Saturday, July 31, 2021

let me not not-be


"Let me not not-be. Let me be. Let me not annihilate myself, and let not conditions arise to annihilate me. May I live always, and may I not not-live.”  

This is the feeling, the longing, the main desire of the Self. It is asserting its eternity. The eternity aspect of the Self always affirms itself in the desire never not to be, and the desire always to be.

This kind of love is always seen in the Self. When all things go, when the world itself goes, it would be good if we are alive – so the Self thinks. 

It is on the one hand Self-luminous, Self-conscious, Self-affirmative, and also Self-bliss. Eternal unending bliss – that is the Self.

—Ramana Maharshi 

. . .

Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. 

So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?

—John Updike


Friday, July 30, 2021




And how should a beautiful, ignorant stream of water know it heads for an early release - out across the desert, running toward the Gulf, below sea level, to murmur its lullaby, and see the Imperial Valley rise out of burning sand with cotton blossoms, wheat, watermelons, roses, how should it know?  

—Carl Sandburg
Good Morning America, 1928



Thursday, July 29, 2021

a sweet question


Skill in living, awareness of belonging to the world, delight in being part of the world, always tends to involve knowing our kinship as animals with animals… Relationship among all things appears to be complex and reciprocal - always at least two-way, back and forth. It seems that nothing is single in this universe, and nothing goes one way.
In this view, we humans appear as particularly lively, intense, aware nodes of relation in an infinite network of connections, simple or complicated, direct or hidden, strong or delicate, temporary or very long-lasting. A web of connections, infinite but locally fragile, with and among everything - all beings - including what we generally class as things, objects.

—Ursula K. Le Guin
Deep in Admiration (Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet)

. . .

These days I can see us clinging to each other as we are swept along by the current I am clinging to you to keep you from being swept away and you are clinging to me to keep me from being swept away from you we see the shores blurring past as we hold each other in the rushing current the daylight rushes unheard far above us how long will we be swept along in the daylight how long will we cling together in the night and where will it carry us together

—W.S. Merwin
Here Together
January 2016 

 . . .

The moon came to me last night
With a sweet question.

She said,
“The sun has been my faithful lover 
For millions of years.
Whenever I offer my body to him 
Brilliant light pours from his heart.
Thousands then notice my happiness 
And delight in pointing
toward my beauty.

Is it true that our destiny
Is to turn into Light

And I replied, 
"Dear moon, 
Now that your love is maturing,
We need to sit together
Close like this more often

So I might instruct you 
How to become
Who you



Monday, July 26, 2021

the way leads on



Friend, I have lost the way
The way leads on.

Is there another way?
The way is one.

I must retrace the track.
It's lost and gone.

Back, I must travel back!
None goes there, none.

Then I'll make here my place,
(The road leads on),

Stand still and set my face,
(The road leaps on),

Stay here, for ever stay.
None stays here, none.

I cannot find the way.
The way leads on.

Oh places I have passed!
That journey's done.

And what will come at last?
The road leads on.

—Edwin Muir
Collected Poems


Sunday, July 25, 2021

the transformation of material things



Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again.
Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.
Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

—Chuang Chou
Lin Yutang translation


Saturday, July 24, 2021




Under the world’s conifers—under the creek side cedar behind where I sit—a mantle of fungus wraps the soil in a weft, shooting out blind thread after frail thread of palest dissolved white. From root tip to root tip, root hair to root hair, these filaments loop and wind; the thought of them always reminds me of Rimbaud’s “I have stretched cords from steeple to steeple, garlands from window to window, chains of gold from star to star, and I dance.” 
King David leaped and danced naked before the ark of the Lord in a barren desert. Here the very looped soil is an intricate throng of praise. Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can. 
—Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, excerpt


Friday, July 23, 2021

the Withness of the Body


What departs at death is 19 grams (= 7/8 ounce) of you shedding a soft blue light. 
What remains behind is various.
—Anne Carson
Short Talk on the Withness of the Body, excerpt


Thursday, July 22, 2021

who is seen or not seen, sees or does not see?



Invisible before birth are all beings and after death invisible again.

They are seen between two unseens. 

Why in this truth find sorrow?

The Bhagavad Gita 2:28 
Juan Mascaró translation


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

this much is true


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

relatively speaking



Relatively speaking, everything in our world and experience appears and exists. Absolutely speaking, those same entities are not what they seem to be.

The solidity of these objects begins to fall apart when we examine them more closely, whether we use the logical reasoning of analytical meditation or the empirical methods of science as the basis of our investigation. That is, our perception of them is transformed through a stage-by-stage process that breaks down the object into different, smaller and smaller parts, and then into nothing at all.

