seven poems for a pilgrim’s backpack

Georgia O'Keeffe, Winter Road 1, 1963

1

Traveller, your footprints are
the only path, the only track:
wayfarer, there is no way,
there is no map or Northern Star,
just a blank page and a starless dark;
and should you turn around to admire
the distance that you’ve made today
the road will billow into dust.
No way on and no way back,
there is no way, my comrade: trust
your own quick step, the end’s delay,
the vanished trail of your own wake,
wayfarer, sea-walker, Christ.

– Road, by Don Paterson, from The Eyes, A Version of Antonio Machado.

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2

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.

– When I Am Among the Trees, by Mary Oliver, from Devotions

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3

Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to realize
The stars are words

and all the innumerable worlds in the Milky Way are words,
and so is this world too.

And I realize that no matter where I am,
whether in a little room full of thought,

or in this endless universe of stars and mountains,
it’s all in my mind.

– Jack Kerouac, from Lonesome Traveller

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4

Yes
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon.  It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

– William Stafford, from The Way It Is

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5

We’re in a freefall into future.
We don’t know where we’re going.
Things are changing so fast
And always when you’re going through a long tunnel,
anxiety comes along.

All you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise
is to turn your fall into a voluntary act.

It’s a very interesting shift of perspective.
Joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world
and everything changes.

– Joseph Campbell, from Sukhavati, A Mythic Journey
[Not really a poem, but exquisitely poetic…]

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6

Praise the wet snow
falling early.
Praise the shadow
my neighor’s chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
Praise
the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney’s shadow.
Praise
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our hand,
our murderous hand,
and gives us
still,
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
Praise
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.

iiGloria, by Denise Levertov, from Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus

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7

Wayfarer,

Your whole mind and body have been tied
To the foot of the Divine Elephant
With a thousand golden chains.

Now, begin to rain intelligence and compassion
Upon all your tender, wounded cells

And realise the profound absurdity
Of thinking

That you can ever go Anywhere
Or do Anything

Without God’s will.

– Wayfarer, by Hafiz, from I Heard God Laughing, Renderings of Hafiz, by Daniel Ladinsky.

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Image:
Georgia O’Keeffe, Winter Road 1, 1963.  Oil on canvas, 55.9 x 45.7 cm National Gallery of Art, Washington DC


Notes:
It’s been many months since I last posted on this blog.  Life took me down unexpected trails, unfolded adventures in another country, locked me up in the most gracious way imaginable and then threw me into quarantine on the return.  Poems kept me company – poems of all shapes and sizes, from all cultures and times.  These seven are just a few favourites from my own backpack.  (I’d need a truck to carry all my favorites!)

During the lockdown in New Zealand, I posted poems on my Facebook page using the tags #likerightnow and #lockdownpoems.  As my engagement with that platform diminishes, I’m moved to share a few poems here, on this little blog that’s been languishing of late.  As a personal archive, if nothing else.

I’ve sometimes wondered whether it’s time to retire this blog.  (It has chugged along since May, 2009 – almost eleven years of learning and sharing.)  But there’s an enormous archive of material here.  Recently I revisited some posts written over a decade ago and was astonished to find so little I would change.  Back in those days the blog had barely any subscribers and few readers – there was no feedback in the form of ‘likes’ or comments.  I had much to learn about writing code and inserting images.  But while I’m now posting my own poetry and writing on the echoes from emptiness blog, I’m considering re-posting some of these old pieces of writing – in case they speak to someone’s thoughts or questions.

Whether that eventuates or not, I’d like to thank all the beautiful subscribers to, and readers of, this blog – your company over the years has been priceless.  

– miriam louisa


an abyss of light

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

 

Sandra Bowden: One Hundred Percent

 

There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we ourselves are incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.

It is the fundamental fact of being, as against not being; it is unthinkable, yet we cannot unthink it, though we may sometimes be unthinking about it; unthinking and especially unthanking.

For he who has realized this reality knows that it does outweigh, literally to infinity, all lesser regrets or arguments for negation, and that under all our grumblings there is a subconscious substance of gratitude.

