Sunday, November 19, 2017

Visiting the Graveyard


When I think of death
it is a bright enough city,
and every year more faces there
are familiar

but not a single one
notices me,
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,

which they do

very quietly,
it's in an unknowable language -
I can catch the tone
but understand not a single word -
and when I open my eyes
there's the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.

–Mary Oliver
Red Bird


Saturday, November 18, 2017

the present


I wanted to give you something —
no stone, clay, bracelet,
no edible leaf could pass through.
Even a molecule's fragrance by then too large.
Giving had been taken, as you soon would be.
Still, I offered the puffs of air shaped to meaning.
They remained air.
I offered memory on memory,
but what is memory that dies with the fallible inks?
I offered apology, sorrow, longing. I offered anger.
How fine is the mesh of death. You can almost see through it.
I stood on one side of the present, you stood on the other.

–Jane Hirshfield


Friday, November 17, 2017



Awareness is not limited to consciousness. It is of all that is.
Consciousness is of duality. There is no duality in awareness.
It is one single block of pure cognition.

In the same way one can talk of the pure being and pure creation—
nameless, formless, silent and yet absolutely real, powerful, effective.
Their being indescribable does not affect them in the least.

While they are unconscious, they are essential.
The conscious cannot change fundamentally, it can only modify.

Any thing, to change, must pass through death, through obscuration
and dissolution. Gold jewellery must be melted down before it is cast
into another shape. What refuses to die cannot be reborn.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

take nothing with you


As a person abandons worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.
–Bhagavad Gita


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

the promise


Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.
Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

–Jane Hirshfield


Sunday, November 12, 2017

the distinction between past, present, and future


Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing.

People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

—Albert Einstein


Saturday, November 11, 2017

losing singularity


[A]s soon as one speaks, as soon as one enters the medium of language, one loses that very singularity. […] Speaking relieves us, Kierkegaard notes, for it ‘translates’ into the general. […] Once I speak, I am never and no longer myself, alone and unique.”

–Jacques Derrida
The Gift of Death (60-61)

Friday, November 10, 2017



After three days of steady rain -
over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.

Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden

with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem

I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.

How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.

How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,

bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.

–Billy Collins


Thursday, November 9, 2017

we are a wave


No permanence is ours,
we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds.

–Hermann Hesse


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

true form


All beings are vortices through which the world pours.
All beings pass through each other.

One being contains innumerable others.

If we could free ourselves from our temporal blindness, we would see ourselves not as individual units, but as interconnected nodes
within a cloud of matter and energy.

The idea that the sixty or seventy or eighty liters of space that our
limited body occupies is “our” space is hopelessly myopic.

In reality we occupy the world and each other.
This, in a sense, is our true form.

Living as a River


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

transparent with rain


The man of earth abides in the flow.
The ground moves beneath him, and he knows
it moves. His house is his vessel, afloat
only for a while. He moves, willing,
through a thousand phases of the sun,
changing as the day changes, and the year.

His mind is like the dirt, lightened
by bloom, weighted by rain.
The fragment of the earth
that is now me is only on its way
through me. It is on its way
from having been a tree,
a school of fish, a terrapin,
a flock of birds. It will pass
through all those forms again.

–Wendell Berry

Diphylleia grayi, also known as the skeleton flower.
The petals turn transparent with the rain.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Half-Finished Heaven

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

–Tomas Tranströmer
Robin Fulton translation

Saturday, November 4, 2017

concerning survival

You are too much concerned with past and future.
It is all due to your longing to continue, to protect yourself against extinction. 

And as you want to continue, you want others to keep you company, hence your concern with their survival. 

But what you call survival is but the survival of a dream.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj 


Friday, November 3, 2017



THEN Almitra spoke, saying,
"We would ask now of Death."

And he said:

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it
in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies
your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams,
for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king whose hand is to be
laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath
from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand
and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.

–Kahlil Gibran

the prophet, excerpt


Thursday, November 2, 2017



Death is a favour to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity, deepening the wonder in our
Senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And surely are just traveling through.

If I were in the tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His cup.

