Thursday, September 21, 2023

As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul. —Hermes


Close your eyes and let the mind expand. Let no fear of death or darkness arrest its course. Allow the mind to merge with Mind. Let it flow out upon the great curve of consciousness. Let it soar on the wings of the great bird of duration, up to the very Circle of Eternity.


If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like. Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God.

Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.

―Hermes Trismegistus

Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive. —William S. Burroughs


"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

—Morpheus, The Matrix




There is not a fragment in all of nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.   

—John Muir, 1867


If I am not conjoined through the uniting of the Below and the Above, I break down into three parts:

the serpent, and in that or some other animal form I roam, living nature daimonically, arousing fear and longing.

the human soul, living forever within you.

the celestial soul, as such dwelling with the Gods, far from you and unknown to you, appearing in the form of a bird.

—Carl Jung


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Inviting the Wisdom of Death into Life


The five invitations are my attempt to honor the lessons I have learned sitting bedside with so many dying patients. They are five mutually supportive principles, permeated with love.

Don't wait.

Welcome everything, push away nothing.

Bring your whole self to the experience.

Find a place of rest in the middle of things.

Cultivate don't know mind.

—Frank Ostaseski
The Five Invitations


window over enchanted seas


You cannot be frightened of the unknown because you do not know what the unknown is and so there is nothing to be afraid of. Death is a word, and it is the word, the image, that creates fear. So can you look at death without the image of death? As long as the image exists from which springs thought, thought must always create fear. Then you either rationalize your fear of death and build a resistance against the inevitable or you invent innumerable beliefs to protect you from the fear of death. Hence there is a gap between you and the thing of which you are afraid. In this time-space interval there must be conflict which is fear, anxiety and self-pity.

Thought, which breeds the fear of death, says, 'Let's postpone it, let's avoid it, keep it as far away as possible, let's not think about it'- but you are thinking about it. When you say, 'I won't think about it', you have already thought out how to avoid it. You are frightened of death because you have postponed it.

We have separated living from dying, and the interval between the living and the dying is fear. That interval, that time, is created by fear. Living is our daily torture, daily insult, sorrow and confusion, with occasional opening of a window over enchanted seas. That is what we call living, and we are afraid to die, which is to end this misery. We would rather cling to the known than face the unknown - the known being our house, our furniture, our family, our character, our work, our knowledge, our fame, our loneliness, our gods - that little thing that moves around incessantly within itself with its own limited pattern of embittered existence.

We think that living is always in the present and that dying is something that awaits us at a distant time. But we have never questioned whether this battle of everyday life is living at all. We want to know the truth about reincarnation, we want proof of the survival of the soul, we listen to the assertion of clairvoyants and to the conclusions of psychical research, but we never ask, never, how to live - to live with delight, with enchantment, with beauty every day. 

We have accepted life as it is with all its agony and despair and have got used to it, and think of death as something to be carefully avoided. But death is extraordinarily like the life we know how to live. You cannot live without dying. You cannot live if you do not die psychologically every minute. This is not an intellectual paradox. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is.

Most of us are frightened of dying because we don't know what it means to live. We don't know how to live, therefore we don't know how to die. As long as we are frightened of life we shall be frightened of death. The man who is not frightened of life is not frightened of being completely insecure for he understands that inwardly, psychologically, there is no security. When there is no security there is an endless movement and then life and death are the same. The man who lives without conflict, who lives with beauty and love, is not frightened of death because to love is to die.

—Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
Freedom from the Known, p. 75-77
from Kevin, who walks the walk


live roots and rising airships


[...] he would see that birth and death were only two tremendous moments in an eternal waking, and his face would glow with amazement as he understood this; he would feel - gently he grasped the copper handle of the door - the warmth of the mountains, woods, rivers and valleys, would discover the hidden depths of human existence, would finally understand that the unbreakable ties that bound him to the world were not imprisoning chains and condemnation but a kind of clinging to an indestructible sense that he had a home; and he would discover the enormous joys of mutuality which embraced and animated everything: rain, wind, sun and snow, the flight of a bird, the taste of fruit, the scent of grass; and he would suspect that his anxieties and bitterness were merely cumbersome ballast required by the live roots of his past and the rising airship of his certain future, and, then - he started opening the door - he would finally know that our every moment is passed in a procession across dawns and day's-ends of the orbiting earth, across successive waves of winter and summer, threading the planets and the stars.

