Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gu Gan: 露 (Dew)





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When young, I did not know the taste of sorrow.
I went up the tower.
I went up the tower
to write a poem on pretended sorrow.
By now I’ve completely tasted sorrow, but already
I do not want to speak about it.
I do not want to speak about it,
I only say: what a beautiful, cold autumn.


–Xing Qijia

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

After a Death






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Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.



–Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly




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Sunday, September 27, 2015

from The Solace of Open Spaces





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Autumn teaches us that fruition is also death; that ripeness is a form of decay. The willows, having stood for so long near water, begin to rust. Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons. 

—Gretel Ehrlich


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image –Gilbert Garcin
302, Perseverence, 2005
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

singular


 



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The center clears. 

Knowing comes:
The body is not singular like a corpse,

but singular like a salt grain
still in the side of the mountain.


–Rumi


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Friday, September 25, 2015

not to worry









There is no death; there is no life.
Indeed, the skies are cloudless
And the river waters clear.

–Toshimoto
Stefanus Rademeyer


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

mystical realization





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This is the essential experience of any mystical realization. You die to your flesh and are born into your spirit. You identify yourself with the consciousness and life of which your body is but the vehicle. You die to the vehicle and become identified…with that of which the vehicle is but the carrier.

–Joseph Campbell








Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bow and Arrow






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air






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Naturally it is night.
Under the overturned lute with its
One string I am going my way
Which has a strange sound.

This way the dust, that way the dust.
I listen to both sides
But I keep right on.
I remember the leaves sitting in judgment

And then winter.
I remember the rain with its bundle of roads.
The rain taking all its roads.
Nowhere.

Young as I am, old as I am,
I forget tomorrow, the blind man.
I forget the life among the buried windows.
The eyes in the curtains.

The wall
Growing through the immortelles.
I forget silence
The owner of the smile.

This must be what I wanted to be doing,
Walking at night between the two deserts,
Singing.


–W.S. Merwin




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Friday, September 18, 2015

Falling: The Code






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1.

Through the night
the apples
outside my window
one by one let go
their branches and
drop to the lawn.
I can’t see, but hear
the stem-snap, the plummet
through leaves, then
the final thump against the ground.

Sometimes two
at once, or one
right after another.

During long moments of silence
I wait
and wonder about the bruised bodies,
the terror of diving through air, and
think I’ll go tomorrow
to find the newly fallen, but they
all look alike lying there
dewsoaked, disappearing before me.


 

2.

I lie beneath my window listening
to the sound of apples dropping in
the yard, a syncopated code I long to know,
which continues even as I sleep, and dream I know
the meaning of what I hear, each dull
thud of unseen apple-
body, the earth
falling to earth
once and forever, over
and over.



–Li-Young Lee




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Thursday, September 17, 2015

lines written in the days of growing darkness





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Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.


–Mary Oliver



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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Autumn Movement




 
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 I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
       the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
       come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
       not one lasts.


Carl Sandburg


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Monday, September 14, 2015

be still, it is the wind that sings





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I am a pipe the wind blows through,
Be still, it is the wind that sings.
The course of my life and the things that I do
And the seeming false and the seeming true
Are the tune of the wind that neither knows
Good and ill, nor joys and woes.


But the ultimate awe is deeper yet
Than song or pipe or storm;
For pipe and tune are the formless wind
That seemed for a while to take form.


And words are good to escape from words
And strife to escape from strife,
But silence drinks in all the waves
Of song and death and life.



–Arthur Osborne



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Sunday, September 13, 2015

not to worry





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Each day is a little life;

every waking and rising a little birth; 

every fresh morning a little youth;

every going to rest and sleep a little death.


–Arthur Schopenhauer



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Friday, September 11, 2015

what is buried

 



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… there is no burial of the dead; what is buried is a seed.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of the Sands 



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Tame Buzzard Line
Richard Long
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Poem I Can't Yet Name






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My hands lift high a bowl of rice, the seeds harvested
in the field where my grandmother was laid to rest.
Each rice seed tastes sweet as the sound of lullaby
from the grandmother I never knew.
I imagine her soft face as they laid her down into the earth,
her clothes battered, her skin stuck to her bones;
in the great hunger of 1945, my village
was hungry for graves to bury all the dead.
Nobody could find my grandmother’s grave,
so my father tasted bitter rice for sixty-five years.

After sixty-five years, my father and I stood
in front of my grandmother’s grave.
I heard my father call “Mum,” for the first time;
the rice field behind his back trembled.


----

My two feet cling to the mud.
I listen in the burning incense to my grandmother’s soul spread;
uniting deep with the earth, taking root in the field,
she quietly sings lullabies, calling rice plants to blossom.