– G. K. Chesterton


Gratitude to Love is A Place


Artwork by Sandra Bowden: One Hundred Percent, from the series, Reflections of Glory.
Gilded encaustic panels, 100 5”x 5” gilded squares.

“Artists do not merely put on canvas what can be seen. They try to uncover something beyond the range of the eyes. I believe that art is a means to illuminate both the interior life and the exterior world, both seen and unseen.  I hope Reflections of Glory will lead those who see the exhibition beyond the edge of their consciousness into a place of splendor, wonder and transcendence.”
https://www.sandrabowden.com/exhibitions/reflecting-the-glory


 

so what is it?

Islamic architecture - Iranian mosque ceiling

 

It’s so close you can’t see it.
It’s so profound you can’t fathom it.
It’s so simple you can’t believe it.
It’s so good you can’t accept it.

 

This mind-shifting riddle comes from the Tibetan Shangpa Kagyu tradition, and the commentary is by Pir Elias Amidon.  It’s lifted with gratitude from Michel Bellegarde‘s online oasis nomindsland  – thank you Michel.


What is it?

The wonderful thing about this riddle is that it’s compounded of paradox — pure positivity (so close, so profound, so simple, so good) and pure negativity (you can’t see it, you can’t fathom it, you can’t believe it, you can’t accept it).  It’s saying that no matter how we look for, or what we call, this “it,” it escapes the looking and the telling.

In most texts these lines are not referred to as a riddle, but are given the whimsical title: “the four faults of awareness.”  But if we think “awareness” is the answer to the riddle, we’ve missed the point.  To say “awareness” is to make a conceptual conclusion, and whatever this “it” is, it’s neither bounded like a conclusion nor objective like a concept.  Yes, the lines are referring to awareness, but do we really get what that is, beyond the idea that the word “awareness” represents?  The beauty of the riddle is that it forces us to the edge of language and then pushes us off.

Although these four lines certainly cannot be improved, I’d like to offer a few thoughts here in the hopes they may help, in some small way, with that push.

It’s so close you can’t see it

One way to enter the mystery of this line is to imagine space.  Space is close and invisible too. It’s extraordinary, isn’t it, that we can have a sense of space without being able to see or feel it?
Our bodies move through space and though space doesn’t separate to let us by, we feel no resistance — it goes right through us.  Whatever our riddle is referring to is that close.

The great nondual teacher Jean Klein says it’s our “nearest.”  So near it has no distance to travel to get any nearer.  Sufis prize “nearness to God” and mean the same thing.  “I am closer to thee than thy jugular vein,” it says in the Quran.  In this case the words “close” and “near” are not about location or distance — they refer to identity, being so close to it we are it.

And so it is with our awareness.  Can we find anything nearer to us than awareness?  It’s so close we can’t see it, just like the eye cannot see the eye.  Awareness is not seeable, though it is self-evident.  And though the analogy of awareness being “like space” may be helpful, unlike our sense of space, awareness cannot be measured.

It’s so profound you can’t fathom it

This line drops the bottom out.  It says we simply cannot understand what this is.  To say it’s “awareness” doesn’t take us very far, since no one has ever fathomed awareness.  Mystics have continually pointed out that awareness is the ground of all being, and now physicists are beginning to discover the same thing.  But to say this is not to fathom it — it simply provides another mysterious description.  This that we’re speaking of cannot be fathomed.  It is a mystery and will remain that way because it cannot be focused into an object that our minds can surround.  Mysterium profundum!  The Divine Unknown.

To the extent we can admit this, humility graces our being.  Our drive to understand, our insistence on possessing this profundity with our intellects… relaxes.  The mind surrenders, making way for something we might call devotion or gratitude or praise or love.

It’s so simple you can’t believe it

What it is is so simple that it can’t provide any kind of story or concept for us to believe in. Every word we use passes right through it.  Plotinus calls it “the One,” that which is uncompounded, that has no predicate, the absolutely simple first principle of all. Buddhists call it emptiness.  Sufis call it the void of pure potential.

