Oct 23 2015

Book: A Moonlit Teahouse

A Moonlit Teahouse: Anthology of Sacred Poetry

A Moonlit Teahouse: Anthology of Sacred Poetry
Edited by silent lotus, Dick Holmes, et. al.

A Moonlit Teahouse is a delightful new anthology of sacred poetry by contemporary poets (including a few by yours truly).

I also wrote the introduction. “It is the job of theologians, philosophers, and scientists to precisely describe the human experience of reality. Most of us simply accept those definitions. A rare few catch the glow pouring through the cracks. We call these strange people visionaries, mystics… poets.”

This is not a Poetry Chaikhana publication, but it is published by a group of poets who connected through the Poetry Chaikhana, which makes me a proud grandfather of sorts. All sales of this book go to support the Ninash Foundation which does wonderful work promoting literacy among girls and minority children in rural India.

When you purchase a copy, your money will be a gift to others and the poetry will be a gift to yourself.

Read more at: amoonlitteahouse.wordpress.com/h0me/

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Oct 21 2015

Ramakrishna – Is there anyone in the universe

Published by under Poetry

Is there anyone in the universe
by Ramakrishna

English version by Lex Hixon

Is there anyone in the universe,
among heavenly or earthly beings,
who can understand what Kali is?
The systems of all traditions
are powerless to describe Her.
Is Mother a feminine being
or greater than Being itself?

Chanting Her transforming Name —
OM KALI OM KALI OM KALI,
empowers Lord Shiva,
Who is transcendent Knowledge,
to drink the negativity of all beings,
turning His Throat dark blue.
Without Her protection
such poison would be deadly,
even to the highest Divinity.

More than Creator and creation,
Mother is sheer Creativity
beyond the notion of duality.
Universe and Father-God
are thrilling glances
from Her seductive Eyes.
Always pregnant with ecstasy,
She gives birth to manifest Being
from Her Womb of primal Awareness,
nursing it tenderly at Her Breast,
then playfully consumes Her Child.
The world dissolves instantly
upon touching Her white Teeth,
attaining the realization
of Her brilliant Voidness.

The various Divine Forms
that manifest throughout history
take refuge at Her Lotus Feet.
The Essence of Divinity,
the Great Ground of Being,
lies in ecstatic absorption
beneath Her red-soled Feet.

Is Mother simply a Goddess?
Does She need a male consort
to protect or complete Her?
The cycle of birth and death
bows reverently before Her.
Is She simply naked
or is She naked Truth?
No veil can conceal Her.
Her naked radiance slays demons
not with weapons but with splendor.

If Mother is a conventional wife,
why is She dancing fiercely
on the breast of Shiva?
Her timeless play destroys
conventions and conceptions.
She is primal purity,
Her ecstatic lovers are purity.
Purity merges into purity,
with no remainder.

I am totally inebriated
by Her wine of timeless bliss.
The wine cup is Her Name —
OM KALI OM KALI OM KALI.
Those drunk on ordinary wine
assume I am one of them.

Not everyone will encounter
the dazzling darkness
called Goddess Kali.
Not everyone can consciously receive
the infinite treasure of Her Nature.
The foolish mind refuses
to perceive and accept
that She alone exists.
Even the noble Lord Shiva,
most enlightened of beings,
can barely catch a glimpse
of Her flashing crimson Feet.

The wealth of world-emperors
and the richness of Paradise
are but abject poverty
to those who meditate on Her.
To swim in a single Glance
from Her three Cosmic Eyes
is to be immersed
in an ocean of ecstasy.

Not even Shiva, prince of yogis,
can focus upon Her dancing Feet
without falling into trance.
Yet the worthless lover
who sings this mad song
aspires to conscious union with Her
during waking, dream, and deep sleep.

— from Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna, by Lex Hixon


/ Image by Chobist /

This is the final day of the Hindu festival of Navaratri, the Nine Nights dedicated to the many aspects of the Mother Goddess. I thought it might be appropriate to honor the holiday by featuring a poem by the gentle saint Ramakrishna about the fierce Mother Goddess Kali.