—Dzogchen Ponlop
Mind Beyond Death


Monday, July 19, 2021

i and death



My body saw death
Without fear.
My heart conquered death
With love.
My soul embraced death
With compassion.
I employ death
With no hesitation.

—Sri Chinmoy


Sunday, July 18, 2021

We were together. I forget the rest.



We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets,We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

—Walt Whitman


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Ageless Spirit: Lisl Steiner


Life is a great sunrise.

I do not see why death should not be 
an even greater one.

—Vladimir Nabokov


Friday, July 16, 2021

what I leave behind



Loveliest of what I leave behind is the sunlight,
And loveliest after that, the shining stars and the moon’s face,
but also cucumbers that are ripe, and pears, and apples

Praxilla of Sicyon
5th century B.C.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Inscription for a Gravestone



I am not dead, I have only become inhuman: 
That is to say, 
Undressed myself of laughable prides and infirmities, 
But not as a man 
Undresses to creep into bed, but like an athlete 
Stripping for the race. 
The delicate ravel of nerves that made me a measurer 
Of certain fictions 
Called good and evil; that made me contract with pain 
And expand with pleasure; 
Fussily adjusted like a little electroscope: 
That’s gone, it is true; 
(I never miss it; if the universe does, 
How easily replaced!) 

But all the rest is heightened, widened, set free. 
I admired the beauty 
While I was human, now I am part of the beauty. 
I wander in the air,

Being mostly gas and water, and flow in the ocean; 
Touch you and Asia 
At the same moment; have a hand in the sunrises 
And the glow of this grass. 
I left the light precipitate of ashes to earth 
For a love-token.

—Robinson Jeffers


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

... streams cascading empty toward human realms. —Wang Wei


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, July 13, 2021

Getting There




You take a final step and, look, suddenly
You’re there. You’ve arrived
At the one place all your drudgery was aimed for:
This common ground
Where you stretch out, pressing your cheek to sandstone. 
What did you want
To be? You’ll remember soon. You feel like tinder
Under a burning glass,
A luminous point of change. The sky is pulsing
Against the cracked horizon,
Holding it firm till the arrival of stars
In time with your heartbeats.
Like wind etching rock, you’ve made a lasting impression
On the self you were
By having come all this way through all this welter
Under your own power,
Though your traces on a map would make an unpromising
Meandering lifeline. What have you learned so far? You’ll find out later,
Telling it haltingly
Like a dream, that lost traveler’s dream
Under the last hill
Where through the night you’ll take your time out of mind
To unburden yourself
Of elements along elementary paths
By the break of morning. 
You’ve earned this worn-down, hard, incredible sight
Called Here and Now.
Now, what you make of it means everything,
Means starting over:
The life in your hands is neither here nor there
But getting there,
So you’re standing again and breathing, beginning another
Journey without regret
Forever, being your own unpeaceable kingdom,
The end of endings.

—David Wagoner 


Monday, July 12, 2021

go gently


I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. 

Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light's awful clarity, in seeing themselves in it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled.

In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.

—Wendell Berry


Who has not found the heaven below 
Will fail of it above. 
God’s residence is next to mine, 
His furniture is love.

—Emily Dickinson

Sunday, July 11, 2021




The human body essentially recreates itself every six months.

Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place.

You are not who you were last November.

—Donald Miller
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:
What I Learned While Editing My Life

. . .

Nowhere is it the same place as yesterday.
None of us is the same person as yesterday.
We finally die from the exhaustion of becoming.
This downward cellular jubilance is shared
by the wind, bugs, birds, bears and rivers,
and perhaps the black holes in galactic space
where our souls will all be gathered in an invisible
thimble of antimatter. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, trees wear out as the wattles under my chin
grow, the wrinkled hands that tried to strangle 
a wife beater in New York City in 1957.
We whirl with the earth, catching our breath
as someone else, our soft brains ill-trained
except to watch ourselves disappear into the distance.
Still, we love to make music of this puzzle.

—Jim Harrison
Saving Daylight


Friday, July 9, 2021

dive for dreams


dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.



silently if, out of not knowable
night's utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile
sings or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss
losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow's own joys and hoping's very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
yours is the darkness of my soul's return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

—E. E. Cummings
silently if, out of not knowable 


Thursday, July 8, 2021




In the moment of transition between life and death only one thing changes: 
you lose the momentum of the biochemical cycles that keep the machinery
running. In the moment before death you are still composed of the same
thousand trillion, trillion atoms as in the moment after death. 

