Monday, December 5, 2016

observe






Surely any form of accumulation, either of knowledge or experience, any form of ideal, any projection of the mind, any determined practice to shape the mind - what it should be and should not be - all this is obviously crippling the process of investigation and discovery.

So I think our inquiry must be not for the solution of our immediate problems but rather to find out whether the mind, the conscious as well as the deep unconscious mind in which is stored all the tradition, the memories, the inheritance of racial knowledge,whether all of it can be put aside. I think it can be done only if the mind is capable of being aware without any sense of demand, without any pressure, just to be aware.

 I think it is one of the most difficult things to be so aware because we are caught in the immediate problem and in its immediate solution, and so our lives are very superficial. Though one may go to all the analysts, read all the books, acquire much knowledge, attend churches, pray, mediate, practice various disciplines; nevertheless, our lives are obviously very superficial because we do not know how to penetrate deeply. 

I think the understanding, the way of penetration, how to go very, very deeply, lies through awareness, just to be aware of our thoughts and feelings, without condemnation, without comparison, just to observe. You will see, if you will experiment, how extraordinarily difficult it is, because our whole training is to condemn, to approve, to compare.  




~ J. Krishnamurti
from The Book of Life

problem?







There is a story of a man who came to see the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha was a great teacher. He had some problems in his life, and he thought the Buddha might be able to help him straighten them out.

The Buddha listened patiently to the man as he laid out all his difficulties and worries, and then waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.

The Buddha said, "I can't help you."

"What do you mean?" said the man.

"Everybody's got problems," said the Buddha. "In fact, we've all got eighty-three problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them, maybe you can fix it - but if you do, another one will pop right into its place."

The man was furious. "I thought you were a great teacher! I thought you could help me!"

The Buddha said, "Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth problem."

"The eighty-fourth problem?" said the man. "What's the eighty-fourth problem?"

The Buddha said, "You want to not have any problems."



- Steve Hagen
from Buddhism Plain and Simple
art by Alex Arshansky


Saturday, December 3, 2016

the unstructured sources of our beings









Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings, to the unknown, and returns us to our rational, structured selves refreshed. Having once experienced the mystery, plenitude, contradiction, and composure of a work of art, we afterward have a built-in resistance to the slogans and propaganda of oversimplification that have often contributed to the destruction of human life. Poetry is a verbal means to a nonverbal source. It is a motion to no-motion, to the still point of contemplation and deep realization.



~ A. R. Ammons

Thursday, December 1, 2016

a stream I go a-fishing in








Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.


~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walden: Where I lived and What I lived for
 

inside the river





Inside the river is there a river? -
it could follow slow water the way
the real current follows a stiller
shore. And in your life the life that
hurries could pass, and pass its
open neighbor the earth, and its shore
the sky. To be here, and always to find
places in the current, the dreams
the river has - surely we bubbles
ought to tell about it?

Listen: One of the rooms the river has
after its bridge and its bend in the mountains
is a place waiting for the sun every
afternoon, when the sun dwells
at a slant under a log and finds
that little yellow room and a waterbug
trying to learn circles but never making
one its shadow approves. Miles later
the river tries to recall that dream,
turning with all of its twisting self
that found gravel and found it good.

Just before the ocean that river
turns on its back and side and slowly
invites the world and the air and the sky,
trying to give away everything, everything.



  ~ William Stafford



the path






The path to heaven lies through heaven,
and all the way to heaven is heaven.

 
~ Catherine of Siena
with thanks to Love is a Place

Saturday, November 19, 2016

hoeing







As I drew a still fresher soil about the rows with my how, I disturbed the ashes of unchronicled nations who in primeval years lived under these heavens, and their small implements of war and hunting were brought to the light of this modern day.  They lay mingled with other natural stones, some of which bore the marks of having been burned by Indian fires, and some by the sun, and also bits of pottery and glass brought hither by the recent cultivators of the soil.  When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop.  It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans...



~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walden, The Bean-Field

art by Clotilde Espinosa

wind on water






A field of water betrays a spirit that is in the air. It is continually receiving
new life and motion from above.  It is intermediate in its nature between land
and sky.  On land only the grass and trees wave, but the water itself is rippled
by the wind. I see where the breeze dashes across it by the streaks or flakes of
light.  It is remarkable that we can look down on its surface.  We shall, perhaps, 
look down thus on the surface of air at length, and mark where a still subtler
spirit sweeps over it.



 ~ Henry David Thoreau
excerpt from Walden, the ponds

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

on good and evil


.




And one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil.
And he answered:
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, "Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance."
For the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.
Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, "Wherefore are you slow and halting?"
For the truly good ask not the naked, "Where is your garment?" nor the houseless, "What has befallen your house?"


~ Kahlil Gibran
(excerpt from: The Prophet )
.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

no such thing










There is no such thing as a person.
There are only restrictions and limitations.
The sum total of these defines the person.

You think you know yourself when you know what you are.
But you never know who you are. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.

See that you are not what you believe yourself to be.
Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable.

You are not.

Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that.
There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation.

Suffering is a call for enquiry, all pain needs investigation.
Don’t be too lazy to think.





~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
with thanks to Love is a Place
 

no man's land









But oh!
How far I have to go to find You in Whom I have already arrived!
For now, oh my God, it is to You alone that I can talk,
because nobody else will understand.
I cannot bring any other on this earth
into the cloud where I dwell in Your light,
that is,
Your Darkness,
where I am lost and abashed.

I cannot explain to any other
the anguish which is Your joy
nor the loss which is the possession of You,
nor the distance from all things
which is the arrival in You.
nor the death which is the birth in You
because I do not know anything about it myself
and all I know
is that I wish it were over
-- I wish it were begun.

You have contradicted everything.
You have left me in no man's land.


~ Thomas Merton
from Dancing in the Water of Life
with thanks to louie, louie

Saturday, October 15, 2016

no such thing










contemplation is not trance or ecstasy
not emotional fire and sweetness that come with religious exaltation
not enthusiasm, not the sense of being "seized" by an elemental force
and swept into liberation by mystical frenzy.
contemplation is no pain-killer.

In the end the contemplative suffers the anguish of realizing
that he no longer knows what God is;
this is a great gain,
because "God is not a what,"
not a "thing."

There is "no such thing" as God
because God is neither a "what" or a "thing"
but a pure "Who,"
the "Thou" before whom our inmost "I" springs
into awareness.
 

~ Thomas Merton
from New Seed of Contemplation
with thanks to louie, louie
sketch by the author

Sunday, September 25, 2016

compassion










~ Lucinda Williams


Sunday, September 4, 2016

lightly my darling








It’s dark because you are trying too hard. 
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. 
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. 
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. 

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. 
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. 
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. 
No rhetoric, no tremolos, 
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. 
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. 
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. 

So throw away your baggage and go forward. 
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, 
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. 
That’s why you must walk so lightly. 
Lightly my darling, 
on tiptoes and no luggage, 
not even a sponge bag, 
completely unencumbered.




~ Aldous Huxley
from Island





Thursday, July 7, 2016

roses underfoot






If anyone asks you to say who you are,
say without hesitation, soul
within soul within soul.

There's a pearl diver who does not know
how to swim!  No matter.
Pearls are handed him on the beach.

 We lovers laugh to hear, "This should be
more that and that more this,"
coming from people sitting in a wagon
tilted in a ditch.

Going in search of the heart, I found
a huge rose, and roses under all our feet!

How to say this to someone who denies it?
The robe we wear is the sky's cloth.

Everything is soul and flowering.


~ Rumi
Coleman Barks translation
art by Hilary Williams