In Hindu tradition and metaphysics, the Goddess represents many aspects of the Divine. The iconography we find in Hinduism gives us a fascinating kaleidoscope of meaning. The Goddess can represent Mother, the Great Source, the Void/Womb from which all are born, Manifestation, Creation, Vibration, Speech, Song, the Arts, Beauty, Darkness, Mystery, all of the World (and all its Illusions). But with birth, also comes death, with manifestation, also comes dissolution; anything with a beginning also has an end. Only the eternal is eternal. So the Goddess, Mother and Manifestor, is also sometimes portrayed as Destroyer. She is Life and Death both. She is the Power that brings all into being, animates and enlivens the universe, and also draws it back into non-being. But even in Her fiercest aspect, the Mother Goddess is loving. For Her, death is merely the death of illusion and the return to Self.

This poem — I call it a poem, but it is more of an ecstatic utterance by the great Ramakrishna — plays with a particular descriptive challenge in the representations of Kali. On the one hand, Kali is a Goddess, often paired with the God Shiva. A popular representation of the two is with Shiva lying prone on the ground, while Kali dances upon his breast, slaying demons. It can be a disturbing image to people not familiar with the iconography of Kali. But what is it saying, and how does it fit in with the philosophy of this gentle, greatly revered Hindu saint, Ramakrishna?

Hinduism often expresses the fundamental polarity of Male and Female in images of the divine couple, the God and Goddess paired together. Within this God-Goddess dichotomy, the masculine aspect of the Divine usually represents transcendent spirit, while the feminine expresses manifestation, power, and action. So prone Shiva, represents the transcendent, which is inactive, but which holds the divine potential. Kali dances upon his breast, representing that potential coming into manifestation. Through Her sheer power, Kali destroys the demons that represent illusion and disharmony.

But, just as this God-Goddess pairing represents different facets of the Divine, any God or Goddess can simultaneously be understood to embody the whole of the Divine. In this way, Kali can both be an aspect and also the Absolute.

And this is what Ramakrishna is teasing us with here. Is Kali the consort of Shiva? Is She the feminine aspect of God, or God entire?

Is Mother a feminine being
or greater than Being itself?…

Is Mother simply a Goddess?
Does She need a male consort
to protect or complete Her?

Even within Hinduism and its rich, varied depictions of the Feminine aspect of the Divine, there is still a tendency to elevate the Male forms, such as Shiva. Ramakrishna seems to delight in overturning convention. To him, one must simply follow the Mother and, as She reveals more and more of Her nature — her manifestation, her play of illusions and revelations — our vision of Her expands to encompass the All. To Ramakrishna, the Goddess is Mother and Consort, but She is equally the Totality itself. He taunts us to untangle that conundrum through our own direct perception.

Whether we are talking about Kali or Saraswati or Cerridwen, Mother Mary or Shekinah, let us not forget to honor the feminine in the Divine — and in our world, and in ourselves.


Recommended Books: Ramakrishna

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna The Condensed Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
More Books >>


Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Ramakrishna

India (1836 – 1886) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shakta (Goddess-oriented)

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Oct 21 2015

gratitude

When we don’t practice gratitude,
the world around us seems alien and unwelcoming,
and we shut down in self-protection.

Gratitude opens us to reality.

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Oct 16 2015

Symeon the New Theologian – The Light of Your Way

Published by under Poetry

The Light of Your Way
by Symeon the New Theologian

English version by Ivan M. Granger

Holy are you, O Lord, holy, blessed and One.
Holy are you, and generous

for you have flooded my heart
      with the light of your way,

and you have raised up in me
      the Tree of Life.

You have shown me a new heaven
      upon the earth.
You have shown me a secret Garden,
      unseen within the seen.

Now am I joined soul and spirit
      present in your Presence —

your Presence that has waited long in me,
your Presence, the true Tree of Life,
      planted in whatever this earth is,
      planted in whatever it is that men are,
            planted, and rooted in the heart,

your Presence all at once revealing your Paradise
alive with every good green thing:
      grasses and trees and the fruiting bounty,
      a world of flowers!
            sweet-scented lilies!

Each little flower speaks a truth:
      humility and joy,
      peace, oh peace!
      kindness, compassion,
            the turning of the soul,

and the flood of tears
and the strange ecstasy
      of those bathed in your light.

— from The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology), Edited by Ivan M. Granger


/ Image by indojo /

Notice the imagery of light (a constant theme in Symeon’s poetry)–

for you have flooded my heart
      with the light of your way…

–and the Tree of Life–

and you have raised up in me
      the Tree of Life.

