Monday, March 2, 2015

behind the screen





Love plays its lute behind the screen - 
where is a lover to listen to its tune?

With every breath a new song,
each split second a new string plucked,

The world has spilled Love's secret -
when could music ever hold its tongue?

Every atom babbles the mystery -
Listen yourself, for I'm no tattletale!



~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes
photo by Christine de Grancy

Saturday, February 28, 2015

keeping our small boat afloat






.

So many blessings have been given to us
During the first distribution of light, that we are
Admired in a thousand galaxies for our grief. 

Don't expect us to appreciate creation or to
Avoid mistakes. Each of us is a latecomer
To the earth, picking up wood for the fire. 

Every night another beam of light slips out
From the oyster's closed eye. So don't give up hope
that the door of mercy may still be open. 

Seth and Shem, tell me, are you still grieving
Over the spark of light that descended with no
Defender near into the Egypt of Mary's womb? 

It's hard to grasp how much generosity
Is involved in letting us go on breathing,
When we contribute nothing valuable but our grief. 

Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm.




~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey
art by Klimt





a spirit of generosity








What is required is a willingness to look 
deeply at one's present moments, 
no matter what they hold, 
in a spirit of generosity,
 kindness towards oneself, 
and openness toward 
what might be possible. 



~ Jon Kabat-Zinn


our inner prisons





.
Forgiveness is one of the really difficult things in life.  The logic of receiving hurt seems to run in the direction of never forgetting either the hurt or the hurter.  When you forgive, some deeper, divine generosity takes you over.  When you can forgive, then you are free.  When you cannot forgive, you are a prisoner of the hurt done to you.  If you are really disappointed in someone and you become embittered, you become incarcerated inside that feeling.  Only the the grace of forgiveness can break the straight logic of hurt and embitterment.  It gives you a way out, because it places the conflict on a completely different level.  In a strange way, it keeps the whole conflict human.  You begin to see and understand the conditions, circumstances, or weakness that made the other person act as she did.

...

Why are we so reluctant to leave our inner prisons?  There is the security of the confinement and limitation that we know.  We are often willing to endure the searing sense of forsakenness and distance which limitation brings rather than risking the step out into the field of the unknown. 



~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes



Friday, February 27, 2015

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 struggle for identity








The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces
 are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. 
Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. 
Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb- time. 
Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; 
the struggle for identity and impression falls away. 
We rest in the night.



~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara





he who stretches






Procrustes was a host who adjusted his guests to their bed. Procrustes, whose name means "he who stretches." 
He kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night's rest in his very special bed. Procrustes described it as having the unique property that its length exactly matched whomsoever lay down upon it. What Procrustes didn't volunteer was the method by which this "one-size-fits-all" was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, fatally adjusting him to fit his own bed.


We are no sooner out of the womb than we must begin this precarious unfolding and shaping of who we are.  If we have bad or destructive times in childhood, we begin to fix on a survival identity to cover over and to compensate for what happens to us.  If we are never encouraged to be ourselves we begin to construct an identity that will gain us either attention or approval.  When we set out to construct our lives according to a fixed image, we damage ourselves.  The image becomes the desperate focus of all our longing.  There are no frames for the soul.  In truth, we are called, in so far as we can, to live without an image of ourselves, or at least to keep images we have free and open.  When you sense the immensity of the unknown within you, any image you have built of yourself gradually loses its promise.  Your name, your face, your address only suggest the threshold of your identity.  Somehow you are always secretly aware of this.  Sometimes. you find yourself listening to someone telling you what you should do or describing what is going on inside you, and you whisper to yourself that they have not the foggiest idea who you actually are.



~ John O'Donohue
from Eternal Echoes



wander the pure and simple





HeavenRoot was wandering at BrightAbundance Mountain... 
he met Human NoName and said: 
"Might I ask about bringing order to all beneath heaven?" 

"Get lost!" shouted NoName. "What a slob. 
 How could you ask such trashy questions? 
 I wander the Maker-of-Things and just now stumbled into this human form. 
 When I get tired of this, I'll mount the SubtleConfusion Bird and soar out beyond the six horizons. 
 I'll wander in a village where there's nothing at all, 
dwell in a land where emptiness stretches away forever. 
 So why are you cluttering my mind with your talk about governing all beneath heaven?" 

HeavenRoot asked again. 

"Let your mind wander the pure and simple," replied NoName. 
 "Blend your ch'i into the boundless, follow occurrence appearing of itself in things, 
and don't let selfhood get in the way. 
 Then all beneath heaven will be governed as well."





~ Chuang Tzu 
from Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters
translation by David Hinton
with thanks to http://fivebranchtree.blogspot.com/




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

between






Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.



~ Octavio Paz


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


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

when the shoe fits






Ch'ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.

His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.

No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.

So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
"For" and "against" are forgotten.

No drives no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.

Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.




~ Chuang Tzu 
(In the Dark Before Dawn)

brotherhood






I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.




~ Octavio Paz

unlabeled






Like the small hole by the path-side something lives in,
in me are lives I do not know the names of,

nor the fates of,
nor the hungers of or what they eat.

They eat of me.
Of small and blemished apples in low fields of me
whose rocky streams and droughts I do not drink.

And in my streets—the narrow ones,
unlabeled on the self-map—
they follow stairs down music ears can’t follow,

and in my tongue borrowed by darkness,
in hours uncounted by the self-clock,
they speak in restless syllables of other losses, other loves.

There too have been the hard extinctions,
missing birds once feasted on and feasting.

There too must be machines
like loud ideas with tungsten bits that grind the day.

A few escape. A mercy.

They leave behind
small holes that something unweighed by the self-scale lives in.



~ Jane Hirshfield


Jane was born on this day in New York City (1953). She went to Princeton, where she was in the first graduating class to include women in 1973. She published her first poem not long after, then went off to northern California to study Buddhism for the next eight years, during which time she didn't write at all. She said: " I don't think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life. And so I couldn't just decide I was going to write no matter what; I first had to find out what it means to live.

comments from Writers Almanac



Saturday, February 21, 2015

coda






Perhaps to love is to learn
to walk through this world.
To learn to be silent
like the oak and the linden of the fable.
To learn to see.
Your glance scattered seeds.
It planted a tree.
I talk
because you shake its leaves.




~ Octavio Paz


Friday, February 20, 2015

half life





We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream

barely touching the ground

our eyes half open
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.





- Stephen Levine
from Breaking the Drought
with thanks to whisky river