Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

Aug 28 2015

Hadewijch – God must give us a renewed mind

Published by under Poetry

God must give us a renewed mind (from Vale Millies)
by Hadewijch

English version by Mother Columba Hart

God must give us a renewed mind
      For nobler and freer love,
To make us so new in our life
      That Love may bless us
And renew, with new taste,
      Those to whom she can give new fulness;
Love is the new and powerful recompense
      Of those whose life renews itself for Love alone.
— Ay, vale, vale, millies —
      That renewing of new Love
— Si dixero, non satis est —
      Which renewal will newly experience.

— from Hadewijch: The Complete Works (Classics of Western Spirituality) , by Mother Columba Hart


/ Image by rlandesaaa /

God must give us a renewed mind
      For nobler and freer love,

There is something about this opening line that carries both hope and… relief. As we go through life, often struggling through our encounters, we develop psychic survival patterns as ways to cope and move forward. These patterns of thinking and perception may be entirely necessary at the time, or at least they are the best we can imagine in the confusion of the moment, but then we become trapped by the mental patterns we ourselves have devised. These habits of mind often imprint so deeply that we forget they are there and we imagine they are reality itself. Our behaviors, what we think is possible, who we think we are, all result from these self-created patterns of the mind.

When the spirit seeks freedom, liberation, salvation, it is from precisely this: the rigid and over-patterned awareness. Growth requires space, new ground, fresh air, possibility. The mind must be renewed.

For us to recognize or receive or realize a “nobler and freer love,” to discover that something that will “make us so new in our life,” the mind itself must rest and reset. It must become clear and open, a new space ready for the possibility of new awareness.

This is the renewing power of meditation and prayer.

We become ready to receive the mystic’s love. For those of us shaped by the modern world, it is difficult to read the word “love” and understand it. It’s a word that’s bandied about but with little meaning beyond infatuation or loyalty. But when mystics utter the word “love,” we are in the rush of the most profound flood of transformative energy. It is an experience of the Divine, the healing, unifying touch upon the awareness, in which we recognize that all is one, all is beauty, and all is within one’s heart.

Within the phrases of this poem, there is a sense of letting go as we are renewed. When we translate that first Latin phrase — Ay, vale, vale, millies “Ay, farewell, farewell, a thousand times” — we are saying goodbye over and over again. The following line seems to say we are letting go, again and again, of Love itself… yet it keeps coming back to us, repeatedly renewing us, comforting and filling us anew with is own presence as this most “powerful recompense.” So the renewal itself endlessly renews itself, making this divine Love a perpetually new experience. We have the image not of trapping or acquiring this new experience but, instead, of a force that flows through us, continuously passing through us, while all the mystic can do is remain open.

Si dixero, non satis est “If I speak, it is not enough.” Can words truly describe it?


Recommended Books: Hadewijch

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Shambhala Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Poetry Hadewijch: The Complete Works (Classics of Western Spirituality) Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages Meister Eckhart and the Beguine Mystics: Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete
More Books >>


Hadewijch, Hadewijch poetry, Christian poetry Hadewijch

Belgium (13th Century) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Aug 26 2015

Sarmad – He dwells not only in temples and mosques

Published by under Poetry

He dwells not only in temples and mosques
by Sarmad

English version by Isaac A. Ezekiel

He dwells not only in temples and mosques —
The whole creation is his abode.
The whole world is bewitched by his tale,
      but wise are those who are lost in his love.

— from Sarmad: Martyr to Love Divine, by Isaac A. Ezekiel


/ Image by InSUNNYty /

He dwells not only in temples and mosques —
The whole creation is his abode.

We humans tend to like our categories and definitions, a sort of thinking that’s very effective in the world. But that same form of thinking ensnares us when we engage with the deeper aspects of reality. We want to know where to go to find God. We want to know what to do, how to act, what to keep separate from, so that we might know ourselves to be holy. That approach can help to focus our intention… in the beginning. But at some point we need Sarmad’s reminder: Everything is sacred. All of creation is holy ground. There is no boundary to the Eternal.

Where you are, worship.

The whole world is bewitched by his tale,
      but wise are those who are lost in his love.

I really like these two lines. All of existence isn’t ‘real’ in the way we usually imagine it to be. Creation isn’t fixed; it flows. Things don’t exist in and of themselves; they are actually relationships, an immense network of interaction. Seen this way, everything we experience is part of a drama. Any good storyteller knows that a good tale plays with fears and joys and questions of survival, hooking our attention while surreptitiously revealing something of the deeper truths of life.

As Sarmad says, the whole world is a story told by God. It is so rich and detailed that we can become “bewitched” by it. We become like actors who forget that there is a backstage. The wise, however, lose themselves — their costumes, their egos. They know, once they’ve said their few lines, how to fall silent again, and enjoy the unfolding tale from the wings.

And I think there is an even deeper flavor to the meaning of these final lines. So often we want to master the dramas of life by knowing, by comprehending, by understanding. And that is, for the most part, an entirely valid endeavor. But it is also an ever-expanding pursuit. The wise are those who have stumbled onto another way: yielding all effort into the open heart, rest is found, and presence, and completeness. Meaning and knowing are found, while the efforts of the mind trail off into silence somewhere in the background. The wise invite us to cease our searching, searching, and, instead, to find that sort of love, the sort of love that brings everything, every story to a halt. And they invite us to sweetly dissolve into it.


Recommended Books: Sarmad

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Sarmad: Martyr to Love Divine Sarmad: Jewish Saint of India
More Books >>


Sarmad

Iran/Persia & India (? – 1659) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi
Jewish

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Aug 19 2015

Thomas Merton – Follow my ways

Published by under Poetry

Follow my ways and I will lead you
by Thomas Merton

Follow my ways and I will lead you
To golden-haired suns,
Logos and music, blameless joys,
Innocent of questions
And beyond answers.
For I, Solitude, am thine own Self:
I, Nothingness, am thy All.
I, Silence, am thy Amen.

— from A Thomas Merton Reader, by Thomas Merton / Edited by Thomas P. McDonnell


/ Image by Jake Bellucci /

It has been too long since we last shared a poem by Thomas Merton, so how about this one today?

This has always seemed to me to be a perfect poem for deep meditation.