Suitcase in hand, he stepped into the room and stood there blinking in the half-light.

―László Krasznahorkai
The Melancholy of Resistance


Give us courage, gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare us to our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.

If it may not, give us the strength to encounter
that which is to come, that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates
of death, loyal and loving to one another.

—Robert Louis Stevenson


LOVE is anterior to life,
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath.

—Emily Dickinson


Tuesday, September 19, 2023



People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

—Joseph Campbell
The Power of Myth


Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.

Rise up in the smoke of palo santo.
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.
Sink in, sink down to the farthest roots.

Mount slowly in the rising sap
to the branches, the crown, the leaf-tips.
Come down to earth as leaves in autumn
to lie in the patient rot of winter.

Rise again in spring’s green fountains.
Drift in sunlight with the sacred pollen
to fall in blessing.
All earth’s dust
has been life, held soul, is holy.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

Understand the secret unseen ways of heart to heart contact like this:

When two lamps are being lit  
The lamps will remain separate  
But their light will become intermixed.




listen carefully



Although the evening is cold and starless
And the rain is raging,
I’m still singing my song during this period,

I don’t know who’s listening.
Though the world is drowned in war and fear,
At some point
Burning secretly, if no one sees them,
The love continues.

—Hermann Hesse


Listen carefully,
Neither the Vedas
Nor the Qur'an
Will teach you this:
Put the bit in its mouth,
The saddle on its back,
Your foot in the stirrup,
And ride your wild runaway mind
All the way to heaven.









Listen, my child, to the silence.
An undulating silence,
a silence
that turns valleys and echoes slippery,
that bends foreheads
toward the ground.

—Federico García Lorca




Monday, September 18, 2023





In the silence
between your heartbeats
bides a summons.
Do you hear it?

Name it if you must,
or leave it forever nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?

Leave that which is not,
but appears to be.
Seek that which is,
but is not apparent.

—Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī


dear ones



The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
a miracle,
in imagination
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

—Irwin Allen Ginsberg
Song, excerpt





if i were the moon



She kept a diary, in which she wrote impulsive thoughts.  
Seeing the moon in the sky, her own heart surcharged, 
she went and wrote:
If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down.’

—D. H. Lawrence 
The Rainbow


Friday, September 15, 2023

no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible —Stanisław Jerzy Lec


How surely gravity's law, strong as an ocean current, takes hold of even the strongest thing and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing - each stone, blossom, child - is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance, push out beyond what we belong to for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. Instead we entangle ourselves in knots of our own making and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again to learn from the things, because they are in God's heart; they have never left him. This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness.

Even a bird must do that before he can fly.

—Rainer Maria Rilke
what the things can teach us
Anita Barrows/Joanna Macy version


Mr. B.C. Das, the Physics Lecturer, asked about free will and destiny.

Ramana Maharshi: Whose will is it? 
‘It is mine’ you may say. 
You are beyond will and fate. Abide as that and you will transcend them both.

That is the meaning of conquering destiny by will. Fate can be conquered.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi


how much of a tree is alive?



Only 1% of a dormant mature tree is biologically living while the rest is composed of non-living, structural wood cells. In other words, very little of a tree's woody volume is composed of "living, metabolizing" tissue; rather, the major living and growing portions of a tree are leaves, buds, roots, and a thin film or skin of cells just under the bark called the cambium.

... these living cells make up a very small percentage of the total volume of a tree's cells. Instead, non-living or "dead" cells comprise most of the volume of a tree, providing vital structural support for the living cells.

Interestingly enough, trees start out in life as a germinating seed with every living cell in hyperdrive, but as a tree seed becomes a seedling, then a sapling, then a mature tree, its living contents become less and less as a percentage of the total volume. Trees increasingly lose their living cytoplasmic cells as metabolism ceases in each cell, and although they are no longer alive, these non-living cells now provide protection, transportation, and physical support for the living ones.

