Jun 13 2018

Lynn Ungar – Boundaries

Published by under Poetry

Boundaries
by Lynn Ungar

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless nor ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

— from Bread and Other Miracles, by Lynn Ungar


/ Image by Matt Brown /

You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

We want to cement ourselves and our place within the wider reality. We want to grasp, hold, own, and so stop change and uncertainty. But reality slips through our fingers. Everything is fluid, as are we ourselves.

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless nor ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.

This is such a startling image. A koi or a minnow suggests a serene, easily forgotten metaphor, but a shark makes a point! Part of why a shark is so ferocious is because it is ferociously at one with its environment. They say that sharks never stop swimming, but sharks are not restless. They do not struggle and exhaust themselves amidst the ocean currents. They cruise with a quiet fearlessness through their realm.

It is a form of communion they express, “absorbed in and absorbing / the native element.” The shark is in the water and the water is in the shark. They are one.

Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again.

It raises the question, what is a boundary? When we move through the environment at the same time that the environment moves through us, where is the border line between ourselves and everything else?

Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

We tend to talk about unity and interconnectedness on spiritual levels, but we forget that it is just as true in the physical realm, and in every level in between. Everything we identify with, our emotions, thoughts, health, our very breath, are not possessions that exist in a private isolation. Everything is an interaction with the environment. Everything is part of the cycle of inflow and outflow.

This raises an unsettling question: How then do we protect ourselves from the disharmonies and toxicity of the world around us? There are a few ways to answer this, but I am going to give a harsh answer this time: How do we protect ourselves? We don’t. We are in the world and the world is in us. What happens in the world happens in us. The world is us and we are the world.

Whether we are talking about nature or human emotions, disharmony and toxicity is never just “out there” to be stopped at the border of the skin or one’s private thoughts and feelings. We don’t avoid, we can’t. We participate. We hurt with our fellow beings as much as we delight with them.

They. Us. Where is the boundary, really? We participate in a shared experience of being.

But– and this is important, it is not just about the outside coming in. There is also the outbreath. What is inside also flows outward into the world. This is where the power of the individual truly expresses itself. We may take in hurt, pain, poison, but we can, if we choose, pour out love, healing, joy. And that too becomes part of the natural environment in which we all swim with our porous boundaries.

I don’t want to suggest that I believe that boundaries are not real or necessary. They are. But boundaries are more like membranes than walls. Whether we are speaking about the physical body in the natural environment, the psychological self within society, or even national borders, no boundary is lasting or impermeable. Nor should it be.

The more we identify with our boundaries, the more harshly we try to enforce them as absolute and unchanging, which is inherently doomed to failure. But the more we identify with the heart, with our core, the less important those boundaries seem, and we allow them to function as living membranes of exchange, while we are free to navigate the world without fear.

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

It is not about separation of self from other. Ultimately, such a separation is impossible. There is no real separation.

We vibrate, we hum. We are caught up in a grand universal symphony. We tune each other and are harmonized by the whole.

We sing, whether we realize it or not. Which song are we singing?


Recommended Books: Lynn Ungar

Bread and Other Miracles Blessing the Bread: Meditations


Lynn Ungar, Lynn Ungar poetry, Christian poetry Lynn Ungar

US (Contemporary)
Christian
Secular or Eclectic

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Jun 13 2018

An empathic heart

An empathic heart
is what keeps us alive
and on the spiritual path.

One response so far

Jun 08 2018

Czeslaw Milosz – Forget

Published by under Poetry

Forget
by Czeslaw Milosz

English version by Robert Hass

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?
A childlike sun grows warm.
A grandson and a great-grandson are born.
You are led by the hand once again.

The names of the rivers remain with you.
How endless those rivers seem!
Your fields lie fallow,
The city towers are not as they were.
You stand at the threshold mute.