Does its primal simplicity mean we cannot experience it?  We can, but not as an experience.  In order to open to this non-experience we must ourselves become simple.  We must become transparent to ourselves.

In the uncertain light of single, certain truth,
Equal in living changingness to the light
In which I meet you, in which we sit at rest,
For a moment in the central of our being,
the vivid transparence that you bring is peace.

— Wallace Stevens, Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

Becoming transparent is not so difficult as it sounds, since our true nature is already transparent. It is the transparence of pure presence — or as some call it, presence-awareness.  If we try to picture pure presence, we can’t.  If we try to fathom it, we can’t.  If we try to believe in it, we miss it — it’s simpler than anything we can approach through belief.

And yet it’s here, the simple pure presence of being, vividly immanent every moment in how everything appears, while at the same time transcending every appearance, every moment.

It’s so good you can’t accept it

This final line may be the most mysterious of all.  We might think that if something is really good we could easily accept it, but the goodness this line points to is beyond the capacity of our acceptance.  We cannot contain it — our “cup runneth over.”

We have come to believe that this reality we’re in is a tough place.  We’re threatened by illness, violence and death.  Everything that we have will one day be taken away.  How could the truth be something so good that it both holds and supersedes our pain and grief?  The stubbornness of that question is one reason why we can’t accept this that is “so good.”

As in the preceding lines, “accepting it” hits the same limits that seeing, believing, and fathoming run into.  As long as we think there is something we have to do — seeing, believing, fathoming, or accepting — we will miss what this is about.

This that is so good pervades all being.  It is the pure love-generosity that is so close, so profound, so simple we can’t surround it with our usual ways of knowing and feeling.  As Rumi advises, “Close these eyes to open the other. Let the center brighten your sight.”

– Pir Elias Amedon

sufiway.org


Also by Pir Elias Amedon on this blog:
how extraordinary!  how beautiful!


Image: Iranian mosque ceiling.  Avoiding the use of figurative images, the Islamic architectural tradition developed a style of geometric patterns of unbelievable richness, precision and detail.
Source:  doorofperception.com


 

poem of the one world

Mary Oliver.  A Kōtuku.  Belonging.  Beauty.  Rapture.

 

Kōtuku in flight photographed by Paul Knight.

 

This morning

the beautiful white heron

was floating along above the water

 

and then into the sky of this

the one world

we all belong to

 

where everything

sooner or later

is part of everything else

 

which thought made me feel

for a little while

quite beautiful myself.

 

Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings

 


 

Kōtuku – New Zealand White Heron, photographed by Paul Knight.

The eastern great egret (Ardea alba modesta) is highly endangered in New Zealand, with only one breeding site at Okarito Lagoon.  This species was almost exterminated to satisfy the demand for feathers for women’s hats.  By 1941 there were only four nests at its breeding site in Okarito when it was declared a reserve and patrolled.  The feathers of Kōtuku and Huia were highly prized by Maori, who used them to adorn the heads of chiefs.

 


the recognition of our own heart

Photography by Peter Bowers

 

Never lie. Never say that something moved you if you are still in the same place.  You can pick up a book but a book can throw you across the room.  A book can move you from a comfortable armchair to a rocky place where the sea is.  A book can separate you from your husband, your wife, your children, all that you are.  Books are kinetic, and like all huge forces, need to be handled with care.

But they do need to be handled.  The pleasure in a book is, or should be, sensuous as well as aesthetic, visceral as well as intellectual. *

 

I cannot lie.  Joan Ruvinsky’s new book, The Recognition of Our Own Heart – an interpretive translation of the Pratyabhijñahrdayam – moved me.  When it arrived I experienced the kinetic power Jeanette Winterson writes about.  It didn’t throw me across the room, but for some inexplicable reason it would not permit me to open its covers.  I walked around for some time clutching it to my heart.  Then I sat down with it in my lap for an hour or more.  It demanded deep stillness and undivided attention.  Eventually I could open it, handle it and bathe in its sensuous beauty, its visceral wisdom.