... non-living cells provide a vital role in the process of how a tree grows — from the "heavy lifting" of holding up the tall branches to the tree's bark, which protects the thin layer of living cells underneath.

... New cells are formed and living cells cease metabolization as they transform into transport vessels and protective skin, creating a cycle of creation, rapid growth, slowing metabolism, and death as the tree climbs ever-higher into a healthy, full plant.

For most intents and purposes, wood is considered to be the product of living cells in trees harnessing the environment around them to make proteins and form protective vessels and shells for the trees' sustained growth. Wood is only technically considered dead when it's separated from the tree itself, as it still serves a vital role in the plant's life when attached to living cells in the tree.

In other words, although wood is largely made of non-living cells — cells that no longer reproduce but instead transport nutrients to living cells — it is still considered "alive" if it is attached to the tree itself. However, if a branch falls off or a person cuts down a tree, the wood is considered "dead" because it no longer transports living matter through itself.

As a result, wood that has been separated from a tree will dry up as the protoplasm hardens and the protein turns into the wood one might use in a fireplace or for building a shelf. This wood is considered dead, though the piece it was once attached to — if still attached to the tree itself — is still considered alive. 

—Steve Nix
full article


And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be 
are full of trees and changing leaves.

—Virginia Woolf


Prayer for the Great Family


Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day—
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing, light-changing leaf
and fine root-hairs; standing still through wind
and rain; their dance is in the flowering spiral grain
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
clear spirit breeze
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms, and ways; who share with us their milk;
self-complete, brave and aware
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
our bodies salty seas
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep— he who wakes us—
in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars— and goes yet beyond that—
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us—
Grandfather Space.

The Mind is his Wife.
so be it.

—Gary Snyder
Turtle Island


Thursday, September 14, 2023

a conversation between stones


Nouns are mainly designated as alive or dead, animate or inanimate. The word stone, akin, is animate. Stones are called grandfathers and grandmothers and are extremely important in Ojibwe philosophy.

Once I began to think of stones as animate, I started to wonder whether I was picking up a stone or it was putting itself into my hand. Stones are not the same as they were to me in English.

I can't write about a stone without considering it in Ojibwe and acknowledging that the Anishinabe universe began with a conversation between stones.

—Louise Erdich
Two Languages in Mind, but Just One in the Heart


When I began to listen to poetry, it’s when I began to listen to the stones, and I began to listen to what the clouds had to say, and I began to listen to other. And I think, most importantly for all of us, then you begin to learn to listen to the soul, the soul of yourself in here, which is also the soul of everyone else.

—Joy Harjo


If you are stone, be magnetic;

if a plant, be sensitive;

if you are human, be love.

—Victor Hugo
Les Miserables


the vast similitude

grandmother rock, 
Patrick Smith


On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining,
I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,

This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

—Walt Whitman
on the beach at night alone


I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

—Walt Whitman
song of myself, 1892




Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.

—Rabindranath Tagore


Within this tree
another tree
inhabits the same body;
within this stone
another stone rests,
its many shades of grey
the same,
its identical
surface and weight.
And within my body,
another body,
whose history, waiting,
sings: there is no other body,
it sings,
there is no other world.

—Jane Hirshfield


I came to realize clearly that mind is no other than
mountains and rivers and the great wide earth,
the sun and the moon and the stars. 



Wednesday, September 13, 2023

the personhood of others


Coined by the American ecologist and philosopher David Abram, the phrase ’the more-than-human-world’ refers to a way of thinking which seeks to override our human tendency to separate ourselves from the natural world. This tendency is so pronounced it is rife even within environmentalism, the movement which seeks to bring us closer to nature, and thereby to preserve it. For in so framing our intentions, we have already set up an implicit separation between ourselves and nature, as if we were two separate entities, unbound by inseparable ties of place and origin. Conventional terms such as ‘the environment,’ and even ‘nature’ itself (particularly when opposed to ‘culture’), compound the erroneous idea that there is a neat divide in the world between us and them, between humans and non-humans, between our lives and the teeming, multitudinous living and being of the planet.