— from New and Collected Poems 1931 – 2001, by Czeslaw Milosz


/ Image by koposs /

There’s something so healing about this poem. It’s strange to speak of the healing power of forgetting, but there’s something here for us to consider.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget”? That is a person who hasn’t yet learned to forgive. Perhaps that person isn’t yet ready to forgive but doesn’t want to admit it. For some hurts, forgiveness cannot be rushed. But it must, on some level, remain the goal. And to achieve forgiveness, one must forget in a certain sense.

No one truly forgets any experience. But we can mean different things when we speak of forgetting. There is willful blindness, which should never be a goal. This is what the person who says he won’t forget is trying to avoid, but usually what they are choosing to do is to nurse old hurts in secret, deriving a sense of purpose in continued suffering.

There is another kind of forgetting that isn’t forgetting, that is to let go of the repeating cycle of internal dialog and its associated hot, binding emotions. To do so is an affront to the ego’s sense of self-importance. It requires humility, perhaps even weariness. To let go in this way makes us feel temporarily vulnerable. We usually carry our wounds like shields, imagining that surrounding ourselves with past hurts fortifies us against future injury. The truth is less direct and more elegant: Those shield walls built of past pains trap us. They limit our movement and limit our interaction with the rich drama of life. Letting go of those hurts frees us to more dynamically experience life, while simultaneously allowing us to better recognize and avoid those future hurts. Put simply, the more shielded the heart is with remembered hurts, the less it feels and knows and experiences joy.

A good reminder to myself as much as anyone: No one makes it through this life without acquiring some hurts. The well-lived life is not one that has avoided pain; it is one that has integrated that pain along with its delights and discoveries, and in that rich mixture sees the lineaments of its own face.

Of course, seeing this, we see something much bigger than we imagined ourselves to be. Approaching this immense vision of Self, we fall silent.

You stand at the threshold mute.


Recommended Books: Czeslaw Milosz

New and Collected Poems 1931 – 2001 The Collected Poems Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness To Begin Where I Am: The Selected Prose of Czeslaw Milosz A Treatise on Poetry
More Books >>


Czeslaw Milosz, Czeslaw Milosz poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Czeslaw Milosz

Poland (1911 – 2004) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Christian : Catholic

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Jun 08 2018

not enough

A book and a building are not enough.
The human spirit needs cathedrals of trees,
towering mountains, and fields
of spring wildflowers as places of prayer.

One response so far

Jun 06 2018

Umar Ibn al-Farid – No one speaks (from The Poem of the Sufi Way)

Published by under Poetry

No one speaks (from The Poem of the Sufi Way)
by Umar Ibn al-Farid

English version by Th. Emil Homerin

No one speaks
      unless his speech is from mine;
            no one sees
                  but by the gaze of my eye.

No one listens
      unless listening by my ear;
            no one grasps
                  but by my might and strength.

No one
      is speaking, seeing, hearing
            in all of creation
                  but me!

In the composite world,
      I appeared deep within
            every shape and form
                  adorning them with beauty.

While in every subtle sense
      not revealed by my visible guise,
            I was conceived and formed
                  but without a body’s shape.

Yet in what the spirit sees
      clairvoyantly,
            I was rarified,
                  concealed from this subtle sense confined.

In the mercy of expansion,
      all of me is a wish
            expanding wide
                  the hopes of humanity,

While in the dread of contraction
      all of me is awe;
            wherever I cast my eye,
                  I am honored.

In joining both attributes
      all of me is proximity;
            come, draw near
                  my inner beauty.

For in the end-place of “in,”
      I still found with me
            my majesty of witness
                  arising from my perfect nature,

And where there is no “in,”
      I still witnessed within me
            the beauty of my existence
                  without an eye to see.

— from Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verses, Saintly Life, Translated by Th. Emil Homerin


/ Image by Sea-of-Ice /

In the composite world,
      I appeared deep within
            every shape and form
                  adorning them with beauty.

These lines can be compared with Platonic forms or the Jungian idea of archetypes. The world of outer appearances is built on a spiritual or energetic template. When we see beauty in the world, it is because we recognize something about that outer form that approaches the symmetry of the archetypal or divine template it embodies.

