Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Concerning the Atoms of the Soul





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Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the centre


of whatever everything is. And we don’t see it.
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That’s what weight is, that communal process of falling.
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,


hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that’s what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on another’s heart.


Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching


against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the centre of whatever the suspected
centre is, or might have been.



John Glenday 
Undark
© Peterloo Poets, 1995



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what the things can teach us





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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 has to do that before he can fly.


–Rainer Maria Rilke
Anita Barrows/Joanna Macy translation



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white strange world






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The moon is a white strange world, a great, white, soft-seeming globe in the night sky, and what she actually communicates to me across space I shall never fully know. But the moon that pulls the tides, and the moon that controls the menstrual periods of women, and the moon that touches the lunatics, she is not the mere dead lump of the astronomist.

When we describe the moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness.

We and the cosmos are one. The cosmos is a vast body, of which we are still parts. The sun is a great heart whose tremors run through our smallest veins. The moon is a great gleaming nerve-centre from which we quiver forever.

Who knows the power that Saturn has over us or Venus? But it is a vital power, rippling exquisitely through us all the time… Now all this is literally true, as men knew in the great past and as they will know again.


—D. H. Lawrence


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kindred





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... down deep, at the molecular heart of life,
we’re essentially identical to trees.
 

–Carl Sagan



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together





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... when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.


―Kahlil Gibran


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the heat of midnight tears





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Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night. 


If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through nothing but berries and wild nuts
then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came
from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves
then goats would surely get to the Holy One before us!

If the worship of stone stature could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.

Mirabai says, "The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God."


–Mirabai
Robert Bly translation


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Sonnets to Orpheus I, 4





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You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.

Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.


–Rainer Maria Rilke




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stone by stone






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Stone by stone and step by step
And heart by heart and head by head
The beautiful days do pass

Thread by thread and leaf by leaf
And one by one and each by each
The days are beautiful and do not pass

Grain by grain and body by body
Side by side and hand by hand
Good will win the battle

Stone by grain and each by one
And hand by heart and head by heart
Love is as vast as the world.


–Robert Desnos
Todd Sanders translation



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The Great Learning - The Testament of Confucious, 4 - 6







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4. Wanting equilibrium in the empire, that light which comes from looking straight into her and acting, they first set up good government in their own states.

Wanting good government in their states, they first established order in their own families; wanting order in the home, they first disciplined themselves; desiring self-discipline, they rectified their own hearts; and wanting to rectify their hearts, they sought verbal definitions of their inarticulate thoughts (the tones given off by the heart); wishing to obtain precise verbal definitions, they set to extend their knowledge to the utmost. This completion of knowledge is rooted in sorting things into organic categories. 

When things had been classified in organic categories, knowledge moved toward fulfillment; given the extreme knowable points, the inarticulate thoughts were defined with precision (the sun’s lance coming to rest on the precise spot verbally).
Having obtained this precise verbal definition (aliter, this sincerity), they then stabilized their hearts, they disciplined themselves; having obtained self-discipline, they set their own houses in order; having order in their own homes, they brought good government to their own states; and when their states were well governed, the empire was brought into equilibrium.

5. From the Emperor, Son of Heaven, down to the common man, singly and all together, this self-discipline is the root.


6. If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well governed. The solid cannot be swept away as trivial, nor can trash be established as solid. It just doesn’t happen.



–Confucius
Ezra Pound translation




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Monday, July 27, 2015

I saw you dancing last night





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I saw you dancing last night
on the roof of your house
all alone.
I felt your heart longing for the Friend.
I saw you whirling
beneath the soft bright rose
that hung from an invisible stem in the sky.

So I began to change into my best clothes
in hopes of joining you,
even though I live a thousand miles away.

And if you had spun like an immaculate sphere
just two more times,
then bowed again so sweetly to the east,
you would have found God and me
standing so near
and lifting you into our arms.

I saw you dancing last night
near the roof of this world.


–Hafiz


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that alone

 

Water doesn’t react, it flows
Even a rock changes over time
Eroded by the elements
Permanence of any kind is a myth




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That which speech does not illumine, but which illumines speech:
know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.


That which cannot be thought by mind, but by which, they say, mind is able to think: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.

That which is not seen by the eye, but by which the eye is able to see: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.

That which cannot be heard by the ear, but by which the ear is able to hear: know that alone to be Brahman, not this which people worship here.

That which none breathes with the breath, but by which breath is in–breathed: know that alone to be the Brahman, not this which people worship here.



–The Kena Upanishad



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grace






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You imagine it is something somewhere high in the sky, far away, and has to descend. 

It is really inside you, in your Heart, and the moment you effect subsidence or merger of the mind into its Source, grace rushes forth, sprouting as from a spring within you.