If I were in the tavern to night,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long. 

Death is a favour to us,
But our minds have lost their balance. 
The miraculous existence and impermanence of
Always makes the illumined ones
Laugh and sing.



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

this harp of my life


I drive down into the depth of the ocean of
forms, hoping to gain the perfect pearl of the formless.

No more sailing from harbour to harbour with this my weather-beaten boat.
The days are long passed when my sport was to be tossed on waves.

And now I am eager to die into the deathless.

Into the audience hall by the fathomless abyss where swells up the music of toneless strings I shall take this harp of my life.

I shall tune it to the notes of forever,
and, when it has sobbed out its last utterance, lay down my silent harp at the feet of the silent.

Tagore translation


Sunday, October 29, 2017

matter cannot be created or destroyed


Wrongly do the Greeks suppose that aught begins or ceases to be;

for nothing comes into being or is destroyed;

but all is an aggregation or secretion of pre-existing things
so that all becoming might more correctly be called becoming mixed, and all corruption, becoming separate.

circa 450 B.C.


We may lay it down as an incontestible axiom, that, in all the operations of art and nature, nothing is created; an equal quantity of matter exists both before and after the experiment; the quality and quantity of the elements remain precisely the same; and nothing takes place beyond changes and modifications in the combination of these elements. Upon this principle the whole art of performing chemical experiments depends: We must always suppose an exact equality between the elements of the body examined and those of the products of its analysis.

–Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
26 August – 8 May 1794


Saturday, October 28, 2017



The real does not die, the unreal never lived.
Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you,
you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment. 

The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Friday, October 27, 2017

this mystery


I've paid no attention to Your warnings:
while claiming to be an idol-breaker, I've really been an idol-maker.

Should I pay more attention to Your works or to death?

Let it be death, for death is like autumn,
and You are the root from which all leaves spring.

For years death has been beating the drum,
but only when time has fled does your ear hear.

In agony the heedless man cries from the depths of his soul,
"Alas, I am dying!" Has death only just now awakened you?

Death is hoarse from shouting:
from so many astounding blows, his drum skin has split,

but you enmeshed yourself in trivialities;
and only now do you apprehend this mystery of death.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

the four ways of unreason


Ah, open another reality to me!
I want to be like Blake, visited by angels:
I want to have visions for breakfast.
I want to meet fairies in the street!
I want to imagine myself out of this raked-together world,
This jerry-rigged civilization.
I want to live like a banner in the breeze,
Some symbol of something fluttering above something else!

Then bury me wherever you want to.
My true heart will go on keeping watch —
Sphinx-emblazoned sail —
Atop the mast of visions
In Mystery’s four winds.
North — what everybody needs
South — what everybody desires
East — where everything comes from
West — where everything ends
— The four winds of civilization’s mystic air
— The four ways of unreason, and of learning the world.

–Fernando Pessoa


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

love letter


October, 1946


I adore you, sweetheart.

I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.

It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.

But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.

I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.

When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.

I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.

My darling wife, I do adore you.

I love my wife. My wife is dead.


PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address."

Richard Feynman, to his wife Arline,
488 days after her death

more at

Sunday, October 22, 2017


We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home
And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that foghorn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic

Come on girl
Too late to stop now


Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Piece of the Storm


From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed. That’s all
There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
“It’s time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening.

–Mark Strand


Friday, October 20, 2017

we are all just walking each other home –Ram Das


Strange and beautiful
Are the stars tonight
That dance around your head
In your eyes I see that perfect world
I hope that doesn't sound too weird

And I want all the world to know
That your love's all I need
All that I need
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together

I stand before this faceless crowd
And I wonder why I bother
So much controlled by so few
Stumbling from one disaster to another

I've heard it all so many times before
It's all a dream to me now
A dream to me now
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together

In the silence of this whispered night
I listen only to your breath
And that second of a shooting star
Somehow it all makes sense

And I want all the world to know
That your love's all I need
All that I need
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together 



Ahead By A Century

First thing we'd climb a tree and maybe then we'd talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

And that's where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

But that's when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

And disappointing you is getting me down