These lead us to recognize God’s Presence within:

Now am I joined soul and spirit
      present in your Presence —

your Presence that has waited long in me…

Knowing the sacred Presence, our blindness is removed and we finally see through the surface of things.

You have shown me a new heaven
      upon the earth.
You have shown me a secret Garden,
      unseen within the seen.

We discover the heaven that has always been hidden within the earth, shining beneath the gauze of the seen.

That leads to a startling realization: All of creation, the living earth itself, is a sacred, living garden, waiting for our eyes to open:

your Presence all at once revealing your Paradise
alive with every good green thing:
      grasses and trees and the fruiting bounty,
      a world of flowers!
            sweet-scented lilies!

People are always looking for their paradise somewhere else, somewhere “out there,” but it is always and ever right here, within, in the present moment, present in the Presence. The problem is in how we see the living planet and our own selves — or, rather, how we don’t see them.

your Presence, the true Tree of Life,
      planted in whatever this earth is,
      planted in whatever it is that men are,
            planted, and rooted in the heart…

The Tree of Life is the center of the Garden, yet it is rooted in the heart. When we finally see it within, we see it everywhere, for it fills our awareness. As we find our hearts and discover the real life within, then we naturally interact with each other and the planet in awe and reverence. And in this way we steadily reveal paradise to one another.

Each little flower speaks a truth:
      humility and joy,
      peace, oh peace!
      kindness, compassion,
            the turning of the soul,

and the flood of tears
and the strange ecstasy
      of those bathed in your light.


Recommended Books: Symeon the New Theologian

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 The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives Hymns of Divine Love: Songs of praise by one of the great mystics of all church history
More Books >>


Symeon the New Theologian, Symeon the New Theologian poetry, Christian poetry Symeon the New Theologian

Turkey (949 – 1032) Timeline
Christian : Eastern Orthodox

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Oct 16 2015

step into the unknown

Each day, each moment
is a step into the unknown.
How can we feel anything
but amazement?

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Oct 13 2015

Story: The Tale of the Sands

Published by under Stories

Rather than a poem, why not a story today? This is a favorite tale from Idries Shah’s Tales of the Dervishes. Encountering the desert, a stream must remember its true nature in order to pass beyond it. Our greatest difficulties become our most profound teachers.


/ Photo by JoelDeluxe /

The Tale of the Sands

A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one, but it found that as fast as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared. Continue Reading »

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Oct 09 2015

Masahide – Barn’s burnt down

Published by under Poetry

Barn’s burnt down
by Masahide

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

Barn’s burnt down —
now
I can see the moon.

— from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto


/ Image by Alex37 /

I love this haiku. Using so few words, it still manages to say so much.

The moon, as I have pointed out before, is often used in Zen poetry to represent Buddha-mind, awakened awareness. The burnt barn can suggest worldly calamity and loss which can suddenly open us to the radical, serene truth that surrounds us everywhere. Or the barn can represent our own self-enclosing thoughts, “burned” down by spiritual practice and the ecstatic psychic spaciousness that can result.

So read that haiku again. Line-by-line:

The old structure, the barn has burnt down. It has collapsed, been cleared away.

Now. Now– The shock has brought us, stunned, into the present moment.

The psychic field cleared, finally we can see the luminous moon, the light of enlightenment.


Recommended Books: Masahide

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter Japanese Death Poems


Masahide

Japan (1657? – 1723) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

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Oct 09 2015

personal myth

The ego is a personal myth,
a story we tell ourselves
about who we are.
That story can change, expand,
or grow silent.

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Sep 30 2015

Akka Mahadevi – Like a silkworm weaving

Published by under Poetry

Like a silkworm weaving
by Akka Mahadevi

English version by A. K. Ramanujan

Like a silkworm weaving
her house with love
from her marrow,
                  and dying
in her body’s threads
winding tight, round
and round,
                  I burn
desiring what the heart desires.

Cut through, O lord,
my heart’s greed,
and show me
your way out,

O lord white as jasmine.

— from Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan


/ Image by schmoo15 /

The Pope’s visit to the US. The terrible tragedy in Mecca recently. I’m not sure that my thoughts on these events have settled enough to comment on them. In the background we also had a celestial event of note…

Did you get a chance to watch the moon’s eclipse on Sunday? We had a stunning show where I live in Colorado, a massive orange moon climbing above the horizon at dusk, the first shadow appearing about 7:00 pm as the moon rose higher in the evening sky, and by 8:00 o’clock the full eclipse, then slowly the shadow passed into the night.

