We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean
of the element air.—Evangelista Torricelli,letter to Michelangelo Ricci, 1644
We cannot live only for ourselves.A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men;and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads,
our actions run as causes,and they come back to us as effects.–Herman Melville
Each day I long so much to seeThe true teacher. And each timeAt dusk when I open the cabinDoor and empty the teapot,I think I know where he is:West of us in the forest.
Or perhaps I am the one
Who is out in the night,The forest sand wet under
My feet, moonlight shining
On the sides of the birch trees,
The sea far off gleaming.And he is the one who is
At home. He sits in my chair
Calmly; he reads and prays
All night. He loves to feel
His own body around him;
He does not leave the house.
translated by Robert Bly
To one patient, a human hand, unrecognized, is “something bright and then holes.”A little girl visits a garden. “She is greatly astonished, and can scarcely be persuaded to answer, stands speechless in front of a tree, which she only names on taking hold of it, and then as ‘the tree with the lights in it.’”
A twenty-two-old girl was dazzled by the world’s brightness and kept her eyes shut for two weeks. When at the end of that time she opened her eyes again, she did not recognize any objects, but, “the more she now directed her gaze upon everything about her, the more it could be seen how an expression of gratification and astonishment overspread her features; she repeatedly exclaimed: ‘Oh God! How beautiful!’"
excerpt from Seeing, Chapter 2,
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Mindfulness has the power, has the capacity of helping us to recognize what is there in the present moment. When anger is there, we recognize the fact that anger is there. When fear is there, we recognize the fact that fear is there. And the practice is not to fight, to suppress, but to recognize and to embrace.
"Oh my little anger, I know you. You are my old friend. I will take good care of you. Oh my little fear, I know you are always there. I will take good care of you." That is the attitude of non-duality, the attitude of non-violence, because we know that mindfulness is us; love is us; but fear and anger are us, also.Let us not fight. Let us only take care and transform. The organic gardener doesn't have to fight the garbage placed in (or created by) the garden. She knows exactly what to do in order to handle the garbage, in order to transform it back into cucumber, into tomatoes, et cetera.
The first function of mindfulness is to recognize what is there, positive or negative. The second function of mindfulness is to embrace it and to get deeply in touch with it.
If it is a positive thing like a blue sky or the beautiful face of a child, that becomes something very nourishing, very healing for us. And if it is something negative, like hatred or fear, we should be able to embrace it and bring relief to it.
The third function of mindfulness is to help us look deeply into the nature of what is there; in this case, fear or anger. The nature of something means the root of that something: how this fear has been created; how this anger has manifested.
Look deeply into the nature of our fear and our anger in order to see their true nature. When we understand, when we have insight into the nature of our fear and our anger, that insight will help transform our fear, our anger into positive energies. Looking deeply helps us to recognize, to realize things that we have not realized before...
–Thich Nhat Hanh
September 28, 2002
When your truth forsakes its shyness,
When your fears surrender to your strengths,
You will begin to experienceThat all existence
Is a teeming sea of infinite life.
In a handful of ocean water
You could not count all the finely tuned
MusiciansWho are acting stoned
For very intelligent and sane reasons
And of course are becoming extremely sweet
In a handful of the sky and earth,
In a handful of God,We cannot count
All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.
True art reveals there is no void
There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, brimming
What happens when your soul Begins to awaken Your eyes And your heart And the cells of your body To the great Journey of Love? First there is wonderful laughter And probably precious tears And a hundred sweet promises And those heroic vows No one can ever keep. But still God is delighted and amused You once tried to be a saint. What happens when your soul Begins to awake in this world To our deep need to love And serve the Friend? O the Beloved Will send you One of His wonderful, wild companions - Like Hafiz!
You said, ‘Who’s at the door?’I said, ‘Your slave.’You said, ‘What do you want?’‘To see you and bow.’‘How long will you wait?’‘Until you call.’‘How long will you cook?’‘Till the Resurrection.’
We talked through the door.
I claimed a great love and that I had
given up what the world gives, to be in that love.
‘You said, ‘Such claims require a witness.’
I said, ‘This longing, these tears.’
You said, ‘Discredited witnesses.’
I said, ‘Surely not!’
You said, ‘Who did you come with?’
‘The majestic imagination you gave me.’
‘Why did you come?’
‘The musk of your wine was in the air.’
‘What is your intention?’
‘What do you want from me?’
Then you asked, ‘Where have you been most comfortable?’
‘In the palace.’
‘What did you see there?’
‘Then why is it so desolate?’
‘Because all that can be taken away in a second.’
‘Who can do that?’
‘This clear discernment.’‘Where can you live safely then?’
‘What is this giving up?’
‘A peace that saves us.’
‘Is there no threat of disaster?’
‘Only what comes in your street, inside your love.’
‘How do you walk there?’‘In perfection.’
If I told more of this conversation,
those listening would leave themselves.
There would be no door, no roof or window either!
You cannot fight pain and pleasure on the level of consciousness.
To go beyond them you must go beyond consciousness, which is possible only when you look at consciousness as something that happens to you and not in you, as something external, alien, superimposed.Then, suddenly you are free of consciousness, really alone, with nothing to intrude.
And that is your true state.
all which isn’t singing is mere talking
and all talking’s talking to oneself
(whether that oneself be sought or seeking
master or disciple sheep or wolf)
gush to it as deity or devil
—toss in sobs and reasons threats and smiles
name it cruel fair or blessed evil—
it is you(ne i)nobody else
drive dumb mankind dizzy with haranguing
—you are deafened every mother’s son—
all is merely talk which isn’t singing
and all talking’s to oneself alone
but the very song of(as mountains
feel and lovers)singing is silence
–E. E. Cummings
Sons and daughters of the earth, steep yourself in the sea of matter, bathe in its fiery waters, for it is the source of your life and your youthfulness.
You thought you could do without it because the power of thought has been kindled in you? You hoped that the more thoroughly you rejected the tangible, the closer you would be to spirit: that you would be more divine if you lived in the world of pure thought, or at least more angelic if you fled the corporeal? Well, you were like to have perished of hunger.
You must have oil for your limbs, blood for your veins, water for your soul, the world of reality for your intellect: do you not see that the very law of your own nature makes these a necessity for you?
–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The moment you start talking you create a verbal universe, a universe of words, ideas, concepts and abstractions, interwoven and inter-dependent, most wonderfully generating, supporting and explaining each other and yet all without essence or substance, mere creations of the mind.
Words create words, reality is silent.
Consider the other kingdoms.The trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze.
Their infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be.
Thus the world grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.
We are bees of the invisible.
Passionately we plunder the honey of the visible
in order to gather it in the great golden hive of the invisible.
–Rainer Maria Rilkefrom a letter to Witold HulewiczNovember 13, 1925
the one who islike a gravedark depressing and bittera sweetheart is a mirrora friend a delicious cakeit isn't worth spendingan hour with anyone elsea companion who isin love only with the selfhas five distinct charactersstone heartedunsure of every steplazy and disinterestedkeeping a poisonous facethe more this companion waits aroundthe more bitter everything will getjust like a vinegargetting more sour with time
enough is said aboutsour and bitter faces
a heart filled with desire forsweetness and tender souls
must not waste itself with
How shall I hold on to my soul, so thatit does not touch yours? How shall I gentlylift it up over you on to other things?
I would so very much like to tuck it away
among long lost objects in the dark,
in some quiet, unknown place, somewhere
which remains motionless when your depths resound.
And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
takes us together like a single bow,
drawing out from two strings but one voice.
On which instrument are we strung?
And which violinist holds us in his hand?
O sweetest of songs
–Rainer Maria Rilke