The wholeness of undivided, intimate attention – an awareing that has no boundaries, no sense of separation, where observer and observed are both obliterated in a single movement of observing – is the subject of one of Denise Levertov‘s last poems, First Love. The whole poem is sublime, but the final few lines speak so powerfully to me that I’m singling them out for this post.
It seems to me that one taste of that timelessness changes everything. This is not some cunning escape into yet another thought-bubble; not some desperate effort to transcend one’s mediocre little life. This is an experienced glimpse of another order of relationship. Haven’t we all had this glimpse? For me, it took hold of the steering wheel and has driven the trajectory of my life.
Through the entirety of your lifetime, what is it that you’ve deeply desired?
What has been – is – the Great Motivator of your days?
`Convolvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.
It looked at me, I looked
filled me as if
I, not the flower,
were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlesness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness
of that attention,
– Denise Levertov, from First Love
in This Great Unknowing, Last Poems
Painting by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Morning Glories (Convolvulus)
Sometimes a poem demands a visual counterpart; sometimes an image demands a poem; occasionally the symbiosis is stunning.
This much-loved poem from Hafiz paired with Scott Morgan‘s sublime photograph delivers me to a View that is boundless.
I dance there, breathe there, and I am grateful for this Grace.
Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.
Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child’s training wheels
To be laid aside
When you finally live
Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.
My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?
Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time for you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Image: Scott Morgan – www.thissimplegrace.com
When the inevitability of one’s life-package and its path becomes evident and one realises that nothing could possibly be other-than-it-is, the sweetest awe and appreciation flood into the space left empty by the imaginary controller. It’s often misunderstood, this disappearance of the doer, and explained away with all manner of hypothetical imaginings. Actually, it isn’t understandable or able to be conceptualised by means of any erudite definition or name. Best then, to leave the labels alone and keep silent unless confessing one’s own experience.
Wislawa Szymborska’s poem didn’t fall from my own pen, but it expresses to perfection the astonishment and gratefulness I experience as I reflect upon the wondrous “coincidence” of the life-pack I call mine. This is probably my favourite poem of 2017.
I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
I didn’t get a choice either,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
A shady type whose darkness
What if I’d prompted only fear,
If I’d been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
I might have been myself minus amazement,
someone completely different.
– Wislawa Szymborska
Photograph of clouds on Jupiter, courtesy of NASA.
If I should seek to know the thought-free state
all I need do is gaze into your eyes
every being who ever was, is, or will be
gazes back; I am gazing back, even though
I am not a being, not a thought, not conceivable
or perceivable, not even a secret godly whisper
shimmering in the stillness, nor anything
I thought I was, you were, we are.
I cannot see myself except through you,
you who live to share this same silent vision,
this eternal gaze expanding, always becoming
more than sight, more than any kind of knowing —
a fluid wordless epiphany emerging from nowhere,
the same place we inhabit now in our loving, this
exquisite loving without location or circumference,
and even though we never move, yet forever we are
circling in lazy liquid orbits around each other,
never once allowing our gaze to falter,
never even blinking
– Bob O’Hearn
These links open in new tabs:
Source: Bob’s blog feeling into infinity
Image: Particle tracks on film from the Fermilab Bubble Chamber, sourced from the wondrous sagan*sense blog
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
– Pablo Neruda
From Extravagaria, translated by Alastair Reid (pp. 27-29, 1974)
A steadying, thoughtful poem for today and everyday. I’m pairing it with Pico Iyer’s wonderful TED talk, The Art of Stillness. I feel that stillness, silence and solitude – attributes of whatever we take to be sanctity – are seriously endangered experiences. Will they become extinct in our lifetime?
I’m a committed activist in this area of concern. My experience has shown me that these ‘non-activities’ are the bedrock necessary for the unfolding of what matters to me – authenticity, right relationship, unfolding wisdom, and creative expression.
Painting by Mark Rothko – s/T, 1969
Dorothy Hunt’s splendid poem (which, imho, is as perfect and pithy a teaching as you will find), and the magnificent enso have been reblogged from the Science and Nonduality website.
Continuous awakening belongs to only
THIS! that is already continuously awake.
It will never belong to anything
that conceives of itself as separate.
No thought can touch it
No concept can describe it
No practices can produce it
No belief can create it
And memory cannot sustain it.
Whatever you can gain, you can lose.
You are not an experience that comes and goes.
The mind that lives in time can neither
experience the timeless, nor hold on to Spirit.
THIS is not an identity to attain.
Its revelation comes in the shedding of identities.
Whatever you may realize, avoid hiding in
a new identity, no matter what words your mind may use.
THIS cannot be limited; all concepts are only pointers.
Stop fixing a self that you are not.
Stop pretending to be what you are not.
Stop, simply STOP.
Notice what silently remains.
THIS is here before seeking
THIS is here before awakening
THIS is here after awakening
THIS is here without words
THIS is here with words.
Only THIS that is awake, aware,
pure, naked, unstained, indivisible,
and perfectly Whole
– Dorothy Hunt