Saturday, December 10, 2016

love letters






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Every day, priests minutely examine the Law

And endlessly chant complicated sutras.

Before doing that, though, they should learn

How to read the love letters sent by the wind

and rain, the snow and moon.


–Ikkyu
Sonya Arutzen translation


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your self

 



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Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.


–Rumi


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the snow man






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One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.



–Wallace Stevens



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a winter night





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The storm puts its lips to the house
and blows to make a sound.
I sleep restlessly, turn over, with closed
eyes read the book of the storm.

But the child's eyes grow huge in the dark
and the storm whimpers for the child.
Both love to see the swinging lamp.
Both are halfway toward speech.

Storms have childlike hands and wings.
The caravan bolts off toward Lapland
and the house senses the constellation of nails
holding its wall together.

The night is quiet above our floor
(where all the died-away footsteps
are lying like sunken leaves in a pond)
but outside the night is wild!

A more serious storm is moving over us all.
It puts its lips to our soul
and blows to make a sound. We're afraid
the storm will blow everything inside us away.



–Tomas Tranströmer
Robert Bly translation



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looking for God





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I long for You so much
I follow barefoot Your frozen tracks
That are high in the mountains
That I know are years old.
I long for You so much
I have even begun to travel
Where I have never been before.
Hafiz, there is no one in this world
Who is not looking for God.
Everyone is trudging along
With as much dignity, courage
And style
As they possibly 
Can.


–Hafiz
Daniel Ladinsky translation


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middle of the way






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1


I wake in the night,
An old ache in the shoulder blades.
I lie amazed under the trees
That creak a little in the dark,
The giant trees of the world.
 

I lie on earth the way
Flames lie in the woodpile,
Or as an imprint, in sperm or egg, of what is to be.
I love the earth, and always
In its darkness I am a stranger.


2


6 A.M. Water frozen again. Melted it and made tea. Ate a raw egg and the last orange. Refreshed by a long sleep. the trail practically indistinguishable under 8" of snow. 9:30 A.M. Snow up to my knees in places. Sweat begins freezing under my shirt when I stop to rest. The woods are filled, anyway, with the windy noise of the first streams. 10:30 A.M. the sun at last. The snow starts to melt off the boughs at once, falling with little ticking sounds. Mist clouds are lying in the valleys. 11:45 A.M. Slow, glittering breakers roll in on the beaches ten miles away, very blue and calm. 12 noon. An inexplicable sense of joy, as if some happy news had been transmitted to me directly, by-passing the brain. 2 P.M. From the top of Gauldy I looked back into Hebo valley. Castle Rock sticks into a cloud. A cool breeze comes up from the valley, it is a fresh, earthly wind and tastes of snow and trees. It is not like those transcendental breezes that make the heart ache. It bring happiness. 2:30 P.M. Lost the trail. A woodpecker watches me wade about through the snow trying to locate it. The sun has gone back of the trees. 3:10 P.M. Still hunting for the trail. Getting cold. From an elevation I have an open view to the SE, a world of timberless, white hills, rolling, weirdly wrinkled. Above them a pale half moon. 3:45 P.M. Going on by map and compass. A minute ago a deer fled touching down every fifteen feet or so. 7:30 P.M. Made camp near the heart of Alder Creek. Trampled a bed into the snow and filled it with boughs. Concocted a little fire in the darkness. Ate pork and beans. A slug or two of whiskey burnt my throat. The night very clear. Very cold. That half moon is up there and a lot of stars have come out among the treetops. The fire has fallen to coals.


3


The coals go out,
The last smoke weaves up
Losing itself in the stars.
This is my first night to lie
In the uncreating dark.
 

In the heart of a man
There sleeps a green worm
That has spun the heart about itself,
And that shall dream itself black wings
One day to break free into the beautiful black sky.

I leave my eyes open,
I lie here and forget our life,
All I see is we float out
Into the emptiness, among the great stars,’
On this little vessel without lights.
 

I know that I love the day,
The sun on the mountain, the Pacific
Shiny and accomplishing itself in breakers,
But I know I live half alive in the world,
Half my life belongs to the wild darkness.


–Galway Kinnell




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Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly






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Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:

To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,

Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free

From man's ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,

In an element that does not do for us,
so well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,

Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,

What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,

And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,

A sharing of color and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,

Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,

That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field

Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.

A new scholar replacing an older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.

The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,

The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit's mannerism,
A glass aswarm with things going as far as they can.


–Wallace Stevens




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praise them





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The birds don't alter space.
They reveal it. The sky
never fills with any
leftover flying. They leave
nothing to trace. It is our own
astonishment collects
in chill air. Be glad.
They equal their due
moment never begging,
and enter ours
without parting day. See
how three birds in a winter tree
make the tree barer.
Two fly away, and new rooms
open in December.
Give up what you guessed
about a whirring heart, the little
beaks and claws, their constant hunger.
We're the nervous ones.
If even one of our violent number
could be gentle
long enough that one of them
found it safe inside
our finally untroubled and untroubling gaze,
who wouldn't hear
what singing completes us?



–Li-Young Lee
Book of My Nights


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its self




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I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.