Lifting the bowl of rice in my hands, I count every seed,
each one glistening with the sweat of my relatives,
their backs bent in the rice fields,
the fragrance of my grandmother’s lullaby alive on each one.



–Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Nguyen Phan Que Mai, Bruce Weigl translation











Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Approach, excerpt






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You cannot become attached to human beings, things, or landscapes without suffering immediately taking up a position at your side. This is probably a trite remark. 

Yet a much stranger fate brings you face to face with uprootedness. It is better, then, to accept the suffering at your side. And illuminate it with love.

Pierre-Albert Jourdan
John Taylor translation


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Monday, September 7, 2015

question






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I am often asked whether there is life after death. Certainly there is. There is also death after life, and life before death, and death before life. It goes on forever. There is just no stopping it.
You will live forever, and die forever. In fact, you already have.


As for Heaven and Hell, they are right here on Earth, and it is up to each of you in which one you choose to reside. To put it simply, Heaven is living in your hopes and Hell is living in your fears. In the traditional image, where hell is down and heaven is up, one escapes from hell by digging a hole in the ceiling. Though in an age of downers and uppers down and up no longer make sense, it is still possible to think of in and out. Think of Hell as in and heaven as out. To get out of hell you expand your soul until it is pushing on all the walls from the inside all the way around. If you just maintain a steady pressure, your soul will gradually filter out into limitless heaven beyond.

One problem with the notion of Heaven and Hell, however, is that, although they are exact opposites, an astonishing number of people seem to be confused about which is which. For example, all over the United States on this very evening, commencement speakers are standing before audiences not greatly unlike yourselves, describing Hell as if they were talking about Heaven.

Their speakers are saying things such as, “Graduating Seniors, you have reached the golden threshold of maturity; it is time now to go out into the world and take up the challenge of life, time to face your hallowed responsibility.” And if that isn’t one Hell of a note, it’s certainly one note of Hell.

Growing up is a trap.

As for responsibility, I am forced to ask, “Responsibility to what?”
To our fellow humans? Two weeks ago, the newspapers reported that a federal court had ruled that when a person’s brain stops functioning, that person is legally dead, even though his or her heart may continue to beat. That means that 80% of the population of the Earth is legally dead. Must we be responsible to corpses?
No, you have no responsibility except to be yourself to the fullest limit of yourself, and to find out who you are. Or, perhaps I should say, to remember who you are.
Because deep down in the secret velvet of your heart, far beyond your name and your address, each of you knows who you really are. And that being who is the 'true you' cannot help but behave graciously to all other beings - because it is all other beings.


–Tom Robbins
Commencement Speech excerpt




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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sabbaths 1985, V





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How long does it take to make the woods?
As long as it takes to make the world.
The woods is present as the world is, the presence
of all its past, and of all its time to come.
It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.
It is a part of eternity, for its end and beginning
belong to the end and beginning of all things,
the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.
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 in among these trees 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
A Timbered Choir



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Saturday, September 5, 2015

trying to find a way to love







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The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. Death gives freedom and power.

To be free in the world, you must die to the world.
Then the universe is your own, it becomes your body, an expression and a tool.


The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description.


–Nisargadatta Maharaj



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Friday, September 4, 2015

after a death

 



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Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside.  It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.
One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Naves swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.


–Tomas Tranströmer
from The Half-Finished Heaven
Robert Bly translation



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Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age, excerpt

 



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My father had decided to teach me how to grow old. I said O.K. My children didn’t think it was such a great idea. If I knew how, they thought, I might do so too easily. No, no, I said, it’s for later, years from now. And besides, if I get it right it might be helpful to you kids in time to come.

They said, Really?

My father wanted to begin as soon as possible.

[…]

Please sit down, he said. Be patient. The main thing is this — when you get up in the morning you must take your heart in your two hands. You must do this every morning.

That’s a metaphor, right?

Metaphor? No, no, you can do this. In the morning, do a few little exercises for the joints, not too much. Then put your hands like a cup over and under the heart. Under the breast. He said tactfully, It’s probably easier for a man. Then talk softly, don’t yell. Under your ribs, push a little. When you wake up, you must do this massage. I mean pat, stroke a little, don’t be ashamed. Very likely no one will be watching. Then you must talk to your heart.

Talk? What?

Say anything, but be respectful. Say — maybe say, Heart, little heart, beat softly but never forget your job, the blood. You can whisper also, Remember, remember.



–Grace Paley, at eighty, originally written for the New Yorker in 2002 and included in Here and Somewhere Else: Stories and Poems by Grace Paley and Robert Nichols (public library) — a marvelous celebration of literature, love, and the love of literature by Paley and her husband, published a few months before she died at the age of eighty-five.



.
from the treasure which is
brainpickings

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

deception


 

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Have your being outside of this body of birth and death and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


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Sam Abell, N.G.
subcognition

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