Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

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 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 06 2018

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

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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 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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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 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 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 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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Apr 27 2018

Kahlil Gibran – Pain

Published by under Poetry

Pain
by Kahlil Gibran

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen,
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

— from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran


/ Image by techn04life /

We hold idealized images of enlightened men and women who have risen above the struggles of the world. We tell ourselves, that is the spiritual life, while all of the pain and imperfection we feel in our own lives is proof of our own failures.

It is worth reminding ourselves that brokenness is often considered to be the marker of someone on the spiritual path. To open, we usually must be broken open. Our wounds become our doorways. Our bruises are marks of initiation. Compassion is awakened, self-awareness, the ability to see with one’s own eyes.

The shattered shaman, the wounded healer. Wisdom found in exile. Seekers are, by nature, outsiders and oddballs ill at ease in the world around them, forging their own path, sometimes painfully, but in the process learning to be truly themselves.

That pain is not proof of failure, it is our potential. It is the sign of life within us seeking fuller expression.

I don’t want to suggest that I believe pain is necessary. I do believe, however, that suffering can be used. Difficult experiences can serve a profound purpose — when we approach them with awareness and with heart.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

But let’s explore this question from a few different angles. What if the suffering is the suffering of the ego?

When we believe that we are that ego, then we experience the ego’s suffering as pain. We take it personally, and fear it could lead to death and, worse, nonexistence.

But– when we carefully, elegantly free ourselves from the notion that we are the ego, not merely as a philosophical idea but as a directly experienced reality, then what does the suffering of the ego mean to us? What is the ego exactly? When we come to see the ego as nothing more than a phantom, a mental construction, then the suffering itself becomes phantom-like. It is more like the unfolding drama of a movie being watched. It can be intense, heart-breaking, occasionally beautiful, but we no longer experience it as personal. It is no longer seen as an attack on our being.

Suffering, from that perspective, is not about pain or loss of being; instead it is seen as a form of alchemical pressure. When we keep our awareness engaged, we can use suffering as a form of transformational intensity, turning the crushed grape into wine…

Let’s also keep in mind that mystics often use the language of pain to describe spiritual opening, often in a shockingly positive light. They may refer to a “sweet pain” or a “healing pain.” This “pain” has a few levels of meaning and types of experience.

On one level, the pain can be quite literal and even physical. But it might be more accurate to refer to this as “intensity” rather than “pain.” It can be as if the senses and the perceptual mind’s ability to process it all gets overloaded. The mystic then experiences a searing, cleansing sort of intensity, that might be called pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

Through profound opening, one feels everything more completely, a sort of universal empathy. There is a lot of hidden suffering in the world and, at a certain point, we feel it as our own. (Actually, we always feel it anyway, but the walls of denial fall away, and we become aware of it for the first time.) In a directly sentient way, we become aware of the interconnectedness of life. Initially, that flood of feeling is intense, even painful, but that is the pain of the heart breaking open. It becomes a sort of wound one carries, but it resolves itself to a beauty and sense of unity that manages to integrate even the most terrible suffering.

Other mystics speak of a wounding in a more metaphorical sense. The pain experienced is the perception of one’s separation from God. But that pain itself is the doorway to reunion. By allowing oneself to become completely vulnerable to that pain, to surrender to it, the mystic finds the pain transformed into the blissful touch of the Beloved.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Ultimately, all of these forms of pain are the pain of the pierced ego. For one with inner balance, where the protective but limiting shell of the ego is no longer necessary, that pain points the way to freedom.

For this reason, mystics and saints describe the pain as being sweet or joyful or beautiful. It is, in fact, the beginning of bliss.

Be forgiving of your struggles. Rather than limiting you, let your secret wounds open new pathways. Sending much love to everyone!


Recommended Books: Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet The Beloved: Reflections on the Path of the Heart Broken Wings Jesus the Son of Man Kahlil Gibran: His Life & World
More Books >>


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Apr 25 2018

Philip Booth – First Lesson

Published by under Poetry

First Lesson
by Philip Booth

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

— from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999, by Philip Booth


/ Image by Vassilis /

A father teaching his daughter to swim. The first lesson, how to float. He cradles her head in his hands and tells her to spread her arms and relax, looking up at the sky.

Very quickly this becomes a metaphor for life. Soon she will swim confidently. But it is a long effort to reach her “island.” When exhaustion inevitably sets in and fear seizes the heart, that first lesson comes back: rather than struggle, just rest, trust, lean back, float. Watch the stars.

the sea will hold you.