An eclipse is a powerful reminder to contemplate the shadows in life.

The thing about the dark parts of life and the dark parts of our own psyches is not so much that we are supposed to disown them or even transcend them. Often the real spiritual growth is when we recognize them and make room for them, finding ways to re-integrate them into a larger, more complete sense of self and world. But what does that really mean?

What we call the shadow is not necessarily harmful or destructive, it is simply what is hidden. It is what we have hidden from our own surface awareness. It is not something that is “bad” or “evil.” Most often what we have pushed into shadows is something painful, frightening. It only becomes destructive when we try to keep it chained in the shadow; then that imprisoned part of ourselves acts out violently, disrupting our polite, carefully crafted exteriors, demanding attention.

The eclipse invites us to really sit in the darkness and see what’s there. It is meant to be uncomfortable. We have the opportunity to become more comfortable with discomfort. We can learn to feel more of ourselves, we learn to recognize the lost, discarded, and scapegoated parts of ourselves. If we are wise, we stop exiling them into darkness and begin to listen to what they have to say, about ourselves, about our world, and it becomes possible to consciously craft healthier expressions of their energies. That all sounds very psychological, but there is an essential spiritual and energetic process occurring here as well: By reclaiming those condemned parts of ourselves, we become more complete, more aware of our whole Self, and our spiritual energies become more fully available to us, enabling more natural and spontaneous spiritual opening.

Despite the religious stories, true saints and sages are rarely brittle ideologues full of condemnation. It takes a nuanced sense of the complexity of the self and a compassionate awareness of the difficult, often traumatic experiences of human life, all integrated with a true artist’s skill — just to free up the spiritual energy necessary for deep spiritual awakening.

The lesson of the eclipse, the lesson of the eclipsed parts of ourselves, is to stop seeking artificial ideas of perfection through severance, but to seek wholeness through wise, compassionate, and careful integration.

Today’s poem by Akka Mahadevi is just haunting enough to contemplate in the aftermath of the eclipse.

Like a silkworm weaving
her house with love
from her marrow…

Akka Mahadevi’s silkworm weaving a cocoon becomes a striking, visceral image of the divine impulse to turn inward, creating an interior space from one’s love and the very marrow of one’s being.

But the process can feel claustrophobic, suffocating. There is inevitably an encounter with death:

…and dying
in her body’s threads
winding tight, round
and round,

Looking inward we come to a confrontation with ourselves, all of our being, the shadow as well as the light. It is painful, frightening. Seeing ourselves so nakedly, we often find our deep wells of shame and self-condemnation. Yet we can no longer turn away.

At this harsh moment, something must die for the silkworm’s transformation to proceed. The immature worm itself must die, the old, limited, divided sense of self realizes it cannot continue. The silkworm must summon every ounce of energy, available only from its whole, undivided self, if it wants to emerge and fly.

The spiritual path is not about navel gazing. It is life and death, and understanding the energies of each.

I burn
desiring what the heart desires.

Why does the rest of the poem shift and talk about desire and greed?

One way to understand the spiritual path is as a confrontation with addiction. Does that sound like a strange statement? Let’s consider the question for a moment…

Spiritual traditions all over the world speak of the problem of desire. I mean, where would institutional religion be without favorite words like “covet” and “lust”? But the real spiritual core of this teaching is not about sexual prudery, it is about the problem of allowing the awareness to become fixated on transient, outward, sensory-fed experiences that distract us from inner growth and wholeness. Another way of saying this is that the real problem is addiction.

Addiction, when we think about it, isn’t really about substance abuse, it is about attachment and the inability to let go. I would go even further and say that it is the unconscious belief that we somehow *are* the things and experiences we are attached to. We associate the feelings of that outer experience with life, but when that experience changes — as things have a tendency to do — we then react with terror and desperation because that feeling of life is about to change or diminish.

Overcoming addiction always, always demands a confrontation with death. It requires the painful recognition that whatever the experience, when it ends, we may experience terror, pain, or grief with shattering intensity… but what we really are continues, surprisingly alive and well.