–D. H. Lawrence

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Friday, December 9, 2016

listen





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The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

—W. B. Yeats


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lesson





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I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

–Henry David Thoreau

Walden: Or, Life in the Woods


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Need, then, is the net for all things. –Rumi

 



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No experience has been too unimportant,
and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, 
and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which
every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand 
and is laid alongside another thread
and is held and supported by a hundred others.



–Rainer Maria Rilke


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Live with skillful nonchalance and ceaseless concern. –Prajnaparamita Sutra





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If you seek reality you must set yourself free of all backgrounds, of all cultures, of all patterns of thinking and feeling.
Even the idea of being a man or woman, or even human, should be discarded. The ocean of life contains all, not only humans.
So, first abandon all self-identification, stop thinking of yourself as such-and-such, so-and-so, this or that.
Abandon all self-concern, worry not about your welfare, material or spiritual, abandon every desire, gross or subtle, stop thinking of achievement of any kind.
You are complete here and now, you need absolutely nothing.


–Nisargadatta Maharaj



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shanti, shanti, shanti





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Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven.

Do not worry about hell or dream about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment.

Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven.

Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.


—Rumi


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you are that





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Your cure is in you, but you are unaware,
And your illness is from you, but you do not see.

And you consider yourself to be a small mass
While within you lies the greatest world.

And you are the clear book
Whose letters make manifest the hidden.


—Amīr al-Mu’mineen


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many mansions

 



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You are something that the whole universe is doing,
in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.



—Alan Watts

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Existence leans its mouth toward me, because my love cares for it. –Meister Eckhart





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To kiss a forehead is to erase worry.
I kiss your forehead.

To kiss the eyes is to lift sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.

To kiss the lips is to drink water.
I kiss your lips.

To kiss a forehead is to erase memory.
I kiss your forehead.


–Marina Tsvetaeva



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not to worry






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Fall in love.
There is no salvation for the soul
But to fall in Love.
It has to creep and crawl
Among the Lovers first.

Only Lovers can escape
From these two worlds.
This was written in creation.
Only from the Heart
Can you reach the sky.

The rose of Glory
Can only be raised in the Heart.


–Rumi


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Thursday, December 8, 2016

should 1





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We should face up to something that’s rarely if ever voiced in modern cosmology: the possibility that the true nature of the universe as a whole has nothing to do with the way its parts work, that it indeed lies outside the very characteristics of its components.

–Robert Lanza
Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness and the Illusion of Death


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should 2




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We should not for a moment consider even our best-established knowledge of existence as true.

It is awareness only of the colors that our own vision paints on the film of one bubble in one strand of foam on the ocean of being.


–Olaf Stapledon (1886 - 1950)








white strange world






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The moon is a white strange world, a great, white, soft-seeming globe in the night sky, and what she actually communicates to me across space I shall never fully know. But the moon that pulls the tides, and the moon that controls the menstrual periods of women, and the moon that touches the lunatics, she is not the mere dead lump of the astronomist.

When we describe the moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness.

We and the cosmos are one. The cosmos is a vast body, of which we are still parts. The sun is a great heart whose tremors run through our smallest veins. The moon is a great gleaming nerve-centre from which we quiver forever.

Who knows the power that Saturn has over us or Venus? But it is a vital power, rippling exquisitely through us all the time… Now all this is literally true, as men knew in the great past and as they will know again.


—D. H. Lawrence



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truly





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Truth cannot be out there—cannot exist independently of the human
mind—because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there

The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not.
Only descriptions of the world can be true or false. 

The world on its own—unaided by the describing activities of humans—
cannot. 


–Richard Rorty
Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity


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wherever you are







Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see.
You are one with everything.
That is more true than I can say, and more true than you can hear.


–Shunryu Suzuki


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breadcrumbs

 



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Scattered through the ordinary world there are books and artifacts and perhaps people who are like doorways into impossible realms, of impossible and contradictory truth.

–Jorge Luis Borges


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Oh soul






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Oh soul,
you worry too much. 
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.

Of anything less,
why do you worry?


You are in truth
the soul, of the soul,
of the soul.


–Rumi


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blood Meridian, excerpt





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The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.


—Cormac McCarthy


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rebirth, excerpt





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In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.

We know nothing of our own souls
that are ununderstandable and say nothing.


The deepest words
of the wise man teach us

the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows


or the sound of the water when it is flowing.


–Antonio Machado


.
image Riitta Ikonen
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palm


 



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Interior of the hand.
Sole that has come to walk
only on feelings. That faces upward
and in its mirror
receives heavenly roads, which travel
along themselves.

That has learned to walk upon water
when it scoops,
that walks upon wells,
transfiguring every path.

That steps into other hands,
changes those that are like it
into a landscape:
wanders and arrives within them,
fills them with arrival.


–Rainer Maria Rilke



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the highest teaching





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From joy all beings have come.
In joy all beings are sustained.
To joy all beings return. 

This is the highest teaching.
This is the highest teaching.


—The Upanishads


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failure to see





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Rather the flying bird, leaving no trace
Than the going beast
Marking the earth with his track.

The bird flies by and forgets
(As is only right). The beast
Where he no longer is
(And is therefore no use)
Marks that he was there before
(Which is also no use).

For to remember is to betray
Nature, since the nature of yesterday
Is not nature.
What has been, is nothing.
Remembering
Is failure to see.

Move on, bird, move on, teach me
To move on.



–Fernando Pessoa
Thomas Merton translation



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