Sunday, December 10, 2017

life is embodied network


We’re all — trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.

Because life is network, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from humans. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world. Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “Science and Art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.

We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.

Our ethic must therefore be one of belonging, an imperative made all the more urgent by the many ways that human actions are fraying, rewiring, and severing biological networks worldwide. To listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, is therefore to learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.

–David George Haskell

from another luminous post by
Maria Popova at brainpickings
Bark: An Intimate Look at the World’s Trees

the price you pay

I heard a man say a poem once, he said,
All that lives is holy.’

—John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath



A cat, when it walks—did you ever see a cat making an aesthetic mistake? 
Did you ever see a badly formed cloud?
Were the stars ever mis-arranged? 

When you watch the foam breaking on the seashore, did it ever make a bad pattern? 

And yet we think in what we do, we make mistakes. And we’re worried about that. 
So there came this point in human evolution when we lost our innocence. 

When we lost this thing that the cats and the flowers have, and had to think about it, 
and had to purposely arrange and discipline and push our lives around in accordance
with foresight and words and systems of symbols, accountancy, calculation and so on,
and then we worry. 

And this, though, also, is the price you pay for knowing that you know. For being able to think about thinking, being able to feel about feeling. And so you’re in this funny position. 

–Alan Watts 
The Nature of Consciousness


Wholeness and the Implicit Order


[O]ne can no longer maintain the division between the observer and the observed (which is implicit in the atomistic view that regards each of these as separate aggregates of atoms). Rather, both observer and observed are merging and interpenetrating aspects of one whole reality, which is indivisible and unanalysable.


Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.

David Bohm


you know


We are not stuff that abides,
but patterns that perpetuate themselves.

–Norbert Weiner


extraordinary worlds


The sadness I have caused any face
by letting a stray word
strike it,

any pain
I have caused you,
what can I do to make us even?
Demand a hundred fold of me - I'll pay it.

During the day I hold my feet accountable
to watch out for wondrous insects and their friends.

Why would I want to bring horror
into their extraordinary

Magnetic fields draw us to Light;
they move our limbs and thoughts.

But it is still dark;
if our hearts do not hold a lantern,
we will stumble over each other,

huddled beneath the sky
as we are.

I hold my feet accountable


Saturday, December 9, 2017



you are this


You have projected onto yourself a world of your own imagination, based on memories, on desires and fears, and you have imprisoned yourself in it. Break the spell and be free.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj



Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water. And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent, but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again.

–Finn Butler 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Yo Yo Ma - Bach Six Cello Suites - BBC Proms 2015

(interview just past the end of the first hour)

The Garden of Forking Paths


The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pen conceived it.

In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times, which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time.

We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, not you; in others, both of us.

Through our daily rambles on the web, where each array of links is a bifurcation of alternatives, labyrinthine time has become a familiar part of our lives.

—Paul Halpern
The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler
Revolutionized Time and Reality




If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.

–Ludwig Wittgenstein


theater in the mind


Theories don’t give final true knowledge. Theories give a way of looking. The very word theoria in Greek means theater. It’s sort of a theater in the mind that gives insight. Science is involved in a perceptual enterprise.

–David Bohm
on Perception




Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature–not his Father but his Mother stirs within him, and he becomes immortal with her immortality. From time to time she claims kinship with us, and some globule from her veins steals up into our own.

–Henry David Thoreau

wait - what ?

The Great Blending



For intervals, then, throughout our lives
we savor a concurrence, the great blending
of our chance selves with what sustains
all chance. We ride the wave and are
the wave. And with renewed belief
inner and outer we find our talk
turned to prayer, our prayer into truth:
for an interval, early, we become at home in the world.

–William Stafford 




Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.




In Persian poetry the poet often refers to himself or herself by name at the end of a poem as a sort of signature. Rumi’s variation on this is to refer instead to Shams (over a thousand poems end this way) or to silence. He gives the poetry to its true authorship, including the emptiness after as part of the poem. Five hundred odes conclude with khamush, silence. Rumi is less interested in language, more attuned to the sources of it. He keeps asking Husam, ‘Who’s making this music?’ He sometimes gives the wording over to the invisible flute player: ‘Let that musician finish this poem.’ Words are not important in themselves, but as resonators for a center. Rumi has a whole theory of language based on the reed flute (ney). Beneath everything we say, and within each note of the reed flute, lies a nostalgia for the reed bed. Language and music are possible only because we’re empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home. Why is there not a second tonality, he muses, a note in praise of the craftsman’s skill, which fashioned the bare cylinder into a ney, the intricate human form with its nine holes?