Recommended Books: Philip Booth

Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999


Philip Booth, Philip Booth poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Philip Booth

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Apr 20 2018

Janabai – You must accept those who surrender to you

Published by under Poetry

You must accept those who surrender to you
by Janabai

English version by Sarah Sellergren

If the Ganga flows to the ocean
and the ocean turns her away,
tell me, O Vitthal,
who would hear her complaint?

Can the river reject its fish?
Can the mother spurn her child?

Jan says,
Lord,
you must accept those
who surrender to you.

— from Images of Women in Maharashtrian Literature and Religion, Edited by Anne Feldhaus


/ Image by TheFoxAndTheRaven /

I wanted to highlight this poem today because of its emphasis on surrender.

The question of surrender is central to the spiritual journey, which is often a difficult idea for us to accept. The word “surrender” itself can seem terrifying or even hateful. Why surrender at all? Don’t we want victory and not surrender?

We need to surrender. Surrender is essential to the eventual victory of spiritual opening. Yet surrender can also be dangerous.

Different religious traditions frame the idea of surrender differently, but it is always present. There is the notion of submission to a guru or spiritual guide, which might make some of us wince. Or monastic vows of obedience, which probably makes even more of us cringe. Every tradition has some expression of surrender encoded within its practices. When both the seeker and the spiritual authority come to that relationship with pure intention, the dynamic of surrender becomes a very effective technique for swift unfolding.

The obvious problem is that surrender, particularly the profound forms of self-surrender that occur as part of the spiritual journey, make one deeply vulnerable to everything from mental manipulation to sexual abuse. Sadly, we can all cite several public examples of this very result.

So, we should never surrender, right? It’s not that simple. As I said, surrender is essential.

But to whom do we surrender? Why do we need to surrender? Leaving aside the religious trappings, let us first ask, what is the energetic purpose of surrender?

The surrender we need for success along our spiritual journey is the surrender of self — the little or false self, the ego. Not just the ego as an idea, but we must drop the limited reality the ego-self enforces upon our consciousness. We also need to surrender the ego-bolstering actions, or self-will, which continuously reaffirm the ego and its psychic hindrances.

Profound spiritual opening requires that we come to a place in which we deeply, utterly… let go. This does not even require effort. We merely have to cease all our efforts at maintaining the pretense of the little self. We have to give up what has, for most of us, become a lifelong endeavor. This may be disorienting or even frightening, so it should not be sought casually. But, done with determination and patience and balance, such surrender unlocks the doorway.

I have used rather solitary language so far. To whom do we surrender? A master or spiritual authority? Some would say yes. My personal perspective is that, such a figure can be helpful when, as I said earlier, everyone’s intentions are clear. But I still have trouble with that. Contrarian that I am, I tend to oppose most forms of authority, spiritual and secular.

What I have observed is that what we are surrendering to is not that teacher or guru or guide or institution. We are really surrendering to the universal divine spark that we have glimpsed in that person or ideal. That glowing essence is the real authority that we must surrender to. That is the real teacher. We may sense it in a guru or a saint or a teacher. We may recognize it in a spiritual organization or a holy book or a beloved icon. Or we may find it in a grove of trees, in the face of a homeless person on the street. When we are honest with ourselves, it is not the person or the institution or the teaching; they are its representatives or embodiments, but it is the shining spark itself that calls to us. It is to that do we bow. That is what we truly surrender to.

In this way, surrender need not be submission or the giving up of our critical faculties or appropriate forms of self-respect and self-protection. Perhaps it is appropriate to have an antiauthoritarian form of spiritual surrender.

Ultimately, that spirit-filled spark we see in some inspiration focus outside ourselves is what is trying to awaken within ourselves. This is really why surrender is required. We are dropping our resistance and allowing that ineffable presence to be born within. We surrender the small self as a sacred offering. Accepting this sacrifice, the divine Self, that sense of our being most deeply connected with God, steps forth. This is how surrender becomes victory.

Jan says,
Lord,
you must accept those
who surrender to you.


Recommended Books: Janabai

Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present: Volume 1 Images of Women in Maharashtrian Literature and Religion Women Saints in World Religions


Janabai

India (1298 – 1350?) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Vaishnava (Krishna/Rama)

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Apr 13 2018

Denise Levertov – Looking, Walking, Being

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Looking, Walking, Being
by Denise Levertov

“The World is not something to
look at, it is something to be in.”
— Mark Rudman

I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
That’s
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
looking,
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.

— from Poems of Denise Levertov: 1960-1967, by Denise Levertov


/ Image by Amizyolaroid /

Okay, let’s start off with those wonderful lines:

Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.

This poem is a response to the Mark Rudman quote, “The World is not something to / look at, it is something to be in.” Denise Levertov answers that looking IS being.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch…

I suspect that Rudman was discouraging passivity and lack of presence, but Levertov, I think, is getting at something deeper still. Humans, all beings, in fact, are fundamentally beings of awareness. Each individual is a point of perception, a viewpoint in the universe. We are, each of us, “a pair of eyes walking.”