Thomas Merton was, of course, a Catholic monk, but this beautiful poem has a flavor of the Zen Buddhist tradition, which he also studied as part of his desire to bring the sacred wisdom of East and West together.

This poem is being spoken by a living “Solitude,” “Nothingness,” “Silence.” Or, if you prefer, Nirvana. You might generalize further and say the poem is spoken by Stillness, calling to mind the Christian contemplative tradition.

Whether a devout Christian or a determined Zen practitioner, bringing the mind to stillness — “Innocent of questions / And beyond answers” — is one of the most powerful techniques leading toward communion with the fundamental Reality. That Eternal Presence is always here, everywhere, but we miss it because the chattering mind keeps us distracted, disrupting direct perception of that Truth.

When we truly surrender ourselves, when we surrender the egoistic self that drives the mind to that state of constant distraction, the thoughts dissolve and then we find true “Solitude,” a wholeness or completeness that requires no other. And that is one’s “own Self.” We finally recognize our own nature without needing to define ourselves by work or relationships or appearance or age or even our thoughts themselves…

Everything suddenly seems dream-like, but the underlying Reality is recognized as being supremely full or pregnant. That “Nothingness” is the womb that gives birth to the “All.” And so, from that “Silence,” that supreme Stillness, a symphony of form and word and vibration emerges, “Logos and music,” in a universal praise of being — “thy Amen.”

Follow the awareness that survives the quieting of the mind, follow where it leads to “golden-haired suns!”


Recommended Books: Thomas Merton

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton A Thomas Merton Reader The Strange Islands: Poems by Thomas Merton Thomas Merton Monk & Poet: A Critical Study


Thomas Merton, Thomas Merton poetry, Christian poetry Thomas Merton

US (1915 – 1968) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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Aug 14 2015

Book Announcement: Marrow of Flame, by Dorothy Walters

The Moment
by Dorothy Walters

And not once,
but many times over,
again and again,
how we disappeared
into that deep well
of darkness, shuddering beneath that load of silence,
clinging to our narrow ledge.

Yet the darkness, sometimes,
unfolded as light.
Our atoms dissolved in it,
each separate molecule opening
into a radiant disk of feeling.

How still we became,
witness and thing seen,
spectacle and observer,
each point admitting an untrammeled flood.

— from Marrow of Flame : Poems of the Spiritual Journey, by Dorothy Walters

Book Announcement: Marrow of Flame

I can’t express how pleased and honored I am to announce the availability of the Poetry Chaikhana’s newest publication: Marrow of Flame: Poems of the Spiritual Journey, by Dorothy Walters. The poetry of Dorothy Walters has always been a favorite on the Poetry Chaikhana. Each time I feature one of her poems, I receive many emails and blog comments telling me how much her poems connect and speak to the heart.

Now the Poetry Chaikhana is making her most popular collection of poetry available in a new and revised edition. This is a chance for you to add some truly inspiring and insightful poetry to your collection — and, at the same time, support the Poetry Chaikhana.

This re-issue of Dorothy Walters’s mystical masterpiece Marrow of Flame is a great literary and spiritual event. I don’t know of any other poet currently writing in English who expresses so simply and nobly and with such authority the ordeals, ecstasies and revelations of the path…”
     ~ ANDREW HARVEY, from the Introduction

This beloved collection of poetry by Dorothy Walters explores the spiritual journey through its ecstasies, struggles, and vistas. Each step is observed with the keen insight and clear voice of a modern woman who is both a skilled poet and genuine mystic.

Dorothy Walters’s poems are immediate and inviting, transcendent and often playful. Many of these poems are in dialog, with Rumi and Rilke, Denise Levertov and Lalla, each poem contributing its own wisdom and humor to the ongoing conversation that passes between visionaries and sages through history and across cultures.

Since the publication of the first edition in 2000, Marrow of Flame has already become a modern classic among spiritual seekers.

Now the Poetry Chaikhana offers Marrow of Flame in this updated and revised edition, with a new introduction by Andrew Harvey.

What if there were a modern Rumi or Kabir, Dante Alighieri or John Donne writing of mystical longing, ecstasies and despair? What if she were a woman? What if she were Dorothy Walters weaving her passionate songs into a priceless prayer shawl? Beware: Who holds up this scarf is swept in the arms of the Lover on the path from which no one returns the same.”
     ~ SOPHY BURNHAM, author, The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life




Excerpt from the Introduction by Andrew Harvey

     Six years ago now I gave classes on Rumi at the California Institute of Integral Studies. After one of them, during my office hours, a gentle and shy woman with short cropped gray hair in her early sixties came in to talk to me. Before she even began to speak, I was startled by the kind clarity of her presence, the unmistakable aura of canny and tried goodness that clothed her. We spoke of many things that afternoon—about Rumi and his extraordinary relationship with Shams, about the nature of mystical ecstasy, about the kind of rigor and capacity for ordeal demanded by the authentic path of transformation; it became clear to me very quickly that I had a great deal to learn from the woman sitting before me, and that she spoke not from curiosity, or even literary or spiritual passion, but from the most profound, intricate and seasoned inner experience. What struck me most that afternoon about Dorothy Walters was her humility; unlike many of my Californian students and friends, she did not claim enlightenment or flaunt her “mystical” insights. Part of her, I felt, was always kneeling in silence before the vastness of the mystery that had clearly claimed her for its own: she spoke of the Divine haltingly, and with a refined and poignant tenderness, like a lover of her Beloved. And she had a wild Irish laugh, too, which reassured me.

     In the years since, we have become the greatest and deepest of friends and I have come to think of Dorothy as a spiritual mother and as one of the few true mystics I have met in my life. Her beauty of soul has illumined my life; her courage has inspired me always to travel deeper into my own vision; I have been able to speak to her, as a fellow seeker and lover of God, with complete candor about the demands of the Path. When I left Meera in circumstances that caused great scandal and controversy, Dorothy wrote me a letter which I shall always cherish and re-read often in which she begged me to “remain true to myself whatever happens and never to give in to any of the terrible pressures my actions and insights will inevitably arouse.” It was the perfect advice, perfectly expressed, at exactly the right time; this kind of precision characterizes Dorothy’s spirit. The only other being who in my experience combined such deep kindness with such wisdom was Iris Murdoch; one of the great sadnesses of my life is that Iris died before they could meet. When I think of them together I think of the commentary the I Ching gives on the sixth line of the hexagram Ting, “the Cauldron.” “The Ting has rings of jade.” “Jade is notable for its combination of hardness with soft luster… here the counsel is described in relation to the sage who imparts it. In imparting it, he will be mild and pure, like precious jade.”

