Friday, September 22, 2017

death is a dialogue





.



Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
"Dissolve" says Death—The Spirit "Sir
I have another Trust"—

Death doubts it—Argues from the Ground—
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay. 

–Emily Dickinson
976









Thursday, September 21, 2017

remembering you





.



in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so (forgetting seem)

in time of roses (who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if, remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek (forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time
shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me


–E. E. Cummings



.







Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Testament








.



And now to the Abyss I pass
Of that unfathomable grass...


1.
Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath
Grows large and free in air, don't call it death --
A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire
His surly art of imitating life; conspire
Against him. Say that my body cannot now
Be improved upon; it has no fault to show
To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh
Has a perfect compliance with the grass
Truer than any it could have striven for.

You will recognize the earth in me, as before
I wished to know it in myself: my earth
That has been my care and faithful charge from birth,
And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound,
And all my hopes. Say that I have found
A good solution, and am on my way
To the roots.  And say I have left my native clay
At last, to be a traveler, that too will be so.
Traveler to where?  Say you don't know.



2.
But do not let your ignorance
Of my spirit's whereabouts dismay
You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say

Any thing too final.  Whatever
Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger
Than flesh.  Beyond reach of thought
Let imagination figure

Your hope. That will be generous
To me and to yourselves.  Why settle
For some know-it-all's despair
When the dead may dance to the fiddle

Hereafter, for all anybody knows?
And remember that the Heavenly soil
Need not be too rich to please
One who was happy in Port Royal.

I may be already heading back,
A new and better man, toward
That town. The thought's unreasonable,
But so is life, thank the Lord!



3.
So treat me, even dead,
As a man who has a place
To go, and something to do.
Don't muck up my face

With wax and powder and rouge
As one would prettify
An unalterable fact
To give bitterness the lie.

Admit the native earth
My body is and will be,
Admit its freedom and
Its changeability.

Dress me in the clothes
I wore in the day's round
Lay me in a wooden box.
Put the box in the ground.


–Wendell Berry



.







Sunday, September 17, 2017

rush naked






 
.



A lover looks at creek water and wants to be that quick
to fall, to kneel, then all

the way down in full prostration. A lover wants to die of
his love like a man with

dropsy who knows that water will kill him, but he can't deny
his thirst. A lover loves

death, which is God's way of helping us evolve from mineral
to vegetable to animal, the one

incorporating the others. Then animal becomes Adam, and the
next will take us beyond what

we can imagine, into the mystery of we are all returning.
Don't fear death. Spill your

jug in the river! Your attributes disappear, but the essence
moves on. Your shame and fear

are like felt layers covering coldness. Throw them off, and
rush naked into the joy of death.


–Rumi



.







Saturday, September 16, 2017

real(ities






.



The first undeniable reality is that every living thing dies, and the second undeniable reality is that we suffer throughout our lives because we don’t understand death. The truth derived from these two points is the importance of clarifying the matter of birth and death. 
The third undeniable reality is that all of the thoughts and feelings that arise in my head simply arise haphazardly, by chance. And the conclusion we can derive from that is not to hold on to all that comes up in our head. 
That is what we are doing when we sit zazen.


–Kosho Uchiyama



.







Friday, September 15, 2017

directions, excerpt







.



The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.


–Billy Collins
The Art of Drowning



 .







Thursday, September 14, 2017

ain't afraid






 .



Can you find another market like this?
Where, with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?

Where, for one seed you get a whole wilderness?
For one weak breath, the divine wind?

You have been fearful of being absorbed
in the ground, or drawn up by the air.

Now your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean, where it came from.

This giving up is not a repenting.
It is a deep honoring of yourself.

When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly for God's sake.

Don't postpone it. Existence has no better gift.
No amount of searching will find this.

A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder, and become yours.



–Rumi
Coleman Barks version



.










Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Celestial Music






.
 


I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it.
I'm always moved by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality
But timid also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
According to nature. For my sake she intervened
Brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down
Across the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to God, that nothing else explains
My aversion to reality. She says I'm like the child who
Buries her head in the pillow
So as not to see, the child who tells herself
That light causes sadness-
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
To wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person-

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We're walking
On the same road, except it's winter now;
She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
Like brides leaping to a great height-
Then I'm afraid for her; I see her
Caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth-

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It's this moment we're trying to explain, the fact
That we're at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn't move.
She's always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image
Capable of life apart from her.
We're very quiet. It's peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition
Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-
It's this stillness we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

note to self

 




 .


When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.

I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
Or the slipper of its coming back.

Or, a kiss,
Well, yes, especially a kiss. 


–Mary Oliver


.
 





Sunday, September 10, 2017

enter with mercy






.



If there is a single definition of healing it is to enter with mercy an awareness of those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay. 

–Stephen Levine



.







Saturday, September 9, 2017

Ode 959






.



If you could not feel tenderness and hurt.
If you could live in the poorhouse of non-wanting
and never be indignant.
If you could take two steps away from the beautiful one
you want so much to lie down with.
If you could trust there's a spirit-wife
for you somewhere, a whole harem of wives,
a nest, a jewel-setting where
when you sit down, you know
you've always wanted to be.
If you could quit living here and go there.
If you could remember clearly what you've done.