—Coleman Barks,
On Silence

The Essential Rumi

December Night


The cold slope is standing in darkness

But the south of the trees is dry to the touch

The heavy limbs climb into the moonlight bearing feathers

I came to watch these

White plants older at night

The oldest

Come first to the ruins

And I hear magpies kept awake by the moon

The water flows through its

Own fingers without end

Tonight once more

I find a single prayer and it is not for men

–W. S. Merwin
The Lice (1967)


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

the road home


An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around. It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love.

So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to.
This body, one path, one teacher.
Look wider and farther.

The essence of every human being can see,
and what that essence-eye takes in,
the being becomes.
Saturn. Solomon!

The ocean pours through a jar,
and you might say it swims inside
the fish! This mystery gives peace to
your longing and makes the road home home.

Coleman Barks translation


There is only life. There is nobody who lives a life. –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj




The beginning of the spiritual journey is the realization - not just the information, but the real interior conviction - that there is a higher power, or God. I would make it as easy as possible for everyone, that there is an Other - capital “O”.

Second step, is to try and become the Other - capital “O”.

And finally, the realization that there is no other.
You and the other are one. Always have been and always will be.
You just think that you aren’t and then, as the spiritual journey unfolds, one lets go of these false beliefs that there is separation from God.
One begins to perceive in events and in all other people the same presence of God, more and more aware of it, once found at the deepest level. And thus, the words of Paul become something which makes sense, that God is all in all - in other words, in a sense, we not only become God but are God.

–Father Thomas Keating


If thou but settest foot on this path, thou shalt see it everywhere. –Hermes Trismegistus


The path to heaven lies through heaven,
and all the way to heaven is heaven.

–Catherine of Siena


The bird has no path;
where the bird flies is the path.

The fish has no path in water;
wherever it swims is the path.

–The Upanishads





One does not stand still looking for a path.

One walks; and as one walks,

a path comes into being.

—Mas Kodani


Walker, your footsteps
are the road, and nothing more.

Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
Walking you make the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path you never
again will step upon.

Walker, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea.

–Antonio Machado
proverbs and songs #29


discard all paths


I do not believe in spiritual paths. The purpose of spiritual paths is to enmesh you in the world of knowledge, while Reality resides prior to it. All spiritual paths lead to unreality.

Discard all paths.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj

Wintertale, Yugi Obata

I am a traveler


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

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

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

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

–Zeynep Hatun, 15th Century,
Murat Yagan translation


If there were a spiritual journey, it would be no more than a quarter of an inch long, though many miles deep. –John O'Donohue


And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.
It is a journey we can make only by the acceptance of mystery and of mystification – by yielding to the condition that what we have expected is not there.

–Wendell Berry
The Unforeseen Wilderness, excerpt

caribou migrating

chang1ng r00ms


Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.

Make a new water-mark on your excitement
And love.
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of



Sunday, December 3, 2017



Lips, words, and you snare them,
Dreams, words, and they are as jewels,
Strange spells of old deity,
Ravens, night, allurement:
And they are not;
Having become the souls of song.

–Ezra Pound
Cino, Personae: The Shorter Poems



Where there is a duality, as it were, there one sees another; there one smells another; there one tastes another; there one speaks to another ... 
But where everything has become just one's own self, then whereby and whom would one see? Then whereby and whom would one smell? then whereby and to whom would one speak? then whereby and whom would one hear? then whereby and of whom would one think? then whereby and whom would one touch?
then whereby and whom would one understand?

–Brihadaranyaka Upabishad  (2.4.14)





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

Rabindranath Tagore


the singing cleaning woman


A leaf says,

“Sweethearts—don’t pick me,
For I am busy doing
God’s work. 
I am lowering my veins and roots
Like ropes
With buckets tied to them
Into the earth’s deep
I am drawing water
That I offer like a rose to
The sky. 
I am a singing cleaning woman
Dusting all the shelves in
The air
With my elegant green
I have a heart.
I can know happiness like