     It was only after the first two years of our friendship that Dorothy began, diffidently and self-deprecatingly, to show me the poems she was writing. I was immediately struck by them; they were exquisitely made, subtle, passionate and profound, unlike anything else I knew that was being written in our time. Whenever we met, Dorothy would bring some fresh works to our meeting. Slowly, as we read them together and discussed them, Dorothy came to reveal more to me of her remarkable inner journey; a journey that has led her through much ordeal and heartbreak and loneliness, from a cramped sometimes difficult childhood, through a long, testing stint as a teacher of literature and women’s studies in a mid-western university, to the festive and fertile spiritual and personal life she enjoys now in her very active “retirement” in San Francisco, surrounded by books and music and friends…



These poems make me gasp. I thought all the great mystics had been gone for centuries… Dorothy Walters–part buddha, part elf–weaves mythic literacy with subversive compassion.”
     ~ MIRABAI STARR, author of Saint Teresa of Avila and God of Love

Marrow of Flame, Poems of the Spiritual Journey, Dorothy Walters, Andrew Harvey Marrow of Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey

by Dorothy Walters
Introduction by Andrew Harvey

$11.95 PURCHASE

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Amazon and Barnes & Noble Marrow of Flame US Marrow of Flame UK Marrow of Flame CAN 
or ask at your local independent book store


Your purchase supports the Poetry Chaikhana and encourages future publications.

– Thank you! –

Note to Kindle users – The Amazon page’s Kindle link is for the 1st edition, not for the Poetry Chaikhana’s revised 2nd edition. The Poetry Chaikhana will issue a Kindle version for the 2nd edition soon, and probably at a lower price. I am working with Amazon to correct this link. And I will announce when the correct Kindle edition is ready.


Recommended Books: Dorothy Walters

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Marrow of Flame : Poems of the Spiritual Journey The Ley Lines of the Soul: Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension Unmasking the Rose: A Record of a Kundalini Initiation A Cloth of Fine Gold: Poems of the Inner Journey
More Books >>


Dorothy Walters, Dorothy Walters poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Dorothy Walters

US (1928 – )
Secular or Eclectic

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Aug 12 2015

Guilhem IX of Poitou – Joyous in love, I make my aim

Published by under Poetry

Joyous in love, I make my aim
by Guilhem IX of Poitou

English version by J. Lindsay

Joyous in love, I make my aim
forever deeper in Joy to be.
The perfect Joy’s the goal for me:
so the most perfect lady I claim.
I’ve caught her eyes. All must exclaim:
the loveliest heard or seen is she.

You know I’d never base my fame
on brags. If ever we’re to see
a flowering Joy, this Joy, burst free,
should bear such fruit no man can name,
lifting among the others a flame
that brightens in obscurity.


/ Image by MYLermontov /

Today let’s take a leisurely journey through romance, love, and the world of Troubadours…

Troubadour poetry, though not widely read in English, has had a profound impact on modern Western art in general, and particularly love songs and love poetry. Modern notions of idealized romantic love can be traced back to a certain extent to the Troubadour love poets in southern France in the 1200s.

The Troubadours lauded love, especially the sweet pain of unattainable love, as embodied by an idealized Lady. They were the poets of courtly love.

Modern commentators often miss the sacred dimension to Troubadour poetry and the path of courtly love. It’s a pity that modern audiences tend to read Troubadour poetry as if it was purely of lovesick romantic poetry — and it is, but not exclusively. Much of Troubadour poetry, though couched in romantic or even sexual imagery, should also be read as sacred poetry, emerging from a genuine mystical tradition.

The Troubadours emerged in Aquitaine and Provence (what is today southern France) at the height of the Albigensian Cathar movement and immediately following their slaughter in the Albigensian Crusade. Many of the Troubadours may have themselves been Cathars or at least influenced by Cathar notions. The Cathars were a gnostic group of Christians who rivaled the Catholic Church in Southern France and other parts of Europe, until they were declared heretical and wiped out, with the few survivors driven underground. The Cathar Elect were celibate vegetarians who upheld notions of non-violence, reverence for the natural world (with special focus on the sun and the moon), and the spiritual equality of women. While some aspects of Cathar spirituality had a world-denying quality that might be unappealing to the New Age notions of today, the Cathars were a vibrant group with a rich mystical and spiritual heritage.

Just as the Cathar connection to Troubadour traditions is often overlooked, the connections to Moorish Spain are often ignored, as well. The startlingly new music and poetry of the Troubadours did not emerge from a vacuum, as is sometimes asserted in European histories. These new artistic and spiritual sentiments can be traced directly to the courts of Andalusian Spain during the period of Muslim rule. Duke William (Guilhem) of Poitou, who is often cited as the “first” Troubadour, was raised in a household populated by Spanish musicians and poets brought back by his father from Muslim Spain. Duke William led a childhood immersed in the innovative music and ideas imported from his Muslim neighbors in nearby Spain. Duke William’s contribution was to popularize this “new” art in Christian northern Europe.

The most notable element of Troubadour poetry was their idea of “courtly love.” Courtly love is often thought of as a strange societal pattern that occurred because marriage among the wealthy was a practical affair brokered between families, leaving little room for love. That may have added to the appeal of courtly love, but it doesn’t really explain it. Let me say this directly: Courtly love was a conscious spiritual practice. The ideal in courtly love was to embody the archetypal forces of Lover and Beloved.

In the songs of the Troubadours, the Beloved was usually the woman. She was to embody the ideal of the Divine Feminine, Sophia, Divine Wisdom. She was to be ever slightly out of reach, but within sight. Her presence was to draw the Lover with her presence, her goodness, her feminine divinity. She was to be a beacon. In striving to embody this for her Lover, she was to merge with the Divine she embodied.

The Lover was usually the man. His was the more active role. He was to seek his Beloved, his idealized Lady. He had to prove himself worthy of her, face great obstacles with humility and perseverance, in her name. In the Lover’s intense passion for his Beloved, his constant focussing on her, he was to ultimately become a perfect Lover of the Divine and unite with the divinity he saw embodied in his Beloved.

