Wednesday, December 24, 2014

a Christmas Eve blessing








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I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!
Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. 
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.
And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.


–Fra Giovanni
a Christmas Eve blessing


Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as anarchitect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar.

Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513.





 
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Lute Music







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Let us celebrate.
The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.

Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—
Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—

Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.


–Kenneth Rexroth







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shanti, shanti, shanti






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May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.


—The Upanishads (c.900-600 B.C)





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for the children








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The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.
 
In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it. 

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children: 

stay together
learn the flowers
go light
 



–Gary Snyder  






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tickets







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The day I am killed
my killer will find
tickets in my pockets:
One to peace,
one to fields and the rain,
and one
to humanity's conscience.
I beg you--please don't waste them.
I beg you, you who kill me: Go.


Samih al-Qasim






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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

discard all paths








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I do not believe in spiritual paths. The purpose of spiritual paths is to enmesh you in the world of knowledge, while Reality resides prior to it. All spiritual paths lead to unreality.

Discard all paths.


–Nisargadatta Maharaj







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Wintertale, Yugi Obata
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proverbs and songs #29

   





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Walker, your footsteps
are the road, and nothing more.

Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
Walking you make the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path you never
again will step upon.

Walker, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea.



–Antonio Machado








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No Man is an Island, excerpt

 





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When I am not present to myself, then I am only aware of that half of me, that mode of my being which turns outward to created things. 
And then it is possible for me to lose myself among them. Then I no longer feel the deep secret pull of the gravitation of love which draws my inward self toward God. 

My will and my intelligence lose their command of the other faculties. My senses, my imagination, my emotions, scatter to pursue their various quarries all over the face of the earth. 

Recollection brings them home. It brings the outward self into line with the inward spirit, and makes my whole being answer the deep pull of love that reaches down into the mystery of God.


–Thomas Merton 

















by whatever path you go








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By whatever path you go, you will have to lose yourself in the One. 

Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage ‘Thou art all’ and ‘Thy will be done’.


–Ramana Maharshi






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Pathos







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You must always keep in mind that a path is only a path.
Each path is only one of a million paths.
If you feel that you must now follow it,
you need not stay with it under any circumstances.
Any path is only a path. 
There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping a path
if that is what your heart tells you to do. 
But your decision to keep on a path or to leave it 
must be free of fear and ambition. 
I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately. 
Try it as many times as you think necessary.
Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question.
Does this path have a heart? 

All paths are the same. They lead nowhere.
They are paths going through the brush or into the brush
or under the brush of the Universe. 
The only question is: Does this path have a heart?
If it does, then it is a good path.
If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.



–Carlos Castaneda






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Monday, December 22, 2014

Shapechangers in Winter








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This is the Solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future,
the place of caught breath


–Margaret Atwood 

Eating Fire













mirror(s) in a mirror










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path








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The path to heaven lies through heaven,
and all the way to heaven is heaven.



–Catherine of Siena






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No Title Required








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It has come to this: I'm sitting under a tree
beside a river
on a sunny morning.
It's an insignificant event
and won't go down in history.
It's not battles and pacts,
where motives are scrutinized,
or noteworthy tyrannicides.

And yet I'm sitting by this river, that's a fact.
And since I'm here
I must have come from somewhere,
and before that
I must have turned up in many other places,
exactly like the conquerors of nations
before setting sail.

Even a passing moment has its fertile past,
its Friday before Saturday,
its May before June.
Its horizons are no less real
than those that a marshal's field glasses might scan.

This tree is a poplar that's been rooted here for years.
The river is the Raba; it didn't spring up yesterday.
The path leading through the bushes
wasn't beaten last week.
The wind had to blow the clouds here
before it could blow them away.

And though nothing much is going on nearby,
the world is no poorer in details for that.
It's just as grounded, just as definite
as when migrating races held it captive.

Conspiracies aren't the only things shrouded in silence.
Retinues of reasons don't trail coronations alone.
Anniversaries of revolutions may roll around,
but so do oval pebbles encircling the bay.

The tapestry of circumstance is intricate and dense.
Ants stitching in the grass.
The grass sewn into the ground.
The pattern of a wave being needled by a twig.

So it happens that I am and look.
Above me a white butterfly is fluttering through the air
on wings that are its alone,
and a shadow skims through my hands
that is none other than itself, no one else's but its own.

When I see such things, I'm no longer sure
that what's important
is more important than what's not.

–Wislawa Szymborska
S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh trans.





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no path

 






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The bird has no path; where the bird flies is the path.

The fish has no path in water; wherever it swims is the path.