We are present through perception, not action. Yes, action and interaction can be a powerful way to force us to pay attention, but it is also common to use action to shut down the awareness. Whether in movement or in stillness, the real goal is to keep the eyes open and feel fully with the heart and with the gut. We want to do more than look, but to see and see deeply. We need to see what is ignored and glossed over, to “dig and burrow in the world.”

Even in complete stillness, truly seeing is one of the most profound actions we can engage in. People are brought to tears by a gentle gaze in the eyes. This is what the soul craves, to be seen, to be recognized, to be truly acknowledged. This is true not just of the human soul, but of the world soul. I think of this when Denise Levertov writes of how the world “looks at one looking.”

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
That’s
a way of breathing.

We forget that language is built of breath. We see the written word and we read it silently. Words become mental concepts, tools of the intellect. But words are not fundamentally discrete units of meaning. They flow and stop and flow again, as the breath does. Words aren’t inherently meaningful; they are the ornaments that accompany the flow of awareness.

Words affect breath. Thoughts affect breath. Breath guides awareness.

…breathing to sustain
looking…

Through the breath, we bring the outside world inside us, inside the body, inside the awareness. The boundary between self and the world is bridged by the breath. Through breath, we touch, we feel, we internalize, we connect, we participate, we come alive. Through breath we move and we see.

…walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.

Vision, language, breath… communion.


Recommended Books: Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov: Selected Poems Poems of Denise Levertov: 1960-1967 Breathing the Water The Great Unknowing: Last Poems Candles in Babylon
More Books >>


Denise Levertov, Denise Levertov poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Denise Levertov

US (1923 – 1997) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic : Beat
Jewish

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Apr 06 2018

Buson – Clinging to the bell

Published by under Poetry

Clinging to the bell
by Buson

English version by Sam Hamill

Clinging to the bell,
he dozes so peacefully,
this new butterfly

— from The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library), Edited by Sam Hamill / Edited by J. P. Seaton


/ Image by Rafaelfo /

This haiku is so precise and specific that you can’t help but step into the scene sketched for us: A butterfly dozing, at peace on an unstruck bell.

The moment suggests such stillness, yet there is that underlying tension and anticipation. That bell can be rung at any moment, startling the butterfly.

The bell might suggest a temple or monastery. It signals a change in awareness, the call to prayer or to duty.

Should we think of the butterfly as a butterfly? Or a monk, perhaps? Or ourselves? It is “new,” young, inexperienced. Is its peaceful rest naive? Or is it the natural result of its simplicity?

When the bell is struck, will the butterfly attain wakefulness, or lose its peace?

I really like the way this haiku can be turned around and around, yet we keep returning to that perfect still point, dozing on the unstruck bell.


Recommended Books: Buson

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) The Moon Over Tagoto: Selected Haiku of Buson


Buson, Buson poetry, Buddhist poetry Buson

Japan (1716 – 1784) Timeline
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Apr 04 2018

Rainer Maria Rilke – Sunset

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Sunset
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Robert Bly

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colours
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so helplessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs –-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

— from Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Robert Bly


/ Image by MD. Hasibul Haque Sakib /

I love the duality of this poem, which is the duality of our own mental states.

In the painterly beauty of a sunset, we see a transfer occurring, the passing of colors from sky to earth.

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colours
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

We start to notice the “two worlds”: the brilliant but fading sky descending to the earth, while the earth’s horizon rises up into the night sky. Sky into earth, earth into sky, separating, yet also revolving into each other.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

The fixed world of the day is now on the move, dividing and departing. Which one shall we ride into the evening? Which is our home?

leaving you, not really belonging to either,

While, in some mysterious way, these separate worlds of shifting earth and sky are also reconnecting and recombining to form a magical new reality at night that may lead to an unimagined world tomorrow.

Who and what are we as its witnesses? Are we silent, like the somnolent earth, or are we celestial and immense, like the star-strewn night sky, which speaks even in its silence?

Which are we, timid, contained, withdrawn, or standing up, reaching out, growing? Like the earth and the sky at brilliant sunset, we are all of these at once, intermingled.

We embody both the earthly and the heavenly, and perhaps they are not in opposition to each other. These qualities contrast and strengthen each other, together creating a wholeness within the world and within each of us as individuals journeying along the horizon where earth and heaven meet.

We are neither stone nor star, but both.

one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

Have a beautiful day, and a wondrous sunset!


