Thursday, June 24, 2021

two kinds of vision


It happens sometimes that the Angel of Death, when he comes for a soul, sees that he has come too soon, that the man’s term of life is not yet expired; so he does not take the soul away, does not even show himself to it, but leaves the man one of the innumerable pairs of eyes with which his body is covered. And then the man sees strange and new things, more than other men see and more than he himself sees with his natural eyes; and he also sees, not as men see but as the inhabitants of other worlds see: that things do not exist “necessarily”, but “freely”, that they are and at the same time are not, that they appear when they disappear and disappear when they appear.

The testimony of the old, natural eyes, “everybody’s” eyes, directly contradicts the testimony of the eyes left by the angel. But since all our other organs of sense, and even our reason, agree with our ordinary sight, and since the whole of human “experience,” individual and collective, supports it, the new vision seems to be outside the law, ridiculous, fantastic, the product of a disordered imagination. It seems only a step short of madness; not poetic madness … but the madness for which men are pent in cells.

And then begins a struggle between two kinds of vision, a struggle of which the issue is as mysterious and uncertain as its origin.

—Lev Shestov


Wednesday, June 23, 2021



What is the deep listening? Sama is
a greeting from the secret ones inside
the heart, a letter. The branches of 
your intelligence grow new leaves in
the wind of this listening. The body
reaches a peace. Rooster sound comes,
reminding you of your love for dawn.
The reed flute and the singer's lips:
the knack of how spirit breathes into
us becomes as simple and ordinary as
eating and drinking. The dead rise with 
the pleasure of listening. If someone
can't hear a trumpet melody, sprinkle
dirt on his head and declare him dead.
Listen, and feel the beauty of your
separation, the unsayable absence.
There's a moon inside every human being.
Learn to be companions with it. Give
more of your life to this listening. As
brightness is to time, so you are to
the one who talks to the deep ear in
your chest. I should sell my tongue
and buy a thousand ears when that
one steps near and begins to speak.

from The Glance
Coleman Barks version


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

all things change, no(thing perishes



Everything must change
Nothing remains the same
Everyone must change
No one and nothing remains the same

The young becomes the old
Oh, mysteries unfold
Cause that's the way of time
Nothing and no one remains the same

There is so little in life you can be sure of 
Except the rain comes from the clouds
Sunlight from the sky
And, Hummingbirds do fly

The young becomes the old
And, mysteries do unfold
That's the way of time
Nothing, no one remains unchanged

There are so little things, so few things in life you can be sure of
Rain comes from the clouds
Sunlight from the sky
And Hummingbirds do fly
Everything must change

Everything must change

—Bernard Ighner 

. . . 


Souls never die, but always on quitting one abode pass to another. All things change, nothing perishes. The soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, now that … As a wax is stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped anew with others, yet it is always the same wax. So, the Soul being always the same, yet wears at different times different forms.



Monday, June 21, 2021

what is given


More than once, I have discovered some hint of the value of being in the testimony of people who are approaching death, many of whom apparently find something they could never have anticipated. Listen to these words lifted from the journal of an old man, dying of esophageal cancer, which appeared in Ira Byock’s article ‘The Meaning and Value of Death’: 
To live in the bright light of death is to live life in which colors and sounds and smells are all more intense, in which smiles and laughs are irresistibly infectious, in which touches and hugs are warm and tender almost beyond belief … I wish that all your stories could have a final chapter in which you are given the gift of some time to live with your fatal illness.

The gift of some time to live with your fatal illness, he writes.

To be means there is no longer any compulsion to get what I want and to hold on to it. To be means to be content with what is given. Being is the source of love because learning to love means learning to be content with the life you have been given. Being fully present to what is — without judging or evaluating or wanting something different — is the most basic act of love.

Love is not only a kind of offering of the self to another person, as when my students sit quietly with their hospice patients. Love is ultimately about unconditional surrender to what the writer Wendell Berry calls 'the miracle of life.’ To love in this sense is to surrender the compulsion to make things better, to let go of the need to explain, fix, or do anything. It is to experience this world, this life, as good enough. To find in this world, in this life, a place to rest. A home.

It’s in this peculiar sense that in becoming old we are often able to recapture the freshness of the world that we knew as children, to see the world we have learned to take for granted as if we were seeing it for the first time.

—C. W. Huntington, Jr.
The Miracle of the Ordinary

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Guiding Light


Well the road is wide,
And waters run on either side,
And my shadow went with fading light,
Stretching out towards the night.

'Cause the Sun is low,
And I yet have still so far to go,
My lonely heart is beating so,
Tired of the wonder.

But there's a sign ahead,
Though I think it's the same one again,
And I'm thinking 'bout my only friend,
And so I find my way home.

When I need to get home
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

Well the air is cold,
And yonder lies my sleeping soul,
By the branches broke like bones,
This weakened tree no longer holds.

But the night is still,
And I have not yet lost my will,
Oh and I will keep on moving 'till,
'till I find my way home.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.

When I need to get home,
You're my guiding light,
You're my guiding light.


Saturday, June 19, 2021

inside love


The Guest is inside you, and also inside me; 
you know the sprout is hidden inside the seed. 
We are all struggling; none of us has gone far. 
Let your arrogance go, and look around inside. 

The blue sky opens out further and farther, 
the daily sense of failure goes away, 
the damage I have done to myself fades, 
a million suns come forward with light, 
when I sit firmly in that world. 

I hear bells ringing that no one has shaken, 
inside ''love" there is more joy than we know of, 
rain pours down, although the sky is clear of clouds, 
there are whole rivers of light. 
The universe is shot through in all parts by a single sort of love. 
How hard it is to feel that joy in all our four bodies! 

Those who hope to be reasonable about it fail. 
The arrogance of reason has separated us from that love. 
With the word "reason" you already feel miles away. 
How lucky Kabir is, that surrounded by all this joy 
he sings inside his own little boat. 

His poems amount to one soul meeting another. 
These songs are about forgetting dying and loss. 
They rise above both coming in and going out.

Robert Bly version
Kabir: Ecstatic Poems


Friday, June 18, 2021

I and this mystery here we stand. —Walt Whitman




It seems to me that the life of man on earth is like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your captains and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall. Outside, the storms of winter rain and snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one window of the hall and out through another. 

While he is inside, the bird is safe from the winter storms, but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. So man appears on earth for a little while – but of what went before this life, or what follows, we know nothing.

—The Venerable Bede
History of the English People, 731 AD