–Ramana Maharshi


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location

 


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Sit and be still

until in the time
of no rain you hear

beneath the dry wind's
commotion in the trees

the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,

a stream unheard before,

and you are where
breathing is prayer.


–Wendell Berry


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pray without ceasing





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Meditation must be unceasing even when one is engaged in work.

Particular time for it is meant for novices.


–Sri Ramana Maharshi


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like this





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What I wear is pants.

What I do is live.

How I pray is breathe.


–Thomas Merton



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prayer






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Heart, do not stain my skin
With bruises; go about
Your simple function.

Mind,
Sleep now; do not intrude;
And do not spy; be kind.

Sweet blindness, now begin.


–Edna St. Vincent Millay
Theme and Variations II


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not to worry



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Live to the point of tears.

—Albert Camus

 
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instructions





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Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.


I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.


–Wendell Berry


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mevlevi Sufi Ceremony







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Mevlevi (whirling dervishes) is a dervish order (tariqa) of Turkey, founded by the disciples of the great Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi in the thirteenth century. The command center is in Konya, Turkey.

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the rose





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I dreamt I came to a magnificent city
whose palace was the rose, rose.
The crown and throne of the great sultan,
his garden and chambers
were the rose, rose.
Here they buy and sell but roses
and the roses are the scales they use,
Weighing roses with more roses,
the marketplace and bazaar
are all roses, rose.

The white rose and the red rose
grew coupled in one garden.
Their faces turn as one toward the thorn.
Both thorn and blossom
are the rose, rose.

Soil is the rose and stone is the rose,
withered is the rose, fresh is the rose.
Within the Lord's private gardens
both slender cypress and old maple
are the rose, rose.
The rose is turning the waterwheel
and gets ground between the stones.
The wheel turns round as the water flows.
Its power and its stillness
are the rose, rose.

From the rose a tent appears
filled with an offering of everything.
Its gatekeepers are the holy prophets.
The bread and the wine they pour
are the rose, rose.

Oh Ummi Sinan, heed the mystery
of the sorrow of nightingale and rose.
Every cry of the forlorn nightingale
is for the rose, the rose.


–Ummi Sinan
(16th Century)
Jennifer Ferraro and Latif Bolat version



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conditioned things




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As stars, a lamp, a fault of vision,
 
As dewdrops or a bubble,
A dream, a lightning flash, a cloud,
 
So one should see conditioned things.


–Diamond Sutra


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know all things to be like this





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Know all things to be like this:
A mirage, a cloud castle,
A dream, an apparition,
Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.
 

Know all things to be like this:
As the moon in a bright sky
In some clear lake reflected,
Though to that lake the moon has never moved.
 

Know all things to be like this:
As an echo that derives
From music, sounds, and weeping,
Yet in that echo is no melody.
 

Know all things to be like this:
As a magician makes illusions
Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,
Nothing is as it appears.



–Samadhiraja (Moon Lamp) Sutra



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dreamer





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I am, O Anxious One. Don't you hear my voice
surging forth with all my earthly feelings?
They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings
and whitely fly in circles round your face.

My soul, dressed in silence, rises up
and stands alone before you: can't you see?
don't you know that my prayer is growing ripe
upon your vision as upon a tree?

If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.
But when you want to wake, I am your wish,
and I grow strong with all magnificence
and turn myself into a star's vast silence
above the strange and distant city, Time.


–Rainer Maria Rilke


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merrily, merrily





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Hoedad (reforestation)






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I will walk to a place with a high cliff, and camp by the lake there at evening, and study the grand firs and the nobles reflected in the water made still by the evening.

I will sit by the fire and consider, and lie down to count stars, and sleep, and in sleep dream dreams of green bones.

When the morning arrives, grey and cold, I will rise and walk to the high place, bringing with me a drum I have made, and a song for my scattered people.

There, on the rock, where no one will hear, I will sing the sun up, and name names, and the names will be holy to me.


–Richard Bear


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the rest of this lovely thing is
here

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not to worry






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I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

–Henry David Thoreau

Walden: Or, Life in the Woods



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something wonderful will happen





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It’s that dream that we carry with us
that something wonderful will happen,
that it has to happen,
that time will open,
that the heart will open,
that doors will open,
that the mountains will open,
that wells will leap up,
that the dream will open,
that one morning we’ll slip in
to a harbor that we've never known.


Olav H. Hauge
Robert Bly translation



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Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Ritual To Read To Each Other





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If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star. 
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke. 

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact. 

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark. 
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes, no, or maybe-- should be clear:
the darkness around us is deep.



–William Stafford


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written





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I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.


–Octavio Paz



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