The goal of this idealized courtly love was not sexual intimacy. In the spiritualized notion of courtly love, sex was avoided because it would satiate the longing that acted as the spiritual force that drew the man and woman as Lover and Beloved to the goal of spiritual marriage. This was the ideal, and certainly not every couple followed this path, nor did all Troubadours celebrate the inner sacred meaning of the path. Yet this was the core, and it was a pathway taught through societies and particularly passed on through Troubadour poetry and song. Courtly love should be seen as genuine spiritual pathway and not be superficialized. It is not inappropriate to think of courtly love as similar to Tantric sexual spirituality, as developed in India — in some expressions the sexuality can be explicit and socially transgressive, but for others the energies of desire are channeled toward the transcendent.

It is interesting to consider how powerful this mysticism of romantic love can be, especially when we consider that our world is filled with the modern descendent of Troubadour poetry: the pop love song. Buried somewhere deep in those catchy melodies and words of longing, lust, and love is an ancient spark of yearning for spiritual union.

As with Troubadour music and new poetic styles, this notion of courtly love had its origins in the nearby Muslim world. The Beloved of the Troubadours is the same Divine Beloved of the Sufis. When reading Troubadour poetry, as with Sufi poetry, the Beloved — though sometimes pictured as a real person — can be understood to be the Divine Beloved.

Troubadour influence spread through many related poetic/mystical traditions that emerged from their diaspora: the Trouveres in northern France, the Minnensingers in Germany (including Wolfram von Ehrenbach, author of the first Grail romance), the Fideli di Amore in Italy (including Dante).

St. Francis of Assissi himself was a great lover of French Troubadour songs and traditions. Though he lived and taught within the Catholic Church, elements of Cathar and Troubadour and, yes, even Sufi spirituality can be seen in his own radiant ministry: his love of nature (particularly the sun and the moon), his vision of a divine woman, and his relationship with St. Clare (which was very much in the tradition of the chaste Lover-Beloved relationship.)

Guilhem IX of Poitou, Guilhem IX of Poitou poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Guilhem IX of Poitou

France (1071 – 1126) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic : Troubadour

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Aug 07 2015

New book is almost ready!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Poetry Chaikhana’s next publication is coming soon: Marrow of Flame by Dorothy Walters. I am so pleased to say that is complete and at the printer, and it will soon be available for purchase.

This is a truly excellent and inspiring collection, the perfect companion to accompany us on our own spiritual journeys. These are poems that will be remembered, eagerly read by future generations of seekers.

How can I explain this?
Yesterday, pain cleaving a path
over shoulder and arm,
eyes stunned by arrows of light,
back a maze of burning rivers.

Today, Vivaldi, Stabat Mater,
a subtle lifting in the heart,
wrists floating in rapture,
in my mouth the taste of honey and flame.

An earlier edition of Marrow of Flame was published by Hohm Press in 2000, and you can still find copies of the old edition online. But I encourage you to wait a few days and show your support by purchasing the Poetry Chaikhana edition, which includes several revisions — and a new introduction by Andrew Harvey.

The announcement is coming soon!

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Aug 07 2015

Rumi – Whoever finds love

Published by under Poetry

Whoever finds love
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises

— from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks


/ Image by MoodyBlue /

I first came across this Rumi poem excerpt several years ago on a delightful CD called Secret Language: Rumi, A Celebration in Song, by a Ramananda. Even now when I read these words, I hear them sung in my inner ear, repeated over and over, a hypnotic man’s voice, a soaring woman’s voice–

Whoever finds love…
Whoever finds looove…
Beneath hurt and grief…

Most of us live our entire lives with a thick veil or filter draped across existence — the ego-mind. Everything we perceive or imagine is colored by that filter. When the ego falls away we “disappear” — the normal sense of self as a separate, isolated entity amazingly fades out. The mind grows quiet. Any movement in the mind is perceived as a minor ripple that does not affect the clarity. As a result, the endless projections of identity, form, and enforced relationships between aspects of reality disappear. Instead, there is only a unified Whole, which includes us. We, like that Wholeness, are now understood to be formless, fluid. In this sense, we are spaciousness in an even vaster spaciousness. This is how we “disappear into emptiness.”

So, the disguises… Being formless, we still participate in the realm of form, because that is all the realm of form understands. Rather than a trap or a fixed identity, it becomes a game. You pretend to be someone, so other someones can relate to you. You wear masks that suit the situation, and then change them as the situation changes. Yet none of them is “you,” and you know this. Being formless, you can assume any form. You have “a thousand new disguises.”

But it is the first two lines that pack the real punch of the verse:

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief…

We tend to use hurt and grief, loss and pain, as a barrier. We reflexively tense up in order to numb the pain we feel. That is natural. But the problem is that we all accumulate griefs and become far too adept at anticipating hurts, and so we constantly tense and, therefore, don’t fully participate in the living moment that is our true joy.

Rumi’s words remind us to muster the courage necessary to dive beneath the hurt and the grief, to not fear them. For the aspect of the mind that is entirely concerned with self-preservation and comfort, there is a certain blasphemy to even imagine that something holy and healing and joyful — “love” — can be found hiding just beneath the surface of our pains. But it is just that sort of blasphemy, that sort of sacred disregard for psychic comfort that can lead us to the most startling wide open experience of love.

These lines give us permission to not wait until some future imaginary time when pain and difficulty are past; what we seek may be found right here, patiently waiting for us to dig just a little deeper.


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 (Persia) (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jul 31 2015

Jusammi Chikako – On this summer night

Published by under Poetry

On this summer night
by Jusammi Chikako

English version by Edwin A. Cranston

      On this summer night
All the household lies asleep,
      And in the doorway,
For once open after dark,
Stands the moon, brilliant, cloudless.

— from Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield


/ Image by George Lu /

A beautiful moon last night quietly watching overhead as my wife and I went for an evening walk. I believe the official full moon is tonight — a blue moon. A perfect opportunity for a moon poem.

I have loved this poem by Jusammi Chikako for years, so I was surprised to discover that it has been years since I featured it on the Poetry Chaikhana. Let’s rectify that omission…

We are instantly made aware of a warm summer night, and everyone sleeps, except the poet, who is awake. The door is left open to invite a cooling breeze, and through it we see the moon, large, glowing, pure, watching us just as we watch it. In that timeless still moment, it is as if we have met the gaze of an old friend or lover, a quite moment of mutual recognition. No words are spoken, none needed. We are fully present in each other’s gaze.