In contrast, the ‘more-than-human world’ acknowledges that the very real human world - the realm of our senses, breath, voices, cognition and culture - is but one facet of something vastly greater.
All human life and being is inextricably entangled with and suffused by everything else. 
This broad commonwealth includes every inhabitant of the biosphere: the animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses. It includes the rivers, seas, winds, stones and clouds that support, shake and shadow us. These animate forces, these companions on the great adventure of time and becoming, have much to teach us. We are who we are because of them, and we cannot live without them.

Lynn Margulis, the most significant evolutionary biologist of the twentieth century, had this to say about our entanglement with non-human life: 'No matter how much our own species preoccupies us, life is a far wider system. Life is an incredibly complex interdependence of matter and energy among millions of species beyond (and within) our own skin. These Earth aliens are our relatives, our ancestors, and part of us. They cycle our matter and bring us water and food.
 Without "the other” we do not survive.’
The notion of a more-than-human world further intimates that these things are beings: not passive props in the drama of our preoccupations, but active participants in our collective becoming. And because that becoming, that potential flourishing, is collective, it demands that we recognize the beingness, the personhood of others. 
The world is made up of subjects, not objects. Everything is really everyone, and all those beings have their own agency, points of view and forms of life. The more-than-human world demands our recognition, for without it we are nothing. 
‘Life and Reality’ wrote the Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts, ‘are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others. They do not belong to particular persons any more than the sun, moon and stars.’

—James Bridle
Ways of Being



Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen. —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin



You are me, and I am you.

Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?

You cultivate the flower in yourself,

so that I will be beautiful.

I transform the garbage in myself,

so that you will not have to suffer. 

I support you;

you support me.

I am in this world to offer you peace;

you are in this world to bring me joy.

—Thich Nhat Hanh


In fact, my soul and yours are the same. 

You appear in me, I appear in you. 

We hide in each other.




I am neither young nor old, existent nor nonexistent ... —Thich Nhat Hanh



[...] When a grasshopper sits on a blade of grass, he has no thought of separation, resistance, or blame… The green grasshopper blends completely with the green grass… It neither retreats nor beckons. It knows nothing of philosophy or ideals. It is simply grateful for its ordinary life. 

Dash across the meadow, my dear friend, and greet yesterday’s child. When you can’t see me, you yourself will return. Even when your heart is filled with despair, you will find the same grasshopper on the same blade of grass… 

Some life dilemmas cannot be solved by study or rational thought. We just live with them, struggle with them, and become one with them… To live, we must die every instant. We must perish again and again in the storms that make life possible.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

from another lovely posting by
Maria Popova at The Marginalian

Tuesday, September 12, 2023



Particle physics has taught us that every atom in the periodic table of the elements is an arrangement of just three basic particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. Every object you have ever seen or bumped into in your life is made of just those three particles.

At a fundamental level, there aren’t separate “living things” and “nonliving things,” “things here on Earth” and “things up in the sky,” matter” and “spirit.” There is just the basic stuff of reality, appearing to us in many different forms.

Naturalism is a philosophy of unity and patterns, describing all of reality as a seamless web. [It] presents a hugely grandiose claim, and we have every right to be sceptical. When we look into the eyes of another person, it doesn’t seem that what we’re seeing is simply a collection of atoms, some sort of immensely complicated chemical reaction.

[…] At the moment, the dominant image of the world remains one in which human life is cosmically special and significant, something more than mere matter in motion. We need to do better at reconciling how we talk about life’s meaning with what we know about the scientific image of our universe.

[…] There’s an older thought experiment called the Ship of Theseus. Theseus, the legendary founder of Athens, had an impressive ship in which he had fought numerous battles. To honor him, the citizens of Athens preserved his ship in their port. Occasionally a plank or part of the mast would decay beyond repair and have to be replaced. We have a question of identity: is it the same ship after we’ve replaced one of the planks? If you think it is what about after we’ve replaced all of the planks, one by one? And (as Thomas Hobbes went on to ask) what if we then took all the old planks and built a ship out of them? Would that one then suddenly become the Ship of Theseus?

Narrowly speaking, these are all questions about identity. When is one thing “the same thing” as some other thing? But more broadly, they’re questions about ontology, our basic view of what exists in the world. 

What kinds of things are there at all?

—Sean Carroll
The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and The Universe Itself