 

For the Tantric masters of the medieval period, who were not only great yogis but also great writers, poets, musicians, and artists, the vast emptiness of Being is inseparable from the flourish of freely, divinely inspired expression. Their means (upayas) included the body, the senses, and the mind not as obstacles to eliminate but as pathways to what Is. **

 

As someone who appreciates “the flourish of freely, divinely inspired expression” for its sheer poetic beauty, this book has been a sensuous delight for me.  I was (and still am) illiterate in regard to the tradition and texts of Kashmiri Shaivism, so I had the same sense of wonderment at what I’d been missing out on as when I discovered the writing of Peter Kingsley on the revelatory poems of our own pre-Socratic Western philosophers – Parmenides and Empedocles.  Rather than attempt to write a scholastic review of it – which I am entirely unqualified to do – I’ve decided to simply share what I appreciate about the poem and the way it speaks to my experience.

For a taste of what lies in store in the text, we only need to consider the implications of the exquisitely worded title: Recognition of Our Own Heart.

Recognition.  Not attainment, not enlightenment, not discovery or salvation.  Recognition of something we have always known, yet apparently lost sight of behind the veils of our accumulated knowledge.  Something we’ve been looking for – perhaps without being conscious of it, perhaps thinking it could be found in people, places, things, activities, if we just “got it right”; something that turns out to be inseparable from our aliveness, our beingness – and therefore inescapable.

Our. Own.  Not something belonging to any deity, Buddha, Christ, Godhead or some figment of someone’s imagination.  Not conceptual, abstract, philosophical.  Our own.  As entirely our own as is our blood, our breath, our DNA.

Heart.  As in, “the heart of the matter”.  Anatomically our heart performs a core function – when it stops pumping blood around our body with its contract-release action, we die.  However, the Heart of the matter is not the physical heart, it’s the creative capacity that makes a heartbeat possible.  It’s the primordial energy that beats the cosmos into being, and is identical to our own creative capacity.

~

Perhaps that’s all I need to say.  Yet I want to add this:

When you read a book for the first time there’s often a standout phrase that grabs you, and in some mysterious way becomes its touchstone.  In Joan’s book, this didn’t happen when I was reading the actual poem or the ponderings thereon, rich and luminous as they are.

It popped out in the heart-felt acknowledgement she made to her colleague and friend Kathleen Knipp, “…whose unending love and support provided this opportunity for the creativity of the universe to describe itself.”

 

for the creativity of the universe to describe itself

 

Since the evolution of language humans have been trying to describe what’s going on here.  We haven’t a clue, and our minds hate not knowing.  So we make up stories: creation stories flavoured with our unique cultural, geographic and temporal experience.  Sometimes we forget they are just our stories embroidered on the blank vastness of being, and we believe them to be “received Truth.”  That’s when they morph into organised religions.  One notices that when this occurs there’s usually an element of control and coercion involved.  There are lists of ways to behave, commandments to be followed, promises of salvation, bliss and eternal life … if one is obedient.

This creation story – the Pratyabhijñahrdayam – isn’t in that category.  What strikes me is that rather than being some abstract conceptual mapping of this “happening” called life, it’s more like a summary of the dynamics of our own human experience, writ large, and projected onto the unfathomable mystery called cosmos.  And this means you don’t need to have any knowledge of the history and philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism (although I found the introduction of interest), and you don’t need to know anything about the creative outpouring of texts and poetry that occurred during its Golden Age in order to appreciate what you’re reading.

Coming upon this poem, which distils centuries of dialogue into just 20 short verses, is like discovering a contemporary terma for yourself:  a capsule of memory-prompts hidden by ancients for discovery in later centuries.  You open the book and find the creativity of the universe describing itself to you, as if speaking to itself.  Which of course, it is.