If we want to read this poem on a more metaphorical level, we might understand the “house” as the individual self. So when Jusammi Chikako says, “All the household lies asleep,” she could be stating that the mind has finally settled into perfect, still awareness.

The “doorway” becomes the threshold of open perception.

And in the doorway
For once open after dark,
Stands the moon, brilliant, cloudless.

The moon can be taken to represent the individual awareness perfectly reflecting the eternal light (of the sun). The full moon is Buddha mind, original mind. She has suddenly discovered it, been flooded with its “brilliant” light, utterly at peace beneath the unobstructed, “cloudless” night sky of awareness.

…Or we can just look up and meet the moon’s gaze.


Recommended Books: Jusammi Chikako

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women


Jusammi Chikako

Japan (14th Century) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

More poetry by Jusammi Chikako

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Jul 29 2015

Ram Tzu – You are perfect

Published by under Poetry

You are perfect
by Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman)

Ram Tzu knows this –

You are perfect.

Your every defect
is perfectly defined.

Your every blemish
is perfectly placed.

Your every absurd action
is perfectly timed.

Only God could make
Something this ridiculous
Work.

— from No Way: For the Spiritually “Advanced”, by Wayne Liquorman


/ Image by Eloha-Ulysses /

Something for those days when we see our own faults and imperfections all too clearly beneath the harsh neon light of self-judgment…

You are perfect.

Yes, we absolutely should work to find balance, better guide our actions, elevate our focus, settle the mind and its impulses — but we need occasional reminders that “perfection” is not found in constructing a perfect, flawless self. Perfection, if we want to call it that, is found — absurdly — in our imperfect selves right now, within this imperfect world right now.

The ridiculousness exists only because we have forgotten our nature…

Your every blemish
is perfectly placed.

…and even those blemishes, when we really pay attention to them with a quiet mind, suggest something to us of the road back to the pure, radiant being we already are beneath it all.

Only God could make
Something this ridiculous
Work.

So be kind to yourself today in all your ridiculousness. Self-acceptance has a strange way of becoming self-awareness.


Recommended Books: Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman)

No Way: For the Spiritually “Advanced”


Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman), Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman) poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Ram Tzu (Wayne Liquorman)

US (1950 – )
Yoga / Hindu : Advaita / Non-Dualist
Secular or Eclectic

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2 responses so far

Jul 24 2015

Farid ud-Din Attar – A dervish in ecstasy

Published by under Poetry

A dervish in ecstasy
by Farid ud-Din Attar

English version by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis

A frenzied dervish, mad with love for God,
Sought out bare hills where none had ever trod.
Wild leopards kept this madman company —
His heart was plunged in restless ecstasy;
He lived within this state for twenty days,
Dancing and singing in exultant praise:
“There’s no division; we two are alone —
The world of happiness and grief has flown.”
Die to yourself — no longer stay apart,
But give to Him who asks for it your heart;
The man whose happiness derives from Him
Escapes existence, and the world grows dim;
Rejoice for ever in the Friend, rejoice
Till you are nothing, but a praising voice.

— from The Conference of the Birds, Translated by Afkham Darbandi / Translated by Dick Davis


/ Image by vakatanka /

A frenzied dervish, mad with love for God…

I think we, like the wild leopards, should keep this madman company for a while…

…Sought out bare hills where none had ever trod.

This idea of retreating into the desert or the forest always had a romantic appeal to me, especially in my 20s and 30s. That instinct for renunciation and retreat has an interesting tension. In its best form, it is about seeking the essence of things, learning to recognize the essential self. There is the intense desire — or need, really — to clear the mind and settle the heart.

To accomplish this, like the dervish in this poem, we often want to withdraw, retreat from the world. But what is “the world”? We can loosely say that “the world” is society, but that’s not it exactly. Really, “the world” we are trying to withdraw from is more an idea of reality. We are attempting to separate from the consensus trance.

This is an important point that we too often forget in our daily lives: Even in our most pragmatic, mundane activity, we are in trance. We don’t enter trance in those rarified moments, like the dervish in his ecstasy; we are always in trance. And we are always seeking trance. We humans are trance-seeking creatures. Virtually every choice we make is about cultivating trance. We watch TV and surf the Internet because of the trance it induces. We eat food as much for how it makes us feel as for nourishment. Falling in love is trance. Family conversation is trance. A good day at work is one form of trance, and a bad day is another form of trance. Every action of every day is an attempt to fine tune our mental and emotional states because of how they affect our perception of reality. We are endlessly forming and reforming trance.

But the frustrating thing is that we learn early on that there is a very limited range of trance that is acceptable or even achievable. We quickly come to believe that this fixed range is the full spectrum of reality. We all subscribe to this in order to be acceptable and considered “normal” within society. And, for the child moving into adolescence, taking on that consensus trance is hugely important, allowing us to stabilize psychologically and form healthy relationships with others. It is also a serious problem, since it has nothing to do with actual limitations of reality or our true nature.

It is this shared trance that we call “the world,” which seekers instinctively feel the need to withdraw from in order to begin to see clearly, free from the psychic pressures of society to remain within a certain limited bandwidth of awareness. When done with balance, steadiness… and reverence, such withdrawal from the world can lead to surprising clarity, opening, and bliss.

But here is the potential problem with all of this: Retreat also necessarily implies separation. We are separating from the world. We are separating from what we imagine to be foolish and lost humanity. In the struggle to free oneself from the gravitational pull of societal reality, it is easy to become rigid, aloof, even hard-hearted. We have divided reality between what is holy or sacred or “true” from the secular, mundane, and “illusory.” Such a division, any division, within our view of reality can never hold up for long. It can become a recipe for spiritual disaster.

Here is how I understand the solution to this dilemma: That sense of separating oneself, retreating in order to discover an awareness that is pure or more essential — whether through literal retreat, or on a purely internal level — can be immensely helpful at certain points along the spiritual journey. But we must always remember that it is a phase of the journey and not the end goal. In other words, we may choose to step out into the desert, but we remain connected to the world through compassion and commitment. We will eventually return to “the world,” hopefully with a transformed awareness and very little of the little self left. When we have the vision of the full Reality, we come to recognize that the small section we call “the world” is no longer the world, yet that shadowy thought-reality still has its place within the Whole — and that is the place that most awaits the gifts we return with.