In the mercy of expansion,
      all of me is a wish
            expanding wide
                  the hopes of humanity,

While in the dread of contraction
      all of me is awe;
            wherever I cast my eye,
                  I am honored.

Here the poet gives us a vision of God as a cosmic pulse, expanding and contracting. In expansion, we feel hope, possibility, life. In contraction, we feel fear and awe. We might imagine this contraction as a gathering in, a sense of restriction and death that forces us to let go of the outer world and turn inward.

In joining both attributes
      all of me is proximity;
            come, draw near
                  my inner beauty.

In God, both expansion and contraction are joined, the universal rhythm in harmony. The inbreath and outbreath balanced. A Sufi vision of yin and yang. A vision of unity.

God is the form within all forms, the outward and inward movement of all things, and One. Through this unity the Eternal is in proximity to all things. Perhaps the poet is thinking of the line in the Quran in which God declares that He is closer than our jugular vein. We might read this as God is closer to us than our own heartbeat.

We imagine that God or the Eternal or heaven are somehow far away, in the future or the past, or only sensed through crushing spiritual efforts. But nearness is the nature of God. We just need to heed the invitation, to settle until we can sense the presence underlying everything. We just need to feel the Self that is closer than our own self. Such inner beauty!

And where there is no “in,”
      I still witnessed within me
            the beauty of my existence
                  without an eye to see.


Recommended Books: Umar Ibn al-Farid

Umar Ibn al-Farid: Sufi Verses, Saintly Life Sufi Poems: A Mediaeval Anthology From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint: Ibn Al-Farid, His Verse, and His Shrine The Wine of Love and Life: Ibn Al-Farid’s Al-Khamriyah and Al-Qaysari’s Quest for Meaning


Umar Ibn al-Farid

Egypt (1181 – 1235) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jun 06 2018

To find its perfection

To find its perfection
the soul must reveal
its imperfections.

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Jun 01 2018

Karma Trinley – A Song on the View of Voidness

Published by under Poetry

A Song on the View of Voidness
by Karma Trinley

English version by Thupten Jinpa & Jas Elsner

Homage to the Adamantine Mind!

Dharma king, you who have realized
the essence; you who expound
the way of being, out of compassion:
king Buddha Samdrup,
I bow to you in my heart,
pray listen to me.

Through your kind and skillful means,
by a habit long formed, and as a fruit
of long practice in this life,
I have realized the nature of ever-presence.

When the secret of appearance is revealed,
everything arises in a tone of voidness,
undefined by the marks of identity.
Like a sky that is nothing but an image.

When the secret of thoughts is revealed,
though active, they are but mind’s sport,
naked reflections of transcendent mind
unsullied by deliberation and correction.

When the secret of recollection is revealed,
every memory is but an illumination
of self-knowledge in the ever-present state,
untainted by ego consciousness.

When the secret of illusions is revealed,
they seem nothing but the primordial state,
appearing in the visual field of rikpa,
untouched by the dualism of mind and things.

When the secret of abiding is revealed,
you are in the state of self-cognition,
however long you remain, free of elaboration,
the expanse unstained by laxity and torpor.

When the secret of mobility is revealed,
however much you move, you remain
within clear light, unstained by distraction,
excitement, and so on, a true self-recognizer.

When the secret of samsara is revealed,
however often one may circle, the cycles
are illusion unaffected by joy and pain.
This is the realization of Buddha’s four bodies.

When the secret of peace is revealed,
however tranquil one’s attainments,
they are but an image; this is the natural pure space,
free of the signs of being and nonbeing.

When the secret of birth is revealed,
however one’s reborn, it’s but an emanation;
meditation’s vision of pure self-generation
free of clinging and apprehensions.

When the secret of death is revealed,
however often one may die, it’s but the vision
of the ultimate, the stages of completion
perfect, free of any karmic deeds.

When the secret of bliss is revealed,
its intensity cannot be bettered;
this is the state of spontaneous bliss,
free of all traces of contamination.