While I confess a preference for cosmologies that are free from anthropomorphic projection, I understand why Joan chose to use the feminine voice in this case (rather than the traditional male voice of Shiva).  Why?  Because in our life experience it’s the females who birth new life; simple as that.  Yet there’s no gender-divide, because the dualistic concept of gender hasn’t been thought-up yet.  There are no hierarchies either, nor heavens, nor hells.  No wrath, no rules.  “She” doesn’t demand goddess stature, nor does she ask to be worshipped.  We just have a plain and uncomplicated explanation of how creativity works, and how the game of forgetting our core creativity – our Heart – and recognising it again, is set up.

Creation creates because that’s what creation does.  There are no almighty divine agendas, no maps for salvation or escape.  Magical thinking is not required.  An all-inclusive movement dances on throughout the time and space it creates; an inescapable self-luminous Light shines on through every being, regardless.  No one, no thing is excluded from this ultimate non-dual creation story, a story that aligns to perfection with the experience of one’s daily life: the wondrous experience of – just this.

Joan and her colleagues Kathleen Knipp, Tina Koskelo and Susheela Bouthillier are to be congratulated for their collective endeavour in translating the original poem.  Like icing on the cake, Joan’s wisdom shines lucidly in today’s language as she offers her “ponderings” on the verses.  The work poured into this beautiful publication has been immense – we’ll never know the half of it.  And Peter Bowers’s photography is a pitch-perfect partner for the poem – often enigmatic, always beautiful.

Yet for the original inspiration and motivation to bring this text into contemporary form we must honour Joan.  She was compelled to do so from her own experience, observation and understanding, and my sense is that she has accomplished, with her colleagues, what Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska referred to when she spoke of “that rare miracle when a translation stops being a translation and becomes … a second original.”

JAI

 

Photography by Peter Bowers

 

A simple walk on the beach becomes an experience of cosmic joy and at the same time, remains just a simple walk on the beach. 

I’m just little me, and yet also I am the beach and the shells and the ocean and the horizon. 

Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. I am walking through me. 

“I” has been assimilated by the totality and I have assimilated the totality and it’s just very amazing and yet totally ordinary. 

Consciousness is walking through consciousness. 

It’s so obvious.  How could I have missed it before?

– Verse 15 Pondering, p 113  [My formatting]

 


* Jeanette Winterson, The Psychometry of Books, in Art Objects

** From the front cover flap


Links:

To order a copy of Joan’s book, please visit the pathless yoga website.

If, like myself, you live at the other end of the planet and balk at high shipment fees, you can order a copy with free delivery from the Book Depository

See more of Peter Bowers‘s photography on FLICKR, here

Be sure to visit Tina Koskelo‘s stunning blog being silently drawn

For information about Kathleen Knipp‘s work, see her page at pathless yoga 


Footnote:  I can’t express my quiet joy at having one of my poems included in this book.   When Joan asked for my permission, the seed of this project was just starting to sprout and her death was some way off.   I had no idea what the book was really about, but knowing Joan, I was only too happy to say yes.  To think that my 2014 poem this shines on regardless found its home in such an exquisite and wise context is both astonishing and deeply gratifying.


the important thing is the tear falling down your cheek

there’s no time like the Present to have a good cry

 

 

When the courage (le cœur: heart, French) to sit still and see what might bubble up from the heart’s cauldron finds us – and finds us innocent of any agenda to analyse, to fix or flee, tears will most assuredly flow.

I was raised a stoic.  In our household one’s face had to be bright and cheerful, regardless of the inner weather.  Tears said “shame”.  Tears said “weak”.  Tears said you were no fun to be around.  Tears were taboo.

I was already ancient when, by some wild grace, courage found me and guided me into my body’s dark knowledge.  (I wrote about it in this post at my ‘echoes from emptiness’ blog – following fear into the star-stuff of my cells).  In my cocksure ignorance I assumed it would all be done and dusted within a modest time-frame.

Three years later the tears are still falling, the heart is still cracking, crumbling, awash in tenderness, trembling with bliss.  (Yes, bliss – I had no idea that bliss is simply the opening of the heart.)  Yet now the tears arise from a depth beyond the personal, from a well of sorrow that’s ownerless.  Personally I don’t feel the need for notions of karma and reincarnation, but my lived experience shows me that whatever is happening here is dynamically all-inclusive and interpenetrating across time and space.