Rejoice for ever in the Friend, rejoice
Till you are nothing, but a praising voice.


Recommended Books: Farid ud-Din Attar

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom The Conference of the Birds
More Books >>


Farid ud-Din Attar, Farid ud-Din Attar poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Farid ud-Din Attar

Iran/Persia (1120? – 1220?) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jul 22 2015

Yoka Genkaku – Right here it is eternally full and serene

Published by under Poetry

[39] Right here it is eternally full and serene (from The Shodoka)
by Hsuan Chueh of Yung Chia / Yoka Genkaku

English version by Robert Aitken

Right here it is eternally full and serene,
If you search elsewhere, you cannot see it.
You cannot grasp it, you cannot reject it;
In the midst of not gaining,
In that condition you gain it.


/ Image by leonard-ART /

Sorry about the poetic absence last week. I’m back…

Right here it is eternally full and serene,
If you search elsewhere, you cannot see it.

This is so simple, yet so difficult to accept. What is it we are seeking? Enlightenment? Salvation? Heaven? God? If something is missing, then it must be somewhere else. So we seek out new groups, new teachers, new books, new religions, new lands. Even in our meditation and prayer, we are reaching, reaching out– for what?

It is almost an insult to our efforts to be told again and again that it is “right here.” If it was right here, we would feel it, we would know it. Right?

This makes no sense at all to the seeking mind, yet we each can discover that it is absolutely true: What we seek is right here. Not elsewhere. Not in the future. Right here.

Which begs the question, if it is always at hand, why can’t we grasp it? First, it is so difficult for the mind to accept that this thing we seek is not a thing at all. It cannot be grasped or held or claimed. It is not an object outside of ourselves. It is not a thing contained within space, contained within time, contained within concepts. It is not a thing that starts and ends, nor is it here but not there; rather, it is an effulgence of awareness. Even that might suggest to us that it is something within the mind to be coaxed forth, imagining it to be an ephemeral object of the mind, a subset of the self. Such a thing cannot last or transform.

It would be easy to dismiss all of this as elaborate philosophical wordplay were it not for the fact that we are told again and again that solving this riddle unlocks a whole new self and a whole new reality, a reality that is much larger, clearer, blissful, unified, and somehow more true. If we accept even the possibility that enlightenment/heaven/God are not only knowable, but the actual state of reality that clears away the normal state of illusion, then to dismiss such spiritual wordplay is foolish in the extreme.

Since sage voices keep telling us that what we seek (but don’t fully understand) is right here and not elsewhere, let us try an experiment: Let us stop imagining another place, another experience. Let us strop trying to imagine what it is we seek at all. If we ache, let us feel it intensely without imagining what will soothe it. Let us, instead, grow quiet, grow still, and let go of all the mind’s imaginings. And then let us just see. What do we notice? Not trying to grasp or gain or escape, what do we sense right here? What has been so consistently present that we have always felt but never noticed?

In the midst of not gaining,
In that condition you gain it.

The touch we feel might just surprise us — right here.


Recommended Books: Hsuan Chueh of Yung Chia / Yoka Genkaku

Buddhism and Zen


Hsuan Chueh of Yung Chia / Yoka Genkaku

China (665 – 713) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan
Taoist

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Jul 10 2015

William Wordsworth – The Soul that rises with us

Published by under Poetry

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star (from Ode. Intimations of Immortality)
by William Wordsworth

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
      Hath had elsewhere its setting,
            And cometh from afar:
      Not in entire forgetfulness,
      And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
      From God, who is our home.

— from Complete Poetical Works, by William Wordsworth


/ Image by ewen and donabel /

This is one of the few poetic utterances that makes me instantly respond with the word — gorgeous! Other poems may be uplifting or inspire deep thought or simply offer up a delightful confection of words and images. But these few lines by Wordsworth are all of these things, yet it all somehow comes together in a way that causes one to take a deep breath and expand.

Sometimes I read these words and think the image and language are almost overripe, but, no, not quite. It holds. And then I am carried away by it again.

Its first few lines distill the soul’s feelings of loneliness and vulnerability, that feeling that something important in one’s very being has been hidden from memory, and gently negates it–

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness

Then we get their answer in those final lush lines–

But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.

And we again know our home. We find ourselves at rest, our full memory of self restored, while clouds of glory trail from our shoulders. Gorgeous.


Recommended Books: William Wordsworth

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse Complete Poetical Works William Wordsworth: Selected Poems
More Books >>


William Wordsworth, William Wordsworth poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry William Wordsworth

England (1770 – 1850) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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3 responses so far

Jul 08 2015

Antonio Machado – Hope says

Published by under Poetry

Hope says
by Antonio Machado

English version by Ivan M. Granger

      Hope says: One day
you will see her, if you wait well.
Says despair:
She is only your bitterness.
Beat, my heart… Not all
has been swallowed by the earth.


/ Image by RezzanATAKOL /

This heartbreaking poem wrestles with that great empty space left by death. The “her” referred to here is Machado’s wife, who died very young. Her death is an anguished absence in many of his poems.

But this poem’s few lines have a quiet courage as well. The tension between hope and despair seems equal and impossible to resolve, but his soul makes a stand and gives that final nudge in favor of hope and the world of the living.

I selected this poem today to touch on some of the ways that death is a teacher, perhaps our most powerful teacher. Our own death. The death of loved ones. The small daily deaths of loss and change and uncertainty. The terrifying certainty that death eventually comes for everyone and everything.

Usually, we try not to think about death at all, or at least not with depth and an unshaken gaze. When forced to think about it directly, we tend to view death as an evil thing, a devilish force, something that breaks the way reality should work. But the simple truth that death touches every corner of the material world tells us that it is essential to reality on a certain level. Death is a universal presence, and therefore a bearer of universal truth.

Death is an essential teacher, and we each must, in our own way, overcome that reflexive fear and learn to learn from it.