Cut through, O lord,
my heart’s greed,
and show me
your way out…

The heart’s greed… The heart is the self, one’s center. During the most profound states of self-awareness, the sense of one’s full Self is felt to be without limit or location, but, shifted to the individual level, it is simultaneously felt to be majestically at rest within the center of the breast. This is why so much spiritual language refers to the heart as the spiritual center. And the heart is inherently complete.

When the heart becomes “greedy” and desires something outside of itself, we have falsely externalized ourself — and that is when attachment begins and we start to experience problems on a spiritual level. It isn’t so much that certain activities or desires are evil or unspiritual, it is that we are no longer centered in the true self, and we have become confused as to what that “self” actually is. The result is that we end up feeling fragmented and incomplete. In order to re-experience wholeness we try to regain self though the compulsive pursuit of outer experiences and sensations, but it never quite works because the real self is always found within.

Clearly, I am not talking only about narcotics, alcohol, or other substances we normally associate with the word “addiction.” Looked at this way, virtually anything can be — and often is — addictive. Anything that draws the awareness out from the heart and holds it while compelling action to perpetuate the outward focus can be called addiction.

One can even go so far as to say that the ego is a phenomenon of addiction. When we falsely perceive ourselves as our outer experiences, we find ourselves caught in the tides of compulsive actions and reactions, all serving to strengthen that exteriorized self.

But the more we re-integrate those enshadowed, exiled parts of ourselves with our conscious being, the more inherent fulness we feel, and the less vulnerable we are to such problematic patterns of “greed” and psychic addiction. This does not mean that one necessarily avoids pleasure or pain or any experience, just that one becomes more aware of their hooks, and then chooses healthier ones without clinging to them as they pass, while remaining more fully engaged with the heart’s upwelling joy.

Addiction, death, shadow… too much? Did I mention that the eclipse is also a good time to unleash your inner Goth? Black nail polish anyone?

I hope you have a beautiful day, and a rich night. Sending love.


Recommended Books: Akka Mahadevi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Speaking of Siva The Shambhala Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Poetry Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present: Volume 1 Sacred Voices: Essential Women’s Voices Through the Ages


Akka Mahadevi, Akka Mahadevi poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Akka Mahadevi

India (12th Century) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shaivite (Shiva)

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Sep 30 2015

crucial ingredient

Your life needs one crucial ingredient:

you!

No responses yet

Sep 23 2015

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – look at love

Published by under Poetry

look at love
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Nader Khalili

look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love

look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend

why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known

why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last

look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs

look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once

the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together

look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox

you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me

be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words

my beloved grows right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be

— from Rumi: Fountain of Fire, Translated by Nader Khalili


/ Image by Lenny Montana /

It is the equinox, when the length of day and night become equal, when summer gives way to fall (or winter to spring, for you southerners). It is a global transition point. A threshold. A time to release the old and welcome the new.

More than any other time of the year, we are reminded to stand centered on this very moment, neither leaning back nor tipping forward, and feel how memory reweaves itself into new possibility. It is during the equinox that a new dream is formed, a new vision of ourself, a new vision of the world. What new dream waits inside you?

look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox

As the equinox joins the past with the future, we have a greater opportunity to see how all things that seem separate, distant, in conflict are really a continual union.

the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together

Even life and death we imagine to be incompatible opposites, when the two flow naturally together, making them one.

why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last

It is this recognition of unity everywhere that makes the mystic’s journey possible.

the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known

A journey within the known is no journey at all. But a journey entirely in the unknown leads to disorientation and confusion. A mystic learns to recognize that indistinct threshold, where the known and the unknown merge. We start from there, take attentive steps, and discover that the borderland moves with us into new territories. The meeting point becomes internalized until we recognize that every hill and hollow of the unknown is secretly bordering the known, allowing the mystic to continually reorient and journey on.

This teaches us two things: When we feel lost in the unknown, all we must do is stop, grow still, and see once again familiar territory nearby. The other lesson is that when we feel stuck in the known, we don’t need an elaborate escape to exotic corners of the world; wherever we are, we just need to take the unexpected step, and a new path opens up before us.

But no path leads from A to B. A path is not an inconvenient distance that allows us to escape from one place and rush to another. Every path is ultimately a reminder that A and B are joined. Properly understood, every journey recalls the awareness of union to the heart.

my beloved grows right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be


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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Sep 23 2015

hide-and-seek

In this divine game of hide-and-seek
stop pretending
there is any place to hide.