When the secret of luminosity is revealed,
however bright, it’s but an empty form —
mother image of the void in space,
free of every multiplicity.

When the secret of emptiness is revealed,
though empty, it is the unsurpassed,
devoid of every contingent stain,
and free from every deception.

When the secret of the view is revealed,
however much one looks and sees,
the world remains beyond thought and word —
the expanse beyond dichotomies.

When the secret of meditation is revealed,
however much one meditates, it’s but a state —
undistracted, and in natural restfulness,
free of exertion and constraint.

When the secret of action is revealed,
whatever one does are the six perfections —
spontaneous, free, and to the point,
uncolored by strictures and moral codes.

When the secret of fruition is revealed,
achievements are but the cognition
of mind as dharmakaya,
the mind itself free of hope and fear.

This is the profound innermost secret;
guru’s blessings have entered my heart;
naked nonduality dawns within;
the secret of samsara and nirvana is revealed!

I have beheld the face of the ordinary mind;
I have arrived at the view that is free of extremes;
even if the Buddha came in person now,
I have no queries that require his advice!

This song on the view of voidness
expounding the nature of the being of all,
spoken in words inspired by conviction,
was sung in a voice echoing itself,
unobstructed, in between meditation sessions.

— from Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening, Translated by Thupten Jinpa / Translated by Jas Elsner


/ Image by ahermin /

Like many of the great poems emerging out of the Tibetan traditions, this poem combines ah ecstatic visionary element with a discourse on the nature of reality.

This is like mystic’s graduation thesis, a declaration of realization:

I have realized the nature of ever-presence.

He enumerates for us a list of secrets that, when understood, reveal the true nature of reality.

I will drop in a few of my comments on some of these, but I invite you to spend some time with each statement yourself and see what insights you gain…

When the secret of appearance is revealed,
everything arises in a tone of voidness,
undefined by the marks of identity.
Like a sky that is nothing but an image.

The language of the last line of this verse is a bit confusing, but I think what he is saying is that reality is like the wide open and empty nature of the sky. We may see images form in the clouds that float through the sky, but they are temporary and intangible. Things take form and appear to be real, but when we gain a wider perspective, the only lasting reality is that open space of blue, the canvas on which images appear and fade again.

When the secret of thoughts is revealed,
though active, they are but mind’s sport,
naked reflections of transcendent mind
unsullied by deliberation and correction.

The poetry of this verse stands out to me. We become so entranced by the content and movement of our own thoughts, but they are ultimately revealed to be “the mind’s sport.” Thoughts dance and dazzle, but they are like the glimmering light upon the surface of the transcendent mind, which remains pure and unaffected by that surface movement and all our attempts to control it.

When the secret of abiding is revealed,
you are in the state of self-cognition,
however long you remain, free of elaboration,
the expanse unstained by laxity and torpor.

This is an interesting one. The “secret of abiding” reveals itself as “self-cognition.” In other words, we come to rest, we discover stability and stillness, when we truly know ourselves. Words don’t express this truth easily. These ideas may seem to be disconnected, but there is an intimate connection we discover. The only place of rest is the true Self. It is only when we know the self that we can settle and abide.

Followed by a statement of movement…

When the secret of mobility is revealed,
however much you move, you remain
within clear light, unstained by distraction,
excitement, and so on, a true self-recognizer.

When we are a “true self-recognizer,” even in movement there is a clarity and inner stillness. We normally accompany action with psychic agitation. This is because we typically identify with the body and surface mind so, when there is movement, there is also disturbance. But identifying with the deep Self, movement is just the outer expression of that still spaciousness.

When the secret of samsara is revealed,
however often one may circle, the cycles
are illusion unaffected by joy and pain.
This is the realization of Buddha’s four bodies.

Samsara is the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth as understood within Buddhism. When the poet states that seeing through the secret of samsara, the cycles are revealed as illusion not affected by joy and pain, we can read that as a rather flat and disengaged insight, but that is not what is meant. He is not saying that there is no joy or pain or that life and death are meaningless; rather, the appearance of life and death along with the fluctuations of joy and pain are not truly part of the fundamental nature of being. Like the clouds forming and fading against the sky, those are all passing phenomena that have their own beauty and meaning, but the blissful expanse is the only lasting reality.

