now is the time

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.

 

Photograph by Scott Morgan

 

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

With veracity

And love.

 

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

And God?

 

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

But grace.

 

Now is the season to know

That everything you do

Is sacred.

 

– Hafiz

 


Today, by Hafiz. From the The Gift: Poems of Hafiz as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky.

Image: Scott Morgan – www.thissimplegrace.com


 

keeping quiet : keeping still

Mark Rothko - s/T, 1969

 

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


a naked lie

I sit on my cushion holding a burning question:  What do I know that I can assert is real and true and beyond question? 

My brain is packed with knowledge: records of every incident and feeling from the past – including a constantly updated commentary; imaginings about what will come to pass, along with a mixed bag of emotional preferences and aversions.  I can’t claim any of this to be true – how can anything that constantly changes be true? 

There’s another brain category that fails my test for truthfulness: conclusions.  Conclusions are beliefs concretized, non-negotiable.  Conclusions about my everunderconstruction self.  Conclusions about my life and how it should really be.  Conclusions about the meaning and purpose of it all.  Conclusions about God and Creation and the sacred. 

I know lots of stories about all manner of things, and I acknowledge that they are only the current version of complex commentaries.  But I only know one thing for sure, and it’s not an ‘about’. 

It’s this:  Something exists here on this cushion.  Something is alive here.  Something is being breathed here.  Something senses Life here.  I refer to it as ‘I’, but I cannot claim possession of it.  It is just this.  Now.  Here. 

This is what I can call real and true.  It passes my test.  It has never changed one iota in this lengthening lifetime.  It can’t be fragmented, measured, observed, described or denied.  All that I call ‘existence’ appears within it, and cannot be separated from it.  There are no words about it that are true.  So I will tell a naked lie, and call it this unlit light.