I never knew

Take off the backpack
Lie down in the long grass.
Pull up the blue sky-blanket.

So many years of Dharma practice,
Straight-spine diligence, straining toward
This hillside.
Just this.

Lie down in the long grass.
Let the earth take you.
Deer tracks and horse dung
and the eye within the eye,
revolving and luminous.

I never knew this.
Did no one ever tell me?

I remember my Zen master in the interview room,
‘Trust yourself,’ he said. ‘Just be yourself.’

I think his meaning was this:

Take off the backpack,
Lie down in the long grass.
Let the sky take you.
Breathe space
into space
into space.

I never knew there was this much light!

~ Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin
October 31, 1998

You may already be familiar with this beautiful poem by Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin. I know it has been posted on many a blog and group over the last couple of decades, but to my mind, it’s one of those classics that never age or fail to inspire. It deserves frequent airings! For this post I sourced it from the Nonduality Highlights archive.

12 thoughts on “I never knew

  1. Beautiful. I had not read it before, so am glad you introduce me to it. I will be happy to be reminded of it if you ever think to blog it again.

    When I listen to my breath, I am tempted to think it Wrong. The thoughts are Wrong, my attention is Wrong, I need to Improve my meditation skills, and-

    Sitting in my living room, listening to my breath, can be like lying in the meadow.

    • Clare – your comment beautifully describes the way thoughts can sabotage even the simple act of stopping and breathing. We are all familiar with this. Yet breathing as spaciousness into spaciousness (thought-free) never fails to deliver one to the heavenly “meadow”.
      I’ll meet you there…
      Love, always

    • Yes, we know, all of us, we know. That’s why it’s so wonderful when the poet can re-tune the knowingness if it has slipped a little off-key…

      Thank you for your comment Monica.
      Love to wonderful you.

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