The mention of the Buddha’s “four bodies” is a reference to the four bodies (or kayas) a buddha recognizes upon enlightenment: the truth body, the form body, the enjoyment body, and the emanation body. Our true body or nature is of these eternal forms, and the rest is the dance of appearance.

When the secret of bliss is revealed,
its intensity cannot be bettered;
this is the state of spontaneous bliss,
free of all traces of contamination.

Sometimes we imagine the spiritual path to be one of self-denial and worldly disdain. We conjure up grim visions of enlightenment, and either embrace that or run from it. But the real experiences of mystics and visionaries and saints, as they constantly tell us, is one of bubbling delight and peace. When one’s nature is revealed, we dwell in bliss. No surface pleasure or joy can compare. “It’s intensity cannot be bettered.”

When the secret of emptiness is revealed,
though empty, it is the unsurpassed,
devoid of every contingent stain,
and free from every deception.

This was something that tripped me up for a long time. The constant refrain in Buddhism about emptiness, nirvana, the void can sound bleak. As a younger seeker I had a love-hate relationship with the teachings of Buddhism. There was clearly something uplifting, insightful, and compassionate there, an expression of profound truth. But it could also sound rather depressing.

It took my own sense of opening to finally see beyond my own mental block and recognize that that “emptiness” is actually filled with life and delight amidst vast spaciousness. It is not empty as in a suffocating vacuum, but rather it is free from the idea of separate and distinct things and beings. Within this blissful nondual space of being, there is only a living wholeness and, therefore, nothing (no objectified thing) exist there. It is empty, yet it is the unsurpassed.

naked nonduality dawns within;
the secret of samsara and nirvana is revealed!

I like that signature verse at the end. It brings us back to earth. Signed this day between meditation sessions, yours truly…

This song on the view of voidness
expounding the nature of the being of all,
spoken in words inspired by conviction,
was sung in a voice echoing itself,
unobstructed, in between meditation sessions.


Recommended Books: Karma Trinley

Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening


Karma Trinley

Tibet (1456 – 1539) Timeline
Buddhist : Tibetan

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Jun 01 2018

Love has no opposite

Love has no opposite.

Hate, fear, are not love’s opposites;
they are its denial.

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May 30 2018

Rumi – This moment

Published by under Poetry

This moment
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

This moment
This LOVE
comes to rest in me,
many beings in one being
In one wheat-grain
a thousand sheaf stacks.

Inside the needle’s eye
a turning night of stars.
This moment —
This LOVE.

— from The Illuminated Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks / Michael Green


/ Image by Ha-Wee /

Leave it to a poet like Rumi to give us a phrase like–

Inside the needle’s eye
a turning night of stars.
This moment —
This LOVE.

The beauty of the image and words is so transporting that we can miss the profound esoteric truth being revealed here:

The human spirit, in its constant quest and hunger, looks for ever larger, greater experiences that expand our reach until we can encompass and hold everything. Even in the spiritual journey we want to be so big we don’t have to deal with the mundane moment. And this is the hardest part — letting go of that impulse.

You see, here’s the secret Rumi whispers to us in these lines… Don’t get bigger; get smaller. Become so small that you can finally rest in the tiniest of spaces — “this moment.” Do that, come to rest here, right here, fully, and this moment, which you feared would be so small you’d suffocate (“inside the needle’s eye”), surprises you by becoming a window to the Infinite (“a turning night of stars”).

Do that, and your heart unfolds in ways you hadn’t known possible, flooding you with an all-encompassing awareness of bliss and love.

It is not a journey of years, it is a journey of one moment–

This moment —
This LOVE.


Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Open Secret: Versions of Rumi
More Books >>


Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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May 30 2018

Upcoming Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

I know I have been mentioning it for quite some time, but I have been making some small but steady steps of progress with the next Poetry Chaikhana anthology, to be called This Dance of Bliss. I am entering the final phase of editing. I hope to be able to announce its availability later this summer or early autumn. I’ll give you more updates soon.

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May 30 2018

Hiatus and Health

My apologies for the unannounced hiatus in posting these poems. I went through a rather challenging bout of chronic fatigue/ME and I needed to gather my energies together to keep basic hours with my day job as a computer programmer. But I seem to be on the rebound now and I hope these posts will be more regular again.

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May 16 2018

Faiz Ahmad Faiz – Bol – Speak

Published by under Poetry

Bol – Speak
by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

English version by Ivan M. Granger

Speak! Your words are free.
Speak! Your tongue is still your own.

Your body is yours, strong and straight.

Speak! Your life is still your own.

Look! In the forge’s flames,
how your steel glows red.
See how the locked doors have opened
and every chain breaks.

Speak! The time left to you is enough.
Before body and tongue give out.
Speak! For truth still survives
Speak! Say what is in your heart!


/ Image by melaniumom /

It is worth taking some time to really pay attention to the news and some of the troubling events taking place right now. But it takes a deeper reading than we get in most US news sources to have a sense of what is really happening. The killing of the Palestinian protesters in Gaza in the wake of the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision by the US to unilaterally break the Iran nuclear agreement, which was the only real reason the Iranian government had to cooperate. The US government tightening its alliances with the extremist governments in Saudi Arabia and Israel, who seem to want to foment a war with Iran.

Events can unfold in several different directions, some terrible to contemplate.

In such moments, the temptation is to turn away, to shut the heart down, to focus exclusively on our own lives, our own families and circle of friends. I would suggest that we can handle more than we think we can. The heart, to be whole, must break a thousand times and be ready to break again. An empathic heart is what keeps us alive and on the spiritual path. A feeling heart reaches out to embrace even those outside our circles of familiarity, expanding our own sense of who we are.

And we have bodies, vehicles of action in the world. They are meant to express that awakened heart. They are meant to help, to soothe, to show kindness, to stop harm, for that is what the heart wishes.

And we can speak. For speaking is an act of the living, an affirmation of one’s humanity. Speaking is about connection, sharing one’s state of mind that we may meet one another in the currents of truth.

Speak! For truth still survives
Speak! Say what is in your heart!

Though speech we touch each other, heart to heart.

Speak.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Faiz Ahmad Faiz poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Pakistan (1911 – 1984) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

More poetry by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

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May 16 2018

not escape

Freedom is not escape,
but deep presence.

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May 11 2018

Thich Nhat Hanh – Walking Meditation

Published by under Poetry

Walking Meditation
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

— from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, by Thich Nhat Hanh


/ Image by Leonid Afremov /

Something for us today by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen monk, peace activist, author, meditation teacher…

This doesn’t feel entirely like a “poem” to me; it’s more like rhythmic, chant-like set of instructions. Reading these words I can almost hear Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle voice offering these suggestions to us as we engage in walking meditation.

Often we imagine a very stern notion of what meditation is, and it involves sitting rigidly still. Walking meditation invites us to move, to interact with our environment — but with a sense of presence, with full awareness, with resting mind. This allows the body to move in its natural fluidity without growing stiff. It encourages a full, easy flow of the breath.

But, in walking meditation, we are not marching from point A to point B–

We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.

We are dropping the purpose and destination from our stride. The way we walk is important. Resting mind, allowing mind, welcoming heart.

It is not an easy thing to move through a garden or down the sidewalk without becoming attached to the thousand things we see or think. The reflex is to collapse the awareness with each small encounter, like a fisherman with a net, trying to ensnare and possess the world. But to keep that net of awareness open, spread wide, to witness the magical moment, to watch it dance for its instant in the sun, and then to allow it to drift past, that is the gentle work of the meditator.