But strong hooks hold you in this wind.
So many people love you,
you mix with the color and smell and taste of surroundings.
Champion lovemaker and leader of men!
You can't give up your public fascination,
or your compassion for the dying.

There's another compassion you don't know yet,
but you may, when griefs disappear.
It's a place,
with no questioning thorns in the pasture grass.
If you could remember you're not a crow,
but the mystic osprey that never needs to light,
you could be walking there
with Shams.


–Rumi

Coleman Barks version




.









Friday, September 8, 2017

illusion

 




.



God and I in space alone
And nobody else in view.
“And where are the people, O Lord!” I said.
“The earth below and the sky o’erhead
And the dead whom once I knew?”

“That was a dream,” God smiled and said,
“A dream that seemed to be true,
There were no people, living or dead,
There was no earth and no sky o’erhead
There was only Myself–and you.”

“Why do I feel no fear,” I asked,
“Meeting you here in this way,
For I have sinned I know full well,
And there is heaven and there is hell,
And is this the judgment day?”

“Nay, those were dreams,” the great God said,
“Dreams that have ceased to be.
There are no such things as fear or sin,
There is no you–you have never been–
There is nothing at all but Me.”



–Edna Wheeler Wilcox



.







Thursday, September 7, 2017

nothing's a gift






.



Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tenacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.


–Wislawa Szymborska




.










Wednesday, September 6, 2017

questions






.



I died as a mineral and became a plant, 
I died as plant and rose to animal, 
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.

When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’


–Rumi


.








Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Final Words






.



I cannot leave you without saying this:
the past is nothing,
a nonmemory, a phantom,
a soundproof closet in which Johann Strauss
is composing another waltz no one can hear.

It is a fabrication, best forgotten,
a wellspring of sorrow
that waters a field of bitter vegetation.

Leave it behind.
Take your head out of your hands
and arise from the couch of melancholy
where the window-light falls against your face
and the sun rides across the autumn sky,
steely behind the bare trees,
glorious as the high strains of violins.

But forget Strauss.
And forget his younger brother,
the poor bastard who was killed in a fall
from a podium while conducting a symphony.

Forget the past,
forget the stunned audience on its feet,
the absurdity of their formal clothes
in the face of sudden death,
forget their collective gasp,
the murmur and huddle over the body,
the creaking of the lowered curtain.

Forget Strauss
with that encore look in his eye
and his tiresome industry:
more than five hundred finished compositions!
He even wrote a polka for his mother.

That alone is enough to make me flee the past,
evacuate its temples,
and walk alone under the stars
down these dark paths strewn with acorns,
feeling nothing but the crisp October air,
the swing of my arms
and the rhythms of my stepping--
a man of the present who has forgotten
every composer, every great battle,
just me,
a thin reed blowing in the night.



–Billy Collins
Sailing Alone Around the Room




.








Sunday, September 3, 2017

person(ality






.



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 your self 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




.








Saturday, September 2, 2017

my life is not this steeply sloping hour







.



My life is not this steeply sloping hour,
in which you see me hurrying.

Much stands behind me: I stand before it like a tree:
I am only one of many mouths
and at that, the one that will be still the soonest.

I am the rest between two notes,
which are somehow always in discord
because Death's note wants to climb over—
but the dark interval, reconciled,
They stay here trembling.
And the song goes on, beautiful.

–Rainer Maria Rilke



.







Friday, September 1, 2017

hope






 .



I want to let go -
so I don't give a damn about fine writing,
I'm rolling my sleeves up.
The dough's rising...
Oh what a shame
I can't bake cathedrals...
that sublimity of style
I've always yearned for...
Child of our time -
haven't you found the right shell for your soul?

Before I die I
shall
bake a cathedral.


–Edith Södergran



.






Thursday, August 31, 2017

no(thing is lost






.



Nothing is lost,

nothing is created,

everything is transformed.


—Antoine Lavoisier
1743–1794




.








Wednesday, August 30, 2017

not to worry


 



.



There is no death in nature. Just a reshuffling of atoms.
—Gj
Top of the Lake


.







Tuesday, August 29, 2017

question






.



A baby pigeon on the edge of the nest
hears the call and begins his flight.
How can the soul of the seeker not fly
when a message arrives saying,
"You have been trapped in life like a bird with no wings,
in a cage with no doors or windows
come, come back to me!"
How can the soul not rip open its coverings,
and soar to the sky?

What is the rope that pulls the soul from above?
What is the secret that opens the door?
The key is the flutter of the heart's wings
and its endless longing.
When the door opens, walk on the path
where abundance awaits you,
where everything old becomes new
and never look back.

Drink from the hands of the wine bearer
and you will be blessed
even in this life.


–Rumi
Translation by Azima Melita Kolin
and Maryam Mafi



.







Wednesday, August 23, 2017

the wild geese






.



Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.


Wendell Berry



.







 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Love in the Time of Cholera





.



Please allow me to wipe the slate clean. 

Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. 

Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.


–Gabriel Garcia Márquez



.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

the blue house







.




It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.
It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishads of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.


–Tomas Tranströmer
Göran Malmqvist translation





.