–The Upanishads 















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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journey









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Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.


—Thomas Merton















Sunday, December 21, 2014

the skinny birds of non-existence

















A Journal of the Year of the Ox, excerpt






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The swallows and bats at their night work.
And I at mine. …
No voices of children, no alphabet in the wind:
Only this silence, the strict gospel of silence,
                                                                            to greet me,
Opened before me like a rare book.
I turn the first page
                               and then the next, but understand nothing.
The deepening twilight a vast vocabulary
I’ve never heard of.
I keep on turning, however:
                                                somewhere in here, I know, is my word.



–Charles Wright












Saturday, December 20, 2014

love is all









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this is how we are










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Love with no object.
There is a way of loving not attached to what is loved.
 
Observe how water is with the ground, always moving toward the ocean, though the ground tries to hold water’s foot and not let it go.
This is how we are with wine and beautiful food, wealth and power, or just a dry piece of bread: we want and we get drunk with wanting, then the headache and bitterness afterward.
Those prove that the attachment took hold and held you back. Now you proudly refuse help. “My love is pure. I have an intuitive union with God. I don’t need anyone to show me how to be free!”
This is not the case.
A love with no object is a true love. All else, shadow without substance.
Have you seen someone fall in love with his own shadow? That’s what we’ve done. Leave partial loves and find one that’s whole.
Where is someone who can do that? They’re so rare, those hearts that carry the blessing and lavish it over everything.
Hold out your beggar’s robe and accept their generosity. Anything not coming from that will damage the cloth, like a sharp stone tearing your sincerity.
Keep that intact, and use clarity; call it reason or discernment, you have within you a deciding force that knows what to receive, what to turn from.

 –Rumi 
Mathnawi III: 2248-80
Coleman Barks version






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lost, excerpt






 
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both.

i want to stay.
i want to leave.


i am three oceans away from my soul.



–nayyirah waheed





hush








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Start seeing God in everything,
but keep it a secret.



—Hafiz












needful things







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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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Friday, December 19, 2014

rare bird








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lake and maple









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I want to give myself
utterly
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,
no matter what comes
to its green-blue depths,
both takes and returns it.
In the still heart that refuses nothing,
the world is twice-born—
two earths wheeling,
two heavens,
two egrets reaching
down into subtraction;
even the fish
for an instant doubled,
before it is gone.
I want the fish.

I want the losing it all
when it rains and I want
the returning transparence.
I want the place
by the edge-flowers where
the shallow sand is deceptive,
where whatever
steps in must plunge,
and I want that plunging.

I want the ones
who come in secret to drink
only in early darkness,
and I want the ones
who are swallowed.

I want the way
the water sees without eyes,
hears without ears,
shivers without will or fear
at the gentlest touch.

I want the way it
accepts the cold moonlight
and lets it pass,
the way it lets
all of it pass
without judgment or comment.

There is a lake,
Lalla Ded sang, no larger
than one seed of mustard,
that all things return to.
O heart, if you
will not, cannot, give me the lake,

then give me the song.



–Jane Hirshfield










My Clothes Lie Folded for the Journey







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Dreamed some rain so I could sleep.
Dreamed the wind left-handed
so I could part its mane and enter
the dance that carries the living, the dead, and the unborn
in one momentum through the trillion gate.

Dreamed a man and woman
in different attitudes of meeting and parting
so I could tell the time,
the periods of the sun,
and which face my heart showed,
and which is displayed to a hidden fold.

Dreamed the world an open book of traces
anyone could read who knew the language of traces.
Dreamed the world is a book. And any page
you pause at finds you
where you breathe now,
and you can read the open
secret of who you are. As you read,

and other pages go on turning, falling
through the page before you, the sound of them the waves
of the waters you walk beside
in your other dreams of the world
as story, world as song, world
you dreamed you were not dreaming.

Dreamed my father reading out loud to me,
my mother sewing beside me, singing
a counting song,
so I wouldn't be afraid to turn
from known lights toward the ancestor of light.


–Li-Young Lee








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all things







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All things
are too small
to hold me,
I am so vast
In the Infinite
I reach
for the Uncreated
I have
touched it,
it undoes me
wider than wide

Everything else
is too narrow
You know this well,
you who are also there


Tighten
to nothing
the circle
that is
the world's things

Then the Naked
circle
can grow wide,
enlarging,
embracing all



–Hadewijch, l or ll (13th Century)
Jane Hirshfield version
Women in Praise of the Sacred:
43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women







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Monday, December 15, 2014

all fall down







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listen







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Listen. 

Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.


–Rumi







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