To walk through the world, with a sense of peace in the heart and belly, feeling simple happiness beneath the worries of the day, touching the earth and being touched by the earth, seeing and encountering without constricting the awareness, secure enough to know ourselves, where we are, what we are part of… we are doing walking meditation.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Have a beautiful day!


Recommended Books: Thich Nhat Hanh

Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy & Liberation


Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Nhat Hanh poetry, Buddhist poetry Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnam/France/US (1929 – )
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

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May 11 2018

world at rest

The happiest moment is when you discover
the world at rest
in your heart.

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May 09 2018

Rabindranath Tagore – I want thee, only thee

Published by under Poetry

(38) I want thee, only thee (from Gitanjali)
by Rabindranath Tagore

English version by Rabindranath Tagore

That I want thee, only thee — let my heart repeat without end. All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty to the core.
      As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light, even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry — I want thee, only thee.
      As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against peace with all its might, even thus my rebellion strikes against thy love and still its cry is — I want thee, only thee.

— from Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore


/ Image by madrush08 /

I want thee, only thee

This is the prayer of every heart, regardless of belief, regardless of how we live. Every kind gesture says, “I want thee.” So too does every angry action. Amidst our distracted lives, “I want thee” is the inner mantra. We just have to recognize it and encourage it to come forth.

All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty to the core.

I don’t write often about the nature of desires. Religious voices have a tendency to speak about desire with a certain gleeful cruelty, creating environments of suppression, rigidity, and shame. Fully realized spirituality does not foster those qualities and,instead, nurtures self-awareness, presence, and flow. If joy and a sense of fullness are not present, something is off balance.

Keeping that important point in mind, we should still take a moment to consider why legitimate spiritual teachers talk about desires as a problem. When we speak of desires, we immediately think of sexuality. But desires are anything we want or crave or seek out. Yes, desires can be about sex and sensual pleasures. Desires can be about possessions and wealth and acquisition. Desire can be directed toward social position or life goals. Desire is anything at everything that hooks our attention and pulls at the will.

Here’s the real issue: The things and experiences we desire are not necessarily bad or “unspiritual.” It is the dynamic of desire itself that is the problem. We imagine that if we get this or experience that we will be happy or fulfilled. When we finally get that experience or attain that sought thing, we do indeed receive a burst of satisfaction — for a moment, or a day. And then something is missing again. We are already angling for the next thing we want. A new desire.

That’s the nut of the problem: Individual goals are attainable, specific experiences can be had, but desires are endless. Satisfying those desires never brings happiness in a lasting way. We become caught on an endless road of pursuit, disappointment, and more pursuit. Yet we persist in the chase. Sometimes we think we are being smart by deciding we have been chasing the wrong things, and so we start to pursue different desires. Yet the problem remains. Experiences can be achieved, but desires themselves are never satisfied. In the process, they siphon off large portions of our awareness and life energy.

It takes real wisdom and courage to step off that treadmill. Actions cease to be about fulfilling desires and, instead, become an expression of the inner self. Possessions and experiences are received with a sense of gratitude and a light grasp, knowing that they will pass and true fulfillment is attained elsewhere.

But how do we free ourselves from desires without resorting to repression and self-cruelty? Perhaps that’s a discussion for another day. Let’s allow the question itself to simmer in our thoughts and see what rises to the surface. What do you think?

As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against peace with all its might, even thus my rebellion strikes against thy love and still its cry is — I want thee, only thee.

This closing line is my favorite. There is a kindness in how Tagore assesses our “rebellion” and stumbling. Even in our anger, even in self-destruction, even amidst our worst faults, we are seeking peace. Picturing Tagore’s storm, I imagine the individual with an excess of unfocused energy striking repeatedly against this mountain of peace, wanting to spend itself against that immutable stillness, until, in exhaustion, the soul settles and finds its own peace.

In the end, we are all trying to express the words, I want thee, only thee.


Recommended Books: Rabindranath Tagore

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Gitanjali The Lover of God The Fugitive Lover’s Gift and Crossing
More Books >>


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May 09 2018

beyond question

Anything that is beyond question
should immediately be questioned.

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