As you degrade, your atoms become incorporated into new constellations: 
the leaf of a staghorn fern, a speckled snail-shell, a kernel of maize, 
a beetle's mandible, a waxen bloodroot, a ptarmigan's tail feather. 

But it turns out your thousand trillion, trillion atoms were not an 
accidental collection, each was labeled as composing you, 
and continues to be so wherever it goes. 

So you're not gone, you're simply taking on different forms.

Instead of your gestures being the raising of an eyebrow or a blown kiss, 
now a gesture might consist of a rising gnat, a waving wheat stalk and the
inhaling lung of a breaching beluga whale. 

Your manner of expressing joy might become a seaweed sheet playing 
on a lapping wave, a pendulous funnel dancing from a cumulo-nimbus,
a flapping grunion birthing, a glossy river-pebble gliding around an eddy. 

From your present clumped point of view this afterlife may sound 
unnervingly distributed, but in fact it is wonderful. 

You can't imagine the pleasure of stretching your redefined body across 
vast territories, ruffling your grasses and bending your pine branch and 
flexing an egret's wing while pushing a crab towards the surface 
through coruscating shafts of light.

Love-making reaches heights it could never dream of in the compactness 
of human corporality. 

Now you can communicate in many places along your bodies at once, 
you weave your versatile hands over your lover's multiflorous figure. 
Your rivers run together. 

You move in concert as interdigitating creatures of the meadow, 
entangled vegetation bursting from the fields, caressing weather fronts 
that climax into thunderstorms.

—David Eagleman

Kai Fagerström

Wednesday, July 7, 2021



What death means is not this—
the spirit, triumphant in the body’s fall,
praising its absence, feeding on music.
If life can’t justify and explain itself,
death can’t justify and explain it.  


—Wendell Berry


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

each day is a journey


Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey and the journey itself is home. 



Written kisses don’t reach their destination,
rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts. 

—Franz Kafka
Letters to Milena

Monday, July 5, 2021

don't move

Don't move.

Just die over and over.

Don't anticipate.

Nothing can save you now,
because this is your last moment.

Not even enlightenment will help you now,
because you have no other moments.

With no future, be true to yourself
—and don't move.

—Shunryu Suzuki Roshi


Sunday, July 4, 2021

this existing, that arises ... there is no real production, only interdependence



In the Mahayanist interpretation of the Chain of Interdependent Originations* ... birth, decrepitude, death, are no longer represented as the stages of life in the human individual who is born, develops, grows old and dies ... in the sun or in the grain of dust, each atom which constitutes it individually lives the perpetual drama of birth, old age and death.

. . . 

The cycle ... takes place in everything, everywhere, in the infinitely small as in the infinitely great. 
Its development does not take place in time
: the twelve causes listed are always present, co-existent and interdependent, their activity is interconnected and they only exist one with the other.

In fact, the "Interdependent Origins" are in no way a description of incidents occurring to a being which would exist apart from them. Each being is the "chain of interdependent origins" as this latter is the universe and outside its activity neither being nor universe exists.

*The Chain of Interdependent Origins
(The 12 Causes)

Samskara (mental formation or compounds)
Name and form (Body and Mind)
Sphere of the Senses (senses and their objects; the mind being counted as the sixth sense)
Existence (becoming)
Old age–Death

—Alexandra David-Néel
The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects


Saturday, July 3, 2021

standing deer



As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is
too loved or too heavy to part with,
the heart may grow cluttered.
And still the house will be emptied,
and still the heart.

As the thoughts of a person
in age sometimes grow sparer,
like a great cleanness come into a room,
the soul may grow sparer;
one sparrow song carves it completely.
And still the room is full,
and still the heart.

Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

Beloved, what can be, what was,
will be taken from us.
I have disappointed.
I am sorry. I knew no better.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished. 

—Jane Hirshfield
The Lives of the Heart

Friday, July 2, 2021

sing on


HERE where the course is, 
Delight makes all of the one mind,
The riders upon the galloping horses,
The crowd that closes in behind:
We, too, had good attendance once,
Hearers and hearteners of the work;
Aye, horsemen for companions,
Before the merchant and the clerk
Breathed on the world with timid breath.

Sing on: somewhere at some new moon,
We'll learn that sleeping is not death,
Hearing the whole earth change its tune,
Its flesh being wild, and it again
Crying aloud as the racecourse is,
And we find hearteners among men
That ride upon horses.

—W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
At Galway Races