It is such an immense, emotion-fraught, and shadowy subject, and I won’t suggest simple, comfortable answers. Here are just a few my own thoughts and observations…

Death teaches us to let go. So much of life is spent in acquiring, gathering, and holding, but that becomes a lopsided equation. Life must include letting go, to find balance. And, I have found that, when I truly accept this, the internal act of letting go can also be a great unburdening. Letting go, in great and in small ways, can be a tremendous release, like exhaling after holding one’s breath.

And, when we think about it, much of spiritual practice does exactly the same thing: teaching us to let go, to exhale, to witness the unhindered flow of life.

We can say this is about non-attachment, but I would carry this further to say this is about non-identification. By that I mean that what truly frightens us to release are the things we identify with. The things and relationships that define our own sense of self are the hardest to lose. Their loss gives us a glimpse of our own death; some part of our self definition has been broken open.

That is a big part of it, I think — death, along with its gentler, daily form, loss, help us to see the many ways we have defined ourselves, the ways we have externalized ourselves, the ways we have tried to formulate an unchanging and limited idea of self. When pieces of that elaborate self-construction are removed or moved around, we are often traumatized, eliciting a very real encounter with death, even if physical mortality is not an immediate concern. But, we also have the opportunity to recognize that we are still essentially here. Some essential part of ourselves remains completely itself, regardless of what change or loss is experienced or how our sense of who we are has changed.

We might say that death removes the non-essential to help us discover what is essential and unchanging.

Or we can say something nearly the opposite: that death takes what is absolutely essential to us in order to awaken such a pure ache that we seek for deeper meaning, a deeper understanding of reality, and a deeper sense of self.

We can say that death comes for our stories, and only takes us when we cannot let go.

Or we can say that death metes out death until we discover we cannot die.

It would be foolish to argue against the all too blunt reality of physical death and the very real experience of loss in daily life. It is not so much that “learning” these lessons inoculates us against death and loss; rather, we come to understand them differently. Loss happens, but it is part of the eternal rhythm of movement through one’s life. Death happens, but perhaps it is not the loss of self we feared. When we let go of our carefully constructed ideas of self and come to see the immense, undefined being we actually are, the flow of coming and going becomes a very different experience.

Beat, my heart… Not all
has been swallowed by the earth.

Wishing you a joyful, life-filled day today!


Recommended Books: Antonio Machado

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado Border of a Dream: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado
More Books >>


Antonio Machado, Antonio Machado poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Antonio Machado

Spain (1875 – 1939) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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3 responses so far

Jul 07 2015

Books Received – part 1

Published by under Books,Poetry

I periodically receive poetry books in the mail. That is always a treat — a package with someone’s thoughts and insights, observations and feelings, their art and aspirations.

Of course, the authors and publishers who send these books are naturally hoping that I will prominently feature their books on the Poetry Chaikhana. Often these books contain truly excellent poetry, but because the focus of the Poetry Chaikhana is fairly specific, even truly great poetry is not always the right fit. Other times, the book and its poetry are just right for the Poetry Chaikhana, but I may not be able to add them for quite a while.

I would like to acknowledge all of the wonderful books I receive, however. I know from my own experience as a publisher each book sent out represents a hope for some sort of connection or in the hopes of reaching a wider audience. And there is a certain expense involved with sending out each book.

Whether or not I eventually feature selections from these books, I want to thank the authors and publishers who have sent their cherished works, I am listing several books received in the last few months. This is a partial selection. I will acknowledge more books that have been received soon…


The Moon Over Tagoto: Selected Haiku of Buson
New Versions in English, Irish and Scots

By Gabriel Rosenstock & John McDonald

Gabriel Rosenstock’s poetry and translations have been a long-time favorite on the Poetry Chaikhana. It’s a treat to read through an entire book of his translations of the great haiku master Buson.

white lotus
a monk about to cut it –
between two minds

loiteog bhán
manach ar tí í a stoitheadh –
idir dhá aigne

fite lotus
a monk about tae sned it –
atween twa minds


The Happiness of Is: Poems of Wonder – Pictures of Delight
By Günter Saure

This is one to appreciate as much for the photographs as for the poetry.

here
I
am

and
very mysteriously
much to my surprise
there is

no
one
there


The Next True Story of My Life: Poems
By Lois Holub

Old Woman

Old woman is dreaming
while spiders mend and wait,
while moonlight moves from the top of the cedar
to the forest floor.
A faint reflection of stars resting in her hair
And the night curled in her hands,
Old Woman dreams of snow and of snow melting
on her tongue,
of laughter on the riverbank and the smell of the sun.
She dreams of her mother’s voice.
Old Woman is dreaming of her lovers,
of the white limbs of the cottonwood against the sky.
She dreams across valleys
and over the dark rise of mountains.

She is teacher, poet, healer
singer, storyteller, gift giver.
She is a river of tears.
She is laughter in the belly.
She lights the fire
and she puts the fire out.
She sleeps in the ashes and embers and flames
and rises dream-tempered,
warm to the touch.


Plain Living, Happy Singing: Haiku Scenes
By Toshi Ida

She peels an apple.
He gazes at her hands –
The retired couple.


Three books by the Hailstone Haiku Circle:

Seasons of the Gods: Haiku Poems

Hugging the cedar
I put my ear to it:
another season

(Reiko Hayahara)

Meltdown: An Anthology of Haiku Z to A

A rich collection organized alphabetically by subject, from “zone” to “apology.”

At summer’s close,
scarecrows awarded medals
of dragonflies

(Tito)

Lost Heian: A Japan-in-Asia Haiku Gathering

Sprinting through the words
of the open dictionary –
a tiny spider

(Keiko Yurugi)

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Jul 01 2015

Andrew Colliver – Come

Published by under Poetry

Come
by Andrew Colliver

Every day I am astonished by
how little I know, and discouraged,
obedient as I am to the demand to
know more — always more.

But then there is the slow seep
of light from the day,
and I look to the west where
the hills are darkening,

setting their shoulders to the night,
and the sky peppered with pillows
of mist, their bellies burnt
by the furnace of the sun.

And it is then that I notice
the invitation didn’t say, Come
armed with knowledge and a loud voice
.
It only said, Come.


/ Image by MicroAlex /

Each new poem by Andrew Colliver somehow finds a surprisingly moving tension between art and insight. This poem, for example, was sent to me directly by the author just a few days ago, and it immediately grabbed hold of me.