Recommended Books: Rainer Maria Rilke

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God In Praise of Mortality: Rilke’s Duino Elegies & Sonnets to Orpheus
More Books >>


Rainer Maria Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

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Mar 28 2018

Thomas Merton – The Sowing of Meanings

Published by under Poetry

The Sowing of Meanings
by Thomas Merton

See the high birds! Is theirs the song
That dies among the wood-light
Wounding the listener with such bright arrows?
Or do they play in wheeling silences
Defining in the perfect sky
The bounds of (here below) our solitude,

Where spring has generated lights of green
To glow in clouds upon the sombre branches?
Ponds full of sky and stillnesses
What heavy summer songs still sleep
Under the tawny rushes at your brim?

More than a season will be born here, nature,
In your world of gravid mirrors!
The quiet air awaits one note,
One light, one ray and it will be the angels’ spring:
One flash, one glance upon the shiny pond, and then
Asperges me! sweet wilderness, and lo! we are redeemed!

For, like a grain of fire
Smouldering in the heart of every living essence
God plants His undivided power —
Buries His thought too vast for worlds
In seed and root and blade and flower,

Until, in the amazing light of April,
Surcharging the religious silence of the spring,
Creation finds the pressure of His everlasting secret
Too terrible to bear.

Then every way we look, lo! rocks and trees
Pastures and hills and streams and birds and firmament
And our own souls within us flash, and shower us with light,
While the wild countryside, unknown, unvisited of men,
Bears sheaves of clean, transforming fire.

And then, oh then the written image, schooled in sacrifice,
The deep united threeness printed in our being,
Shot by the brilliant syllable of such an intuition, turns within,
And plants that light far down into the heart of darkness and oblivion,
Dives after, and discovers flame.

— from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, by Thomas Merton


/ Image by NemanjaJ /

It is a sleepy, overcast morning here in Colorado. Clouds have been alternating with brilliant blue skies for several days. Spring is eager to awaken. The reviving world calls me to step out my front door, to stroll…

Ponds full of sky and stillnesses

…to see what is secretly waiting to blossom…

For, like a grain of fire
Smouldering in the heart of every living essence
God plants His undivided power —
Buries His thought too vast for worlds
In seed and root and blade and flower,

The renewal of spring reminds us that so much life and possibility is buried just beneath the surface of the world. We move through our days glancing but rarely looking, brushing past but barely touching, all while a hidden green sap runs through everything, percolating, gestating, just awaiting its moment to blossom in a thousand forms into the world.

We can see a blade of grass or a flower on the branch, and smile but think nothing of it. Or we can really look, recognize the life behind its life, following its secret channels back to the pool of life. When we pay attention, we see not only the myriad expressions of lovely new life, we see life itself, that mysterious questing force that animates the entire universe.

When reading this poem, the question comes up: What does that line about “asperges” mean? “Asperges” is a reference to the Catholic rite of sprinkling holy water on the congregation, especially associated with Easter mass. It comes from the first word (in Latin) of Psalms 51:9, which is traditionally chanted in Catholic masses during Easter. So Merton is making a reference to anointing, sanctification, purification, and Easter…

I hope you find a way to step into the awakening world during this Passover and Easter season.

Then every way we look, lo! rocks and trees
Pastures and hills and streams and birds and firmament
And our own souls within us flash, and shower us with light…


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


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Christian : Catholic

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Mar 23 2018

Dorothy Walters – After

Published by under Poetry

After
by Dorothy Walters

There is one thing certain.
Once you have stood
in the midst of that
searing flame,
been struck down
to earth
like a pilgrim
entered by light at last
and have lain there,
waiting,
not quite certain —

how can you ever know again
what it is
not to be blinded by the light,
never to have gone there
to the top of the snow hung peak
and felt that nameless something
descend onto your shoulders,
your breast,
even as you bent forward
in disbelief.

— from The Ley Lines of the Soul: Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension, by Dorothy Walters


/ Image by JazzLoving Bastard /

Hold onto your doubt, if it serves you. Keep questioning even in the moment of your most radical transformation.

Once you have stood
in the midst of that
searing flame,
been struck down
to earth
like a pilgrim
entered by light at last
and have lain there,
waiting,
not quite certain —

But don’t think your disbelief can trump the reality you now see and know.

how can you ever know again
what it is
not to be blinded by the light…

It may not fit our world view, it may not fit our religion, and we know all too well our foolish failings, yet still there is this flood of light eager to burst forth within us and overturn all our rock-solid understanding.

and felt that nameless something
descend onto your shoulders,
your breast,
even as you bent forward
in disbelief.


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 Diamond Cutters: Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania The Ley Lines of the Soul: Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension Some Kiss We Want: Poems Selected and New
More Books >>


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

US (1928 – )
Secular or Eclectic

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