — they dwell in us, 
waiting for a fulfillment. 
I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard, 
as are all men and women living at the same time, 
whether they are aware of it or not. 





~Czeslaw Milosz
from Collected Poems, 1931-1987
art by van gogh







forgiveness






Forgiveness is the answer to a child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean. The dream explains why we need to be forgiven, and why we must forgive. In the presence of God, nothing stands between Him and us - we are forgiven. But we cannot feel His presence if anything is allowed to stand between ourselves and others.



~ Dag Hammarskjöld 
from Markings
translated by Leif Sjoberg and W.H. Auden.

Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary General of the United Nations, serving from 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1961. He is the only person to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. Markings, a sort of diary of poetry and meditations, was found in his office after his death, along with a letter to Swedish Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Leif Sjoberg, explaining that it may be published if Mr. Sjoberg felt it worth publishing.





Tuesday, December 27, 2016

no expectations







A spirit that lives in this world
And does not wear the shirt of love,
Such an existence is a deep disgrace.

Be foolish in love,
Because love is all there is.

There is no way into presence
Except through a love exchange.

If someone asks, But what is love?
Answer, Dissolving the will.

True freedom comes to those
Who have escaped the questions
Of freewill and fate.

Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.

Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
For that way of being.

How long to you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.

Anything born in the spring dies in the fall,
But love is not seasonal.

With wine pressed from grapes,
Expect a hangover.

But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount.  Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.

Be clear like a mirror
Reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry 
That comes with images.

Gaze into what is not ashamed
Or afraid of any truth.

Contain all human faces in your own
Without any judgement of them.

Be pure emptiness.
What us inside that? You ask.
Silence is all I can say.

Lovers have some secrets
That they keep.


~ Rumi
From: Rumi - Bridge to the Soul
Translation by Coleman Barks


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Love frees


.
.
All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burros eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.

Love frees.


~ Meister Eckhart
art by: Stephen Filarsky


the bridge








Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.

Entering it
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
a rainbow.
I’ll sleep beneath its arches.
 


~ Octavio Paz
from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957-1987
with thanks to Love is a Place 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

in the heart of the night






In the heart of the night,
The moonlight framing
A small boat drifting,
Tossed not by the waves
Nor swayed by the breeze.


~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen

 

true person







The true person is
Not anyone in particular,
But, like the deep blue color
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world.
 
 
 
~ Dogen
from Zen poetry of Dogen
 

Friday, December 9, 2016

lessons








~ Elizabeth Lesser

Thursday, December 8, 2016

written in my hut on a snowy evening






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 the rickety window.


~ Ryokan 
from Sky Above, Great Wind

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

still life





The rose that no longer blooms in the garden,
blooms inside her whole body, among the veins
and organs and the skeleton.

Linda Gregg 



A hidden blossoming.

Petals flaming beneath the skin.

And a softness pressing,
as delicate as the mouth
of a blind lover.

Each movement,
each quiet gesture
awakens
a rosary in the blood.

Was it desire
which brought her to this moment,
this arrival at source,
or was it merely a need 
to be still, to be richly fed
from this fountain
of dark silence?



~ Dorothy Walters
from Marrow of Flame