No separation can be found.  The tears belong to all of us because there is only one of us.

Many wise philosophers, poets and teachers have alerted us to the crucial importance of taking the descent into the unknown depths of the psyche.  The unapologetic baring of all that arises – free of analysis and explanation – turns out to be the ultimate alchemy:  The healing, the return to the whole.

We are not here to flee sadness and unhappiness but to welcome them whole-heartedly as part of our living experience of an inescapable immensity that unfailingly shows up as this, here, now.


Whenever sadness visits, I cherish these lines by Hafiz.  What a treasure of a poem!  The perfect antidote to mind’s default denial of one’s immediate felt experience, the slick side-stepping into the God zone, where all is light and great happiness … and one is experiencing only half a life.

Hafiz knows that Wholeness can’t be whole without including everything.

Hafiz:

I think I just want to be sad today, the way many
are in this world.  True, God rides in my pocket,
as He does in yours.

Yes, I could lift Him out and look upon various
realms of light and know great happiness.  Maybe
I will do that tomorrow.

The ocean has moods.  Have you not seen how its
colour can change, and the waves’ force and heights
can differ?

Feast Here


Steven Harrison:

Like archaeologists of the soul, we begin to uncover the debris of our mind.
Our need to exist in full relationship to our world is what drives us.
Layer upon layer of ideas, conditioning, and fear is what we dig through.

The hubris of knowledge must be the first sacrifice.  For it, we get nothing.
Nothing is a great gift indeed.

The Shimmering World: Living Meditation


Reggie Ray:

Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism understands non-dual awareness as an essentially somatic state. Practitioners come to see for themselves the condition of yuganaddha or union: that the more fully we know, explore, and identify with our human incarnation, our somatic being, including our traumas, the more profound and unwavering our realization of non-duality.

Trauma is a well-known phenomenon in the Pure Awareness traditions of esoteric Tibetan Buddhism and is considered the ultimate obstacle to realization.  In tantric yoga, through a series of somatic practices, practitioners are enabled first to create a safe and stable ground in the non-dual state for addressing trauma; then to open pathways so that early, previously unconscious painful experiences can communicate themselves to consciousness; and finally, how to allow unresolved emotional dilemmas to make their own journey toward healing and resolution.

Dharma Ocean


Rumi:

Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.

Who gets up early to discover the moment the light begins?
What was whispered to the rose to break it open last night was whispered to my heart.
You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine.
Taste this. It won’t make you wild.

It’s fire.
Give up, if you don’t understand by this time that your living is firewood.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.

The lamps are different,
But the Light is the same.
To change, a person must face the dragon of his appetites with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul.

What is the body?
That shadow of a shadow of your love, that somehow contains the entire universe.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets that serve to cover, and then are taken off.

That undressing, and the beautiful naked body underneath, is the sweetness that comes after grief.
You haven’t dared yet lose faith – so, can faith grow in you?
Gamble everything for love, if you’re a true human being.
If these poems repeat themselves, then so does Spring.

Rumi: Selected Poems


Dr. Gabor Maté:

I’ve seen so many positive thinkers in palliative care who say: “In all my life I’ve never had a negative thought.  How come I have cancer?”  The answer is, they have cancer because they never had a negative thought.  Not having negative thoughts is not allowing reality to intrude on your perception of the world.  You never see how things are.  You have to always maintain a sunny, falsely rosy view of the world so that you can’t see what doesn’t work.  Lots of studies show that people who are sunny and positive die quicker of their disease.  If you’re a woman with breast cancer and you’re a positive thinker, you’re guaranteed to die much quicker.

Dr. Gabor Maté


Cheri Huber:

Many people quit meditation practice for this very reason: it opens the door for everything we ever tried not to face.  And from a Buddhist perspective we aren’t talking about just one childhood; we are talking about lifetime upon lifetime, eons of suffering.  All of it will find its way into our awareness if we sit still with it long enough, and allowing that to happen is the only way it will be healed.