Every day I am astonished by
how little I know, and discouraged,
obedient as I am to the demand to
know more — always more.

Reading those lines for the first time, I had to smile. It was as if some part of my own self was speaking to me. This is something I have certainly recognized in myself.

Like many of you, I was born with a hungry head. I always wanted to know. I was curious about everything, how things work, how things connect, why things are the way they are. So, naturally, I approached the spiritual journey this way, as well.

The good thing about this approach is that it encourages you to bring your full awareness to your spirituality. The questioning mind, the curious mind, the cynical mind, the categorizing mind, the discriminating mind — these can be powerful motivating forces within oneself, drawing together your energies, focusing them toward a difficult goal, allowing you to continuously examine and reformulate yourself and your understanding of reality.

That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that this approach can easily get stuck in the head. One can easily fall into the trap of turning the spiritual journey into an intellectual enterprise, confusing the acquisition of “spiritual” information with genuine awareness.

When I have more deeply confronted this tendency within myself, I have discovered an interesting reason behind this approach: On some level, I carried the idea that I had to somehow earn awakening or spiritual depth. And, in my personal makeup, the way I tried to prove my worthiness was through building a fortress of knowledge.

That basic thought, of somehow not being worthy without the “proof” of impressive knowledge, was a core barrier to my own opening process. And the more I learned, whether through books or teachers or even through my own direct experience, often reinforced that fundamental barrier. All of that has a way of strengthening a more polished form of ego while we are trying to be more “spiritual.”

When so much of your proposed future enlightened self is built on the idea of acquired “spiritual” knowledge, trying to move beyond that wall can feel like blindness, aimlessness, the loss of spiritual direction.

It requires the humility, self-honest, and trust necessary to walk an unknown path and get lost, look like a fool, disappoint your peers. Bruised and disoriented, we learn to feel our way. Feeling, we begin to discover the heart and the secret intelligence it carries.

I am in no way denigrating either rational thought or spiritual study. These can be essential in developing clarity and focus. They can provide us with a much needed map and the internal tools to assess the landscape. But the job is not to paper the walls of our bedrooms with maps; the purpose is to actually make the journey, to feel each step of the land beneath our feet. Whether we bring one map or a stack of atlases or walk with empty hands, it is unknown territory we step into. We are but small travelers in the midst of great mystery.

Best not to worry overmuch about knowledge or earning your way. We are all already worthy. Knowing that, we know enough. All that is left to do is to answer the call and give ourselves permission to take that bold first step.

And it is then that I notice
the invitation didn’t say,
Come
armed with knowledge and a loud voice.
It only said,
Come.

Buen camino!


Recommended Books: Andrew Colliver

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology)


Andrew Colliver

Australia (1953 – )
Secular or Eclectic

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9 responses so far

Jun 26 2015

Juan Ramon Jimenez – Who Knows What is Going On

Published by under Poetry

Who Knows What is Going On
by Juan Ramon Jimenez

English version by Robert Bly

      Who knows what is going on on the other side of each hour?

      How many times the sunrise was
there, behind a mountain!

      How many times the brilliant cloud piling up far off
was already a golden body full of thunder!

      This rose was poison.

      That sword gave life.

      I was thinking of a flowery meadow
at the end of a road,
and found myself in the slough.

      I was thinking of the greatness of what was human,
and found myself in the divine.

— from The Winged Energy of Delight, Translated by Robert Bly


/ Image by xucra /

Who knows what is going on on the other side of each hour?

Isn’t that just a wonderful opening line? It’s one of those profound, enigmatic statements that can trip you up full stop, making the rest of the poem an afterthought.

But what is the poet saying? I think he’s encouraging us to not bring our assumptions to each experience in life. We have to encounter each experience, each hour, as it is, not as we expect it to be. This is why he turns our expectations on their head with lines like:

This rose was poison.

That sword gave life.

Every single thing holds its secret and is pregnant with surprise…

How many times the brilliant cloud piling up far off
was already a golden body full of thunder!

To approach life without the false certainty of what each experience holds requires a supreme humility. It requires us to cherish the unexpected possibilities of each encounter more deeply than our own accumulating history. It requires a silence of mind, a sense of wonder, and a restoration of our inherent innocence. But, when we truly learn to live this way, magic happens! We open ourselves and, in turn, the common things we encounter open themselves to us, revealing hidden worlds within…

I was thinking of the greatness of what was human,
and found myself in the divine.


Recommended Books: Juan Ramon Jimenez

The Winged Energy of Delight News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures Invisible Reality Time and Space: A Poetic Autobiography
More Books >>


Juan Ramon Jimenez, Juan Ramon Jimenez poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Juan Ramon Jimenez

Spain (1881 – 1958) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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2 responses so far

Jun 24 2015

Zeynep Hatun – I am a fountain, You are my water

Published by under Poetry

I am a fountain, You are my water
by Zeynep Hatun

English version by Murat Yagan

I am a fountain, You are my water.
I flow from You to You.

I am an eye, You are my light,
I look from You to You.

You are neither my right nor my left.
You are my foot and my arm as well.

I am a traveler, You are my road.
I go from You to You.

— from Women in Sufism: A Hidden Treasure – Writings and Stories of Mystics Poets, Scholars & Saints, Edited by Camille Adams Helminski


/ Image by putonicfluf /

I have loved this poem ever since I discovered it several years ago. That makes it doubly frustrating that, in the intervening years, I have only found one other poem by her in English translation (and that second poem’s translation was a rather dry Victorian translation).

This single poem suggests such a richness of soul behind it. Perhaps it is enough to stand for all the poems that have fallen silent.

I am a fountain, You are my water.
I flow from You to You.

The single image of a fountain and flowing water elegantly suggests so much to us: The Divine Beloved is the vivifying, animating, all-permeating medium. The water is the life and soul of the fountain.

The imagery suggests to us a sense of self that is no longer fixed. Whatever we are, we flow. And everywhere we flow from, through, and to, we remain in contact with the Beloved.

I am a traveler, You are my road.
I go from You to You.

Each step, each arc of movement and point of rest, is another instance of delicious touch in the divine love affair that is life’s journey.


Recommended Books: Zeynep Hatun

Women in Sufism: A Hidden Treasure – Writings and Stories of Mystics Poets, Scholars & Saints


Zeynep Hatun

Turkey (15th Century) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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