taking it all to heart

Photograph by Alan Larus

what shall it profit me to know
that the leaf
has no color, shape or form
save those assigned by a bunch of brain cells?

to know that it has no existence
in time or space
aside from the space-time grid in my memory?

to know that it isn’t really anointed with
sparkling diamonds of dew
and it doesn’t really tremble
in the delicate dawn sunlight?

to know that all this appearance
is a figment of imagination?

in other words,
what’s the big deal to know
that form is emptiness?

if I stop there
where does it leave my heart?

I’ll tell you:
high and very very dry

but when I fall
into the suchness of the leaf
and wear its diamonds with delight
on my soft velvet greenness,
when I feel its quiver as my own
and float in its airy spaciousness

then I find, to my astonishment,
that the leaf’s gorgeous, sensuous livingness
and my own
cannot be wrenched apart

that’s when my heart leaps with juicy joy
and tears moisten my cheeks;
that’s when emptiness reveals itself
as none other than form,
and it’s so very clear
that love lies in the looking


It’s odd how outpourings are triggered. This morning this quote from the Bible fluttered across mindspace during a rapturous morning ‘meditation’. The last time I heard – or thought about – this quote was probably more than fifty years ago, when it was thrown, by a seriously strict teacher, at my friend and me for helping each other (cheating!) in a high school exam:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
– Mark 8:36 King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

It’s normally taken to refer to greed, ill-gotten gains and the loss of integrity, but after the poem wrote itself down I realized my take had shifted, or expanded. I think it could also apply thus:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain intellectual knowledge of the world, and lose his own heart’s intimate intelligence?

The Heart Sutra had to get a word in as well. Mark the Apostle meets Avolokitesvara. You never can tell what/who will turn up on retreat!


Photograph by Alan Larus, who tells me he just “clicks the button”. His modesty is as awesome as his artwork.


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9 thoughts on “taking it all to heart

  1. Louisa,
    Stunning. I took it in and then passed it to my husband, Boudewijn, to read. He loved it too. The Heart Sutra is one of my favorites. I’m unacquainted with the Bible–was raised by atheists.
    Love,
    Amrita

  2. this is such a comfort to read. the artist in me felt quite shameful in the company of many Course students for a long time – and then I noticed that the ones I resonated with, never threw the Course in my face when i shared my love of form

    • Leelah – it’s true, there’s a lot of confusion around the form/emptiness concepts. Especially when doctrine or dogma from any source is set up as an authority. There’s no such confusion when one looks deeply for oneself, and stands in the truth of what is seen to be so obvious.
      Love to you dear friend.

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