Trying to be Human, Zen Talks with Cheri Huber


Carl Gustav Jung:

No noble, well grown tree ever disowned its dark roots, for it grows not only upwards but downwards as well.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.


Anzan Hoshin Roshi:

We actually can experience directly and intimately the activity of thinking and feeling of other bodyminds; the more that we open to how experience actually is, and move past the tendency to narrow attention into discursiveness, the more that this is the case.  The more completely that we sit up straight and let our delusions fall away, the more completely that we live our life as it is, the more that we recognize ourselves as all beings and all beings as ourselves.  In the realization of what Dogen calls “shinjin-datsaraku” or “dropping through the bodymind” we recognize that all beings and ourselves are only the luminosity of “nehan-myoshin” or the “radiant Knowing which is beyond reference point, the nirvana of the Buddhas.”
[My emphasis]

White Wind Zen Community


Eric Baret:

Life speaks only of you, of this emotion.

So, you might occasionally go to listen to someone,
but when you realize that what you hear to be true on his lips is your own truth,
you will no longer feel any need to do this.
You will see that life, in all its forms, speaks this same truth.
Every daily event is a reminder of this profound emotion.

In many ways following a tradition, a spiritual teacher, is an escape.
You must follow yourself when you feel a true emotion.
You might be reading a text by Meister Eckhart and an emotion arises in you.
Close the book; the text will fall away.
The important thing is the tear sliding down your cheek.
This is your treasure, your direction, your teaching.
It is what you must follow, must listen to.

De l’Abandon, translated from the French by Mary Mann.


Image:  Vincent van Gogh, Vieil Homme Triste
Dessin au crayon noir, lavé et aquarelle (réalisé à Etten), 24 Novembre 1882
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (Pays-Bas).


may you shine as golden space

May your Solstice be pure gold.  May it bring the healing that enables full immersion in non-conceptual wholeness.  May you shine as golden space.

 

We are the children of this beautiful planet that we have lately seen photographed from the moon.  We were not delivered into it by some god, but have come forth from it.  We are its eyes and mind, its seeing and its thinking.  And the earth, together with the sun, this light around which it flies like a moth, came forth, we are told, from a nebula; and that nebula, in turn, from space.  So that we are the mind, ultimately, of space … each in his own way at one with all, and with no horizons.

Joseph Campbell

 

Max Gimblett, Eagle

 

Later … I opened my eyes with wonder and the sky had utterly changed again and was no longer dark but bright, golden, gold-dust golden, as if curtain after curtain had been removed behind the stars I had seen before, and now I was looking into the vast interior of the universe, as if the universe were quietly turning itself inside out.  Stars behind stars and stars behind stars behind stars until there was nothing between them, nothing beyond them, but dusty dim gold of stars and no space and no light but stars.  The moon was gone.  The water lapped higher, nearer, touching the rock so lightly it was audible only as a kind of vibration.  The sea had fallen dark, in submission to the stars.  And the stars seemed to move as if one could see the rotation of the heavens as a kind of vast crepitation, only now there were no more events, no shooting stars, no falling stars, which human senses could grasp or even conceive of. All was movement, all was change, and somehow this was visible and yet unimaginable.  And I was no longer I but something pinned down as an atom, an atom of an atom, a necessary captive spectator, a tiny mirror into which it was all indifferently beamed, as it motionlessly seethed and boiled, gold behind gold behind gold.

– Iris Murdoch’s character Charles Arrowby in The Sea, The Sea 

 

– – –

 

Now that I see in Mind, I see myself to be the All.
I am in heaven and on earth, in water and in air.
I am in beasts and plants.
I am a babe in the womb and one that is not yet conceived
and one that has been born,
I am present everywhere.

– Upanishads

 


Painting by New Zealand / New York artist Max Gimblett Eagle, 2015
Leaves of gold, gesso, resin, gelatin, 23.75kt rosanoble gold leaf on wood panel, 850 x 840