One response so far

Sep 18 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke – As once the winged energy of delight

Published by under Poetry

As once the winged energy of delight
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood’s dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions… For the god
wants to know himself in you.

— from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell


/ Image by u07ch /

I get the sense that many people are dealing with intensities in their lives right now, difficulties and fears rising up. And in the headlines there is a heightened sense of tensions ready to snap.

I offer this poem by Rilke as a balm. He seems to be saying something about the power of intangible feeling, imagination, and hope as the surest way to navigate through life’s threats.

And something about the pure beauty of this poem heals as it awakens. Take a moment and reread the lines of this poem. Feel them as they settle upon your mind, line by line.

the winged energy of delight…
childhood’s dark abysses…
unimagined bridges…

Words written with such heart, words of deep kindness and empathy from a poet who witnessed the terrible traumas of the early 20th century. Words of a modern man who keenly felt the psychic schism of the modern era, and sought integration.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions…

All leading us to that final line which sums up the real reason for the world and our journey through its dangers and delights:

For the god
wants to know himself in you.

Be kind to yourself and those around you this weekend — and have a beautiful day!


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

Germany (1875 – 1926) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

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Sep 18 2015

arc of movement

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.

No responses yet

Sep 15 2015

Layman P’ang – When the mind is at peace

Published by under Poetry

When the mind is at peace
by P’ang Yun (Layman P’ang)

English version by Stephen Mitchell

When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy nor wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

— from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell


/ Image by makani5 /

When the mind is at peace
The world too is at peace.

This is such a lovely statement that seems to feed so naturally into a serene state, but it is also saying something very powerful that overturns our common assumptions.

Most often we imagine that if our lives and society and the world as a whole would just settle down, then perhaps we could experience peace. And so we turn all of our efforts outward, trying to force a sense of peace in the world. That doesn’t usually work so well, does it?

It can get to the point that turning inward, prayer, meditation can feel like a betrayal, as if we are abandoning the outer world to chaos, while we selfishly seek a separate sort of peace.

But the strange truth is that we don’t create a peaceful environment and then experience peace. The reality is the reverse. We discover peace within, and only then can we recognize it without. More surprising still is that we come to see that the “world” outside of ourselves is but a reflection of our own inner state. When we discover peace within, the world comes to rest as well. Does that mean problems in the world disappear? No. But we recognize the peace that underlies even those problems, and we begin to see new ways to coax that peace to the surface. At peace, in peace, we invite peace.

Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void…

Enlightened awareness is not a game of carefully constructed definitions. It is not a feat of the intellect, which tends to separate and categorize perceived reality. Even at its most subtle and incisive, when the intellect tries to separate the real from the non-real, it is setting up a filter upon the awareness.

When the mind is truly at peace, not only have thoughts come to a rest, but more importantly those unconscious mental filters no longer pre-sift the perception of reality.

The poet seems to be describing a trail for us to follow, a path found precisely where existence meets Nirvana, and we must gracefully walk between the two.

With no clinging to either “reality” or “void,” the whole and unfiltered vision comes upon us.

Engulfed by this truth, we are not “wise” or “holy” — those are further categories. No, we just are. We are not this or that, we are.

…an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

We no longer feel the need to do something to validate our existence; we undeniably are. No work remains to be done. One may still be active in the world, but there is no “work” behind it, simply the dance of stillness, presence, and flow. Observers may disagree, but you understand that all that seemed important about your identity has trickled away, and you have become unremarkable, purely as you are — an ordinary fellow, alive in this extraordinary world.


Recommended Books: P’ang Yun (Layman P’ang)

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Sayings of Layman P’ang: A Zen Classic


P'ang Yun (Layman P'ang), P'ang Yun (Layman P'ang) poetry, Buddhist poetry P’ang Yun (Layman P’ang)

China (740? – 808) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

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Sep 15 2015

un-certain

To really meet the mystery,
we must be uncertain.

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Sep 09 2015

Marrow of Flame now available in Kindle ebook format!

Several Poetry Chaikhana readers have been waiting for the Kindle format version of Marrow of Flame — and it is now available for $4.99.

Marrow of Flame (Kindle)

Marrow of Flame (paperback)

By purchasing a copy, not only do you support the Poetry Chaikhana, but you give yourself the gift of some truly inspiring poetry!

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